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State officials say they never forced a Merrill gas station to raise its prices, but they did tell it to stop offering discounts below the state's legal price. Janet Jenkins, consumer official, said her agency warned Raj Bhandari after a competitor complained. They told him to stop giving price breaks of two cents a gallon to seniors, and three cents to those who bought discount cards to benefit a youth hockey program. Those discounts put the price below the 9 percent markup the state requires for gas. Bhandri cut out his discounts. If he hadn't the state said they would have sued him.
University of Wisconsin officials say they're writing new guidelines to avoid conflicts of interest between financial aid offices and private lenders of student loans. But they won't be based on a code of conduct drafted by Andrew Cuomo, New York attorney general, who's investigating possible illegal activity in the student loan industry. Don Mash, UW vice president, updated the board of regents Thursday about the subject. He says the university will use rules drawn by a national group of financial aid administrators. That group first denied any abuses.
Appleton native J.P. Hayes is tied for ninth after the opening round of the PGA Players' Championship, the un-official "fifth major" in Florida. Hayes shot a one-under-par 71 Thursday at TPC Sawgrass. That puts him four strokes off the lead shared by Phil Mickelson and Rory Sabbatini. Steve Stricker of Madison is tied for 17th at even-par-72. Jerry Kelly of Madison is tied for 27th at one-over and Pewaukee native Mark Wilson shot a seven-over-79 Thursday, putting him in a tie for 122nd.
All four Wisconsin entries are still alive in the NCAA Division 3 softball tournament. At the Eau Claire Regional Thursday, the host University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire "Blugolds" beat Augustana 6-3. St. Norbert lost to Illinois Wesleyan 8-6 which means UW-Eau Claire will play Wesleyan Friday afternoon, while Saint Norbert will play Chicago in the loser's bracket. Chicago lost to Coe College 2-1 and then Coe fell to top-seeded UW-Oshkosh in the second round of the winner's bracket, 1-0.
The WIAC baseball tournament opens this morning (Friday) in Wisconsin Rapids. Top-seeded University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will play UW-Stout and then No. 2 UW-Stevens Point will face UW-Whitewater. The Midwest Conference tournament begins this morning at St. Norbert. The top-seeded host school will play Illinois while Ripon plays Monmouth. St. Norbert and Monmouth won their respective divisions in their regular season. The Northern Athletics' Conference baseball tourney kicks off this morning in Rockford.
A real estate agent is charged with trying to get a $75,000 kickback from a potential buyer of a state office building he was selling. Prosecutors said Larry Lupton, a vice president of UGL Equis in Brookfield, gave the person confidential details of rival bids. Once the state caught wind of what was happening they equipped the potential buyer with a recording device for a meeting with Lupton. According to prosecutors, Lupton said he didn't want to be greedy, and he'd only take a 0.25 percent as a kickback. UGL was contracted by the state to sell state properties to help cut the budget def
The attorney for a professional clown charged with 32 sex and violence related counts wonders if he's prosecuted more aggressively because of his checkered past. Ronald Schroeder, 37, who's known as "Silly the Clown" appeared Thursday in Waukesha County Circuit Court. He remains in jail under a $50,000 bond, and a judge will decide May 18 if there's enough evidence to put him on trial.
The father of the Cazenovia high school student accused of killing his principal says it's a tragedy he's being charged as an adult. Shawn Hainstock told the Wisconsin State Journal of Madison that his son Eric, 16, breaks down and cries a lot in jail. If he's convicted and sent to prison, Shawn fears Eric might say the wrong thing and "somebody would kill him, and that would be that." An effort to move Hainstock into juvenile court was rejected last month.
A man accused of beating a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student to death in La Crosse will have his trial delayed while he gets a new public defender. Ramona Gonzalez, circuit judge, agreed Thursday to let Irvin Ramirez, 24, fire public defenders Katherine Schnell and John Wabaunsee. He refused to give a reason and he's allowed to have one substitution with no questions asked. Still, prosecutors said delaying his trial is not a good enough reason to change lawyers. Ramirez is accused of killing Danielle Gorectke, 23, Minocqua, after robbing her and trying to rape her.
Smoke from the Ham Lake forest fire in the Arrowhead region of northern Minnesota is spreading across the region. A forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen, Minn., says that a cold front that went through the area last night is to blame. "The cold front brought with it northerly winds which is pushing the smoke south," said Karen Trammel. Trammel said that the smoke is causing reduced visibility as far east as Wausau and Marshfield in Wisconsin.