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Rain drenches northern Wisconsin; Meth cases surge again in this area; more state news briefs

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

Far northwest Wisconsin is getting pounded with torrential rains.

The National Weather Service said 2-4 inches fell in parts of Washburn, Sawyer and Price counties by 4:45 a.m. and up 2.5 more inches of rain were possible by mid-morning.

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Bayfield had almost an inch per hour from about 10 last night to 1:15 a.m. Port Wing in Bayfield County had winds up to 51 mph.

Flood advisories are in effect until 9:30 this morning for parts of Ashland, Bayfield, Iron and Washburn counties and expired at 8:45 a.m. for Price and Sawyer counties. Forecasters said the rains would weaken or dissipate from north to south.

The storms followed an extremely hot day along Lake Superior. The city of Superior reported a heat index of 104 yesterday.

Meanwhile, another wave of heavy thunderstorms was going through Taylor County, eastward to the Antigo region and the Bay of Green Bay. No warnings were posted in connection with that system.

The Weather Service state forecast calls for thunderstorms all morning in northern Wisconsin with a chance of storms this afternoon. Another hot day is in the offing, with highs in the 90’s statewide.

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Meth cases surge again in this area

Authorities say a meth problem has made a comeback in northwest Wisconsin.

After putting a stop to the drug from 2007 to 2010, police in Eau Claire say they have sent over 400 suspected meth samples to the state crime lab – that’s up 86% from last year with 41 of those cases coming from Barron County.

It’s unknown why the drug trade is making a comeback, but authorities believe it’s coming from the Twin Cities.

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Feds propose cutting reimbursements to 42 Wisconsin hospitals

If a federal watchdog has its way, 42 hospitals in Wisconsin would lose special Medicare reimbursements to treat patients in rural areas.

The inspector general for the Health and Human Services Department has proposed ending special rural service payments for two-thirds of the nation’s 1,300-plus critical access hospitals.

The inspector’s office says the hospitals are not located in areas that are sufficiently remote. Officials say the move could save Medicare just over $1 billion a year.

The Obama White House has proposed a more limited reduction that would cut special aid to eight of Wisconsin’s 58 rural hospitals. Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin is fighting that limited proposal, saying it would hurt the quality of health care in rural areas and threaten their local economies.

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Sheriff asks for quick return of gun after justified shooting

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says those who shoot others in self-defense should get their guns back from police within 48 hours after being cleared.

Clarke said he would ask state lawmakers to pass the requirement, after Milwaukee polka bar owner Andy Kochanski has waited for a week to get his gun back. Prosecutors said last Monday they would not charge Kochanski after he acted in self-defense against three would-be robbers at the Concertina Beer Hall on Aug. 15.

Kochanski grabbed a gun from behind the bar and killed Carmelo Matos-Arzola, 23. Jose Munoz, 21, was wounded. He’s been charged with attempted robbery. The third suspect is still at-large.

Milwaukee police have been accused in the past of holding onto weapons for evidence longer than they need to.

Clarke said the police are taking away Kochanski’s freedom to “possibly act again tonight.”

The sheriff said that if Kochanski had called police instead of shooting, “We might have been out here today for a memorial service.” About 100 people attended an event Sunday at Kochanski’s bar where the sheriff spoke. There was also a free course for those wanting state permits to carry concealed weapons.

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Man drowns trying to save dog

A 67-year-old Tomahawk man apparently drowned late Sunday when he jumped from a pontoon boat to help a dog.

A witness told Lincoln County sheriff’s deputies that a man went into the Spirit Flowage to help the animal. The two got into a struggle, and the man went under.

Rescuers recovered his body two hours later in around 5 1/2 feet of water.

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Park Falls man accused of stabbing wife to death

A northern Wisconsin man is due in court today for allegedly killing his wife.

Price County authorities said William Rambo, 46, stabbed his 37-year-old wife Dawn multiple times last Thursday at their home in Park Falls.

Neighbors alerted police to a disturbance at the home. Police officers transported Dawn Rambo to a hospital, apparently assuming that she could not wait for an ambulance.

Misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct charges were filed against Rambo last Thursday. Officials said homicide charges were still being prepared.

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Missing woman’s body found

A woman missing for five days was found dead late Sunday in Chippewa County.

Sheriff’s deputies said an acquaintance found the body of Courtney Hagel, 53, in a wooded area near railroad tracks, about 200 yards from where she was last seen in the town of Lafayette. Officials said there were no signs that Hagel was wounded, and foul play is not suspected. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

Sheriff’s deputies said Hagel threatened to harm herself last Tuesday night when she walked away from a mobile home near Lake Wissota. She has family around Bloomer, but officials said she spent most of her time in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

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Hunting promotion grant goes to novice group

A group with no experience in training people for outdoor activities is in line to get a $500,000 state grant to promote hunting, fishing and trapping in Wisconsin.

The state’s Sporting Heritage Committee will meet Thursday to consider giving the two-year grant to the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation. It was the only group that applied for the grant, which was put into the new state budget with little publicity. The funding will be renewed every two years in perpetuity.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the foundation has several ties to outgoing Assembly Republican Majority Leader Scott Suder – all of which Suder said he had no knowledge of or had nothing to do with.

Suder said the grant would help ensure the future of outdoor activity in Wisconsin. Deer hunting has most notably been on the decline in Wisconsin in recent years.

The foundation’s application said it would use the grant to pay consultants. The group’s board includes former NRA lobbyist Darren LaSorte, who says a new approach is needed to recruit sporting enthusiasts.

Former Department of Natural Resources secretary George Meyer, who heads the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, said the goal of the grant is positive, but it appeared it was put together for one group. The state budget measure prohibited Meyer’s group from applying.

The Journal Sentinel said several well-known training groups were never aware of the state grant until after the deadline to apply for it. Wisconsin Waterfowl Association director Don Kirby said his group would have been interested, and it’s disappointed it was never given the chance.

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$80,000 antique candleholders stolen, sold for $100

Stealing from a church is one thing, but selling an estimated $80,000 worth of stolen gold for $100 is another.

Milwaukee police say that’s what two perps did last week to the St. Anthony Catholic Church. Authorities say several brass and gold candleholders were taken and sold as scrap.

The buyer helped lead police to the arrest of a 31-year-old on Thursday and a 55-year-old on Friday. Police say the two unidentified suspects allegedly smashed the marble off the candlesticks so they could transport all the medal in a trash can.

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Milwaukee police investigate three weekend homicides

Milwaukee police are investigating three homicides from over the weekend.

The latest occurred about 1:30 p.m. Sunday when the body of a 16-year-old boy was found shot to death in a vacant lot behind a day care center on Milwaukee’s northwest side. Relatives identified the victim as Keenan Payne.

Also, a 33-year-old was shot and killed just after midnight yesterday on the east side.

Police also said a 27-year-old woman was shot to death early Saturday morning during an apparent drug deal that went sour.

Officers are looking for suspects in all three slayings.

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