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Wisconsin roundup: Stein calls $3.5M recount estimate 'exorbitant'; Pierce, St. Croix among counties seeking disaster aid; 8 more state news stories

MADISON -- Jill Stein says the estimated $3.5 million cost of Wisconsin's presidential recount is "exorbitant."

But the Green Party White House candidate says she's committed to paying it, and she'll ask supporters to come up with $2.4 million to cover that fee. The State Elections Commission's estimate is much more than what Stein originally thought -- but officials say thousands of people will be needed to quickly count almost 3 million ballots by hand in all 72 counties by the federal deadline of Dec. 13th.

The other candidate who asked for the recount, independent Rocky De La Fuente, is weighing options for a payment that's due late Tuesday afternoon -- and as of mid morning, Stein's campaign said it raised $6.4 million dollars for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Stein cites reports that electronic ballots from Nov. 8 were hacked, which officials in Wisconsin deny.


Pierce, St. Croix counties among those seeking disaster relief for fruit, veggie crops

MADISON – Gov. Scott Walker has asked the USDA to approve disaster aid for fruit and vegetable growers who need it, after losing their crops to frost and freeze conditions.

Walker says apples and other perennial crops were affected by freezing temperatures on May 13-14. Walker is seeking help in 10 counties where losses exceeded 30 percent for apples, asparagus, blueberries, hops, and strawberries. The 2014 federal Farm Bill allows supplemental payments for producers with uninsured losses. The aid is sought for growers in Chippewa, Columbia, Eau Claire, Jackson, Jefferson, Pierce, Polk, Sauk, St. Croix, and Trempealeau counties.


No charges one month after deputy was killed

LADYSMITH -- It was one month ago Tuesday when Rusk County sheriff's deputy Dan Glaze was killed, and no charges have been filed against the alleged shooter.

The Eau Claire County sheriff's department is handling the investigation. Sheriff Ron Cramer tells WQOW-TV that follow up interviews are being conducted with witnesses -- and the trajectory of the bullets in the shooting must still be determined. Cramer says there's no hurry in charging the suspect, Douglas Nitek, because he's jailed for violating a previous probation in a drunk driving case.

WQOW also says Nitek is going to prison after the state revoked his probation Monday, and the state Justice Department will take over the prosecution since Rusk County District Attorney James Rennicke lost a reelection bid earlier this month.


Deer hunt totals due out soon; season relatively safe

MADISON -- The state Department of Natural Resources plans to announce Tuesday how successful deer hunters were in the nine day gun season that ended Sunday.

Strong winds were blamed for a 10-percent reduction in the opening day's harvest from the previous year -- but by Tuesday, hunters found greater success as they cut the season deficit down to 2.5 percent. No new figures have come out since then, but it's been revealed the season was relatively safe.

DNR warden Jeremy Cords tells WHBY Radio in Appleton there were five shootings in the woods with no deaths -- and it was below the average for the past eight years. He says two of the nonfatal shootings took place during hunter drives in Taylor County -- two others accidentally shot themselves in their legs -- and in Oconto County, a 16-year-old hunter shot a 14-year-old in the leg while both were walking.


Stein promises lawsuit to force hand-count of Wisconsin ballots

MADISON -- Jill Stein says she will ask a Dane County judge to require a hand count of all 2.8 million ballots in the Wisconsin presidential contest.

That's after the state Elections Commission voted unanimously Monday to reject the Green Party candidate's request for a hand count in all 72 counties. Stein's campaign has collected almost $7 million since Thanksgiving to force recounts in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Stein and independent Rock De La Fuente say they want to make sure hackers did not kick out electronic ballots, and that every vote was counted.

State Elections Commission chairman Mark Thomsen says the recount is not likely to change Republican Donald Trump's 22,000 vote victory in Wisconsin. However, Thomsen says Trump's claim of millions of illegal voters around the nation is an "insult to the people who run our elections." The recount was expected to start Thursday but Stein's lawsuit will hold that up. The federal deadline to complete the recounts is Dec. 13.


Two mourners had vehicles stolen at Milwaukee cemetery

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Police have been looking for suspects who stole two vehicles from a cemetery, while their occupants were mourning the losses of loved ones.

The latest incident happened Sunday at Valhalla Cemetery on Milwaukee's northwest side, where police say two people armed with a stun gun approached a man who was placing a wreath on a tombstone -- and the robbers took the man's keys and auto. The other incident took place Nov. 17 at the same cemetery. Police say a suspect told a mourner he had a hidden weapon and he demanded the person's car keys -- but that vehicle was later recovered. Police say they're trying to determine if the two incidents were related.


Milwaukee's Clarke meets with Trump on possible cabinet post

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has met with President-Elect Donald Trump about his chances for joining the administration.

Reports say Clarke is a possibility as Trump's secretary of Homeland Security -- but the Journal Sentinel says he could be open to a lesser policy post at the White House on security issues. Trump also met Monday with former George W. Bush homeland security adviser Frances Townsend -- and Tuesday, the president-elect is scheduled to meet with House Homeland Security panel chairman Michael McCaul of Texas.

Clarke, the Milwaukee County sheriff since 2002, campaigned heavily for Trump -- and he spoke on the candidate's behalf at the Republican National Convention in July. Clarke waved to supporters while leaving Trump Tower late Monday afternoon, but did not answer reporters' questions.


Lack of corn storage leaves some crop unharvested

MADISON -- At least some Wisconsin farmers do not have enough room to store the state's record corn harvest.

The USDA's Agricultural Statistics Service says 4 percent of the state's corn for grain was unharvested as of Sunday, with a total crop of 558 million bushels predicted -- 13-percent more than last year. Wet field conditions were also said to be an issue, as 15 percent of farm fields have surplus moisture.

But Wisconsin farmers are still two days ahead of last year with their fall field work, and 86-percent of it is done. Almost all of the state's winter wheat crop has emerged from the ground, and 85-percent of it is rated good to excellent.


Report: Patient death drops high federal ratings at vets nursing home

MADISON -- One of four nursing units at the State Veterans Home in Waupaca County has lost its highest federal rating, long after the death of a 94-year-old resident.

Federal inspectors reviewed the death in March -- but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not reduce the rating at the 200 bed Olson unit in King until Monday after the state appealed the move, and the federal agency cited an undisclosed issue on uploads to federal databases. State veterans' affairs spokeswoman Carla Vigue tells the Wisconsin State Journal the lower rating is still being appealed.

The State Journal says nursing staffers at King were with the unidentified man for up to 15 minutes before realizing he did not have a pulse -- and they did not try to resuscitate him because he was gray and cool, but the state says a nursing assistant contradicted the account. Until now, all four units at King had the highest federal ratings, despite reports of poor care and staff shortages.


Woman drowns in Madison lake

MADISON -- The wife of prominent Madison businessman Tim Metcalfe has drowned in Lake Mendota.

WISC-TV quoted a family pastor and spokesman as saying that 51-year-old Julie Metcalfe had depression, and she apparently drove her SUV into the lake. The Dane County medical examiner's office says the cause of her death is listed as a drowning, with more tests underway -- and Madison fire officials say they recovered Metcalfe's body from the water, close to where her vehicle was found submerged near a boat ramp on Madison's northwest side. Police were called just after 7:30 a.m. Monday, and they continue to investigate along with the medical examiner. Metcalfe's family owns a chain of Madison area grocery stores.