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Madison water customers could see rate increase, conservation incentives

Madison Water Utility is asking the Public Service Commission for a rate increase and changes to its rate structure to incentivize users to conserve water.

The utility wants to increase revenue by 30 percent by increasing rates, on an annualized basis, 7.5 percent per year for each of the four years since the last rate increase. The utility has not decided how the increase will be distributed among residential, multi-family, commercial, industrial and public authority customers.

General manager Tom Heikkinen said the increase is needed to replace aging water mains, improve water quality and make a payment in lieu of taxes to the city.

This is the first rate increase requested in four years, according to the utility.

If approved, Madison Water Utility will be the largest water utility in Wisconsin to offer a conservation rate for residential customers.

If approved, the new rates would go into effect in the spring of 2015 at the earliest.

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Madison debuts online water tracking tool

A new online tool is helping Madison residents keep better track of their water usage.

Madison is the first city in the state to launch an online tool that allows residents to check their monthly, daily and even hourly water use. The tool lets you compare month-to-month usage and set up email notifications to warn you of higher-than-normal usage, among other services.

"What we're talking about for us is really the ultimate conservation tool when it comes to water conservation," says Amy Barrilleaux, spokesperson for the Madison Water Utility.

Prior to the online option, residents could only track their usage by checking their monthly water bill or constantly comparing the water meter before and after use.

"This is just night and day from having to go into the basement and look at your meter to see how much water you're using every day," Barrilleaux said.

The goal is to help conserve water and dollars for Madison's residents.

2014 Halloween event at zoo features costume contest

2014 Halloween event at zoo features costume contest

A free costume contest is just one event at a Halloween celebration at Henry Vilas Zoo next weekend.

Halloween at the Zoo is a free event to the public with a suggested donation of $2, and features free trick-or-treating and an activity tent, according to a release.

There will be five categories for the costume contest and the top three contestants will win prizes. The contest will be from 11 a.m. to noon in the center of the zoo. To enter the costume contest, participants will need to go to the costume contest stage across from the seals and fill out an entry form.

Organizers said the contest will end promptly at noon, but they will accept as many entries as they can. Participants will be judged on creativity, originality and authenticity.

The winners will be announced at 12:30 p.m. at the costume contest stage.

Costume contest prizes:

Madison fire officials lay out Ebola response plan

Officials with the Madison Fire Department said Thursday they are working to ensure they have a safe and effective Ebola virus response plan in place.

Madison Fire Chief Steve Davis said in a blog post Thursday the department is actively working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dane County Emergency Management, local hospitals and the 911 Center.

?We recognize the significance of our role in safely transporting possibly infected patients to local hospitals while protecting our community from the spread of the Ebola virus,? Davis said in the release.

The Ebola response process starts with the 911 Center, according to the post. If a 911 caller complains of any symptoms similar to those of an Ebola virus infection, the 911 dispatcher will ask follow-up questions regarding travel locations and contact with any persons who have traveled. The questions are based on the most current CDC recommendations for location and time of travel.

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Woman makes 3 drive-thru purchases using 3 fake $20s, police say

Woman makes 3 drive-thru purchases using 3 fake $20s, police say

A woman went through an east Madison fast-food drive-thru paying with counterfeit bills three times in the same day, according to police. 

The Madison Police Department said a woman used fake $20 bills to purchase inexpensive food items at Wendy's on East Washington Avenue on Wednesday afternoon. The woman, driving an older red SUV, made three separate purchases within an hour.

The manager going through the cash from the till found the fake bills and called police, according to the report. The manager said the restaurant's protocol is to ink test large bills, but the three bills that were accepted were not tested.

The woman is described as white, in her 20s to 30s, with long dirty blonde hair and a tattoo on her upper right chest.

Two of the fake $20s had the serial number JE58590236C; the other bill had the number JD95368601C, police said.

Most area districts get increase in aid; Middleton gets 7th largest cut

Most area school districts will receive a small increase in general state aid, but the Middleton-Cross Plains School District will get the seventh biggest cut in the state, according to a release.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released the Oct. 15 certified amount each school district will receive from the $4.476 billion available under current law for general state aid.

General state aid for school districts increased by $94.4 million from last year, but the actual amount of aid that the state?s 424 public school districts will receive is $85.5 million more than last school year, according to the release. That is due to statutory reductions to general state aid for private voucher schools in Milwaukee and independent charter schools supported by state tax dollars.

Attempted purse thief not successful, police say

A Madison woman was able to hold on to her purse after a man tried grabbing it outside her apartment building Tuesday night, according to a release.

The 27-year-old woman told police the man offered to sell her a laptop computer or tablet outside her apartment building, in the 1800 block of Northport Drive, around 11 p.m., Madison police said. The woman believed the items were stolen and told the man she was not interested in buying anything.

When she declined to make a purchase, the man tried to take her purse, according to the release.

He was seen driving from the area in a black car, police said. He is described as black, in his 20s or 30s, 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 180 pounds, and he had a fade-style haircut. He was wearing a black tracksuit.