State News Roundup: Wisconsin's median age gettting older
If you think you're seeing fewer young people in Wisconsin, you're right. The U-S Census Bureau said this morning that 14-point-four percent of the state's population was 65-or-older as of last July. That's seven-tenths-of-a-percent more than in the 2010 Census. Wisconsin had an estimated 824-thousand-500 seniors as of last July. That includes 124-thousand who were 85-or-older - an increase of six-thousand during the previous two years. Also, Wisconsin's percentage of senior citizens is larger than the national figure of 13-point-seven percent. The median age of Wisconsinites was 38-point-nine last July - four-tenths-of-a-year older than in 2010. For the first time, the median age of Wisconsin women is above 40. The fastest-growing demographic group is multi-racial. About 96-thousand Wisconsinites are of more than one race - almost eight-percent more than in the 2010 Census.
Gogebic Taconite started drilling test holes yesterday at the site of its proposed iron ore mine near Lake Superior in Ashland and Iron counties. The state D-N-R confirmed the start of the drilling, one day after about 15 protestors showed up at the site. Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk said the protestors scattered into a wooded area before his officers got there. He said they're reviewing allegations that a one person stole a geologist's camera and cell phone. Wisconsin Public Radio said there were reports of vandalism and barricades blocking the site - but the sheriff didn't mention that in his news release yesterday. The Bad River Indian tribe, which is downstream from the proposed mine, raised a number of concerns about the exploratory permit. Among other things, the tribe said the D-N-R did not consult with them before issuing the permit. The D-N-R's Ann Coakley told the Associated Press that Gogebic Taconite followed all the proper steps to get a drilling permit - and her agency had no legal grounds to reject it.
Wisconsin gas prices are still dropping slowly. The Triple-"A" says the average statewide price for a gallon of regular unleaded is 3.97-point-six this morning. That's down just over two cents from yesterday, when prices dropped below four-dollars for the first time in almost a week. The Great Lakes has been hit with the highest gas prices in the nation lately. Observers blamed it mostly on two oil refineries near Chicago which were down for maintenance - one of them longer than expected. Greg Laskoski of Gas Buddy-Dot-Com said five oil facilities were actually to blame. He said one refinery is just now getting back to full production, after making just 20-percent at its low point. Laskoski says we'll see even lower gas prices soon - and we should keep seeing price drops all summer, unless hurricanes disrupt oil production in the Southern U-S.
Four Wisconsin F-F-A members have received the group's highest individual honors at their state convention in Madison. Thomas Allen of the Reedsburg F-F-A won the Star Farmer award last night. Thomas Larson of Viroqua received the Star-in-Agribusiness Award. The Star-in-Agriscience honor went to Cora Demler of Pecatonica. Nathan Leystra of the Cambria-Friesland F-F-A was given the Star-in-Agricultural-Placement award. Also during the ceremony, the Amery High School F-F-A received the group's Food-for-America award, and was honored as the winner of the Senior High Quiz Bowl contest. Convention attendees also chose 10 new state officers. The new state F-F-A president and the state's top chapter will be named today, the convention's final day.
A massive storm system that's rumbling from Iowa to the Mid-Atlantic coast is not as bad as originally feared - but it's still causing lots of damage. In Lake Delton, two Walmart employees suffered minor injuries last evening when part of the store's roof collapsed. No customers were hurt. Watertown and Juneau each had two inches of rain - and most of Juneau's rainfall came within 45 minutes. A number of communities in southern Wisconsin had street flooding. The National Weather Service said the side of a garage was blown at Rio in Columbia County, where winds gusted up to 70-miles-an-hour. A building in Fall River had severe roof damage. Nickel-sized hail fell at Williams Bay near Lake Geneva. Parts of southwest Wisconsin had tornado warnings. We Energies said 20-thousand electric customers had no power last night in southeast Wisconsin. That number dropped to 13-hundred by 4:30 this morning. Wisconsin Power-and-Light still had about 140 customers out, mostly in Columbia County. The damage could have been worse. The Weather Service said the storms did not rise to the severe derecho level that was forecast between the Upper Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard. The storms have cleared out of Wisconsin, and a sunny day is expected with highs in the 60's-and-70's.