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WisDOT opens fourth round of bids for federal stimulus project

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation on Tuesday opened bids for the fourth round of federal stimulus-financed road projects in Wisconsin.

Companies submitted offers for 18 projects amounting in more than $23 million worth of work throughout the state.

Merrill-based S&N Inc. submitted the low bid of just more than $4 million for the largest project on the list — reconstruction work on Highway 21 in the towns of Strongs Prairie and Monroe.

Musson Bros. Inc., Rhinelander, also scored low bids for major projects with a $2.46 million offer for reconstruction work on Highway 41 and a $2.41 million bid for the reconstruction of County Highway N, both in Marinette County.

Milwaukee vote would permit demolition of part of Hide House

The Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday rejected Alderman Tony Zielinski’s final attempt to protect the entire Hide House building from demolition.

The 10-4 vote rejected Zielinski’s amendment that would have given city historic protections to the entire Hide House building. The Common Council approved the recommendation to give a temporary historic designation to most of the building, but to exclude the northern portion of the Hide House that is slated for demolition.

The council vote clears the way for building owners General Capital Group LLP and Bedrock Capital Group LLC to tear down the newest portion of the former tannery and build a 60-unit apartment building reserved for low-income residents.

The building owners will have an open house on Aug. 6 from 4 to 7 p.m. to meet with neighbors and discuss the project.

House Democrats struggle on health care legislation, easing critics concerns

Washington (AP) — Top House Democrats sought to minimize the effect of a near-certain missed deadline for health care legislation on Tuesday as the leadership struggled to ease the concerns of rank-and-file critics.

President Barack Obama had asked Congress to advance legislation through both houses by the time lawmakers leave on a monthlong summer vacation, a plea that now appears unlikely to be met.

Obama has worked intensively to reassure the public about his health care proposals at a time when Republicans have stepped up their criticism, and polls suggest a leveling in public support.

Among the problems facing Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House leadership is a rebellious group of conservative and moderate Democrats demanding changes in legislation as the price for voting it out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The fiscally conservative Blue Dogs were at odds with the leadership over setting rates for the payments to doctors and other health care providers under a proposed government-run health plan that would compete with private insurance. The House bill models the payments based on Medicare, but Blue Dogs want a negotiated rate similar to private insurance.

Obama has outlined two broad goals for legislation he is struggling to win from Congress: expansion of health insurance coverage to millions who lack it, and reining in increases in costs.

United States Steel Corp. reports second quarter loss as demand remains low

Pittsburgh (AP) — United States Steel Corp. posted its second straight quarterly loss Tuesday as the global slowdown stifled orders and prices for the metal, and the company forecast that its third quarter would also be in the red.

The largest U.S.-based steelmaker and other producers have been hurt by sharply lower orders from steel-intensive industries such as construction and autos. While demand and prices have picked up recently, they remain well below record levels reached last summer.

All three of U.S. Steel’s business segments reported losses. But they narrowed from the first quarter at its European operations and North American flat-rolled business. Flat-rolled, or sheet steel, is used in autos and appliances.

U.S. Steel’s tubular business, which makes pipes used in oil and gas drilling, reported a second-quarter loss after a profit a year earlier.

U.S. Steel has laid off thousands of workers and temporarily idled plants since late last year, when steel demand began plunging amid the credit crisis and economic slowdown.

West Virginia coal mine worker killed when excavator rolls into a pond

Orgas, WV (AP) — Emergency officials in Boone County say a worker at a coal mine has been killed in an accident.

A Boone County 911 operator said the death was reported at 10:05 a.m. Tuesday. State mine safety office spokeswoman Jama Jarrett said an excavator rolled into a pond near Catenary Coal’s Samples mine.

Jarrett had no further information, and the worker’s name was not immediately released.

Catenary is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Patriot Coal, which has operations in West Virginia and Kentucky.
A Patriot Coal spokeswoman did not immediately return a telephone message Tuesday.

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