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Prosecutor says Walker was not target of probe; Decision on protecting threatened bats delayed; More state news

Gov. Scott Walker says a prosecutor's statement yesterday helps set the record straight about his denials of involvement in the latest John Doe allegations.

Randall Crocker, an attorney for prosecutor Francis Schmitz, said Schmitz never meant to imply that the governor broke campaign laws in an alleged plot to coordinate GOP recall campaigns through a dozen outside conservative groups. The statement also said Walker was not a target in that probe.

At a campaign stop yesterday, Walker said his camp did not ask Crocker to issue the statement, and he's not involved in any negotiations to settle the now-stalled John Doe.

Hundreds of documents from the John Doe probe were released last week in which Schmitz spelled out what he called a "criminal scheme." Crocker said the scenario was only the prosecutor's theory that he wanted to keep investigating.



Decision on protecting threatened bats delayed

Federal officials will wait for another six months to decide whether to protect a bat species that's dying off from white nose syndrome.

Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources balked at the protections when they were first announced in late April. So did natural resource officials in three other states. They said it could hurt the states' forest products industry with a possible ban on cutting large areas of timber from April through September.

Right now, the government is simply discouraging those timber harvests with voluntary guidelines.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was going to decide by Oct. 2 whether to add the northern long-eared bat to the endangered species list. The Wisconsin DNR's Erin Crain said agencies need more time to give their input on how it would be carried out. As a result, a federal decision won't come until at least next spring.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is again taking public comments. The proposed protections are in response to the growing instance of white nose syndrome, which has killed almost six million bats in the U.S. The disease was confirmed in Wisconsin for the first time in April.

--Natalie Jablonski, WXPR, Rhinelander



Durand company awarded Dairy 30X30 grant

Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben Brancel announced yesterday that Marron Foods of Durand has been awarded a Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 Grant for dairy processors.

“This new program will help dairy processors explore new technologies and resolve regulatory issues in order to ensure a demand for quality Wisconsin milk,” Brancel said. “Processors will be able to reach new markets and position themselves for long-term success.”

The Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 Processor Grant is intended to facilitate operational changes, improve profitability and foster innovation in the dairy industry. This grant can be customized to meet the needs of individual processors and can be used to hire consultants with expertise to address specific business needs such as production automation or staff development. Recipients must match 20% of the total award.

Marron Foods will use the grant money to seek third-party certification under the Global Food Safety Initiative.

The GFSI requirements have resulted in significant costs to manufacturers that must work to elevate programs, procedures, documentation, training and testing to levels far exceeding those previously expected, said Marron Foods Director of Operations Rolf Rogers. The company started working toward certification in 2013.

Marron Foods has operated in Durand since 2002. The facility produces customized food ingredients including instant-milk powder and dairy proteins for food-manufacturing companies.

The current state budget includes grants of $200,000 a year for processing firms that explore new technologies and make a variety of improvements.

Six other processors were also awarded the grants with a goal of producing 30 billion pounds of milk a year by 2020.

Dairyvative Technologies of Markesan is using its grant to carry out a process it created that allows fresh, lactose-free, pasteurized milk to be distributed without refrigeration.

Other processing grants went to facilities at Stratford, Belgium, Shullsburg, Reeseville and Weyauwega.

Brancel has been going around the state this week to present the grants.


Agencies team up to stop drunken boating

With the Fourth of July just a week away, authorities are stepping up enforcement efforts to nab drunken boaters.

Starting today, "Operation Dry Water" begins on waters in the Green Bay area. It's the sixth year in a row that the U.S. Coast Guard, the state Department of Natural Resources and local law enforcement agencies are teaming up to stop drunks on the water.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Austin Olmstead of Green Bay said 17% of all boating deaths last year were caused by alcohol. In Wisconsin, the legal limit for intoxicated boating ion is the same as that on the highways – 0.8%.


Fog prevents Milwaukee Summerfest fireworks

Milwaukee's Summerfest continues to feel the aftereffects of a less joyous winter.

For the second night in a row, the Big Bang fireworks show was postponed last night due to heavy fog on Milwaukee's lakefront. They'll try again next Tuesday.

The problem is the clash of the warm air temperatures and colder than normal water temperatures spurred by a record ice buildup on Lake Michigan this past winter.

It's no problem seeing things on the ground, however. About 18,000 people saw Lady Gaga perform at Summerfest last night. Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Joel Crouse are tonight's headliners.


Bond denied for man accused of providing prostitutes

A Wisconsin man will stay in jail during his federal court case on charges that he took young women to serve as prostitutes in the North Dakota oil fields.

Federal Magistrate Judge Charles Miller of Bismarck said no yesterday to releasing Levell Durr, 31, on bond. The judge said Durr is a risk to the community, and if he's released, he might flee to avoid future court proceedings.

Sheboygan police were told Durr took three women away against their will and that he used drugs and violence to keep them in line. Prosecutors said one woman was kept in a dog kennel for a number of days after she broke one of his rules.

The FBI said Durr also maintained pit bulls in the Milwaukee area as part of a dog-fighting ring. He was arrested in Bismarck last week.


Rio man gets life sentence for killing Subway worker

A southern Wisconsin man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a co-worker at a Subway restaurant in Portage.

Visiting Judge Brian Pfitzinger agreed to let Jordan Scott, 20, of Rio be considered for a supervised release when he's 67 at the earliest.

Scott pleaded guilty to shooting David Johnson, 22, of Pardeeville to death last Sept. 5 in Subway's parking lot at Portage. Prosecutors said the two had disagreements about work and Scott's girlfriend.

Last November, Scott claimed he was insane at the time of the incident, but he later decided to change his insanity plea to guilty. He apologized in court yesterday for the suffering he caused.


Encampments, concert included in WW II event

Want to know what it was like to be an American soldier during World War II?

The Highground Veterans Memorial near Neillsville will hold a reenactment Saturday.

Event coordinator Teresa Hebert said five encampments will be on display, each with fully uniformed re-enactors who will represent different theaters of operation. They'll also answer questions and pose for pictures.

Tomorrow night, the Highground will host a Voices of Freedom concert featuring veterans who are musicians and poets. There will also be a fireworks show at dusk.

The Highground is located in Clark County about three miles west of Neillsville on Hwy. 10.

--Terry Pezl, WSAU, Wausau


More counties plan referendums on minimum wage

Milwaukee County could join others around the state in holding November advisory referendums on whether Wisconsin should raise its minimum wage.

The Milwaukee County Board voted Thursday to put the minimum wage issue on the November ballot -- along with two other advisory referendums on using federal funds to expand BadgerCare and allowing the state's largest county to have an appointed administrator.

County Executive Chris Abele said he would veto all three referendums, saying they cost too much and the board would do better by simply passing resolutions. Supervisors could then consider overriding the vetoes.

The Raise Wisconsin coalition is trying to get counties and cities throughout the state to hold minimum wage referendums. They said it would send a message to state Republicans who refuse to consider a proposed hike from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.

The Dane County Board OKed a referendum this week. Eau Claire and Kenosha counties also have the issue on their November ballots. Raise Wisconsin has also filed papers for municipal referendums in Neenah and Menasha. Those requests are still pending.


Man arrested for shooting sons – killing one, wounding one

A suburban Milwaukee man is under arrest for shooting two of his sons, killing one of them about 2:15 p.m. yesterday at the family's house in Glendale.

When officers arrived, a wounded 15-year-old boy was attending to his 20-year-old brother. Officers pulled the older victim to a neighboring driveway to give CPR because they did not know where the shooter was.

A police spokesman said the father later surrendered at the house without incident. The 20-year-old died at the scene. The younger victim was in stable condition at last word at Milwaukee Children's Hospital.