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Rory O’Driscoll, Daily News  

People cast their votes during the DFL caucus at Winona Senior High School on Tuesday.

La Crosse area forecast: More cold, snow ahead

Did Jimmy the Groundhog get it right this year?

It sure feels as though he did — at least this first week after Groundhog Day. There’s more snow in the forecast, temperatures are once again well below normal, and there’s no significant relief in sight till at least next week.

An inch to 2 inches of snow left Coulee Region roads snow-covered and slippery from late Monday morning into the evening, with up to an additional inch expected overnight, according to the National Weather Service. After that, we’ll face a chance of even more snow more or less continually from Thursday afternoon through Saturday.

And while we wait for more snow, we’ll get to enjoy more below-normal temperatures — highs in the teens and lows in single digits. The normal high for today is 28 degrees with a low of 10 degrees. The record high of 59 was set in 1878, with a low of minus-22 recorded in 1982.

On Friday, Sun Prairie’s famous marmot, the Badger State’s answer to Punxsutawny Phil, saw his shadow, forecasting another six bleary weeks of winter. But so what? Meteorological spring doesn’t begin until March 1 anyway, nearly four weeks after Jimmy’s big day. And astronomical spring begins on the vernal equinox, March 20, more than six weeks after Groundhog Day.

By the way, the National Weather Service this year checked up on Phil, the national mascot marmot. His 2017 performance wasn’t so hot. He, like his colleague Jimmy, saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter. However, the NWS reports, the contiguous United States saw above-average temperatures in both February and March last year.

According to the weather service, thirty-nine states from the Rockies to the East Coast were much warmer than average, with 16 states breaking records. Overall, it was the second-warmest February on record, followed by the ninth-warmest March on record.

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Mississippi Valley Conservancy launches endowment campaign with $1 million gift

The Mississippi Valley Conservancy has received a $1 million donation that the land trust organization plans to triple into an endowment to fund its conservation efforts in western Wisconsin.

MVC plans to announce a campaign Tuesday to raise an additional $2 million for its Our Children’s Natural Heritage Endowment.


Executive director Carol Abrahamzon said the gift — from a donor who requested to remain anonymous — is the largest cash donation in the La Crosse-based nonprofit’s 21-year history.

“This is by far the first time we’ve ever had somebody step up and say we want to give you a million dollars,” she said. “We’ve never had an operational endowment which can be used to grow and expand programs.”

Incoming President Rob Tyser said the gift will be “an enduring resource for safeguarding these lands in perpetuity.”

Abrahamzon said MVC so far has raised about $500,000 toward the endowment, which will help ensure the organization can continue protecting rural land and wildlife habitat.

“We’ll always have enough staff to keep the operation running, even if something terrible happens,” she said.

Abrahamzon said the donor is a humble but generous conservancy supporter who has protected her own land through a conservation easement.

“This donor said to me … ‘I could wait and make this gift when I die, but I want to see the happiness it brings,’” Abrahamzon said.

Since 1997, MVC has protected nearly 20,000 acres of land in Buffalo, Crawford, Grant, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Richland, Trempealeau and Vernon counties.

In addition to the roughly 4,000 acres of publicly accessible land it owns, MVC works with private landowners on voluntary conservation projects.

Onalaska High School sophomore Carson Arenz takes the ball to the lane as Logan's Floyd Thomas tries to defend during Monday night's MVC game at Logan. The third-ranked Hilltoppers fought off a big comeback by the Rangers to win 61-55 and remain unbeaten in the MVC.

Markets waiting a while for a pullback. Then, pow!

NEW YORK — The long, smooth, record-setting ride on Wall Street is over. The stock market pullback that experts had been saying was long overdue has finally come.

Investor fears about higher interest rates escalated into rapid, computer-generated selling Monday that wiped out all the market’s gains for the year. At one point, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 1,000 points in less than an hour, and it ended down 1,175.21 points, or 4.6 percent, at 24,345.75 — its worst day in more than six years. The Standard & Poor’s 500 is now down nearly 8 percent from its record high, set a little more than a week ago.

Market professionals warned the selling could continue for a bit. But many also were quick to say they see no recession looming, and they expect the strengthening global economy and healthy corporate earnings to help stock prices recover.

“The reasons for the increase in rates is the stronger economy,” said Ernie Cecilia, chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust. “The reasons are positive. It’s not as if something like 2008 or financial Armageddon is coming.”

The trigger for the sell-off came at the end of last week when a government report showed that wages across the country rose relatively quickly last month. While that’s good for workers, traders took it as a signal that higher inflation may be on the way, which could push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more quickly than expected. Higher rates not only make it more expensive for people and companies to borrow, they also can drive investors away from stocks and into bonds.

The sell-off Monday was so steep that some market-watchers blamed automated trading systems. These systems are programmed to buy and sell based on several variables, and they may have hit their sell triggers following the first wobble for stock prices after an unusually placid run.

That may mean even more volatility in the coming days, something that investors haven’t had to deal with during a blissful year-plus of record-setting returns. Before Monday, the S&P 500 index had gone a record period of time — roughly 400 trading days — without a drop of even 5 percent.

Monday was the first day in office for the new chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, and investors are wondering how closely he will stick with the low interest-rate policies set by his predecessor, Janet Yellen.

Still, many market-watchers said they remain optimistic that stocks will recover.

Despite worries about interest rates, they still see a recession as a long shot. With economies growing around the world, profits for U.S. businesses are expected to continue rising, and stock prices tend to follow the path of corporate earnings over the long term.

“The rate worries have been the trigger” for the stock market’s swoon, said Melda Mergen, deputy global head of equities at Columbia Threadneedle. “But fundamentally, we don’t see any new news. It’s earnings season, the time that we get more direct feedback from our companies, and we don’t see any concerns.”

More than half the companies in the S&P 500 have told investors how they performed in the last three months of 2017, and most have topped analysts’ expectations, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Even more encouraging is that more than three quarters of them reported more revenue than expected, which means it’s not just cost-cutting and layoffs that are allowing companies to earn more.

The White House cited some of those trends Monday and said “long-term economic fundamentals ... remain exceptionally strong.”

President Donald Trump frequently has commented on gains by the market during his first year in office. He has stayed silent in the face of market gyrations over the past week.

If the stock market does indeed bounce back, though, many market-watchers expect returns to be more muted than in prior years because prices have already climbed so high. The S&P 500 is up nearly 292 percent since bottoming in early 2009.

And investors should remember that drops like those of the past two days aren’t a unique occurrence for stocks. They’re inherently risky investments, and investors should be prepared to see drops of 10 percent. Such declines happen so regularly that analysts have a name for them: a market correction.

Foxconn incentives cost more than other Wisconsin job deals

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Luring a new Foxconn factory will cost Wisconsin more than eight times as much per job as other job-creation deals in the past year, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis.

The Taiwanese company is receiving more than $200,000 in state taxpayer money per job. Foxconn’s incentive package is more than three times as much per job as the next most costly deal.

“Around the country, you just generally don’t see offers this high,” said Tim Bartik, an independent economist who studies economic development. “It’s very, very high.”

Wisconsin is also waiving $150 million in sales tax for the company. The state will pay the company up to $2.85 billion in tax credits if it creates 13,000 jobs and invests $9 billion in the plant in Racine County.

Foxconn’s tax credits accounted for 96 percent of the credits the state awarded in 2017, though the company will only produce 44 percent of the jobs.

Foxconn could also receive lower electric rates, money for roads and worker training, and up to $764 million in incentives from Racine County and Mount Pleasant.

The deal makes sense because Foxconn will create a new cluster of technology companies that will transform the state’s economy, state officials said.

“The state recognized the once-in-a-generation opportunity presented by Foxconn is unlike that of any other project in the state’s history as Foxconn is bringing the future of electronics manufacturing to Wisconsin with the first LCD manufacturing facility outside of Asia,” said Mark Maley, spokesman for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, a La Crosse Democrat, said too much money is being sent to a foreign corporation when the focus should be on local businesses, schools and roads.