Afternoon State News Briefs: Eight state beaches will be cleaned up with EPA grantWisconsin News
-- Eight Wisconsin beaches will be cleaned up using money from a million grant issued by the EPA.
Eight Wisconsin beaches will be cleaned up using money from a million grant issued by the EPA.
The Environmental Protection Agency says this is the latest effort to make beaches safer by eliminating bacteria and other sources of contamination. The announcement was made on Racine’s lakefront. The money will be used to redesign beaches, leading to the improvement of water quality and their overall health. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is headlining the project. Two Kenosha beaches will be improved, along with lake access points in Racine, South Milwaukee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Algoma and Washburn.
Law enforcement officials in southeastern Wisconsin are looking for 29 year old Ronald White. They say he was serving a sentence for operating while intoxicated when he failed to return to the jail. White had been out of the jail for court-ordered alcohol and drug abuse counseling when he allegedly beat his girlfriend last night. He ran away before Milwaukee police could arrest him.
Frost and drought have hurt Wisconsin’s apple crop, but the state’s orchards are reminding people they are still open for business. The late-spring frost decimated the crop at many orchards, meaning there is a public perception the late summer and fall activities are off. Orchards typically open around Labor Day, but the apples are available earlier this season due to the March warm-up. The crop is said to be about one-fourth the normal size, but it is there at orchards in west-central Wisconsin. Some businesses have done away with the pick-your-own attraction because they cost the producers money when customers accidentally drop apples as they reach for the one they want, or drop those they don’t want.
The National Weather Service now says there’s a chance that southeast Wisconsin could get some of the remnants of Hurricane Issac – but not very much. Meteorologist Rusty Kapela says the storm will head into central Missouri by Saturday morning, and then turn northeast toward Ohio. He says the northern edge of Isaac could reach the Chicago area by Sunday night – and if that happens, far southeast Wisconsin could see a tenth-of-an-inch of rain from it. In any event, it will be hardly anything from the last time the Badger State got the remnants of a hurricane. In September of 2008, the remains of hurricanes Gustav and Ike dumped up three-and-a-quarter inches of rain on the southern part of Wisconsin.
A state audit shows very little difference in test results between Milwaukee’s public school students, and low-income kids who get state-funded vouchers to attend private school. The Legislative Audit Bureau released the results today of its comparisons between voucher students and public school kids in both 2011 state standardized test, and the state test from 2007. The auditors found that math scores improved at almost the same rate among both groups. Eighth-graders improved at the same rate in reading – but voucher students in the seventh-and-10th grades had bigger reading improvements than their public school counterparts. Auditors say they could not conclude that voucher kids perform better than public students. For one thing, vouchers schools were not required to administer the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam until a year ago. And the audit said many youngsters transferred between the two systems during the time period that was studied.
Two Wisconsin-based department store chains sold more merchandise this month than what analysts had expected. New reports released today show that Kohl’s Department Stores had a sales gain of three-point-four percent from a year ago in stores open at least a year. The increase is much larger than the one-point-nine percent gain projected by outside analysts. Bon-Ton Stores – which operate Boston Store and Younkers among others – had sales hike of two-point-two-percent between this August and last. Retail Metrics had projected a hike of only one-point-three percent. Kohl’s is based in Menomonee Falls. Its CEO, Kevin Mansell, said all regions and general product lines reported sales hikes. Men’s and children’s clothes did the best, as did footwear. Bon-Ton CEO Brendan Hoffman credited its August sales jump to the refining of its merchandise mix – and better, more compelling marketing. Bon-Ton is based in both Milwaukee and York Pennsylvania.
Drought conditions in Wisconsin are about the same as a week ago. That’s according to the weekly map released today by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Almost 49-point-six percent of the state’s land area remains abnormally dry or worse. It was just over 49-point-seven percent a week ago. Only nine counties are listed as being in an extreme drought – down from 23 at the state’s driest point in July. They include all of Lafayette and Green counties – parts of Grant, Iowa, Rock, Walworth, and Kenosha counties – and very small sections of Dane and Racine counties. About the southern half of the Badger State remains in some type of drought category. The cut-off line remains about the same as last week. It’s a curve that goes from Buffalo and Clark counties to Wausau and down to near Sheboygan. Parts of Door and Florence counties have their own abnormally dry zones. The National Weather Service says there’s no rain in the Wisconsin forecast until at least Sunday.
For the first time in a while, no Wisconsin-based retail chains made the annual “Hot-100” list put out by the National Retail Federation. Kohl’s Department Stores of Menomonee Falls was the only retailer in the Badger State to make the list in recent years. But it dropped out this year, after a sluggish sales growth of two-point-two percent in 2011. Chains that sell over $300-million in products are ranked according to their percentage increases in sales from the year before. Sprouts Farmers Market leads this year’s list with a sales growth of almost 72-percent. It has operated grocery stores in the western and southwestern U.S. for 10 years. Grocery Outlet of Berkeley, California has the smallest growth in sales among those on the “Hot 100” – five-point-seven percent. Electronics dealer H.H. Gregg, which opened its first stores in the Badger State last week, was 13th on the list.
A UW-Madison student died this morning after he was pulled out of Lake Mendota. Authorities said the man was swimming with friends in Lake Mendota, and was under water for several minutes before authorities were called. Madison Fire Department divers pulled the victim from the lake about 15 minutes after their search began. He died later at UW Hospital. The divers were called about 6:50 a.m. to the water in front of the UW Limnology Building. The victim’s name was not immediately released, pending notification of relatives.
Vice President Joe Biden will campaign in Wisconsin on Sunday, just two days before his party’s national convention begins. The Vice-President will speak at the National Railroad Museum on Sunday afternoon at 3:10 – and organizers say there will be room for just over 500 people. Biden has strong labor support, so his appearance on Labor Day Weekend is timely. He’ll also speak in Detroit on Monday, before the Democratic convention begins on Tuesday in Charlotte.