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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Gov. Walker's approval rating have taken a slight dip

MADISON -- Governor Scott Walker's job approval rating has taken a slight dip according a survey of registered voters. The Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday shows that 47 percent of voters approve of how the Republican governor is handling his job. The same portion disapprove, and 6 percent are unsure. A January poll found 51 approved of Walker's job performance. The poll also asks how voters see Walker as a person. Forty-nine percent see him favorably and 47 percent unfavorably, about the same as in January. The poll interviewed 801 registered votes between March 20 and 23. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

__________________ According to a new poll, the governor's race between incumbent Republican Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke remains tight. The Marquette law school poll released Wednesday shows that 48 percent of registered voters would vote for Walker and 41 percent support Burke. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The poll of 801 registered voters was done between March 20 and 23. It's the first poll conducted since the two campaigns started advertising in the governor's race.

 __________________ Forty Wisconsin counties declined slightly in population from 2010 to 2013, according to the most recent estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The declines affected mostly smaller counties that have struggled to maintain population levels during the past decade. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that only two counties with more than 100,000 people — Racine and Sheboygan — lost people since 2010. Rusk and Price counties shrank by the largest percentage, both by about 2.2 percent. Wood County lost the greatest number of people at 821. Still, the growth in some of the larger counties counterbalanced the modest declines in rural Wisconsin. Overall, the state's population increased by 53,653, or less than 1 percent, to 5,742,713.
 ______________________ Green Bay homeowners were among the hardest hit in the state, after FEMA recently raised insurance rates for those living in flooplains. Some residents saw premiums climb as much as 300-percent. Realtors Association of Northeast Wisconsin President Mari (Mary) Reichel (RIKE-ell) is hopeful legislation signed by President Obama last week will limit future increases. The bill limits annual increases to between 18 and 25 percent, which she says should provide more certainty for property owners. Without the limits, Reichel says it would have been nearly impossible to sell homes located in a floodplain.
 ______________________ The Green Bay Press Gazette reports that four paper companies, the city of Appleton and the Neenah-Menasha Sewerage Commission agreed Wednesday to pay $54.1 million to settle federal, state and tribal claims for the decades-old discharge of PCBs into the lower Fox River. In return, the companies and municipalities will receive protection against the claims of nonsettling parties NCR Corp. and Appleton Papers Inc. According to federal court documents, U.S. Paper Mills Corp. will pay $14.7 million for the cleanup of PCBs and natural resource damages. Menasha Corp. will pay $13.7 million, WTM 1 Co. will pay $12.2 million, and CBC Coating Inc. will pay $3 million.

Appleton and the Neenah-Menasha Sewerage Commission each will pay $5.2 million. In addition the state will pay $100,000.

The settlement must be approved by U.S. District Court Judge William Griesbach after a 30-day comment period. _____________________ A farm field between Eau Claire and Fall Creek may become an energy-producing solar garden for members of the Eau Claire Energy Cooperative if a plan co-op officials are considering proceeds. The Eau Claire Leader Telegram reports that the plan calls for the co-op’s 10,600 members to have the option to buy one or more solar panels and receive a break in the prices they pay for energy produced by the co-op. The solar panels would be placed in a 5-acre field on co-op property behind its offices on Highway 12 east of Eau Claire. The panels would be screened from the highway by trees. ______________________  

An 81-year-old West Allis man was killed Wednesday after colliding with a squad car on its way to an accident. The crash happened just before 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Authorities say the 81-year-old man died after arriving at the hospital. His name is being withheld until relatives are notified. Police say the officer was treated for minor injuries and released. The Wisconsin State Patrol has been asked to investigate the crash.


 One of New London's major employers is shutting down. Saputo Cheese says its plant in New London will close by August 23. The closing will put 67 people out of work. The plant has operated in New London for more than 60 years. Saputo says it would be too expensive to update the plant to modern standards. The Montreal-based company is closing three other plants, one in Maryland and two in Canada. The closings are set to begin in May and be finished by December 2015.