WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Drier and cooler weather predicted for Labor Day
For the first time since last weekend, the heat index failed to reach 100 in western Wisconsin yesterday. Onalaska had the hottest misery index with 97, in a region where it got close to 110 on Tuesday. Most of Wisconsin was under heat warnings and advisories for much of the week – but they’ve all expired. Yesterday’s highs were generally in the 80’s, only about 5-to-10 degrees above the normal for the date. It was still relatively warm overnight. La Crosse and Phillips were at 72-degrees at six this morning. Burlington in Racine County was the cool spot at 58. Much of the far north was in the 60’s. The National Weather Service says another low pressure system is heading our way. It’s expected to bring thunderstorms to northwest Wisconsin this afternoon, spreading into southern areas tonight. More bands of storms are due in tomorrow through Sunday, with drier and cooler weather predicted for Labor Day. Statewide highs are expected to be in the 80’s each day, with lows in the 60’s.
Things are starting to rumble in Milwaukee, as motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson kicks off its 110th anniversary celebration. Milwaukee’s House of Harley-Davidson held a large ride yesterday in which Governor Scott Walker took part. Similar rides and numerous other gatherings are planned through Labor Day. Over 100-thousand people are expected, along with their loud bikes. The center of the entertainment is at Maier (my-er) Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront. Music will be featured at several stages all afternoon and evening, with big-name concerts each night. Toby Keith and Kip Moore will perform tonight at the Marcus Amphitheater. Aerosmith and Cheap Trick will be there tomorrow night – along with Kid Rock and John Fogerty on Saturday. Events are also taking place at several Harley dealerships in the Milwaukee area. A street party is planned Saturday and Sunday in downtown Milwaukee.
The state D-N-R has decided to allow public testimony, when its Sporting Heritage Committee meets this morning to act on a controversial grant. The panel will decide whether to give a half-million dollars to the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation – the only group which applied for funding that’s aimed at keeping the state’s hunting and fishing traditions alive. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the group has political ties to Republicans, and it has no experience training potential outdoor enthusiasts. G-O-P lawmakers made the grant a part of the new state budget. Several groups with that training were either locked out of the grant application process at budget-time – or they didn’t know the grant existed until it was too late. Senate Democrat Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee asked Governor Scott Walker yesterday to delay the grant approval process and make it more open. Assembly Natural Resources Committee member Nick Milroy, a Democrat from the Superior area, was among several lawmakers calling on the D-N-R to reject the application. He called it a quote, “shady giveaway” and a “slap in the face to Wisconsin outdoor enthusiasts.”
Wisconsin officially marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by ringing an online bell on the anniversary’s official Web site. The slain civil rights leader delivered his plea for racial equality on August 28th of 1963 in Washington. Yesterday, thousands jammed the National Mall in Washington, where President Obama urged each person to become a modern-day marcher for racial-and-economic justice. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker issued a proclamation declaring yesterday as “Let Freedom Ring Day.” Bell-ringings were set to take place around the world at three p-m local time. Walker was in Milwaukee at the time, taking part in a motorcycle ride to mark Harley-Davidson’s 110th anniversary. His office said it rang a virtual bell on the commemoration’s Internet site.
The ice cream plant at U-W Madison has named a new flavor in honor of the school’s new chancellor. It’s called “Bec-Key Lime Pie,” and the name was among 400 suggested in a recent contest. The flavor recognizes Rebecca Blank, a former Obama White House official who became the new Madison campus leader a few weeks ago. The Babcock Dairy Plant on campus will start selling the new “Bec-Key Lime” flavor on Sunday. Only 300 gallons were made, and it’s expected to go quickly. Babcock Hall comes up with about 75 new flavors of ice cream each year. About 20 are offered throughout the year, and four “feature flavors” are sold every month.
The Potawatomi is not the only Wisconsin Indian tribe opposed to the new casino that the Menominee tribe wants to open in Kenosha. Ho-Chunk spokesman Collin Price says there’s “no chance” his group will reach a consensus for gaming in which he called “ancestral Ho-Chunk land.” Governor Scott Walker has been given the final authority to approve the long-proposed Kenosha casino. The Republican Walker wants all 11 Wisconsin tribes to agree to the project before he’ll approve it – and he wants them to reach a consensus themselves. The Potawatomi has fought the Kenosha project for years, since it would cut into revenues for the Potawatomi Casino in nearby Milwaukee. Yesterday, Republican state Senate President Mike Ellis said Walker’s conditions go against the free market – and it’s like letting Menards block a new Fleet Farm store nearby. Potawatomi Attorney General Jeff Crawford says Ellis’s comparison is not valid because Indian gaming is heavily regulated, and it’s not a true free-enterprise system. Walker said yesterday that the tribes need to have more meetings on the project. And if there are difficulties, Walker said quote, “We can facilitate discussions.” Supporters say the new casino would give 35-million new dollars to the state, while creating 33-hundred jobs. Opponents say the numbers are inflated.
For the first time since World War Two, Wisconsin’s total property values have dropped for five straight years – but officials say things might be looking up. The state’s Taxpayers Alliance said yesterday that the value of all property in the Badger State was 467-and-a-half billion dollars at the end of 2012. That’s down eight-tenths-of-a-percent from the previous year, as Wisconsinites continued to lose parts of their equity and net worth. The report is based on state figures as of January first. Dale Knapp of the Tax Alliance says they don’t take this year’s double-digit increases in Wisconsin home sales into account – and we could finally see an increase in land values next year. The Tax Alliance said the value of Wisconsin’s homes, businesses, farms, and forests hit a peak in 2008 of 514-billion dollars – and they’ve gone down every year since then, for a total drop of 47-billion. The state’s top industry, manufacturing, saw its total land values rise by two-point-three percent last year. Metro Milwaukee had larger-than-average declines, while western Wisconsin counties near Minneapolis-Saint Paul had increases.