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The city of Black River Falls recently released the names of 13 individuals who applied for its combined police chief and investigator position.Town of Iron River Police Chief Scot Eisenhauer was selected for the spot among the pool, which included six other finalists.BRF Interim Police Chief Pat LaBarbera was among finalists who were selected for interviews, in addition to Marvin Duff, Michael Zillisch, William Straschinske, Sharon Verges and Shane Giacomino, according to application materials released after an open records request filed by the Chronicle.Duff is a police chief in Elkader, Iowa, Zillisch works for the Mauston PD and Juneau County Sheriff’s Department and Straschinske is an officer in Osseo.Verges, currently Thorp police chief, declined an interview, and Giacomino, a Clark County Sheriff’s Department detective, canceled prior to his interview, according to City Administrator Brad Chown.Other applicants who were not selected for interviews included Jackson Correctional Institution correction program director and...

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A former Miss Jackson County coordinator accused of stealing program funds will perform community service and pay back the missing money as part of a plea agreement.Bethany Brown, 31, on Monday pleaded no contest to misdemeanor theft after reportedly taking over $1,200 from the scholarship and ambassador program for personal use.The rural Black River Falls woman agreed to 60 hours of community service, issue a public apology and pay restitution to the Jackson County Fair Board, which has oversight over the Miss Jackson County Program.As part of the agreement Brown could have the criminal theft charge reduced to an ordinance violation if she successfully meets all requirements in the next year. Circuit Court Judge Anna Becker said the court is withholding a finding of guilt at this time.Brown, who took over the program in 2013, stood accused of using program funds to pay bills in Florida, at a local tavern...

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A La Crosse-based reproductive health services facility closed as Options Clinic Friday and reopened Monday as Essential Health Clinic, a new moniker intended to better reflect its mission, interim executive director Chrissy Feine said.“The renaming presents an opportunity to refresh the image and positioning in the community, particularly with key constituents who may misunderstand our mission,” Feine said.“It allows us to strengthen the message that reproductive health clinics are important to the health of a community, helping low-income women and men avoid unintended pregnancies and providing STD prevention education, testing and treatment,” she said.The educational component “is essential for our more than 7,000 patients to make decisions about birth control,” Feine said.“I think that reproductive health care is essential for men as well as women,” she said.Services, provided on a sliding fee or no cost, depending on need, at the La Crosse clinic include annual exams, breast and cervical cancer...

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Three candidates are appealing a judge’s decision to uphold election recount results in the town of Cleveland.Bonnie Vance, Joe Egloff and Christopher Underwood filed the notice last week, appealing in the District 4 Court of Appeals circuit court Judge John A. Damon’s May ruling that upheld the recounted vote totals despite allegations of illegal early voting procedures by former town Clerk Phil Hazard.The election and subsequent recount saw newcomer Ralph Prindle defeat Vance for a supervisor seat, Hazard defeat Egloff, an incumbent, for the other supervisor spot and Hazard’s son, Byron, top Underwood for clerk.The three candidates alleged Hazard committed a variety of illegal election procedures, including holding absentee early voting at his home while he and his son were candidates on the ballot for town positions and appointing his wife and another person deputy clerks to conduct early voting in his absence.The recount didn’t alter the outcome and instead...

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Authorities hope a forensic sketch developed from the skull of an apparent homicide victim will help solve a decades-old unsolved case.The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department last week released two sketches of what they believe a man may have looked like more than 30 years ago when his body was discovered in a remote area of Jackson County.Investigators hope the sketch and the victim’s DNA profile and dental records, which are now available in a national missing persons database, will be a key in solving the case that started when loggers discovered a body in August 1978 in the town of Knapp.“I think we’re making pretty good progress on the case,” said Kelly Bakken, a detective with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. “Right now, it’s getting the information out there to the general public and getting people to contact us and say that looks familiar, I know who that might be.“That’s...

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The Republican-controlled state Assembly approved a two-year budget bill early Thursday morning, sending the $73 billion spending plan on to Gov. Scott Walker — but not without some dissent.Eleven Republicans broke ranks and voted against the budget, which passed on a 52-46 vote with no support from Democrats. Walker signed the budget Sunday and used more than 100 line-item vetoes.The GOP Assembly opposition came from rural districts, primarily in Western Wisconsin, where transportation spending was a top concern.Rep. Lee Nerison of Westby, chairman of the Assembly agriculture committee, cited the lack of support for rural roads.“I am concerned that this vital economy will quickly erode if we don’t take care of our rural roads so we can get our goods to market,” Nerison said in a statement. “Rural areas need good roads just as much as Milwaukee does, and I’ll keep fighting to get our fair share.”Rep. Nancy VanderMeer, whose...

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The annual Karner Blue Butterfly Festival is back this year with an expanded lineup of activities and events.The 19th annual festival returns Friday and Saturday with more entertainment on Friday than in years past and the traditional lineup on Saturday with a few additions.“We just hope we get good weather – that’s the main thing,” said Tom Tomter, president of the Black River Falls Downtown Association, which organizes the event.Friday night features a “Fest Kickoff Party” with food and refreshments and music from Toner from 5-8 p.m. under the downtown tent.The annual Karner Blue Race will help kick off Saturday’s activities, with the half marathon scheduled to start at 7 a.m. and the 5K and 10K runs at 8 a.m. A kids race for youth 11 years old and under begins at 9 a.m.The 11th annual races feature the return of the “Recess Jams” program, which promotes fitness through an...

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With its unmatched clarity and depth, Jackson County’s Wazee Lake is the Midwest’s premier site for scuba divers, drawing more than 1,000 divers each year.But it’s not without danger.At least nine people have died after diving at the lake, including two since June 27, as they ventured too deep for their training and equipment or suffered cardiac arrest while submerged.“To have two so close to each other just seems like a fluke,” said Tim Emmons, a dive instructor in Winona, Minn.Public safety officials and dive trainers also point to the summer peak season, when a higher volume of divers brings more potential for fatal accidents.“It’s not the lake’s fault,” Jackson County Sheriff Duane Waldera said. “It’s individuals pushing their limits and abilities.”‘It’s so unique’Wazee Lake sits about five minutes east of Black River Falls at the site of the former county iron mine quarry shuttered in 1983 when the domestic...

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Spending at Western Technical College will increase by more than four percent during the 2015-16 school year driven by salary increases and rising enrollment.Western held a public hearing on the budget last month but received no comments. After the hearing, the board of directors approved the $134.7 million budget.Western will manage day-to-day operations on a general fund budget of $50.6 million, up 4.2 percent from the 2014 budget of $48.6 million, and will see revenues increase from a number of sources.A large bump in revenue will come from enrollment and tuition and program fees. The college is predicting a 1.5 percent increase in enrollment this coming school year with the number of full-time equivalent students up 50 to 3,370, and that number is expected to jump again in 2016 to 3,520. When coupled with a 3 percent increase in tuition, the college is expecting nearly $600,000 in additional revenue from...

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The Democrats have a candidate for the Seventh Congressional District.Minocqua business owner Kirk Bangstad announced Tuesday he would challenge Republican Sean Duffy, R-Weston, in the sprawling district that runs from northeast Monroe County to Lake Superior.“Washington is broken,” Bangstad said. “The constant partisan bickering and gridlock have hurt our country and left Wisconsin families behind. I’m running for Congress because I think my background in helping companies expand their workforce and create jobs is a perspective that Washington needs now more than ever.”Bangstad and his wife, Elizabeth, own a fitness studio in Minocqua. He is a graduate of Stevens Point High School.Democratic Party state chair Martha Lanning welcomed Bangstad to the race.“Kirk Bangstad is a small business owner with deep roots in the Northwoods who understands what it takes to work together to create economic opportunity for all,” Lanning said. “So I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Kirk, and...

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As spiders go, this one at first glance seems the stuff of nightmares – big, hairy, like something that would be found in a steamy jungle, not a storage shed in Wisconsin.Tom and Bonnie Krueger’s neighbor had the predictable reaction to recently stumbling across a dark fishing spider.“We heard hollering and screaming,” Tom Krueger said.His wife’s response was far more unexpected. She grabbed a plastic bag, scooped up the palm-sized spider and popped it into a plastic container. Though her neighbor wanted it dead and the couple had no idea if it might be dangerous, “I couldn’t see killing it,” Bonnie Krueger explained.More people should show such mercy for the dark fishing spider, an arachnid that despite its formidable appearance actually is shy and no more venomous than most spiders, said Linda Williams, forest health specialist for the state Department of Natural Resource’s Green Bay office.The spider is fairly common...

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