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Wisconsin roundup: Boy, 13, killed in western Wis. go-cart accident; barge blamed for Eau Claire sewage leak; 10 more state news stories

CANTON -- A 13-year-old boy was killed in a weekend accident after driving his go-cart onto a rural highway in Buffalo County.

Sheriff's officials say the boy was struck by a pickup truck Saturday afternoon on county Highway B in the town of Canton. The pickup was driven by a 16-year-old boy. The victim has not been identified. The State Patrol is assisting with the investigation.


Eau Claire city officials blame construction barge for sewer leak

EAU CLAIRE -- The city of Eau Claire says the construction barge that broke loose last year is to blame for a broken sewer pipe at Phoenix Park.

Eau Claire Utilities Administrator Jeff Pippenger says the pipe likely broke last September when the barge broke free. That means the pipe was likely leaking 300,000 gallons of sewage a day into the Eau Claire River for almost an entire year. Eau Claire closed Phoenix Park because of dangerously high bacteria levels at the park last month.


New state budget director named

MADISON -- A senior adviser to Gov. Scott Walker will soon become the new state budget director.

The Administration Department says Waylon Hurlburt will start his new post Oct. 3, replacing Michael Heifetz who will be the state's new Medicaid director while running the office of Health Care Access and Accountability. Heifitz replaces Kevin Moore, who's leaving to pursue a post in the private sector.

Hurlburt has been a budget and policy analyst since Walker became governor in 2011. He'll help prepare the two year state budget and provide numerous accounting, financial, and budgeting services for the government -- and he'll remain a fiscal and policy analyst for Walker.


Appeals court denies woman's ownership claim in Menards

WAUSAU -- A state appeals court agrees that the founder of the Menards building supply chain does not owe a former fiancee an ownership stake in his Eau Claire based company.

Debra Sands filed suit in 2008, saying she lived with John Menard for eight years while doing legal work for the firm -- and he repeatedly offered her an ownership stake. He denied the offer and denied living with Sands, even though he affirmed the two were engaged.

Circuit Judge Paul Lenz threw out Sands' lawsuit, saying she went against rules that normally prevent lawyers from assuming business ownership that's adverse to the attorneys' clients. On Tuesday, the 3rd District Appellate Court in Wausau affirmed the lower court's decision.


Former judge killed in motorcycle crash

LODI -- A man killed in a weekend motorcycle crash was a retired circuit judge and a former prosecutor.

Columbia County sheriff's deputies say 69-year-old Steven Ebert of Middleton was riding his bike near Lodi when a van pulled into his path last Saturday on Highway 113. Officials say Ebert was wearing a helmet, and the driver and a passenger in the van escaped injury.

Ebert was a prosecutor in the state Justice Department before he was appointed to fill a vacant Dane County judgeship in 1997. He retired in 2009, and he filled in as a reserve judge until he retired at the end of last year.


Wisconsin 'Fab Labs' expand

The state's job creation agency is helping more high schools and tech colleges create new "fabrication labs" that train students to obtain valuable job skills.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation says it will allocate another $500,000 in the current fiscal year for the "Fab Labs" program. The labs are high tech workshops with manufacturing components like laser engravers and 3-D printers. It's for students who seek careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Schools can start applying October tenth for what's expected to be another 20 grants for startup labs. The state budget included $500,000 last year, and the WEDC allocated another $100,000 in May to meet an excess demand.


Ted Kennedy son in Milwaukee: 'Break the silence'

MILWAUKEE -- A son of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy told a Milwaukee audience about the need for more effective mental health care.

Patrick Kennedy, a former congressman who has struggled with bipolar disorder and drug addictions, spoke Monday at a program put on by the Milwaukee County Medical Society. He called for a need to "break the silence" on mental health and addiction issues, saying his family kept silent about their addictions -- and he had to walk on "egg shells" to avoid the subject while at home.

Kennedy advocated for more community resources, saying a variety of help and support have helped keep him sober every day since Feb. 22, 2011. The 49-year-old Kennedy served for 16 years in Congress, representing Rhone Island before he stepped down in 2010.


Early voting underway

WISCONSIN RAPIDS -- A couple dozen people are among the first in Wisconsin to have their November votes in the can.

Early in person voting began Monday at Wisconsin Rapids in the central part of the state. City Clerk Paul Przybelski says he wanted to "space out" the process and give voters more time to cast their ballots. Madison and Milwaukee plan to begin their early voting next Monday.

In July, federal Judge James Peterson settled a lawsuit by dropping the Republican law that restricted early voting to 10 weekdays before an election, while making cities have just one voting location each.


Fatal interstate crash victim ID'd

RICHFIELD -- A Hartford man killed in an Interstate crash in Washington County has been identified as 35-year-old Adam Long.

Sheriff's deputies say his SUV lost control as he was slowing down for traffic at a construction zone -- and his vehicle flipped several times on a grassy stretch between the freeway and an on ramp. It happened around midday Friday in the southbound lanes of Interstate 41 in Richfield. Long died at the scene, and he was not wearing a seat belt. An investigation continues.


Federal judge refuses to drop Kenosha school bathroom lawsuit

MILWAUKEE -- A federal judge in Milwaukee will hear arguments Tuesday to make the Kenosha School District let a transgender high school student use the boys' restroom.

Ashton Whitaker was born as a girl and lives as a boy -- and he's seeking a preliminary injunction that would let him use the boys' room at Tremper High School at least until his lawsuit against the district is settled. Whitaker alleges that he's the victim of sex discrimination as defined by the federal Title IX gender equality act for schools, and the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.

The Kenosha school system tried to drop the suit by claiming that the word "sex" in the Title IX law does not apply to transgender students. Federal Judge Pamela Pepper rejected that argument Monday, and allowed the boy's lawsuit to proceed.


Michigan mine raises concerns in Wisconsin

STEPHENSON, Mich. -- Michigan's environmental agency will hold a public hearing next month on its preliminary approval of a permit for a gold and zinc mine opposed by Wisconsin's Menominee tribe.

Aquila Resources says its Back Forty mine near the Menominee River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula would create 250 jobs and millions in tax revenues -- and provide metal for things like computers and plumbing lines. The firm says it has taken steps to protect the Menominee River, but opponents say the exposure of sulfide deposits would create acidic water that might harm the river which flows to the Bay of Green Bay.

Menominee tribal leaders say it could hurt dozens of cultural artifacts from when the tribe was located in that area, before moving to its current reservation at Keshena. Michigan's environmental quality department gave preliminary approval to Aquila's mining permit Sept. 2, and a public hearing is set for Oct. 6 in Stephenson.


Walker seeks disaster aid for flooded farms

MADISON -- Northern Wisconsin farmers who lost crops to the July floods could get federal disaster assistance under a request Gov. Scott Walker has made to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Walker says the aid request applies to Ashland, Bayfield, and Iron counties after they lost at least 30-percent of their corn, oat, wheat, alfalfa, and barley crops. Up to 11 inches of rain fell July 11-12 in the far north, heavily damaging the Saxon Harbor along Lake Superior and washing out numerous roads.

The same area received a second round of heavy rains ending July 21. The governor says many farm fields were flooded for long periods, which killed crops and dramatically reduced yields.