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Wisconsin round up: Wisconsin has nation's second largest improvement in health rankings; Standoff with shots fired ends with suspect's death; and 11 more state news stories

MINNETONKA, Minn. -- Wisconsin is the nation's 20th healthiest state, according to the annual "America's Health Rankings" from the United Health Foundation.

The Badger State rose four spots from last year, tied for the nation's second largest increase in its overall rank -- but UW-Madison health expert Patrick Remington says Wisconsin used to be a national health leader, sixth best as recently as 1992. In Remington's words, "We need to move from discussion to action" -- and "improving our quality of life and economic progress depend on it."

Wisconsin's obesity rate remains at almost 31 percent, and only 18 states are fatter. The report also says the Badger State is the second worst for its excessive drinking, but it also had the nation's sixth biggest decline in smoking, with close to a 1 percent drop.


Walker won't make reelection plans official until next budget is set

MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker says he will wait until after he signs the next state budget in late June before announcing if he'll seek a third term in 2018.

The Republican Walker says he wants to focus his time and energy on Wisconsin's budget needs -- unlike the last budget process, when he was gone most of the time while preparing a run for president, and Democrats complained that Walker's proposals were geared toward attracting national conservative support.

He had a drop in voter approval ratings after he got home, but they improved throughout this year. Walker has been giving hints that he doesn't want to leave the governor's office, saying a third term would give the state more "possibilities" with national Republicans controlling both White House and all of Congress.


Schimel: Grand jury likely to investigate John Doe leak

MADISON -- State Attorney General Brad Schimel says his office will probably form a grand jury to investigate an apparent leak of secret evidence in the John Doe probe involving the governor's recall election.

The Republican Schimel tells the Wisconsin State Journal it would be best if people could testify in a protected, closed courtroom environment that the grand jury offers.

The jury would determine whether charges should be sought in connection with a leak of 1,300 pages of testimony from the now closed John Doe probe that was trying to determine if Walker and other Republicans broke campaign laws when an outside group secretly raised funds for their recall contests in 2011 and 2012.

Last month, the State Supreme Court said it would not appoint an investigator to the matter. The Walker John Doe ended with no charges filed.


Standoff with shots fired ends with suspect's death

CAMERON -- Officials in northwest Wisconsin say a 49-year-old man took his own life after a police standoff Thursday in which shots were fired.

Barron County sheriff's deputies say the man's wife called officers one day after James Bacon allegedly held her against her will -- and she said he had a gun. He reportedly told officers he might blow up the couple's mobile home and he would not go to jail.

Hostage negotiators tried but failed to get Bacon to come out of the house and surrender -- and when officers placed gas inside, Bacon reportedly fired three shots toward the deputies.

Negotiators later gave up, and officers found Bacon dead when they entered the home, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No officers were hurt, and an investigation continues.


Woman accused of killing half-brother with vodka bottle

MILWAUKEE -- Prosecutors say a 31-year-old Milwaukee woman killed her half-brother by swinging a broken bottle of vodka at his neck.

A court commissioner set bond at $2,500 Thursday for Aquino Boyd, who's charged with second degree reckless homicide.

Anthony Sanders was killed last Saturday at the home he shared with Boyd on Milwaukee's north side. Police say the two each drank about four cups of vodka before they got into an argument in which Sanders told Boyd to leave -- and he reportedly grabbed her wrist before she broke away and hit the victim with the glass bottle.

An autopsy showed that Sanders' carotid artery and jugular vein were cut in his neck, and Boyd is due back in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.


Winter storm warnings begin at noon, 4-12 inches thru Saturday

Wisconsin is supposed to get 4 to 12 inches in a snowstorm Friday afternoon through Saturday. The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings for the entire state which start between noon and 3 p.m. -- and they'll continue into Saturday evening.

East central Wisconsin along Lake Michigan could be hit the hardest, with 10-12 inches.

Central, east and northeast areas may get 8-12 inches. Madison, Milwaukee and southern Wisconsin can expect 7 to 11; the far southwest and parts of the northwest could see as little as 4 and lake effect snow gave parts of Bayfield County a head start Thursday, with 3 inches at Port Wing.

Temperatures ranged from 6 below in Vilas County to 15 above in parts of Door County during the night -- but forecasters say we'll be back in the deep freeze Sunday and Monday mornings.


FBI adds ‘cold blooded’ killer to its most wanted list

MILWAUKEE -- The FBI says it's adding a "cold blooded" Milwaukee killer to its Ten Most Wanted List.

Twenty-four-year-old Terry Strickland is sought for the July 17 murders of 38-year-old Maurice Brown, Junior and 39-year-old Michael Reed on Milwaukee's north side.

Police say Strickland was arguing with a group of men when he went into a house, came out with a gun and fired shots into the group -- and officials say he then shot Brown several times as he was lying on the ground, and shot Reed in the head before fleeing in an SUV.

Police Chief Ed Flynn says neither victim threatened Strickland, and the shootings were "vicious" and "unnecessary."

Strickland is the second fugitive put on the Most Wanted List this year, after accused murderer Shanika Minor was arrested within one week of her placement.


Man charged in traffic death of Racine garbage collector/pastor

RACINE -- A $100,000-bond has been ordered for a 20-year-old Racine man charged in the death of a city garbage collector who was also a church pastor.

Benjamin Bell made his initial court appearance Thursday on Racine County charges of homicide by negligent driving and reckless endangerment in Wednesday's death of Mark Gates.

Officials say Gates was picking up recyclables when a speeding car hit him after it weaved across two traffic lanes.

Gates was the pastor at Christ Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Racine, and the crash prompted Mayor John Dickert to urge drivers to slow down and be aware of others on the roads. Bell is due back in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.


Senior gorilla at Milwaukee County Zoo dies

MILWAUKEE -- The senior gorilla at the Milwaukee County Zoo has died.

Officials say Femelle was thought to be 54 -- and while the cause of death is not known, she received treatment for several years for a cardiac disease.

Milwaukee acquired Femelle in 1985 from the National Zoo in Washington, and she later gave birth to one female gorilla and one male -- and breeding male Osbus was the father for both.

Milwaukee Zoo officials say Femelle had a strong relationship with a 2-year-old male gorilla at the time of her death -- and they spent a lot of time together.


State unemployment rate unchanged

MADISON -- Wisconsin's unemployment rate is the same in November as it was the previous month.

State labor officials said Thursday the seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 4.1 percent last month. That continues to be the lowest state unemployment rate since February of 2001, and it's one-half percent less than the national rate of 4.6 percent.

The workforce development agency says a preliminary total of 1,900 private sector non-farm jobs were lost last month.


Green Bay Council to consider attorney for mayor's removal petition

GREEN BAY -- The Green Bay City Council may decide next Tuesday whether to hire its own attorney to handle a petition to remove Mayor Jim Schmitt.

City resident Scott Vanidestine filed the petition, saying a state law requires the council to vote on Schmitt's removal after he was convicted on three misdemeanor campaign finance violations.

Schmitt's lawyer, Patrick Knight, says the law does not apply because the case did not involve Schmitt's official duties as mayor. He says the council does not have the legal standing to remove the mayor, and if they don't throw out the petition, Knight tells WLUK TV there might be legal consequences.

City Attorney Vanessa Chavez would normally represent the council, but because Schmitt hired her, council members say they might have to bring in outside legal help.


Big casino winner robbed of $15,000 after he got home

WAUKESHA -- Waukesha Police have been looking for three men who robbed a casino gambler of $15,000 in winnings after he got home.

Police say the man was apparently followed home from Milwaukee's Potawatomi Casino -- and he was in his garage when a gunman and two others stole the money and ran off.  

Officials say the thieves left footprints, but the victim could not see a getaway car.

WISN TV says a similar robbery took place last month when a Shorewood man was followed home -- and a suspect escaped in a getaway van.

The casino urges players to know their surroundings, and if they want a check for the winnings and a ride to their parked vehicles, they can get them if they ask.


United Way breaks own fundraising record

MILWAUKEE -- It's a fundraising record for the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County.  

The organization says it raised over $60.1 million for its 2016 annual community campaign.  

The United Way also eclipsed its volunteer goal with more than 21,000 volunteer hours in its annual Season of Caring.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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