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Wisconsin roundup: ER visits for opioid overdoses double in Wis.; more state news stories

MADISON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the number of emergency room visits for opioid overdoses more than doubled between July 2016 and September 2017 in Wisconsin.

That's the biggest increase in 16 states tracked by the federal center. Wisconsin had more than 3,400 visits to its emergency rooms. ER visits rose by about 30 percent nationwide when patients sought help for suspected opioid overdoses. The CDC says the trend shows the need to enhance mental health services, treatment for addiction and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs.


Legislative leader: Youth prison plan won’t pass Senate as-is

MADISON — Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he doubts the governor's plan to close the youth prison and overhaul juvenile corrections will pass without changes.

The powerful Juneau-based Republican calls the process to draft the legislation "horrendous." Fitzgerald says he hasn't been given enough information about how it would work for him to support the plan. He does think there are enough Senate votes to close the youth prison only. Gov. Scott Walker disagrees, saying he thinks it will make it through the Wisconsin Senate. Walker and Senate Republicans were meeting Wednesday to talk about the juvenile corrections plan, school safety and passing a $100-per-child tax credit.


Milwaukee man admits stabbing prostitute to death

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee police say a man has admitted beating and stabbing a woman he calls a prostitute until she died.

Twenty-nine-year-old John Gillum walked into a police station Sunday, telling officers he had committed a homicide. Gillum says he argued with the woman over paying her for sex, beat her, stabbed her to death and wrapped her body in sheets, then dragged it into a shed behind his home. He told officers he lost control during the argument and killed 19-year-old Morgan Huennekens with a knife and a pipe.


Eau Claire bus system gets $5M federal grant

EAU CLAIRE — A $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will be used to help pay for a new transit center and multi-purpose building in downtown Eau Claire.

The complex would include two parking levels and apartments or condos on the upper floors of a seven-story building. The total cost of the complex is estimated at $23 million. Private industry partners are being sought. There is still no projected date for construction to begin.


La Crosse diocese employees told pensions will be smaller

LA CROSSE — An estimated 1,000 employees — current and former — of the Diocese of La Crosse will be affected by the termination of their pension plan.

Bishop William Patrick Callahan made the announcement this week. The plan had been frozen 11 years ago after being underfunded for years. Catholic school teachers, rectory workers, custodians, secretaries and other employees in 19 west-central Wisconsin counties are impacted. Monthly payments will continue until recipients get one final, lump-sum payment — probably this summer.


Controlled detonation does damage at Beaver Dam apartment

BEAVER DAM — Authorities say a controlled explosion Wednesday eliminates the danger from chemicals they found in the Beaver Dam apartment complex where a man died.

Dozens of residents who were evacuated have been allowed to return home. The chemicals in the apartment were so unstable the body of the victim wasn't removed until Tuesday. He had been killed in a blast reported Monday afternoon. Police say the body hasn't been identified. Beaver Dam police say it could take weeks — or even months — to complete the investigation of what was going on in that apartment.


Madison seeks state help to upgrade former Oscar Mayer site

MADISON — Finding a tenant for the former Oscar Mayer plant site would be enhanced by some upgrades and the Madison Common Council is being asked to apply for a $500,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to finance the proposed enhancements to the property.

The money would be passed on to the new owners to help rebuild the electrical, water and sewer systems. Production ceased at the Madison plant in 2017 after 98 years in business. At its peak, 4,000 people worked at the facility in the 1970s.


Student arrested for bringing BB gun to Madison-area middle school

MADISON — Madison police say a Toki Middle School student was taken into custody and transported to the Juvenile Reception Center for bringing a BB gun to school Tuesday.

School officials say school staff members received a tip around that the 13-year-old boy potentially had a weapon. Following the tip, officials checked his backpack and discovered the BB gun. The student is facing tentative charges of possession of a dangerous weapon on school grounds.


Eau Claire County Board passes ‘Lokken Law’ resolution

EAU CLAIRE — The Eau Claire County Board is supporting a change in state law affecting the retirement fund accounts of public employees convicted of stealing money from taxpayers.

The "Lokken Law" resolution was passed Tuesday night. It is named for former Eau Claire Treasurer Larry Lokken who was found guilty of embezzlement two years ago. If passed into state law, the measure would allow state and local governments to access state retirement fund accounts of public employees who steal money from taxpayers. Board members say 25 other states have similar laws.