Tiffany, committee hear testimony on mining moratorium repeal; Walker noncommittal on supportSubmitted: 09/07/2017
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Tiffany, committee hear testimony on mining moratorium repeal; Walker noncommittal on support
WISCONSIN - In Wisconsin, miners last dug into deposits of copper, lead, and zinc 20 years ago.

That's when the open-pit Flambeau Mine in Ladysmith closed.

Nineteen years ago, the state put into place a partial mining moratorium, making opening that kind of mine much more difficult.

State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) wants to pull back some of those mining restrictions. Tiffany hosted a public hearing of the Senate Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry Committee in Ladysmith on Thursday.

"Anyone, anyone who actually cares about our planet and our environment should be clamoring to have these materials mined here," testified Lucas Vebber of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

"I do not want this bill to be passed, because it will greatly increase the chances of water pollution in many areas of our state," said Rusk County farmer Al Manson.

The hearing lasted hours, and featured several speakers on both sides of the issue.

"I really think that we have gone back and listened," Tiffany said. "Of course, that's why we're here today, to hear people's perspectives."

The bill would get rid of the current law on sulfide mining. The law requires companies interested in mining minerals called sulfides--most commonly, copper, lead, and zinc--to show examples of similar American or Canadian mines that have operated without causing surface or groundwater issues.

Gov. Scott Walker wouldn't say whether he supported a repeal of the mining moratorium. We spoke with him in Three Lakes on Thursday.

"If there's any state in the nation that should be able to do safe and environmentally sound mining, it should be the Badger State," Walker said. "We have a proud tradition when it comes to mining. It's a key part of why we're such a strong manufacturing state. It would do well to continue to improve the economy in northern Wisconsin. But we also need to make sure it's done in a way that's both safe and environmentally strong."

Tiffany's mining bill is still in its early stages. It wouldn't impact proposed iron ore mines, like the one in the Penokee Hills. A 2013 law already removed the moratorium from those mines.

Click the link below for the original, more in-depth, story on the proposal.

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Tiffany seeks repeal of state's mining moratorium law

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STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point Police are investigating an armed robbery.

Around 6 a.m. Sunday morning, police and Portage County Sheriff Deputies responded to a report of an armed robbery at the R Store in the 5400 block of HWY 10 E in Stevens Point. Police say during the initial investigation, they determined an armed suspect displayed a weapon and took money from the store.

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PELICAN LAKE - Tribal members from across Wisconsin held a Deep Winter Camp to pass on parts of their cultures.
Members from several different tribes wanted to give kids the chance to experience a piece of their culture.
They hope the camp encourages younger members to keep traditions going and never forget where they came from.
"They're going to be the next teachers they're good kids and we all love every kid that came here and spent time with us. They all learned something and they'll take it back and teach others," said Lac du Flambeau Band Vice Chairman John Johnson Sr.

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CONOVER - Hundreds of people gathered in Conover to celebrate all things winter. On Saturday the fifth annual Northwoods Blizzard Blast was held. 

There were horse drawn sleigh rides, sledding, giant ski races, and plenty of other winter activities.

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CRANDON - Forest County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Justice was justified in shooting and killing 31-year-old Brandon Cude on Jan. 4, Forest County District Attorney Chuck Simono ruled Friday.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice released the results of its investigation in the case, and Simono's decision, Friday afternoon.

The DOJ documents detail how Cude swung a shotgun at Justice at close range. The deputy had just learned Cude had felony warrants against him, and Justice was trying to arrest Cude. Justice fired four shots on the scene, a rural road south of Crandon.

"He didn't get a shot off?" a fellow officer asked Justice after the shooting.

"No. He tried, though. Pulled that sucker out and pointed it right at me," Justice replied in an exchange recorded on a body camera.

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EAGLE RIVER - Vilas County officers can now respond to active shooter calls better prepared.

All deputies and patrol offices now have access to steel-plated body armor, something only the Vilas County SWAT Team had before.

"We want to make sure our staff are fully protected," said Vilas County Sheriff's Office Captain Gerard Ritter. "I never want to see anything happen to any one of my staff. And we should outfit them with the protection they need."

Before the new body armor, Ritter said officers and deputies only had access to soft body armor.

"The weave material is designed to stop or slow down a projectile," said Ritter.

Officers will still wear the soft-bodied armor every day, but in active shooter situations, officers can now essentially double up on protection, protection once only offered to the SWAT Team.

"There has been an increase in active shooter incidences across the United States," said Ritter.

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RHINELANDER - Police think a Rhinelander woman met with a hitman on Valentine's Day to have her husband killed. 

Megan Danielczak, 27, ended up giving a down payment to an undercover agent with the Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation. 

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RHINELANDER - Police think an Oneida County man downloaded hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls using a private chatroom.

During Danial Smith's preliminary hearing Friday, Smith's attorney asked if police had any way of knowing it was his client who downloaded the more than 700 photos.

The state Department of Justice learned a computer near Rhinelander downloaded the pictures in late 2016 thanks to a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  The internet protocol (IP) addresses from the downloads were linked to Smith's home on County C in the town of Stella.

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