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No snow on horizon; Gun-hunting license sales down; Wisconsinites join movement to secede; more briefs

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news River Falls, 54022

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

It might be awhile before we trudge through cold and snowy weather.

The Wisconsin forecast does not include the "S" word at least through the middle of next week.

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That's bad news for deer hunters who want tracking snow to help them keep up with their targets. The nine-day gun season opens on Saturday, and the forecast is for clear weather statewide with highs of around 50 degrees.

The National Weather Service says temperatures will remain about normal, or a few degrees warmer, all the way until Thanksgiving Eve. Highs are expected in the upper 40's to 50's each day with lows around the freezing mark or a few degrees cooler.

Scattered sprinkles are possible in central Wisconsin today. After that, the next chance of rain is on Monday, and it's only a slight chance.

Forecasters say we'll have cloudy skies today. Clear weather is projected from tomorrow at least through Sunday as a high pressure system continues to hang over the state.

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Gun-hunting license sales down

License sales are down for Wisconsin's nine-day gun deer hunting season that begins Saturday.

The Department of Natural Resources said 376,000 licenses were sold as of Tuesday, down by 27,000 from the same time a year ago.

But the DNR's Ed Culhane said that does not necessarily mean that fewer hunters will be in the woods come Saturday morning. He said the Friday before the season opener is normally the biggest day for gun license sales.

He noted, though, that overall hunting has been going down for decades, and it's a trend that has not stopped.

Meanwhile, bow and arrow deer licenses are up slightly from 2011. There were 216,000 archery licenses issued as of Sunday, 8,700 more than last year.

The bow and arrow season is half over. It picks up again Saturday and runs through Jan. 6.

Gov. Scott Walker pushed to streamline this year's hunting seasons to put more of a spotlight on the November gun hunt and to eliminate confusion over seasons that overlapped in the past.

There was no special hunt for antlerless deer in October, and the Earn-a-Buck requirement is gone.

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Wisconsinites join movement to secede

Wisconsin has joined all 49 other states in starting petition drives to secede from the United States.

But don't hold your breath. The Supreme Court has ruled that secession is only allowed by revolution or approval from three-fourths of the states. And all the petitions have only a tiny percentage of residents signing so far.

Yahoo News said over the weekend that folks in 20 states posted petitions to have their states secede in protest of President Obama's re-election. Since then, the other 30 states have joined in.

They're all on a White House Website called "We the People" which was started last year to encourage government openness.

A person who's identified on the Website as "Alex T." of Wausaukee started Wisconsin's petition last Sunday. Just over 4,600 people signed the Badger State's petition as of mid-day Wednesday.

The conservative Website "Daily Caller" said over 675,000 people have signed 69 online petitions from every state.

A petition in Texas has had the most signatures - over 94,000. Texas Governor Rick Perry, who ran for president this year, said he opposes seceding.

The White House must respond to a secession request if a state submits over 25,000 signatures in 30 days. Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, Tennessee and North Carolina have reached those thresholds.

The Wisconsin petition reads in part, "We believe in our rights that were granted to us in the Constitution our ancestors wrote, and we also believe that your administration is infringing on those rights."

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UW-Madison atheist group gets $67,000 in student-fee funding

An atheist group at UW-Madison might become the first of its kind in the nation to get a full year's worth of student fee revenues for its programs on campus.

The UW's Student Services Finance Committee has voted to allocate over $67,000 next year to the AHA - Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics.

Group president Chris Calvey said the funding would give support services to Madison students who have doubts about their faith, and they can have a place to discuss their concerns without fear of recrimination.

Calvey said religious groups have received student funds for years.

"It's about time that secular students got the support we deserve," he added.

The Secular Student Alliance of Columbus Ohio says the UW's full-year grant appears to be the largest ever awarded to an atheist group.

Jesse Galef of the Alliance told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that secular groups often get a few hundred dollars from their campuses for specific programs, but none of its 383 chapters have received full funding.

David Gardner of the Associated Students of Madison said the finance panel does not make value judgments in granting student funds. He said the only criterion is the direct benefit to students.

The UW's Student Council, chancellor and Board of Regents must still approve the allocation. But Gardner said finance committee recommendations are rarely overturned.

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Fake photojournalist allegedly tries to arrange photo-shoots with girl athletes

Police in southeast Wisconsin say they're looking for a man posing as a newspaper photojournalist who's been contacting girls' high school sports teams to have players join him for photo shoots.

WTMJ TV in Milwaukee says the imposter contacted girls at Whitefish Bay, Hartland Arrowhead, Kewaskum, Milwaukee Pius and Verona high schools.

And at Cedarburg, the man reportedly set up a photo-shoot with two girls but did not show up for it. Cedarburg Police say they have a lead on a possible suspect -- a middle-aged man who has impersonated politicians and police officers in the past.

Police say they do not believe any private meetings actually occurred, and no one was in custody at last word.

Cedarburg Officer Joseph Biliskov told WTMJ, "We want to identify this person, and make this guy go away." He said police are just interested in keeping things safe for children.

Most news outlets require photojournalists to wear picture ID's to prove that they're legitimate.

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Corn harvest nearly complete

Wisconsin farmers are wrapping up their corn harvests well ahead of schedule.

The National Ag Statistics Service has issued its final progress report on the state's crops. Ninety-four percent of the corn for grain was harvested as of Sunday - 25% more than the normal for mid-November.

Yields have varied greatly, even with the same fields, and despite the drought, numerous reporters said the quality of their corn was better than expected.

The latest government estimate has Wisconsin harvesting 431 million bushels of corn for the year, 17% less than a year ago.

Farmers have completed 72% of their fall tillage work - the most by this date in the 30 years in which tillage records have been kept.

Half of Wisconsin's farm fields remain short or very short of moisture.

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Rayovac back in the black

The Madison company that makes Rayovac batteries and Black and Decker tools is making a profit again.

Spectrum Brands reports a net income of $5.5 million from July through September, the final quarter of its fiscal year.

The company lost almost $34 million at the same time a year ago. Earnings totaled 10 cents a share in the last quarter, compared to a loss of 65 cents a share the previous year.

Spectrum also reported record sales for its recently completed fiscal year. Product sales totaled almost $833 million for the year ending Sept. 30. That's up from last year's sales of $827 million.

For the entire fiscal year, Spectrum Brands said it made almost $49 million or 91 cents a share. It lost $75 million the previous year, or 1.47 cents per share.

CEO Dave Lumley said the numbers reflect the strength of its replacement products and brands, and consumers appreciate Spectrum's strategy of offering the same performance from its products at lower prices.

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Kegs fall; brewery shut down briefly when CO detected

The Sprecher Brewery in suburban Milwaukee was evacuated for almost two hours late Wednesday after elevated levels of carbon monoxide were found throughout the plant.

The CO was discovered after an accident in which an employee was hit by several kegs that fell.

North Shore firefighters and ambulance crews responded to the mishap around 4 p.m. at the Glendale brewing facility, and a carbon monoxide alarm attached to one of their medical kits sounded. Paramedics discovered elevated CO levels in much of the plant so authorities evacuated it.

Paramedic Dan Tyk said exhaust from a forklift was the apparent source of the carbon monoxide, and the brewery was aired out before workers returned a little before 6 p.m.

The injured employee suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

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Champion gymnast hangs up her medals

Wisconsin's most decorated female gymnast is calling it a career.

Chellsie Memmel, 24, of West Allis announced her retirement yesterday after winning three world championships and an Olympic silver medal.

She tried making a comeback this year before the London Games after a number of injuries. But Memmel did not make it past the qualifying round at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships.

She said it's sad to be finished as a competitor, but she looks forward to other things. Memmel says she might do some coaching, and she has started the process of becoming a judge.

Also, Memmel expects to return to school, and she plans to get married next Aug. 31.

Memmel leaves with six world medals, including the 2005 all-around gold medal and the 2003 team title, which was a first for the American women.

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