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Federal shut-down furloughs 900 at Fort McCoy, affects some services; more state news

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About 900 civilian employees are being furloughed at Wisconsin's Fort McCoy due to the federal government shutdown. Spokeswoman Linda Fournier said the workers reported Tuesday to the Army base between Sparta and Tomah to do some housekeeping tasks. They'll be gone by Tuesday afternoon, unless somebody in Congress flinches and adopts a federal spending resolution to keep the government going as the new fiscal year begins.

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Majority House Republicans refuse to approve a spending package without a one-year delay in key parts of the Obama health law. Majority Senate Democrats refuse to pass a resolution with the Obama-care delay.

Around midnight Monday, the House called on negotiations with the Senate. Tuesday morning, the Senate refused a House request to choose negotiators -- and for a fourth time, it rejected the House measure 54- to 46.

At Fort McCoy, the commissary will close Wednesday. A hunt for the disabled at the fort this weekend will take place as scheduled. That's because outside contractors are running the event.

Military personnel will stay on the job, and a South Dakota National Guard will get training at McCoy as scheduled. The fort's campground also remains open.

All national parks are closed, which means visitors won't see the fall colors at the Apostle Islands or the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

The Wisconsin National Guard is losing over 800 technicians, most at bases in Madison and Milwaukee. Major Paul Rickert says about 210 technicians will stay on to perform essential operations. He stresses that the Guard will be ready should an emergency occur.

Wisconsin's federal courts will run as normal for at least 10 days before non-essential personnel start being let go. Some Head Start centers are shutting down, and more could gradually close if a shutdown continues.

There are agencies that will feel an indirect impact, like the Great Lakes Bio-Energy Research Center in Madison. It gets both state and federal funds that will run at least through December. Still, chief investigator Timothy Donohue says the center's work could slow down because a number of its partner labs could close. Essential services will continue, like federal law enforcement and air traffic control.

The Postal Service uses no tax dollars, which means Wisconsinites will keep getting mail.

OEM leader joining Walker as headline speaker at business event

MADISON – S. Mark Tyler, chief executive officer at OEM Fabricators, Woodville, will preceed Gov. Scott Walker at the podium Tuesday, Oct. 2nd as an expected 450 business executives gather to the future of the Wisconsin economy at a luncheon hosted by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's largest trade group.

Tyler will take the stage at 12:45 p.m. along with Gary Gigante of Waupaca Foundry, Waupaca, under the banner of "CEO Stories".

Walker will follow at 1:30 p.m. during WMC’s State of Wisconsin Business.

The event is being held at the Monona Terrace Convention Center.

WMC is Wisconsin's statewide chamber of commerce, the state manufacturers' association and the state safety council. WMC represents 3,500 employers of all sizes and from all sectors of the economy.

State workers employees could be moved to self-insured program

MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker is looking at the idea of having the state government provide its own health insurance to its employees, instead of having outside health maintenance organizations do it. A consultant says the state could save 4- to 5 percent a year by becoming self-insured -- mainly by avoiding taxes and fees under President Obama's Affordable Care Act.

Later Tuesday, the governor was expected learn more about the proposal by speaking with health plan executives. A committee of the state Group Insurance Board is scheduled to consider the idea on Oct. 11th.

Currently, the state has contracts with 18 private HMO's to insure state workers throughout Wisconsin. Self-insured employers pay benefits directly to its employees, and they carry the risk for their plan's losses.

The National Conference of State Legislature says at least 20 states self-insure their workers.

Three state firms share $62 million in defense contracts

Three Wisconsin companies will share over $62 million worth of defense contracts.

The MTEC Corporation of Janesville has been awarded $25 million for grenade testing and ammunition. The firm was the only one to take part in the Army's online bidding process.

Also, the Oshkosh Corporation has been awarded another $20 million to provide logistics support and upgraded armor for about 430 Marine vehicles in Okinawa, Japan.

The third contract went DRS Power & Control Technologies. The firm's Milwaukee plant will provide design and engineering services for energy storage modules at a cost of just over $17 million.

Wisconsin's corn, potato harvests underway

Officials say 3 percent of the state's corn-for-grain has been harvested, along with 54 percent of the corn for animal feed.

Some crop reporters say silage corn was too wet to chop after Saturday's heavy rains in many parts of the Badger State. Despite that rain, 59 percent of the topsoil is rated short or very short of moisture. That's about 4 percent less than a week ago.

In general, 44 percent of the Wisconsin corn is rated good-to-excellent, and 31 percent fair. About 42 percent of the state's soybeans are in good-to-excellent shape, and 32 percent is rated fair.

Officials say the potato harvest is underway in Portage, Marquette, Langlade, Vilas, and Dunn counties.

Nearly 500 Wisconsinites killed by domestic abuse since 2000

Almost 500 Wisconsinites have been killed by domestic abusers since 2000, according to a group called End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, which released an annual report on domestic homicides Monday.

The group said 52 people died in 38 incidents in the Badger State last year. In four of those cases, the abuser also died. The 2012 totals were up from the previous year, when 37 domestic abuse victims were killed.

The high during the 2000's came in 2009, when 67 victims died. The End Abuse group says workplace homicides appear to be on the rise -- as well as those involving veterans.

The group was formerly called the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Its director, Patti Seger, said abusers are too often not held accountable for their actions -- and they continue to illegally possess guns. The group said 53 domestic killers since 2000 used guns they were not allowed to have.

A bill in the state Legislature would require judges to verify whether those under domestic abuse restraining orders give up their weapons as required by law. The End Abuse group also wants to revive the idea of universal background checks for all gun sales -- something the U.S. Senate rejected earlier this year.

Feds will foot bill to cover Renard Island dredgings

GREEN BAY -- The federal government is paying almost $2 million dollars to cover an island in Green Bay where old sediment is stored.

A Green Bay company is getting almost $2 million federal dollars to put a cover on a site where sediment is stored.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Monday that Peters Concrete won a contract to install a cover at Renard Island. That's a 55-acre, man-made island near the mouth of the Fox River.

It was built 33 years ago, and it stores dredging sediments through 1996. About a quarter-million yards of clean sediment will be brought from another facility in Green Bay, and will create a three-foot cover on Renard Island. The work is expected to be finished in about a year-and-a-half.

Domestic spat spirals into threats, arson that injured three

WATERTOWN -- A 28-year-old woman faces 10 criminal charges, after she allegedly started a fire Sunday in a Watertown apartment following an argument with her ex-boyfriend.

Three people were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Two jumped from the second floor and the third was rescued.

According to Jefferson County prosecutors, Trisha Krueger and Jacob Verriden got into an intense argument early Sunday that included threatening text messages and yelling -- and she started the apartment on fire to "just hurt Verriden back."

The apartments were located above a tavern. Officials said the business and much of the apartments had extensive damage.

In court Monday, a $20,000 cash bond was ordered for Krueger on a charge of arson and six felony counts of reckless endangerment. A preliminary hearing was set for next Monday. Krueger also pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor count of battery and two charges of disorderly conduct. A signature bond was granted in that case.

Corrections' officials visiting Armenia on prison mission

Five Wisconsin corrections' officials are spending two weeks in Armenia, to help the country improve its prisons.

The group departed last Friday, and will return Oct. 12th. Wisconsin hosted Armenian correctional officials in May and August. They visited state prisons, and had a number of training sessions.

The Wisconsin group is visiting prisons in Armenia -- including a new lock-up that's being built in the province of Armavir.

The delegation hopes to help create activation and security plans for the new prison.

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Steve Dzubay
Steve Dzubay has been publisher at the River Falls Journal and Hudson Star Observer since 1995. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He previously worked as a reporter-photographer at small daily newspapers in Minnesota and is past editor of the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal.
(715) 426-1054
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