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UW seeking extra $95 million to 'grow talent'; 'Rapids native killed in Afghanistan; 11 more Wisconsin stories

MADISON -- UW System President Ray Cross says the university must address a shortage of talent that's holding back the Wisconsin economy.

He told the Board of Regents in Oshkosh Thursday that the one constant he hears is that the University of Wisconsin should be more closely aligned with the needs of the state. That means developing top employees and leaders in the state's key industries.

Cross and other UW officials have prepared a Talent Development Initiative. To achieve it, he said the UW will need an extra $95 million in its next two-year budget.

Gov. Scott Walker has told state agencies not to seek any increases, but the UW Regents voted unanimously yesterday to request the additional funds for the budget which takes effect next July. Cross said he's been talking with the governor's office and lawmakers about the talent project on a weekly basis.

The initiative includes research and training funds leading to more workers in science, technology, engineering, and math -- the so-called "STEM" fields. The funding would also boost the numbers of UW graduates, increase internship opportunities, and preserve quality instruction.

Cross says the goal is to more closely align the UW's education and research with the state's economic needs.

The university won't know until next February if they have a chance to get the extra dollars it seeks. That's when the governor will introduce the budget to the next Legislature.

Trempealeau Co. ends frac-mining moratorium WHITEHALL -- A year-long moratorium on new frac-sand mines is about to end in Trempealeau County in western Wisconsin.

The County Board in Whitehall voted 8- to 7 this week against extending the mining ban.

A study committee has spent the last year examining the public health and safety effects of mining silica sand, which the oil and gas industry uses in domestic drilling activity.

County health director Cheryl Rhoda says the panel's final report is still being finalized, and will be presented to the county supervisors in mid-September.

Western Wisconsin has seen a boom in frac-sand mines in recent years. At one point, Trempealeau County had up to a quarter of the state's approved operations.

There are now around 115 frac-sand mines throughout the state.

Wisconsin native dies in Afghanistan A Wisconsin Rapids native has died in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon said Army Sergeant Matthew Leggett, 39, died Wednesday after he was attacked near Kabul's airport.

A relative said Leggett was born in Wisconsin Rapids, and his father grew up in nearby Nekoosa before moving to Texas. Leggett's most recent address was listed as Ruskin, Fla.

He enlisted in the Army in 1995, and was based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina since 2012.

He was an assistant operations sergeant assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the Army Times reported.

He served three tours of combat duty, and had won numerous awards -- including a Purple Heart for being wounded.

He is survived by his parents, Thea Marie Kurtz and Thomas Leggett.

Appeals court delays action on Voter ID plea CHICAGO -- Wisconsin voters will have to wait awhile to find out if they'll have to show photo identification at the polls on Nov. 4. On Thursday, the federal appeals court in Chicago said it would not act on the state's request to restore the voter I.D law, until after the court hears oral arguments in the case on Sept. 12.

The state is appealing a ruling from Federal Judge Lynn Adelman which found the Wisconsin I.D. law unconstitutional.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked the court to at least temporarily put the law back into place while the appeal is being considered, thus requiring voters to show I.D.s in the Nov. 4 elections.

Minor tornado Monday knocks down power poles SULLIVAN -- The National Weather Service now says a weak tornado landed in the Fox Valley earlier this week.

Officials said Thursday that a weak twister came down late Monday afternoon about two miles southeast of Medina in Winnebago County. Two utility poles were pushed over, and there was no damage reported to any buildings.

Wisconsin has had plenty of hailstorms and downpours in recent weeks but the Weather Service says the cool summer has kept tornadoes to a minimum. Meteorologist Jeff Last of the Weather Service in Green Bay says his office has issued only about half the average numbers of warnings this season.

The area has had above-average rainfalls. Coloma in Waushara County had a 1.4-inch downpour yesterday. The River Falls area recorded just over a quarter-inch of rain.

Warm and humid conditions are expected through the weekend in the Badger State. There's a chance of showers and thunderstorms each day. Highs will be in the 70's and 80's Friday and Saturday. Parts of southwest Wisconsin could reach the 90's on Sunday.

Latest calling scam implies IRS is inquiring MADISON -- Consumer scams against Wisconsinites keep growing. Sandy Chalmers of the state's consumer protection agency says the most prevalent scams involve callers claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service -- either to con people into thinking they owe back taxes, or they can get refunds if they provide their bank account numbers.

Other common scams tell victims they missed court dates, and they need to pay their fines on the phone and they need to pay $85 to someone to get property deeds which are much cheaper at the courthouse.

Chalmers says folks always have to be vigilent because there are so many scams right now.

She says those getting suspicious calls should hang-up, not open suspicious e-mails, and contact the state Ag, Trade, and Consumer Protection agency to report the scams.

-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau

Ryan would back Romney for another presidential run CHICAGO -- Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan says he'd love to see Mitt Romney run for president again. The two ran on the same ticket in 2012, when they lost to President Obama.

On Thursday, the two shared a stage again in Chicago, as Romney helped Ryan promote his new book which came out this week. It was the first time they appeared together since Ryan was Romney's vice-presidential running mate two years ago.

The former Massachusetts governor has repeatedly said he would not run for the White House again, after losing in the primaries in 2008 before his 2012 defeat.

Ryan kidded that the "third time's the charm" for Romney -- and Romney joked that Ryan would not be a bad president himself.

Ryan, the House Budget chairman, is often mentioned as a 2016 White House hopeful. Ryan says he won't decide whether the pursue the presidency until after this fall's mid-term elections.

Three dead near Fort Atkinson after rollover crash FORT ATKINSON -- Three people were killed when a vehicle struck a utility pole in southeast Wisconsin.

It was reported around 12:50 p.m. Thursday, east of Fort Atkinson on Jefferson CTH D.

Officials said the vehicle was going south when it lost control on a curve and struck the power pole. All three people in the vehicle died at the scene.

The victims' names have not been released. The crash remains under investigation.

Police chief victimized by burglary, theft WAUSAU -- A Michigan man is accused of breaking into the home of Wausau's police chief, and stealing his pick-up truck.

A Marathon County judge set bond at $20,000 Thursday for Jason Warner, 39.

Warner faces felony counts of burglary and vehicle theft, and misdemeanor counts of theft and criminal damage.

The break-in was reported Tuesday at Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel's home in the town of Maine. Officials said Warner left another vehicle in the chief's yard before stealing the truck.

Later that day, officials said Warner left Hardel's vehicle at a truck stop and got a ride from somebody else.

The State Patrol later got a report that a man was walking along Interstate-94, and they arrested Warner, who had been reported as missing and endangered by his Michigan family.

He's due back in court next Wednesday in Wausau for a preliminary hearing.

-- hanks Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau)

Bar owners allege conspiracy by city, Tavern League RACINE -- Minority owners of five former Racine taverns are trying again to win a federal lawsuit which claims that a conspiracy drove them out of business.

The tavern owners filed suit in federal court in Milwaukee, alleging that city officials and the local tavern league violated their civil rights. A similar suit was thrown out last month.

Federal Judge J.P Stadtmueller said the original claims were too broad and vague -- but he said the allegations might have merit, and he allowed the plaintiffs to enter a clarified complaint.

Among other things, the minority bar owners said the city "waged war" on them since 2006 over crime at their establishments while ignoring similar conduct at bars owned and patronized by whites.

The suit claimed that minority-owned taverns vanished from downtown Racine by the end of last year. It also alleged that officials took bribes and filed false campaign reports.

The new lawsuit has fewer defendants. They include Mayor John Dickert, ex-Mayor Gary Becker, a former alderman, City Council members, the Racine Tavern League, various business owners, and the head of the Downtown Racine Corporation.

Woman booted by giraffe at Madison Zoo pays $686 fine MADISON -- A California woman who climbed into a giraffe exhibit at the Madison zoo, and then complained about getting ticketed, has paid her fine.

Twenty-four year old Amanda Hall of San Luis Obispo tells WISN TV in Milwaukee she wanted to feed grass to the giraffe when she climbed in last Saturday at the Vilas Park Zoo. The 12-foot-tall animal ate grass from her hand, licked her, and then kicked her in the chin. Hall was cited for harassing zoo animals, which carries a $686 fine.

She told the Los Angeles Times this week she didn't need something like this on her record. Hall still believes getting kicked in the face should be punishment enough but she paid the fine anyway and apologized.

Zoo officials said it wasn't the smartest thing for Hall to touch a giraffe because those animals are killing lions if they're provoked enough.

Newlywed groom facing 2 abuse charges SHEBOYGAN -- A newlywed from Sheboygan is accused of beating his wife twice on their wedding night.

Jeffrey Schuette, 26, pleaded innocent this week to two misdemeanor counts of domestic abuse-battery. A $500 bond was ordered, and a tentative trial date is set for Oct. 8.

Prosecutors allege Schuette insisted on driving his 22-year-old bride to a hotel even though he was intoxicated. She reportedly said no and got a ride from somebody else.

At the hotel, authorities said Schuette hit his new wife several times in the face after she said he ruined her wedding night.

Officials said he punched the bride again later while the two were in bed. Police said one of the bride's eyes was swollen, and her face was numb.

She told officers that he was violent toward her several times in the past but she never reported it until now.

Pushy salesman gets taste of his own medicine from DA MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee County prosecutor said he allowed a pushy salesman to avoid an extortion charge, if he apologizes to his purported target.

Brian Larson wanted the Lake Express car ferry to advertise in the quarterly Outer Boundary publication, based in Menasha.

According to assistant D.A. David Feiss, Larson told Lake Express his publication would put out a negative story about the Lake Michigan car ferry if it didn't buy ads.

That was after a previous critical story about the Milwaukee ferry's opposition to a federal agreement involving the dumping of coal ash by a competing car ferry, the S.S. Badger of Manitowoc. Feiss tells the Journal Sentinel that Larson left a trail of incriminating e-mails and voice mails and instead of pursing criminal action, Feiss offered a diversion agreement in which an extortion charge won't be filed if he apologizes, does 40 hours of community service, and does not break any laws for six months.

If that doesn't happen, Feiss says he'll proceed with the case in court.

Madison native, Rolling Stone critic, dies Madison native Charles M. Young has died. He was a well-known rock music critic for Rolling Stone magazine, and he fought a brain tumor for the last 18 months.

Young often used the byline "The Reverend Charles M. Young." The Madison Capital Times said it referred to his childhood as the son of a Presbyterian minister.

Young introduced Rolling Stone readers to British punk rock, which included a cover story about the Sex Pistols in 1978. His stories and interviews covered a wide range of people -- including Jerry Lee Lewis and historian Howard Zinn.