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Motor home fire causes I-94 traffic delays; state on pace for record ag exports; 8 more state news stories

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Motor home fire causes I-94 traffic delays; state on pace for record ag exports; 8 more state news stories
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

HAMMOND -- A motor home that was destroyed by fire on I-94 near Hammond late Sunday morning closed both eastbound lanes for about 15 minutes and caused traffic to back up nearly six miles until all the wreckage was cleared away around 1 p.m.

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The State Patrol responded, along with United Fire Hammond station firefighters at about 10:30 a.m.

The Patrol found a motorhome ablaze between Mile Markers 14 and 15, about a mile west of the Hammond exit. Officers closed the road because of the intense fire and smoke but reopened one lane at 10:43. A second lane was reopened at 11:12 a.m. but clean-up continued for nearly two hours a skid-steer had to be brought in to remove the debris.

Officers were unable to locate the driver or any passengers from the motor home, which was deemed a complete loss.

Meanwhile, further to the south, traffic was backed up for three miles late Sunday near Wisconsin Dells folllowing a two-vehicle crash. The Patrol said a mini-van hit a car and then overturned about 5:20 p.m. near the Hwy. 12 exit on I-94. One person was taken to a Baraboo hospital with injuries.

A secondary accident near the scene caused further delays but there were no additional injuries.

In Racine County, traffic was delayed for three hours Sunday after human waste spilled on southbound I-94.

State transportation officials said a "liquid non-hazardous substance" spilled for about 30 feet across all three lanes of the freeway. Officials did not say where the spill came from.

The State Patrol in Waukesha said it could not be cleaned up right away, because so many vehicles drove through it. The material began to harden, so officials decided to leave it in the roadway and clean it up overnight Sunday.

Pay-for-performance affecting more teachers

MADISON -- More Wisconsin public school teachers will be paid according to their performance this fall. That's the apparent result of a new statewide teacher evaluation system which takes effect in the coming school year plus the near-elimination of collective bargaining as the state's Act 10 begins its fourth year.

Wauwatosa was among the school districts approving the move toward the type of performance incentives often seen in the private sector. The Journal Sentinel says compensation in Wauwatosa schools will now be based on the leadership roles teachers take, the levels of their professional development, and incentive bonuses.

Also, the district is flattening its pay scale by giving larger pay raises to less-experienced teachers. Act 10 has caused school districts to be less reliant on previously-negotiated pay plans that are based on mainly on experience and years of service.

A few months ago, it was reported that some teachers were getting higher salary offers to move to other districts, something often seen among talented proffessionals in the private sector.

Newspaper identifies 6 who claimed Walker helped them land jobs

They were not acting. The six people who claimed in a Walker TV commercial that they got jobs during the Republican governor's term actually did so.

The disclosure came after the Walker camp refused to identify the workers, and state Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate called it a "phony" ad while wondering if any the workers' stories were true.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said it tracked down all four men and two women in Walker's campaign ad and they indeed found jobs in the Milwaukee region.

The individuals, their employers, and public records were all used to check them out.

Jobs are one of the hot-button issues in the governor's race, as Walker touts the 100,000-plus jobs created in the past four years while his challenger Mary Burke cites Wisconsin's slower-than-normal job growth. The paper said the six workers filmed the commercial at an advertising agency in suburban Milwaukee. Tate says he won't apologize.

He said he was glad the six people in question found jobs -- but thousands of Wisconsinites do not share similar success, including over 1,000 workers who lost their jobs in mass layoffs in the past month alone.

State on-pace for record ag exports to Canada, Mexico, China

MADISON -- Wisconsin is on a pace to have record agricultural exports this year.

State officials report exports of $1.9 billion in farm-related products during the first half of this year. That's 17 percent more than the same time a year ago.

Dairy derivatives and other dairy exports increased by 30 percent from the year before. Wisconsin had the nation's highest exports in bovine genetics, whey, processed sweet corn, ginseng, and mink fur skins. The state ranked second in the exporting of cheese and processed cranberries.

Wisconsin ag products went to 128 countries in the first half of the year. Canada is the state's top customer, buying $934 million worth of products -- 17 percent more than the previous year.

Purchases from Mexico jumped 36 percent, to $160 million. China was the third highest, followed by Korea and Japan.

Wisconsin ranks 12th in agricultural exports among the 50 states.

Ag exports nationally rose 12 percent to around $88 billion.

Marchers mourn child's shooting; urge safety near playground

MILWAUKEE -- Over 100 people marched from a Milwaukee church to a north side school where kids have been hesitant to use a playground after a girl died from a stray bullet.

Teachers, police officers, and faith leaders were among those helping kids re-claim the playground Sunday at the Clarke Street Elementary School.

That was where ten-year-old Sierra Guyton was shot in crossfire as two teens were shooting at each other the evening of May 21st. Sierra died in mid-July after two months on life support. One of the alleged shooters just recently had his charges upgraded to homicide.

The crowd at Sunday's event chanted -- "Let the children play, each and every day."

The event began at Milwaukee's Tabernacle Community Baptist Church where Sienna's funeral was held. The crowed then marched to the school about three blocks away.

Elsewhere in the city, about 125 people gathered at a downtown park Sunday to call for justice in the aftermath of the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The group yelled "No justice, no peace" and "Hands up, don't shoot" -- what's become a common phrase in Ferguson after witnesses said Brown had his hands up when an officer shot him.

Among those speaking at the Milwaukee rally was Craig Stingley, father of a black West Allis teen who died after being held down by three white convenience store customers.

Also at the rally were relatives of Dontre Hamilton, who was shot more than 10 times by an officer in late April after getting info a confrontation with the patrolman at Red Arrow Park -- where Sunday's rally took place. The crowd also marched to Milwaukee's downtown police station.

State man shot during squabble in Vermont

A Wisconsin man was hospitalized in critical condition, after he was shot by an acquaintance in Vermont.

Media reports did not list 39-year-old Edward Carter's hometown in Wisconsin. Police in Guilford Vermont said Carter was visiting the home of Nicholas Baker, 26, when they got into disagreements and a physical confrontation early Saturday morning.

Investigators said Carter was hit by a single gunshot, and was taken to Brattleboro hospital in Vermont and later airlifted to Dartmouth Medical Center.

During the investigation, police said they executed a search warrant and found marijuana being cultivated. Officials said a drug charge would be filed against Baker when he's arraigned.

Baker is being held at a regional prison on charges of aggravated assault and obstructing justice. Bond has been set at $25,000.

Disposition expected in domestic partner killing

APPLETON -- A judge was expected to decide Monday whether to delay or drop the case of an Appleton area woman accused of shooting her domestic partner to death.

Dianna Siveny, 55, is scheduled to go on trial Aug. 25 and the prosecution is missing some key evidence in the case.

Siveny is charged with homicide and substantial battery in the death of Lara Plamann, whose body was found in October, 2007 in the shed of a home the two had shared.

Authorities said Siveny's daughter Kandi did the actual shooting, which reportedly occurred because Plamann had cheated on Kandi's mother. A third person, Rosie Campbell of St. Paul, is also charged in the case and she's refusing to testify against Dianna Siveny even if her remarks get immunity from her prosecution.

Outagamie County District Attorney Carrie Schneider says Campbell's testimony is a "necessity" in the state's case. Campbell reportedly made a confession which resulted in the arrests.

Schneider has asked that next week's trial be delayed and if the judge refuses, she'll seek to dismiss the charges without prejudice so she can re-file the case in the future.

'Cyclist dies after collision with deer

SHAWANO -- Authorities continue to investigate a weekend crash in Shawano County, where a motorcyclist died after hitting a deer.

The accident happened late Friday night on a town road near Tigerton.

Sheriff's deputies said the 23-year-old biker died a short time after vehicle struck the deer. The name of the Tigerton man was not immediately released.

Broken water pipe floods Milwaukee Co. safety building

MILWAUKEE -- Clean-up crews were to return Monday to the Milwaukee County Safety Building, where a water pipe broke during the weekend.

Sheriff's deputies have been assigned to provide security during the clean-up and to protect files that have sensitive information for court cases.

The work is expected to continue through Tuesday.

A county employee first noticed flooding in the sheriff's department about 7 a.m., Saturday. Officials said there was heavy damage to the carpet, ceiling, and computers in the deputies' roll-call room.

The department's administrative offices were not affected and neither were the court staffing, traffic, and communications' areas.

L.A.-bound aircraft makes quick landing at Mitchell

MILWAUKEE -- Southwest Airlines is investigating a possible mechanical issue on a plane that landed in Milwaukee Sunday.

Flight 663 from Orlando landed as scheduled around 10:15 a.m. at Mitchell International.

Media reports said the crew declared an emergency, so the plane could be moved up on the landing order and hit the ground faster.

Officials reported there were 127 passengers and five crew members on board. The aircraft was supposed to go to Los Angeles but another aircraft was brought in for the balance of the flight.

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