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Wisconsin roundup: Walker tells lawmakers they can raise fees — if balanced with cut; wandering bear captured; 9 more state news stories

Gov. Scott Walker, shown during a 2016 visit to St. Croix County, said lawmakers can raise fees, provided they recoup the costs through budget cuts. (RiverTown file photo)

MADISON — Assembly Republicans say all options should be on the table while they work on closing a $1 billion deficit in Wisconsin's transportation fund.

Gov. Scott Walker has said it's OK to consider raising gas taxes or vehicle registration fees to pay for the state's roads, but they will have to figure out a way to offset the money Wisconsin residents will be paying. Republican Speaker Robin Vos says he's not advocating a tax increase, but all options should be considered so Wisconsin roads don't fall apart and the state's debt doesn't go higher.


Black bear captured in Lincoln County after wandering on highway

GLEASON — Wildlife experts in Lincoln County have captured a black bear and taken it to their animal rehabilitation center in Rhinelander.

Several people called 911 last week to report the bear was walking around and "interacting with traffic" on Highway 17 near Gleason. Employees of the rehab center, Wild Instincts, say the bear is about 2 years old and weighs 90 pounds.

It could have been displaced by hunters, snowmobilers, loggers or just the unseasonably warm temperatures in the area. It will be checked to make sure a medical condition isn't the reason it woke up.


Ref vows return after heart attack

APPLETON — A Wisconsin high school basketball referee chose a good place to have a heart attack, if that's possible.

Ref Bob Andrews was officiating a basketball game at Two Rivers High School Dec. 6 when he passed out. Within 90 seconds, an EMT, two nurses and two paramedics were on the floor helping him.

Andrews had open heart surgery at a Green Bay hospital and he is sidelined for the rest of the basketball season. The official from Appleton says he will adjust his diet, exercise more and plans to be calling games again next baseball season.


Bad jam: Cops search for guitar thief

MIDDLETON — Police are hoping pictures captured from surveillance video will help them find the man who allegedly stuffed a pricey guitar into his rucksack and stole it.

The Guitar Center says the musical instrument was valued at more than $2,000. The surveillance video shows the man putting the guitar into a box, then stuffing the box into a U.S. Army-issued rucksack. Police are asking anyone who knows more about the crime to contact them as quickly as possible.


Madison man to claim self-defense at murder trial

MADISON — Lawyers for a 53-year-old murder suspect plan to claim self-defense when the case goes to trial next month.

Sophea Mouth shot two men at an auto repair shop last year, killing one of them. Mouth's defense says the confrontation triggered a reaction based on trauma he experienced when he was growing up in Cambodia. Thomas Dreger and Greg Pongratz planned to change the locks on the building where Freeport Auto was located because its ownership had reverted to Dreger through foreclosure.

Dreger was killed and Pongratz is now a quadriplegic. Mouth has a hearing next week, with his trial scheduled to start Jan. 17.


University students to protest by carrying sex toys on campus

MADISON — Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison plan to carry sex toys on campus next semester as a form of protest against proposed gun legislation.

Republican State Rep. Jesse Kremer will introduce a bill allowing concealed weapons to be carried in public college classrooms. UW-Madison sophomore Kat Kerwin is organizing the protest. Kerwin says her group of protesters includes students and professors who are scared of guns. No firm date for the protest has been announced.


Milwaukee cops arrest murder suspect who recorded killing on Snapchat

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee police say a 20-year-old murder suspect beat a man to death while recording the attack on the victim's Snapchat account.

Devlin Mendoza-Chaparro was killed Dec. 19 and three people are facing charges. Devin Katzfey and 20-year-old Sarah Zakzesky are charged with first-degree reckless homicide. Katzfey's 19-year-old brother, Branden, has also been charged and he made a court appearance last weekend.

Three short videos were posted to Mendoza-Chaparro's Snapchat account and investigators say the voice heard in the background is Devin Katzfey.


Man locked in box thinks sentence for his 2 bosses isn't enough

MADISON -- Five days in jail for his former bosses doesn't seem like enough punishment to 21-year-old Ricardo Tapia.

Although his employers were charged with kidnapping and robbery, the plea deal they reached only keeps them in jail for five days. Thirty-six-year-old Firas S. Yasin and 38-year-old Eyad Y. Abdel Jalil pleaded no contest to the lesser charges.

Tapia says they accused him of stealing from their cellphone store and locked him in a small box for five hours. Tapia admitted he had taken some items from the Madison store.


Wisconsin high court to rule on release of DOJ training video

MADISON — The state Supreme Court is expected to rule Wednesday on whether the state Justice Department has to turn over training videos featuring Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel to the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

The party filed a lawsuit in 2014 seeking videos of presentations Schimel gave at DOJ seminars in 2009 and 2013 on how to prosecute sexual predators. Schimel was the Waukesha County district attorney at the time he gave the presentations.

The Democrats alleged Schimel may have made inappropriate remarks during the seminars. The lawsuit came during the height of Schimel's attorney general campaign. DOJ attorneys say releasing the videos could reveal investigative techniques and re-traumatize the victims in the cases Schimel used as examples.


Dane County residents concerned about fighter jet noise

MADISON — Dane County residents say basing F-35 fighter jets in Madison would be too noisy.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that people around Truax Field say they are already shaken and frustrated by the noise from F-16s. The U.S. Air Force is looking for two bases to houses F-35 jets. Truax is one of five finalists.

Air Force officials say the F-35s usually produce noise equivalent to F-16s but could be quieter on takeoff because they don't use afterburners as frequently. Noise studies taking into account conditions at Truax will be completed next year.


Rock County deputies on lookout for chainsaw thief

JANESVILLE -- The Rock County Sheriff's Department is asking for the public's help to find a man who stole thousands of dollars worth of chainsaws from a Janesville business.

Television station WKOW reports that investigators say a man smashed the front doors of Johnson Tractor on Highway 14 in Janesville at 2:30 a.m. Sunday and broke into the building. He made off with seven Stihl chainsaws valued at over $500 a piece. anyone with information is asked to call the Rock County Sheriff's Department.