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Wisconsin Tribe Expresses Concern on Proposed MineSubmitted: 01/10/2013
Story By Hayley Tenpas


WAUSAU - The leader of the Bad River tribe is concerned for the future of our environment.

He says if the iron mining legislation rejected last year comes back, it will be the obliteration of the Bad River watershed.

Tonight's meeting in Wausau, pointed towards inspiring others to say no to iron mining.
The tribe's concerned toxins like sulfuric acid will leak into nearby water and land.

Iron mining is currently on the minds of many Wisconsin legislators.

But tribe leader Mike Wiggins Jr. says the tribe is also focused and prepared to take action.

"One of the things we have that we're confronted with is the human rights issue of this particular mining company's activities. Essentially disproportionally hurting us, and you know we are prepared to do different things to try and protect ourselves along those lines," said Bad River Tribe leader Mike Wiggins Jr.

Wiggins' concern extends to how future generations will be impacted by mining.

He hopes discussion now can lead to working together to find an economically friendly solution.

"We're looking for co-existence, mutual respect, and an acknowledgement that it's not a sustainable type of project. If you're looking at the ability for us to be living our lives in a good way, moving out 500 years, 1000 years- way beyond the boom and bust economy of extractive industry," said Wiggins Jr.

A vote on a bill to overhaul state mining regulations could happen as soon as March.

If favorable laws pass, supporters say the mine could bring 700 jobs to northern Wisconsin.


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ONEIDA COUNTY - Just over a week ago more than 10 different agencies rushed out to rural western Oneida County for a man threatening to blow up his house.

When crews got there, 60-year-old Kenneth Welsh was sitting on his porch with a long gun, for three hours he held police up in a standoff.

Last week he was charged with attempted first degree homicide among other felonies.

Welsh appeared in court Friday to hear the judge's decision if there's enough evidence in the case against him to move forward.

Ultimately Judge Michael Bloom did decide to move it forward, but not without hearing testimony.

Welsh didn't waive his preliminary hearing because his public defender said there was information she wanted to get on the record.

"He has a right to a preliminary hearing and this is a very serious charge and I wasn't going to waive that," said Welsh's public defender Mary Roth Burns.

For instance, Roth Burns asked Detective Sergeant Chad Wanta, who testified, about Welsh's medical condition during the standoff, since he had been shot in the shoulder. She also asked about Welsh's wife, Mary Butler, who changed her story multiple times. In the criminal complaint, Butler made inconsistent statements about Welsh was drinking and if he pointed a gun at her before she shot him, which investigators concluded was in self defense.

"The wife said he wasn't going to go down without a fight and made it sound like he was really violent," Roth Burns said. "And he basically went down, he never shot, fired a shot anyone, he never made a threat at anyone."

When asked if she thought Welsh went down without a fight, Roth Burns responded, "absolutely."

In the search warrant investigators found several guns, a few loaded, and one semi automatic shotgun. Roth Burns asked if Welsh ever shot at police during the standoff. The detective testifying said no.

The detective also said when crews shot the bean bag rounds at him to try to arrest him, Welsh said, "Just kill me, just kill me, just shoot me."

Roth Burns said there's other evidence she still needs to see. For instance, police flew a drone over the Welsh home. The detective said Welsh aimed at the drone, but not at police.

"There was a drone, I'd like to see video of the drone if that shows him sitting on the steps waiting for law enforcement to arrive," Roth Burns said. "That's not threatening anyone."

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