State News Roundup: Temperatures starting to warm upWisconsin News
-- Folks in southern Wisconsin are not shivering for a change.
Folks in southern Wisconsin are not shivering for a change. Temperatures are about 15-degrees warmer than yesterday in parts of the region. It was 10-above in Madison at five o’clock. Platteville, Prairie du Chien, and Boscobel were the warm spots at plus-12. Wind chills in the south are generally above zero. But northern Wisconsin has not shaken the four-day cold spell just yet. It was 20-below this morning in Eagle River and nearby Land O’Lakes. Rhinelander had a wind chill of minus-27, but that was still warmer than the 40-below wind-chill from yesterday. In Hayward, it’s about 10-degrees warmer than yesterday at this time -- but it’s still minus-11. It’s expected to get above zero everywhere in the state today. But a weak low-pressure system is expected to bring us a little snow. Some areas could get up to an inch. The cold snap killed two people in Wisconsin, and four in the Upper Midwest. It also caused fires that destroyed a dairy barn and a mobile home in the southern part of the state – both started by landowners using heat to thaw frozen pipes.
Those who want Badger-Care expanded held a rally in Wausau yesterday. And they urged Governor Scott Walker to seek an expansion of Wisconsin’s Medicaid programs under the Obama health care law. Wisconsin Jobs Now organized the Wausau event. It says the state could get 211-thousand people off Badger-Care’s waiting list, by taking 12-billion dollars that Washington would offer. But in mid-December, state Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith told Congress that the Medicaid expansion would cost Wisconsin more than it would get from Washington. Smith said it won’t provide enough extra reimbursements for those who would need to sign up for programs like Badger Care Plus. And Smith said funding reforms must be made before Wisconsin or any other state could expand its state-and-federally-funded Medicaid. Still, the Walker administration has not said whether it would reject the chance to seek such an expansion. The decision is expected to be announced when the Republican Walker introduces his proposed state budget in about a month. Marathon County Supervisor and former state lawmaker John Robinson told the rally that expanding Badger-Care should not be a partisan issue. He said Wisconsin has a rich tradition of supporting Badger-Care, noting that Republican Governor Tommy Thompson started it and Democrat Jim Doyle kept it going.
Wisconsin’s Ashley Furniture continues to get bigger. The Arcadia-based firm says it will open a new plant in Verona Mississippi, where it will employ 60 people to make mattresses and sofa-sleepers. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant made the announcement yesterday during his State-of-the-State address, and Ashley C-E-O Todd Wanek was on hand for it. The state provided 165-thousand-dollars in community development funds to improve roads to serve the plant. It will be located in a 275-thousand square foot industrial structure that’s now vacant. Wanek said Ashley chose the site because it’s close to other Mississippi operations, it’s connected to a railroad, and it’s located in a foreign trade zone.
This week’s cold spell has made it quite a challenge to distribute milk to the needy. Food banks throughout the Badger State have been busy handing out thousands of gallons of milk left behind when the Golden Guernsey dairy plant in Waukesha unexpectedly closed on January fifth. Yesterday, a delivery truck broke down in the bitter cold before it finally made it to La Crosse to drop off a shipment. Volunteers bundled up at a distribution site, and handed out two-and-three-pint cartons of milk to motorists as they drove by. It took about three hours to give away around five-thousand gallons of milk. Yesterday was the product’s sell-by date. When the Golden Guernsey plant closed, hundreds of schools and grocers were left scrambling for milk before substitutes were quickly found. The Hunger Task Force said the products left in the tanks should go to the needy instead of being wasted – and it took some negotiating before the plant’s bankruptcy trustee agreed to let it go.