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One death blamed on ice storm; Good Samaritans fall off overpass; Fishing guide dies after falling through ice; more briefs

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

At least one death in Wisconsin was blamed on Sunday's snow and ice storm.

Authorities said a woman was killed and another person was injured in a three-vehicle crash near Boyceville in Dunn County in the northwest part of the state.

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Sheriff's deputies said an eastbound car sideswiped an oncoming pickup truck. The car then slid and was hit by a second oncoming pickup. A passenger in that vehicle was killed upon impact.

The car driver was taken to an Eau Claire hospital with undisclosed injuries.

The victims' names were not immediately released. The crash remains under investigation.

The region had snow and freezing rain Sunday, causing extremely icy conditions, mainly in western and central Wisconsin. Rice Lake had the most snow, with 5.2 inches. Many places in the northern half of the state had 3 to 4 inches. Milwaukee had around an inch. Much of southwest Wisconsin had two inches.

A handful of Wisconsin school districts are closed today, and dozens of schools are opening two hours late. The largest electric utilities in western Wisconsin report only a handful of power outages this morning.

This morning, much of the state's mid-section is close to the freezing mark. Forecasters say more freezing rain is possible today, along with patchy drizzle and flurries in most of the state.

Warmer temperatures are expected tonight with mixed precipitation and north and showers and thunderstorms in the south. Tomorrow's highs will be in the 40's and maybe 50 in some spots with more precipitation possible.

A major cool-down starts Wednesday. Parts of the north could get down to 15 below again by Thursday night.

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Good Samaritans fall off overpass

Two people were injured after they stopped to help victims of a traffic crash near Green Bay, and they fell off an overpass where the mishap occurred.

The incident happened shortly early Sunday morning on Hwy. 172 at Lime Kiln Road in Bellevue.

Brown County authorities said a car and an SUV were going west when they collided. Two people saw the crash and stopped to help people in the SUV.

A minivan came along and hit the SUV, and the two Good Samaritans fell from the overpass and into a ditch.

Officials said one had serious injuries, while the other had non-life-threatening injuries. Three others in the SUV and the minivan were treated at hospitals and later released. Two people in the car that was involved in the original crash were not hurt.

An investigation continues. Brown County officials say alcohol does not appear to be a factor.

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Fishing guide dies after falling through ice

Wisconsin has recorded its first snowmobile death of the New Year after a fishing guide was killed on Lake Superior near Bayfield.

Ashland County authorities said James Hudson, 34, of Bayfield was driving a machine that plunged through the ice Saturday on a channel between Bayfield and Long Island.

Hudson was a year-round fishing guide at the Apostle Islands and the nearby Chequamegon Bay.

The Coast Guard said a bystander may have tried to save Hudson, but the victim kept falling into the water. Rescue crews pulled Hudson from the lake early Saturday afternoon, and he was taken to a hospital in Duluth, Minn., where he was pronounced dead.

Ashland County sheriff's deputies and the state Department of Natural Resources are still investigating.

The DNR's Website reported four snowmobile deaths in Wisconsin this winter before Hudson was killed and none after Dec. 31. The five deaths so far are the same number as this time a year ago.

Hudson's wife received worldwide publicity last summer after she took a photo of a man and his elderly dog resting in Lake Superior.

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State's dairy farmers join push to let foreign workers stay

Immigration reform is high on President Obama's agenda for this year. And Wisconsin's dairy industry is joining a national push to let foreign workers stay on farms year-round and pursue permanent jobs in whatever fields they choose.

The American Farm Bureau and the National Milk Producers are part of a coalition promoting the change.

Unlike migrant workers, who can get seasonal farm jobs, foreign workers on dairy farms cannot get the required visas because their jobs are permanent instead of temporary.

Milwaukee immigration lawyer Erich Straub told the Journal Sentinel that the dairy industry desperately needs a change in the laws. He said it's an economic issue as well as a humanitarian concern.

A UW-Madison study showed that 40% of Wisconsin dairy employees are immigrants, mostly from Mexico, and around half do not have the required authorization to work in the U.S.

Jim Holte, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, said it's uncomfortable for the immigrants and their employers.

Despite high unemployment, Laurie Fischer of the Dairy Business Association said there's a shortage of people seeking dairy farm jobs, and her group favors some type of guest worker program.

The coalition backs 11-month visas with employees who are registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They would then be required to return home for 30 days. There would be no limit on 11-month visas.

Contracted employees could get 12-month work visas renewable indefinitely as long as they return to their home countries for 30 days every three years.

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Ryan says prepare for federal spending cuts

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Janesville wants to get us ready for deep cuts in federal spending this spring.

The Republican Ryan said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that those cuts are probably unavoidable because "Democrats have opposed our efforts to replace those cuts with others."

Democrats have insisted that tax hikes be part of any deal to avoid the automatic across-the-board spending cuts that are scheduled for many domestic and military programs.

The cuts were part of a plan to force a major deal toward reducing the federal deficit, but they were delayed at the start of the year when tax hikes took effect for higher-income people.

Ryan, the Republicans' vice-presidential nominee in 2012, says the nation is heading toward a debt crisis if it doesn't confront its government spending.

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Suppliers have trouble keeping up with demand at gun show

A gun show near Wausau attracted three times as many people as a year ago as customers buy weapons they fear will be banned soon.

Over 2,000 people showed up for the weekend gun show at the Cedar Creek mall, and sporting rifles that normally sell for $900 were going for over $2,000 each.

Suppliers say they've had trouble keeping up with the demand both before and after Obama proposed a ban on assault rifles and a uniform background check for all gun buyers, including private sales and those at gun shows for the first time.

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Fewer Wisconsinites going into bankruptcy; 2012 number just over 25,000

The number of Wisconsinites resorting to bankruptcy continues to go down as the economy keeps slowly improving.

According to federal court records, just over 25,000 state residents filed for bankruptcy last year. That's down 7% from the nearly 27,000 who sought protections in 2011.

Attorneys agree that falling unemployment is the biggest reason for the drop in bankruptcies, but there's another side to that.

Milwaukee attorney James Miller said people who've been out of work for months are filing for bankruptcy so the wages from their new jobs aren't garnished to pay old bills.

Also, Milwaukee lawyer David Leibowitz said many people are getting lower-level jobs than they had previously, and they cannot afford the same standard of living they had in the past when many carried lots of debt.

About three-fourths of all Wisconsin bankruptcies are the Chapter Seven kind that wipes out things like medical bills and credit card debt.

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