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Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees in Iowa County; 'cycle crash claims former Milwaukee basketball star; more state news

As daylight emerged officials fanned out to assess heavy damage wrought by at least one tornado that whirled across in Iowa County in southwest Wisconsin late Sunday.

National Weather Service radar indicates the twister was on the ground for about 25 minutes starting at 10:20 p.m. near Highland and traveling to near Governor Dodge State Park.

The Iowa County Emergency Management agency said the storm tore roofs from homes. Silos and hundreds of trees were blown down. There has been no word of any injuries.

A damage survey crew was expected inspect the damage later Monday. Also, the Weather Service confirms a 4.3-mile path of wind damage starting around 11:25 close to Oregon in Dane County.

One farm had roof damage to both a house and a barn, and a grain elevator was blown down.

Almost 2,700 electric customers in Wisconsin were still without power early Monday morning. Several waves of hailstorms were also reported in far northwest Sunday. Just over 1,800 Wisconsin Power & Light customers in Iowa County were in the dark at 5 a.m. In southeast Wisconsin, We Energies reported over 210 outages as far north as West Bend. The Public Service utility had 251 outages in north central and northeast Wisconsin -- about 130 of those in the Rhinelander area.

Up to 1.75 inches of rain fell in just 20 minutes at Pardeeville in Columbia County late Sunday night. The two waves of hailstorms were in Douglas, Bayfield, and Iron counties, with up to 1.5 inches in diameter. The Weather Service also reported a tornado on Friday afternoon at Colfax in Dunn County. Officials reported damage to a gas station and numerous trees down.

In St. Croix County, authorities closed a stretch of Hwy. 12 between 130th and 140th Avenues for a time Sunday morning when water was reported over the road. The River Falls area received just less than three-quarters of an inch of rain Saturday evening, bring June's rainfall total to just over 11 inches for the month.

High gas prices foretold for July 4th travelers

Those planning travel over the long Fourth of July weekend should plan on paying the highest gas prices for the holiday in six years.

The Wisconsin American Automobilie Association said the average price was $3.70 Monday morning for a gallon of regular unleaded. That's 22 cents more than at this time last July Fourth. Normally, gas prices go down in the weeks leading up to Independence Day but ongoing violence in Iraq and its speculation over oil production has kept Americans paying more at the pump.

However, Monday's average Wisconsin fuel price is two cents less than a week ago -- and it apparently won't keep a lot of folks home for the holiday weekend.

AAA expects about 872,000 Wisconsinites to travel at least 50 miles from home between Wednesday and Sunday.

Tougher food stamp rules start Tuesday in 3 counties

MADISON -- Food-stamp recipients in far southeast Wisconsin will be the first ones to have to work in order to keep getting their benefits.

The requirement takes effect on Jan. 1st statewide but it's getting a head start Tuesday in Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth counties so the bugs can get worked out.

Majority Republicans passed a requirement last year that Food-Share recipients must either work, or be enrolled in an employee-training program to keep getting the food cards.

In general, the change will affect adults age 18- to 49 with no children in their home who are physically able to work.

The Racine Journal Times reports that it includes 2,000 of Racine County's 17,000 total Food-Share recipients.

The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that about half the affected recipients will not be able to fulfill the new requirements and they'll be booted out of the food stamp program.

Federal law requires childless healthy adults to work 20 hours a week to get food assistance.

Wisconsin had a waiver from that requirement, until the state ended it.

Many utilities boosting base monthly charge

Wisconsinites who install solar energy systems could lose part of their savings on their reduced electric usage, if they haven't already.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says some of the state's largest utilities are beefing up their fixed charges the amount which all customers pay, regardless of their energy usage. We Energies has asked the state for permission to raise its fixed charge from $9 to $16 per month. Wisconsin Public Service proposes a doubling of its fixed charge to $25 a home for home customers, and a tripling to $35 for businesses. Also, We Energies and Wisconsin Power & Light want to reduce what they'll pay customers for solar power starting next year.

The Journal Sentinel says falling prices and better technology have made solar energy a much better bargain than it used to be and the higher fixed charges on electric bills are designed to have those customers pay their fair share of things like power lines and sub-stations.

Motorcycle crash claims former high school stand-out, now pro player Destinee Blue

MILWAUKEE -- Police said high speed was in a factor in a weekend crash that killed two people on a motorcycle, including a foreign pro basketball player.

Officials have not identified the bikers, but coaches said Destinee Blue was one of those killed.

The 25-year-old Blue was playing for a pro team in Europe when she returned to Milwaukee last December to recover from a knee injury. She was on the back of the motorcycle, and its 40-year-old male driver was also killed.

Police said the bike collided with a turning motor vehicle at a corner on Milwaukee's northwest side around 9:30 p.m., Saturday.

Two people in the vehicle, both in their 50's, were treated at a hospital for minor injuries. The crash remains under investigation.

Blue played on two state championship girls' basketball teams at Milwaukee Vincent High School. She was also an assistant coach for another state title winner at Milwaukee Riverside.

Blue starred in college at Cleveland State before going to France and Serbia to play pro basketball.

At 6-foot, three inches, Blue was the tallest player on the CSU roster. An athletic player on the blocks, she could score with her back to the basket, rebound and block shots, according to CS athletic department press releases. View footage from a performance by Blue at CSU here:

Ailing dog returns mistress's wedding ring

STEVENS POINT -- A Stevens Point woman thought she lost her wedding ring for good five years ago but as it turned out, it was never far away.

Lois Matykowski's dog Tucker vomited a Popsicle he stole -- stick and all -- and it turned out that Lois's ring was in that mess. That happened a couple weeks ago.

Matykowski tells WAOW TV in Wausau that she searched her house high-and-low back in 2009, but she couldn't find her wedding ring. Her veterinarian says the Popsicle stick might have dislodged the ring inside the dog. An "X"-ray showed no other hidden treasures in the animal much to the chagrin of friends who were hoping the dog would cough up more diamonds.

Alzheimer's advocate laid to rest in Milwaukee

Sixteen priests helped mourners say goodbye to one of Wisconsin's best-known advocates for those with Alzheimer's disease and their families.

Barbara Keyes, 82, was buried over the weekend, after she died from cancer on June 23rd. She was the first executive director of the Alzheimer's Association of Southeastern Wisconsin.

Keyes and several others started the support group at a time when not a lot of people knew about the effects of Alzheimer's.

Stephanie Stein, who heads the Milwaukee County Department on Aging, called Keyes a "pioneer" in Wisconsin. She was a nursing student at what's now known as Alverno College in Milwaukee when marriage and family put her career on hold for two decades. Keyes returned to school and earned her nursing degree at age 45.

The current head of the Milwaukee area Alzheimer's Association, Tom Hlavacek, said Keyes began the organization around her kitchen table and being a nurse was her motivation.

Rollover claims life of Sheboygan Falls man A man killed in a weekend traffic crash in Sheboygan County has been identified as Ian Fintak, 37, of Sheboygan Falls.

Authorities said his car veered onto a shoulder and rolled over. Fintak was thrown from the vehicle, and he died at the scene. The crash occurred Saturday afternoon on CTH M near Sheboygan Falls. It remains under investigation.

Prosecutor pens book about Steven Avery A new book will be released this summer about Steven Avery, the Wisconsin man who spent 18 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit, only to kill a woman two years after he was freed.

Manitowoc County prosecutor Michael Griesbach was involved in Avery's exoneration in 2003. His book is called "The Innocent Killer," and it focuses on his original rape case.

Griesbach suggests that Teresa Halbach, whom Avery and his nephew killed in 2005, might be alive today if it wasn't for Avery's wrongful conviction. He said the prison time exacerbated Avery's "sociopathic tendencies."

Griesbach told the Associated Press that he hopes authorities can learn from the case.

Griesbach accuses the Manitowoc County sheriff and a prosecutor at the time of ignoring strong evidence that Gregory Allen was actually the one to rape a woman along a beach in the mid-1980's.

Avery had become the prime suspect after he was previously suspected of exposing himself to a deputy's wife, and burning a cat. The rape victim pointed to Avery in a lineup, and was never given a lineup that included Allen.

Griesbach told the AP that several law professors around the country have asked for copies of the book, published by the American Bar Association. It's due out Aug. 7th.

Suspect in Kenosha bar shooting surrenders

KENOSHA --A man turned himself in to police

Sunday evening in connection with the shooting death of a woman at a tavern in Kenosha.

M.L. Dale told officers he knew he was wanted, but he couldn't find anyone willing to harbor him.

Authorities said a man entered Shenanigan's Tavern in Kenosha about 1:45 a.m. Saturday and began shooting.

Officials said a bullet struck the woman just before he ran off. An arrest warrant had been issued for Dale.

The victim was a 31-year-old woman from Gurnee, Ill. Her name was not immediately released.

Cedarburg man wins alleged drug money back from police

CEDARBURG -- A Cedarburg man will get back $48,000 seized by state troopers in Nebraska in 2009.

John Nelson, 22, was stopped for following his recreational vehicle too closely. He was caught with a half-ounce of marijuana and when troopers found the cash in a backpack, they figured it was going to be used for a major drug purchase.

A federal magistrate sided with the officers, but the Eighth Circuit federal appeals court overturned the confiscation on Friday, and ordered that Nelson get his money back.

Milwaukee attorney Patrick Brennan, who represented Nelson, won his argument that the government's only evidence was theory and conjecture.

Brennan said Nelson was planning to move from Cedarburg to Colorado but he returned after a few weeks, because his new city restricted ownership of a pit bull he owned.