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America’s presidential race dominated the country’s political news in 2016 – including in Wisconsin. Donald Trump defied the polls and won the state. In addition, the year ushered in a second term for Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.

The election activity started right away and brought plenty of surprises. The presidential candidates campaigned early and often, before Wisconsin’s April primary.

Marti Mikkelson

Every Saturday morning, hundreds of people wait in line for the doors to open at the Riverwest Food Pantry. It’s located in the basement of St. Casimir’s Church in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood.

Once inside, they mingle for a few minutes, then Vincent Noth calls the group into prayer. He is the director of the operation.

Mark Gottlieb has reportedly tendered his resignation to Gov. Walker, effective January 6, as secretary of Wisconsin's Dept. of Transportation. The DOT is facing a one billion dollar deficit and sharply differing opinions about how to address it. 

LaToya Dennis

There is a chaplaincy program in Milwaukee – that responds to crime scenes and fires, and even to the unrest that occurred in Sherman Park this summer.

Students and graduates of the theater program at UW-Milwaukee are helping Milwaukee police learn how to respond to people with mental illness, who are in distress. The actors present training scenarios at the police academy and instructors walk officers through how to best respond.

There have been cases, including in Milwaukee, when police have shot and killed mentally ill individuals as interactions have spun out of control.

Rachel Morello

With the end of the year comes reflection, and plans for the months ahead. And 2016 is a big year for Milwaukee Recreation supervisor Carmelo Cortes. Cortes came to Milwaukee without many plans. He was just 21 when he arrived, coming from Puerto Rico to visit a cousin. He expected to stay a few weeks.

Things did not go according to plan.

“A friend of mine asked me if I wanted a part-time job, and since I was going to stay for a month or so, I figured, [I’d] work and make a little bit of money,” he remembers.

Michelle Maternowski

Updated December 23, 2016:

The Milwaukee School Board approved Thursday earlier start dates for all district high schools, International Baccalaureate and year-round schools for the 2017-18 academic year. 

It's one of several changes the district will pursue, as part of a rigorous reform agenda from Superintendent Darienne Driver.

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This week, we experienced the longest night of the year on the winter solstice. Local religious groups picked the date to hold a conversation about lifting people in Milwaukee out of darkness. Jewish groups helped organize the event, while the host was the Islamic Resource Center in Greenfield. The standing-room-only crowd called for an end to racism, hate crimes and intolerance.

KEVIN CHANG, FLICKR

The idea has arisen again of breaking up the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Supporters believe placing its functions in different agencies would make things run more efficiently. Gov. Walker indicated this week that he thinks the proposal has merit. Some environmentalists worry the plan would have disastrous effects.

The idea is to basically divide the Department of Natural Resources into two separate agencies. The latest proposal comes from Republican state Rep. Adam Jarchow of Balsam Lake.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Wisconsin is asking federal lawmakers for more control. Gov. Walker on Tuesday addressed a letter to President-elect Donald Trump asking for more flexibility in administering federal programs. 

For instance, Walker wants to drug test people who apply for Food Share benefits and control the number of certain refugees allowed to settle in the state. Walker says the changes would help the citizens of Wisconsin.              

Marti Mikkelson

At the state Capitol on Monday, a couple hundred people packed into a tiny hearing room, while the state's 10 Republican electors took their seats at the front.

They selected Brad Courtney of the state Republican Party to lead the proceedings. He laid out the ground rules: “No signs are allowed in the meeting. Please keep conversation to a minimum. If there are any loud conversations or disruptions, we ask that you please take those outside.” But, all wasn’t quiet, after a clerk distributed ballots, the electors voted, and Courtney read the results.

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Wisconsin is one of several states embroiled in a court battle over redistricting. Each state's case is different, yet commonalities are emerging over how much gerrymandering is allowed.

Gerrymandering means drawing political districts to gain an advantage.

althouse

Update: Dec. 19, 12:35 P.M.

While demonstrators marched and shouted, Wisconsin's 10 presidential electors cast their ballots for Donald Trump, during the noon hour at the state Capitol on Monday. Police escorted one protester out of the voting room, after she yelled, "This is my America. You sold us out." A contingent of demonstrators chanted, "Shame." Trump carried Wisconsin by nearly 23,000 votes, becoming the first Republican to win the state's presidential vote in decades.

Original story from Dec. 19, 6:00 A.M.

Mitch Teich

The Milwaukee area could see up to a foot of snow by the time a winter storm ends on Saturday night. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning from 2:00 p.m. on Friday to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Mike Westendorf of the Innovative Weather Center at UW-Milwaukee says the snow will come in waves over the next day and a half.

Milwaukee Police

Dominique Heaggan-Brown has been charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the death of Sylville Smith.

The former Milwaukee police officer is accused of pursuing  Smith after a traffic stop in the Sherman Park neighborhood in August. Heaggan-Brown is African American, as was Smith.

If convicted, the former officer could face up to 60 years imprisonment.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm's decision to charge Heaggan-Brown was made public in court documents on Thursday.

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