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Economic recovery slow for Wisconsinites; Cities, villages spending more on roads; More news briefs

The typical Wisconsin household has still not recovered from the Great Recession.

The U.S. Census Bureau says the state’s median household income was just over $51,000. That's about the same as the national average, but it's 9.3% less than it was in 2000.

The new Census report also says Wisconsin's poverty rate has held steady for the last three years. It remains at just over 13%.

Milwaukee remains among the 15 poorest cities in the nation. Almost three of every 10 Milwaukee residents lived in poverty last year -- about the same as in 2011.

Mayor Tom Barrett said the city's high poverty affects the entire region, but there's been no rush to create a regional solution since the area's poverty has largely been centered in the city.

Milwaukee's poverty rate is about three times what it was in 1970 before many large industries left town. Poverty is much less prevalent in the suburbs. The new poverty line is just over $23,000 of annual income for a family of four.


Cities, villages spending more on roads

If you think your local streets are less bumpy these days, you might be right.

A new report from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance shows that the state's largest cities and villages spent 3.98% more on local road maintenance in 2011 than the year before. It's the first such increase since 2008 when the Great Recession began to take hold.

Tax Alliance President Todd Berry said communities appear to be in a "catch-up mode" with a renewed focus on road work after they directed their resources to other areas when the economy went south.

The amount of spending per resident on local road work was still less than pre-recession levels. The Tax Alliance said it was $116 per capita in 2001 compared to $122 per person in 2008.


Thunder storms predicted

A stormy day is ahead for Wisconsin. Strong thunderstorms moved into the central part of the state overnight.

The National Weather Service says most of the state will get rain and thunder-boomers this morning. Another large wave is expected this afternoon and evening.

Forecasters say there's only a slight chance that the storms will be severe with large hail and damaging winds. No storm watches or warnings were posted as of early this morning.

Highs in the 70's and 80's are predicted for most of Wisconsin today. It could get close to 90 in the far south.

Once the storms move out early tomorrow, a cold front is due in and that could drop tomorrow's highs by as much as 15 degrees. Readings in the 60's and 70's are expected tomorrow.

A clear weekend is in store, but the mercury might not reach 70 anywhere in the state on Saturday and Sunday. The Weather Service says the Fox Valley will get widespread frost on Saturday night with many places below freezing for the first time this fall.


Parents blame officials for releasing son who went on crime spree

The parents of a Madison man said their son did not get his required medications when he briefly jailed last month before he allegedly went on a major crime spree.

The parents of Kruger, 36, told the Wisconsin State Journal their son has bipolar disorder, and he was in a manic state while in jail in late August.

A jail official told the paper it's possible that Kruger was not up-to-date on his meds, and if that's the case, there's nothing officials could do.

Yesterday, Kruger was indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. He was held late last month for allegedly eluding an officer in Dane County and was freed on a signature bond.

Then a week and a half ago, authorities said Kruger allegedly stabbed and wounded a man in Madison, assaulted a Cassville man and took his guns, stole two vehicles and took a cattle truck owner hostage until the victim got help getting free.

Kruger’s parents say their son should have remained in jail the week before when he was first picked up. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said his office made a mistake in not asking that Kruger be jailed on a cash bond. Ozanne blamed a mix-up regarding Kruger's status of a previous probation.

Kruger was picked up again last Monday after a high-speed chase following his alleged crime spree. He's now under a $500,000 bond in Iowa County with 16 possible charges pending in Iowa, Grant and Dane counties.


Stout gets approval for more dorm space

An office facility at UW-Stout will be turned into new dormitory housing for students.

The State Building Commission yesterday approved a $7.9 million renovation of McCalmont Hall on the campus in Menomonie. The 50-year-old building has been used as a dormitory, but some of the space has been devoted to faculty offices. The offices are being moved elsewhere to make way for the added housing.

Vice Chancellor Phil Lyons said student living space has become more of a premium due to rising enrollments. The renovation will be covered by student fees and not tax dollars. It calls for redesigned restrooms, extra community spaces and infrastructure improvements.


Shot fired in downtown Madison after foot chase

Police took two teens into custody after a robbery and foot chase in downtown Madison in which a shot was fired. At last word, the suspects were not under arrest.

It all started around 6:20 p.m. Wednesday when a 19-year-old man reported being robbed of his wallet, backpack and keys at gunpoint on Gilman Street just west of the Capitol Square. Police believe that someone who knew the victim chased one of the robbers on foot toward Lake Mendota, and a robber fired a shot on Langdon Street. There was no indication that the bullet hit anybody.

University of Wisconsin police detained one of the suspects last evening, and Madison police picked up the other.

Officials said the hold-up was not random. Two school buildings in downtown Madison were on lockdown while the suspects were being sought. Officers thought one of the suspects might have run into a Madison College building, and the UW Memorial Union was also said to be in a lockdown mode. UW police sent out alerts urging people to stay inside. An "all-clear" was issued just before 9 p.m.


Man dies in crash after abducting daughter

A man killed in a car crash while being chased by authorities near Merrill has been identified as Justin Eichelt, 23, of Lublin in Taylor County.

He was being pursued by Lincoln County deputies late Tuesday afternoon for kidnapping his three-week-old daughter in violation of a court order that the child be referred to Taylor County Human Services. The girl was born drug-dependent.

She was taken to a hospital along with an 18-year-old female passenger from Weston. Authorities would not say if the woman was the child's mother. Both suffered undisclosed injuries.

Officials said Eichelt was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected in the crash. The incident remains under investigation.


Driver pleads no contest in hit-and-run death

A Milwaukee driver pleaded no contest Wednesday to killing a woman in a hit-and-run crash.

Edwood Hastings, 48, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 26 on his original felony charge of hit and run, causing death.

The state did not announce a sentencing recommendation. The charge calls for up to 25 years behind bars.

Witnesses said Hastings was speeding when his car struck and killed

Andrea Barringer, 32, one of three women running across the street. It happened the night of Aug. 11 on a busy Farwell Avenue on Milwaukee's east side.

Authorities said the three women had just left a restaurant, and Barringer was in a legal crosswalk when she was hit. Hastings told police he had just bought groceries and was driving home when he tried to avoid hitting Barringer but couldn't. He told police that he didn't stop because he wanted to talk to his family before he turned himself in the next day.

Barringer was a graduate student in art therapy and had gotten engaged just two days before she died.


FFA makes plans to offer award for organic farming

Organic farming in Wisconsin has taken a big step forward as the state's agriculture education group plans to honor a member who's proficient in the movement.

The Wisconsin FFA will present its first Organic Proficiency Award at its state convention next June. The Organic Valley co-op of La Farge is helping the FFA recognize a young farmer-member who shows proficiency in either organic entrepreneurship or placement. The award is being introduced at sectional FFA leadership workshops around the state this month.

Organic farming has become popular over the last two decades. It relies on natural farming techniques with strict limits on the use of manufactured aids like fertilizers, pesticides and plant growth regulators.

Meanwhile, Organic Valley is also working with the National FFA on a new proficiency award in an effort to promote the movement among young farmers across the country.


MP strikes plea deal in brother-in-law’s death

A military police officer was given a chance to escape a felony record for helping her husband hide his half-brother's dead body in southern Wisconsin.

Shannon Remus, 27, pleaded guilty in Dane County Wednesday to two reduced charges of misdemeanor obstruction. She struck a plea deal in which a felony count of hiding a corpse will be dropped if she successfully completes two years of probation. She’ll also spend nine months in jail.

Remus is a police officer at the Lewis-McChord joint military base near Tacoma, Wash.

Her husband, Jeffrey Vogelsberg, 29, is scheduled to stand trial next month on charges that he beat his autistic half-brother to death last year when the two lived together in Mazomanie.

Matthew Graville, 27, was found buried in a wooded area near Lone Rock last November.

The two men's landlord, Robert McCumber, allegedly helped bury Graville's body. He's charged with hiding a corpse, and his case is on hold until Vogelsberg's case is settled.

A spokesman at the Lewis-McChord base said Remus is still considered to be an active-duty soldier there, but he would not speculate on her future.