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Top Stories November 28, 2014

Black Friday Bargains Began on Thursday


11/28/14 - If you open it, they will come.  That's what numerous Wisconsin retailers found out yesterday, when shoppers filled the stores to take advantage of the early Black Friday bargains on Thanksgiving.  A few stores stayed open the entire holiday, while most larger chains opened around 5-or-6 p-m -- a couple hours earlier than last year.  A sarcastic letter-to-the-editor in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thanked retailers for driving families away from their Thanksgiving food and fellowship, and splitting up families by making people work.  But for many shoppers, it was no problem as the bargains trumped the clock.  They simply re-adjusted their food-and-family time.  At a suburban Milwaukee mall, shoppers were more than happy to nail down a 32-inch T-V for 99-dollars.  Lisa Cross said, "To each his own."  However, Morrie Carroll lamented the good old days of about three years ago, when more stores crept their Black Friday opening times to midnight.  In her words, "This isn't Black Friday anymore."  Lots of stores waited to open until this morning, though -- and shoppers can still expect big crowds and new bargains.  The National Retail Federation says the average Black Friday shopper spent 407-dollars last year.


Beaver Dam Chamber Promoting ‘Small Business Saturday’


11/28/14 - The Beaver Dam Chamber of Commerce will be holding an event for shoppers tomorrow called ‘Small Business Saturday.’  The Chamber’s Executive Director Phil Fritsche says that the partnership between the national chamber of commerce and American Express allowed the event to begin.  He notes that the local branch reached out to national chamber and was able to obtain grant funding.  Small Business Saturday committee member Diana Ogle says that all those who are looking to participate will receive a passport at the start of the morning to have stamped at each local business they visit over the next few hours.  Many retail and home-based businesses will be involved in the event.  A person who collects all of the necessary passport stamps can take it to Rechek’s Food Pride by noon tomorrow to be eligible to win a prize.  Anyone who does not have the passport completed by the lunchtime deadline can still bring it to the Chamber of Commerce office by next week Saturday.  Small Business Saturday is scheduled to begin at the Piggly Wiggly in the Park Village Shopping Center at 8 am. 


Dodge County Unemployment Drops Below Five-Percent


11/28/14 - The unemployment rate in Dodge County has dipped below five-percent for the first time since the recession began. Jobless filings for October dipped to 4.9-percent down one-tenths from September and over a full percentage point lower than the same time last year. The last time Dodge County was in the four-percent range was December of 2007 when it was at 4.6-percent.  The highest rate Dodge County experienced during the recession was 11.6-percent in February of 2010.  Fond du Lac County is down one-tenth to 4.3-percent while Washington County dropped three-tenths to 4-percent, both declining over a full percentage point from last year. Jefferson County held steady over the two-month period at 4.8-percent, also a full percentage point lower than last year.  Columbia County increased a half-point from September to October at 4.5-percent, eight-tenths below last year’s numbers. Pierce County has the lowest number of unemployment filings at 3-percent while Menominee County is the highest at 9.9-percent. The statewide rate announced last week is 5.4-percent. At 5.4-percent, Dodge County is four-tenths below the national rate. October jobless numbers in Wisconsin declined or stayed the same in 56 of the state’s 72 counties.


Dodge County Human Services Grant Fights Heroin Use


11/28/14 - Over a four-part series that begins today, we will examine what the Dodge County Human Services and Health Department is doing to combat drug and alcohol problems in the community.  The county recently got approval for TAD grant funding to make 2015 year two of its four year plan to offer the Treatment Alternatives and Diversion program to its residents.  Director of Human Services and Health Janet Wimmer says that the county has combined its efforts in an attempt to best utilize the funds being received.  She notes that the alcohol courts will be working in collaboration with the TAD program in 2015.  Wimmer says that the grants Dodge County has received in 2014 and now 2015 have been for $140,000 and $115,000, respectively.  The county has hired two new opiate addiction counselors who will begin working in the new year.  With the money that has been granted, they hope to bring on three additional counselors.  In tomorrow’s second installment, the stipulations and incentives behind the TAD program will be covered.


BDFD: Carbon Monoxide Detectors Mandatory


11/28/14 - The Beaver Dam Fire Department is encouraging people to observe fire safety during the coming winter season.  One element of the plan that they are stressing is keeping track of the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in one’s home.  Firefighter John Jatczak says that carbon monoxide detectors not only can be a benefit to a household but are also required by state ordinance.  Jatczak encourages changing the batteries in these detectors every time that the clocks are changed.  He notes that anyone who hasn’t changed the batteries in their detectors yet this fall still should despite Daylight Savings Time having passed.  He says that in addition to the batteries being good for a certain period of time, the devices themselves do as well.  According to him, most detectors have a lifespan of ten years.  Jatczak says that the landowner, not the tenant, is legally responsible to ensure that the detectors in the building are functioning properly. 


UW Speech-Writing Position Raises Eyebrows


11/28/14 - The U-W Madison chancellor is paying 95-thousand dollars a year to have somebody write her speeches.  And a G-O-P lawmaker says it proves that the university does not need another dime in its next state budget.  Former broadcast journalist Amanda Todd spent 21 years as a spokeswoman for the state court system.  Her job had been cut to part-time -- and Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank snapped her up last December for 73-thousand-500 dollars a year.  The Supreme Court recently hired her back in a new 95-thousand-dollar post as the court's communications official.  But on her first day, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Todd withdrew and stayed with Blank. The news outlet found that Blank matched what Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson offered.  Former state personnel chief Peter Fox told the Journal Sentinel that Todd is a wonderful person and writer -- and she got caught up in a bidding war.  Blank, a former Obama White House official, created the speechwriter's post.  A U-W spokesman defended it by saying Blank is focusing on public outreach.  However, the Journal Sentinel points out that Governor Scott Walker does not have his own speech-writer -- and neither does U-W System President Ray Cross.  Assembly Republican Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield, a member of the Joint Finance Committee, says the big raise shows that the U-W has plenty of money -- and it needs none of the 133-million dollar increase in tax funding the 26-campus system requested for the next two years.


Advisory Committee Members Sought For National Forest


11/28/14 - Wisconsin's only national forest is looking for people with good ideas.  Members are being sought for two advisory committees run by the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.  One panel focuses on the portion in northwest Wisconsin, while the other deals with the Nicolet part in the northeast.  Each committee has 15 members with diverse interests.  Their goals are to suggest ways to improve relationships among forest users -- and to offer advice on improvement projects for each facility.  Members must be Wisconsin residents willing to serve four-year terms. The U-S Forest Service Web site has more information, and applications.


Feds Subsiding Cranberry Growers


11/28/14 - The federal government is giving Wisconsin cranberry growers something to be thankful for -- assistance to help them break even.  The U-S-D-A has agreed to buy up to 68-million pounds of cranberries to help alleviate an over-supply among growers.  It's more than twice what the producers requested, and it will them stabilize their revenues.   The over-supply means that cranberry producers are getting 10-to-19 cents a pound -- when they actually need 25-to-30 cents just to break even.  Tom Lochner of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association said the U-S-D-A was originally asked to buy about 30-million pounds of excess products.  Those cranberries are expected to end up at food pantries and school lunch programs.


Yesterday's Headlines
    - Juneau, Horicon, Mayville 2015 Budgets
    - Couple Identified In Fatal Columbia County Wreck
    - Ribbon Cut On Lake Street Bridge In Horicon

For those stories and more click here.

For older stories visit our news archive here.