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Wisconsin roundup: Avian flu returns to western Wisconsin; ALS patient who killed 2 women dies; 9 more state news stories

BARRON — The avian flu has returned to Wisconsin.

The USDA says 84,000 turkeys could have been exposed at a farm in Barron County owned by Jennie O Turkey Store, and the birds have been quarantined so they can be monitored. Testing began more than one month ago after the turkeys showed signs of depression, and the USDA said it confirmed the bird flu this past weekend.

It's the H5N2 virus, but officials say it's a "low pathogenic strain" that's not as severe as the one that killed millions of turkeys and chickens two years ago throughout the Upper Midwest — and it does not pose a food safety problem for people. Both federal and state agriculture officials have responded to the outbreak, in a place that was also hit by the larger 2015 outbreak.


Former deputy who killed wife, sister-in-law, dies at 42

MADISON — Andrew Steele, the former Dane County sheriff's deputy who killed his wife and sister-in-law in 2014 and was later found not guilty by reason of his debilitating Lou Gehrig's disease, has died.

Steele, who was 42, shot Ashlee Steele and her sister Kacee Tollefsbol of Stillwater, Minnesota, at the deputy's home in Fitchburg. Steele never said why he killed them. Steele was released from the state's Mendota Mental Health Institute last March, but the notoriety of his case made it hard for the family to find a care facility for his ALS. He was said to be close to death in January when a judge allowed him to finish his life with his parents at an undisclosed location.


Eau Claire school board adopts immigration resolution

EAU CLAIRE — Eau Claire school leaders are making it clear: They will not turn away students who are in this country illegally.

The Eau Claire Board of Education Monday night unanimously approved a resolution supporting immigrant students. The resolution updates the district's Equal Opportunity Policy to allow any student, regardless of immigration status, access to free education in the district. It also labels Eau Claire as a “welcoming” school district. The resolution says Eau Claire schools will not only educate all students no matter their immigration status, but the district won't share student information with police or federal law enforcement agencies.


Assembly passes CBD oil, 'right to try' bills

MADISON — Parents of children with numerous seizures could soon be allowed to possess a treatment made from a marijuana extract — if they can get their hands on it elsewhere.

The Wisconsin Assembly voted 98-0 Tuesday to give final legislative approval to a bill allowing possession of cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil — but it does not allow for the production and sale of the product within the state. The Senate approved the measure last month, and it now goes to Gov. Scott Walker — who has said he supports it.

Also, the Assembly voted 85-13 for a "right to try" bill which would give terminally ill patients the chance to use experimental treatments not yet approved by the FDA. All the no votes came from Democrats, and the measure now goes to the state Senate.


Senate tackles Lincoln Hills mess, OKs elimination of treasurer

MADISON — Wisconsin senators took their first action Tuesday to solve problems at the state's Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile institutions.

On a voice vote, the Senate agreed to make prison guards report the child abuse they see to law enforcement, just as workers in 30 other professions have to do. The measure now goes to the Assembly. The action comes during a federal investigation into numerous alleged abuses at the state's two juvenile facilities near Irma in Lincoln County.

Also Tuesday, the Senate voted 18-15 to eliminate the position of state treasurer, a move that's been in the works for some time. Republicans Chris Kapenga and Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls joined all Democrats in voting no. The constitutional amendment now needs one final Assembly approval before it can go to the voters in a statewide referendum.


High winds destroy 3 squad cars in Antigo

ANTIGO — Officials say it's business as usual for law enforcement in Antigo after high winds destroyed three squad cars.

High winds took down a large tree Tuesday at the public safety building in Antigo — destroying Antigo city police cars and one Langlade County sheriff's car. No one was hurt, and Chief Deputy John Schunke says that's fortunate because officers often stay in their squad cars at the end of their shifts to complete their paperwork.

Deputies say each of the three damaged cars was valued at about $28,000. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Public Service utility says it has restored power to 48,000 customers since Monday in the central and northeast Wisconsin which have been hardest hit by this week's windstorms — but more than 16,000 were still in the dark Wednesday morning.


Attorney general unveils tool to stop pharmacy holdups

DE PERE — Wisconsin crime fighters and druggists are working together to discourage pharmacy robberies by those addicted to opioid painkillers.

State Attorney General Brad Schimel unveiled a new training tool on Tuesday in which pharmacists can log onto a secure website and learn the best ways to make their premises resistant to holdups. They include opening and closing practices, camera and monitoring placements, time delayed safes for certain drugs, and phone etiquette.

Wisconsin had 45 pharmacy robberies in 2015. The Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin is helping with the effort, which is part of Schimel's "Dose of Reality" campaign to fight opioid and heroin abuse.


Brother faces homicide charge in sister's drag-racing death

MILWAUKEE — An 18-year-old Milwaukee man faces a possible reckless homicide charge after a drag racing crash that killed his sister.

The Milwaukee County medical examiner says 16-year-old Lisandra Munoz was a passenger in a car her brother was driving. Officials say her brother and possibly another driver were racing on a south side Milwaukee street Monday evening when a cement truck in the same direction turned right — and Munoz's brother lost control and hit the truck.

Officials say the brother was taken to a hospital with injuries, and the other apparent racer drove away. Lisandra Munoz was a student at Milwaukee St. Anthony High School.


Bill OK'd to let small outlets advertise half-gallon gas prices

MADISON — Small gas outlets in Wisconsin could be allowed to advertise their prices by the half gallon instead of the gallon.

The state Assembly passed the measure on a voice vote Tuesday, and it now goes to the Senate. Republican Mary Felzkowski of Irma authored the bill, saying it would help small stations with older fuel pumps that don't show prices above $2.99 per gallon. She says those stations are often family owned taverns that sell fuel as a convenience for people who use the snowmobile and ATV trails in northern Wisconsin — and they're often the only pumps for miles. Retailers that sell less than 15,000 gallons of fuel each year could benefit from the measure


State weather studies could be hurt by Trump budget cut

MADISON — President Donald Trump's first federal budget would cut almost one of every five federal tax dollars that now go to the parent agency of the National Weather Service.

And those in Wisconsin who receive those dollars say it could hurt projects that range from farmers' forecasts, to UW studies of climate patterns, to efforts that improve shipping on Lakes Michigan and Superior. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will have a chance to respond before the Trump administration puts together a final 2018 budget package.

The Wisconsin State Journal says Trump's original plan would eliminate the Sea Grant program which deals with Great Lakes' matters — and it could affect various NOAA programs in the Badger State that range from satellite weather studies to addressing bluff erosion.


Green Bay holding U.S. cheese championship

GREEN BAY — The nation's best cheese is being determined in Green Bay the next two days.

The U.S. Championship Cheese Contest returns to the Lambeau Field Atrium through Wednesday. More than 2,000 entries are being judged in dozens of categories based on flavor, texture, and more. Cheese lovers are invited to watch the judging for a contest that's normally held every two years.

Guggisberg Cheese of Millersburg, Ohio, was the overall winner in 2015 for its Swiss Wheel. Mill Creek Cheese of Arena was the first runner up in the most recent American contest, and Land O'Lakes of Kiel was the second runner up.