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Wisconsin budget committee approves $20 million in stimulus projects

Madison (AP) — More than 500 alternative-fuel vehicles will be purchased in Wisconsin using federal stimulus money.

The Legislature’s budget committee on Tuesday approved spending $15 million over the next two years on the advanced technology vehicles in 119 public and private fleets across the state.

The committee also approved spending about $5 million in stimulus money to offer rebates to customers who buy new energy-efficient appliances, including dehumidifiers, dishwashers and freezers. The rebates would start this fall and last until the money runs out.

Another $716,000 in stimulus money would pay for planning, training and other efforts related to energy use, supply and safety.

Oshkosh Corp. gets $800 million military order for trucks

Oshkosh (AP) — The defense division of Oshkosh Corp. has signed a roughly $800 million deal with the Pentagon to deliver nearly 2,500 new and rebuilt military vehicles.

According to Oshkosh Defense, the division will provide more than 1,450 new trucks and trailers. It will also deliver more than 1,000 tactical trucks that have been damaged and rebuilt.

The Oshkosh, Wis.-based company says it expects the work to be completed by May 2011.

Wright-designed station in Minnesota gets new life

Cloquet, MN (AP) — The family that owns a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed service station in Cloquet is restoring and preserving it after about 30 years of neglect.

It’s the only service station ever designed by Wright, the renowned early-20th century architect and Wisconsin native. It was built in 1958 but had fallen into disrepair until its 50th anniversary last year.

Since then, the owners have spent nearly a quarter-million dollars to restore some of Wright’s original design touches, including copper trim around the roof and ’50s-style garbage cans. They also installed a new roof and insulation.

Owner Mike McKinney says the station still usually gets a few visitors every day interested in Wright’s design. Cloquet is about 20 miles west of Duluth.

Norfolk Southern unveils battery-powered locomotive

Altoona, PA (AP) — Rail hauler Norfolk Southern Corp. has unveiled a battery-powered prototype locomotive for use in its Pennsylvania rail yard.

The 1,500 horsepower locomotive, dubbed NS 999, will be used to move cars around the rail yard, according to Norfolk Southern. The locomotive uses 1,080 rechargeable 12-volt lead acid batteries to store power, and can run for about a day on a charge. It also recharges using the energy from braking.

The battery-only operation gives the train zero exhaust emissions.

Hotel workers union OKs deal with four New Jersey casinos

Atlantic City, NJ (AP) — The union representing 15,000 Atlantic City casino hotel workers has approved a new contract with four casinos, providing raises for most workers and guaranteeing benefits won’t be reduced.

Local 54 of UNITE-HERE, which brought the nation’s second-largest gambling resort to its knees with a with a 34-day strike five years ago, approved the new two-year deal, union president Robert McDevitt said. He said 97 percent of the votes favored the contract.

The deal affects Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, Bally’s Atlantic City, and the Showboat Casino Hotel. It is expected to become the blueprint for deals with the remaining six casinos.

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