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Over 100 homes evacuated after trains collide near Slinger; Heat index could reach 100 here; 10 more state news items

Dozens of residents returned home in Slinger this morning after two trains collided and derailed.

Officials in the Washington County village evacuated more than 100 homes Sunday night after a freight train struck cars on another train at an intersection of two tracks owned by separate railroads.

The accident happened around 8:30 last night near an intersection of rail lines owned by the Wisconsin and Southern and Canadian National railroads. About 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from one of the engines.

Three engines and ten cars of both trains derailed. Two crew members suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Patrick Waldron of the Canadian National Railway said one of its trains -- with three southbound locomotives and three cars with frac sand -- derailed and hit cars from a Wisconsin and Southern train that had lumber, steel and plastic pellets. Slinger Fire Chief Rick Hanke said some of the lumber spilled.

Homes south and east of the derailment were evacuated as a precaution. The Slinger Middle School served as a temporary shelter during the night. A number of people stayed with other relatives or went to a hotel in nearby Hartford.

Hanke said there were concerns that the spilled diesel fuel would start on fire but it didn't.

Slinger is a village of over 5,000 residents about 30 miles north of Milwaukee.



Heat index could reach 100 here

Much of Wisconsin will have its stickiest day of the summer. Heat advisories will be in effect through this evening in parts of the northwest where some places could get their first 90-degree days of the year.

The National Weather Service says the heat index could reach 100 in the St. Croix River valley.

Lots of people will try to find swimming holes to cool off, but that could be a problem on the east shore of Door County where the Weather Service has issued a beach hazard statement for dangerous swimming conditions on the shores of Lake Michigan. Waves of 2 ft. to 4 ft. are possible along the Eastern Door through 9 p.m.

Things are expected to cool off tomorrow after a low-pressure system brings thunderstorms to the northwest half of Wisconsin tonight. Highs tomorrow are expected to drop to the 70's and low 80's, but another round of storms is due in late tomorrow. The Weather Service says those storms could be severe.



Kitchen fire ends in damage to Miller Park elevators

A fire broke out overnight at a restaurant inside Milwaukee's Miller Park baseball stadium.

Crews were called around 2 a.m. to Friday's Front Row Sports Grill just behind the left-field wall at the foul pole.

Deputy Fire Chief Aaron Lipski said the blaze appears to have started in the kitchen of the restaurant and spread through duct work. Nobody was hurt. The cause remains unknown.

There was flooding in several meeting rooms, and the ballpark's elevators and escalators are not working down the left-field line. Brewers' executive vice president Rick Schlesinger said most of the damage was caused by water from the firefighting efforts and the ballpark's sprinkler system.

The Brewers are supposed to open a three-game series against Cincinnati tonight at Miller Park. Schlesinger says the game will go on. Fans can use escalators and elevators in other parts of the stadium.


Utility plans to sell former employee lodge

A former lodge for utility employees is being sold in far northern Wisconsin.

Integrys, the parent company of the Wisconsin Public Service utility, is selling 200 acres of its former Awassa Lodge along Lake Content in the Vilas County community of St. Germain.

Kerry Spees of Public Service said the site was a retreat for employees, but the firm decided a couple years ago that neither the lodge nor the acreage was needed.

The land has since been subdivided into 23 lots, most along the lakefront. A firm began marketing the property last week, and an auction will take place Sept. 18 in St. Germain.

Also, Integrys is negotiating with a single buyer for another 235 acres of the lodge site that's not adjacent to the lake. Spees said the land could have been sold a few years ago had it not been for plunge in the real estate market during the Great Recession. There's also a small amount of land on Big St. Germain Lake.

For more information, go to the company's Website at

--Ken Krall, WXPR, Rhinelander


Longer shifts seem to work for prison guards

State officials are thinking about having guards work longer shifts at a second prison next year after the idea got good reviews at the first place it was tried.

Correctional officers at the Prairie du Chien prison have been working 12-hour shifts instead of eight since January.

The Department of Corrections tried the idea to see how it would affect the prison's budget, operations and morale among guards. According to a department survey, 60% of Prairie du Chien employees thought the move saved money and 78% said it's now easier to balance their work and personal lives with fewer actual days on the job.

Those numbers have officials considering the same experiment next year at a second medium-security prison with twice as many inmates -- the one at Redgranite in Waushara County.

A prison sergeant there, Jennifer Murphy, is not wild about it. She and her husband both work at the prison, and Jennifer is afraid the longer shifts would make it impossible to get child care for their five-year-old youngster with special needs.

Murphy put it this way to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "People are going to lose custody of their kids over this."


Man playing with fireworks burns his own pickup

A northern Wisconsin man was let off with a warning for lighting illegal fireworks -- and it's just as well since he had vehicle damage as a result.

Lincoln County authorities responded to a pickup truck fire late Saturday night at a business near Tomahawk. A neighbor had already put out the fire with an extinguisher before firefighters could get to work.

Investigators said the man admitted firing bottle rockets, and one of them landed in the bed of his 13-year-old pickup truck. The bedliner caught fire, causing damage to the box, tailgate paint and taillights. No one was injured.


After seven months, Wisconsin’s milk production up slightly

For the first time in seven months, Wisconsin milk production is up from the year before.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wisconsin made 2.3 billion pounds of milk in June -- six-tenths of a percent more than the same month of 2013.

The state's increase was still below the national jump of 1.9%. But Wisconsin had six straight months of declines until its May milk production equaled that of the previous year. The long and cold winter was a major reason for the monthly drops in output.

Wisconsin had just over 1.25 million cows producing an average of 1,825 pounds of milk last month. That's still 63 pounds below the national figure, which was the highest since the USDA began keeping track of it in 2003.

Wisconsin remains in second place behind top-producing California. The Golden State had a 1.7% hike in its June milk production.


One dies, two injured in skydiving accidents

Two skydiving accidents in southeast Wisconsin killed a man and injured two others.

A 44-year-old Racine man died after his parachute became entangled with another man's chute, and he plunged to his death around 5:30 p.m. yesterday at the Sylvania Airport in the Racine County town of Yorkville.

The second diver in that incident escaped serious injury after falling into a group of trees near a roadway. Officials did not say last evening how seriously the survivor was hurt.

The second mishap occurred late yesterday morning at Fort Atkinson's airport in Jefferson County. Officials said an experienced female skydiver in her mid-30's missed her target. She was taken to UW Hospital in Madison as a precaution.

Jefferson Fire Chief Ron Wegner told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she apparently pulled up late with her parachute and landed in a cornfield. He said the woman was "alert and joking" when talking to rescuers, and she's expected to survive.


134-year-old school bell rings again

A 134-year-old school bell was returned to a central Wisconsin village over the weekend.

About 100 people attended a ceremony where the bell was rung to dedicate a new community center in Birnamwood, 25 miles east of Wausau.

The bell dates back to 1880. It summoned youngsters to Birnamwood High School until it closed in the 1970's.

Since then, a teacher from that school kept the bell at her home in Antigo. A couple other people stored it later. Residents say they're glad it's now back where it belongs.

--Zach Hagenbucher, WSAU, Wausau)


Freeway reopens after weekend of construction work

Wisconsin's busiest freeway interchange is reopening today after most of it was shut down during the weekend.

Interstate-94 was closed for 54 hours just west of Milwaukee for construction work that's part of a $1.7 billion rebuilding of the Zoo Interchange on 94 at the Hwy. 45 freeway.

Mike Pyritz of the state Department of Transportation said all of the scheduled work was completed on time and there should be no more traffic delays than usual as the road was to reopen at 5:30 a.m.

Pyritz could not say how many vehicles were diverted to detours or had avoided the interchange altogether. He said there were no accidents yesterday after a minor crash occurred Saturday on one of the detour routes.

During the weekend, a new railroad bridge was installed over the Interstate, part of an old southbound bridge on Hwy. 100 was torn down, and a large storm sewer was put in underneath the freeways.


Private school shuts down; parents lose tuition payments

Parents in northeast Wisconsin stand to lose up to $30,000 in advance tuition payments after a private school in De Pere shut down.

The six-year-old Wisconsin International School blamed declining enrollment and shortfalls in fundraising for the Chapter Seven bankruptcy it filed earlier this month.

A bankruptcy judge is scheduled to meet with creditors and school officials one month from today.

School officials told parents they were planning to enroll 120 students this fall, 30% fewer than last year. They also said their fundraising fell 30% short of what they budgeted.

The bankruptcy filing said the school had around $50,000 in assets and $550,000 in liabilities.

In Chapter Seven bankruptcy, a business closes and sells its assets. A trustee pays whatever claims can be covered. Two families might be out $29,000 in advance tuition.

The bankruptcy filing also says school board President Todd Thiel could be out $17,000 in tuition payments. Former school director Mary Vanden Busch is owed more than $15,000 in wages.


Suicide attempt prompts evacuation of Madison apartments

Eight apartments in Madison were evacuated after authorities said somebody in the building spread chemicals in an apparent suicide attempt.

Police and firefighters were called to the apartment complex around 8:45 p.m. last night.

One person was taken to a hospital. The extent of the injury and the person's condition were not immediately disclosed.

Neither was the type of chemicals that were spread. A block around the building was closed while a hazmat team handled the situation. The site was cleared around 2 a.m. this morning.