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Tornadoes don't materialize but high winds cause damage; new 'flex degree' offering opens; 10 more state briefs

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Tornadoes don't materialize but high winds cause damage; new 'flex degree' offering opens; 10 more state briefs
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

Wisconsin did not have any tornadoes Sunday but the southeast part of the state had a lot of damage part of a large wave of Midwest twisters and thunderstorms.

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Thousands of residents lost power in the greater Milwaukee area. Cattle sheds, garages, and storage sheds were damaged on farms near Hustisford in Dodge County, as winds of over 50 mph struck the region.

Roofs were torn from a home and a barn in Washington County in the Allenton area. A dozen cows were killed when a silo collapsed on a barn in Washington County.

No personal injuries were reported, but parishioners had to scramble into church basements for safety. The United Methodist Church in Whitefish Bay interrupted a Sunday morning service for the first time in at least 35 years.

Milwaukee had nearly two inches of rain, and Soldiers Grove in southwest Wisconsin had about 1.6 inches. Other parts of the Midwest had tornadoes. Six people were killed in southern Illinois. About 63,000 Chicago Bears' fans took cover for almost two hours in Soldier Field, as high winds and a tornado warning interrupted the Bears' victory over Baltimore. Once the rain left, things got much cooler.

We Energies said it restored power to 8,000 customers in eastern Wisconsin as of Sunday evening. Alliant Energy of Madison reported around 10 outages in its territory. Wisconsin Public Service of Green Bay said it expected to restore full power by Monday morning.

Walker offering no hint whether he'll sign Indian mascot bill

MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker is still not saying whether he'll sign the bill making it harder to force public schools to drop their Indian team-names and mascots. Tribal groups and Democrats have urged the governor to veto it.

A letter from Democrats said it would teach students to tolerate racial stereo-typing.

Director Jim Zorn of the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission says the bill could cause prejudice against Indians similar to the 1980's, when white fishermen stirred up large protests at boat landings where Indians were exercising their spear-fishing rights.

Zorn told the governor "Tribes and tribal communities alone are entitled to claim and control their symbols, their titles, and their culture."

Both the Senate and Assembly voted in recent weeks to scale back a complaint system against school Indian mascots approved by Democrats in 2009. Republicans were standing behind the Mukwonago School District, which refused to follow a state order to drop its Indian name and logo.

Walker's office says it's still evaluating the measure. He could put the law into effect by ignoring it. That would happen if he doesn't do anything by Dec. 18th.

U-W La Crosse professor Joe Heim says the governor would not have much to lose politically by signing the measure less than a year before he stands for re-election. Heim said it might upset Indians, but he says they're not a major force at the polls.

Enrollment opens for UW System's flexible degree program

MADISON -- Adults could start filing applications Monday for the University of Wisconsin System's new flexible degree program.

The UW was to hold a news conference Monday afternoon to remind folks about the details. The flexible degree program lets adults earn college credits by being tested about the knowledge they've earned from the workplace, the military, or previous coursework.

It's designed to help working adults earn degrees more quickly. The program's first courses will be offered in January at UW Milwaukee and the 13 UW two-year colleges.

Milwaukee's first flexible degree courses are for its nursing, information technology, and bio-medical diagnostic imaging programs. The two-year colleges will offer the flexible option for a number of associate-degree courses. They include computer science, engineering, chemistry, and biology.

Other UW campuses will start offering the flex-program later in 2014.

Black Friday becoming month-long event for many stores

Black Friday has turned into Black November for a number of Wisconsin retailers.

Many stores are offering their first major holiday bargains on Thanksgiving night and before, instead of waiting until the traditional pre-dawn events on the day after Turkey Day.

Some reports say stores plan to attract a new wave of younger shoppers who would not normally be out on Black Friday.

Dick Seesel of the Mequon firm "Retailing in Focus" says the Thanksgiving Night crowd could be a different breed.

A survey by the National Retail Federation showed that last year's Thanksgiving Night shoppers were generally in the 18- to 36 year-old category.

The Retail Federation also said a fourth of the people it surveyed plan to shop on Thanksgiving. Marshal Cohen of the NPD Group told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that stores are looking the rush the season because Thanksgiving is later than normal -- thus shortening the traditional holiday shopping period.

He calls this year's selling trend "Forever Black Friday" which means November will be quote, "pretty much on-sale more than it's off-sale."

Cohen said Black Friday will remain popular, especially as family-and-friends make it more of a social day -- and not making shopping the top priority.

Weekend fire heavily damages Culver's at Platteville

PLATTVILLE -- Authorities in Platteville continue to investigate a weekend fire that caused at least a half-million dollars in damage to a Culver's restaurant.

Police said they were notified early Saturday morning by an alarm company that said a motion detector was tripped.

Fire Chief David Izzard said the smoke from the blaze apparently trigged the motion detector. Nobody was in the restaurant at the time.

Officials said it took about six hours to get the fire under control, and units kept working to put out hot spots.

The chief said the blaze appeared to have started in the restaurant's kitchen.

SP police investigate man's death near campus

STEVENS POINT -- Stevens Point Police are investigating the death of a man in his 20's, close to the UW-Stevens Point campus.

Police were called to a house late Sunday afternoon. The victim's roommate had just returned from a weekend out-of-town when he found the man dead.

Foul play is not suspected. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

Crash claims Abrams man

A 23-year-old man was killed in a two-vehicle crash on Highway 29 west of Green Bay.

Officials said the victim, from Abrams, was a passenger in a vehicle that crossed the center line and collided head-on with an oncoming vehicle. It happened around 4:30 a.m. Sunday in Hobart in Brown County. The driver of the first vehicle had serious injuries.

The other driver, a 35-year-old man, escaped with minor injuries. Authorities said alcohol might have been a factor.

Suspect sought in shooting near Janesville bike trail

JANESVILLE -- A person was shot and wounded overnight near a bicycle trail in Janesville, and police are looking for the suspect.

It happened just after midnight. Police said the suspect met two people, asked them for a ride, and shot one of them.

The shooting victim was taken to a Madison hospital for wounds that not reported to be life-threatening.

Statue dedicated commemorating late officer

NEW HOLSTEIN -- A new statue has been unveiled to honor a New Holstein police officer killed in an off-duty traffic crash.

Andrew Hoefler died 17 months ago, when his vehicle collided with a car going the wrong way on Highway 57 east of Kiel in Manitowoc County.

The other driver survived the crash, which is still being investigated by the State Patrol.

The 22-year-old Hoefler had served on the New Holstein Police Department for almost two years when the crash occurred.

A large crowd looked on Sunday when New Holstein Police officials and the Lakeshore Tech Color Guard held a ceremony at the new statue.

Chief Brian Reedy said Hoefler always volunteered to do things. Friends said Hoefler touched a lot of people through his service.

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