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Tax breaks reinstated for some historic projects; broadband grants announced; 5 more state stories

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation announced Monday it is reviving tax breaks for some historic preservation projects.

WEDC halted the tax breaks three weeks ago after the amount of tax credits handed out hit $35 million. The figure was well above the initial estimated economic impact of $4 million for the first year of the program. Critics of the move argued WEDC should continue awarding the tax breaks though, because the projects they are encouraging have the potential to create hundreds or thousands of jobs. Several lawmakers and the governor supported putting a hold on the tax breaks, saying the state should proceed with caution. WEDC Secretary and CEO Reed Hall says Monday’s decision will result in the agency awarding tax breaks to projects involving buildings that meet the standards of the State Historic Preservation Officer and the National Park Service of historic buildings.

Hall says that process for Certified Historic Buildings “is very rigorous” and should result in the focus shifting to larger projects that have community and investor involvement behind them.

The moratorium will remain in place for buildings that do not have a historic designation.

Unclaimed property listings back on-line

MADISON -- When responsibility for the return of unclaimed property was switched from the Wisconsin Treasurer’s Office to the Department of Revenue there were about 1,200 requests waiting. Now, that number of claims is estimated to approach 7,300 – six times as many.

The backlog has built while the revenue department has worked on a new computer system to speed responses in the future. It’s estimated to be at its highest level since the 1990s.

State residents make claims through the property program on money or assets left behind by themselves or relatives. Nearly $23 million worth of cash and property has been returned in the last 12 months by the state Revenue Department.

To search the property database, visit

Broadband expansion grants awarded Eau Claire, Platteville

Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and the state’s Public Service Corporation Broadband director announced the winners of the 2014 Broadband Expansion Grants at events in Rhinelander, Eau Claire and Platteville.

The State of Wisconsin authorized $500,000 in grants to be distributed for this calendar year.

"Broadband internet access is about way more than streaming movies and music. It allows local businesses to connect with colleagues and customers around the globe. It enables our students to explore the world with interactive information," according to Lt. Gov.Kleefisch.

"Broadband expands the economic and educational horizons of our citizens, and we're excited to see the impact of these grants for communities across Wisconsin."

Recipients included: CCI Systems, Eau Claire County, Century Link, Central State Telephone Co., Choice Tel and the City of Eagle River, SonicNet and WIConnect Wireless.

For more detail, visit

Nine-year-old takes cousin for joyride -- into a ditch

WEST BEND -- It can be a nice gesture when a cousin offers a car ride to you – unless he’s nine-years-old. Last weekend in Washington County, two cousins from West Bend were driving rural roads. It was the second time in less than a month.

The two stole the car from the older boy’s stepfather Sunday morning. The children told deputies they had wanted to go to a park. Their ride ended in a ditch six miles away.

The nine-year-old driver wasn’t able to control the car and a nearby motorist called 9-1-1. A sheriff’s deputy caught up with the two when they hit the ditch. Neither was injured and the car wasn’t damaged.

The cousins had gone for another joy ride June 14th. That car was stolen from a worker at a boat dealership in Barton.

No charges will be filed in either incident.

Weekend drowning of 23-year old appears accidental

LA CROSSE -- La Crosse police say there is no sign of foul play in the drowning death of a 23-year-old man whose body was pulled out of the Black River.

Police say they are still investigating and would like help from the public in their search for more information.

Shalim Augustine of La Crosse was found Friday night. He’d gone missing the previous Tuesday. Augustine had reportedly gone boating with some co-workers that night and, when the boat was docked, he said he was walking home. He failed to show up for work the next day.

DeForest man accused of penning racist letter

DEFOREST -- A DeForest man has been arrested for allegedly sending a racist hate letter to a black family in Stoughton.

Matthew Cimaroli, 21, told police he sent the letter to 18-year-old Javon Hale because the teenager stole money in a drug sale.

Hale’s parents called police when they saw the letter their son had received. It apparently depicted him as the victim of a lynching.

Cimaroli had been identified as a suspect shortly after the initial report, but police say they waited for forensic evidence to be processed before taking him into custody.

Woman's attempt to abandon guinea pigs ends in arrest

Madison police report a confrontation with a woman inside a pet store resulted in officers having to dodge guinea pigs.

Police say the 26-year-old woman walked into the store Saturday afternoon and tried to leave her guinea pigs with the ones already on sale in the store.

The manager says he told the woman she could take them to the Humane Society, but she laughed at that and told him the store belonged to the animals, not him.

The officers say they tried to get the woman to go outside to talk with them, but she refused and threw the box of guinea pigs at officers. The woman was kicking and shouting. The woman was arrested.

The manager said he would take care of the animals and give them to a good home if their owner really didn’t want them any more.