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Man accused of killing fisherman will claim self-defense when trial begins Dec. 7; Pipeline site damaged in northwest Wisconsin; 10 more state news stories

BALSAM LAKE -- A Minnesota man accused of killing a fisherman on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River will testify, alleging self-defense.

His attorneys say 20-year-old Levi Acre-Kendall of Cambridge will give jurors his side of the story during a two-week trial that's scheduled to begin Dec. 7.

Acre-Kendall is charged in Polk County with first-degree reckless homicide. Authorities say the defendant was part of a group that spent hours yelling at fishermen on the other side of the St. Croix before Acre-Kendall killed a man in the other group -- 34-year-old Peter Kelly.

The defense has asked that the charge be dropped, citing Wisconsin's “castle doctrine law” in which property owners are justified in killing intruders. In response, prosecutors seek a second count of second-degree reckless homicide.

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Pipeline site damaged in northwest Wisconsin

SHELL LAKE-- Enbridge Energy says it has extra security at a petroleum pipeline maintenance site in northwest Wisconsin where criminal damage was reported.

Washburn County Sheriff Terry Dryden said a private contractor was doing preventive maintenance on a line near Hayward, and investigators were called Nov. 2 after somebody dug numerous holes at the site, put a generator in one of them and moved other equipment.

In a Facebook posting, Sheriff Dryden said there was not a leak in the Enbridge pipeline, but the company is doing preventive maintenance work on the existing line.

“They are not putting in any new pipelines,” wrote the sheriff. “That process and work is a long way out, as I understand the process.

The sheriff said County Road E near a railroad bridge is closed at least through the end of the week to accommodate the work.

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GOP debate shows continued split on immigration

MILWAUKEE -- Divisions remain on immigration among the eight most popular Republican presidential hopefuls.

During a debate in Milwaukee Tuesday night, they chewed over the issue while agreeing to support tax cuts and oppose a hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Donald Trump defended his plan to deport the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants and set up a wall at the Mexican border to keep others from coming in. Trump says it's “very, very unfair” to make legal immigrants wait years to get in, while those in the U.S. illegally can stay.

Ohio Governor John Kasich said Trump does not make an “adult argument.” Florida Governor Jeb Bush said the issue has hurt the GOP, and Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign is doing “high fives” every time they hear the Republicans talk about it.

On the economy, Ben Carson said the number of jobless people goes up every time the minimum wage rises.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio said a higher minimum wage leads to more automation and job cuts. He cited a need for more vocational education.

“We need more welders and less philosophers,” said Rubio.

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Wisconsin veterans start their own business group

MILWAUKRE -- It's Veterans Day, and as Wisconsin salutes those who've served, growing numbers of military veterans are finding new ways to help themselves.

Saul Newton of Milwaukee, who served in Afghanistan, said he was surprised Wisconsin did not have a group that supports veteran-owned businesses.

So he started the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce in August. It now has 19 members who've either been in the military or are friendly to service members. It provides the state's first directory of veteran-owned companies.

Newton said many of us don't know a lot about veterans, and the new chamber hopes to show businesses why it's good to hire them.

Newton was in the Army's Fourth Infantry Division for four years through 2012. He spent 13 months in Afghanistan as part of a plan to get education benefits for a political science program at UW-Stevens Point.

The U.S. Census Bureau says veterans owned 9% of American businesses as of 2012, the latest year the statistics are available.

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Fiorina gives Walker his only shout-out at Milwaukee debate

MILWAUKEE -- Gov. Scott Walker's name came up just once during last (Tuesday) night's GOP presidential debate in Milwaukee.

Businesswoman Carly Fiorina was explaining her ideas for government reform when she said, “We need to build a meritocracy” like Walker's trying to do in Wisconsin.

Fiorina later told reporters she was not trying to flatter the governor, but she likes his efforts to end seniority protections for state employees.

The Republican Walker has championed a bill to reform the civil service system for rank-and-file state workers. Among other things, it would base hiring and layoff decisions on merit while leaving seniority out of it.

Walker was in the audience as the eight highest-polling GOP candidates debated each other in the prime-time event. He spoke earlier in the day at a breakfast sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.

Walker dropped out of the presidential race in late September.

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Milwaukee chief seeks external review after Hamilton decision

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn says he'll ask the U.S. Justice Department for an external review into his police force.

That's after prosecutors said Tuesday they would not file civil rights allegations against fired officer Christopher Manney, who shot and killed Dontre Hamilton in a white-on-black incident at a downtown park last April.

Flynn said he'll seek a collaborative reform initiative with the Department of Justice. It's a process that falls somewhere between informal help from the justice agency and a consent decree in which the police get formal monitoring.

This is the same process used in Ferguson, Missouri, last year. It resulted in a lengthy report that included recommendations for police in that area.

A few years ago, federal authorities started checking into allegations that Milwaukee police committed a number of civil rights violations in a so-called “pattern and practice” manner. If the investigation is still on, the agency would not approve a collaborative initiative.

Flynn said he's seeking it because many people still question his department's commitments to reform and transparency.

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Miller-Coors closer to staying American-owned

We could hear more today about a reported agreement that would keep the U.S. beer operations of Miller and Coors under American ownership.

The involved parties are not commenting on a Wall Street Journal report that Molson-Coors of Denver has agreed to become the sole owner of the Miller-Coors U.S. brewing outfit. The purchase price is said to be $12billion.

It was announced last month that Miller's owner, SAB of London, would be acquired by the Belgian firm of InBev, maker of Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch products.

At least some antitrust experts say the newly merged foreign company would have to sell SAB's 58% share of Miller-Coors, which is based in Chicago and has 1,400 employees in Milwaukee at a Miller brewery and corporate offices.

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New state bill addresses train safety

LA CROSSE -- A new bill is being proposed to make train tracks safer and improve emergency responses to derailments like the two in Wisconsin last weekend.

Assembly Democrat Jill Billings of La Crosse unveiled her proposal at a crossing in her home town Tuesday.

The bill would hire four extra state track inspectors. It would also provide more training for local emergency responders and force railroads to file with the state reports that outline their response plans.

Billings said most railroad crashes are blamed on track issues. And with faster and heavier trains passing through, she said the state needs to make sure everything's safe.

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse has a similar bill pending in her chamber.

About 20,000 gallons of ethanol spilled in a derailment Saturday along the Mississippi River near Alma. On Sunday, 1,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from a train derailment in Watertown. Investigations continue into both mishaps.

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Rand Paul favors ending income limits for voucher students

MILWAUKEE -- Republican White House candidate Rand Paul said he would remove income limits so all students could be eligible for tax-funded vouchers to attend private schools.

The Kentucky senator joined other school choice supporters Tuesday in a forum at Milwaukee's Shining Star Christian School.

Paul said schools will someday hire private companies that provide top-quality online courses and he believes the current public school system prevents such innovation.

“We need to break up the education monopoly and let the market work and bring prices down,” said Paul.

Jim Bender of School Choice Wisconsin told the forum he expects a large expansion of Wisconsin's statewide voucher program over the next ten years.

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Construction worker dies in trench collapse

KAUKAUNA -- Federal workplace safety officials will investigate the death of a construction worker in a trench that collapsed.

Kaukauna fire officials said the man was working on a building expansion project when a ten-foot trench he was in fell apart Tuesday afternoon at Packerland Home Improvement in Kaukauna.

The victim was a contracted worker who was said to be in his mid-40s. Officials say he and his father were working on the trench, and the son was inside for about a half hour before somebody realized he was gone.

He died by the time rescuers arrived. The victim's name and the company for which he worked were not immediately released.

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Hunting program for wounded veterans grows

As Wisconsin salutes its veterans today, more of them are rediscovering the joys of hunting.

The Heroes Hunt for Wounded Warriors is growing rapidly. Director Brian Bell said it began after Waupun donated 60 acres from a landfill it used to run.

After some media coverage, Bell said, there are 1,500 acres in the program. It is allowing 60 wounded veterans to hunt for deer, turkeys and pheasants this season.

Now the program is gearing up for Wisconsin's nine-day gun hunt which begins Nov. 21.

Many of the wounded veterans have wheelchairs and other donated mobility equipment. But for some, their wounds are not as obvious.

Bell said the hunt provides healing and offers new confidence for those with nerve damage, shrapnel and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is too late to sign up for this fall, but information about the program is online at heroeshuntforww.org.

--Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau

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Report: Wisconsin can look to itself to get healthier

A new report says Wisconsin would have 3,200 fewer premature deaths each year if the whole state could be like its healthiest counties.

That figure comes from the UW-Madison Population Health Institute which issues an annual report that lists the healthiest counties in each state.

Now, the institute says states have a chance to make their entire populations the healthiest they can be by using their best counties as role models.

The report says 188,000 fewer adults would smoke in Wisconsin if the entire state was as well off as the healthiest 10% of its counties, 96,000 fewer adults would be obese, and 139,000 fewer Badger State residents would drink to excess.

The report also suggests that Wisconsin adjust its alcohol taxes -- something it hasn't done with the beer tax in decades -- and limit places where alcohol is sold.

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