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Wisconsin roundup: Dredging underway on Mississippi River; more state news stories

Dredging operations are already underway on the flood-swollen Mississippi River.

The dredging manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the St. Paul district says the work couldn't be put off. Dan Cottrell says it started April 29. So far, 160,000 cubic yards of sediment has been removed — toward an ultimate goal of 1.1 million cubic yards. No official word on how long the operation will take, but the federal agency has set aside $29 million to pay for the work.

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Democrats complain they weren’t consulted about security study

Democratic lawmakers say they weren't given advance notice before the Joint Finance Committee gave its approval to a security study at the state Capitol.

They say Madison police weren't notified either. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, wondered how they can oppose looking at ways to improve safety in a building that sees so many visitors. Democrats suggested an examination of the Capitol policy to allow some firearms on the premises.

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Cheese buyers from 5 Middle Eastern countries coming to Wis.

Nearly a dozen cheese buyers from five Middle Eastern countries are coming to Wisconsin this month for an international buyers mission.

The buyers from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Lebanon and Qatar will experience Wisconsin’s dairy industry through tours of cheese making plants and dairy farms and, meetings with industry leaders, and a mini-trade show. There was a similar event last year that state agriculture officials called "a success." Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin CEO Chad Vincent said, "we need to expand international market access for Wisconsin dairy and generate growth in a challenging industry while showing everyone that Wisconsin leads the nation and world for farmers, farming and dairy.”

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USA Today ranks Wisconsin’s cheese curds

USA Today is out with its vote for best cheese curds in Wisconsin.

Its readers ranked the Old Fashioned in Madison as having the state's top cheese curd. The Old Fashioned serves its curds with house-made Wisconsin beer batter with a choice of dips. The Curd Girl food cart from the Dane County Farmers market took second place. Twenty restaurants from across the state were nominated. Others that made the top 10 are Main Street Taps in Stevens Point, Grumpy Troll Brew Pub in Mount Horeb, Eddie Whipp's Dining Hall in Green Bay, Sconni's Alehous & Eatery in Schofield, Crawfish Junction in Johnson Creek, Chuck's Dyckesville Bowl in Luxemburg, Pioneer Keg in Theresa, and Kristi's Restaurant in New Glarus.

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Crowd rallies against idea of putting youth prison in Hortonia

Dozens of people living in a small Outagamie County community say the decision to build a youth prison there was made too quickly.

Many of those who signed petitions, then showed up for a weekend rally, say the prison would bring more crime to Hortonia, town of about 1,100 people northwest of Appleton. They're most angry because the Wisconsin Department of Corrections chose the location without discussing it with Hortonia town officials first. A spokesperson for the Citizens for the Preservation of Hortonia Committee says they have 600 signatures on petitions. Supporters of the prison idea point out it would mean good-paying jobs for the area.

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Task force working on how to reduce student loan debt

The Student Loan Refinancing Task Force plans to hold at least three more roundtable meetings before passing on recommendations to the governor next year.

The task force met in La Crosse this week, hearing from people who are saddled with student loan debt. Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski told the group she had $75,000 in student loan debt at 9 percent interest. Task force members say the average Wisconsin student has $30,000 in student loan debt when they graduate.

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Suspect accused of gun possession at UW-Madison arboretum

University of Wisconsin-Madison police say a 24-year-old Sun Prairie man was booked into the Dane County Jail after an incident involving a gun.

Officers say Lue Lee "displayed the gun in the direction of a victim" after a road rage incident. He was taken into custody in Sun Prairie. Lee is facing a tentative charge of disorderly conduct. University police were involved because Lee reportedly had the gun inside the arboretum on the Madison campus.

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