State News Roundup: Drought affecting county fairs in more ways than oneWisconsin News
-- Judges are seeing fewer animals and smaller vegetables at many of this summer’s county fairs throughout Wisconsin.
Judges are seeing fewer animals and smaller vegetables at many of this summer’s county fairs throughout Wisconsin. And the same thing could happen at the State Fair, because of the long drought that continues despite a slight-and-spotty increase in rain over the past couple weeks. The Wisconsin State Fair begins on Thursday in West Allis. And champion pig exhibitor Greg Marzahl of Oxford said he and his daughter will bring about a dozen animals this time. His pigs are around five-percent lighter than normal – and he blames the summer-long heat and dry spell for the smaller appearances and appetites. U-W Extension agent David Laatsch says he’s seen fewer-and-smaller animals at the county fairs he has judged. He said a number of cows may have stayed home due to heat stress. Vegetable and flower entries were down by about two-thirds at this month’s Dane County Fair. Meanwhile, forecasters expect another warm-and-dry week in much of Wisconsin. The National Weather Service says a weak cold front will bring a small chance of showers today in northern and central areas, and it will cause temperatures in southern Wisconsin to return to the 90’s. High pressure is behind the system – and only slight chances of rain are predicted for the rest of the week.
Crews will begin today to replace part of a crude oil pipeline that leaked 12-hundred barrels of oil in a field north of Wisconsin Dells in Adams County. Enbridge Energy could not say what caused the spill – or when the line from Superior to Chicago will start operating again. The leak happened on Friday in the town of Grand Marsh. Enbridge officials said it was discovered very quickly – and most of it was contained to the company’s right-of-way. The pipeline sends about 318-thousand gallons per day of light crude oil from Superior to refineries in the Chicago area. Two similar pipelines along that route resumed operations on Saturday, once it was learned that they were not affected by the spill – and a third line was expected to re-open right after that. Meanwhile, repairs began Saturday on the broken pipeline. Enbridge said two Grand Marsh landowners were affected, and one family was relocated for its safety. Oil was found on two small farm ponds, but drinking water wells were not affected. Federal officials said all of the pooled oil had been cleaned up. Reuters said the impact on Chicago’s oil refiners would depend on how long the pipeline’s out – and how many reserves the refineries have. The spill came at a poor time for Enbridge, which had another pipeline leak in Alberta Canada last month. The firm was the subject of a critical government report on its handling of a ruptured pipeline in Michigan in 2010 that was not noticed for 17 hours.
A Green Bay trucking firm wants the federal government to give its blessing to using hair samples to test potential drivers for drugs. Schneider National of Green Bay has been using the test for four years – and Roehl Transport of Marshfield is among other firms that have started using the screening process. Schneider said it has tested the hair of 38-thousand of its driving candidates. Of those, over 14-hundred failed the test – and 90-percent of those who failed passed a urine test. Urine tests are the accepted government standards for trucking applicants. But Don Osterberg of Schneider National says the urine tests are quote, “simply not catching chronic drug users.” Remnants of hair tests can stay in an applicant for months, while driving candidates can easily clean up their urine. That’s because Schneider National tells applicants in advance that they’ll be tested. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the federal government is committed to finding an alternative drug test for truckers – but they raise significant issues. For one thing, a hair sample can test positive for marijuana if a person is merely in the same room when somebody else is smoking it. And in Wisconsin, the state’s Labor-and-Industry Review Commission does not accept hair testing in appeals involving things like equal rights issues.
Organizers said they were pleased with the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Air-Venture Show that ended yesterday in Oshkosh. E-A-A president Rod Hightower said attendance for the week-long event was down from a year ago – possibly due to the hot temperatures that approached 100-degrees through mid-week. Storms on Thursday damaged several planes, but cooler and pleasant weather prevailed for the weekend. Hightower says he still expects the total crowds to break the 500-thousand mark. The E-A-A will know for sure by the end of the week. Hightower said about 21-hundred foreign visitors from 69 countries attended the convention. And about 40-thousand people camped at the show grounds – 10-percent more than a year ago. The E-A-A featured numerous air shows, historic aviation figures, celebrities, and a salute to veterans. Hightower said about a-thousand home-made airplanes were among the 25-hundred show planes that were on display.