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Spending approved to enhance election securitySubmitted: 04/18/2018
Spending approved to enhance election security
Story By Associated Press

MADISON - The Wisconsin Elections Commission has approved moving ahead with spending some of a $7 million federal grant to hire additional staff and enhance security protections ahead of the fall elections.

The nearly $7 million grant under the Help American Vote Act comes after Wisconsin was identified as a state that was targeted by Russian hackers during the 2016 election.

Immediate needs to be addressed with some of the money include hiring up to six new staff, including a security trainer and voter registration data specialist, and purchasing multi-factor authentication software to improve security in Wisconsin's voter registration database.

Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen says additional spending may be directed toward needs of local election clerks. He says the commission needs to "think big" about how to spend the money.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

VILAS COUNTY - Two people were sent to the hospital after a rollover crash in Vilas County early Tuesday morning.

At 1:38 am the Vilas County Sheriff's Office got a call of a one-vehicle rollover on Highway 70 near Lake Road in the Town of Washington.

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WASHINGTON D.C. - More than a hundred veterans just wrapped up a once in a lifetime experience. 

The 34th Never Forgotten Honor Flight had an unexpected delay Monday, a surprise meet and greet, and many more unforgettable moments.

From beginning to end the Honor Flight was filled with ceremony and gratitude.

"To see all those hundreds of people applauding us in the [D.C.] airport was the most moving thing," said Vietnam veteran Gill Buettner, who served in the Air Force.

"It seemed like the whole city was there to greet us," said Vietnam veteran Ernest Harris, who served in the Army. 

There was an unexpected stop in Pittsburgh due to bad weather.

"I think we lost about an hour fifteen, an hour and a half there," said Vietnam veteran Larry Anklam, who served in the Air Force. 

But the rest of the day went off without a hitch.

"You get to see some things otherwise we'd never get to see," said Buettner. 

The veterans got to see the Vietnam, Korea, and Air Force memorials among many more. The group also met the founders of the Honor Flight program, who were honored at a wreath laying ceremony. 

"To hear their story, that was special too, and nobody is likely to ever have that opportunity," said Buettner.
It's a day the 103 veterans will never forget.

"It was just super," said Harris. 

They hope all veterans get a chance to experience it.

"If you served, you really do deserve it and you ought to go, and you don't have to be a combat vet, you just have to have helped something along the way," said Buettner. 

Tune into Newswatch 12 at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. for the rest of the week to see stories about a World War II veteran, the one and only female veteran on the flight, and another, who at the last minute, got to bring his grandson along as his guardian.

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PARK FALLS - Last month, Vilas County supervisors rejected the idea of hiring a county administrator.

An administrator would take care of the day-to-day operations of the county. However, surveys showed the board had little interest in that plan.

But the city of Park Falls might want to give a city administrator a try.

"It's just a silly way to run a $6 million enterprise," said Alderman Michael Bablick of Park Falls' system that foregoes a full-time administrator.

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RHINELANDER - Some giant pumpkins are standing out in Rhinelander.
A few are even homegrown.

Glenn Bessey owns Bessey's Meat Market in Rhinelander but that's not all he's known for.

"I belong to Wisconsin Giant Pumpkin Growers," said Bessey. "The biggest pumpkin I ever grew was 680 [pounds] and that was 12 years ago."

Growing his current 380 pound gourd takes a lot more effort than just some fertilizer.

"It pretty much is a full time job," said Bessey.

This year, his pumpkin means a little more to him than just another powerful pumpkin.

"My father has always been growing pumpkins and once he passed away this winter, I got back into growing giant pumpkins," said Bessey.


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RHINELANDER - Every job requires some level of training. That's especially true when your job is to save other peoples' lives.

But even with the desire, becoming an emergency medical responder doesn't happen overnight.

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MERRILL - Someone stole the tires and rims off nine vehicles at a dealership near Merrill this week.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office reports the thefts happened early Monday morning at Stark Automotive along Highway 51.  Surveillance footage shows a white cargo van going into the lot around 1 a.m. on Oct. 15.  The suspects used a device to raise the trucks off the ground.

One of the vehicles slipped off the device, hit the van's bumper, and may have caused damage.

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BARRON - Update:

Authorities say a Wisconsin teenager who has been missing since her parents were found dead in their home isn't a runaway and that they think she's in danger.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said during a media briefing Tuesday that he can't reveal why authorities believe 13-year-old Jayme Closs is in danger because it could compromise the investigation. But he repeated his plea for the public's help in finding her.

Deputies responding to a 911 call found the bodies of 56-year-old James Closs and 46-year-old Denise Closs at around 1 a.m. Monday in their home in the western Wisconsin town of Barron. No cause of death has been released but authorities said gunshots had been fired.

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