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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Re: How to Edit your profile--grumps writes

--- grumps <noreply-comment@blogger.com> wrote:

Beneath the box in which you post there is a link
under, "You are now posting as ________."

If you click that you should have an opportunity to
click on , "Edit My Profile."

Posted by grumps to Evansville Observer at 8/31/2005
06:15:42 PM

Residents Face Gasoline Price Shock--What Price will produce Change?

Drivers all across Wisconsin are reacting with dismay, outrage and panic as gas prices go to $3.00 and over.

Click on the post for a full story in the Capital Times. At what price would you be willing to switch cars or location of residence or heating system to cope with the rise in auto and heating costs? You make the call.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Re: Evansville Observer Quiet Mode--move to Registered Users Only

--- Richard Woulfe <woulfe98@yahoo.com> wrote:

> Bill---
> Please send me notices as you have done. I have
> placed the blog on quiet mode for comments due to
> some
> hateful comments against one of the participants
> this
> morn.
> I anticipate reopening the comments tomorrow in
> registered format so there will no longer be
> anonymous.
> It has always been my intention to have the blog be
> about serious issues and about speedy and respectful
> dialogue. While it is unfortunate that someone has
> abused the anon, it was probably inevitable. I will
> act to keep the blog a space for dialogue,
> respectful
> dialogue.
> regards,
> The Observer
> Dick Woulfe

Re: Fw: Historic Lights along Main Street

--- Bill Connors <bill.connors@ci.evansville.wi.gov>

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: DSauer@foth.com
> To: Bill Connors
> Cc: David Wartenweiler ; 'Janis Ringhand' ; Scott
> George ; Seaman, Tara
> Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2005 2:41 PM
> Subject: Re: Historic Lights along Main Street
> We have worked out these locations for the 6
> historical lights based on construction limitations
> and the desire of the public works group and citizen
> imput to have lights on both sides of the highway
> east of the Exchange Street/Main Street
> intersection. The 6 lights will be placed between
> Exchange and Jackson. One light will be placed on
> the south side of the street at the Exchange Street
> intersection and one light will be placed on the
> south side of the street at the intersection with
> Jackson. The remaining 4 lights between these will
> be located on the north side of the street.
> David K. Sauer, PE, Project Director
> 1402 Pankratz Street
> Suite 300
> Madison, WI 53704
> Phone 608-242-5941/Fax 608-242-5999
> http:\\www.foth.com


Re: Public Hearing re Downtown Utility Work in 2006

--- Bill Connors <bill.connors@ci.evansville.wi.gov>

> Please forward this message to all members of the
> Chamber of Commerce (not just the Board). It is
> vitally important that they give the city their
> input now, before it is too late.
> At 6:00 PM on Monday, Sept. 26, at City Hall, the
> Public Works Committee will hold a public hearing on
> whether the city should do needed sanitary sewer and
> water main replacement work in the intersection of
> Madison St. and Main St. in 2006 or 2007. If this
> work is done in 2006, it will be a couple of a two
> or three week projects and might not involve a
> complete closure of the intersection for the whole
> time. If it is done in 2007, then the intersection
> will be torn up for part of the time that Main St.
> in the downtown is torn up for the big, disruptive
> 2007 reconstruction project.
> The city had anticipated that downtown businesses
> would prefer to have no construction activity in the
> intersection of Madison St. and Main St. in 2007 so
> people driving to downtown businesses could use
> Madison St. to reach Church St. or Montgomery Ct. or
> Mill St. to access downtown businesses from the back
> side. But if business owners and residents are not
> concerned with making it more difficult to access
> downtown businesses from the back side in 2007 and
> would like a year of peace in 2006, I'm sure the
> city would be willing to accommodate that request.
> We just need to know what most people want. So if
> you are interested in this issue, please attend the
> public hearing.
> This public hearing will be in the meeting room on
> second floor of City Hall, because it is likely that
> the Board of Review, which starts at 3:00 PM that
> day, will still be using the Council Chambers on the
> third floor at 6:00 PM.
> Bill Connors
> Evansville City Administrator
> 31 S. Madison St.
> P.O. Box 76
> Evansville, WI 53536
> (608) 882-2263
> fax: (608) 882-2282

Upper East Main Renovation Plan Discussions Intensify

At the Public Works meeting on Monday night, Aug. 29,2005, there was a reopening of the discussion of Upper East Main Renovation. Chairman, Bill Hammann indicated that now that the Hwy 14 DOT project is drawing to a close, it is time to intensify the discussion about the plan for Upper East Main.

The original plan had been for the City to do work in the summer of 2006, 2007, and 2008 with the objective of short interruptions to minimize the damage to downtown business. While applauding the objective, some business owners wondered whether it might be best to have 2006 be a "recovery" year from construction so that the perception is avoided that the downtown is perpetually closed. Mr. Hammann said that this is a valid concern and that the Public Works committee is looking for business input on this matter and all of the ideas about the "streetscaping plan" and will be holding public hearings in September to fully air the plans with the public.

On the "streetscapting plan" for Upper East Main, Jeff Farnsworth presented some results from a sub-committee examining options. One of the options that was considered a pipe-dream a year ago was the use of restored existing paving bricks on East Main. Dave Sauer went over the life expectancy of asphalt(10yrs), concrete(20yrs) and paving bricks(100 years). Paving bricks are more expensive at the front end, but not over longer term. Also, federal grants are available. The bricks are actually all the rage nationwide right now. A consultant brought in showed that the existing buried bricks are in excellent condition. This had not been anticipated. Some alternatives might also be considered such as doing the intersections in paving brick. Readers are urged to view the use of paving brick motif at the intersection of Union and East Main that was just done yesterday to get the idea.

Mr. Hammann asked Dave Sauer to gather detailed cost projections of each paving type for the next meeting. There will be a full public hearing about all the options that are possible and the public will be asked their thoughts on this.

Observer awards "Golden Watch Award" to Danielle for Journalism Service

Over the past months, the stories written about Evansville by Danielle for the Janesville Gazette have been the starting point for many lively public discussions on this blog site. On Saturday, I ran into Danielle in the coffee shop and she shared with me that this week she is beginning her new career in advertising with a major communications firm in Janesville.

Naturally, I was disappointed that she was jumping ship right in the middle of the saga of the sandwich board signs, but I understood that one might not be able to hold out till that saga was ended. You might have noticed that on Sunday, there was not one story about Evansville in the Janesville Gazette.

Over the years, Danielle and I have attended many of the same meetings, and I always have admired her perception of what was important in a meeting, and have also admired the things that she left on the editing floor as really a distraction from the story. So, I have learned a lot from her writing. And, yes in some cases, I would let her wade into battle with a story and just be the Observer.

There are no gold watches in the journalism biz, so I do award Danielle the symbolic Observer "Golden Watch" award for her service to the Evansville Community.
The Observer wishes her well with her new firm. Her kids are excited because there are some cable tv benefits along with the new job. Bravo.

Wayfinding Signage Plan Wins Praise

At the Monday night Public Works Committee Meeting, the Ad Hoc Committee on Wayfinding Signage, consisting of John Decker, Chris Eager, Heidi Carvin, Jeff Farnsworth and Betsy Ahner presented their report on proposed sign design and placement of signs so that people coming to Evansville can be directed efficiently to their destination by signs that are consistent with the historic feel of the community.

The arch top, 3- destination sign was the unanimous choice of the committee and of the 14 persons that attended this months Evansville Community Partnerships meeting and who were asked to provide input on the proposed signs. The arched wording of "Evansville" in Roman lettering was strongly endorsed as well as limiting the number of destinations on any sign to no more than three.

Also agreed on was green lettering on a white background.

About a third of the signs were school related and it was anticipated that some financial contribution would be requested of the school district to help with the cost.

The signs would be first implemented in the Union and East Main area of the new highway construction and then be budgeted for some each year similar to the way the sidewalk improvement plan has been scheduled.

All in attendance applauded the work of this ad hoc committee.

Monday, August 29, 2005

In Progress: Discussions continue on solution of East Main Lighting

At the Public Works meeting on Monday night Dave Wartenmueller and Jeff Sauer, reviewed how the lighting problem arose. The originial plans did not include the historic lighting. These were lights that were planned for upper Main that were moved down--6 of them.

The space available on the South side of Main, at least to 255 is not enough to place the lights. After that, it still is pretty tight, and subcontractors get very nervous about getting close to the fiber optic cable since the rule is if you hit it, you pay for it. Also, the gas line is close.

Alternatives were discussed such as putting the lights on the South side. And also alternating by boring across the street directly to where the light would be on the North side. That would minimize the risk of hitting a fiber optic cable.

The overall objective is to get a scheme of lighting that will be consistent all the way out East Main. In any event, the historic lighting will be installed over several years. The first would be the six lights.

The general consensus was that alternating lights on both sides would be preferable to just all on the North side. The cost here is a add on and this is really not a case of specific performance of someone not doing something properly. This was not in the original plan. So there was a discussion of the cost, but it appears that the project is at or under cost projections so this is still something that is feasible. The engineers are still pondering the solution. I will keep you posted as to the final plan.

IT and Graphic Department Manager "Yodamom"

Monroe Schools launch new science curriculum for elementary and middle schools

The Monroe Times is reporting that Monroe elementary and middle school students will have a new science curriculum that they hope will boost learning in the sciences.

Click on the post for the entire story.

Jericho Drive residents of Albany seek developer sanctions

The Albany Vision weekly newspaper is reporting that residents of Jericho Drive of Albany have asked the city council to disallow any further development proposals from Rick Eager until he completes the projects he currently has under development. Specifically, they object to the road on Jericho Drive that is not up to standards so it can be made a township road.

Click on the post to read the entire article.

City of Milton Sued over Open Meeting Law violation

As part of the saga of the ethanol plant development in Milton, the group opposing the plant has filed suit against the City of Milton for open meeting law violations. The city of Milton has responded that they had a right to hold certain discussions in private session and also had the right to waive the second and third readings of the ordinance approving the development if they chose.

This should be a story to watch as it develops. Click on the post for the entire story in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Developing Story: No lights for East Main? or Don't Pave the street till the Conduit is in!

This is a developing story---It appears that although the guys from Intercon have been marking utility locations for months, nobody thought of putting the proper electrical in for the lights on East Main? Is this so?

If the paving occurs quickly, to put in the electrical later would mean ripping up the paving. If it was to be put in, the time is now. This rush to pave brings back bad memories to the day when concrete for the Citgo was poured despite residents warning that the building was laid out improperly.

At the 4th Ward meeting at Franklin Park some time back, residents of East Main were promised 6 historic lights to be placed between Union and Main and Cemetary and Main. Instead it may be a case of the dark ages, or no lights at all? Say it aint so, Joe.

President decares government must lead by example in energy conservation: Orders audit of agencies. CORRECTION President Arroyo of Philippines .......

Declaring that government must lead by example, President Arroyo of the Philippines has ordered her energy audit team into the field to audit government agencies to make sure they are cutting their energy consumption by 10%.

The Observer gives another leadeship award to Arroyo and wishes other Presidents would follow her lead.

When would be the time to further intensify energy conservation? If not now, when?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Rant and Counter Rant on Impact of the Big Box Stores

Here is an interesting rant and counter rant on the big box stores in California and the nation.

Which side of this debate do you side with? You make the call.

WATERCOOLER: MAILBAG: Does the Format or Structure of the Planning Commission meetings in Evansville need to be changed? Mark writes

--- Mark Schnepper <noreply-comment@blogger.com>

The problem I have with the plan commisson meetings
is the format.

Public comment
Commission member discussion

It seems unfair to me that the commission hears your
public comments and then sometimes responds, sometimes
doesn't in their discussion, then they vote. They
have the opportunity to respond to your concerns if
they choose to, however, after listening to their
discussion, the public floor has already been closed
and a citizen has no opportuntiy for a rebuttal to the
commission members discussion.

From what I understand from friends that live in other
communities that these meetings are staged over
several meetings and have more of a dialogue between
the the citizens and the planning commission. I think
a different format could develop more of a dialoge
between the PC and citizens that attend.

Posted by Mark Schnepper to Evansville Observer at
8/25/2005 08:50:19 AM

Re:" Bicycle Trail Crusader Wanted " by Bill Connors

--- Anonymous <anonymous-comment@blogger.com> wrote:

We need a motel in Evansville. A bicyle trail
starting or running through Evansville would be great,
too. There is an abandoned railroad right of way that
branches off the Union Pacific line south of Water St.
and goes to Beloit. I think it goes through Footville
and Hanover as well. At least near Evansville, the
rails and ties already have been removed. That would
be a prime location for a bicycle trail. Bicyclists
from the Chicago area could start in Beloit and ride
up to stay in Evansville. If someone would like to
make obtaining state funding for a bicycle trail their
personal crusade, we'd all appreciate it.

Bill Connors
Evansville City Administrator

Posted by Anonymous to Evansville Observer at
8/25/2005 07:31:35 AM

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Free: Upright Piano: contact The Observer

Full Upright Piano available for free. Contact the Observer at 882-6481 or email woulfe98@yahoo.com

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Re: No Child Left Behind Opt out---High school students procedure--Cueball writes

--- "Frederick H. Juergens, Jr." <fredj608@yahoo.com>

> I suggest you
> look
> at this website if you have time:
> http://www.leavemychildalone.org/index.cfm
> This site gives a lot of information on the nature
> of
> the effort to keep children's information private. I
> hope this will a better source than what I might
> say.
> Second, I am retyping between the lines below,
> hopefully without too many typos, the notice that
> the
> school district sent out in their 22-page October
> 2004
> newsletter to parents.
> ---------
> Under the Federal No Child Left Behind act: Schools
> are required to provide military recruiters the
> names,
> addresses and phone numbers of our students. We are
> also required to let you know that if you do not
> wish
> to have us release this information to military
> recruiters, you can request that we take your
> child's
> information off the list we share, upon request from
> military recruiters. If this is your preference,
> please notify Mr. Keister or Ms. Morstad by Octoer
> 8,
> 2004.
> School districts are also required to give the
> military recruiters the same access to students as
> we
> do any representatives from other higher education
> institutions. Normally, a notice is given to
> students
> that a representative will be at the school, and the
> student attends if interested. No parent
> notification
> is given. If you want to encourage or discourage
> your child from meeting these representatives, you
> should have a conversation with your child. We do
> not
> limit student contact with recruiters from the
> military, colleges or tech schools.
> -----------------


UW achieves dream----# 1 Party school in Nation; Is UW degree credible?

You know you are are in an alcoholic culture when all the dj's of drive time radio stations are aging white haired baby boomers and each morning they are talking of their hang-over. Excuse me. I remember these guys from the 70's. How could they have any brain cells left after all those hang overs. Oh.

Anyway, the UW finally got its dream of being the #1 Party school in the nation. What a wonderful recruiting tool. As a parent what would you think of taking some of your retirement money and helping your child achieve that presitigous degree?

Does the UW have any credibility as an academic institution left? Click on the post for the entire story. You make the call.

Brodhead celebrates new cycle hotel and store

Danielle has written a nice article about the new hotel and cycle store in Brodhead at the entrance to the Sugar River Trail. Each room in the hotel is named after a different Tour de France champion.

Click on the post to see the article. This would be a nice idea for Evansville when we get our trails connected to somewhere. What do you think?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Antique Nordic trunk for sale---$1200--Cunningham carpentry

This Nordic chest, circa 1870, was one of the treasures of the recent Evansville garage day sale. It was purchased by Jim Cunningham, who just happened to have the matching lock that it was missing. He has carefully restored the baltic fir wood finish. It is unusual because of its rounded top.

Now available for $1200. Call Jim Cunningham at 608-882-0679. or email him at casia @eishome.com

Tragic Deaths of Young DeForest Teens highlight 16 yr old driver risk.

The tragic death of three DeForest high school students recently highlights the dangers of 16 year old drivers. According to the graduated license regulations, a 16 yr old can only have one unrelated passenger in the car between 5am and midnight.

How often are the regulations for 16 yr old drivers enforced by their parents?

WATERCOOLER: Should the City of Evansville broadcast common council, planning commission, public works and finance committee meetings on Cable TV?

At a recent school board meeting, Supr. Heidi Garvin mentioned that the school district is attempting to get access from Charter Communications for a channel to broadcast events of interest.

As a sidenote, she mentioned that possibly the City of Evansville might also want access. Many cities across the country routinely broadcast their public meetings on cable.

Considering the limited seating capacity of the Evansville City Hall chamber, and the public interest involved, what do you think? Should the city of Evansville broadcast their meetings on cable?

What are your thoughts? You make the call.

Gas Prices Begin to Change Habits in Twin Cities

Twin City realtors are reporting that increasing gas prices are affecting decisions on where people are planning to live. Some are deciding to move closer to their work and use mass transit. Others are switching from large SUV's to hybrid fuel efficient cars.

At what price would gasoline prices affect your behavior on house choice or car choice? Are we there yet? You make the call.

UB& T Customer Appreciation Picnic--Sunday, August 28th, Noon to 3PM, Lake Leota Park

Live music and free lunch for all customers of UB&T at the annual UB&T Customer Appreciation Picnic. Music includes the Dixie Flavors Band (noon-2PM) and the EHS Girls Barbershop Quartet (2-3PM). The free lunch features BBQ Pork Sandwiches, Hot Dogs, Salads, Chips and Soda. If you aren't a current customer, maybe it's time to become one. Remember, UB&T Rocks.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Watercooler: Two Minnesota Teacher Unions urge boycott of Wal-mart for school supplies--Should Wisconsin follow their lead?

Two Minnesota teacher unions have urged their memebers to encourage students to boycott Wal-Mart for purchasing their school supplies on the basis of the damage to families that Wal-mart causes.

Click on the post for the entire story. What are your thoughts on this? Should Wisconsin follow the lead of Minnesota? Do you buy your school suppies at Wal-Mart? Do you go for the cheapest or do you consider the impact of Wal-Marts employment policies? You make the call.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

CapTimes says Pro-war Attacks on Sheehan show "desperation".

The Cap Times Web edition is running an editorial by Mr. Nichols this morn describing the pro war attacks on the Gold Star War Mom, Mrs. Sheehan, as an act of desperation.

Click on the post for the article by Mr. Nichols. What do you think? You make the call.

Meeting Notice--Evansville Observer

The editorial board of The Evansville Observer will meet on Thursday, August 18, 2005, from 5am-7am at corporate headquarters in Evansville. The board will consider issues of organization, editorial policy, compensation and other matters that may come before it. The public is welcome to attend.

Persons who have special disabilities requiring special accomodations pursuant to Wis Stat 465.8977632799 should contact the Observer office in advance for special consideration.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Wisconsin #2 in ACT TEST. Minnesota 1st. Participation broadens. Problems in Math and Science persist.

While Wisconsin was edged from the #1 position in ACT test scores last year, the first time in a decade not being #1, there were some bright spots. The participation rate of Wisconsin seniors was 69% as opposed to 40% nationally.

The gap between performance of white and minority seems to be narrowing. With the large increase of participation it is amazing that the scores did not drop. The not so good news is that the scores in math and science do not seem to indicate that we are going to see an increase in college bound scientists and mathematics students in the future. The students must not be taking the core courses necessary to score on these exams.

Click on the post for the entire article in the Janesville Gazette. What are your thoughts on the article?

President rallies Nation to confront Oil Crisis etc ( CORRECTION---President Arroyo of Philippines Rallies Nation to confront Looming Oil Crisis

The Observer would like to give the leadership award of the week to President Arroyo of the Philippines who while being preoccupied with terrorist attacks last week and a fradulent impeachment attempt on her office, has rallied the Filipino people to put aside politics and come together to confront the looming oil crisis that is affecting the Philippines.

She has ordered an Oil summit and has ordered cutbacks of oil consumption in all the departments. There is even a report of bike lanes being designated in Manila in preparation for the surge of bike traffic.

Click on the post for the entire Philippine oil story.

It must be hard for Americans to think back to the news conference when Jimmy Carter, decked out in his button down sweater, asked Americans to cut back on their energy usage. He sure took ridicule for his leadership back then. It sure looks like leadership now. It has been a while since Americans were asked to cut back. Maybe it's time to get the heavy sweaters out and get the bike ready. I sure wish the old railroad bed was ready. It could get a little tricky on the bike on Hwy 14.

Four Vigils set for Tonight for Gold Star Mom Sheehan--Evansville--HWY14 &M--7:30PM

Click on the post for the details of the four vigils in the Madison area in support of Mrs. Sheehan, the Gold Star Mom who is camped out in Crawford, Texas, protesting the current U.S. involvement in Iraq that resulted in the death of her son.

The local vigil in Evansville will be at Hwy 14 and M at 7:30PM.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Other items from School Board meeting of 8-15-2005

Joe Francis reported that the change of gym lights will reduce the electric costs from $28,000 per year to $7,000 per year.

The final enrollment numbers and hence the final firm number of state contribution to the Evansville School District will be known on 10/14/2005. It looks right now like a decrease in the tax levy of about 1%.

In the first reading at the school board was Policy #871 Public Complaints About School Personnel (Complaints against staff). There was some discussion of the process of complaint resolution, and it is expected to come up again at the September board meeting.

On the agenda for the upcoming school year board meetings:
October--Long Distance Capital Project Planning
February--Distance Learning and On-line Learning
April---Tech Ed Review
Dennis Hatfield asked for a session on Textbooks and what's new in that field.

Watercooler: Should the Evansville School District televise all Board meetings on Cable TV?

Last night at the Evansville School District Board of Education meeting, Supr. Heidi Garvin explained that the Charter Franchise Agreement was up for renewal, and that for a school district our size, one of the items we should have is access to programming of events of interest. She mentioned the possibility of broadcasting board meetings that were of particular interest.

Art Phillips suggested that all board meetings be televised as a matter of policy. He said that the public is interested in what goes on even though many cannot spend the four hours away from home on a Monday night. This would be a way of informing the public. Ms. Garvin said the first goal would be to get the access.

What do you think? Do you want to have the Board of Education meetings on cable so you can make up your own mind what happened rather than believe a news article or heaven forbid a blogger?

You make the call?

On the Power of One; Or Why Cindy Sheehan matters

Cindy Sheehan is not just a Gold Star War mother. She has in the act of challenging George Bush to declare what the meaning of her son's death was, provided a dramatic point of no return for George Bush. She says she will go mano a mano with him. So far, he is a no show.

There was a time in the Vietnam War when returning vets such as John Kerry spoke out agains the war. It is one thing for the public to speak against war in polls, but when the war widows and war mothers do not have meaning in the sacrifice, it spells real trouble.

Tom Hayden, activist in the Vietnam war, has written a piece on the significance of Cindy Sheehan and why her action is so important. Click on the post for the whole story.

What do you think? You make the call.

Brodhead Unveils Library Plans

Brodhead has unveiled their new design for a possible new library that features an 18,500 sq.ft. facility on 2.2 acres of land that will serve the Brodhead community till 2020. The cost is 3.8 million. The facility will include a 150 seat multipurpose community meeting room.

Click on the post for the entire article on the Brodhead library in the Janesville Gazette. Compare and contrast the recent post on the new library plan for Evansville. Maybe we can get some nice ideas from the Brodhead design.

What are your thoughts?

Evansville Library Begins Visioning process for Future

At the Evansville Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday, August 8,2005, Bridget Rolek, director of the Eager Free Public Library, presented two possible needs estimates depending on which estimate of Evansville population growth one accepts, the State of Wisconsin population estimates, or those of the Smart Growth Plan.

Both needs plans assume action in 2010. The lease of the post office is up in 2009. The owner of this property is Roger Berg. The library is intersted in seeing whether he would be willing to give them an option to purchase the property.

The rate of growth assumption is important since based on the state version of Evansville growth, the needs for the future building would be 14,721 sq. ft., where the current building is 6800 sq ft or 8000 sq. ft at $240 per sq ft or $1,920,000.

If one assumes the Smart Growth rate of population growth, the additional space needs would be 11,539 sq ft at a cost of $2,769,360 with the proviso that the current post office space may not be adequate for future expansion past 2025.

The question was asked whether a portion of the library would be separated out. Bridget did not think so. There was also the question of whether the Historic Preservation committee would even allow a addition to the current library that might be higher than the current two stories.

The Observer would like to see some discussion of possibly having a separate Internet reading room and childrens library with meeting space. The larger plan based on smart growth population estimates shows 14 terminals for internet use, and still only 1350 sq. ft for meeting space. The Observer would like to see more meeting space. All of this could be on ground floor, handicap accessible.

In a growing community it is possible for 50-75 people to want to attend a meeting. Currently anything over 20 becomes crowded at City Hall. The community likes to meet, whether it is for coffee, or discussion. The library expansion might be a good time to plan some space for meeting, an important role that the library has played in the past especially during the construction of the high school.

Anyway, this is a developing story. It is time to think of the possibilities. What do you think?

Friday, August 12, 2005

FCC deregulates DSL--- Obit for small ISP? Higher prices to come?

As many of you know, the word "deregulation" is not one of my favorites. Whether its phone, airline, stock market, electric utility or whatever, whenever I hear the word "deregulation'" I reach for my wallet as if a thief is about to strike.

So, when the FCC announced that it is deregulating DSL,( click on the post of the Cap times article,) it is unclear to me what it all means. Does this mean the death of small ISP's? Will we get more "value" in bundled services that we may or may not need and be forced to pay higher prices for internet access?

One of the small ISP's is Ticon, who is a reseller of DSL. The article suggests that the small ISP's will be forced out. Ticon declines comment.

I am curious as to what my tech savy readers who follow this might think of what this all means for the consumer down the line. You make the call.

New "looser" concealed Gun law proposed--Just in time for Football season

With gunfire all around, from Fitchburg where authorities have assured us that it's just "locals" so its no threat, to Orfordville where a rifle is concealed by a garbage bag, one wonders about the story this morn about the new "looser" concealed gun law proposal that would make carrying guns to sporting events and taverns possible.

I wonder if Evansville could ever have any of these problems if gun totin folks could just get through the maze of detours. I just assume those wild folks are not locals but the foreigners from Brodhead and yonder parts. Ah the power of positive thinking.

What are your thoughts on the current state of concealed gun laws in Wisconsin. You make the call.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Southern Wis had large role in Social Security formulation----UW focus Friday

Tammy Baldwin will be in Madison on Friday at UW to hold a news conference and focus on the role of Professor Witte and other Wisconsin intellectuals in the formulation of Social Security.

This focus is at a very critical time of debate over social security and its promise as opposed to private accounts as proposed by the Bush administration. Click on the post for the background article in the Janesville Gazette.

What are your thoughts on private accounts? What are your recommendations? You make the call.

Military may have had intel on Atta in 1999 but did not share info.

The final report of the 911 commission did not include info that the military had info on Atta as early as 1999. Seems they did not want to share the info with the FBI. Was this just another case of failure to share or a cover up?

This may be a developing story. Click the post for the entire story.

Janesville approves outdoor tavern dining--economic development seen

The city of Janesville has approved outdoor dining for the "Looking Glass" tavern in downtown Janesville. After much discussion, there was a general consensus that a downtown friendly outdoor dining atmosphere would aid economic development.

Click on the post for the entire article in the Janesville Gazette. What do you think of similar outdoor dining for Evansville?

Baldwin Bike Tour highlights increased Bike Trail Funding

Tammy Baldwin has launched a bike tour of her districts and will be listening to her constituents as well as highlighting the 7.8 million dollar funding that will improve area bike trail development.

It would have been nice if Evansville could get connected to the bike trails so we could share in this development. There are several areas where the new Comprehensive Plan has penciled in bike paths but I am not sure whether we have a way to get connected to the other network.

The Wisconsin State Journal has a nice article on this. Click on the post.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Evansville Council wrestles with Signs

Danielle has written a nice article in the Janesville Gazette for Wedesday recounting the saga of Tuesday nights sandwich board sign discussion at the Evansville City Council.

Click on the post for the full article.

What are your thoughts on this issue? You make the call.

Gov Doyle's Tax freeze may be for only one year?

An article in the Wisconsin State Journal this morn speculates that since there will be no enforcement action possible in 2007, that some Wisconsin cities might disregard the tax freeze in the second year. The Republicans, seeing this, may propose legislation making sure that there is no slip up and that the enforcement lapse is corrected.

Click on the post to read the entire article.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Housekeeping matters--

Click on the photos on this blog to get the larger version.

The archives on the right border will be good for six months. The posts and comments will be saved but I make no guarantees about any referenced links. Many newspapers that I refer to only keep the links for a limited time.

My reference to any link is for commentary and reference purposes only and to promote discussion; It does not constitute publication. Any major daily that wishes to link to reference my articles is welcome.

The Observer

Evansville Community Band Rocks the Park! Thanks UB&T

Concerts at the Lake---TONIGHT--6PM-- Community Band--Tues Aug 9th

On Tuesday August 9th The Evansville Community Band will be the featured attraction. Enjoy the lake before it is drained. Take time off from driving the detours to relax.

Concerts are sponsored by UB&T. Thanks UB&T.

New DOT "RATS" system drives everyone nuts

The first day of the new "RATS" system conversion for DOT, I was in the Janesville office to make a title change. I saw the manual in the gentleman's hand with the "RATS" bold lettering on the front page. "That's a bad sign'" I said. "Yes, he said, It looks that way."

Soon after the system was installed, some of the staff in Janesville went on medical leave, and it occurred to me that the computer conversion may have been the cause. Anyway, plan on a longer wait, and have some patience with the staff there cause I know the conversion problems were not what they need this hot summer.

The "RATS" stands for Record And Title System.

Affordable Housing Corner: When all that's left is Waterloo

Click on the post for an interesting article on housing affordability----Minneapolis is no longer affordable. I guess we all knew that. Waterloo, Iowa is one of the few places left to live that is affordable.

When all the service personnel---- nurses, firefighters, police, retail, etc workers of America can no longer buy homes except in Waterloo, Iowa, is that a sign or what?

City Finance Committee Meets--Recommends approval of $3,250,000 Bond Financing

The Evansville Finance Committee met Tuesday, August 8, 2005 and recommended to the Common Council to approve General Obligation Debt totaling $3,250,000. Over $2,000,000 of this debt related to water and light projects, namely the West Side Well #3 project($1,000,000) and the electric substation ($1,100,000).

There was some discussion of the fact that the electric rates for Evansville are extremely low and that there will be a day when this will have to rise.

Included in the capital projects discussed were a new public works garage for exchange street($100,000), replacing an old structure that might be razed, and reconstruction of the Badger Drive and Higgins street area ($125,000) which is in bad shape and was not constructed properly.

The good news about growth is that the tax base is increasing. The bad news about growth always is that infrastructure needs are growing. The other bad news about growth is that it gets addictive and it may not last forever.

The way the debt is scheduled to be repaid, no principal will be repaid on the general obligation bond portion till 2011. Thus, there will not be a tax impact immediately for homeowners to expect. The city expects to again have a zero percent increase in its portion of the property tax this year due to the increase of tax base because of new building construction.

Housing Starts Drop 21% for Dane Co in July

The drop in housing starts for July in Dane Co. will be something to watch in the coming months. We see news about interest rates rising, discussion about possible cuts to city services in Madison as a result of the recent Wisconsin State budget, and a possible nationwide slowing of the housing boom.

Click on the post to read the article about the housing starts in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Monday, August 08, 2005

All Eyes are on the San Diego housing market

SanDiego was the hottest housing market in the country in the past year. It now has cooled. Was up 30% in just one year. All eyes are on the current situation with an intensity like watching a stock ticker. Click on the post to read an article on the SanDiego housing market.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Strange Story from Evansville

When you come across a REALLY strange story from Evansville, make sure you have the state right.

Re: Community living arrangements--Amendment to Ordinance 2005-35

--- Tim Schwecke <tim.schwecke@verizon.net> wrote:

> Bill Connors asked me to submit a response to your
> inquiry about Community
> living arrangements.
> The Evansville Plan Commission is considering a
> proposal to amend the City's
> zoning code that would change the minimum distance
> between community living
> arrangements (CLA). The term CLA is a reference to a
> class of residential
> housing and includes community-based residential
> facilities and group homes
> for children. Currently, the City's code says that
> CLAs must be 2,500 feet
> or more away from another CLA.
> The proposal would change that distance to 500 feet.
> Given the size of
> Evansville, the 2,500-foot restriction would
> preclude an adequate number of
> such facilities that may be needed to serve the
> needs of city residents.
> While it is possible for a person proposing a CLA to
> ask the Common Council
> to allow an exception to the 2,500-foot separation
> requirement, it is
> believed that such a process is unnecessary and
> would needlessly slow down
> the development process.
> The Plan Commission will hold a public hearing on
> September 6 at 6pm to
> consider this proposal. As part of the hearing, the
> Plan Commission will
> make a recommendation to the Common Council which
> will take final action.
> If you have any comments or questions about this
> proposal, you may contact
> Tim Schwecke, City Planner, at 920-728-2814 or
> attend the public hearing.
> Tim Schwecke, Evansville City Planner

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Friday, August 05, 2005

Larson Acres and Magnolia in mediation

Larson Acres and Magnolia are in mediation regarding their dispute about the number of animals allowed at their facility. To get the latest in this ongoing dispute, click on the post.

Kyle Schultz wins AAU weightlifting title

Kyle Schultz went to New Orleans and brought back the AAU weightlifting title for his weight. Bravo, Kyle. Click on the post for the entire story in the Janesville Gazette.

Financial Aid and Drugs

Financial Aid and Drugs
By Judge Thomas J. Alisankus

Students and parents alike should be aware that the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended in 1998, prohibits students convicted of ANY drug offense from being eligible for federal financial aid. Examples of this type of aid include Pell Grants (generally, a ‘grant’ is money that does not have to be paid back), as well as low-interest student loans. Any conviction—including a conviction in Municipal Court—for possessing even less than one ounce of marijuana, for example, will make students ineligible for this type of financial aid.

Currently, if a person has ever been convicted of possessing a controlled substance (such as marijuana) as a first offense, he or she will be ineligible for federal aid for one year from the date of conviction. A conviction for a second offense makes the person ineligible for two years, and a third offense makes the person ineligible for life. Penalties are even more severe for convictions of possession with intent to deliver (drug) offenses. Students must disclose convictions on the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FASFA). There are provisions for ‘rehabilitation’ that would make the student eligible again; they include, among other requirements, drug counseling, and at least two random drug tests. If a random audit finds that a student failed to disclose a conviction, they would have to repay all monies related to the aid provided, and they would be ineligible for future federal aid.

Last Friday, a panel in the House of Representatives voted to amend the Act such that it would apply only if the conviction “occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving [federal aid]”. The full House must still vote on that amendment; if it passes the full House, it will be sent to the U.S. Senate. Ultimately, of course, the President would have to sign the amendment Act into law.

Parents or students with questions should contact their guidance counselor, or college admissions office.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Classic Audioblogger: Memories of Fr. Erbe; or The New Computer

this is an audio post - click to play

Bill Proposed to make gift cards with expiration dates illegal

Have you ever received a gift card for yoga lessons with the condition that you have to use the lessons withing 60 or 90 days? Then you have a problem using all the lessons within the time period. That type of gift card will not be legal if the new law is passed. It has 59 sponsors and looks to be very popular. The legislators are interested in getting feedback from merchants and the public.

Click on the post to read the full story in the Janesville Gazette.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

San Francisco Adopts Green Building Standards for Low Income Housing--First in Nation

SanFrancisco is out to make a point---that a city can build "green" environmentally friendly housing and at the same time make it affordable. They announced today that they have adopted a whole set of "green" building standards that they will implement on all low income housing. They have become the first city in the nation to do so.

It would be interesting to get the details of these standards for our fair city to see what changes would have to be made to follow suit. Anyway, it is a story to follow. Click on the post to read the entire story.

Closely Watched Ohio Congressional Contest Signals Fierce Political Battle in 2006

The narrow Republican victory in a Ohio congressional race in a district that had previously enjoyed 70% margin Republican victories is signaling that the upcoming 2006 congressional election may be exciting to watch. The Democratic challenger in the Ohio race was an Iraq war vetern who critized President Bush's handling of the Iraq war. Click on the post to read the entire story.

The Evansville Observer--News--Comment--Discussion--The Place your views are Heard AND Remembered

Evansville Planning Commission considers revision to "Bufferyard requirements"- Ordinance 2005-34

The Evansville City Planner reviewed the first draft of revisions considered for Ordinance 2005-35 which would revise Sec. 130- of Evansville Municipal Code regarding Bufferyards.

"A bufferyard is a linear strip of land, along with a visual buffer or barrier such as plantings, berms and fencing, which is located between two different zoning districts that have potentially incompatible characteristics. Bufferyards are intended to eliminate or reduce those potential impacts/nuisances which may include dust, litter, noise, glare of lights, signs, and oncompatible land uses, buildings or parking areas".

This concept of bufferyards was discussed frequently recently regarding the Francios Oil Citgo as it adjoins residential lots on East Main.

The ordinance sets up "opacity levels" between various zones and then the developer can choose how to meet the requirements using a wide variety of things from berms to trees etc.

If you are interested in this, it will be again discussed at the planning commission meeting in September.

City enforcement action: Badger Cycle restricted to Inside Sales

At the Evansville Planning Commission meeting on Monday, Aug 1, 2005, the City Planner reported that Badger Cycle has agreed to terminate any towing and outside auto repair activity from its Maple Street location, and restrict its activities to indoor cycle sales. The owner has stated he is looking for a new location to conduct business from.

Housing Bubble Corner---An extreme view

It is hard living in the Midwest to get a sense of the very real "gold rush" feel that folks in California are going through right now. If you visit, the first thing you notice is that "real estate" is the all consuming topic of everyone. Kind of brings back days of sitting around the campfire and talkn about where you found gold in them there streams.

Anyway, Counterpunch has an article talking about the housing bubble. It is an extreme view, but interesting. Click on the post for the entire article.

Evolution Corner: What does Intelligent Design have to do with "No Child Left Behind?"

Physics Today has an interesting article that explains why the "standards review" and textbook review begun because of the "No Child Left Behind" legislation has resulted in an uproar in many school districts as arguments are being made to include many different theories in addition to evolution.

Pennsylvania is in the forefront as usual. Even the Smithsonian with its exhibit of elephants has gotten into the fray. Click on the post for the entire story.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

View From the Cliff

The Evansville Observer
------------------------The place your views are heard AND

WSJ: Shuttle Problem is one of just too much knowledge?

Bill Wieneke of the Wisconsin State Journal has written a piece today that compares the problem of the shuttle with the problem of acquiring too much knowledge about one's medical condition. While he states he did appreciate the cardiac care that he received, yet one has to be careful about knowing too much.

I have heard this theory several times in the past couple of days. It was the favorite of my car mechanic also. The theory is that if one just avoided the knowledge and then had a couple of beers and just "go for it" on reentry it would all work out ok.

Click on the post to read Bill's article. I think it may be a lesson for all of us never to write an article within an hour of a medical exam.

What do you think?

Bank of Evansville Proposes Electronic Sign

At the meeting of the Evansville Planning Commission on Monday, Aug 1, 2005, a new revison of the local sign ordinance was discussed to address electronic message centers. The Bank of Evansville, which had approval for a regular sign, now desires an electronic sign, 25 ft. tall. This does fall within the size limit of the current code, but it is just that the current ordinance did not envision the electronic signs.

The revision is in the discussion stage. The idea is to keep it in B3 zoned areas, namely the entrance on HWY 14, and come up with a way of writing the ordinance that would address the size of lettering and pace of the changes. The other issue is how to avoid the "Las Vegas effect" if all the business went to this type of sign.

The discussion of this topic did underline a key recurring theme--how to move quickly but at the same time create a consistet policy. The Bank is set to open in a month or so, and would like a sign, or banner to work with. At the same time, the city needs to consider the impact when other businesses seek to also go electronic.

Evansville schedules Public Hearing Sept 5, 2005 to expand territory covered by TIF District #5

On Monday, August 1, 2005, the Evansville Planning Commission authorized a public hearing to be held at the next regular Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept 5, 2005 to obtain public input on territory changes proposed for TIF district #5.

At the time the original TIF District was approved, the State legal limit on money that a city could use for TIF was lower than now. It was changed recently upward. Also, TIF #4 was recently closed.

The new areas proposed follow the red-checkered areas of the comprehensive plan--namely Exchange Street and up Union Street. Notices will be mailed to neighbors affected by this proposed change.

The one unusual property proposed to be included in the new expanded TIF district is the home on Church street across from the fire station. There is a proposal to have the home included in the TIF district so that real wood siding as opposed to vinyl can be used in restoring it. This would add to the "historical effect" of the home. As Mr. Connors explained, the siding alone would not be adding a financial tax increment.

There was some discussion of whether homeowner siding was appropriate for TIF district money since many in Evansville have such needs and there are other loan programs at low interest that would be more appropriate. The Planning Commission did approve the authorization for public hearing and whether this property or others are approved can be sorted out in the hearing process.

Evansville Plan Commission approves Ordinance 2005--27---Establishes Checklist Criteria and Process for new Development

In a response to discussions about the planning process during the June Comprehensive Plan meeting, the Evansville Planning Commission on Monday, Aug 1, 2005 approved Ordinance 2005-27 which provides an application process providing more structured review of how a new development proposal would imact the city in defined impact areas. The key area of the ordinance is section 9(f) which provides for the review criteria.

The very first review criteria is the "Effects on local services, including: public road system, police and fire protection, utilities, and public schools. " Other effects to be analyzed are effects on the environment, public health and safety and wildlife.

The city would conduct the impact study using staff and using some software available. It is unclear whether developers would be assessed a fee for this impact study.

The ordinance also provides for public input via a public hearing after a preliminary application for plat approval.

The positive for developers seems to be a more defined process where after an application is made, they are informed as to what is specifically required and in what time frame.

Monday, August 01, 2005

WATERCOOLER: Should Wisconsin close sales tax loophole?

Wisconsin loses 150 million dollars each year in unpaid sales taxes for sales on internet and mail order products. The tax is charged, but the collection of it is the problem.

A compact of states have devised a way to collect it, but the Wisconsin Republican legislature has blocked participation in the project. The Wisconsin State Journal, in an excellent article, has called for Wisconsin to begin to collect the tax as a simple matter of fairness to brick and morter businesses. A way to level the playing field.

Click on the post to read the article. What do you think? Should these sales taxes be collected as a simple matter of business fairness? You make the call.