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Wisconsin roundup: Heavy rain brings mudslides, floods; White House race tightens in state; eight more state news stories

Flood warnings and watches continue Thursday for southwest Wisconsin and the state's midsection.

More than 60 roads are closed in Clark County, and there are numerous mudslides and highway washouts in about the southwest quarter of the Badger State. Lake Wissota in Chippewa County had 8.5 inches of rain as of 5 a.m. Thursday -- Viroqua's main street had 4 feet of water overnight -- and a house near Viola had 3 feet of water inside.

While parts north and south were inundated with flooding, authorities from St. Croix and Pierce counties reported no major weather-related incidents from the area.

Paul Scafe of the La Crosse County Highway Department says the ground cannot take any more water, which comes on top of heavy summer rains -- but the National Weather Service says chances for more rain and thunderstorms are in the statewide forecast every day through at least Monday. Not as many Wisconsinites are without power Thursday morning as on Wednesday morning; about 925 homes and businesses were in the dark around the state as of 6 a.m.

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White House nominees absent from state, despite tight poll numbers

Both major presidential candidates are absent from Wisconsin, even though the race has suddenly become close within the last month.

The new Marquette Law School poll shows Democrat Hillary Clinton with just a three point lead against Republican Donald Trump among likely voters at 41-to-38-percent -- after Clinton had a 15 point edge a few weeks ago. A lack of advertising has raised speculation that Wisconsin is not the battleground state it's been in the recent past.

Clinton has not been to the state since the April primary, and it's been mid-August since Trump visited -- even though both campaigns have sent their vice presidential nominees a couple times each in recent weeks. Libertarian Gary Johnson was the last White House candidate to visit Wisconsin, on Sept. 1 in Milwaukee, and he still has 11-percent support in this week's Marquette poll.

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Charges: Man accused of lifting $93K worth of fragrances from employer

MENOMONEE FALLS -- A Milwaukee man is accused of stealing $93,000 worth of bottled fragrances from a JC Penney he was working at in Menomonee Falls.

Forty-year-old Markell Baker has been charged with felony retail theft. Authorities say surveillance video showed an employee taking several bottles of fragrances from the store last winter. They say the worker was later identified as Baker.

When confronted by police, Baker “admitted to taking approximately 10 to 12 bottles of different colognes and perfumes three to four days a week during his five-day work week for approximately the last six months.” Baker told investigators he would take the fragrances “to different beauty salons and barber shops in the City of Milwaukee and sells to the shops’ clients.”

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Suspects sought in $27K iPhone theft case

DARLINGTON -- Police in Darlington are looking for two suspects who stole $27,000 worth of iPhones from a US Cellular store last weekend.

The men were caught on surveillance video breaking through the glass door. The theft happened at the same time a 911 call was placed reporting a rape at a cemetery in town. Officers say the rape call was bogus. Police believe that call was placed as a distraction.

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Poll: Walker approval rating hold steady

MILWAUKEE – Gov. Scott Walker's job approval rating is still at 43-percent in this week's Marquette Law School poll.

The percentage of registered voters disapproving of the Republican Walker rose by three points from 49 to 52 percent since the last Marquette poll in late August. This week marked the one year anniversary of Walker's withdrawal from the presidential race.

Since then, he has spent a lot of time traveling around the state in an effort to reconnect with voters. Walker's current approval rating is his highest since March, while he's back to more than 50 percent disapproval after being below that number last month for the first time in almost two years.

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Teen to face juvenile delinquency in satanic vandalism case

BARABOO -- A 16-year-old vacationer faces juvenile delinquency, for allegedly spray painting satanic signs at Devils Lake State Park near Baraboo.

Sauk County sheriff's deputies say the teen is from Onalaska, near La Crosse, and was referred to juvenile officials. Deputies say the vandalism was discovered Aug. 10, when satanic symbols were painted on structures in one of Wisconsin's most popular state parks -- as well as road signs in the area. Sauk County sheriff's officials say public tips helped solve the case, and it's not known if others face charges.

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State veterans home at King to be audited; agency welcomes it

MADISON -- The state veterans' nursing home in Waupaca County will get a full performance review from Legislative Audit Bureau.

The Joint Audit Committee unanimously approved the review Wednesday, after a Madison Capital Times report listed concerns with the health care, staffing shortages, and use of federal revenues at the home in King. The facility has received consistently high ratings from the federal government, and state Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos says it has a "great team."

He says he welcomes the audit, and if there are things that "need to get tuned up, they'll get tuned up." Senate Democrat Kathleen Vinehout of Alma says she struggles with how to reconcile the home's five star quality ratings with the "allegations of neglect and poor quality care."

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Governor, Assembly ramp up rift on roads

MADISON – Gov. Scott Walker and state Assembly Republicans have publicly written to each other about their differences for road building in Wisconsin.

On Wednesday, Walker wrote Speaker Robin Vos to ask for details of their plans -- and he would consider alternatives that in Walker's words, "live within taxpayer means." Speaker Robin Vos said his party would hold hearings after the November elections before coming up with their proposals.

Assembly Republicans have said more money is needed to fix the state's crumbling roads, but they have not said where it should come from. Walker does not want higher road taxes or fees unless other spending is cut elsewhere -- and he touts a DOT plan to keep delaying some major projects, give more money to local governments for road maintenance, and start designing a bigger Interstate 94 west of downtown Milwaukee.

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Marquette poll: Feingold holds lead

MILWAUKEE -- Democrats Hillary Clinton and Russ Feingold still lead in Wisconsin, according to the newest Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday.

In the U.S. Senate race, former Sen. Feingold lengthened his lead against GOP incumbent Ron Johnson, with Feingold now at 47-to-41 percent among likely voters and 46-to-40 percent among registered voters.

The poll was conducted last Thursday through Sunday.

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Madison council rejects partial homeless sleep ban

MADISON -- The Madison City Council has failed again to limit sleeping by the homeless on downtown sidewalks.

Mayor Paul Soglin says he has spoken to mental health experts, and they favored his ban, but the council has said no for the second time since last October. Opponents say the mayor is just trying to move the homeless out of the downtown area, while not providing alternatives.

Soglin says it would also help curb panhandling in the center of Wisconsin's capital city. Others say the sleeping homeless cause health and safety problems. Tuesday night's vote was 11-to-7 to ban sleeping on downtown sidewalks in Madison between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

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