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Gunman collared after wounding Taylor County deputy; road safety urged as harvest nears; 8 more state stories

Motorists can soon expect to be sharing Wisconsin highways with giant harvest equipment as producers begin combining corn and soybeans. In the past eight years, 25 people have died and hundreds have been hurt in collisions with farm equipment. Submitted photo.

MERRILL -- A 27-year-old gunman shot-and-wounded a Taylor County sheriff's deputy and fled, prompting a three-hour manhunt that ended with his arrest.

The situation began early Sunday evening, when authorities were told that a man wanted for violating a court injunction was hiding at a home near Westboro, a town of 600 people northwest of Wausau, is located on Hwy. 13 between Medford and Phillips.

A stand-off took place, and officials say it ended a short time later when the gunman shot and wounded the deputy. There was no word on how badly the officer was hurt -- but he was able to call the dispatch center in Medford to report his injury, and local residents helped with emergency aid until a Rib Lake ambulance could arrive.

The deputy was taken to an area hospital. Officers from Clark, Marathon, Lincoln, Eau Claire, Chippewa, and Price counties converged to assist Taylor County and Medford officers in the manhunt.

The suspect was arrested around 9:05 p.m. and was taken to the Lincoln County Jail in Merrill.

There was no immediate word on what prompted the suspect to hide, or what triggered the standoff. The state Justice Department and State Patrol are helping local officers investigate.

Region under another heat advisory Monday

SULLIVAN -- It cooled down a bit over the weekend, but another one-day heat wave was in the offing Monday for much of Wisconsin.

The National Weather Service has posted heat advisories from noon to 8 p.m. for 18 counties in southwest and west central Wisconsin, from Polk County southward to the Illinois border.

The counties included in the heat advisories are; Jackson, Monroe, Grant, Richland, Crawford, Vernon, La Crosse, Trempealeau, Buffalo, Polk, Barron, Rusk, St. Croix, Pierce, Dunn, Pepin, Chippewa, Eau Claire.

The Weather Service says the heat index could hit 105 in the advisory area, with actual temperatures in the upper 90's in some places.

A new low pressure system is chugging through the region Monday. Showers and thunderstorms are expected on and off through Tuesday night in most of the state, with temperatures staying well above seasonal norms into tomorrow.

Cooler and drier weather is forecast from Wednesday through the end of the week.

AP: Financing uncertain for a Walker presidencial bid

It appears uncertain at best whether Gov. Scott Walker could get the campaign money he needs to win the presidency in 2016.

The Associated Press says Walker is among a group of Republican hopefuls courting major donors to Romney's failed 2012 White House bid. And according to a report Monday, many Romney donors want to shy away from Walker because of the governor's criticisms of the way Romney ran his campaign a year ago.

That, of course, could change with 38 months to go until the next presidential contest.

The AP notes that it's not too early for all the possible Republican hopefuls to start courting large donations -- even though some, like Walker and Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan, are busy with re-election bids for their current offices in 2014.

Walker and Ryan are both expected to attend a Sept. 23rd fund-raising event at the home of senior Romney donor Woody Johnson, who owns the NFL's New York Jets.

Romney himself recently said that only one or two Republicans have a legitimate shot to win the White House in 2016. He did not name names.

At a recent New Hampshire GOP fund-raiser, Romney urged Republicans to "stay smart" by backing candidates who have the best chance of winning.

With harvest looming, motorists urged to give way to big machinery

Harvest time is coming soon -- and large farm vehicles face a larger risk of getting into crashes with a growing number of non-farmers.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation said there were 1,400 collisions which involved farm machinery in the eight years ending in 2012.

Twenty-five people died in those accidents, and over 700 were injured.

Washington County dairy farmer Ross Bishop must drive up to 13 miles to get to his crops -- and he says it's a risky proposition sometimes. He said some drivers get upset as they try to pass his slow-moving farm vehicle on a two-lane road.

Bishop says he smiles and waves when motorists give what he calls the "one finger salute."

Brown County dairy farmer Mike Gerrits says that when tracks backs up behind him on Highway 57, he'll pull off to another road and let people pass. He says farmers do not try to cause bottle-necks.

State deputy agriculture secretary Jeff Lyon says a lot more people are living in the country -- thus creating more potential for farm-and-non-farm driving conflicts.

Jim Ostrom of the Rosendale Dairy says it's a world economy these days, and many farmers are working nights and Sundays when they didn't have to do so in the past.

These are some of the issues being discussed as a state study group recommends changes in traffic laws involving farm machinery.

The package is getting public hearings before it goes to the full Legislature.

Lawmakers' fall session is off to a slow start

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Legislature is off to a slow start with its fall session.

The full Assembly does not plan to meet at all this month. Its Republican leadership is re-grouping, after Majority Leader Scott Suder took a job with the state Public Service Commission.

The Senate, meanwhile, only has one session scheduled for the month -- that being a week from Tuesday. They're expected to act on a couple of lingering measures -- plus reducing public access to recreational land at Gogebic Taconite's iron ore mine.

Also, leaders of both houses are working behind the scenes to find common ground on tougher drunk driving penalties, and making private voucher schools follow the same standards as public schools.

An Assembly committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on tougher drunk driving penalties which opponents say would cost millions more for prison facilities.

Speaker Robin Vos has told members to focus on something that can pass. Vos also says there's no chance that lawmakers will pass Republican Andre Jacque's second effort to pass a "personhood amendment" -- giving unborn children the same rights as those who've been born. Not even the state's largest pro-life group favors it -- and Vos says it's not going anywhere.

A Senate hearing is planned Wednesday on legalizing raw milk. That might not go anywhere, either, as Gov. Scott Walker says he wants to focus on job creation and worker training.

Attorneys predict lawsuits over state's rejection of same-sex tax returns

MADISON -- Tax attorneys predict lawsuits over Wisconsin's decision not to let same-sex couples file joint income tax returns.

Gay couples were recently allowed to file joint federal returns, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act in June.

On Friday, Wisconsin's Revenue Department told same-sex couples they'll have file a new Schedule-"S," and determine each person's state tax obligation if they claim the new federal joint benefit.

Madison tax attorney Tamara Packard says the Revenue Department has no business making new laws. Laurel Patrick of the Revenue agency said joint tax benefits at the state level would violate Wisconsin's 2006 constitutional ban on gay marriages and civil unions.

For that reason, Milwaukee tax attorney Brian Mahany does not believe the state's decision to keep requiring separate tax obligations would be easy to overturn.

If that's the case, accountant Pete Oettinger of Baraboo says same-sex couples would keep losing out on the state's tax credit for married couples who both work. That credit is up to $480.

Luxemburg man's death considered suspicious

LUXEMBURG -- Police in eastern Wisconsin continue to investigate what might be a suspicious death.

Scott Vandermause, 44, of Luxemburg was found dead outside his parents' home early Sunday morning.

Luxemburg Police say alcohol could have caused the man's death or it could have been some type of crime. Investigators say they'll interview witnesses and look at surveillance video from local taverns, to try and determine where Vandermause was during the 24 hours before his death.

A State Patrol crime scene reconstruction team is expected to help with the investigation.

Luxemburg is in Kewaunee County, part of the Green Bay Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Two dead following Waukesha County crash

NASHOTAH -- Two people were killed after a pair of vehicles collided head-on in Waukesha County. It happened early Sunday afternoon on the Highway 16 expressway in Nashotah, about five miles east of Oconomowoc.

Sheriff's officials said both fatal victims were in an eastbound car that crossed into the opposite lanes, and slammed into an oncoming vehicle.

A man and two children survived the crash. They were taken to Froedtert Hospital in suburban Milwaukee, and officials said at least one of those people was in critical condition.

The victims' names were not immediately released. The accident is still being investigated.

Gun-wielding cyclists suspected in latest Milwaukee homicide

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Police are investigating an apparent murder from Sunday evening.

According to media reports, witnesses saw two men on bicycles riding up to a car and shooting its 19-year-old driver. The car then veered out of control and slammed into a parked vehicle.

WTMJ- TV reported the victim's father confirmed that his son died, but the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's office had not confirmed a homicide victim as of last evening.

Authorities said one man in the motor vehicle was shot in the head and another person was shot in the shoulder.

There was no word of arrests overnight.

Great Lakes cleanup part of U.S., Canadian discussions this week

MILWAUKEE -- Cleaning up the Great Lakes, and restoring habitat, will be the priorities discussed by U.S. and Canadian officials in Milwaukee this week.

"Great Lakes Week" began Monday and runs through Thursday.

Numerous leaders will be on hand from state and local governments, environmental groups, industries, and Indian tribes.

The International Joint Commission, the U.S. and Canadian group that oversees the Great Lakes, is scheduled to meet in Milwaukee this week.

The Council of Great Lakes Industries will join the commission, and the U.S. Areas of Concern. State DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp is scheduled to speak Tuesday at a meeting of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

Steve Dzubay

Steve Dzubay has been publisher at the River Falls Journal and Hudson Star Observer from 1995-2016. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He previously worked as a reporter-photographer at small daily newspapers in Minnesota and is past editor of the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal.