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Wisconsin roundup: Poll: Wisconsin one of 10 presidential ‘toss up’ states; flash flood watch continues; and 9 more state news stories

WASHINGTON, D.C.  --  A new poll shows that Democrat Hillary Clinton still has a big lead over Donald Trump for electoral votes, but Wisconsin is one of 10 "toss up" states.

The Washington Post/Survey Monkey poll gives Clinton a 46-to-44 percent edge against Republican Donald Trump for Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes -- and of the states where one candidate has a considerable lead, Clinton has secured 244 electoral votes to Trump's 126.

The undecideds still represent a large chunk with 168 votes as "toss ups." The Post surveyed 74,000 registered voters from Aug. 9 through Sept. 1 -- and while it found that Trump's gaining support in the Upper Midwest, it showed that many college educated white voters, especially women, are not giving their normal support to Republicans.

Still, the Post has Trump close in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania -- all three of which went with Democrats in the last six presidential contests.

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Flash flood watch continues

Flash flood watches continue through Wednesday for about the southern two thirds of Wisconsin. Forecasters say up to 3 more inches of rain are possible -- and a flash flood warning was in effect until 7:30 a.m. for Vernon County in the southwest, close to where sandbagging took place overnight at the Pine River at Yuba.

A barn was blown down at Vandenbroek in northeast Wisconsin, a tree fell onto a house at Appleton overnight, and a 66-year-old man was injured after being struck by lightning at Minocqua.

Much of western Wisconsin had hail, and Black River Falls reported tennis ball sized hail.

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Deputy who killed two women was considered for release to parents

MADISON  --  Court records show that a home release was considered for a former Dane County sheriff's deputy found innocent by mental defect in the killings of his wife and sister-in-law.

Andrew Steele's attorney says a release to his parents' home is no longer possible, because his ALS is getting more advanced and he needs more care.

Earlier this year, a Dane County judge agreed that the 41-year-old Steele was no longer a threat, and a release from a state mental health unit to a community care center was justified. However, more than 40 such centers have refused to take Steele, due in part to his high profile shootings.

A court hearing set for today on a possible placement was called off, and the status of his situation will be reviewed at his next court hearing Oct. 21.

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State Supreme Court considers release of police training videos

MADISON  --  The State Supreme Court has heard arguments on whether training videos for law enforcement officers should be released under the state's Open Records law.

The Justice Department said the videos could teach pedophiles how to avoid being arrested, but Democrats say they have outdated information or material that's readily available online.

The videos feature Brad Schimel training investigators in 2009 and 2013, when he was the Waukesha County district attorney. He refused to release them, saying they would expose police and prosecuting strategies.

When the Republican Schimel ran for state attorney general, Democrats went to court saying they had a right to know whether Schimel said anything questionable on the videos before voters elected him in 2014

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Back to school sales tax holiday could finally become reality

It looks like Wisconsin shoppers will finally get a sales tax holiday for back to school shopping. GOP lawmakers have talked about it in recent years -- but now, Gov. Scott Walker plans to announce in Milwaukee and Green Bay Wednesday that he'll put a temporary sales tax exemption for back to school items in his next state budget in February. Also, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says his majority members back the sales tax holiday.

They're expected to announce their major proposals Wednesday for the next two-year legislative session that begins in January.

In the last session, Republicans proposed a sales tax holiday for students' clothing, computers, and school supplies -- and it would have reduced state tax revenues by $13 million per year and local sales tax money by almost $1 million per year.

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Boy dies after being hit by school bus

KAUKAUNA  --  A 12-year-old boy has died after being hit by a school bus five hours earlier. Kaukauna Police say the boy was walking home from school around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday and the bus turned into his path while he was in an intersection.

Kaukauna school officials say he was a seventh grader at River View Elementary School, which is on the same street where the accident took place -- and his name was not immediately released.

Police say the weather conditions were clear at the time, although a storm had moved in just 15 minutes after the mishap. Kaukauna Police and the State Patrol are investigating.

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Wisconsin's record breaking astronaut returns to earth

DZHEZKAZGAN, Kazakhstan  --  Wisconsin's record breaking astronaut is back on earth.

Jeff Williams of Winter and two Russian crewmates landed safely in a Soyuz spacecraft Tuesday night in a remote area of Kazakhstan.

It completed Williams' fourth mission aboard the International Space Station, in which he has spent a total of 534 days in space -- and he broke the U.S. record for total days in orbit a couple weeks ago.

NASA says Williams and the other crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments during their mission which involved biology, biotechnology, physical science and earth science.

Williams took two spacewalks in which he installed a docking adapter for spacecraft to connect to the space station, retracted a thermal control radiator and put in two new high definition cameras.

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Clear weather helps state farmers prior to new storms

MADISON  --  Wisconsin farmers took advantage of last week's clear weather to make hay and chop corn for their animal feed, before heavy rains returned Monday and Tuesday. Eighty-seven percent of the state's corn crop was rated good to excellent as of Sunday, and it kept developing ahead of schedule.

The Wisconsin Ag Statistics Service says soybeans made rapid progress despite white mold on some fields, and 85 percent were rated good to excellent.

One fifth of the Wisconsin potato crop is in, and 88 percent of it is good to excellent -- and more than half of the fourth crop of hay is harvested, with all hay at least 90 percent good.

Far southeast and northwest Wisconsin had rainfall last week -- and before this week's storms, only 7 percent of the state's farm fields were short of moisture.

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Woman's finger severed, Brown County man charged with mayhem

SUAMICO  --  A Brown County man is accused of cutting off a woman's finger as part of a ritual to commemorate a fellow rap music fan.

Jonathan Schrap is charged with mayhem and reckless injury in an Aug. 27 incident at his house in the village of Suamico.

A criminal complaint says Schrap and his friends were staging a "ritualistic memorial" to commemorate a deceased member of the Juggalos, the name given fans of the Detroit rap duo Insane Clown Posse.

Television station WBAY reports that court documents say a 27-year-old woman allowed Schrap to cut her arm with a machete. Prosecutors say she also let Schrap cut off one of her pinky fingers.

The mother of the woman's boyfriend convinced her to go to the hospital where staff called police.

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Another Fox Valley teen murder victim is not forgotten

MENASHA -- Amid all the talk about Berit Beck's death in 1990, another teen murder victim from 38 years ago is not being forgotten in the Fox Valley area.

Menasha police say they're still investigating the death of 17-year-old Dawn Schnetzer, who disappeared in 1978 when a motorcyclist dropped her off. Her decomposed body was found six weeks later on a farm close to nearby Sherwood.

The Appleton Post Crescent reports that investigators say the key to finding Schnetzer's killer is to learn as much as possible about the victim, and they continue to interview people, while using new scientific methods to dig up evidence.

Meanwhile, in the Beck case, defendant Dennis Brantner did not show up for a hearing Tuesday on the state's request for a new trial so the proceeding was rescheduled for next Tuesday.

A jury could not decide in June whether Brantner was guilty of first degree murder.

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Johnson brings back whiteboard ad; Feingold counters

One of the television ads that drew the most chatter in the 2010 Wisconsin elections was brought back Monday.

U.S. Senate Republican Ron Johnson returned to his whiteboard for a 30-second ad -- saying that before he was elected in 2010, the Senate had 57 lawyers, "zero manufacturers," and "way too many career politicians."

Johnson then updated the numbers with "54 lawyers, one manufacturer" -- citing himself -- "still way too many career politicians, and now Sen. Feingold wants to add another one."

The Democrat Feingold, a senator for 18 years before Johnson defeated him, put out a radio ad saying Johnson has not done enough for communities which he said were "ravaged by the opioid epidemic."

Johnson led a Senate review of the Tomah VA Hospital's excessive prescribing of opioids, and he chaired a roundtable discussion on opioid abuse in Milwaukee last week.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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