MADISON - Walker to propose 13% cut, more freedom for UW System
The University of Wisconsin System will be given more autonomy, while having its state funding slashed by 13 percent over the next two years, under the budget Gov. Scott Walker will submit to the Legislature next week.

UW had asked for an increase in funding of $95 million over the next two years — money that it argued was needed given that Walker was calling for another two-year tuition freeze. Walker is going forward with the tuition freeze, but is calling for the $300 million cut in exchange for something university leaders have wanted for years: more independence.

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GREEN BAY - Road Star Inn closing set for Feb. 9
The lobby of Road Star Inn is green and gold and adorned with Green Bay Packers photos.

It's not without irony that the hotel at 1941 True Lane will close Feb. 9 because the Packers bought the property for commercial development.

The 63-room hotel is the final property the Packers acquired to give them ownership of all the land bounded by Lombardi Avenue, South Ridge Road, Brookwood Drive and Marlee Lane. It is an area they've designated for income-producing commercial development.

The hotel's furniture and fixtures will be auctioned on Feb. 10.

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SAUK CITY - Capital Brewery delays expansion project
The construction of an $11 million brewing facility in Sauk City is, once again, on hold for Capital Brewery.

The Middleton company announced Monday that Brian Destree, director of operations for the brewery and the person in charge of the expansion project, will leave at the end of the week for a position with MillerCoors. Scott Weiner, Capital Brewery president and majority shareholder, said Destree’s departure means construction will be delayed for at least three to six months but that the company still planned to build in the Sauk County village.

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MADISON - City finance committee recommends amended Judge Doyle Square request for proposals
Amid concerns by developers, the city of Madison’s top finance committee on Monday removed language favoring office space from a tentative request for proposals for the massive Judge Doyle Square project.

The Board of Estimates unanimously recommended a new, amended request for proposals for the planned remake of the blocks that now hold the landmark Madison Municipal Building and aging Government East parking garage. The city is seeking a project including a hotel, commercial space, parking and other amenities.

But Monday’s biggest change came with the deletion of language that stated the city would give “high priority” to any project that would deliver 100,000 square feet of office space in the development.

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MADISON - Wilson out, Watt and Durant in as 'brand ambassadors' for American Family
Madison-based American Family Insurance is trading Russell Wilson for J.J. Watt and acquiring NBA standout Kevin Durant to boot.

American Family’s two-year endorsement contract with Wilson, quarterback of the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks, ended on Dec. 31. Wilson will be seeking a second straight Super Bowl win with the Seahawks on Sunday, two weeks after beating Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game in Seattle.

American Family on Monday announced its signing of two new “brand ambassadors” in Watt, a three-time Pro Bowl football player with the Houston Texans, and Durant, the NBA’s current Most Valuable Player from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant is the first professional basketball player to sign on with American Family. Watt, like Wilson, is a former University of Wisconsin football player, though they never played together.

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STEVENS POINT - Dairy farmers brace for a financial bust
Following a year of record-setting milk sales in 2014, central Wisconsin dairy farmers are bracing as prices plummet.

A glut of milk products has brought prices from the record $24 per hundredweight of milk to the current $18 per hundredweight, which is roughly the size of a 10-gallon tank. The USDA forecasts that prices will plunge to $14 per hundredweight by April.

The falling prices will likely cause many farmers to scrap expansion plans or investing in their herds or equipment.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - Jimmy John’s franchise to open in Wisconsin Rapids
In about three months, Jimmy John’s will open at 2020 S. Eighth St., in the space that formerly hosted Anderson Drapery, which closed near the end of 2013. The 2,200-square-foot restaurant will have a drive-thru for its customers and will employ about 30 people, with most positions being part-time, said the store’s co-owner, Liz Umlauf.

Umlauf — who owns and opened the Stevens Point Jimmy John’s in 2008 — said she decided to launch a location in Wisconsin Rapids because she was eager to expand and has had success with the franchise.

The gourmet sandwich chain, which is headquartered in Champaign, Illinois, has franchisees all across the country. Presently, the two Jimmy John’s locations closest to Wisconsin Rapids are in Wausau and Stevens Point.

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GREEN BAY - Packers purchase Road Star Inn
The Green Bay Packers have purchased the Road Star Inn hotel near Lambeau Field.

With this sale, the Packers now own 24 properties west of the stadium including all of the properties in the area from Ridge Road to Marlee Lane and from Lombardi Avenue to Brookwood Drive.

The Packers have not announced specific plans for the area yet.

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BELOIT - Ho-Chunk confident in Beloit casino plan
Ho-Chunk President Jon Greendeer said he is glad Gov. Scott Walker made a ruling on the Menominee casino proposal for Kenosha, adding he was surprised by the timing of the decision.

Greendeer wouldn’t comment on whether he was happy with the decision even though the Ho-Chunk Nation officially opposed the Kenosha project. He added he was expecting Walker to wait until the Feb. 19 deadline to make the decision.

The Ho-Chunk is in the middle of a proposal to build an off-reservation casino in Beloit, however Greendeer said there has been no update on their project status.

He was still confident their applications would be approved based on a compact the Ho-Chunk Nation has with the state, which permits the Ho-Chunk to build another casino in the state.

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MADISON - T. Wall eyes East Mifflin block for latest Capitol East development
Developer T. Wall Enterprises is looking to up the housing density on a key east side Madison block with a four-story, 189-unit apartment at the corner of East Livingston and East Mifflin streets.

The site, known as the Reynolds Crane Lot, has been eyed for redevelopment for several years. It is located in the shadow of the 12-story, 220-unit Constellation apartment tower which helped jump-start redevelopment in the Capitol East District.

Dubbed the Livingston Lofts, the T. Wall project would put four stories of residential space above a single level of parking that extends out from the footprint of the building.

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MADISON - East Wash apartment plan has creative use for old Quonset hut
Calling it a "hidden gem," McGrath Property Group is looking to convert a worn Quonset hut building on East Washington Avenue into a cool workplace or restaurant space as part of a 76-unit apartment project dubbed Few Street Lofts.

The building at 1212 E. Washington Ave. currently houses Patriot Glass but developers are looking to remove the front façade to expose the barrel-vault structure behind it.

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GREEN BAY - Construction companies face ongoing worker shortage
The most prized skill in the construction industry is showing up for work every day.

The construction industry was hammered by the 2007-09 recession and its effects. Many workers left the industry to seek more secure jobs or because there was no work, and a number of companies closed. The recovery was faster in manufacturing and other areas, and that, too, siphoned off skilled workers.

Now that construction is recovering, a lot of workers aren't coming back and many construction firms have a shortage of skilled trades labor.

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BELOIT - Buffalo Wild Wings flying into Beloit
Buffalo Wild Wings could be coming to Beloit soon.

The former Atlanta Bread building, at 2747 Milwaukee Road, has been sold and the new owner has received a lease from Buffalo Wild Wings to convert the building into the new restaurant.

Drew Pennington, Beloit director for planning and building services, said the city is currently reviewing the plans.

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RIB MOUNTAIN - Panda Express restaurant and tea bar busy since opening
The new location of a chain of casual-dining Chinese restaurants continues to thrive after opening last month.

Panda Express opened mid-December at 4400 Rib Mountain Drive, at the former site of a Wendy's restaurant that burned down in 2013.

The new location has been steadily busy since opening, said Erick Yonata, the local coach of operations with Panda Express.

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DODGEVILLE - Lands' End stock drops after preliminary estimates fall below expectations
Lands’ End stock fell as much as 25.9 percent in early trading Thursday after the Dodgeville apparel retailer gave an advance look at its estimated results for the fourth quarter and full 2014 year that did not meet expectations.

For the fourth quarter, sales and services are expected to total $505 million to $515 million, down from $530 million a year ago, and net income is likely to be $34 million to $37 million, or $1.06 to $1.60 a share, down from $45.9 million, or $1.44 a share, the company said.

The company also said a reduction in the number of Lands’ End stores at Sears and stand-alone company costs contributed to the lower anticipated results. Lands’ End split off from Sears Holdings Corp., its parent company of 12 years, last April.

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