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Sunday's State News

(4/1/12) Here are the stories:

The big Mega Millions prize wasn’t won in Wisconsin, but three tickets sold in this state were good for 250 thousand dollars each.  The Wisconsin Lottery says those tickets were sold at locations in Eau Claire, Richfield and Walworth.  There were another 13 tickets worth 10 thousand dollars sold in the state.  How busy were lottery ticket sellers?  More than six million dollars worth of tickets were sold Friday alone.  Three lottery tickets sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland will split the record-setting 640 million dollar jackpot.


Relatively little snow this past winter has set the stage for a dangerous wildfire season in northwestern Wisconsin.  Experts say it could be one of the worst in several years.  Add in the thousands of trees downed in a windstorm last July, now dry as tinder, and conditions are ripe for forest fires.  The Department of Natural Resources says it has doubled the number of tanker airplanes based at Solon Springs and Siren.  Firefighters worry they will have a hard time getting heavy equipment into the area where the fallen timber is located, so the planes will be needed even more than usual to drop water on a fire.  


Public hearings are next, before a plan by Wisconsin wildlife officials can be implemented.  The state Department of Natural Resources board approved the idea to remove 16 species from the state’s endangered species list.  While removing those 16, eight new ones would be added to the list.  New species on the endangered list would include the black tern and the upland sandpiper.  The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation opposes the changes because the agency didn’t consult outside experts and didn’t consider any new plants for listing as endangered.


Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca says he needs to focus winning control of the Wisconsin Assembly for his Democratic Party.  Barca says that’s why he isn’t going to run for governor.  He posted a note on his Facebook page yesterday saying he appreciates the support he has received from people ahead of the recall election aimed at Governor Walker.  But, he says he has a different focus.  Barca says it’s just as important to win majorities in both the Senate and Assembly as it is to re-occupy the governor’s office.  Four Democrats have already indicated they plan to run for governor.


Defending its interests in three high-profile lawsuits last year has cost the city of Kenosha almost 600 thousand dollars.  Defending itself against a lawsuit filed by Bear Development over a low-income housing project cost 360 thousand dollars.  Another 215 thousand dollars was spent to defend the city in a fight over an election map.  A case over unpaid health services cost another nine thousand.  Those figures were released last week after the Kenosha County Supervisor made an open-records request.


Wisconsin wildlife officials say warmer temperatures this week may increase sturgeon spawning around Shawano.  Cold weather has slowed things down recently.  Though water temperatures at the Shawano dam were in the mid-40s late last week, they are expected to start warming up.  Sturgeon prefer to spawn when water temperatures are in the mid-50s.  Those giant prehistoric fish make their annual trip through the Lake Winnebago system, then up the Wolf River to spawn, usually starting the last week of April.  The mild winter this year led them to start the trip last week.


March ended chilly and cloudy, but it was an unseasonably warm month.  Six record high temperatures were set, including the warmest day ever recorded in Milwaukee on a March day – 84 degrees on March 21st.  Madison’s 83-degree reading that day also set a record.  Normally, high temperatures on that day would be in the mid-40s.  Today’s highs are going to range from the mid-60s in the southeast to the 70s further west in Wisconsin.  


A federal grand jury is adding to the list of charges against a Washington state man accused of sending threatening letters to members of Congress.  The envelopes contained a white powder.  Christopher Lee Carlson now faces 18 felony charges.  The list of charges grew longer when he was accused of sending threatening messages to offices of several Republicans, including U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.  Carlson returns to federal court in Portland next Friday.  All the letters were postmarked in Portland.  Tests for toxic substances were negative.  The letters were first reported in February.





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