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Wisconsin roundup: Trump takes credit for Foxconn; more state news stories

President Donald Trump, shown here in an October 2017 photo, said this week that Foxconn's $10 billion project in Wisconsin wouldn't have happened if he'd not been elected. Doug Mills / copyright 2017 The New York Times

WASHINGTON — While several Republican governors were meeting at the White House this week to talk about a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, the conversation switched to Foxconn.

President Trump may have taken some of Gov. Scott Walker's thunder when he took credit for bringing the Taiwan-based high-tech firm to the United States. He said Foxconn wouldn't be in this country if he hadn't been elected, adding the Wisconsin governor knows that's true. While on the campaign trail Walker has repeatedly brought up Foxconn's move to Wisconsin as one of his biggest accomplishments.


Bipartisan bill would close state’s youth prisons

IRMA — A bill moving through the Wisconsin Assembly would close the state's youth prison facilities in Irma by the middle of 2020.

There is said to be bipartisan support for legislation which would move the inmates into new state and county facilities. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says getting the bill passed before the legislative session ends next month would be what he calls a "heavy lift." A three-year investigation by federal agents has focused on allegations that guards abused young inmates while they were held there in the Irma prison.


Finance committee advances Walker’s $50M rural grant program

MADISON — The Joint Finance Committee has advanced by unanimous vote Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to invest $50 million annually in rural economic development projects.

The panel voted 16-0 Tuesday to pass the measure. The full Legislature could approve the bill as soon as next week. The proposal stipulates that the money would only be available to the 56 most rural counties in the state. Counties or groups of counties could come together to apply for grants for revolving loans under the programs.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) would be in charge of distributing the money. Priority would be given to underserved communities in rural Wisconsin.


DNR official leaves state, joins former boss at EPA

CHICAGO — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reports another top official is leaving to join the Trump administration.

Deputy DNR Secretary Kurt Thiede will become chief of staff at the EPA Region 5 office in Chicago. He will be re-joining his former boss, Cathy Stepp. She was Wisconsin DNR secretary from 2011 to 2017 before taking the position as a deputy administrator in a regional office near Kansas City. She was named Region Five administrator in December. Thiede had been with the state agency for 19 years. He will be replaced by Ed Eberle.


JC Penney to close Wis. distribution center

WAUWATOSA — A total of 670 JC Penney employees will lose their jobs this summer when the retailer closes its distribution and call centers in Wauwatosa.

The Texas-based company confirmed its plans to make that move Tuesday, moving the distribution to facilities in Kansas and Ohio by July. It says its supply chain network is oversized when compared to its national store footprint. The customer care activities are moving to Lenexa, Kan. — closing operations in Wauwatosa by September.


School fight leads to teen being hospitalized

MADISON — Madison Police report a student at La Follette High School had to be taken to a hospital Tuesday morning after a fight on the east side campus.

Several students were involved, but no names have been released. Officers say two teenagers reported minor injuries and the one taken to a hospital required stitches to close a cut. Investigators are working with school district officials to identify the people who started and were involved in the fight.


Twin Cities man’s sex assault trial moved to Jefferson County

JEFFERSON — Jury selection for the sexual assault trial against a former University of Wisconsin student will begin Feb. 26 in Jefferson County.

That will be the first of seven trials involving Edina, Minn., resident Alec Cook, who faces two dozen charges. Pre-trial publicity made finding an untainted jury in Dane County unlikely, according to the defense. Cook's first trial involves charges of sexual assault, false imprisonment, strangulation and suffocation. A UW-Madison student told police Cook became violent during what started as consensual sex in October 2016. When that accusation was covered by the media, other alleged victims stepped forward.


Murder charges filed in 30-year-old case

PORTAGE — A former Wisconsin man has been arrested in Arizona and returned to Columbia County to face charges he killed his wife 30 years ago.

Lori Bringe was found dead from a single gunshot wound to her head near Poynette in August 1988. Mark Bringe told investigators his wife had committed suicide. The case had gone cold, but the Columbia County Sheriff's Office Detective Division re-opened it in 2014. Mark Bringe was interviewed again last year and police say he changed the story he gave three decades ago. A re-examination of the body last summer found the wife's wound wasn't consistent with suicide. She was killed at a time she was planning to leave her husband for another man.