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News From 91.3 KUWS
News briefs: Jobs outlook, Bergson not run, Superior weight station to be no-stop
The unemployment picture brightened a bit for northwestern Wisconsin last month with all but one county improving. Mike Simonson has KUWS/WPR news briefs.
The only county to have a higher rate was Iron with 13.3% jobless in April, compared to 13% in March. Iron County has the highest unemployment rate in Wisconsin.
The best numbers came from Douglas County at 6% unemployed compared to 6 and a half in March, Price County had 6.8%, and Washburn County 7.6%, an improvement 8.8%.
Ashland County went from 9.5% in March to 8.8% last month, Bayfield tied for second highest in the state with Vilas County at 11.3%, better than March’s 12.5%.
Burnett County had an 8.5% rate, Sawyer County third highest in the state at 10.5%, an improvement of 1%.
All the northwestern counties had higher rates than Wisconsin’s 5.8%.
Only Douglas County had a lower rate than the nation’s 6.3%.
Meanwhile, the editor of The Labor World newspaper in Duluth says the building trades and other construction unions are having a good spring. Larry Sillanpa says tradespeople are already busy.
“It’s amazing. In so many years in the past, money doesn’t get let until June or July and union members in the construction trade are sitting on the bench waiting, wondering why they’re not at work. But this year they’re going great guns. So it is a good year. Housing is a little bit of a different animal for the unions. There’s not that many unions that are in building housing unless you consider places like the Steve O’Neill apartments that are being built on Fourth Street. So, it’s going to be a great year for the construction unions by the looks of things.”
Sillanpa says both public and private projects like the Bong Bridge and Maurice’s Tower are fueling the construction demand.
BusinessNorth co-publisher Ron Brochu agrees. He says projects from the Iron Range to the Twin Ports will keep construction trade busy, including the possibility Essar Steel will resume its construction work.
Sillanpa and Brochu were on “Final Edition” on KUWS and WUWS.
///////////////DWD wants more connection between higher ed and private sector jobs
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is targeting $35 million to state technical colleges so people can be trained for jobs that are out there. The Department’s Dave Anderson says he’s hoping WITC campuses up north…Ashland…Hayward and Superior…get a piece of that $35 million pie.
Anderson says no applications were made in the first round last year. He says they can target training courses with money that have waiting lists.
Anderson says they also are working with businesses to target training areas for future employees.
///////////////////GTAC mine protester court date
The person accused of felony robbery with use of force during a raid at a Gogebic Taconite test drilling site last summer will be arraigned May 30th in Iron County.
27 year-old Katie Kloth of Weston was among about a dozen people recorded on a video dressed in black masks emerging from the Iron County forest. The video showed an obscenity-laced protest against GTAC drillers and geologists on June 11.
Kloth has not told investigators who the other raiders are.
About $2500 damage was caused at the site, but there was little or no delay in drilling.
Kloth faces one felony and three misdemeanors including theft of a cell phone and criminal damage to property.
////////////////////Run Herbie run?
It doesn’t look like there’ll be another Bergson/Hagen race for Superior mayor…28 years after their first clash that ended up with an upset win for then Police Officer Herb Bergson.
In an interview earlier this month, Bergson says he’s not thinking about running in next spring’s mayoral race. He likes living in the Madison area.
Bergson does say he is getting back into a political issue in Madison, to oppose a luxury hotel and commercial development next to existing retail establishments.
But he says that’s it. No elected office in his plans.
Bergson was mayor of Superior for two terms ending in 1995. Hagen was re-elected after a nearly quarter of a century out of elected office in 2011.
/////////////////////No stop weigh station to be built outside Superior
After a couple of delays and false starts, Superior will get its no “no stop” truck weigh station on Highway 2 and 53. Department of Transportation Project Manager Dave Ostrowski says it’ll be state of the art with pavement censors, much faster for truckers and for DOT staff.
Ostrowski says it’ll be built next to the existing facility and will be environmentally sensitive, including restoring wetlands in the area.
The new weigh station is a two year project that’ll cost between $10 million and $15 million dollars. Work will begin this summer.
Meanwhile, more construction is set for Highway 53 between Gordon and Solon Springs. DOT Project Engineer Andy Stensland says it’s a $5 million project with no detour.
Stensland says they’ll use concrete instead of asphalt as they continue Highway 53 maintenance summer in and summer out.
Work will include another J-turn intersection like the one in Douglas County at Highway B. This time the new J-turn is in Washburn County at Highway B and Shell Lake.
The green-up is underway up north. The DNR in Brule and Hayward says things are happening fast now that the snow and inland lake ice are gone.
The Brule River DNR says the woods are almost deafening with the sounds of spring peepers high-pitched peeping. It’s a paradise for photographers and binoculars with everything from spotted loons, yellow-rumped warblers, brown thrashers, flickers, white throated sparrows.
Love is in the air as well. Male ruffed grouse are drumming trying to attract females, tom turkeys are getting vocal to entire Henrietta Hens…and sharp tailed grouse are dancing to impress the girls.
If you’re driving in the woods, keep a heads up for deer. They’re congregating on roadsides munching the fresh grass.
A couple of other things from the Brule DNR: Lakes are open or near open as ice finally melts off, and wood and deer ticks are out looking for a meal on either you or Fido, so get back in the tick check habit. It can be romantic.
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