Sunday, July 23rd


The Wisconsin DOT recently began a nearly $5 million construction project on 15.5 miles of Hwy. 54 between Black River Falls and Melrose.

“There is severe cracking on the pavement all the way down Hwy. 54 to Melrose, so obviously we will adjust that. Everything that is substandard right now is being brought up to standard,” DOT project manager Dave Koepp said.

Most of the project will be repaving the stretch from in front of the fairgrounds in Black River Falls to South of Melrose where there is new asphalt outside of the gas station. There will also be some reconstruction between Hwy. R and 11th Street in Black River Falls to add in turn lanes for that stretch.

During the Black River Falls School Board meeting held Monday, June 19, members of the board brought up concerns from parents about traffic congestion in the parking lot at the new Red Creek Elementary.

The new school has caused traffic issues, especially during drop-off and pickup times where cars have been seen to be backed up to Hwy. A during peak hours.

The board first discussed the issue about teachers parking in the front lot. The plan before the school was built was to have the back parking lot be for the teachers, while the front parking lot would be for visitors and parents picking up and dropping off students.

Administration quickly heard complaints from teachers that the parking lot in the back was a long walk to the building, especially with the amount of paperwork the teachers had to carry with them each day.

MADISON, Wis. — Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout has registered to run for governor, a move she downplayed Wednesday as being more about accounting than officially launching a campaign.

Vinehout, of Alma, filed the paperwork on June 14 to register a campaign committee. She told The Associated Press that despite the filing, she was “absolutely still exploring” whether to get into the race and had not yet made a decision.

Vinehout is one of about a dozen Democrats who are considering getting into the race to challenge Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Many of them are expected to make a decision soon to give them time to raise money in advance of the Democratic primary that’s more than 13 months away, in August 2018.

State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout has again introduced a package of bills intended to increase oversight of the frac sand industry.

The Alma Democrat said each of the six bills is in response to problems encountered by constituents in the last decade as industrial sand mines sprung up across western Wisconsin.

Despite a recent industry slump, Vinehout said she anticipates another boom cycle could be approaching.

“It looks like things are going to be heating up,” she said.

One of the bills would require mines and processing facilities to monitor the surrounding air for fine particles and report the results to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which would also be required to set standards for small crystalline silica particles.

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A report provided to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) committee last Wednesday showed that all of the recent DHHS job openings had less than ten applicants apiece, demonstrating the hiring issues facing the county.

“The number of applications that we are getting are very minimal and even when you look at these applications and weed out, you only get one or two that are actually qualified,” said Christine Hovell, director of the DHHS.

Nearly four years ago, the county moved to a new wage scale that allowed for pay increases based on merit and pay ranges.

Diane Peterson, the personnel director for Jackson County said the goal of this wage scale was to get employees to the middle of the wage range or the market rate for the position, which is where most employees who were performing at a fully proficient level would be at.

Lunda Construction of Black River Falls has been awarded $322 million in contracts to construct the spans for the new Interstate 74 bridge over the Mississippi River linking Moline, Ill., to Bettendorf, Iowa.

The project started with a transportation investment study 21 years ago, spanning five department directors and four chief engineers, but the bridge reconstruction project officially is under way.

With Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in attendance, state and local officials held an official groundbreaking ceremony for the new I-74 bridge Monday afternoon at Leach Park in Bettendorf.

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