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Local dairy farmers are feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks with milk prices down a third from a five-year high last September.“The bottom line is its 30 percent off the top,” Mindoro dairy farmer Paul Larson said. “None of the expenses have changed, so it hurts.”Milk prices in March hit a low of $17.10 per hundredweight in Minnesota and $17.60 in Wisconsin. Milk prices topped out at a five-year high in September of last year, with Minnesota seeing $27.10 per hundredweight and Wisconsin farmers $26.60, according to USDA data.Since March, milk prices have come back up slightly but were still hovering under the $18 mark in both states in June, the last month data was available. For farmers, this means the milk price has fallen 33 percent in less than a year, a big shock for farmers to absorb.“The money doesn’t go as far as it did before,” Winona County...

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The town of Garfield and its property assessor are being sued in federal court by a property owner who claims the assessor, curious about his elevated cabins, entered his property illegally in violation of his constitutional rights.Gary Bennis owns 177 acres on N. Prairie Road which are undeveloped except for six unique structures.“I’ve never seen anything like them on all the ground I’ve covered,” said Eric Kleven, who has been the town’s assessor since 2004 and is a named defendant in Bennis’ suit.“They’re 10-by-12 (foot) cabins 22 feet up in the air.”Kleven, who also is the assessor for the towns of Cleveland and Northfield, said he would not comment on the allegations in the suit, except to say they were “false.”Kleven could describe the improvements characteristics, saying it was a public record, and said the cabins were heated, shingled and six-sided.The complaint filed earlier this month refers to them as...

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The Black River Falls Fire Department is raising money to replace its aging heavy rescue truck.The truck, which is 22 years old, is the busiest in the department and carries various equipment, including extrication tools, scene lighting and breathing air systems.“It’s served the department over the years well, but it’s tired and it’s showing its years,” BRF Fire Chief Steve Schreiber said. “It’s becoming a maintenance issue, especially on the electrical side with aging wiring and heavy corrosion.“That’s the truck that’s out in all the bad weather and is by far the busiest truck in the station. It’s taken its toll on the truck.”The department has raised about $20,000 of the estimated $400,000 needed to replace the truck, which is the one that serves at accident scenes and carries up to five firefighters. It doesn’t carry water but has on board the department’s main set of “jaws of life,” air...

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Melrose has welcomed a Melrose-Mindoro-area native to join its police department.The village recently hired Jeremy Isensee to fill an open position that was vacant with the department since the departure of Andrew Haldeman earlier in the year. Isensee, a 1996 Mel-Min grad, said he’s pleased to help serve his home area.“I’ve grown up in the Melrose-Mindoro School District my whole life,” said Isensee, who also works part-time for the Black River Falls Police Department. “I figured I could give back to my hometown roots, so to speak.”Isensee served as a military police officer for five years after enlisting in the U.S. Army following his high school graduation. He has an associate’s degree in police science from Western Wisconsin Technical College and currently lives in the BRF area with his girlfriend and two children.“When the village hires an officer, it is important to us to look for employees who can interact...

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Domestic violence and sexual assault is not something easy to talk about. Dena Quinn hopes she’s changed that.“People need to understand that it’s happening and be able to recognize it,” said Quinn, who has worked with Bolton Refuge House-Jackson County Outreach for almost the last decade.“I think that most people have that stereotypical image of an abused woman — she must not be being beaten if she does not have a black eye or broken nose ... but there are so many more forms of abuse. We’re here to try to educate and help not only survivors and clients, but we work with the public, too — you can do something by recognizing the signs.”Quinn, who has served as program coordinator the last few years, stepped down this week from her position with the advocacy service for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.Quinn said she was looking for a...

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A group of Republican legislators planned to meet last week to discuss the possibility of merging the Wisconsin Technical College System and the University of Wisconsin Colleges and Extension.State Rep. David Murphy, R-Greenville, said the group’s members will study whether merging the two college systems would allow them to operate more efficiently, though he and others involved in the process characterized the discussions as informal and preliminary.The group planned to meet for the first time last week, so Murphy said it’s too soon to know how a merger would be carried out, how quickly any legislation would be considered or if lawmakers will determine such a move is necessary in the first place.Murphy, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities, said he has not seen any specific proposals to merge the 16-campus technical college system with the 13 UW Colleges.“If there (are) any efficiencies to be found, I’m...

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A late snag in the proposed state-county swap of Highway C and Highway 108 has forced La Crosse County to postpone work planned this summer on the renamed Highway C until 2016.The county had been prepared to start $7.3 million in road improvements as soon as that section of state Highway 108 became county Highway C, with more scheduled to be done in 2016. The state has pledged $4.1 million toward the project as an incentive to make the switch.Plans include replacing cable restraints with guardrail, recrowning the road to aid drainage and creating higher banking on some curves for safety. New pavement will be installed on the entire 13.1-mile stretch, along with substantial street improvements in Mindoro.The state, in turn, plans to resurface the new Highway 108 and improve three intersections in 2017.But the highway transfer has stalled over a little-known requirement that the state Department of Transportation provide...

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Authorities are investigating the death of a soldier at Fort McCoy.Army Reservist Staff Sgt. Aida Hernandez, 31, Chicago was found unresponsive last week at a campsite where her unit was training, said Fort McCoy spokeswoman Linda Fournier.She was taken by base personnel to Sparta Memorial Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.The soldier was at Fort McCoy for training and belonged to the 406th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Ann Arbor, Mich.There are about 13,000 Reserve, National Guard and active duty soldiers training at the Monroe County base....

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Bludgeoned to death with her hands cut from her body, "Jane Doe" was left along a rural Vernon County roadside in May of 1984 with no clue of her identity or the circumstances surrounding her death.Last week, Vernon County Sheriff John Spears watched as "Jane Doe's" casket was removed from the Viroqua Cemetery to be sent to the state crime lab, so the body can go through DNA testing."It didn't come lightly, our decision to exhume the body," Spears said. "Thinking positively, we're hoping further investigation will lead to her being identified. Her family will know that we never gave up."Spears is the third sheriff in Vernon County to assume investigation into one of two cold cases -- the other being the circumstances surrounding the death of Terry Doloway, whose body was found in rural Vernon County in 1985.Spears said investigators believe both Jane Doe and Doloway were killed elsewhere,...

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A Mindoro man was killed during the weekend when he was struck by a vehicle while on vacation in Florida.Michael Gunderson, 24, was hit early Sunday when a Ford Expedition jumped the curb and accelerated, according to police in Jacksonville Beach, Fla.Jeremy Anderson said he and Gunderson had gone to Florida to visit a mutual friend who had recently moved there. They went out Saturday night for a final get-together before they were to leave Sunday.Anderson said he left the bar after midnight and told Gunderson to be home at a decent hour. He said Gunderson caught up to him about a block away and agreed he needed to get some rest.They walked another block before Anderson said they saw the SUV jump a curb, swerve into oncoming traffic and then head straight toward them.“All I saw is the headlights coming towards us,” Anderson said. “I could hear the engine...

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An investigation has found failures at the Tomah VA Medical Center contributed to the “tragic, avoidable death” of a Marine Corps veteran last year.A report found 35-year-old Jason Simcakoski’s August 2014 death was caused by a fatal mix of medications and that staff failed to discuss the hazards of one of the drugs prescribed, a requirement in VA policy. Some lifesaving procedures also weren’t followed, according to the report released Thursday by the VA’s Office of Inspector General.“It brings closure to our family,” Simcakoski’s father, Marv, said at a Friday press conference at the Tomah VA. “It’s been something that’s been bothering us for a long time … At least we know what we thought all along happened to him.”The VA already had implemented several of the report’s recommendations before its release, including firing one of the physicians involved in the case and having anti-overdose medication available in the event...

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