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Embattled leader of sportsman's group quits; traffic stop yields $100K meth stash; 10 more state stories

MILWAUKEE -- Andy Pantzlaff has resigned from the Wisconsin Sporting Heritage Council. He's the head of the United Sportsmen, a group that won a controversial $500,000 state grant which Gov. Scott Walker later canceled.

Pantzlaff was appointed in February to the state council that was created to advise Walker on hunting and fishing concerns. Pantzlaff e-mailed a one-sentence resignation notice Monday, saying only that he's resigning "with much regret."

Critics said Republicans tried to put the United Sportsmen in line for state funds to encourage more Wisconsinites to go hunting and fishing. A state budget measure created the grant and banned certain outdoor groups from applying for it.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that "Republican lawmakers led by former Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) slipped the grant money into the 2013-'15 state budget this summer, along with a requirement that it could be given only to groups that are 'not an affiliate of a national federation or organization.' Thus, conservation groups such as the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and state chapters of Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation would not qualify for the grant.

The Sporting Heritage Council was approved to receive the grant in August. Walker scrapped the funding, after questions were raised about United Sportsmen's tax status and reports that Pantzlaff was fined in 2005 for shooting a bear without the proper state license.

Seminar may answer questions about Wisconsin's health insurance exchange MADISON -- The public is expected to learn more Tuesday about the status of the federal marketplace that Wisconsin will use to provide health insurance to those who need it.

Enrollments in the new exchange begin next Tuesday, Oct. 1st.

The Wisconsin Health News is holding a mid-day seminar in Madison with three health care leaders who will discuss issues connected with the exchange set-up that's part of the Affordable Care Act.

Around a half-million Wisconsinites are expected to buy coverage from the state's exchange. That includes thousands of Badger Care recipients who are being told that their current coverage will end when 2013 ends.

State officials and health advocates expect a lot of confusion as people begin to sign up. Donna Friedsam of the UW Madison Population Health Institute says many of the affected people have never bought health insurance -- and many don't have the bank accounts and credit cards they might need to pay monthly premiums.

State Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades has acknowledged the challenge. She recently said "We are in unchartered waters here."

Labor commission denies violating a court order by enforcing Act 10 bargaining limits MADISON -- The head of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission denies that it's violating a court order, by continuing to enforce the Act 10 public union bargaining limits.

WERC chairman James Scott says his panel will proceed with annual recertification votes requested by 400 public unions. A union attorney said a Dane County court ruling does not allow for the elections, and he'll ask a judge Tuesday to hold the labor commission in contempt.

Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled a year ago that Act 10 and its annual union election requirements do not apply to the Madison school teachers and a Milwaukee city employee group. Until now, it was not clear whether the ruling applied to all school and local government unions statewide.

Last week, Colas ruled that it did apply but he stopped short of halting recertification votes for the two plaintiffs. Lester Pines, representing six other unions, has demanded that the state stop the elections.

State officials have said that other court rulings allow them to keep administering Act 10.

A federal judge in Madison and a federal appeals court have upheld the union law while ruling on other lawsuits against it.

Prairie Island's Unit #2 refit underway RED WING, Minn. -- A major unit is temporarily shut down at the Prairie Island nuclear power plant on the Minnesota side of the Wisconsin border near Red Wing.

A major unit is temporarily shut down at the Prairie Island nuclear power plant on the Minnesota side of the Wisconsin border near Red Wing.

Xcel Energy says Unit-Two is being re-fueled, and two new steam generators are being installed. The utility says the new equipment will ensure the continued safe and reliable generation of electricity.

During the shutdown, X-cel Energy plans to cover the lost production by buying power from other suppliers, or stepping up the output at its other plants. Re-fueling outages at Prairie Island normally take four- to eight weeks.

With the new equipment being installed, Xcel says this one will take a few weeks more.

Bill would stiffen penalties against abusers who don't surrender weapons MADISON -- Domestic abusers who don't give up their weapons as required could face more punishment under a bill proposed in the Wisconsin Legislature.

Assembly Republican Garey Bies of Sister Bay is asking colleagues to co-sign his measure. It would create a process in which courts can verify whether people under restraining orders for domestic or child abuse comply with court orders to surrender their firearms.

Bies says the idea is to prevent abusers from offending again when the situation arises. At the very least, he says they would have to look harder to find a weapon and by then, their heat of passion might have gone away.

A similar bill was proposed a few years ago, but Milwaukee County Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers said many judges thought the system would not work because the courts were already overburdened.

The state tried a pilot program in four counties and UW Milwaukee expert Steven Brandl found it to be effective.

Milwaukee County adopted a gun-checking policy for abusers in April. Bies says many other counties still don't make those checks. He expects his measure to get final approval by the end of the year.

-- Minnesota News Network

Milwaukee woman caught with gun at 9-11 Memorial says she forgot she had it A Wisconsin woman caught with a loaded gun at New York's 9-11 Memorial told officers she forgot she had it.

Ursula Jerry, 41, of Milwaukee appeared in court Monday following her arrest at Ground Zero's security checkpoint on Sunday.

A judge ordered a $30,000 bond on a preliminary charge of criminal weapons' possession. She's due back in court on Friday.

Prosecutors say they'll take the case to a New York grand jury for formal charges. Jerry reportedly told security officers that she carried her .380 semi-automatic weapon on an Amtrak train from Milwaukee as she was about to visit the Big Apple and she forgot having it.

The weapon had two rounds in its magazine.

Defense attorney Annie Constanzo said there were no indications that Jerry threatened any violence -- and she has no criminal history of violence.

There have been conflicting reports about whether Jerry had a Wisconsin concealed weapons' permit. Even if she did, it would not have been legal for her to carry it in New York. The Empire State does not legally recognize concealed weapon permits from other states.

First frost ends growing season for some struggling crops Last week's frost in Wisconsin killed at least some crops which never got a chance to fully grow.

Officials said the frost damage ranged from superficial to killing, depending on their locations and maturity. Wisconsin did get some much-needed rain, but it was too late to help some of the corn.

Fifty-five percent of topsoil and 69 percent of subsoil remains short to very short of moisture, although both percentages are improved from a week ago.

Thirty-six percent of the corn for animal feed is harvested. Yields were said to be below normal, due to drought conditions in much of the state and a late planting.

Seventy percent of Wisconsin soybeans are turning color. There are scattered reports of plants being used for silage if they're not producing beans. The year's third-cutting of alfalfa is 95 percent finished, and the fourth cutting is 46 percent complete. Some areas are not expected to see a fourth crop.

Temperatures were well above freezing Tuesday morning, ranging from 36 in Superior to 56 in Milwaukee.

Clear and dry weather is expected statewide for at least the next three days. Highs Tuesday were expected to top out at 70, with a slight warm-up Wednesday and Thursday.

Federal judge presses EPA to regulate farm runoff A federal judge is putting more pressure on the EPA to set up national standards to regulate farm runoff and other nitrogen and phosphorus in United States waters.

Ann Alexander of the Natural Resources Defense Council says one of the first priorities should be to regulate states along the Mississippi River, including Wisconsin.

Environmentalists blame runoff pollution for a large oxygen-depleted "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico. A similar but smaller dead zone was recently reported in the Bay of Green Bay.

Federal Judge Jay Zainey of New Orleans has given the EPA six months to either decide on setting nitrogen and phosphorus runoff standards, or explain why they're not needed.

Environmentalists hailed the ruling as a victory. The U.S. Justice Department had argued that national runoff rules would be too complex and take too much time and personnel to enforce. It also said the EPA could more effectively fight the problem by working with states to reduce pollution. Louisiana officials say states are already doing that.

Fourteen months ago, the EPA endorsed Wisconsin's latest plan to fight phosphorus. It seeks to create partnerships with watersheds, in which businesses and sewage plants work together to install control equipment. They could create grants to help farms and city streets reduce run-off, with more flexibility than the state's previous control efforts.

Probe continues into woman's death EAGLE RIVER -- Vilas County authorities are still trying to determine how a 55-year-old woman died, after her remains were found by a hunter in the woods last week.

Sandra Schinke of Sayner was reported missing 17 months ago in the Northern Highland State Forest.

Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath said dental records helped identify Schinke. He says investigators are still waiting for test results from the State Crime Lab which could clarify how Schinke died.

A hunter spotted a jacket and a shoe last Monday -- and that led to the discovery of Schinke's remains last Thursday.

-- Natalie Jablonski, WXPR, Rhinelander

Handgun used to halt pit bull attack MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee resident shot and wounded a pit bull that attacked a teenage girl and her friend. It happened Monday night in a city alley.

Police said a resident heard the girl scream, and used a shovel to try and stop the attack. That apparently didn't work, so the resident's son pulled a handgun and shot the dog while it was still on the attack.

There was no word on the conditions of the two victims. Police said the dog survived, and was turned over to an animal control facility.

Routine police stop yields $100K of meth Police in Neenah said they stopped a car for routine traffic violations and they found over $100,000 worth of methamphetamines in the trunk.

The officer just happened to have the city's new K-9 officer with him at the time, and the dog sniffed out the drugs late Sunday night.

Angela Koerner, 29, of Neenah and Kong Lee, 31, of Appleton are charged with possessing meth with the intent to deliver, and possessing firearms as convicted felons.

Both individuals are due in Winnebago County Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon.

Koerner is on probation for a federal meth distribution case from 2010. Lee spent two years in prison for possessing meth and resisting an officer.

New limits mulled for hunting, trapping in state parks

New restrictions are being considered for hunting and trapping in Wisconsin state parks. The Natural Resources Board will be asked Wednesday to adopt emergency rules to ban the shooting of guns, bows, and cross-bows from recreation trails or across them. Also, trappers would have to use dog-proof snares in those areas.

The Board will consider the changes when it meets at Pembine in northeast Wisconsin. If approved, they'll take effect November 15th. A state law adopted a year ago ended a general ban on hunting-and-trapping in state parks -- but under the law, the D-N-R could still restrict the activities in specific areas.

A complete agenda of the board's activities can be viewed at

Steve Dzubay

Steve Dzubay has been publisher at the River Falls Journal and Hudson Star Observer from 1995-2016. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He previously worked as a reporter-photographer at small daily newspapers in Minnesota and is past editor of the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal.