GREEN BAY – Walmart drops effort to build downtown Green Bay store
Walmart is ending its efforts to place a store on a downtown Green Bay site, saying in a statement that Mayor Jim Schmitt and other officials chose "continued speculation" over the benefits the retailer could have provided.

The Green Bay City Council voted July 16 to deny the retail giant's rezoning request for a 154,000-square-foot store in the Broadway shopping district. The action by a 6-5 margin followed nearly a year of passionate debate between Walmart supporters and opponents over the future of a prime downtown development site.

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ALTOONA - Schools referendum prompted by space crunch
Altoona school district Superintendent Connie Biedron knows firsthand about the district’s space crunch.

Biedron and other administrative staff are settling into offices in a home the district bought last school year next to the high school to free up class space.

In an effort to alleviate overcrowded classrooms amid projections of continued fast-rising enrollment, the Altoona school board last week approved a Nov. 4 referendum seeking voter approval of $23 million to build a new elementary school east of the city near Highway KB. That spending would include remodeling existing schools.

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FOND DU LAC – Expansion plans in the works for movie theater
Plans are in the works to expand Fond du Lac Theatre on West Scott Street in light of the closing last week of Forest Mall Cinema.

Theatre owner Dennis Frank said options include adding a mega screen or a plush cozy theater to the existing eight-screen complex. He said the screen in theater No. 1 on Scott Street is about 40 feet across and nearly classifies as a mega-screen. Frank said a mega-screen is typically 50 to 60 feet across.

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CHIPPEWA FALLS – City sees interest in Plaza Building lot
The Plaza Building in downtown Chippewa Falls has been vacant for less than a month, but there’s already interest in the soon-to-be demolished building’s location.

According to Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman, the city has been contacted by at least one party who might be interested in the lot at 100 N. Bridge Street.

The city reached a deal to buy the building for $65,000 in November of 2013. That deal closed early this year. Now that all the tenants have left, demolition is expected to be completed by the end of September, though that portion of the project hasn’t been bid yet.

The city’s plan all along was to remove the structure in hopes of luring a developer into downtown with a prime piece of real estate.

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SHEBOYGAN - Ale Haus to expand
The Sheboygan City Plan Commission voted this week to grant a conditional use permit for the expansion of 8th Street Ale Haus into the building next door at 1124 N. Eighth Street.

8th Street Ale Haus owner Randolph Oskey said Tuesday that as the brew pub has experienced tremendous growth over the years, the additional space will allow him to expand brewery operations.

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LAWRENCE - Plank Road Pub & Grill opening Friday
Plank Road Pub & Grill will open Friday in the building that most recently was home to Coaches Corner.

Owner Randy De Greef said the atmosphere will be rustic casual, appealing to those wearing suits and ties to blue jeans, individuals to families. The menu will have similar appeal and include such items as burgers, pastas, Friday fish, Sunday chicken, bruschetta, cedar-plank salmon and more. They’ll also have a kid’s menu.

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LA CROSSE - Sediment quagmire stalls 186,700 tons of cargo on Mississippi River
A freakish amount of sediment left when the Mississippi River braked from flood stage to low water put a cork in barge traffic near Winona and Wabasha, Minn.

Three dredges are working feverishly to restore the 9-foot channel to allow 17 trapped towboats and 152 halted barges to start moving again.

Some of the towboats may not be pushing barges, but 120 of the barges are loaded and 32 are empty, for a tally of 186,700 tons of cargo stalled on the water.

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GREEN BAY - Fewer Packers practices might mean more spending
A reduced public schedule for the Green Bay Packers training camp might lead fans to spend more money in the community. It's only the first week of training camp, so that's just a theory, but one with potential.

The Packers scheduled 17 public practices, including Family Night, this year. In 2009, fans could watch 23 practices, including seven two-a-days and nine night practices. And in 2005, fans had access to 39 practices over six weeks.

Elimination of two-a-days by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and desire by coaches to hold more closed practices reduced fan access, but increased the opportunity for fans that come to training camp to do more things in the area, such as ride the Zippin Pippin roller coaster or new Sea Dragon ride at Bay Beach Amusement Park, go zip-lining at the Brown County Adventure Park at the Reforestation Camp in Suamico, or shop.

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MADISON – Minority shareholders sue Capital Brewery majority owners over alleged misconduct
Minority shareholders led by Capital Brewery's former brewmaster, Kirby Nelson, are alleging the company's majority owners trampled on their rights and froze them out of important decisions, including a credible offer to purchase the 30-year-old Middleton company in 2011 by Nelson's current brewing partner, Carl Nolen.

The 12-page suit, filed Tuesday in Dane County Circuit Court, names Capital Brewery president Scott Weiner, company director Richard King and the brewery itself as defendants. It alleges misconduct by Weiner and King -- the majority shareholders who until recently made up the entirety of the company's board -- including allegedly ignoring minority owners' input, violating company bylaws and wasting company assets.

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MADISON - East Wash concert venue getting mixed reviews after neighborhood meeting
Plans for a new 2,000- to 2,500-seat concert venue, office space and rental housing on the 1000 block of East Washington Avenue are coming into focus, but some residents remain worried about how such changes will affect the neighborhood.

Developers presented project details at a public meeting last week hosted by the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association. It was attended by over 100 people.

TLNA president Joe Lusson described the crowd as split roughly 50-50 between enthusiastic boosters of the project and those with questions.

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MADISON - Committee says East Washington Avenue site best for public market
Madison’s pursuit of a public market will look to the city’s East Side, following a recommendation by a key city committee on Tuesday.

The Local Food Committee recommended the city pursue a public market and food district in the area around East Washington Avenue and First Street that would provide an indoor, year-round center for retail, wholesale and perhaps distribution of produce and other foods.

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JANESVILLE - Downtown business owners hear details on Main Street project
City officials and downtown business owners say they will work together to create communications plans to help residents navigate construction on Main Street next summer.

Parking was a concern, however, at a meeting Tuesday night. City staff and their consultants from MSA Professional Services described the scope of the rehabilitation project and took questions from property and business owners.

The project will replace aging utilities, the roadway surface, sidewalks, some curb and gutter and will add amenities such as benches, trees and lighting along Main Street between St. Lawrence Avenue and Centerway.

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NEENAH - Alta Resources to add about 600 jobs in Neenah
Alta Resources, an outsourcer of business processing services for Fortune 500 companies in the packaged goods, health care, entertainment and manufacturing industries, plans to add more than 600 jobs in Neenah.

In total, the company will add 2,500 jobs across its locations in Wisconsin, California, Florida and the Philippines. Alta Resources will hold a job fair Aug. 12 at the Holiday Inn, 123 E. Wisconsin Ave., in downtown Neenah, to interview applicants.

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MADISON – Walker campaign criticizes Burke for Abbott Labs land deal
Gov. Scott Walker claims in his latest television ad released Monday that taxpayers could be out $25 million thanks to his Democratic gubernatorial challenger Mary Burke. But getting to that figure requires some creative math.

The ad focuses on a $12.3 million federal grant awarded by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, under Burke's leadership, to lure Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories to the Kenosha area. Abbott has yet to move, and now the federal Housing and Urban Development office is demanding the money be repaid.

Walker's campaign spokesman, Tom Evenson, said paying HUD back that $12.3 million would be in addition to the $12.3 million already paid to unsuccessfully lure the company, amounting to the $25 million in wasted money cited in the ad, titled "Boondoggle."

However, the ad essentially counts the money as an expense to taxpayers twice.

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MADISON - Walker: No state money for firms that outsource jobs
Gov. Scott Walker said Monday he would support efforts to ensure that tax credits and other economic development incentives do not go to companies that outsource jobs.

Walker has made outsourcing an issue in the governor's race by criticizing Democratic gubernatorial challenger Mary Burke for profiting from outsourcing done by her family's company, Trek Bicycle Corp. But the Republican governor has received campaign donations from multiple companies that outsourced jobs, according to campaign finance reports.

Before a Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board meeting in Wauwatosa, Walker said he supported Rep. Peter Barca's call for measures to keep economic development incentives from going to companies that outsource jobs.

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