Plan Needed To Reduce
Flame-Retardant Chemicals In Great Lakes
A US-Canadian agency said both nations should
develop a plan for dealing with flame-retardant chemicals that have turned up
in the Great Lakes. The chemicals are
poly-brominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. They're found in electronic devices, appliances, carpets and a variety
of other products. Many have been banned
or are being phased out. But they still
are being detected in the Great Lakes at levels that could endanger human and
The International Joint Commission advises both
nations on boundary water issues. It
said a strategy should be developed over the next year to reduce the presence
of the chemicals in the lakes. The
commission said the plan should include further restrictions on making, using
or selling the chemicals and measures for eliminating releases during recycling
Large Farms Will Write Own
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
said large livestock operations will be allowed to draw up their own pollution
permits under a plan to reorganize the agency.
The DNR announced the plan Wednesday. Agency Secretary Cathy Stepp said
that, under the reorganization, the large farms could create permits for
projects such as manure lagoons and manure spreading. DNR officials will still approve or deny
permits but handing most of the work over to the industry will free up more
time for field compliance checks.
A state audit in June found the agency wasn't
following its own policies for policing pollution from large farms and
wastewater treatment plants and the agency had been extending permits without
review for years.
November 30, 2016
Judge Rules Against Requiring Hand
Late Tuesday night, Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn
ruled against a hand recount statewide, allowing county clerks to determine how
they want to proceed. Bailey-Rihn said
there was no clear and convincing evidence that there was a defect or mistake
in the voting process in Wisconsin. Although a hand recount would be more accurate and could possibly change
the outcome of the election, according to state law there had to be evidence of
a problem during the voting period.
Bailey-Rihn said Stein's attorneys didn't prove there was any such
Micahel Haas, the administrator of the state's
Elections Commission, said 19 counties have already implied that they will use
machines for the recount. The remaining
53 counties will likely recount ballots by hand, with some using both
procedures. Regardless, the recount is
set to begin Thursday morning with a current deadline of December 12th at 8pm.
Drug-Resistant Salmonella Cases
Linked To Wis. Calves
A multistate outbreak of salmonella bacteria
that is resistant to several drugs has been linked to infected dairy bull
calves purchased in Wisconsin, according to federal and state health
officials. According to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, 21 people were infected in eight states from
January 11th through October 24th. Eight
of the 21 people sickened were hospitalized, but no deaths have been
reported. Those who were sickened ranged
in age from 1 year to 72. Minnesota and
South Dakota each have two cases and California, Iowa, Idaho, Missouri and
Oklahoma each have one.
Wisconsin had the most cases with 12 people
infected in eight counties. Among the
Wisconsin patients, more than 90 percent had direct or indirect contact with
dairy bull calves and more than half the illnesses occurred in children under
10 years of age, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
In Minnesota, health officials said a
16-year-old boy was sickened with the Salmonella Heidelberg strain in July
shortly after purchasing calves from a Wisconsin dealer for a 4-H project. The boy recovered from his flu-like illness
The CDC said its investigation identified dairy
bull calves from livestock markets in Wisconsin as the likely source of
infections. Federal and state health and
agricultural officials are investigating where calves associated with the
bacteria were sold or originated.
November 29, 2016
Wis. Holds Its First Presidential
For the first time ever, Wisconsin will carry
out a presidential election recount after lawyers for Green Party presidential
candidate Jill Stein and independent candidate "Rocky" De La Fuente
filed separate requests with the state Elections Commission on Friday. The commission met Monday to established
deadlines and set timelines for the recount to take place in each of
Wisconsin's 72 counties. The commission
also rejected a request to hand count ballots, leaving that decision up to
county clerks in Wisconsin's 72 counties.
County clerks statewide had until noon Monday to
submit their estimated costs for conducting the recount. The anticipated cost of the recount had to be
paid yesterday before the recount begins, the Wisconsin Elections Commission
Under the timeline established by the commission
Monday, clerks in Wisconsin's 72 counties and their board of canvassers will
participate in a webinar to discuss the rules for the recount, which would then
begin on Thursday, and continue to its anticipated completion at 8pm on
December 12th. Under federal law, the
election must be certified by December 13th or Congress would not be required
to recognize the votes and Wisconsin’s ten electoral votes.
Gov. Walker Requests Disaster
Relief For Ten Counties
Governor Scott Walker requested a Secretarial
Disaster Designation from the US Department of Agriculture for producers in ten
Wisconsin counties who suffered crop losses following freezing temperatures
last May. The counties included in this
request are Polk, Chippewa, Columbia, Eau Claire, Jackson, Jefferson, Pierce,
Sauk, St. Croix, and Trempealeau.
The ten counties experienced frost and freezing
temperatures recorded on the nights of May 13 and 14, 2016, with temperatures
reaching as low as 25 degrees. Due to
the low temperatures, certain crops were affected, such as apples and other
perennial crops that had begun to blossom or bud. All counties impacted experienced harvest losses
of 30 percent or greater for apples, asparagus, blueberries, hops, and strawberries.
Governor Walker asked USDA Secretary Vilsack for
the disaster designation following the harvest so crop losses could be fully
November 28, 2016
Gun Deer Hunt Sees Fewer Deer Harvested
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural
Resources, the number of deer harvested this year is down from 2015. Preliminary numbers report only 140,638 deer
were harvested across Wisconsin this year, as compared to 144,199 in 2015. Fewer tags were issued for antlerless deer
this year, but the buck kill was up a little over last year.
A reason for a lower harvest number right now
could also be due to hunters not registering their deer. This year's new tagging rules could also have
played a role.
This year's season was also one of the
safest. Last year there were five
hunting-related fatalities in Wisconsin. This year, none were reported.
The Muzzleloader deer season begins today and
continues until the 4-day statewide antlerless hunt which runs December
8-11. The archery and crossbow deer
season remains open through January 8th.
Wis. Homelessness Down 6%
Homelessness in Wisconsin is down about
6-percent this year compared to 2015.
This decline is more than double the national rate, according to figures
from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Department spokeswoman Gina Rodriguez said
the number of people in Wisconsin who are chronically homeless has dropped by
about 62 percent since 2010. She said
the overall decline showed that government efforts across the state which
focused on reducing chronic homelessness are paying off.
Wisconsin Coalition Against Homelessness
executive director Joseph Volk said that he continues to worry about homeless
youth in the state. He said families
with children need more attention, even though helping groups is more
challenging than helping individuals.
UW Drops In Research Ranking
The University of Wisconsin at Madison has
fallen out of the National Science Foundation's top five research institutions
for the first time in over 40 years because the school has decreased spending
on research. The university's spending
on research declined by over $100-million between 2012 and 2015. Campus officials highlighted the falling
expenditures when they encouraged lawmakers to increase funding for the
University of Wisconsin System in the next state budget.
Vice chancellor for research and graduate
education Marsha Mailick said years of funding cuts have made it more difficult
for the university to recruit top researchers.
Mailick said the state needs to reinvest, to make sure the institution
has faculty positions and conditions necessary to attract and retain the best
November 17, 2016
Wis. Law Requires Headlights On In
With recent foggy weather, the Wisconsin State
Patrol reminded drivers of a new law being enforced that requires drivers to
turn on headlights in inclement weather.
Governor Walker signed the rule into law in late February, requiring
drivers to turn on headlights when visibility is 500-feet or less, which is a
little smaller than two high school football fields.
"Even if it seems like you can see more
than 500 feet, have your headlights on" Wisconsin State Patrol Sergeant
Kirk Danielson said. "Reduce your
speed. Pay attention to the vehicles around you. Keep an eye out for people who don't have
their headlights or tail lights turned on."
Capitol Christmas Tree Arrived In
The 2016 State Capitol Christmas Tree arrived in
Madison. On Monday, the tree, which was donated
by Bruce and Charlotte Carey, was harvested in Eagle River. The Balsam Fir from Vilas County was then
transported by Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association.
Governor Scott Walker said in a press release he
is excited to see the tree in the Capitol.
"Thank you to Bruce and Charlotte for donating this tree. We
especially look forward to seeing it decorated with ornaments showcasing
"Wisconsin Wildlife" from school children around the state," he
November 15, 2016
Strikes Cost Allina $104 Million
Allina Health spent more than $104-million to
keep its Twin Cities hospitals open during two nursing strikes this year,
according to a financial report released Monday. An Allina official called it a regrettable
but necessary expenditure in the organization’s effort to hold the line against
costly health insurance plans used by the nurses.
The two sides reached a deal in mid-October that
moves the nurses from their union health plans to Allina’s own plans in
exchange for other benefit concessions from Allina.
Allina spent $20-million on more than 1,200
replacement nurses and related expenses during a seven-day strike in June, and
then $84-million for the September portion of a strike that started September
5th and ended October 16th, according to the third-quarter financial
report. Strike spending in October won’t
be publicly reported until Allina releases its year-end financial details for
Many of the replacement nurses came from other
states and commanded premium wages, especially as the second strike dragged on,
and Allina also had to train, transport and house them.
As a result, Allina reported an operating loss
of $13-million through the first three quarters of 2016, compared to a
$102-million gain over the same time period in 2015, when there was no
strike. The health system still made
money, though, thanks to a healthy stock market in early 2016 and $73-million
in investment returns.
MSP Airport Workers Unionize
The 600 minimum wage workers employed by AirServ
Corporation at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport have now unionized
under Service Employees International Union Local 26. Those workers include baggage handlers, cabin
cleaners, cart drivers and unaccompanied-minor escorts, a union spokesman
said. Many of the workers are immigrants
from East Africa.
Last year, Ibrahim Mohamed, a cart driver, took
a seat as a member of the airport’s governing body. Another cart driver, Abdi Ali, said he and
his group have protested and attended airport administrative meetings in order
to unionize. The next step for the new union members is to formally negotiate
their contracts, but they have not set a date.
Last month, a group of mostly Hispanic and
Latino minimum-wage janitors unionized under the same union local.
November 3, 2016
Wrong-Way Driver On I-94 Kills 4,
Hurts 2 Others
Four people were killed and two more critically
injured in a crash the Wisconsin State Patrol says was caused by a wrong-way
driver on Interstate 94 near Deerfield.
Officers responded to a complaint of a sport utility vehicle being
driven erratically about 10:15pm last night. The SUV turned around and headed against traffic, colliding with two
Three passengers in one car were pronounced dead
at the scene: 26-year-old and 28-year-old women from Milwaukee and a
26-year-old man from Waterloo. The
driver of that car suffered life-threatening injuries. The driver of the other car died at the
scene. He was a 23-year-old man from
Northbrook, Illinois. The driver of the
SUV was identified as a 32-year-old man from Waunakee. He also suffered life-threatening injuries.
Wis. DOJ To Monitor Polling Places
On Election Day
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel
announced Wednesday he will continue the practice of sending Wisconsin
Department of Justice election observers around the state on Election Day.
The department's election integrity teams are
made up of two election monitors. Monitors are either an assistant attorney
general or special agent from the state Division of Criminal
Investigation. The teams will visit polling
places to monitor for election law violations including interference by
election observers, electioneering, voter intimidation and voter fraud. Election integrity teams will focus on the
state's biggest cities, but will also make stops in smaller communities
including Racine, Stevens Point and Waukesha.
Stops at polling places will be brief, said
Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte, who is overseeing this year's
efforts. Korte said observers will do a
quick "spot check" of locations, check in with each site's chief
inspector and offer support if needed. Korte said 16 teams will make polling place stops across the state
November 2, 2016
More Flood Disaster Aid Announced
Governor Scott Walker said the US Small Business
Administration will make low-interest disaster loans available for people and
businesses in western Wisconsin affected by flash flooding in September. The SBA listed Vernon County, along with the
contiguous counties of Crawford, Juneau, La Crosse, Monroe, Richland and Sauk.
Allamakee County in Iowa and Houston County in Minnesota also are listed.
President Barack Obama declared a federal
disaster late last month in 10 western Wisconsin counties hit by torrential
rains, opening the door for federal aid to help cover the cost of more than
$11-million in damage to roads and public infrastructure. But that aid is not for private businesses or
Under the SBA program, homeowners can get loans
of up to $200,000 and business owners up to $2 million.
UW-Stout Dies Of Injuries From
The University of Wisconsin-Stout student
assaulted in downtown Menomonie early Sunday morning has died. Unconscious and bleeding from his nose and
mouth, Hussain Saeed Alnahdi, age 24, was airlifted to Mayo Clinic Health
System in Eau Claire and regained consciousness early Monday morning, but his
condition worsened and he died late Monday afternoon.
The Menomonie Police Department is now treating
what began as an assault by an unknown man as a homicide. The investigation into Alnahdi’s death is
being conducted in partnership with the Dunn County Medical Examiner’s Office
and the UW-Stout Police Department. Alnahdi’s body has been taken for an autopsy to the University of
Wisconsin Madison Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
An international student from Saudi Arabia who
came to UW-Stout in 2015, Alnahbi was a junior majoring in business
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