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Wisconsin Legislature appeals absentee ballot rulingSubmitted: 09/23/2020
MADISON - The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature on Wednesday appealed a federal court ruling that allows for absentee ballots to be counted up to six days after the Nov. 3 presidential election in the battleground state.

The appeal was expected after Monday's highly anticipated court ruling in favor of Democrats and their allies. The judge even put his ruling on hold for seven days in anticipation of a quick appeal.

Wisconsin law requires absentee ballots to be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day. But Democrats argued that given challenges posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, along with the anticipated large number of absentee ballots, the deadline ought to be extended. U.S. District Judge William Conley agreed to the extension in Monday's ruling.

The Legislature's attorneys said in a court filing Wednesday that they plan to ask the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put the ruling on hold pending appeal. The case is expected to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2016, the presidential race was decided in Wisconsin by less than 1 percentage point - fewer than 23,000 votes. Wisconsin is viewed by many as a potential tipping point state this election for either President Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden.


Story By: Associated Press
Photo By: U.S. Air Force

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 LOCAL NEWS

WAUSAU - The 34-year-old man accused of attempting to meet young girls online for sex was formally charged Tuesday in Marathon County Circuit Court with trafficking of a child, after being arrested on September 21. Osterman was arrested in Oneida County and transferred to Marathon County Jail.

On September 21, the arrest is a result of a two year investigation conducted by the Oneida County Sheriff's Office and the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force.

Marathon County Judge Suzanne O'Neil set a $50,000 cash bond for Osterman, during court there were some disagreements on whether to issue a signature bond or a cash bond. Runde said Osterman faces a charge in Arizona of "public sexual indecency". Runde said the risk of flight for Osterman is very high, so a cash bond is appropriate instead of a signature.

Assistant District Attorney Davis Runde said the state requested a higher amount cash bond due to the strength of the case.

"His actions have at least crossed state lines into Illinois and on the eve of his arrest the defendant traveled back from Minnesota," said Runde. "At approximately 3 O'clock in the morning there have been well over 100 cyber tips relayed to the investigative team in which the defendant attempts to obtain a child for the purpose of having sex."

These agencies received Cyber Tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding messages that were being intercepted on the internet from a person looking to have sexual contact with a child. During the investigation, Osterman attempted to obtain a child for the purpose of having sex with that child. 

Four search warrants were served in Oneida County on September 21, 2020 as part of the investigation. 

According to the criminal complaint, dating back to January 2018, investigators believe Osterman used an alias and attempted to meet a young girl for sex using the social networking service, MeetMe. Per the criminal complaint public wi-fi had been used, the identity of the user could not be determined.

According to the complaint, at the time, the user had suggested meeting an underage girl, but later stated it was a joke, when the recipient said they'd call the police.

Osterman's criminal complaints shows similar request at various times over the two year period until June 2020. Osterman owns internet service provider Northwoods Connect, which serves Wisconsin's Northwoods. According to the complaint, Osterman told investigators anyone of his 400 customers could be the suspect, but there was no way to track one specific customer to the IP address when the detective attempted to track the source of the messages.

According to the complaint, in February 2020, Osterman's vehicle was seen near one of the several W-Fi locations that he often used. Per the complaint a Rhinelander police officer asked Osterman what he was doing there for several hours, Osterman replied he was the owner of Northwoods Connect and was testing the internet speed of his competitors.

Per the complaint, investigators later installed a GPS device on his vehicle in April and say they matched his location to the source of the messages.

According to the complaint, in May Osterman is accused of attempting to meet a 9-year-old at a motel in Tomahawk, per the complaint Osterman never showed up and the meet up turned out to be fake.

On June 8th, multiple agencies, including the state Department of Criminal Investigations, set up an operation to meet up with Osterman. The GPS locator put his car at the park in Marathon County where he was supposed to meet up with the under-cover agent who told Osterman she could get him a 9-year-old girl.

The complaint says Osterman walked around the park but never met up with the agent, even while they continued to exchange messages.

Osterman's arrest was a collaborate effort between the Oneida County Sheriff's Office and the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force. The Tomahawk Police Department, the Rhinelander Police Department, the Wausau Police Department and the Marathon County Sheriff's Office also assisted with the investigation.

His cash bond is set at $50,000. If he posts bond:
  1. Allowed no contact with children under 18.
  2. No leaving the state of Wisconsin. 
  3. No use of internet capable devices.
  4. Turn in his passport to the Marathon Co. Sheriffs Office.
Osterman will appear in court again on Indigency hearing on September 28 and again on September 30 for a preliminary hearing.

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RHINELANDER - Tuesday is "National Voter Registration Day" across the country.

For many young voters, this could be a milestone year--their first election able to vote.

Jared Arno just began his senior year at Rhinelander High School. Besides his studies, he's thinking about the upcoming election too.

"I am really excited to vote," he said.

For most "Gen Z" voters, this will be their first time casting a presidential ballot. And they'll likely be getting their information in different ways than older voters.

"I would see lots of tweets on Twitter about a lot of major candidates that I like to follow," said Arno. "So I based my decision off of that."

Important issues for younger voters are different too.

"I don't share a whole lot of the same opinions as a lot of other people," said Arno. "I'm personally more concerned about the environment, not so much social issues."

Annabel Ernst is also a senior at RHS.

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Equine Assisted Therapy GroupSubmitted: 09/22/2020

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WINCHESTER -

Scholl Community Impact Group in Winchester offers equine assisted therapy.


Director Lenelle Scholl, started Blazing A New Trail Autism Support Group in 2009 to increase children's physical and social skills. Student's from Rhinelander to Three Lakes travel to the facility to receive therapy and learn how to ride. According to Scholl, the connection between horse and human can build a really close bond.


"The movement of the horse stimulates connections that really no one can explain," says Scholl. The movement of the horse, and each horse is built differently like we are and we move differently and each horse makes a different connection with the students.


The program doesn't only accommodate students with disabilities but the program is bully friendly. Kids that have a difficulty communicating will walk out of here talking, kids that don't understand why bullying is not okay will build some sensitivity.


The program has about 30 volunteers and the care extended is unmatched. 


"We have about 30 volunteers from all walks of life. No one in our group gets paid. My instructors don't get paid, I don't get paid, nobody gets paid," says Scholl. We're there because we want to make a difference in these kids' lives.


Anyone who is interested in the program can sign up or if you simply want to learn how to ride, they're always available.





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MADISON - Faced with soaring coronavirus cases across Wisconsin, particularly on college campuses, Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday extended a statewide mask mandate until Nov. 21.

The order, which has been in effect since August, was scheduled to expire on Monday. Evers extended the order even as his authority to issue a previous mandate is being challenged by conservatives in court.

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 REGIONAL NEWS

LOUISVILLE - A Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for the killing of Breonna Taylor during a drug raid gone wrong, with prosecutors saying Wednesday two officers who fired their weapons at the Black woman were justified in using force to protect themselves.

The grand jury instead charged fired Officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into Taylor's neighbors' homes during the raid on the night of March 13. The FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in the case.

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UNITED STATES - The death toll in the U.S. from the coronavirus has topped 200,000, a figure unimaginable eight months ago when the scourge first reached the world's richest nation.


That's according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University, based on figures from state health authorities. The real number of dead is thought be much higher, in part because many COVID-19 deaths, especially early on, were probably ascribed to other causes.


The number of dead in the U.S. is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. It is roughly equal to the population of Salt Lake City or Huntsville, Alabama.

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MADISON - A judge refused Monday to reinstate a wetlands permit for a $75 million frac sand operation in Monroe County.

Atlanta-based Meteor Timber has been working for four years to gain permission to build a frac sand plant and rail loading facility on a property that includes a hardwood swamp. The DNR under then-Gov. Scott Walker granted the company a permit to fill 16.25 wetland acres in 2018.

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MADISON, WIS. - Former Vice President Joe Biden plans to campaign Monday in northeast Wisconsin for his second visit to the battleground state in two weeks.

Biden's campaign announced Sunday that the Democratic presidential nominee would be campaigning in Manitowoc, a city of about 32,000 that's on the shores of Lake Michigan about 80 miles north of Milwaukee. Biden did not immediately release any additional details about the visit.

The stop comes two weeks after Biden made his first visit to Wisconsin as the nominee. Biden on Sept. 7 went to Kenosha in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. His stop there came two days after President Donald Trump also came to Kenosha, where he thanked police for their response to sometimes violent protests.

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