State News Briefs: Metro Milwaukee won its battle against a major source of pollutionWisconsin News
-- Metro Milwaukee has apparently won its long-time battle against a major source of air pollution.
Metro Milwaukee has apparently won its long-time battle against a major source of air pollution. According to the Journal Sentinel, the federal E-P-A is about to declare that southeast Wisconsin has come into compliance with newly-revised standards for ozone. But to the north, Sheboygan County is expected to remain in violation of ozone limits. And to the south, Kenosha County is expected to join nearby Chicago in continued non-compliance. But if the Milwaukee-Racine areas are cleared, it would be huge victory for businesses. That’s because they have not been able to expand since the mid-1990’s unless they added more expensive pollution control equipment, or bought pollution credits from other industries which don’t need them. Scott Manley of the Wisconsin Manufacturers-and-Commerce group calls it a huge win for Metro Milwaukee, and the removal of a major stigma. But environmental groups say it’s too early to declare victory. That’s because the Obama administration did not reduce ozone limits as much as it had planned. Late last year, the ozone limit fell from 80-parts-per-billion to 75. The E-P-A had considered dropping it to as low as 60. Meanwhile, consumers won’t see much of a difference. They’ll still have to buy reformulated gasoline. But a D-N-R official says their annual vehicle pollution tests might come to an end. The state expects to the new ozone limits to stay in place until as long as 2016.
State education officials are at a loss to explain why over two-thirds of local school referendums were approved last week – when the normal rate is about half. Voters said yes to 21-out-of-29 proposals to borrow millions to fix-or-replace aging school buildings, or to raise taxes beyond the state’s revenue limits. Beloit approved one of the most expensive referendums in state history – 70-million dollars for a new middle school and a host of renovations. And that was in a place with 12-and-a-half unemployment, and some of the state’s lowest property values per student. But the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce saw the project as a chance to boost the community’s economy as well as its education. Joe Quick of Wisconsin Association of School Boards says referendums are local issues – and their success depends on a how a community perceives a need and responds to it. Beloit Superintendent Steve McNeal said endorsements from business-and-community groups were vital, and over 100 presentations were made to voters. They even approved a new high school swimming pool, which is always a hard sell. But McNeal said Beloit Memorial was the only school in its conference that could not host a swim meet – while nearby Janesville has five pools in its school district.
A search was expected to continue today for a La Crosse area boater missing since Good Friday in a northwest Wisconsin lake. Barron County authorities said a 50-year-old Onalaska man apparently fell from a boat on Red Cedar Lake. Rescuers were notified by a person who spotted an unoccupied boat on the lake. Divers scoured the lake the past two days, while other officers have been using sonar equipment to try and find the missing man. His name was expected to be released later today.
A West Bend man was killed during the weekend, when his car slammed into a stopped semi-truck on the Highway 45 expressway in Washington County. Sheriff’s deputies said the car got wedged under the semi. It happened early Saturday near the northbound exit at Highway 145 at Germantown. Officials said a couple pulled their semi off the road to talk about their next stop – and its warning lights were activated. The couple in the truck escaped injury. The name of the car driver was not immediately released.
A search continued yesterday for a 55-year-old northern Wisconsin woman. Sandra Schinke of Sayner was last seen Thursday walking on Vilas County Trunk “N” east of Sayner. The D-N-R has conducted air searches of the area, and sheriff’s deputies have used canine units. A rescue team from nearby Sawyer County has helped with the search, along with people from several fire departments among others.
About 600 baby chickens were killed over the weekend in a fire in Racine County. The blaze started late Saturday in a barn near Mount Pleasant. The barn was engulfed in flames when fire-fighters arrived. The cause remains under investigation, but officials said the fire was thought to be suspicious. No people were hurt. The owner of the barn raises chickens for eggs – and the farm had just received a new shipment of chicks on the morning of the blaze.