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Volume 4 , Issue 49, Apr 25, 2022
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce


May 20 Eggs & Issues: Tackling our Child Care Challenges

Child care has been increasingly cited as one of the most difficult workforce challenges for parents and employers in today's economy. At this edition of Eggs & Issues, we'll learn more about the local Chippewa Valley Child Care Task Force as it works to understand the scope of the problem, define the core issues, and identify potential innovations and policy changes needed to move towards solutions.

 • Friday May 20, 7:00-8:30 a.m., Pablo Center or online via Perigon
    Click here for details and to register

In this issue:

 • "Start With Yes" is theme of Altoona's "State of the City" address

 • Sonnentag ground breaking on Monday

 • Smiar over Pagonis by one vote for County Board Chair

 • Berge elected City Council Vice President

 • "Empower Eau Claire" participatory budgeting voting begins Apr 26

 • Eau Claire School Board approves labor contract

 • EC jobless rate drops to 3.3%, home prices continue to climb

 • Manydeeds won't seek reelection as UW Regents Chair

 • May 5 event at UWEC: "Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse"

 • COVID-19 updates 

 • Mark your calendar
 • Public meetings
Note on article links: A subscription is required for those marked with "$"
Publications known to have article limits for non-subscribers are marked with "+"


Eggs & Issues: "Start With Yes" is theme of Altoona's

annual "State of the City" address

  The April 21st edition of Eggs & Issues featured the state of the city of Altoona address, given by Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt and Altoona City Administrator Mike Golat. They discussed Altoona’s collaboration efforts, events, and economic development over the last year. Click here to continue reading...

Additional coverage:

Altoona plans more commercial, residential development (WEAU 13 News)

Altoona freshman wins Altoona's Got Heart Award for inspiring others (WQOW News 18)


Sonnentag Center ground breaking is Monday

Partners also commit an additional $12 million for sustainability

   John and Carolyn Sonnentag, $70 million donors to the $100.6 million project, will be on hand late this Monday morning as ground is broken along Menomonie Street for the County Materials Complex.

    The event marks an important milestone as construction begins on the John and Carolyn Sonnentag Fieldhouse and Event Center, the largest public recreation facility in northwest Wisconsin, as well as the site for the Mayo Clinic Health System Diagnostic Imaging and Sports Medicine Clinic, and a new SpringHill Suites by Marriott to be developed by the Pablo Group. The center is expected to be open by the spring of 2024. Others participating in the ground breaking will include representatives of the Blugold Real Estate Foundation, the Eau Claire City Council, the Pablo Group, the Pablo Foundation, Mayo Clinic, the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate, UW-Eau Claire, and the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.

   Last week, several project partners - including the Pablo Foundation, UW-Eau Claire, its students, the City of Eau Claire, and Xcel Energy - announced an additional investment of more than $12 million to reduce the complex’s carbon footprint and to ensure it can be powered by up to 100% carbon-free energy sources.

More information:

SONNENTAG CENTER GOES GREEN: $12M Pledged Toward UWEC Facility’s Sustainability (Volume One)

Groups put $12M toward sustainable features for Sonnentag project (Leader-Telegram $)

Pablo Group Unveils Plans for Hotel Next to Sonnentag Center (Volume One)

New Student Sustainability Resource Center opens its doors (UWEC)


Smiar over Pagonis by one vote for County Board Chair

Close votes for First- and Second-Vice Chair offices

   In a close 15-14 vote last Tuesday, County Board Supervisor Nick Smiar (Dist 15, Eau Claire) was reelected to another two-year term as Board Chair over Supervisor Stella Pagonis (Dist 4, Altoona). Smiar, a retired UWEC professor, has been a member of the Board since 2010 and Chair since 2018. Pagonis, an attorney, has been on the Board for 16 years and has Chaired the Budget and Finance Committee.

   Tuesday's County Board Organizational Meeting also saw 15-14 margins with Supervisor Nancy Coffey elected First Vice Chair over Supervisor Steve Chilson and Supervisor Jerry Wilkie elected Second Vice Chair over Supervisor Judy Gatlin. Coffey has been on the County Board since 2018, and Wilkie since 1986.

   Following the April 5 election, there are 11 new faces on the 29 member Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors, after seven incumbents retired and four were defeated in contested races. In total, 21 of the 29 races were contested.

More information:

Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors

Eau Claire County Board District Representatives

County Board Districts map

Eleven new supervisors elected to EC County Board (Leader-Telegram $)

April 5 local election results (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

Smiar reelected EC County Board chair (Leader-Telegram $)


Berge elected EC City Council Vice President 

Regular City Council Meeting on Tuesday this week

   At its organizational meeting last Tuesday, the Eau Claire City Council unanimously chose 1st Ward Council Member Emily Berge as its new Vice President. Berge was first elected to the Council in 2018 and reelected in 2021. She succeeds Catherine Emmanuelle, who did not seek reelection as an At-Large Council Member this year. The City Council chooses its Vice President each spring. The City Council President position, currently held by Terry Weld, is elected directly by the voters every three years and will be up in 2023.

   At last week's meeting, the Council also chose Council Members for appointment to Boards, Commissions, and Committees. Council Members who will serve on the Plan Commission are Jill Christopherson and Charlie Johnson; the Visit Eau Claire Board: Kate Beaton and Larry Mboga; Waterways and Parks Commission: Emily Anderson and Kate Beaton; Redevelopment Authority: Emily Berge; Housing Opportunities Commission: Charlie Johnson; Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission: Jeremy Gragert. See page 15 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below for the complete list of assignments.

   The election brought three new members to the Council, since incumbent At-Large Council Members Catherine Emmanuelle, Jon Lor, and Dave Klinkhammer did not seek reelection. The new set of five At-Large members includes incumbents Kate Beaton and Rod Jones, who were reelected, and newcomers Larry Mboga, Joshua Miller, and Charlie Johnson. 

No Public Hearing Monday, Legislative Session on Tuesday

   This is a regular meeting week for the City Council. However, there will not be a Monday Evening Public Hearing, since there are no items on Tuesday's Legislative Session agenda requiring public comment. 

   On Tuesday, the Business Agenda includes a resolution and related agreement authorizing the City Manager to enter into a Community Development Investment Grant Agreement with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in order to receive a $250,000 grant award on behalf of the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire new site project (see pages 141-163). It also includes 12 utility easements for TDS Telecom as it installs its planned fiber optic network in the city (pages 49-125), and a $5.6 million bid package related to completion of the transit portion of the Transit Center currently under construction (pages 22-27).

More information:   

Eau Claire City Council

• Monday, Apr 25, Public Hearing (canceled)

• Tuesday, Apr 26, 4 p.m. Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (171 pages)

Link to videos of city meetings (City of Eau Claire)
Contact information: City Council members (City of Eau Claire)

Eau Claire City Council chooses Berge as vice president (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire to approve final $5.6 million package of transfer center bids (Leader-Telegram $)

Welcome reception held for new Eau Claire City Manager (WEAU 13 News)


"Empower Eau Claire" participatory budgeting voting to begin

   City of Eau Claire residents will have the chance to vote between April 26 and May 13 to decide which of 14 nominated projects will share in $300,000 the City Council allocated in its capital budget for its participatory budgeting project known as "Empower Eau Claire."

   "Empower Eau Claire is a democratic process in which residents provide project ideas and vote on the best projects that serve the community," according to the City's project website. "Program goals are to increase civic empowerment, equity, diversity, inclusion, sustainability, and transparency."

   The 14 finalist projects were selected from those proposed through meetings with city residents late last year, then underwent a process to evaluate them for practicality and impact. Voting will be open to all City residents 6th grade on up.

More information:

Empower Eau Claire ballot access and projects preview (City of Eau Claire)

14 proposals compete for $300,000 from Eau Claire city government (Leader-Telegram $)

Public voting for Eau Claire participatory budgeting program begins (WQOW News 18)


EC School Board approves union agreement

   The Eau Claire Board of Education last week approved its Master Agreement with the Eau Claire Association of Educators, which includes a 4.7% base wage increase for its members. The Board also approved several items related to human resources for the summer and coming school year, including giving the Executive Directors of Human Resources and Business Services the additional authority related to hiring, retirements, leaves of absence and recall from layoff. 

More information:

Eau Claire Board of Education

 • Monday, Apr 18, Agenda packet

EC school board ratifies ECAE agreement, authorizes staff changes (Leader-Telegram $)

EC Virtual School is here to stay as pandemic eases (Leader-Telegram $)

Police: California man sent email threat to EC school board president (Leader-Telegram $)


Continued evidence of tight local labor, housing markets

Unemployment rate drops to 3.3%, home prices up 15.6%

   New reports continue to show tight local labor and housing markets, with the Eau Claire metro jobless rate dropping to just 3.3%, with home prices continuing to increase due to short supply and strong demand. In Eau Claire County, low inventories contributed to a 9.2% decrease in home sales over March 2021, but the median price was up 15.6% to $260,000.

More information:

March 2022 Home Sales Report (Wisconsin Realtors Association)

Home sales not keeping pace in state, region, Eau Claire County (Leader-Telegram $)

BLS Data: Wisconsin's Unemployment Rate in March Reaches Record Low 2.8 Percent (DWD)

Eau Claire metro's jobless rate dips to 3.3% (Leader-Telegram $)

Fewest Americans collecting jobless aid since 1970 (AP)

Wisconsin workers see apprenticeships as solution to labor shortage (The Cap Times)

Worker shortage has Wisconsin manufacturers’ poach from Illinois (The Center Square)


More local news:


City of Eau Claire 2022 construction projects (City of Eau Claire)


New multi-language welcome sign unveiled; Hmong Wisconsin Chamber to collaborate with Eau Claire Chamber (WQOW News 18)


Chippewa Falls Council exploring $2 million referendum (Leader-Telegram $)


UW-Stout names Assistant Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (UW-Stout)


Wisconsin Farmers Union purchases downtown CF building (Leader-Telegram $)

Wisconsin Farmers Union making big plans for newly acquired historic building (WQOW News 18)


Facing Violent Threats and Abuse, State and Local Officials Are Calling It Quits (Route 50)


Manydeeds won't seek reelection as UW Regents Chair

   Eau Claire attorney Ed Manydeeds, who has served for the past year as Chair of the UW System Board of Regents, informed his fellow Regents last week that he doesn't plan to seek reelection as the Board Chair when his term in up in June.

   Manydeeds said his decision is based upon needing to spend more time with his law practice. He said he is supporting Karen Walsh, current Board Vice President, to be his successor. Manydeeds was appointed by Governor Tony Evers to a Board term that continues until 2026.

More information:

Manydeeds won’t seek reelection as Regents president, backs Walsh to succeed him (WisPolitics.com)

UW Regents President Manydeeds won't seek reelection as board leader (Wisconsin State Journal +)


May 5: "Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse"

Drs. Cornel West and Robert George at UWEC presented by Menard Center for Constitutional Studies

   Two well known national political figures with very different views will be featured in a free May 5 event at UW-Eau Claire. The "Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse with Cornel West and Robert George" event will begin at 7 p.m. May 5 in the Ojibwe Grand Ballroom of Davies Center.

   UW-EC's Menard Center for Constitutional Studies will host the event, which will be a moderated conversation with a time for questions and answers. Dr. Eric Kasper, professor of political science and director of the Menard Center for Constitutional Studies, will moderate the conversation.

   "We are proud to host Drs. West and George on UW-Eau Claire's campus," Kasper says. "Despite their differences, both are champions of the freedom of expression and open inquiry. Through shared public events such as the one on our campus, these two longtime friends remind us that people with divergent views can have honest, thoughtful and respectful conversations about critical political and cultural issues."

More information:

Event registration link (Free, but advance registration required)

'Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse' topic of May 5 event at UW-Eau Claire (UWEC)

SPEAKING FREELY: Colleagues from Right, Left to Promote Civil Dialog at UWEC May 5 event (Volume One)

UW-EC event to focus on freedom of expression, civil discourse (Leader-Telegram $)


More state and regional news:


Republican Tim Michels registers 2022 gubernatorial campaign (Wisconsin State Journal +)


Westlund announces candidacy for Wisconsin Senate (Superior Telegram +)


Van Orden leads district in campaign fundraising, Pfaff leads Dems (La Crosse Tribune +)


What’s Driving the Great Resignation Among Legislators? (Governing)


As he keeps tabs on public workers, Gableman contends Milwaukee employee is a Democrat because she plays video games, wears nose ring (Journal-Sentinel +)

'Weird nose ring ... loves nature': Michael Gableman memo characterizes election workers as Democrats (Wisconsin State Journal +)

Judge orders Wisconsin investigator to stop deleting records (AP)


Wisconsin prioritized supporting small businesses, public health when allocating federal funds (BizTimes)


2021-22 Session Ends With 267 New Laws, Record-Breaking 126 Vetoes (Hamilton Consulting)


Gov. Evers Celebrates Earth Day, Signs Executive Order Creating the Office of Environmental Justice (Office of the Governor)


Pedestrian deaths are rising in Wisconsin as well as nationally (WPR)


Amtrak to restore four long-distance trains - including Empire Builder across WI - to daily service in late May (Trains.com)


Despite Massive Influx, Wisconsin Lagged Most States in Pandemic Aid (Wisconsin Policy Forum)


Big Telecom Companies Want Millions From State (Urban Milwaukee)


Tax day brings dueling messages in Wisconsin (The Center Square)


SoftwareONE to move U.S. HQ from Waukesha County to Milwaukee’s Third Ward (BizTimes)


Hy-Vee ditches plans for stores in West St. Paul, Farmington, three other cities (Pioneer Press +)


National news:


Powell says taming inflation ‘absolutely essential,’ and a 50 basis point hike possible for May (CNBC)


Canceling student loan debt 'still on the table,' White House says (Fox Business)


Former Sen. Orrin Hatch, longest-serving GOP US senator, dies at 88 (CNN)


Yellen says Biden will press Congress for more economic aid to Ukraine (Politico)


Why Are So Many Flights Getting Canceled Lately? (Conde Nast Traveler)


Macron defeats Le Pen to win re-election in France (Axios)


Food for thought:


Don’t Get Numb (Jay Nordlinger, National Review)

"The news rushes by, and, if you’re like me, you glance at headlines, only occasionally reading an article through. You get the gist. There are only so many hours in a day. And when it comes to Ukraine, what is there to know? Bombardment, murder, displacement, horror. It all blends together. You may get a little numb." Click here to read the full column...


COVID-19 Updates 

TSA will not enforce Covid mask mandate on planes, public transit after court ruling, White House says (CNBC)

Eau Claire Transit no longer requires face masks (Leader-Telegram $)

COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Wisconsin (WPR)


COVID-19 Resources: 
COVID-19 Symptoms & Testing (EC City-County Health Department)
Local COVID-19 Testing Sites (EC City-County Health Department)
Interactive COVID Data Tracker (CDC)
COVID-19: Staying Safe in Your Community (EC City-County Health Dept.)
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub 
Eau Claire weekly COVID Situation Report 
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Vaccination Page 
Metrics Dashboard
Chippewa Valley COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force


Mark your calendar:


Business at the Gardens

• Tuesday, May 17, The Florian Gardens


Eggs & Issues: Tackling Our Child Care Challenges

• Friday, May 20, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


Eggs & Issues: Energy Issues

• Friday, June 17, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


"Eau What A Night:" The Chamber's 108th Annual Meeting

 • Wednesday, January 25, 2023, Pablo Center


29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

 • Wednesday, February 22, 2023, Madison


Next up on the public calendar:


Wisconsin Political Calendar (WisPolitics.com)


Partisan Primary
US Senate (Tammy Baldwin seat), Congress, State Senate (odd # districts) Assembly, Governor , Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, County Sherriff, County Clerk of Court

 • Wed, Jun 1, Filing deadline for primary (Wisconsin Elections Commission)

 • Tuesday, Aug 9, Primary Election


Congressional & Legislative Maps

Wisconsin Congressional Maps (Dave's Redistricting)

Wisconsin Legislative District Maps (Wisconsin Legislature)


General Election
 • Tuesday, November 8


City of Altoona City calendar (with links to agendas)
Meeting and video links
Mayor and City Council Members

 • Monday, April 25, 6 p.m. Parks & Recreation

 • Thursday, April 28 6 p.m. City Council

 • Tuesday, May 10, 1 p.m. Housing Authority 

 • Tuesday, May 10, 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing

 •  Tuesday, May 10, 5:30 p.m. City Council

 • Thursday, May 12, 6:05 p.m. Public Hearing


City of Eau Claire Full calendar  
City Council Members (City of Eau Claire)
Link to video recordings of city meetings (City of Eau Claire)

 • Monday, April 25, 7 p.m. City Council Public Hearing - Canceled

 • Tuesday, April 26, 4 p.m. City Council Legislative Session

 • Monday, May 2, 4:30 p.m. Landmarks Commission

 • Monday, May 2, 7 p.m. Plan Commission 

 • Monday, May 9, 7 p.m. City Council Public Hearing

 • Tuesday, May 10, 4 p.m. City Council Legislative Session

 • Tuesday, May 10, 7 p.m. Zoning Board of Appeals 

 • Wednesday, May 11, 5 p.m. Housing Opportunities Commission


City of Augusta

City website
Village of Fall Creek
Village Board


Town of Washington
Town website
Altoona School District
Altoona School Board

• Monday, Apr 25, 6:30 p.m.

Eau Claire Area School District
Board of Education


Augusta School District 
Augusta School Board


Fall Creek School District 
School Board


Chippewa Valley Technical College
District Board


Eau Claire County Full calendar

County Board District Maps
County Board District Representative 

Link to recordings of past meetings 

 • Monday, April 25, 2 p.m. Chippewa St.Croix Passenger Rail Commission

 • Tuesday, April 26, 7 p.m. Committee on Planning & Development

 • Tuesday, May 2, 7 p.m. County Board of Supervisors

 • Wednesday, May 4, p.m. Highway Building Committee

 • Monday, May 9, 3 p.m. ADRC Board

 • Monday, May 9, 5 p.m. Committee on Park & Forest

 • Tuesday, May 10, 7 p.m. Committee on Planning & Development


Thanks for reading this issue of Business Advocate. If you have comments or questions, contact Scott Rogers, Vice President Governmental Affairs, at 715-858-0616 or rogers@eauclairechamber.org 

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