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News from around Wisconsin (6:39 a.m. 11/13/09)

Not guilty plea for first-round pick DE James

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A not guilty plea has been entered for former Vikings first-round draft pick Erasmus James, who is charged with disorderly conduct in a Madison bar fight.

James was arrested last weekend after police says he lost his temper when a bartender refused to serve him after closing time. Police say James punched a friend in the face.

The 27-year-old James stood silently Thursday in Dane County Circuit Court and a not guilty plea was entered for him on the misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.

James also is charged with felony battery. A hearing on that charge is scheduled for Nov. 30.

As conditions of his release, James isn’t allowed to return to the bar or consume alcohol. James’ attorney, Steve Mays, declined to comment.

A former Wisconsin standout at defensive end, James played three injury-plagued seasons for the Vikings after being picked 18th overall in 2005. He was traded to Washington last year and played in five games before being cut in December.

Brewers must decide on Looper soon

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Brewers have until Saturday to decide whether to pick up a mutual option on Braden Looper’s contract for $6.5 million.

If Milwaukee exercises the option, the veteran right-hander would have until Tuesday to decide whether to agree to his end of the option or be released without a buyout. If Milwaukee declines the option, Looper receives a $1 million buyout.

Looper signed this past offseason, going 14-7 with a 5.22 ERA in 194 2-3 innings. He led the Brewers in wins, innings and starts, but also allowed the most home runs in the majors with 39.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has said he’s putting a priority on improving the starting rotation, one of the league’s worst. If Milwaukee keeps Looper, all five starters from last year remain in the fold.

Visitation set for Fort Hood victim from Wisconsin

KIEL, Wis. (AP) — Hundreds are expected to attend a visitation Friday for a Wisconsin soldier killed during last week’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas.

The visitation for Sgt. Amy Krueger starts at 2 p.m. at Kiel High School. A funeral service and burial will follow on Saturday.

Krueger was killed in a shooting rampage by an Army major that left 13 dead and 29 wounded.

She was a member of the U.S. Army Reserves’ 467th Medical Command Detachment, a Madison-based unit that helps soldiers cope with combat stress. The unit was at Fort Hood for training before a scheduled deployment to Afghanistan.

Krueger was a 29-year-old mental health specialist who signed up for the military after the terrorist attacks of 2001.

Wis. hunters reminded of firewood restrictions

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — With the opening of Wisconsin’s fall deer hunt two weeks away, hunters are being reminded of restrictions on the movement of firewood from counties with infestations of a tree-eating beetle.

The Department of Agriculture says hardwood firewood cannot be moved from Brown, Crawford, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Ozaukee, Vernon, Washington and Waukesha counties unless it was purchased from a certified dealer.

Those counties are under quarantine to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer. The beetle’s larvae attack ash trees and eventually kills them by disrupting the flow of nutrients.

The Agriculture Department says it is common for deer hunters to haul firewood to their camps.

The nine-day season opens Nov. 21 for more than 600,000 hunters.

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