The Badger Herald

Syndicate content
UW-Madison's Premier Independent Student Newspaper
Updated: 40 min 25 sec ago

Got milk…that lasts six months? Wisconsin-based company receives investments to bring long-lasting dairy to market

45 min 53 sec ago

Dairyvative Technologies LLC, a company based out of Markesan, Wisconsin, acquired $2.5 million from investors for a new dairy technology that concentrates milk to give it a longer shelf life of at least six months and makes it lactose-free.

The $2.5 million came from the BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation, an investment company with a portfolio including many early-stage companies across Wisconsin, and three other undisclosed investors, according to a filing with federal securities regulators.

According to Dairyvative’s website, the company uses its patented “SevenX” approach to remove up to 95 percent of water from gently pasteurized fresh milk to make a super-concentrated milk that does not need to be refrigerated.

The concentrate, which has a consistency similar to honey, can be packaged and reconstituted, giving it a shelf-life of at least six to 12 months and a lactose-free formula. Once water is added to the concentrate, the product should taste like fresh milk, if not sweeter due to the low levels of lactose, according to the website.

Wisconsin’s cheesemakers evolve with the timesIn a picturesque scene of quintessential Wisconsin, the Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese farm sprawls across 1,700 acres of green pasture …

John Lucey, director of the Center for Dairy Research at University of Wisconsin, said Dairyvative Technologies started some of their early work and testing at the Center for Dairy Research.

“Milk is over 90 percent water, so by concentrating the milk using heat processing steps, the milk becomes very thick,” Lucey said. “They can then package it [in an airtight package or container] so that it can last many months without contamination.”

Lucey said many companies, such as Starbucks, already use innovative, shelf-stable products like this in their stores. But he noted the difference between Dairyvative’s product and dry milk is that they are creating a liquid, not a powder, and because powders must be rehydrated, a liquid product benefits from a longer shelf life.

According to its website, Dairyvative Technologies was co-founded in 2012 by husband and wife Dr. Charles E. Sizer and Collette Sizer. Both are distinguished members of the food science and ingredients community as Charles Sizer, who serves as CEO of Dairyvative, has 14 patents in food science-related areas and Collette Sizer, president of the company, has more than 20 years in the food and ingredients industry.

Collette Sizer said Dairyvative Technologies partnered with Chicago-based dispensing equipment maker Cornelius Inc., a world leader in beverage dispense systems in restaurants, convenience stores and hospitality chains.

“Dairyvative licenses the technology and works with the processes,” Collette Sizer said. “Cornelius has all kinds of equipment and pop machines. Our product is a milk product that could go into a pop machine.”

Dairyland Initiative to help farmers improve cattle conditionsThrough its website offering recommendations on improving cow housing environments, University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine’s Dairyland Initiative is …

Collette Sizer said their target audience is restaurants and food services, and they are currently running their product through consumer trails.

But as the product grows and sustainable options become more available, a future long-term outlook could mean marketing to everyday customers.

Collette Sizer said she hopes that by the end of the year, they will have a developed commercial product.

The post Got milk…that lasts six months? Wisconsin-based company receives investments to bring long-lasting dairy to market appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

Post-Colorado shooting, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin says they’re ‘not going anywhere’

1 hour 9 min ago

Robert Lewis Dear Jr. entered a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs Friday, shooting 12 people and killing three, but Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said in a statement Monday its facilities will continue to function as normal.

Teri Huyck, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said in the statement the health and safety of its patients is Planned Parenthood’s top priority, and it will continue to assess security measures.

“Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place to ensure that our health centers are safe, supportive, welcoming environments for all people accessing the high-quality health care they need,” Huyck said.

Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, extended her condolences to the victims of the shooting in a statement Tuesday, and said she was glad to see Planned Parenthood was not closing its facilities.

Taylor also touted her co-authored Patients Reproductive Health Care Act, which is legislation intended to allow doctors to recommend treatment based on their expertise rather than law.

“Despite this horrible act of violence, I was heartened to see that Planned Parenthood health centers across the country are keeping their doors open and won’t be intimidated by this cowardly act,” Taylor said. “This attack is a reminder to legislators, commentators and talking heads that rhetoric and words are important.”

Pro-Life Wisconsin condemned the Colorado shooting in a blog post Monday.

In the post, state director Dan Miller said Pro-Life Wisconsin is categorically opposed to murder, and dignity of human life should be upheld at all stages of life — but that does not change the organization’s stance on abortion.

“Abortion destroys peace and creates a culture of violence and disrespect for human life,” Miller said.

Miller culminated his post with a quote from Mother Teresa of Calcutta, saying “If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”

Still, Huyck said in the Planned Parenthood statement that as Wisconsin’s oldest reproductive health care provider, its clinics “are not going anywhere.”

“The hateful and inflammatory rhetoric that has fueled a range of attacks on Planned Parenthood will not stop us from providing the health care necessary to keep the people of Wisconsin safe, healthy and strong,” Huyck said.

The post Post-Colorado shooting, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin says they’re ‘not going anywhere’ appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

New UW research could bring possible treatment options for leukemia

1 hour 12 min ago

Researchers at University of Wisconsin recently discovered a new process for regenerating leukemia cells that could prove to be important in finding better treatment methods.

The research focused on chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of blood cancer that affects white blood cells. There are currently several types of drugs patients can use to treat this form of cancer, Igor Slukvin, UW professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, said.

Slukvin is one of the scientists on the project, and is an expert on stem cells and human blood.

Studying treatment methods for patients with leukemia, Slukvin said, is important because current drugs being used can often become ineffective for patients.

“The drugs don’t cure the diseases; they only keep them under control,” Slukvin said. “This is because some of the cancer cells are not sensitive to the drugs.”

According to a UW statement, current drugs for leukemia treatment are tyrosine kinase inhibitors, meaning they help stop the leukemia cells from leaving the bone marrow. But they do not cure the cancer.

The drugs do not help to rid the patients of the cancerous cells, and patients can develop resistance to them, Slukvin said. This can lead people to relapse with their leukemia, he said.

“If they stop the drugs, then they relapse,” Slukvin said. “That is why it is very important to study cancer cells.”

The research team was able to create specific stem cells that can become blood cells. The properties of these cells can then be tested, according to UW statement. This allows scientists to then study how various drugs affect the cancerous cells.

Scientists may be able to study the progression of leukemia in blood cells, which will help them gain an overall better understanding of the disease.

“What we do is we take bone marrow from a patient with leukemia and [the cells from the marrow] are grown for a long time in a dish. When we take cells from patients with leukemia, we can make properties of leukemia cells in the dish,” Slukvin said.

This new process will prove important because the cells taken directly from patients do not live very long, Slukvin said. Scientists must then continually get new bone marrow from patients in order to test drugs.

This new discovery will allow the scientists to grow their own cancerous cells for testing.

The bone marrow stem cells can be taken and turned into leukemia stem cells, and these cells can grow indefinitely. This allows scientists to have ample time and the ability to expand their research, Slukvin explained.

“This technology can be used for the discovery of a target for new drugs,” Slukvin said. “There are many types of blood cancers and we want to see if we can make this research work for other types of blood cancers.”

The post New UW research could bring possible treatment options for leukemia appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

Closing the gap: $5.2 million grant to narrow achievement discrepancies in Wisconsin public schools-AB HS xz bvs

1 hour 19 min ago

A $5.2 million federal grant will provide University of Wisconsin researchers and the Department of Public Instruction with an opportunity to understand achievement gaps in public schools throughout the state of Wisconsin.

Provided by the U.S. Department of Education, the grant will fund the largest research collaboration between UW and the DPI to date, Jared Knowles, DPI policy research advisor said.

He said these researchers should investigate discrepancies in the organization of education and develop new, more racially and economically considerate practices.

The research

The Wisconsin Center for Educational Research, based out of the UW School of Education, will work with researchers from DPI to analyze data from every Wisconsin public school over the next four years, Knowles said.

The center’s research is focused mainly on equity. The goal is to take the information and translate it into factual recommendations researchers can provide to all public schools across the state, Knowles explained.

“Wisconsin has the highest graduation rates in the country, but it also has the greatest racial disparities between black and white students,” he said.

If all schools use these recommendations, Knowles said, it will help to decrease these racial and financial disparities.

UW associate professor of sociology, Eric Grodsky, will be leading the UW research team.

The research will be building off of DPI’s Promoting Excellence for All report. Researchers at UW will examine data DPI has collected on student test scores, student demographic characteristics and much more information Grodsky said UW researchers haven’t even gotten into yet.

Some people have been skeptical of the collaboration, and Grodsky said he doesn’t blame them. This collaboration has been discussed for a while, but hasn’t been acted on until now, he said.

The approach will help researchers find and disseminate the reasons for these gaps sooner in order to understand how they may be narrowed, Grodsky said.

“I think it’s different for its ambitions and scope,” Grodsky said. “I’m hoping that it lays the foundation for more work on this both in terms of research, but also in terms of action in giving people clearer guidelines for effective strategies to reduce disparities.”  

The process

The researchers plan to use a three-step process in which they will analyze the data DPI collected and then go and visit schools they’ve identified to be more or less effective at diminishing the gap, Grodsky explained.

While visiting these schools, researchers will talk to parents, students and teachers to determine what practices may have affected their achievement levels, Grodsky said.

Teachers, principals, counselors and even students will be able to make better decisions on how to solve these pressing issues within their district, which is the key to Wisconsin’s educational progress and future, Knowles explained.

Schools will be “matched” and compared to see what factors may be influencing their differences in disparities, Grodsky said.

The final step will involve a state-wide survey to see how common those practices are and the extent to which they are associated with different levels of achievements, Grodsky said.

This research, Knowles said, will illuminate the failures and successes among schools trying to solve this issue.

As Wisconsin continues to become more and more diverse, it is important to continue in that direction while making sure equal educational opportunities are available to everyone, Knowles said.

“We need to make sure success is there for all students,” he said.

The post Closing the gap: $5.2 million grant to narrow achievement discrepancies in Wisconsin public schools-AB HS xz bvs appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

‘Psychic’ calls in crime tip, helps MPD make two arrests

3 hours 53 sec ago

Two suspects were arrested early Tuesday morning after police received a tip from a self-proclaimed psychic about a suspicious situation in a parking lot on Hayes Road near East Towne Mall.

According to a Madison Police Department incident report:

The concerned citizen who gave the tip claimed there was an elaborate conspiracy occurring in the parking lot of the Red Roof Inn on Hayes Road, and he focused specifically on a white car at the scene. He said the people in the car had “strange auras” about them.

Though police believed the man did not seem completely in touch with reality, MPD quickly discovered the car in question was stolen.

Additionally, the two individuals using the car, Andrew Matje, 25, and Alexandra Scola, 25, both of DeForest, were both wanted on warrants and for a series of recent crimes.

Police chased down Matje outside the Red Roof Inn, and Scola was located in one of the rooms.

Scola is accused of stealing nearly $3,000 worth of jeans from West Towne Mall’s Boston Store. Matje is accused of trading stolen pants for cash and stealing a purse from East Towne Mall’s Olive Garden.

MPD has been unable to corroborate the “psychic’s” elaborate conspiracy theory, but were glad to receive the tip that aided in the arrest of the two suspects.

The post ‘Psychic’ calls in crime tip, helps MPD make two arrests appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

Challenges to employment after imprisonment incite movement to change application process

11 hours 38 min ago

A simple check mark stands between thousands of ex-convicts and their access to employment across the country, but Wisconsin may join a national movement to make it illegal on initial job applications.

Ex-convicts must check a box on job applications to indicate whether they have a criminal record, allowing potential employers to then search the Wisconsin Circuit Court public records to determine their convictions.

This can pose as a barrier to employment following imprisonment for ex-convicts — such is the case for Wisconsin resident Ryan Haynes.

Haynes has applied to countless jobs, including several McDonald’s locations, but says he cannot land a job because of his criminal record.

Haynes said employers don’t look at the “extenuating circumstances” behind every case and instead give rejections based on a person’s record.

High unemployment for ex-offenders has incited a national movement to “Ban the Box.” President Barack Obama signed an executive order earlier this month to ban the box on all initial applications for federal employment, instead pushing the question farther back in the application process.

Jeremy Dillard, a WISDOM leader and Ex-Prisoners Organizing member, worked with Obama’s staff and civil rights groups around the country to promote the executive order. While interacting with these individuals, he said he received the impression many states are far ahead of Wisconsin in both how they treat citizens of color and respond to ex-offenders.

A system that “suffocates”

After moving from New York to Stevens Point to start a business, Haynes became addicted to cocaine. He began writing fake checks to cover up the problem, as he was losing money and struggling to keep up with his business finances. Haynes was sentenced to four years in prison for forgery and issuing worthless checks, but was released in 1998 after two years.

Since then, Haynes has been found guilty in several cases dealing with driving misdemeanors, theft and disorderly conduct. 

“By no means am I an innocent person,” Haynes said. “I am just trying to correct my life. I would rather do it now when I am 41 than never at all.”

Once released from imprisonment, job outlook is bleak for ex-offenders, Carol Rubin, a Madison Organizing in Strength, Equality and Solidarity leader, said. The hardest thing for ex-offenders to do is find employment, and Rubin attributes this to the check box.

Haynes said he has struggled with PTSD and schizoaffective disorder, among other things, in the past. Haynes said the system is suffocating him because it cuts off his and other ex-offenders’ “oxygen sources,” or access to employment.

Rubin said attaining a job is essential for an ex-convict to successfully reintegratate back into a community.

“If you haven’t got a job, you are struggling deeply financially, if not in a situation where it is literally impossible to live,” Rubin said. “People get despondent and feel like there is no way of making it.”

Ben Kempinen, University of Wisconsin Law School clinical professor, said there is already a law and penalties for people who deny employment based solely on a past criminal record. He said the problem with the current law is that it is difficult to enforce.

No employer would admit they discriminate solely based on a criminal record and it’s hard to prove that the only reason someone was denied employment was his or her record, Kempinen said.

State movement to ban the box

Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, is currently pushing to pass a statewide Ban the Box proposal. Despite failing in the past, this particular attempt holds bipartisan support in the state and from U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin.

Taylor said she is hopeful this proposal is different because of Ban the Box’s growing national success. Eighteen states and 45 municipalities have banned the box, including the city of Madison.

Madison Common Council President Maurice Cheeks led a successful Ban the Box initiative in September 2014. A resolution passed earlier this month extended banning the box from just city employers to all city contractors. Potential employers cannot ask whether or not a job candidate has been convicted of a crime until a conditional job offer is on the table.

Cheeks said he believes the city, as one of the largest employers in Madison, has a responsibility to lead by example and demonstrate this is a practical idea.

“We know that one of the greatest causes of recidivism or re-offense is not having a job, not having gainful employment,” he said. “If we can give people the opportunity to get back into the working world then we are making their lives better [and] we are making our society better. It is sort of a no-brainer.”

Race on the record, the cost of incarceration

In 2010, the U.S. incarcerated 6.7 percent of its African American male population, already six times the percent of white males, while Wisconsin nearly doubled the national average at 12.8 percent.

Wisconsin spent more than three times more on the average prisoner than the average student in 2010. About $11,364 went to each student while about $37,994 went to each prisoner.

According to a 2010 study by The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, Dane County black adults are eight times more likely to be arrested than white adults. Statewide, black adults are four times more likely than white adults to be arrested and nationally, they are 2.5 times more likely.

Taylor said by increasing job opportunities for ex-offenders, the state can decrease taxpayer dollars spent on incarceration.

Wisconsin incarcerates more than double the amount of people Minnesota does, despite its similar population and demographics, Rubin said.

Minnesota moved the question of whether or not an applicant has been convicted of a crime back to when there is a conditional offer of employment, Taylor said. More than half of the applicants who would most likely not have a chance to get an interview, got hired following banning the box in the state.

Taylor said by pushing the box back until there is a conditional offer gives ex-offenders a chance to be seen for “who they are and want to be, not who they were and what they did.”

Ban the Box opposition

The Cap Times reported last month that Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, removed a provision to ban the box in a bill that would overhaul the civil service system. He said removing the question on the initial job application could lead to wasted time for employers.

According to the report, Nass argued that by pushing the question back, employers may spend time considering a candidate who would be disqualified for consideration because of a criminal past.

The Professional Services Council, the Aerospace Industries Association, Information Technology Industry Council and National Defense Industries Association published a letter in August urging Obama not to administer any more executive orders regarding federal contractors.

“As efforts continue across the administration, and within our member companies, to expand the broad diversity of firms willing and able to support the government and to bring real innovation to bear for our nation, these unique and costly government-unique regulations simply raise an already substantial barrier between the commercial and government marketplaces,” the letter said.

Even if the box is banned, potential employers could still just look up a candidate online, so it would not totally combat discrimination based on criminal history, Kempinen said. He added some people have suggested the state should close the public record system, but he thinks it is important to maintain transparency in government.

Looking forward

Currently an Assembly version of the civil service system overhaul bill includes a provision to ban the box, but a Senate version does not.

Haynes is still unemployed, but attending college. He called Dillard a huge “inspiration” to him and said he is trying to improve his life for his children.

Dillard said after working with criminal justice issues for the past 12 years, he is beginning to see a change in tone surrounding incarceration with “Ban the Box” being the next step in the right direction.

“I always looked at mass incarceration as a ship that was sailing out to sea with no destination,” Dillard said. “A ship can’t turn on a dime but it is [starting] to make that turn.”

The post Challenges to employment after imprisonment incite movement to change application process appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

City weighing $12 million housing for homeless families

16 hours 36 min ago

The city of Madison is considering a proposal that would provide affordable, permanent housing and supportive services for 45 homeless families on the city’s west side.

The proposal, from Chicago-based Heartland Housing Inc., outlines the construction of a four-story, 45-unit housing project at 7933 Tree Lane, complete with on-site supportive programs from YWCA Madison. The development will cost the firm roughly $12 million to build, Community Development Division Director James O’Keefe said.

The new project, O’Keefe said, would provide homeless families with “permanent supportive housing.”  

“Permanent supportive housing provides not just permanent housing to the families, but also wrap-around services intended to make those families successful in their new homes,” O’Keefe said.  

The YWCA services included in the housing proposal would be tailored to the needs of each family on a case-by-case basis by YWCA employees. The services, O’Keefe said, would focus on health improvement, substance abuse treatment, employment and child care support.

YWCA staffers would also provide case management for resident families to help them make the most of their new-found opportunities, YWCA Madison CEO Rachel Krinsky said.

“We would do some initial assessment and goal setting with the families, and then continue on with them for as long as they live there to help them achieve their goals,” Krinsky said. “We would also help resolve any conflicts with the management or with neighbors, as well as help the families attain any resources they need to attain.”

YMCA Madison has implemented similar programs in previous years, and said programs consistently been successful, Krinsky said.

This housing project would be the second phase in a housing initiative Mayor Paul Soglin started about a year ago, aimed at adding 1,000 new units of affordable housing over the course of five years, O’Keefe said.

The first phase of the initiative will provide housing for 60 single homeless adults on the city’s east side, O’Keefe said.

The execution of the initiative, O’Keefe said, is an appreciable shift in the city’s strategy for housing the homeless.

“In the past, service agencies would put homeless individuals or homeless families in temporary housing and attempt to provide services to meet some of their basic needs,” O’Keefe said. “Now we’re making task number one getting these individuals into permanent housing, and from there we’ll deal with some of the underlying challenges they’re facing.”

The fate of the proposal will be determined in April 2016 when the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority decides whether it will award Heartland Housing Inc. an allotment of federal low-income housing tax credits, which would constitute the bulk of the project’s funding, O’Keefe said.

In addition, the city of Madison intends to contribute $1.5 million in financing to the project, and Dane County intends to contribute up to $1 million, O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe expressed optimism over the proposal’s potential to lift families out of poverty.

“We think projects like this provide the most effective means of helping families overcome challenges to housing stability and putting an end to chronic homelessness in this city, which is ultimately our goal,” O’Keefe said.

The post City weighing $12 million housing for homeless families appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

UW artist in residence displays performance with a message at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

16 hours 50 min ago

With the opportunity to address the idea of serving and protecting within communities to a broadened audience, University of Wisconsin Arts Institute interdisciplinary artist in residence Laura Barbata performed her project “Interventon: Indigo” at the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Barbata, who worked on the project with the Brooklyn Jumbies and UW professor Chris Walker, said she first got the idea for the project after wanting to address the issues around policing in the U.S.

After being introduced to indigo textiles in Burkina Faso, the power within the fabrics captivated Barbata.

With the hope of creating a street performance with a message, she said she wanted to use the project as a reminder to the public of the meaning of their roles in society.

“We’re not only pointing fingers at police, we’re also saying this is inspiration. We all need to see role of serving and protecting on a higher level, and we also need to have a call to action for all of us to be protecting our communities and inspiring those around us,” Barbata said.

Barbata used indigo colored fabrics to illustrate the power and nobility of the Moko Jumbie, a figure who is meant to serve and protect as well as cleanse and ward off communities of evil in West African societies. She said indigo signifies “absolute truth” and that she doesn’t believe it’s a coincidence the color is popular among law enforcement around the world. Recognizing the collective histories among various cultures, Barbata wanted to bring them together.

The Brooklyn Jumbies, who also participated with Barbata in her May project STRUT! were contacted by Macy’s representatives about the opportunity to be a part of the parade. Barbata said they proposed “Intervention: Indigo” to Macy’s, who then approved the proposal.

“It’s been so exciting and beautiful to share that because I was invited to do this and we bring along all these other great people,” Barbata said. “So it just gives a lot more people that are very talented and have so much to give and share a shared platform and audience.”

In being a part of one of the most internationally known holiday events, Barbata said the process was “long and tiring at first.”

While waking up early for the parade made for the initial fatigue, after seeing the “massive groups” and marching bands surrounding her and her group of 18 dancers, Barbata said the excitement took over.

She said while observing the other performers and their uniformity, the designs of her group stood out because each member was wearing a different costume. But as the group took their places before the performance, other parade member’s compliments and kind wishes reassured Barbata that their group “looked good,” which she said was possible because of their uniqueness.

“It went by so fast and the experience was wonderful,” Barbata said. “It was wonderful to see the expressions of people. People would wave and shout and tell you things. It was really beautiful.”

The post UW artist in residence displays performance with a message at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

Shutdown of Madison’s Oscar Mayer plant came as ‘shock’ to employees

17 hours 4 min ago

The Madison Oscar Mayer plant closure will leave about 1,000 Wisconsinites unemployed by early 2017.

Debbie, an employee at the Oscar Mayer plant for 29 years, said while many employees thought the plant might shut down, especially after the Kraft and Heinz merger, it still came as a surprise to her. Debbie asked to be identified only by her first name since Oscar Mayer and Wisconsin officials are still developing plans for those who will lose their jobs.

Doug Leikness, president of United Food & Commercial Workers, the union representing many Oscar Mayer workers, said Heinz cut a lot of costs and jobs after the merger, which seemed to foreshadow Oscar Mayer’s shutdown as well. He said the plant was demonstrating strong production runs and doing well when its closure was unexpectedly announced.

Debbie said Kraft Heinz hasn’t made much effort to help employees.

“I’m a pretty optimistic person and I like to feel like there are good people out there and I guess I’m really sad because they’re not bridging us or taking care of us,” she said.

Many employees who have worked in the plant for several years still do not have medical benefits and there is little hope they will receive them now that the plant is closing, Debbie said. But she said Kraft Heinz has helped some corporate employees find other jobs and given them benefits.

According to a statement from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the plant’s shutdown is part of a “company-wide consolidation.”

Following the loss of about 1,000 jobs, Leikness said it might be difficult for many workers to find another job in the same field with benefits similar to those Oscar Mayer provided. Workers were able to support their families with the income and had negotiable vacations included as part of their benefits.

“They [workers] are not going to be having much luck getting something as good as [they were] at Oscar Mayer,” Leikness said.

Debbie said finding another job might not even be possible for an employee of her age. There have been rumors about employees being sent to another plant, but Debbie said it would be counterproductive to displace another plant’s employees to make room for Oscar Mayer’s.

The loss of this job has put Debbie in a position of uncertainty and could make her postpone retirement because she may not receive a pension. She said she wanted to join United Way of Dane County and help people once she retired, which she can no longer do.

“Once you’re locked in, it’s so hard to believe that they can take that away from you,” Debbie said.

United Food & Commercial Workers is developing a plan related to workforce development for the plant’s workers, Leikness said. It is collaborating with United Way of Dane County and local labor leaders to create strategies that will help workers with job searching, job training and emotional and financial counseling.

WEDC is also partnering with local organizations, such as Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin, Madison Gas and Electric and The Department of Workforce Development to develop a plan that will lessen the blow on the plant’s workers.

“Our first priority is the workers and their families and to make sure that those affected by the closure are able to find employment,” WEDC said in the statement.

Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, said in a statement she was concerned for the workers’ financial security and opportunities to progress and move on. She said it is important as a community to support the workers while they searched for future opportunities.

Unite Food & Commercial Workers also met Kraft Heinz for talks regarding the first wave of layoffs, which are expected to begin next July, to determine when to put this plan in action. Leikness said he was hopeful about receiving the company’s cooperation. Debbie said it might help postpone the plant’s closure which would allow her to turn 50 by the time it does close and receive a pension.

“I don’t want a million dollars,” Debbie said. “I just want what I deserve.”

The post Shutdown of Madison’s Oscar Mayer plant came as ‘shock’ to employees appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

Court case deals with discrepancy in Wisconsin’s laws for gay parents

17 hours 4 min ago

One Wisconsin couple tried working their way through the courts to “ungender” paternity laws.

Wisconsin’s 2nd District Court of Appeals upheld a judge’s decision Nov. 4 to dismiss a gay couple’s request for one partner to become the legal parent of her wife’s child.

Marsha Mansfield, a University of Wisconsin law professor, said the court dismissed the request because the couple did not go through the correct legal process. She said they filed their case as an adoption, when they were actually aiming to change the constitutionality of a law.

When they first filed their request, Mansfield said the couple would have needed to notify former Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, an opponent of gay marriage, which they failed to do.

Emily Dudak Taylor, the attorney on the couple’s case, said the Attorney General was present during the process and at the appeal, and the case being filed as an adoption should not have mattered. She said writing the decision off as a simple procedural error was a skewed way of viewing the issue.

“It’s completely unfair and unequal,” Taylor said. “It’s not just a minor procedural issue at all.”

The decision indicates the court’s avoidance of the greater issue at hand, stating that marriage equality has “hit a wall” with implementation on the state level, Taylor said.

She said the goal of her case was to “ungender” the parental presumption of paternity, a law that grants husbands the status of legal parent and placement on the birth certificate of their wives’ children simply by signing a document at the hospital, without investigating how the child was conceived.

The law’s wording needs to be ungendered from husband to spouse, and father to parent, so the parental presumption can also apply to a female spouse, Taylor said.

Currently, since the law only deals with heterosexual couples, it is unclear what gay couples are supposed to do in cases where one partner has a biological child through artificial insemination, Taylor said. Sometimes her wife becomes the legal parent, and sometimes they have to go through an unnecessary adoption process, she said.

Lesbian women shouldn’t have to adopt their own children simply because they were conceived through artificial insemination, Taylor said.

Under current law, both wives’ names are not put on the birth certificate, Mansfield said. She pointed to a case in progress, Torres v. Rhoades, which would allow both gay parents’ names to be put on the birth certificate.

If Torres succeeds, the decision made on Taylor’s court case will be nullified.

Julaine Appling, Wisconsin Family Action president, said the purpose of birth certificates is to indicate the biological parents of the child, and if a parent has no role in the reproductive process, they shouldn’t be put on the birth certificate.

“This is a birth certificate, not a parenting certificate,” she said. “The birth certificate should show the reality.”

Appling said allowing gay couples to be parents is valuing adult desires over the children’s best interests.

Harold Hervey, Conservative Party national director, said even though the party supports gay people, heterosexual relationships are “the hallmark of the civilized world” and should take precedence over same-sex marriages to ensure the best upbringing for the child.

“We’re not against letting gay people live their lives in peace and harmony, and we don’t think you should discriminate against gays, but we don’t think they should be married,” Hervey said. “We believe the child gets a better overall world view and a better nurturing home with a man and a woman.”

But Steven Starkey, LGBT OutReach spokesperson, said studies show same-sex parents are at least as good, and in some cases better than, parents of opposite sexes. Starkey said it’s not the gender of the parent that’s important, it’s how much they love and care for the child.

It is important to ensure gay marriage and straight marriage are seen as equal, Starkey said.

“Since gay marriage is now legal, the federal government and the state should make every effort to make heterosexual marriage and gay marriage be equal,” Starkey said. “We fought for a long time to get marriage equality … so there shouldn’t still be kind of a second class status.”

The post Court case deals with discrepancy in Wisconsin’s laws for gay parents appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

Wisconsin’s cheesemakers evolve with the times

17 hours 4 min ago

In a picturesque scene of quintessential Wisconsin, the Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese farm sprawls across 1,700 acres of green pasture — but it is not your typical dairy farm.

Crave Brothers exemplifies the growing farmstead cheese industry, where cheese is made on the same farm milk is produced.

According to Dean Sommer, cheese technologist at the University of Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, farmstead cheese makers like Crave Brothers take part in the entire cheese-making process, from growing their own crops to feeding cows to packaging the final product. Artisan cheese makers, he explained, only make the cheese and don’t partake in the farming process before it.

Crave Brothers, located 30 miles northeast of Madison in Waterloo, Wisconsin, produces award-winning cheeses. Fifteen hundred Holstein cows contribute to the business’s most signature product: fresh mozzarella.

But Crave Brothers wasn’t always in it for the cheese. It first began as a dairy farm. Mark Crave, who co-operates the farm with his three brothers, said the business his brothers began in 1978 evolved over a few decades. He said Crave Brothers wanted to set itself apart from the “big guys” in the cheese-making industry.

“They can make a lot of good cheese a lot cheaper than we can,” Crave said. “The big part of it is what works with our milk.”

They chose to produce soft mozzarella in multiple shapes and sizes because they knew their milk was consistent, Crave said. So fresh cheese, produced a day after milking, became their niche.

The growing artisan cheese industry

John Lucey, director of the Center for Dairy Research, said artisan cheese-making continues to grow from the small industry it was 30 years ago.

According to Lucey, artisan cheese — meaning small, hand-crafted varieties — accounts for 23 percent of all cheese made in Wisconsin, and the state’s artisan output accounts for 50 percent of total specialty cheese production nationwide. The farmstead cheese industry is growing with it, he said.

The artisan industry grew because, like Crave Brothers, Lucey explained, a lot of cheese makers turned to specialty cheese, rather than a commodity-type product, to stay in business.

“[The artisan cheese movement] started from very humble beginnings in small volumes,” Lucey said. “I think it has grown because we obviously have a lot of great cheese makers in the state.”

How artisan products can be better for you

A number of farmstead cheese makers graze their herds, meaning they allow cows to eat fresh pasture during the growing season more often than other dairy farmers do, Sommer said.

Eating green pasture increases nutrient content in those cows’ milk, Sommer said. While artisan cheeses are not necessarily healthier across-the-board, some of them do have nutritional advantages, he said.

“All cheeses have lots of nutrients, but some of the farmstead cheeses are even … higher [in nutrients],” he said.

UW’s commitment to improving the dairyland

Lucey said one of CDR’s goals is to help cheese makers adapt to the evolving specialty cheese field. He said the center provides them with educational programs and short courses so they can become experienced in different varieties of cheese.

“It’s been a transition for them, but of course we’ve got such great cheese makers, they were able to adapt and learn new things and move onto new varieties,” Lucey said.

Crave said his business works with CDR to develop the types of cheese the farm makes, as well as research what consumers are looking for in dairy products. He said they also modeled their barns based on guidelines from the Dairyland Initiative.

The Dairyland Initiative, which operates in connection with UW’s School of Veterinary Medicine, is a web-based effort to provide easy-to-access information to farmers on welfare-friendly housing options for cows.

Courtney Halbach, an instructional specialist for the initiative, said it started off with a grant from UW and has turned into an international resource for farmers around the world.

Dairyland Initiative to help farmers improve cattle conditionsThrough its website offering recommendations on improving cow housing environments, University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine’s Dairyland Initiative is …

Halbach said the up-to-date, cost-efficient housing methods for cows help them produce more and higher-quality milk.

“When cows are comfortable and happy, they’re going to produce more milk,” she said. “We want to maximize their daily routine.”

Kent Weigel, UW department of dairy science chair, said in terms of the department focusing their research on artisan cheeses specifically, it is too early and that food processors mostly deal with specialty cheese industries.

Crave Brothers: Farmstead sustainability personified

One of the Crave Brothers’ renowned successes is its commitment to sustainability, which directly correlates UW-related research.

“We try to conserve wherever we can,” Crave said.

Besides adapting to the Dairyland Initiative’s housing recommendations, Crave Brothers’ efforts at maintaining a totally green facility are seen throughout the entire farm — from cooling milk with just water to using millions of gallons of manure to power electricity.

But heeding conservation efforts is not a cheap endeavor, Crave admitted.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” Crave said. “Production agricultural is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It may not be as cost-effective or as profitable up front, but we know over the long run a lot of those systems will pay us back.”

All dairy is good dairy

Despite Crave Brothers’ success, Crave said there will always be competition in the farmstead cheese industry.

He said the artisan and specialty cheese businesses have certainly gotten bigger, and Wisconsin specifically has been a significant part of that niche.

“Wisconsin’s smaller regionalized cheese plants have found a new life in the specialty and artisan cheese movement,” Crave said.

The Sargentos and Krafts of cheese making will not go away, he said, but there is room for all types of cheese who cater to different audiences.

But running a farmstead cheese business, Crave said, is not easy. Beyond knowledge of cheese and dairy industries, it requires more management and staff than just operating one business or the other.

“It’s not anything that anybody should take lightly that looks into it,” Crave said. “But I think in general, it’s all good for dairy. It’s all good for dairy consumption, and it’s all good for the consumers because they’re going to get a nutritious product in a lot of different fun ways, shapes and forms.”

The post Wisconsin’s cheesemakers evolve with the times appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

UW forestry steadfast in face of aging lumberjacks, globalization

17 hours 4 min ago

Despite pressures of globalization and an aging workforce, the University of Wisconsin Forestry Department has no plans to change.

With the largest number of forestry jobs in the nation, Wisconsin feels the shift in demand for wood products overseas acutely, according to DNR analysts.

Demand for Wisconsin wood products has shrunk as digital media has increasingly diminished paper demand, but the shift from local to global markets has had an even greater effect, DNR analyst Andy Stoltman said. Wisconsin must now look to markets in India and Asian nations where it once relied on strong local demand, he said.

Countries with more moderate climates have an advantage over Wisconsin lumber because tree growth is not interrupted by harsh winters, Stoltman said.

“In the southern part of the U.S. there’s more wood volume put on each tree every year since they have a longer time to photosynthesize,” he said.

Another issue looming over the forestry industry is the lack of replacements for a workforce whose average age has been steadily increasing. He said younger foresters are not replenishing the labor force for reasons such as high insurance cost.

UW Forest and Wildlife Ecology chair Mark Rickenbach said the forestry major has actually seen an uptick in enrollment over the past five years, though he acknowledged it was largely due to outreach efforts. With a current class size of around 45 students, Rickenbach said in the more distant past, the class size was larger.

The major focuses on teaching students how to competently perform necessary field work which can lead to three different employment tracks. Graduates may work for public land agencies such as Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, land management companies or consultants.

The school is aware of the competition Wisconsin lumber faces, and Rickenbach said some students go on to work as foresters in foreign countries.

He said the core skills foresters need are applicable anywhere in the world. The only thing an overseas forester needs to do is familiarize themselves with the local ecosystems, Rickenbach said.

“Foresters need a good understanding of forest ecology and know how to make land management decisions,” Rickenbach said.

As far as the aging population of foresters, Rickenbach said the same problem can be found with forestry academics. Graying forestry researchers and foresters in general is an issue UW is aware of but has not made radical changes to combat, Rickenbach said.

Though Wisconsin can’t grow wood as fast as southern forests, it does have its own advantages. Stoltman said the Northern Red Oak is well known for its grain and quality.

In addition, Wisconsin also still employs a significant number of foresters because forest land is owned by more private owners than in other states, Stoltman said. This means there are more private citizens managing their own land, often with less industrial equipment than corporate foresting companies.

Rickenbach said he does not see the state’s forestry industry in decline, instead he believes it is simply going through a low point in a continuing cycle.

The post UW forestry steadfast in face of aging lumberjacks, globalization appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

SSFC approves Live Free budget, hears from VETS

Tue, 12/01/2015 - 12:06am

At Monday’s Student Services Finance Committee meeting, Live Free’s funding was approved for 2016-17 and Veterans, Educators, and Traditional Students delivered their budget presentation.

Live Free budget approval

The committee approved Live Free’s overall budget of $75,565, but before the they voted, Live Free Co-Chair Carter Kofman fielded questions from the committee. Leading off, SSFC Vice Chair Brett DuCharme asked for Kofman to further justify the need for a television as a part of their proposal.

Drawing on his personal experience, Kofman said for events like game days and home football games where alcohol and drinking are prevalent sights, the TV would be part of a risk-free space for meeting at a time when there’s “nowhere else to go.”

He added that beyond being a resource for member’s independent use, the group has movie nights and presentations planned. But instead of reaching out to different locations that have the proper equipment, having the TV would be an easier and accessible option for the organization.

The budget was passed in a 9-0 vote with 4 abstentions.

SSFC approves Wisconsin Black Student Union’s budget, hears from Live FreeAt Monday’s Student Services Finance Committee, Wisconsin Black Student Union’s budget was approved, and Live Free, an organization dedicated to the …

VETS budget hearing

VETS Executive Director Caitlyn Levine began their presentation by highlighting the group’s focuses of providing primary sources, such as veterans with individual experiences, for class discussion and students with research projects. Levine said VETS aims to foster a social support network for incoming students and veterans while closing the gap and creating a better community for all.

The group requested a $7,000 advertising budget for the 2016-17 year.

After only spending $4,555.25 of their approved $8,176 for 2015, Levine said the main reason for the lack of spending was because the organization had two educational speakers cancel on them at the last minute. But she continued and said the group wants to use a “good chunk” of their advertising budget toward creating a website.

“We feel that making a website that is accessible to everyone is a more innovative way of advertising that will target the audience we’re looking to reach, which is students,” Levine said. “Moving toward a larger web presence as far as advertising will be beneficial.”

The group is also requesting $18,930 for salary funding, which Levine said, after taking into account the Associated Students of Madison’s wage increase, is the same as the approved amount for 2015.

The committee will decide on VETS’ budget at Thursday’s meeting.

The post SSFC approves Live Free budget, hears from VETS appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

Police search for three suspects following downtown robbery

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 11:16pm

A man walking around East Mifflin and North Butler had his phone and wallet stolen by two men Monday evening around 9 p.m.

According to a Madison Police Department incident report:

One robber began the altercation by grabbing the 21-year-old victim from behind and forced him to the ground.

The two men took the victim’s phone and wallet before meeting up with a third suspect.

The suspects are described as three black males in their 20s.

Police are continuing to search for the suspects.

The post Police search for three suspects following downtown robbery appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

Officials set to approve free tampons in county buildings

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 5:43am

Eight Dane County buildings would provide free tampons and pads for low-income people in a proposal that will be voted on and expected to pass Thursday.

The county proposal for the pilot program comes after a similar statewide effort to provide tampons within state-run building restrooms failed. County officials and women’s advocacy groups said the project will help alleviate costs.

County Supervisor and Heidi Wegleitner, District 2, the proposal’s primary sponsor, said access to tampons and pads for poorer people is restricted, especially since food share benefits cannot be used to purchase them and they are taxed, despite being a necessity.

“This will make women’s lives a little easier, but also push other [levels of] government to take initiative on this problem,” Wegleitner said.

Bill to make tampons free in public restrooms faces oppositionRep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, announced Monday new legislation to provide feminine hygiene products in public school and government building restrooms, …

Wegleitner said the move could save some people around $15 per month, which can be a significant amount for those with few resources. She said many other supervisors have co-sponsored the proposal and believes it will pass with little opposition.

Manjari Ojha, member of University of Wisconsin’s chapter of the National Organization for Women, said the pilot program is good government. She said she hopes the project will work out and that state leaders will use the program as a model for more wide-reaching legislation.

“Improving the health of women only adds to the health of the overall community,” Ojha said.

County Supervisor Carousel Bayrd, District 8, said the project will cost a total of $3,500, the cheapest budget she has ever seen for a project during her time as a supervisor.

Bayrd said there was no particular reason why the county has not offered a similar service before now, other than that they had not thought of it.

Bayrd said in past the county has passed legislation to promote breastfeeding spaces in public areas, and this proposal follows the same vein.

The County Board of Supervisors will vote on the proposal Thursday.

The post Officials set to approve free tampons in county buildings appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media