WISCONSIN RAPIDS - Aspirus chooses Wisconsin Rapids for expansion
Wisconsin Rapids residents soon will have the option of choosing between two hospitals within city limits.

After weeks of uncertainty over whether Aspirus Doctors Clinic would expand its operations into Wisconsin Rapids or Biron, the health care provider announced Thursday it will proceed with its original plan of adding a roughly $30 million hospital facility to its Wisconsin Rapids location, 2031 Peach St.

Aspirus leaders have referred to the new facility as a "super clinic" or a "hospital of the future" as it will feature 10 to 25 hospital beds for in-patient care. The increased amount of space — between 75,000 and 110,00 square feet — will allow Aspirus to provide advanced heart care services and surgical care, as well as be equipped with a helicopter pad and an emergency room.

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MADISON - Hospitals prepare for Ebola
In a training drill Thursday at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, a woman came into the emergency room and said she had a 102-degree fever and recently traveled to Sierra Leone. Hospital staff promptly put on protective gear and took her to an isolation room with negative air pressure, where, in an actual scenario, they would draw blood to see if she had Ebola virus.

With two nurses in Dallas sickened this month with Ebola after treating the first patient in the U.S. with the virus, hospitals across the country are stepping up precautions.

Meriter Hospital staff met Thursday to review Ebola protocols and scenarios, and staff are being trained how to use protective gear, spokeswoman Leah Huibregtse said.

Concern about Ebola led UW Hospital to activate its incident command center this week to level 2, meaning daily meetings are held among all departments potentially affected, spokeswoman Lisa Brunette said.

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MADISON - WEDC slammed in report on privatization of public services
From Florida to Wisconsin, governors have outsourced public services to private firms that have made healthy campaign contributions or hired powerful lobbyists.

But the moves — often pitched as a way to save taxpayer dollars — have resulted in scandals, lawsuits and worse outcomes for the public, according to a new report from a Madison-based liberal research group.

The Center for Media and Democracy in its report "Pay to Prey: Governors Facilitate the Predatory Outsourcing of Public Services," argues that the national trend of outsourcing is an experiment gone badly wrong.

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MADISON - One avenue, two proposed concert venues
A pair of developments proposed for opposite sides of East Washington Avenue both include new music clubs.

Toffer Christensen is looking to develop a new 1,500 capacity performing arts venue as part of a redevelopment on the south side of the 800 block of East Washington Avenue. It's one of two new music venues proposed for the corridor, an area attracting a lot of interest from developers.

Stone House Development is pursuing a separate project on the other side of East Washington Avenue. That development on the former site of Madison Dairy Produce calls for a six-story office building that would include a music venue from Frank Productions with room for 2,000 to 2,500 people. The project also includes a pair of four-story apartment buildings fronting on East Mifflin Street.

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MIDDLETON - City to consider TIF for apartment development
A Middleton committee is recommending nearly $250,000 in public assistance for an apartment development on the city’s northern edge.

The Plan Commission on Tuesday unanimously recommended $233,108 in tax increment financing (TIF) to support energy-efficient features in the third building of T. Wall Enterprises’ Tribeca Village.

The TIF recommendation will now move to the City Council.
Tribeca Village, located on the city’s northern border between Highway 12 and Parmenter Street, had its development slowed because of the economic recession. Only two apartment buildings stand completed, but the development is intended to eventually grow into a 31-acre retail, office and residential center.

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KIMBERLY - Village expects development on paper mill site in 2015
Village officials know the former NewPage paper mill site is an eyesore, but they're asking Kimberly residents for patience as they continue to work on its redevelopment.

The rock piles and rundown buildings aren't going anywhere soon, but efforts are ongoing to transform the 98-acre property into the Cedars at Kimberly, which will host commercial, residential and green space corridors along the Fox River.

Kimberly Administrator Adam Hammatt said the project recently took a big step forward when the Village Board inked a development agreement coordinating a public/private partnership with local developer Stadtmueller & Associates and AIM Development.

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HORTONVILLE - Piping Systems to add 100 jobs in expansion
Piping Systems Inc. president Jeff Bunker says the company has been conservative in growth since 1990, investing only due to customer demand. This year, it landed a whopper and bet big on the future.

A multi-year contract from an East Coast energy company means a $5.5 million expansion and tripling of employees at the pipe fitter and manufacturer on the southern skirts of Hortonville.

The job means expanding the facility's footprint from 50,000 square feet to about 115,000 square feet. The company will also add about 100 jobs.

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DELAVAN - Appeals court declares Delavan room fee illegal
The fee in lieu of room tax the city of Delavan collects from certain owners at the Lodges at Lake Lawn Resort Condominium is an illegal tax and must be refunded, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The District III Court of Appeals reversed Walworth County Judge Phillip Koss, who dismissed the lawsuit brought by six unit owners who have paid the city a $250 monthly base fee since 2005 for months they did not rent out their condos.

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EAU CLAIRE - Confluence Project backers give city $4 million guarantee on mixed-use building
The three Confluence Project backers put their names as established Eau Claire institutions on a $4 million guarantee added Tuesday to the city-approved development agreement for a downtown mixed-use building.

To reduce concerns that the city wouldn’t recoup its $5.9 million incentive if the apartment-style student housing, restaurants and retail shops planned for South Barstow Street would go under, the financial guarantee created through last-minute negotiations was added to the agreement approved Tuesday night by the City Council in a 7-4 vote.

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PORTAGE - Staples to close Portage store
By Dec. 6, the Staples store at 2830 New Pinery Road in Portage will close its doors.

An employee who answered the phone Tuesday didn’t identify herself, but confirmed that the store would be shut down. She said the store has 14 employees and that five are full time.
Staples has about 2,000 retail stores in 26 countries. There will be nine stores left in Wisconsin after the Portage store closes, according to the company’s website.

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NEENAH - Aldi plans grocery store for Neenah’s west side
Aldi Inc. plans to build a 17,800-square-foot grocery store immediately south of the Goodwill retail store and training center on South Green Bay Road.

The $1.5 million to $2 million project would require the acquisition and demolition of Twin City Diner, 927 S. Green Bay Road.

Twin City Diner owner Ali Useini said he plans to reopen the restaurant elsewhere in Neenah but has no specific site in mind.

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GREEN BAY - Bay Link Manufacturing opens doors
Chris Rosman plans to become a welder some day, and he's learning the basics before graduating from Green Bay's West High School.

Rosman, a senior, is one of 10 students to work for Bay Link Manufacturing, which will produce items for Lindquist Machine Corp. in a new lab at the high school.

Bay Link Manufacturing is a collaborative of the high school, the Green Bay School District, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, the N.E.W. Manufacturing Alliance.

Students will use the new high-precision equipment to fill real-world manufacturing orders for customers, such as Lindquist Machine and others.

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BELOIT - State Collection Service to add 300 jobs
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation announced that $750,000 in tax credits will be awarded to Madison-based State Collection Service as the company plans to create 300 full-time jobs over the next three years, most of which will be added in Beloit.

Tom Haag, chairman and CEO of the company, said the business has expanded quicker than he or others thought. The company is a full-service accounts receivable management solutions provider that works with the healthcare industry to collect unpaid debts. The company opened in Madison in 1949 and currently has two other locations besides Beloit — in West Allis and Chicago.

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OSHKOSH - Sam's Club plans store at old Oshkosh Walmart site
Sam's Club is coming to Oshkosh.

The company announced Tuesday that it plans to build a 136,455-square-foot store on the site of the old Oshkosh Walmart store at 20th Avenue and South Koeller Street.
City officials expect construction will begin in 2015.

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FOND DU LAC - Commonwealth Company's success has come at a cost
Sitting at a desk in his unfinished basement on Seventh Street, Louie Lange had a dream 13 years ago to build a company from the ground up.

While Lange initially wanted to stake his career as a real estate developer, his newfound passion for building would lend itself to developing Commonwealth Companies, a venture that provides housing for retirees as well as members of the general workforce in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and beyond.

With little fanfare, Commonwealth Companies has quietly made its presence known around town with its signature projects: Trinity Restaurant and St. Peter's Place re-purposed out of vacant churches and a school, as well as Riverside Senior Apartments, Trinity Artist Square and Fond du Lac Townhouses, housing developments that were once contaminated Brownfield sites.

Despite Lange's desire to give back to his hometown, his success has come at a cost. The nationally respected company has taken hits on local Facebook forums that have accused Commonwealth of everything from owning every apartment building in the city to attracting an unsavory demographic responsible for the recent uptick in the local crime rate.

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