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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Surfer Girl and other matters

Here in Clayton, California on a Wednesday nite, they are having a street party, with the outdoor karoke, the Harleys lined up and the vintage cars lined up for display. In the "old town" area are a couple of vintage saloons right out of some Western movie.

Families are milling about the old cars and getting ready for the singing to begin with the old Beach boys songs and such. I am getting in the mood for the party when the road construction is completed. There is just pizza here and yes, beer, but no brats. I think we can improve on this party.

The View From Northern California

Now that you were so excited cause our sewage rates are so low, I would add another small matter---affordability.

I have been observing in Northern California for a couple of days of R&R and went into an open house for a three bedroom rambler, small lot, nicely decorated that would sell for $120,000 in Evansville. Asking price was $699,000. It sold in 2 days.

I will be observing over the next few days just exactly how people are getting the money to buy such homes, and will report back. My preliminary conclusion is that one does not live in Wisconsin and retire in California, but maybe the reverse.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Re: Sewer User Charge

--- Bill Hammann <bhammann@charter.net> wrote:

> Richard,
> One of my favorite topics. Some things we actually
> do well:
> Please post on your web site:
> Reviewed Statewide Sewer User Charge Survey
> (Communities population 2,001 - 5,000)
> Highest Annual Sewer User Charge (55,000
> gal/yr.) $759/yr
> Average Annual Sewer User Charge (55,000
> gal/yr.) $354/yr
> Lowest Annual Sewer User Charge (55,000
> gal/yr.) $143/yr
> Evansville Annual Sewer User Charge (55,000
> gal/yr.) $207/yr
> Statewide average Hook Up Fee $1,269
> Evansville Hook Up Fee $1,250
> Evansville is below the Statewide average for user
> charges.
> Bill Hammann Chair, Public Works Committee

Re: Public Hearing and motion to approve Streetscape plan for Main Street phase 1

--- Bill Hammann <bhammann@charter.net> wrote:

> Please Post on your web site:
> Public Hearing and motion to approve Streetscape
> plan for Main Street phase 1
> Public Works Meeting
> Monday, June 27 at 6:00 p.m.
> Council Chambers, City Hall
> How do you want Evansville's new Main Street to
> look?
> In 2005, as part of the Hwy. 14 reconstruction
> project the state D.O.T. is planning to rip up the
> portion of Main St. to replace the storm sewer. The
> City will reconstruct Main St. from Union St. to
> Allen Creek.
> In 2007, the City will reconstruct Main St. from
> Allen Creek to First Street.
> The reconstruction will involve replacing the
> sanitary sewer and water mains under the street, the
> street itself, the curb, gutter, and sidewalks.
> This will meeting focused on reconstruction efforts
> occurring in 2005.
> The discussion on Main Street between Union St. &
> the Bridge reconstruction were as follows:
> a.. Sidewalk - width, color & style
> b.. Since this section of downtown contains
> several residential homes, The preliminary design
> showed sidewalk with grass terrace similar to a
> residential area. This addresses Citizen concerns
> regarding separating this section of Main St. from
> the West Side.
> c.. The preliminary design has the lower cost
> standard concrete sidewalk.
> d.. Costs difference between a standard concrete
> sidewalk ($3 to $4 per square foot) and stamped and
> colored concrete sidewalk ($10 to $12 per square
> foot.)
> a.. Road Width
> b.. The preliminary design kept the street width
> at 46'.
> a.. Miscellaneous amenities (trees, benches,
> etc.)
> a.. The preliminary design has the same
> pedestrian lights currently on Main St. with
> planters & banners. It's contained 3 - 5 more lights
> to create a safer walking environment.
> b.. The preliminary design has 2 - 3 more trees,
> but no trees directly in across from storefront
> entrances and signs.
> c.. The preliminary design has one trash
> receptacle at the end of Main St.
> d.. The preliminary design has one bench to be
> located on the south side of Allen creek.
> e.. The preliminary design one bike rack located
> near local businesses.
> Bill Hammann Chair, Public Works Committee

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Differences as an Asset: Dialogue as Strength

My sister, Susie, is an executive in a large firm in a large metro area. On their website, one of the strategies written about is "Leveraging Our Differences" to achieve corporate success.

I teased her about this saying, " Susie, I normally leverage my assets, not my differences." " Well'" she replied, " That is exactly the point," "They are assets." She went on, "Our market is folks who speak 10 languages from all over the world. We need every bit of difference in our staff just to deliver our service in an understanding way. So, differences are a strength for us, and a key way of seeing ourselves."

Over the past couple months on this blog, we have had an open discussion and it has revealed differences, some deep, some not. The differences can be seen as strength or weakness. The open discussion can be seen as strength or weakness. I see both as strength and salute those in the city, such as Mr. Connors, who have engaged citizens in the dialogue. I salute those citizens who have participated. Now we need each one to tell one more person so the discussion can grow. And the strength can grow. Yes, kinda like weight training.

LIBRARY CORNER: "Truth and Fiction in "The DaVinci Code" by Bart D. Ehrman

The two books by Dan Brown, "The Di Vinci Code" and "Angels & Demons" have provoked a lot of debate over the past couple of years, mostly because their author, Dan Brown has claimed that the facts in "The DiVinci Code" are historically accurate.

Bart D. Ehrman first examines the process of how historians review source documents and determine what in fact can be known as historically accurate. Then he reviews The DaVinci Code and finds some serious flaws with the historical claims in The DaVinci Code. Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene? Was he celibate? How many of his contemporaries wrote about Him before 100AD?

Well, you will have to get this book to find the answers. It is new to the Eager Free Public Library.

Wisconsin Cities Pass Bond Resolutions---Insurance against State Levy Limits

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal is running a well written article today, " Cities Try to avoid Tax Levy Limits." (www.jsonline.com). This week, Evansville and most other cities in Wisconsin have passed bond authorization resolutions that total up to $335 million in future borrowing. Milwaukee may pass similar resolutions for $336 million alone next week. Why? They have been told by their bond law specialists that these resolutions will get around any levy limits that the Wisconsin State Legislature may pass that could restrict levys for new construction to the rate of recent years which has been 2.6% Everything more than that would have to go to referendum.

Readers can see the problem immediately. For communities that like Evansville have delayed their big ticket capital improvements and are playing "catch up", the levy limits could be disastrous. Also, what many people do not realize is that some communities actually borrow money just to meet municipal payroll till the new tax levies are collected. As a housekeeping matter, the levy limit might make some communities have a referendum just to meet payroll---not a pleasant prospect.

What does it all mean? Maybe not much. It may just be political mind games. Both political parties want to posture themselves as for property tax freeze---however, the Journal Sentinal points out that in the last tax period it was school districts and not city governments that increased the expenditures by the most amounts. Such was the case in Evansville. In fact, the increase was zero as I recall for the city.

Evansville passed a resolution authorizing up to $15 million to be borrowed. The resolution, in the Evansille Review ,does NOT list the Lake Leota Project on the resolution dated 6-15-2005 but DOES list it on the resolution 6-14-2005 as one of the projects included in destination of these funds. I am at a loss what is correct and whether this is or is not an attempt to avoid a referendum on this issue.

The comment line is open.

Friday, June 24, 2005

POPA Weight Room needs Supervisor Help--July

Dale Schultz reports that he needs supervisors for July to maintain the community weight room hours. Volunteers supervise and financially support the weight room so that these hours can be maintained. So if you are working out anyway, why not volunteer to supervise for that time? Call him at 882-6249 or cell 608-295-2275.

He reports that over 80 middle and high school students are participating in the POPA fitness program this summer.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Primetimers present,"An Evening with Dr. Zorba Paster--July 28, 2005

The Primetimers announce "An Evening with Dr. Zorba Paster" on July 28th at 6:30pm. It will be an evening of music, fine dining, and Dr. Paster. Menu and entertainment will be announced in the Primetimers flyer for July. RSVP by July 22 Call Amanda --882-0407--to make reservations.

MATH PROBLEM: Rapid Growth+ "Central Campus School Setting"+ SUPREME COURT Ruling= What?

Readers on this blog have been debating about the Kelo Supreme Court case for a couple of months, but the decision is stunning ----just in what it means for the new math----from now on, if a school district or city decide that they want something because it is newer, no problem. Thus---

If our school district,( which residents when polled 4 years ago, 70% stated they strongly supported a central campus not a bussing situation,) decided that it would be better to achieve the goals of Evansville to simply seize the homes necessary surrounding the current schools for school expansion, presto, it would have the blessing of the supreme court as long as "just compensation" was given. Suppose you are a homeowner on Hwy 92. Or on 5th street. Or on Francis. No discussion please. The issue is not "blight." I do remember some emotional discussion about the trailer homes surrounding the current elementary school. No discussion now. It has been decided.

So---what do you think about the new math. Mr. Pierick went over the numbers at the June 15, 2005 planning meeting. There is going to be a push for new space. The Supreme Court has said today that the homes adjacent to the schools are fair game. As long as a governmental entity has a plan, that is good enough. It's not about East Main anymore. What do you think?

Supreme Court says cities can seize homes even if not blighted----

In a divided decision today, the Supreme Court decided that cities who had a development plan could seize property from homeowners after paying them "just compensation," and that the economic benefit outweighed the homeowners property rights.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor issued a strong dissent and said that," Any proprty may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms." She was joined in her dissent by Justice Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas. (www.yahoo.com)

Michael Hauri and His Musical Dream

You may know of Michael Hauri, the son of Wesley and Sandra Hauri, as a football player and champion weightlifter. Yes, you may have known he was the brother of Amy Hauri, the J.C. McKenna grad who won the Lake Leota Grove Chase 5k run several years back.

I knew Michael as a saxophone player, one of the famous "blues brothers" of the Evansville Jazz Band of Soetart, Jakes and Hauri, who when they were in New York used to come to breakfast in their sunglasses and we never knew whether technically they had slept or not...however,

At the 2005 EHS Fine Arts Awards, Mr. Z revealed the rest of the story. Sometime after I saw Michael Hauri perform with the Dallas Brass professional ensemble in 2004, he came to the conclusion that if musical instruments were breaking down nationally as much as they were locally, this could be a career opportunity.

Band Intrument Repair Programs are rare, but one is located in Red Wing, Mn. at Minnesota State College Southeast Technical(www.southeasttech.mnscu.edu ) The only problem is that students enrolled in this program must know how to play the instruments they will repair. This created a total musical learning frenzy in the Hauri home as Michael pushed to learn the other instruments.

The program for instrument repair in Red Wing has an impressive reputation and students come from all over the world to attend. In 2001, 100% of their students were placed for employment after graduation.

In recognition of his achievent, Michael Hauri was awarded the Senior Outstanding Music Award for 2005. It"s about instruments and it's about dreams. Congratulations, Michael and Best Wishes as you head to Red Wing. Keep in contact with The Evansville Observer when you are away. Residents can contribute to the Band Instrument Fund at EHS by simply sending a donation to the attn of Mr. Z and marking it "Instrument Fund."

This restaurant, currently vacant, could be a Pub or could be razed and replaced with an apartment building that would fit the residential community. A private party has expressed some interest in the pub idea. What are your thoughts?

WATERCOOLER: The future of the blue restaurant on East Main

At the recent meeting of East Main residents, the Under the Oak Tree Group, The Observer suggested that one of the consequences of focusing on the "vision" of how East Main should look, is being open to change--positive change. And hence, if the opportunity arose for a developer to purchase the blue restaurant and raze it and make a duplex or four plex that would have a "look" similar to the Mill Creek Apartments with brick front facing, this would be more consistent with the "vision" than trying to endlessly try to make a successful restaurant at the old location.

At this point, Mr. Conners mentioned that there had been some interest in converting the lower portion of the restaurant to a bar. The Observer felt that this was exactly the wrong direction for the location. It was proposed that this issue be put to a public watercooler. So, what do you think, Pub or Apartment? or what? It's your call.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

It's Adirondack Time---James Cunningham, woodworker

The photos below show the custom Adirondack chairs now on sale at the Carpentry shop of James Cunningham, woodworker, at 304 Cherry St, Evansville, Wi. 53536. Few people know that his workmanship is the story behind the restored facades on Main Steet that have won awards statewide for quality.

His Adirondack chairs were the result of his collaboration with Bob Lundy of Montana, and feature curved lumbar support, pine sides, white oak for the main slats and ceramic coated screws that last even longer than galvanized screws. Some folks like the chairs so much they put them in their livingroom. Jim said that people ususally get a pillow for the top so they can be comfy when they read and these are available at most garden stores.

Delivery 7 days from order. $395. Freight out of town extra. Mention the Observer when you place your order. James Cunningham, 304 Cherry St., Evansville 608-882-0679 It's time to kick back. It's Adirondack time.

Note the curved lumbar support----a modification especially unique to this Adirondack chair crafted by James Cunningham, Woodworker--608-882-0679, casia@eishome.com --7 day delivery. $395 Frt extra on out of town orders. Mention the Observer when you order.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Kissing Tree by Theresa Tolan---see more at Real Coffee a Gusto

The pool will open June 30? Until then concentrate on this picture.

Monday, June 20, 2005

East Main Visioning Process Begins

An informal group of District Four residents and city officials, calling themselves "The Under the Oak Tree Group" since they were meeting in Franklin Park under the oak tree, began the process of translating the vision that residents had roughly sketched out at the Planning Meeting of June 15 into a more concrete action plan.

Mayor Ringhand, City Administrator Bill Connors, Roger Berg, Sceone Gaard, Ayn Steinlein, Judge Alisankus and The Observer, Richard Woulfe were in attendance.

There was general agreement that the key thing is to get the "vision" right and then proceed. The East is not the historical district, but the effort will be to create a quality entrance to the Evansville Downtown. Ideas were shared about street lighting, flags, flowers, the possible windmill location, trees to be planted, speed limits, tree planting rebates etc.

Residents will be invited to a meeting in July to get their imput. The Observer will play a role in keeping residents of the 4th Ward aware of the upcoming events.

With the highway construction proceeding rapidly, there was the sense that now was the time for a fresh beginning. All attending felt positive about this new beginning.


In honor of the Grand Opening of The Evansville Observer, I will allow free 7 day classifieds of 50 words or less till August 7th. Simply go to the comment line, click, list your name, address and telephone and email address, and then list the items you wish to buy, sell, or trade. Enjoy.

"Aliye at Teatown" is the title of this painting by Terry Tolan whose paintings are now featured at Real Coffee. Trees are a major theme of her painting.

Theresa Tolan presents "The Heart of Nature" paintings

Theresa Tolan, 29 W. Liberty St., is currently displaying a few of her collection of paintings she calls, "The Heart of Nature,".
At" Real Coffee," on Main street in Evansville. For info on prints contact her at 882-3732. She says about her series of paintings,

"It is in Nature that I feel a profound peace. The heartbeat of life is most palpable when I am walking in the woods, near flowers and streams. It is here rooted in the earth that I feel the heart of life, which nurtures my soul.

I have been long fascinated with trees. As a child, I took delight in climbing and pretending to be a tree. No two are alike. Trees were my fortress. They each grow in their own way, bending, reaching, grounding, shading, protecting and giving. Trees are content with what they are. They endure extreme conditions and continue to thrive. This is a good model for my own growth."

The Powerboat and the Birdfeeder

If you live in Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, boats and lakes are pretty big. And the time for that pastime is very short---from June 15 to July 10. It's a weather thing. It finally gets warm by June 15 and the algae arrives by July 10. This is the only time of the year that I get nostalgic for Minnesota. Anyway,

My brother-in-law, Chris, who is a very successful high tech owner of a computer firm, just bought the big power boat of his dreams. The grand unveiling of the boat occurred last weekend with a big boat overnite at Big Island. After the getaway, there was a barbeque in their newly designed back yard complete with new fountain. Nancy was busy explaining how their new bird feeder was high tech and designed to prevent theft from squirrels. Just as she was pointing it out to interested guests, she noticed a rustle inside the bird feeder. A chipmunk had gotten inside and eaten everything.

Who wudda thunk it. High tech success beaten by a chipmunk. Now we need to keep this story as a family secret and tell no-one lest it affect sales.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

"My Honorable Opponent" and other deadly debate skills

Some time ago, when I was in high school, I was a short, bookish guy with thick glasses. Yes, I know this is hard to imagine. I decided to try out for the debate team. The topic for debate that year was "Should the UN be significantly strengthened?" I was assigned to the first negative and after the first "warmup" debate within the team, our coach, Mr. Ryan, taught me a lesson I have never forgotten.

"Well," he said, " that was a good first debate. Great energy. With some improvement you will be a great team. However, here are some thoughts. First, this is not mudwrestling, and we need to understand the difference. Some of you were surprised by your opponent's argument. The reason? You had not argued both sides of the question. So that is the assignment for next week. We will have another debate and you will not be assigned your part till then. We will draw straws at 3:30pm to decide your part. The thought of knowing both sides of an issue had never occured to me. Now it was the very first rule.

Mr. Ryan went on," The second skill I am about to teach you is deadly. It is "My honorable opponent." Before you make a key point, first you say, "My honorable opponent has said," and then state EXACTLY and FAIRLY what your opponent has argued. The mistake most people make is that they never can do this. Once you have done this, the audience thinks," Wow, what a wonderful guy he is". Then you pause ever so slightly as if to smile. Show some confidence. Then you say the magic word "HOWEVER." Then you take your sword and slay your opponent. verbally of course.

Thus, it would go like this. "My honorable opponent has said that the sky is green." (pause) HOWEVER, pause) my opponent is mistaken, It is clearly blue." Remember, always elevate your opponent before you slay him, figuratively of course. This is why before every sporting event, when the TV announcer asks what the coach thinks of the opposition, you would think that the opponent is the greatest team that has ever played the game. He is preparing the prey for the harvest. You are to do likewise.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Is the Cure Killing the Patient?

As we approach the Relay for Life, it does bring back memories of the battle, the battle to save friends with cancer, and the dilema in the 1980's of when the cure was worse than the disease itself.

That same problem is now very real for businesses on East Main. They wish there was a 911 to call for help. Where is the access they were promised? At the beginning of the project there was a coordinator employed with DOT who was to coordinate with business to assist in minimizing revenue loss and aid in directing traffic to the businesses. I understand this person was terminated to save cost. Whose cost? The cost to these businesses of that decision seems huge.

I wonder whether after Fox, the contractor for the city, completes their project in 2 days whether one lane one way will be allowed on Main Street to get some traffic through.

It is time to review the cure. Can some CPR or aid be given so that the patient does not die during the cure? What can the city do now to help these businesses?

Doug Zweizig---Union Smart Growth---calls for new Planning Model

Doug Zweizig, member of the Union Smart Growth Committee, spoke at the Evansville Smart Growth meeting on June 15, 2005, and his comments may form the cornerstone of the dialogue about the planning process between Union and Evansville as the two communities proceed.

After congratulating Evansville on completing their plan, he then quietly went over a little of the History of the World of Planning, Part 1, kind of like Mel Brooks did in History of the World, part 1. In part 1, planners compile vast amounts of data and then after reflection, cities do what developers propose. In fact, in his recollection and after review of Union or Evansville, it was hard to find a case where this was not the model. Developers propose and communities do.

To quote Doug, "A way of doing business that seems natural and inevitable, was neither, and has not had good consequences for the area. People in Evansville and Union could choose to do businesss differently. "

In the future, the communities could clearly develop the vision and then have developers execute the plan. Not the reverse.

Just when residents were about to uncork the champaigne and celebrate, these sobering words dampened the party, so to speak.

Michael Pierick Explains Evansville School Challenge Ahead

At the Smart Growth Plan meeting at Evansville City Hall on Wed, June 15, 2005, Michael Pierick, Evansville School Board member, and UW administrator, explained what the demographic and housing stock data in the Comprehensive Plan meant for the future of Evansville Schools. It was not a pretty picture.

He prefaced his comments by saying that Evansville has long prided itself in being a community with affordable housing and great schools. It cannot be assumed that this can continue given the data in the comprehensive plan.

He then went through the housing stock data for Evansville and demonstrated that a large majority of the housing is still of modest valuation. The emphasis on high quality construction is pretty new and the effect of the latest changes will take years to be seen.

Secondly, the demographics are such that the influx of elementary school students will soon be in middle school and this will present a big challenge.

The Comprehensive plan listed 2008 as the date to have concrete discussions with the school district on specific growth targets. Mr. Pierick stated that the time is NOW. The city did respond to his comments and made an adjustment in the implementation section of the Comprehensive Plan.

The Evansville Observer hopes to have Mr. Pierick present a article for public discussion on this topic in future posts.

Relay for Life ---August 19-20---Teams forming Now

The 2005 Relay For Life of Evansville will be at Lake Leota Park August 19-20, 6PM to 10:am. The Opening Ceremony and Cancer Survivor Celebration is on Friday August 19th at 6PM. The first lap will be walked by cancer survivors who will kick off the relay.

The Luminaria Ceremony will be at 9:00 PM. Luminarias can be purchased in honor or in memory of cancer patients. Teams are forming now. For more info contact the committee chair Jennie Nehls at 882-4926 or the American Cancer Society representative, Alice Gray at 1-877-423-9123 ext 7555

Friday, June 17, 2005

Katie Holmes announces engagement to Tom Cruise; Raven R. Lyle announces engagement to Jeff

In a dramatic announcement at the Eiffel Tower today(www.apnews,myway.), Tom Cruise announced his engagement to Katie Holmes, whom he has known at least two months. It is widely speculated in Evansville that there will result in a decline of women learning the science of scientology in order to be elegible for Tom Cruse's hand in marriage.

In related news, Raven R. Lyle has announced her engagement to Jeff. He is reported to have slid down on his right knee in dramatic fashion and begged for her hand. They have foregone the trip to Paris and the Eiffel Tower and will spend the money on the honeymoon.

Why is this news? Well, just because Raven was the famous "cub reporter" for the Evansville Citizen years ago, and I told her that if I could ever put her on a headline with Tom Cruise, I would. Ok. Raven. Today is the day. Congratulations.

West Main Street Residents Speak or Mr. Hanson's Geography Class

One of the real tests of being a true Evansvillian, is whether you have had Mr. Hanson for geography. It is a real rite of passage in the J.C. McKenna Middle School. You may have seen his students on East and West Main as well as Madison Street a year ago with clipboards. Doing a geography study.

I wandered up to one student at East Main and Union and asked, " What are you up to." He replied, "Mr. Hanson's geography class." I asked, " Well, what have you learned so far? I noticed him marking marks on a sheet of paper. One for each car and and then a special mark for trucks. I could tell he did not want to talk much and miss a mark. "Well, I haven't done the numbers yet, but I think this is a pretty important stretch of land."

Lost in the heat of the Comprehensive Planning meeting on June 15, 2005 was the light that West Main residents provided to the Omnni Associates Planners as a result of a neighborhood meeting of West Main residents on June 6, 2005. It is about geography. It is about making the maps match the rhetoric of the plan. Currently they just do not match.

To quote the citizens, their recommedation is to " Strengthen the smart growth expression of the plan's written text within the plan maps. ...The excellent smart growth written ideas of Chapter 4: Chapter 5, Chapter 8 and Chapter 10 are weakly reflected in the less ambitious Future Land Use maps. The written portion reflects the process of the plan and the input of the citizens much more accurately than do the Future Land Use Maps.---

On these maps, the massive residential growth shown on the western edge of the city fortells a more-of-the-same reality, sapping the written part of the plan of much of its potential and potency.

Of particular concern is the large isolated, westernmost irregularly-shaped residential development shown for the wetland west of the creek. This proposed area of residential development, be it in Union or annexed to the city, should be removed from the map and not be planned as residential."

The critical point these citizens make is that without a "bypass" street, increased traffic flow through West Main will destroy the entire character of the community and the cost of the development will far outweigh the benefit.

A further point is made by Lyman Fuson, 334 W. Main St. that " We would encourage the city to first pursue proposed development on the east side of town, near the Piggly Wiggly where it won't disturb existing neighborhoods. Then, only if necessary and with proper "Smart Growth" evaluation, move on to consider additional development on the west side where it would further negatively impact the historic district. "

It is Mr. Hanson's geography class. About the importance of getting the map right. About Making the map match the rhetoric.

Comments are open. I would like to reserve this for West side residents. The East Main residents have had plenty of imput recently. Thanks.

On the Prowl for Renewable Energy Ideas

This morning, Butch Beedle, Dave Brown and Dane Albright are flying up to the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair on the UW flying club plane, in search for some ideas, the newest ideas that may have relevance to projects for energy efficiency in Evansville.

All have been involved in the windmill project at the Evansville High School as well as the new swimming pool, as well as the historic Monitor windmill project on the drawing board.

It is a beautiful morning for flying with not a cloud in the sky. That is rare for these parts. It is also disappointing for some weather folks that like clouds. But it is great for flying. Have a safe flight. I hope to have an article shortly on the ideas they bring back.

Many of you have asked me whether I will have a "weather corner" for the blog. Yes, it is coming. Not with the normal type of coverage. I am looking for a little more elevated approach. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Evansville Completes Smart Growth Plan---Shows Flexibility--Citizens Celebrate

On Wednesday, June 15, 2005 citizens of Evansville met for an Open House at 5:30pm and then a public hearing at 6:30 to review and approve the Comprehensive Plan they have worked on since 2001. After a furious month of private and public debate, some on this web site, the benefits of the debate showed. The City had been actively involved in the debate since the city administrator, Mr. Bill Connors, had actively intervened in the discussion to correct factual errors as they arose. At the public hearing, the city well understood the detailed citizen concerns and made the necessary adjustment in the plan to keep the first two blocks of East Main residential zoning as the residents had requested. Other issues such as the future of Lake Leota and the West side have also been actively debated.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Mayor Ringhand declared, "Well, I guess Democracy is alive in Evansville." Citizens agreed and applauded.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Smart Growth Plan Meeting--tonight--City Hall--5:30 Open House--6:30 Public Hearing

The 2005 Smart Growth Plan for Evansville will be discussed tonight at City Hall first at an Open House from 5:30PM to 6:30PM when citizens can review maps and ask questions and have informal discussion. Then at 6:30PM there will be a public hearing on the Plan. After this public hearing, the Council will accept, accept with changes, or reject the plan. Plan on attending.

English/Spanish--PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT--RE: Inadequate prescription drug coverage? Now there is BADGERGold


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> telefónica o a través del Internet.
> Translated By EHS-Hispanic Community Project

Monday, June 13, 2005

Fw: Watercooler

Here it is again.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, June 07, 2005 9:05 AM
Subject: Watercooler

I would appreciate it if you would post the following message on the Observer Sight for comment.
There appears to be a great deal of concern, and a bit of misunderstanding, about what the recommended "Smart Growth" comprehensive plan says about the future of E. Main St. east of Union St.  On the plan's Interim Future Land Use Map and Future Land Use Map, most of E. Main St. from Franklin Park and the Citgo station to roughly Countryside Dr. is marked with red and white crosshatching, which the legend says means "USH 14 Gateway Mixed Use."  The plan contains the following text (excerpt) about that category of future land use:  "An opportunity exists in this area to allow a blend of compatible residential and commercial uses.  Residential and commercial uses may be concurrent within the same building.  All uses within this district should be conducted entirely within an enclosed building, and no outside displays would be allowed.  Examples of uses that are may be permitted in this area include:  dentist offices, professional offices, home occupations, small retail shops (e.g., floral, craft, candy store) and the like."
To implement this part of the plan, the city probably would create a new zoning district that would permit the kinds of low-intensity commercial uses to occur within existing houses on E. Main. St.  Any proposal to tear down an existing house and replace it with a store or apartment building would require different zoning, which would be prohibited because it is inconsistent with the plan.  Current property owners would then have the opportunity to sell their houses to investors or business owners or to seek to open their own shops by applying for rezoning to this new "mixed use" zoning district.
The plan also calls for a USH 14 bypass outside of the city.  However, the city cannot unilaterally cause a bypass to happen.  If the plan is adopted containing a provision supporting a bypass, city officials will work with our members of the Legislature to get this bypass on the list of bypasses to be studied.  That would be the first step in a process that likely would take 20 years before construction of the bypass actually would start.
By adopting the recommended plan, the city would not be declaring that the E. Main St. neighborhood is blighted, unsightly, or unattractive.  The plan contains a report of a citizen exercise in which some citizens labeled this area "unattractive," but the city would not be adopting or endorsing that characterization by adopting the plan.
The city has no plans to declare this area as "blighted" so that existing houses can be condemned, torn down, and replaced by new commercial structures.  Any attempt to do this would not be consistent with the recommended plan.
Bill Connors
Evansville City Administrator
31 S. Madison St.
P.O. Box 76
Evansville, WI 53536
(608) 882-2263
fax: (608) 882-2282

Leaving on a Jet Plane and other Leavings

Graduation has created a furor in our home---I just asked the simple question " What would be a good book to give the graduate?" My daughter has replied, "Dad, please. The kids don't need to be uplifted, they just want to leave."

Yup, that must be the reason that "Leaving on a Jet Plane" is so popular for lead singers this time of year, as well as "Mustang Sally,". As I reflected on it, I had to admit that when I was 18, my favorite songs were "Little Deuce Coupe" and "Surfer Girl" by the Beach Boys. Whatever social or automotive problems I had in Minnesota during those years could be simply solved by a plane ticket. Yes, Ford Falcon reality could be instant dune buggy. If you lived in Lake Wobegon or any town in Minnesota, with the cold, dark winters, you understand the Surfer Girl thing. but I digress.

The solution---In honor of the late Ann Bancroft, give the graduate " The Graduate." For youself, buy a good uplifting book. My wife's favorite is "The Purpose Driven Life," by Rick Warren. For my Zen fans, you may like " Sidhartha," by Herman Hesse.

If you are reading this post, the plane ticket did not work. You may have a suggestion on what to do now. What book might be good. A person once suggested to me that when a child leaves, the parent goes over his/her own leaving. It is probably more important for the parent to receive the book than the graduate. You make the call.

On being a Friend; On showing up

Eventually most of us figure out that being a friend is more than giving advice. More than giving away things and getting a tax deduction for it. It means showing up. Being there when needed.

Being a friend of the Eager Library is the same. As you travel this summer you will visit many towns the same size as Evansville. Be sure to visit the local library. You may be surprised. It may be closed. Many libraries have cut back summer service. Most make you feel glad to get back to Evansville.

The Friends of the Library have been a big part of what makes the Eager Library special in the summer. They provide the money for the prizes for the kids reading program. They have provided the money for some of the comforts of the kids reading room where kids just love to gather. They raise the money for these gifts from events such as the ice cream social on July 1.

So celebrate the Library on July 1 at the ice cream social. And while you are there join the Friends with a small donation. And while you are at it you might thank an Eager who is there for the original money that created the library. And thank a city official there for keeping the promise to keep the library free for all. And most importantly, celebrate the Library. Its one of the things that makes Evansville great.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Evento social en la Biblioteca Publica/ Eager Library Ice Cream Social-July 1

Cada vez is mejor. El evento social de la Biblioteca este ano a celebrarse el lro de julio, tendra delicioso helado, tortas hechas en casa, juegos para los chicos, donaciones y este ano contaremos con la presentacion especial del cuarteto "
Four Other Guys."

Se necesitan voluntarios! Si usted puede hacer una torta, donar dinero, ayudar a servir o a organizar, por favor llame a Bridget Rolek en la Biblioteca o a Andrea Gray al 882-0772

Translation courtesy of EHS Hispanic Community Project Students and Diego Ojeda. Thank you.

Every year it gets better---the Eager Library Ice Cream Social slated for July 1 will feature great ice cream, wonderful homemade cakes, games for the kids, the auction of donations and this year a special appearance of the barbershop quartet, "Four Other Guys."

It takes a lot of volunteers to make this happen. If you could bake a cake, make a donation, help serve or help setting up, please contact Bridget Rolet at the library or Andrea Gray at 882-0772.

e-democracy------and YOU

I am pleased to reprint for our blog an article written by Jan Willms from the MIDWAY MONITOR of St. Paul, Minnesota on E-Democracy and the retirement of its first moderator. One might ask why I am doing this. My brother, Denis Woulfe, is the editor, and after watching the dialogue on our Evansville Observer he thought it was quite unique until he checked with his local political contacts. This has been happening in the Metro Mpls-St. Paul area for years.

When city officials are frustrated that nobody is attending the meetings they are holding, and when citizens are complaining that they want to attend but cannot fit it in their schedule, both want the same thing---a place to meet and go over the issues, a place to have questions answered, to have concerns raised.

Hope you enjoy the article.



In today�s frenetically paced society, what is the best way to get the
attention of policy-makers and the media?
How do you draw attention to a special neighborhood issue? With so many
layers of democracy, how do you draw the ear of your local council member?
For many, the method has been simple and effective. Go online to
The St. Paul Issues Forum (SPIF) has been providing an avenue for
information and discussion of local matters for the past six years, under
the umbrella of e-democracy.org, an organization that is non-partisan and
has no political agenda.
E-democracy.org began about 10 years ago, creating space online where other
organizations can come and raise issues, according to Tim Erickson, who
recently retired from his position as forum manager for SPIF. Other local
issues forums include Minneapolis and Winona.
�SPIF is like an online town hall meeting,� Erickson said. �We have been
able to bring together media, citizens and officials to talk about whatever
issues they choose.�
He said many reporters use the site for background information. They can
also contact officials through the website and receive a call back. He said
that SPIF is very much a local project, with the actual management of the
forum done by him and an informal group of advisors. Almost all of the
operation has been done on a volunteer basis.
�SPIF is many to many,� he stated. �Everybody can communicate with

�I really enjoyed the discussions and set up my own website, politalk.com,
where people could talk about particular issues for two weeks at a time. I
started facilitating online discussions locally, nationally and

�E-democracy.org has become a full-time thing for me,� Erickson stated. He
said he still does at least one big event a year for Politely. He also
recently did online student conferences from over 70 countries.
Erickson�s retirement from SPIF is more like a transition. He will be
focusing on new forum development, hoping to help other communities get
started. Last summer a delegation from the United Kingdom came to Minnesota
and also visited the state Capitol. The group was familiar with the issues
forums and wanted to start them in the UK.

�They gave us a grant to develop things in the UK, and I went over for a
week to provide some training,� Erickson related. �We received funding for
training materials and developing a pilot project over there.�

�More and more, we find the community is getting interested in what we have
done,� Erickson said. He has spent part of his time going out and talking to
district and city councils, trying to get government officials involved.

�Having people from City Hall and District Councils participate makes it
interesting,� Erickson said, �and keeps it from being just a complaint
forum.� Erickson said that the biggest issue in recent months has been the
smoking ban. Other topics of discussion have includes light rail, the
Peanuts statues, herbicide spraying and Home Depot and Menards moving to
University Avenue.

Erickson said he serves as a mediator and referee for the online
discussions, and this position has brought him both kudos and hate mail, but
he has thoroughly enjoyed his facilitative role.

He is also a member of the Deliberate Democracy Consortium, a network of
organizations that involve citizens in Internet discussion about public
policy. Erickson attended a workshop in Brazil to talk about people getting
involved in forming policy, especially in developing countries.

He said the online website is also an opportunity for participants who may
be too shy to voice their thoughts at a public meeting to express their
opinions through the Internet.
�SPIF is an interactive e-mail discussion on important issues about St. Paul
public policy,� he noted.
�Participation is free and open to everyone.�
Currently there are about 350 concerned citizens and community leaders
subscribed to the discussion.

(Reprinted with permission of the Midway Como Monitor, June 2005)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

ECT (Evansville Community Theatre) Sponsors a Directors Workshop

--Tris Lahti announces---

ECT is seeking directors for upcoming productions. We could be doing more shows, if people would indicate a desire to direct; however, most of us don't know much about directing.

To remedy the situation, ECT is sponsoring a Directors's Workshop during the weekend of July 30-31. It will be an intensive session beginning each day at 7:45AM and ending at 5:30PM. Lunch will be included. Participants will need to read two plays prior to attending. These will be provided to all participants in advance. ECT is bringing in Doug McDade, President and Managing Director of Gurnee Theatre Company for the event. Cost is $70 per participant for both days and includes snacks, beverages, and the two scripts.

Location is tentatively set for the middle school. Registration is on first-come, first-enrolled basis. At this time we are capping the event at 10 participants.

Email Tris Lahti at tris@ectstagelights.org to indicate interest.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

WATERCOOLER: GM annual meeting sets Rock County Abuzz--Can GM change fast enough?

Rick Wagoner, the CEO of GM set out a broad plan yesterday at the GM annual meeting that consisted of cutting 25,000 jobs, adding a billion to capital expenditures to retool product and a bargaining strategy to address the huge health care component expense per car that GM faces. (www.autoindustry.co.uk/news/industry)

Rock county families are abuzz this morning talking about what this means for them. Are the changes at GM in Janesville going to be enough? What are the prospects for the more efficient trucks in the product mix for Janesville? Is the culture of GM able to move fast enough?

What do you think? The comment line is open.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Treasure the Past; Celebrate the New-The new Grange Mall look.

Adam Staver--Champion---Light Heavyweight Bench---#325 lbs--Broadhead Health and Fitness--Spring 2005--Challenges all comers for 2006---Bravo Adam.

Last Jazz Band Gig? Stay tuned to the EvansvilleObserver.blogspot.com

EHS Jazz Band Alums, Amy Woulfe(alto sax) and Lindsay Albright (piano) share memories as they watch Jazz Band wow the crowd at Overture Centre

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Fire Truck Photo Op

Mark Cufaude

How high?

Welcome to the State Champ and the Track and Field Team

This classic four square home on Historic East Main is colored "grey" as unattractive in the Evansville Comprehensive Plan, and targeted for commercial development. If this is unattractive, is your home next? Make your voice heard. Click the mail icon and email city hall--bill.connors@ci.evansville.wi.gov Your voice counts; Make it heard. Comments due by June 7th

This attractive home on East Main is designated in the Comprehensive Plan as "unattractive" and targeted for commercial development. Make your voice heard. Click the mail icon below and email city hall--bill.connors@ci.evansville.wi.gov

Welcome Home Party for Mark Cufaude--6pm Sunday

Sunday at 6pm Mark will be returning to Evansville from up north. Fans will be meeting at the Pig parking lot at 6pm and will be joining the Evansville Fire Truck for a procession to the High School where there will be a brief program for him. This is a historic moment. Hope all can join in this celebration. It is not every day that we can celebrate a State Pole Vault Champion.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Public Comments on Comprehensive Plan Due 6-7-2005

On Page 153 of the Evansville Comprehensive Plan under Chapter 10, Future Land Use, there is the "Land Use Vision" that describes one of the principles of the vision as a "Balancing individual property rights with community interests and goals."

The homes listed below are all listed as "unattractive" under the "composite attitude map" and then colored "red" in the following map that describes the area targeted for commercial development. This is represented as the consensus of the opinion of Evansville. What do you think of this process?

Make your voice heard. Click the mail icon below this text and email City Hall---bill.connors@ci.evansville.wi.gov In the comment section you can state your opinion of this process.

Your voice counts. Make it heard.

This classic home on East Main is designated as "unattractive" and colored "grey" in the Composite Attitude Map and then in the subsequent map colored "red" and targeted for commercial development. What do you think of this crayola process? Make your voice heard. Click the mail icon below this text and email City Hall--bill.connors@ci.evansville.wi.gov and state your opinion of this process.

This historic home on East Main is designated as "unattractive" and colored with "grey" on the Composite attitude map and then colored "red" and targeted for commercial development in the "Group Majority Opinion Map in the Evansville Comprehensive Plan scheduled for hearing on June 15, 2005. What do you think? Make your voice heard. Click the mail icon below this text and email City Hall--bill.connors@ci.evansville.wi.gov and state your opinion of this process. Written comments are due by June 7th. Email today.

This home on East main labeled "unattractive" in Evansville Comprehensive Plan in the Composite Attitude Map. What do you think? Make your voice heard. Click the mail icon below this text and email City Hall---bill.connors@ci.evansville.wi.gov There is an area to state your opinion. Email today.

NEWSFLASH-Cufaude State Champion Pole Vault

Friday--Lacrosse, Wi.:

Mark Cufaude of Evansville High School took 1st place and was crowned champion of the State of Wisconsin, Division II Pole Vault for 2005. His jump was 14ft 3 in. Wow. What a moment. Congratulations, Mark.

Friday, June 03, 2005

EHS Band Launches Instrument Drive-----Mr. Z writes

With the student participation in band k-12, we will be in desperate need of new equipment and instruments over the next 5-10 years. Twelve years ago there were 32 students in the high school band with very little need for additional equipment or instruments. Today we have two bands and over 100 students participating. This number is likely to increase over the next few years as the middle school program continues to increase in numbers. Next year there are over 100 students in 6th grade band alone.

There has not been a history of the district purchasing new large instruments and equipment, because there has not been that need. Some of the current instruments we have are in terrible shape with little hope of repair. They have been repaired so many times it will not be possible for them to be repaired any longer. Some needed instruments have never been purchased due to lack of funding in the budget. Now is the time for a plan of action which will get the new instruments and equipment purchased.

EHS Music Boosters have made it one of their goals to purchase an instrument when they are financially able. This past year, the Music Boosters purchased a much needed Baritone Saxophone. The Boosters cannot do it all, nor can our music budget support the funds needed.

The Action Plan:

DONATION BOXES at all band concerts
FUND RAISERS by band members
INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS--Each donation will be listed in all band programs.

We are very proud to say that we have a strong music program in Evansville and we want to continue the excellence into the future and give our students the best music education possible. The ongoing effort will last as long as it takes to complete our goals. We will in the mean time continue to offer quality music education to your children. Thank you for your support.

For additional info or to make a donation:
Music Dept--New Instruments
Attn: Doug Zblewski
Evansville High School
640 South 5th Street
Evansville, Wi. 53536

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Evansville Pool Opens June 18,2005 1PM

Danielle has written a nice article explaining the delay on the opening of the Evanville Pool. See www.gazetteextra.com/evillepool for the complete article with photos.

The opening will include live music and food specials. The admission is $1. The pool will then be open from 1:30 to 8PM.

Heartbreak at Laguna Beach? CORRECTED POST

Most newspaper dailies across the USA are reporting on the 18 multimillion dollar homes that crashed down a hillside in Southern California on Wednesday. Most stories do a nice job giving the detailed description of what a large home sounds like when it is imploding. One man when asked "why?", replied "They just won't stop. The builders and the governments granting the building permits. It's just nuts"(NPR)

The casual observer might think, Who cares? What has this to do with me?

In a prior post I suggested that the subdivision below Garfield had experienced water problems since development had occurred on "flood plain." This is clearly incorrect. The city has rightly pointed out that the "flood plain" is to the West of this subdivision. I regret this error. They also state that this subdivision was always deemed suitable for development.

They also point out that the issue is not "Where" the development occurred but "How" the basements were constructed. This is an issue that will reappear for many additions of residential development and that the city is taking proactive steps to prevent problems of this sort in the future. I do applaud this.

I had hoped that the issue of "Water" would go away. It appears because of the location of Evansville that this will be a challenge for years to come. Plan on it.

EHS Fine Arts Award Night--WED, June 8th 7PM

This has been a huge year for EHS Fine Arts. Crazy for You, the trip to New York of Chorus and Band, The Solo and Ensemble Hosted at EHS with all the volunteer effort involved and finally the outstanding achievement of the Band and Jazz Band. Come out at 7Pm on June 8th to celebrate this wonderful year with the students.

Who Pays When Wal-Mart Comes to Town?

Three answers--employees pay with low wages, towns pay in lost local businesses, and taxpayers pay with health care coverage for many Wal-Mart employees. The Wisconsin Citizen Action held a rally on the State Street Steps of the Capitol on Wed, June 1 to demand that Wal-mart pay their fair share for health care. They presented Wal-Mart with a check for $4.75 million dollars that Wisconsin taxpayers paid in public health program costs last year. Legislator Terese Berceau spoke to the crowd about legislation she would propose to require companies such as Wal-Mart to either pay more for employees health care or reimburse the state for this cost(www.madison.com/post/blogs)

Nationally, 26 states have introduced legislation to require states to disclose which employers are shifting health care costs to taxpayers.(www.aflcio.org/mediacenter)

Stoughton has stuggled with the issue of the impact of the larger store there. What would you think of Wal-mart coming to Evansville? What do you think is the solution to the problem of shifting employee health benefits to the taxpayers state wide by large big box firms?

What is Happening at Oregon Fire District?

Leigh Mills of NBC15 (www.nbc15.madison.com) is reporting that there is a continuing dispute at the Oregon Fire District. Seems the town of Madison Fire Chief, David Bloom has been named chief of the Oregon fire district, which serves Oregon and three surrounding towns.

The new chief wants to dissolve the current 5 member fire commission and instead of Oregon having 2 votes on a 5 member board, take complete control. The chief also says that he wants to have a higher percentage of volunteers. This has produced dismay from current workers and observers who wonder what world the chief is living in. Volunteers have been harder and harder to recruit and the whole world seems to be going the other way. Simple power struggle or what. Stay tuned.

WATERCOOLER: HWY14 to be Ronald Reagan HWY?

Wisconsin Republicans have proposed that HWY14 that runs from Wisconsin to Illinois should be named Ronald Reagan Highway. They have not asked Evansville what they think of this so The Observer will. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Wind Energy Corner

One of the activities our kids did while traveling by car was to count the number of windmills on the trip. These had to be "genuine" Monitor windmills made in Evansville. They did do some research to know the things to look for. Yes, this is still your assignment to be completed in the yearly essay, " What I did last summer."

However, the new assignment is to count the "new windmills". These are the new wind turbines of the future. Some are located in Wisconsin, near Montfort. Another is located in Minnesota on Hwy 19 near Northfield, Mn. The size of this one would just about handle all of Evansville's needs. Check it out.

The Evansville Energy Initiative is a group in Evansville that is examining the applications of new Energy technologies for the benefit of Evansville. One of its first projects is the new solar heated swimming pool being constructed. I hope to have a member of this Initiative share some of their ideas in the Evansville Observer over the coming months.

Here on the prairie, vast and wide, I feel the strength

Wind Prairie--HWY 92