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Freezing temps still linger in northern Wisconsin; New city law lets police fine parents of bullies; State budget deal seems close; More state news

Summer is only 18 days away, and temperatures still dropped to the freezing mark this morning in Vilas County in far northern Wisconsin.

It was 31 degrees at Land O'Lakes at 6 a.m., and Eagle River was at the freezing point at 32. By 7 a.m. it was around 40 in both those communities, and the rest of Wisconsin was in the 40's and 50's. Monroe was the warm spot at 53.

Clear skies and virtually no wind allowed the cold to sink in, and temperatures will stay below normal for a while. The National Weather Service says the mercury might not hit 70 until Friday. The best chances for rain are tomorrow and Wednesday.

It's quite a contrast from a year ago when heat waves in the '90s and 100's were common last June and July.

In Marshfield, the average temperature for March through May was over 12 degrees colder than last year at the same time. La Crosse had its coldest three month period since 1965, and the seventh coldest on record. It was also the wettest spring in La Crosse since 1973, and the snowiest since 1975.


New city law lets police fine parents of bullies

Police in a Madison suburb say they'll use common sense in enforcing a new anti-bullying ordinance.

The law allows police in Monona to ticket the parents of children who are caught bullying others. The first violation carries a $114 municipal court fine.

Monona Police Chief Wally Ostrenga said the measure will only be used when parents don't cooperate in investigations of bullying by their kids. The chief said parents sometimes avoid talking to police, because they take children's side no matter what.

Ostrenga said parents will not be ticketed if they try in good faith to address their children's behavior.


State budget deal seems close

Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican leaders of both houses are getting close to a major state budget deal that includes more tax cuts, an expansion of private school choice statewide and a rejection of new federal Medicaid funds.

Senate GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald told the Associated Press during the weekend that legislators are "actually pretty close" to something.

"I think we're getting there," agreed the governor.

We'll find out more tomorrow, when the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee meets - possibly to put the finishing touches on a two-year budget package that the full Legislature would consider.

What we don't know is whether the leadership's package addresses the concerns of 11 Assembly Republicans who say they want a larger tax cut, a further reduction in borrowing for roads and state buildings and rejecting the idea of taking DNA from alleged felons who are arrested but not convicted.

Fitzgerald said the GOP leadership is considering a tax cut of at least $500 million. Walker's original budget package in February called for a $343 million income tax cut.


Boy in coma after van rolls into river

A young boy was said to be put into a medically-induced coma after he was rescued from a submerged van that was pushed from a boat landing into the Chippewa River.

WEAU TV of Eau Claire quoted Logan Buchli's relatives as saying he was in an induced coma Sunday at a hospital near the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The incident happened late Saturday at the Lake Hallie Sportsmen's Club.

The TV station said an uncle pulled the child's young sister out of the van which was being used to reconnect a boat after a day of fishing. The girl was rescued before the boat submerged and was pushed about 75 feet into a strong current on the river.

Sportsmen's Club bartender Jesse Morley heard screams, called 911, then went outside to help. Branden Linhart of Chippewa Falls said he heard somebody yell that a man's son was trapped in the vehicle. He, Morley and an unidentified third man swam out - one of them used a rock to break a rear window - and they then pulled Logan to the shore.

Lake Hallie police continue to investigate.


Kaukauna man chows down on curds, sets new record

Can you wolf down a half pound of cheese curds in less than two minutes?

Tim Swokowski of Kaukauna set a new record over the weekend when he won the curd eating contest at the Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival in Little Chute near Appleton.

He ate a half pound of the rubbery curds in one minute, 46 seconds. That's 21 seconds ahead of the previous record of 2:07.

The contest has been taking place for 25 years.

Swokowski said it's a lot harder to swallow cheese than you might think, and you need plenty of water to help get it all down. He says the big secret is to eat chunks of cheese and not do a lot of chewing.


Wisconsin falls behind in pursuing clean energy

A new UW-Madison report shows that Wisconsin is getting further behind its Midwest neighbors in developing and pursuing clean energy.

Gary Radloff of the new Wisconsin Energy Institute said the nation as a whole is trailing in a worldwide industry that's growing by 8% a year.

Wisconsin leads the nation in converting farm waste into energy. Radloff said the state should encourage more of that.

He also said Wisconsin has more than its share of firms on the cutting edge of clean energy - firms like Johnson Controls, ZBB Energy and the Eaton Corporation. Radloff said it would be a good start for the state government to set policies that encourage investments in such firms.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says clean energy advocates also want the state to allow third-party financing in which energy developers pay the upfront costs of things like solar heating, and then sell the power to the homes and businesses where the units are installed. The paper says utilities would fight such a measure since it would cut into their sales and revenues.

Former Gov. Jim Doyle encouraged clean energy at a time when Wisconsin had shortages of electricity. Since then, the Great Recession has reduced electricity demands and created a comfortable supply. As a result, state Republicans have tried to scale back some of Doyle's green measures.


Dells resort owners fear federal regulations will leave them hurting for help

Wisconsin Dells resort owners say they'd be hurting for summer help if the federal immigration bill isn't changed.

Cultural exchange group leader Michael McCarry told the Madison Capital Times the bill would virtually wipe out the Summer Work Travel Program, which brings in foreign college students for summer jobs.

The proposed regulations are part of a crackdown on human trafficking. Shaun Tofson of the Wilderness Resort at Wisconsin Dells says it's "appalling" to classify the Summer Work Program as human trafficking.

Tofson said if it wasn't for students, parts of her company would have to close. That's because there are not enough workers in the local area, and others wouldn't drive very long each day for jobs that pay $9 per hour.

Stacie Tollaksen of the sponsorship firm Intrax says about 2,000 students work in Wisconsin for 3-4 months each year. Under the bill, sponsors would have to pay the $1,500 in fees students now pay themselves, and those sponsors would also pay an extra $500 per worker to boost up security at the Mexican border.

The Summer Work Travel Program has been criticized in some states as being a source of cheap labor. Tollaksen says the State Department has taken steps to make sure the youngsters also get to enjoy cultural and community programs.


Emerald ash borer found in two more areas

Salem and Fredonia are the latest communities to be hit by the tree-killing emerald ash borer.

State agriculture officials said they confirmed the presence of the bug last week not far from where EAB has struck previously.

Department of Natural Resources employees noticed an infected ash tree in the Ozaukee County village of Fredonia on May 24. It was close to where the ash borer was first confirmed in Wisconsin in the fall of 2008. A UW-Extension educator confirmed the beetle in an ash tree at Fox River Park in the Kenosha County town of Salem.

Officials believe many of the ash borers found in far southeast Wisconsin had spread across the border from Illinois. The emerald ash borer has been found in 13 of Wisconsin's 72 counties.