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U.S. Olympian Kenny Bednarek waves to the crowd at the Aquafest parade. His mom, Mary Ann, shown sitting in the back of the car on the left, picked him up at the airport in Minneapolis on Saturday evening as a surprise for his sister, Mary Alys, who is sitting to the right, on her birthday weekend. She said it was the best birthday gift ever. Teachers, friends, neighbors and community residents greeted the athlete after the parade at a Meet and Greet at the Veterans Memorial City Park after which he headed back to the airport, destination Orlando, Florida, where he is in training. View more photos from Aquafest on B4 and at

Rising gas prices fueling concern
  • Updated

Gas prices are going up, forcing people to adapt and feel the pain for others who may not have the fortune to easily ride the rising tide.

On Saturday average national prices rose to $5.004, according to AAA, and analysts say they are likely to go higher. The surge is attributed primarily to the recovery from the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

One Rice Lake family already is changing their driving habits to compensate for their dollars flowing into the gas tank.

Tina Rodriguez said she put $82 into her husband’s truck on Monday, and they are curtailing their normal and summer travel plans.

“We had planned a trip to go up to Minong to go float the river,” she said. “We’re like, you know maybe we should go to the beach here. Things are like that.”

Rodriguez was thankful she had a vehicle that took the lower priced E85 flex fuel. Still, she is considering walking to work despite the inconvenience it will cause.

“But every little bit helps,” she said.

Joseph Sobotka and his wife, a retired couple who live in Birchwood, are filling a slight pinch, and they make sure to hit all of their appointments and stores that are necessary in one trip.

Sobotka worried more about people on fixed incomes or those who had little cash to spare. While in rehab, he said he meets many people who are unable to even afford medicine.

“This is just terrible for people,” he said.

Gas prices are not expected to ease anytime soon unless there’s an unexpected development. There’s not much that can be done by the government, and average national gas prices could surge above $6 by August, according to JPMorgan.

Wisconsin Public Radio contributed to this story.

Child sex sting results in felony charges
  • Updated

A man from Rochester, Minnesota, has been charged in Barron County Circuit Court with attempted second-degree sexual assault of a child as well as one other felony after police say he tried to meet with a girl he believed was not yet 16 years old.

Jason M. Bowers, 42, was charged with two felonies — attempted second-degree sexual assault and using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime — on June 6.

According to the criminal complaint:

Cumberland Police Chief Heather Wolfe saw an ad on Doublelist, a website similar to Craigslist personals, from a man who said he was a married professional “looking to be discreet, daddy role for a little to take care of.” She responded, pretending to be a young girl, and the two started chatting on Kik.

At one point during the chats, Wolfe said she was almost 16.

The defendant told Wolfe he wanted to come up to Cumberland to see her. Wolfe replied they could meet at Islander Park. He responded that it’s a small town and he did not want to meet somewhere in public where people would see them. The police chief told him they could go to the park or her nearby apartment. The defendant also asked Wolfe is she was on birth control and was STD free.

Bowers arrived in Cumberland, and Wolfe arrested him with help from officers and DCI agents. He was taken into custody without incident.

If convicted of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, Bowers faces a fine up to $100,000, imprisonment for up to 40 years, or both. A conviction on a charge of attempted second-degree sexual assault carries a fine of up to $50,000, imprisonment up to 20 years, or both.

Bowers next appears in court on Sept. 2 for his arraignment. He remains free on a $2,500 cash bond.


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