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Suddenly, things are looking a whole lot brighter on the jobs front in Wisconsin. The state's labor department says the jobless rates across the state have dropped. Down in all but one of Wisconsin's 72 counties. Down in the 30 largest cities. Down in the state's 12 metro areas. The state's unemployment rate for September is down to 7 percent. In the La Crosse metro area, the jobless rate has dropped to 5.5%, down almost a full percentage point from September of last year. In La Crosse county, the unemployment rate has dipped to 5.3%, the fourth lowest among counties iin the state.
There's some kind of money floating around in local legislative races. The last campaign finance reports before next week's election have been filed. They show the state senate race between democrat Kathleen Vinehout and Republican Ed Thompson especially to be a big money affair. Thompson has outraised the incumbent Vinehout by a wide margin, collecting just shy of 160 thousand dollars this year for the race, and spending every dime of it. Thompson's left with about 12 grand in the bank Vinehout has spent about 125 thousand this year to get re-elected and has about 19 thousand left in the bank. Both candidates have spent the bulk of their money in the last couple of months.
Nick Charles doesn't have much to show for his fundraising efforts. The Republican challenger in Wisconsin's 95th assembly race, in his last report, shows just several hundred dollars in donations and then a big loan to himself to keep the wheels on the campaign wagon. Charles tells us he got a signature loan from a bank for $20 thousand to help him pay for the billboard space he's bought up in La Crosse. But that doesn't show up on his last campaign finance filing. Meanwhile, opponent Jennifer Shilling has been doing steady fundraising throughout the year and seems to have little concern about losing her seat; she's sitting on $60 thousand in her campaign account.
A La Crosse 15 year-old is in hot water after going for a joy ride in a stolen red Cadillac. La Crosse cops busted the high schooler after a short car and foot chase yesterday. They say he nabbed the Caddy from parking lot at a Trane company building. The theft is now part of a larger investigation after the kid told police he got the keys for the car from someone named "Big Mike," though there's no indication yet of who that might be. Police are trying to determine if this car theft is linked to others in the area.
He was out. He went back in. He was out again. Now, Joseph Smith has completed the cycle once more. The guy who tried to kill La Crosse officer Jon Wenger more than four years ago during a traffic stop was recently released from the Mendota state hospital. He's had recurring hallucinations and repeated mental illness problems which medication doesn't seem to solve. He's been locked up again after calling police on Saturday to report shots fired and someone killed at his apartment building on third street. No such incident, police say, actually occurred.