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Investigators unable to keep pace with exploitation tips, newspaper reports; DNR issues invasives reminder to fishermen; more state news

MADISON -- The number of tips about online child sexual exploitation tripled in Wisconsin while the number of state Department of Justice investigators never expanded to keep up.

The Wisconsin State Journal wrote about the trend, after DOJ supervisor Willie Brantley and agent Anna King, both of the Milwaukee office, were let go in March amid reports of lagging child sex investigations.

The Madison newspaper said the numbers of state investigators for Internet crimes against children remained the same at 31. That was after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children passed on 909 tips of child sexploitation to the Justice Department in the 2012 fiscal year, up from 366 the year before.

New state cases rose from 145 in fiscal 2011 to 450 the year after. Information for the 2013 fiscal year is not yet available.

Brantley's attorney, former top Justice official Dan Bach, blames the booming case loads and system problems for a lack of action in cases that include child pornography and enticement.

Justice Department spokeswoman Dana Brueck disagrees. She said Brantley was responsible all Milwaukee agents.


Eagle injured in attack on moving boat

A male bald eagle is doing well at last word after he crashed through the shrink-wrap of a boat being towed on I-94 near Menomonie, Friday.

Scott Kregness and his wife were towing a rescue boat from Florida to the Breitung (Minn.) Fire Department when the eagle approached them as they sped across the Red Cedar River east of Menomonie.

Kregness said the eagle was coming toward him and he ducked. He assumed the bird just missed the vehicle when a motorist to the rear saw it inside the boat through a tear in its shrink wrap.

Kregness stopped at a rest area and called the DNR. Wildlife rehab expert Patti Stangel of Colfax was notified, and the eagle was later transported to the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center in St. Paul with a bloody beak.

Center director Julia Ponder said the eagle had some eye damage with mild head and internal trauma. She expects the bird to recover enough to be released in the wild.

Breitung, Minn., is located near Tower. The boat will eventually be used for rescues and recoveries on Lake Vermillion.



Online voter registration possible but still shunned by lawmakers

MADISON -- Wisconsin still refuses to let voters register online while more states are allowing it.

Experts recently told lawmakers that online systems are cheaper, easier and more accurate than paper systems like Wisconsin's. Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy said his agency has the technology to sign up voters online, but lawmakers need to approve it.

They've failed to pass it twice in the last three sessions.

The Associated Press says 18 states have online registration while four others have approved it and are working on their systems.

Wisconsin was among 15 others considering online voter registration until lawmakers adjourned for the year almost a month ago. Lawmakers of both parties have advocated online registration for Wisconsin.

Assembly Democrat Terese Berceau proposed a bill to allow the signups and check the legitimacy of the new voters with their information from other state databases.

Assembly Republican Kathy Bernier of the Eau Claire area said she favors online signups as long as concerns about voter fraud are addressed.

Majority Republicans tried but failed to pass a bill in the last session that would have combined online registration with campaign finance changes.

Big Bend Assembly Republican David Craig is among those favoring online registration only if Wisconsin ends its longtime provision to let voters register at the polls on Election Day.


Rain continuing through the week

SULLIVAN -- It looks to be a wet week across Wisconsin.

The National Weather Service says one- to three more inches of rain will fall in the early part of the week and more minor flooding is possible.

The Mississippi River near Prescott, the Fox River at Berlin and the Baraboo River at Baraboo are expected to rise above their flood stages between Thursday and Saturday. Other rivers in the state could get flood warnings later in the week.

The Weather Service in Green Bay says local heavy rains Monday could cause minor street flooding. Most of the state got a good soaking Sunday.

Places in southwest Wisconsin got close to an inch of rain, including River Falls, which recorded .92 of an inch up until 5 a.m. Monday.

Winds hit 55 mph near La Crosse last evening, and 45 at Prairie du Chien. Also, parts of northern La Crosse County had quarter-inch hail.

More strong winds were predicted Monday for much of Wisconsin with gusts of up to 40 mph.

The Weather Service says cool and rainy weather is expected all week, thanks to a slow-moving low-pressure system that was stalled overnight in Nebraska.


Senator, Badger star headline student council gathering

MADISON -- Over 2,000 Wisconsin high school and middle school students spent their Sunday morning in the State Capitol, learning how to become better leaders.

The state Association of School Councils held its 80th annual conference in Madison and the first in Madison in 48 years.

WKOW TV said over 200 communities were represented.

The group received pep talks from state Senate Democrat Jon Erpenbach and UW Badger basketball star Sam Dekker, who attended the conference when he went to Sheboygan Lutheran High School.

The event featured a variety of seminars and activities aimed at teaching leadership skills.


Officials urge 'Caution!' for roadside pickers

Wisconsin homes aren't the only thing that's getting a spring cleaning. About 3,000 groups have volunteered to pick up trash along about 8,000 miles of Wisconsin highways.

It's the first of three cleanups this year as part of the state's long-running Adopt-a-Highway program.

State coordinator Christa Wollenzien asks drivers to be extra careful when they see the roadside volunteers. She says they're covered under the state's "Move Over Law," which requires drivers to slow down and veer as far enough away from the workers as safely possible.

Wollenzien is also asking for more volunteers. She says about 30% of the available miles in the Adopt-a-Highway program still need people for this year.

-- Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau


Fisherman reminded to guard against spreading invasives

Wisconsin's inland fishing season begins on Saturday, May 3, and the Department of Natural Resources is telling anglers to clean their boats and gear to prevent the spread of invasive species and fish diseases.

State law requires fishing boats to have plants and other species removed before leaving any boat landings and all the water must be drained.

The DNR also cautions people not to move live fish from one body of water to another.


Catholic church burglarized, damaged early Sunday

EAGLE RIVER -- Authorities are investigating a weekend fire and burglary at a church near Eagle River.

It was reported around 1 a.m. Sunday at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church.

Vilas County sheriff's deputies said they found a small fire when they arrived plus criminal damage to the property. The fire was quickly put out, and it's being considered suspicious.

Other details were not immediately disclosed. A K-9 officer from the Lac du Flambeau tribal police was called to help with the investigation.

-- Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau


Pardeeville man feared drowned

WISCONSIN DELLS -- Authorities have been looking for a southern Wisconsin man missing in Wisconsin Dells.

Columbia County sheriff's officials said Mitchel Blanchard, 21, of Pardeeville was last seen about 2 a.m. Sunday, running near the Kilbourn Dam and the Hwy. 13-16-23 bridge over the Wisconsin River in the Dells.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was assisting the search along with state and local officers and rescue divers.


Stabbing is fatal for Two Rivers man

TWO RIVERS -- A man who was stabbed and then drove into two parked cars in Two Rivers before he died early Sunday has been identified as Koyoko Perry, 34, of Two Rivers.

A 54-year-old Two Rivers man is in custody while possible charges are pending. Police Chief Joseph Collins said Perry was stabbed around 3 a.m. Sunday.

After he drove away, Perry struck two vehicles parked in the driveway of a house on Columbus Street, which was closed for several hours.

Authorities found Perry there and took him to a hospital where he later died. An autopsy was planned for Monday.

Officials said the victim and alleged killer knew one another so there's no danger to the community.

-- Damon Ryan, WOMT, Manitowoc