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Wisconsin roundup: Wisconsin plunges into the deep freeze; Sanders says Trump win shows middle class 'desperation'; and 10 more state news stories

In just a matter of weeks, Wisconsin turns from a September mild to a January deep freeze.

The mercury plunged to 13 below by 6 a.m. Tuesday at Cumberland in northwest Wisconsin, with subzero temperatures as far south as Viroqua in the coldest morning of the season by far.

Places near Lake Michigan basked in relative warmth in the middle teens. Wind chills were as low as minus 20 in Phillips and Medford.

Up to 9 inches of snow during the weekend set the stage for the bitter cold, which is expected to stay around all week with daytime highs getting above zero in most places, and colder readings elsewhere in parts of the nation's northern tier.

A slight warmup is due on Saturday in Wisconsin -- but by then, another snowstorm is expected.


In Kenosha, Sanders says Trump win shows middle class 'desperation'

KENOSHA  --  Bernie Sanders says Donald Trump's presidential victory in Wisconsin reflects the "pain" and desperation of voters in the middle class.

MSNBC put on a televised town hall meeting in Kenosha Monday night, where the Vermont senator and former Democratic White House hopeful said places like Wisconsin have "massive levels" of income inequality -- and the middle class has been "disappearing" for the last 40 years. Trump continues his national "Thank You Tour" Tuesday with a rally in West Allis at the State Fair Expo Building, one day after a statewide recount showed that Trump gained 131 votes on Democrat Hillary Clinton while preserving a 22,000 vote victory among 3 million ballots cast. Trump took notice on Twitter, writing, "The Dems and Green Party can now rest. Scam!"


Some state Republicans measured on Trump F-35 criticism

At least some Wisconsin Republicans who want the new F-35 fighter jet located in Madison are tiptoeing around Donald Trump's new criticism of the aircraft.

The GOP president-elect tweeted Monday that the costs are "out of control," and he vows to save "billions" on military purchases.

Gov. Scott Walker faced Trump's criticism head on, with his office saying he's glad that Trump is putting taxpayers first -- and the program's $400 billion cost does not change the fact that Madison's Truax Field would be an "outstanding location" for the F-35.

U.S. Senate Republican Ron Johnson simply says he'll work to keep costs under control -- and the head of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce just said it would keep making its case. The Air Force said last week that Madison was one of five places in the running to house two new and improved F-35 jets -- and Wisconsin supporters say it would help preserve the future of Madison's Air National Guard wing.


St. Norbert College names its next president

DE PERE  --  St. Norbert College in De Pere will have an alumnus as its president for only the second time in its nearly 120-year history.

Brian Breuss was named Monday to replace Thomas Kunkel, who will retire at the end of the current school year.

Breuss graduated in psychology and sociology from St. Norbert in 1990. He has spent the last 21 years in various roles at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, where he's now the chief operating officer and executive vice president.

He'll start his new position next July 1 at St. Norbert, where the only graduate to serve as president was the Reverend Dennis Burke from 1955 through 1968.


Man killed after falling through ice identified

LAKE GENEVA  --  A man who died after falling through the ice on Lake Como near Lake Geneva has been identified as 44-year-old Michael Montemayor of Burlington.

According to police, security officials from the Geneva National Golf Course saw Montemayor fall into the lake as he was walking about 200 to 300 yards from the shore. That was around 1:15 p.m. Friday, and the victim's body was found more than four hours later after rescue personnel from almost three dozen agencies in southeast Wisconsin and northern Illinois responded.


Stein says nearly flawless state recount still raises doubts

MADISON -- The chairman of the state Elections Commission says it's "amazing" how close the Wisconsin presidential recount was to the original results. But Green Party candidate Jill Stein says it still exposes issues that need "serious action."

The state completed its 12-day recount Monday -- one day before a federal deadline -- and it added a net of 131 votes to Donald Trump's margin of victory as he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by almost 22,800 votes of almost 3 million cast.

Stein, who paid $3.5 million of donated funds to stage the recount, says the fact that Milwaukee and 22 other counties used machines "undermined the ability to get an accurate result."

But Thomsen calls it a "complete audit" of the state's voting system, saying there was no evidence of the hacking Stein was concerned about -- and officials say the discrepancies were all due to human error.


Walker rejects compromise gas tax hike, end to markup law

MADISON  --  Gov. Scott Walker still opposes any increase in Wisconsin's gas tax, even if it's combined with a plan to let gas stations charge less for their fuel if they choose.

Some lawmakers are pushing the idea of a gas tax hike with the ending of Wisconsin's minimum markup law for gasoline, which forces stations to charge more than their wholesale price unless their competitors charge less.

On Monday, the Republican Walker called it an "interesting idea," but he would reject it if the Legislature sent it to him.

Walker has long said he would oppose any increases in road-related taxes or fees unless corresponding cuts are made elsewhere in the state budget.

The governor did not dispute his transportation secretary's warning from last week that 42 percent of state and federal roads in Wisconsin would be in poor shape if new revenues or other solutions are not found by 2027 -- double the number of roads in poor condition now.


Separate trials ordered in Slender Man stabbings

WAUKESHA  --  A judge in Waukesha says two girls will be tried separately for allegedly stabbing a classmate 19 times in allegiance to Slender Man.

Fourteen-year-old Morgan Geyser and 15-year-old Anissa Weier have each accused the other for parts of the 2014 wounding of Payton Leutner -- and reports say they've made inconsistent statements to investigators which could be wrongly used against the girls if they were tried together on their adult charges.

Judge Michael Bohren's ruling came Monday, at a hearing in which Geyser's attorney asked that her statements to police not be heard by a jury -- including the internationally reported claim that the stabbings were meant to please the horror character Slender Man.

The defense questions the way a detective gave Geyser her Miranda rights, and if it influenced her to waive those rights.

The judge wants to see more written arguments on both sides before he rules on the matter -- and Weier will have a hearing Dec. 22 on a similar request to suppress evidence.


Not so happy New Year for Wisconsin job seekers

MILWAUKEE --  Wisconsin employers plan to cut back on their hiring at the start of the New Year. That's according to the latest survey by Milwaukee's Manpower Incorporated, in which 17 percent of state companies plan to add staffers from January through March.

That's 7 percent fewer than at the same time one year ago. However, smaller numbers of companies are planning layoffs -- just 5 percent statewide.

In the Milwaukee area, 18 percent of employers expect to add personnel in the first quarter of 2017, 6 percent fewer than at the start of this year, with just 4 percent planning layoffs.


State Ethics Commissioner quits, saying agency can't do its job

MADISON  --  A reserve judge has resigned from Wisconsin's newly-created Ethics Commission, saying it's not equipped to ensure clean government.

Retired Oneida County Circuit Judge Robert Kinney was one of three Democratic members named to the ethics enforcement panel, along with three Republicans.

Kinney says the commission's staff is "confronted with overbearing nitpicking at virtually every meeting," and he said it might be the goal that "talented people" quit due to low morale.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Kinney said the panel refused to act on a complaint he thought had merit. While he did not elaborate, Democrats filed a complaint against the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee in October for not submitting a report on its spending and fundraising.

Gov. Scott Walker told reporters Monday he'd love to meet with Kinney on why he quit and his concerns about how the Ethics Commission is operating.


Walker: U.S. troops need to stay in Afghanistan permanently

MADISON  --  Fresh back from the Middle East, Gov. Scott Walker says U.S. troops should stay permanently in Afghanistan and other such places.

Walker, who joined the governors of Nevada and Oklahoma on the trip last week, says he's not sure how big of a presence is needed in the Middle East. But he says it should be large enough to fight groups that seek to kill Americans, like the Islamic State and the Taliban.

Walker says he'd prefer that those battles be waged "in places like Afghanistan, not here in Wisconsin or anywhere else.


Wrong way freeway driver slams into snowplow

MILWAUKEE  --  A suburban Milwaukee woman has been jailed for allegedly driving drunk while heading the wrong way on Interstate 43, and slamming into a snowplow.

It happened around 2 a.m. Monday in Milwaukee. Sheriff's deputies say the 51-year-old West Allis woman was heading west in the eastbound lanes of I-43 when she hit a county snowplow. Her car was going at an estimated 55 miles an hour at the time of the crash.

The snowplow driver escaped injury. The woman was treated at a hospital for minor injuries, and was then taken to jail to await possible charges of reckless endangerment and OWI.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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