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CO from grill suspected in poisoning 13 people; Walker calls e-mail flub 'old news'; more state briefs

ARCADIA -- Thirteen people were taken to a hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning from a home near Arcadia in western Wisconsin.

Trempealeau County authorities responded to a house where seven adults and five children fell ill late Sunday afternoon.

A responding officer also succumbed, and was treated at a local hospital and later released. WQOW TV in Eau Claire said there was no word on the conditions of the other 12 people.

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported that three helicopters and several ground ambulances were dispatched to the scene.

Officials said a charcoal grill was apparently being used to heat the home. The incident remains under investigation.

Neither the identities of those injured nor their conditions had been released as of early Monday.

Walker declares e-mail release as 'old news'; mum on prior knowledge question Gov. Scott Walker repeated to the nation Sunday what he told Wisconsinites on Friday -- that the release of e-mails from his former Milwaukee County executive staff is "old news" and Democrats are trying to score points by harping on it.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Walker said the 27,000 documents released last week were from an investigation that ended last March although his ex-aide Kelly Rindfleisch is still appealing her illegal campaigning conviction in that case.

Among other things, the documents confirmed a secret e-mail system in Walker's Milwaukee County office, and close ties between the Walker campaign and county staffs during his 2010 race for governor.

Fox host Chris Wallace asked the governor whether he knew there was a private e-mail account. Walker wouldn't answer, saying he won't pore through all of the 27,000 documents released. He also pointed out that it was a Democratic district attorney, Milwaukee's John Chisholm, who did the investigation.

Walker said Democrats are bringing up the case because "The folks running against us can't counter our positive message when it comes to the economy, and creating budget surpluses."

Cable News Network said Walker would not say whether he regretted ordering daily conference calls between his county and campaign aides while he ran for governor in 2010.

Department of Revenue urges Wisconsinites to guard identities Tax time is getting to be prime-time for identity theft in Wisconsin. The state's consumer protection agency received almost 400 complaints about identity theft last year. Fifty-seven percent of those victims, or 227, said their income tax returns were rejected because somebody stole their information and beat them to a refund.

Victims can get their situations rectified but it often takes months of paperwork to clear their names. Both the IRS and the Wisconsin Revenue Department recently announced safeguards to make sure people get a chance to file their own returns.

The Federal Trade Commission reported 160,000 cases of tax identity theft around the country for 2012. That's four times more than just two years earlier.

Among other things, officials urge you not to answer phone calls and e-mails from someone claiming to be from the IRS.

The FTC said almost half of identity thieves use their stolen data to obtain government benefits and commit wage-related fraud. Thirteen percent receive credit cards in the victims' names.

Green Bay mulls hand-held cell phone ban GREEN BAY -- Green Bay might become the next Wisconsin city to ban hand-held cell phones while driving.

Wausau passed a similar ordinance earlier this month, with the prospect that its suburbs would do the same. Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids banned hand-held cell phones by drivers a while back.

A Green Bay committee was to discuss the idea Monday evening.

Alderman Jerry Wiezbiskie tells WLUK TV the need for a ban became clear when the snow started piling up this winter. He said about nine of every ten drivers who go by his house when he's shoveling on the street are holding their phones and "I know they don't see me."

Wausau officials encountered little opposition in approving its cell ban. It remains to be seen whether the same thing could happen in Green Bay.

Pizza delivery man Zak Quick told the TV station he needs a cell phone to contact customers, clarify orders, and check his delivery locations -- and hands-free phones don't always cut it. He said if drivers can't talk on their cells "Why not ban fast-food" behind the wheel.

Next 'polar vortex' bringing familiar chill The National Weather Service advises Wisconsinites to get ready for another "polar vortex" this week.

Highs are expected to be in the teens and 20's Monday but by Tuesday forecasters say it could be 10 degrees colder. By Wednesday, parts of northern and western Wisconsin will be back down to 20-below.

The entire state could be in the deep freeze until Friday, well below normal for this time of year.

The National Weather Service does not have any cold advisories out for now but we could see wind-chill advisories tomorrow night and Wednesday night, as wind-chills drop into the minus-30's again. There's a chance for light snow tonight across southern Wisconsin, but most of the state is expected to remain dry all week.

Building surge points up skilled worker shortage As the economy improves, many parts of Wisconsin are in need of qualified builders and skilled manufacturing employees. Those companies often look to the state's apprenticeship program to fill their needs -- but the apprenticeship pool has gotten smaller.

State officials said there were almost 9,800 apprenticeships in the various building trades last year down from almost 16,000 in 2001.

The Wisconsin State Journal said it has become more of a challenge to get young people to consider apprenticeships, despite the need for skilled workers.

Madison electrical contractor Mike Pohlman said his company does a lot of outreach to schools and some schools don't seem to want to direct students to the building trades. Madison College apprenticeship manager Jim Cook the situation has improved in Dane County because of a recent construction boom. He says the demand for apprentice services has not been this strong since WW II.

J & L Steel, Hudson wins biggest contract ever The new St. Croix River bridge near Hudson will be built primarily with local labor and materials. Over $80 million are expected to be given to sub-contractors that include J & L Steel and Electrical Services of Hudson. They'll get $65 million, the firm's largest contract ever, to provide all the steel and electrical work for the new four-lane bridge.

Cemstone, a Twin Cities firm with facilities in Wisconsin, will provide much of the concrete for the project.

Lunda Construction of Black River Falls and Ames Construction of Burnsville, Minn. are running a joint venture as the general contractor.

Project manager Jon Chiglo of Minnesota's DOT says it makes sense to use local labor because they know the lay of the landscape, and they have stronger ties to the project's leadership.

The new bridge and its approaches are expected to cost $629 million. It's supposed to be completed in 2016.

Outdoor accidents claim two lives A 51-year-old snowmobiler has been found dead near Delavan, about 12 hours after he went missing on Saturday night.

Walworth County authorities said the man's family found his snowmobile on Lake Delavan around 8 a.m., Sunday. They called for help, and rescuers found the man's body near the place where it overturned.

A state DNR warden said the machine apparently hit a snow-bank and went airborne. Alcohol and speed appear to be factors. The crash remains under investigation.

The victim's name was not immediately released. He is the 16th person to die in Wisconsin snowmobile crashes this winter.

Meanwhile, a Clintonville man who died after he got pinned between a milk truck and a barn is identified as 63-year-old Michael Clauson.

Authorities said he had just finished pumping out a farmer's bulk tank and was unhooking a hose when the truck slid backwards on an icy driveway and trapped Clauson.

It happened early Friday afternoon in the Outagamie County town of Bovina. Clauson died at the scene.

Train strike claims a life in CF; pedestrian killed in Milwaukee MILWAUKEE -- A pedestrian was killed this morning in a traffic crash on Milwaukee's west side.

The fire department and the medical examiner's office said they were called to the incident, which happened about 5:30 a.m., Monday. Officers were still on the scene at last word.

Meanwhile, police in Chippewa Falls continue to investigate the death of person whose body parts were found over a one- to two-mile stretch of railroad tracks.

Officers found an identification card was among the personal items but officials said it was not enough to identify the victim who's believed to be a man.

Chief Wendy Stelter said the victim was either walking alone on the tracks, or was on a Union Pacific train that went through. The train was stopped a few miles outside of Chippewa Falls, and crew members apparently had no indication that it struck anything.

A passerby called 9-1-1 about 7:10 a.m., Sunday after finding various things along the tracks. The victim's body and personal items were found along several miles.

West Allis detective dies in childbirth WEST ALLIS -- Law enforcement officers from throughout Wisconsin were expected to attend a funeral Monday for a suburban Milwaukee detective.

Stacie Napoli, 39, died last Monday, of complications from giving birth to twins -- a boy and a girl. She was a 17-year veteran of the West Allis Police Department.

A procession of police vehicles will start at a funeral home in New Berlin, with stops at the West Allis police station and finally a cemetery in New Berlin. Flags are at half-staff in West Allis in Napoli's honor.

A photo of Napoli appears at

Amery man cited for OWI with child on-board MENOMONIE -- A 30-year-old Amery man was arrested for operating while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle, after a trooper clocked him traveling at 89 mph shortly before 4 a.m.

The State Patrol reported that Maurice Lipscomb, from Amery, was traveling eastbound on I-94 near mile marker 51 when he was stopped at 3:50 a.m.

There were two passengers in the vehicle, including a 60 year-old adult from Milwaukee whom did not possess a valid driver’s license and a 16 month-old child.

Lipscomb was taken to Mayo Health in Menomonie for a blood draw and subsequently released to a responsible adult, the Patrol noted in a press release.

Ice caves re-opened as WSJ joins publicity parade CORNUCOPIA -- The symbol of Wisconsin's icy winter is open to the public once again.

The caves, west of Bayfield, were closed last Thursday night after an 18-inch snowstorm hit the region, amid fears that the shaky ice underneath might not be strong enough. But on Saturday, officials affirmed that the ice was solid and folks were encouraged to use snowshoes and cross country skis to reach the ice caves until a path could be formed on the two-mile stretch from the access point at Meyers Beach.

It's been five years since the weather was cold enough to accommodate people walking under the scenic ice caves along the Lake Superior mainland on the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Social media spread the word, and worldwide news coverage followed, as crowds showed up like officials there have never seen.

The Wall Street Journal took its turn publicizing the ice caves Monday. Its photo blog includes images made by Hudson photographer Keith Crowley. View them here:

Since Jan. 15th, about 60,000 people have seen them. That's about 40 percent of the 150,000 who toured the entire Apostle Islands last year by boat.