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Weekend totals show deer kill off 18 percent; more legal squabbling expected with re-certifications; more state news

MADISON -- Wisconsin hunters shot 18 percent fewer deer than a year ago in the opening weekend of the state's nine-day gun season. The Department of Natural Resources said Monday that 110,797 deer were taken statewide. The buck harvest was down 25 percent to almost 54,000.

The antlerless harvest was down by 9 percent. Wildlife officials said cold weather probably drove many hunters out of the woods early. It was close to 10-below on Sunday morning in the northwest part of the state. Also, the DNR said it issued its fewest antlerless permits in northern Wisconsin since the 1990's, to try and grow the herd in the Northwoods.

The numbers of hunters went up slightly. The DNR sold almost 616,000 deer licenses as of midnight on Friday night. That was about 1,400 more permits than last year. Gov. Scott Walker went hunting Monday morning and said it was probably too cold to see any deer. His office said Walker has no plans to try again before the gun season ends on Sunday.

Pepin-Buffalo judge linked to Walker probe signed recall petition

A western Wisconsin judge with a shirt-tail connection to the latest John Doe Walker investigation signed the recall petition against the governor in 2012.

James Duvall of Alma, the chief judge in the state's Seventh Judicial District, was among the defendants listed when three unnamed plaintiffs tried halting the John Doe probe.

A state appellate court ruled Friday that the investigation will continue. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Duvall was the only judge listed by the plaintiffs to sign the recall petitions against Walker -- but the paper said Duvall's involvement may be nothing except for the position he holds.

Duvall is not commenting. He's a circuit judge for Buffalo and Pepin counties.

The John Doe probe is reportedly determining whether conservative groups illegally coordinated their efforts with the candidates in the gubernatorial and Senate recall contests in both 2011 and 2012.

The Journal Sentinel said there are investigations in Milwaukee, Dane, Dodge, Columbia, and Iowa counties.

Twenty-nine circuit judges throughout Wisconsin signed the Walker recall petitions.

More legal action likely with re-certification process MADISON -- There might be more legal action stemming from the new re-certification elections that begin Friday for over 400 public school unions in Wisconsin.

The state's Employment Relations Commission notified school districts and unions Monday about the voting window -- which will run from Friday through Dec. 19th.

Last week, the State Supreme Court threw out a contempt order which held up the annual union re-certification elections, which are part of the Act 10 public union bargaining limits.

The Supreme Court is still reviewing a judge's decision that Act 10 is unconstitutional for public school and local government unions. Union attorney Lester Pines says it means that all school unions continue to be certified bargaining units -- and if there are unions that don't win the new elections, Pines says they'll go to court to try-and-keep their certification status.

Under Act 10, 51 percent of all union members must vote to re-certify, instead of the old requirement of 50 plus percent of those voting. That means members who don't vote are actually voting no.

New venture capital foundation wins non-profit status

The IRS has granted tax-exempt status for a new Wisconsin foundation that will provide venture capital for start-up businesses.

Donors will get federal tax breaks for giving charitable donations to the new Bright-Star Wisconsin Foundation.

The IRS announced the tax-exempt approval Monday. Foundation president Tom Shannon says it will open the door to $7 million that has already been pledged by investors -- and they'll start raising more.

Shannon says 12 new companies have applied for start-up funds, and the foundation's Investment Committee will most likely start acting on those requests in January.

Bright-Star chairman Jeff Harris says its funding will be given to companies that are poised for the most growth and job creation. The new group was first announced this summer.

Former state Financial Institutions Secretary Lorrie Heinemann has been hired to help Bright-Star raise money.

Shannon, who once owned a bio-tech company in Waukesha, says the new effort is a true cause. That's because entrepreneurial activity in Wisconsin is among the lowest in the nation -- and the new group is intended to prop that up.

Harris, Shannon, and six other founding donors have each pledged a half-million.

Wisconsin taxpayers also have a skin-in-the-game. The state's Economic Development Corporation has pledged $300,000 to the new group.

For more information, visit

Marathon commits to one-third new pipeline's cost

SUPERIOR --Marathon Petroleum has agreed to pay for over a-third of the cost of building the proposed new pipeline from the North Dakota oil fields to northwest Wisconsin.

Marathon said it would cover 37.5 percent of the estimated $2.6 billion cost for building the Sandpiper line. It's due to open in 2016 from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to the Enbridge Energy terminal in Superior.

In exchange for Marathon's contribution, the oil company will get a 27 percent interest in Enbridge's total pipeline system in North Dakota. The companies said Marathon could increase that share to 30 percent with investments in future improvements.

Marathon will be an anchor shipper for the new 610-mile pipeline.

The company is the nation's fourth-largest refiner.

State's corn harvest still behind national norm

Wisconsin's corn harvest remains behind the national average going into Thanksgiving Week.

The USDA said 82 percent of the state's corn is in, 8 percent more than a week ago. Some of the crop had high moisture throughout the fall, and farmers were waiting for drier weather to harvest it. Many couldn't wait anymore after the cold and snow moved in.

Wisconsin farmers didn't have a corn moisture problem last year, due to a long drought. All of the state's crop was harvested by this time in 2012.

The average for the previous five years is 87 percent, and Wisconsin farmers are five percent behind that. Nationally, 95 percent of the corn is harvested, four points higher than a week ago. The five-year national average is at 91 percent.

This is the final weekly crop report of the year. The USDA will issue its final corn and soybean production estimates for 2013 in January.

DNR: Pruning can minimize oak wilt spread

Wisconsinites are being urged to prune their trees this winter.

DNR foresters say it reduces the spread of tree diseases, like the common oak wilt. That's because pruning gives insects fewer chances to attack a tree's open wounds.

Also, experts say pruning reduces the stress on trees -- and it makes it easier to spot branches that are hanging, cracked, or broken.

Owner cited after pit bull attacks 7-year-old

RACINE -- The owner of a pit bull was given two citations, after the dog attacked a seven-year-old boy in Racine.

Police said the Kenosha boy was playing at a cousin's house last Friday when the dog was disturbed by noise from the youngsters -- and it ran to the boy and attacked him.

The boy's mother and a man pulled the dog away, and the mother was treated at a hospital for a puncture wound to one of her hands.

The injured boy was taken to a Racine hospital, and then to Milwaukee Children's Hospital. There was no immediate word on his condition.

The pit bull's owner was cited for having an unlicensed and unvaccinated animal.

Snowy roads blamed for two fatal accidents

MADISON -- Monday's light snow was apparently a factor in two traffic deaths in Dane County.

A 26-year-old woman was killed in Fitchburg. Police said she was a passenger in a car that left a road and overturned. The driver was a 23-year-old man who went to a hospital to be checked out.

In the other crash, a 51-year-old Minnesota man died when a Deerfield school van slid into the opposite lane and struck a pick-up truck driven by the man who was killed.

It happened on Highway 12-18 at Cottage Grove. Officials said no students were in the van at the time.

The 50-year-old woman who was driving the van was treated at a hospital and later released.

It was the first significant snow of the season, and authorities say it always seems to throw drivers off. Sussex had the most, at two-and-a-half inches.

The National Weather Service forecast light snow showers in much of Wisconsin Tuesday, as an upper-level disturbance swings to the southeast. The north could get as much as an inch. Lighter amounts are expected in central and southern areas.

A gradual warming trend is predicted for Thanksgiving and into the weekend.

Mystery surrounds Model T submerged in Mississippi River

Investigators still cannot figure out why a classic Model-"T" Ford car was found a month-and-a-half ago in the Mississippi River.

The "Tin Lizzie" was discovered Oct. 9th during a sonar scanning demonstration for Winona County, Minn., northwest of La Crosse.

Chief sheriff's deputy Ron Ganrude said at least half the car remains buried on the sandy bottom of the river, about 20 feet underwater and over 150 feet from the Winona shore.

The scanner is owned by Keith Cormican of Black River Falls. He said he couldn't tell if there was anyone in the car, because the passenger compartment is buried in the sand.

Officers hurt in squad-tree collision

MILWAUKEE -- Monday's light snow caused two Milwaukee police officers to be injured when their squad car slid on a slippery street and hit a tree. The crash occurred just before 6 p.m., Monday while the officers were driving to assist another officer who was chasing a suspect on foot.

A witness told WISN TV that one of the injured officers made it out of the damaged squad car, and helped the other officer who was driving. Both were taken to Froedtert Hospital.

The crash is still being investigated.

SUV strikes hospital; medical condition blamed

WISCONSIN RAPIDS -- No citations will be issued after the driver of a sport utility vehicle suffered a medical condition before crashing through a wall at a Wisconsin Rapids hospital.

The vehicle penetrated a wall at Riverview Hospital, said police chief Kurt Heuer. The driver is believed to have suffered a medical condition just before last Saturday's mishap.

James Pecher, 29, was eastbound on the Riverview Expressway when he blacked out and drove across oncoming traffic lanes and a parking area, then slammed into the south wall at the hospital.

A small waiting room and a hallway were damaged in Riverview's emergency department.

-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau