Vendors have mixed feelings about Summerfest

MILWAUKEE — The return of a popular annual music festival in Milwaukee wasn’t what some vendors expected.

After the event was canceled last year due to the coronavirus, Summerfest 2021 ended with mixed reports. Sellers who set up shop for the first time generally marked it a success while longtime vendors saw it as a “total bust.”

Vendors said during Saturday’s last day of the two-week concert that the crowds had picked up a bit more from the start but remained low compared to previous years. Surging cases of the delta variant of COVID-19 and new pandemic protocols were cited as possible factors, the Journal Sentinel reported.

“This was not what I expected,” said Kagan Tate, owner of Butterfly Connection. “A total bust.”

Tania Espinoza Bonilla, owner of T for Textile, was selling for the first time at a large festival. Although she didn’t see the crowds she had hoped for, she was thankful for the exposure and connections she made for her business.

Even before the pandemic, Summerfest had already experienced reduced attendance and in 2019 saw the lowest participation since 1986 with just more than 718,000 festgoers. Officials have not provided daily attendance numbers and would not comment on the numbers while the event was running.

Iowa’s AG Tom Miller seeks 11th term

DES MOINES, Iowa — The nation’s longest-serving attorney general is seeking another term in Iowa.

Seventy-seven-year-old Tom Miller said Saturday that he will seek an 11th term in office in 2022 because he has “unfinished business” he wants to take care of.

Miller has already held the job for nearly 40 years. He was first elected in 1978 and served until 1991, when he left the office after losing the Democratic gubernatorial primary. He was re-elected in 1994 and has been serving ever since.

“I believe we’re doing some of the best work we’ve ever done in the AG’s office, and we have one of the best groups of people on our staff ever,” Miller told the Des Moines Register in an interview. “I enjoy what I’m doing. I’m energized by what I’m doing. And we’ve got a lot of unfinished business, in my opinion.”

Miller said he wants to play a role in deciding how Iowa spends the hundreds of millions of dollars it is due to receive from settlements with the makers and distributors of opioid painkillers. And he wants to continue his work with antitrust cases involving technology giants Facebook and Google.

Miller is one of the few Democrats to hold a statewide office in Iowa, but he says he tries to keep politics out of his job.

“We made a basic decision that’s served us through today, and that was to use the office to serve the interests of ordinary Iowans,” he said.

Corporate diversity focus of conference

CHICAGO — Recruiting people of color for roles in the corporate world and accountability in hiring will be discussed by chief executives and other business leaders during an event hosted by Chicago-based Diversity MBA.

The 15th Annual National Business Leaders Virtual Conference and Awards Gala will be held Wednesday and Thursday.

Hiring trends, teaching people of color seeking jobs corporate insight on how to land them and successfully climbing the corporate ladder also will be discussed during the conference.

Other topics will include social justice issues and what diversity, inclusion and equity in the workplace really looks like, and changing company culture to ensure accountability, equity and measurable progress is made.

Jobseekers also will be able to connect with representatives from companies considered the best places for women and people of color to work.

Illinois proving popular route for once rare pelicans

CHICAGO — A kind of bird that not that long ago was so rare in Illinois that people traveled hours just to catch a glimpse of one have lately been winging their way through the Chicago area.

Snow-white 30-pound birds called the American white pelican are on their semiannual migration through Illinois right now. It is a trip that means hundreds of them stop to rest near the Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon, 50 miles southwest of Chicago. Thousands more stop for a bit about 150 miles beyond Channahon at the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in Lewistown.

There are a number of reasons this might be happening. For starters, decades of wetland restoration across the country have helped increase the number of birds from about 40,000 in the 1960s to 180,000 today.

Customer refunds part of ICC settlement

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Commerce Commission has reached a settlement with Star Energy Partners LLC over its investigation into the alternative electric retail supplier’s practices.

The ICC announced that the settlement includes $300,000 in refunds, including $275,000 to current and former customers who enrolled with Star for service from May 1 to Oct. 25, 2018.

The remaining $25,000 will be deposited into the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program which financially aids low-income residents with energy bills.

The settlement resulted from a 2018 ICC investigation into allegations of misconduct by Star with customer sales, solicitation, marketing and enrollment practices.

Star admits no criminal, civil or other liability as part of the agreement. But the ICC said that the company recognizes and understands the seriousness of the alleged conduct and has agreed to remedial measures.

The Illinois attorney general and the Citizens’ Utility Board also signed the agreement. It prohibits Star from conducting sales, marketing and enrollment in Illinois for two years and complying with state restrictions after that.

Body of man pulled from Lake Michigan

EVANSTON, Ill. — The body of a 20-year-old man was pulled Saturday evening from Lake Michigan near Chicago after a seven-hour search for the missing swimmer, officials said.

Three other people were rescued from the water earlier in the day, according to Evanston spokesman Patrick Deignan.

The situation began just before 1 p.m. when a 911 caller reported three people struggling in the water. They were found hanging onto a breakwall and pulled out.

Roughly an hour later, crews on the beach found “unclaimed belongings” of another person, which sparked the search for the fourth swimmer. Security camera footage showed the man enter the lake and go underwater before the three others went in.

His body was found around 9 p.m.

The three others were hospitalized. One person was listed in critical condition.

Evanston beaches were closed for swimming for the season earlier in the month.

La Crosse firefighters rescue 5 canoeists

LA CROSSE, Wis. — Authorities say members of the La Crosse Fire Department rescued five canoeists who became stranded on the La Crosse River Saturday evening.

Captain Greg Temp said rescue crews responded to a call shortly before 8 p.m. and found the five people clinging to a tree in the water.

The department used two of their inflatable boats to reach the canoeists and return them safely to shore. No injuries were reported, according to WXOW-TV.

The La Crosse River flows into the Mississippi River in the city of La Crosse.

The Associated Press

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