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Rising waters close Stillwater lift bridge; Group sets goal of screening teens for drug problems; 12 more state news briefs

Thousands of western Wisconsin commuters are finding other ways to get to work in the Twin Cities this morning.

The Stillwater Lift Bridge will be closed indefinitely after a new flood warning was posted on the St. Croix River on the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

It's not an elevated bridge. Minnesota's Department of Transportation says both directions will be closed until further notice even though the St. Croix was almost a foot and a half below its flood stage as of late last night.

The National Weather Service says the St. Croix will go above its flood stage by Thursday and fall back below its banks by early Saturday afternoon.

In the meantime, motorists can use I-94 at Hudson, or Hwy. 243 at Osceola to cross the St. Croix.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi River continues to have flood warnings along its entire border with western Wisconsin. The Mississippi near Prescott expects major flooding, rising four feet above its banks at Hastings before falling later this week. Flood warnings also continue on the Trempealeau River at Dodge and the Sugar River at Brodhead. Both are above their flood stages by less than a foot.

More rain and scattered thunderstorms are in the Wisconsin forecast for today, with highs in the 70's.


Group sets goal of screening teens for drug problems

An advocacy group is trying to do something about young Wisconsinites' growing addictions to heroin and prescription painkillers.

Wisconsin Citizen Action has launched a new project with the goal of getting more 15- to 22-year-olds screened for drugs with treatment for those found to have warning signs.

Kevin Kane of Citizen Action says the goal is to find drug problems early and avoid more costly problems and treatments later on. Kane says it's a new form of screening that schools and primary care clinics are picking up on.

A foundation grant has targeted Wisconsin and four other states to improve insurance coverage for early screenings and intervention services.

Citizen Action says it will increase the number of places offering those services and increase the numbers of screening professionals. The group is also working on a public education campaign.

You can find more information at

--Ken Krall, WXPR, Rhinelander


June has been bad month for storm damage on UW campuses

Last week's tornadoes at Platteville marked the third year in a row that a University of Wisconsin campus was hit with major storm damage, and all those storms happened in mid- to late-June.

Two years ago, UW-Superior had $23 million of damage when about six inches of rain flooded all but one building on that campus.

UW-Stout was hit last June when heavy thunderstorms caused 83,000 gallons of water to pour into a basement at the Jarvis science hall. Two other buildings also had flood damage which knocked out Internet service for days on the Menomonie campus.

Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a follow-up story on the damage at Superior, where officials said they're still recovering. Chancellor Renee Wachter said the storm came at a horrible time for the school when officials welcomed new students and their parents for a campus orientation.

She said employees pretended the water damage was not nearly as bad as it really was. Wachter said the students and parents had no clue because they couldn't see most of it.

The school ended up filing an insurance claim that was the largest for a state property at that time.

At last word, UW-Platteville was still tallying up its damage after a twister last Monday night damaged six buildings and a park on the campus.


‘War Dog’ memorial unveiled

Yesterday a memorial was unveiled near Milwaukee to honor the military dogs who have served our country since at least World War I.

The group "War Dogs" put up a six foot tall gray monument in the Menomonee Falls Village Park.

Dog handlers from the Vietnam War came from as far away as Colorado to join dozens of people attending the ceremony. Group member Jerry Witt told how his dog Skip was killed by a booby trap in Vietnam but not before alerting Witt to the danger. He said military dogs should get credit for saving countless lives in combat, including his own.


Municipalities putting limits on garage sales

Summertime is primetime for garage and thrift sales in Wisconsin, but before you open the door, you might want to check with your local government so you do things right.

Growing numbers of communities limit the amount of time garage sales can be held.

Rothschild Police Chief Jeremy Hunt told WSAU in Wausau that sellers must respect their neighbors so home sales are limited to seven days in a row and no more than 72 hours at a time.

Marshfield is also considering a time limit for garage sales to make sure traffic doesn't bother the neighbors.

Signs are another issue. Many communities ban them from utility poles and terraces next to the streets.

Three decades ago, Marshfield police confiscated garage sale signs from terraces, and then showed piles of them in the local newspaper to remind folks of that ordinance.

It's been a long time since they've done that, but police in general do say they get complaints about signs blocking streets and sidewalks. Hunt says that's not allowed.

--Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau


Review shows Petri spends little time in district he represents

Retiring House Republican Tom Petri only spent about half as much time in his home district last year as most of Wisconsin's other congressional members.

The Gannett News Service found that the 36-year veteran from Fond du Lac spent 95 days in Wisconsin of a possible 265 in which lawmakers were not required to be in Washington. Gannett says the home visits are a key element of staying in touch with the people they serve.

Fourth-year House Republican Sean Duffy of Wausau spent 86% of his available free days in his sprawling north central Wisconsin district.

The report says family roots are the big difference between Petri and Duffy. Petri married a Washington lawyer and raised his family there while voting absentee in Wisconsin more often than he votes back home.

Duffy moved from Ashland to Weston in his first term to make it easier to fly in and out of his home district. Last year, he bought a house in Wausau where his seven kids are being raised.

La Crosse Democrat Ron Kind spent 85% of his off-time back home.

Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan managed to get home 82% of his maximum. That's despite the fact that Ryan has extra duties as the chairman of the House Budget committee, and he's maintaining a national profile as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.

Gannett said both of Wisconsin's U.S. senators -- Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin -- spent around 70% of their possible off days in their home state.


Three motorcyclists die on Wisconsin roads

The first weekend of summer had a tragic side effect in Wisconsin. At least three motorcyclists were killed in separate crashes that occurred Saturday night.

Authorities said Todd Hughes, 36, of Glenbeulah was ejected from his motorcycle when it struck a deer near Wisconsin Dells on I-90-94.

In Waukesha County, a 21-year-old Pewaukee man died after his bike left Hwy. 16 near County Road JJ.

In central Wisconsin, a 34-year-old Eagle River man was killed after his motorcycle collided with another vehicle just west of Auburndale at Hwys. 10 and 186.


Heavy fog cancels Blue Angels air show

It's not as foggy this morning along Lake Michigan. The National Weather Service has canceled a dense-fog advisory that was in effect from Sheboygan southward to the Illinois line.

The fog caused problems during the weekend, especially in Milwaukee, where the flying portion of the city's Air and Water Show was called off both Saturday and yesterday due to unsafe fog conditions.

The Navy's Blue Angels were supposed to highlight the show after they've been away for several years. Officials say the Blue Angels' schedule won't allow them to return to Milwaukee for a make-up show during the rest of the season.

This was the first time the air show was canceled on both of its scheduled days.

It remains somewhat foggy along Lake Michigan, but the National Weather Service says visibility is better than expected. Meanwhile a dense fog advisory remains in effect until 10 this morning at Duluth-Superior when it's expected to dissipate close to Lake Superior.


We Energies buys WPS

Wisconsin's largest electric utility will get a lot bigger by this time next year.

The parent company of We Energies announced this morning that it's buying the parent firm of the Wisconsin Public Service utility. Wisconsin Energy of Milwaukee is purchasing Integrys Energy of Chicago for $5.7 billion in cash and stock. When debt is added in, the total deal is just over $9 billion.

The boards of both companies have approved the acquisition that is scheduled to be finalized by next summer. Both companies say it will create a larger and more diverse utility firm with the strength to meet future electric needs.

It will also create the nation's eighth-largest natural gas distribution company and makes the newly merged utility the largest owner in the American Transmission Company, which operates electric transmission lines statewide.

We Energies of Milwaukee provides electricity mostly to the southeast quarter of Wisconsin and as far north as Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We Energies also provides natural gas to the vast majority of Wisconsin. Public Service, of Green Bay, serves northeast and north central Wisconsin. Besides Public Service, Integrys owns electric and gas firms in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan.


Services held for Kewaskum students who died in June 18 crash

Friends and family gathered at Kewaskum High School yesterday to remember two students killed in a crash with a Washington County squad car.

Officials say the small community of 4,000 has had a hard time dealing with the deaths of Brent Schultz and Travis Trapp, both 16. They were killed last Wednesday.

This isn't the first time at least some Kewaskum students have dealt with a tragedy like this. Not far down the road, three girls from Campbellsport High School were killed and six others were hurt in a high-speed hill-jumping crash in 2012.

A funeral service for Brent Schultz is planned today. Travis Trapp's family is having a private funeral.


Despite extent of 2013 rain damage, Boscobel got little aid

It was exactly a year ago when 13 inches of rain of fell in just one weekend at Boscobel in southwest Wisconsin.

About 660 homes in Grant County had flood damage, and Boscobel had most of it.

Gov. Scott Walker hoped to get federal disaster aid by declaring a state of emergency in five area counties. However, there was not nearly enough damage to qualify for FEMA residential, and many Boscobel residents were not eligible for the $1 million in assistance that the state offered.

The community raised about $100,000 in relief on its own. Local service groups helped where they could, and Grant County officials say they've pieced together a series of available relief funds.

Misty Molzof told WKOW TV in Madison that the last year has been difficult, and after heavy rains and tornadoes hit Grant County last week, she's been checking her nearby creek and losing sleep at night.


Janesville man accused of bludgeoning girlfriend with rocks

A Rock County judge is scheduled to decide July 14 if there's enough evidence to put a Janesville man on trial for the bludgeoning of his girlfriend.

Clayton Courtney, 28, is jailed under a $500,000 bond after he was charged Friday with first-degree intentional homicide.

Courtney has already pleaded not guilty to a half dozen charges connected with the non-fatal beating of his roommate Michael Clark. During that incident, police said Courtney admitted killing three people, but he's only been linked to one death, that of his 21-year-old girlfriend Britney Cross.

Police said she was beaten with fist-sized rocks and left for dead behind a vacant building in downtown Janesville in early May.


Holmen woman is Miss Wisconsin – again

A La Crosse area woman has become the first to hold the Miss Wisconsin title twice.

Raeanna Johnson, 24, of Holmen was crowned during the weekend in Oshkosh. She was the first runner-up in 2011 when the Miss Wisconsin from that year -- Laura Kaeppeler -- went on to become Miss America. After that happened, Johnson fulfilled Kaeppeler's Miss Wisconsin duties for the rest of that term.

Pageant rules allow a contestant who ascends to the title to compete again after waiting a year. That allowed Johnson to take part for a second time, this time as Miss Madison.

She graduated in May from UW-La Crosse in communication and women's studies and will represent Wisconsin at the Miss America Pageant in September in Atlantic City.

Johnson replaces Paula Kuiper of Mount Pleasant at Miss Wisconsin. Miss West Allis -- Chelsey Wasielewski, 22, of Greendale -- was the weekend's first runner-up.


Teen killed, second wounded during Milwaukee house party

Milwaukee police are trying to find out what led to the shooting death of a 19-year-old man at a weekend house party.

A 16-year-old boy was also wounded in the incident. Police said he was seriously hurt, but he's expected to survive.

The shootings occurred about 1:50 a.m. Sunday at a house on Milwaukee's south side. Investigators were still interviewing witnesses last night. No arrests were immediately reported.