MADISON - Assembly prepares to take up right-to-work bill
As right-to-work opponents prepare for Wisconsin's fast-tracked bill to move to the Assembly next week, Republicans have launched a petition drive for supporters.

A criticism leveled at Republicans frequently throughout the Senate debate was that the bill was driven by wealthy special interests, not constituents. A new website hosted by Assembly Republicans,, includes the petition and a collection of arguments in favor of the bill.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he is confident the Assembly will pass the bill next week. The Assembly expects to take it up on March 5, with a Labor Committee hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. on Monday.

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GREEN BAY - Packers pay $2.8 million for Road Star Inn
The Green Bay Packers paid $2.8 million for the Road Star Inn near Lambeau Field, the last piece of property they need to give them sole ownership of a key block they plan to develop.

The 63-room hotel is the final property the Packers acquired in the block bounded by Lombardi Avenue, South Ridge Road, Brookwood Drive and Marlee Lane. It is an area they've designated for income-producing commercial development. The hotel closed on Feb. 9 and the transaction was completed on Feb. 16, according to the Brown County register of deeds.

Taxes for 2014 on the 1.14 acres were $27,010. The property, 1941 True Lane, was assessed at $1.36 million, according to Brown County tax records. It was acquired by the Packers' Green Bay Development LLC entity from owner Stephen Welch.

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LA CROSSE - Developer plans $10.6 million mixed-use building near UW-La Crosse
A local developer plans to add a $10.6 million apartment building with office space and a cafe on Badger Street near the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus.

The 90,000-square-foot, five-level building at Badger and 13th streets just behind the West Avenue Kwik Trip will have 57 three-bedroom units designed “to meet the demand for private-sector quality student housing,” along with four one-bedroom apartments for staff, Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions owner Marvin Wanders told the La Crosse Economic Development Board on Thursday.

The development has been dubbed Aguilera — Spanish for “eagles’ nest” — in a nod to the UW-L mascot.

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BAYFIELD - Apostle Islands ice caves set to open Saturday
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore officials say the popular ice caves are set to open to the public Saturday if conditions don't change.

The National Park Service made the announcement Wednesday. But officials urge caution for people who make the trek on Lake Superior ice.

The ice caves drew more than 138,000 tourists last year as the deep freeze made the caves accessible to pedestrians for the first time in nearly five years. The park system plans a $5 fee this year for visitors age 16 and older.

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GREEN BAY - Public sounds off on Integrys/WPS sale to Wisconsin Energy Corp.
Public opinion on the proposed acquisition of Integrys Energy Group by Wisconsin Energy Corp. remains largely unknown after Thursday’s state Public Service Commission hearing.

About a dozen people not representing the commission or utilities attended the opening of the meeting at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay, and two spoke.

The $9.1 billion deal includes Wisconsin Public Service Corp., the provider of electricity and natural gas for most residents in Northeastern and north-central Wisconsin. We Energies, owned by Wisconsin Energy Group, provides electricity to southeastern Wisconsin, the Fox Valley and much of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula., and natural gas to a wide range of regions throughout the state.

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MADISON - New apartment proposal raises historic concerns
With a 12-story apartment and retail development called The Hub at Madison well under way on State Street, developer Core Campus is already proposing a follow-up project and neighbor: The Hub at Madison 2.

This new, mixed-use project would go up at 510 University Ave., across West Gilman Street from the original Hub. Like its neighbor, it would rise to 12 stories, including about 295 apartments and approximately 9,230 square feet of retail, according to preliminary plans. It would also include three townhomes and a rooftop area with a volleyball court, hot tubs and a pool.

The major development has already hit a bump, however, with the city’s Landmarks Commission opposing the demolition of the existing building at 435 W. Gilman St. At its meeting this week, the commission voted to convey that it opposes the demolition due to the building’s “historic value as an example of the Art Deco style and its original use as an auto garage and tire store serving the Mansion Hill area in the 1930s,” according to preliminary minutes.

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MADISON - Clean energy businesses in Wisconsin press on
Despite a series of political setbacks, a new report shows more than 500 Wisconsin companies are still serving the wind power and solar energy markets.

Included in the list are more than 75 companies in the Madison area, from Full Spectrum Solar to IEA Renewable Energy, the former RMT Inc.

The report released Wednesday by the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago was designed to showcase the contribution clean power is making to the state economy.

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MAYVILLE - Ambitious future planned for Audubon Inn
The historic Audubon Inn in downtown Mayville has gone through a number of exciting changes in the past year.

Since new owner Keith Hill acquired the hotel last year, new life has been breathed into the hotel. The public spaces on the ground level including the dining room, lounge and bar and lobby have all been renovated. The hotel’s restaurant has reopened as the NOLA Grill with a New Orleans’s inspired menu. The guest rooms have been updated with new bedding and bathroom amenities.

Even the façade of the building has begun to change. The building, originally painted in various shades of salmon, has been repainted in varying shades of blue with white with gold leaf accents.

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MOSINEE - Airport ready for final renovation
The third phase of renovations at the Central Wisconsin Airport will begin during the next few months. Even as the project wraps up, airport officials and advisers are working on other improvements — including a push for more flights.

A request for proposals is out for parking lot reconstruction and landscaping bids, which will be awarded in March, with construction to start in April or May.

Total costs for the project were expected to be about $35 million, and now projections are about $200,000 over that total. Planning for the project began in 2004, and the renovation drew about $18 million in federal money and $7.5 million from the state. Other costs are covered by CWA. Improvements in the terminals were meant to improve traffic flows. The ceilings are also higher and the finishes more modern in the renovated space.

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EAU CLAIRE – Bowling alley wants to expand with volleyball courts
An Eau Claire bowling alley’s plans to create year-round sand volleyball would eliminate a shortcut that commuters use to get between downtown and the south side.

Wagner’s Lanes, 2159 Brackett Ave., submitted plans to the city for an expanded volleyball area enclosed by a temporary dome to the west of the existing bowling alley.

Wagner’s plans to expand from two to three volleyball courts and add an 18,000-square-foot inflatable dome for year-round leagues.

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WAUSAU - New bar area, menu among changes at Hiawatha
The changes at Hiawatha Restaurant & Lounge on Wausau's near-east side aren't limited to a new bar area; the eatery soon will have a new menu, too.

The remodeling project at 713 Grant St. — which includes the replacement of an aging and sinking bar — is nearing the finish line. Hiawatha manager Anna Anderson said she's hoping to have the bar area ready for Friday's fish fry.

That fish fry and other longtime favorites will remain a part of Hiawatha's offerings, but executive chef Joe Thomas said plans are in the works to roll out a new menu.

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MADISON - State Senate approves right-to-work bill
The state Senate voted primarily along party lines late Wednesday night to approve the right-to-work bill, after about eight hours of debate.

Shouts of “shame, shame, shame” instantly arose from the Senate gallery after the 17-15 vote. Sen. Jerry Petrowski of Marathon was the only Republican to vote against the bill.

Democrats repeatedly accused Republicans of “ramming through” the measure, introduced Friday, that would prohibit workers from being required to financially support any labor organization.

About 2,000 protesters rallied for a second day on the steps outside the Capitol. Afterwards, hundreds of protesters flooded into the Capitol chanting and hoisting signs. Several protesters were removed during Wednesday’s Senate debate, one of whom accused Wisconsin of being a “banana republic.”

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SHEBOYGAN - Report: Proposed Kohler golf course would have $20.6 million impact
The golf course proposed by Kohler Co. in the Town of Wilson would create 227 full-time jobs and generate an annual economic impact of $20.6 million, according to an economic impact study released Wednesday by the company.

The study, performed by SB Friedman Development Advisors in Chicago, estimates that the golf course's three-year construction phase would create 95 full-time construction jobs and have a $12.5 million economic impact on Sheboygan County.

Kohler Co. says it will make an initial investment of $25 million to build and develop the golf course.

When the course is fully operational, 106 full-time equivalent jobs, or FTEs, would be created by Kohler Co. and another 121 FTEs would be created elsewhere in the county. Together, they'd be earning $8.9 million annually.

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WAUSAU - Granite Peak expansion proposal to get thorough review
The proposed expansion of Granite Peak Ski Area is going to get a closer look.

That was the decision of the state Natural Resources Board, which voted Wednesday to undertake a Rib Mountain State Park master plan review process to evaluate the proposal, according to a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

In 2014, Charles Skinner, who owns and operates the ski area, submitted a request to the DNR to increase Granite Peak’s leased area by 150 acres to build additional ski runs, add more chairlifts and build on-site lodging. Granite Peak projects the expansion would allow skier visits to nearly double from 110,000 to 200,000 annually.

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MADISON – Walker’s proposed cap on historic tax credits could threaten Garver Feed Mill proposals
Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed changes to the state’s program offering tax credits for redevelopment of historic buildings threatens a key funding source for developers vying to rehabilitate the crumbling, landmark Garver Feed Mill on Madison’s East Side.

The governor’s proposal, which puts a $10 million annual cap on annual historic tax credit allocations and prioritizes job creation, could impact rehabilitation efforts in communities across the state.

Four development teams — the Alexander Co., Ogden & Co., Baum Development and Alternative Continuum of Care — have responded to a city request for proposals to reuse the Garver Feed Mill near Olbrich Botanical Gardens, each offering unique uses and costs ranging from $19.8 million to $39.8 million. All of the projects would use state historic tax credits as part of their financing, in amounts from $1.8 million to $3.2 million.

The governor’s proposal poses a threat to all of the applicants, said Randy Alexander, chief executive officer for the Alexander Co., which does historic restoration projects nationally.

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