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Fatal crash involved 7 survivors from Wisconsin; watchful resident spots alleged arsonist in action; group seeks federal funds to ship logs; 10 more state news stories

NORTH BRANCH-- Seven Wisconsin residents were involved in a three-vehicle crash in eastern Minnesota that killed a pair of motorcyclists.

Forty-four-year-old Mark Lindstrom of Pulaski, his wife Katherine, and three of their children ages 10 to 15 all had non-life threatening injuries in the crash, which occurred Saturday on Highway 95 near North Branch, Minn.

The Minnesota State Patrol said a motorcycle with a man and wife from Minn., Minnesota, crossed a centerline and hit the Lindstrom minivan head on -- and an SUV hit the motorcycle in the process. A 17-year-old Cumberland boy his 18-year-old male passenger from Plymouth escaped injury. The Minnesota couple that was killed, 35-year-old Collin Orth and his 34-year-old wife Sara, were not wearing helmets at the time.


Resident may have saved church from burning down

TREMPEALEAU -- Sheriff's deputies say a resident who called 911 might have saved a small town church from burning down in western Wisconsin.

The resident called about 3:15 a.m. Sunday to report suspicious activity at St. Bartholomew's Catholic Church in Trempealeau. A deputy and a Galesville police officer were the first to respond -- and according to the sheriff's department, they saw a person trying to set fire to the church. Crews put out the fire in short order, with only minor damage, while deputies arrested a 19-year-old Trempealeau man after a brief chase and a struggle.

The man remained in jail on the Fourth of July, after being booked for arson, criminal damage, and resisting arrest.


Northwoods group tries again to win federal logging-car funds

RHINELANDER -- A third effort is being made to win a federal grant that would help northern Wisconsin foresters use railroads to send out their logs.

The Northwoods Rail Transit Commission says the harvesting and transporting of logs has long suffered from a lack of private investment in the Great Lakes forest regions. Despite that, Darryl Landeau of North Central Wisconsin's Regional Planning Commission says the federal government has twice said no to funding to help loggers by purchasing a new fleet of rail cars.

Landeau says railroads now have a logging car fleet that's getting smaller and older -- and the rail companies are not getting a return on investment for those cars. The issue was briefly highlighted a couple of years ago when rail companies in the Midwest moved some of their freight lines to serve the once burgeoning crude oil production in North Dakota.


Spring Green salutes Beau Solomon

SPRING GREEN -- Spring Green salutes native son Beau Solomon.

About 200 people attended a candlelight vigil Monday night at River Valley High School, just hours after they learned that the 19-year-old UW-Madison student was found dead in Rome where he was in a summer study program. Those at the vigil held candles as they walked one lap around the high school track, close to where Solomon -- a child cancer survivor -- starred in football as an all conference quarterback as a senior.

The high school had counselors available late Monday to help students and others cope with the tragedy. Police say Solomon was robbed and thrown into the Tiber River in Rome soon after he disappeared last Thursday night, and the word came overnight that a 40-year-old Italian homeless man was arrested in the death.


Madison's mayor proposes new sidewalk sleeping ban

MADISON -- The mayor of Madison is trying for a second time to limit sleeping on downtown sidewalks.

Paul Soglin plans to introduce his new ordinance at a city council meeting Tuesday night. It would prohibit sleeping and lying on sidewalks, city office property, and public rights of way between 7-10 a.m. in the central government and business district of Wisconsin's capital city.

The mayor's proposal is somewhat different than the one he suggested last year, that was rejected on a 15-1 vote. The Wisconsin State Journal says both were based on ordinances in place in Honolulu and Portland, Ore. The new proposal says it would address "regular complaints" from those who live and work in Madison's Central Business District about people occupying sidewalks and other rights of way.


U.S. Senate hopefuls focus on northern, eastern Wisconsin

Both U.S. Senate candidates in Wisconsin chose the northern two thirds of the state to court voters at July Fourth parades and events.

Republican incumbent Ron Johnson tweeted about his appearances in Rhinelander, Tomahawk, Minocqua, and Phillips -- where he was joined by Wausau House Republican Sean Duffy and state Senate Republican Tom Tiffany. Democrat Russ Feingold, who's trying to win back the seat he lost to Johnson six years ago, spent his holiday in the Oshkosh area.

The most recent Marquette Law School poll indicated that voters are starting to focus on the close Wisconsin Senate contest, one of the top races targeted by Democrats as they try win back control of that chamber.


One dead, 2 injured in Dodge County crash

FOX LAKE -- One person was killed and two others were injured in a two-vehicle crash on the Fourth of July in southeast Wisconsin.

Dodge County sheriff's deputies say two vehicles collided as they were approaching each other on Highway 33 near Fox Lake around 5:30 p.m. -- and they're still trying to determine what happened and why. One driver died at the scene, the other driver was flown to UW Hospital in Madison with life threatening injuries, and a passenger in the second car was taken to a Beaver Dam hospital.

According to statewide media reports, at least eight people were killed in Wisconsin crashes between Friday afternoon and late Monday. The Dodge County crash was the only fatal mishap reported so far from the holiday itself.


Probe continues into crash that killed 2 motorcyclists

MADISON -- An investigation continues into a holiday weekend crash that killed two motorcyclists in southern Wisconsin.

The victims were identified Monday as 53-year-old Dana Fichtner of Janesville and 26-year-old Alyssia Kittleson of Mineral Point. Dane County sheriff's deputies say both were on a motorcycle that crossed a centerline on a curve and struck an oncoming car Sunday afternoon near Belleville. It was not immediately known who was driving the motorcycle, and the car driver reportedly escaped injury. The medical examiner's office says an autopsy was performed Monday, and more tests are underway.


Minimum security inmate back in custody

STURTEVANT -- A minimum security state prisoner is back behind bars in Racine County, after he walked away from a job site as a work release inmate.

State corrections officials issued an alert around noon Monday, asking for tips on where 60-year-old Timothy Worth might be. He was back in custody about four hours later.

It was the second time in three months that an inmate at the Sturtevant Transitional Facility walked away from a work site. A 24-year-old man walked away on May 2, and he was also back in custody before the day was done.


Federal, local probes continue into industrial death

COLUMBUS -- Federal and local agencies continue to investigate an industrial mishap in south central Wisconsin in which an injured worker later died.

Columbus Police say 17-year-old Dusty Babcock of Reeseville died during the weekend at UW Hospital in Madison after he was hurt Wednesday on a machine at GD Roberts Manufacturing. Police say Babcock was clearing scrap metal from a laser cutting machine, when the unit fell onto him. He was extricated before being flown to the hospital. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration visited the plant Thursday, one day after the incident.


Governor, Assembly speaker may be on collision course on I-94 project

ROCHESTER -- The Wisconsin Assembly speaker appears to be on a collision course with his own party's governor over a major freeway project in his area.

The rebuilding of Interstate 94 from Milwaukee to the Illinois state line was halted for this year, due to a state budget crunch. But Speaker Robin Vos tells the Racine Journal Times he fears the delays will continue and make the Interstate "more dangerous and more expensive."

Gov. Scott Walker recently told his DOT secretary to limit spending on large southeast Wisconsin road projects to a minimum -- and he's dead set against raising gas taxes and transportation fees while calling for more efficiencies. Vos says he, too, believes the state should look at ideas to save money, and root out waste -- but he also says the state should look at new revenues now, and not delay the politically sensitive subject for another two years.


Two Michigan lawyers running for Wisconsin prosecutor's post

Hurley, WI) -- A Wisconsin county prosecutor along the Upper Michigan border is not running for re-election – a move that's generating cross-state interest.

Two of the three candidates for the post live in the UP, and would have to move across the border if they win. Two time former District Attorney Anthony Stella of Hurley is running as a Democrat for the Iron County DA's job given up by the retiring Marty Lipske. He faces Ironwood, Mich., library director and former private attorney Elaine Erickson in the August primary -- and the winner will face Republican Matthew Tingstad of Bessemer, Mich., in November.

In Wisconsin, candidates for public office do not have to live in the places they want to serve -- but if they win, they'd have to move. Erickson says she could not run in her home state, because she's not licensed to practice law in Michigan -- but she is in Wisconsin, and both candidates from the UP would only have to move a short distance if they win.


Man due back in court Thursday in 2014 crash that injured 13

BARABOO -- A man is due back in court Thursday in a 2014 drunk driving crash that injured 13 people on a Wisconsin Dells Army Duck ride.

Joshua Armstrong, who now lives in Johnston, Iowa, has a 2,500 bond on three Sauk County felony charges of causing injuries by driving drunk with a passenger under 16 in his vehicle. The 32-year-old Armstrong was summoned to appear in court in March, but his lawyer told a judge he had moved to Iowa by then, and did not know of the criminal charges.

Also, the attorney said traffic citations connected to the crash were resolved by then, and many of the victims had already made settlements with their insurance companies. Prosecutors say two dozen people were on the Army Duck ride when Armstrong's pickup truck crossed a center line and struck the boat head on -- and no one was seriously hurt.