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Habitat for Humanity Seeking Families for Homes to be built in Sun Prairie, Fitchburg, Madison

Earlier this year, Habitat for Humanity of Dane County purchased 29 family unit lots in Sun Prairie and will be building homes in both the Uplands and Vandenburg Heights neighborhoods over the next several years, according to a press release.   Habitat also recently purchased 24 lots in Fitchburg in the Renaissance in the Park neighborhood and three lots in Southwest Madison.

For individuals and families interested in building with Habitat for Humanity of Dane County starting in 2015, informational meetings will be held:

Mosquito season off to an annoying start

Mosquito season off to an annoying start

Mosquito season is off to an annoying start in northern Wisconsin, where the problem has been so bad that one canoeing company has been turning away customers rather than sending them out on a bug-infested river.

Fortunately, though, the rest of the summer might not be so bad. A Madison entomologist said early indications suggest this season may end up being no worse than usual, and that standard precautions might be enough to keep the pesky critters away.

Some hardware stores up north have been having trouble keeping bug repellent on the shelves, and some residents said they can't remember a summer with such abundant swarms.

PJ Liesch, who studies insects at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was in northern Wisconsin over Memorial Day weekend. That Friday and Saturday were pleasantly mosquito-free, but hordes of the blood-sucking pests appeared as if out of nowhere that Sunday, he said.

City asks residents to help save the ash trees

City asks residents to help save the ash trees

At the end of March, the city's Parks Division launched an Adopt-A-Park-Tree Program intended to help save trees endangered by one of Madison's newest residents -- the emerald ash borer. The small, invasive green-colored beetles were first discovered in Madison last November. Originating from Asia, the insect's larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees and have already killed millions of trees in other parts of Wisconsin and across the country.

"It is an invasive insect and 30 percent of the trees in our streetscape and the parks are ash," said Laura Whitmore, spokeswoman for the city of Madison Parks Division.

MWU: Madison's water meets, exceeds federal, state standards

MWU: Madison's water meets, exceeds federal, state standards

Madison Water Utility officials said water quality and safety tests performed in 2013 show that Madison's water met or exceeded federal and state standards.

MWU officials released their annual Water Quality Report Monday as part of Safe Drinking Water Week, a national effort to draw attention to people who ensure cities' water is safe to drink.

"This report provides an opportunity for our customers to learn more about the water they use every day," MWU water quality manager Joe Grande said in a release.

Grande said MWU crews go above and beyond federal and state requirements when it comes to testing.

"We're doing a lot of tests, not just to meet the regulations, but to better understand our water," he said. "We take water quality seriously. We're thinking about our customers when we are planning our testing programs, and we're trying to provide the highest quality water possible."

Warm weather prompts reminders about seasonal fire hazards

Warm weather prompts reminders about seasonal fire hazards

Warm weather in the 60s arrived this week, and with it, an advisory from fire officials on outdoor fire hazards that accompany the season. 

The Madison Fire Department said ordinances do not permit burning yard waste. A fire within outdoor fireplaces or pits -- with spark arresters in use and fire extinguisher or water source nearby -- are permitted as long as it is attended by a responsible adult. 

The fire department also offered reminders on other seasonal fire hazards:

Supporters: Despite spills, manure digesters make positive impact

Supporters: Despite spills, manure digesters make positive impact

In November, a pipe ruptured on Dane County's community manure digester, which converts cow waste into power. About 360,000 gallons of manure flowed through a dry ravine, according to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources spokesman Bob Manwell. The spill entered a creek and reached the village of Waunakee, located more than two miles away, bringing with it an odor.

"As far as environmental damages, there was no immediate fish kill, which is a good sign," Manwell said. About 90 percent of the spill was cleaned up within a week, he said, but some of the spill, located in areas unreachable by equipment, remains.

"We're not saying there were no damages," Manwell said. "This is going to take some time, and we'll continue to monitor to see what impacts there may be."

Winter season ripe for snowshoeing at area parks

Winter season ripe for snowshoeing at area parks

If Madison area residents are looking for a cabin fever cure, area parks offer various trails for a fun snow activity.

Madison Parks spokeswoman Laura Whitmore said snowshoeing is a great way to get outdoors in Wisconsin's winter months and experience the Madison area parks. 

In addition to Edna Taylor Conservation Park, snowshoe trails are offered at Cherokee Marsh Mendota and North units, Elvehjem Park, Garner Park, Heritage Prairie, Heritage Sanctuary, Hoyt Park, Knollwood Conservation Park, Mineral Point Park, Prairie Ridge Conservation Park, Sandburg Woods, Walnut Grove Park and Warner Park. 

More information is available online at cityofmadison.com/parks/snowshoeing.

Watch News 3's Mary Jo Ola tackle the winter activity at Edna Taylor Conservation Park: