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Theft of election signs reported

Reports that a number of election signs have been stolen in the local area have been received by the Price County Review in recent weeks.

Steve Gustafson, chair of the Price County Democratic Party, told the Review that he is aware of eight separate incidents with 10 signs stolen and two taken down before the property owner scared off the would-be thief.

Chair of the Price County Republican Party Alan Barkstom reported over a half dozen signs for Republican candidates that have been stolen from yards. Barkstrom said the fervor of sign theft really picks up during the homestretch of presidential elections. He asked that people stop infringing upon free speech.

Sheriff Brian Schmidt is reminding citizens to respect others' right to political

expression, and warns that individuals who damage or steal signs may face charges of trespassing, vandalism, or theft.

"Even if you think it's just a sign, this is an issue," Schmidt told the Review. "Whether it's a Republican or a Democratic sign, we're asking people to respect others' property."

The Sheriff's Office has received a variety of reports of stolen signs, but said that the incidents are not under active investigation since there is not enough information to do so.

Price County saw a similar rash of stolen political signs during the 2016 presidential election, and Schmidt noted that some of those instances were the work of kids. In this election season, Schmidt said the incidents seem random but not much is known.

If someone observes a sign being stolen or vandalized, Schmidt recommended they attempt to get a license plate number if possible and report it to their local law enforcement agency.

If someone is caught in the act of stealing or vandalising a sign, the resulting charges will largely depend on the wishes of the property owner, according to Schmidt. Some property owners may wish to press charges, while others are willing to let the offending individual off with a warning.


Some neighboring counties seeing COVID cases climb

After a July surge in new coronavirus cases, the number of people testing positive has slowed in Price County. As of Tuesday morning, there were two active cases in the county, with 32 people now recovered and no deaths, according to the county health department.

In neighboring Sawyer County, case numbers have skyrocketed in recent weeks, totaling 160 cases as of this week with 31 active.

To the east, Oneida County is also seeing a large number of cases, though with a much larger population. Oneida reported Monday six new cases, bringing its total positive count to 213 with 21 people in self-isolation and six people hospitalized.

The Taylor County Health Department has not directly reported new virus cases for several days, but the state Health Department shows there have been 104 confirmed cases and three deaths as of Tuesday morning in that county.

Vilas County reported three additional cases over the weekend on Monday, bringing its total to 106 cases with 32 active, 74 recovered, and one death.

Ashland County reported one additional case on Monday to bring its total to 41, with 24 patients recovered and one death. The Ashland County Health Department has also started reporting businesses that may have lead to increased risk of exposure on certain dates, information most northern counties have not shared.

Iron County has now totaled 123 confirmed cases, with 101 of those recovered, and one death. In Rusk County, there have been 24 confirmed cases and one death.

Wisconsin confirmed 266 new cases on Monday to bring the state total to 75,603 since the beginning of the pandemic. Just over 9% of cases are currently considered active, and 89% of cases have recovered. The state death toll due to COVID-19 stands at 1,122, or 1.5% of confirmed cases.

Wisconsin tax collections nearly on target despite virus

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin tax collections for the fiscal year that ended June 30, more than four months into the coronavirus pandemic, were nearly on par with projections made before the COVID-19 outbreak.

The state Department of Revenue announced Monday that tax collections were down $112.6 million, or 0.6%, compared with projections made before the pandemic hit, a bit of good budget news as the state braces for shortfalls due to the recession fueled by business closures and doubledigit unemployment.

The $17.5 billion in taxes collected was 1.1% higher than what was brought in the previous year.

Co-chairs of the Legislature's budget committee urged caution, saying the true impact of COVID-19 won't be felt until next year. State Sen. Alberta Darling and state Rep. John Nygren, both Republicans, said the next budget will be "challenging," but said because of budget reserves that reach nearly $762 million the state will be able to deal with the problem without raising taxes.

Gov. Tony Evers has already ordered state agencies to cut $320 million from their current budgets. He will submit a new two-year state budget early next year for the Legislature to consider. That plan will be voted on likely in the summer of 2021 and cover July 2021 through June 2023.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)