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Afternoon News Brief - Focus on Energy launches new rebate initiatives

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News Ellsworth,Wisconsin 54011 http://www.piercecountyherald.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/23/0613/windmill1.jpg?itok=1Raid2rq
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Afternoon News Brief - Focus on Energy launches new rebate initiatives
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Wisconsin residents and businesses can once again seek rebates for renewable energy systems. The state's Focus on Energy program has launched five new initiatives aimed at encouraging people and companies to install cost effective energy-saving projects. Don Wichert, the interim head of Renew Wisconsin, says about $2 million dollars are being made available for a host of solar, wind energy, bio-mass, and bio-gas facilities. The residential offerings include cash back rewards for things like solar and geo-thermal ventilating and hot water systems. There's also a new program that certifies new homes as being energy efficient and durable. Three business programs provide things like free assessments to help small businesses be more efficient and incentives for new business energy systems. All the incentives were cut off last year, after a heavy demand put a squeeze on the available state funding. Wisconsin Focus on Energy is funded by electric customers through their utility bills.

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Authorities now say that five Milwaukee County residents may have died from the recent heat wave. Four victims were announced previously, and officials said today that a 56 year old Milwaukee man also succumbed to last week's triple heat temperatures and heat index. The medical examiner's office says more tests are necessary before concluding that they all died from heat related causes. Possible heat deaths were also reported in Janesville, La Crosse, Onalaska, and Lone Rock, bringing the state's death toll from the heat wave to a possible nine.

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A new report shows a double digit increase in Wisconsin's new home construction during the first half of the year. MTD Marketing Services said today that communities issued 1463 building permits for new one and two family homes from January through June in the Milwaukee, Madison, Racine-Kenosha, Fox Valley, and Green Bay-Door County areas. That's 13 percent more than the 1293 building permits issued in those areas during the first half of 2011. In June, building permits rose by over six percent from the year before in the state's five largest metros. But the activity is still only a quarter as much as before the Great Recession. Over 5300 building permits were issued in the five metros in the first half of 2004.

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A Department of Natural Resources report shows the water supply in Waukesha is still contaminated with radium. The environmental group Clean Wisconsin says the disturbing reading comes a dozen years after the EPA started requiring mandatory monitoring as a part of an effort to reduce the levels of the radioactive material in public water supplies. County water officials say the unsafe levels are in back up wells which are only used when the main sources of water shut down or can't keep up with demand. A court battle over exactly what is an unsafe radium level lets the city continue to use the back up wells in operation until 2018, as it stands now.

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Public hearings will be held Wednesday and Thursday of this week by the International Joint Commission. That board coordinates management of the Great Lakes and is a collaborative effort of the U.S. and Canada. Hearings in Door County Wednesday and at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Thursday will focus on current options to manage water levels. A report which is the final piece of a five year study on water levels will be discussed with the public. At question is whether adjustments should be made in the amount of water released from Lake Superior to make sure lakes Michigan and Huron are not adversely affected.

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A 50 year old Madison man is arrested for sexual assault after allegedly slapping a young woman on her backside. Kenneth House faces several charges. Madison police say his car ran out of gas near Sprecher Road and Cottage Grove Road last Friday. He went to the 19 year old woman's apartment, looking for help. She said she couldn't leave her young son and told him he had to go, but she says he was soon entering her back door, grabbing her and trying to kiss her, slapping her rear. The woman called 911 as he ran away. At about the same time the woman's boyfriend and another man arrived. Police caught House, who said he wasn't thinking right because his blood sugar levels were low, but paramedics checked him and found his levels to be normal.

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