WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Traffic deaths down by 15 percent
Wisconsin traffic deaths are down by about 15-percent this year – partially because of all the rain and cool temperatures we’ve had. State D-O-T crash analyst Don Lyden says the weather has kept motorcycles at home. As a result, 43 people have been killed this year in Wisconsin motorcycle mishaps as of Tuesday – down from 61 at the same time in 2012. Overall, the Badger State has had 333 traffic deaths from New Year’s Day through July 30th. That’s 52 fewer than the previous year. Also, Lyden says we’re not seeing as many multiple victims in crashes than we did in 2012 – when one mishap had five people killed. The main causes of traffic deaths are speeding, alcohol, and not wearing seat belts and motorcycle helmets. Of the 281 deaths this year, the D-O-T says 60 involved alcohol – and 74 involved speeding. Officials said 82 people killed in cars and light trucks were not buckled up, and 78 were. Traffic death totals for July are expected to be out within the next few days.
The Wisconsin State Fair opens this morning in West Allis. The 11-day expo attracted 921-thousand people last year – the most in over a decade. It’s the state’s largest agricultural showcase. It attracted over 34-hundred exhibitors a year ago, who displayed numerous animals, crops, and other items. As always, the Wisconsin Bakers Association will offer the fair’s classic Cream Puffs. Dozens of new food items will also be available. The State Fair is also hosting a new food competition called the “Sporkies.” Among the finalists to be judged are deep-freed peanut butter, bacon nuggets with jelly, and rasta shrimp sliders. Duck races are being added to the pig contests at the Racing Animals’ Arena. Tonight’s main stage entertainment features Ann and Nancy Wilson and the 1970’s rock band Heart.
A Door County couple has given two-million-dollars to a Lutheran college in Iowa. Mike and Marge McCoy of Ellison Bay created an endowment fund for a special faculty member at Wartburg College in Waverly Iowa. The instructor will be in the school’s religion and philosophy department, and part of McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage-and-Mission. The McCoys have two children who are Wartburg graduates. The gift is Wartburg’s largest ever from a person or a couple who made a direct donation instead of leaving it behind in an estate. Wartburg has about 17-hundred-50 students. It’s affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
For the third time since mid-May, advocates for fast-food workers in Milwaukee are staging a protest today for higher wages and union representation. The Journal Sentinel said two employees of a McDonald’s near the Mayfair Mall walked off their jobs to join the Reverend Willie Brisco and his supporters in a street rally. Brisco is the head of the Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope. The rally was part of a day of demonstrations planned in several major U-S cities. They’re demanding 15-dollars an hour for fast-food employees, plus the right to join unions without retaliation. One of the workers who walked out this morning, Mario Crowley, said it took him six years at his job to be paid 7.50-an-hour. The group “Rise Up Milwaukee” is planning a similar rally this afternoon. That group held demonstration in Milwaukee last month, where Congresswoman Gwen Moore said fast-food places are not the “mom-and-pop” diners that many portray themselves to be. The National Restaurant Association says fast-food places have an average profit margin of four-percent, so a higher minimum wage would hurt their ability to maintain jobs.
Gogebic Taconite now says it might not have to use explosives in the next phase of its preliminary work for its new iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin. The company issued a response this week to concerns the state D-N-R raised almost a month ago about the sampling of underground rock at the site. The company says it will examine much of the rocks left behind from a 1960 U-S Steel mining operation. If the review is successful, the firm it would create fewer sampling sites with no need for blasting. The company said it would create a 300-foot safety perimeter with fencing, to keep people away from the heavy equipment and possible blasting. The D-N-R had also ordered Gogebic to outline its plans to restore the sampling sites, and re-establish vegetation. Much of the land is in the state’s Managed Forest program. That means the public can hunt, fish, hike, and cross-country ski on the land – but they cannot bike, camp, or drive motor vehicles there.
Wisconsin youngsters go back-to-school in just over a month – and some parents are surprised by the growing list of supplies they have to buy. Brenda Salaj of Seymour said back-to-school items used to cost 100-dollars, including clothes. Now, she says it’s more like 500. WLUK TV of Green Bay checked the shopping list that Salaj received from an intermediate school in Seymour – and everything on the list cost 103-dollars. That includes 60 pencils, four packs of Expo dry-erase markers, a backpack, and gym shoes. Seymour’s administrator says they’re trying to keep registration fees as low as possible. The station also talked to two Wisconsin Rapids teachers who went to a Green Bay store to bulk up on supplies. Melanie Pierzchalski said many school budgets don’t pay for classroom supplies anymore. That means parents now have to pay extra for what they used to get as part of their taxes and-or fees. Salaj asked why teachers demand higher-priced brand names. Pierzchalski said brand-name items last longer, and can save parents money in the long run. School officials say parent-teacher organizations can help provide supplies for parents who cannot afford the cost. WLUK says a number of charities also have free give-aways.
Just months after saying it might have to leave Wisconsin, the educational software company Skyward unveiled plans yesterday for a new headquarters complex in Stevens Point. The firm plans to spend up to 30-million dollars on a campus across from its current location in the Portage County Business Park. Company officials say it has the potential to create up to 700 new jobs. Skyward develops student databases for local school districts. Last year, it lost out on a contract for a single statewide database. The firm appealed the rejection, and said it would move to Texas or Florida if it lost. It didn’t get that far, though, because the state Legislature stepped in and allowed more than one company to supply the new state database – thus keeping Skyward in the loop. Company officials thanked lawmakers and Governor Scott Walker yesterday for their help. Walker said Skyward is enjoying tremendous growth, and the home-grown Stevens Point firm has showed a strong commitment to remain in Wisconsin. Skyward has 388 jobs around the country now. The firm expects that number to grow to over 670 employees in five years, and over a-thousand in 10 years.