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Vet for Peace arrested at Capitol; Lights still out in 30,000 homes; Three tornados hit state; seven more state stories

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A member of the Veterans for Peace was arrested Wednesday after members of his group went to the State Capitol to support the Solidarity Singers.

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Capitol Police issued 15 more citations yesterday, resulting from a refusal by the anti-Walker singers to get a permit for their almost daily noontime sing-alongs.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the arrested member of the Veterans for Peace had his group’s flag confiscated and that spurred another member to yell and point at officers. Also, a woman sat down and refused to move, but she later got up and left before she could be arrested.

State Senate Democrat Jon Erpenbach of Middleton told the Wisconsin Radio Network that Gov. Scott Walker was being a “big bully” in the way his administration is handling the matter. Erpenbach said it’s disturbing that Capitol Police are handcuffing, searching and photographing people for what’s essentially a municipal ticket. He also criticized the idea of threatening observers with arrest if they don’t keep moving.

The police actions have gone on for two weeks, since Federal Judge William Conley upheld most of the administration’s policy that requires permits for Capitol gatherings with 20 or more people.

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Lights still out in 30,000 homes

Almost 30,000 electric customers are still in the dark more than 24 hours after three tornadoes and heavy thunderstorms hit northeast Wisconsin.

We Energies had 28,000 customers without power as of 4:30 this morning, mostly in the Appleton and Waupaca areas. Just over 53,000 lost their electricity in the first hours after the storms.

We Energies said three of its substations were damaged. Road debris is also said to be hampering electric restoration efforts. The utility expects to have 90% of its Fox Valley customers back in service by early Friday evening.

The Wisconsin Public Service utility still had 1.400 customers out this morning after 18,000 originally lost power in Brown, Calumet and Manitowoc counties. Eagle River had the utility’s largest number of outages this morning with just over 260. Public Service said it needed to replace about 100 power poles.

Also, an outage in Jackson County affected a repeater unit in Taylor where volunteer firefighters could not be paged for a time yesterday. That power has since been restored.

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Weather Service says three tornados hit state Wednesday

The National Weather Service now says three tornadoes caused most of the storm damage in the Fox Valley and northeast Wisconsin early yesterday.

In Marinette County, a man killed while clearing storm debris from a rural road was the chairman of the town of Porterfield. At least three people were injured from the storms.

Gov. Scott Walker plans to visit the Appleton region today, including visit to Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in New London – which was flattened by an EF-2 twister with winds over 110 mph.

The weather service said the tornado then went toward Hortonville where hundreds of homes were damaged by flying trees. The same storm also produced a second tornado on the north side of Appleton, where numerous homes were damaged and several utility poles snapped near a shopping mall. It was an EF-1 tornado, with winds of 100 mph to 110 mph.

The third twister hit Brown County near Kaukauna, damaging two barns and many trees. The EF-1 storm then moved into Calumet County, where two metal truss towers were blown down.

In the Marinette County traffic crash, officials said Porterfield Town Chairman Eugene LaCombe died and Keith Franks, 23, was hurt while clearing road debris. They were hit by a 19-year-old driver whose vision was limited by rain, winds and the glare from LaCombe’s vehicle which had flashing lights on.

An elderly couple had minor injuries at a campground in Fremont.

Outagamie County canceled its court sessions yesterday as it declared a state of emergency.

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Man accused of killing grandchild’s father

A former Wisconsin Rapids man has been ordered to stand trial for the 2008 murder of his daughter’s ex-boyfriend.

Joseph Reinwand, 54, is accused of shooting Dale Meister, 35, at the victim’s mobile home in Wisconsin Rapids.

A police detective testified that Meister had just obtained visitation rights for the baby he had with the defendant’s daughter. Reinwand’s attorney said the evidence was circumstantial, and he asked that the charges be dropped. They were not, and a plea hearing will be scheduled once a special prosecutor decides whether revised charges should be filed.

Reinwand is currently charged with first-degree intentional homicide, arson and two counts of bail jumping. Although the crime happened more than five years ago, the charges were not filed until May after Reinwand reportedly admitted to a fellow inmate at the Stanley prison that he stalked Meister before choking and shooting him.

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Jury says disabled soldier can train to be FBI agent

The head of a Wisconsin legal group said veterans scored a major victory Wednesday when a jury ordered the FBI to let a disabled Army Ranger train to be a special agent.

A federal jury in Virginia ruled that the FBI never gave Oak Creek native Justin Slaby a chance to prove he could meet the agency’s standards for handling a gun with his prosthetic hand. Slaby lost his left hand in 2004 in an Army training mishap.

Jeffrey Hynes of the Wisconsin Employment Lawyers Association said Slaby’s case will most likely help similar veterans who face employment barriers when they return home from service.

The FBI has not said whether it would appeal the jury’s verdict. If it does, Slaby says he’s confident he’ll prevail.

Meanwhile, the case still leaves Milwaukee’s top FBI agent in limbo. Media reports said Teresa Carlson was temporarily reassigned to Washington after she told agent Mark Crider to change his testimony in support of Slaby and “come down on the side of the government.”

Carlson also reportedly said FBI headquarters was not happy that the Milwaukee office endorsed Slaby’s application as an agent.

Carlson was subpoenaed to explain the remarks in court, but she invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. She is now under a criminal investigation.

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Grand Champion steer sells for $30,000

The Grand Champion steer went for $30,000 last night at the Governor’s Red, White and Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction at the State Fair in West Allis.

Dan Spoerlein raised the cross-bred steer. Kenosha Beef and Birchwood Foods bought the 1300-pound animal.

Sarah Lillesand, 16, sold her Reserve Champion steer for $18,000 to Milwaukee’s Potawatomi Bingo Casino.

The auction raised a total of $239,750, almost $19,000 more than last year. Some of the proceeds are used to fund more than a dozen scholarships.

Gov. Scott Walker ran through the crowd during the bidding, urging buyers to raise their offers. He called the auction a fun event that helps young people enjoy agriculture.

The State Fair began a week ago. It runs through Sunday.

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Wisconsin asked to extradite man accused of endangering courtroom workers

Wisconsin’s governor is being asked to send a criminal suspect from Upper Michigan back to his home state.

Scotland Stivers, 52, of Sault Sainte Marie has been fighting extradition ever since he was arrested in Marinette County June 7.

He’s charged with endangering courtroom workers when he tried to ingest a vial of sodium cyanide in a suicide attempt. That happened in March of last year, right after he was sentenced to jail for polluting a bay along Lake Huron by illegally mooring three old tugboats.

Stivers also faces assault charges in a second county where authorities said they found poison and 25 firearms at his home.

Officials said Stivers has skipped out on subsequent court dates in both Chippewa and Cheboygan counties in Michigan. Authorities said they captured Stivers in Marinette when he tried to check into a motel under an assumed name but paid with a credit card that listed his real name.

That was when Marinette officers learned that he was wanted on Michigan warrants. He’s being held in Marinette under a $100,000 dollar cash bond. A Chippewa County judge has asked Gov. Scott Walker to order Stivers’ extradition.

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DA says deputies justified in shooting, killing Elkhorn man

The chief prosecutor in Walworth County has cleared three sheriff’s deputies of wrongdoing after they shot a 39-year-old Elkhorn man to death in June.

District Attorney Daniel Necci determined Wednesday that officers Garth Frami, Wayne Blanchard and Jeffrey Shaw acted in self-defense when they shot at Jeremiah Krubert. His family said Krubert had previous struggles with mental illnesses.

The DA said Krubert attacked her mother’s boyfriend with a pipe and stole deputy Todd Neumann’s squad car after the officer tripped during a confrontation. Krubert crashed the car in a farm field and ignored requests from the three pursuing officers to drop a gun he found in the squad car. He was loading the weapon when he was shot by the three officers.

This is the second time the DA found Blanchard justified in shooting a suspect. He also killed John Brown, 22, in May of 2012. Brown’s mother has sued Walworth County for that incident.

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Public invited to meetings on road weight limits

Five town hall meetings will be held throughout Wisconsin during the next month, on the issue of weight limits for agricultural equipment on state highways.

A study group with more than 20 stakeholders recommended new height and width requirements for farm equipment that travels on Wisconsin highways. Weight allowances for so-called “implements of husbandry” would be 15% above those recommended by federal bridge formulas – except where posted and during spring thaws.

The UW-Extension Service will co-sponsor the five upcoming public meetings, along with agriculture and transportation officials.

Those meetings will all start at 7 p.m. Aug. 19 in Madison, Aug. 20 near Stratford, Aug. 28 in Cashton, Aug. 29 in Green Bay and Sept. 3 in Chippewa Falls.

More information is available on the DOT’s website, accessible at wisconsin.gov

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Deadline for applying for private-school vouchers is Friday

Tomorrow is the deadline for low-income parents to apply for state-funded vouchers to send their kids to private schools this fall.

Wisconsin approved a limited statewide choice program a few weeks ago. Forty-eight private and religious schools have applied for the program. The limit is 500 students. If there are more applicants than that, only the 25 schools with the highest numbers of applications will be allowed to take part.

The state Department of Public Instruction says it will wait until next week to announce how many parents apply and which schools will make the final cut.

Wisconsin’s voucher program has run for 20 years in Milwaukee and two years in Racine. Supporters say it provides a better alternative to under-performing public schools. Opponents say it takes away much-needed state funds from public education.

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