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Former Trek exec seeks to unseat Walker; vandals release 2,000 mink; more state news

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news River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Former Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke announced Monday that she'll run as a Democrat against Gov. Scott Walker in 13 months.

Burke unveiled a three-minute video on YouTube, highlighting her Wisconsin roots and business background.

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State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said last week that Burke would provide a "phenomenal alternative to where Scott Walker is taking this state."

She was the state’s commerce secretary for two years in the last decade, and she's currently on the Madison School Board.

Mary Burke is the daughter of Richard Burke, who founded Trek Bicycle in 1976 in Waterloo. She has held a variety of posts for the company, including the head of European operations in which she started outlets in seven countries.

In her video, Burke said that was a big part of her life, and she believes it will help the state as governor.

Burke said it's time for a change, although she did not mention Walker by name.

“Just like Washington, our state capital has become so focused on politics and winning the next political fight, it's pulling our state apart and our economy down," said Burke.

State Democratic leaders have tried to convince Burke to run, hoping she'll spend some of her personal fortune so the party can keep up with the multi-million-dollar war chest the Republican Walker expects to have.

Some insiders have also hoped the Democrats could avoid an expensive primary by giving Burke a clear to path to the party's nomination, but that remains to be seen.

Senate Democrat Kathleen Vinehout of Alma plans to decide early next year whether she'll run for governor for a second time.

Forum will spotlight tax reciprocity differences

MINNEAPOLIS -- We'll learn more today about why Wisconsinites who work in Minnesota -- and vice versa -- will have to file tax returns with both states for another year.

A forum will be held in Minneapolis to explain the breakdown of the long-running income tax reciprocity agreement between the two states.

Wisconsin Revenue Secretary Rick Chandler and Minnesota Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans will address the issue at the forum at Minnesota's Humphrey Institute.

The two states failed to reach a new reciprocity agreement by an Oct. 1 deadline. The sticking point involved tax credits Wisconsin would have paid Minnesota residents to make up for the Badger State's higher income taxes.

Frans says Minnesotans should not subsidize higher taxes in other states. Chandler said Wisconsin agreed to Minnesota's position on two other issues and a reversal on tax credits is not reasonable.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty canceled the agreement in 2009 because Wisconsin was too slow to make annual payments to the Minnesota to make up for the tax differences.

Wisconsin Guard getting most furloughed workers back

The Wisconsin National Guard is getting back most of its 840 civilian technicians who were furloughed last Tuesday due to the federal government shutdown.

They're due back this morning, except for those in nine broad work categories who will have to wait until the shutdown ends. They include auditors, planners, travel managers and public affairs personnel.

In a statement, the Guard said the Pentagon ordered most of its civilian personnel back after reviewing the "Pay Our Military Act" that Congress passed a day before last week's shutdown. Supervisors have been contacting the civilians to let them know about their status.

Most of the furloughed Wisconsin technicians were at bases in Milwaukee and Madison. Just over 200 techs were considered essential, and they've been staying on the job.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered 350,000 civilian workers at the Pentagon back this morning.

Fort McCoy near Sparta had about 900 civilian technicians furloughed last Tuesday. The fort's Website did not have an update on their status early this morning, but at least they know their checks will be in the mail.

On Saturday, the House voted to pay government workers for the time they've been off. The Senate is expected to act on that measure this week.

Tornado, four-inch rainfall bought by same storm that buried Black Hills

Spawned by a massive early October storm that hit the nation's mid-section, at least one tornado was the signature event in Wisconsin.

Tornadoes also touched down in Nebraska and Iowa, and more than a foot of snow came down in South Dakota.

As of Monday morning, the Weather Service said far southeast Wisconsin still had a few lingering showers -- but most of the rain cleared out Sunday. Heavy amounts fell throughout the state. Galesville in Trempealeau County had more than four inches on Saturday. River Falls recorded .67 of an inch since Friday.

The National Weather Service confirms that a tornado touched down in parts of Marquette County during the weekend. The weather service said the tornado was too sporadic to show up on its radar, and dozens of homeowners told WKOW they were caught off guard.

There were multiple reports of funnel clouds in the Endeavor and Packwaukee areas early Saturday evening -- and the storms caused a three-mile path of damage. A tree fell onto a car, and several roofs were damaged along with numerous trees, an empty house, and some farm buildings. Nobody was hurt.

Knife-wielding man is killed by Sparta officer

State and local authorities continue to investigate the shooting death of a 21-year-old man by a police officer in Sparta.

Officers were called to a home on Friday night where the man was allegedly threatening relatives with a knife. Police did not say whether the man lived there.

The officer who shot the suspect has been put on administrative leave while the incident is investigated. No names were immediately released.

Wisconsin Marine dies in Afghanistan

A Marine corporal from Milwaukee has died in Afghanistan.

His family said 19-year-old Lance Corporal Jeremiah Collins Jr. died Saturday at Camp Leatherneck in the province of Helmand. He served as an intelligence specialist.

His mother Shannon said the cause of his death is still being investigated, and is body was expected to be returned to the U.S. on Monday.

Former Cashton athlete honored at football game

A former high school football standout in western Wisconsin died on Saturday -- the day he was supposed to get married.

Jacob Gronemus, 22, of Cashton was injured in a welding accident last Tuesday, with burns over 75 percent of his body. He died late Saturday night -- one night after he was honored at his alma mater's high school football game.

Cashton players wore Gronemus' number 32 on their helmets. And although Cashton beat Bangor 20- to16, the final on the scoreboard read 32-32 as players from both teams gathered for a prayer.

Tee-shirts were sold to raise money for the Gronemus family. Jacob graduated from Cashton in 2010. His funeral will be held next Saturday in Middle Ridge.

Hearing will decide possible charges in decades-old death

A judge in Jefferson County will hold a John Doe hearing to determine if criminal charges should be filed in the death of an eight-year-old boy 25 years ago.

Officials said Artis Echoles of Racine drowned in June of 1988 while vacationing with his foster family. Authorities received conflicting statements. Some said the youngster walked away with another child while others said a man threw him into the pond and pushed his head underwater to make him swim.

Artis' mother, Carmin White of Racine, asked that the case be reviewed, and Circuit Judge Jennifer Weston took her up on it. Weston willl begin a John Doe hearing Dec. 5, where witnesses will be called and the extent of the evidence will be reviewed.

White teold the Racine Journal Times she's confident an arrest will be made.

District Attorney Susan Happ said she found no evidence that a crime was committed, and because of the statute of limitations, the only charge that be considered today is first-degree intentional homicide.

Judge Weston reviewed that contention and said a second-degree homicide charge could still be sought. Happ again declined to issue charges.

Hunters may take up to 250 wolves this season

MADISON -- Wisconsin's second wolf hunt begins on Tuesday, Oct. 15th.

About 2,500 permits were awarded through a drawing. As of Friday, the state Department of Natural Resources said just over 1,000 hunters have bought their licenses.

Wolf hunting continues to be controversial. State officials jumped on the opportunity almost two years ago, because of all the livestock and crop damage caused by a Wisconsin wolf population that grew larger than expected.

Animal rights activists condemned the idea of a wolf hunts in Wisconsin and elsewhere, and they've filed suit to return the animal to the federal endangered species list. That lawsuit remains pending. Meanwhile, wolf hunters are looking for another wildly successful season.

A year ago, one outside expert said the state's terrain and conditions would make it impossible for hunters to shoot their first quota of 117 wolves in an 18-week season.

Hunters proved the skeptics wrong, as they reached the quota in just 10 weeks.

This year, hunters will have from Oct. 15th to Feb. 28th to kill 251 wolves -- more than twice the 2012 quota.

Activists suspected in release of 2,000 mink

The FBI is helping local authorities investigate the release of 2,000 mink from a fur farm near New Holstein in eastern Wisconsin.

Calumet County sheriff's deputies were called late Saturday afternoon to Bonlander Furs, after mink were spotted on a roadway.

Co-owner Virginia Bonlander told the Appleton Post-Crescent that about 1,500 of the loose mink were captured almost right away. About 100 friends, relatives, and other mink farmers helped retrieve the mink by hand, and with traps.

Bonlander said the people who released the mink probably had an agenda.

Wisconsin mink farms have previously been targeted by animal rights' protestors, some of whom have endorsed the farms' destruction.

The Bonlander farm has around 5,000 mink. Most of it goes to Toronto to make coats, jackets, and hats.

Group locates 60-year-old Superior wreck in deep water

A group that included a Wisconsin man has found what may be the deepest shipwreck in the history of the Great Lakes.

Robert Nelson of Eau Claire joined Jerry Eliason of Cloquet, Minn., and Ken Merryman of Minneapolis to get video footage of the "Scotiadoc," which went down near Thunder Bay Ontario in 1953. One person was killed after the freighter collided with another.

It was found in over 850 feet of water. Earlier this year, the group found a sunken freighter off the shore of Marquette, Mich., with the help of a sonar unit and raw government data.

In early September, the team went out again after getting a search permit from Canadian authorities and proper gear -- plus favorable weather. That's when they found the name of the "Scotiadoc" on the side of the sunken ship.

Eliason said the boat came to the group's attention as it was looking for another shipwreck in the same area at Thunder Bay. They've been searching for the Scotiadoc since the early 2000's.

Kraig Smith of Rice Lake was among those making occasional search trips over the years.

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