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Monday, October 31, 2005

Schools face energy cuts; Or, its "cool" to be in school, literally.

Schools all across Wisconsin are taking steps to cut back on consumption as natural gas prices skyrocket.

Click on the post for an article in the Janesville Gazette that covers some of the things schools have done.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Watercooler: Do Organized Sports start too young?

The Cap Times has an interesting op ed piece today with reflections of Pat Richter, the retired AD of UW, suggesting along with other medical types, that the pushing of kids as young as three into organized sports really deprives them of their childhood.

Click on the post for the whole article by Rob Zaleski.

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

Friday, October 28, 2005

Verona in Flux on "Big Box'"; Future action unclear

The city of Verona had a "Big Box" model ordinance they had tried to pass, but it was voted down in council.

Click on the post to see the discussion in the Verona Times.

The general feeling was that there still needs to be an ordinance, but a disagreement on what the ordinance will have as its objective, blocking the big box or limiting its size.

Evansville has a "big box" ad hoc committee and The Observer will look forward to reporting its findings when they are available. Stay tuned.

Monroe business owners petition for sidewalk cafes

Monroe downtown business owners have circulated a petition to clarify the ordinances on sidewalk cafes and build support for an ordinance revision that would allow food and alcohol to be served in these designated cafes.

Click on the post for the full story.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New Ethanol Station Opens in Monroe; Initial price .85 per gallon

Badger State Ethanol opened its station in Monroe to lots of fanfare with politicos in attendance. It is not clear in the article how long the price of .85 per gallon will last.

Click on the post for the entire article in the Janesville Gazette. What a wonderful win-win transaction for farmers and consumers. It would be wonderful to see a station such as this in Evansville.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Re: Report from the side -- I'm not at the front.

--- Fred Juergens <fredjuergens@charter.net> wrote:

> Hi all,
> I'm writing a sort of generic report on my
> activities as a Red Cross Disaster Relief volunteer.
> I do have email access, so if you have a question
> or just want to say hi, please write back.
> Almost at the last minute, Red Cross changed its
> mind about where I could serve best as a volunteer
> for the hurricane disasters. Last Wednesday about
> 430p they called and told me to get a flight to
> Washington DC. I was also told to pack for going
> south later, if needs changed. I left on Thursday
> morning from Evansville to the Madison RC office to
> pick up some necessary paper work, and flew out at
> 2pm that afternoon. My service is to work in the RC
> National Disaster Relief Call Center in suburban
> DC,across the Potomac river in Falls Church, VA.
> My job is to take calls from people all over the
> south who are either requesting direct assistance
> from the Red Cross, or trying to find information
> about loved ones, or information about other sources
> of aid.... I provide direct help if I can, seek
> other sources if I'm able and refer the callers to
> them, in some cases, refer them either to a nurse or
> a mental health professional, if their request is
> beyond my skill to help. Frequently I just take
> info from them and forward it to the RC chapter on
> the ground in their area, so local volunteers can
> contact them and attend to their needs directly.
> This call center runs 24/7, and I work from
> 3pm-1130pm - 6 days on, one off. There are
> volunteers here from all over the country doing
> similar work, but the volume of calls is such that
> RC has to hire skilled temporary workers to keep the
> cue of callers waiting on hold to a reasonable
> level. That cue has reached over 100 sometimes
> during the time I've been working. Sunday the center
> fielded over 9500 calls, and since the hurricanes
> struck, about 740,000. There are about 250 people
> taking calls during a 24 hour period, and the shift
> size varies of course; most during the day, some
> fewer during my evening shift, and fewer still
> during the graveyard shift. This call center is a
> massive operation. All the volunteers are housed in
> motels in the area, RC drivers drive vans back and
> forth between the headquarters and the various
> motels shuttling volunteers, and they feed us a hot
> meal during our shift. In addition to call agents
> like myself, there are nurses and mental health p!
> eople available in the office to assist those with
> specialized needs, various trainers and
> administrators to keep the ball rolling. Volunteers
> are arriving and leaving everyday -- as their
> three-week shifts expire.
> In a way I'm very fortunate to be doing this work,
> since my living conditions, both when I'm working
> and during time off, are much better than they would
> be if I were actually in one of the disaster areas.
> On the other hand,I think I might have preferred
> more direct contact with people and being able to
> directly serve them. Nonetheless, I am pleased to
> serve the RC in they way they think best. Since it
> appears that Wilma's effect on south Florida is
> somewhat less than total disaster, I now expect to
> stay here for the duration of my RC service. That
> could change, though...time will tell.
> In my current job, I certainly deal with a wide
> variety of issues. Calls from Florida just started
> coming in last night about 5 pm. Because so much of
> the communications infra structure down there was
> destroyed, all calls for help that were generated
> there were re-routed to us. People in Miami
> couldn't make local calls to police, firefighters,
> FEMA, etc, apparently. And all we could do was to
> refer to our list of open RC shelters and tell them
> to go there for whatever assistance might be
> available.
> On a more general level and primarily from the
> Katrina/Rita area, we receive calls from people
> whose RC debit cards aren't working; from people
> whose funds are running out, from people who don't
> really need help,but are trying to soak RC for
> whatever funds they can get, the variety is
> infinite. After a day of training, I was put on my
> own, and I field 20-50 calls per shift. One call
> took almost 45 minutes, as I was dealing with a
> distraught evacuee, a woman with two small children
> who couldn't find a place to stay, because the
> short-term aid from RC was running out, who had no
> friends or family to call, either in the area or
> near her Louisana home. I got a mental health
> counselor on the line to help calm her down while I
> did a frantic search for phone numbers of other
> agencies in Texas who might be able to help her.
> This all occurred about 9pm on Sunday night.
> We get a few other-category calls too -- last night,
> just as my shift was ending, a man called from near
> Chicago. He had just been released after a month in
> jail, he went to an aunt's house for a place to
> stay, and found that the house had burned down, and
> no one in the area knew where she was to be found.
> No transportation, very little money in his pocket.
> He was calling from a pay-phone in a gas station for
> advice on a place to stay overnight, because it was
> cold and rainy. I located the local number for the
> RC and for Salvation Army, but also told him to ask
> at a police or fire-station for location of a
> possible shelter for homeless people. Most of those
> places close earlier than the time he was calling,
> but I didn't know what else to do.
> It's stressful work for me, because at this
> distance, there's only so much one can do. Some of
> the stories are heart-breaking; it's sometimes hard
> to keep focused on what RC can actually do at this
> point for them, to get callers focused too, and then
> to work out a plan with them of what to do next.
> After the shift is over, I usually have to unwind a
> bit mentally before I can go to sleep. Other
> volunteers are in similar states, of course, and we
> sometimes just talk together in the motel lobby for
> a while before we're ready to go off to our separate
> rooms and rest. We volunteers also have nurses and
> mental health people available to us to meet any
> needs in those areas that we might have.
> Red Cross's main mission is emergency relief in the
> immediate aftermath of a disaster- providing
> emergency shelter, food, clothing, medical
> attention. Now we're almost 8 weeks afterward.
> People are still turning to us for help, because
> they don't know where else to go. RC is not geared
> towards long-term assistance; that (also) is FEMA's
> job. Of course, they're swamped too. RC has
> dispensed almost $1.4 billion in aid, and is, I'm
> told, in debt right now. RC needs to be a good
> steward of it's innumerable donors' contributions.
> Some people in need expect more than we can do. I'm
> sure that the Salvation Army, Goodwill, church
> charities and others are in a similar position.
> It's clearer by the day to me that no agency was
> prepared, perhaps could not have been fully
> prepared, for a disaster of Katrina/Rita magnitude.
> The sheer size of the need is way beyond any
> previous rrelief effort in the US Mistakes were
> made, of course, and some of them were probably due
> to inept administration, misuse of available
> resources, and lack of government funding. At this
> point, all we volunteers can do is to work within
> the structures in place, and do our best. It will
> be left to others to examine what could have been
> done better prior to the storms and to prepare
> better for future disasters.
> Just writing this is helpful for me -- it focuses me
> on my job here while letting me vent a bit too.
> I'll send another report when it seems appropriate,
> or if things change drastically for me.
> Be well,
> Fred
> "Be The Change You Wish To See In The World"--Gandhi

The Buff and the Bright; Or, Kyle Schultz Honored

As the Blue Devils play in the postseason football tonight, there is a nice article on the athletic and academic achievement of Kyle Schultz in the Janesville Gazette. Kyle does seem to epitomize the Evansville, and Renaissance ideal of Buff and Bright. Bravo, Kyle.

Click on the post for the article in the Janesville Gazette.

Murder in Monticello

An elderly woman was murdered in Monticello, possibly for money. The story is still unfolding.

Click on the post for the story in the Janesville Gazette.

What are the odds of being mentally competetent and carrying $60,000 loose in your purse? Stay tuned as the facts are unsorted in this case.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Minutes of Evansville-Union Joint Planning Meeting

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City of Evansville - Town of Union

Conflict Resolution Teams Meeting Minutes

October 20, 2005; Evansville City Hall

Call the meeting to order @ 6:00 PM.
Roll Call: Ald. Hammann (Co-chair), Kim Gruebling (Co-chair), Supervisor Don Krajeck, & Kelly Gildner. Absent: Bob James & Chris Eager. Quorum attained.
Minutes of August meeting unanimously approved on a Hammann-Gildner motion.
Citizen appearances – None
Discussion of draft boundary agreement between City of Evansville and Town of Union.
Ald. Hammann passed out a copy of the Intermunicipal cooperation agreement between the city of Watertown and the town of Emmet as an illustration of boundary agreement. The following items were discussed:

Joint Land Use & Transportation Plan – After Union completes it’s Smart Growth plan in the spring, then Evansville & Union will combine each plan into a single set of maps for both communities.
Annexations – The town will not oppose annexations of land within the city growth areas.
Development with city growth areas – Design standards according to smart growth checklists.
Development with town growth areas - The City waives its extraterritorial jurisdiction within the town growth areas.
Intergovernmental Cooperation – joint requests such as Stormwater management, roadways & Blighted areas.
Revenue Sharing
Dispute Resolution
Evansville’s plan commission & Union’s planners will review this document and any necessary changes while both teams wait for Union’s Smart Growth to be completed.

Discussion of City of Evansville’s future land use map, including whether the map should be revised in light of a possible rural residential subdivision development north of Evansville Country Club golf course in the Town of Union.
This development is located outside of the City of Evansville’s future land use map growth area.

Preliminary discussion of Union growth plans.

New business
CTH M speed limit - Union is supportive of reducing the speed limit on both sides of CTH M approaching Hwy. 14 intersection. Evansville’s engineer will provide Union's Town supervisor Kendall Schneider to provide the details of where the speed limit should be reduced and by how much.
Evansville’s Large Scale Commercial Development Committee requested a representative from Union. Kelly Gildner agreed to be the Union Township representative
Changed name of the team to City of Evansville - Town of Union Smart Growth Implementation committee unanimously approved on a Gruebling-Hammann motion.
Changed meeting location to Evansville City Hall old council chambers unanimously approved on a Gruebling-Hammann motion.
Meeting adjourned @ 7:15 p.m.
Next Meeting: December 15 at 6:00 p.m.

Bill Hammann; Evansville, Adlerperson, Co-chairman of City of Evansville - Town of Union Smart Growth Implementation committee

Bloggers: Your Vote Counts; Or, The Best of The Evansville Observer 2005

The editorial staff at the Evansville Observer is hard at work in compiling, "The Best of the Evansville Observer 2005." It is time for your vote---What do you think were the best of the stories, reflections, and political debates of the past year.

Yes, maybe it was one of your own arguments on a particular issue. Point me in the direction of the date and the topic.

You may email me at woulfe98@yahoo.com . All replies are confidential.

Look for a Thanksgiving publication date. Again, thanks to all the bloggers out there that have checked in daily with the blog and told their friends. Together, we all will write the story.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Fitchburg landowners defiant of Planning Commission; Or, On the difficulty of planning development

A group of landowners that have a parcel of 883 acres that they want to develop and did not get the blessing of the Fitchburg Planning Commission want to incur major cost anyway and are raising concern from Fitchburg citizens that want to control growth in Fitchburg and keep it in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan for their community.

Click on the post for the full story.

The issues in this case are similar to those in Evansville and Union. Evansville and Union planners met recently in a joint session to review where Union is in the planning process, and it looks like the Union Comprehensive Plan will be ready in June 2006. The range of acres the members of Union Planning commission are discussing to be switched from ag zoning to residential are somewhere between 2 and 2000. That is a large range of difference. Stay tuned. Union is currently in a building freeze until the Comprehensive plan is finalized.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bank of Evansville Robbed Thursday--Suspect Sought--

The Bank of Evansville was robbed on Thursday, and the suspect is being sought.

Click on the post for the story in the Janesville Gazette. If you have any information this crime, contact the Evansville Police.

Local Housing Market Cools; Listings rise; Days to Sale Rise

An article in the Wisconsin State Journal goes over what any observer can see visually in Evansville. There are more and more homes for sale, and it is taking longer and longer for them to be sold. It is turning into a buyers market.

Click on the post for the story in the Wisconsin State Journal.

I hope to have some local stats for Evansville shortly.

EHS Girls Cross Country--Whitewater Conference Meet--1mile mark

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BTC Board votes for lower of tax increases: Or, Garvin's first vote counts

Heidi Garvin, Evansville District Administrator, cast one of her first votes as a member of the Blackhawk Technical Board, and it counted. The issue was whether to increase the levy by 8% or 6%. Some had argued that it was a small amount. Garvin pointed out that since there was substantial increase in assessments, the larger increase would be felt by homeowners, and thus to preserve the exemption that Doyle had allowed in the property tax freeze for the Technical System in Wisconsin, the wiser choice was the lower tax rate.

She voted no on a motion for the larger tax rate. The vote tied at 4-4. Then the board voted 8-0 for the lower tax rate.

Click on the post for the entire article in the Janesville Gazette.

Cover-up, conspiracy charges pending on Rove; Or, Watergate dejavu or what?

An article in Yahoo news suggests this morn that cover-up or conspiracy charges are pending against Karl Rove and that investivations are continuing to investigate if administration officials obstructed the investigation of how the leaks of the name of the undercover CIA agent occured.

Click on the post for the story.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

College Gender Gap widens; Or, Should there be affirmative action for boys; Or, "Where the Boys Are " by Connie Francis"

The college gender gap has widened---57% of current college students are girls. This has raised alarm.

Click on the post in USA Today for the full article reviewing this distrubing trend. The article suggests that affirmative action for boys might be necessary to achieve the needed parity in college.

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

To Freeze or not to Freeze; or Monroe wrestles with over/under staffing question

The city of Monroe has been debating whether it is over or under staffed. They have delayed a decision on this till a city administrator is hired, but then they would like to hire an independent firm to make the determination.

A city official mentioned that it is not simply a question of looking at some data comparison, since the geography and mix of problems that an individual community confronts varies within a population class.

Click on the post for the discussion.

This issue is a common one, and the Observer will be keeping you up to date on how Monroe solves the question.

Monroe Times: Some TIF's are better than others; Or, why tax increment is important

The Monroe Times this morn has an excellent article reviewing the TIF districts of Monroe which have varied widely in their performance as to tax increment. Some have been very successful and some have not. The article has some clues as to how to avoid failure.

Click on the post for the entire article.

"Cueball" heads South for Red Cross Service

One of the cast of characters of the Evansville Observer, Cueball, is leaving today for a month long stint with the Red Cross serving the folks in Katrina's path. Godspeed, cueball. I have asked if he could send occasional email and be a disaster reporter, but he thinks email access will be limited.

We look for a full report when he returns.

Radical Right Attacks "American Girl,"; Or, Politicos threatened by dolls

In an opinion piece of the Capital Times, it was revealed that certain right wing political groups feel threatened by American Girl Company, a division of Mattel, which manufactures the American Girl line of dolls, an upscale line of dolls, created right here in Madison, Wisconsin. It appears that American Girl donates part of its profits to an organization that helps underpriviledged girls develop qualities of independence and strength.

Click on the post for the entire story.

Previously I had written that politics has even entered the sacred world of coffee. Now it seems that even dolls have become political.

What are your thoughts on this article in the Capital Times? You make the call.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rally for the Open Road--(Click twice for largest photo)

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EHS Band: HWY 14 Ribbon Cutting Celebration

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Thursday Union-Evansville Planning meeting tests Rhetoric of Past

Evansville and Union will gather on Thursday at 6PM at Evansville City Hall and go over issues of immediate growth. The Observer has reposted for this occasion, the original speech of Doug Zweizig on June 15, 2005 at the Evansville Smart Growth meeting. As a Union resident, Doug set some tough standards as to what a planning process should consist of. Evansville has made some constructive changes as a result of the speech and also the input of citizens. Thursday night will be an opportunity to apply those same standards to the current plans of Union.

Even a cursory review of MLS listings show that at least 300 acres near the Golf Course are slated for residential development. This is land that Union had been very passionately preserving for agricultural. Now they are very passionate about residential. Thursday nights meeting will be a good time to get out the checklists and see what homework has been done. See you at the meeting.

(Original Post 6-21-2005-) Doug Zweizig calls Current Planning Process "Opportunistic, Shortsighted and Secretive; " Calls for Impact Checklist

What follows is the edited text of the speech titled " Planning's Other Half," delivered on June 15, 2005 by Douglas Zweizig at the City of Evansville Smart Growth Comprehensive Plan meeting.

"I'm going to take a risk tonight by pointing out that the acheivement of this impressive document is only one half of the hard work that needs to be done if Evansville...is to have the future that the plan envisions. The second half is to improve the way the plan is to be carried out. After all, this is not the first such plan that has been developed. It would be a good idea to reflect on the fate of those previous plans.

If I were to charaacterize the existing process, I would describe it as opportunistic, short sighted, and secretive.

"Opportunistic" in the sense that decisions are made on the basis of which property becomes available at a particular time. Then energies are focused on how to move that project along with little attention to whether such a project had been thought desirable in the existing plan. In fact, the efforts appear to be directed to altering the plan to meet the opportunity rather than shaping the opportunity to conform to the plan. At the time that the Smart Growth Committee was meeting to design a future for Evansville that would reflect the desires of its residents, the Plan Commission was greatly changing that future by amending the Master Plan to respond to an opportunity. A test of the nature of the decision making process would be to consider whether any proposal for development has ever been turned down by the City. I understand that no proposals have been turned down by the Town of Union and have been told that none have been turned down by the City of Evansville. That would seem to be a strong indication of responding to initiatives by developers rather than guiding development according to the agreed-upon plan.

"Short sighted" in that decisions appear to be made in order to solve immediate problems without adequate consideration of the long-term consequences. I have been told by a number of people in a position to know that the decision to go ahead with rapid development on the west of Evansville was due to the need to pay for an unfortunate previous decision regarding a lift station. While moving ahead with the development was thought to help financially in the short run, the necessary planning for transportation, the possible impact on school capacity, and the provision of retail services were not addressed in the rush to approve the proposal. The consequences of this decision will be felt by the community for some time to come.

"Secretive" in the sense that it is very difficult for a citizen to learn what developments are under consideration by the City until it is too late to have much influence on them. The importance of citizen participation is a central feature of the Smart Growth process, and the development of the new master plan is seen as an activity for the whole community. But, currently, when the plan is implemented, the process becomes non-particpatory. Information is shared by rumor, rather than openly and accurately......

In order to be constructive, I would like to offer some suggestions that could help ensure that decisions made about land use in Evansville are not just opportunistic..shortsighted..or secretive. I would suggest that the Plan Commission develop a checklist to be used to evaluate proposals for development.The checklist would include questions such as, "To what degree is the proposed development consistent with the comprehensive plan? What would be the impact on transportation needs of this proposed development? Is there a plan for needed transportation improvements? How are these costs to be covered?

The use of such a checklist would ensure that needed aspects of the proposed development are addressed in advance. By making the responses to the checklist in writing and also part of the published minutes of the Evansville Plan Commission...the community can be informed of the decisions made and the reasons for them. .....

Vision Statement: Evansville Community Partnership;**

Evansville is a thriving and prosperous community inviting opportunity for involvement from all in creating and implementing our shared dreams.

We envision Evansville as a community that values cooperation and harmony among government, the private sector, citizens and surrounding communities. This cooperation creates the continuity vital to economic opportunity that serves the requirements of residents and visitors in our downtown and outlying business districts. We enjoy community consensus regarding the stewardship of our people, natural, historical and financial resources.

To accomplish this, our community receives and respects different points of view. We are filled with the spirit of neighborliness, cooperation and mutual respect for all.

**This vision statement is written in the present tense as though it were true at a point in the future. It is something to aim for as the work of the people involved in the Evansville Community Partnership goes forward.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Redevelopment Authority votes no to moving $450,000 of Exchange St. Expenses to TIF#5

On a 3-2 vote, the Redevelopment Authority Committee on Tuesday night voted to recommend to Finance Committee that $450,000 of expenses paid by the city for reconstruction of Exchange Street not be moved to TIF #5 on the basis that these expenses were usual infrastructure expenses and not really the type of investments appropriate for TIF financing, and they would possibly make it more difficult for TIF #5 to attain the necessary tax increment to be successful.

Re: No Railroad Crossing Reconstruction This Year

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

> Trish:
> Please forward this message to members of the
> Chamber of Commerce.
> I previously sent a message warning that the Union
> Pacific Railroad would begin reconstructing the
> railroad crossing on N. Madison St. by the
> intersection with Union St. this week. Due to a
> miscommunication within the Union Pacific Railroad,
> there was no preparation for this project, so it is
> extremely likely that the reconstruction of this
> rail crossing will not occur until the spring of
> 2006.
> I am waiting for an updated on the work on E. Main
> St. from Union St. to Allen Creek. I believe the
> plan is to pave that part of the street sometime
> this week. The reconstruction of the short part of
> Water St. near the intersection with Exchange St.
> will not start until E. Main St. is paved.
> Bill Connors
> Evansville City Administrator
> 31 S. Madison St.
> P.O. Box 76
> Evansville, WI 53536
> (608) 882-2263
> fax: (608) 882-2282

Rep. Brett Davis introduces bill to extend cap on Open Enrollment

Rep. Brett Davis announced that he will be introducing legislation to extend the cap on open enrollment. In a previous post, this was mentioned at the Evansville School district meeting as something that the Evansville School District has supported as well as Albany.

Rep. Brett Davis noted that the failure to extend the cap could mean disaster for small school districts and in fact the option of parents sending their children to small districts might be eliminated.

Click on the post for the entire article.

Monroe School District faces 1.8 million dollar surprise deficit: Or, how the school board was kept in the dark; Or, how the tax levy still went down

This is a developing story----At the Monday night School Board meeting, the Monroe school board members learned that they had a 1.8 million dollar deficit to deal with. Evidentally, the business manager felt he had no obligation to tell them of it since he reported to the Superintendant, who had resigned.

The expenses that were cited for the deficit were energy related, technology related and state reimbusement. It is unclear to the Observer why these would not have budgeted items and how they caused such a large deficit...Stay tuned for facts as they develop....

Click on the post for the full story in the Monroe Times.

Friday, October 14, 2005

EHS Lady Blue Devils Stun Rock Valley Conference; Or, the Facts, the News, the DejaVu

First the facts: The EHS girls varsity cross country team was crowned Rock Valley champion last night at UW Whitewater. The placings and times of the winning team were:
2--Emily Thornton--16:34.8
4--Heather Patterson--16:48.5
7--Kaia Schoenenberger--16:55.7
8--Ainae Soetaert--17:07.7
11--Emily Grant----17:18
14--Leah Heimerl--17:28.1
15--Alyssa Keister--17.33.5

Total Team score os 32. Big Foot was next (56) Parkview 3rd (78), Brodhead 4th(92, Clinton 5th (105), Palmyra-Eagle 6th(170) Clinton and Turner did not field complete teams.

Now the news. It must have been a little upsetting for the rival coaches to see that the EHS girls had their winning t-shirts ready at the team tent just waiting for the victory. Just confidence. They expected and wanted to win. They did in impressive fashion.

The real stunner was the JV race. Evansville JV girls took the first five places. So, lookin for the future, the beat goes on.

And, the middle school race saw some real intensity as they not only had a lot of fun, but showed at Whitewater that the boys and girls in middle school will be a force to be reckoned with.

While the EHS boys struggled 5th and struggled with injuries, it must be noted that they ran hard in this race. It was just not their year.

Now the dejavu----At the one mile mark---this is the mark that the EHS boys team of Mike Thornton, Jay Merin, and Justin Frey as the lead three runners, used to hit with Thornton at 5.04. And that was the year that the coach, Q, could run the first mile split at that same speed and did often taking trophies throughout Madison. Now, sitting at that same mile mark it was a thrill to see the girls move to take charge of the race.

On the podium to hand out the awards---Amanda McElroy, former star runner of EHS now in cross country at Whitewater.

And finally, it was on this stage years ago, that Ann Knutson and Mike Thornton were both awarded Rock Valley individual champions. I remember how difficult it was to get Mike to smile. It was getting dark and my flash was drained. Ann and Mike are now engaged to be married.

So, lots of present thrills, past dejavu and future dreams were all there last night in Whitewater. I will have pictures on the Observer later tonight.

We are the Blue Devils; Not the swamp dogs. We build on the higher ground. Go big Blue.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Could Madison become the Motown of Electric Bikes?

Madison Mayor "Dave" took a new model electric bike out for a spin last week. He was very impressed with the battery powered invention of a Madison local.

Click on the post to read the whole story. This battery add on to any bike may be marketed to China if not the U.S.. Stay tuned.

Re: Bill Connors writes; Could Evansville be the Motown of electric bikes?; stay tuned

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

I must point out, with pride, that the Bill Connors
in the picture with the article is none other than my
father. He is the attorney representing the inventor
in his efforts to license the bicycle-to-moped
conversion. I have asked my father to pitch to
whatever company acquires the license the idea of
manufacturing the product here in Evansville. It
never hurts to ask.

Bill Connors
Evansville City Administrator

Posted by billconnors to Evansville Observer at
10/13/2005 09:08:13 AM (ed. click on the post for the original article.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Monroe High School offers physical and Virtual high school

I was surprised to see that Monroe High School is now offering a Virtual High School that has grown to 200 students this year. Some time ago, I posted on the combination of virtual and physical schools. This would be such an example.

Click on the post for an article in the Monroe Times.

What would you think of students in Junior and Senior year of high school being able to take some of their classes on line and thus freeing up time for internship opportunities?

To Heat or To Eat, That is the Question; Or, what will the price of natural gas really be this winter?

Generally we are hearing that natural gas prices will be 50% higher this season over last, with the caution that "some parts of the midwest will be higher". Yo...small question, but how do we know whether we are that part?

For some Americans, it will be a choice of heating or eating. Governmental folks are scrambling to get more heating assistance, but the spike of these percentages will affect a huge portion of Americans, far more than envisioned under those assistance programs.

Click on the post for the full energy story. You make the call.

Minnesota Vikings Corner: Possible Sex Scandal on Boat Cruise Rocks Vikings

All of Minnesota is abuzz with the story on the Vikings this morn, who had a "bye" week that may result in some saying "bye, bye."

What actually happened on that boat cruise on Lake Minnetonka is still in question. I did have to go to the Grand Forks, N.D. paper to get a tame description of the boating event that was billed as a "team tradition." Stay tuned.

Click on the post for the full story.

The Packers are scheduled to play the Vikings on Christmas Eve, 2005.

Evansville School Board approves District Administrator Job Description--with slight emphasis change

On Monday night, the Evansville School Board approved Policy #221, the job description of the District Administrator. At the September board meeting, Policy chairman, Todd Campbell, went over the job description. The words remain the same, the paragraphs remain the same, but the order of the paragraphs has changed. The section of the job description on Leadership has been moved to the top. This reflects the need of the school district to be proactive in the long range planning process with the community.

After the frenzied pace of former school administrator, Gary Albrecht, a lower public profile had been desired as the school building program had been completed. Now that development issues are beginning to arise again, it is recognized by the district that they need a representative to project the needs and goals of the district to the community. So, expect to see Heidi Garvin in a more visible presence in public meetings. This is welcome news to the Observer.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Evansville-Albany Lineman; Or, Great Debates from EHS history

Evansville has had many debates over the years, some personal, political, and some memorable, and on the other hand it has had some amusing ones. The great debate of the WIAA over the Evansville-Albany football team has to go down in history as a sad but amusing one in retrospect.

For review. Evanville and Albany had combined their football programs with the Albany players coming to Evansville. Albany did not have enough players to field a team. It was a way they could play. It sure worked well. The Blue Devils were winning. The players loved it. The coaches loved it. Everything seemed to be fine. However...

The WIAA did receive some complaints from other teams in the conference that the reason that the Evansville team was winning was because of the Albany players. Other teams complained that the Albany players made the team so big that well, it was just unfair competition.

The debate went on for a couple of years. Finally, one newspaper asked one of the Albany lineman what he thought of the controversy. "Well," he said, "Whoever thinks the team is great because of the guys from Albany is just an idiot." "The team is great because of the great coaches we have."

Anyone who watched the Blue Devils step up in the first half against Brodhead last Friday night, or anyone who has watched the guys train twelve months a year in the weight room knows that the Evansville-Albany lineman told it like it is.

Open Enrollment reviewed at Evansville School Board Meeting

At the Evansville School Board on Monday night, a citizen whose children attended school in Evansville but lived outside the district, wondered whether open enrollment attendance for future years could be denied because of lack of space. Lack of space is becoming a more frequent reason for denial in some districts. Click on the post for a discussion of the open enrollment at Beloit Memorial. Supr. Heidi Garvin responded that denial due to space was unlikely in the near future. She said that the numbers of students coming into the district and going out was been pretty much a "wash" or even.

She also indicated that the "cap" that has limited the number of students leaving a district to 10% will expire this year. She said that Evansville and Albany had supported legislation that would extend this cap. The cap prevents a large number of students from leaving which could imperil the survival of a district or force it to merge. However, she wondered about the success of the amendment in light of the Republican majority in the Wisconsin legislature and she is unsure of how the extension idea will be received.

What are your thoughts on open enrollment?

The original purpose of open enrollment was to give freedom to parents to seek the best "fit" for their children and also one that fits best logistically for busy working parents. Logistics has been a major reason for many transfers. The other purpose was to reward "better quality" school districts and to create a climate of "competition." In some states such as Minnesota, districts actually advertise their services. One such district, Moundsview School District in Minnesota which has had a large number of National Merit Scholars has used this to promote their district and has been very successful, to the unhappiness of neighboring districts.

So, you make the call. Should the "cap" of 10% be allowed to expire allowing districts to be forced to merge if enrollment falls dramatically? You make the call.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Evansville Schools Administrator and School Reports

The big theme of each school report this month is MATH. If you click on the post, you can review each school report and see how the subject of MATH is developed through their grades.

If you are unable to attend tonight's school board meeting, click on the post for the report of Supr. Heidi Garvin pertaining to class sizes and future staffing needs. Click on the post and click on 10/10/2005.

Evansville Schools features K12Now--a way of staying connected

One of the ways of staying connected to events in the school is to get enrolled in K12Now---it provides notification of school closings and items of interest via email as well as text messaging for cell phone.

Click on the post for all the info on this and to register. From now on no searching for the tv channel on snow days---you get notified via email or phone. This is a feature that is growing in popularity for Evansville parents.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Re: Connors, Aikman write; On impact of population growth on enrollment; On invitation of Mayor to School Board and Union to Consult.

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

Ald. Karen Aikman, a member of the Plan Commission,
asked me to post the following message for her.

The Smart Growth Plan (SGP) is a guideline that, I
believe, has been pledged to be reviewed every year.
During Plan Commission meetings there can always be
found copies of the SGP on hand, and it is often
referred to.

This thread of discussion seems to concern Evanville's
growth rate's impact on the school system. The
question seems to contain so many variables as to
render a solid answer elusive. In the town homes that
were approved this week, if young families move in,
then most certainly some children will enter our
system. If, on the other hand, retirees move in, then
the school enrollment sees no change as a result. It
is also sensible when discussing school capacity to
that the City of Evansville is not the only
contributing community. The Town of Union also sends
its children to this school system and is experiencing

It is my understanding Mayor Ringhand has invited
members of the
school board and Ms. Carvin to meet with the Planning
Commission and Town of Union officials to discuss the
issues of enrollment and capacity. I haven't heard
the response, but perhaps such a meeting would be
worth setting your TiVo for.

Posted by billconnors to Evansville Observer at
10/08/2005 08:26:59 PM

Saturday, October 08, 2005

West Side Park--Public Hearing---Residents unanimous in approval of Design Option #4

West side residents met at Wee Ones Daycare on Saturday in a rare weekend Park Board public hearing and unanimously approved park design #4. The plan covers the 15 acres of the park and will adjoin the condos recently approved for Porter Road.

The plan features many wonderful items, including centralized bathrooms and ample parking. There will be soccer fields, baseball diamonds, t-ball, playground areas as well as ice skating and basketball areas. There was some discussion that centralized bathrooms would cost a little more than ones at the edge of the park, but parents pointed out that the central location was a key feature and well worth the cost.

About one million dollars will be budgeted for the park. It is scheduled for completion in 2009. There will be some landscaping done in 2006 and some grass planted for 2007.

The park does not have lights for night activities nor does it have concession stands. There will be a shelter so people can bring their own food if desired. It is not designed for commerical activity. The idea is to have Lake Leota be the site for night soccer and concessions.

Homecoming 2005-Deck the Cards!--Click the picture twice for largest version

We had Marching band from the High School
And Great Cars
And the Middle School Band

Friday, October 07, 2005

On "WHERE" and "WHAT" to Count; Observer Humbled; Or why a new subdivison in Union with airstrip will be exciting

Yesterday, as I was dashing off to find a purple cape to go along with my role as "The Count" in counting all the lots approved for construction over the Evansville Smart Growth Plan, I was stopped by a fellow blogger, who shall remain anonymous and be called "Deep Throat II".

He was quite direct with me. "Dick. it is important to know WHERE to count as well as WHAT. You need to count UNION as well as EVANSVILLE. Evansville has grown 27% over the past 10 years and UNION has grown 40%. In a heartbeat I knew he was right. The "Count" needed to broaden his horizon.

Armed with this new "vision" I headed off to inspect the new rural subdivision north of the golf course where speculation is mounting that developers will propose extensive upscale housing that will even include such amenities as an airstrip. I was trying to determine how many lots to count. And also trying to determine whether folks who fly airplanes have kids. I had recently made the mistake of thinking that folks who own two bedroom condos have kids, so I wanted to be cautious.

In my youth, I worked for a flight operation that rented small Piper airplanes. Just to be able to "count" tack hours again was a thrilling prospect.

As I learn more about this thrilling new residentail subdivison I will let you all know.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

In Praise of "The Count" of Sesame Street; On why counting is important; Or, the budget season of ah-counting begins

Years ago when my two oldest were in pre-school, I was working a second shift. In the morning, they would assemble in front of the TV set to watch Sesame Street. To this day I vividly remember them shreeking "Yippie, Yippie, It's the Count, Yippie. "

You may remember "The Count" as the short vampire with the rumpled white shirt, the rumpled black vest and the purple cape, who spoke in a thick Transelvanian accent. For some reason, this guy was very exciting to pre-schoolers. I never have exactly figured out why. Maybe it was the accent. Anyway....

There was a time in college I figured that accounting was pretty boring. However, I did get a chance to work in an accounting firm that specialized in start up companies, and learned that board meetings that dealt with accounting matters were some of the most emotional and exciting experiences around. In fact, sometimes too exciting.

So, " Counting " has been real important for me. When I am occasionally running in a short race, and start to get carried away with the spirit of the moment, I think to myself, " Gosh, I'm running faster and better than ever." Then, I check my stopwatch. And....No, I am not running better. NOTHING has changed at all.

Counting keeps us sane. That's the big benefit of counting.

The budget meetings on the Evansville City budget begin tonight at 6PM. If you read the earlier post by Mr. Conners, you know that budgets are complicated. Lots of detail. But behind each number is a vision of next year, an imaginary figment of the future. If the imagination is good, and the numbers match, bravo. If not, boo. It all begins with the imagination. So....

If you have some time tonight, stop in at the City Budget meetings.

If not, look for me on Halloween. I'll be dressed up as "The Count." I just don't know how many purple capes they have nowdays. It's just not a Kmart stock item anymore.

Evansville Planning Commission considers commerical "RR" district on Exchange St;

At the Evansville Planning Commission meeting on Monday night, in open session, John Sornson, 4th Ward, suggested that in light of the fact that there are some 21 small lots on each side of the railroad tracks on Exchange Street, or 42 total lots that measure about 50ft by 50 ft, that there be created a special commercial district so these properties could be developed and revenue brought in to the city.

The Evansville City Planner, Tim Schweeke, handed out a diagram of the lots, and indicated that some small commerical applications would be appropriate and that the lots of course would be combined and were held by various owners.

Two of the council members agreed to sponsor such a motion to propose such a district and the issue was sent to drafting of ordinance stage.

The Observer will keep you informed of the progress on this ordinance.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New Citgo Station Graces Intersection of Union and Main St.

Attractive Building and Grounds
Spacious, well stocked interior.
And Subway in nice, spacious dining area.
Click on the photos twice for largest version.

Evansville Planning Commission approves 3 Four Unit Condos on Porter Road; Or, the importance of Counting; Or Smart Growth as a Comic Opera

On Monday night, the Evansville Planning Commission voted to approve the proposal of Berg-Brunsell Real Estate for three four-unit condominiums. The property is on the north side of Porter Road. The new park is north of the property and the day care is located to the east. A residential subdivision is under development on the south side of the street.

The original plan was for 8 units, but Paul Brunsell explained that to get the proposed price tag for a two-bedroom unit to near $150,000, it was necessary to make it 12 units. Some members of the council were concerned that with only two spots for each condo for parking, it would be necessary for guests to park in the street. Mr. Brunsell explained that the 25 foot setback required by the city meant less room in the rear for guest parking. There was a trade-off. People are already parking in the street on Porter Road. Now, more would park there.

When asked by the Observer whether this was the important moment when the smart growth limit for ten year growth was broken, Mr. Connors replied that they really had not decided how they were going to count, whether on project approvals, infrastructure begun or lots sold etc. This project had been "talked about" but the numbers had not been included in any earlier discussion of projects that filled the 10 year plan.

I just returned from observing the Twin Cities Marathon last weekend. Any runner surely knows the meaning of mile markers. I stood at the 22 mile mark and cheered on two of my friends that were running. I offered ice chips and a face cloth. That is what is needed at 22 miles or when one is close to death, and at 22 miles they feel the same.

When you run, you want to compare how you feel to the mile marker and adjust the pace accordingly. Same in development. When one does not want to count, it means that one should not be in the race.

So, I count this as 12 over. 12 over the Ten Year Smart Growth Plan for Evansville and 12 over for purposes of planning for enrollment at the schools. Ald. Cothard offered that folks who live in two bedroom condos don't have children. That was reassuring. I am hoping that someone tells the couples that move in.

So, there it is. We are at the ten year finish line in only 4 months. What a breathless run!

What do you think? You make the call.

Planning Commission begins to address non-confirming use; Or why there are small lots with garages on them in Evansville?;or how to retire in America

At the Monday night Planning Commission meeting, John Sornson, 4th ward, brought up as new business, the fact that under the current Evansville ordinances, under nonconforming use, if a small house burns down, under Sec 130-642 it may not be rebuilt at the same location. This is because the new proposed house would not be on a lot that meets the requirements of the new building code. Some insurance companies may even prevent payment of a loss UNLESS it IS rebuilt in the same location. The homeowner is in a big bind.

So, John Sornson proposed that a revision to the current ordinance be drafted that will allow the home to be rebuilt within 12 months in the same location.

The current ordinances were drafted for new housing, and then the idea was to label the prior old homes as "non-conforming." This is really not a small matter. It was the subject of a large article in the AARP magazine two months back. I believe it was called "granny houses" or "retirement homes". Anyway, if you travel to any major city and ask to see condos that are near light rail systems, you will see that the price tag is $300M or more. So much for downsizing.

Small, affordable housing is of interest to seniors. It is important that these not be destroyed. It is also important, from the Observer view, that these lots in Evansville that are vacant because an owner was not allowed to build, that they be allowed to rebuild. Maybe an attractive design of a small home might fit and bring some tax revenue to the city. Everything is there as far as utilities. All that is necessary is some flexibility.

Most folks that are married do not both die together, unless in a car crash. Usually, a widow is looking for affordable small space. As baby boomers age, this will be a big market. It is time to adjust our codes to respond to this market.

I hope the initial discussion in the planning commission Monday results in a thoughtful revision of the current ordinance.

What are your thoughts? You make the call.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Was UW speaker Anti-War Free Speech or Pro-Terrorist?

The Janesville Gazette has reported that an anti-war speech by Mr. Galloway has sparked controversy at the UW, in that it may have overstepped the usual free speech, anti-war speeches that have been eternal at UW, and instead was really a pro terrorist speech.

The University insists that his speech was just part of an open forum where all ranges of ideas could be expressed.

Click on the post for the entire story. What are your thoughts on this issue? You make the call.