News from the home cities and states of the Big Ten:
WISCONSIN: Faculty at UW-Eau Claire, UW-Superior form unions
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Faculty at University of Wisconsin campuses in Eau Claire and Superior are the first academic workers to form unions in the state.
UW-Eau Claire faculty members voted 233-87 in an election that ended Wednesday to be represented by AFT-Wisconsin, a statewide labor union. Their colleagues at UW-Superior voted overwhelmingly last week to join AFT-Wisconsin, too.
The votes come after Gov. Jim Doyle signed a provision in the budget last year giving nearly 20,000 UW system faculty and academic staff collective bargaining rights for the first time.
AFT-Wisconsin President Bryan Kennedy said it will take many months for each campus to negotiate their first contracts with the Board of Regents spelling out wages, benefits and working conditions.
WISCONSIN: Madison tests rigs to reduce algae in lakes
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Madison will launch a test project in June to see whether boom-like structures can cut down on the sometimes toxic algae that covers parts of lakes Monona and Mendota during the summer, causing beach closures and endangering swimmers.
BB Clarke beach on the Near East Side and Bernies beach on the south shore of Monona Bay will have geotextile fabric barriers placed near or around their swimming areas in an attempt to keep algae out.
The two beaches were closed for a combined 63 days from 2005 to 2009 due to growth of blue-green algae, according to Public Health Madison and Dane County. It can be toxic to people and animals.
"Our objective is how can we direct or move these (algae) scums away from our beaches," said John Reimer, who is helping lead the project for the city's Engineering Division.
The project, in conjunction with the Parks Division and the UW-Madison Center for Limnology, also includes placing a similar barrier about 100 feet into Lake Mendota near the Center for Limnology in attempt to catch algae before it travels down system and into Lake Monona.
The project will run through the summer and, if successful, could be expanded to other Madison beaches, Reimer said.
WISCONSIN: Osseo couple use new mascot law
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – An Osseo couple took advantage of a new state law on school mascots the first day it took effect.
The law lets opponents of a school district's American Indian mascot name to lodge a complaint with the state superintendent.
That's exactly what Carol and Harvey Gunderson did Thursday. They delivered a thick binder containing 550 pages of research and affidavits to the Department of Public Instruction office in Madison. The Gundersons filed their complaint against the Osseo-Fairchild Chieftains.
A DPI spokesman says the district will be notified of the complaint within 10 days. If the DPI finds a mascot to be racially offensive, a district can be fined up to $1,000 for every day it continues using it.
MICHIGAN: University gets $4.3 million for nuclear research
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – The University of Michigan is getting five federal grants totaling more than $4.3 million for nuclear research.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Nuclear Energy University Program grants announced Thursday will be used for research and development of advanced reactors and ways to reduce and mitigate nuclear waste.
Democratic Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan said in a statement the grants will help the U.S. meet its energy needs.
The grants were among 42 projects totaling $38 million that were announced nationwide.
IOWA: Faculty tour southeastern Iowa
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Faculty members from the University of Iowa have embarked on a tour of the southeastern part of the state in an effort to learn more about areas outside of the Iowa City campus.
Last week's trip is called Faculty Engagement Corps and it's the fifth annual trip to a different region of Iowa. This year's two-day tour will take 16 faculty members to Fort Madison, Burlington and Columbus Junction. The group visited a Siemens Energy plant and met with community leaders in Burlington and visited schools in Columbus Junction and Southeastern Community College. The trips started in 2006.
IOWA: Man arrested in ATM scam
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Iowa City police say an ATM scam may have netted more than $25,000 for a Chicago-area man and from 10 to 20 accomplices in Linn and Johnson counties.
According to criminal complaints, 23-year-old Thomas Harris, whose exact address is unknown, used checks from closed bank accounts in his scheme.
Police say Harris was able to obtain ATM cards and personal identification numbers from various people by promising them half the take.
Investigator Mike Smithey says that after the money was fraudulently withdrawn from the accounts, the cards were reported as stolen, making the banks the sole victims in the scheme.
Smithey says Harris, who goes by several aliases, has been charged with first-degree theft, money laundering, and ongoing criminal conduct. He is being held in the Johnson County Jail on $45,000 bond.