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Wisconsin roundup: Obamacare about to begin its fourth signup season; Wausau teen gets 13 years for killing another teen; and 10 more state news stories

The fourth annual signup period begins Nov. 1 for Wisconsinites who want new health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act.

On Wednesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said almost 14 million Americans would most likely sign up -- reflecting what she calls "robust" growth.

In Wisconsin, average monthly premiums for the 224,000 Obamacare clients are going up by an average of 16 percent -- and some could pay 31 percent more.

The Obama administration says tax subsidies should cover most of the increases for the eight of every 10 people who are eligible for tax breaks.

Open enrollment ends Dec. 15 for coverage that takes effect Jan. 1, and the enrollment deadline is Jan. 31 for coverage that begins next spring.


Wausau teen gets 13 years for killing another teen

WAUSAU  --  A 16-year-old Wausau boy will serve 13 years in prison for stabbing another teen. Dylan Yang must also spend another 17 years in extended supervision for the death of 13-year-old Isaiah Powell in February of last year, as two groups of teens confronted each other outside Yang's home.

Members of both families were among about 100 people at Wednesday's sentencing -- and the strong emotions of the case prompted extra security at the Marathon County Courthouse.

At a protest rally in May, Hmong residents said Yang should have been charged as a juvenile and the Wausau schools should do more to stop bullying. But Circuit Judge Lamont Jacobson put the blame on Yang, saying the teen called his brother to go to a dance after the stabbing, instead of calling police or an ambulance service.

-- Mike Warren, WDLB-WOSQ, Marshfield


State explains its request to uphold Dassey conviction

MADISON  --  The state Justice Department has filed a 151-page legal brief to back up its claim that Brendan Dassey should remain convicted in the brutal 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.

The state is appealing a federal magistrate's decision from August which overturned Dassey's conviction for helping his uncle Steven Avery rape, shoot and burn the 25-year-old Halbach at their family's auto salvage yard in Manitowoc County.

Magistrate William Duffin said Dassey -- who was 16 at the time -- could not deal with law enforcement techniques that drew confessions out of him. Duffin said it violated Dassey's rights but the state insists the confessions were voluntary, and officers used techniques "that have been upheld by court after court."

The reversal of Dassey's conviction, and Avery's new appeal of his, come just months after the Netflix series "Making a Murderer."


State DOT: Total vehicle miles driven sets new record

MADISON  --  A new record has been set for the total number of miles driven on Wisconsin roads. According to the state DOT, cars and trucks drove a total of 62.1 billion miles in Wisconsin last year -- an increase of 2.1 billion miles from the previous year, the largest hike in 17 years.

Wisconsin uses a national standard for measuring its highway usage -- and it's based on fuel consuMption, traffic counts and the monitoring of highway performance.

Officials cite a growing economy, a larger population and lower gas prices for the jump in traffic. Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb says commercial vehicle traffic has risen 20 percent in the past four years -- and the agency is working on a new freight vehicle plan that's expected to be completed early next year.


Schneider National to pay $28 million to settle suit

GREEN BAY  --  The Schneider National trucking firm of Green Bay will pay $28 million to settle a class action lawsuit in California.

Drivers accused the company of not giving them all of the pay to which they were entitled. Reports say about 7,700 Schneider employees between 2004 and May of this year will share about $18 million, and their lawyers would get more than  $9 million.

Schneider National denies wrongdoing, and says it agreed to the settlement to get the case resolved.


Debate: Trump's noncommital on accepting election results trumps all

Wisconsin Republicans got part of what they wanted, when the final presidential debate had a larger discussion of the issues than the first two. But Donald Trump stole the show when he refused to say if he would accept the results of the Nov. 8 election, telling anchor Chris Wallace he would keep him "in suspense."

The Washington news website The Hill says Trump's remarks were a stark contrast to those made by his running mate Mike Pence and his daughter Ivanka, who is scheduled to campaign for her father Thursday in Wauwatosa and Eau Claire.

Earlier Wednesday, the Trump campaign staged a conference call in which state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and House Republican Glenn Grothman both said Trump needed to stick to the issues during the debate -- and indeed, Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton spent more time on things like taxes, immigration, gun control and foreign policy.

Most polls have Clinton leading in Wisconsin, but Fitzgerald says Trump can win if he shores up support in southeast Wisconsin.


DNR ends informal board dinners prior to meetings

MADISON  --  The state DNR says it will stop hosting dinners for members of the Natural Resources Board the night before its meetings.

The social functions were called into question when opponents of a new snowmobile trail in Blue Mounds State Park alleged that the board members privately discussed the proposal at a dinner in January, before approving a master plan the next day that allows snowmobiling at the site.

Trail opponents filed a complaint against the board, accusing the panel of violating the state Open Meetings Law by allowing a majority of members to discuss business while gathering in private -- without the required advance notice.

The DNR has said board members did not discuss state business at their private dinners. They were often held after board members take field trips on the Tuesdays before their normal Wednesday meetings at various locations around the state.


Tipster gets $25,000 reward in murder of 5-year-old

MILWAUKEE  --  A Milwaukee man has received a $25,000 reward for giving police vital information that helped convict three men in the shooting death of a 5-year-old girl.

Antoine Buchanan says he has a close relationship with two of those convicted of shooting bullets into a house in 2014, killing 5-year-old Laylah Peterson.

Buchanan accepted the reward Wednesday that was put up by attorney Michael Hupy -- and he said he did it not to snitch, but "you have to draw the line somewhere."

Buchanan gave tips to police, secretly recorded one of the suspects and testified against another in court. The defendants said they shot at the wrong house when they killed the young Peterson, who was watching TV on her grandfather's lap when she was shot.


Joy Global stockholders approve sale to Komatsu

MILWAUKEE  --  One of the world's largest makers of mining equipment is one step closer to being sold.

Joy Global of Milwaukee says its stockholders have voted to sell the company to Komatsu's American branch for$3.7 billion. Regulators in the U.S. and Canada have approved the transaction.

Officials in Komatsu's home country of Japan also need to okay the deal, which is due to be finalized by the middle of next year. The sale was first announced in late July.

Komatsu says it expects to keep selling equipment with the Joy Global brand name and will operate the firm as a separate subsidiary.

At the end of summer, Joy Global had around 1,000 employees in Milwaukee, and 12,000 around the world as it continues to deal with a struggling mining market for commercial building materials.


Remains could be man missing for 10 years

MENOMONIE  --  Human remains found by hunters in western Wisconsin could be those of a man missing for almost 11 years.

Sheriff's deputies say the remains were found last Sunday in the northern part of Dunn County. After checking missing persons' reports, Sheriff Dennis Smith says the man appears to be Douglas Poach. He was 53-years-old and living in the Dunn County town of New Haven when he vanished on Jan. 3, 2006.

Officials say it could take up to one month for DNA evidence to confirm the person's identity.


Tigerton teen facing murder charge will stay in adult court

WAUPACA  --  The case of a Tigerton teenager charged in the death of a man whose body was found in a Waupaca County ditch last spring will stay in adult court.

Sixteen-year-old Zachary Hohn is charged with murder and robbery in the death of 25-year-old Matthew Pagel, whose body was found April 11 near Clintonville. Authorities say his death was tied to a drug deal.

Television station WLUK reports that Hohn's attorneys sought to have his case moved to juvenile court, but Judge Raymond Huber on Tuesday rejected the request.

Hohn is scheduled to enter pleas Tuesday, the same day the second suspect in the case is scheduled to appear for a status conference.

Twenty-four-year-old Adam Ozuna, of Bear Creek, has pleaded not guilty to murder and robbery.


Eau Claire: Don't feed the ducks

EAU CLAIRE  --  If you feed the ducks this fall in Eau Claire, you may be shutting down the beaches next summer.

Eau Claire park managers are once again reminding people not to feed the ducks or geese in city parks. Parks director Phil Fieber says the more that people feed the birds, the more birds will flock to the parks, and the more droppings the birds will leave. That flood of waste could spike bacteria levels in the water next year.

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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