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Corps calls meeting on condition of Fox River dams

Kaukauna (AP) — A public meeting is planned Wednesday evening at the Kaukauna Municipal Building in Kaukauna on the condition of the nine federal dams on the lower Fox River that runs from Lake Winnebago to Lake Michigan’s Green Bay.

The Detroit District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rates five of the dams as in urgent need of attention and the other four as marginally safe.

The urgent ratings went to the Upper Appleton, Cedars, Little Chute, Rapide Croche and De Pere dams because of cracking at the gate anchorages, raising a risk of gate failure.

The corps has monitored the cracks since the 1970s and hasn’t seen signs of rapid progression.

The marginally safe ratings went to the Little Kaukauna, Menasha, Lower Appleton and Kaukauna dams.

Senate Democrats could meet Tuesday to work on state budget

Madison (AP) — The state Senate could meet as early as Tuesday to pass its version of the budget, clearing the way for a special committee of legislative leaders to hammer out a compromise by the end of the week.

There are now two versions of the budget available for the Senate to consider. One passed out of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee last week. The other passed the Democratic-controlled Assembly early Saturday morning.

The budget raises more than $2.1 billion in taxes and fees and cuts most state agencies by 6 percent to address a $6.6 billion budget shortfall. It also relies on $3.7 billion in federal stimulus money, additional state borrowing and accounting moves to balance.

Goodwill now accepting donations of old computers

Madison (AP) — Disposing of old computer parts just got a little easier in Wisconsin.

Many Goodwill donation centers in the state started taking old computer equipment this week through the Dell-Reconnect recycling program.

Computers, monitors, printers, hard drives, and other parts are now accepted.

Customers can get receipts for tax purposes.

Union says U.S. Steel to recall 800 workers in Canada

Pittsburgh (AP) — A union representative said United States Steel Corp. plans to recall about 800 laid-off workers at a plant in Canada.

The president of the United Steelworkers’ Local 1005 says the Pittsburgh-based company has said it will recall the workers at its plant in Hamilton, Ontario, sometime this summer.

Rolf Gerstenberger said the move was prompted partly by a provincial law that would require U.S. Steel to set aside about $15 million for possible severance pay to workers laid off more than 35 weeks.

U.S. Steel has laid off thousands of workers since last fall, when the global economic crisis undermined key buyers of the metal in the automotive, construction and industrial equipment markets.

Homebuilder sentiment index slips 1 point on uncertainty

Los Angeles (AP) — The National Association of Home Builders said its housing market index slipped by one point in June, reflecting many builders’ uncertainties about when their business prospects might improve.

The Washington-based trade association said Monday the index fell to 15 — the first decline since January, when the index dropped to an all-time low of 8.

Index readings lower than 50 indicate negative sentiment about the market.

The report reflects a survey of 548 residential developers nationwide, tracking builders’ perceptions of market conditions.

The index readings for current sales conditions and traffic by prospective buyers remained unchanged from May. The reading on expectations for sales over the next six months dropped by a point.

Court turns down Texas counties over border fence

El Paso, Texas (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday refused to get involved in a local Texas governments’ fight against hundreds of miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The court rejected a challenge by El Paso and other counties to a lower court ruling dismissing a lawsuit against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The local governments have argued Napolitano’s predecessor, Michael Chertoff, improperly waived 37 federal laws that could have slowed or blocked construction of fencing along the border that is intended to deter illegal immigrants.

El Paso County Attorney Jose Rodriguez said Monday that the local governments knew the case was something of a long shot — the high court previously turned away a legal challenge to the Homeland Security secretary’s authority to speed up fence construction.

As the suit worked its way through the court system, most of the fencing in question was built. Much of the unfinished portion is in south Texas, where residents and local governments have been staunch opponents of the fencing authorized by Congress to help secure the border and slow illegal immigration. Congress gave Chertoff the power to waive federal laws in 2005.

The future of much of the unfinished section of fencing is in limbo while a judge sorts through issues related to private property in the fence’s path.

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