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MARSHFIELD - Marshfield Clinic drops rural dental education center plans
Marshfield Clinic announced Wednesday it will reallocate to the state a $10 million grant it received in 2010 to build a rural dental education facility in Marshfield.

Marshfield Clinic in 2010 announced its intent to build the facility after the Wisconsin Department of Health Services released a report detailing the need to increase the number of dentists serving rural areas of the state. The report recommended developing programs to prepare college graduates for dental school, developing dental residency programs, and building a dental school in a high-needs area of Wisconsin.

The Clinic approached the state legislature with plans to build a dental education facility, and the state pledged $10 million toward the project. The award was met with opposition from the Wisconsin Dental Association and Marquette University, which operates Wisconsin's only dental school.

Security Health Plan in 2010 pledged an additional $10 million, but more money was needed to develop curriculum and build a facility where third-year dental students could train.

Meanwhile, the Clinic developed training programs through the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation for college graduates and a dental residency program which began training two individuals July 1. Dr. Brian Ewert, executive director for Marshfield Clinic, said the residency program will likely expand in the coming years, and the Clinic plans to provide clinical opportunities for fourth-year-dental students.

These efforts, along with the development of nine dental centers in partnership with Family Health Center of Marshfield, have gone a long way for improving access to dental care and filling rural workforce gaps in dentistry, Ewert said. The Clinic will continue to focus on its efforts to train dental professionals and improve access to care.

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STEVENS POINT - More than 500 attend Portage County Job Fair
Local employers aiming to fill open positions and job seekers looking for a fresh start say they were glad to have the opportunity to connect at the 2014 Portage County Job Fair.

The event, held Wednesday in the Noel Hangar at the Stevens Point Municipal Airport, drew more than 500 people looking to meet with 48 employers. Mary Jo Monday, director of member relations for the Portage County Business Council, said she had to turn away about 10 additional employers who wanted to be involved with the job fair.

The PCBC organized the event based off feedback from employers such as Bill Fonti, owner of Furniture & ApplianceMart, who said businesses needed a way to reach prospective employees. Fonti — who said he was looking to hire about 10 full-time employees from warehouse staff members to salespeople — said he met with about 40 to 50 people and had about eight strong applicants Wednesday. Both Fonti and Monday said that they would like to see the job fair become an annual event.

"There's certainly a need for jobs, so I'm not at all surprised this many people came today," Fonti said. "There are probably 1,000-plus jobs sitting right here, and I think that's a good sign for this area."

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MADISON - Hobby Lobby ruling sparks possible Willy Street Co-op boycott of Eden Foods
Controversy over the Hobby Lobby ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court has reached the Willy Street Co-op.

Michigan-based Eden Foods is one of the Co-op’s largest suppliers and is among more than 70 companies that had previously filed suit over the federal Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all forms of birth control be covered by employer-offered insurance plans.

Eden Foods’ case, which was originally filed in March of 2013, and dozens of others are being reopened in light of last week’s court ruling that found portions of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare, violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by infringing on a corporation’s religious freedoms by requiring them to cover birth control.

Willy Street Co-op owners have expressed concerns with the grocer continuing to stock its shelves with Eden Foods products, citing the company’s action may run counter to the Co-op’s Food and Product Selection Philosophy.

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MADISON - Church coalition seeks Wisconsin prison reforms
A coalition of church congregations launched a campaign Wednesday calling for reforms within the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, including letting more prisoners out on parole, releasing aging inmates, alleviating overcrowding and ending solitary confinement.

WISDOM, an umbrella organization of congregations from around Wisconsin, began its "Reform Now" campaign with a news conference in the state Capitol. Organizers focused on the parole prong of the campaign, railing about the Parole Commission failing to release hundreds of eligible prisoners.

Inmates sentenced before Wisconsin's truth-in-sentencing law went into effect in 2000 are eligible for parole. The commission is supposed to consider whether inmates have reached their parole eligibility date, served sufficient time, shown positive change, have viable plans plan for housing and employment and present a reduced risk of danger to the public. The commission is made up of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's appointees.

WISDOM leaders pointed to 2013 figures from the state Legislative Fiscal Bureau that show nearly 3,000 prisoners are eligible for parole and keeping them locked up costs the state $96 million per year.

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GREEN BAY - Packers dedicate new Harlan Plaza at Lambeau Field
Green Bay Packers Hall of Famer Bob Harlan was honored Wednesday with the re-dedication of a new plaza in his name.

The newly redesigned Robert E. Harlan Plaza, in front of Lambeau Field, honors Harlan, the former Packers president and CEO. His 37-year career with the organization included a .500 or better season for 13 straight years from 1992 to 2004.

As Packers chairman emeritus, Harlan said he is honored his name would forever be embossed outside the stadium.

"To have my name associated with it means the world to me," Harlan said of Lambeau Field. "I have great respect for the history and tradition of this stadium. Not everyone has that but the Green Bay Packers do."

The larger, reconfigured Harlan Plaza is now at street level and farther west than its original location.

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MADISON - Plexus among companies that outsourced, got state money
At least two companies that received money from Gov. Scott Walker's chief economic development agency later outsourced jobs to foreign countries, WKOW-TV reported Wednesday.

One of the companies received a second award from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation after the fact, the television station reported.

Both Eaton Corporation and Neenah-based Plexus Corporation received millions of dollars in financial awards from WEDC, only to later lay off workers whose jobs were taken by employees at the companies' foreign facilities.

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WAUPUN - AmericInn opens doors
AmericInn, a new 61-room, three-story hotel in Waupun, quietly opened its doors July 1.

“It was a soft opening,” said general manager Andrew Anderson. “We’ll have a grand opening later this summer.”

Anderson, who has been in management for 25 years, said he is new to Waupun and is excited about the community.

Anderson said the common area motel has a beer and wine lounge named “Diggers Dugout” which is open to the public.

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EAU CLAIRE – Developer says Confluence Project proceeding with or without arts center
Construction on the $25 million mixed-use building on Barstow Street will proceed with or without a community performing arts center, a developer involved in the Confluence Project said Tuesday.

That said, “we’re pretty convinced there is going to be some kind of performance venue on that site,” said Dan Clumpner, principal with Commonweal Development of Eau Claire, which makes up a third of Haymarket Concepts. “There is just too much of a need and too compelling an argument for something in the performing arts arena.”

Market & Johnson, an Eau Claire-based general contracting firm, and Blugold Real Estate, a subsidiary of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, make up the other two-thirds of the partnership behind the public-private project, which includes the performing arts center and mixed-use building.

Before the arts center can proceed, a number of hurdles need to be cleared, mainly funding. A key piece of the arts center’s $51.2 million estimated cost is $25 million UW-Eau Claire is seeking in state funding through the UW System.

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GREEN BAY - New Lambeau Field plaza to honor Harlan
The Packers on Wednesday will dedicate the newly redesigned plaza in front of Lambeau Field, named for former Packers President and CEO Bob Harlan.

The larger, reconfigured plaza, where the Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi statues have new homes, is now at street level and farther west than in the past. The new plaza will open to the public on July 17.

Work continues on the Pro Shop, which will occupy a new ground floor created by the excavation of the landscaping in front of Harlan Plaza. It will front Lombardi Avenue, running the length of the Atrium, from the east parking lot to the north end of the Miller gate. The Pro Shop is also scheduled to open July 17.

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MADISON - Willy St. six-story apartment OK'd over neighborhood objections
Despite objections from the Marquette Neighborhood Association, the city Plan Commission has OK’d a proposal for a six-story, 54-unit mixed-use apartment building at the edge of the Willy Street neighborhood.

The project from the Rifken Group calls for razing an existing two-story commercial building at the corner of Williamson and Blount streets. The new building would have about 7,500 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and five levels of apartments above.

The building to be razed by Rifken was constructed in 1926 but has been extensively remodeled throughout the years, most recently in 1998 and 2007.

Representatives of the Marquette Neighborhood Association spoke against the Rifken project, largely because it is one story taller than the recommendations in the “BUILD 2” land use plan drafted for the area by the neighborhood group.

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MENASHA - Demolition of former Hotel Menasha starts
Demolition of the former Hotel Menasha began Tuesday, according to the site's developers.

The developers have not yet determined exactly how the site will be used, but plan to include retail, office and residential space.

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MILTON - Development moves forward on Sunnyside Drive and Hwy 59
A proposed restaurant and convenience store at the corner of Sunnyside Drive and Highway 59 is “somewhat monumental” in that it kicks off the development along the new Highway 26/59 corridor, Milton Mayor Brett Frazier said Tuesday.

Both retail stores are “internationally known and well respected,” City Administrator Jerry Schuetz said. The end users cannot be released yet due to confidentiality agreements.

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SHEBOYGAN - Boston Store asbestos, lead removal to cost $166,000
The City of Sheboygan has agreed to pay half of the $166,000 required to remove asbestos and lead found at the former Boston Store property on North Eighth Street.

The Common Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday authorizing payment to remove the substances, which were documented in June in a report by Cardinal Environmental, Inc., an environmental health and safety consulting firm. The funds will come out of the $250,000 already allocated for the building’s demolition.

Boston Store closed its doors in January of this year, ending the property’s 125-year run that began with H.C. Prange Co in 1887. The city purchased the property from a California-based real estate investment in March. Though it was valued at $3.7 million in 2012, the city paid just $500,000.

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LA CROSSE - More than 40 oil trains a week pass through La Crosse
More than three dozen trains loaded with flammable crude oil now rumble through La Crosse and neighboring counties each week, industry records show.

That works out to roughly one oil train every 3.5 hours.

According to counts from one week in June, most of those trains -- five to six per day -- run on the BNSF Railway line that bisects the city of La Crosse and is subject to plans for expansion.

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EAU CLAIRE - First phase of Confluence Project construction to begin
Confluence Project backers stated they will begin pouring foundations for a $25 million privately financed mixed-use building in September, even as public funding for the related performing arts center still will be pending.

Haymarket Concepts, the partnership behind the proposed public-private project, announced in a Monday news release that demolition of old vacant buildings will begin this week at the Confluence site in downtown Eau Claire.

“They’re a public nuisance. They’re a hazard to the community right now,” Matt Faulkner, executive vice president of Market & Johnson, the Eau Claire construction firm that makes up one-third of Haymarket Concepts, said about the vacant buildings.

Eau Claire-based Commonweal Development and Blugold Reality — a division of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation — are the other two parties that comprise the partnership, which is financing the demolition.

The Confluence Project includes a $51.2 million community performing arts center and the $25 million mixed-use building with private apartment-style student housing and commercial space for shops or restaurants.

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