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Pablo Martinez Monsivais 

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. Special counsel Robert Mueller has turned up the heat on Manafort, threatening new criminal charges for witness tampering and asking a judge to put him in jail while he awaits trial (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, file)

Food distributor wants to buy five Gordy's stores

Food distributor Nash Finch is seeking to purchase five Gordy’s Market Inc. grocery stores for a total of $15.1 million.

Nash Finch was the lone company to attend an auction Wednesday in Milwaukee, where they placed their bid, according to a document filed Thursday afternoon in Chippewa County Court. The company made a “credit bid” to acquire the stores.

Michael Polsky, the court-appointed receiver who is assisting in dividing up GMI’s assets, wrote in the court filing that certain items were excluded from the sale, such as cash on deposit, equipment leased by American Financial Network and other leased equipment, vehicles, and real estate connected with the operation of fuel stations.

“As part of its credit bid, Nash Finch has agreed to release its lien in the GMI assets and consents to the sale of the GMI assets,” Polsky wrote.

GMI and Nash Finch will return to Chippewa County Court on Friday, where Judge James Isaacson will review and possibly approve the auction results, and he will consider any motions, such as a counterclaim filed this week by GMI.

The five stores included in the auction were: downtown Chippewa Falls and on Lake Wissota, Cornell, Barron and Chetek. The five stores were sold together in one lot; there isn’t a separate price listed for each store.

A sixth Gordy’s Market Inc. store in Ladysmith was sold last month. Gordy’s Market Inc. still owns one store in Eau Claire on Clairemont Avenue, but they are reportedly in negotiations to sell that location to Hansen’s IGA.

This is actually the second time in about 15 months that Nash Finch has purchased these stores. In December 2017, they purchased the six stores (not including the Eau Claire location) at an auction for $19.8 million, but they worked out an agreement to assign the ownership to Jeff Schafer and his family to operate the stores.

Nash Finch filed a lawsuit against GMI for $46.2 million in December, contending Gordy’s “has no excess cash to get caught up on its delinquent balance” and that the grocery chain is on the verge of insolvency.

In the two months since Polsky was appointed receiver, Nash Finch has provided another $3.2 million in inventory to the grocery chain to keep the shelves full, as of March 4, Polsky wrote in his filing Thursday.

Polsky has set a deadline of April 24 for any creditors of GMI to enter claims with the court if they see to participate in any dividends.

In 2017, there were 26 Gordy’s Market locations, but 20 of them were sold or closed by the end of that year.

BRANDON BERG, Chippewa Herald 

The McDonell band plays prior to Thursday evening's Division 5 sectional semifinal boys basketball game between the Macks and Athens at Eau Claire Memorial. For more from the contest, see SPORTS, PAGE B1.

Education increasingly a target for climate skeptics

HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut lawmaker wants to strike climate change from state science standards. A Virginia legislator worries teachers are indoctrinating students with their personal views on global warming. And an Oklahoma state senator wants educators to be able to introduce alternative ideas without fear of losing their jobs.

As climate change becomes a hotter topic in American classrooms, politicians around the country are pushing back against the scientific consensus that global warming is real and man-made.

Of the more than a dozen such measures proposed so far this year, some already have failed. But they have emerged this year in growing numbers, many of them inspired or directly encouraged by a pair of advocacy groups, the Discovery Institute and the Heartland Institute.

“You have to present two sides of the argument and allow the kids to deliberate,” said Republican state Sen. David Bullard of Oklahoma, a former high school geography teacher whose bill, based on model legislation from the Discovery Institute, ran into opposition from science teachers and went nowhere.

Science education organizations and climate scientists have blasted such proposals for sowing confusion and doubt on a topic of global urgency.

“These efforts are dangerous and require vigilance in the academic community to make sure that they don’t succeed,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University.

He said the proposals reflect bad-faith efforts to undermine scientific findings that “prove inconvenient to vested interests, be they the fossil-fuel lobby or fundamentalist religious groups.”

Some climate science skeptics have cast the debate as a matter of academic freedom.

James Taylor, a senior fellow at Heartland, an Illinois-based group that dismisses climate change, said it is encouraging well-rounded classroom discussions on the topic. The group, which in 2017 sent thousands of science teachers copies of a book titled “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” is now taking its message directly to students. A reference book it is planning for publication this year will rebut arguments linking climate change to hurricanes, tornadoes and other extreme weather.

“We’re very concerned the global warming propaganda efforts have encouraged students to not engage in research and critical thinking,” Taylor said, referring to news reports and scientific warnings.

Neither Discovery nor Heartland discloses the identities of its donors.

Instruction on the topic varies widely from place to place, but climate change and how humans are altering the planet are core topics emphasized in the Next Generation Science Standards, developed by a group of states. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, and 21 others have embraced some of the material with modifications.

Still, a survey released in 2016 found that of public middle- and high-school science teachers who taught something about climate change, about a quarter gave equal time to perspectives that “raise doubt about the scientific consensus.”

Climate skeptics have endorsed approaches taken in the fight that began decades earlier over teaching evolution, in which opponents led by conservative Christians have long called for teaching both sides of the issue.

By early February, the Oakland, California-based nonprofit National Center for Science Education flagged over a dozen bills this year as threats to the integrity of science education, more than the organization typically sees in an entire year.

Several of them — including proposals in Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota — had language echoing model legislation of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which says teachers should not be prohibited from addressing strengths and weaknesses of concepts such as evolution and global warming.

Similar measures became law in Louisiana in 2008 and Tennessee in 2012. In states where they may not be feasible politically, Discovery has urged legislators to consider nonbinding resolutions in support of giving teachers latitude to “show support for critical thinking” on controversial topics. Lawmakers in Alabama and Indiana passed such resolutions in 2017.

Discovery officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Florida state Sen. Dennis Baxley is pressing legislation that would allow schools to teach alternatives to controversial theories.

“There is really no established science on most things, you’ll find,” the GOP legislator said.

Elsewhere, lawmakers in Connecticut and Iowa, which both adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, have proposed rolling them back. Connecticut state Rep. John Piscopo, a Republican, said he wants to eliminate the section on climate change.

“It’s one-sided, totally one-sided. The teachers are not able to teach,” said Piscopo, a Heartland Institute member. “I want students to have the freedom to understand it’s a scientific debate.”

Other bills introduced this year in such states as Virginia, Arizona and Maine call for teachers to avoid political or ideological indoctrination of their students.

“If they’re teaching about a subject, such as climate change, and they present both sides, that’s fine. That’s as it should be. A teacher who presents a skewed extension of their political beliefs, that’s closer to indoctrinating. That’s not good to kids,” said Virginia state Rep. Dave LaRock, a Republican.

DPI assistant director: More teachers of color needed

MENOMONIE — Sara Baird readily admits she knows she has white privilege.

The assistant director of the Department of Public Instruction’s career and technical education division also knows that it’s important to have more teachers of color to inspire students of color.

“It’s not fair so few teachers of color are standing in front of students of color,” Baird said.

Baird spoke at UW-Stout recently as the 2019 Career and Technical Education Executive in Residence. February was career technical education month.

Baird, a University of Wisconsin-Stout alumna, also knows there needs to be more diversity in students studying career and technical education. Seventy-seven percent of the 89,600 high school juniors and seniors participating in career and technical education classes in Wisconsin are Caucasian.

Baird acknowledges equity is a problem, citing needs for more promotion of equity and diversity; more diversification of the teaching workforce; removal of barriers to access; and recognition of implicit biases.

“Being a leader in some ways to me is about being a quiet listener,” said Baird, who has two degrees from UW-Stout, a bachelor’s in marketing and business education in 1997 and a master’s in training and development in 2008.

Baird grew up in a two-parent family, with her family attending all her school events. When she was a sophomore in high school, one of her teachers encouraged her to become a teacher.

In college, she began to realize she had privileges of being white and from a two-parent household. “I wasn’t aware how fortunate I was and there was a bigger world out there,” she said.

After graduating, she started teaching in Beloit, then went to Kenosha and South Milwaukee, all very diverse schools. She taught marketing education for about 10 years before joining DPI in 2006 as a consultant for marketing, management and entrepreneurship.

Gov. Tony Evers is very supportive of education, Baird said. “He’s very tuned in to what’s going on in state education,” she said. “I feel we have a friend in the next four years.”

Baird encouraged others to share their stories and to have students share their educational stories. “They are great brand ambassadors,” Baird said. “UW-Stout is a North Star for career and technical education teacher preparation. Most of the career and technical education teaching staff walked through these halls. That’s pretty powerful. We value the work that happens at this campus. We think it’s amazing. We support it.”

Deanna Schultz, director of the CTE master’s program, said she values DPI’s partnership.

“I appreciate they recognize the work we are doing to support K-12 education by providing well-qualified teachers and leaders,” Schultz said. “I appreciate Sara talking about collaboration and working together. That is what we want to do.”

Professor Urs Haltinner, director of the CTE doctoral program, said UW-Stout’s polytechnic education lives the spirit of career and technical education. “That’s part of our story and history,” he said.

UW-Stout’s bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral CTE academic programs are outgrowths of one of the university’s first majors, industrial education, dating to the early 1900s. The CTE master’s program has been offered for 75 years, since the Graduate School opened in 1935. UW-Stout began offering a doctorate in CTE in 2013, the university’s first doctoral program.

Chippewa Falls City Council approves outdoor shooting range at sports show

The Chippewa Falls City Council approved the use of air guns and a shooting range at a new outdoors shows coming to the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in September.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to allow the range to be used during the Wisconsin Game Fest, which will be held Sept. 7-8. The event will feature archery, hunting and hundreds of exhibitors.

Presently, guns are not allowed to be fired in city limits. The council heard a presentation about the new event in November, and there was a first hearing two weeks ago on amending an ordinance that allows gun use. There was no additional discussion about the measure during the meeting.

The ordinance revision states that a firearms and archery instructor must be present during the show “for all discharges.” The range must be created and “coordinated and facilitated by firearms instructors and or professionals and the ranges shall be certified by someone with appropriate credentials.”

Firearms used during the event shall be no larger than a .22 caliber.

With the approval, the fairgrounds will hold the city harmless from any and all liability associated with any event, the ordinance states.

The Wisconsin Game Fest website says it will “feature exhibits, activities and events such as outdoor retail, conservation organizations, dog kennels and trainers, hunting and fishing guides and outfitters, outdoor recreational vehicles and much more.”

Organizer Lisa Gill also coordinates the Wisconsin Sport Show in Eau Claire; this month, that event will mark its 10th show. The Wisconsin Sport Show primarily promotes fishing, but the new Chippewa Falls show will have more of a focus on hunting, she previously explained.

The Wisconsin Sport Show is limited to about 160 exhibitors because it is indoors; Gill said the show in Chippewa Falls should top 200 exhibitors between three buildings plus the outdoor displays.

Among the exhibits already announced are Steve Porter’s Trophy Deer, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation youth shooting trailer, the Fantasy Corral Petting Zoo and the North American Diving Dogs. The Wisconsin Game Fest organizers are partnering with the Westgate Sportsman’s Club to open the inaugural event.

With an outdoor show, there simply is the ability to do more “hands-on” exhibits, she added.

To learn more, visit or contact Gill at

In other news, the council voted 4-3 to approve giving the Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation $5,000. The council previously didn’t include the money in its 2019 budget.