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Search continues for handgun left at Goodwill; Wisconsin get top marks for handling elections; No-mail Saturdays will start in August; more briefs

A search continues for a handgun that was accidentally donated to a Goodwill store in either Hudson or Woodbury, Minn.

The owner told police that he hid the 22-caliber Smith and Wesson in a stack of pants he was planning to donate. When the pants were dropped, he had forgotten that he put the gun there.

Goodwill officials say they've searched through all the donated clothing they have at the two stores, and they haven't seen the weapon.

Police say they probably won't charge the gun owner with breaking any laws.


Wisconsin get top marks for handling elections

Wisconsin is among the best in the nation in the way it runs its elections, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Pew conducted what's being called the first-ever comparison of the way elections are administered in all 50 states and Washington, DC.

The Pew report showed that Wisconsin rated the best in the 2008 presidential election in 17 different categories, and it ranked eighth in the 2010 mid-term and governor's elections. Figures from the 2012 voting are expected late this year.

State Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy said a number of factors led to Wisconsin's high election marks. They included consistently high voter turnouts, low rates of non-voting due to problems with registration and absentee ballots, short waiting times at the polls and relatively few provisional votes which are counted later.

Pew said Wisconsin also had all possible voting information tools online in both 2008 and 2010 - while California and Vermont didn't have any.

Kennedy said waiting times and the accuracy of technology were not included in the 2010 rankings. That's why Wisconsin dropped from first place to eighth that year.

Neighboring Minnesota and Michigan were among those that also received high marks in the survey. California and New York were among the worst.


No-mail Saturdays will start in August

The U.S. Postal Service will announce today that it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays, but it will continue delivering packages six days a week.

The Associated Press obtained materials for a news conference set for later today, and they said regular Saturday deliveries would end in August.

The Postal Service says it wants to get people and businesses ready for the change by announcing it now. It did not say how it could make the move without the approval of Congress.

The Postal Service is bleeding red ink as more of people use the Internet to pay bills and send emails.

Officials say the end of Saturday delivery would save an estimated $2 billion a year.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe is expected to say that seven of ten Americans support ending Saturday delivery as a way for his agency to cut costs.

Last year's losses were due mainly to a requirement to put billions aside to cover future health benefits for retirees. The Postal Service is the only federal agency which has the requirement, and postal unions say the financial problems would disappear by ending the mandate. Congress failed to take up the matter before adjourning in the last session.

Meanwhile, the Postal Service is undergoing a major restructuring of its operations. Mail processing facilities in Wausau, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Portage and Kenosha are among those scheduled to close. It could happen after April, but officials have not given specific closing dates.


Train passenger arrested with $30,000 worth of marijuana

Police in La Crosse said they were ready when a man left an Amtrak train with almost $30,000 worth of marijuana.

Reuben Dudenbostel, 25, of Boscobel is due in court today on a possible charge of possessing marijuana with the intent to deliver.

Authorities said the man was acting suspiciously when he boarded the Amtrak train in Portland, Ore., and police there alerted authorities in La Crosse.

Officials said when Dudenbostel got off the train Tuesday, a drug-sniffing dog from Holmen found almost 7.5 pounds of pot in the man's bags.

He was taken to jail. Online court records did not list any charges early this morning. They showed that Dudenbostel has two previous convictions in Grant County for possessing marijuana.


Report: Fewer businesses start here, but more survive

Not all the news was bad in a Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance report that showed Wisconsin's workforce and business startups are growing slower than the national norms.

One positive nugget reveals the long-term success rate of businesses that get their start here.

Of those started in 1997, 45% are still operating in Wisconsin - much higher than the national average of 34%.

And the fastest-growing business sectors are those that normally pay the most - like manufacturing, professional firms and business services. Lower-paid jobs - like retail and service posts in common places like restaurants and hotels -- grew at a smaller pace.


Foreclosure rates down in southeast Wisconsin

New foreclosure cases in January were the lowest for the month in six years in southeast Wisconsin.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel counted 720 new filings last month against those behind on their mortgages. That's 29% lower than the previous January. And it's the lowest for the month since 2007 when 699 foreclosure cases were filed in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties.

Area foreclosures have dropped on an annual basis in each of the last three years. Economist Brian Jacobsen says that's "a nice trend" which shows how much the housing market has improved.


Woman accused of tampering with coffee, embezzling

Prosecutors said a former employee of a Rice Lake law firm tainted a co-worker's coffee and was later found to have embezzled over $10,000.

Kay Lee Gysbers, 63, of Almena is free on a signature bond after being charged in Barron County with placing foreign objects in edibles, forgery and embezzlement. All three counts are felonies.

WQOW TV in Eau Claire said it all began when a female employee at the Rice Lake law firm burned her lips on bad-tasting coffee. The drink was sent to the State Crime Lab, where it was found to have a large amount of a foreign substance.

The TV station said Gyspers was fired over the coffee incident. The law firm's owners later discovered the missing money. Authorities said Gysbers stole from the firm's trust account,and forged checks to herself and her mother and sister.

Gysbers is due back in court March 6 when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order a trial.


Mislabeling prompts recall of 4,000 lbs. of pate

A labeling mistake resulted in the recall of over 4,000 pounds of liver pate from a central Wisconsin processor.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Nueske's Applewood Smoked Meats of Wittenberg voluntarily recalled the product because it carried the wrong label.

The recall is for 10-ounce vacuum-packed containers of Nueske's Applewood Smoked Liver Pate. It normally carries a milk protein sodium caseinate, but the ingredient was not on the labels that were mistakenly attached, and some consumers could get allergic reactions.

There have been no reports of illnesses.

The packages have "EST 8926" inside the USDA's mark of inspection. The liver pate was made between Dec. 15 and Jan. 22.

Those with questions are asked to call Tammy Beran at Nueske's in Wittenberg.


New student regent sought

Gov. Scott Walker is taking applications for a new student member on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.

The new person will replace Katherine Pointer, whose term expires May 1.

Student members serve for two years. They must be Wisconsin residents at least 18, enrolled half-time or more in a UW school and in good academic standing. They must also stay in school for the entire two-year term.

Applications are available online at They must be submitted to the governor's office by Feb. 20.

Students from Madison and Parkside will not be considered because both those schools have been recently represented on the Board of Regents, which sets policies for the 26-campus UW System.


Lake Michigan's water level at all-time low

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that Lake Michigan, on Wisconsin's eastern shore, is lower now than its previous record-low set in 1964, and it's six-feet below the all-time high level from 1986.

John Allis of the Corps' Great Lakes Hydrology Office said the water levels on both Lakes Michigan and Huron have been teetering with record lows for the last few months.

The drought is a factor, but officials say the water has also been brought down by a major dredging and river-bed mining project at the St. Clair River on the eastern Great Lakes. The last major work ended there in the 1960's.

The federal government said awhile back that the St. Clair project dropped Lake Michigan by about 16 inches. A recent U.S.-Canadian government study blamed the dredging for an additional drop of three to five inches.

Great Lakes mayors and conservation groups have asked both countries' governments to consider a remediation project at the St. Clair to raise Lake Michigan's water levels to their previous norms. But critics say it could cause more erosion problems at the St. Clair.

The International Joint Commission, which deals with joint U.S.-Canadian water issues, says it's reviewing numerous public comments on what should be done. A recommendation could come in the next few weeks.