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Giant apple pie to join 150-foot brat; State gets small reprieve from heat wave; 11 more state news briefs

PRESCOTT -- Herdie Baisden, owner of Maiden Rock Apples, Winery and Cidery in Stockholm said he was intrigued by the concept of a 12-foot pie when an oversized pie tin, split into eight man-sized wedges, came up for sale.

A year later, the 12-foot apple pie is about to become a reality. The Prescott Lions Club will sell slices of the pie -- large enough to feed more than 1,500 people -- starting noon Labor Day, at the same Ptacek's IGA cooks a world-record-breaking bratwurst -- a 150-footer.

Combining 580 pounds of apples, 84 pounds of crust, 110 pounds of cinnamon-sugar mix and 150 pounds of streusel, the 12-foot pie will be one of the largest ever baked in Wisconsin.

It will be cooked in a custom-made oven standing about 2-feet high and roughly 12-foot square, made of a metal frame, insulation and glass.

The main event Monday will be Ptacek's IGA's world-record-breaking attempt at making a 150-foot brat. The family-owned grocery store made the record books last year with a 52-foot brat.

Proceeds from the brat event will go toward building a new public park in Prescott, while funds raised from the pie will help support Prescott Lions Club's civic and volunteer work.


State gets small reprieve from heat wave

Wisconsinites will get a little relief today from the late-summer heat wave, but not much. Highs are still expected to reach the upper-80’s after readings got close to 100 yesterday.

It was 97 in Wisconsin Rapids and 95 in Marshfield, both new record highs for the date. The heat index went above 100 in many places.

Madison set a record for the warmest low temperature yesterday with 77. Milwaukee tied the same record with 73.

It remained steamy this morning. Shawano had 74 degrees at 4 a.m., and Oshkosh had 73.

Power has been restored after about 6,000 We Energies’ customers in Shorewood and Fond du Lac lost their air conditioning yesterday. The utility said it was not at peak demand, and officials were not sure why the outages occurred. This morning, about 50 customers of the state’s five major utilities were still in the dark.

Spotty thunderstorms kept going through the state yesterday. A house was struck by lightning at Mercer in the far north. Bonduel had 1 ¾ inch hail in a place where a dozen homes were damaged by high winds last week.

Washington Island in Door County had 3.6 inches of rain in eight hours. Poplar in Douglas County had six inches over two days.

A dry day is in the forecast statewide once some patchy fog clears. A chance of rain returns tomorrow, continuing into the Labor Day Weekend.


Divers find body of drowning victim

HAYWARD -- The body of a 41-year-old Hayward man reported to have drowned Saturday in Lac Courte Oreilles Lake in Sawyer County was found in the lake Sunday morning by a dive team.

Arthur J. Schmock’s body was found at 9:38 a.m.

The Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department received a call about a drowning around 6 p.m. Saturday and activated its dive team. At 8 p.m. the search was suspended because of darkness and high winds.

At 7 a.m. Sunday the search resumed with help from the Sawyer County Search and Rescue Team, the Lac Courte Oreille Police Department, the St. Louis County Search and Rescue Team, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Sawyer County Ambulance Service.


Walker asks tribes to reach consensus on casino proposal

Gov. Scott Walker is staying above the fray for now as two Indian tribes resume a competing public relations battle over a long-proposed casino in Kenosha.

Yesterday, the Menominee tribe and leaders in Kenosha urged the governor to give final approval to the tribe’s casino at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park. The Republican governor said he would not play “King Solomon.” He urged the state’s 11 tribes to reach a consensus on the project themselves.

Walker was given the final say on the Kenosha casino last Friday when the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs endorsed the off-reservation facility. The governor also started a 60-day comment period, triggering an immediate PR battle on both sides.

The Forest County Potawatomi tribe has long fought the project since it would cut into revenues at its large casino in nearby Milwaukee. Menominee tribal chairman Craig Corn said his tribe has offered the Potawatomi a share in developing and managing the facility. Potawatomi officials chastised the Menominees for negotiating in the media, but Corn said he’s held that stance for years.

The Kenosha and Menominee contingent say the project would create 3,300 permanent jobs and give the state $35 million in extra payments. The Potawatomi says those numbers are exaggerated.


Neophyte group still only one in running for $500,000 grant

The head of Wisconsin’s Sporting Heritage Committee says it will not change its mind about deciding tomorrow whether a politically connected group should get a big state grant.

Department of Natural Resources official Scott Gunderson said his panel will not reopen the process and take applications from other groups after the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation was the only one to apply. It’s in line to get a $500,000 state grant to encourage more people to take part in hunting, fishing and trapping.

The group has no experience in training people for those activities, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently said the group has political ties to outgoing Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder. He helped include the grant in the new state budget.

The measure prevented several other groups from applying, including the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. Other groups like the Waterfowl Association said they would have applied had they known about the grant – which they didn’t until now.

Suder has said there’s nothing improper, and his only goal is turn around a sporting trend that’s been in decline in recent years.


Probation officer who borrowed money from clients faces sentencing

A plea deal is apparently set for a former state probation and parole agent accused of borrowing money from criminals she supervised in the Milwaukee area.

Sandra Alvarez, 45, of St. Francis pleaded not guilty in May to three charges of misconduct in public office.

Online court records show that she has a plea and sentencing hearing this afternoon. Details of a plea bargain have not been disclosed.

Alvarez was charged after three of her clients told state investigators that they lent her a total of almost $3,000. They said they felt pressured to give her the money for fear that she might try to revoke their probations and send them back to prison.

Nobody said she actually made that threat. Alvarez resigned earlier this month.


Lottery reports record ticket sales -- again

For the second year in a row, the Wisconsin Lottery reports record ticket sales.

Lottery officials said $565 million in tickets were sold during the fiscal year ending June 30. That’s $18 million more than last year’s sales record.

Instant scratch games brought in $326 million. Computer lotto games sold about $239 million.

In Wisconsin, lottery profits are used for property tax relief, and $160 million of last year’s revenues went toward that pot. Almost $330 million in prizes were paid out as 13 people won $1 million or more. Lottery retailers picked up $35 million in commissions.

Among other things, lotteries throughout the country were helped by a $1 price increase for Powerball tickets almost two years ago. The game was also tweaked so that more people are winning, and big-money jackpots are coming around more often.

Tonight’s Powerball jackpot is $116 million. It comes just 2 ½ weeks after three players split the third-largest jackpot in Powerball history at $448 million.


Be careful out there, warns DOT

Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites will be on the go this Labor Day Weekend.

If you’re heading to southern Wisconsin, state officials say traffic could especially be tight. Thousands of motorcyclists will be in Milwaukee for Harley-Davidson’s 110th anniversary celebration which runs from tomorrow through Sunday. The Milwaukee Brewers have home games at Miller Park every day from Friday through Monday.

In Madison, the normal 80,000-plus are expected for the University of Wisconsin football opener against Massachusetts Saturday.

The Department of Transportation urges drivers to be extremely careful. Peak travel times throughout the state will be from noon to 8 p.m. both Friday and Monday.

According to AAA, 713,000 Wisconsin residents will travel at least 50 miles one way to enjoy summer’s final holiday. That’s a 3.4% increase from last year, and it’s the highest number since the start of the Great Recession.


Noted philanthropist dies in Wausau

Wausau philanthropist and Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Famer Richard Dudley has died.

Dudley, 89, passed away at his home yesterday from natural causes.

After growing up in Wausau, Dudley served in World War II and then began a long broadcasting career. He was the general manager of WSAU Radio before spending 30 years as the president of WSAW TV.

In 1989 Dudley and his brother started a company that owned TV stations in three states. Nine years later, they sold the firm to the Tribune Company of Chicago.

In 2000, Dudley started a foundation that has donated over $2.5 million to local causes in the Wausau area.

He was known as a strong supporter of Wausau’s downtown and was a major investor in the 10-story Dudley Tower which opened in 2007. He also supported a number of local businesses, and he once saved a Wausau golf course from closing. Dudley was also involved in the Boy Scouts, serving as the chief fundraiser for the Samoset Council in north central Wisconsin.



Capitol singers ramp up their protests

Anti-Walker protestors showed up in greater force yesterday after two brothers were arrested on criminal charges at Monday’s noontime sing-along at the State Capitol.

The Wisconsin Radio Network said attendance appeared to triple a day after Damon and Christopher Terrell were arrested for resisting Capitol officers. Damon sat on the floor as he was handcuffed and carried out.

Damon Terrell faces the first possible felony charge among 300 arrested since Capitol Police began cracking down on the Solidarity Singers in late July for not having the required Capitol gathering permits. About 10 people were arrested yesterday.

WISC TV said Capitol Police did not arrest three off-duty Madison police officers who wore “Cops for Labor” T-shirts and joined the crowd. Madison officer David Dexheimer said he believes the Capitol Police actions are unconstitutional, and he thinks the arrests are politically motivated.

An administration spokeswoman told WISC, “Enforcement can be based on resources.” She said only those who were actively participating in the singing group are being cited.

The TV station said the officers and many others sang for the entire hour during the event.



Darlington man accused of having millions of child porn images

Bond was set at $1 million yesterday for a registered sex offender caught with millions of images of child pornography at his home in southwest Wisconsin.

Timmy Reichling, 46, of rural Darlington is charged with 11 felonies in Lafayette County. They include child sexploitation, child porn possession and being a registered sex offender who photographed minors without their permission.

He’s due back in court next Tuesday when a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to order a trial.

A 13-year-old girl reported Reichling to police after he allegedly asked her to send him nude photos and then threatened to show them to her family when she wanted to stop. Prosecutors said the girl thought she was texting someone her age, and Reichling left cameras for the girl to take nude photos of herself.

Police said they eventually seized electronic storage devices from Reichling’s home with millions of lewd child images. Meanwhile, the state Department of Justice officials are still investigating. They say there might be other child victims, both in and out of Wisconsin.


State denies voucher dollars to four Milwaukee schools

State education officials have refused to give tax dollars to four private schools in Milwaukee.

The schools tried to join the state’s school choice voucher program for the first time, but the Department of Public Instruction says they are not financially viable for various reasons.

The four schools are the Believers Institute, Imani Academy, Divine Destiny School and the Leaders Institute for Educational Empowerment. A fifth Milwaukee school, the Doctor Brenda Noach Choice School, lost voucher funding because it’s not accredited by a state-approved organization.

The voucher program gives tax money to low-income kids to attend private schools. Almost 125 Milwaukee private schools are registered for the choice program, including 14 that signed up for the first time this fall.

A bill recently introduced in the Legislature would create a rating system for private schools in the hopes of improving their quality. The measure would also make qualifying schools wait at least a year before they can start taking voucher students.



Fort Hood killer’s sentencing hearing continues

Army Major Nidal Hasan rested his case Tuesday in the sentencing phase of his trial in the Fort Hood shooting massacre.

Hasan, 42, did not testify, after victims’ relatives told military jurors about the grief he caused them.

Among those testifying was Jerri Krueger of Kiel in Manitowoc County. Her daughter Amy was one 13 people killed. Krueger said she lives with the loss every day. She recalled how frantic she was after hearing the initial bulletins about the massacre, desperately finding out if her daughter was okay.

Relatives were not allowed to condemn Hasan on the witness stand or recommend his penalty.

Some observers thought Hasan would testify about his previous comments that he committed the killings to protect Muslims in Afghanistan.

The sentencing hearing resumes today. Hasan could get life in prison, or he could become the first military member in 52 years to get the death penalty.

Russell Saeger of Mount Pleasant in Racine County was also killed at Fort Hood. Six Wisconsinites were among the 32 injured.