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Wisconsin roundup: St. Croix River Crossing delayed; clerks OK'd to fix minor absentee ballot errors; 12 more state news stories

St. Croix River Crossing, pictured in July 2016. (File photo)

STILLWATER, Minn. -- Highway engineers compare the design of the mile-long bridge over the St. Croix River, between Minnesota and Wisconsin, to a jigsaw puzzle.

The complex design of the bridge has slowed work to the point the project is one year behind its original schedule. The bridge actually crosses the river at Lake St. Croix.

The project manager says the design is making this one of the most challenging bridge projects the Minnesota Department of Transportation agency has ever attempted. The two states have budgeted $30 million dollars to cover the cost of any delays.


Elections panel lets clerks fix minor errors on absentee ballots

MADISON -- Wisconsin's local government clerks will be allowed to correct minor errors on absentee ballots to make sure they're counted.

The head of Milwaukee's election agency feared that thousands of absentee ballots would be rejected because those who witness absentee voting are used to writing the street addresses where they live -- but not the names of the municipalities, as required by new GOP state law.

The state Elections Commission unanimously voted Friday to let local clerks fix obvious omissions without having to get permission from the voters who sent the ballots in. The state panel required such permission, but Milwaukee officials say it would have been very difficult to track down many voters.


Trump returns to Wisconsin

GREEN BAY -- Donald Trump returns to Wisconsin Monday night as he seeks to recover from a drop in voter support shown by last week's Marquette Law School poll.

The Republican White House nominee plans a 6 p.m. address in Green Bay, two hours later than he originally planned after scrapping a rally for Monday evening in West Allis. Trump was only 2 points behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin until a video surfaced 10 days ago in which he made lewd comments about women -- and he's now 7 points behind Clinton among likely voters.

The state's top Republicans say they still support Trump. But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote this weekend about how Trump has torn apart a GOP that was virtually unified ever since Republicans took control of the State Capitol in 2011.


Man booked for attempted homicide after shooting at 2 officers

WEST BEND -- A 24-year-old man faces possible attempted homicide charges after shooting at two police officers in West Bend.

Officials say they were called to a home early Sunday where the suspect shot his weapon -- but the gun misfired, and the two officers retreated for cover and the man went into the home. During a standoff, three other men left -- and the suspect finally walked out about four hours after the incident began.

By that time, officials say a 5K running event had to diverted to a different route. Police say they knew the suspect because they had previous encounters with him. No one was hurt, and officials say they recovered one handgun and two shotguns from the home -- as well as spent casings and shotgun shells.


Group wants more from Marquette leaders in condemning defacements

MILWAUKEE -- A conservative student group says Marquette University officials did not go far enough to condemn the defacing of a pro-life student display last week.

According to the Marquette Wire, the "Students for Life" at the Milwaukee Jesuit school planted flags and put up signs that represented the 1.2 million abortions in the U.S. each year -- but counter protesters put coat hangers on the flags and covered the signs with slogans like "My Body, My Freedom" -- and "We want doctors, not missionaries."

The protest signs were removed Friday, and school vice president Xavier Cole condemned the counter protesters' actions by saying Marquette respects the "dignity" of all, "Defacement is not dialogue," and, "Respectful discussion and dissent is best done face to face." During the weekend, the Marquette chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom said Cole's statement did not defend the pro life students.


Gudex family: Late senator suffered from silent depression

FOND DU LAC -- State Senate Republican Rick Gudex suffered from depression.

That's what his family said, after the Fond du Lac lawmaker died last Wednesday from an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound. A church service will be held Monday afternoon in nearby Eden to remember the 48-year-old Gudex, a former local official who was elected in 2012 to one of the state's most politically charged legislative seats -- which he decided to leave by not seeking re-election this fall.

A family statement says Gudex suffered from a "hopeless(ness) that he kept to himself," while loving his family and caring "deeply for the people of his district." Gov. Scott Walker has ordered flags on state government property to be flown at half staff today in honor of Gudex.


Man dies in Walworth County motorcycle crash

LYONS -- A motorcyclist has died in a weekend crash in far southern Wisconsin.

Walworth County sheriff's deputies say 57-year-old Timothy Adkins of McHenry, Illinois, lost control of his bike on a curve, and hit another bike that was traveling with him. It happened Saturday afternoon near Lyons, on a town road just north of Highway 50. Deputies say the two people on the other motorcycle were not hurt. The mishap is still being investigated.


Kenosha mother pleads guilty to killing her 2 children

KENOSHA -- Even though she has entered a guilty plea, attorneys for a 35-year-old Kenosha woman will argue she is not guilty of the murders of her two children due to mental disease or defect.

Lucia Hernandez-Alvarez will be sentenced after another trial in the responsibility phase of her case Nov. 7. She has admitted giving 1-year-old Javier Arellano Hernandez and 3-year-old Alicia Arellano Hernandez medication to make them sleep, then placing plastic bags over their heads to smother them. She could get a life sentence.


State Capitol Christmas tree to reflect Wisconsin wildlife

MADISON -- Wisconsin wildlife is the theme for this year's State Capitol Christmas Tree.

As always, Gov. Scott Walker has invited school students to make ornaments for the tree, and teachers will soon receive more information about that. The governor is also inviting teachers, parents, and others to make ornaments if they want, reflecting what he calls the "magnificent wildlife" that helps make Wisconsin a popular tourist destination.

Ornaments can be sent to Claire Franz at the state Department of Administration by Nov. 23.


Two men arrested, accused of pouring gasoline over victim

GRAND CHUTE -- Grand Chute police report the arrest of two men Friday after they allegedly poured gasoline over a third man, then threatened him with guns and a knife.

The gas wasn't set on fire and the victim wasn't injured, though the suspects are accused of holding him against his will. Neither the suspects nor the victim have been publicly identified.

The suspects are being held in the Outagamie County Jail. They have been booked on charges of disorderly conduct, possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia and jumping bail.


Former Assembly leader's groping victim blasts Trump backers

MILWAUKEE -- An ex-congressional staffer who was sexually assaulted by former state Assembly Majority Leader Bill Kramer is now blasting Republicans who defend Donald Trump.

Diana Robertson wrote a long Facebook post this week, and she let Milwaukee radio talk show host and Trump opponent Charlie Sykes use her name when he interviewed her on the air Friday. Robertson was groped and kissed by Kramer outside a bar in Muskego -- and he was also convicted of groping a female staffer after a GOP fundraiser in Washington two years ago.

Now, Robertson is responding to reports that Trump, the GOP White House nominee, made lewd comments about women on a video and had unwanted sexual contact with some women. Robertson says she's "saddened" by the GOP rhetoric in defense of Trump -- and while she says coming forward to law enforcement is difficult when such contact occurs, it's the right thing to do.


No charges against officers involved in Lincoln County death

MERRILL -- No criminal charges will be filed against four law enforcement officers involved in the killing of an Eagle River man in late July.

The state Justice Department said it found that the officers acted properly and did not break any laws when 26 shots were fired -- and one bullet hit 50-year-old Scot Minard, who died in a police standoff near Merrill when he ignored orders to drop his shotgun.

The standoff was preceded by a police chase, which started in Antigo soon after Minard fired shots at a police officer who stopped the man on suspicion of drugs. The chase hit speeds of 120 mph before officers put out sticks to flatten Minard's tires. One week before the shooting, the state said Minard told a friend he stole a gun in Adams County and he would, in his words, "let the cops shoot him."


California man sentenced to 56 years for killing Wisconsin woman

SAN DIEGO -- A California man is going to prison for 56 years after he was convicted of murdering a 26-year-old woman from Wisconsin.

Prosecutors had told the court Jhordann Rust was locked out of her San Diego hotel room after fighting with her fiance. While she was talking to her mother on the phone, 41-year-old Jason Lewis attacked her. He lived at that hotel. Investigators told the court he killed Rust, crammed her body in a suitcase and left her in a common shower area of the hotel.


UW-Madison spends $25M to keep faculty from leaving

MADISON -- Other schools are poaching valuable faculty members at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and it's costing big bucks to try to keep them from leaving.

In the last fiscal year, Wisconsin officials spent $23.6 million to try to convince the instructors to stay.

Despite that outlay of money, nearly three dozen left anyway. A published report in the Wisconsin State Journal indicates a $250 million cut to higher education funding by state lawmakers, combined with efforts to weaken tenure protections, is leading to an exodus of quality teachers.