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MADISON – As he stood before a crowd at the annual economic forecast luncheon of the Wisconsin Bankers Association, Gov. Scott Walker was upbeat about what 2017 promises for the state. His caveat, however, was all about people.

To be specific, Walker wants to ensure there are enough people ready, willing and able to take part in Wisconsin’s under-pressure workforce.

It’s a theme Walker can be expected to sound in his State of the State speech, his annual budget address and at many other stops along the way this year as policymakers confront Wisconsin’s workforce shortage.

“Workforce development is going to be the number one priority moving forward, because if you improve the workforce of the state, we improve the economic vitality of the state, and we improve the ability to expand jobs and prosperity to the state,” Walker told the bankers group.

It seems like we can’t talk about Planned Parenthood without talking about abortion, but the primary victims of Speaker Paul Ryan’s move to defund the national reproductive health organization won’t be those seeking the controversial medical procedure.

Instead, it will be people like the thousands of Wisconsinites who don’t make enough to purchase their own health insurance, forcing them to rely on the government to keep them healthy enough to live and work.

Ryan, R-Janesville, introduced this week a measure to stop all federal funding for Planned Parenthood primarily because of its connection to abortion services and the debunked claim PP was illegally selling baby parts.

“If we are unable to defeat this proposal and if all of our litigation options fail, yes, it will have a significant impact,” said Nicole Safar, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin’s director of government relations.

As the holiday season wraps up, there are still organizations that need the giving spirit of Red Cross.

Hectic schedules and inclement weather in the winter months usually result in a drop in blood donations.

This year, the Red Cross saw about 37,000 fewer donations between November and December than they expected.

“Blood and platelet donations are critically needed in the coming days so that patients can continue to receive the lifesaving treatments they are counting on,” said Nick Gehrig, communications director of Red Cross Blood Services.

That’s why, in addition to stops at the high school and area business, the Red Cross set up a blood drive at the Comfort Inn & Suites.

Volunteers say there was still an incredible turnout with 91 appointments already set up and plenty more walk-ins stopping by.

There is something about the first day of the new year that gives people hope for a fresh start, even if those new year’s resolutions don’t get too far off the ground.

Look at all the messages—both positive and tongue-in-cheek—that I have received regarding the new year. People have said, “January is the Monday of months,” “I don’t call them New Year’s Resolutions; I prefer the term ‘casual promises to myself that I am under no legal obligation to fulfill,’” “A New Year’s Resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other,” “The procrastinator’s goal for the new year: My goal for 2017 is to accomplish the goals of 2016 which I should have done in 2015 because I made a promise in 2014 and planned to in 2013.

As winter kicks in to full gear so does flu season and officials say that this year’s strain of influenza is hitting older citizens in particular.

“That’s very typical of the type of virus that’s circulating,” Thomas Haupt, a respiratory epidemiologist with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services who serves as the state’s influenza surveillance coordinator said.

Influenza A H3 historically affects the older population more, making this year a reversal of last year’s strain of H1 which more commonly affects younger adults.

In Wisconsin, there have been 161 influenza cases to date this flu season and 95 influenza-associated hospitalizations, including eight children and 78 adults ages 50 and older.

Jackson County, however, hasn’t received reports of any such hospitalizations as a result of any flu or flu-like illnesses.