Afternoon State News Briefs: Mukwonago students boycott lighter school lunchesWisconsin News
-- One size does not fit all. That’s what students in Mukwonago are saying about the nation’s new dietary standards for school lunches. Yesterday, 70-percent of the 830 Mukwonago High School students boycotted what their cafeteria was serving – and sales of middle school lunches were also down by half.
MUKWONAGO - One size does not fit all. That’s what students in Mukwonago are saying about the nation’s new dietary standards for school lunches. Yesterday, 70-percent of the 830 Mukwonago High School students boycotted what their cafeteria was serving – and sales of middle school lunches were also down by half.
The USDA adopted the new school lunch guidelines as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. But Mukwonago football linebacker Nick Blohm says the new rules don’t make him hunger-free. He figures that he burns three-thousand calories between his early-morning weight lifting and the end of practice in the early evening. But the school won’t even serve him a third-of-that – 850 calories is the max. The new guidelines call for only low-fat or non-fat milk – more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables – and fewer items with high salt and sugar contents. Also, the portions are smaller – which seems to rankle students the most. Mukwonago senior Joey Bougneit told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel quote, “A freshman girl who weighs 100 pounds can eat this lunch and feel completely full.” He also noted that the price is a dime higher than last year. That’s because the USDA wants schools to charge nearly the amount which the agency reimburses schools for free lunches for the poor. The school district’s food supervisor, Pam Harris, said she’s all in favor of fighting childhood obesity – but she said the changes are too abrupt, and they do nothing to help overweight kids. Harris said what happens at home is quote, “a major piece of that puzzle.”
More than half of Wisconsin adults will be obese by 2030, unless something is done to slow the state’s obesity rate. That prediction and others are in a report released this morning by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health. Almost 28-percent of Wisconsin adults are now considered obese – which means their body mass index is 30-or-higher. The report says Wisconsinites would save almost $12-billion in health care costs if they could reduce their average body mass by five-percent. If not, they would pay almost 15-percent more in health premiums, co-pays, and taxes to cover the health problems of a rapidly growing number of obese residents. The Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health says obesity could help cause 708-thousand new cases of Type-Two diabetes over the next two decades – along with one-and-a-half million new cases of heart disease and strokes. The report also includes suggestions for reducing obesity rates – like increasing physical activity time in school, and making fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable. Jeff Levi of the Trust for America’s Health says small changes can make a big difference – and policy changes can make healthier choices easier for Americans to make.
Wisconsin’s housing market is continuing its strong recovery. The state’s Realtors Association said today that its members sold just over 64-hundred existing houses in August. That’s up 20-percent from the 53-hundred homes sold in August of 2011. The median selling price also kept rising. It jumped almost three-percent over the last year, to 144-thousand dollars in August. Home sales by Realtors grew nicely in every region of the state – from about 16-percent in central Wisconsin to 36-percent in the north. For the first eight months of the year, the Realtors said home sales were up by 21-percent across the Badger State – while prices rose eight-tenths-of-one percent from the same period the year before. Marquette economics professor David Clark says it’s clear that Wisconsin’s housing market is recovering. He said prices have quote, “bottomed out, barring a double-dip recession.”
A $10,000 cash bond has been ordered for an Oshkosh woman accused of killing a pedestrian while driving drunk, and then leaving the scene. 45-year-old Tina Trepanier is charged in Winnebago County Circuit Court with negligent-and-drunken homicide, and hit-and-run while causing death. 53-year-old Gina Micheln was killed September seventh when she was hit by two hit-and-run vehicles. Trepanier is accused of driving the first one, and dragging Micheln for a block before the second vehicle hit her. Officials said the impact from Trepanier’s vehicle is what killed the pedestrian. Police were still looking for the second driver at last word. Trepanier is due back in court next Monday to continue her proceedings. A preliminary hearing is set for a week from Thursday, when a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to order a trial.
Madison residents who think there should be a traffic signal on their street corner can make the city aware of their concerns a week from Thursday. A public hearing is going to be held in the city council chambers at 6 p.m. to take input on the 2012 Traffic Signal Priority List. Traffic flows change from year to year, meaning some signals are added and others can come down. After Thursday’s meeting, a commission will review the priority list and make final recommendations on where new traffic signals should be located by November 28th.
An official of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says local governments and schools are keeping what’s most important to them in the union bargaining law. They’re the higher pension and health care payments required of most public employees. Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas threw out the union bargaining limits for local governments and schools last week. Today, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed a request to delay last Friday’s decision until the state finishes appealing the case. Tax alliance research director Dale Knapp says the local-and-school leaders will keep the extra amounts they’ve charged for pensions and health care. But the judge said Milwaukee city employees should get their higher pension costs rolled back, because they violated home rule clauses. Milwaukee city and county employees are the only ones with their own pension programs. All others are part of the state Retirement Fund. If the judge’s ruling is not delayed, Knapp says school districts could run into trouble if they switched health insurance carriers in the past year – or if they added more work time for union employees. Knapp said those issues could be relatively easy to work out in schools where the unions and management work well with each other. Teachers’ unions in Madison and Merrill are among those seeking new negotiations now on a full contract – but others on both sides are waiting to see how the matter plays out in the courts.
Governor Scott Walker called a special election today for a state Senate seat that’s been vacant for a month-and-a-half. Republican Rich Zipperer of Pewaukee resigned from the Senate to become the governor’s deputy chief-of-staff in early August. Walker scheduled a special election for December fourth – the earliest it could be held at the time Zipperer changed jobs. A Republican primary is expected, and it will take place on November sixth – the same day as the county, state, and federal contests. Republicans have held Zipperer’s former Senate seat for years in suburban Waukesha County, and two GOP Assembly members earlier announced plans to run for the open post – Paul Farrow of Pewaukee and Chris Kapenga of Delafield.
Researchers in Milwaukee are getting a $400,000 grant to study the development of Type-One juvenile diabetes – and possible ways to prevent the disease. JDRF – formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation – announced the grants today for the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Max McGee National Research Center for Juvenile Diabetes. The head of the McGee Center, Martin Hessner, will perform studies on a test which could be an early indicator of Type-One diabetes. Hessner’s team developed the test – and officials said it might be able to detect juvenile diabetes for up to five years before the first symptoms take hold. Hessner is a professor at the Medical College, and his McGee Center is affiliated with Milwaukee Children’s Hospital.