Another step was taken Thursday to ensure the future of a northwest Wisconsin plant that was once on the chopping block.

The Polaris sport vehicle plant in Osceola said it would create 89 new jobs over the next three years.

Gov. Scott Walker announced Thursday that the firm will get $595,000 in tax breaks if all the jobs are added on schedule.

Polaris is based in Medina, Minn. The expansion was made possible by its recent acquisitions of Indian Motorcycles, GEM electrical neighborhood vehicles and other new products.

State officials say many of the new jobs will be highly skilled positions like testing engineers and product developers.

Some of the new jobs will be moved from a Polaris plant in Wyoming, Minn., that's running at capacity. But the firm says most of the jobs will be new.

About 140 people now work at Osceola. But that's still a fraction of the 500-plus workers the plant had two years ago when Polaris first said would close Osceola and move many of the workers to Mexico.

Political leaders slammed the move, and former Congressman David Obey went so far as to call it "unpatriotic."

But when business conditions improved, Polaris agreed to keep up to 60 jobs in Osceola. That total is bigger now, and Walker said he's pleased Polaris chose Wisconsin to expand instead of its other facilities Minnesota and Iowa.


Embattled county clerk's vote-counting system fails again

The county clerk who made a mistake that forced a statewide recount of last year's Supreme Court election is under fire again.

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus had a new vote-counting system fail her on Tuesday night.

Yesterday Nickolaus agreed to let her deputy handle the election duties for the May and June recall contests with help from other staff members and consultants.

A year ago, Nickolaus forgot to include Brookfield's 14,000 votes in her tally of Waukesha County's ballots for the State Supreme Court race, and she didn't tell anybody until two days later.

As a result, a 200-vote statewide victory for JoAnne Kloppenburg turned into a 7,000 vote win for incumbent David Prosser. A recount confirmed Prosser's victory.

After that, Nickolaus was prodded by state officials to start disclosing results from each voting district on Election Night, which she refused to do in the past.

But her new system caused delays Tuesday night, and the first returns didn't get on the Internet until six hours after the polls closed.

County Executive Dan Vrakas was not happy. He said he would have publicly called for Nickolaus to resign had she not given her election duties to her top assistant.

Vrakas said Nickolaus appreciated the importance of restoring confidence in Waukesha County's Election Night reporting.

"Given the choice to step down or step aside, she made the right decision," he said.


Rich must pay more, say four Democratic recall candidates

The four announced Democratic candidates for governor appeared together at a union forum in Milwaukee last night, and they agreed that the rich must "pay their fair share" of taxes to bring back economic equity.

Tom Barrett, Kathleen Falk, Doug La Follette and Kathleen Vinehout are all running in the May 8 primary, with the winner to face Republican Gov. Scott Walker in his recall election on June 5.

The four agreed that the GOP's "trickle-down" economic theory of giving tax breaks to the rich, so they can create more jobs that help the middle class, doesn't work.

Milwaukee Mayor Barrett said he was part of the 1990's Congress under Bill Clinton that "made the wealthy pay." He said the result was a booming economy and a return to a federal budget surplus.

La Follette, Wisconsin's secretary of state, said he would build more roads and bridges with a tax hike on the rich, whom he called the "one percent." He favored raising the state's minimum wage.

Falk, the former Dane County executive, said she would restore Walker's funding cuts to state technical colleges.

Vinehout, a state Senator from Alma, favored a more affordable health care purchasing network and would restore funding to state and local governments.

All four also favored more mass transit. La Follette mentioned the Milwaukee-to-Madison train that Walker scrapped over a year ago.

Hundreds of people attended Thursday night's forum, put on by several unions and Milwaukee community groups that favor the Walker recall.


Point plant closes, laying off 146 workers

A Stevens Point company that makes home medical equipment says it will close its production plant in June, putting 146 people out of work.

Joerns Healthcare said it's a decision it makes with regret, after both local and state governments offered tax breaks into the millions of dollars to keep those jobs in Wisconsin.

In January, Joerns said it would consolidate its production in Texas, Arkansas and Mexico. CEO Mark Ludwig said at the time that Joerns had no choice because its competitors have been outsourcing their production to China and cutting their prices aggressively.

The layoffs will take place over a two-week period starting June 4. Joerns will only keep customer and technical service employees in Stevens Point.

Mayor Andrew Halvorson said in January that the city offered up to $1 million in tax incremental financing incentives to keep its production in Point, and both the Walker and Doyle state administrations had offered millions to the firm.


Ninth case of salmonella reported in state

A ninth salmonella case has been confirmed in Wisconsin as part of a national outbreak over the last five weeks.

The latest case turned up in Milwaukee County - the fourth in that location. Neighboring Waukesha County has the other five.

The cause is still being investigated, but officials said most of the victims ate sushi, sashimi or similar foods at a variety of locations. A specific source has not been found, and public health officials have not issued any warnings to avoid certain products, food suppliers or restaurants.

There have been 94 confirmed cases in 19 states and Washington D.C. Most salmonella victims said they had diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours after they were infected. The illnesses have lasted four to seven days.

Paul Biedrzycki of the Milwaukee Health Department said he expects more cases, but he does not believe it will be a major outbreak.

Three of Wisconsin's nine victims were hospitalized, but they have all since recovered.


March traffic deaths down

Last month's traffic deaths in Wisconsin were the second-lowest for a March in almost 70 years.

Preliminary Department of Transportation figures showed that 27 people died in Wisconsin crashes in March. That's two fewer deaths than in March of last year and six fewer than the average for the past five years.

Traffic normally goes down when gas prices get close to $4 per gallon, like they did last month.

But March also had record warm temperatures, and that encouraged more folks to go outside.

That's showing up in the fatality totals. Three motorcycle riders have been killed in Wisconsin so far this year, along with one motorcycle passenger and five pedestrians.

The state had 107 traffic deaths in the first three months of 2012. That's six more than the previous year, and two more than the five-year average.