— A new study from scientists at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health suggests brain health and development are negatively influenced by living in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
By measuring total brain volume as well as the brain’s hippocampal region — which plays a role in emotion and memory — study authors drew a connection between cognitive health and subjects’ physical environments.
“This research is among the first to demonstrate that the relative disadvantage of our neighborhoods is linked to brain structures involved in memory function,” said Jack Hunt, a dual PhD and medical degree student in the school’s medical scientist training program.
Hunt worked with Barbara Bendlin and Amy Kind, associate professors of medicine, to conduct the research. Their results were recently published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology.
After taking MRI measurements from 951 “cognitively normal” adults, the researchers found that subjects from the most highly disadvantaged neighborhoods had slightly smaller hippocampal areas — about 4 percent lower than those from more advantaged areas.
Study authors said the difference is equal to up to seven years of brain development. Previous studies have drawn a connection between having a smaller hippocampus and major depression as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. Plus, heightened vulnerability to stress has been shown in those with a smaller hippocampus.
Neighborhood disadvantage relates to poverty levels, unemployment, education level and housing equality in a specific area. For this study, neighborhoods were assessed and compared using a tool developed by Kind called the Neighborhood Atlas.
— Foxconn has announced $2.3 million in new subcontracts for part of the company’s manufacturing development in Mount Pleasant.
Five companies have been recently chosen for work on the planned data center, for which Milwaukee-based Mortenson is the construction manager. According to a release, the data center will host high-performance computing processes and serve as a hub for creating business partnerships.
The selected subcontractors include Brook White Construction Materials of Madison, Chilstrom Erecting Corp of West Milwaukee, Edgerton Subcontractors of Oak Creek, Point Ready Mix, LLC, Kenosha, and Ceco Concrete Construction of Franklin.
Foxconn has now awarded about $372 million in contract work for the project, the release shows.
— Consultants have been paid more than $5 million by state, local and county government entities for work on the Foxconn project in Wisconsin, according to a report in the Journal Times.
Between Racine County, the village of Mount Pleasant, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, consultants and other firms have been paid more than $5.3 million between 2017 and October 2019, the report shows.
The Journal Times reports that Mount Pleasant had paid the most with over $3.6 million in consulting expenses, while WEDC has paid out over $200,000 and Racine County has spent more than $1.5 million.
See more in Foxconn Reports below.
— The Wisconsin Homeowners Alliance, an arm of the Wisconsin Realtors Association, has announced a six-figure effort behind legislation that would ensure those who own property along a navigable body of water can put in a pier.
The effort includes radio, video, mail and digital ads. The group declined to provide specifics on how much is being spent on the effort, which targets a statewide audience.
In one ad, two men talk as one says he’s not sure he can put his pier back in the water next year.
“Our right to place a pier in the water next to our land is getting hijacked because the courts say someone else owns the dirt under the water,” the man says. The spot concludes with a narrator urging listeners to call their legislators to “protect your pier.”
The ads back AB 551 and SB 501. The legislation, introduced in October, would dictate the owner of land that abuts a navigable waterway is presumed to have riparian rights, including the ability to put in a pier, even if the bed of the waterway is owned by someone else.
The bills, which haven’t received a hearing in either house, would address a 2018 state Supreme Court ruling. That case dealt with a family squabble that resulted in one family not being able to place a pier in the Sailor Creek Flowage from their property because another sibling owned the waterbed.
Listen the radio ads:
See the release:
— Husch Blackwell has hired 12 new attorneys in Madison for its industry group focused on health care, life sciences and education.
Curt Chase, who heads the group, says the firm’s health care practice was already ranked among the top 10 in the country for the size of its staff by the American Health Lawyers Association before bringing on the new lawyers.
“With their arrival, our new colleagues affirm our leading position in healthcare law on a coast-to-coast basis with an especially strong bench in the Wisconsin market,” Chase said in a release.
The team is currently led by attorney Bruce Arnold, based in Milwaukee.
Husch Blackwell has offices in 18 cities around the country. The firm has industry clients across many sectors including real estate, technology, manufacturing, financial services, energy and more.
— The Assembly will attempt to override one of Gov. Tony Evers’ vetoes during Wednesday’s floor session.
AB 76 would have prohibited the Department of Health Services from requiring nursing assistants to have more clinical supervised practical training than the federally required minimum. Federal law currently requires no less than 75 hours of training for nurses with at least 16 hours of supervised practical training.
Current Wisconsin law requires 120 hours of training, with at least 32 hours of supervised practical training and the first 16 hours as classroom training before any direct contact with clients.
Evers vetoed the bill in November, saying he objects “to providing less training for those who care for our state’s most vulnerable citizens.”
“There are better ways to address the shortage of nurse aides than reducing the quality of training programs,” Evers said in his veto statement.
— Mike Huebsch, tapped for the Public Service Commission by Scott Walker after stints as DOA secretary and as Republican Assembly speaker, is retiring more than a year before his term is up.
Huebsch’s departure will be effective Feb. 3 after 25 years of public service. His six-year term was set to expire March 1, 2021, and his departure means appointees of Gov. Tony Evers will now control the commission.
An agency spokesman said Huebsch will be fully vested in the state pension system when he leaves the PSC.
“I want to humbly thank the people of the state of Wisconsin for allowing me to serve,” said Huebsch, 55. “I have been truly blessed for the opportunities and trust afforded to me by the people of this great state. I thank you.”
An Evers appointee to replace Huebsch would be subject to Senate confirmation. His pick to lead the three-member PSC — Chair Cameron Valcq — was confirmed by the Senate last year.
Huebsch was elected to the state Assembly in 1994 and became DOA secretary upon Walker’s inauguration in January 2011. He served in that role until Walker appointed him to the PSC in 2015.
See the release:
— UW-Platteville’s Dairy Innovation Hub Advisory Council has identified several potential focus areas for the new effort, including water quality and the environment as well as pricing strategies.
In a recent column, Rep. Travis Tranel says the council recently held its first meeting, bringing together dairy farmers, industry experts and university staff who will lead the Dairy Innovation Hub. Tranel, a dairy farmer himself, is also on the council.
Dairy farms in the state have been struggling with low milk prices, trade instability and difficult weather conditions. Just last year, 800 dairy farms in the state closed.
“If nothing changes, the writing is on the wall, and I don’t want to read it,” said Tranel, R-Cuba City. “I want the rural parts of our state to thrive and that means we need to have a healthy agricultural economy.”
UW-Platteville is set to receive about $1.9 million annually from the state for the Dairy Innovation Hub. Tranel says securing that funding was “the easy part.”
“The goal, as I see it, is to find innovative ways to make dairy more relevant, profitable, and sustainable as we move forward,” he wrote. “This will be the hard part!”
In its first meeting, the advisory council discussed how to improve cover cropping, ways to recognize the value of small dairy farms, as well as “completely different dairying models then we currently use.”
Read the full column: http://bit.ly/2QQKt7x
# Texas developer plans $15 million physical therapy hospital in Greenfield
# Milwaukee considering universal basic income pilot program
# Husch Blackwell adds 12 health care attorneys from competing firms in Madison
# Assembly Republicans to try to override nurse training veto
– Specialty crop block grants available through DATCP
– State Farm Bureau leaders to serve on national committees
– Wisconsin Center District picks Gilbane, C.D. Smith for convention overhaul
– Former Milwaukee construction exec Heinen dies at 97
– As rains intensify, sewage surges into Wisconsin waters
– Recovery begins after storms kill 11 in Midwest, South
# FOOD AND BEVERAGE
– Insomnia Cookies store in the works for Deer District
# FOXCONN REPORTS
– Millions paid to advisers on Foxconn project
– Foxconn awards $2.3M in work on data center
# HEALTH CARE
– Orthopaedic Associates planning new clinic at Brookfield Square Mall
– Dallas-area firms propose $15M rehabilitation hospital in Greenfield
– Milwaukee-based venture capital fund raises $6 million
– Payroll exec allegedly embezzled $476,000 from home care facility in Glendale
– Madison Community Foundation gives $605K in grants to 22 local nonprofits
– Assembly to attempt to override Evers’ veto of reduced training hours for nursing assistants, vote on union raises
– Assembly Republicans to try to override Evers’ veto of nurse training bill
# REAL ESTATE
– Park Place office building acquired by New York investment firm
– Three former Pick ‘n Saves in western suburbs to be redeveloped
– One Park Plaza office in Milwaukee sold
– More Wisconsin deer farms testing positive for CWD
– Johnson Controls launches AI-enabled facial matching software
– State Fair continues to rank among the best events in the nation
– United Airlines adding seasonal service between Milwaukee and San Francisco
– High winds, flooding cause major damage at Port Milwaukee
# PRESS RELEASES
<i>See these and other press releases: