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Amery man earns brat champ title; Favre to join Packers Hall of Fame, have No. 4 retired; 12 more state news items

Travis Mizejewski of Amery is the new brat-eating champion in Sheboygan.

He downed 18 sausages in ten minutes over the weekend at Sheboygan's annual Brat Days Festival.

Mizejewski broke a possible tie by gobbling down his final bratwurst in the final 15 seconds.

A year ago, Mizejewski, 34, finished second to Bobby Smith of Racine by a count of 20-17. Smith did not return to defend his title which gave Mizejewski an opening.

He won $500 and a year's supply of Johnsonville Sausage. He also won $500 for a charity of his choice. He gave it to the Sheboygan Neighbors against Drugs program.


Favre to join Packers Hall of Fame, have No. 4 retired

Brett Favre spilled the beans on his Website -- he'll be inducted next year into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, and his No. 4 will be retired.

It was no surprise anyway as various media outlets reported what the Packers and Favre will say at a 1:30 p.m. news conference today.

Favre was Green Bay's quarterback for 16 years with two Super Bowl appearances and one championship ring. He retired after the 2007 season but was shut out of Packer camp in 2008 when he wanted to un-retire.

The Packers shipped him off to the New York Jets for a year. He then played for rival Minnesota for two seasons while admitting it was a dig at Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson.

Hard feelings continued on both sides until Packers' president Mark Murphy and ex-president Bob Harlan convinced No. 4 to come "home." Favre himself eased up a year and a half ago when he appeared with his Green Bay successor Aaron Rodgers on the annual NFL awards show. Favre has been retired from the NFL since 2010.

On his Website, he called it a "tremendous honor" to play for 16 years with the Packers and to have his name placed among legends like Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, Paul Hornung and Reggie White.

Favre said it would have never been possible without the foresight of Ron Wolf, whom he called "the greatest general manager in the history of the NFL."


Troopers wind up 4-day effort to avoid deaths on interstates

Wisconsin state troopers will spend one more day on saturation patrols along I-94 and I-90 as part of a coast-to-coast challenge to make it through four straight days -- including an entire weekend -- without a death on two of the nation's longest interstates.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, no deaths were reported anywhere along the 5,600 miles of I-90 and I-94 from Massachusetts to Washington State.

The safe driving campaign wraps up tonight in 15 states, including Wisconsin where more patrol cars were added Friday along with an aircraft to check for speeders.

Wisconsin officials say the campaign is taking place on what's normally the deadliest month of the year on the state's highways. Over the past five years, an average of 62 Wisconsin motorists has been killed during crashes in August.


55 Wisconsin school districts apply for free-lunch grants

At least 55 Wisconsin school districts have applied for a federal program that gives all students free breakfast and lunch regardless of their incomes.

The Beloit district is one of the latest to be approved for the Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act that was passed in 2010. Beloit had been offering universal breakfasts, and it will add lunch when fall classes begin Sept. 2.

The program applies to lower-income districts. To qualify, at least 40% of students must be eligible to receive free-or-reduced-price school lunches.

In Beloit, 77% qualify. School spokeswoman Janelle Marotz told the Beloit Daily News that students cannot focus on learning when they're hungry.

"We have to take care of their physical needs before we can meet their academic needs,” said Marotz.

Students will not have to submit income applications to receive the free meals, but the Beloit district will still collect them for other funding programs.

Maureen Fitzgerald of the local Hunger Task Force says about 26 Wisconsin districts and 200 individual schools have been approved for the universal meals and more could be approved by the time the program's application deadline Aug. 31.


Over 24 injured when pickup collides with Dells ‘Duck’

Over a dozen people are recovering after a Wisconsin Dells tourist vehicle collided with a pickup truck.

Lake Delton police are still investigating Saturday's mishap in which 13 people were taken to hospitals -- none with life-threatening injuries.

Officials said the pickup might have crossed the center line and hit an Army Duck land-and-water vehicle. Two dozen passengers were on the Duck at the time, and two were in the pickup truck.

The crash occurred Saturday afternoon on County Trunk A.


Democrats push to regain control of Senate in November

Wisconsin Democrats need to gain two seats this fall to regain control of the state Senate.

The Republicans now have an 18-15 majority in the upper house. With four GOP incumbents stepping down, Democrats hope they can take at least half those seats and end the total control Republicans have had in both houses since 2011.

Voters in southwest Wisconsin will choose a nominee a week from tomorrow for one of those Senate posts as two Democrats hope to replace longtime Republican Dale Schultz of Richland Center.

Spring Green lawyer Pat Bomhack and former state Department of Transportation budget director Ernie Wittwer are competing for the right to go up against Assembly Republican Howard Marklein of Spring Green in November.

Marklein will have a tremendous financial edge with $285,000 in his campaign fund as of last month. Wittwer had $54,000, and Bomhack $23,000.

However, former legislator and UW-Milwaukee political scientist Mordecai Lee says it will be a "real race" due to the moderate nature of Schultz's district. Lee told the AP it depends on whether the Democratic finalist can portray Marklein as an “out of the mainstream conservative.”


Thunderstorms predicted for this evening

More thunderstorms are in the forecast through this evening -- especially in central and southern Wisconsin.

The National Weather Service says small hail, gusty winds and heavy rains can be expected.

Another hail storm hit northeast Wisconsin last night. One-inch hail fell near Argonne in Forest County.

Once the storms clear out, only isolated sprinkles are predicted for tomorrow in the far south. Otherwise, the Weather Service says it will stay dry for the rest of the week with mostly normal temperatures.

Highs are supposed to be in the 70's to near 80 with lows mostly in the 50's. A few 40's are possible in the north tonight.


Illinois man charged with harassing loons

Loons in northern Wisconsin are having enough problems surviving without boaters trying to chase them down.

A Crystal Lake, Ill., man was cited last week for allegedly using his personal watercraft to chase both adult and baby loons on Deer Lake near Tomahawk.

A Department of Natural Resources warden said the mother loons and their babies appeared to escape the incident unharmed.

But the same couldn't be said for their alleged pursuer. The DNR gave him a citation for harassing wildlife, and Lincoln County sheriff's deputies cited him for not having a boater's safety certificate.

Northern Wisconsin loons have had trouble with growing numbers of black flies this year. One expert said in June that 70% of nesting loons in north central Wisconsin have been forced to leave their eggs behind.

--Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau


State’s cheese production rises again

Wisconsin cheese-making continues to be on the upswing after six straight months of production declines ended in April.

According to new federal figures, the state pumped out 235 million pounds of cheese in June – 3.6% more than the same month a year ago.

The Brownfield Ag News Service says the increase reflects better quality in Wisconsin's first hay crop this year.

The state's higher output was much larger than the national increase of .5% in June, to 916 million pounds. Wisconsin also extended its national lead over second-place California which had just a .1% jump in June to 195 million pounds.

Wisconsin had a big increase in its production of Italian cheeses at just over 7% from a year. Cheddar and American cheeses were both down slightly.

For the first six months of the year, total U.S. cheese production was up 1.5% from the first half of 2013.


Family of severely injured Sikh minister still hopes for recovery

The family of Sikh minister Punjab Singh continues to hold out hope for his recovery almost two years after he was shot in the head in Oak Creek.

Singh, 66, is an internationally known priest for the Sikhs. He was among four people injured two years ago tomorrow when gunman Wade Michael Page opened fire at the Sikh Temple near Milwaukee. Six worshippers were killed.

Page's motive was never determined although many point to his white supremacist background.

The AP says Punjab Singh still cannot speak or move his body. But he does answer yes or no by blinking his eyes, and there are hints of motion in his right arm and leg.

Singh's family is still hopeful that a recovery remains possible although doctors said his injuries might be too severe for that. Relatives say they draw their strength from the constant Sikh optimism, an acceptance of God's will and a lack of anger against the gunman.

Memorial services are being held through tomorrow at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek.


Madison considers fee to fight emerald ash borer

The state continues to restrict increases in local property taxes so the city of Madison has been looking at new ways to charge its residents for the growing cost of fighting the tree-killing emerald ash borer.

The city's Alternative Revenue Work Group has been studying ideas to pay for programs with large price spikes.

Wisconsin Public Radio says an ordinance will be introduced tomorrow for a fee to help Madison's Forestry Division do its work. The amount has not been determined, but the fee could be based on the length of a residential property line next to its adjoining street. The average fee would be around $50.

Madison plans to boost its forestry budget from $3.6 million in 2013 to $5.9 million next year due largely to the city's effort to fight the emerald ash borer.


Two teens arrested in shooting death of photographer

Two teenagers have been arrested in Racine for the shooting death of a freelance photographer in Chicago.

Police said the juveniles were the gunman and an accomplice in the mid-July shooting of Wil Lewis, 28, who lived in northeast Wisconsin while he was growing up. Prosecutors said the gunman was aiming at somebody in a rival gang when he shot Lewis in the back by mistake.

Eric Vaughn, 31, was charged recently with first-degree murder in the Lewis death. Officials said he provided the gun and drove the getaway car.

At last word, one of the teens was being held in the Racine County Jail under a $750,000 bond. The other was being held without bond as both were awaiting extradition to Illinois.

Lewis was born in Guatemala. He was adopted and moved to Sturgeon Bay at age seven, where his father Joseph Lewis was the high school principal at the time. The family moved to Kaukauna when Joseph got another job there.

Wil Lewis graduated from Kaukauna High School in 2005. He has a photography degree from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.


Man dies while walking on highway near Wisconsin Dells

Sauk County sheriff's deputies are still investigating the death of a man who was struck by a vehicle while he was walking on a highway.

Officials said the 31-year-old victim was in a traffic lane early yesterday on County Trunk BD between the Baraboo-Wisconsin Dells Airport and the Ho-Chunk Casino.

The pedestrian died at the scene. Investigators said alcohol did not appear to be a factor for the vehicle driver.


No injuries as sailboat runs aground

Two people and a dog escaped injury after their sailboat ran aground on Lake Michigan near Wind Point.

Racine County authorities responded to a marine distress call yesterday. They said the 33-foot boat got stuck, and water flowed in which couldn't be removed quickly enough.

A 39-year-old Oak Creek woman was sailing the boat with a 45-year-old Milwaukee man. The couple and the pet dog were transferred to a sheriff's patrol boat and taken to safety at a marina.

The woman told Racine County water rescuers she was not familiar with the area, and she did not realize the water was too shallow for her sailboat.