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MADISON – Madison call center to receive nearly $575,000 in state incentives to add nearly 300 jobs
Two state agencies will provide more than a half-million taxpayer dollars to help a Philippines-based outsourcing company expand a small Madison call center, based on its pledge to add 286 jobs in three years starting at $11 per hour plus commission.
 
SPi Global Madison, also known as Laserwords, provides call center services for Dish Network, selling Internet and television packages across the U.S. since last April with 40 employees at 4230 Argosy Court on Madison’s Far East Side. It is parent company SPi Global’s first U.S.-based call center, with other centers in India, China, Vietnam and the Philippines for the past 20 years. Dish has been a client for 12 years.

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STEVENS POINT – City considers $12.3 million Hoover Avenue train solution
Building an overpass is the least expensive way for the city to fix the No. 1 source of complaints in Stevens Point, officials said Monday.
 
The City Council will decide in May whether to use about $9 million, including $6 million for transferring Business Highway 51 to city jurisdiction and a $2.7 million state grant, to build an overpass on Hoover Avenue to bypass the train crossing that has vexed residents for decades.

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MADISON – Gov. Scott Walker kicks off re-election campaign
Gov. Scott Walker officially kicked off his re-election campaign Tuesday at a rural Dane County manufacturing plant, followed by a flurry of rallies around the state and a new TV ad, with a new slogan meant to illustrate the state’s bright future.
 
“Wisconsin is back on.”

The first term Republican governor became a polarizing figure soon after he took office in 2011, when he unveiled his controversial measure to all but end collective bargaining for most public workers in Wisconsin.

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ROTHSCHILD – Burke challenges Walker on job creation
Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke responded to Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign kickoff by challenging his record as a jobs creator.
 
“Under Scott Walker, Wisconsin is falling behind. In job creation, we are 35th in the country and second to last among Midwestern states. Worse still, we are one of the worst in the country in new business starts,” Burke said. “Walker’s game plan has failed. Giving tax breaks to out of state corporations and those at the top is not how you create jobs. And it’s not how you grow the middle class.”

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APPLETON – Library board calls for new $40M library on river site
A bluff site home to Trinity Lutheran Church and a banquet facility should be the home of a new $40 million library, a 10-member library board voted Tuesday.
 
The unanimous vote came days after the consultant for the project revealed that the site scored highest in a study based on property layout, costs and feasibility.

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SHEBOYGAN – Ice buildup causes $350K damage to Sheboygan marina
A long, miserable winter has taken its toll on Sheboygan’s Harbor Centre Marina, where officials say shifting ice crushed docks and caused an estimated $350,000 in damage, by far the worst in the marina’s 20-year history.
 
“This is the harshest, longest-standing ice coverage that we’ve ever had,” said Chris Marx, the marina’s general manager.

Last week, the City Council approved spending up to $350,000 for repairs. The work, on about 10 percent of the marina’s dock space, should be completed this week.

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EAU CLAIRE – School district considering off-site medical clinic for employees
Seeking a remedy to curb health care costs, the Eau Claire school district is looking into an employee off-site clinic as one possible option.
 
At the Eau Claire school board’s regular meeting Monday, Deb Svihovec, vice president of Associated Financial Group, reported on AFG’s request for health insurance proposals that include a fully insured employee clinic.

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FOND DU LAC – Fond du Lac County makes headway on health
Although Fond du Lac County lags behind the state average in the number of mental health care providers per capita, health officials say the county has already mobilized community partners to address the need.
 
The county ranks 32 among the state’s 72 counties, according to the recently released county health rankings report organized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Areas of improvement for Fond du Lac County outlined in the report include access to mental health providers and primary care physicians and obesity.

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OSHKOSH – Oshkosh plays central role in refugee resettlement in northeast Wisconsin
Oshkosh is expected to continue to be a hub for the resettlement of refugees who are coming to Northeast Wisconsin to establish new roots after fleeing their home countries.
 
Like previous years, about 70 refugees are expected to arrive in Oshkosh and call the city home in 2014. Most of the refugees will be Iraqis, Congalese or Burmese, said Myriam Mwizerwa, Oshkosh director for World Relief Fox Valley.

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LA CROSSE – La Crosse police launch news website
The La Crosse Police Department on Tuesday launched a new website designed to keep the community informed.
 
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WITTENBERG – Men's fashion advice empire being built in Wittenberg
There aren’t many central Wisconsin residents who can claim to have more than 125,000 subscribers and 8 million views on YouTube.
 
Antonio Centeno, an Austin, Texas, native, started producing articles and videos about men’s fashion as a way to draw more people to his online custom suit company, A Tailored Suit. That was 2011, and he was one of the first offering such a service. A combination of competitors and an overwhelming response to his posts has seen his business evolve into a worldwide community helping men be better men.

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GREEN BAY - Survey: Green Bay nonprofits' financial strength improving
Area nonprofits say they’re in better financial shape than any other time since the economic recession of 2008, according to a newly released survey.
 
Nonprofits in Northeastern Wisconsin said they are better able to keep up with demand for services and are attracting more donations as well as doing more collaboration with other agencies to streamline services, according to the 2014 Nonprofits and the Economy Survey.

However, they’re still concerned about their ability to keep up with fundraising as costs rise, and they’re having difficulty attracting talented individuals to serve on their governing boards.

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MADISON - Madison only latest fight for Uber, Lyft
Uber and Lyft are banned in St. Louis and Miami, while California officials have created new state regulations to accommodate the ride-sharing companies.
 
Taxi drivers sued the city of Chicago over what they called a weak proposal to regulate ride sharing, while authorities in Philadelphia cited drivers and impounded their cars in a sting operation last year.

Minneapolis officials have taken a hard line against the companies. Across the river in St. Paul, they’ve been embraced.

The controversy over ride-sharing companies, which use smartphone apps to match riders with drivers using their private cars, is relatively new to Madison.

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SHEBOYGAN - Council OKs downtown master plan
The Common Council on Monday night approved a plan that local leaders hope will help spark new development in Sheboygan’s downtown and waterfront.
 
Alderman unanimously approved the Harbor Centre master plan with no discussion, which gives city staff and other stakeholders the go-ahead to consider what parts of the plan to begin implementing.

The 100-page plan was developed over several months by city staff, consultants and members of the Harbor Centre Improvement District.

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MADISON - Madison moving to boost funds to battle emerald ash borer
Madison is moving to boost funds to deal with the emerald ash borer this year and getting a picture of whopping long-term costs, which could exceed $19.1 million for treatment, removal and replanting through 2020.
 
Mayor Paul Soglin, on behalf of the Parks and Streets divisions, is seeking an extra $365,000 to treat one-third of eligible terrace trees this year and would add $60,000 to $350,000 in the 2014 budget to begin buying equipment and supplies for removal and replanting from 2015 through 2020.

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