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Supreme Court hears challenge to partner registrySubmitted: 10/24/2013
Supreme Court hears challenge to partner registry
Story By Associated Press

MADISON - Conservative attorneys are trying to persuade the Wisconsin Supreme Court to wipe out the state's domestic partner registry.

Members of the conservative group Wisconsin Family Action filed a lawsuit in 2010 alleging the registry violates a 2006 state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage or anything substantially similar.

The registry grants same-sex couples a host of legal rights.

Austin Nimocks is an attorney for the group.

He told the justices during oral arguments Wednesday the qualifications to get married and get on the registry are substantially similar and the registry mimics a married relationship.

Christopher Clark, an attorney for Fair Wisconsin, the state's largest gay rights group, counters the registry doesn't come close to marriage.

He says marriage is a civil contract that comes with obligations that the registry doesn't require.

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NORTHWOODS -
Blood centers across the country saw thousands of cancelled blood drives and donations due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Community Blood Center of Wisconsin initially lost more than 700 units of blood the last two weeks but donations are now on the rise. 

"There's always going to be a need for blood whether we are in a pandemic or not," said Community Blood Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Todd Straus.

Blood donations immediately halted with the rise of Coronavirus cases. Turns out, donating is one of the best ways to help out.

"We were looking at a really big shortage. In response we had to put out a big plea to our donors in the community to try and get in blood donors and I am pleased to say the community response has been wonderful," Straus said.

The local Community Blood Center donation surge was so large the blood centers started scheduling blood donation appointments two weeks out so supply stays stable.

"People are good-hearted individuals, especially in our state. Everyone wants to help out. It's just usually we don't think about it at the time but once we put out the message everyone responded greatly," Straus said.

With the high number of donors during the COVID-19 Pandemic, safety standards rose too.

"We've spaced out our appointment slots, making sure we don't have groups of people at the front door," Straus said.

"Everyone is spaced out from a time standpoint and we've also spaced people out physically in our donor centers so we can make sure the six-feet rules are in place," Straus said.

What's also important right now is that donors who have scheduled an appointment, to keep it.

"We know the need is there but it's not just going to be there today. It's going to be there in two weeks as well," Straus said.

The CBC hopes people remember that need for blood is year-round and there is no alternative way of getting this life-saving treatment. 

"I think people are looking for something to do to help. It's really hard to figure out what you can do to help when you have to stay in your home and this is something we are allowed to do. We are an essential community resource that we need to have. Blood donors have to come out and donate blood, we have no substitute for blood donors," Straus said.

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WISCONSIN - Gov. Tony Evers issued his "Safer at Home" order on March 24, but according to a recent survey by Unacast.com, Wisconsinites received a mediocre grade when it comes to social distancing.

The interactive map breaks down the entire nation on a county-by-county basis and assigns a letter grade for how well people appear to be practicing social distancing. 

According to the data firm company, Wisconsin received the grade of "D" after studies show that residents of Wisconsin only cut down their travel by about 19%.

In a blog post by CEO and Co-founder Thomas Walle: "If we don't take these measures, tens of millions will be infected, many will die, along with anybody else that requires intensive care, because the healthcare system will have collapsed."

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RHINELANDER - A local grocery chain is now getting some help to sanitize its carts and baskets. 

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THREE LAKES - While schools across the state are closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty and staff at the Three Lakes School District work hard to keep the student-body well-fed.

"We feed kids here," said Food Service Director Tina Halverson. "That's what I've done for 20 years. Now we're just doing it a little differently."

Staff deliver breakfasts and lunches to students around the district by bus.

"We have runners, we have packers, we have assemblers, we have extra helpers," said Halverson. "We have it down to a really good system right now."


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RHINELANDER - Oneida County Health Department Director Linda Conlon confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Oneida County. The individual is in their 20s with a known history of travel. According to Conlon, the patient has been compliant with instructions from health officials and is currently in isolation. 

We will have more details as they are made available by the county.

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RHINELANDER - The owner of a Rhinelander t-shirt shop is reminding people to support local businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

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ONEIDA CO. - Friday, Gov. Tony Evers called on the State Legislature to send an absentee ballot to every Wisconsin voter ahead of the April 7 Presidential Primary. However, Republican state leaders say the plan is simply not feasible.

About 1,400 absentee ballots were requested in Oneida County during the 2016 presidential primary. This year, that number has jumped to 4,000, as more people are looking to avoid voting in person.

Next Thursday, April 2, is the last day to request an absentee ballot from your municipal clerk. Oneida County Clerk Tracy Hartman encourages people to request it earlier than that. Under current laws, the ballot must return to the polling location by election day, on April 7.

"If you wait till April 2nd to request it," said Oneida County Clerk Tracy Hartman. "And if something happens with the mail and its delayed a day, your ballot may not get there. So we're encouraging everybody to get their requests in as quick as possible."

You can request an absentee ballot by going to MyVote.wi.gov. For now, there will still be in-person voting, despite the Safer at Home order.


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