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MADISON - Badger Coulee transmission line wins PSC approval
The Badger Coulee high-voltage transmission line will be built, and it will follow a route from a substation near Holmen, north of La Crosse, to the Madison area, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) decided in a unanimous preliminary vote Thursday.

The 345-kilovolt line will keep the electricity supply reliable and sufficient, and will bring economic benefits to the region, agreed the three-member panel, all appointees of Gov. Scott Walker.

The 180-mile project, proposed by Pewaukee-based American Transmission Co. (ATC) and Xcel Energy, will cost an estimated $580 million. Construction is expected to begin in 2016 and the line is scheduled to go into service in 2018.

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LA CROSSE - Coulee Region officials lambaste PSC; groups threaten appeal
The “shocked” chairman of the town of Holland castigated the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s approval of a high-voltage power line route through his municipality Thursday as an “insult” that will inflict an “eyesore” on the community.

Even those who are happy that the line won’t go through their backyards tempered their joy with sympathy for Holland and insistence that the line isn’t necessary.

And members of the Citizens Energy Task Force and Save Our Unique Lands said they may file a rehearing petition with the PSC and/or a petition for a circuit court judicial review challenging the legality of the decision.

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MADISON - UW-Madison vaccine protects monkeys from Ebola
An Ebola vaccine developed at UW-Madison is effective in monkeys and could join four other Ebola vaccines now in human trials, the university said Thursday.

The vaccine was created in the lab of campus virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka. It protected monkeys from Ebola virus infection in experiments conducted at a high-level containment facility in Montana, Kawaoka reported in the journal Science.

The vaccine uses a strain of Ebola that is safe because it is missing a key protein, university officials said. It can grow only in special animal cells engineered to contain the protein, they said.

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MADISON - Amid oil glut, frac sand mining layoffs to hit Wisconsin
As crude oil prices were dropping earlier this year, frac sand companies in Wisconsin maintained the glut of oil on the market would have little impact on their business.

But the jobs cuts are already starting, with a Chippewa Falls-based sand hauler this week announcing it was laying off 55 hourly workers beginning in May.

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GREEN BAY - KI Center expansion puts Green Bay in state’s top five
At 45,290 square feet, the KI Convention Center only ranks ninth among Wisconsin's convention centers.

The expansion now under construction would push it to fifth in the state, closer to where community officials and city leaders say Green Bay should be.

The 34,233-square-foot expansion will give the convention center almost 80,000 square feet of meeting and event space, just behind the 85,000 square feet at Madison's Monona Terrace.

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APPLETON - Downtown Appleton maps new course
Downtown Appleton is no longer "Downtown Cool." It's "One Great Place."

The downtown's new slogan and logo will pop up on College Avenue starting in May. The logo is shaped like a locator pin found on a Google map or online navigator.

Appleton Downtown Inc., a nonprofit advocacy group, introduced the new branding Thursday night at its annual awards celebration at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel.

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MADISON – Cross says he'll resign if budget cuts, loss of shared governance maintained by Legislature
In early January, University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross wrote to UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone that the coming fight over Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to slash System funding and spin it off from state control — then known only to the highest-level UW officials and some high-ranking lawmakers — would be bruising but necessary.

Wednesday, the early warning proved prophetic. Cross, facing withering criticism, told a UW-Milwaukee gathering of employees and students that he’d resign if he can’t substantially reduce the $300 million cut and preserve cherished employee protections including shared governance, tenure and academic freedom.

He said that while he promised to quit if things didn’t go well, he doesn’t plan on going away because he believes the Legislature and Walker are committed to reducing the cut. He also thinks tenure, shared governance and other provisions cherished by System employees will survive.

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DODGEVILLE - Lands' End recalls children's pajamas
Lands’ End is recalling 25 styles of children’s pajamas, sold online and through its catalogs for the past year, because the clothing does not meet federal flammability standards.

The Dodgeville company also reported lower profits for the fourth quarter and for the full fiscal year, and said the recall accounted for part of the drop.

Lands’ End said no injuries have been reported in connection with the sleepwear, which was sold from January 2014 through February 2015. The company said it is voluntarily recalling the clothing in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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BELLEVUE - DeLeers Architectural Millwork gets new owners
Tom Lisle, Jay Tomcheck and Steve Krueger, principals of DLM Holdings LLC, acquired DeLeers Architectural Millwork Inc., 1735 Sal St., Bellevue.

Lisle is chairman of DLM and Tomcheck president. Phil DeLeers is executive vice president of sales and development.

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CHIPPEWA FALLS - Official: Sand transport layoffs not surprising
A downturn in the price of oil means the frac sand boom across northwestern Wisconsin has slowed, resulting in layoffs at some of the dozens of sand mine operations in the region.

On Monday Chippewa Sand Transport announced plans to lay off 55 employees because of what company officials said is a decreased need for sand. The company hauls sand for EOG Resources in Chippewa Falls.

The layoffs aren’t surprising, given the drop in per-barrel oil prices from between $80 and $100 to less than $50, said Charlie Walker, Chippewa County Economic Development Corp. executive director.

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MADISON - Bergstrom opens Chevrolet dealership in Madison
Bergstrom Automotive purchased Stark's Chevrolet franchise in Stoughton and relocated it to 1225 Applegate Road, adjacent to Bergstrom Cadillac on the beltline in Madison.

The new facility opened Tuesday as Bergstrom Chevrolet of Madison. It is the only Chevrolet dealership in the Madison city limits, according to the company.

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SHEBOYGAN - Developer wins legal battle with Town of Wilson
About 17 years ago, there was a business park envisioned at the intersection of County OK and I-43. The owners bought the land from the Town of Wilson and both parties fully anticipated to reap the benefits of a choice location.

But since that purchase in the late ’90s, the 90 acres there have laid dormant. With the recent end of a legal battle with the town, those owners can now seek annexation by the City of Sheboygan, but it’s unclear when or if that might happen.

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MADISON – Menard gave $1.5 million to conservative group tied to Walker
John Menard Jr. is widely known as the richest man in Wisconsin. A tough-minded, staunchly conservative 75-year-old billionaire, he owns a highly profitable chain of home improvement stores throughout the Midwest. He's also famously publicity-shy — rarely speaking in public or giving interviews.

So a little more than three years ago, when Menard wanted to back Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — and help advance his pro-business agenda — he found the perfect way to do so without attracting any attention: He wrote more than $1.5 million in checks to a pro-Walker political advocacy group that pledged to keep its donors secret, three sources directly familiar with the transactions told Yahoo News.

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MADISON - Great Wolf Resorts to be sold
Great Wolf Resorts is about to have new owners.

Three years after Apollo Global Management bought the Madison indoor waterpark company for a package valued at $798 million, the New York investment firm is selling Great Wolf to another New York investment firm, Centerbridge Partners, the companies said Tuesday.

Terms were not disclosed but Reuters and Bloomberg news services quote sources “familiar with the matter” as saying the purchase price is $1.35 billion — about 70 percent higher than Apollo paid after a seven-week bidding war with KSL Capital Partners, Denver.

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MARSHALL - Group wants to build ag education and training complex
A group with a dream of building an agricultural education, research, business and training complex in southern Wisconsin believes it is closer to making it a reality after finding a new location for the project in the village of Marshall.

The Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group and the village announced Tuesday that they will collaborate to build the Wisconsin Agricultural Education & Innovation Complex.

The proposed complex was originally planned to be built on 200 acres on the outskirts of Evansville for $32 million. Those plans were scrapped, and SWAG sold the land to a farmer late last year after city officials, SWAG and potential business partners never agreed on a plan, said SWAG board member John Morning.

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