July 22, 2014

Public input on net neutrality continues

Battle over bandwidth

Battle over bandwidth

Discussions over equal and open access to the Internet continue. 

Advocates of net neutrality want unrestricted, high-speed access to the Internet, something that’s been talked about for nearly a decade. Barry Orton is a professor of telecommunications at the UW – Madison. “We are now in the fourth iteration of the Federal Communications Commission trying to figure out what to do about the Internet and failing legally each time.”

Orton thinks the Internet should be treated like a utility. Net neutrality gives open and equal access to broadband for all users, but businesses like Netflix want faster speed than everyone else. “We’re really talking about speeds and service to both rural areas and particularly to non-money-making institutions. We’re talking about schools; we’re talking about libraries; we’re talking about UW campuses; we’re talking about people who are taking an online course from home.”

AUDIO: Cross says businesses like Netflix want faster speed than everyone else. . :66

Orton says if the fast lane is reserved for big businesses, the slower lane is what’s left for the less profitable businesses and individuals.

The FCC is taking a second round of public comments, responding to the first round which ended on Friday. Comments will be considered when making rules on broadband. The number of comments, to be considered when making rules later this year, reached 1,067,779 — the most ever for an FCC rule-making proceeding.

State home sales see first increase of the year

For the first time this year, the number of existing houses sold by Wisconsin Realtors was higher than the same month a year ago.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association says its members sold just over 7,700 homes statewide during June, which is 4.5 percent more than in June of 2013. The median sales price was $159,900, six-tenths of a percent more than the year before.

The group’s Dave Clark says June is typically the biggest month of the year for home sales in Wisconsin, accounting for almost 11.5 percent of all sales for the year. Clark says it’s a good sign that the housing market is headed in the right direction.

All parts of Wisconsin reported gains in sales. However, the improvement for June is still not going to completely erase reductions in sales during the first part of the year. Total home sales were down by almost five percent during the first six months of 2014.


Wisconsin weather heats up

Hot sunny day in Wisconsin (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Hot sunny day in Wisconsin (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Many parts of Wisconsin will likely see there hottest days of the year so far in the next 24 hours. The National Weather Service says temperatures statewide are expected to heat up over the next day or so.

Tod Pritchard with Wisconsin Emergency Management says that includes a heat advisory that’s in effect for Burnett, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties until nine this evening. Those areas are expected to see highs in the upper 80s and 90s, with a heat index that could climb up to around 100 degrees.

Southern parts of the state could also see similar hot temperatures by tomorrow. Pritchard says it’s a reminder that summer is less than half over, even if the weather has been relatively cool so far this year. He says “this is really that first kind of punch we’re gonna have for the summer, and we want to get folks prepared for that.”

Pritchard says that includes reminding people that they need to drink plenty of water, limit physical activity outdoors, and turn on the air conditioning if they have it at home. He also suggests checking in on elderly neighbors and family members who live alone, to make sure they are staying cool. In addition, Pritchard reminds drivers that cars can turn into a deadly furnace quickly when parked, so avoid leaving children or pets sitting inside them.

Fire damages kitchen at Fridays restaurant at Miller Park

TGI Friday's Front Row Miller Park

TGI Friday’s Front Row Miller Park

The Milwaukee Brewers say after an overnight fire in the kitchen area of Fridays restaurant at Miller Park, most of the operations and fan accommodations will be back to normal for tonight’s 7:10pm contest against the Cincinnati Reds.

A few areas sustained water damage and will not be operational until further notice.  These include Fridays Restaurant, the escalators and elevators in the left field area, the left field Loge concession stand, and the Miller Park Conference Center Meeting Rooms on the Club and Terrace Levels.

Fans who have tickets in the Fridays seating area are being contacted by the Brewers for alternate seating options.

Train derailment in Slinger prompts evacuation

Over 100 homes in the Town of Slinger had to be evacuated Sunday night, after two freight trains collided and thousands of gallons of diesel fuel was spilled.

The crash occurred near an intersection of rail lines owned by the Wisconsin and Southern and Canadian National railroads. Fire officials say three engines and ten cars jumped the tracks, while about 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from one of the engines. Two people suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Slinger Fire Chief Rick Hanke says their biggest concern was the spilled fuel from the train. No other chemicals or hazardous materials have been reported on the trains. Firefighters and hazardous materials specialists from six fire departments and the railroad are at the scene, where three locomotives and several cars are off the rails.

Residents from about 100 home in a one square mile area to the south and east of the crash site were asked to evacuate as a precaution. The Kettle Moraine Middle School was set up as an emergency shelter for those that have nowhere else to stay.