Morning State News Roundup: July a good month for cheese makersWisconsin News
-- Wisconsin cheese-makers have again out-performed their national counterparts.
Wisconsin cheese-makers have again out-performed their national counterparts. Officials said the Badger State produced almost 215-million pounds of cheese in July, four-point-one percent more than the same month a year ago.
The increase was much higher than the national hike of two-point-three percent. And Wisconsin – the nation’s top cheese producer – had a much bigger increase than second-place California. The Golden State made almost 186-million pounds of cheese in July, up 1.3 percent. American cheeses had their biggest increases in Wisconsin, with a jump of five-point-one percent in July. Italian and Cheddar cheese output grew by smaller amounts. Nationally, 874-million pounds of cheese were produced in July.
Researchers in Wisconsin and Iowa are trying to come up with more accurate guidelines to help farmers decide when it’s early enough for their kids to drive tractors safely. Teenagers are four times more likely to die in farm accidents than in other workplaces. The Obama White House tried to address the problem with new limits on child farm labor. But the proposals were dropped after farm groups and families complained that an over-reaching government was trying to attack their way of life. Now, the Marshfield Clinic’s National Farm Medicine Center is working with the University of Iowa on a new state-of-the-art driving simulator, in which youngsters can test their ability to perform farm tasks with tractors. Next month, 88 farm youngsters who drive tractors will jump into a John Deere tractor, and be exposed to simulated situations to test their ability to navigate around people and objects. Software will record all of their moves, to provide a report card. Ten adult farmers will also take part in the study. The National Institute for Occupational Safety-and-Health is funding the research. Barbara Marlenga of the Farm Medicine Center says farmers want to keep their traditions – like letting kids hop on tractors at a young age. But she says the injury-and-death data show that those situations are not safe.
Two children at a day-care center in far northwest Wisconsin were confirmed to have whooping cough – and several other kids are being tested. The facility is in Superior’s home county of Douglas – but its name and location have not been released due to concerns about privacy. County health nurses have contacted parents of children who attend the day-care center, to recommend further tests or precautionary antibiotics. Whooping cough is also known as pertussis. It’s spread by coughing, often after repeated face-to-face contact. It’s been a bad year for pertussis in Wisconsin, with almost 35-hundred cases being reported statewide as of July 31st.
State health officials say seven probable human cases of the West Nile Virus have cropped up between the Madison-and-Milwaukee areas. Four of those cases were in Milwaukee County, two in Waukesha County, and the other in Dane County. Wisconsin still has only one confirmed human case of West Nile, which is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. That was in Dodge County, where the affected patient has recovered after being hospitalized. Officials say the probable cases are in the process of being reviewed by the U-S Centers for Disease Control. Also, 26 dead birds have been confirmed to have West Nile – but Wisconsin is still getting off easy compared to neighboring Minnesota and Illinois, plus other states in the nation’s mid-section. The Dallas area reported hundreds of cases earlier this summer. West Nile cases generally peak in August and September in the Upper Midwest. State officials say about 80-percent of those infected do not get sick – and less than one-percent get seriously ill.
State transportation officials say they’ll ask the federal government for a waiver, so it won’t have to spend millions-of-dollars to remodel Milwaukee’s downtown train station. Federal officials have pressured the state for several years to rebuild the concourse at the state-owned train station, to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Now, Republican Governor Scott Walker is banking on voters to elect Mitt Romney as president, with the hopes of eliminating the construction mandate. Former Governor Jim Doyle was able to get %20-million in federal dollars for the project. But Walker rejected the money, when he turned down another $800-million to build a new Amtrak line between Milwaukee and Madison. At first, the Walker administration had designed a less expensive remodeling, to cost as little as $15-million dollars. But last fall, the Federal Railroad Administration adopted more stringent guidelines to help the disabled board trains – and they apply to the Milwaukee project because construction did not begin by last February.