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aMKE The List: Wisconsin's GOP Primary & 2012 Manufacturing Career Expo: Today’s Top Stories

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The DNR is warning landowners that invasive plants are getting an early start this year due to the recent warm weather. DNR plant specialists say landowners and land managers should keep an eye out for garlic mustard, a plant that smells like garlic and has four small white petals. The plant can completely take over entire forest floors, displacing other wildflowers. The agency says pulled plants need to be buried, burned or sent to a landfill. If they’re left out in the woods or piled in a driveway, they’ll continue to grow and produce seeds.

Yesterday was the final push for Republican Candidates to win votes before Wisconsin’s GOP Presidential Primary. Frontrunner Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum made several stops throughout the state yesterday. Over the weekend, Romney got a big boost after receiving endorsements from Senator Ron Johnson, Congressman Paul Ryan and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. As far as Santorum, he says he’s more determined than ever going into today’s primary. He says despite Romney’s recent endorsements, the race is far from over. As for the other GOP candidates, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul left the state over the weekend.

The non-profit organization CORE El-Centro recently celebrated its brand new eco-friendly home. CORE moved seven blocks away from its old location, but the new building now features a rooftop garden, passive solar geothermal heating and cooling, and energy-efficient computers. The building is designed to exceed green standards and roughly 50% of the materials were salvaged. CORE provides holistic therapy for people of all economic levels and is all about promoting health, wellness and education.

The non-profit neighborhood improvement group, Riverworks Development, recently teamed up with Horizon Development to convert a century-old factory in Riverwest to a 36-unit apartment building that will open later this week. Riverworks Lofts are located at the southeast corner of North Holton and East Townsend Streets. The lofts will provide new rental units for families, including those already living in the neighborhood. Both firms say they’d like to create another apartment building in Riverwest down the road.

The State Department of Workforce Development is planning on hosting the “2012 Milwaukee Manufacturing Career Expo” this may. The expo will focus on two problems…one, the area’s high unemployment and two, manufacturers’ continuing complaints that they can’t find enough qualified workers. The new twist to this job fair is that workers and companies will be “prequalified.” This means that only firms that have openings will be present. Also, workers will be screened to ensure they understand that to have a good shot, they need appropriate clothes and a resume. The expo will be held on May 10th at the State Fair Park Exposition Center.

Yesterday was World Autism Awareness Day and national polls estimate that autism is on the rise, but a Marquette University research group is looking to help kids with the social disability better navigate their teen years.  The 14-week “PEERS Program” teaches kids social skills they don’t intuitively know. The Marquette team is also gathering new evidence that teaching these kids the subtle, unwritten rules of social interaction may lead to some positive changes in their brains. Starting this fall, a new PEERS Program will focus on helping young adults with autism disorders and the first semester is already filled.