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TOP STORY

2014 brings legal gay marriage to WisconsinSubmitted: 12/20/2014
MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin's top story in 2014 was a historic one, as the state joined the ranks of those that allow gay marriage. But plenty of other headlines are worth remembering from the year that was, including Gov. Scott Walker demonstrating his resilience by winning his third election in four years, the theft of a 300-year-old violin and the disturbing case of the Slender Man stabbing.

SAME SEX MARRIAGE

A federal judge in Madison uncorked same-sex marriage in June when she struck down the state's ban. Gay couples across the state rushed to wed over several days before opponents stopped it temporarily. Four months later, the U.S. Supreme Court re-started it when it rejected appeals from gay marriage opponents in five states including Wisconsin, and hundreds of couples rushed to courthouse to exercise their right to marry.

SLENDER MAN

Much of Wisconsin heard of the spooky character ``Slender Man'' for the first time when he was evoked as an explanation for a horrific attack on a 12-year-old girl. Two of the girl's 12-year-old classmates were accused of stabbing her 19 times in a wooded area in Waukesha in what they said was an attempt to curry favor with the fictional Slender Man. The victim survived her wounds, and the girls were charged with first-degree attempted homicide.

WISCONSIN GOVERNOR

Gov. Scott Walker, after surviving a recall two years earlier, won his second term in November by easily beating former Trek executive Mary Burke. Walker soon confirmed what had long been speculated _ that he would explore a run for president. Meanwhile, Republicans grew their majorities in both the Senate and Assembly.

DOE INVESTIGATION

Walker continued to be dogged by an investigation into whether his campaign during the 2012 recall illegally coordinated with conservative groups. A federal judge in Milwaukee halted the probe in May after a conservative group filed a lawsuit alleging the investigation violated its free speech rights. That ruling was subsequently overturned by an appeals court, but the probe remains on hold after the judge overseeing it quashed subpoenas investigators wanted to issue. This year also saw the release of more than 100,000 pages of emails and other documents collected during a now-closed investigation into activities in Walker's county executive office.

MILWAUKEE PARK SHOOTING

A Milwaukee police officer checking on a man in a downtown park shot the man to death after a struggle in April. Family members said Dontre Hamilton, 31, was schizophrenic but not violent, and challenged the police account of the shooting. Officer Christopher Manney was fired months later after an investigation found what police said was a failure to follow proper procedure. The shooting sparked regular protests, though not on the scale of those in Ferguson, Missouri, over the killing of an unarmed black teen.

VIOLIN THEFT

Two men were accused of using a stun gun on the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra to steal a 300-year-old, $5 million Stradivarius violin. The instrument was missing for nine days before police found it in good condition in a Milwaukee home. One of the men was sentenced him to seven years in prison, the other 3 1/2 years in prison.

MISSING NEWBORN

A Colorado woman was accused of kidnapping her newborn nephew from a Town of Beloit home in February. According to court documents and prosecutors, Kristin Smith took her half-sister's 4-day-old son, Kayden Powell, early on Feb. 5 and then abandoned him in a plastic tote outside an Iowa gas station as police closed in. The boy was found alive and well despite 29 hours in the cold, and Smith was eventually sentenced to 25 years in prison.

FORMER POLICE OFFICER CHARGED

A former West Allis police officer was charged in Kenosha County with the 2012 death of Jenny Gamez, a 19-year-old college student from Cottage Grove, Oregon. Steven Zelich, 52, was also a suspect in the death of a Farmington, Minnesota, woman. The women's bodies were found in June in suitcases dumped about an hour southwest of Milwaukee in Walworth County. Zelich allegedly told investigators that he met the women online and killed them accidentally during sex.

WISCONSIN UNIONS

The fight over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's signature policy achievement, a law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public employees, ended in July with the state Supreme Court declaring it constitutional. Passage of the law in 2011 put Wisconsin at the center of a nationwide battle over union rights and fueled Walker's rise to national prominence.

VOTER ID

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked Wisconsin's voter photo identification law from going into effect less than a month before the Nov. 4 election.

MILWAUKEE ARCHDIOCESE BANKRUPTCY

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee filed its reorganization plan in its bankruptcy case in February, proposing $4 million for an estimated 125 victims of clergy sex abuse _ less than a fourth of those who filed claims. Other victims would receive therapy but no money. Much of the case hinges on a ruling by a federal appeals court in Chicago, which is considering whether a $55 million cemetery fund was properly made off-limits to creditors.

Story By: Associated Press

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 LOCAL NEWS
Truck supply causing challenges getting wood to mills, upfront costs & recession could explain supplySubmitted: 12/19/2014

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LAONA - Northwoods loggers describe business right now as great. KLP Logging and Trucking Owner Kevin Kramer says it's a golden time to get into the business. The Laona business owner says timber prices are high, so is demand, but he's facing issues getting logs to the mills.

Some loggers can't find enough trucks to get their logs from the Northwoods to paper mills. Kramer would love more trucks in the area.

He believes it started in the early 2000s. Kramer says a number of trucks went to the southern U.S. to cash in, and clean up hurricane damage. He says many didn't return.

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Eagle River Groomers prepare to groom snowmobile trails again Submitted: 12/19/2014

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EAGLE RIVER - Snow groomers in Eagle River spend a lot of time on trails. They make sure they're perfect for snowmobilers, but it takes a lot of time and money to make that happen.

"See how flat it is? With these machines that's what we do to get it flattened out. And it does a good job," said Sno-Eagles Trail Boss Tom Tomlanovich.

You can tell Tom Tomlanovich loves his job.

"See how the trail is up here now?" Tomlanovich said.

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Leadership Oneida Co. candidates to provide help, new ideas for local non-profitsSubmitted: 12/19/2014

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RHINELANDER - Northwoods non-profits may struggle to find volunteers, funding, and to stay afloat. A group of people in Oneida County wants to get more involved.

Leadership Oneida County pairs those groups with those people. On Thursday, those groups met to start working towards a common goal.

"We were very pleased to have the group help us and we're anticipating great results again," said Rhinelander Area Food Pantry Executive Director Guy Hansen.

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Camp 10 Ski and Snowboard looking for new Ski Patrol membersSubmitted: 12/19/2014

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RHINELANDER - When it comes to safety on the slopes- you can turn to the National Ski Patrol.

They're on hundreds of ski hills across the country.

Camp 10 in Rhinelander is one of those hills.

The patrol wants you to consider joining.

The ski patrol dedicates its time to keeping skiers safe.

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 REGIONAL NEWS
Humane Society blames lead bullets for bald eagle deathSubmitted: 12/20/2014

MILWAUKEE - One bald eagle has died and another is in serious condition in Wisconsin after ingesting lead from ammunition.

The Dane County Humane Society has treated two bald eagles with lead poisoning in the past two weeks. The birds likely swallowed lead while feeding on deer or other wildlife carcasses that had been shot, or by eating waterfowl that had ingested lead.

The first bald eagle survived only a day after it was brought into a Humane Society facility last week with acute lead poisoning. The Humane Society hopes a second bird found Friday will survive.

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Off-duty bouncer severely beaten in MadisonSubmitted: 12/20/2014

MADISON - An off-duty bouncer at a Madison bar has severe injuries after he was beaten by two customers.

Police say the 21-year-old bouncer at The City Bar was entering the men's restroom early Saturday when he saw two men with a white powdery substance. Police say one of the men ingested the substance.

The bouncer told the men he was going to notify a manager, and he was attacked. The men left with three other males.

Police say the bouncer was taken to a hospital where he was treated for a broken nose, a fractured orbital socket and a facial laceration that required stitches.

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Police arrest Hamilton protesters blocking highwaySubmitted: 12/20/2014

MILWAUKEE - Dozens of demonstrators have been arrested while blocking traffic on Interstate 43 during a march to protest the death of a black man shot by Milwaukee police earlier this year.

Hundreds of protesters blocked traffic during rush hour Friday, calling for charges against officer who shot and killed 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton in April. Officer Christopher Manney shot Hamilton 14 times after a struggle in a downtown park, spurring weeks of protests. Manney was later fired for not following proper procedure.

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UPDATE: Great Lakes wolves back on the endangered species list, DNR: disappointed with wolf decisionSubmitted: 12/19/2014

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MADISON - Wisconsin wildlife officials say they're disappointed a federal judge has decided to place Great Lakes wolves back on the endangered species list.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell's order Friday affects Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The ruling bans further wolf hunting and trapping in those states.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources spokesman Bill Cosh issued a statement Friday evening saying the decision means the state can't authorize anyone to kill a wolf, even wolves discovered in the act of attacking a domestic animal. The statement also said the decision invalidates provisions in Wisconsin law allowing hunters to train dogs to track wolves.

The agency says its disappointed with the ruling and continues to support federal officials' original decision to remove the wolf from the endangered list.

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