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The Ho-Chunk Nation remains in the midst of moving forward with expansion projects at four of its six casino locations to improve facilities and garner more income.The Nation’s legislature last year OK’d a variety of projects and expansions at the tribe’s Black River Falls, Wisconsin Dells, Nekoosa and Wittenberg locations, but officials have not yet launched construction amid continued planning efforts and a need for final financial approval.Collin Price, the Nation’s public relations officer, said the projects remain an important avenue for supporting the tribes programs and services and its members and is an initiative the Nation continues to pursue.“This is something we’re working towards. Some people want us to pull back for various reasons, but we feel that this is something we absolutely need,” Price said. “We’re certainly in the right position to make this happen and this is what we’re working towards.“This is a top priority within our...

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The bald eagle pair in Decorah, Iowa, might be more famous, reliably producing brood after brood of young chicks on camera for the Internet and world to see.But for drama, well, the Decorah birds have nothing on the avian telenovela that is the Eagles4Kids-monitored nest in Trempealeau County.The site saw the original female lose a foot, lose her dud egg that exploded rather than hatched in 2013 and last spring lost her mate to a younger gal that drove her out but never nested. It has meant two seasons without watching eaglets grow for the Blair-Taylor Elementary School class that keeps track of the nest near Beaches Corner each year.Eventful as the past years have been, this season seems to have hit a whole new level of crazy: rival males battling over a pregnant female, eggs placed in peril as a single mom struggles to nurture them in arctic-like temperatures,...

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The races for town board positions are heating up across Jackson County as several municipalities have drawn contested races for the April 7 election.The elections in the towns of Cleveland, Hixton and Springfield feature the most contests, and candidates in the towns of Alma, Franklin, Irving and Manchester also have opposition.Cleveland has contests for chair, both supervisor spots and clerk. Incumbent Chair Tom Maciejczak is facing off against a past town treasurer in Randy Julian, and newcomers Ralph Prindle and Bonnie Vance will square off for a supervisor spot after incumbent Andrew Sorenson didn’t garner enough support in the town’s caucus to seek re-election.Incumbent Supervisor Joe Egloff, who survived a recall effort last year, will be challenged by 14-year Clerk Phil Hazard who served for 14 years, and that paved the way for newcomers Byron Hazard and Christopher Underwood to square off for clerk. Incumbent Treasurer Cliff Boullion will run...

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An investigation commissioned by Sen. Tammy Baldwin found her office mishandled complaints about overmedication of patients at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center but did not violate ethics or actively try to suppress information.Despite receiving complaints from two whistleblowers and a report from the VA’s Office of Inspector General that highlighted “potentially serious concerns,” the Democratic senator from Wisconsin did not push for a more thorough investigation of the Tomah hospital until the story was reported by the media.A Jan. 9 report from the Center for Investigative Reporting detailed unusually high levels of opiate prescription by providers there and retaliation against those who spoke out. The CIR reported that one veteran died of a drug overdose while at the hospital, which patients have dubbed “Candy Land” because physicians there dispensed prescription painkillers so freely.“Mistakes were made,” Baldwin said Friday. “Mistakes in communication, mistakes in judgment and mistakes that were missed...

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The public is gearing up for the return of elk to Jackson County – a long-awaited milestone that could take place as soon as late March.Reintroduction project sponsors held an informational meeting Thursday at the Ho-Chunk Nation’s tribal office building to celebrate the initiative while giving the public an update on the project’s progress.“This is absolutely the most exciting thing to happen in this area in a really long time,” said Jon Greendeer, president of the Ho-Chunk Nation, which is one of many entities assisting with the project. “It is actually history returning (to) this part of the state.”Elk, which are native to 52 Wisconsin counties, were last seen in the state just before the mid-20th century until a university project reintroduced 25 elk into a site at Clam Lake in northern Wisconsin more than 20 years ago. Plans were made, but never carried out, to reintroduce the animals into...

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A Black River Falls man is charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl after the two met on Facebook.Brandon D. Lomax, 25, is accused of forcing the girl to perform oral sex in the stairways of two different apartment buildings in downtown BRF on Feb. 21, according to the criminal complaint filed in Jackson County Circuit Court.The girl stated she and Lomax became friends on Facebook and messaged each other on the social networking site. She said she sent him a nude photo of herself and they agreed to meet for sex.The girl said when they were unable to have sex in a public bathroom Lomax led her to the first stairway, according to the complaint. She said she wanted to resist but was afraid.The Black River Falls Police Department later arrested Lomax. He initially denied any sexual activity, admitting he knew her age, but later stated they did have...

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Two local service organizations were honored this week for their community contributions by the Black River Area Chamber of Commerce.The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley – Jackson County Center was named the 2014 Business of the Year and Jackson County Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers was honored as the 2014 Customer Service of the Year award winner at the Chamber’s annual dinner held Monday night at Max’s Club 95 in Hixton.The Boys & Girls Club, established in 2000, offers local youth from ages 8 to 18 years old an array of school year and summer programming in areas of health, leadership development, education and career development, the arts and sports and fitness. It now averages a weekly membership of about 55 kids.“I think the impact they make is that they are helping to form our youth as our business leaders for the future,” said Barb Brower, the Chamber’s...

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A semi tanker leaked liquid road tar for 50 miles along Interstate 94 before being stopped by a state trooper in Jackson County Friday morning.Authorities were dispatched to mile marker 117 in the town of Brockway just before 5:30 a.m. after the trooper stopped the semi, which had more than 24 tons on board before the leak started in Eau Claire County, according to the Black River Falls Fire Department.The unit, owned by C.H. Wilson Company of Mason City, Iowa, was leaking the hot oil on the roadway and into the ditch as officials discovered its inner wall had failed for an undetermined reason in addition to the outer tank wall separating. The driver, who wasn’t identified, stated he wasn’t aware of the leak until he was stopped.The total amount spilled wasn’t immediately available, but the section of I-94 was only open with one lane while a company worked to...

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A man who refused to leave a fast food restaurant is charged after injuring the police officer who came to escort him out.Jimmie D. Linville Sr., 53, was arrested and charged after he punched Black River Falls Police Officer Dean Taylor in the head and then threw a chair at him at Hardee’s, to the criminal complaint filed last Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court.Taylor was treated at Black River Memorial Hospital after the incident and released, according to the Black River Falls Police Department.Taylor was called to the Water Street restaurant about 8 p.m. Thursday after Linville, of Baraboo, told an employee he wasn’t leaving and she would need to call police because he had nowhere to stay. Taylor told Linville he needed to leave the establishment, but he refused and said he didn’t want to spend time walking out in the cold, according to the complaint.Linville, who expressed...

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A top Veterans Affairs official investigating claims of opiate over-prescription at the Tomah VA hospital says changes are already being made even as internal and criminal investigations proceed.Dr. Carolyn Clancy said Monday that an initial clinical review of the hospital — which dispensed so many opiate painkillers that patients called it Candy Land — triggered a second phase.Clancy, the VA interim undersecretary for health, also said the federal Drug Enforcement Administration is conducting its own investigation.Meanwhile, Clancy said the VA is rolling out a new opiate management tool.“We are not waiting for these investigations to be wrapped up to make improvements,” she said.The VA launched two investigations at the end of January after a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting detailed unusually high levels of opiate prescription by providers there and retaliation against those who spoke out.Clancy said the DEA has previously investigated the Tomah facility but to her...

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Local school districts are bracing for the impact of proposed reductions in student aid that are contributing to anticipated budget deficits and forcing schools to look at cuts.Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed biennial budget includes a $150 reduction in per pupil aid for the 2015-16 school year – a factor superintendents fear could have short- and long-term ramifications for districts, staff and programming.“It is scary for us to look at because it would increase our deficit,” said Alma Center-Humbird-Merrillan Superintendent Paul Fischer. “We’re very concerned, especially with the long-term effect.”The governor’s proposal would create an $88,500 loss in aid for AC-H-M, $118,050 at Melrose-Mindoro and a projected $272,000 reduction for Black River Falls. The proposed reduction is mitigated slightly for AC-H-M, which would receive about $37,000 additional dollars through an proposed increase in sparsity aid, funds intended for certain small, rural school districts.Black River Falls already was anticipating a possible $292,000...

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