Thursday State News Briefs: Eight persons from Milwaukee sick from nation-wide samonella outbreakWisconsin News
-- Wisconsin health officials say eight people in Metro Milwaukee are among those who got sick from a salmonella outbreak involving 90 people in 19 states.
Wisconsin health officials say eight people in Metro Milwaukee are among those who got sick from a salmonella outbreak involving 90 people in 19 states.
As of this morning, five cases have been confirmed in Waukesha County, and another three in Milwaukee County. Three of the eight victims were hospitalized. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control are trying to identify the source of the outbreak. Officials say it might be related to sushi. And health investigators are zeroing in on spicy tuna rolls as the possible culprit. Wisconsin officials say they’re monitoring other possible salmonella cases – and they’re helping the federal probe by interviewing victims about what they’ve eaten.
The tornado season is here. A stark reminder came this week, when twisters heavily damaged a trucking facility in North Texas owned by Schneider National of Green Bay. Wisconsin Emergency Management says people should get to a shelter as soon as they hear a tornado warning – and not check for a possible twister by looking to the sky, calling friends, or checking other sources of information. Officials point to a study by the National Weather Service which found that survivors of last year’s Joplin Missouri tornado needed 2-to-9 warnings before they finally took shelter. Wisconsin will observe Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week starting April 16th. On the 19th, there will be a statewide tornado drill to help schools, businesses, and residents practice their tornado response procedures. The National Weather Service confirmed 38 tornadoes in Wisconsin last year, the fourth-highest in history. The first was April 10th. The same network of tornadoes that hit Joplin also caused a tornado to touch down in La Crosse on the same night in late May. That storm damaged about 200 buildings.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed two pro-business bills into law today in Milwaukee. One bill lets the Wisconsin Housing-and-Economic Development Authority provide financing for business projects. Those types of loans have been banned since the 1980’s – and the new law allows WHEDA (wee-duh) to issue federally tax-exempt bonds for business expansions. The Republican Walker calls it a “common-sense change” when funding is a challenge. The agency recently started a seven-million-dollar Equity Investment Fund with a federal grant aimed toward small business investments in low-income communities. Also today, the governor ended penalties for “angel investors” who get state tax credits for providing money to get new businesses off the ground. Those investors would no longer have to pay back the tax credits if they got out of the investments within three years of making them. Also, there would no longer be penalties if a start-up business fails within three years – or is acquired by somebody else. Walker says the measure strengthens what he calls one of the nation’s “leading angel and early stage investment tax credit programs.”
Gov. Walker tells a Christian TV interviewer that his faith is very important, and it has sustained him and his family in the 15 months he’s been Wisconsin’s governor. The Republican Walker told David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network that effort to recall him has gotten so bad, that his two high school-aged sons in Wauwatosa have been quote, “targeted on Facebook.” Walker also said a grocery shopper yelled at his mother, who’s in her 70’s. But for all those types of incidents, Walker said quote, “There’s 10-fold people that come up to me at a factory or a farm or a small business and say, ‘Hey Governor, me and my family are praying for you.’” And Walker told the Christian network quote, “God’s got a plan for us that – who knows – where it might be even beyond just serving as governor of this state.”
The state DOT announced a special new license plate today to honor Wisconsin’s female veterans. The red, white, and blue plates carry the name “Woman Veteran.” Motorists will also get decals for the plates which signify the military branches in which the women served. The motor vehicle division offers 56 options for military plates for service members and veterans, and students-and-graduates of military academies. The new “Woman Veteran” plates will cost an extra fifteen dollars the first year only – and personalized plates cost an extra fifteen dollars. The initial surcharge goes to the Veterans Trust Fund.
Wisconsin’s busy-bees were not as busy in 2011. The state’s honey production was down 12 percent from the previous year. The USDA said Wisconsin made three-point-six million pounds of honey in the past year, down from four-point-one million in 2010. But Wisconsin’s decline was smaller than the nation as a whole. Almost 150 million pounds of honey were made in the U-S in 2011, a drop of 16-percent. One reason is that the numbers of honey-producing bee colonies has slipped. And because of that, we’re paying more for honey. The average price to producers is 1.73-a-pound, 11 cents more than in 2010. Wisconsin is the country’s ninth-largest honey-maker. North Dakota is Number-One, followed by California and South Dakota.
It was another cold morning in Wisconsin – at least colder than it’s been. Temperatures are in the 20’s in about the northern third of the Badger State, and as far south as Stevens Point. The rest of the state’s in the 30’s. The National Weather Service will again have freeze warnings tonight and tomorrow morning for north-and-west-central Wisconsin. A freeze watch will be in effect into tomorrow for southern and eastern areas. Forecasters say it will be Sunday before the entire state has overnight lows about freezing again. And there’s a chance of snow-mixed-with-rain in northern areas on Monday.
Meanwhile, the state’s fruit growers are concerned about the return of frost after a record-warm March. Tom Lochner of the Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association says this spring is unlike any his growers have seen. The group normally puts out nightly frost forecasts around April 15th. But this year, they’re about three weeks early. Lochner says growers are using sprinkler systems to keep the cranberry crop warm at night. And he says apple and cherry growers are also nervous about the colder weather. That’s because their trees are already blooming.
Wisconsin’s annual search for the tree-killing emerald ash borer will be focused mainly in the northern half of the state. Personnel from the agriculture department have started hanging over 21-hundred box-like detection traps in ash trees. Almost all of them are being placed north of a line from Manitowoc to Trempealeau. About 100 are being placed in the southern half of Wisconsin. Twelve counties are under quarantine for the emerald ash borer. It restricts the movement of firewood, nursery stock, and other ash products. The quarantine is in La Crosse, Vernon, Crawford, Brown, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Washington, Ozaukee, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha counties.
According to new state figures, it only cost $200,000 to clean up and repair the damage from last year’s pro-union protests at the State Capitol. The Walker administration told a judge at the time that the protestors caused seven-and-a-half million dollars in damage – mostly to the Capitol’s sensitive marble walls when they taped up hundreds-of-signs. The larger figure was meant to get the judge to uphold temporary public entry restrictions that were in place at the Capitol. The judge refuse to buy the state’s argument – but the restrictions continued, and a settlement was eventually worked out that re-opened all eight Capitol entrances and removed the metal detectors that were in place. Actually, the biggest clean-up cost was to replace the damaged bushes and shrubs outside the building – and to re-seed the lawn. That cost around 65-thousand-dollars. Another 43-thousand was spent to clean the Capitol walls and remove the tape residue left by the protest signs. The state’s biggest cost during the month-long demonstrations was for security. Local law enforcement officers from throughout the state were paid around nine-million dollars for their service.