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Obama returning to Milwaukee for Laborfest; 110 votes missing in state Senate primary recount; 13 more state new items

For the third time in seven years, President Obama will visit Milwaukee on Labor Day.

He's expected to speak at the city's Laborfest on Monday, but the White House has not released any details.

Obama spoke to about 7,000 people at the 2010 Laborfest. He also attended the event in 2008 during his first campaign for the presidency.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke also plans to be there. Her campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki was not immediately sure whether Burke and Obama will appear on stage at the same time.

Burke is running neck and neck with Republican Gov. Scott Walker. With less than ten weeks before the election, a new Marquette Law School poll has the two in a dead heat -- even though a third of the 800-plus registered voters still don't know enough about her to form an opinion.

The same poll gives Obama a 45% approval rating as president with 50% disapproving of his job. Obama's last Wisconsin appearance was in January when he spoke about job training at a GE plant in Waukesha.


110 votes missing in state Senate primary recount

The final result is still not known in a state Senate primary after Green County canvassers certified a recount yesterday with 110 ballots missing.

Democrat Pat Bomhack asked for the recount after the Election Night tally from Aug. 12 showed him losing to Ernie Wittwer by just seven votes out of 7,700 cast. Bomhack gained 28 votes in Monroe where the ballots were lost.

However, we still don't know who won the primary because recounts have not been completed yet in the Juneau and Richland county parts of the 17th Senate District.

Wittwer, a former Department of Transportation budget director, says he'll talk to a lawyer before deciding whether to challenge Green County's final canvass.

It's not known why Monroe had ballots missing. City Clerk Carol Stamm told the county canvassing board that a poll worker might have mixed used and unused ballots before throwing the unused ones away. She also said it's possible that somebody took the ballots right after the polls closed. Police are investigating to see if a crime took place.

The final winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Howard Marklein in November for the Senate seat to be given up by moderate Republican Dale Schultz.


Man gets 42-year sentence for killing restaurant cook who intervened in food fight

A Milwaukee man who killed a cook at a George Webb's restaurant was sentenced yesterday to 42 years in prison.

Jurors allowed Delorean Bryson, 29, to escape a life term by convicting him on a reduced charge of reckless homicide.

He shot Reginald Evans, 21, last December as the cook was trying to stop a food fight in which Evans and others in his group were harassing other customers.

Restaurant owner Thomas Aldridge said the shooting caused him to lose insurance for all of his diners after 31 years. He said sales are down significantly, and customers still want to know exactly where Evans had been killed.

Circuit Judge Timothy Dugan said Bryson lied during his trial, claiming he was drunk while remembering every small detail of what happened. Dugan also Bryson blamed everyone involved in the incident except himself.

Three others in the group were given jail time for the altercation that led up to the shooting.


Potawatomi tribe could forfeit 2,000 slot machines in state fee dispute

The Potawatomi tribe might lose almost 2,000 slot machines at its casino in Milwaukee if it keeps refusing to pay its annual fee to the state, according to letters obtained by the Journal Sentinel.

The newspaper reports that Potawatomi Chairman Gus Frank told Gov. Scott Walker that the tribe's estimated $25 million annual fee is paid in exchange for not allowing any other casinos within 50 miles.

Frank reportedly wrote that if Walker approves the Menominee tribe's Hard Rock casino in Kenosha, the Potawatomi's fee would amount to an illegal tax. That letter was written July 9.

Two weeks later, Walker special attorney Lance Boldrey said if the Potawatomi wins its case, additional gaming approved in 2003 by former Gov. Jim Doyle would be voided, and the casino would be limited to having 1,000 slots and video poker machines instead of its present 3,000 with the compact to expire in 2019.

Tribal spokesman Ken Walsh called the governor's warning "attorney bluster."

Walker told lawmakers Tuesday that the Potawatomi's refusal to pay its fee could put a crimp into the state budget.

Earlier yesterday, state and local leaders from Kenosha held a news conference to urge Walker to approve the casino, saying it would create thousands of new jobs. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he wants to make sure the casino will be successful enough for its owners to keep their promise to offset losses at other casinos in the region.


UW-Platteville reopens with most storm damage repaired

UW-Platteville will hold a "grand re-opening" tomorrow after a tornado whipped through the campus on June 16.

University System President Ray Cross will join Chancellor Dennis Shields at a news conference and a ceremony on the rear patio of the Engineering Hall.

The campus had an estimated $10 million in damage when a twister with winds up to 120 mph damaged a school park and half a dozen buildings. That includes Platteville's football stadium -- where new turf is expected to be fully installed by early to mid-September.

The Pioneers' first two home soccer games had to be relocated, but officials say all events after Sept. 9 will go on as planned. Parts of Memorial Park remain closed, and the school is preparing an online map. Campus dining facilities are back in full swing, serving students who've arrived early for fall classes.


Bomb threat temporarily closes Superior CVS

An apparent national effort to extort money from CVS pharmacies has come to northwest Wisconsin.

Media reports said CVS outlets across the country have been targeted with false bomb threats to try to get money from the chain.

In Superior, police were called to a bomb threat at that city's CVS Pharmacy around 2:30 p.m. yesterday. The store was closed for a short time while officers checked the building and found nothing suspicious.


Inspector general says Milwaukee FBI director used ‘extremely poor judgment’

The U.S. Department of Justice's internal watchdog said former Milwaukee FBI office Director Teresa Carlson used "extremely poor judgment" by influencing an employee's testimony in a disability trial.

The inspector general released its report on the matter yesterday after the department's Public Integrity unit refused to prosecute Carlson.

Oak Creek native Justin Slaby filed a lawsuit, alleging he was wrongly dismissed from a training academy for FBI agents because he lost his left hand while serving in Iraq as an Army Ranger.

Slaby's attorney later said Carlson tried to get her former employee Mark Crider to testify against Slaby in a trial, claiming he was not qualified to be an agent due to his disability. Crider had previously supported Slaby, and he later testified to that effect at a trial last August in which Slaby won his right to train with the FBI.

Carlson's alleged influence was leaked out before the trial. Once that happened, she was transferred to Washington as a deputy assistant FBI director, a post she still holds.  She has not commented on the inspector general's findings.


Wausau woman gets 2-year term for backing over toddler

A Wausau woman has been sentenced to two years in jail for killing a toddler while backing out of a driveway four years ago when she was 17.

Shanice Stands, who's now 21, was also put on five years of probation with a long list of conditions she has to follow. If she doesn't, she'll go to prison for three to eight years.

The incident happened in September of 2010 in Forest County. Stands was leaving a driveway when her vehicle ran over a three-year-old boy, who died the same night at a Rhinelander hospital. Authorities said Stands was high on marijuana at the time, and she did not have a driver's license -- only a learner's permit issued in Minnesota.

She was fined $5,000 as part of her sentencing yesterday. Half of her jail term is for four previous bail jumping charges. Stands pleaded guilty to felony counts of negligent homicide and driving under the influence of a controlled substance. Other charges were dropped in a plea deal.

--Ken Krall, WXPR, Rhinelander


Giant ragweed wins ‘Biggest Weed Contest’

If you have weeds in your yard, they're probably nothing compared to the winners of the "Biggest Weed contest" at this month's Farm Technology Days.

The UW-Extension says Wayne Greeler of Neillsville had the grand champion -- a giant ragweed plant over 10 ft. tall and 7 ft. wide.

Ken McGwin of Montello actually had a taller ragweed. But his 12-footer didn't win because it was only 4 ft. wide.

The weeds were measured in their normal growth forms. There were winners each day of the three-day farm show. They'll all get to learn more about their weeds since they're receiving weed-identification books.


Review: Child porn investigations delayed in four cities

Milwaukee is apparently not the only place in Wisconsin where child pornography investigations have been delayed.

The Journal Sentinel obtained a spreadsheet yesterday showing that 41 cases waited for at least two months to be investigated at state Department of Justice field offices in Wausau, Eau Claire and Madison as well as Milwaukee.

As of late February, the average delay in the 41 cases in question was more than a year. The longest was 3 1/2 years.

The documents were the result of a DOJ review. Spokeswoman Dana Brueck told the Journal Sentinel it did not identify a problematic pattern at any other the state's field offices outside Milwaukee. She cited a number of reasons why cases could be delayed, due to things like the quality of the tips received and the complexity of certain cases.

Milwaukee field office Director Willie Brantley was let go after investigative delays were exposed at his facility. Milwaukee Agent Anna King quit. Those cases showed that a Racine man was left free to molest a boy he was babysitting, and a drug and alcohol counselor from Pewaukee did not have to register as a sex offender in his abuse case.


Woman pleads guilty to feeding oxycodone to toddler who died

A western Wisconsin woman has been convicted on reduced charges for drugging her boyfriend's young daughter to death.

Amanda Butts, 23, pleaded guilty in Trempealeau County to reckless homicide and no contest to felony child abuse. One other abuse charge was dropped along with a count of illegally serving narcotics to a minor.

Prosecutors said Butts was babysitting 22-month-old Alexis Behlke in June of last year when she bruised the toddler and fed her a combination of drugs that included oxycodone. Officials quoted Butts as saying that Alexis was whining and would not sleep so she gave the child the drugs to settle her down. Her boyfriend was working at the time.

Butts’ sentencing date has not been set. A scheduling conference is scheduled for Sept. 8.

Online court records also show that Butts has a plea hearing scheduled Sept. 29 on a Jackson County charge of obstructing an officer. That charge came about three months after the child’s death.


Birnamwood teen escapes alleged abductor

Shawano County authorities said a 14-year-old girl managed to escape an attempted abduction about 1:10 p.m. yesterday on a farm near Birnamwood.

Deputies said the girl was walking on a sand road between two corn fields when a tall teenage boy tried to grab her. Officials said the girl broke free and went to a nearby house to call 9-1-1.

There was no immediate word on whether the girl was injured. Deputies said they're looking for a person of interest in the case.

--Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau


Court appearance set for ex-deputy accused of killing wife, sister-in-law

A former Dane County sheriff's deputy is due in court tomorrow on allegations that he murdered his wife and sister-in-law two months after being diagnosed with ALS.

WIBA Radio in Madison said Andy Steele, 39, is being held in the Rock County Jail in Janesville to avoid a conflict of interest with the Dane County jail staffers who used to be his co-workers.

Steele's wife Ashlee and her sister Kacee Tollefsbol were found shot at the Steele family home last Friday. Authorities said Andy Steele apparently tried to take his own life during the incident. He was taken to a Milwaukee medical facility for treatment before he was transferred to jail.

He'll make his first court appearance on closed circuit TV on the same day the murder victims will be remembered at a memorial service in their hometown of Stillwater, Minn.

Andy Steele was booked for homicide, but online court records did not show him being charged as of this morning. He was a deputy for 14 years before retiring in June once he learned he had Lou Gehrig's disease.


DOT summary says combination of factors caused Green Bay bridge to sag

State transportation officials said a "highly unusual" combination of factors caused a high interstate bridge in Green Bay to sag last September.

The Department of Transportation released a summary yesterday of its final report of the incident in which a support pier went down 2 ft. and caused part of the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge on I-43 to sag. No one was hurt at that time.

Minor corrosion was also found on 17 other piers. It took 2 1/2 months to make the repairs, and the DOT said the final cost was $10 million -- much less than the $18 million to $20 million that was originally projected.

Officials said soil conditions caused the foundation of steel piling to corrode and buckle. Those factors included a porous fill of fly ash in the upper levels of the soil, and the water and soils surrounding the piling had high amounts of chlorides.

Project manager Tom Buchholz told WLUK TV in Green Bay it was amazing the bridge still stood after the sagging incident.

"We're very, very lucky," he said.

As part of the repairs, crews installed probes that monitor rust and corrosion, and pilings at eight spots on the bridge will be tested every two years.


Dove hunting season starts Monday

Wisconsin's newly extended mourning dove hunting season will begin on Labor Day.

Officials agreed to let hunters shoot the cooing doves from Sept. 1 through Nov. 29. That's 20 days longer than in the past.

The Department of Natural Resources says Monday is also the start of the early teal and goose hunts. The early teal season will run through Sept. 7. The early goose hunt goes through Sept. 15.