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City Brewing CEO says company isn’t for sale, may add up to 200 employees in La Crosse soon
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La Crosse-based City Brewing Co. is not for sale, and may add up to 200 employees at its La Crosse facilities in the next few months, company CEO George Parke III said Friday.

The company has slightly more than 600 employees in La Crosse now, and expects to have about 800 employees in 2021, he said.

The Tribune contacted Parke on Friday morning regarding a Bloomberg News story Thursday that said the contract beverage maker is considering a sale of the business “according to people with knowledge of the matter.”

The Bloomberg story also said the company could fetch more than $1 billion in a sale according to one of the anonymous sources for the story. It also quoted its sources as saying City Brewing hasn’t made a final decision to pursue a sale. And it said City Brewing didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

“There is no truth to the article,” Parke told the Tribune on Friday. “City is not for sale. Between the new $30 million-plus can line that we just installed in the La Crosse brewery and the $12 million-plus new variety pack line that we are installing at the La Crosse distribution center, we are continuing to invest as fast as possible and have no intention of selling. We may be adding up to an additional 200 employees to the La Crosse facilities within the next few months.”

Parke declined to comment on whether the equipment investments and additional jobs are related to Pabst Brewing Co.’s announcement in November 2019 that it intends to transition the majority of its production volume to City Brewing’s facilities by December 2024. Pabst said its new long-term contract production agreement with City Brewing lasts until 2040.

“We do not talk about customers,” Parke said Friday.

Besides the La Crosse brewery, City Brewing owns a brewery in Latrobe, Pa., and one in Memphis, Tenn.

From Tribune files: Life in the La Crosse area in the 1940s

Work is performed on the north facing windows Wednesday at the La Crosse Center where construction continues on a major expansion and renovation project.

Extending west, beyond the arena at the La Crosse Center, the future home of a new ballroom takes shape over Front Street.

Gov. Evers meets with lawmakers, extends mask mandate

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos described their Friday meeting to discuss coronavirus relief measures as productive.

The meeting came hours before Evers formally extended his order requiring masks to be worn in the state another two months, citing the strain on hospitals that are at or near capacity. The head of the Wisconsin Hospital Association on Thursday urged Evers and Republicans to work together urgently to avoid the crisis becoming a catastrophe.

Evers had said on Wednesday that he planned to issue the order. It comes as the state Supreme Court is weighing a lawsuit brought by conservatives that seeks to invalidate the requirement on the grounds Evers exceeded his authority. Republican legislative leaders also oppose the mask order.

The meeting Friday was Evers’ first with newly-elected Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu and his first since May with Vos.

“The conversation was productive and the governor expressed urgent need for working together on additional state support and asked legislative leaders to meet again the week after Thanksgiving,” said Evers’ spokeswoman Britt Cudaback. “He looks forward to the Legislature acting quickly to pass additional COVID-19 legislation to support our state’s response to this crisis.”

Vos said agreement was reached on some issues but not others. He did not specify.

“I see today’s conversation as a positive step forward to finding common ground in developing a more unified state response to the coronavirus pandemic,” he said in a statement.

Evers put forward a half-billion dollar COVID-19 relief bill this week. Vos outlined steps Assembly Republicans would like to take to combat the virus, but has not released any specific bills. Vos said the Legislature may come back in December to vote on bills.

LeMahieu did not immediately return messages seeking comment on the meeting.

The meeting came on a day that the state Department of Health Services reported 78 more deaths and 6,473 additional positive cases of COVID-19. To date, there have been nearly 345,000 positive cases and 2,954 deaths. There were 2,104 people hospitalized as of Thursday, down from an all-time high set on Tuesday, according to the hospital association.

There were 1,626 new cases per 100,000 people in Wisconsin over the past two weeks, which ranks fifth in the country for new cases per capita, according to data from Johns Hopkins. One in every 120 people in Wisconsin tested positive in the past week.

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La Crosse County
La Crosse County coronavirus cases increase by 162 Friday

La Crosse County eclipsed 7,000 total confirmed COVID-19 cases with 162 new cases of the virus Friday, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Health.

The county has recorded more than 1,000 new cases over the past nine days and averaged 128.14 new cases per day over the past seven days, down from 128.71 on Thursday and 144.29 a week ago.

Total confirmed cases are up to 7,081, which grows to 7,340 when including probable cases.

Of Friday’s cases, five were people ages to 9, 12 were people ages 10-19, 26 were in their 20s, 36 were in their 30s, 15 were in their 40s, 22 were in their 50s, 21 were in their 60s, 12 were in their 70s, 11 were in their 80s and 2 were of people at least 90 years old.

Friday’s positivity rate was 37.59%, marking the 33rd day in a row with a daily positivity rate above 10%.

The county’s seven- and 14-day positivity rates also remain well above 10%. The seven-day rate is at 28.40%, down from 28.66% on Thursday and 34.79% a week ago. The 14-day rate is at 31.46%, up from 30.39% on Thursday and 30.88% a week ago.

Total positivity continues to rise and is at 15.41%, up from 14.45% a week ago. No new deaths were reported, leaving that total at 32.

State data

Wisconsin confirmed another 6,473 cases of COVID-19 Friday, bringing the running total to 344,945. Negative tests have reached 2,407,136, up 19,138 from yesterday.

Hospitalizations rose by 190, with 15,526 Wisconsinites ever hospitalized for the coronavirus, and 78 additional deaths were reported, with fatalities reaching 2,954.

IN PHOTOS: Local community members wear face masks