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Wisconsin roundup: Proposal would increase funding for Elmwood, Plum City; more state news stories

Gov. Scott Walker visited Elmwood High School last fall to pitch a proposal for sparsity aid. File photo

AUGUSTA — A new proposal would increase funding for small Wisconsin school districts, including two in Pierce County.

Gov. Scott Walker is backing the sparsity aid bill that would raise aid to rural school districts. Under the proposal, payments to small school districts would increase from $300 per student to $400 per student. Around 144 school districts would benefit from the proposal, including Elmwood, Plum City, Thorp, Gilmanton, Eleva-Strum, and Augusta.

The governor’s office said Elmwood would be in line for an estimated $34,354 aid increase, while Plum City would see a $28,870 boost.


Witnesses: N.D. man fired shot in dispute over bitcoins

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee police have arrested a 28-year-old North Dakota man who is accused of firing his gun inside a condominium during an argument over a bitcoin transaction.

Jonathan Royce has pleaded not guilty to a charge of recklessly endangering safety. One participant was arguing in favor of the crypto-currency sale, while Royce wanted to call it off. Witnesses say he pulled out a gun and fired it once, hitting a stove vent. Officers recovered a handgun and a deformed bullet from the scene.


Ethics commission: 1 in 7 lobbyists may not be registered

MADISON — An audit released by the Wisconsin Ethics Commission suggests more than 14 percent of the lobbyists working at the state capitol may not be authorized.

No names were released in the report. Any lobbyist in violation of state law could face thousands of dollars in fines. A spokesperson for the Association of Wisconsin Lobbyist says he doubts anyone had bad intentions, blaming the disparity on process and paperwork. Of 539 lobbyists trying to persuade lawmakers to support or oppose bills, 78 weren't registered as required.


Things settle down in Marshfield after bomb scare

MARSHFIELD — Marshfield police say two fireworks-mortar shells taped to PVC pipe caused Thursday's bomb scare.

Nobody was injured and there were no explosions. The device was found in the front yard of a home and the resident called police. An investigation found what is being called a suspicious device. PVC piping had been taped together with 2-inch fireworks mortars and they were aimed at the house. The Marathon County Bomb Squad deployed and X-rayed the device. Charring indicated one or more of the mortars may have ignited, but no damage was done. Police say they have a person of interest in the case, but no names have been released.


Green Bay alderman not apologizing for comments

GREEN BAY — Even though another member of Green Bay's governing body says his comments and conduct violate an ethical standard, Alderman Guy Zima says he's not changing.

Alderwoman Barb Dorff points to Zima’s comments at city hall meetings last year. He has called Green Bay Economic Development Director Kevin Vonck "Dr. Yahoo," and called the mayor a "weasel." Zima says, "The truth is the truth," adding the mayor doesn't answer questions directly sometimes. He says Dorff won't turn him into what he calls a "politically correct wimp." Zima says he wouldn't change 99 percent of what he has said.


Fond du Lac County businessman convicted of racketeering, theft

FOND DU LAC — The owner of a Fox Valley business has been found guilty of stealing more than$14 million in a scrap metal scheme.

Sterling Kienhaum owns Fox Valley Iron and Metal. He was convicted of racketeering and felony theft Thursday. Prosecutors said Kienbaum loaded scrap vehicles with dirt to increase their weight, bribing an employee at Sadoff's Iron and Metal Company to look the other way. The additional weight meant he got paid more. Kienbaum could face up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in June.


2 accused arsonists arrested in Wausau

WAUSAU — Wausau police have arrested two men for allegedly setting a storage building near a high school on fire.

Twenty-two-year-old William Ritchie and 19-year-old Jacob Kerswill are scheduled to make court appearances next week. Both men are charged with arson for burning the building near Wausau East High School early Wednesday morning. Surveillance video shows a fire breaking out shortly after 3 a.m. Graffiti had been painted on the same building in recent days and police think the two crimes are connected.


Lincoln Hills gets fourth leader in last 2 years

IRMA — For the fourth time in the last two years, the troubled Lincoln Hill School for Boys has a new leader.

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is moving deputy warden Jason Benzel from Prairie du Chien to the teen prison, which has been under a criminal investigation for the last three years. Gov. Scott Walker has said he plans to close the prison and convert it to an adult prison if he is re-elected. Benzel starts his new position Jan. 22. Lincoln Hills was raided by investigators in December 2015 and federal prosecutors have notified two former guards they could face charges.