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Author: Wisconsin Watch

Scarce air conditioning: Milwaukee’s most at risk residents endure a lack of cooling assistance

Wisconsin’s primary energy aid program focuses mostly on winter heating, leaving few summer cooling options. A neighborhood community group is stepping up. It was only 10 a.m. and already above 80 degrees as Freda Wright slowly walked down a residential block of Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood, clutching a clipboard under one arm. Sweat beaded on her forehead as she navigated creaky front gates and porch steps during a scorching mid-July week when temperatures eclipsed 90 degrees. Most people answered their door looking wary. Wright greeted them with a smile, maybe a joke, before asking: “Do you have an older adult...

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Advocates hope Federal program to clean Great Lakes can help stretch of Mississippi River along Wisconsin

The Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative was introduced in Congress in June. It could help fight invasive species, complete restoration projects, improve water quality and protect against flood damage. Summers in Bay City when Frank and Cathy Dosdall were young revolved around Lake Pepin. The small Wisconsin village is about an hour southeast of the Twin Cities at the top edge of the 21-mile lake, the largest on the Mississippi River. Decades ago, the lake was full of people swimming, waterskiing and hopping in boats to chase waves from barges that would pass through. “Any (way) we could...

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Insecurity by design: Waukesha officials move to end universal free school meals in latest blow to families

The COVID-19 pandemic forced students to pack up their bags and switch from whiteboards to laptops. Empty schools meant empty cafeterias. Until the pandemic, Jana Goodman, a mother of three and longtime resident of Waukesha, Wisconsin, never used free school lunches. Even though she said her family was always “one broken down car away from a disaster,” her only school-age child at the time, Jacob, did not qualify for free and reduced meals. Then the pandemic sent the Goodmans’ finances into a tailspin. After 15 years in the medical field as an administrative employee, she was furloughed for most...

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Paralyzed by Hate: How a Title IX investigation of sexual harassment paralyzed a Wisconsin town

The Kiel school district’s closure of a Title IX investigation under pressure sends a “chilling message” expert says. But some residents tell LGBTQ youth “you are not alone.” On the day of the third bomb threat, a bell echoed through Kiel, Wisconsin’s empty middle school. Students had gone home days ago after the first bomb threat, and they would finish the school year virtually. Graduation ceremonies were postponed. Sports games canceled. The Memorial Day parade? Nixed. Smoky clouds hung like the pall that had enveloped the town in recent weeks. Neighbors grew suspicious of neighbors. Residents peeked out of...

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Solutions to hunger: As pandemic support fades Wisconsinites seek options to alleviate food insecure

Margaret Benton has held many roles since she moved to Wisconsin nearly 20 years ago. With eight children, two living at home and others who live close to her house in Sun Prairie, Benton juggles motherhood with three jobs. She works as a cashier at T.J. Maxx, a bistro hostess at the East Madison Marriott Hotel and a social services specialist at Tellurian Behavioral Health. Benton is also a student. After one more semester at Madison Area Technical College, she will have a liberal arts degree in human services with a minor in sociology. And there is another role...

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Audit finds Black applicants to be half as likely to receive Federal pandemic aid in Wisconsin as Whites

A federal audit has uncovered what researchers into Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance system have long suspected: People of color are less likely to receive jobless compensation than their White counterparts. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development previously said that it lacked data to know whether its systems might favor some groups over others, such as producing different outcomes around racial lines. But a June report by the Government Accountability Office — a nonpartisan watchdog that reports to Congress — found that Wisconsin was among the slowest to begin paying federal pandemic unemployment relief, and Whites received compensation at twice the...

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