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Wisconsin roundup: Authorities wonder: Where’s missing Eau Claire man?; more state news stories

Eau Claire police are hoping the public can help them track down 23-year-old Blake Mares, who went missing three weeks ago. Photo courtesy of Eau Claire Police Department

EAU CLAIRE — Eau Claire police are hoping the public can help them track down a 23-year-old man who went missing three weeks ago.

Blake Mares was wanted by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections when he ran from a traffic stop at 2 a.m. Oct. 20 in Eau Claire. Police say their main concern, for right now, is Mares' safety. They say they hope he or his family will contact authorities and confirm his well-being. The last time he was seen he was running into a wooded area.

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Foxconn deal signed, sealed

RACINE — The largest business investment in Wisconsin history has been signed, sealed and — at this point — delivered.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and about 300 leaders gathered in Racine Friday to watch Gov. Scott Walker and Foxconn founder Terry Gou sign a final contract. The Taiwanese technology giant will build a $10 billion LCD screen plant in Mount Pleasant — the first of its kind in the United States. State taxpayers are committed to spending to almost $3 billion in job-creating tax breaks, utility and road amenities, relaxed environmental restrictions, and more. Gou was given a "Foxconn" license plate and a hat that says "Wisconn Valley" — and if his company does not meet job creating benchmarks, Gou has promised to pay up to $500 million to make the taxpayers financially whole.

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Mutual blame game underway in Lincoln Hills saga

MADISON — The state says a small group of teenage inmates are causing most of the trouble at Lincoln Hills — while lawyers for the inmates say the states does not have enough staff and programs.

Both sides outlined their contentions to Federal Judge James Peterson of Madison, who's hearing a lawsuit into numerous problems at the state's boys and girls institutions at Irma in Lincoln County. State attorneys told Peterson that those causing the trouble might have to go to treatment facilities — including one who pepper sprayed a guard. The judge ordered in July that the state reduced its use of pepper spray, handcuffs, and solitary confinement — but workers say the conditions got especially unsafe after that, and Peterson gave both sides until Friday to spell out the conditions as they see them.

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Bill toughens law against using false names for web harassment

MADISON — A public hearing will be held Thursday on a bill that toughens a state law against using fake names to intimidate and threaten others online.

The Assembly's Criminal Justice Committee will hear what people think about a bill from Stratford Republican Bob Kulp which has cosponsors from both parties. It would make it a criminal misdemeanor to use a false name online to scare others or obtain something from them. Kulp says he proposed the idea to Ashland Senate Democrat Janet Bewley, after an impersonator tried scamming money from a friend on Facebook. His bill updates a similar law passed in 1996, reflecting the social media which did not exist back then.

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State firefighters union chief runs for governor

MADISON — The head of the state firefighters' union is the latest Democrat to run against Gov. Scott Walker next fall.

Mahlon Mitchell of Fitchburg announced his bid Monday morning, telling the Wisconsin State Journal it's "time for a change" after eight years of the Republican Walker. Mitchell ran for lieutenant governor in the 2012 recall elections, when he lost to Republican Rebecca Kleefisch. Mitchell, a Delavan native, became the first African American president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin in 2011. He joins a crowded field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates that includes state public school Superintendent Tony Evers, former state party chairman Matt Flynn, and state lawmakers Kathleen Vinehout and Dana Wachs.

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Former golf coach disgusted with himself for racist tweets

CAMBRIDGE — Former Cambridge High School boys' golf coach Brent Nottestad says he's disgusted with himself for tweets he admitted were racist.

The tweets criticized NASCAR driver Darrell Wallace Jr., who will become the first full time African American driver since 1971 in the top NASCAR series when he replaces Aric Almirola next year. Nottestad, who coached for four years at Cambridge, said there were 1,423 more credible drivers than him — a number used as a reference to a white supremacist group although the former coach said he had no intention to insult Wallace that way. The school district said it was alerted to Nottestad's tweets last week, and he resigned when officials met with him. He says he'll reach out to Wallace soon, but not expect him the coach to forgive him.

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State: Teen shot by deputy was despondent before death

MADISON — The state Justice Department says a 14-year-old boy killed by Ashland County sheriff's deputies was despondent for at least several days before he was shot.

The agency said during the weekend that Jason Pero approached Deputy Brock Mrdjenovich with a large butcher knife, refused to drop it upon the deputy's orders, and the officer was trying to retreat while Pero lunged at him twice.

The state says Pero himself was the one to alert deputies that he was walking with a knife Wednesday in Odanah. The Justice Department says Mrdjenovich, who was with the Ashland County sheriff's force for one year, is now on paid administrative leave as the state continues to investigate. Pero's family said Thursday that the teen was not a troublemaker, and his mother told WDIO-TV in Duluth that she planned to start a petition to have Ashland County deputies wear body cameras.

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Cattle drive goes awry after cows damage soybean field

LEBANON — A cattle drive went awry after some of the animals damaged a soybean field.

Dodge County sheriff's deputies say it happened Sunday morning near Lebanon, as 15 horseback riders planned to move 50 cows from the town of Lebanon through Hustisford to a farm at Juneau. But as soon as the drive began, deputies say a number of the animals wandered into a neighboring field of soybeans, causing damage to the crop — and the cattle were then corralled as the drive ended at that point.

Deputies say they're working with the owners of the cattle and the damaged field to resolve the matter. Dodge County sheriff's officials said they opposed the drive to begin with — because it would have followed county roads for about 15 miles and state laws gives cows the right of way.

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Milwaukee teacher accused of prostitution

RACINE COUNTY — A 37-year-old Milwaukee Public Schools substitute teacher is facing prostitution charges in Racine County.

Samantha Nelson allegedly used the website Backpage to advertise her services and was given $200 for sex by an undercover detective when she was arrested. Nelson's husband was found by police behind the wheel of the van that took her to the meeting, and their children were also in the vehicle. MPS has not commented other than to confirm she was not a full-time teacher in the district.

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Charter school has 23 unlicensed teachers

MILWAUKEE — It's been five months since a parent complained to the state about teachers at a Milwaukee charter school not being licensed, and the problem is persisting.

Television station WITI reports there are 23 unlicensed teachers at Milwaukee College Prep, which is a charter school with four campuses in the Milwaukee Public Schools system. The Wisconsin Department of Public Institution notes the charter school has high attendance, low dropout rates and improving test scores. Milwaukee College Prep has over 130 teachers, program aides and paraprofessionals.

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