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a.MKE The List: Recall Petitions Must Be Turned in Today & Martin Luther King Jr. Service Program: Today’s Top Stories

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Applications for weekly unemployment benefits jumped because of seasonal layoffs. Now that the holidays are over, companies have had to let go several employees, causing the number of applications to rise by 24,000, adding to the total of nearly 400,000 applications. The labor department reported that that’s the highest level seen in six weeks.

With recall petitions due today, the State Election Board is creating a new database to enter the names of all those who signed recall petitions. It’s a policy that will add to taxpayer costs and could possibly delay when recall elections are held. The decision comes after a ruling saying that the Government Accountability Board must take the appropriate steps to search for duplicate and fake names.

Mandel Group is proposing a $30 million development project for Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. The development would bring 150 high-end apartments and a health club to the area. The group plans to start construction on the project by the end of 2012, and the building would sit on the riverfront parking lot next to Mandel’s other condo building, the Marine Terminal Lofts.

Today the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has to turn in recall petitions for Governor Walker to the Government Accountability Board. In order to force a recall election, at least 540,000 signatures need to be collected. Election Officials say recall petitions will be processed in a locked facility with security gates, surveillance cameras and police. The group United Wisconsin and other partners plan on rallying in celebration of the petitions being turned in this afternoon at the Monona Terrace in Madison.

Yesterday hundreds of volunteers worked on creating over 30 murals throughout the Alexander Hamilton High School as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Program. Helpers included City Year Milwaukee, Americorp members and volunteers, all participating in the day of service to commemorate the civil rights movement and honor the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.

Now you don’t hear this everyday…the Bird City Wisconsin Project awarded 10 more Wisconsin communities “Bird City” status for their commitment to making their communities a better place for people, birds and other wildlife. Each community will be presented with a flag, plaque and street signs in honor of their innovative and collaborative approaches to urban bird conservation. The program is designed after the “Tree City USA” program.