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Madison first in nation to pass ordinance protecting atheists

As the current common council met for the last time Tuesday, members unanimously voted to make discriminating against atheism, and others who do not believe in God, illegal.

"This is important because I believe it is only fair that if we protect religion, in all its varieties, we should also protect non-religion from discrimination. It's only fair," ordinance sponsor District 18 Alderwoman Anita Weier said.

The vote amends the city's equal opportunity ordinance, adding atheism as a protected class in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.    

"There are many categories that are protected," Weier said. "And it did occur to me that if religion was then perhaps the opposite should be"

UW graduate student, and former Atheists Humanists and Agnostics president Chris Calvey was among the five atheists speaking in favor of the proposals.

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Robinson's mom calls 911 weeks before Willy Street incident

Weeks before Tony Robinson was shot and killed by Madison police officer Matthew Kenny, concerns over Robinson's emotional state led his mother to call 911.

John Cates, the family's attorney, said while Robinson did not have a history of depression, his mother, Andrea Irwin, was worried about his emotional state.

"He thought that he had really ruined his life," Cates said.

The incident happened on January 11, about eight weeks before he was shot on Williamson Street.

"His mother was trying to calm him down and tell him in essence, 'You are young, you have plenty of life ahead of you, you can get through this,'" Cates said.

Badgers fans invited to send-off event at Kohl Center

Badgers fans are invited to a pep rally at the Kohl Center Wednesday to send the team off to the Final Four in Indianapolis.

The men’s basketball team will depart for the Final Four after the send-off event at 5:30 p.m. at the Kohl Center, according to a release.

Gates will open at 5 p.m. with a brief program featuring head coach Bo Ryan and the team starting at 5:30 p.m., organizers said. Admission is free.

Madison Mallards will host Great Dane Easter Egg Hunt at the 'Duck Pond" this weekend

Madison Mallards will host Great Dane Easter Egg Hunt at the 'Duck Pond" this weekend

The Madison Mallards will host the free Great Dane Easter Egg Hunt at the "Duck Pond" April 4, according to a Mallards release.

Gates open at 9 a.m., and the hunt begins at 9:30 a.m. in the outfield grass. Kids of all age are welcome.

The hunt will be divided into the the three age groups 4 and under; 5 and 6; and 7 and above. Kids can bring their own egg collecting baskets, and the Great Dane will provide age appropriate gift bags

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Large consignment sale offers children's, maternity items

Bargain hunters will find a variety of used maternity and children's clothes for sale at a consignment event at the Alliant Energy Center this weekend.

The Just Between Friends sale, which opens at 9 a.m.,began Friday and will continue through Sunday.

Items including clothes, books, toys, strollers, puzzles, games, shoes, nursing pillows, Diaper Genies, maternity wear and more can be found at the JBF sale.

Find more information online at danecounty.jbfsale.com.

City offers $300K to Allied grocery store prospects

City offers $300K to Allied grocery store prospects

The city of Madison said Wednesday that it's seeking proposals from companies that are interested in bringing a full service, affordable grocery store to a west neighborhood. 

Madison said it is seeking proposals from developers, property owners, and grocery store operators that will establish a grocery store in the Allied Drive neighborhood, which is considered a food desert since the Walgreen's on Verona Road closed last year.

Proposals are due June 15, but a letter of intent to apply is due May 15.

The city said in mid-January that it would provide $300,000 in financial assistance as an incentive to draw a store to the area. The funds will be in the form of a low-interest or partially forgivable loan. 

Madison considers future restrictions of tobacco, vaping businesses

The city of Madison is considering an ordinance that would restrict the future locations of stores that primarily sell tobacco products and vaping supplies and paraphernalia.

The ordinance is currently being looked at by the city planning commission, and as it is currently written would apply to businesses where 20 percent or more of its display area is for the sale of tobacco products, vaping supplies or paraphernalia.

Businesses falling into that category would be restricted from opening within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers, health care facilities or residences. They would also be restricted from opening within 500 feet of other tobacco retailers.

Businesses falling into that category that are currently operating would be allowed to stay open and would be grandfathered in under the new ordinance. Those businesses could be sold to a new owner and continue to operate as long as there is not a 12-month gap in which they cease to do business.