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Of note: PFAS, the so-called forever chemicals, are turning up in public drinking systems and surface waters across Wisconsin as testing increases, Wisconsin Watch’s Bennet Goldstein reports. In 2020 and 2021, labs detected PFAS in nearly 98% of the 539 private drinking wells sampled in the town of Campbell on French Island near La Crosse — contaminants that likely were present for years.

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Lee Donahue lives near the Mississippi River on Wisconsin’s French Island. Donahue is a supervisor for the town of Campbell who is drawing attention to PFAS contamination on French Island. Photo taken July 20, 2022. (Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch)

Wisconsin’s French Island faces stark choices as PFAS water crisis lingers

Wisconsin Watch — September 17, 2022

Jim Boisen and Margie Walker conceived of their single-story residence as a “forever home” when they bought it in 1979. But when a reporter complimented them on their house, Margie replied, “You wanna buy it?” The couple’s home sits atop a toxic plume of PFAS that has disrupted life for them and the 4,300 residents of the island.

Related coverage: U.S. Rep. Ron Kind among French Island residents grappling with PFAS contamination

Students with Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) host a rally in March promoting demands to improve meals in the Milwaukee Public Schools. (Joe Brusky / Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association)

Wisconsin districts seek solutions as school lunch quality comes under fire

Wisconsin Watch — September 21, 2022

Wisconsin Watch’s Erin Gretzinger explores the complaints over school lunch quality, which plunged during the pandemic due to supply chain problems and labor shortages. These trends, experts say, are expected to continue. The disruptions have led districts to consider new approaches, including more scratch cooking and local suppliers.

Related coverage from Wisconsin Watch’s Beyond Hunger series: Mobile markets bring fresh food to Wisconsin customers

U.S. Census Bureau denies whistleblowers’ claims of fraud

The Reporters Inc. — September 2022

The federal government is denying claims by a Wisconsin man and two other whistleblowers that it ordered them to engage in “systematic cheating” in signing up partners to help promote the 2020 Census. 

A globe is constructed Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, at the Foxconn campus in Mount Pleasant, Wis. (Angela Major/WPR)

What is Foxconn making at its taxpayer-supported Mount Pleasant facility? An employee says workers are bored, encouraged to go home early

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — September 16, 2022

Every morning hundreds go to work at the taxpayer-supported Foxconn campus in Mount Pleasant, but for the last five years, very few people in Wisconsin have known what goes on there. One worker says it’s not much. “I talk to guys who have been here nine, 12 months and they say they’ve worked about three of those months.” 

Mail ballot fight persists in key states, sure to slow count

Associated Press — September 20, 2022

Former President Donald Trump seized on the drawn-out vote counting in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other battleground states during the 2020 election to fuel false claims of a stolen election. Election officials worry of a replay in November’s crucial Senate and governor’s races, including Wisconsin’s. 

Related coverage: GOP’s election-year standing with independents at risk

Lake Superior Is cold, sparsely settled and known for bad weather. Perfect for cruising, some say.

The New York Times — September 14, 2022

As cruising picks up, the small Wisconsin port of Bayfield weighs the pros and cons of more ships and their impact on the town and the environment.

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The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.