WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: State had another record cranberry crop in 2013
Wisconsin had another record cranberry crop last year. Recent figures from the U-S-D-A show that the Badger State produced just over six-million barrels -- a 25-percent increase from 2012. About 21-thousand acres of cranberries were harvested statewide a year ago, 400 more than the previous year. The state provided 67-percent of the nation's total production. Massachusetts was a distant second with one-point-eight million barrels. Governor Scott Walker hailed Wisconsin's record out-put -- and he praised growers for their hard work and determination, especially those facing extreme weather conditions the past few years. Wisconsin's increase was more than twice the eleven-percent jump in the national harvest. Also, Walker noted that Wisconsin's cherry and apple growers rebounded from bad weather in 2012 with large increases in their production. The U-S-D-A said apple growers harvested almost 42-million pounds in 2012, while the cherry crop totaled 12-point-three million pounds.
As G-O-P state lawmakers raise concerns about the housing of unaccompanied immigrant children, about 50 have been placed in Wisconsin -- and they're living with approved sponsors. The U-S Office of Refugee Settlement has a Web site with a state-by-state breakdown of placements from January first through early July. It also explains its placement policies, once immigrant children are referred by Homeland Security officials. The resettlement agency says it requires medical clearance for the youngsters -- plus criminal background checks of the adults who sponsor them. Yesterday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and three other Republicans asked that Wisconsin not be considered as a place to temporarily house the recent wave of unaccompanied immigrant children. They said the state is willing to help in times of need, but they're concerned that the new placements would sap state resources -- and the kids would be better off in southern states where they could more easily reunite with their families. The Refugee Resettlement Office says most children in the program are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, where there's been heavy gang violence. The surge of unaccompanied immigrant children began in 2012 but has grown significantly. The re-settlement agency expects 60-thousand referrals in the current fiscal year, up from 23-thousand the previous year.
State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos wants Wisconsin off the list of places where the federal government is sending unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the U-S border. Vos and three other Assembly Republicans wrote to the head of Homeland Security, saying it's better for the minors to be located near the nation's southern border -- so families can be promptly re-united. Vos, G-O-P finance chair John Nygren of Marinette, and fellow Assembly Republicans Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc and Dave Craig of Big Bend signed the letter. They said Wisconsin is a generous state that's willing to help in times of emergency but in their words, "The federal government should not prioritize the needs of others over our own residents." Vos and the other Republicans said they were "beyond frustrated" that the Obama administration has not given adequate information to state officials -- including the potential for health risks that the immigrants might bring in. And the lawmakers want to know if the children would be classified as refugees, which means they could get state public assistance benefits. Federal officials have contacted various officials and agencies in Milwaukee and Madison about hosting the immigrants. The A-P said about 50 of them have been placed in the state.
Luxurious mink coats still have Wisconsin written all over them. Federal officials said the Badger State made one of every three mink pelts produced in the U-S last year, with just over one-point-one million. That's eight-percent more than in 2011, the last year in which production figures were available. Utah was second in mink production with 855-thousand pelts -- more than a quarter-million fewer than Wisconsin. Nationally, mink production rose 15-percent over the previous two years. The U-S-D-A said the average pelt was valued at just over 56-dollars. Two-thirds of the Wisconsin pelts were black. Ten-percent were blue iris, nine-percent mahogany, and eight-percent white.
A suburban Chicago woman who died while saving an eight-year-old swimmer in northern Wisconsin is being a called a "hero" by her sister. Forty-seven year old Karen Wessel lived in Arlington Heights Illinois. She and her sister, Janice Potocki, swam onto Star Lake near Sayner in Vilas County on Tuesday to save three boys who struggled while trying to swim to an island and were going back to shore. Sheriff's officials said Wessel went under while holding the eight-year-old as high as she could, so he wouldn't go under as well. Wessel was rescued, and was flown to a hospital in Wausau where she died on Tuesday night. Potocki told the Arlington Heights Daily Herald that her sister definitely saved the boy's life. Potocki and the other two swimmers escaped unharmed.