State News: Green Bay Prison, Flooding, Harley Tariffs

Brown County Would See Economic Boom if Correctional Facility Moved

In the not-so-distant future couples could have the option to get married in what is now a maximum-security prison. A wedding venue is just one of the proposals the Village of Allouez has for the roughly 60-acre Green Bay Correctional Institution site near the banks of the Fox River that now houses nearly 1,100 inmates. The proposal also includes luxury condominiums, townhomes, retail and restaurants.

An economic analysis shows Brown County stands to benefit financially by getting rid of the prison and redeveloping the site.

The correctional facility is considered to be outdated and unsafe for both inmates and staff. It was built in 1898 and requires millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded maintenance.  

The analysis was done by St. Norbert College’s economics professor Marc Schaffer. He based his findings on a development proposal by the Village of Allouez. “The site plan that we analyzed suggested an annual economic impact of 1,463 jobs, around $58 million in income to Brown County and about $138-and-a-half million in economic activity, again, on an annual basis,” he said.

Rep. Dave Steffen, whose district includes the prison, said, the state is paying $1 million a month by keeping the Green Bay Correctional Institution open.

Green Bay Correctional Institution isn’t the only prison in the state being evaluated. The State Legislature’s Audit Committee is reviewing all of Wisconsin’s 36 prisons and correctional centers. Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, is co-chair of the committee. He said the goal is to find out how the state is “bleeding money.” Cowles expects the audit to be finished sometime next year.


Tourism Industry Hit by Heavy Rainfall

Recent heavy rains and flooding in some part of the state have hurt Wisconsin’s tourism industry during its peak season, according to the state Department of Tourism.

“Some of the biggest problems have been road closures and getting people to their destinations,” said department spokeswoman Lisa Marshall.

According to the state Department of Transportation, parts of at least a dozen highways across the state have been closed due to flooding.

According to state officials, recreational visits to Wisconsin had a nearly $21 billion impact on the economy last year.


Superior Residents File Lawsuit Against Husky Energy

A class action lawsuit has been filed in federal court against Husky Energy in response to an explosion and series of fires at the company’s Superior oil refinery in April that caused a temporary evacuation of the city and prompted 36 people to seek medical care.

The complaint was filed on behalf of Superior residents Jasen Bruzek, Hope Koplin, and Neil Miller on Aug. 20. The lawsuit states the three incurred damages “including, but not limited to, economic loss from evacuation-related expenses, lost wages, disruption and inconvenience, and interference with property rights.”

The complaint also alleges Husky was negligent in refinery operations. The filing points to recent findings by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board that a worn valve is likely to have led to the explosion at Husky’s refinery in Superior on April 26. The complaint also cites more than 30 federal safety violations by the refinery by previous owner Murphy Oil and citations from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration when it was owned by Calumet Specialty Products. In addition, it refers to a 2015 explosion and other fires at Husky’s refinery in Lima, Ohio.

All three are seeking damages of an unspecified amount to be determined at trial.


Harley Riders Weigh in on Trump Tariffs

The line of motorcycles at the entrance to Harley-Davidson, Inc.’s 115th anniversary celebration at Milwaukee’s Veterans Park is at least a dozen deep. The riders have come from all over the world to celebrate a company that has given them what many say is more than a hobby – it’s a way of life.

In June, Harley announced it had started planning to move some jobs overseas in response to retaliatory tariffs from Europe on its bikes. Those came after the United States imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Jim Nolan, who rode from Arizona, said he supports the tariffs, even though Harley estimates they’re going to cost the company around $100 million a year. “Because other countries take advantage of the good guys,” Nolan said.

According to a survey released last month by Marquette University, there’s a strong partisan divide on the president’s tariffs among Wisconsin voters. Almost 70 percent of Republicans surveyed think Harley-Davidson would have moved jobs overseas even if the tariffs didn’t happen.

And many at Harley’s anniversary party don’t blame the company for its decision.

“I don’t like it, but I do understand it,” said Cecil Braisher, from Omaha, Nebraska.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump tweeted that many Harley owners plan to boycott the company because of its plans to cut jobs in the U.S.

Mike Kyzer, who goes by the name “Bonehead,” said the president needs to stay out of it.

“He doesn’t tell me what shoes to wear, he doesn’t tell me what pants to wear, he doesn’t tell me what motorcycle to buy,” Kyzer said. “He’s the president. That’s his job. Be the president.”

Half a dozen of Bonehead’s friends lifted their beer cans to toast that. They think the president should stay in his lane – and definitely not tell them what bike to ride.


Wisconsin Mothers Breastfeed on Par with National Average

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that while roughly 80 percent of Wisconsin’s new mothers breastfeed their babies, only about 60 percent are still doing it after six months.

That’s a figure that mirrors the national average.

The Breastfeeding Report Card released earlier this month looks at data from babies born in 2015.

Despite gains in societal acceptance of breastfeeding, many women still hesitate to do it outside the home for fear of being confronted, said Allison Laverty Montag, an international board-certified lactation consultant in Winnebago County. “I know mothers who, the only time they give formula, is if they’re going out into public, because they are afraid someone’s going to say something to them.”

Montag said one factor that can interfere with breastfeeding is the necessity for mothers to return to work or school after a relatively short maternity leave.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2018, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.

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