FRI AM News: WisBusiness: the Podcast with Debby Jackson of the Transportation Development Association; Seven Wisconsin cheeses included in top 20 in WCMA contest

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Debby Jackson, executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin. 

She provides an overview on the federal infrastructure dollars coming to Wisconsin, touching on funding for roads and bridges, public transportation, ports and waterways, airports, rail and more. 

Jackson also shares her thoughts on how the state can leverage these funds to boost resiliency, innovation and growth in the state’s transportation system. Aside from the known funding coming through the formula programs, she also touches on discretionary grant programs with “sizable dollars” attached. 

“They cover anything from port improvements to multi-modal projects, to ways in which we can make our infrastructure more resilient, but we don’t know what Wisconsin’s share of that will be,” she said. “We have to apply to the right program, and we have to make our case. And these programs, my guess, will be competitive. So we will have to make a good case.” 

She explained the majority of transportation maintenance, operations and capital expenditures are funded with state and local dollars. While the federal funding coming down the pipeline is expected to make a difference, she noted that it “plays a relatively smaller role” in transportation funding. 

Still, she said “this is absolutely needed money; it’s going to allow us to address the backlog of maintenance and repair that is so well-documented in Wisconsin.” 

But she added the federal funding “is not going to be a silver bullet,” arguing it should be seen as “an opportunity for Wisconsin to step forward and build on this increased federal funding towards a longer term solution for Wisconsin transportation funding.” 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See a full list of podcasts: 

— Seven of the top 20 finalists in the 2022 World Championship Cheese Contest were made by Wisconsin producers.

That’s out of 2,978 entries in this year’s contest, a release from the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association shows. During a livestream yesterday, the WCMA announced a gruyere made by Gourmino AG of Switzerland as the 2022 World Champion Cheese. 

The decision came after several days of judging, involving dozens of cheese experts from around the world. The cheesemaker responsible for the winning cheese, Michael Spycher, is now a three-time world champion. 

See the list of the top 20 cheeses: 

See more details in a release: 

See a recent story on the contest: 

— State officials are warning Wisconsin residents to protect themselves from identity theft following a T-Mobile data breach last year. 

A joint release from the state Department of Justice and DATCP notes the August 2021 data breach impacted 53 million people, including 434,555 state residents. Compromised information included names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses. 

According to the release, a “large subset” of this information was found to be on sale through illicit websites. And many impacted people have reportedly received alerts through identity theft protection services that their information was found online following the breach. 

DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski says the agency is concerned about the impact on state residents. 

“We urge people to take immediate steps to determine whether you have been a victim of ID theft and to take measures to protect your identity,” he said in a release. 

Recommendations from the agencies include using credit monitoring services, enacting a credit freeze and placing a fraud alert on credit reports. 

See the release: 

— The Public Service Commission has approved an application from an Xcel Energy subsidiary to remove and rebuild two aging transmission lines in northern Wisconsin and Michigan. 

The application, from Northern States Power Company – Wisconsin, involves removing and rebuilding two transmission lines in Ashland and Ironwood, Mich. Rather than rebuilding the line along the current corridor, the project will rebuild both lines along a new route approved by the PSC.

“It appears from the evidence on the record that this is the most appropriate way to ensure reliability and the ability to serve increased load coming down in the future,” PSC Chair Rebecca Cameron Valcq said yesterday during an open meeting. 

The relocation will remove about 35 miles of existing lines and rebuild about 47 miles of new lines. One of the lines was built in 1952, while the other was built in 1976. 

In approving the project, commissioners agreed the project won’t “unreasonably” interfere with land use and development plans for the area in question. Valcq noted the applicants have worked extensively with land owners, municipalities and tribal nations in creating the proposed routes. 

Commissioners highlighted both the company’s efforts in working with stakeholders and the complexity and time involved with getting this project approved and completed. 

“From the record, the first letter that I saw was 2014, and if this proceeds at the pace that it’s expected to, the last line will be removed in 2028,” said Commissioner Tyler Huebner. “The complexity, the length of time that it’s taken to get here, the length of time it’s going to take to proceed and actually do this project … is immense.” 

See project details: 

— The Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform approved on a 3-2 party line vote a bill that would shield health care providers from retaliation for expressing their professional opinions.

The bill would establish the right for health care providers to voice their opinions on health or medical information or guidance.

Under the bill, any examining board or affiliated credentialing board in the Department of Safety and Professional Services would be prohibited from retaliating, discriminating or taking adverse action against, denying, suspending, limiting or revoking a credential to, a health care provider for expressing their opinions.

See the bill:

— COVID-19 hospitalizations are declining in all regions of the state, Department of Health Services data show. 

Between Feb. 16 and March 1, COVID-19 patient hospitalizations were declining by between 16 and 39 percent across the seven regions highlighted on the DHS site. Statewide hospital capacity figures have improved as well. 

As of March 1, 25.9 percent of hospitals in Wisconsin were at peak capacity. That’s down from 60.4 percent in December 2021. The percentage of hospitals with ICUs at peak capacity has declined from 78.3 percent to 47 percent over the same period, and the percentage of hospitals with medical surgical units at peak capacity has fallen from 61.5 percent to 34.1 percent. 

Meanwhile, case activity across most Wisconsin counties continues to decline. Just six counties remain in the “very high” category, while the rest of the state is in the “high” category, showing continual improvement. 

The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases has fallen to 560, marking the lowest it’s been since late July 2021. And the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has fallen to 487, including 94 ICU patients, the Wisconsin Hospital Association dashboard shows. 

See the latest case numbers here: 

See the WHA dashboard: 

— James Thomson, a renowned UW-Madison scientist who derived the first human embryonic stem cell line in 1998, has announced plans to retire in July. 

Over his 30 years with the university, Thomson has made a number of breakthroughs that contributed to the field of stem cell science. 

In 1995, he derived stem cells from nonhuman primates for the first time. In 1998, he isolated stem cell lines from human embryos, leading to a global scientific movement and a hotly debated ethical issue within the United States. He was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in 2001 for this work, for which he is most well known. 

And in 2007 he discovered adult pluripotent stem cells, using adult skin cells to derive stem cells that can be differentiated into other cell types. 

Building on his efforts, thousands of stem cell researchers are exploring their use to treat and reverse conditions including blindness, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and more. The cell lines derived at his lab are still in use by scientists around the world. 

See more on his work here: 

See the release: 


# Wisconsin farms are feeling the squeeze of a tight labor market

# Wisconsin woman fights to expand coverage for breast screenings

# Pentair to acquire Manitowoc Ice in $1.6 billion deal



– Class III milk price rises to $20.91 for February


– Future of Zoe Bayliss Co-op in limbo amid UW-Madison construction

– Crews at work on Hy-Vee-owned property in Janesville


– Despite oil price surge, analysts don’t expect resurgence of Wisconsin frac sand industry


– CALS short course program to make major formatting changes

– State agriculture students earn Washington Leadership Conference scholarships

– As Wisconsin schools drop mask mandates, students are excited — and worried

– Research in the Rotunda: UW-La Crosse students to share top projects


– Summit Credit Union to acquire Commerce State Bank


– Lupi & Iris fine dining restaurant sets opening date at 7Seventy7

– New restaurant at Turner Hall aims to ‘eliminate risk’ of entrepreneurship through teaching kitchen

– Want some of the best cheese in the world? Check out these Wisconsin cheesemakers


– How Milwaukee entrepreneur went from startup star to agreement to plead guilty


– Pentair to acquire Manitowoc Ice in $1.6 billion deal

– New products help power Milwaukee Tool’s nearly 41% revenue surge in 2021


– Milwaukee Tool’s downtown rehab encounters $4 million snag during employee move-in

– Former spine surgeon sells Pewaukee lakefront mansion for $4.76 million


– 2 Wisconsin curlers competing at 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing


– Marcus Corp. sees profitability across both divisions in fourth quarter

– Bob Babisch, Summerfest’s longtime talent buyer, transitioning to consulting role

– Waterford Balloonfest to rise again this summer


– Throughout state, industry sees opportunity in infrastructure bill’s outlays for electrical vehicles


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

Bayland Buildings, Inc.: McKey Perforating announces facility expansion

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association: Swiss Gruyere wins second consecutive World Champion Cheese title