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Weekend Roundup: A look at how many Ukrainian refugees have resettled in Wisconsin over the past decade

A union for Colectivo Coffee workers, a new Janesville sports complex, climate change and allergies, and more

A group of Ukrainian refugees walk against a dark sky
Refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring Ukraine arrive to in Przemysl, Poland, on Feb. 27, 2022. The U.N. refugee agency says more than 4 million refugees have now fled Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, a new milestone in the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. Petr David Josek/AP Photo

President Joe Biden has recently announced the United States will welcome about 100,000 Ukranian refugees. Resettlement agencies in the state are uncertain how many may be coming to Wisconsin, though they do not expect many, PBS Wisconsin’s Will Cushman reports.

“We have no idea when this is going to all happen, which is a very bizarre thing,” Dawn Berney, executive director of Jewish Social Services of Madison, said.

Almost 20,000 refugees from Ukraine have come to the U.S. between 2012 and 2021 — just 28 of them have resettled in Wisconsin, particularly in the Fox Cities, according to state data.

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The U.S. refugee resettlement program prioritizes placing refugees with family members who are already in the country, if any. For those that doesn’t apply to, the agency will place people with similar refugee communities. Because Wisconsin hasn’t had a steady history of Ukrainian resettlement, it is unlikely the state will see many refugees in the coming months, Tami McLaughlin, director of World Relief Fox Valley, said.

But Ukrainians in Wisconsin have been at the forefront of state demonstrations against the war.

Wisconsin DHS: COVID-19 Weekly Recap

The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin is 371 as of Friday. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has confirmed 12,800 total deaths from the disease.

Nearly 61 percent of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated — 82 percent of people age 65 and older, 58 percent of children age 12 to 17 and 24 percent of children 5 to 11 years old. As of Friday, 33.5 percent have received a booster shot.

During the pandemic, if you needed a COVID-19 test, you could get one for free — even if you didn’t have insurance. That’s no longer the case everywhere.

Federal funding reimbursing clinics and hospitals for the tests and caring for uninsured patients with the virus has run out. The program handling the reimbursements stopped accepting claims last “week due to lack of sufficient funds,” according to NPR.

Funding for administering the vaccines for the uninsured is also slated to run out soon and the federal shipments of monoclonal antibody treatments to states have been cut by 35 percent.

Public health and health care experts and professionals are concerned about how the loss of funding and subsequent cuts to programs could lead to future coronavirus surges, and staff retention and training, and also continue a cycle of insufficient public health funding.

Colectivo Coffee Roasters workers are a step closer to forming a union

The National Labor Relations Board decided the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 494 was properly elected as the bargaining representative for Colectivo Coffee Roasters Inc.’s workers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week.

The ruling came after Colectivo’s owners asked the National Labor Relations Board to review a vote by workers to unionize in August.

With the board’s final decision, management is likely to begin negotiating a labor contract with its workers.

“The bold and brave workers of Colectivo Coffee really have something to celebrate after the wonderful news out of Washington, D.C.,” Local 494 Business Manager Dean Warsh told the newspaper.

Colectivo has around 500 employees. It operates a roasting facility in Riverwest and cafes in Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago.

Janesville City Council OKs purchase of Sears building for possible sports complex location

The Janesville City Council voted 5-2 Monday to direct the city to negotiate buying the former Sears building at the Janesville mall for $1 — in addition to about $6,000 in closing costs — as a possible location for a sports complex.

The 100,000-square-foot building facing a main thoroughfare and close to the interstate is being eyed as the location for a new multi-use sports center and convention space.

According to the Janesville Gazette, the vote gives the city control over the property and allows the city to begin the design phase that will determine how much it will cost to prep the space and build the Woodman’s Community Center, which could have a two-sheet ice arena.

The Gazette also reports the agreement makes it possible for the city to transfer ownership of the building back to the mall’s owner, RockStep Capital, if the city decides to not move forward with the project — which has been a talking point in the community for years.

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Manchester City to face Bayern Munich in a soccer match this summer at Lambeau

A different kind of football is taking to Lambeau Field this summer.

FC Bayern Munich of Germany and Manchester City Football Club of England — two of the best soccer teams in the world — will face off in July in a preseason exhibition match in Green Bay. The event will mark the first soccer match at Lambeau Field.

Major details like ticket prices and the game time have yet to be announced, but details are expected mid-April.

Fitzgerald, Johnson propose bail study after parade deaths

U.S. Rep. Scott Fitzgerald and Sen. Ron Johnson are proposing a bill that would require the U.S. Department of Justice to study how courts across the country impose bail and release conditions on suspects charged with violent offenses.

The Wisconsin Republicans announced the bill Monday. They said the measure is needed after Darrell Brooks Jr. allegedly drove his SUV through a Christmas parade in Waukesha in November, killing six people and injuring dozens more.

Brooks had been released from jail in Milwaukee two days earlier after posting $1,000 bail for allegedly trying to run over his ex-girlfriend.

Fitzgerald and Johnson said the bill would bring transparency to the bail system and help people understand how often violent offenders are released.

Climate crisis worsens allergy season across US

Some portions of the U.S. are already well into allergy season, and if you think that’s early — it is.

The Washington Post reports pollen season across the country is happening earlier and with more intensity compared to decades ago because of climate change.

The Midwest and Southeast portions of the U.S. have been the most affected, the Post said. On average, pollen season was 20 days longer, and pollen concentrations were 21 percent greater, over the past 30 years.

“When we look at what’s driving a lot of the duration in season change, temperature plays a big role,” Allison Steiner, co-author of the study and an atmospheric scientist at the University of Michigan, told the Post.

Warmer temperatures mean longer growing seasons, which can impact the allergy season. And, warmer temperatures encourage plants to produce more pollen. The Post said more carbon dioxide means plants might produce more pollen in the process of photosynthesis.

“What (this study) really highlights is how much climate policy and tackling climate change matters,” William Anderegg, a plant ecologist at the University of Utah, told the Post. “Just by moving from a high emissions scenario to a moderate emissions scenario, we can avoid about half of the changes in pollen season severity.”

Editor’s note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.