Friday State News Briefs: Cheese production up in the stateWisconsin News
-- Wisconsin’s cheese production went up in February, but not by as much as the nation as a whole.
Wisconsin’s cheese production went up in February, but not by as much as the nation as a whole.
Officials said the Badger State made almost 212 pounds of cheese. That’s a four-point-one increase from the previous year. This February was three-and-a-half percent longer than last year because of Leap Day – and Wisconsin’s production increase exceeded the extra time. Still, the nation’s cheese output grew even more at 6.2 percent – and Wisconsin lost a little of its lead over second-place California, which had a 7.3 percent increase. Idaho remains the country’s third-largest cheese producer, with New Mexico fourth and New York fifth. All those states posted increases from 2010.
It’s Good Friday – and Christians will take time out to observe the death of Christ before his resurrection on Easter Sunday. Many Wisconsinites will attend Good Friday church services between noon-and-3 – but in general, most businesses and offices have gone away from a previous tradition of closing between those hours. Federal offices are open today, and you’ll get your mail this afternoon. Wisconsin state offices are also open, although a number of local governments shut down for the day. Some schools are open and some are not. And for those who are off, many churches plan to finish their services in plenty of time to see the Milwaukee Brewers’ baseball opener against the Saint Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. The first pitch is at 3:05 p.m.
Easter is not normally a big travel weekend – but state DOT officials are advising motorists of expected delays on an Interstate bridge south of Portage. Traffic is reduced from three lanes to two on the Wisconsin River bridge on Interstate 39-90-94. Officials advise drivers to use alternate routes throughout the holiday weekend, and they plan to have portable message boards provide up-to-date information as delays occur.
Chinook salmon on Lake Michigan may soon be harder to come by. Fish managers are considering a 50-percent reduction in their stockings of Chinook over the next few years. That’s because the normal predator-and-prey behavior has caused an imbalance. Biologists say that too many salmon and trout in Lake Michigan cause the number of bait-fish to decline – and that could cause the Chinook population to starve or fall prey to a disease. Fishery managers in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana plan to set a new stocking policy by this fall. Michigan officials are starting to get public input on the matter. A workshop is planned a week from tomorrow at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
If you’re having trouble getting Wisconsin travel information on the Internet, you’re not alone. The state DOT says its Web-based travel information systems were down overnight, because an upgrade is taking place on the network. As a result, Internet camera images, freeway overhead signs, and estimates of travel times on the freeways might be sporadic this morning. The DOT said its technical staff worked all night so the outages would be as short as possible. Meanwhile, those who monitor traffic can still see real-time video – and they’re working with law enforcement when necessary. And as usual, the DOT is sharing information on its 511WI Twitter accounts for its five regions of the state.
A ninth salmonella case has been confirmed in Wisconsin, as part of a national outbreak over the last five weeks. The latest case turned up in Milwaukee County – the fourth in that location. Neighboring Waukesha County has the other five. The cause is still being investigated, but officials said most of the victims ate sushi, sashimi, or similar foods at a variety of locations. A specific source has not been found, and public health officials have not issued any warnings to avoid certain products, food suppliers, or restaurants. There have 94 confirmed cases in 19 states and Washington D-C. Most salmonella victims said they had diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 12-to-72 hours after they were infected. The illnesses have lasted about 4-to-7 days. Paul Biedrzycki of the Milwaukee Health Department says he expects more cases – but he does not believe it will be a major outbreak. Three of Wisconsin’s nine victims were hospitalized, but they have all since recovered.