News – March 11, 2009

Flood Warnings Issued on Some Wisconsin Rivers

3/11/09 – A number of area rivers are continuing to rise and threatening to overflow their banks. According to the National Weather Service, flood warnings have been issued on 10 southern Wisconsin rivers including the Crawfish River at Milford. That river sits on the cusp of flooding at 6.91-feet and the weather service predicts it may crest at 7.9-feet this weekend, nine inches about flood stage. For comparison sake, last June the river crested at more than 13.5-feet. Meanwhile in Watertown, the Rock River is about a foot below flood stage but is expected to rise to its flood level of 5.5-feet by mid-day Saturday. In Dodge County, the Rock River at Waupun is considered in “action stage” but still about 10-inches below its flood stage of 6-feet. As of early this morning, the Beaver Dam River sat more than 2-feet below its flood stage.

Meanwhile, Columbus residents received a response last night to concerns about the possibility of a repeat of last year’s June “flood disaster.” DPW Director Dan Jensen reported at the Council session that daily weather forecasts and the water levels at various sites along the Crawfish River are being monitored. The latest report on water levels at the James St. Bridge was about 3 feet below the danger level. However, notice has been issued alerting residents with properties in low lying areas that sand bags are available at the Department of Public Works.

Waupun Making Preparations for Stimulus Funds

3/11/09 – If stimulus funds are made available, the city of Waupun wants to be ready. The state took most of the phase one money for interstate and highway projects but second phase funds are still a possibility. City Administrator Gary Rogers presented the common council with a list of high priority projects identified by his staff at last night’s meeting with the Madison Street reconstruction being at the top of the list. Other projects included on the list were the reconstruction of Main Street, from State to about County Road AW, the converting of street lights to LED, as well as a number of quality of life projects. Rogers says the city must have their projects reported to the state by the end of the month for consideration.

Council Passes Ordinance Banning the Feeding of Deer in Waupun

3/11/09 – The city of Waupun approved an ordinance that bans the feeding of deer in by a 4 to 2 vote. The ordinance bans residents from setting food plots in their yards. The new rule was put in place in attempt to crack down on the deer that are taking their toll on trees and shrubs on the north side of the city. City Administrator Gary Rodgers says there are number of herds running around town and causing extensive amounts of damage. Residents have seen as many as 20 deer together walking down city streets and through yards. The topic was broached last year and the DNR recommended the ban, but it failed when voted on.

Juneau Council Approves Phone Upgrade

3/11/09 – The city of Juneau is another step closer to realizing the benefits of their recently installed city-owned fiber optic ring. Juneau Utility Commission President Dan Wegener says the fiber optic upgrade was initiated four years ago and the city has spent about $20,000 connecting the Public Safety Building, the Utility Building, the Wastewater Treatment Plant and City Hall, among others. The Common Council last night approved a final telephone equipment upgrade – this one for city hall — at a cost of just over $31,000. Wegener says because their entire phone system will be carried on one fiber optic line, the city will no longer have to pay separate phone bills for each building. While the city is currently using fiber optics to link their new phone system as well as their internal computer network, Wegener says the next step is to consolidate their internet service providers. Like the phone system, when the city consolidates internet providers they will eliminate the need to pay separate bills at different buildings for varying levels of service. Wegener says it may take some time to realize the monthly savings, but the productivity and efficiency the system has allowed is invaluable.

Pastors Unite for Jobless Support Group

3/11/09 – Pastors with three Beaver Dam churches have joined forces to address the issue rising joblessness. “Workers in Transition” is a support group for people who are in-between jobs. Rev. Mark Swanson with the Trinity United Methodist Church says with the increasing number of people who have lost jobs the support group will provide an opportunity for members of the community to help each other. Rev. Mark Jensen with the First Lutheran Church says attendees will be able to share their stories, find spiritual support and encouragement and also network. Rev. Jack Harrison with Grace Presbyterian Church says looking for a new job is not just a practical process but it’s also a spiritual process. Harrison says one of the most important things people can do in between jobs is to stay active to avoid a spiral into depression. He recommends volunteering, either at your church or another non-profit organization. The Workers in Transition support group meets next Monday, March 16 and again March 30. Beginning in April, the meetings will be held on the second and fourth Monday of each month. All meetings will be held at the American Legion Hall on Beichl Avenue in Beaver Dam from 11am until 12:30pm.

Highway 33 Reconstruction Could Start Next Monday

3/11/09 – Well this time it won’t be delayed until next year, but the Highway 33 reconstruction project in Horicon will be delayed until at least next week. The $6.5 million dollar project was scheduled to begin this past Monday but severe weather has DOT officials targeting next Monday to begin phase one. The reconstruction is still scheduled to be completed by November 20. The project was originally slated to be done in 2002 but was delayed several times until it was green-lighted for this year.

Feingold Fails in Stopping Spending Bill

3/11/09 – Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold was among 35 senators who tried-but-failed yesterday to stop a 410-billion-dollar federal spending bill from passing. It was approved on a voice vote, after it passed its final procedural hurdle. And while President Obama said he would sign the bill today, he also promised to curb the types of pet projects the massive package contains. Feingold says there are 85-hundred pork items costing seven-point-seven billion dollars. And he said Congress failed to show Americans it’s committed to spending their money wisely. But Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl, who supported the package, said the earmarks are often the only way to bring home needed funding for a host of things in the Badger State. The bill funds the government for the rest of the fiscal year, with increases above inflation for numerous programs – including energy research and food aid. Amtrak gets a 10-percent increase. It erases former President Bush’s restrictions on Cuban imports and loosened rules on travel there. And Congress itself beefed up its own budget by 11-percent – although it omitted the members’ next automatic cost-of-living raise.

Teachers Union Watching Obama’s Plans for Education

3/11/09 – Wisconsin teachers’ union leaders are reacting cautiously to President Obama’s plans for public education. The president said yesterday he wants to reward high-performing teachers, expand innovative charter schools, and maybe have longer school years – all to help American kids regain their competitive edge in the world. Teachers’ unions, a major force in Obama’s Democratic Party, have resisted such changes for years. They’re especially wary of tying teacher pay to student test scores – something the administration says might be part of the mix. The head of Wisconsin’s largest teachers’ union, WEAC (wee’-ack) president Mary Bell, says there’s no way her group will give up its bargaining rights. But she says the union might be open to merit pay for those in quote, “hard-to-teach schools” or those who coach other teachers.

Milwaukee’s Gokey Gets Rave Revues on American Idol

3/11/09 – Wisconsin’s first “American Idol” finalist got great reviews from the judges in his initial performance as one of the Final-13. They sang Michael Jackson songs last night. And Danny Gokey of Milwaukee sang-and-danced his way through the fast-moving “P-Y-T – Pretty Young Thing” from the early 1980’s. Randy Jackson called it passionate – and he liked the up-tempo change for the 28-year-old church musician. Simon Cowell called Gokey a “white guy with soul.” He loved the singing, but said Gokey got over-excited on the dancing. Kara DioGuardi called it “joyous.” Paula Abdul said quote, “The true mark of an artist is when you can hear somebody, even with your eyes closed, and know exactly who they are.” And she said Gokey has that gift. The viewers voted for their favorites, and decided who moves on. The bottom-two vote-getters will be the first to go on tonight’s results show. It starts at seven o’clock on Fox.

Man Thinks He Bought Metal and Gets a Meteorite Instead

3/11/09 – Tom Lynch bought a 10-dollar piece of metal at a rummage sale in Milwaukee – and it turned out to be a stolen meteorite from Arizona. Lynch told a Milwaukee paper he figured something was weird – because the metal never oxidized while it held his grandson’s basketball hoop in place for two years. After seeing a show about meteorites on the Travel Channel, he took the 50-pound basket-shaped metal to the Milwaukee Public Museum, and then to the Field Museum in Chicago. And sure enough, it was a treasure that was four-point-six billion years old. He did some checking around, and learned it was worth 100-thousand dollars. But minerals expert Jim DuFoe gave him the bad news – that the meteorite was stolen in 1968 from the Meteor Crater Center near Flagstaff Arizona. The 62-year-old Lynch figured he couldn’t sell what he didn’t own. So he decided to take the meteorite back to where it belonged, and take a thousand-dollars the center offered as a reward. First, though, Lynch showed off his find at a South Milwaukee café yesterday. Milwaukee museum curator Peter Sheehan says lots of people think they have meteorites, but they turn to be slag from a foundry.