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Wisconsin to get piece of fed hazard-prep grants; Tribes take Gogebic protests to EPA; 11 more state stories

WASHINGTON -- States will share in $20.2 million in federal grants that can be used to prepare for oil transportation disasters.

In the Upper Midwest, Minnesota will get nearly $426,000, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced Wednesday.

North Dakota, the nation’s No. 2 oil producer, expects $192,000 and South Dakota $171,000.

Wisconsin will receive $417,331.92, but has not committed as to how it will be spent.

The 'Dakotas and Minnesota plan to use at least part of their money to train for crude oil problems on railroads.

Rails transport much of the oil being pumped from the Bakken region of western North Dakota.

“Safety is our highest priority and these grants will help first responders across the country get the training they need to stay safe and protect other people,” said Foxx, who visited North Dakota last week. “Well-trained first responders play a critical role in any hazardous materials incident, including those involving crude oil."

While the money may be used for other needs, federal officials encouraged states to use the funds to plan for increasing shipments of crude oil and to study where oil travels through their areas.

Minnesota leaders already have approved millions of dollars to deal with oil train accidents. Part of the state money will go to training that begins next month.

-- Forum News Service

Grothman holds slight edge over Leibham in House seat primary After winning Wisconsin's closest U.S. House primary in 44 years, Glenn Grothman says he wishes the candidate he beat by only one-third of one-percent would not seek a recount.

Unofficial returns showed that Grothman edged Joe Leibham by just 214 votes. That's out of 64,000 cast in Tuesday's Republican primary for the Sixth District House seat in east central Wisconsin.

Leibham is waiting for the ballots to be canvassed next week before saying whether he'll seek a recount.

Leibham's home county of Sheboygan encountered delays in counting its ballots, after computer problems forced workers to manually type each ward's vote totals onto a spread-sheet which was then posted to the county's Web site. That wasn't finished until 1:15 a.m. Wednesday, after the Associated Press declared Grothman the winner. That declaration has been pulled for now.

Grothman's winning margin is the closest for a House primary in Wisconsin since 1970, when Les Aspin won the Democratic nomination for the First District House seat by just 20 votes. Meanwhile, with 82 days until the November election, Grothman says he'd like to get his campaign going against Democrat Mark Harris. Grothman said he's confident his lead will "hold strong."

The winner in November will replace 36-year incumbent Tom Petri, who's retiring.

Tribes to meet with EPA officials over Gogebic mining plans Gov. Scott Walker is defending Wisconsin's environmental policies, as Chippewa Indians try to get the federal Environmental Protection Agency to intervene in Gogebic Taconite's mining plans.

Leaders of six Chippewa tribes in northern Wisconsin will meet Saturday with EPA officials in Traverse City, Mich. They filed a petition in May to have the federal government invoke part of the Clean Water Act, and consider federal vetoes of state decisions on things like dredging and digging close to waterways.

The tribes say Wisconsin's mining laws don't do enough to protect water, wild rice, and fish downstream -- all of which are federally-protected in agreements on and around reservations.

Lac du Flambeau tribal chairman Tom Maulson says he's seen no evidence which proves that a mine could be environmentally safe.

Walker said in Rhinelander this week that the state takes a science-based and consistent approach to protecting natural resources.

A few weeks ago, the Republican Walker said he hoped the EPA would use science instead of politics to base its decisions involving the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine.

-- Natalie Jablonski, WXPR, Rhinelander

Justice settles with former supervisor involved in porn investigations MADISON -- The state Justice Department says there is no "root problem" with the program that fights Internet crimes against children.

That's after a Milwaukee justice supervisor was let go, and one of his former agents quit, when they got behind on over three dozen child pornography investigations. A special task force worked from March until June to catch up with those cases.

On Wednesday, the ex-Justice supervisor -- Willie Brantley -- settled a complaint he filed with the state Employment Relations Commission, which claimed he was wrongly terminated. He'll get $7,500 to cover part of his legal fees. His release will officially be classified as a retirement, so he can get unused vacation money, and unused sick leave to help pay for his health coverage.

Also, the settlement called on Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to apologize for calling Brantley a "rogue employee" in media interviews. Van Hollen issued a statement yesterday that he regretted the term. He also used the same words for the other agent involved, Anna King -- but the apology does not apply to her.

Whistle-blower suit claims Milwaukee firm fleeced U.S. Government MILWAUKEE -- A former official of a Milwaukee aerospace firm has filed a lawsuit which accuses the company of over-billing the military by almost $50 million for aircraft parts.

Mary Patzer of Derco Aerospace said she tried taking her concerns about the alleged scheme to a manager of her parent firm in 2010 and she was later terminated due to a "reduction in force."

She filed her whistle-blower suit in 2011, but it was sealed until Milwaukee Federal Judge Rudolph Randa released it this week.

Patzer's attorney, Nola Hitchcock Cross, said the false billing to the Pentagon went back to at least mid-2006. If Patzer wins her suit, the attorney said the government would be entitled for triple damages, plus penalties for each false payment received by Derco. Hitchcock Cross said the total damages could be up to 150-million dollars -- and it might be the largest whistle-bloweer suit ever filed in Wisconsin under the federal False Claims Act.

For blowing the whistle, Patzer could get up to 25 percent of anything Derco's parent firm, Sikorsky Aircraft, might have to pay back. Sikorsky says the lawsuit has no merit, and the firm will fight it.

Sunshine forecast for last day of Farm Tech STEVENS POINT -- Thursday is the last of Wisconsin's annual Farm Technology Days.

The state's largest farm show opened Tuesday at a pair of farms east of Plover in Portage County.

Potatoes are king in that region and the state's Potato and Vegetable Growers Association unveiled a new promotional vehicle at the show called the "Wisconsin Spudmobile." It's a bus built on a converted motor-home chassis, which features the illusion of being in a potato field.

The vehicle also sports interactive displays that describe the varieties, uses, and sustainability of Wisconsin potatoes. Nick Somers says the Spudmobile will go around the state to educate folks about the value of the Wisconsin potato.

Around 80,000 people were expected to attend the three-day Farm Technology show, which features the latest in farm equipment plus numerous demonstrations and exhibits.

It's been blessed with great weather so far. Another sunny day is in the forecast statewide, with comfortable highs in the 70's.

UW-LaCrosse will retain ROTC program another year LA CROSSE -- UW La Crosse will keep its Army officer training program, after it was almost dropped.

The Army said last October it would halt the La Crosse Reserve Office Training Corps program and a dozen others by mid-2015 due to what it called a "reduction of resources."

School officials and politicians sprang into action, and they convinced the military to give La Crosse a two-year probationary period last November.

At the same time, the Army created a new metric scale to help evaluate its Reserve Officer Training Corps programs. Under that scale, La Crosse was required to commission at least 15 officers into the Army each year. They actually produced 15.3 officers over the past three years, thus giving La Crosse a reprieve at least until 2015 -- when the Army will evaluate the program again.

La Crosse military science professor James Hill said the "STEM" program has had a huge impact on his program's ability to stay around.

"STEM" stands for science, technology, engineering, and math training.

Vilas County flouts with first frost SULLIVAN -- What happened to summer? That's what folks in far northern Wisconsin want to know.

The mercury got to within one degree of freezing overnight in Land O'Lakes, along the state's border with Upper Michigan in Vilas County. It was 33 there at 5 a.m. and just four degrees warmer two hours later.

Overnight lows dropped into the 40's in most of the northern half of the Badger State, but it was still in the relatively comfortable 50's in the south.

It continues our relatively cool summer, where only a few places have seen 90 degrees in the aftermath of long hot spells in each of the last two years.

The National Weather Service said a high pressure system will move across the Badger State Thursday, bringing sunny weather and highs a bit below normal in the 70's.

It's expected to grow warmer and more humid going into the weekend, with a chance for thunderstorms on Saturday.

Wisconsin board approves crossbow deer hunting season MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board on Wednesday approved the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ recommendation to establish a deer hunting season in which the use of a crossbow is allowed.

A crossbow deer hunting license is available for any qualified hunter to purchase.

This will be the first time many Wisconsin deer hunters will have the opportunity to hunt with a crossbow. Previously, only holders of permits for hunters with disabilities and hunters age 65 or older could use a crossbow under the authority of an archer license.

The crossbow deer hunting season will run concurrent with the archery season. During open firearm seasons, a gun deer license will authorize bow and crossbow use. Crossbow licenses include one statewide buck tag and one Farmland Zone antlerless tag.

It is important to note that those who purchase both an archery license and a crossbow license will receive only one set of tags. For more information, visit

-- Forum News Service

Man gets 10 years for providing heroin that killed another WAUSAU -- A central Wisconsin man will spend 10 years in prison for supplying the heroin that killed another man in Marathon County.

Lucas Zuehlke, 31, of Coloma struck a plea deal this week. The agreement convicted him of reckless homicide in the death of 30-year-old Thomas Knickerbocker in March of last year. Four other drug-related counts were dropped.

Zuehlke must also spend 10 years under extended supervision and pay $5,700 in restitution.

Police said Zuehlke sold $100 worth of high-grade heroin to Knickerbocker's girlfriend, who then reportedly gave the drug to the victim. He was later found dead by his young daughter.

The girlfriend, 34-year-old Nycole Creed of Wausau, is due in court next Tuesday. A status conference will take place on her current charges of delivering heroin and felony bail jumping.

Meanwhile, bond was set at $200,000 Wednesday for a Waukesha County boy accused of selling the heroin that killed another teen.

Alexander Leisten, 17, of Oconomowoc is charged as an adult with first-degree reckless homicide. Prosecutors listed conflicting reports over the drug deal that was involved.

Leisten is accused of selling the heroin that was blamed for Archie Badura's death. Badura, 19, was found unresponsive at his parents' home in May.

Leisten waived the state's time limits for his preliminary hearing. He's due back in court on Aug. 22.

-- Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau

Charges sought against teen driver linked to deaths of 12-year olds Wausau prosecutors have asked that a 16-year-old girl be found delinquent in the deaths of two young girls in a sport utility vehicle crash.

The girl appeared in Marathon County juvenile court Wednesday.

The district attorney's office asked for a change of venue, because all of the county's judges know the suspect's grandparents. As a result, Oneida County Circuit Judge Michael Bloom was assigned to the case.

Authorities said ten people jammed into an SUV on Friday, Aug. 8, to go on a picnic at the Eau Claire Dells County Park. Their vehicle lost control and rolled over several times about 12 miles northeast of Wausau on Highway 52.

Two 12-year-old girls -- Reighlee Stevenson and Deserae Landowski -- died in the crash. A boy who was critically injured had his condition upgraded to serious Wednesday.

Seven other youngsters were treated at hospitals and later released.

-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau

Brief stand-off ends in perpetrator's death WEST ALLIS -- Police in suburban Milwaukee said a man shot himself to death before he could be arrested for firing other gunshots in an apartment building. It happened early last evening in West Allis. Police were called around 6:30, and were told that a man was firing a gun inside the housing complex.

Officers ordered the 31-year-old shooter to leave an apartment -- and when he didn't, police went in and found him dead. No one else was hurt.

Girl bitten, scratched by otter taking preventative shots

A 12-year-old Minneapolis girl is receiving rabies shots, after she was attacked by an otter while swimming in Bone Lake, near Luck.

Media reports said 12-year-old Rory Kliewer was swimming with friends when she climbed onto a dock and the otter bit her in the rear. The otter also struck Rory's head and scratched her face. It then chased her onto dry land, where a friend's mother and a dog distracted the otter. A family friend yelled at the otter until it retreated.

The family said the rabies shots were meant to be a precaution. Rory told the St. Paul Pioneer Press she's not sure if she'll ever swim in a lake again.