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Warden: Hunters appeared to rally after slow opener; Wednesday execution set for former Hayward man; 10 more Wisconsin stories

MADISON -- Final numbers won't be available for several days but at least one DNR warden said deer hunters appeared to be more successful in the final seven days of the gun season which ended Sunday.

Just over 90,000 deer were registered statewide during the season's opening weekend Nov. 22-2. That was down 18.5 percent from the first two days the previous year.

Much of the decline was attributed to last year's difficult winter in the north that killed many whitetail deer. However, Dane County in the Madison area had an even larger drop than the statewide total on the opening weekend, at 22 percent. Warden Jake Donar told WISC-TV that colder temperatures and icy roads made it harder for hunters to stay in the woods as long as they had liked. However, Donar said he noticed good harvests during the week, and the Thanksgiving weekend.

There were no immediate reports of hunting-related shooting deaths during the weekend, but there was a serious injury reported in Manitowoc County. Authorities said a 24-year-old Brillion man was shot by a 16-year-old hunter near Clarks Mills late Saturday afternoon.

Officials said the injuries were not life-threatening and the case remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin deer hunting continues with a 10-day muzzle-loader season that began Monday morning. The newly-expanded cross-bow season continues until Jan. 4.

Wisconsin math experiment shows kids here can compete with Chinese counterparts

We've been told for years that U.S. high school students don't match up to their top foreign counterparts. Now, we're learning that it's not always true.

At least a few Wisconsin high schools out-performed the top-scoring community of Shanghai, China in an international test offered to high schools for the first time this past spring.

Thirteen Wisconsin schools took the challenge of taking a new version of the test, called the OECD exam. They were not obligated to disclose their participation and results, and some didn't.

Retired Shorewood Superintendent Jack Linehan said the Wisconsin participants represented the state's diversity, so they didn't get what he called a "white, middle-class picture."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said officials of eight schools got together in Oconomowoc recently to discuss their results and how to improve them.

Bill Henkle, the principal at Whitefish Bay High School, said it might help to have the best teachers teach the neediest youngsters, a common practice in other countries.

He said his own school is guilty of having its top instructors in Advanced Placement classes, but as he put it "What about those kids struggling to pass pre-algebra?"

Former Hayward man scheduled for execution Wednesday

Hayward native Scott Panetti is scheduled to be put to death at 6 p.m., Wednesday in Texas, where he was convicted of killing his ex-wife's parents in 1992.

Last week, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals voted 5- to 4 to deny a final state appeal in the case. It remains before the federal courts, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that Panetti was not examined adequately to determine if he was suitable for execution due to mental illnesses first diagnosed in the mid-1970's.

Panetti, who's now 56, was a day away from execution in 2004 when a federal judge agreed to consider whether the death penalty would violate his right against cruel and unusual punishment.

The state has long argued that Panetti is sane enough to understand why he's being put to death.

Panetti was found guilty of killing Joe and Amanda Alvarado at their home in Fredericksburg, Tex.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says 75,000 people have signed petitions asking Texas Gov. Rick Perry to commute the sentence, and send Panetti to prison for life without parole.

Former presidential candidate Ron Paul is among the signers.

Panetti was an all-star football player at Poynette High School, and was hospitalized 15 times for schizophrenia before the killings.

The case has bounced back and forth between the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts.

Latest phone scam demands cash transfers to IRS

WAUSAU -- Authorities in central Wisconsin are warning folks about two more scams -- one we've seen before in other parts of the state, and one that's been tried for years.

The Marathon County Crime-Stoppers' program said one scam involves fake Internal Revenue Agents who try to convince people they're behind on their taxes and they could be hit with tax evasion charges if they don't send GreenDot Money Paks.

Authorities have said such transfers are nearly impossible to track.

The other scam targets older people, individuals who are often more trusting and vulnerable.

The recipient is told that a grandchild is in jail, and they need $2,000 to get out. Again, transfers via a GreenDot Money-Pak is demanded.

Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks says anyone who gets calls like that should hang up and call law enforcement.

-- Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau

Justice defends handling of agent who sold guns

The state Justice Department is defending its actions, after former agency supervisor Jay Smith admitted building and selling guns to fellow law enforcement officers without a federal license.

The Wisconsin State Journal said Smith's admission came in an e-mail to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. In it, Smith said he sold guns to others but never made a profit.

The ATF refused to charge Smith a year ago.

Former Justice Agent Dan Bethards, who worked under Smith, complained to top department officials in 2012 about the arrangement. Bethards was fired in 2013 for violating agency rules.

The department said the termination was for numerous and significant violations of Justice policies, including the use of state resources to conduct his own gun business.

Agency officials said Smith's e-mail use did not rise to that level.

Bethards, who has filed whistle-blower complaints over his termination, told the State Journal that the records it obtained showed that his allegations were true.

Sub-zero temps reported across the Northland

SULLIVAN -- The start of winter is officially three weeks away, but Wisconsinites faced bone-chilling cold Monday morning.

Temperatures were below-zero in parts of the north -- minus-4 at Siren and Rhinelander as of 6 a.m.

Windchills were as low as minus-22 at Manitowish Waters.

Most of the state's mid-section was in the single-digits above zero, and southern Wisconsin was in the teens for actual temps. Even locales like Waukesha had sub-zero wind-chills.

It appears that Milwaukee will have its 11th-coldest November on record. The National Weather Service said the city's average temperature was around 32 degrees for the month, almost seven degrees below normal, but four degrees above the coldest Milwaukee November in 1880.

Forecasters said it will remain cold Monday. The statewide forecast calls for highs of 7- to 10 above in all of Wisconsin except along Lake Michigan, where it might get up to 15.

A warm-up is predicted for Tuesday, with highs in the 20's and 30's, and a chance for some more snow in the afternoon and evening.

Teenager killed, another injured in rollover crash

BEAVER DAM -- A 17-year-old from Jackson was killed in a one-vehicle weekend crash near Beaver Dam.

Dodge County authorities said the teen was a passenger in a vehicle that veered into a gravel shoulder, went airborne, bounced off the roadway, went airborne again, and rolled over.

Officials said the driver, a 17-year-old from West Bend, was expected to survive.

The accident happened Saturday on Dodge County Hwy. E in the town of Beaver Dam. It remains under investigation.

Icy road, speed cited as factors in fatal crash

OSHKOSH -- One person was killed in a traffic crash in eastern Wisconsin early Sunday.

Winnebago County sheriff's officials cited icy roads and excessive speed as factors in the crash, which occurred in the town of Wolf River on CTH H around 5 a.m., Sunday.

No one was else was in the vehicle at the time. The fatal victim's name has not been released.

Passenger dies after alleged drunk-driving crash

APPLETON -- A 45-year-old Neenah man is facing possible charges in a drunk driving crash that killed a passenger.

Kaukauna Police said Heidi Jetty, 44, of Winneconne died after being taken to a hospital.

The one-vehicle crash happened on Saturday, Nov. 29.

The driver was treated at a hospital, and was then taken to the Outagamie County Jail where he was booked for homicide by drunk driving.

The crash remains under investigation.

Paper dust ignites at Green Bay mill

GREEN BAY -- A firefighter was hurt while battling a fire Sunday at a paper mill in Green Bay.

Fire personnel were called around 4 p.m. to the Proctor and Gamble plant.

Green Bay fire officials said the fire broke out in a paper machine, and several area fire departments were on the scene for 3- to 4 hours.

Local media reported the fire burned paper dust and there was only limited damage to the building.

The injured firefighter was treated at a hospital and later released. The exact cause remains under investigation.

Packer flush-rush debunked as urban legend

GREEN BAY -- You may have heard that folks in Green Bay are so dedicated to watching the Packers, that thousands of fans wait until halftime to use the restroom and flush their toilets, but like other long-running tales, it's not true.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette said workers checked water usage during two night-time rivalry games when no other NFL teams were playing -- the Packer-Viking game on Thursday night, Oct. 2, and the Sunday night Packer-Bear contest on Nov. 9. Both were at Lambeau Field.

Russ Hardwick, quality manager for the Green Bay Water Utility, said his crews did not notice any increase in usage compared to a normal Sunday evening.

Utility field service manager Brian Vander Loop said an average weekday morning, when thousands of folks get ready for work and school, has water usage that's far higher than any Packers' home game.

Even the nearly 80,000 fans at Lambeau don't tax the system all that much, since they cannot possibly use the facilities at the same time.

A septic tank was built under the stadium a decade ago. It lets sewage be discharged at a steady rate into the metro system over several days following a home game.