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Opening salvos today in contract extension negotiations between the city of La Crosse and its biggest union. Rich Smith heads SEIU 180. He's meeting with the city today with the understanding that the lack of an extension beyond this year has dire consequences for his members because of the new law limiting collective bargaining powers for unions. He says that one year extension could be huge because it would give his members one more year of certainty before potentially losing all sorts of protections and benefits.
Smith says sometimes contract negotiations can drag on for months. This time he's got a week before the new law goes into effect.
After nine years, a water rate increase in La Crosse is bound to be on the big side. Water utility manager Mark Johnson agrees that an estimated 32% hike for water rates in the city isn't inconsequential. But he says that percentage represents an average increase and the average water user will see a $15 per quarter jump on the water bill. Johnson says the increase size is unavoidable since it's been so long since the last increase.
2002 was the city's last water rate hike. The city council will have to agree to the water increase.
The water utility has received increases in sewer rates and, late in 2010, instituted a new fire hydrant fee.
The stated idea behind Wisconsin's workplace smoking ban was pretty straightforward: Improve the health of workers. Apparently going pretty well. A new study finds bartenders suffering a lot less from smoking ailments since the ban went into effect in the summer. Judi Zabel in the La Crosse county health department saw that one coming. She says the same thing happened after the cities of Appleton and Madison went smoke free in bars.
The bartenders in the study reported a 36% decrease in smoking related symptoms like wheezing and shortness of breath.
One of the reasons for a new parking ramp getting funded at UW La Crosse: problems with parking in neighborhoods surrounding the universities. And that really is a problem, says Charley Weeth who heads the group, Livable Neighborhoods. But probably won't be helped by a new ramp because it will cost money to park there whereas students and staff pay nothing to park on city streets. Weeth says, really want to help the parking problems around the school? Charge for parking on and off the campus. The governor's new capital budget includes $12 million for a 500 car parking ramp and a university police station at UWL.
Oktoberfest, USA has announced the Parade Marshal Selection Committee is now accepting nominations for both the 2011 Maple Leaf and Torchlight Parade Marshals.
The selection committee, comprised of past Parade Marshals, will determine who will “lead the way” in the Maple Leaf and Torchlight Parades. An adult of any age or gender may be nominated! Official requirements are available on their website.
Completed nomination forms, along with any supporting information, may be dropped off at the Oktoberfest office located on the Southside Festgrounds at the corner of 2nd and La Crosse streets from Monday-Thursday during the hours of 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. Entries may also be mailed via standard mail to: Oktoberfest USA, ATTN: Parade Marshal Nomination, PO Box 1716, La Crosse, WI 54602-1716. Nominations will be accepted until Friday, April 15, 2011.
The 2011 Parade Marshals will be announced on Monday, September 12, 2011.