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Over 14 inches of snow falls in some places; Utility overbills school district by $310,000; more briefs

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news New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

The forecast was only for 3-6 inches, but up to 14.5 inches of new snow fell in parts of northwest Wisconsin by early today. The region could get up to another foot by the time the storm clears out later today.

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Hawthorn, near Superior in Douglas County, had the largest snow total by early this morning. That region was expecting 2-4 more inches. Wisconsin storm warnings continue for much of the far northern part of the state. Some warnings run until early this evening.

Washburn in Bayfield County had 10 inches by the middle of the night and another 6-12 inches were in the forecast for that region along with wind gusts of up to 40 mph.

Places further away from Lake Superior have been getting less snow. Webster in Burnett County got around 7.5 inches as of late last night with 2-4 more inches in the forecast. In far north central Wisconsin, 4-7 inches were predicted for today along the Lake Superior Snow Belt.

The Rhinelander area was expecting 1-3 inches on top of some freezing rain that fell during the night. The rest of Wisconsin has possible snow and rain showers in the forecast for today with highs of up to 40.

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Utility overbills school district by $310,000

A school district in southern Wisconsin is getting a $310,000 refund from a utility which accidentally overcharged the schools for five years or more.

The Wisconsin Heights district of Black Earth expected its energy bills to drop after making improvements a couple of years ago. But the savings never happened so school leaders asked the state Public Service Commission to look into the matter.

The PSC found that Black Earth's local utility had registered about three times the amount of energy that was actually used. The Black Earth Village Board, which oversees the utility, has promised to reimburse the school system by Jan. 1. The School Board is expected to accept that deal when it meets on Monday.

District Administrator Mark Elworthy said the refunds will go toward roof repairs. Black Earth is located northwest of Madison in western Dane County.

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Milwaukee supervisors look at cutting own pay

Milwaukee County Board leaders have come up with their own plan to slash the board's budget and salaries after a state legislative proposal got held up.

County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic said yesterday that no one thought her panel would make a bold effort to change, but it did. She expects her group's plan to be approved at the County Board's next meeting on Thursday.

The chairwoman said a number of supervisors have agreed to a 20% pay cut, a 50% reduction in its budget and shorter terms of two years instead of four. The board's 38-person staff would also be cut in half.

Supervisors elected in 2016 would get $10,000 less than the $51,000 that board members make now. The plan also seeks state permission to reduce the size of the 19-member Milwaukee County Board after the next Census in 2020.

Former County Board member Joe Sanfelippo introduced a state bill to put the board on a diet soon after he was elected to the state Assembly. His fellow Republicans agreed that Milwaukee County supervisors need less power to micromanage county government. Democrats accused supporters of wanting to give the county executive more power.

A bill to cut the Milwaukee County Board's budget was held up in the Assembly this week by a procedural maneuver. It's due for a vote in May.

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Flood warnings continue

Flood warnings continued on parts of nine rivers in Wisconsin this morning.

The most flooding has been along the Rock River in Rock and Jefferson counties and the Fox River in Kenosha County. Other flood warnings remain for the Black, Trempealeau, Root, Sugar and Pecatonica rivers; Turtle Creek in Rock County; and the Wisconsin River at Portage.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Natural Resources is urging private well owners in water-logged areas to keep an eye on their wells. The DNR's Steve Ales said if a well is surrounded by flood waters, people should drop drinking from the well and have it tested.

Ales said flood waters carry bacteria and contaminated waste that can threaten water supplies, and wells in pits and basements are especially prone to that type of contamination. According to Ales, contaminated wells need to be disinfected with a chlorine solution before they can be used safely.

The DNR has more information on its website, accessible at www.Wisconsin.gov

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Tornado test sirens set to sound today

A statewide tornado drill that was delayed Thursday will take place this afternoon.

Wisconsin Emergency Management delayed the annual drill by one day because of the heavy rains and snow predicted for yesterday throughout the state.

The tornado drill is designed to help schools and businesses practice their emergency procedures. It's part of the annual Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week.

A simulated tornado watch will be issued at one this afternoon, and a simulated tornado warning will go out at 1:45 - when most Wisconsinites should hear warning sirens.

There were only four tornadoes in the state last year, but there have been more than 60 in the recent past. The average is 23 tornadoes for Wisconsin each year.

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Accused Lutheran bishop steps down

The ELCA Lutheran bishop for south central Wisconsin has stepped aside after being charged in a hit-and-run drunk driving crash that killed a runner.

Bruce Burnside, 59, had almost 2 1/2 months left in a six-term that was due to expire on June 30. The executive committee of the Madison Synod has agreed with Burnside that he's not able to fulfill his responsibilities. An interim bishop will be named as soon as possible.

The Rev. Blake Rohrer has been the acting bishop for the past week and a half.

Burnside is at an inpatient treatment center after being charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor in the April 7 death of Maureen Mengelt, 52.

Mengelt was training in Sun Prairie for a 20-mile running race. Authorities said Burnside was in a hurry to get to a sermon and was fiddling with his radio and a GPS monitor when his SUV struck a lamppost, hit Mengelt, hit another vehicle and stopped at a gas station.

He has pleaded innocent to misdemeanor hit and run and has not entered pleas yet to his three felonies. Burnside is due back in court May 13.

The Madison Synod serves 110,000 Lutherans in 145 south central Wisconsin congregations.

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Wisconsin opens trade office in China

Wisconsin has a new trade office in China.

Gov. Scott Walker announced the opening of the Wisconsin Center-China yesterday as part of his 10-day trade mission to that country.

The governor said the new office would strengthen the Badger State's relationships with China, and it would give Wisconsin businesses more assistance and resources for growing their exports with that country.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation will arrange to have marketing and business consultants work at the new center.

As part of its opening, four new trade agreements have been announced. The Shanghai Dairy Group has agreed to buy animal feed products from the state and from Badger State Ethanol. The dairy group will also get training the Babcock Institute at UW-Madison. Also, Miller Electric of Appleton has reached an agreement to sell welding systems to a Chinese firm.

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Coalition collects used child car seats

Wisconsinites can recycle their old child car seats for free tomorrow. The Safe Kids Wisconsin coalition has arranged for businesses in six states to accept old and broken safety seats.

The coalition discourages people from selling or handing down older car seats that might be broken. Instead, recycling collection sites will take those car-seats tomorrow in Madison, Eau Claire, Wausau, Marshfield, Plover and Oconto.

Sites in La Crosse and Onalaska will take the old car seats the following Saturday, April 27.

The coalition says that car seats older than six years will be recycled, along with those which are broken, involved in crashes or just unwanted.

More information is available online at www.safekidswi.org.

Wisconsin has had a state law for several years requiring younger kids to be placed in car safety seats while traveling.

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