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Madison property values show first increase in recent years

Increasing Madison property values for both commercial and residential properties are a sign of an economic recovery, according to city officials.

The city announced Friday a 3.2 percent increase for the average residential property and 4 percent increase for commercial properties. The overall increase is 3.5 percent.

Property assessments are being mailed to property owners on Friday.

City officials said properties appreciated in value $345 million during 2013 compared to a $31 million drop during 2012. In 2008-2009, property values depreciated more than $1.1 billion.

New construction in 2013 was 75 percent higher than in 2012, spreading the tax burden across more properties.

Also, the tax burden continues to shift from residential to commercial properties. It has increased from 31 percent to 35 percent since 2007.

UW professors propose free tuition

Two University of Wisconsin-Madison professors are attempting to give their students a piece of the American dream. In a paper published this month, the model makes college accessible for those who attend public universities by lowering the total cost of tuition.

"The financial aid system just is not working out the way it was planned to. It's not good for people to work really hard and then see it not pay off. That's really disconcerting to families and it really undermines the American dream," said Sara Goldrick-Rab, co-author of the paper.

Under the proposed model, students would receive free tuition for two years and would have their books and supplies paid for completely, as well as receive a stipend to help with living expenses.

Goldrick-Rab said rerouting financial aid from private institutes to public colleges and universities could cover the cost.

Witness: Officer in ?Wrestlemania? struggle with man in street

A police officer got into a fight with a man a witness described as ?Wrestlemania? while trying to break up a fight in a street, according to a release from Madison police.

Police said the officer noticed two people fighting in the street near 437 W. Gorham St. at 2:50 a.m. on April 12 and attempted to intervene.

One man got into a fight with the officer, and the officer told Akeem Ali Wilkins, 21, of Madison, numerous times to stop resisting, according to police.

A witness stepped in to hold Wilkins while the officer placed him in handcuffs, police said.

The other man involved in the initial fight told police he was walking down the street with friends when he was thrown to the ground and ended up in a wrestling match.

Wilkins was arrested on suspicion of battery, resisting and officer an disorderly conduct.

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Police: Man causes disturbance at bar, kicks at officers

A Waunakee man struggled with staff, patrons and police during a disturbance at a downtown bar, according to Madison police.

Police were called to the Red Rock Saloon at 322 West Johnson St. at 10:38 p.m. on April 12 for a report of a disturbance.

Witnesses told police Justin L. Smith, 27, became combative with staff when he was found urinating in an outdoor patio. They said as he was escorted out of the bar, he pulled at patrons and pushed a staff member.

Bouncers said they tried to control Smith on the ground until officers arrived.

Police said Smith kicked at officers and grabbed at their equipment as they attempted to get him off the ground. They said he argued with officers and refused to sit in the squad car.

Smith was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and resisting an officer.

Madison ranked greenest city in nation

With Earth Day just around the corner, a website has ranked Madison the greenest city in the nation.

VIEW GALLERY OF TOP 25 GREEN CITIES

The website Nerd Wallet looked at the 95 largest cities in America and measured air quality, alternative modes of travel and natural attributes like lakes, biking and hiking trails and local parks.

Jessi Claringbole, community relations manager at Madison Environmental Group, a consulting firm that urges companies to build and think green, said she?s not surprised Madison made the list, but there?s even more the city can be doing.

?If we could expand the metro offerings, have it to be more available to outlying neighborhoods, and they maybe connect with other communities. Maybe starting in Dane County and then kind of expanding from there,? Claringbole said.

Man allegedly bites woman during disturbance over bar tab

Man allegedly bites woman during disturbance over bar tab

A 24-year-old woman was allegedly bitten by a man who was trying to run from a downtown business without paying his bar tab, Madison police said.

Police responded to reports of a disturbance around 1:15 a.m. April 10 in the 100 block of King Street, officials said. Bouncers had Terrell Burns, 22, of Madison, detained in the establishment.

When Burns went to pay his bar tab and his credit card was declined, he offered to leave other forms of identification and return with payment later, according to the release. Staff were worried he wouldn't return so they started looking for him.

Burns panicked and started running away from staff members, officials said. A female employee told police Burns ran into her, and she tried to hold him until she felt him biting her. Other staff members detained Burns until police arrived.

Burns was arrested on tentative charges of battery and on a parole violation.

Don't let big companies decide what seeds we can plant

For as much attention as sustainable agriculture, farm to table and CSA programs and countless other healthy food initiatives are receiving, it?s easy to overlook that to a large degree everything starts with seeds. But as simple as that sounds, access to seeds is anything but simple.

At issue is the growing use of patenting by the three largest, multi-national seed corporations, Monsanto, DePont, and Syngenta, to control seeds. That control is jeopardizing seed species and seed varieties and that is of great concern to plants breeders, smaller seed companies and sustainability advocates. And it should be of concern to all of us who care about access to fresh, healthy food.