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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Farmers continue to struggle from a lack of rain

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Wisconsin farmers continue to struggle from a lack of rain. The National Ag Statistics Service says the average soil moisture in Wisconsin was 59-percent short as of Sunday. That’s just three-percent better than a year ago, when the state was going through its worst drought in decades. Officials said corn and soybeans are showing stress from a lack of moisture, especially in northern parts of the Badger State. Precipitation totals last week ranged from one-hundredth-of-an-inch in Green Bay, to almost one-point-two inches in Milwaukee. Eighty-four percent of the Wisconsin corn crop remains fair-to-excellent. The same is true for 86-percent of the soybeans. Seventy-one percent of Wisconsin pastures remain fair-to-excellent, despite the lack of rain. The National Weather Service says there’s only a slight chance of rain in the forecast for tonight, and that’s in northwest Wisconsin. Another front is due to move through tomorrow, with a chance of thunderstorms during the day and rain likely tomorrow night and into Thursday. It’s supposed to be warmer the next couple days as well, with highs today in the mid-to-upper-80’s. Parts of the state could reach the low-90’s tomorrow, with a slight cool-down expected on Thursday. 

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The numbers of abortions in Wisconsin have dropped for the third straight year, and eight-of-the-last-nine. The Health Services agency said yesterday that 69-hundred-27 abortions were performed in the Badger State last year. That’s four-point-four percent fewer than the 72-hundred-49 abortions statewide in 2011. Wisconsin had six-point-one abortions last year for every one-thousand females age 15-to-44. That’s well below the national rate of 15-point-one per thousand in 2009, the most recent year in which figures were available. Republicans continue to make abortion a hot-button issue in state legislatures throughout the country. In Wisconsin, two abortion providers filed suit to strike down a new law that requires abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of where they normally practice. A federal court trial is scheduled for late November. Supporters say the hospital admitting privileges are needed in case of complications. Opponents say the mandate is unconstitutional, and would put an end to all abortions north of Milwaukee and Madison. 

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Gambling revenues at Wisconsin’s only big-city casino dropped by about one-and-a-quarter percent over the past year. New figures show that Milwaukee’s Potawatomi Casino won a total of 363-million dollars from gamblers in the year ending June 30th. That’s about five-million less than the previous year. Casino industry analyst Michael Paladino tells the Journal Sentinel that the Las Vegas Strip has made gains since the Great Recession. However, he says Atlantic City and other regional gaming markets have either held steady, or had declines in revenues. The Potawatomi tribe is based in Forest County, and its Milwaukee gaming house was the nation’s first off-reservation casino. Its net winnings grew until 2009, and they’ve been about steady since then. The Journal Sentinel says the winnings have been enough to support annual payments of about 70-thousand dollars to each of the 15-hundred Potawatomi members. The city and county of Milwaukee and the state also get a share of the total take. Tribal officials expect a boost next year, when a hotel opens next to its Milwaukee casino. 

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There was a lot of interest last fall, when the state D-N-R allowed motorists to spend a day touring the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant near Sauk City. Another round of free tours will be offered on Saturday from 9-to-3. Tour maps are available on the D-N-R’s Web site, accessible at Wisconsin-Dot-Gov. About 11-hundred vehicles took the tour last October, to see what’s expected to be a massive state recreation area. The D-N-R owns about 38-hundred acres of the Badger Ammo site, which has been designated as the Sauk-Prairie Recreation Area. The ammunition plant was closed in 1975, soon after the Vietnam War ended. 

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Jason Schulte
Jason Schulte has been with the Herald since 2006. He covers County government and anything else that happens in Pierce County on a daily basis.
(715) 273-4334
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