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Northeast Wisconsin's local news coverage.

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    APPLETON, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - A man who was on the run for a decade has been sentenced for spiking his girlfriend's drink to try to cause a miscarriage of the couple's child.

    Manishkumar Patel, 45, was sentenced in Outagamie County court Tuesday to 22 years in prison followed by 4 years extended supervision.

    Patel was charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide of an unborn child in the 2007 incident. The woman did not ingest the drink, but later miscarried, authorities say.

    Outagamie County Court district attorney, Melinda Tempelis said the victim did not ingest the drink but instead sent it to a lab for testing in California. Tempelis said the victim has a miscarriage a week before getting the results.

    "They have discovered swabs of RU486 from the smoothie that she had sent to them. RU486 is an abortion drug, it is not the morning after pill, it cannot be dispensed by general doctors or prescribed or available through pharmacy," Tempelis explained.

    Tempelis said during a search warrant at Patel's home, the Outagamie County Sherriffs Department found an envelope containing the pills.

    "The defendant indicated that he had it sent to him from a friend in India when he didn't want to have anymore children," Tempelis said.

    In court, Patel claimed he didn't want another child because he was afraid the child would suffer the same medical problems as his son, who is also the victim's son.

    "I took a life of an unborn child, I realized that even if the child had some sort of medical problems, he would still have had a life,' said Patel.

    As part of a plea deal, bail jumping charges were dismissed, but the judge was able to consider them at sentencing.

    Patel skipped town after the charges were filed in 2007, forfeiting a $750,000 cash bond. He said he skipped town to go to India.

    "I felt this was what I had to do to see my father one last time, my father is still alive but had medical issues," Patel said.

    He was arrested in 2017 in New York and was returned to Outagamie County, where a total bond of $50 million cash was set.


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    MENASHA, WI (WTAQ) - The 90-year-old Brin Building in Menasha that went up in flames on August 10 will be torn down.

    Officials have determined the cause of the fire that destroyed the historic Fox Valley building two months ago was electrical.

    The structure will be demolished before the end of the year, according to the building's owner.

    The building housed seven apartments, several businesses, and was the last historic building in the city.

    It once housed a bowling alley and a 932-seat theater, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society. 


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Businessman Ronald Van Den Huevel entered a guilty plea in federal court for a second fraud case.

    Van Den Huevel was previously sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

    Federal prosecutors have filed 14 additional counts since then, claiming he raised more than $9 million from investors, including the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., and used some of that money on personal items.

    According to the plea deal, he's entering into a guilty count of wire fraud and faces up to a 20-year prison term. 

    Also in the plea deal, Van Den Heuvel agrees to pay restitution of at least $9,389,440 and a plea hearing is scheduled for Friday afternoon before federal Judge William Griesbach.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - A local bakery can now say they make the coolest thing in Wisconsin.

    That's because Uncle Mike's Bake Shoppe, which has locations in Green Bay and De Pere, was announced the winner of the Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin competition on Tuesday.

    Specifically, it's their Sea Salt Caramel Pecan Kringle that's taking home the hardware.

    "There were three other companies in this final round and they said that if you added all of their votes up they still couldn't beat us," says owner (Uncle) Mike Vandewalle.

    After advancing to the "Final Four" of the competition over a week ago, Mike says they kicked things into maximum overdrive.

    "We had ambassadors running around town with kringles," he explains. 

    The effort was worth it in the end and Mike couldn't be more proud.

    "It sort of validates that if you come in everyday, work hard, and make a good product, then people appreciate it," he explains. 

    He's also hoping the award will make his delicious kringle more well-known throughout the state.

    "This way it also helps spread the word of what Uncle Mike's has and what we're all about," he says. "And just being a part of the community means so much to us."

    Uncle Mike says it takes about three days to finish making one of their kringles and they make theirs in a pretzel shape, which is how they originally were made in the 1800's in Denmark. Now that's one cool kringle.


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    OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Firefighters swarmed the streets of one Oshkosh neighborhood this week.

    The Oshkosh Fire Department went door-to-door, checking smoke detectors in residents’ homes.

    It was all a part of the department’s annual Detector Trek program.

    We've all heard it - the high-pitched chirping noise that comes from a smoke detector.

    And while it may be a little annoying to some, Oshkosh firefighters sounded several of those alarms to test for working smoke detectors.

    Oshkosh FD public information officer John Holland tells FOX 11 this can be life and death stuff.

    “Without a smoke detector, you’re never gonna know if there’s a fire in the middle of the night. We’re always amazed at how few people have enough working detectors, or we even have some places where they’ve had none!”

    This is the 11th year Oshkosh Fire has gone door-to-door during National Fire Prevention Week.

    Holland says firefighters canvassed the area, knocking on doors and offering to check the smoke detectors inside the home.

    “If they are missing any batteries or the batteries are dead, we replace the batteries. If they don’t have enough detectors, which is one on every level, we will put in smoke detectors for free, as well.”

    One resident normally checks her elderly neighbor’s smoke detectors for her.

    Mary Gray says it's people like her neighbor who really benefit from this program the most.

    “They can’t get up on a ladder, sometimes they can’t open them and, yeah…it’s tough for them.”

    Oshkosh firefighters have installed almost 800 detectors and replaced over 900 batteries since the program launched.

    The program has already paid off in a big way.

    In 2016, a family was alerted to a fire in their home and made it out safely, all because of a detector the department had installed the year prior, during Detector Trek.

    Oshkosh's Detector Trek will go on through Thursday.

    The department said this year, they'll most likely reach out to about 500 homes.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Green Bay city leaders are trying to prevent disastrous flooding like the east side saw just three weeks ago.

    Heavy downpours dropped inches of water in just a few hours, flooding roads and basements.

    Green Bay's east side saw the worst of last month's heavy rain, but aldermen from both sides of the city say street flooding issues need to be at the highest priority.

    “I mean what am I supposed to tell the people in my district when they've got flooding?” questioned Alderman Brian Johnson.

    Main Street, near the intersection with Mason Street, had high water twice in a three-week period.

    Alderman Andy Nicholson tells FOX 11 he's asked the city to address the area numerous times in the past.

    “It's very frustrating, even though we had the money or some of the money for infrastructure to help with this situation from our Packer stadium tax and basically the city council just threw it away like drunken sailors.”

    With that money spent on debt repayment, property tax relief, and economic development, members of the Improvement and Services committee questioned Tuesday night where money could come from to address the flooding.

    “There is only so much that we can do,” said Steve Grenier, the Director of Public Works for Green Bay. “I mean these were very extraordinary events.”

    Grenier tells FOX 11 the city's sewer system is built to handle 10-year storm events. He says the mid-September rainfall was a 1,000-year storm.

    “Many municipalities are designed as a 10-year storm event. That is an accepted standard of care.”

    Upgrading hundreds of miles of pipes would be costly. Grenier says the city has already been considering other options like drainage basin improvements and lift station additions.

    “These types of projects are things we are already doing, but again, bear in mind, these are not magic bullets.”

    While Grenier says there isn't a clear fix, his department is putting together a report to show what work has already been done, what is in the works, and what still needs to be addressed.


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    CALUMET COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - Calumet County Sheriff Officials continue to investigate a house explosion that occurred around 8:00 a.m on Fire Lane 12 near Harrison.

    Outagamie County Sheriff Mark Ott says two people in an adjacent home suffered what are believed to be non-life threatening injuries.

    The home where the explosion took place and two adjacent homes were damaged, but Sheriff Ott says it could have been a lot worse.

    "We are very lucky that nobody was at that residence and that many had gone to work."

    People reported hearing the explosion in places like Appleton, Darboy, and Hilbert.   

    Fire Lane 12 is located east of the North Shore Golf Club. 

    There's no word on what caused the explosion.

    "Next step is to find the cause of the explosion. We want to make sure everyone is safe, so that is number one and number two is the investigation."

     


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  • 10/10/18--09:10: Winter is Coming
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - It's a warning from meteorologists that no one wants to hear... Winter is coming.

    "There will be quite a chill in the air," according to Scott Berschback with the National Weather Service.

    Just how dramatic will the change be for the area, though? Daily high temperatures are expected to nosedive to the mid-40's and will stay there at least thru the middle of next week. 

    Berschback says the real concern will be strong wind gusts dropping the temperature even further.

    "It'll probably feel like more in the 30's, even 20's, at certain points during the day," he says.

    And the strong wind conditions are right around the corner.

    "The wind on Thursday, pretty much right when everybody wakes up through the afternoon hours, will be gusting between 20 and 35 miles per hour," says Berschback.

    And prospects get even more troublesome at night.

    "We are expecting frost and freeze conditions both Thursday night and Friday night," explains Berschback. "Especially as you work towards Central Wisconsin where some low [temperatures] could be in the middle 20's."

    It might be difficult to find a silver lining in all of this, but Berschback says at least we won't be seeing any snow -- probably.

    "There's a chance for mixed precipitation depending on what happens with this storm system late this weekend and early next week," he says. "But prospects are pretty low for that at this time."


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Green Bay Police have released the identity of a woman who was killed after being struck by a vehicle while walking in the road.

    36-year-old Cassandra L. Fazzi of Green Bay was hit by a vehicle that was heading westbound on Manitowoc Road.

    The driver of the vehicle was not injured in the crash.


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    FOND DU LAC, WI (WTAQ) - A Fond du Lac man has pleaded guilty to manufacturing and delivering heroin and will face more than 100 years in prison.

    48-year-old Allen Ferguson's operation brought about 15.4 pounds of heroin, which has a street value of more than $1 million, into Fond du Lac between March 2015 and February 2017, according to prosecutors.

    A sentencing hearing will be set for a later date and his $5 million cash bond has been revoked. 

    Prosecutors allege that Ferguson first came to the area to help distribute heroin, but he eventually took over the operation and began making trips between Fond du Lac and Chicago about three times a month to pick up a total of between 200 and 300 grams of the drug per month. 

    More than 150 grams of heroin, 7 grams of crack cocaine, firearms, and thousands of dollars in cash were seized throughout the investigation. 


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    KAUKAUNA, WI (WTAQ) - Two paper mills in Northeast Wisconsin officially have a new owner.

    Earlier this year Finnish company Ahlstrom-Munksjo agreed to pay $615 million for the purchase of four Expera Speciality Solutions mills.

    Those mills include Thilmany Mill in Kaukauna, Nicolet Mill in De Pere, one mill in Mosinee and another in Rhinelander.

    The manufacturer's ownership will change from a private equity firm to a publicly owned company with the sale.

    Outagamie County executive, Tom Nelson told Fox 11 News, "This is great news for Outagamie County. Ahlstrom-Munksjo is an industry leader, respected around the globe, securing good-paying jobs right here in the Fox Valley. Today’s news affirms what we have known all along. We’re good at making paper. We look forward to a productive partnership for years to come.”

    About 1,800 people are employees at Expera. 


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    DOOR COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - Plenty of visitors are expected to flock to one Wisconsin county this weekend to take in the colors and activities of fall.

    Door County already is one of the more popular destinations in the state, but the area will be particularly busy this weekend according to Jon Jarosh, Director of Communications with the Door County Visitor Bureau.

    "This will definitely be one of our busier weekends of the fall season," he says. "There's so much to do in Sister Bay as part of the festival, not to mention everything else happening in Door County."

    The festival in Sister Bay he's talking about is their annual "Fall Fest."

    "They have a huge parade on Saturday, they actually close down the main road that goes right through downtown Sister Bay," explains Jarosh. "It's like a big street festival."

    He says there's been a steady stream of visitors coming in every weekend to partake in fall fun.

    "There have been festivals going on every weekend up here since the middle of September," explains Jarosh. "Fall festivals are definitely part of the experience."

    Plenty of others will flock for the foliage, which is a little different all over the area.

    "The thing about Door County, because we're such a long and narrow peninsula we can see different colors at different points," he says.

    Jarosh also points out that Door County's geographical shape helps those colors last a little longer

    "You're going to see good color up here for the better part of three to four weeks," he explains.

    While colors are popping all over Door County, the big question is when will they be considered in "peak?"

    "I think probably within the next week to ten days is when we're going to see that quote on quote peak time," says Jarosh. 


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Governor Scott Walker's re-election campaign received a boost with a visit from Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday.

    Vice President Mike Pence spared no words, calling Governor Scott Walker one of the greatest governors in the nation.

    Pence spoke to a crowd of Walker supporters at the Oneida Golf and Country Club in Green Bay and said his visit in support of Governor Walker comes down to three reasons.

    "It's because of the man, the progress and the choice that Wisconsin faces."

    Pence credited Scott Walker for his record and said he built everything that mattered, including a family and a good name.

    The Vice President took a moment to joke about the 2012 recall election.

    "It is remarkable to think that Wisconsin liked him so much that during his first term, you actually elected him twice."

    Vice President Pence highlighted Walker's accomplishments in Wisconsin and made special note of FoxConn, saying many governors were jealous.

    "Scott Walker has been delivering a Wisconsin comeback and has been moving Wisconsin forward every single day that he has been Governor," Pence said. "Governor Scott Walker has taken on the public employees union, he has balanced the state budget and he has cut taxes for the people of Wisconsin by 8 billion dollars."

    While talking about recent accomplishments of President Donald Trump, Pence compared many of those to what Walker is doing in Wisconsin. Pence says he and President Trump are lock-step.

    "The truth of the matter is in Governor Scott Walker you have got a common-sense conservative who has been putting Republican principles into practice creating jobs, opportunity, and prosperity. In his opponent Tony Evers, you have a big government, big labor liberal who is just going to bring the same failed policies that really cost the people of Wisconsin the last time they were in charge."

    Pence says Evers is looking to reverse all that Walker has put in place.

    "He wants to repeal Act 10, he wants to appeal Right to Work and most remarkable of all, he wants to raise taxes on people in Wisconsin."

    "What President Donald Trump has done for America very much what Governor Scott Walker has done for Wisconsin. I would be up here campaigning for Scott Walker even if he was uncontested.

    Pence reminded voters in Wisconsin that they have a choice on election day.

    "The choice in this election could not be more clear. The truth of the matter is that Democrats have set their sights on reversing all the progress that Wisconsin has made under Governor Scott Walker's leadership, and they are working hard to defeat him in this next election.

    It's a choice between results and resistance."

    Pence ended his speech with three reminders for election day.

    "Vote Wisconsin, Vote"

    He also added that friends don't let friends vote alone and said telling people about Walker's accomplishments is also important, calling word of mouth the best form of media.

    Lastly, the Vice President encouraged Wisconsin voters to pray for Wisconsin and for the country, saying the recent passing of Governor Scott Walker's father, Reverand Llewellyn Scott Walker serves as that reminder, as it is likely something that he would say if he were here today.

    During his time in Green Bay, the Vice President also took the time to offer support for Senate candidate Leah Vukmir. 

    "I want to be able to say I was for Leah Vukmir before it was cool," Pence said. "I have been through Wisconsin for her before and so has the President. She has our full and total support."

    Vice President Pence was presented with a Packers Pence #48 jersey by Governor Scott Walker.

    Earlier in the day, the Democratic Party of Brown County held a press conference.

    Democrat State Senator Dave Hansen says two terms has been enough for Walker.

    "We just have to work really, really, hard going into November 6 and make change happen in this state," he says.

    And he claims a bi-partisan effort will be necessary for this change to occur.

    "We need balance again, we have to be able to work together again," says Hansen.

     


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    DE PERE, WI (WTAQ) - "Operation Frogger" isn't the newest game at the arcade, but rather an effort from the city of De Pere to keep their streets safer.

    The city-wide operation, which focuses on crosswalk safety, was launched on Wednesday.

    "Stuff happens too quick, you know we're on our phones, we're not paying attention and by law when a pedestrian is crossing, by law, we have to yield to them," says De Pere Community Resource Officer, Jedd Bradley.

    Bradley says they are trying to limit preventable incidents and added that motorists could be fined if they fail to yield to a pedestrian.


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  • 10/10/18--16:24: Health Department Pot Debate
  • APPLETON, WI (WTAQ) - The discussion surrounding the legality of medical marijuana is beginning to intensify locally.

    The hot topic when Appleton's Board of Health met on Wednesday was the effects of marijuana.

    Some alderpersons, such as Christine Williams, want it to be legalized for medicinal use. Her reason is personally driven.

    "My father-in-law died from Parkinson disease, he lived in a state that did not have medical marijuana at the time," says Williams.

    Not everybody feels the same about the issue. Sergeant Nathan Borman with the Outagamie County Sheriff's Department gives an example of how their job would become trickier with the legalization of marijuana.

    "The normal test we use for drunk driving isn't necessarily effective for drug driving, again another thing we would need to address," says Sgt. Borman.

    Many within his department remain uneasy on the perspective of legalization.

    "We're concerned about the legalization of marijuana as a whole and we want to express our concerns on that and how we would address it from a law enforcement perspective," explains Sgt. Borman.

    One health expert acknowledged the need to control the substance if legalized.

    "I think it would have to be regulated and have a physician write a prescription so we can't create more problems than we might have," says Kurt Eggebrecht, the Health Officer for the Appleton Health Department.

    He acknowledged research has proven some medicinal benefits with marijuana exist, but not every claim has been scientifically proven.

    "The one thing that I think there’s limited scientific evidence for is that medical marijuana helps reduce anxiety," explains Eggebrecht.

    No action was taken on Wednesday by the board, but next month they'll have an opportunity to recommend the question be put on April 2nd election.

    The issue will head to a full common council if it receives enough votes.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Green Bay Metro Fire crews dispatched to 630 East Walnut for a tree falling on electrical power lines around 10:30 last night. This was quickly upgraded to power lines down and burning on the roof of a structure.

    Upon arrival, crews found a large tree that had fallen onto a car parked in a driveway and pulled the electrical power lines from their mount on the home. These charged electrical power lines were shorting out to the roof of a large, 2 1/2 story residence.

    The fire was visible where the power lines were in contact with the roof. Crews secured the area around the downed wires. Protective hose lines were stretched into and alongside of the residence.

    Crews searched the building and found an active fire in the roof and wall of the structure. Crews were able to hold the fire in check until WPS could cut the power to the downed lines.

    When this was completed, crews removed a section of the second story wall and roof to extinguish the fire in numerous construction voids.

    Extensive manpower and time were required to completely open all of these concealed spaces to assure the fire was extinguished.

    One occupant was displaced. Fire damage was limited to a portion of the roof and wall in a stairwell and second-floor bathroom.Damage is estimated at $20,000. No injuries were reported.

    Green Bay Metro Fire is reminding the public to stay clear when fire crews are operating at the scene of an emergency where numerous hazards may be present. In this case, several bystanders were walking in the area of downed, charged electrical lines when fire crews arrived and were beginning operations.


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  • 10/11/18--08:14: WATCH: Falcon Fly's Again
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - With the help of some local agencies, Chloe the falcon was able to spread her wings again on Thursday.

    The Peregrine Falcon normally nests high atop the Georgia-Pacific Broadway Mill in Green Bay but has instead been in the care of the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary for the past month.

    "September 11 we received an email, someone had taken a picture of Chloe standing next to the road and was wondering what happened," says Lori Bankson, Curator of Animals at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.

    At that point, multiple agencies and organizations came together to start Chloe on the road back to recovery.

    "We were able to contact Green Bay Animal Control to come pick her up and then we were able to contact Georgia-Pacific so we could all work together to get Chloe back out," explains Bankson.

    Once she was transported to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary her injuries were able to be diagnosed.

    "She did receive a soft tissue injury," says Bankson. "She wasn't able to fly."

    Next for Chloe was a month of rehab and training to regain her strength.

    Thursday morning was the culmination of that hard work to be able to return home.

    "With a lot of time, a lot of rehab, a lot of care, talking with Georgia-Pacific who has been wonderful partners with us, we are very happy to reach this point," explains Bankson.

    Bankson personally released her outside the front of the Broadway Mill and Chloe was able to fly away back towards her nesting site. 


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - For many volunteers at the Northeast Wisconsin American Red Cross they'll be moving from one hurricane to another.

    The relief effort is still ongoing in the Carolina's following the devastation of Hurricane Florence, but some local Red Cross volunteers may be staying longer.

    "Those ninety volunteers that are still there with [Hurricane] Florence, some of those may, in fact, move over and help out with Hurricane Michael," says Steve Hansen, the executive director of American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin.

    He says this terrible stretch of storms, unfortunately, seems familiar.

    "This is looking very similar to what we experienced last fall, of course, with Harvey, Maria, and Irma," he explains. "During that time period, we sent over 300 volunteers from Wisconsin."

    Not everyone has to be on-site to lend a hand, though. Hansen says non-trained volunteers can play an important role in the disaster relief effort.

    "Definitely financial donations are the best way that people can help out if they are not a trained-up Red Cross volunteer," explains Hansen.

    For those interested in helping, it's as easy as heading online.

    "RedCross.org is sort of a one-stop-shop," he says. "An individual can make a monitory contribution there, they can also sign up to volunteer."

    Hurricane Michael is the strongest storm to hit Florida in 80 years.

    It's the third-most powerful hurricane to ever hit the continental United States and two deaths have been attributed to the storm.


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    OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ) - An Oshkosh man that has admitted to sleeping when a fire started and resulted in the death of a child is being charged with child neglect - consequence is death.

    29-year-old Vernon Williams has a warrant issued for his arrest and he currently is not in custody.

    An 18-year-old boy was killed in the fire that took place on September 6 on 1st street in Menasha.

    A 5-year-old girl told investigators that she and another 3-year-old child were playing inside an apartment, with the 18-year-old nearby, according to the criminal complaint. The 3-year-old set a blanket on fire with a lighter and the 5-year-old helped that child get out, but couldn't carry the baby.

    According to the complaint, Williams admitted he was sleeping when the fire started around 1 in the afternoon. He was eventually woken up by a neighbor and attempted to get inside to save the child, but was unable to do so. 

    The complaint shows that a later blood test reveals Williams had a blood alcohol level at the time of .257.

    Burns covered seventy percent of the child that died in the fire.


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  • 10/11/18--13:09: Another Large Jackpot
  • FOND DU LAC, WI (WTAQ) - The 9th largest jackpot in US History is up for grabs Friday.

    The Mega Millions jackpot is at 548 million dollars and while it is nothing to scoff at, Amy Karow, General Manager of Kornelis Convenience Stores in Fond Du Lac says people may wait until the jackpot is a little higher.

    "Before the jackpot hit over a billion dollars, we used to be a lot busier when they got to $500 million. We expect traffic, but not as busy as it used to be."

    Karow says it may be a different story if nobody wins the jackpot on Friday.

    "We will see a significant increase if it gets over $600 or $700 million dollars and I will staff accordingly and will be there all day myself."

    Kornelis is part of the Miracle Mile in Fond Du Lac, which is known for selling winning tickets.

     

    "They were the $365 million dollar ticket Powerball winner a few years back," Karow said. "It is a notorious station."

    Korneli's also had a $42,000 dollar Badger Five winner last week.

    Odds of matching all six numbers in the Mega Millions are one in over 302-million.


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