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Wisconsin roundup: Walker says he's undecided on UW tuition proposal; No federal disaster aid for Buffalo, Trempealeau counties; 11 more state news stories

MADISON --  Gov. Scott Walker says he's thinking about asking lawmakers to keep freezing UW tuition for just one year instead of two in his next state budget.

The Republican Walker has also responded to speculation that he might suggest lower tuition as part of his budget package next February. The governor says it's "on the table," but he's not proposing it right now.

Walker's comments came after UW President Ray Cross told WISC TV in Madison that the governor wanted to freeze tuition for just one more year, beyond the four years of frozen tuition costs in the last two state budgets. Cross also tells the Journal Sentinel that Walker has never proposed a tuition cut to him or his staff, but it was brought up briefly one year ago. Cross says that if the state continues to "avoid investing" in the UW, it would be threatening the school's quality and in his words, "it has to end."


No federal disaster aid for Buffalo, Trempealeau counties

ALMA -- Officials in far western Wisconsin still hope to get state disaster relief, after federal aid was rejected to fix public facilities in last week's floods. Up to 7 inches of rain fell in parts of Buffalo and Trempealeau counties.

Buffalo County officials say the Federal Emergency Management Agency needed to find at least  $8 million in damage to public amenities in Buffalo and surrounding counties before it could consider naming it a disaster area. Reports say there was $2 million in damage to things like roads and bridges.

Now, Buffalo County emergency management director Stephen Schiffli is looking to the state's Disaster Fund and the Wisconsin DOT for repair assistance -- and he says losses to private properties are still being tallied.


Johnson: Milwaukee violence shows "war on poverty" failed

MILWAUKEE -- U.S. Sen. Republican Ron Johnson says last weekend's violence in Milwaukee proves that government programs like the "war on poverty" are failing.

At a luncheon sponsored by, Johnson said well intentioned government programs have trapped people in the country's inner cities, while creating cycles of "poverty, dependency, and despair."

The Senate's Homeland Security committee chair says violence is not a solution -- but he said it can erupt with some kind of "spark or catalyst." And Johnson, who's running against former Sen. Democrat Russ Feingold this fall, says the solution involves faith-based community programs that help people on an individual basis. Johnson cited Milwaukee's Joseph Project, that helps young people turn their lives around through job training and work.


Minneapolis firm to buy Sheboygan office furniture maker

A maker of office furniture that's based in Sheboygan will be sold to a Minneapolis firm.

Safco Products, which is known for its office chairs and stools, is buying the Mayline Company -- and the deal is expected to be finalized next month.

Mayline was founded in 1939 as a maker of drafting tables. It's now owned by Baird Capital, and it employs 220 people at its Sheboygan production facility and a distribution center near Little Rock, Ark.

Safco is a subsidiary of Liberty Diversified International of Minneapolis -- and it expects to continue the Mayline brand. Mayline CEO Allan Klotsche says his company will be able to expand the services it offers its customers.


Marathon board upholds county administrator's suspension

WAUSAU  --  The county board in Wausau refuses to erase a suspension against the county's administrator, for taking part in a protest rally in May. The topic was discussed and debated for almost four hours Thursday night before supervisors voted 17 to 15 against reconsidering a 30-day unpaid suspension ordered in late July for Administrator Brad Karger.

A petition drive led by a Hmong resident called for the reversal of Karger's punishment for his participation at a rally which called for a light sentence for 16-year-old Dylan Yang. He was convicted as an adult of killing a teen in Wausau last year in a dispute between two youth groups -- and he faces prison time when he's sentenced next month. The rally also called on Wausau schools to crack down on bullying.


Early voting starts one month earlier in state's largest cities

MADISON  --  Early voting will begin one month earlier than usual in Madison, and Milwaukee expects to have about the same schedule. That's after Federal Judge James Peterson threw out the Republican state law that limited absentee voting to two weeks before the election, Monday through Friday only, with just one early voting location per community.

Peterson says the GOP designed the law to discourage voting in predominantly Democratic Milwaukee -- and now, Madison says it will start its early voting Sept. 26 and is working to secure multiple sites including the UW campus.

Former state Sen. Glenn Grothman pushed for the previous limits before he was elected to Congress, saying smaller communities don't have the resources as big cities, and the whole state should follow the same rules. Thursday, GOP Gov. Scott Walker said the early voting issue was no longer a priority -- and the big thing is to keep the photo ID law for voting intact.


UW Regents agree to ask Walker for $42.5 million in new funding

MADISON  --  The UW Board of Regents has agreed to ask Gov. Scott Walker to give the university an extra $42.5 million in his next state budget. Officials say most of the funding would go toward an "educational pipeline" program to expand the numbers of UW courses offered as dual credits to high school youngsters, and to help meet the state's workforce needs.

The Republican Walker has told state agencies not to expect more money in the next two year state budget, but he has left open the possibility of granting more funds to the UW for meeting certain performance standards.

Regent Tony Evers voted against the funding request Thursday. He says it would not cover even one fifth of the $250 million state tax dollars that were cut from the university one year ago.


Two men turn themselves in after shooting death

MILWAUKEE  --  Milwaukee Police say two men turned themselves in, after a 42-year-old man was shot to death outside a police station on the city's south side.

According to officials, the two men -- ages 65 and 52 -- were in a vehicle Thursday night when they got into an argument with the victim. The older suspect allegedly pulled a handgun during the episode, and shot and killed the unidentified victim. Both suspects then turned themselves in and gave officers the weapon, while the victim was being taken to a hospital where he later died.


Fatal victim in pedestrian crash identified

LAKE GENEVA  --  A pedestrian struck and killed by an SUV near Lake Geneva has been identified as 54-year-old Jeanne Mulville-Rowell of Chicago.

Town of Geneva Police say the woman had just left a hotel late Tuesday night -- and she was walking along Highway 50 when she may have stepped into a traffic lane. Mulville-Rowell was hit by an SUV that a 44-year-old Genoa City woman was driving. Officials say the driver cooperated with police. No charges are expected against her.


EPA penalizes Harley Davidson

MILWAUKEE  --  Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson has reached a settlement with the EPA concerning thousands of engine devices that allegedly caused air pollution.

The government said Thursday that the motorcycle giant will pay a penalty of $12 million, and will buy back and destroy the engine devices in question.

The EPA says Harley sold 340,000 devices called "super tuners" that improved performance but also emitted higher amounts of certain pollution than what the firm had certified. The tuners have been sold since January of 2008, and the EPA says Harley will immediately stop selling them. Buying back the tuners is an "important step" to mitigate the excess pollution that was caused. Harley says it's making a good faith compromise but it still disagrees on certain legal points, including whether it's against the law to modify off road bikes.


Man charged with hit-and-run in bicyclist’s death

MADISON  --  Authorities say witnesses told investigators a pickup truck was being driven erratically before it struck and killed a bicyclist in Dane County.

A complaint was filed Thursday against 35-year-old Kevin Meister of Brooklyn charging him  with hit and run resulting in death and second-degree reckless homicide.

Thirty-three-year-old Shelton Berel of Madison was biking in the Town of Oregon Aug. 5 when he was struck. A crash analysis indicated Meister may have been driving on the wrong side of the road. The complaint says Meister told officials he thought he hit a deer, but was late for work so he kept on going.


Injured medal of honor recipient getting better

LA CROSSE  --  A Wisconsin Medal of Honor recipient is getting better after he was severely injured in a motorcycle crash east of La Crosse 11 days ago.

His wife says 68-year-old Gary Wetzel of Oak Creek had surgeries on a broken pelvis and left shoulder. After additional physical therapy, she hopes Wetzel will be transferred soon to the Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, which is closer to his home.

Wetzel's Army helicopter was shot down during the Vietnam War in 1968, but he managed to keep shooting at enemy troops on the ground. Former President Lyndon Johnson later gave Wetzel the nation's highest military award for bravery.


MKE had one of record 78 illegal firearms found by TSA last week

U.S. airport security officials say they found a record 78 illegal firearms in carry-on bags last week, including one at Milwaukee's Mitchell International.

The TSA's official blog says a loaded eight-millimeter pistol was found Aug. 8 at Mitchell, and there was not a round in its chamber.

The TSA said the total number of illegal firearms was four more than the previous record set in May. The blog included the complete list of violations, but did not go into detail on citations or arrests.

Security officials say fliers can carry guns in checked bags, but they must be declared by airlines first. Carry-on bags can never have ammunition.

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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