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Flash-flood watches continue; DNR proposes substantial drop in wolf hunt quota; More state news

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A flash-flood watch continues until tomorrow morning in west and southwest Wisconsin.

Flood warnings are in effect on the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien and Buffalo County, the Yellow River at Babcock, the Rock River at Waupun, the Trempealeau River at Dodge and the Black River at Galesville. A flood warning on the Sheboygan River was canceled overnight

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Two to four more inches of rain fell in Grant County since late last night, closing streets in Muscoda.

The southern third of Wisconsin has had more than two days of severe weather. The National Weather Service has confirmed a seventh tornado -- this one east of Rewey in Iowa County late Monday night. It stayed on the ground for up to a mile and a half, damaging three buildings and dozens of trees.

Yesterday, straight line winds of over 70 mph struck parts of Dane County east of Madison. Those storms kept going east to Milwaukee, knocking down trees, power lines and home siding in some places.

There's a chance for more rain today, and storms are likely to return tonight

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DNR proposes substantial drop in wolf hunt quota

Wisconsin wolf hunters would only take 91 animals this fall under a proposal from Department of Natural Resources wildlife officials.

They'll ask the Natural Resources Board this month to approve a total quota of 156, down from last year's take of 251. That's before Chippewa Indian tribes get their share under their longstanding treaty rights.

Under the DNR's new proposal, the tribes could take 65 wolves in their ceded territory in north central Wisconsin. However, Indians consider the grey wolf to be sacred, and they did not shoot any of their allotted animals in the first two seasons of the wolf hunt.

As we learned a few weeks ago, the state's spring wolf population has dropped after years of growth. That's one reason for the lower quota.

The DNR said 660 to 689 wolves were roaming the state after the long, cold winter -- down from a top of 824 a year ago. The agency has a goal of keeping 350 animals, but wildlife management Director Tom Hauge is not seeking that big a of a decline right away. He says it's not known how hunting affects the total wolf population, and experts want to learn more about that.

The Natural Resources Board is scheduled to consider the trimmed-down hunt next Wednesday in Milwaukee.

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Kenosha supervisor: Minimum wage referendums are attempt to draw anti-Walker voters

A Kenosha County Board member says there's an effort to get anti-Walker voters to the polls in November by holding referendums in selected counties on an issue the governor's opponents favor -- raising the minimum wage.

The Kenosha board voted this week to hold an advisory referendum on raising the state's minimum from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. Supervisor Erin Decker called it an effort to sway the governor's contest.

Supervisor Mike Goebel said he proposed the referendum because he wants the voters to decide the issue. Goebel said he doesn’t want state politicians to "pat themselves on the back" if they approve a smaller increase.

WRJN Radio said the Kenosha board also voted against letting the county set its own minimum wage if the state refuses to act.

The issue has gained steam since the last legislative session ended after majority Republicans ignored pleas from Democrats to pass a gradual two-year hike in the state minimum to $10.10.

A UW-Milwaukee poll this month showed that 76% of Wisconsin registered voters favor some type of increase, and 70% said future hikes should be automatically tied to inflation.

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association now says a $10.10 wage could result in a loss of 16,500 jobs -- mainly because diners wouldn't pay more to cover the workers' higher wages.

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Cost to repair tornado-damaged school may reach $4 million

Wisconsin Emergency Management says it will cost $3 million to $4 million to repair the Country View Elementary School in Verona after a tornado early Tuesday. Officials hope to have the school ready for fall classes on Sept. 2.

Recreational trails in Jackson County were closed at last word, after two more rounds of rain.

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Friends set up makeshift memorial for man who died in river

About 20 friends and relatives of a Wausau area man threw flowers into the Eau Claire River in Schofield at the spot where the man drove in and died early Tuesday.

They set up a makeshift memorial with a cross to remember Mattheau Chaignot, 27, of Rothschild.

Authorities continue to investigate the incident in which the SUV driver veered off a road and into the river. Everest Metro Police said the same man may have been involved in a hit-and-run crash in Wausau around 2 a.m. Tuesday.

--Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau

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Brazilians plan to film annual mayfly hatch

A film crew from Brazil wants to chronicle the annual hatch of mayflies on the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin.

The crew has asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for permission to film the mayfly phenomenon during the second week of July.

The La Crosse Tribune says the production company has also asked Fish and Wildlife employees to help them.

A producer, photographer and sound technician would film parts of the river between Trempealeau and Lynxville. Globo TV of Brazil says it would be part of an ongoing segment which highlights worldwide nature and conservation practices.

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Two high school students die when vehicle collides with squad car

Kewaskum High School will have counselors on hand today to help students and others come to grips with the deaths of two students.

Two boys died after their car collided with a Washington County sheriff's squad car yesterday morning on County Road H near Kewaskum. The deputy was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.

The names of the two students were withheld while their families were being notified.

Student Montana Graskey told Milwaukee's WISN TV that both were in the school's FFA chapter and the school trap team. One would have been a junior this fall, and the other a senior.

Deputies said the students' car crossed a center and struck the oncoming sheriff's car. Officials said rainy conditions may have been a factor. The State Patrol continues to investigate.

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Authorities announce arrests in construction equipment thefts

Authorities say they've broken up a theft ring in which construction equipment was stolen from several places in Wisconsin.

Edward Peterson, 32, of rural Medford is charged in Taylor County with 14 criminal counts, most for receiving or concealing stolen property. Eight of those charges are felonies.

Christopher Steig, 25, of Delavan faces seven similar counts -- all but two are felonies. Both are due back in court July 1.

Prosecutors said Peterson and Steig stole heavy equipment items, including an excavator which had a GPS system that law enforcement could tap into. Authorities said they traced it from a job site at Boscobel in southwest Wisconsin to a barn about 150 miles to the north in Taylor County.

Investigators said Peterson gave Steig a verbal shopping list, and he didn't want to know where the equipment came from. Other stolen items included a pair of skid-steers, an electric generator and a jackhammer.

Peterson is free on bond. Steig was still in jail at last word under a $5,000 bond.

--Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau

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UW-Platteville students return to classes after tornado damage

Normal activities resume today at UW-Platteville after a tornado damaged a half-dozen campus facilities late Monday night.

Summer students are returning to classes after two days off. The university also says it will resume student registrations, placement tests and functions at the Pioneer Activity Center.

Students at several summer camps were sent home after the tornado canceled their activities. About 150 youngsters at a basketball camp were moved to safety just before their dormitory at Rountree Commons was hit with major damage.

The Bridgeway Commons dorm was also damaged along with Southwest Hall, Engineering Hall, the Greenhouse and the Pioneer football and soccer stadium. Those facilities won't be used until they're repaired and declared safe.

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Two pulled from flooded ditch in Germantown

Two men had to be rescued from a flooded ditch in Germantown yesterday after their truck left the Hwy. 41-45 expressway during a heavy rainstorm.

Fire Chief Gary Weiss said the men could have drowned had their vehicle landed upside down.

The rescue operation took about a half-hour to complete. Firefighters encountered chest-high water in the ditch so they used ladders to reach the vehicle and get the two victims to an ambulance. Weiss said a number of bystanders, including an orthopedic surgeon, stopped to help.

One of the men suffered a back injury and was placed on a paramedic board. Officials say both are expected to survive.

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Couple pleads guilty to possessing large quantities of prescription painkillers

A husband and wife from far northern Wisconsin will be sentenced Aug. 22 after pleading guilty to having thousands of dollars worth of prescription painkillers.

Andrew Meshigaud, 27, and Charlie Sunn Meshigaud, 25, both of Lac du Flambeau, entered their pleas in federal court in Madison yesterday. Both were convicted of possessing Oxycodone with the intent to sell it.

Prosecutors said the couple made several trips to Milwaukee to obtain their products after wiring over $50,000 to the seller of their 30-milligram pills. The arrests came after an investigation by the state Department of Justice, Oneida and Vilas county deputies and Lac du Flambeau tribal police.

--Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau

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Mayors call on governors to do more to prevent oil spills

Great Lakes mayors want the national governments of the United States and Canada to do more to prevent oil spills.

Racine Mayor John Dickert says the federal response to serious environmental mishaps has been insufficient in both countries.

Dickert heads the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, which passed a resolution yesterday for more federal action. That would include stricter regulations on the shipping of oil by trains and pipelines.

The mayors also want more frequent inspections of oil-transporting facilities and tighter enforcement. The group proposes a fee on energy companies, creating a fund to pay for emergency responses and clean-ups of oil spills.

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State printing company closes Minnesota, Illinois plants

Wisconsin's largest printing company says it will close two of its plants in neighboring Minnesota and Illinois.

Quad/Graphics of Sussex said yesterday it would shut down its commercial printing facilities in St. Cloud, Minn., and Woodstock, Ill.

The St. Cloud Times says the shutdown in that city is a consolidation move after Quad recently bought the Brown Printing Company of Waseca, Minn., for $100 million.

Spokeswoman Claire Ho said fulltime employees at both plants would be eligible for separation packages, and job opportunities will be available at two other Quad/Graphics plants in Minnesota and ten in Wisconsin.

The St. Cloud plant expects to close in late August, affecting 280 employees. Quad acquired the plant in 2010 when it bought the large Canadian firm of World Color.

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Milwaukee mayor objects to double-decker stretch of I-94

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett wants Gov. Scott Walker to scrap the idea of a double-decker stretch on I-94.

Highway planners are studying a number of options to reduce congestion on the east-west part of the freeway.

Officials say the freeway cannot get much wider because three cemeteries and the Story Hill neighborhood are close by. Walker says he won't support anything in which graves have to be moved. Otherwise, the governor is open to anything else.

The double-decker section would run for about a mile and a half on I-94 from the Miller Park baseball stadium to the west. Mayor Barrett said he's "mystified" that Walker has not dropped the proposal.

A coalition that includes the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group told the state Department of Transportation this week it opposes an expansion of 94. Group director Bruce Speight cited a national study from last year, showing that Milwaukeeans reduced their total driving by 20% from 2006 through 2011. His coalition says road dollars would be better spent on improving city streets and other infrastructure.

Yesterday, Walker said he was not happy with the mayor's opposition to the double-deck idea. He said a smooth-running transportation system is needed to improve the flow of business in and out of Milwaukee.

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Evansville man gets 28-year term for burning woman’s body

A southern Wisconsin man will spend 28 years in prison for burning the body of an 18-year-old woman who answered his Internet ad for sex.

Nathan Middleton, 30, of Evansville received a maximum sentence yesterday after he pleaded guilty in March to two Rock County felony charges of hiding and mutilating a corpse last October.

According to prosecutors, Middleton claimed that he had sex at his home with Aprina Paul of Fitchburg, she died after taking drugs, and he panicked and burned her body.

Investigators failed to prove that Middleton intentionally killed Paul. An attempted escape charge was dropped in a plea deal. Officials said Middleton wrote his mother about a month after he was arrested and asked her blow up a window at the Rock County Jail so they could run away to Mexico. She never received that letter.

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DNR: Stay away from blue-green algae

As more Wisconsinites hit the water, the Department of Natural Resources is urging folks to watch out for blue-green algae.

Experts say it grows rapidly during the summer and you can get sick just by touching the algae or ingesting lake water that contains it.

Blue-green algae often appears in waters with high levels of phosphorus, nitrogen or other nutrients. The DNR says it's showing up now in southern Wisconsin, and it gradually appears in the north as the summer goes on.

Officials say pets have been known to die just by licking the algae residue from their coats. The DNR urges folks to call a veterinarian if their pets become lethargic after romping in a lake or if they vomit or have diarrhea.

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Wisconsin’s milk production stabilizes

Wisconsin dairy farmers have ended six straight months of declining milk production.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the state produced the same amount of milk in May as a year ago, just under 2.4 billion pounds.

Wisconsin is the nation's second-largest milk producer. First-place California had a 1% increase last month, to 3.75 billion pounds.

Nationally, just over 18 billion pounds of milk were made last month. That's up 1.4% from May of 2013, but U.S. dairy farmers are still behind the pace needed to match the entire national output for last year of 206 billion pounds.

Wisconsin averaged 1,880 pounds of milk per cow last month, about 70 pounds less than the national norm. The long cold winter, poor feed quality and higher cull rates have been listed as the major reasons for Wisconsin's recent declines.

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