News Briefs

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Century-old crumbling Eau Claire mausoleum to be dismantled

Eau Claire (AP) — A crumbling century-old mausoleum in Eau Claire is considered a safety hazard and will be dismantled.

The tomb at Forest Hill Cemetery houses the remains of 17 people. It was built into the side of a hill in the late 1800s.

Phil Fieber, director of the Eau Claire Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, said the roof is sagging dangerously.

He noticed the building was falling apart two years ago. He tried to find living family members to contribute toward rebuilding the mausoleum.

Only one relative was found. That person didn’t want to rebuild the mausoleum, and gave permission to cremate the deceased.

Fieber said the plan is to have a medical examiner identify the bodies, then cremate them and bury them where the mausoleum stands.

Major Fox River PCB cleanup ready to start in May

Green Bay (AP) — A major effort to clean up the Fox River is set to start in about a month.

Federal officials are wrapping up final details before the nine-year, $600 million project gets under way May 1.

The river has been polluted with polychlorinated biphenyls, a toxic byproduct of making carbonless paper.

Paper mills began dumping the cancer-causing chemicals into the river more than 50 years ago, before PCBs were banned.

Environmental groups have complained that has taken too long to start the cleanup.

But a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources said there wasn’t much choice. DNR deputy administrator Bruce Baker said officials needed to gather data and wait for technology to advance to the point that the project would be successful and cost-effective.

Appleton plans ballpark for children with special needs

Appleton (AP) — A group of Fox Cities residents wants to establish a Miracle League field at Appleton’s Memorial Park.

The city’s parks and recreation committee voted unanimously last week to approve a concept plan to build a field for children with special needs in the northwest corner of Memorial Park.

The fields are rubberized and part of the Miracle League program developed in 1999 in Conyers, Ga., by parents of children with disabilities.

A league in Green Bay had 12 teams and 160 children participating last year.

The Miracle League of the Fox Valley said it plans to raise $500,000 beginning in May to complete Appleton’s facility by summer 2010. The facility would include a baseball field, dugouts, a concession stand and an adjacent rubberized playground.

Fire damages Wisconsin Dells ducks tour business

Lake Delton (AP) — Fire damaged a popular tourist attraction in Lake Delton.

Authorities say a fire started in the restaurant and kitchen area of the Dells Army Ducks-Mark Twain Upper Dells Tour Sunday evening.

Firefighters from three departments were called to the tourist attraction. There were no injuries.

Wood company CEO gets 2008 pay valued at $4.7 million

New York (AP) — Dan S. Fulton, chief executive of timber and wood products company Weyerhaeuser Co., received compensation valued at $4.7 million in 2008, according to an analysis of a report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month.

Fulton, 60, has led the Seattle-based company since May and received a salary of $792,427 and perks of $34,456.

Most of the perks came as financial counseling. He also received stock awards and options valued at $3.9 million on the dates they were granted. Fulton’s predecessor, Steven Rogel, received compensation last year valued by Weyerhaeuser at $1.6 million, down 74 percent from 2007, when he served a full year as CEO.

In 2008, Rogel received a salary of $1 million, perks valued at $67,867, above-market earnings on deferred compensation of about $18,394 and stock awards worth $472,260 when they were granted.

Last year, the company recorded a loss of $1.18 billion compared with a profit of $790 million in 2007. Sales fell 26 percent to $8.02 billion.

Federal Way, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser cited the continued decline in new-home starts, falling demand for lumber and structural panels because of lower levels of homebuilding, repair and remodeling and weakening log and wood products prices.

KB Home reports first-quarter loss but increases new home orders

KB Home slashed its first quarter losses by 78 percent as first-time buyers flocked to the builder’s smaller and more affordable homes, but the company warned the U.S. housing market has yet to hit bottom.

The Los Angeles-based builder reported a 26 percent increase in new home orders. It expects growth in orders throughout the year.

First-time buyers accounted for 70 percent of its sales in the first quarter, up from 53 percent in the first quarter of 2008.

Half of all KB Home’s sales this year are expected to come from its new Open Series blueprint, a smaller and less expensive model the company unveiled to compete with discounted foreclosed homes.

New home orders totaled 1,827, and the cancellation rate plunged to 28 percent from 53 percent in the year-ago quarter.

The nation’s fifth-largest builder reported a net loss of $58.1 million compared with a net loss of $268.2 million in the same period the year before.

Total quarterly revenue was $307.4 million, down 61 percent, because home sales were still half of last year’s levels and the average price dropped 15 percent to $210,700.

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