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DWD likes applications for Wisconsin Fast Forward programSubmitted: 12/23/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


PEMBINE - Democrats and Republicans in Wisconsin overwhelmingly agreed on a worker training proposal earlier this year.

The Wisconsin Fast Forward will pledge $15 million in worker training grants.

That money will help companies across the state improve the skills of their workers.

We told you about Gov. Scott Walker's visit to Wausau to call for grant applications in early November.

Since then, the due dates for the four types of grant applications have passed.

We wanted to see how the state Department of Workforce Development likes the applications it has gotten.

"We think we're going to have some really good grants. I know that we have some really good grants that have come in. We're going to go through the process right now of evaluating them and making determinations and making awards sometime next year," Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson told us.

Awards are available for manufacturers and companies in construction and customer service.

Walker highlighted worker training again at his Northern Wisconsin Economic Summit.

"The state that's most aggressively out front on worker training will be the state that leads the country, if not the world, in economic recovery. That's the one thing I hear so often. I see it in polls, but more importantly, I hear it every week," he said.

Walker believes the Fast Forward grants can be particularly effective in small towns like in the Northwoods.

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WHITE LAKE - After this week it may seem that spring is a long way off, butsome people in northern Wisconsin are still hopeful. 

People are especially hopeful in White Lake.  Village leaders put Iron Mike out on the lake on Wednesday. 

That means you can officially start guessing when the ice will melt—and when the metal-man will fall through it. 

"Norman Mike Berg is the one who came up with the idea," said Chris Oatman, a White Lake Village Board Trustee. "And Iron Mike is named after Mike Berg. And Mike was a native of White Lake and just so active in the community, for veterans and the school and so many things." 

After a 50-year hiatus, this is the second annual contest the village is hosting. Last year Iron Mike fell through on April 2. The winner got a $500 prize. Money raised from ticket sales also helps support the local VFW. 

"It's really exciting, the people really get into it," Oatman said. "The tickets are 5 dollars and basically the format for this year is you have to guess the day, and then you have to put down a time. So the closest one to the day without going over wins the prize." 

Iron Mike is one of many celebrations White Lake has this year. The village is celebrating it's centennial. The village will also have its annual Fishing Derby on Saturday as well. 

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MADISON - Fire safety rules might prevent the use of real Christmas trees in some spots.

A bill now approved by the Assembly would ensure live trees are still allowed in churches and the state Capitol rotunda.

National Fire Protection Association guidelines call for banning live Christmas trees in places where 50 people or more gather.

The guidelines also allow limited quantities of combustible vegetation....if local fire officials decide adequate safeguards are in place.

Under the bill, the state and local governments would not be allowed to prevent placement of Christmas trees in the Capitol rotunda or in a church.

Trees in the rotunda and churches would be presumed to be safe during fire inspections.

The Assembly approved the bill Tuesday evening.

Now it goes to the state Senate.

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