Madison Office: 122 South, State Capitol  Phone: (608) 266-7745  E-mail: Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wi.gov
12/28/2012
SeniorCare Waiver Extended
Wisconsin got welcome news this week when it was announced that the federal government will renew the waiver authorizing the continuation of SeniorCare.  The waiver will extend the SeniorCare program until December 31, 2015.  SeniorCare is Wisconsin’s prescription drug program that provides affordable, comprehensive prescription drug coverage to thousands of Wisconsin’s seniors.  For more information about SeniorCare please visit www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/seniorcare.
12/21/2012
Be Careful of Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams
As students look for ways of helping meet their financial obligations with rising tuition costs, they need to be cautious of scholarship and financial aid scams.  Some of these scams include guaranteeing students award money and often require paying a fee to apply for financial aid.  Below are some key words that should raise red flags as to the legitimacy of an offer:
 
             The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back."
             "You can't get this information anywhere else."
             "I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship."
             "We'll do all the work. You just pay a processing fee."
             "The scholarship will cost some money."
             "You've been selected" by a "national foundation" to receive a scholarship – or "You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.
 
The only application that will determine eligibility for all financial aid programs is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  You can complete the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov and learn about other FAFSA filing options at www.fafsa.ed.gov/options.htm .  You also can call 1-800-4-FED-AID. 
 
If you believe you have been involved in a scam please contact the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection at 800-422-7128 to file a consumer complaint or visit:   http://datcp.wi.gov/Consumer/Consumer_Complaints/index.aspx .
 
12/14/2012
Governor’s Business Plan Contest Open for Entries
The 10th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest will be accepting entries online until Thursday, January 31st.  The contest was developed to help entrepreneurs use their ideas to launch a company and gain feedback from mentors as well as interaction with investors and other professionals.  Finalists could win more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.  Initial entries will consist of a 250 word idea abstract and contestants who advance will expand their plan in different stages of topics, including finance and technology.  Wisconsin residents 18 years old and up are eligible to enter, as well as businesses or teams from outside the state if they demonstrate an intent to base their business in Wisconsin.
 
For more information about the contest or to become a judge or sponsor visit http://www.govsbizplancontest.com.
 
12/11/2012
2013 Wisconsin State Park Stickers Now Available
The 2013 annual vehicle admission stickers and state trails passes are now for sale at all state park facilities and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) service centers statewide.  Starting December 1st state parks will honor 2013 stickers for park admissions.  The cost for an admission sticker is $25 for Wisconsin residents and $35 for nonresidents.  Families with more than one vehicle may purchase an additional state park sticker for half the price, while the cost for Wisconsin residents 65 years of age or older is $10.  Trail passes are required for those who are 16 and older for biking, in-line skating, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, or off-highway motorcycling on monitored state trails and are available at the cost of $20 per individual.
 
For more information please contact the DNR Customer Service at 1-888-936-7463 or visit http://dnr.wi.gov/news/Weekly/Article_Lookup.asp?id=2405 .
 
12/5/2012
State Snow Condition Reports Now Available
The Department of Tourism has recently started to report and update the Wisconsin Snow Conditions Report.   The reports cover conditions for snowmobilers, downhill skiers, snowboarders and cross country skiers and are rated from no report to excellent.  Currently the snowmobile trails are closed but there are some condition reports for ski hills and cross country skiing.  The Department will update the condition reports at least once a week for all 72 counties in the state.
 
To find out the snow conditions closest to you please visit: www.travelwisconsin.com
12/3/2012
Executive Residence to Hold Holiday Tours
The 2012 holiday tour of the Executive Residence will allow the public to tour the inside of the executive residence.  During the tour, guests will have the opportunity to view rooms on the first floor, as well as hear brief descriptions about the holiday decor including six different Christmas trees.
 
2012 Holiday Tour Schedule
Wednesday, December 5: Noon- 2 p.m.
Thursday, December 6: Noon- 2 p.m.
Saturday, December 8: 10 a.m. - Noon
Wednesday, December 12: Noon- 2 p.m.
Thursday, December 13: Noon- 2 p.m.
Saturday, December 15: Noon- 2 p.m.
 
Admission is free, but all tour participants are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items that will be donated to Second Harvest Foodbank.
 
For more information please visit:
 
11/30/2012
Successful 161st Deer Hunt Comes to an End
This year marked the 161st deer hunt in the state of Wisconsin.  The Department of Natural Resources reported that the total harvest is up 7.7 percent from 2011 and a preliminary tally of 243,739 deer registered by hunters from November 17th to 26th.  Of the deer harvested, 114,822 were bucks and 128,917 were antlerless deer.   This year there were 29,000 new registered hunters, 33 percent were new female hunters and another 33 percent were under 17 years old.  Deer hunting is a tradition that brings family and friends together to enjoy all that our great state has to offer.
 
To view a breakdown of the harvest by region and county please visit: www.dnr.wi.gov
 
11/28/2012
Wisconsin Ranks 13th in Site Selection List of Top U.S. Business Climates
Wisconsin was recently ranked 13th in Site Selection magazine’s list of “top U.S. Business Climates” for 2012.  Site Selection’s ranking is split between a survey of corporate site selectors and five different criteria, including analysis of state tax burdens on mature and new firms.  This ranking provides another example of Wisconsin’s progress in encouraging job creation by making our state a great place to start and expand businesses.
 
For more information on Site Selection’s list please visit: www.siteselection.com/issues/2012/nov/top-business-climates.cfm
 
11/26/2012
DNR Extends Hours for Call Center
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Call Center has recently expanded their hours to increase access for service to Wisconsin residents.  The agency handled more than 370,000 customer contacts last year, with a quarter of those contacts occurring on nights and weekends.  The DNR has equipped the call center with highly trained representatives that can help clarify any question related to the DNR.
 
Call Toll-Free 1-888-936-7463
Chat available at http://dnr.wi.gov/contact  
7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., 7 days per week
 
 
11/21/2012
Happy Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a special time to give thanks for our many blessings, as well as being with family and friends. 
 
ReadyWisconsin encourages you to consider the following safety tips when traveling for the holidays:
 
                        -Check road conditions before you go anywhere
                        -Make sure to have plenty of gas
                        -Keep a winter emergency kit in your vehicle
 
And for safety tips when cooking the turkey or other family favorites remember:
 
                            -Make sure all stoves, ovens and ranges are turned off while unattended
                      -Follow all manufacturer guidelines for appliances
                      -Keep flammable items away from your stovetop
 
For more Thanksgiving safety tips, please visit: http://ReadyWisconsin.wi.gov
 
Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!
11/19/2012
1.1 Million Private Acres Open to the Public
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has developed a mapping application that can be used to help find privately owned land that is open to the public for specific recreational activities.  The DNR’s application includes over one million acres of private land that is open to the public as a result of landowner incentive programs, such as the Managed Forest Law and the Forest Crop Law thatpromote sustainable forest practices.
 
To access the mapping tool visit the DNR web site at dnr.wi.gov, and type “MFL open land” in the Search or Keywords field.
11/14/2012
Help Decorate the Capitol Christmas Tree
Governor Walker has invited youth from across the state to help decorate this year’s State Capitol Christmas Tree by submitting their homemade ornaments.  The ornaments should be decorated to the theme of In Wisconsin symbolizing what it means to live in Wisconsin.  Some examples include dairy products and Harley Davidson motorcycles.   Ornaments should be made with non-breakable material, 4-6 inches in size and from a color that contrasts the color from the tree so they can be seen by visitors.  Ornaments should be submitted by November 16th and sent to the following address:
                                                                                                                 
Office of Governor Scott Walker
ATTN: ORNAMENTS
115 East Capitol
Madison, WI 53702
 
 
Questions can be directed to the Wisconsin Department of Administration call center at (608)-266.1485.
11/12/2012
Remembering Veterans Day
 
Each year on November 11th we honor and thank all the men and women who have served and are currently serving our country.  It is important for us as Americans to take time to commemorate all who have sacrificed and fought for our freedoms.   Let us remember our veterans not just on Veterans Day but every day!
11/8/2012
Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 Initiative
The Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 Initiative that was approved as part of the last two-year state budget establishing the goal of increasing annual milk production to 30 billion pounds by 2020.  The 30x20 Initiative is intended to respond to the growing demands of the marketplace and improve the long-term viability of Wisconsin’s dairy industry.  It is interesting to note that Wisconsin’s dairy industry has an economic impact twice as large as the citrus industry’s impact on Florida.  In March, Grow Wisconsin began to offer grants to producers interested in improving profitability and developing and growing their business and improving profitability.  These grants are customized to meet the needs of individual farms.
 
To learn more about the 30x20 Initiative or to apply for a Grow Wisconsin Grant please visit: www.GrowWisconsinDairy.wi.gov
 
10/30/2012
Governor Small Business Summit
On November 8th the Governor and Lt. Governor will be hosting a job creation summit in La Crosse.  This is a great opportunity for small businesses to work with state agencies and state secretaries to discuss job creation in Wisconsin.  The deadline to register is November 1st; registration is $50 and includes lunch.   The Business Summit will be on:
 
Thursday, November 8, 2012
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
La Crosse Center
300 Harborview Plaza
La Crosse, WI
 
To register for the summit or find out more information please visit: http://www.wheda.com/root/SmallBizSummit .
10/25/2012
UW-Stout receives Educational Diversity Award
Later this month the University of Wisconsin-Stout will receive the Ann Lydecker Educational Diversity Award by the Wisconsin State Council on Affirmative Action at the State Capitol.  The award honors UW-Stout’s efforts to blend diversity-based concepts into its curriculum in an attempt to increase the retention rate of a diverse student population.  Staff and faculty have worked to gain a better understanding of an inclusive curriculum as well as developing and strengthening their curriculums to include diversity concepts.  The award is named in honor of Ann Lydecker, who was chancellor at UW-River Falls when she was tragically lost in a car accident in 2004.
 
Congratulations to UW-Stout on receiving this award!
10/22/2012
First Wolf Hunt in Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s first wolf hunt began just before sunrise on October 15th.  A lottery system was put in place and 1,160 people were allowed to buy a wolf permit.  Approximately 20,000 people applied and as of Monday morning, 599 state permits were purchased as well as 6 out-of-state permits.  During this season up to 201 wolves can be harvested of which 85 are reserved for Native American tribes.  The wolf hunt is set to run until February 28, 2013 but will end sooner if the quota is met.
 
For more information on the wolf hunt please visit, http://dnr.wi.gov .
 
10/22/2012
Information Sessions on Managed Care Organization Transition
The Department of Health Services (DHS) recently announced that Southwest Family Care Alliance will be the preferred managed care provider for our region starting January 1, 2013.  In an effort to ensure a smooth transition from CHP to Southwest, the Department is holding a number of informational sessions in our area for participating individuals and families, as well as providers. Dates and times for informational sessions in our area are listed below.  To find the complete listing of scheduled sessions please visit http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/News/PressReleases/2012/101912a.htm.
 
Information Session for members, families and guardians:
  
Tuesday October 23, 2012                                         Wednesday, October 24
2:00 -4:00 PM or 6:00 – 8:00 PM                               9:30- 11:30 AM or 6:00 – 8:00 PM
River Falls Public Library                                           Dunn County Government Center
Lower Level Community Room                                   Room 122/124
140 Union Street                                                          800 Wilson Avenue
River Falls WI, 54022                                                 Menomonie, WI 54751
 
Tuesday, October 30                                                   Thursday, November 1, 2012
2:00 – 4.00 PM or 6:00 – 8:00 PM                            1:00 – 3:00 PM
St. Croix Government Center                                     Dunn County Government Center
Lower Level Community Room                                  Room 1224/124
1101 Carmichael Road                                              800 Wilson Ave
Hudson, WI 54016                                                      Menomonie, WI 54751
 
 
Information Session for Providers:
 
 
Wednesday, October 24, 2012                                 Tuesday, October 30, 2012
9:30 -11:30 AM                                                            9:30 – 11:30 AM
Dunn County Government Center                             St. Croix County Government Center
Room 1224/124                                                          Lower Level Community Room
800 Wilson Avenue                                                    1101 Carmichael Road
Menomonie, WI 54751                                              Hudson, WI 54016
                                   
 
10/19/2012
$108.7 Million Added to the State's Rainy Day Fund
Earlier this week the Wisconsin Department of Administration announced the deposit of $108.7 million into the state’s rainy day fund as part of its annual fiscal report.  This is the largest deposit in state history, as well as the first time the state has contributed to the fund two years in a row.  Wisconsin finished the 2012 fiscal year with a positive balance of $342.1 million.  Over 75% of state tax collections are provided as aid to school districts, local governments, and individuals.
 
To see a full copy of the annual fiscal report please visit: http://www.doa.state.wi.us/ .
10/18/2012
Wisconsin SeniorCare Application Moves Forward
Earlier this week the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced that Wisconsin’s SeniorCare application has met the requirements to be considered a complete application and will be moving forward to the next phase of the approval process.  The application is now in a 30-day federal comment period that will end on November 8th.  During the federal comment period the public and stakeholders can submit comments to the federal government in regards to the application. 
 
For more information regarding SeniorCare, call the SeniorCare hotline at (800) 657-2038 or visit: http://dhs.wisconsin.gov/seniorcare  
 
 
10/11/2012
Construction of the St. Croix River Crossing to Begin Spring of 2013
Earlier this week the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation announced they will begin construction on the river piers for the new St. Croix River Crossing foundation in spring of 2013.  By choosing to separate out the foundation work the two departments have determined they can start construction sooner. Previously the construction was set to begin in spring of 2014. 
 
For more information about the progress of the St. Croix River Crossing, visit www.mndot.gov/stcroixcrossing .
10/10/2012
Raising Awareness about Rabies Prevention
With the changing of seasons it is important to take the proper steps to minimize potential exposure to rabies.  There are eight different bat species in Wisconsin that often seek out man-made structures for their homes in cold weather.  About 3 to 4 percent of bats tested by the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene are infected with rabies, which can be spread to other wild animals.  Rabies is a 100% curable human disease if treated with prompt appropriate medical care.
 
Here are some helpful tips to minimize the exposure to rabies:
  • Vaccinate pet dogs, cats, ferrets and livestock for rabies.
  • Comply with leash laws and contact local animal shelter associations if help is needed to find homes for stray dogs and cats.
  • Stay away from all wild animals, especially those acting abnormally.
  • Teach children not to approach any unfamiliar animals.
  • Do not keep exotic or wild animals as pets.
  • Keep screens in good repair and close any small opening bats could enter.
  • Individuals traveling to developing countries where rabies is highly prevalent, or who are at ongoing risk of possible rabies exposure, such as veterinarians and animal control officers, should ask their doctor about receiving pre-exposure rabies vaccinations.
 
10/8/2012
Applications for Organic Cost Share Program due October 31st
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) offers acost share program to organic certified producers and companies that sell, process or package organic agricultural produce.  The program provides for a 75% cost share of certification expenses with a maximum of $750 per category of product.  Wisconsin ranks second in the nation in the number of certified organic farms and companies.
 
To access the application online please visit:   datcp.wi.gov/Farms/Organic_Farming/Cost_Share_Program/
10/3/2012
St. Croix Falls Named one of Five Towns Terrific for Fall
St. Croix Falls was named one of the Five Towns Terrific for Fall by Travel Wisconsin.  While St. Croix Falls and Northwest Wisconsin is home to many beautiful seasonal attractions, Travel Wisconsin highlights Chateau St. Croix, Grecco’s and Wissahickon Farms Country Inn as some of the best places to visit this fall.  Travel Wisconsin also provides a list of events and festivals  like the St. Croix Falls Autumn Fest on October 6th.
 
For a full list of events please visit www.travelwisconsin.com/fairs_and_Festivals.aspx
 
 
10/1/2012
October-National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is nationally recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, promoting women to get a mammography, one of the most effective tools in the fight against breast cancer.  The month also provides an opportunity to educate the public on who may be at high risk for developing breast cancer, and it encourages the raising of funds for research into the cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure for breast cancer.  The pink ribbon has become a powerful symbol to increase awareness, honor survivors, and remember those who have lost their battle with cancer.  Last year over 210,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer.  Women are encouraged to get tested annually.
 
For more information about breast cancer or to find out events in our area for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, please visit: http://www.cancer.org/Involved/Participate/MakingStridesAgainstBreastCancer/index
 
9/27/2012
DNR Announces Changes to ATV and UTV Requirements
Several changes to the registration and regulation of all terrain (ATV) and utility terrain vehicles (UTV) that were enacted this legislative session recently took effect.  ATVs and UTVs now must have a registration ID plate and display it on the rear of the machine if it is registered for public use.  Vehicles used for private or agricultural use are not required to display a rear ID plate.  Enforcing the ID plate will help with identification of the ATV or UTV in situations such as theft, complaints and questions about trail use or operation.  Other significant changes include:
 
-           UTVs will follow nearly all the ATV laws (such as snow removal), except where specifically referenced
-           UTVs will have a specific UTV registration decal
-           A new 5-day ATV and UTV non-resident trail pass
-           Registrations and annual trail passes will expire on March 31
-           A late fee will be assessed for customers renewing their registration after the expiration date
-           UTV operators using the trails will have to be at least 16 years old and have     graduated from ATV Safety Course
-           UTV passengers may not ride in the vehicle’s bed
 
To find out more information please visit: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/atv .
9/25/2012
Encouraging Citizen Involvement in State Government
The Governor’s administration offers multiple ways that Wisconsinites can have an active role in their state government.  There are over two-hundred professional boards, commissions, councils and taskforces that allow state residents to be involved in policy making, advisory roles, and advocacy efforts. These boards, commissions, councils and taskforces provide a wide variety of topics for citizens to choose from ranging from the Council on Autism to the Board of Veterans Affairs.  I encourage you to get involved by applying for open positions of interest to you.  For more information on available openings or to see a full list of the boards, please visit www.walker.wi.gov/Serve-Wisconsin .
9/24/2012
New Law Expands Use of Crossbow for Hunting Season
A new law relating to the use of crossbows for hunting, 2011 Wisconsin Act 252,  will go into effect this fall to allow resident, non-resident and youth hunters to have a choice to use either a crossbow, a bow and arrow or a firearm during an open firearm hunting season.  For open bowhunting seasons, current law is maintained that only hunters that are at least 65 years old or possess a disabled hunting permit may use a crossbow.  2011 Act 252 will expand opportunities for hunters of all ages this fall.
 
To access the application for a Crossbow permit or for more information, please visit: www.dnr.wi.gov
9/14/2012
2012-2013 Wisconsin School Recognition Awards Announced
Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers recently announced that Frederic Elementary, River Heights Elementary in Menomonie, Webster Elementary, and Webster Middle Schools have all been selected for the 2012-2013 Wisconsin School of Recognition Award. Both Frederic Elementary and Webster Middle School have been recipients of the award for over five years.  In order to receive this award a school must be a Title I-receiving school, be in the top quartile of the state poverty rates, have above average student achievement scores in both reading and math and have a minimum of 20 full academic year students enrolled.  The schools will be formally recognized at the State Capitol on October 2, 2012 at 12:00pm.
 
Congratulations to the students, parents, teachers, staff and administrators at these schools for this recognition !
9/13/2012
Wisconsin Fall Color Report App Launched
With the fall season quickly approaching, Travel Wisconsin has  launched a new website that allows Wisconsinites to track the changing colors this fall.  This is a great way to get outside and enjoy the colorful, scenic Wisconsin forests.  Travel Wisconsin also provides information on a number of festivals and suggestions for trips to take around the state.
 
To access this new app please visit http://www.travelwisconsin.com/fall-color-report
 
9/12/2012
Wisconsin Submits Request to Extend Waiver for SeniorCare
 
The Department of Health Services recently submitted a formal request to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to renew SeniorCare through 2015.  Since 2002, SeniorCare has provided affordable, comprehensive prescription drug coverage to thousands of Wisconsin seniors.  In the 2011 fiscal year, SeniorCare reduced drug costs by $114 million for Wisconsin Seniors and has proven to be more cost-effective for taxpayers as compared to Medicare Part D.  For more information about SeniorCare please visit www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/seniorcare
9/6/2012
UW-River Falls named a Best in the Midwest College
The Princeton Review recently named the University of Wisconsin-River Falls one of the best colleges in the Midwest.  UW-River Falls was among 153 institutions that were chosen to be recognized and featured on The Princeton Review website as one of the best universities to earn an undergraduate degree.  The decision was based on institutional data collected directly from the schools, visitors, staff opinions, recommendations from counselors and advisors and most importantly the student’s experiences on campus.  UW-River Falls was noted for a friendly atmosphere as well as small and personal classes, and the ideal location of the university.
 
Congratulations UW-River Falls on this distinguished honor.
9/4/2012
2012 Housing Grant Awards Announced
The Governor recently announced that $500,000 was awarded to special-needs housing providers from throughout Wisconsin to improve and build housing units. The housing grants are funded by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), and they were awarded at the annual Housing Grant Program Competition to those buildingnew facilities or making improvements to existing homes.  In our part of the state providers in Dunn County received awards ranging from $6,000-$25,000 that will be used to enhance or expand security measures, remodel kitchens and bathrooms, replace or repair roofs, elevators and boilers, and make restrooms handicapped accessible.  Grants are awarded through WHEDA’s Persons-in-Crisis Housing Program Fund to nonprofit agencies, local governments and tribal authorities in Wisconsin whose mission includes meeting the needs of low-income or disadvantaged populations.
To see the full list of the 2012 grant award recipients, visit www.wheda.com .
8/28/2012
Wisconsin Office of State Treasurer assists Wisconsin Residents at Wisconsin State Fair
The Office of the State Treasurer was able to help over 500 Wisconsin residents claim over $75,000 in unclaimed property at the Wisconsin State Fair.  The Unclaimed Property Unit was also able to assist residents at the Washington, Fond du Lac and Dodge County Fairs.  There is still more than $400 million in unclaimed assets being held by the State Treasury, which is comprised of forgotten paychecks, bank accounts and stocks, insurance premium overpayments, utility deposits, and abandoned safe deposit boxes.  For more information or to see if you have unclaimed property, please visit www.statetreasury.wisconsin.gov .
 
8/27/2012
State School Superintendent Enacts Changes to Teacher Licensure
State Superintendent Tony Evers recently enacted changes that would streamline teacher licensure and provide additional options for teacher candidates with workplace experience to become a teacher.  The new changes will provide multiple routes to meet the requirements to become a Wisconsin licensed teacher, pupil services professional or administrator.  The changes made will be available to all those seeking licensure, from recent high school graduates to current educators seeking additional licensures.  For more information please visit http://dpi.wi.gov/tepdl/licpathhome.html .
8/24/2012
Help Decorate Wisconsin's National Christmas Tree Display
Again this year, the Governor will be selecting a professional artist to work with Wisconsin youth to create ornaments to be displayed on Wisconsin’s national Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C.  In keeping with the Year of the Veteran, a randomly selected artist will be paired with a group of children who have family members currently serving in the military or are veterans to decorate Wisconsin’s national Christmas Tree.  The Governor is now accepting applications from artists and those interested should send the following information to govpress@wisconsin.gov by August 31st.
 
Name of artist/art teacher
Email
Phone number
Mailing address
Brief description of artistic background and training
8/23/2012
October 1st No Call List Sign Up
The next deadline to sign upor renew your number on the No Call list is August 31st.  By signing onto the No Call list, you will be identified as someone who does not wish to receive telemarketing calls.  Wisconsin residents can list both their landline and mobile phone numbers.  It is important to remember that numbers are only listed for two years and must be renewed.  To sign up for the No Call list please call 1-866-966-2255 or visit https://nocall.wisconsin.gov/web/home.asp.
8/22/2012
Wisconsin Exports Increase in First Half of the Year
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) both recently released figures showing Wisconsin’s growth in exports for the first half of the year.  DACTP reported that Wisconsin exported $1.5 billion worth of agriculture products to over 132 countries, an increase of 5% from 2011.  WEDC reported Wisconsin’s exports totaled $11.6 billion with increases in exports of industrial machinery, agricultural products, vehicles, and medical and scientific instruments.  Wisconsin’s total exports grew by 7.9% with industrial machinery leading as the top exported product, up 13% from 2011.
8/15/2012
Governor Awards Financial Literacy Grants to Local Schools
Governor Walker recently announced $250,000 in grants to 24 Wisconsin School Districts to support financial literacy. The grant recipients were selected by the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy from more than 50 applicants from across the state.  The program is open to Wisconsin’s K-12 public and private schools and is intended to aid teachers and school districts in beginning new sustainable financial literacy events and programs for students.  Wisconsin is the first state in the nation to develop content and performance standards that define what a student should know about financial literacy.  School districts in our area that were awarded grants include Luck, Clear Lake, Glenwood City, St. Croix Central, Elmwood, Boyceville, St. Croix Falls, and Unity School Districts.
8/14/2012
St. Croix Crossing Webcam
The first phase of the long anticipated St. Croix River Crossing is underway and the Minnesota Department of Transportation has installed a webcam that shows the load testing currently taking place.  This webcam will be active for the remainder of the project.  To see continued progress on the construction please visit http://www.dot.state.mn.us/stcroixcrossing/webcam.html.
8/6/2012
Local Resident Crowned Miss Wheelchair USA
Ms. Tasha Schuh, a resident of Ellsworth, recently won the title of Miss Wheelchair USA over nine other competitors from around the country.  In September 2011, Tasha was named Miss Wheelchair Wisconsin, which qualified her to compete at the national competition in July 2012.  Miss Wheelchair USA is one of three national pageant competitions for women with disabilities, showcasing the achievements that can be accomplished by women in wheelchairs.  Schuh is an inspirational speaker and devotes time to visiting schools, churches, correctional facilities and hospitals to encourage and motivate others. 
 
Congratulations to Tasha – Miss Wheelchair USA!  We are proud to have you representing Wisconsin and the USA!
8/2/2012
St. Croix River Crossing Load Tests Move Forward
The Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Transportation recently provided a tour of the load tests currently being conducted in the St. Croix River south of the current Stillwater lift bridge.  The purpose of the load tests is to gather data for the design of the new bridge’s foundations. 
 
Drilled shafts are being installed over 100 feet beneath the water’s surface to reach sandstone that will serve as the base for the foundations.  The load testing will cost $3.5 million, but is expected to reduce project costs by $10-15 million.  To find out more about the load testing and the St. Croix River Crossing project, visit www.mndot.gov/stcroixcrossing . 
7/31/2012
2012 Wolf Hunt Rules Approved by Natural Resources Board
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board recently approved the emergency wolf hunt rules in a unanimous vote.  The board approved a quota of 201 wolves to be harvested during the first hunting season.   The season will run from October 15th, 2012 through February 28th, 2013.  Hunters will be eligible to receive a wolf harvest permit in a drawing during the first year; unsuccessful hunters will be awarded a preference point for future drawings.  Permit applications may be purchased for $10 at any license vendor, online, or by telephone.  The license fee for those selected to receive a permit is $100 for Wisconsin residents and $500 for nonresidents.  For more information please visit the Department of Natural Resources webpage at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/apply.html .
7/25/2012
Wisconsin Personal Income Up in 2011, Forecasted to Improve
The summer 2012 Wisconsin Economic Outlook Report by the Department of Revenue (DOR) shows that on average the personal income for Wisconsinites grew 5.2% in 2011, ahead of the national average.  Due to the personal income growth and other economic indicators, the DOR report predicts that Wisconsin’s economic turnaround will continue.  You can read the Department’s report at http://www.revenue.wi.gov/ra/econ/index.html.
7/24/2012
Drought Emergency Expands to Entire State of Wisconsin
Governor Walker declared a state of emergency in all 72 Wisconsin counties due to the extremely dry conditions that are impacting our state.  While recent rains have eased drought conditions in some regions, in many areas the rain is too little, too late to save the crops.  This statewide Executive Order directs Wisconsin Emergency Management to coordinate all state agencies to assist Wisconsin residents affected by the drought.  The drought emergency also waives fees and expedites the permitting process to allow farmers to divert water from certain streams and lakes without causing environmental damage.  For more information please visit the Wisconsin Emergency Management ReadyWisconsin website at http://ready.wi.gov/drought/default.asp.
7/13/2012
Wisconsin Ranks 17th in CNBC’s “Top States for Business”
In the CNBC "Top States for Business" study released earlier this week, Wisconsin climbed eight spots to 17th.  This marks the highest rank Wisconsin has received since the start of the study in 2007; previously Wisconsin’s highest rank was 25th in 2011.  CNBC measures all 50 states in the following ten categories including; cost of doing business, workforce, quality of life, economy, infrastructure and transportation, technology and innovation, education, business friendly, access to capital, and cost of living.  Wisconsin improved to 6th in the category of infrastructure and transportation, 10th in education, 14th in quality of life, and 15th in cost of doing business.
7/10/2012
Area Child Learning Centers Receive 5 Star Rating
The YoungStar program, established in November 2010, was created to help improve the quality of child care in Wisconsin by evaluating and rating providers, setting consistent standards throughout the state and providing parents with information for selecting a childcare provider.  Centers are rated from 1 to 5 stars based on education qualification and training, learning environment, business practices and overall child health and well-being practices, with a 5 star rating being the best.  Recently, Senator Harsdorf had the opportunity to visit KinderCare Learning Center in Hudson, one of two centers in the 10th Senate district to receive a 5 star rating.  The Child and Family Study Center in Menomonie also received a 5 star rating.  Congratulations to these centers on their commitment to excellence in child care.  Parents can go to http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/youngstar to find detailed information and rating of providers in their area.
7/5/2012
Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s Tips to Beat the Heat and Save Energy

With above average temperatures this summer the PSC recently released some helpful tips for keeping utility bills low, some of which are listed below.  For more information about conserving energy, I encourage you to visit www.psc.wi.gov.

  • Check weather stripping and caulking for leaks around doors and windows.
  • Use a microwave oven or cook outside instead of using the stove or oven.
  • Use natural lighting and compact fluorescent light bulbs.  Ninety percent of the energy used by an incandescent bulb makes heat.
  • Close blinds and curtains on hot days.
  • Install white window shades or blinds to reflect heat away from your house.
  • For long-term cooling, plant trees/shrubs to shade your house.  Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25 percent of a typical household’s energy used for cooling.
  • Place your room air conditioner on the north side of the house.  A unit operating in the shade uses up to 10 percent less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
  • Whole-house fans help cool your home by pulling air into the house and exhausting warm air through the attic.  Most effective when operated at night as the air is cooler outside than inside.
  • Use cold water for doing laundry and air dry clothes on clotheslines.
  • Unplug electronics like computers, televisions, and radios when not in use.
  • Clean and maintain your air conditioner often.  Make sure air filters, air intakes, grilles, and radiators are unblocked and clean at all times.  Clean dirt and leaves off coils on outdoor units.
  • When buying new appliances including air conditioners, look for those that are ENERGY STAR rated, which means they are more energy efficient than traditional appliances.
7/3/2012
Have a Safe and Happy Independence Day!
The Fourth of July is upon us and from cookouts to parades to fireworks.  Americans across the country will be celebrating Independence Day.  Independence Day is a day to remember our founding fathers’ fight for freedom and the beginning of this great nation.  If you plan on lighting fireworks, please use caution and practice safety.  Keep in mind if children are near.  The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection provides the following safety tips while enjoying your celebrations.
 
  • Read and follow warnings and instructions on fireworks
  • Always have a responsible adult supervise children’s fireworks activities
  • Be sure people are out of range before lighting fireworks and do not point them at another person
  • Make sure to light fireworks on a flat surface free from flammable materials away from the house with a bucket of water handy in case of fire
 
We wish you a very happy and safe Independence Day!
7/3/2012
Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Summer Heat
While we are protecting ourselves from this summer’s above average temperatures, also keep in mind precautions for our four legged friends.  The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has provided the following tips to keep our pets safe through the summer heat.
  • Do not leave pets in a car – temperatures can reach to over 120 degrees in less than 10 minutes, exposing them to heat stroke
  • Make sure to have ample sources of water for both drinking and to splash around in
  • Keep sick, elderly or overweight pets inside
  • Avoid strenuous exercise – when walking your dog, try to avoid the hottest part of the day between 12 and 4 PM
  • Take care when leaving a pet in a home without air conditioning – if you can, put them in a basement where it tends to be cooler and use fans to circulate the air
 
Please visit http://datcp.wi.gov/News/?ID=604 for more information on this topic.
7/2/2012
Department of Natural Resources Launches New Activities Database
The DNR recently announced a new feature on their website that will allow interested individuals an easy on-line access to identify DNR lands for recreational use.   To use this new tool please visit www.dnr.wi.gov and search “Explore Outdoors.   Search to locate public lands by county, proximity to a city or by property type such as areas for bicycling, camping or wildlife viewing.  This is a great resource for families looking to get outside and enjoy all that Wisconsin has to offer.
6/29/2012
Harsdorf Receives Arts in the Community Award
Last week, Senator Sheila Harsdorf was honored by Arts Wisconsin with the Arts in the Community Award.  This award is given to elected officials and civic leaders who support and recognize the importance of the arts and their impact to the economic, educational and civic vitality in our communities.  Harsdorf was honored to receive this award.
6/28/2012
Save a Life - Donate Blood!
Can you be the donor that will save a life?Every minute, someone some place in our country needs blood.That blood can only come from one source….a volunteer donor.In America today, only 3 of every 100 people donate blood.The American Red Cross needs help in maintaining a safe and stable blood supply.For more information on donating blood and to find a location near to donate, please visit http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-733-2767.
6/25/2012
Work Begins on St. Croix River Crossing!
Great News!  After years of hard work and overcoming obstacles, initial work begins on the St. Croix River Crossing.  Crews will begin the load testing project which will document the riverbed stability and is expected to last until mid-August.  This process is crucial to the project as it provides information about soil conditions which will determine the design of the bridge’s foundation.  Actual construction on the bridge is scheduled to begin in 2014. 
6/22/2012
DNR To Hold Open House on Draft Master Plan for Governor Knowles State Forest
The Department of Natural Resources will host an open house on the proposed master plan for the Governor Knowles State Forest on June 25th from 3-7 pm at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Center, 102 East Crex Avenue, Grantsburg.  This open house will provide an opportunity for the public to review and comment on the draft master plan, which includes improvements and lengthening of the trail systems for recreational use, updates to the existing campgrounds such as adding of electricity and showers, and boundary expansions for sustainable forestry. 
 
For more information or to obtain printed documents regarding the draft master plan, individuals can contact Mr. Bob Dall at the DNR, 107 Sutliff Avenue, Rhinelander, WI 54501, (715) 365-8993, robert.dall@wisconsin.gov
6/21/2012
Governor and UW System Announce Plans for UW Flexible Degree
This week Governor Walker and the UW System announced plans for a competency-based degree model that will transform higher education.  The model will allow students to demonstrate college-level competency based on material they have learned through a variety of ways be it in school, on the job or on their own.  This program provides a flexible and affordable way for individuals to enter into their careers faster.  For more information on this program please visit http://walker.wi.gov/Images/News/6.19.12%20UW%20Flexible%20Degree%20Proposal%20Packet.pdf.
6/14/2012
Flag Day to be Celebrated on June 14th
Each year we dedicate June 14th to honor the adoption of the flag of the United States of America as one of our greatest national symbols.  As we honor and recognize all that our flag represents, we also need to remember the importance of properly disposing of a flag that is worn beyond repair.  The following are instructions on the proper etiquette to dispose of a flag.  In addition, local VFW’s are also a great alternative for disposing of a flag.  To find your local VFW chapter please visit https://www.vfw.org/oms/findpost.aspx .
 

Flag Disposal:

1. The flag should be folded in its customary manner.
2. It is important that the fire be fairly large and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete burning of the flag.
3. Place the flag on the fire.
4. The individual(s) can come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection.
5. After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.
6. Please make sure you are conforming to local/state fire codes or ordinances

6/13/2012
Wisconsin Arts - Good for Our Quality of Life….Good for the Economy
Americans for the Arts in partnership with the Wisconsin Arts Board has conducted an economic impact study of the nonprofits arts and culture industry.  The study shows that Wisconsin’s arts and culture industry plays a significant role in Wisconsin’s economy, generating over 22,000 jobs and $65 million in local and state revenue.  For more information on arts and culture events around Wisconsin, please visit www.travelwisconsin.com or http://www.artswisconsin.org.
6/1/2012
Celebrate June is Dairy Month
Wisconsin has a long and rich tradition in being America’s Dairyland.  To signify the importance of dairy products to Wisconsin’s economy and heritage, each year we dedicate the month of June to promote and honor dairy producers and all those who help make the dairy industry one of the most significant in our state.  Please visit http://www.dairydaysofsummer.com/ to find Dairy Breakfasts and other celebrations in your area.
5/30/2012
DNR Announces June 2-3 as Free Fishing Weekend
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced that June 2-3 will be a free fishing weekend throughout the state of Wisconsin.  A fishing license, inland trout stamp or Great Lakes trout stamp will not be needed on these days, however rules regarding the number and size of fish that anglers can keep will still be enforced.  To find regulations in your area, please visit the DNR’s website at http://dnr.wi.gov and search “fishing regulations” or “find a lake.”  If you are new to fishing, the DNR will be providing free clinics as well as programs to borrow fishing gear.  For information on these clinics and where to borrow equipment please visit the DNR website at http://dnr.wi.gov/fish/kidsparents/freefishingweekend.html and http://dnr.wi.gov/fish/kidsparents/loanercontacts.html
5/29/2012
Wisconsin Consumers Receive Refunds for Third-Party Charges
The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) recently announced that Wisconsin consumers will be refunded by U.S. Cellular for charges they received for unwanted third party text messaging services.  This case began when one Wisconsin consumer filed a complaint with DATCP when they started receiving a series of unsolicited text messages from "Gossiptexts."  The consumer ignored the texts, but was still charged $9.99 for the service.  These third party vendors are allowed to charge consumers on monthly bills, but only if requested by the consumer.  If a third party vender changes false fees or bills for services without the consumer knowing, the practice is known as “cramming.”  DATCP has provided the following tips to avoid being a victim of cramming:
·         Review monthly billing closely, looking for questionable or unauthorized charges
·         Dispute any unauthorized changes with the third party vendor through the number listed on the bill
·         If you do not get a resolution, take the issue to your cell service provider
 
For more information or to file a consumer complaint, please visit http://datcp.wi.gov/Consumer/Consumer_Complaints/index.aspx or call 1-800-422-7128.
5/25/2012
Memorial Day - A Day to Remember Those Who Have Made the Ultimate Sacrifice
This Monday we will recognize our servicemen and women who have sacrificed their lives to protect our country and freedoms.  Memorial Day gives us the opportunity to honor and remember the men and women whose service has provided us with our liberty.  I encourage you to take time to attend a Memorial Day service in your area to honor our fallen heroes.  Have a safe holiday celebrating with family and friends!
5/24/2012
Burning Restrictions Lifted for Northwest Wisconsin
The burning restrictions for Northwest Wisconsin have ended effective at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday May 24, 2012.  Portions of Burnett, Douglas, Polk and Washburn Counties were affected by these restrictions.  Due to significant precipitation, oak trees have leafed-out and conifers have pollinated, indicating that green-up has occurred.  Residents impacted by the wind storm should continue to be mindful of fire danger, burning permits and alternatives to burning.  You can access additional information by visiting http://dnr.wi.gov and entering the keywords “storm” or “fire.”   Thank you to everyone for complying with these restrictions.
5/22/2012
State Employees Collect Cell Phones for Soldiers
Nearly 1,500 phones were collected by state employees for the Cell Phones for Soldiers Program.  This program is a charity that provides minutes of free talk time to service men and women stationed around the world.  The phones donated by state employees will provide over 3,600 hours of free communication for soldiers with loved ones back home.  Great job state employees….what a great way to say thank you to those who sacrifice everyday for our freedoms.  Please visit http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/index.php for more information on this charity or to donate.
5/21/2012
May 20-26 is Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week
Governor Walker has proclaimed May 20th – 26th as Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Awareness Week and urges Wisconsin residents to become more informed about this growing problem.  EAB is a beetle native to Asia that attacks all species of North American ash trees, ultimately killing infected trees.  The most common way these beetles spread is through transporting firewood.  The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has provided the following tips to help slow the spread of EAB around the state:
·         Do not move firewood from the counties under quarantine (Brown, Crawford, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Vernon and Washington)
·         Buy firewood locally instead of transporting it over long distances
·         Learn about the signs and symptoms of EAB infestation, www.emeraldashborer.wi.gov
·         Report ash trees that show signs of infestation by calling 1-800-462-2803
5/14/2012
DNR Appoints Small Business Ombudsman
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has appointed Eileen Pierce as the Small Business Ombudsman.  Ms. Pierce will act as a liaison between the DNR and small businesses providing information and recommendations and in helping facilitate resolutions of disputes.  In keeping with the commitment to make Wisconsin open for business, the Governor has asked state agencies to examine existing rules and their impact on small businesses.  In one of her first duties, Ms. Pierce will begin working on this initiative.  Public input is vital to the success of this project and the DNR is soliciting input through an online survey.  You can log onto the DNR’s website now through May 31s to complete the survey at http://dnr.wi.gov/business/RulesReview.html. 
5/10/2012
Tourism Revenues Up in Wisconsin
Tourism is one of Wisconsin’s top industries and 2011 was a remarkable year for tourism-related businesses.  This session, the legislature showed its commitment to this industry and the thousands of small businesses impacted by tourism by investing additional dollars in promoting tourism.  Recently released data shows that we are already starting to see a return on this investment with an increase in total business sales of 7.6% over 2010.  More than 95 million people visited the state generating $1.3 billion in state and local revenue.
5/9/2012
DHS Warns Against Tick-borne Diseases
The warm spring weather we have seen this year will mean more deer or blacklegged tick activity which could start earlier due to the mild winter.  The Department of Health Services (DHS) is urging people to take precautions against tick bites when spending time outdoors.  Here are some tips to prevent bites:
·         Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter
·         Use effective tick repellents and apply according to label instructions
·         Wear clothes that will help shield you from ticks
·         Check your body frequently and remove any ticks promptly
·         Remove attached ticks slowly and gently, using a pair of thin-bladed tweezers
·         Protect your pets from tick bites by checking them before allowing them inside
Infected deer ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease.  It is important to treat tick-borne diseases early.  Please visit, http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/TickBorne/index.htm for more information.
5/7/2012
DNR Launches Searchable Fishing Regulations Tool on Website
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has recently launched a tool on their website for anglers to have an easier way to find fishing regulations on their favorite inland lake.  Anglers can visit the DNR website at www.dnr.wi.gov and search by either “fishing regulations” or by “find a lake” to get access to information about lakes, species present in the water and fishing regulations.  Information on regulations for rivers, Great Lakes waters, and inland trout streams are still being compiled, but will be added over time. 
5/4/2012
DOR Secretary Chandler to Address St. Croix EDC Board
On Tuesday, May 8, 2012, Department of Revenue (DOR) Secretary Richard Chandler will address the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Board.  Secretary Chandler will discuss the new pro-jobs state tax incentives, the administration’s initiatives to control property taxes and balance the state’s budget and plans to implement a broad-based job creation strategy.  There will be time for a question and answer session following his comments.  The meeting is open to the public and will take place in the County Board Room at the St. Croix County Government Center, 1101 Carmichael Road, Hudson, WI at 5:00 PM. 
5/3/2012
Boaters and Anglers Encouraged to Avoid Spreading Aquatic Invasive Species
The Department of Natural Resources recently launched two new public service announcements directed toward anglers and boaters on what they can do to help avoid spreading aquatic invasive species.  Invasive species can harm the ecosystems and thus negatively impact the fisheries and water quality in our lakes.
The two announcements remind water users to:
·         Inspect boats, trailers and equipment
·         Remove all attached aquatic plants and animals
·         Drain all water from boats, vehicles and equipment and
·         Never move plants or live fish away from a water body, with the exception of bait minnows.
To see these public service announcements please click on Invasive Species - YouTube link. 
5/1/2012
May is Stroke Awareness Month
In an effort to bring greater awareness to identifying someone having a stroke, the American Heart Association has partnered with the American Stroke Association to proclaim May as Stroke Awareness Month.  Individuals of any age can have a stroke and responding quickly is critical.  It is estimated that every 40 seconds someone has a stroke. It is important to know the warning signs which include:
·         Numbness in arm, leg or face
·         Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
·         Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
·         Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
·         Severe headache with no known cause.
 
Remember to call 911 immediately if warning signs are present.  To learn more about strokes and prevention, please visit the American Stroke Association at www.storkeassociation.org.
4/30/2012
DNR Surpasses Certification of More Than One Million Students in Hunter Safety Program Since its Inception
More than 25,000 students completed a hunter safety program in 2011, bringing the total enrollment since the program’s beginning to over one million students.  The hunter safety program, which started in Dunn County in 1967, seeks to instill knowledge and skill sets to be a responsible and safe hunter.  A true testament to the volunteer hunter safety instructors and hunters practicing safety measures is evidenced by there being no gun-related fatalities during the 2010 and 2011 gun-deer seasons.  Courses for the 2012 hunting season are already underway.  To find a class near you please visit the Department of Natural Resources website at www.dnr.wi.gov. 
4/17/2012
Governor Signs Livestock Registration Legislation
Governor Walker signed Senate Bill 396 which provides the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Protection (DATCP) funding to continue the livestock premises registration program.  DATCP will be able to ensure information collected through this program will remain available in case of an animal disease outbreak.
4/16/2012
Wisconsin Deer Trustee to Hold Town Hall Meetings Across State
Dr. James Kroll, an expert appointed to study Wisconsin’s deer herd management practices, and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress will be holding six town hall meetings around the state this week to receive input from citizens, sportsmen and sportswomen to help improve Wisconsin’s deer management practices.  Two meetings scheduled closest to our region will be held in Hayward and Black River Falls.
 
Wednesday, April 18th from 7-10PM            
Hayward Intermediate School Gymnasium    
15930 West 5th Street                                    
Hayward, WI 54843
 
Thursday, April 19, 2012 from 7-10PM
Black River Falls Middle School, Lunda Theater
1202 Pierce Street
Black River Falls, WI 54615
 
For additional information on the deer management program or for these town hall meetings, please visit http://dnr.wi.gov.
4/16/2012
Wisconsin Observes Tornado Awareness Week
Ready Wisconsin and the National Weather Service have teamed up to help you and your family prepare for the upcoming severe weather season.  Wisconsin averages 23 tornados per year with the peak season lasting from April to August.  As part of this observance, a statewide tornado drill will be conducted on Thursday, April 19th with a Mock Tornado Watch to be issued at 1:00 PM and a Mock Tornado Warning to be issued at 1:45PM. For more information about tornados and how to be prepared for storms, please visit http://readywisconsin.wi.gov.
4/6/2012
April 8th-14th is National Library Week
​National Library Week is observed throughout the country to celebrate the contributions of libraries and to promote library use.  Libraries are a tremendous asset in our communities as they provide people of all ages access to books, magazines, videos and computers, as well as a variety of different services and programs.  For more information on what libraries have to offer or to find a library near your, please visit www.atyourlibrary.org.

 

 

 

 

 

4/6/2012
Cell Phones for Soldiers
Throughout the month of April, all Wisconsin state government agencies and the non-profit Cell Phones for Soldiers Inc. are teaming up to help troops call home by accepting donations of gently-used cellular phones.  Cell Phones for Soldiers is an organization that provides soldiers stationed around the world with free talk time to connect with friends and families back home.  For more information on the charity or how to donate, please visit http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com.
4/6/2012
Emergency Burning Restriction for Northwest Wisconsin to Take Effect Today
 
Due to the current extreme dry conditions and high volume of wind blow from last summer's severe storms, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has placed emergency burning restrictions in portions of Burnett, Douglas, Polk and Washburn Counties in northwest Wisconsin.  The prohibition includes: combustible material in a burn pile or burn barrel; campfires with the exception of developed camping areas within a metal fire ring; smoking a cigar, cigarette, or pipe except within an enclosed vehicle or building; outdoor disposal of ashes, charcoal briquette, matches or any burning material; and all fireworks.  It is critical that all residents and visitors adhere to these restrictions in order to help prevent further disaster and economic loss in the region.  For more information and to see a detailed map of the affected area, please visit http://dnr.wi.gov . 
4/4/2012
DNR Alert - Deer Tests Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was detected in a wild adult doe found on private property west of Shell Lake in Washburn County.  In order to determine if the disease is present in other wild deer, the DNR will begin a focused disease surveillance effort within the area the deer was found.  Due to this positive test, the DNR is required to place a ban on feeding and baiting for any county within 10 miles of the site.  The ban is anticipated to begin this fall and will affect four counties including Polk and Burnett Counties.  For more information on this topic, please visit the DNR website at http://dnr.wi.gov. 
4/4/2012
St. Croix County Healthiest County in Wisconsin
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released their annual health rankings for 2012; ranking St. Croix County as the healthiest county in Wisconsin. Communities are assessed on a number of factors including overall health for each county, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. Congratulations to St. Croix County for your commitment to healthy living!
3/30/2012
State Treasurer seeks to return unclaimed property
State Treasurer Kurt Schueller recently announced that the Office of the State Treasurer took in more than $39 million in unclaimed property in 2011.  Starting April 1st, residents can begin to search for their name to see if the office is holding unclaimed property submitted to the State Treasurer in 2011.  Individuals are encouraged to visit www.wismissingmoney.com or call 877-699-9211 to learn more and to find unclaimed property.
3/29/2012
Legislation to improve workforce training signed by the Governor
Legislation designed to enhance education and to promote job creation in Wisconsin was signed into law this week. School boards will now be allowed to offer technical education high school diplomas for any student who fulfills the requirements for a traditional high school diploma and successfully completes a technical program in one or two subjects. This legislation is the latest step towards improving workforce training and growing jobs.
3/23/2012
Floating Toilet Facilities OK’d on St. Croix River
​Legislation requested by the DNR to allow the National Park Service to approve a floating toilet facility on the St. Croix River passed the State Assembly last week with bi-partisan support. This legislation which previously passed the State Senate, will allow the National Park Service to locate these facilities on an island in the river that is used by campers throughout the boating season. The current lack of appropriate facilities results in not only an unpleasant situation for campers and boaters that visit the island but raises environmental concerns as well. This measure will help protect the river and provide a more sanitary and environmentally sound solution for campers. This legislation was signed into law by the Governor today.
3/23/2012
Funding Approved for Continuation of Livestock Premises Registration Program
​Senate Bill 396 provides the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) with funding to replace the loss of federal funds in order to continue the livestock premises registration program. DATCP can now ensure that information already collected through this program will remain available in case of an animal disease outbreak. This legislation passed both houses of the Legislature and will now go to the Governor for signing.
3/22/2012
DNR urges caution with the return of wildfire season
​Due to the unseasonable warm weather and the low moisture conditions, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is requiring burning permits in DNR Protection areas. Permits are free and can be obtained from your local Emergency Fire Warden. Please contact 1-888-947-2876 or on the internet at http://dnr.wi.gov and enter the keyword "fire" to obtain a permit. Restrictions can change daily, so it is still necessary to call the toll-free number or visit the DNR website on the days you intend to burn to be advised of any restrictions, even if you already hold a permit. For more information please visit http://dnr.wi.gov.
3/14/2012
Harsdorf Bills on Domestic Violence Move Forward
​As the State Legislature wraps up its regular session, two bills relating to domestic violence issues that were authored by Senator Harsdorf received final approval by the Legislature this week.
 
Senate Bill 127 seeks to require a sentencing court to consider the presence of a child when an individual is convicted of domestic abuse. This issue was brought forward by Investigator Chuck Golden of the River Falls Police Department given the experiences of law enforcement in seeing firsthand the impact on children that witnessed domestic violence. The State Assembly passed Senate Bill 127 on a voice vote this week, after having been previously passed by the State Senate.
 
Assembly Bill 379 seeks to provide protection to victims of domestic abuse and stalking by allowing records of name changes to be made confidentially if an individual can show a court that they are in danger. Current law requires that individuals seeking a name change to publish a notice in the local newspaper. This legislation was passed by the State Senate on a voice vote on Tuesday, after passing the State Assembly last week.
Both bills will now go to the Governor for signing.
3/14/2012
President Obama Signs St. Croix River Crossing Bill!
Great news!!   President Obama signed the federal legislation authorizing the construction of a new St. Croix River Crossing on March 14 th .   The bipartisan bill was passed by the U.S. Senate on a unanimous vote last month and by the U.S. House of Representatives on a 339-80 vote on March 1 st .   The long-awaited project is supported by both Governors and all four U.S. Senators from Minnesota and Wisconsin, along with most members of Congress representing the region.   The new crossing will to improve the safety of motorists, relieve traffic congestion, and ensure timely delivery of emergency services.
3/9/2012
Pier protection and wolf hunting legislation approved
In legislative action this week, the State Senate approved bills on bipartisan votes providing greater certainty for pier owners and authorizing a wolf hunting season in Wisconsin.
Senate Bill 326, which makes changes to a number of DNR regulatory processes, was passed on a 20-13 vote. One of the changes included in this legislation was to allow the grandfathering of existing piers that meet certain requirements and does not interfere with the rights of other riparian property owners. SB 326 also allows for the repair and maintenance of boathouses.
Given the growth of the wolf population, the U.S. Department of Interior recently removed gray wolves in Wisconsin and other neighboring states from the Endangered Species List. This action allows the states to now manage their wolf populations. Senate Bill 411 would allow the DNR to establish a wolf hunting season and was approved on a 24-9 vote.
Both of these bills have now been referred to the State Assembly for consideration.
3/8/2012
Looking for love - Look out for online dating scams.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is warning consumers to protect themselves against "sweetheart scams", which are prevalent amongst online daters. These scams involve scammers starting relationships under fake profiles, building the trust of the victim and then using a "sob story" to convince their victims to give them money or personal information. Many times the money is requested as a wire transfer to another country.
Some tips from DATCP to keep your wallet safe from heartbreak:
Be aware if your online love interest:
-Asks you to leave the dating site and communicate by personal e-mail or instant messages
-Professes love for you in a heartbeat
-Requests that you send personal information including social security, bank account or credit card numbers
-Makes plans to visit but cancels due to a last-minute medical, financial or family emergency.
-Asks you to send money by wire transfer to someone you do not know or have not met in person.

To file a consumer complaint or for more information, visit Consumer Protection’s website at datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.
3/7/2012
Congratulations to Hudson Middle School!
Hudson Middle School is one of four middle schools in the state to be honored as a ‘School of Excellence’ by the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators. An all-school assembly last week honored those who made this special recognition possible. A big thank you to the teachers, support staff, and administrators for their dedication and commitment to the students, and congratulations to the students for their hard work and high achievement. This is the second time in three years that the Hudson Middle School has received this outstanding award. Great job Hudson Middle School!
 
This recognition was awarded by a panel composed of principals and a Department of Public Instruction official that took into account the schools’ efforts in collaborative leadership and professional learning, curriculum, instruction, student assessment, and personalization of the school environment.
2/10/2012
Top Businesses of 2011 Named by St. Croix EDC
The St. Croix Economic Development Corporation named three businesses as recipients of their 2011 business of the year awards.  St. Croix EDC President Ryan Sicard said these businesses reflect the diversity of businesses in the county.  The businesses that are being honored are:
 
-Future Farm Food and Fuel, LLC located in rural Baldwin was named 2011 Emerging Business of the Year.  The business produces sustainable and locally grown food, fuel and natural fertilizer as well as provides consulting services to other dairy operations.
 
-Stevens Engineers of Hudson was named the 2011 Small Business of the Year.  For 39 years, Stevens has provided professional engineering and planning services to a wide-ranging group of clients in both the public and private sector.
 
-Sajan, Inc. in River Falls was named 2011 Business of the Year and is recognized as the leading global provider of cloud-based language translation services and software.  The founders of Sajan recognized the need for language translation in global commerce and also provide consulting and solution services to clients from a diverse set of industries. 
2/9/2012
Preco, Inc Opens New Facility in Hudson
Preco, Inc has expanded to Hudson with a new facility that opened this month.  Preco, Inc is a contract manufacturing facility that provides laser processing and die cutting services for packaging and medical industries.  The new facility is named Preco MPC and is located in the St. Croix Business Park.
2/8/2012
Over $4 million returned in unclaimed property
State Treasurer Kurt Schuller recently announced that over $4 million was returned in unclaimed property to residents of our state for the month of January.  This is the second highest month of returns in State Treasury history. 
 
To track the daily return rate or to see if you have any unclaimed property, go to www.wismissingmoney.com. 
2/6/2012
DNR Learn to Hunt events
Hosting a Learn to Hunt event is a great way to introduce someone new to Wisconsin’s long standing hunting heritage.  This Department of Natural Resources program provides both classroom and field instruction for novices who will be hunting with an experienced hunter.  For those interested in mentoring, mentors must have at least 5 years of hunting experience and must complete a background check form and submit it to the DNR.  More information is available online at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/wildlife/lth/.
2/2/2012
Local businesswoman receives 2012 Trailblazer Award
LouAnne Berg, CEO of J&L Steel and Electrical Services, has been announced as a recipient of the 2012 Trailblazer Award.  This award recognizes women pioneers in the business community, who serve as role models and leaders while providing economic benefits to their communities.  It also honors the legacy of women-owned businesses in Wisconsin.  LouAnne's hard work, skill as a leader and business owner, as well as her contribution to the region, make her truly deserving of this special recognition.  For more information about the Trailblazer Awards or to nominate someone for next year’s awards, please visit http://womenscouncil.wi.gov. 
2/1/2012
DHS requests input on drafted reforms to Family Care
The Department of Health Services (DHS) has released drafted documents detailing their initiatives to reform Wisconsin’s long term care programs.  The documents are available online and DHS is asking for public review and comments to help strengthen the reforms.
 
Please go online to http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/ltcreform/ to read the drafted initiatives and to submit your thoughts and suggestions.
1/31/2012
Wisconsin Heroes Awards
Wisconsin's First Lady Tonette Walker recently announced a new Wisconsin Heroes Award for individuals showing heroic and voluntary efforts in our state.  The Wisconsin Heroes Awards will be monthly series of awards designed to recognize and thank individuals throughout Wisconsin who positively impact the lives of their neighbors, community and the state. 
 
Anyone can nominate a state citizen for a Wisconsin Heroes Award.  For more information or to nominate a candidate, please go to: http://firstlady.wi.gov/heroes.
1/27/2012
St. Croix Bridge overcomes another hurdle
The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved bipartisan legislation that would provide an exemption to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act for the St. Croix River Crossing Project.  This legislation is critical in order to move the bridge project forward.  The bill now awaits action in the U.S. House, where both federal and state lawmakers hope for a timely vote. 
1/26/2012
Statewide property taxes held in check
Due to the limits placed on property taxes in the budget bill passed last year, this year’s change in the statewide property tax levy was at the lowest level in 15 years.  According to estimates by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX), growth in statewide property taxes was held to 0.3% this year.  WISTAX cited the property tax freeze included in the 2011-2013 state budget as the primary reason for this positive news. 
 
Given that this number reflects a statewide average, there were some property owners that saw an actual reduction in their tax bill, while others saw an increase.  For those who have questions on how property taxes are levied in Wisconsin, the Department of Revenue's website has a section dedicated exclusively for inquiries on property taxes.  You can visit http://www.revenue.wi.gov/propertytax/ to access this information.
1/20/2012
DOT reminds drivers to use safety zone
This month, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation wants drivers to remember to provide a safety zone for law enforcement and emergency vehicles who are stopped on the side of roadways.  These vehicles include tow truck operators, emergency responders, road maintenance workers and others who work or park on the side of roadways.
 
Drivers are required to change lanes if possible or slow down in order to create a safety zone for whoever is stopped or flashing their warning lights.  For those who violate this law, citations cost $263.50 with three demerit points added to your license.
1/19/2012
Drug Task Forces to receive $1 million in grants
The Office of Justice Assistance (OJA) has awarded over $1 million in federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) to eighteen drug task forces throughout the state.  This funding will support drug prosecutor and investigator positions, overtime for investigations and partial funding for Task Force Commanders.  Drug Task Forces focus on gangs, drugs, firearms as well as related criminal investigations. 
 
The St. Croix Valley Drug Task Force, which is made up of Pierce, Polk and St. Croix Counties, will receive $33,379 in federal grants.
1/17/2012
Wisconsin specialty food processors now able to sell products across state lines
Due to a change in an administrative rule, Wisconsin’s specialty meat plants inspected by the state will soon be able to sell their products across state lines for the first time.  Currently, only meat from plants inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture can be sold across state lines while food processing plants that choose to be inspected by state inspectors cannot.  There is no difference in the food safety standards on state and federal levels. 
 
Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protect will amend a current administrative rule, ATCP 55, which will allow this change and help to expand food processor’s markets.  This is a change will benefit specialty meat and food processors by expanding their markets. 
1/13/2012
Commission on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse report finds millions in savings
The Commission on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse recently released their final report, with recommendations that they believe could have a total annual savings to taxpayers of $445 million. The recommendations address both local and state government operations.  Already state agencies have started to implement some of the cost saving measures discussed by the Commission, including creating the Office of the Inspector General to address fraud in public assistance programs.
 
For more information on the Commission’s report or to view a full copy of the report, please go online to http://walker.wi.gov/section.asp?linkid=1727&locid=177.
1/12/2012
Change in DMV driver license and ID card issuance
The Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will begin mailing all products from a central location starting this upcoming spring.  This includes all driver licenses and identification cards.  Individuals will be given a receipt with the photo that will appear on the license or ID.  The receipt will be valid for 45 days and can be used for driving, voting, and travel requirements.  Licenses and IDs will generally be received within five business days.
 
This change follows state compliance with the federal REAL ID law, which requires more substantial security features on the cards and in facilities that produce the cards.  This requirement could not be met with the current over-the-counter practice. 
1/10/2012
DNR directed to implement state’s wolf management plan
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has removed wolves in Wisconsin from protection under the Endangered Species Act.  In response, the DNR has been ordered to begin implementing the state’s wolf management plan.  The DNR will start issuing permits on February 1st to landowners who document cases of depredation or harassment caused by wolves on their property. 
 
It's estimated that Wisconsin has almost 800 wolves, which exceeds the Wolf Management Plan goal of 350 and the federal recovery goal of 100 wolves for Wisconsin and Michigan.  For more information or to seek a permit, contact the DNR Call Center at 1-888-936-7463 or by email at csweb@wisconsin.gov or by online chat at http://dnr.wi.gov/contact.