- Associated Press - Sunday, February 9, 2014
Returned Stradivarius violin returns to stage

BROOKFIELD, Wis. (AP) - For the first time since his now famous instrument was stolen, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond plans to take the stage with the valuable Stradivarius violin.

Tickets for Monday night’s performance at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts are selling fast.

WITI-TV reports (https://bit.ly/1bKQesohttps://bit.ly/1bKQeso ) Almond has been booked at the center for the last year. Executive director Jonathan Winkle says ticket sales spiked after the violin was recovered Thursday. He says 250 tickets to the classical chamber music performance sold in a day-and-a-half.

The center seats 620 people.

Winkle says he’s expecting many first-time visitors who want to see the Stradivarius violin and hear it played.

The “Frankly Music” performance is at 7 p.m. Monday.

Two men have been charged in connection with the violin heist.

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Little power, but many candidates for Wis. offices

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The races for Wisconsin secretary of state and state treasurer, which have been stripped of most of their power in recent years, have gathered widespread interest despite renewed efforts by lawmakers who want to eliminate the positions entirely.

The Assembly is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a constitutional amendment that could make Wisconsin one of five states that don’t have a treasurer. But that hasn’t stopped candidates from voicing their ideas about what they would do with the virtually powerless office if elected.

Plans to abolish the secretary of state, too, have support in the Republican-controlled Legislature. Yet more candidates have shown interest in that election than in almost any other statewide race.

“Constitutionally, the state treasurer has the same authority as the attorney general,” said Dan Bohrod, a Madison Democrat running for treasurer. “We are here today simply because the Legislature has chosen not to authorize the treasurer to do much.”

Lawmakers have tried for six consecutive years to have the two offices taken off the books. This year, Rep. Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh, sponsored a constitutional amendment that would begin the process of eliminating only the treasurer.

Schraa said he wants to address the treasurer and secretary positions separately so as not to confuse voters, who would have the final say on removing positions from the state constitution. Any proposal like Schraa’s must pass two consecutive legislative sessions before going to voters in a referendum.

The Legislature transferred the unclaimed property division, the state treasurer’s last meaningful task, to the Department of Revenue last year.

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Frustrated with Minn. law, brewery to open in Wis.

NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. (AP) - The owner of a brewpub in New Brighton is frustrated with a Minnesota law that says he can’t sell his craft beer on store shelves - so he’s decided to build a new brewery across the border in Wisconsin.

John Moore, owner of Barley John’s Brew Pub, plans to break ground this spring on a new 10,000-barrel brewery in New Richmond, Wis., and hopes to start selling beer in the fall. His brewpub has been making beer for 14 years and has won awards, yet some craft beer aficionados have never heard of Barley John’s because it’s not on tap in other bars or sold in liquor and beer stores, he said.

“I think we make really, really good beer here, but few people have an opportunity to get at it because of the limitations in the state’s requirements,” Moore told the St. Paul Pioneer Press (https://bit.ly/M2hh9ghttps://bit.ly/M2hh9g ).

Minnesota’s limits on brewpubs are part of a three-tiered system of alcohol sales in the state, said Dan Schwarz, president of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild. The system separates producers, distributors and retailers, and was meant to prevent large-scale breweries from having too much power over the retail market.

Minnesota’s laws on alcohol sales saw some loosening in 2011, when legislation known as the “Surly Bill” allowed breweries to open taprooms to serve beer on site. But Moore said the legislation didn’t help brewpubs, which could already serve beer on site.

Still, brewpubs have some advantages over taprooms. Taprooms are limited to selling the beer made on site, while brewpubs can serve liquor, wine and beer made elsewhere. Brewpub owners can also open multiple locations, but breweries are limited to one taproom, said Schwarz, who is chief executive and co-owner of Lift Bridge Brewing Co. in Stillwater.

Brewpubs face some of the same restrictions in Wisconsin, but they can sell a limited amount of beer in stores.

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Wis. man finds niche raising Atlantic salmon

LYNXVILLE, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin could soon be a source of Atlantic Salmon, thanks to an entrepreneur who found a niche - and a bubbling spring just a mile east of the Mississippi River.

Kent Nelson, who owns a Prairie du Chien sawmill with his two brothers, is using the spring water to raise an estimated 30,000 Atlantic salmon. His first crop of 2- to 2½-pound, 2-year-old fish will be harvested this summer, and a new batch of 35,000 eggs will be hatched this spring, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Sunday (https://bit.ly/1d9u0Bbhttps://bit.ly/1d9u0Bb ).

The fish is native to the north Atlantic Ocean, but more than 90 percent of Atlantic salmon consumed in the U.S. is imported from farms in Chile, Norway, Scotland and Canada.

Nelson’s Fish Farm is believed to be the only Midwestern business raising Atlantic salmon.

“I think he’s got an excellent operation. He’s got what I would call a small, niche market facility,” said Ron Johnson, an aquaculture outreach specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Extension. “Kent is trying something different. Because of the buy local, buy fresh initiatives, the general public is looking for quality food products that are grown locally. And the Nelsons are tying into that.”

Johnson said aquaculture is a $7 million-a-year business in Wisconsin, less than 1 percent of the U.S. market. There are 211 privately owned commercial fish farms in Wisconsin. Most raise trout, but some raise yellow perch, panfish and, more recently, tilapia.

The Nelsons’ 70 acres of land was a dairy farm until the 1940s. Then, ponds were created and the property was home to a trout farm for 30 years. When the Nelsons purchased the property in 1990, the ponds were surrounded by brush.

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