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Madison schools to ask $41 million referendum question

Madison schools to ask $41 million referendum question

The Madison Metropolitan School District will ask voters for $41 million school facilities referendum in April.

A school district official said the school board finalized a project list involving 16 schools during a Monday meeting.

If approved, the money would be used to improve accessibility in 10 schools, add classroom space to five schools and renovate four schools in need of upgrades.

The biggest projects include $8 million in renovations at Jefferson Middle School and $4 million to redo the theater at East High School.

If approved, taxpayers owning an average $237,000 home would pay an additional $62.95 a year in property taxes for 10 years.

"If we can get these addressed not only will we create stronger schools and learning environments for our students, but we will set ourselves up for some long-term facilities planning that will really help bring our vision as a school district to life," MMSD Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said.

City to keep adding flouride to water supply

City to keep adding flouride to water supply

The Madison Water Utility Board said this week that it would continue to add fluoride to the city's drinking water.

The utility board voted at its meeting Tuesday night to keep its fluoride policy. The city's been adding fluoride to water to improve dental health for 68 years since the policy was adopted in 1946.

Madison Water Utility currently aims for a target fluoride concentration of 0.7 parts per million, as recommended by county, national and international health agencies.

In a news release Wednesday, the city of Madison said it took public comments on the policy Tuesday for about two hours before the vote.

The policy will be reviewed again in 2024.

RELATED: Utility to review adding fluoride to Madison water

Committee focuses on 3 possible public market locations

Committee focuses on 3 possible public market locations

Monday night the city's Local Food Committee decided to focus on three possible locations for a public market.

Locations being considered include one on the north side at Northport Drive and North Sherman Avenue, on the east side at East Washington Avenue and First Street, and on the south side at the former site of Thorstad Chevrolet on Park Street.

The public market would be an indoor, year round facility that supports local food businesses.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin likes the final locations enough to consider more than one.

"They all have their own individual advantages, which is why they made the short list, but there's one thing I think we have to remember that I think is kind of exciting -- there is no rule that says you can't have more than one public market," Soglin said.

He said they would pick one of these sites first, but could develop another later.

County, city discuss possible day shelter for homeless

County, city discuss possible day shelter for homeless

Dane County could make a deal on a new permanent day shelter for the homeless in the next couple of weeks.

Officials said the push for finding a place for the homeless is because there are so many people still trying to get on their feet after the recession.

The ideal location would be in the immediate downtown area so the homeless can have quick access to services to help them get jobs and get back on their feet. But as the real estate market bounces back, properties that fit the county's needs and fit into the $600,000 budget have been scarce.

As a result, their focus has turned to properties some distance from the city center, like the MARC East building on Lien Road.

"Part of the answer is that the homeless are everywhere in Dane County and everywhere in the city of Madison. But there are many services that are centralized in the central part of Madison, and a building like MARC would require a substantial transportation plan," Hendrick said.

$24M pavilions to replace Alliant Energy Center's barns

$24M pavilions to replace Alliant Energy Center's barns

Dane County will replace the Alliant Energy Center’s barns with multi-use pavilions in a $24 million project set to begin early next year.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said Tuesday that the county will award a Middleton construction company a nearly $20.7 million contract to build the pavilions. 

The project is pending funding approval from the Wisconsin State Building Commission and the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

Middleton-based Miron Construction will build the pavilions that will create 290,000 square feet of multi-use space on the footprint of the Alliant Energy Center’s existing barns, according to a news release from Parisi’s office.

Demolition of the barns is expected to begin next year, with the project’s estimated completion in time for the 2014 World Dairy Expo.

860,000 to see food stamp benefits cut Friday

860,000 to see food stamp benefits cut Friday

Hundreds of thousands of people in Wisconsin will see cuts to their food stamp amounts starting Friday. The change comes as a federal boost to the supplemental nutritional assistance program expires.

More than 860,000 people in Wisconsin use the FoodShare program, or SNAP, with more than 50,000 in Dane County alone. All of those people will see cuts to benefits that help them put food on the table.

One of those is Thelia Baker, of Madison, who was at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church food pantry on Madison's southwest side Thursday. She's getting free food there to make ends meet since she's spent what benefits she gets this month. Baker has two kids, and her family of four gets about $370 in FoodShare benefits a month, which will be cut by $40 starting Friday.

"You hate to lose any of them, but what can you do?" said Baker. "You hate to lose any of them, because you can always use them all."

Madison park project goes back to drawing board

Madison park project goes back to drawing board

It's back to the drawing board for those creating a vision for Madison's Public Market.

Mayor Paul Soglin said the project may not be downtown and everything is back on the table. Soglin introduced a new consultant Tuesday who's beginning a new business plan for the proposed park.

Developing a new business plan could take six to eight months.

"We want to find a place for this that fits the vision and the program of uses and activities, and actual elements that will be in the market. We want a place that supports that," said Steve Davies, senior vice president of Project for Public Spaces.

The public will be invited to weigh in on the consultant's review, which is expected to cost $250,000.