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Wisconsin roundup: State Senate to consider year-round woodchuck hunting; more state news stories

The Wisconsin Senate is scheduled to act on a number of bills Tuesday, including a year round season for woodchucks. File photo

MADISON — The Wisconsin Senate is scheduled to act on a number of bills Tuesday, including a year round season for woodchucks.

The measure would remove the state's protected status for woodchucks — also known as groundhogs — and it would allow hunting and trapping with no bag limits. Supporters say the woodchucks are voracious eaters that cause property damage, while animal rights and environmental groups oppose the bill that was passed by the Assembly in June.

Also Tuesday, senators are expected to let communities and their public water utilities give grants and loans to help residents replace water pipes with lead contamination. Senators will also consider a bill to let minors work in businesses at least partially owned by their parents or guardians without needing state work permits.

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Sheriff: Improperly installed furnace may have caused 3 deaths

RADISSON — A sheriff in northwest Wisconsin says the deaths of three relatives may have been caused by a furnace that was not installed properly.

The victims were found Sunday at a home in Radisson in Sawyer County. They were identified as 61-year-old Steven Ryan, 60-year-old Carolyn Rindahl, and their 4-year-old grandson. Sheriff Doug Mrotek says the furnace in question was installed just recently, and the three apparently died from carbon monoxide poisoning — but we won't know for sure until toxicology test results come out. Officials say carbon monoxide was found in the home.

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Farmers’ growing season ends, some corn too wet to harvest

MADISON — Wisconsin farmers have seen a late growing season come to an end after much of the state had its first hard freeze.

But officials say the grain moisture in the corn crop is too high in some places — and as a result, only 25 percent of the state's corn for grain has been harvested, 15 days behind schedule. Ninety-three-percent of the corn for animal feed is in the bin, seven days behind the average. Seventy-two of the corn crop is rated good to excellent, two points better than last week. Eighty-percent of the Wisconsin soybeans have been harvested, two days behind the norm — and 92 percent of the winter wheat is in the ground, and 85 percent of it is good to excellent.

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Walker meets with Israel’s Netanyahu

JERUSALEM — Gov. Scott Walker talked trade with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The two met for about one hour Monday in Jerusalem, during the first full day of a trade mission led by the Republican Walker. The governor's office says they talked about ways to improve relations between Wisconsin and Israel, plus issues Israel is dealing with. The governor also took part in a tree planting ceremony at a "peace forest" and a wreath laying event at a Holocaust memorial.

Walker has a number of business people and officials from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation on the trip. They're in Tel Aviv Tuesday to seek partnerships for the Milwaukee area's water technology sector.

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Waukesha taps Milwaukee as drinking water provider

MILWAUKEE — Waukesha has taken another big step toward getting its drinking water from Lake Michigan, to replace its own wells that are contaminated with radium.

On Monday, a 40-year deal was announced in which Waukesha will hook up to Milwaukee's water system. Waukesha had long worked with Oak Creek, originally the only place along Lake Michigan willing to sell drinking water to Waukesha. But officials say the Milwaukee deal is cheaper, and will save Waukesha residents about$200 a year on their water bills once the system gets going in 2022 or '23.

The courts have ordered Waukesha to remove radium from its dwindling water wells, and the city responded by becoming the first city outside the Great Lakes' natural basin to obtain drinking water as part of the Great Lakes water protection agreement passed almost a decade ago.

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Death investigated at Bucks’ arena construction site

MILWAUKEE — Officials continue to investigate the death of an electrician who fell from a ladder at the construction site for the new Milwaukee Bucks' arena.

The county medical examiner's office says a 57-year-old Menomonee Falls man complained of chest pains and fell from an 8-foot ladder last Wednesday. Officials say he died Saturday at a hospital after suffering some traumatic injuries. An autopsy has been completed, but the cause of death has not been determined. The victim's name was not immediately released.

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Supreme Court candidate vows to be fair on abortion despite arrests

BARABOO — A State Supreme Court candidate insists he would rule fairly on abortion cases, even though he was arrested in abortion protests 28 years ago.

Michael Screnock, currently a Sauk County circuit judge, was cited for trespassing and obstructing police in large protests at a Madison abortion clinic twice in 1989. He struck a plea deal that required him to perform community service in the trespassing cases. Screnock tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel it's not something he "ever regretted doing."

Screnock says he has feelings about a lot of cases, and if he could not decide them impartially, he'd have to "get out of the business." Screnock is running against Milwaukee judge Rebecca Dallet and Madison lawyer Tim Burns next spring for the Supreme Court post that's being vacated by Michael Gabelman who is not seeking re-election.

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Man killed in mishap was father of 1987 Kunz murder victims

ARPIN — A central Wisconsin man who died in a weekend tractor mishap was the father of a man connected with the killings of five family members of the Kunz family in 1987.

Seventy-three-year-old Chris Jacobs, Junior of Stetsonville was found Friday night underneath a tractor near Arpin in Wood County. Sheriff's deputies said no one else was riding the tractor when it ran over him in a storage shed — and he died at the scene. Jacobs was the father of Chris Jacobs III, who was accused of robbery in the killings of five Kunz family members at a ramshackle farmhouse near Athens in Marathon County three decades ago. The younger Jacobs was acquitted in his murder trial but was later found guilty of kidnapping the fifth victim, Helen Kunz who remains were found in 1988 — and Jacobs was sentenced to 31 years in prison.

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Student faces charges in Oshkosh school bomb threat

OSHKOSH — Oshkosh Police say a student is facing criminal charges in connection to a bomb threat made Monday morning to Oshkosh North High School.

Television station WBAY reports that the school district says there was no credible threat to the school, students, or staff. The district says it immediately contacted Oshkosh police to report the threat. Police say the threat was made at about 10 a.m. Police say the student has been taken into custody on criminal charges.

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