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State Rep. Jeff Wood says he's about to enter a stricter and more rigid program to deal with his substance abuse. Wood tells the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram he expects to report Thursday to the veterans' hospital in Saint Cloud, Minn., for 30 to 45 days of treatment. The Chippewa Falls Independent says he wants to get his problem under control "before it kills me or someone else." The 40-year-old Wood said he was on a day-pass from a looser in-patient rehab program at the VA Medical Center in Tomah last Wednesday, when he was arrested for his third OWI charge in 10 months.
A scarcity of water is raising concerns for the makers of small craft beers in the Upper Midwest. Those brewers are attending a two-day conference in Milwaukee which began yesterday. State Commerce Secretary Richard Leinenkugel says the price of water will keep going up as supplies get tight. And for beer-makers, it's a huge problem for two reasons. First, the product itself is 92 percent water. And it normally takes six pints of water to make a one pint of beer. Fred Strachan of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., says beer-makers want to reduce that margin.
Wisconsin's only link to Winona, Minn., is undergoing new structural tests. The Department of Transportation in the Gopher State is putting weight sensors and strain-gauges on the Highway 43 bridge over the Mississippi River. Officials are deciding how to replace or rebuild the historic Winona bridge, which was closed for a short time last summer due to faulty gusset plates. The testing equipment is being installed the next couple of days. It will collect data on the types and weights of vehicles using the bridge, as well as the stress being placed on it.
Wisconsin is getting more than $4 million federal stimulus dollars to add solar energy units, and teach more people how to put them in. The Midwest Renewable Energy Association of Custer, near Stevens Point, is getting most of the money - $3.3 million to help train 200 solar instructors in five years. The group will work with colleges and other groups in Wisconsin and five other Midwest states to improve the quality of instruction about solar heating, cooling, and electrical systems.
A Wisconsin Assembly committee is scheduled to vote today on new regulations for dog breeders, to keep puppy mills in check. Those who sell more than 25 dogs a year would have to be licensed by the state, and their operations could be shut down if they violate rules which protect the animals. The bill's supporters say unscrupulous breeders have moved to Wisconsin to take advantage of the state's lack of strong regulations. Several puppy mills have been shut down in recent years, with diseased animals in squalid conditions.
Corrections' officials say they'll keep banning donations of used books to Wisconsin prisoners, despite protests against the policy. The prisons only allow new books wrapped in covers from approved stores. Officials say used books which are not wrapped might have contraband like razor blades, tobacco and drugs. But Sara Quinn of the Books to Prisoners Project in Madison says the long-standing policy exaggerates the risk and it keeps hundreds of prisoners from getting the education they need to re-adjust to society once their terms are up.
Youngsters in an alternative education program at Fort McCoy are helping build a home for a graduate of that program who was wounded in Iraq. About 30 cadets from the Challenge Academy are traveling to northern Wisconsin tomorrow to help build a house for Army Specialist Jason Schulz. He graduated from the Challenge Academy in 2004, and he lost his legs in a roadside bomb blast in Iraq three years later. The students are working with a group called "Homes for Our Troops," which builds handicapped-accessible houses for veterans with severe injuries.
The state could soon have the power to take back fraudulent payments to child care providers who go out of business. Both houses of the Legislature approved a bill Tuesday to make day care owners and officers personally liable for improper state funding under the Wisconsin Shares program, if their centers go out of business. The recovery powers would apply even if the state's the one that shuts a center down.
A western Wisconsin woman has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison, for embezzling over a million dollars from Minnesota's Medicaid program. Kim Austen, 48, Hudson, will also be under supervision for three years when she's no longer behind bars. Austen was a supervisor in Minnesota's Department of Human Services, where she arranged to give almost two dozen checks to a man who was not a Medicaid provider. Prosecutors said Austen and others then used the money for personal items from 2003 through September of last year.
Wisconsin's child welfare agencies will soon have to tell us a lot more about the way they handle deaths and injuries caused by child abuse and neglect. Both houses of the Legislature passed a bill Tuesday requiring more disclosure and Gov. Jim Doyle is expected to sign the measure. It comes after public outrage that confidentiality laws meant to protect victims were used in some cases to hide bureaucratic shortcomings. Among other things, the bill requires public disclosure of the most serious cases, instead of making it optional.