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Wisconsin state news briefs: Private investment firm buys Shopko Optical, announces its plans, and more state news stories

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- A New York-based private investment firm says it will relocate 80 Shopko Optical stores to free-standing locations. Monarch Alternative Capital announced the $8.5 million deal Thursday.  

Shopko Optical now anticipates further growth starting next year. The Wisconsin-based retail chain had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It expects to close on all of its remaining locations by mid-June.

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Audit turns up $92K stolen from County Clare in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office reports an audit has found $92,000 missing from the County Clare Irish Inn and Pub. Fifty-six-year-old bookkeeper Karrie Spoerl is accused of stealing the money by using a company credit card.  

Spoerl worked at the popular club for more than 10 years; $7,000 was spent at grocery stores and $3,000 at Walgreens, but there was also a $146 charge for tickets to a DaveMatthews concert. Spoerl will make her first court appearance next month.

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Witness tells Milwaukee police victim was shot when he changed a drug deal

MILWAUKEE -- A witness tells Milwaukee police Orlando Euell was shot to death when he decided he wanted to buy $40 worth of drugs instead of $200.  

Euell apparently told 21-year-old Kearia Walker he'd have to kill him to get the whole 200. Walker is accused of doing just that. A detective found the mortally-wounded Euell on the side of a street with a single gunshot wound May 8. Walker is charged with felony murder.

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Superior man faces gun, drug charges in federal court

MADISON -- A federal grand jury has indicted a 37-year-old Superior man on gun and drug charges.  

Brian Kainu is accused of drug sales and possession and being a felon in possession of a firearm. If he is convicted Kainu would face a minimum of five years in federal prison, with a maximum sentence of 90 years. Two drug task forces, Duluth and Superior police and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office investigated the case.

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18 students suspended for May 9 fight at Verona Area High School

VERONA -- Eighteen students at Verona Area High School have been suspended for their involvement in a fight on that campus May 9. The suspensions ranged from one day to the rest of the school year -- and there could be a carry-over into next term for some students.  

It wasn't just the ones throwing punches. Students were also suspended for using social media to "incite further disturbances," according to a district spokesperson. Verona police plan to recommend criminal charges against three students.

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Joint Finance Committee approves money for technical colleges

MADISON -- Members of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee spent Thursday making changes to the governor's budget before an expected vote probably next month.  

Additional money for Wisconsin technical colleges was approved, but the amount was $11 million less than Democrats wanted.  

Gov. Evers says the additional $25 million isn't enough, but Republicans point out it is still $7 million more than he originally asked for.  

Evers doubled his request Wednesday after hearing about an additional $753 million in revenue which wasn't anticipated.

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Lake Delton police look for suspect in child abduction attempt

LAKE DELTON -- Lake Delton police say the evidence they collected at a home last weekend indicates somebody tried to abduct the 2-year-old child living there.  

The parents say noises from the child's room woke them up at about 3 a.m. Saturday. They called 9-1-1 to report a possible prowler, then spotted the child alone, outside. Police think somebody entered the home through a bedroom window, brought that child outside, then ran away before police arrived.

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Wisconsin 1 of 45 states suing OxyContin maker

MADISON -- Madison is one of 45 states suing Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma, trying to hold the company which makes OxyContin responsible for the opioid addiction crisis.  

Opioids were connected to almost 48,000 deaths in 2017. That's more than AIDS killed at the peak of that epidemic and opioid drugs are the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S.  Purdue says the suit is based on "stunningly overbroad legal theories." The company is being accused of downplaying the addiction dangers of opioids.

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Dane County buys 160-acre farm to help with flood control

TOWN OF SPRINGFIELD -- Dane County is spending $10 million to buy a 160-acre farm to help with flood control.  

Record-breaking floods caused almost $2.5 million damage in that part of the county last year.  Restoration of the property will help the town of Springfield reduce sediment and phosphorus runoff. The purchase will be used to expand the Pheasant Branch Conservancy.

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Authorities ID firefighter killed in Appleton Transit Center shooting

APPLETON -- Authorities in northeast Wisconsin are identifying the firefighter killed in a shooting Wednesday night in Appleton. Fire Chief Jeremy Hansen says 14-year veteran Mitchell Lundgaard was responding to a medical emergency on a bus at the transit center when he was shot.  

Investigators say a 47-year-old man from the Wausau area who was reportedly having seizures exchanged gunfire with officers and later died of his injuries. A police officer and a female bystander were also hit during the shooting.

A procession of police and fire vehicle escorted Lundgaard's body to a funeral home today and citizens lined the streets to pay their respects.  A public memorial service for Lundgaard was held at 8 p.m. in Appleton Thursday. Lundgaard leaves behind a wife and three young children.

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Wisconsin unemployment rate falls to record-low 2.8% in April

MADISON -- The Department of Workforce Development is reporting Wisconsin's unemployment rate fell to a record-low of 2.8% in April. The jobless rate dropped one-tenth last month from 2.9% in March.

The number of unemployed Wisconsinites also set a record-low of 88,100 people. Despite the record unemployment rate, private sector employment decreased 3,900 jobs from March while total non-farm employment dropped by 1,800 jobs.  

The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6% for April.

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Man charged in boy's death returns for arraignment next week

MANITOWOC -- A 28-year-old man will return to Manitowoc County Circuit Court next week to be arraigned on five charges, including physical abuse of a child causing death.  

David Heiden made a court appearance Wednesday and was bound over for trial. Prosecutors say he caused the death of 2-year-old Gilbert Grant last month. Three people are charged in the case, including the child's mother. An autopsy showed the boy had been abused for months before he died.

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No charges filed against security guards who beat man in wheelchair

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office isn't going to file criminal charges against three security guards who were caught on video beating a man in a wheelchair.  The incident happened last summer outside Jalisco's restaurant on the city's south side. The victim was tossed out for causing a disturbance, but the guards followed him outside and the video showed them kicking and punching him.  

The owner of JC Public Safety says he fired the three guards but hired them back after they went through additional training.

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