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Wisconsin roundup: Primary turnout slated for 16 percent; voter ID law picked apart by judge; 13 more state news stories

MADISON -- About one of every six Wisconsin adults will vote in the Aug. 9 primaries for congressional, state, and county partisan offices.

The state Elections Commission predicts a 16-percent statewide turnout, down from almost 19-and-one-half percent four years ago when there was a competitive GOP primary for the U.S. Senate.

This year, Scott Harbach of Kenosha is running in the Democratic Senate primary against Russ Feingold -- but chief elections official Mike Haas says the race has not attracted nearly as much statewide interest.

There's also at least one primary in six of the eight U.S. House districts -- mostly notably a Republican contest between Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville and Paul Nehlen of Williams Bay. A second week of early voting begins Monday at municipal clerks' offices.


Federal judge throws out some voter ID law restrictions

MADISON -- A federal judge ruled that several parts of Wisconsin's voter ID law are unconstitutional, letting the law itself stand.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson agreed with the idea the laws were put in place to help Republicans and restrict the ability of Democrat supporters to vote. Peterson mandated the state must quickly issue credentials to anyone needing a free photo ID. Liberal groups had challenged the laws, saying they discriminate against the poor, racial minorities and younger voters. State attorneys denied the laws were passed to suppress Democratic voter turnout.


Man suspected of 7th drunken driving offense arrested near Eau Claire

EAU CLAIRE – The Wisconsin State Patrol said a 50-year-old man with six previous OWI convictions was arrested Friday on Interstate 94 in Eau Claire County.

Authorities identified the man as Mondovi resident Jeffery L. Seegert. According to troopers, Seegert was pulled over for speeding and smelled of alcohol before he took off running.

A Dunn County police dog picked up Seegert's track and followed it to a nearby trailer court, where the suspect was found face-down in some bushes.

Seegert was arrested on suspicion of OWI-seventh offense, fleeing, open intoxicants and other traffic offenses.


Madison among best cities for renters; Milwaukee … not so much

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Madison is a good place to be a renter, but Milwaukee is not the best.

That's according to a new survey from the financial website WalletHub, which ranks Madison 32nd for renters among the nation's 150 largest cities, based on the cost of living, rental price trends, and overall quality of life.

Wisconsin's capital ranks eighth best for quality of life, for a below average 89th for the rental market and its affordability. Milwaukee is ranked among 129th, among the lowest 20 percent for both affordable rental housing and quality of life. Scottsdale, Ariz., is ranked No. 1.


New guidelines for prescribing opioids adopted

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Medical Examining Board wants physicians to consider the risks of addiction before putting patients on opiods, to inform the patients of those risks and prescribe the lowest possible dose.

The board was given the authority earlier this year to establish a new set of guidelines for prescribing opioids in reaction to increasing heroin use in the state. Prescription opioids can lead to heroin addiction when the prescriptions run out. The board adopted the guidelines last month.


Motorcyclist killed in crash with truck

SUN PRAIRIE -- The Dane County Sheriff's Office reports a 60-year-old motorcycle rider was killed when ran into a truck shortly on Sunday.

The driver of that truck had slowed down to make a left turn when the motorcyclist tried to pass the truck on its left side. The accident happened in a no-passing zone. The motorcycle rider wasn't wearing a helmet and he hasn't been identified.

A University of Wisconsin Med Flight physician pronounced him dead at the scene in Sun Prairie. The truck driver wasn't injured.


Eau Claire police release murder suspect's name

EAU CLAIRE -- Eau Claire homicide investigators are still trying to find out what caused a 44-year-old man to allegedly shoot his neighbor to death.

Shane Helmbrecht was arrested as he tried to leave the scene at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Police say he admitted entering the 36-year-old woman's home and shooting her. Her name hasn't been released.

The street in front of her home was closed to traffic for several hours. Helmbrecht and the dead woman were neighbors and they did know each other.


Milwaukee father accused of drowning infant son

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man has been arrested for walking into a pond Saturday night and causing his son's death.

No names have been released. Witnesses say the father had been arguing with the 3-month-old boy's mother when he took the baby and walked into the water until it reached his chest. An onlooker and police followed him into the water, but when they reached him, he didn't have the child. The boy was finally found and rushed to the shore, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was declared dead.


National Railroad Museum starts ambitious $20M expansion project

ASHWAUBENON -- Fundraising is expected to take one year, with construction on a new, $20 million expansion at the Green Bay-area National Railroad Museum taking another two years.

When the new building is finished, all of the trains will be moved indoors, protecting them from the weather. Seventy rail cars, cabooses and engines are a part of the 100,000 items the museum in northeast Wisconsin has in its inventory. The original museum buildings won't be torn down or moved.


Former ambulance service owner sentenced to prison in child-sex case

FRIENDSHIP -- The former owner of Adams County Emergency Services, an ambulance service, was to begin his 18-month prison term last week on a guilty plea to child sexual assault charges.

Forty-year-old Christopher Quinnell of Arkdale reached a plea deal with prosecutors last April. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of attempted sexual assault ofr a child under 16.

In return, charges of sexual assault of a child under 13 and incest with a child were dismissed. Quinnell's company was closed during a state investigation of the service in May.


Dane County jailers save inmate trying to commit suicide

MADISON -- Officials at the Dane County Jail report another inmate yelled for help when he noticed a 20-year-old man from Madison was trying to hang himself in his cell.

The incident happened shortly before noon Saturday. Deputies responded quickly and the inmate was stopped, evaluated at the jail and taken to a local hospital. He reportedly never lost consciousness. He's back at the jail now and is being monitored under what are called suicide prevention protocols. His name hasn't been released.


Escapee from Wisconsin mental health facility arrested in Chicago

CHICAGO -- A 20-year-old man who escaped from the Brown County Community Treatment Center has been arrested in Chicago.

Daniel Patrykus got away by jumping over two fences at the mental health facility about two weeks ago. He was arrested on several charges Saturday, including drug possession.

The Brown County Sheriff's Office has started the extradition process. Patrykus was waiting to be taken to the Brown County Jail when he escaped.


DNR: Four percent of state's public water systems exceed contaminant limits

MADISON -- An annual report from the Department of Natural Resources finds nearly 440 public water systems exceed standards for at least one contaminant.

Coliform bacteria was the most common one found. Smaller systems like motels, restaurants, parks, churches and campgrounds accounted for almost three-fourths of the violations. The same report found that more than 11,000 systems -- 96 percent -- served water to their customers without exceeding any limits on contaminants.


Sheboygan County officials describe 'suicide by cop' incident

SHEBOYGAN -- Sheboygan County officials say an officer-involved shooting at a bar earlier this month was not a robbery, it was a U.S. military veteran who was committing "suicide-by-cop."

Kevin Higgins was wearing camouflage with a rifle slung over his shoulder when he walked into the Union Avenue Tap July 17th and announced a robbery. Two 911 calls were made and two Sheboygan officers were nearby. Officers Brandon Kehoe and Anthony Hamilton hit Higgins six times as he backed through a door and pointed his weapon at them.


Oconto Falls family loses home in fire

OCONTO FALLS -- The American Red Cross is helping three people who lost their home in a house fire at about 3 a.m. Sunday in a rural area about 30 miles north of Green Bay.

Oconto Falls fire crews from several companies took about an hour to put the flames out. Fire investigators say the attic, kitchen and a hallway were heavily damaged. No injuries were reported and the names of the victims weren't released. T

he Oconto Falls Fire Department is looking for the cause of the fire and will release a damage estimate later.