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Tuesday Wisconsin state news roundup

State home sales keep rising despite drop in inventory
 

MADISON -- Wisconsin home sales are at their highest for an April in 11 years. 

The state Realtors Association said Monday its members sold almost 7,100 existing houses statewide last month. 

The supply went down as the demand went up and that's why the median selling price rose almost 5 percent from last April, to almost $162,000. Wisconsin Realtors received almost 11 percent fewer new listings last month, to almost 12,300. 

Realtors Association CEO Mike Theo says his group is entering its fifth year of price recoveries, and the trend is likely to continue "in the foreseeable future."

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Automated school bomb threats made in Wisconsin, elsewhere

Wisconsin was among at least 11 states to receive automated bomb threats at public schools Monday.

State education officials say they don't know how many schools received threats, but Gannett's USA Today Network counts at least four -- Janet Berry Elementary in Appleton, Oakwood Elementary near Oshkosh, Edison Middle School in Green Bay, and Pleasant Prairie Elementary in Kenosha County. 

Automated bomb threats were reported at schools from Colorado to New Hampshire. National school security expert Ken Trump tells Gannett it appears to be a case of "swatting" -- sending automated hoax threats to trigger massive responses by law enforcement. Trump says such hoaxes have "skyrocketed" throughout the country over the past two years.

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Walker still owes $900K for his White House bid

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Despite offering souvenir campaign T-shirts, Gov. Scott Walker is still having trouble getting supporters to pay off the $900,000 he still owes from his White House bid. 

A new federal campaign report shows that the Republican Walker raised about $70,000 last month. That's down from the $128,000 his campaign picked up in March. Walker sent out a plea to his donors in April, calling himself "thrifty" and promising to give a T-shirt to anyone giving $45 or more.

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Judge says no to protecting industrial hemp

GREEN BAY -- A federal judge said no to letting the Menominee Indian Tribe protect one of the main ingredients in marijuana, so it can be used to make building material and beauty aids. 

District Judge William Griesbach dismissed the tribe's lawsuitMonday, after the Menominee challenged a federal raid of a industrial hemp crop last fall. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration destroyed the plants it seized, and the tribe said it cost them millions of dollars. 

The Menominee claimed it was exempt from a state law which bans industrial hemp, but Griesbach said the exemption does not apply because the tribe is located within the state.

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Live-in boyfriend arrested in woman's death

LEDGEVIEW -- A 34-year-old man has been arrested for the weekend killing of his live-in girlfriend near Green Bay. 

Authorities said Monday night that the victim was 31-year-old Nicole Vanderheyden of Ledgeview. Brown County authorities say her body was found Saturday in a field in nearby Bellevue, and her boyfriend was arrested Monday at his parents' house on a possible charge of first degree intentional homicide. 

Sheriff's Capt. David Konrath says blood was found near the house where the couple lived -- they're not looking for a murder weapon -- and the cause of death is not being released yet, although the woman's injuries were said to be "substantial." Deputies say they'll spend the next few days investigating -- and for now, they are not saying what happened.

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Mother, 3 sons reported missing in Lake Geneva

LAKE GENEVA -- Lake Geneva Police have asked for people's help in finding a missing mother and her three sons. 

Foul play is not suspected in the disappearances of 40-year-old Michalene Melges, 14-year-old Hans Melges, 12-year-old Kristian, and 10-year-old Maverik. 

According to a police Facebook entry, the four were last seen leaving their Lake Geneva home last Tuesday -- and the mother rented a van in suburban Chicago that was returned May 13 to a rental outfit in Plano, Texas. 

Michalene Melges is a former daughter-in-law of Olympic and America's Cup sailor Harry "Buddy" Melges.

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Rare shorebird spotted at Manitowoc

MANITOWOC -- A rare shorebird has been spotted along Lake Michigan at Manitowoc. 

Carl Schwartz, the editor of a monthly newsletter for the Wisconsin Society for Orinthology, says the white winged tern showed upSaturday along the Lake Michigan shore at Manitowoc -- and no one who's living has seen the bird in the Badger State. 

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says the last recorded sighting of a white winged tern was in Jefferson County in 1873. Schwartz, who lives in Fox Point, tells the Journal-Sentinel he heard that a rare bird might have been spotted at Manitowoc -- so he drove there from the Baraboo Hills and saw it for himself. 

UW-Manitowoc professor emeritus Chuck Sontag was reportedly the first to spot the rare bird, and he said it was gone Monday.

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State Fair Park rescinds 30 executive pay hikes

WEST ALLIS -- Thirty high-level employees of the Wisconsin State Fair Park have had their pay raises rescinded, after CEO Rick Frenette was fired for granting them improperly. 

However, board chairman John Yingling says the officials can keep the increased pay they were given from January 10 through May 1, as one-time bonuses. 

Frenette was let go May 11, and Human Resources Director Ryan Burns quit the next day, after they did not follow state procedures for approving the raises. Yingling says the board was especially "disheartened" that Frenette gave himself an additional $5,000 on top of his yearly salary of $127,000. 

Yingling also says the board will wait until later this year to work to get a new permanent CEO, and his priority for now is the State Fair that runs Aug. 4-14 in West Allis.

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Grant County: Massive python report was bull (snake)

DICKEYVILLE -- A large snake in southwest Wisconsin turns out to be a lot smaller than first reported.

Grant County sheriff's deputies first got a report of an apparent python late Sunday on Highway 61 in Dickeyville. The snake was first said to be as long as two lanes of traffic -- which according to the Federal Highway Safety Administration would be 20 to 24 feet. 

But late Monday, a Dickeyville resident submitted a photo of what turned out to be a bull snake that's 50 to 70 inches long, or around 4 to 6 feet -- and you can see it on the Grant County sheriff's department's Facebook page. Sheriff Nate Dreckman says there's no longer a danger to the public -- but those who see it should still leave it alone.

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DNR wants to add over 7,000 acres in Douglas County

MADISON -- The state Department of Natural Resources is seeking permission to buy over 7,000 acres of land in northwest Wisconsin. 

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports the land in Douglas County would be added to the Brule-St. Croix Legacy Forest at a cost of $3.5 million. The DNR has been purchasing land in the area since 2012, and now owns over 100 square miles.

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