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New twist sets people up for future scam; Driver’s ed teacher fails sobriety test; More state briefs

A new lottery phone scam is targeting Wisconsin consumers with callers telling people they are eligible for unclaimed Powerball prizes.

The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says the scam involves the caller asking a person to pick numbers. The caller can then call back claiming the person has won millions of dollars.

Phony prize promises are a common scam, but consumer protection officials say this one has a new twist. The scammer does not ask the victim for any money or personal information, which are the usual red flags to look out for.

Instead it appears they are casing the consumers for future scams, asking general financial questions about investments and the values of their homes. While playing along many not put your money at immediate risk, it could make you a target for future scams.

Wisconsin Lottery officials say the only time you would get a call from the Lottery is if you entered and won a mail-in drawing.



Driver’s ed teacher fails sobriety test

A driver's education teacher in the Whitehall has been arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Police say the woman was driving the student vehicle when she was spotted weaving and crossing the centerline on a street in Whitehall Sunday about 8 a.m. A police report says the woman pulled into a parking lot where she met four driving students.

The woman told the officer she had taken medication that morning. She was arrested after failing a field sobriety test.


Former Assembly leader may face sexual assault charges

The Waukesha County district attorney is reviewing a criminal sexual assault referral against ousted Assembly Majority Leader Bill Kramer sent to his office by the Muskego Police Department Wednesday morning.

A Republican from Waukesha, Kramer was removed as majority leader by Assembly Republicans earlier this month amid allegations that he sexually harassed two women while in Washington, D.C.

Kramer filed paperwork Monday stating that he would not seek re-election.


Some counties lose population; state number up 1%

Forty of Wisconsin’s 72 counties declined slightly in population from 2010 to 2013, according to the most recent estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The declines affected mostly smaller counties that have struggled to maintain population levels during the past decade.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that only two counties with more than 100,000 people -- Racine and Sheboygan -- lost people since 2010.

Rusk and Price counties shrank by the largest percentage, both by about 2.2%. Wood County lost the greatest number of people at 821.

Still the growth in some of the larger counties counterbalanced the modest declines in rural Wisconsin. Overall, the state's population increased by 53,653 -- or less than 1% -- to 5,742,713.


Eau Claire co-op asks members to buy into solar garden

A farm field between Eau Claire and Fall Creek may become an energy-producing solar garden for members of the Eau Claire Energy Cooperative if a plan co-op officials are considering proceeds.

The Eau Claire Leader Telegram reports that the plan calls for the co-op’s 10,600 members to have the option to buy one or more solar panels and receive a break in the prices they pay for energy produced by the co-op.

The solar panels would be placed in a five-acre field on co-op property behind its offices on Hwy. 12 east of Eau Claire. The panels would be screened from the highway by trees.


Elderly man dies after collision with squad car

An 81-year-old West Allis man was killed Wednesday after colliding with a squad car on its way to an accident just before 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Authorities say the elderly man died after arriving at the hospital. His name is being withheld until relatives are notified.

Police say the officer was treated for minor injuries and released. The Wisconsin State Patrol has been asked to investigate the crash.


Walker’s approval rating dips a little

Gov. Scott Walker's job approval rating has taken a slight dip according a survey of registered voters.

The Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday shows that 47% of voters approve of how the Republican governor is handling his job. The same portion disapproves, and 6% are unsure. A January poll found 51% approved of Walker's job performance.

The poll also asks how voters see Walker as a person. Forty-nine percent see him favorably and 47% unfavorably, about the same as in January.

The poll interviewed 801 registered votes between March 20 and 23. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.



Cheese company plans closing; 67 jobs will be lost

One of New London's major employers is shutting down.

Saputo Cheese says its plant in New London will close by Aug. 23. The closing will put 67 people out of work.

The plant has operated in New London for more than 60 years. Saputo says it would be too expensive to update the plant to modern standards.

The Montreal-based company is closing three other plants -- one in Maryland and two in Canada. The closings are set to begin in May and be finished by December 2015.


$54 million offered to settle PCB damage to Fox River

The Green Bay Press Gazette reports that four paper companies, the city of Appleton and the Neenah-Menasha Sewerage Commission agreed Wednesday to pay $54.1 million to settle federal, state and tribal claims for the decades-old discharge of PCBs into the lower Fox River.

In return, the companies and municipalities will receive protection against the claims of non-settling parties NCR Corp. and Appleton Papers Inc.

According to federal court documents, U.S. Paper Mills Corp. will pay $14.7 million for the cleanup of PCBs and natural resource damages. Menasha Corp. will pay $13.7 million, WTM 1 Company will pay $12.2 million, and CBC Coating Inc. will pay $3 million.

Appleton and the Neenah-Menasha Sewerage Commission each will pay $5.2 million. In addition the state will pay $100,000.

The settlement must be approved by U.S. District Court Judge William Griesbach after a 30-day comment period.


Teen gets life term for role in deadly home invasion

A Milwaukee teenager was sentenced to life behind bars for his role in a deadly 2012 home invasion involving the death of a neighbor.

Lavarray Johnikin, 17, was found guilty of five counts, including first-degree intentional homicide party to a crime, at a trial in December 2013.

Johnikin would be eligible to seek parole after 35 years of the mandatory life sentence.

Daron Coleman-Lemmie, 21, died 17 days after being shot in the incident. Before his death, he and his sister, who was also wounded in the incident, picked Johnikin out of a lineup. The actual shooter has not been arrested.


Poll says Walker-Burke race will be close

Poll says According to a new poll, the governor's race between incumbent Republican Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke remains tight.

The Marquette law school poll released Wednesday shows that 48% of registered voters would vote for Walker and 41% support Burke. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The poll of 801 registered voters was done between March 20 and 23. It's the first poll conducted since the two campaigns started advertising in the governor's race.


Supreme Court: Teen who alleges abuse must release medical records

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a teenager who accused a billionaire heir to the SC Johnson fortune of sexually abusing her for years can't testify at his trial unless she agrees to release her medical records.

That reverses a decision the high court issued a year ago. Last summer the court ruled the girl could testify against 58-year-old Samuel Curtis Johnson, the son of the late SC Johnson chairman Sam Johnson.

On Wednesday the court issued an order clarifying that the ruling amounted to a deadlock. That means a lower court decision barring the girl from testifying until she releases her medical records stands. The girl has refused to release the records.


Green Bay floodplain premiums up as much as 300%

Green Bay homeowners were among the hardest hit in the state after FEMA recently raised insurance rates for those living in flooplains. Some residents saw premiums climb as much as 300%.

Realtors Association of Northeast Wisconsin President Mari Reichel is hopeful legislation signed by President Obama last week will limit future increases.

The bill limits annual increases to between 18% and 25%, which Reichel says should provide more certainty for property owners. Without the limits, Reichel says it would have been nearly impossible to sell homes located in a floodplain.