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The Wisconsin DNR is spending more than $8 million to expand hatcheries and step-up restocking efforts to improve the fishing experience for state anglers. Submitted artwork.

Milwaukee preps for national governor's conference; landing fees cause flap with EAA fliers; 11 more state stories

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee is getting ready to host the nation’s governors this week.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and local tourist officials expect a ton of national media coverage from the annual meeting of the National Governors Association. It runs from Friday through Sunday at the Wisconsin Center convention hall in downtown Milwaukee.

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Walker says he hopes the buzz will encourage other groups to hold their conventions in the city.

Franklyn Gimbel, who heads the Wisconsin Center district board, said the 1998 national governors’ meeting was the first event to be held in the facility. He said it generated a lot of great publicity which “put us on the map.”

It’s not known how many of the state executives will show up this week. Walker says those who attend will have a great time. He’s planned three major social events for the governors – including batting practice with former Brewers on Thursday night at Miller Park, a motorcycle ride to the Harley-Davidson Museum on Friday, and a party at the Discovery World Museum on Saturday night which includes fireworks.

Protest groups also plan to show up. The head of the state AFL-CIO will speak at a pro-jobs rally on Saturday.

Occupy Milwaukee and the economic justice group Move-to-Amend also expect to have a presence.

EAA fliers upset to be charged landing fees

OSHKOSH -- Hundreds of pilots flew into Oshkosh Sunday – and thousands more were expected Monday, as the week-long Experimental Aircraft Association Air-Venture Show begins.

Many pilots were angered by a fee to help pay for air traffic controllers that the Federal Aviation Administration used to provide for free. This year, the FAA charged the EAA almost a $500,000 to provide 87 controllers for this week’s Oshkosh events. It equals about $45 for each plane that goes in-and-out of Wittman Airport.

The cost of the controllers is part of the federal fuel tax for general aviation – and the pilots say the EAA is being taxed twice. The organization says the controller fees will cut into the donations they’re able to make with the show’s proceeds.

The EAA has asked a federal appeals court in Chicago to overturn the fee. A decision is not expected until after the show.

The congressman who represents Oshkosh, Republican Tom Petri of Fond du Lac, has asked U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to overturn the EAA charge. Senate Republican Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma tells the Web site Politico that he spoke with Foxx after a committee meeting last week – and Foxx said he’s thinking about dropping the charge.

Petri says the FAA’s fee is “misguided and short-sighted.”

Over 500,000 people are expected to attend the Air-Venture Show, which features numerous forums, displays, air shows, and other performances.

Lake Michigan plane crash claims two lives

CUDAHY -- Officials and family members are at a loss to explain why a single-engine plane crashed in Lake Michigan, killing two people.

The pilot of the Saturday afternoon crash has been identified as 75-year-old William Gensler of Racine, who ran an aviation company at his hometown airport. His passenger has not been identified.

The plane went down in Lake Michigan about a mile-and-a-half east of Cudahy.

Divers, rescue boats, and helicopter crews spent over six hours searching for the missing 1975 Piper Arrow. Federal officials are investigating.

Dave Mann, general manager of Racine’s Batten International Airport, said Gensler had over 40,000 hours of flying experience over 42 years. Most of it was spent teaching others to fly.

Commercial pilot Pete Pascal said Gensler had the highest rating a pilot could earn. Pascal said he did not know of any mechanical problems with the plane, which he was supposed to fly last week before a trip got canceled.

The Coast Guard said Gensler was flying to the EAA Air-Venture Show in Oshkosh when the crash occurred – but Mann said he did not believe Gensler was heading there.

Weekend chill brought record-lows to eastern Wisconsin

SULLIVAN -- It felt like mid-October in much of northern Wisconsin this past weekend.

It’s still July, but the mercury got down to 37 degrees near Fifield in Price County around 4:45 Monday morning. River Falls recorded 45 at 6 a.m. By 7 a.m. it was still just 45 at Tomahawk, Manitowish Waters, and Hurley. Milwaukee was the warm spot with a more summer-like 59. Monroe and Fond du Lac were at 56.

On Sunday, Wausau broke a 79-year-old record for the coldest July 28th with 47 degrees. New record lows were also set at Oshkosh, Appleton, Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Stevens Point, and Rhinelander.

The cold readings were blamed on a strong low-pressure system to the east, which busted through Wisconsin last Friday and ended a week-long heat wave with highs in the 90’s.

For Monday, forecasters said all of Wisconsin would likely see the 70’s again, with clear-to-partly skies. Lows in the 50’s were expected Monday evening, with a chance of rain Tuesday and highs returning to the 70’s.

Wisconsin police post highest homicide clearance rates

Wisconsin police officers do a better job than others nationally in arresting murder suspects.

According to a review by Gannett Wisconsin Media, officers solved 82 percent of almost 1,600 killings in the Badger State during the decade ending in 2012.

The clearance rate was 17 percent larger than the national figure. Just over 275 murders from that decade in Wisconsin remain unsolved.

Gannett said a gun was used in almost half those cases. Investigators say gun murders are harder to solve. That’s because shooters don’t leave their DNA behind, as they normally avoid physical contact with their victims.

Four of every five unsolved murders in Wisconsin took place in Milwaukee. Most victims were black, and their average age was 33.

A New Mexico university study from 2011 found that over half of wrongful deaths are solved in the first 48 hours after they occur.

After a year has gone by, there’s less than a one percent chance they’ll be solved. Still, Wisconsin officials say they never give up on cold cases.

West Allis police captain Chris Botsch says motivations change over time, and witnesses may either have a change-or-heart, or drop alliances with suspects they’re protecting. “That’s what we hope to tap into," said Botsch.

Stepped-up walleye restocking efforts underway

Wisconsin’s latest effort to improve walleye fishing is in full swing. It was only a few weeks ago when the governor and Legislature approved $8.2 million to upgrade the state’s hatcheries, and produce larger walleye fingerlings.

At a recent visit to the hatchery in Woodruff, DNR expert Mike Staggs said it would take a few months to get the fish the 6-to 8-inch range, thus increasing their survival before the anglers get a chance to catch them.

Staggs was joined by DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp in appearing at the Art Ohemcke Fish Hatchery at Woodruff. The facility will get $2 million in enhancements, plus another $2 million in repairs.

Walleye fingerlings are expected to increase from 50,000 smaller fish to 75,000 larger ones in both 2013- and ’14.

The overall production of large fingerling walleye is expected to grow from about 145,000 fish to 170,000 at all state hatcheries over the next two years.

-- Ken Krall, WXPR, Rhinelander

Weekend benefit aids Boscobel flood victims

BOSCOBEL -- A fund-raiser was held during the weekend to help around 600 residents and business owners in Boscobel where 13 inches of rain flooded the community on the weekend of June 22-23.

The Chamber-of-Commerce arranged the event – which included auctions, games, live music, and more. The proceeds are being placed into a fund to help families who need it.

The Boscobel Chamber has also set up a Pay Pal account for those who wish to give online.

Federal disaster relief is being considered for Boscobel and other places in the western half of Wisconsin – but the aid would not cover individual homes, only public amenities of roads and bridges that were damaged by the flood waters.

Applications invited for special deer hunt for the disabled

SPARTA -- Fort McCoy is taking applications for a special deer hunt for the disabled.

The Army base between Sparta and Tomah began holding the special hunt on its property since 2000.

An average of 30 disabled hunters has taken part each year – and participation has grown in the recent past. This year’s hunt takes place on Oct. 5-6.

Applications and other information are available at Fort McCoy’s Web site.

The deadline to apply for the disabled hunting season is Sept. 9th.

DNR hearing will allow citizen input on Gegebic mine

MADISON -- Wisconsinites will get one more chance to comment on mining. The Natural Resources Board must change its administrative rules to reflect what the governor and Legislature approved this spring.

The Board is expected to set a date for a public hearing on the new rules when it meets in Baraboo on Aug. 14th.

Majority Republicans passed a series of changes designed to make it easier for Gogebic Taconite to open a new iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties.

Among other things, the new law sets time limits for the state’s approval of mining permits. It also relaxes previous environmental protections, and ends the public’s ability to object the state’s mining decisions before permits are issued.

Supporters say the new mine will provide hundreds of jobs to an area that badly needs them. Opponents say it would cause heavy water pollution.

Protestors disrupted the company’s exploratory drilling last month, one of them has been charged criminally.

Skyward software expected to announce expansion plans

STEVENS POINT -- The company that won a legislative effort to get part of a state school software contract will announce its plans to expand on Wednesday in Stevens Point.

Skyward president Scott Glinski said earlier this month the firm would build a new headquarters’ facility.

It would house up to 1,000 employees, at a cost of up to $20 million.

Skyward lost a contract last year to Infinite Campus of Minnesota to create a statewide data-base of public school students. The company was challenging the rejection when central Wisconsin legislators came to Skyward’s rescue, and inserted a state budget provision to allow both Skyward and Infinite Campus to run the state database.

Both firms already keep student databases for individual Wisconsin districts. Officials say Skyward’s budget victory will result in hundreds of new jobs.

Had it been left out of the statewide contract, the homegrown Stevens Point firm said it would have had to move a state where it could do business. Texas and Florida were mentioned as possibilities.

-- Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau

Few details on industrial accident that killed man

WEST ALLIS -- Authorities are expected to say more Monday about the circumstances that result in a death at Metal Technologies Inc. in West Allis.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's office said it was summoned to the plant at 7 a.m. on Sunday.

A 48-year-old man died. Media reports said he was not from Wisconsin.

Details were not released about how the industrial accident occurred.

Elderly woman found safe after 36-hour disappearance

A north central Wisconsin woman with early signs of dementia has been found safe.

Lena Kreisant, 77, of the Tomahawk area was found late Saturday night in Marathon County, to the south of her Lincoln County home.

Officials said she appeared to be in good health, as she was about to be reunited with her family.

Kreisant was missing since Friday morning, when she left home to go to a store and did not return.

On Saturday, officials said her credit card was used at a gas station in Solon Springs, south of Superior in Douglas County.

The attendant told authorities and Kreisant appeared confused.

Lost class ring, owner reunited after 64 years

WAUKESHA -- A Waukesha man was using a metal detector in a lake near his home, when he found a high school class ring from 1949.

Mike Geiger found the ring earlier this month. It had the initials “R-D,” and it was from Morton High School in Cicero, Ill.

Geiger did some checking, and found that two “R-Ds” graduated that year. He called one, and said the man wasn’t very friendly. When he called the other man, 82-year-old Richard “Dick” Diedrich couldn’t believe it.

He remembered that he'd exchanged the ring with a girl in a high school biology class – and it apparently was stolen soon after that.

Geiger said the ring was in surprisingly good condition, considering that it was issued 64 years ago.

Diedrich offered a reward, but Geiger said he was satisfied enough to return such a sentimental item to somebody after all these years. Diedrich sent him a reward anyway, plus a nice letter.

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Steve Dzubay
Steve Dzubay has been publisher at the River Falls Journal and Hudson Star Observer since 1995. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He previously worked as a reporter-photographer at small daily newspapers in Minnesota and is past editor of the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal.
(715) 426-1054
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