THU AM News: Dairy veterans: flexibility, cooperation key to success; Lake Geneva expects several million dollars in travel spending this winter

— A trio of dairy industry veterans highlighted flexibility and openness to cooperation as keys to success as they led a virtual panel at a state dairy conference.

A strong, processor-producer relationship helped dairy farmers like Jim Winn and Kevin Souza deal with market changes — such as the popularity of growth hormone-free dairy. 

Recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rBST, is a naturally occurring growth hormone in cows to improve health, maintain consistent milk quality and increase milk output. When given to cows as a supplement, rBST can increase those benefits. Both Winn and Souza said they were reluctant to stop using it because it had proven to be profitable. 

Now, they’re happy with the choice because it helped get their products ahead of the market curve. It also allowed them to sell to other countries, such as Canada, where rBST dairy products are banned. 

Souza, who produces milk for Valley Queen Cheese, said farmers sometimes get blinders on and have a hard time seeing past their current practices. But they don’t necessarily need any kind of congratulations for their hard work. 

“I don’t need you to pat me on my back. I just need to know what I’m doing wrong so I can fix it,” Souza said at the annual Dairy Strong conference, hosted by the Dairy Business Association.

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— Lake Geneva is expecting several million dollars in travel spending this season between the upcoming Winter Fest, ice castle exhibition and other outdoor recreation.

VISIT Lake Geneva CEO Stephanie Klett declared the resort city is hopping.

“We are looking at several million dollars in travel expenditures,” she told “This is a good thing!”

The pandemic, which resulted in travel, indoor gatherings and large events coming to a close, has hurt the tourism and hospitality industries for the past 10 months. Wisconsin’s tourism departments have been focusing on advertising the state’s outdoor attractions to encourage socially distanced travel to stimulate the economy.  

Tickets had gone on sale to see the ice castles in Lake Geneva this weekend — a flurry of ice tunnels, fountains and light-embedded towers. For the third season, the venue will feature sledding, skating, snowshoeing and igloo dining. This year, visitors can also expect COVID-19 safety precautions, including mandatory masks, limited capacity, increased sanitation, and one-way markings on tunnels and crawl spaces.

And the first round of tickets have already sold out. 

“In fact, not only did Ice Castles sell out immediately, our ski hills are turning people away,” Klett said. The area is home to three ski, snowboarding and tubing areas. 

In addition, the local tourism department is also preparing for its 26th annual Winterfest and U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship to be held Feb. 3-7. In 2020, the event broke all attendance records with 65,000 people. 

This year, VISIT Lake Geneva is dividing the snow sculptures in two different areas to encourage social distancing. The festival will feature an ice sculpture tour with 26 businesses hosting the frozen art, a bar made of ice, and seven different places hosting igloos for dining. 

— Grocery store workers have been added to the recommendations of those who are next in line for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Brandon Scholz of the Wisconsin Grocers Association said the decision to add grocery store employees to the second phase of vaccine eligibility was “a welcome move.”

Speaking at an Assembly Health Committee hearing on a pair of COVID-19 vaccination bills, Scholz said the state’s vaccine advisory panel reversed itself after it received some 1,700 public comments from the grocery industry.

“It’s our hope that this subcommittee recommendation that goes to the full committee, the secretary, and then the governor is approved and we can move forward on it,” he said.

— Meanwhile, public transit, utility workers, congregate living residents and public-facing “essential” workers are among those who may make the cut for the next wave of vaccinations.

The State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee’s vaccine subpanel finalized its recommendations yesterday. The SDMAC will vote this morning on what gets sent as guidance to the Department of Health Services.

The second-phase recommendations account for 1.6 million Wisconsin residents or 33 percent of the state’s adult population. Add that to the first-phase population and it totals 45 percent of Wisconsin’s adult population, said panel co-chair Dr. John Temte of the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.

“If we look at the rollout of vaccines, it’s going to be a very, very long time for this target to be hit,” Temte said.

— The commission continued to back including prisoners in the next vaccination wave, despite some public backlash.

Dan Hopfensperger, former director of the Wisconsin Immunization Program, said of the roughly 75 public comments he read surrounding prisoners, all argued against the inclusion of incarcerated individuals in the second phase of vaccinations.

“I suggest we move the prisoners out of this category,” he said.

But Daryl Daane, pharmacy director at the Department of Corrections, argued that the federal advisory committee’s definition of congregate living does not distinguish between facility types, so incarcerated people are included in the definition of congregate living. He added that state and federal correctional settings are required to reach community standards.

“Intentionally excluding this group and not meeting the community standards would put us at a legal jeopardy,” he said. “It is the incarcerated 8th Amendment right to receive the same level of care that they can get in the community.”

Temte said the recommendation should be based on scientific evidence, ethics and feasibility. Considering those three factors, he said one would say prisoners would absolutely be included. He said not vaccinating the group would constitute double punishment.

See the latest health care report for more: 

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— The city of South Milwaukee is receiving a $250,000 state grant to help renovate a historic downtown property.

The money from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. will support renovations to the Bucyrus Club banquet and meeting center and museum, more than 100 years after the first Bucyrus Club opened in the building. WEDC estimates the project will be done in June. The city bought the property nearly a year ago.

“A vibrant downtown is key to a community’s overall economic health, and this renovation is expected to bring more visitors to downtown, which will benefit other businesses and the entire community,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. 

Once renovated, Skyline Catering estimates 20 to 25 new hires and aims to bring a variety of events to the building, including small community group events, wedding receptions, large corporate events and public events. The building will also be home to the South Milwaukee Industrial Museum, which plans to feature rare artifacts, models and images from the collection formerly located on the Bucyrus campus. 


# Cooperatives Pushing for Exemption to Hold Virtual Meetings

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# Lawsuit challenges Dane County’s restrictions on indoor gatherings 



– USDA to Gauge Economics of 1,350 Wisconsin Farms 

– Le Coulee Cheese Castle spreads the love for Wisconsin’s dairy industry 

– Expert: Farmers Must Take Steps to Protect from Activists 


– Biotech company anticipates filling over 100 jobs in Madison area in 2021 


– Wisconsin joins multi-state lawsuits challenging last-minute Trump rule changes on protecting clean air


– Rural Residents Are Least Likely To Say They’ll Get COVID-19 Vaccine


– Lawmakers propose bipartisan police reform bills to ban police chokeholds, increase use of force transparency


– Alone and online, Wisconsin Dems toast new president

– Champagne, Ice Cream And Tears: Wisconsinites Celebrate Biden Inauguration

– Meet The Wisconsin 8-Year-Old Speaking At The Inauguration Special

– Wisconsin lawmakers resurrect expungement bill


– Kenosha’s $400M-plus downtown revitalization moving ahead after Covid-19, civil unrest challenges 


– No dangerous protests in Madison during inauguration week, law enforcement remains prepared


– Seeing e-commerce success, Lands’ End ups fourth-quarter guidance 


– Bucks mascot Bango makes an appearance during Biden’s ‘Parade Across America’

– Milwaukee Bucks valued at $1.86B, says sports publication Sportico 


– Water-centric companies from across the globe selected for Milwaukee’s Brew 2.0 accelerator 

– Rockwell Automation closes on acquisition of Fiix Inc. 


– First look at the Lake Geneva Ice Castles 


– Illinois-based chain of collision repair centers buys Waukesha shop 

– Specialty foods distributor plans expansion of Kenosha facility 

– Study to help Milwaukee workers access Menomonee Falls jobs wins National Science Foundation grant 


– American Family Insurance invests in renewable energy startup 


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

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– AG Kaul: Joins four federal multistate lawsuits challenging attacks on clean air

– WMC: Statement on inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

– Kahler Slater and Populous: Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Marks Completion of Resch Expo

– UW-Madison: Inauguration experts available

– Main Street Alliance: Inauguration Day — Amid crisis, small businesses look to a brighter future