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Wisconsin firm to build foundation for Stillwater bridge; Study shows some women dying younger; more briefs

A Wisconsin company will build the foundation for the new four-lane bridge across the St. Croix River between Hudson and Stillwater, Minn.

Edward Kraemer and Sons of Plain in Sauk County was named the winning bidder Monday. The firm will get almost $37 million to build five piers up to 15 feet above the river's normal elevation, plus eight shafts per pier, drilled to 120 feet below the river bed.

The foundation work will begin next week. It's supposed to be finished by mid-2014, but officials say Kraemer will get incentives if it's done by the early part of the year.

The main bridge construction begins next summer, and the new structure is expected to open in 2016. It replaces an 80-year-old lift bridge that goes into downtown Stillwater.

Congress and President Obama agreed to work around federal protections a year ago to get the new bridge built. Supporters and environmentalists had debated the project for decades before that.


Study shows some women dying younger

Studies generally show that Americans are out-living their parents, but that's not true for a lot of women.

A new UW-Madison study shows that the percentage of women dying before age 75 went up in 43% of all U.S. counties from 1992 through 2006.

In Wisconsin, those female death rates have risen in 19 of the state's 72 counties. Most are in the western half of the state and in north central areas.

UW doctoral candidate Erika Cheng said her research team was shocked because it's generally assumed that people are living longer. But female death rates rose in 1,224 U.S. counties, while men's death rates before 75 rose in just 108 counties - and none in Wisconsin.

So why are women dying sooner? Experts couldn't say.

But according to the UW's annual county health rankings, possible factors include lower-than-average education levels, higher rates of smoking and drinking and traffic crash rates.

The UW's David Kindig said the study proves that you can no longer assume the nation's getting healthier just by looking at death rates for heart disease and cancer.


Storm closes dozens of schools

The latest snowstorm has not hit most of Wisconsin yet, but a forecast of up to 11 inches was enough to close dozens of schools today.

La Crosse, Eau Claire and Kenosha are the largest of the school systems to shut their doors in western and southern Wisconsin. Classes were canceled at UW-Platteville, even though the campus itself remains open.

Alma, which is northwest of La Crosse, had four inches as of 6 a.m., and much of southwest Wisconsin was in the two-inch range.

Five to 11 inches of heavy, wet snow are predicted for about the western half of the state. Up to five inches are possible in Milwaukee, and up to eight in Kenosha as spinoffs from a storm that's expected to dump around 10 inches in the Chicago area, the most in the Windy City in two years.

Green Bay and northeast Wisconsin only expect light snow.


Senate considers matching grants to job-training programs

Wisconsin lawmakers are expected to give their final approval today to a bill that would train workers for increasingly complex jobs.

The Senate will consider giving $15 million in competitive matching grants to job-training groups. The measure also sets up a new computer system to keep track of job data and steer job-seekers toward professions with the highest demands.

Gov. Scott Walker proposed the measure, and the Senate's approval would send the bill to him for his signature. The Assembly passed it 94-4 last week despite a couple of criticisms from Democrats.

There were concerns about the cost of the computer system. One lawmaker tried but failed to have the state's technical colleges, instead of the state's workforce development agency, oversee the training effort.


Charges expected against man who says he shot girlfriend when she woke him

Prosecutors in central Wisconsin expect to file charges next week against an Adams man accused of shooting his girlfriend to death.

A judge set a $250,000 bond Monday for Coleman Dybul, 28, who was booked on suspicion of reckless homicide.

He reportedly told Adams County sheriff's deputies that Toni Voss, 27, startled him while he was sleeping early Saturday, and he grabbed a shotgun next to his bed and fired it.

Sheriff Sam Wollin said many people keep firearms in their bedrooms, and he had no reason to believe the incident happened differently. The state Crime Lab and local investigators are still reviewing evidence.


High school deals with five traffic deaths in 13 months

Campbellsport High School is dealing with its third major tragedy in 13 months - all involving traffic deaths.

Yesterday, a crisis intervention team helped students and staffers cope with the death of Lance Beyer, the school's associate principal and athletic director. Beyer, 31, was killed Sunday in a two-vehicle crash northeast of Fond du Lac.

School officials said Beyer was instrumental in helping youngsters cope with the deaths of four Campbellsport students in a pair of highway crashes last year.

Authorities said Beyer pulled into the path of a vehicle coming from his left at the corner of Fond du Lac County roads Q and G. Officials said alcohol was not a factor. They were not sure if Beyer stopped at the corner and then pulled out, or if he drove through a stop sign.

The other driver and her two kids suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Beyer was a teacher at Campbellsport High before becoming an assistant principal.

Three girls soccer players from Campbellsport died in a speed-related mishap in February 2012, and an 18-year-old student died last November after he lost control of his car.


More residents turning to Better Business Bureau before they buy

It appears that more Wisconsinites are doing their homework before they buy something major.

The state's Better Business Bureau said it received 1.7 million inquiries last year about the legitimacy of various companies. Those inquiries were up by 20% over the previous year.

Spokeswoman Kimberly Hazen said the advance inquiries resulted in 1,000 fewer complaints about products and services that companies provided.

The BBB said mail order and catalog businesses attracted the most complaints about Wisconsin shoppers in 2012. Department store complaints were second, followed by auto dealers.

The business bureau said roofing contractors attracted the most number of inquiries, followed by remodeling and construction services, heating and air conditioning and auto repairs.

The BBB takes requests online or by phone. The Web address is


Assembly speaker advises Milwaukee to curb its spending

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says the Milwaukee city government needs to find ways to be more efficient and save money.

The Racine County Republican said it would show conservatives that Milwaukee can be a world-class city without "taxing ourselves into oblivion."

Vos told the Milwaukee Press Club Monday that he met recently with Mayor Tom Barrett on the city's biggest issues as Gov. Scott Walker has urged the city to focus on attracting jobs and improving its economy.

Vos said he could consider throwing state money at the city's problems. But he said he prefers giving the private sector a chance to help, instead of government just giving money to some and taking away from others.

Vos also took a political dig at the Democrat Barrett, saying he spent much of the last three years running for governor while he chose to "abdicate a lot of things the city of Milwaukee has needed."

Barrett chief of staff Pat Curley invited Vos to meet with Milwaukee officials and point out his ideas for being more efficient instead of "tossing flip, political remarks back and forth."

Curley also pointed to a recent study by the Public Policy Forum that outlined Milwaukee's fiscal challenges but said the city is well run financially.


Killer of elderly woman gets life sentence

A northwest Wisconsin man will spend the rest of his life in prison for brutally killing a 93-year-old woman almost four years ago.

Judge Kenneth Kutz refused Monday to consider any possibility of a supervised release for Christopher Roalson of Radisson, who turns 31 later this month.

A jury found him guilty last fall of homicide and burglary in the slaying of Irene Roszak at her home near Radisson in May 2009.

The judge ordered Roalson and his co-defendant, Austin Davis of Ojibwa, to pay restitution to the victim's family with whatever money they make in prison.

Davis was sentenced last January to 25 years for serving as a lookout to Roalson, but after he appealed, his term was reduced to eight years, and he ended up testifying against Roalson.

Prosecutors said the two men had planned to kill a couple that Roalson was arguing with, but a motion light at the couple's home scared them away. So they went to Roszak's house nearby, where Roalson shouted satanic references while repeatedly stabbing the woman and hitting her with a chair.