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Region grieves death of popular coach, counselor; High Court won't expedite same-sex marriage challenge; more state news

CLEAR LAKE -- A northwest Wisconsin school district brought in extra counselors Tuesday to help students and faculty grieve after their own counselor died in a lawn-mowing accident.

Clear Lake junior-senior high school counselor Adam Moen was killed Saturday, May 24th in Prairie Farm.

Barron County authorities said the 34-year-old Moen lost control of his riding mower on the top of a hill. It overturned and landed on top of him. His five-year-old son was riding with him on the mower, and he was treated at a hospital and later released.

Moen spent six years at Clear Lake as a counselor and baseball coach.

An obituary published in Wednesday's Eau Claire Leader-Telegram states he earned a Master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from UW-River Falls in 2006. He subsequently worked as a guidance counselor for the Boyceville School District before joining the Clear Lake School District as a 6-12 guidance counselor. He also served as head coach of the high school baseball team, and coached junior high basketball.

He was also a class advisor, AP cordinator, scholarship contact, grant writer, awards night coordinator, Youth Options, and Virtual School contact, among other roles.

Survivors include sister Meghan (Eric) Naedler of River Falls.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, May 31, 2014, at United Lutheran Church in Prairie Farm. For more information, visit www.

High Court denies effort to expedite challenge to same-sex marriage ban

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court will not let a same-sex couple bypass the lower courts, and try to get the justices to strike down the state's ban on gay marriage.

Without comment, the justices told Katherine and Linda Halopka-Ivery of Milwaukee to get in line and take their case to the circuit and appellate courts first.

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley did vote to have the Supreme Court take immediate jurisdiction. They didn't comment on their positions, either.

The Halopka-Iverys were married last December in California. They allege that Wisconsin's constitutional gay marriage ban from 2006 denies them federal rights given to same-sex couples.

They also say it denies them rights to due process and equal protection, after the national Defense of Marriage Act was struck down last year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A separate lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and several same-sex couples also challenges Wisconsin's ban. It's pending before Madison Federal Judge Barbara Crabb.

Witnesses being called for abortion-rights trial

MADISON -- The state Justice Department was expected to begin calling witnesses Wednesday in a federal court trial that challenges the state law to make abortion doctors have hospital admitting privileges. The trial opened Tuesday in Madison without a jury.

Federal Judge William Conley heard the plaintiffs' arguments that the law is not necessary, and it would result in delays for abortions which could put women's health at risk. Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services filed suit over the law, saying an AMS clinic in Milwaukee would close.

The state said Planned Parenthood could pick up the slack but that agency said its Milwaukee facilities are tight, and recruiting more abortion doctors would be difficult because they often face heavy harassment.

The state says the law is needed to make sure there's continuous care if abortion patients need hospitalization. But Judge Conley was told it was seldom the case. Wendie Ashlock of AMS said only three patients of almost 5,000 were transferred to a hospital from her facility the past two years.

Planned Parenthood said only four patients among 8,400 were sent to Milwaukee hospitals from 2009 through last year.

Candidate Burke, city officials say Republicans haven't helped curb Milwaukee's violence

MILWAUKEE -- The Democrats' main candidate for governor agrees with Milwaukee's police chief who says Republicans do more to suppress votes than to suppress violence in the city.

At a Milwaukee freeway construction site Tuesday, Mary Burke said she'd work with Mayor Tom Barrett, city leaders, and neighborhood residents to reduce gun violence. That's after Sierra Guyton, age 10, was shot in crossfire a week ago at a school playground.

Burke said there is no single solution. She said the police need adequate resources, the city needs a strong education system, and it's important to engage families and students early on, and show them why schooling is important.

The former Trek Bicycle executive said other cities have reduced their crime rates by getting neighborhoods to work with each other and Milwaukee can do the same.

Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos fought back at the notion that they're focused more on approving an acceptable voter ID law than on fighting crime in Milwaukee.

Walker's camp said the governor has a strong record on curbing violence, which includes rolling back Jim Doyle's early release program for prisoners.

Vos cited the state's expansion of a high-tech system which lets Milwaukee Police know when bullets are being fired in a 10-square-mile range.

Vos also criticized Milwaukee County's Democratic District Attorney, John Chilsholm. The speaker said Chisholm has given too many plea deals to violent offenders, while devoting too much effort on a John Doe probe that targets conservative groups.

Seasonal warm-up puts farmers in high gear

The sudden arrival of summer is a blessing for Wisconsin farmers.

The National Ag Statistics Service said 65 percent of the Badger State's corn crop was planted as of last Sunday, up 36 percent from a week ago, thanks to warmer-and-drier weather. Still, Wisconsin corn planting remains 21 percent behind the average for the past five years due in part to cool soil temperatures.

Four days of warm and dry weather are in the statewide forecast, after some lingering showers move out Wednesday. That will help farmers get closer to finishing their spring field work.

Tillage was 74 percent finished as of Sunday, up 28 percent from the week before. Almost four of every ten of this year's Wisconsin soybeans are in the ground, up from just eight percent a week ago. Oat planting is 84 percent finished, nine points higher than the previous week.

Temperatures were as much as four degrees above normal-- exceptional conditions for first-crop hay growth. Eighty-four percent of the first crop hay is rated good to excellent, and four percent of the first crop alfalfa has been cut.

Frederic couple wins $1 million in Louisiana lottery

A northwest Wisconsin couple won a million dollars playing Powerball in Louisiana.

Donald Marek, 57, and his wife JoAnn are from Frederic in Polk County.

They were baby-sitting their grandchildren near New Orleans last week, when they bought a Quick Pick Powerball ticket at a Race-Trac convenience store in suburban Slidell. It matched all five regular numbers but not the Powerball in last Wednesday night's drawing -- and it netted the Mareks $700,000 dollars after taxes were deducted.

Donald Marek said he'dl put the money toward the couple's retirement.

The store got $10,000 or one percent of the gross prize, for selling the ticket.

'Crowd-funding' becomes legal on Sunday

MADISON -- Wisconsin businesses can sell stock online beginning on Sunday at the start of June.

Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature paved the way last year for companies to use sites like Kick-starter to seek capital from investors. They said it's an easy way to help small businesses, by giving them access to a wide group of potential investors.

Most of those investors will be limited to $10,000 in a single crowd-fund offering. Businesses can raise up to a $1 million from Wisconsin investors and $2 million if the company has a recent audit that's shared with investors and state securities' regulators.

Heroin supplier ruled not-competent to face sentencing

LA CROSSE -- A man who provided the heroin that killed a La Crosse County man is not mentally-competent to be sentenced.

A judge made that determination Tuesday in the case of 28-year-old Malachi Hankel. His attorneys say Hankel suffers from bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia, and his medications have altered his mental state to the point in which he's still not thinking clearly.

Hankel struck a plea deal in February that convicted him of reckless homicide in the heroin overdose death of Thomas Tremain. The victim died last fall at his home in the town of Barre.

Hankel is currently at the state's Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison.

A La Crosse County judge will hold another review hearing June 30th on Hankel's mental condition.

New Marquette U leader starting soon

MILWAUKEE -- Marquette University's new president will officially begin full-time on July 1st.

Mike Lovell is wrapping up his duties as U-W Milwaukee's outgoing chancellor. Marquette now says Lovell will start working on that campus Monday to make the transition to his new job and he'll work closely with the school's interim president, Fr. Robert Wild.

Lovell was initially named in late March as the first lay president of the Milwaukee Jesuit university. He was planning to stay at UW-Milwaukee until August but his departure was moved up to this Saturday, after Mark Mone was named as that school's interim chancellor.

Lovell will be formally inaugurated at Marquette with a Mass on Sept. 18th and a ceremony on the 19th. Wild will stay at Marquette part-time, to work on fund-raising and maintain long-standing relationships he has built up with the school's friends and alumni over the years.

Woman finds boyfriend's body after overnight disappearance

WAUSAU -- An autopsy was planned Wednesday on a 33-year-old man who went missing, and was later found dead in Wausau.

His live-in girlfriend told police that she was looking for the man since Monday night and she found his body Tuesday, May 27th, while walking on a trail which they enjoyed hiking. The man was found lying on rocks near the shore of Lake Wausau at the bottom of a steep embankment on the city's west side.

A police official quoted a witness as saying the man left his house intoxicated, and he has a history of substance abuse.

The man appeared to have suffered a severe head wound, but officials are not sure if it caused his death. Police say nothing's been ruled out for a possible cause of death. The man's name was not immediately released.

-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau

Semi- wreck closes I-94 overnight at Eau Claire

EAU CLAIRE -- Most of Interstate 94 near Eau Claire remained closed just after dawn Wednesday, hours after Fed-Ex semi-truck tipped over and started on fire.

The accident occurred around 11:45 Tuesday near the Highway 37 exit.

The State Patrol said the truck was eastbound when it hit a guardrail. One trailer became disconnected, and a second one was ignited. That trailer was engulfed in flames when fire-fighters arrived.

Early reports said the trucker was not seriously injured. Debris from the crash was thrown into the westbound lanes of I-94, so the entire freeway was closed on Eau Claire's southwest side for about three hours.

The right westbound lane re-opened around 3 a.m., but the other lanes in both directions remained closed as of 6:30. Eastbound traffic was using a detour at Highway 312.

Search continues for missing man at Taylors Falls

TAYLORS FALLS -- A search for a missing fisherman on the St. Croix River enters its fourth day.

Twenty-one year old Tou Hu Vang of Coon Rapids, Minn., was swept away in the river's strong currents on Sunday evening. He was trying to save his eleven-year-old nephew Calvin Vang, who slipped into the river off a large wet rock and was later saved by bystander Ken Hawj of Saint Paul.

The search has been hampered by high water and fast currents on the St. Croix in the area below St. Croix Falls.

Vang disappeared on the Minnesota side, where Chisago County authorities have had dragging nets snagged and the currents have made it dangerous for rescue boats.

Sheriff Rick Duncan told KARE-TV that searchers have checked virtually all of the upper river close to the drowning site. Rescuers are now starting to scan the top of the river, with the expectation that a body will surface.

Afternoon deluge closes some Madison streets

MADISON -- Wisconsin's capital city is drying out, after the area got hit with heavy rains and flash floods near the end of Tuesday's rush hour.

The National Weather Service said many downtown streets were impassable early Tuesday evening due to high water and multiple vehicles were swept away or pushed into oncoming traffic.

A vehicle got stuck in water on Madison's northeast side, and the flash floods were chest-deep near the city's Warner Park.

An exit off Madison's Beltline expresway was closed around 6 p.m.

Madison received a record rainfall for the date -- 1.46 inches, breaking the previous mark of about 1.25 inches set in 1945.

To the south, Brodhead in Green County had almost 1.75 inches of rain, and numerous streets in Beloit were flooded out after 9 p.m.

In western Wisconsin, 2.25 inches of rain fell at Whitehall in Trempealeau County while Readstown in Vernon County had about 1.65 inches.

The Weather Service blamed the storms on a cold front and a weak low-pressure system that moved south through Wisconsin. It's gone now, and forecasters expected lingering showers will move out of southern Wisconsin later Wednesday morning.

Clear skies were forecast Wednesday night through Saturday for most of the state, with highs in the 70's-and-80's each day.

Deputies exonerated in shooting death of combative man

MADISON -- No charges will be filed against Dane County sheriff's officers who killed a domestic abuse suspect on May first at a home in the town of Primrose.

District Attorney Ismael Ozanne reviewed evidence gathered by outside investigators. He ruled Tuesday that the deputies acted appropriately when they shot-and-killed Dean Caccamo.

Police said they were called to a home where Caccamo was brutally beating his mother and step-father.

Officials said Caccamo pepper-sprayed a deputy, and grabbed another officer's shotgun. An officer shot and wounded the deputy who was fighting to keep his shotgun -- and Caccamo then stabbed an officer who was trying to handcuff him. Another deputy tried subduing the suspect with a Taser stun gun, but could not do so.

Caccamo later died after being shot in one of his lungs.

A new state law requires two outside agencies to look into deaths which involve officers.

District Attorney Ozanne noted that Dane County deputies exceeded the law's requirements by having officers from four police departments look into it -- Madison, Fitchburg, Sun Prairie, and the UW Madison police force.

Triple NCAA crown for UW-Whitewater has city celebrating

WHITEWATER -- It's getting to be an all-too-familiar scene at UW Whitewater. A national championship team comes home to a campus rally and athletes are saluted with a fire-truck parade around town.

It was the Whitewater baseball team's turn to get the heroes' welcome Tuesday night, about five hours after the Warhawks won the NCAA Division Three baseball finals near Appleton. The 'Hawks shut out Emory of Atlanta 7-0, and became the first school in any NCAA division to win the national baseball, football, and men's basketball crowns in the same year.

It never gets old. Baseball coach John Vodenlich said that as soon as the basketball team won its title, his cell phone blew up with text messages saying it was time for his team to win.

Actually, it was Whitewater's sixth national championship this school year. The Warhawk women also won their national gymnastics crown and the men's and women's wheelchair basketball teams were champions as well.