Wisconsin roundup: Milk producers have mixed reactions to Trump trade involvement; 7 more state news stories
KENOSHA — Milk producers have mixed reactions to President Donald Trump's new promise to help Wisconsin farmers stuck in a trade dispute with Canada.
The National Milk Producers Federation thanked Trump for speaking out during his visit to Snap-On Tools in Kenosha Tuesday — and it said Canada's "repeated disregard for its dairy trade commitments has left farmers enduring severe and unfair consequences." Canadian provinces have adopted new pricing policies in which cheese product makers in that country have cut off milk from Wisconsin dairies — and as a result, at least 100 dairy farmers can no longer sell milk to their current dairy customers as early as May 1.
Trump called it "unfair," but the Dairy Processors group of Canada says the president should talk further with the Canadian government to "broaden his perspective" on the issue. In the meantime, Watertown dairy farmer Carrie Mess said it would be "fantastic" if the USDA could buy surplus milk for summer food programs.
Outside the Snap-n plant, some supporters hoped to get a glimpse of Trump, while protesters demanded that the president release his income tax returns.
Lawmaker proposes replacing overcrowded Green Bay prison
ALLOUEZ — Assembly Republican David Steffen plans to introduce a bill Wednesday to replace the state's 119-year-old prison at Green Bay with a new facility in the area.
With almost 1,100 inmates, Steffen says the maximum security lockup in Allouez is 143-percent above its capacity — and the prison's problems are not going away. Steffen, who's from Howard, wants a private firm to build the new prison, with the state to lease it.
He figures it would cost about $4 million less to rent each year than the state's current maintenance cost of $19 million for the Green Bay prison — which is on the both the national and state registries for historic places. Allouez officials say it would help the community if the site goes on the tax roll, saying the old prison could be used for housing or business purposes — and perhaps light industry.
Walker to campaign for Omaha mayor's re-election bid
OMAHA, Neb. — The mayor of Omaha is supposed to be nonpartisan, but that hasn't kept prominent politicians from jumping into the fray.
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is scheduled to make campaign appearances Monday with incumbent Mayor Jean Stothert. Meanwhile, Democratic 2016 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders will appear Thursday for challenger Heath Mello in advance of Omaha's mayoral contest May 9.
Both campaigns have made sharp comments both for and against Walker — the head of the Republican Governors Association who ran for president in 2015 and made waves nationally by taking on labor unions. Dave Boomer of Mayor Stothert's campaign says the conservative Walker is "straightening" Wisconsin out and doing an "outstanding job" — but Mello's campaign manager, Paige Hutchinson, tells the Omaha World Herald that Walker is an "extreme Republican who has decimated public education and repealed equal pay laws."
Oshkosh gets $258M order to rebuild army trucks, more
OSHKOSH — Wisconsin's famous maker of military vehicles gets another big order from the Pentagon.
The Oshkosh Corporation has received a $258 million army contract to rebuild 670 heavy tactical vehicles, and make 356 new trailers. The company says the rebuilt units are produced on the same assembly lines as new vehicles — and some are up to 20 years old as they come in with bullet holes, and mangled wheels and frames.
Officials say the old trucks are stripped down to the frames, then built to a condition that's like new — and the Army says it's 25 percent cheaper to recycle a damaged unit to build a new one for around $400,000 The first trucks in the new contract are expected to be shipped by the end of the year, and they'll all be manufactured at the company's Oshkosh facilities.
State plans second trade mission to Mexico in 2 months
MADISON — Wisconsin has announced a second trade mission to Mexico during the next two months.
The state's Economic Development Corporation plans to have about one half dozen state exporters on a trip June 11-16 led by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Last week, state Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel said he would lead a trade delegation to Mexico's largest annual dairy industry conference in early May.
Brancel said he would also meet with high level Mexican officials to boost relationships with the country, and raise awareness of Wisconsin's farm-related industries. Mexico is the state's second largest trading partner, with export values exceeding $3 billion last year.
Farm fields still too wet
MADISON — Field conditions are still not the best on Wisconsin farms.
The state Agricultural Statistics Service says frequent rains and thunderstorms prevented farmers from doing field work during the past week. Officials say it will take time for the mud and standing water to dry up, so farmers can really get their fields ready for crop planting. Only 6 percent of spring tillage work was finished as of Sunday, 6 percent behind both last year and the average for the previous five years.
Four of every 10 fields have surplus moisture. Oat planting is 12 percent done, four points behind the norm. Also, farmers are starting to plant potatoes, with six percent in the ground.
Alleged baby killer gets jail for unrelated drunken driving case
MERRILL — A Tomahawk man accused of beating his infant son to death has been sentenced to four months in jail for an unrelated drunk driving crash last year.
Twenty-year-old Henry Hughes was sentenced Tuesday after he pleaded no contest in Lincoln County Circuit Court to injuring a passenger while driving drunk. Officials say his blood alcohol level was 0.17, more than twice the legal limit, when he claimed to avoid hitting deer and swerved his vehicle with his 18-month-old stepson inside — and the boy had cuts and a head bump.
Hughes was charged last November with reckless homicide and child abuse after he was found unresponsive and doctors later learned that his baby son had head trauma, broken ribs, and a broken right ankle. Hughes is due back in court May 18 for a pretrial conference in that case.
Six escape Appleton duplex blaze
APPLETON — Six people, including young children, escaped a house fire in Appleton early Tuesday morning.
Television station WBAY reports crews from the Appleton Fire Department were dispatched to the fire after receiving an emergency call. Firefighters say smoke and flames were visible from the front of a duplex. All six occupants escaped unhurt. Firefighters were able to get inside the home and put out the fire. A resident told firefighters she was awake in her bedroom when she smelled smoke. She alerted the other residents who escaped through a side door. Officials say the home did not have working smoke alarms. The cause of the fire is under investigation.