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Man charged in hit and run deaths in Chippewa County also faces charges in Rusk County

The man charged with hitting and killing three Girl Scouts and one of their parents with a truck in early November is also charged in Rusk County for other drug and vehicle-related charges.

Colten R. Treu, 21, of Chippewa Falls, was charged with four drug offenses, including possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and operating with a restricted substance in his blood for a second time.

A preliminary hearing has been set for 2:45 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Rusk County Courthouse.

The charges stem from an incident about a month before the fatalities in Chippewa County in which Treu reportedly rolled a truck in Rusk County. Drugs were found in the vehicle.

Previously, Treu was convicted for drunk driving in Chippewa County after being stopped in late 2014 with blood alcohol content above the legal limit of 0.08 percent but less than 0.15 percent.

Currently, Treu is currently in custody in Chippewa County charged with four counts of homicide by the intoxicated use of a vehicle, four counts of a hit and run involving death, hit and run causing great bodily harm, felony bail jumping and intentionally abusing a hazardous substance.

According to police and witnesses, on Nov. 3 Treu was speeding north on County Road P in his pickup when it veered over the centerline and into a shallow ditch where some of the fourth-graders and the mother were collecting litter as part of an “Adopt-A-Highway” group of 12 walking along both sides of the road.

The collision killed Jayna S. Kelley, 9, and Autumn A. Helgeson, 10, both of Lake Hallie; and Haylee J. Hickle, 10, and her mother, Sara Jo Schneider, 32, both of Lafayette, and seriously injured another 10-year-old girl.

Treu then fled the scene, turning himself in around 5 hours later after the truck was tracked to a garage by the trail of its leaking fluids.

Both Treu and a passenger allegedly told police after the crash that they had been “huffing” chemical vapors from a can of keyboard cleaner prior to going into the ditch.

Treu’s next appearance in court on those charges is a review hearing at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Chippewa County Courthouse.

Chippewa County's most wanted: A list of those with active warrants out for their arrest
Chippewa County's most wanted: A list of those with active warrants out for their arrest

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Making an IMPACT: Grants allow CVTC to expand program geared toward industrial mechanics

Tony Hess of Lake Hallie started looking for something better when he realized he was spinning his wheels at age 23.

“I was job hopping for a while and was at a mediocre job,” he said. “I wanted to go back to school and look for an apprenticeship or something.”

Ray Hardy, 23, of Jim Falls, a 2013 Cadott High School graduate, was in a similar situation. “I had two jobs, farming for a neighbor and working production at the AMPI plant in Jim Falls.”

Both workers found a pathway toward employment improvement through the Industrial Mechanical Technician program at Chippewa Valley Technical College. But there is more to the story of their success than their decisions to enroll in some classes.

It started with some manufacturers talking to people at CVTC about how desperately they need people who know how to maintain, diagnose and repair automated equipment.

“All employers are seeking industrial mechanics for their maintenance operations,” said program director Tim Tewalt. “Manufacturers like Golden Plump, Nestle, Bush Beans and 3M have continued to hire CVTC graduates and the list of companies looking for their next industrial maintenance technicians continues.”

In 2016, CVTC announced it would be taking the lead in a $5 million Department of Labor TechHire grant to be shared with other technical colleges to prepare people for high-growth jobs. CVTC’s $1.7 million local share is being spent over four years to enhance the Industrial Mechanic program under an IMPACT grant that is part of the TechHire grant program.

Working with Workforce Resource, CVTC targeted the 17-29 age group, and unskilled, unemployed or underemployed workers.

“By expanding the Industrial Mechanic program, CVTC advances two parts of its mission — to meet the workforce needs of the region and to improve the lives of students,” said CVTC Dean of Skilled Trades and Engineering Jeff Sullivan. “Many good-paying jobs are available in the field and an expanded program increases opportunities while at the same time filling a need in business and industry.”

“With the complexity and diversity of equipment in our manufacturing plant, we look for skilled technicians that can troubleshoot, maintain and execute improvements,” said Glenn Giesregen, plant engineering manager at 3M in Menomonie. “Today’s manufacturing environment is high-tech, and demands highly trained technicians such as those coming from the Industrial Mechanic program at CVTC.”

When Hess entered the Industrial Mechanic program, he didn’t hesitate to start looking for a job with a company that would let him get started well before his scheduled graduation in May 2020.

“A lot of companies would hire me after I finished, but Allied Dies in Chippewa Falls was willing to hire me right away and financially help with my schooling, too,” Hess said.

Hess started out polishing the dies. “Every now and then they have a mechanic come in, and I’ll shadow him,” he said. “They don’t have an industrial mechanic around, but they were looking to hire one so they didn’t have to outsource.”

Hardy wanted to move into a mechanic’s position at AMPI, but needed either experience or training. “But the maintenance manager was agreeable to me working part time while going to school. I mainly shadow people in maintenance for now.”

For Hardy, it’s a much-needed improvement. “I used to stack 50-pound bags eight hours straight,” he said. “Maintenance is a lot more interesting.”

Not only that, but it could mean a raise of around $5 an hour once he finishes.

Trump seeks an edge in shutdown fight with TV address

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fighting for advantage in the government shutdown battle, President Donald Trump aimed to use a prime-time address Tuesday to convince Americans he needs billions of dollars from Congress for his long-promised border wall to resolve security and humanitarian problems he contends have reached a crisis pitch. He was sure to face intense pushback from Democrats.

Following up his first Oval Office speech, Trump plans a personal visit to the Mexican border on Thursday as he tries to put pressure on newly empowered Democrats in the shutdown standoff. His Tuesday evening remarks were to be followed by a televised rebuttal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who strongly oppose the wall and have repeatedly called on Trump to reopen shuttered portions of the government while border negotiations continue.

Trump has been discussing the idea of declaring a national emergency to allow him to move forward with the wall without getting congressional approval for the $5.7 billion he’s requested. But the president was not expected to make that declaration Tuesday night, said two people familiar with the White House plans, although it was possible he could change course.

Such an emergency declaration would represent a dramatic escalation of the dispute and would immediately draw legal challenges. It could potentially unlock military dollars for building the wall but would require the administration to make the case that the border situation was indeed a national crisis. While Trump has previously described the situation on the border that way — including when he directed active duty troops there ahead of the midterm elections— he has never signed an official proclamation.

He will meet with Republican lawmakers today at the Capitol.

With his use of a formal White House speech instead of his favored Twitter blasts, Trump is embracing the ceremonial trappings of his office as he tries to exit a political quagmire of his own making. For weeks he has dug in on a signature campaign promise to his base voters, the pledge to build an impregnable “beautiful” wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. But now his self-proclaimed deal-making skills are being put to the test.

The partial government shutdown reached its 18th day, making the closure the second-longest in history. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are going without pay, and government disruptions are hitting home with everyday Americans. But Trump has not budged on his demands for $5.7 billion in wall funding, and Democrats have not moved from their opposition, while many Republicans watch anxiously from the sidelines.

Sen John Thune of South Dakota, the GOP whip, said he doesn’t think the emergency declaration is the right move and “I prefer that we get this resolved the old-fashioned way.”

In recent days, Trump, who has long railed against illegal immigration at the border, has also seized on humanitarian concerns to argue there is a broader crisis that can only be solved with a wall. Critics say the security risks are overblown and the administration is at least partly to blame for the humanitarian situation.

The number of illegal border crossings is down from 1.6 million in 2000 to less than 400,000 last year. But the number of families coming over the border has risen sharply, putting a strain on health care and immigration services that came into sharp focus with the deaths of two migrant children. Some say Trump’s hardline policies are slowing processing for migrants, creating an overwhelming bottleneck at the border.

After meeting with Democrats over the weekend, the White House issued a series of budget demands, including a new request for $800,000 for humanitarian needs. But mostly Trump still wants his wall, which Democrats describe as immoral as well as no solution to illegal immigration.

Emphasizing that he’s not abandoning his security argument, Trump said in a fundraising email Tuesday: “I want to make one thing clear to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi: Your safety is not a political game or a negotiation tactic!”

The White House requested eight minutes to make Trump’s case on television. It invited representatives from cable news outlets to a White House lunch with Trump ahead of the address, a gesture that is typically reserved for the lead-up to State of the Union speeches. Over Caesar salad and iced tea, Trump projected confidence that his strategy was working, Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier reported.

Leaning on Senate Republicans, some of whom are growing anxious about the impact of the shutdown, Pelosi said the House would begin passing individual bills this week to reopen shuttered federal agencies, starting with the Treasury Department to ensure Americans receive their tax refunds.

In a pre-emptive move, the White House said Monday that tax refunds would be paid despite the shutdown. That shutdown exemption would break from past practice and could be challenged.


Trump (left)