WED AM News: Wisconsin earns a “C” on its 2020 Infrastructure Report Card; Arch Electric gets contract for two Madison College solar projects

— Wisconsin civil engineers give Wisconsin a “C” on its 2020 Infrastructure Report Card, an average across 13 categories ranging from a “B” for energy to a “D+” for roads and transit.

The report card was released today by the American Society of Civil Engineers Wisconsin Section. The most pressing need, according to ASCE Wisconsin Section members: Wisconsin roads and highways.

“We can’t move goods across the state, and that’s not even just with roads, but I would also add in there the ports as well as the inland waterways, any which way we can move produce and other materials… in and out of state is key for our economic success,” said ASCE Wisconsin Section President Ken Mika.

According to Mika, roadway features in Wisconsin are likely a determining factor in about one-third of fatal traffic crashes. In addition, the value of lost time and wasted fuel due to driving congestions in Wisconsin is approximately $1.9 billion a year.

“Vehicle miles traveled in Wisconsin are pressing in an upward trend with an increase of over 13 percent since 2009, while the population grew only 8 percent,” he said. “Congestion is experienced on 635 miles of state highway and this is expected to increase to 776 miles by 2023 under current trends.”

The congestion is expected to have an adverse impact on $510 billion worth of commodities that are shipped annually using Wisconsin highways, Mika added.

Read the full story at 

— Plymouth-based Arch Electric was awarded the contract for two Madison College solar projects at its Reedsburg and Fort Atkinson campuses.

Both projects are included in the Solar on Schools program, which is administered by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. The Couillard Solar Foundation is contributing 50 kilowatts of solar panels to each project through the MREA. 

“We’re encouraged that schools are embracing solar at this level, and Arch Electric is honored to help achieve their energy goals, said Arch President Ed Zinthefer. “Arch Electric has been a leader in solar since 2003, and it’s rewarding to see the growing interest in this clean, reliable form of renewable energy.”

Arch will install a 100 kilowatt system in Reedsburg and 120 kilowatt system in Fort Atkinson. Both systems are ground-mounted solar arrays attached to metal racking that is designed to withstand wind loads and snow loads. The arrays are positioned at 45 degrees to maximize the production of the solar energy year round. 

Some modules will be installed on seasonally adjustable racking, which will enhance the education opportunities and output of the system. 

“I’m thrilled that these projects are moving forward as they are needed now, not in ten years,” said Cal Couillard, founder of the Couillard Solar Foundation, which has contributed a portion of solar panels to over 30 projects. “I’m pleased to see solar growing, both in support and activity, at this critical time. We’re doing it for the kids – to demonstrate its benefits and positive impact on our climate.” 

Milwaukee Area Technical College is jointly participating in the contract and installing solar on the Mequon and Oak Creek campuses with systems of 272 kilowatts and 346 kilowatts, respectively. The Couillard Solar Foundation is contributing an additional 100 kilowatts of solar panels for those projects. 

“The benefits of solar schools go far beyond financial savings,” said Amanda Schienebeck, MREA program manager for the Solar on Schools initiative. “These projects provide students hands-on education, promote student leadership experience, and facilitate career exploration in clean energy.”

— The Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce is hosting its first ever virtual muster today at 4:30 p.m.

The chamber invites its member businesses and nonprofit organizations to “grab a beverage of choice” and network with other veterans and supporters. 

Register for the event here: 

— David Crowley, the first Black man elected Milwaukee County exec, said the county is grappling with two pandemics: “one is called COVID-19, and the other one is racism.”

According to Crowley, Milwaukee County has historically promulgated racist policies that negatively impact overall community wellbeing, including unequal distribution of health care, high-paying jobs and education. The Milwaukee native said his family was evicted at least three times within two years during his childhood.

“As a young child growing up in that situation, it’s hard to have a stable mindset when you don’t even know where you’re going to lay your head at night,” he said today at a Milwaukee Rotary Club event.

Dismantling generations of racially influenced practices, Crowley said, can help bridge socioeconomic gaps.

He spoke of a “no-wrong-door” initiative that he said would provide residents who access one Milwaukee County Health & Human Services program with information about all of its programs. The proposed plan would emphasize the intentional inclusion of minority residents, make programs more accessible and invest resources in residents, according to Crowley.

Crowley also criticized how Milwaukee County currently disperses its tax dollars, saying over 70 percent of the county’s local tax dollars support state-mandated services.

“Local governments right now are on the front lines of this pandemic,” Crowley said. “Local tax dollars should fund local priorities, not just state services.”

Crowley expressed support for a proposed 1 percent sales tax on select items in Milwaukee County, a move he says would increase county funding and reduce reliance on property taxes. But a sales tax boost couldn’t be implemented until at least 2021 after a bill for an increase this session fizzled in the Legislature.

Crowley, a former community organizer, asked listeners not to judge all anti-racism demonstrators by those who have engaged in civil unrest.

He also encouraged listeners to wear masks, socially distance and help out their neighbors.

“I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, Republican, business owner or member of an organized labor union — I need you at the table,” Crowley said. “Every role isn’t for everyone, but there’s always a role for someone.”

Watch the video:

— Gov. Tony Evers says he’s “looking at every possible avenue” to determine if he can extend his mask mandate, which expires Sept. 28.

He argued the mandate is working and there “may be opportunities to do something different” once it expires.

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the state Bureau of Communicable Diseases, said that dramatic acceleration of COVID-19 cases in the state is “largely driven” by the 18-24 age group.

DHS preliminary data show that as of Sept. 6, those in the 18-24 age range have 19,745 confirmed cases, an increase of 2,823 over the week prior and higher than all the other age groups. It also has the highest infection rate at 3,617 per 100,000 people.

“We’re always thinking about that and making sure that we’re doing the right thing and that we continue to drive down the transmission of the virus,” Evers said.

The guv continued to bemoan a state Supreme Court ruling in May that overturned his extended stay-at-home order. He said it has left Wisconsin without the ability to take some statewide steps, such as limits on bars and restaurants, that southern states have been using recently to fight spikes in that region.

“The Legislature seems reluctant to accomplish anything as it relates to restrictions,” Evers said. “We’re going to continue to do what we can do, and masking is one of them.”

— Westergaard noted two challenges that coincide with the rising cases in the younger age demographics.

“One is to understand how to prevent ongoing transmission in that younger group and very importantly, to make sure that we can prevent the transmission that’s happening in the young, healthier group that’s not at high risk for severe disease and prevent them from coming into contact with older, more vulnerable adults,” Westergaard said. “That would be the danger from the epidemic as it is right now. Now is the time we really need to pay attention to protecting the older, more vulnerable patients.”

Westergaard said in a DHS briefing it’s “very likely” that the opening of universities and colleges is resulting in the spike in cases in the 18-24 age group. He noted that residence halls are a “high-risk environment” and have contributed to an increase in cases. He also added “socializing outside of campus at restaurants and bars” as a cause.  

DHS Secretary Andrea Palm told reporters the surge in cases among that age group is not due to lack of testing capacity for other age groups. She said while the state is helping universities and colleges with their testing plans, DHS is not shifting resources away from other areas of Wisconsin for university testing.  

“Capacity for testing is not an issue, so no matter what age group you’re in, there is capacity there, there is availability, there is opportunity to get testing if you need a test,” Palm said. “There is plenty of testing to go around.”

— Public Health Madison & Dane County will move away from an education policy and shift to financial penalties for violating COVID-19 mitigation ordinances.

The letter about the change in enforcement procedures was sent Monday to licensed establishments in Madison and copied to all licensed food and drink establishments in Dane County. 

“Despite PHMDC’s education efforts, PHMDC continues to see increasing complaints of non-compliance related to restaurants and taverns,” the letter read. According to PHMDC, the majority of complaints regard exceeding the 25 percent indoor capacity restrictions, employees not wearing face coverings or not wearing them properly, employees not physically distancing, and customers not physically distancing.

PHMDC said it will partner with the Madison Police Department, with violations carrying a penalty of up to $1,000 per violation. 

As an example, PHMDC wrote that if an establishment with an occupancy capacity of 100 is required to operate at 25 percent, but has 100 people inside, the establishment faces a potential forfeiture of $75,000 not including court costs and fees. The business could also lose its alcohol license via suspension or revocation. 

In a letter to members, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce said that the enforcement change “raises many questions,” including if the change is limited to businesses located in the City of Madison. 

Read the letter: 

— Wisconsin recorded 1,348 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, the sixth day over the past two weeks that the state had over 1,000 new confirmed cases in one day. 

This brought the seven-day average for new confirmed cases rose to 1,261 from 1,171, a record-breaking figure.

“Wisconsin is one of the nine states with the highest rate of infection per capita. We cannot continue on this path,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a DHS briefing. “At one point, Wisconsin was in a pretty good place, but that is no longer the case. We must double down on our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to see an increase in cases until folks decide to take this seriously.”

The percent positive rate fell to 11 percent from 19.7 percent. This is after the state recorded 12,266 new test results. The seven-day percent positive average dropped to 14 percent from 14.9 percent.

The new cases bring the cumulative case count in Wisconsin to 91,304. Meanwhile, 79,557 have recovered, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ coronavirus metrics.

— Menominee County reported its first COVID-19 death yesterday, one of 10 new deaths in the state that brought the death toll to 1,220.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (517), Racine (94), Waukesha (85), Kenosha (65), Brown (58), Dane (41), Walworth (33), Rock (32), Washington (32), Outagamie (24), Winnebago (22), Grant (19), Waupaca (19), Ozaukee (18), Marathon (14), Fond du Lac (12), Sheboygan (12), Clark (8), Dodge (8), Jefferson (7), Marinette (7), St. Croix (7), Eau Claire (6) and Pierce (6).

Barron, Forest, Oconto and Richland counties report four deaths each, while Adams, Door, Portage, Sauk, Taylor and Wood counties report three deaths each.

Buffalo, Burnett, Calumet, Columbia, Green, Kewaunee, La Crosse, Langlade, Manitowoc, Monroe, Oneida, Polk, Trempealeau and Waushara counties report two deaths each.

Ashland, Bayfield, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Lincoln, Marquette, Menominee, Rusk, Sawyer, Vilas and Washburn counties report one death each.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates:  


# Kohl’s cuts 15% of its corporate workforce 

# Kraft Heinz to sell cheese business with Wisconsin facilities for $3 billion

# How The Pandemic Is Tearing Up The Timber Industry



– Ag Products Among Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin Finalists 

– DNR: Some Good Signs for 2020 Wild Rice Crop 

– Historic Rates On Dairy Consumption 

– Farmers Ask Polk County Board to Obey the Law or Face Costly & Criminal Consequences 


– Marquette places residence hall with more than 300 students in quarantine 

– UW-Madison chancellor on campus reopening: ‘I’d make same decision again’

– MPS Foundation aims to raise $1M to provide remote learning tech support 

– Gov. Tony Evers Defends UW System’s Handling Of COVID-19 Pandemic 

– UW Campuses Still Ramping Up COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Of Dorm Residents 


– As Millions Of Acres Burn, Should We Consider New Ways To Manage Wildfires? 

– Hazy Skies May Linger In Wisconsin Thanks To Wildfire Smoke 


– $230,000 In Grants Now In The Hands Of Companies And Cooperatives 


– How companies are getting speedy coronavirus tests for employees 

– Suicide Rate In Wisconsin Increased 40 Percent From 2000 To 2017 


– Uline plans to hire dozens in Kenosha County  

– Judge approves plan to sell Briggs & Stratton; creditors receive 7-10 cents on the dollar 


– TikTok set to become a standalone US company to satisfy White House 


– GOP Wisconsin elections commissioner advised Green Party

– Candidate posted video featuring ex-KKK leader David Duke

– Voter registration texts from Democratic outreach group spark confusion


– Under Threat From High Water, Great Lakes Cities, Property Owners Strive To Become More Resilient 


– ‘Do Not Eat’ Advisory Issued For Deer Liver Due To PFAS Contamination 


– TitletownTech VC fund invests in Seattle sports data analytics startup 


– Wisconsin could be added back to Chicago’s quarantine list 

– City of Milwaukee spends at least $13 million on DNC security 


– Changing Economic Standing For Big Oil 

– Most Public Water Supplies In Wisconsin Meet Standards, But Safe Drinking Water Eludes Some 


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

– La Crosse Distilling Co.: Wins 2020 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice award

– Wisconsin BioFuels Association: Commends EPA’s denial of petitions for small refinery exemptions from Renewable Fuels Standard