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Torrential rains swamp Jefferson County; spring planting running late; 7 more state stories

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SULLIVAN -- Officials now say almost five inches of rain fell in parts of southeast Wisconsin Monday and the most fell right outside the doorstep of the National Weather Service office.

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The state headquarters near Sullivan, south of Oconomowoc in Jefferson County, reported 4.93 inches between 7 a.m. Monday and 1 a.m., Tuesday.

Much of eastern Wisconsin received at least an inch of rain Monday. Appleton and Green Bay both set new rainfall records for the date -- Appleton with 2.1 inches, and Green Bay with just over an inch.

We Energies reported up to 8,500 electric customers without power at one point Monday, amid reports of fallen trees and power lines in the Watertown area with winds up to 60 miles per hour. Most of the outages were repaired by early Tuesday.

Racine had baseball-sized hail, and Beloit had tennis-ball-sized hail. A house in North Prairie was struck by lightning. Bohners Lake near Burlington had wind damage to several buildings. Sewers overflowed in Jefferson. The Milwaukee Metro Sewerage District took an emergency action to prevent sewage overflows, by pumping combined rain and sewage directly to a final treatment facility.

To the north, Appleton and Green Bay both recorded new record rainfalls for the date. Appleton had 2.1 inches by noon, breaking a 72-year-old rainfall record. Green Bay had just over an inch, breaking a 90-year-old mark.

More rain is predicted for southeast Wisconsin Tuesday but it's supposed to dry and cooler in the rest of the Badger State, with highs in the 50's to around 60.

Wet spring leaves corn-, oat planting behind schedule

Wisconsin farmers have been dancing around the raindrops to get more of their corn planted. Officials say 20 percent of the state's corn was in the ground as of Sunday.

That's only about half the norm for this time of year, but still way above the two percent that was planted a week ago. Only four percent of the Wisconsin soybean crop has been planted. That's normally around 10 percent by now. Almost 40 percent of the oat crop has been planted, more than double the amount from last week, but still way behind the average of 71 percent over the past five years.

It's finally getting warm enough to see alfalfa grow. Officials said 82 percent of that crop is in good shape, 16 percent has some light winter damage, and two percent has moderate damage.

There are some reports of severe alfalfa damage in southeast, central, and northeast districts.

Almost 60 percent of the Wisconsin potato crop is planted, 19 percent more than last week.

AG seeks to overturn ruling against voter ID law

Wisconsin's attorney general has appealed a federal court ruling which struck down the requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls.

J.B. Van Hollen filed his appeal yesterday with the Seventh Circuit appellate court in Chicago.

Federal Judge Lynn Adelman ruled last month that the voter ID law passed by Republicans in 2011 placed an unfair burden on poor and minority voters, and was therefore unconstitutional.

Van Hollen has also asked Adelman to delay the effect of his ruling while the appellate court considers the matter.

A second and similar case is expected to get a ruling from the State Supreme Court this summer. The state would have to prevail in both cases in order for Republicans to achieve their goal of having a voter ID requirement in effect for the November elections. The law was only used once -- in the February 2012 primaries -- before it got tangled up in the legal system.

Republican leader urging colleagues to continue serving

MADISON -- With a 21-vote majority, not many people expect the Wisconsin Assembly to fall out of Republican control after this fall's elections. And GOP Speaker Robin Vos is looking to preserve the status quo in 2016 as well.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Speaker Robin Vos has asked his fellow Assembly Republicans who are thinking about leaving to do it now, and not two years from now. That's because Democrats generally don't as well in mid-term elections when the presidency is not up.

Both houses will have a lot of turnover this fall. As of last week, 22 of the 99 Assembly members from both parties have said they won't seek re-election -- the most in 32 years.

Seven of the 33 senators are also leaving their present posts, the most in about 60 years. One of those who plan to stick around is Assembly Republican Scott Krug of Nekoosa, even though he told a League of Women Voters forum in 2010 that he would only serve for four years. Those four years are up after this fall, and Krug now tells the Journal Sentinel that he's learned how much experience counts in Madison -- so he wants to stay on.

Wisconsin soldier dead after shooting at Kosovo base

KIEL -- The Army is investigating the death of a soldier from eastern Wisconsin.

Her family said Sergeant Heidi Ruh, 33, of rural Kiel was shot and killed last Friday at a base in Kosovo where she was stationed. Relatives were told not what happened.

The Pentagon had not announced the death as of Tuesday morning. Ruh's father Scott told WLUK-TV in Green Bay that her daughter was an 11-year Army veteran, and she repaired surgical machines in a medical unit. Scott Ruh said Heidi began her Kosovo assignment in February.

She spent eight years at Fort Hood Texas, including the 2009 massacre in which another Kiel resident -- Amy Krueger -- was killed. Ruh and Krueger were a year apart in their class groups at Kiel High School. Ruh's family plans a public memorial service once her body is returned to Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan will be remembered in a ceremony on the Friday before Memorial Day. The Veteran's Administration Hospital in Tomah will hold a program on May 23rd, in which the names of those killed in the Middle East will be read.

Chief Warrant Officer Tim Pickerill of Fort McCoy will be the keynote speaker. The observance will take place on the front steps of Building 400 at the Tomah V.A. facility.

FBI hunting 'serial' bank robber

MILWAUKEE -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation says there's a "serial bank robber" on the loose in the Milwaukee area.

Investigators believe the same man robbed four bank branches in supermarkets over the past three weeks.The FBI said a black semi-automatic handgun was displayed in one of the holdups and in each incident, the man showed a note demanding money, and he either tried climbing over security counters or threatened to do so.

The robberies occurred April 23rd, April 26th, and May 5th at three Twin City Federal bank branches in Milwaukee, and last Sunday at a Tri-City National Bank location.

Janesville dealing with at least two homicides

Janesville Police say they've found no connection between the beating death of a 21-year-old woman and the drowning of an elderly woman. Also, the disappearance of a third person was resolved Monday, when he was spotted on a bank surveillance camera in northern Wisconsin.

Police have looked for some kind of connection ever since Clayton Courtney, 28, allegedly stabbed his male roommate on May 4th, and said he had killed three people that night.

Police Chief David Moore says it's now possible that Courtney may have killed three people over a number of years and not just one night.

Courtney's 21-year-old girlfriend Brittany Cross turned up dead a day after the stabbing incident. A short time later, 75-year-old Mary Coulthard went missing. Her body was found last Friday in the Rock River.

Chief Moore said Coulthard had an injury before she entered the water, but he would not elaborate. The missing man, Gerald Hockensmith, apparently left for northern Wisconsin on short notice and it was not known how long he'd be there.

Courtney is charged in the stabbing of his roommate. For now, he is not charged in the deaths of Cross and Coulthard.

Pedestrian killed by semi-truck in Appleton

APPLETON -- A pedestrian was killed after being hit by a semi-truck in Appleton.

The accident happened just after 4 p.m., Monday.

Police said the man was walking along a street when he was struck by the westbound truck.

He died later at a hospital. His name was not immediately released.

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