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Milwaukee Brewers' general manager Doug Melvin was scrounging around for starting pitchers at the GM meetings in Chicago that ended Wednesday. He spoke with agents for Dodgers' free agent Randy Wolf and former Brewers' left-hander Doug Davis from Arizona. And Melvin said he was not sure the Brewers could bid for this year's top free-agent starter, John Lackey from the Angels. He went 11-8 at Anaheim this year with a 3.83 ERA. And Lackey is reportedly seeking an offer similar to what A.J. Burnett got from the Yankees a year ago, a five-year deal worth $82.5 million.
The Veterans' Administration has picked Middleton as the place for its new regional billing center. The Madison suburb beat out 11 other cities to get the North Central Patient Account Center. It will be located in a building owned by Steve Cohan, the CEO of a high-tech firm called Intelix. He says $3.5 million will be spent to renovate the building, which is five miles from Madison's VA Hospital. Middleton Mayor Kurt Sonnentag says some existing VA employees will be brought in, but 225 jobs are still open with salaries ranging from $38,000 to $60,000 a year.
Gov. Jim Doyle and a group of Wisconsin business people will start a trade mission to Israel Friday. The Commerce Department says the week-long trip will promote the state's water technologies among other things. Doyle is scheduled to speak in Tel Aviv at the International Water Technologies and Environmental Control Conference. Wisconsin sent $68 million in goods and services to Israel last year. The nation was the 40th largest buyer of Wisconsin exports. Meanwhile, Doyle's administration continues to focus on business closer to home.
About 200 Wisconsin troops are coming home from Iraq today. Members of the Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing will arrive in Madison, where an afternoon reception is planned. The unit has spent the last two months in Iraq, maintaining and flying F-16 fighter jets and supporting ground forces. The unit was also there in 2004, 2006 and last year.
The nation's defense secretary visits Wisconsin today. Robert Gates will meet with employees at the Oshkosh Corp., and thank them for making a more modern and safer truck for use in Afghanistan. Oshkosh won a major contract earlier this year to build the MATV. Sixty-two hundred of them have been ordered so far, at a total cost of $3.2 billion. The first ones arrived in Afghanistan last month. Officials say they're easier to maneuver than heavy trucks and they do a better job of protecting troops than the old Humvees.
A Racine County soldier killed in the Fort Hood massacre will be honored tonight at a college in Milwaukee where he used to teach. Bryant and Stratton College is holding a candle-light vigil for Russell Seager, 51, of Mount Pleasant. He started teaching there in May of 2005 in the nursing and medical assistant programs. Seager was training to go to Afghanistan when he and 12 other soldiers were shot to death a week ago at Fort Hood's processing center. The college says it will rename a medical assistant classroom for Seager and they'll create a new scholarship in his name.
The Green Bay Packer offense had pointed words for themselves and each other at a meeting on Monday, after their loss to 0-7 Tampa Bay. Guard Daryn Colledge said it was a "come-to-Jesus" meeting where the veteran leaders spoke out, right after they watched the game films. Receiver Donald Driver was quoted as saying everyone will be fired at the end of the season if they don't win, and win now. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was called out for holding onto the ball too long before some of his league-high 37 sacks.
The Milwaukee Bucks got a big win last night, beating the Denver Nuggets 108-102 at the Bradley Center. The Bucks almost blew a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter against last year's Western Conference runner-ups. The Nuggets cut the margin to one with 4:23 left when Bucks' rookie Brandon Jennings hit three-pointers on two straight possessions. That put Milwaukee up by seven. But Denver cut the lead to three when Andrew Bogut scored in the lane with 24.7 seconds left and the Bucks held on from there. Jennings scored 14 in the final period, and had 32 on the night with nine assists.
State officials deny that Wisconsin's budget is in dire straits. And they take issue with a report from yesterday that Wisconsin and Illinois share the nation's ninth-worst budget crisis. The Pew Center on the States said Wisconsin is just as bad off as California, which is on the brink of insolvency. The report said Wisconsinites can expect even fewer social services, higher college tuition, and more state employee furloughs at the very least.
How often can you say this? Tickets are available for Wisconsin's home football game against Michigan on Saturday. The Wolverines did not claim their full allotment of seats at Camp Randall Stadium, so the Badgers put the limited number of tickets on sale. They could be bought by phone or Internet, and more information was available at www.UWBadgers.com . Wisconsin's seniors will be honored on Saturday, at their home finale. The Badgers are 7-2 overall. Michigan is 5-5, and needs a victory to be eligible for a bowl game.