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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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1 injured in second-floor apartment fire

One person was transported to the hospital after a fire broke out in an apartment kitchen on Mifflin Street on Sunday morning, according to a release.

A neighbor called 911 around 7:30 a.m. saying the resident of 2418 E. Mifflin St. ran across the street and told him her kitchen was on fire after she was cooking on the stove, officials said.

City of Madison crews extinguished the fire in the second-floor apartment, according to the release.

The second-floor apartment suffered extensive fire damage and the first-floor apartment suffered water damage, officials said. Damage is estimated at $30,000 for the structure and $10,000 for the contents.

The resident of the first-floor apartment was not home at the time of the fire, according to the release. The resident of the second-floor apartment was transported with non-life-threatening injuries. A cat from the second-floor apartment was taken to an emergency vet clinic for treatment.

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:

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3 area schools have school-based mental health teams

New teams of mental health professionals are helping students and families in a creative program based in area schools, according to a release.

School-based mental health teams started this school year in the Sun Prairie, Verona and Madison school districts, officials said. The collaboration between the school districts and Dane County will be run by Catholic Charities.

Catholic Charities will also coordinate the rapid-response mental health team program, called Building Bridges, according to the release.

School administrators and staff at Dane County?s Joining Forces for Family said they needed a program focused on addressing mental health needs in schools and providing proactive support systems that are best for students.

Police: Robbers break into home through window screen

Madison police are looking for two robbers who broke into a home in the middle of the day Wednesday and stole several items, including ammunition, officials said.

A concerned neighbor called police around noon after seeing two teens behind a home on the east side, according to a release from the Madison Police Department.

Officers responded to the home in the 900 block of Mayfair Avenue and found that the boys had entered the home by removing a window screen near an air conditioning unit.

The homeowner told police jewelry, ammunition, a hunting bow and arrows were stolen.

A dog from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department followed a track, but no one was found, according to the release.

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.