Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013 -- 5:07 a.m.
MULTI-FATALITY CRASH-MARATHON COUNTY
3 killed in crash on slick Marathon County highway
WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) -- Authorities say three people were killed and two others were injured in a two-vehicle crash near Wausau.
Marathon County sheriff's officials say a vehicle with four occupants slid across the centerline in the town of Maine about 8:30 a.m. Thursday and struck a second vehicle broadside. Three people in the first vehicle were killed. A fourth passenger and the driver of the second vehicle were taken to Aspirus Wausau hospital.
Sheriff's Lieutenant Steve Krueger says the State Patrol is working on reconstructing the accident.
WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT
DOA: No record of extra security for Wis. justice
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Officials with Governor Scott Walker's administration say they can't find any evidence corroborating state Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's claims that state Capitol Police set up extra security to protect her from a fellow justice.
Bradley wrote in a memo released Wednesday that Capitol Police devised a special security plan to help protect her and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson from Justice David Prosser in March 2011. Bradley wrote she and Abrahamson felt Prosser was prone to temper tantrums and was growing more agitated. Prosser allegedly placed his hands around Bradley's throat during an argument in her office in June of that year.
Walker's administration runs the Capitol Police. Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis says she can find no record any security plan was ever implemented for Bradley and Abrahamson.
FOSTER CARE ACCUSATIONS
Wis official says regulatory loophole causes fraud
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin state official says a Middleton foster care company's alleged fraud was caused by a lack of financial oversight.
State Department of Children and Families officials told the Senate health committee on Thursday that the company's unusual expenses reports caught their attention in November 2011, when several counties reported missing the company's expenses reports.
The state says foster care companies used to set their own service rates and submit expenses to counties, but now the department can determine their rates and audit their expenses after legislators passed regulations in 2010.
The department says Community Care Resources Inc. has to pay back more than $6 million it allegedly overcharged by next Friday.
Community Care's attorney is disputing the allegations in a letter to the committee.
Minn. gay marriage supporters rally at Capitol
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Hundreds of gay marriage supporters packed Minnesota's Capitol rotunda as they start a push for its legalization by the Legislature.
No official count of Thursday's crowd was immediately available but it appeared to easily exceed 1,000 people. Speakers included DFL lawmakers and religious leaders who say last fall's statewide defeat of a constitutional gay marriage ban cleared the way to repeal the existing state law that bars same-sex couples from marrying.
Governor Dayton restated his support for same-sex marriage rights in his State of the State speech, and DFL legislative leaders have been increasingly open to the prospect of taking up the issue later in the current session.
Gay marriage foes say the ban's defeat doesn't prove widespread support for legalizing it. They plan their own Capitol rally March 7th.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER-CLEAN UP
USDA to spend $59 million on Miss. River clean up
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it's spending another $59 million this year on an initiative that works with farmers and other landowners to reduce pollution in the Mississippi River basin.
The agency says the new funding raises its total investment in the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds initiative to about $289 million since 2010.
The initiative works with farmers and landowners to encourage voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality, restore wetlands, enhance wildlife habitat and sustain agricultural profitability.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says in a statement to The Associated Press that the program is an example of how voluntary conservation practices in small watersheds can help improve a larger river system by reducing sediment and nitrogen runoff.
The USDA plans to issue an official announcement later today.
POTATO CHIP FLAVOR CONTEST
2 Wis. natives finalists in chip flavor contest
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Two Wisconsin natives are competing for a $1 million prize for Frito-Lay's new potato chip flavor.
Karen Weber-Mendham of Land O' Lakes came up with cheesy garlic bread. She was inspired by her kids' love of garlic bread whenever the family goes to an Italian restaurant.
Also competing is Brookfield native Christina Abu-Judom, who now lives in Phoenix. She chose chicken and waffles as her flavor because her 13-year-old nephew loves them.
Weber-Mendham and Abu-Judom are among three finalists out of 3.8 million entrants in the Frito-Lay "Do Us a Flavor" contest. Entrants suggested flavors that would be transformed into actual potato chips, packaged and sold to customers.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the winner will be chosen by voters on Facebook, Twitter or by text until May 4th.