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Fire departments step up to help Gordon; Gogebic opposes protective-circle compromise; more state news briefs

Fire departments throughout Wisconsin are lending equipment to a volunteer force that lost everything in a blaze last Thursday.

The town of Gordon, about 35 miles south of Superior, lost its fire hall and everything in it, including a half dozen fire trucks and firefighters’ gear.

By Saturday, Gordon already had a truck loaned by nearby Grantsburg. The town of Jackson in southeast Wisconsin loaned a truck during the weekend. Gordon Fire Chief Mike Chmielecki said a third truck was expected to arrive today.

Also, the state and Douglas County Emergency Management provided things like hoses and tools. Indianhead Technical College offered gear from its fire training program. The chief says other donations are also being made.

The blaze appears to have started in an office area, but the chief said the damage was so extensive, it’s likely impossible that a cause will be determined. A tentative damage estimate is around $1 million.

The donated gear is being stored in Gordon's highway garage next to the fire hall. A benefit dinner is set for Friday evening at the Gordon Town Hall. The National Bank of Commerce in Solon Springs has a fund in which people can send donations.


Gogebic opposes protective-circle compromise

The company that's testing the feasibility of a new mine in northern Wisconsin is against the latest compromise for keeping protestors away.

Lawmakers from both parties are getting behind a new proposal to give Gogebic Taconite a 300-foot protective circle around its mining-related activities and a 50-foot buffer on an access road. The measure could be introduced as early as this week.

Moderate Senate Republican Dale Schultz says it would give everyone fair treatment -- and it would put the Department of Natural Resources, instead of the company, in control of most of the area's public recreational land.

Gogebic Taconite spokesman Bob Seitz said the compromise would not work because it would not adequately protect workers who float around different parts of the site.

After a vandalism incident on June 11, Senate Republican Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst wanted to close all 3,500 recreation acres where the company has mineral rights, but he couldn't round up enough votes to pass it. Critics called it an overreaction and said it would punish law-abiding families who've hunted and fished on the site for years.

Tiffany said he's working on a more limited compromise to allow public use of the 3,500 acres during the November gun deer season with a 50-foot buffer along trout streams.


Wisconsin woman accused of carrying gun into 9-11 Memorial

A Milwaukee woman was arrested yesterday as she allegedly tried to enter the 9-11 Memorial in New York with a gun.

Media reports said Ursula Jerry, 41, tried passing through a screening center at the site of the former World Trade Center with a .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol in her bag. Police said the weapon had two rounds in its magazine and none in its chamber.

Officials said Jerry did not have a permit to carry the weapon in New York, Wisconsin or any other state. Reports said she was charged with criminal weapons possession.


State may ease its captive-deer limitations

Wisconsin would ease up on its regulations for captive deer under new policy changes to be considered Wednesday by the state Natural Resources Board.

The new rules are designed to prevent a repeat of a nationally publicized incident in which Department of Natural Resources workers seized and killed a captive baby deer named "Giggles" that was being treated at a Kenosha County rehab shelter.

Under the new proposal, state workers would return captive deer to the wild and not euthanize them unless they pose a health risk.

People can keep wild deer in pens if they pay fines and have veterinarians test the animals. The fines are needed because only the Legislature can allow wild deer to be kept as pets. The DNR board can make the other changes.

In the "Giggles" incident, critics accused the DNR of being too heavy handed. Once the word went national, Gov. Scott Walker ordered the DNR to re-examine its policies. He has endorsed the new changes.

The agency's policy board will hold its monthly meeting at Pembine in northeast Wisconsin.


Believe it or not, it was a hot summer

Wisconsin has just finished a summer season that was hotter than you might expect.

The National Weather Service in La Crosse said the three-month season that ended Saturday was the 18th warmest on record with an average temperature of around 72 degrees. That's almost two degrees warmer than normal.

Unlike last summer -- when it seemed that it was boiling for months -- most of this year's intense heat didn't arrive until after the middle of August. From June 21 to Aug. 18, the average temperature in La Crosse was actually .8 of a degree below the norm. Since Aug. 18, the average reading was six degrees above normal -- close to 73 degrees.

That's the third-hottest stretch on record. Only 1947 and 1948 were hotter.

Also during the summer, most of the state was short on rain. The total was five inches below normal, helping cause the return of drought conditions in the southwest two-thirds of Wisconsin.

Forecasters say it will stay dry all week throughout the state. The next chance of rain is on Friday night. Until then, a high-pressure system will give us clear to partly cloudy skies.  Today's highs are expected to be around 70. A slight warm-up is expected around Wednesday.


Shipping Bakken oil from Superior not feasible yet

The new wave of crude oil from North Dakota will not be shipped from Superior any time soon.

The Superior Calumet Refinery has delayed plans to open a terminal to move crude by boat on the Great Lakes to the East Coast. Refinery manager Kollin Schade told Wisconsin Public Radio the project needs a refinery in the eastern U.S. as a partner. He said there's been interest from various partners, but none have stepped forward to make a long-term commitment that's needed to make the Superior terminal feasible.

Calumet was planning to open it in two years. The firm is still seeking state permits just in case it can proceed down the line.

The terminal would ship crude oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota.  It's where production has risen so quickly, that normal transporting methods are having a hard time keeping up. For now, at least, Adolph Ojard of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority says it's more efficient to move the North Dakota crude by pipelines and trains.


Report-card rating shows Milwaukee charter schools falling short

Milwaukee's charter schools are apparently not all they're cracked up to be.

The Journal Sentinel said just over half of the city's 17 independent charter schools are performing below expectations, according to the state's new school report cards issued this month.

Sean Roberts, who heads the Milwaukee Charter School advocates, said there are flaws in the report card system. He said the high school grades hinge mainly on the state's annual achievement test for 10th graders. Roberts says over half of Milwaukee's charter schools would be up to snuff if the report card system was better.

Even so, Cindy Zautcke of Milwaukee's charter school initiative said it's clear that the schools have a lot of work to do to improve. She said the bar has been set higher, and it's up to the charter schools to keep up.

Charter schools provide specialized education. They're given more freedom from the curriculum and budget requirements that most public schools follow.

In the rest of Wisconsin, school districts generally run their own charter schools. Independent schools exist mainly in Milwaukee, where most are authorized either by the city or UW-Milwaukee.


Towelettes causing sewer problems

Waukesha is among the communities telling folks to stop using pre-moistened towelettes instead of toilet paper.

The Associated Press says it's a national problem as wipes considered as flushable don't tear apart as they run through the sewers. As a result, some places have spent millions of dollars to unclog pipes and pumps.

Waukesha has had enough clogs to start a public campaign called "Keep Wipes Out of Pipes."

In Bemus Point, N.Y., things got so bad that officials set up basket strainers to find out which homes the wipes were coming from. They then pleaded with those residents both by mail and in person to stop using the pre-moistened wipes, which are becoming more popular.

The AP says sales are up 5% a year since 2007, and they're now a $6 billion a year industry.

Manufacturers say the flushable wipes are not the problem. Trina McCormick of Kimberly-Clark says 90% of problem items are actually paper towels, baby wipes and feminine products that are not supposed to be flushed down.

Wastewater officials agree those are problems, but they say their troubles have grown at the same pace as the use of flushable wipes.


Squirrel hunter's death reported

State and local authorities are continuing to investigate the death of a squirrel hunter in central Wisconsin.

It happened Saturday morning in a wooded area in the Marathon County town of Hamburg, northwest of Wausau. The victim's name was not immediately released.

It was Marathon County's second hunting mishap in a week. A 20-year-old man was shot and wounded Sept. 15 in Kronenwetter by a hunter who mistook the victim for a squirrel.


Several Emmys go to Wisconsinites

Wisconsin had another big night at the Emmys.

ABC's "Modern Family," created by former Madison TV anchor Steve Levitan, won the Best Comedy Series award for the fourth straight year. Levitan, a UW-Madison graduate, is the show's executive producer.

“Behind the Candelabra,” an HBO movie on the life of West Milwaukee native Liberace, won 11 Emmys -- three last night and eight technical honors presented earlier this month. Michael Douglas, who played the late lavish piano musician, was named the Best Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series.

Also, Waukesha native Richard Dahm was honored during last night's primetime Emmy broadcast. He's part of the writing group for "The Colbert Report," which received the award for Outstanding Writing in a Variety Show.

A documentary about sexual abuses by priests at a school for the deaf in suburban Milwaukee won three Emmys in the Creative Arts Emmy ceremony a week ago last night. They include the exceptional merit award for documentary filmmaking, plus awards for writing and picture editing.


‘Where do we go?’ asks Ryan’s book

Paul Ryan of Janesville will join previous speculated presidential hopefuls in writing a book.

Twelve, a subsidiary of Grand Central Publishing, said last night that Ryan's book will be called "Where Do We Go From Here?" It's scheduled to hit the stores next August. The publisher says Ryan will challenge conventional thinking as he describes the state of conservatism, contrasts it with liberal ideas and then explains what should be done to "save the American idea."

Ryan was the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, and he chairs the House Budget Committee.

On Friday, speculation about a White House run increased when Ryan said he would visit New Hampshire next month to help a former House colleague, Frank Guinta, start a bid to win his old job back.

Ryan is the top choice of Wisconsin GOP primary voters at this point. He got 27% in a survey from Public Policy Polling last week. Gov. Scott Walker was a distant second with 14%. Walker's also putting out a book called "Unintimidated." Its cover was recently unveiled.



20,000 turn out for Komen walk in Milwaukee

Over 20,000 people took part in the Susan G. Komen Southeast Wisconsin Race for the Cure.

The 15th annual event was held yesterday in Milwaukee. It benefits breast cancer research and treatments.

Organizers said the 20,000 included walkers, spectators, cheering squads and volunteers. Friends and relatives walked with many breast cancer survivors along a 1.4 mile course. Linnea Harrington of Whitefish Bay had 100 people sign up to walk with her.