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Wisconsin roundup: Bill would let schools offer state gun safety classes; UW fees poised to rise; more state news stories

A lawmaker said a growing interest in trap shooting is the reason behind a bill proposing to offer gun-safety courses in Wisconsin's schools. File photo

MADISON — Wisconsin public school students could learn how to safely use firearms, as part of a new Republican bill.

Rep. Ken Skowronski of Franklin and Senator Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls have introduced a proposal to make the state DNR and education agency draft a curriculum for a safety course on firearms — and schools can then voluntarily offer the class as electives.

Skowronski's office tells the Wisconsin State Journal that a growing interest in trap shooting is the reason for the bill, and target groups and gun clubs helped craft the measure. It would show youngsters how handguns and rifles work, and how to know when their safety locks are working. If the bill is passed and signed before September, it would take effect this fall.


UW budget: No tuition hikes, but fees would rise

MADISON — A tuition freeze would continue for a fifth year, but UW-System students would still have to pay more for room, board, and student fees this fall.

The university's Board of Regents will act Thursday on a $6.2 billion budget for the coming year that raises food and housing costs by 2.6 percent on the four year campuses. Fees for student groups and programs would also rise an average of 2.6 percent, although they vary from school to school with no increase planned at Green Bay. Republican lawmakers first ordered a tuition freeze four years ago, after being upset when learning about millions of dollars in hidden reserves on the various campuses.


Burned-out Cambria corn mill to be removed, rebuilt

CAMBRIA — The owner of the Didion corn mill in Cambria says the plant that exploded May 31 will start coming down for good next Monday — and then it will be rebuilt with the "best available technology."

Five employees were killed in the blast, and all of the hospitalized survivors have returned home. John Didion says he still does not know what caused the explosion, and inspectors from both the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Agency and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board remain on the site. Didion gave up an update to the Cambria Village Board this week, saying the ethanol and grain units can resume production as soon as the demolition is done.


Fewer troubled teens sent to troubled Lincoln Hills

MADISON — The numbers of delinquent teens sent to Wisconsin's juvenile facilities are still 30 percent less than when agents first raided them for alleged inmate abuses.

Gannett's USA Today Network says 180 juveniles are at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake boys' and girls' institutions in Lincoln County. That's much fewer than the 264 inmates the day before the December 2015 raid that was part of two federal investigations now in their third years, as a federal judge recently ordered the state and the ACLU to come up with a plan by the end of this week to change policies on using pepper spray and putting teens in solitary confinement for long periods.

Milwaukee, Brown, and Racine counties sent a combined 57 fewer inmates to Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake last year than in 2015. Because of that, lawmakers propose increases in what counties pay the state to house the youngsters from $300 a day to $400.


July Fourth drownings reported in southeast Wis.

Two people have drowned in a pair of late afternoon incidents on the Fourth of July in southeast Wisconsin.

In Racine, police say a 14-year-old boy went underwater and never resurfaced while swimming with two others in a mucky area of the Root River near a storm sewer drain pipe. In Fond du Lac County, a 23-year-old Milwaukee man drowned while swimming in DeNeveu Lake in the town of Empire. Both victims were recovered from their respective waterways, and their names were not immediately released. Investigations continue into both drownings.


Wis. neighborhood seeks record for shortest July 4 parade

MEQUON — Residents of a Mequon neighborhood are waiting to find out if their July Fourth parade set a new world record.

About 30 people in the suburb north of Milwaukee have been marching and riding bikes for eight years. That was until organizer Bob Walerstein urged them to make Tuesday's parade a little more fun, by seeing what they had to do to get in the Guinness Book of World Records.

They learned that the book does not have a record for the shortest Independence Day parade in the United States, so they videotaped and documented an 88 yard march from Homestead High School to the first house on their street. Their noon time parade lasted less than two minutes — and Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams will send all the proof to Guinness headquarters in London, while the neighbors wait for an official word of their accomplishment.


Gander Mountain store in Wis. likely to close

FRANKLIN — A Gander Mountain store in suburban Milwaukee looks to be closing.

Camping World purchased the chain during a bankruptcy auction in April and had previously listed the Franklin location among those which would remain open. The Germantown location is also expected to close, but stores in Sheboygan, Janesville and Baraboo are likely to become Gander Outdoors stores and stay open.


One arrested in armed robbery that led to Kenosha County man's death

MADISON — Police say DNA evidence has led to the arrest of one of two suspects in an armed robbery at a Madison Culver's restaurant that left a contractor dead.

Investigators say the 32-year-old man was arrested without incident Friday in Janesville, about 40 miles from Madison. Madison police had previously called him a person of interest. He was being held Monday on suspicion of felony murder and armed robbery. His name has not been released.

Police remain on the lookout for a second suspect in the robbery-turned-homicide. Police say 56-year-old Christ Edward Kneubuehl of Twin Lakes was working on a remodeling project at the restaurant early last Tuesday when two armed, masked robbers entered. Police say he apparently suffered a heart attack after the robbers forced him to use his equipment to open a safe.