Whitewater Common Council Discusses Sewer Smoke-Testing, Water Conservation Program

The Whitewater Common Council met at the municipal building last Tuesday to discuss the problems plaguing the city’s underground systems.

Councilmember Cameron Clapper opened the meeting by informing the public of a city-wide smoke test of Whitewater’s sewer system that will begin Sept. 23. The test is being conducted in an effort to find illegal clear water connections and breaks in the line that pose a hazard to the system.

Citizens may notice smoke escaping from unused drains in their homes or even from their yards. Civilians are encouraged to pour water down seldom-used drains to alleviate possible smoke expulsion.

Councilmember Jim Winship made a point of noting that families with homes using plumbing systems in violation of the law will not be fined egregious amounts by the city. However, councilmember Lynn Biente claimed those that did not cooperate with the city to fix problems in his or her lines could face fines.

The Whitewater Common Council

The Whitewater Common Council

A water conservation solution was passed as well that will cost the city $500 a year. A professor from Marquette University discussed the H2O Score program he established in Waukesha. The program allowed citizens to regulate their water usage via an online dashboard, encouraging water conservation.

H2O Score will be implemented in Whitewater, and those that reduce their water consumption will be given rewards to use at local businesses including Hawk Bowl and restaurants. The board believes allowing citizens to track their water conservation through a next generation dashboard will lead to a lower water cost for the city overall.

The council also passed a motion to request a quote from a company to repair the city’s storm water drains. Certain drains and streets in Whitewater were laid out wrong in their construction, resulting in excess storm water that causes flooding.

The council agreed that stencils saying “Do Not Dump, Drains to Lake” should be placed by every drain to encourage citizens to keep the drains clear of obstruction. The city also needs high-quality cameras to run down certain drains to identify any problems in the lines.

A myriad of other items were debated during the common council meeting, including:

  • The 2014 city budget. Clapper went over a lengthy PowerPoint presentation that covered Whitewater’s budget in the upcoming fiscal year and what the city was planning on doing with the funds they’ll have.
  • The 2013 financial trend analysis. The council went over how Whitewater spent its money in 2013 and where the city is at financially in comparison to previous years. The general conclusion was that Whitewater is in good financial shape.
  • An energy efficiency contract. The city passed a motion to hire a firm to examine what projects Whitewater will be implementing over the next year and suggest ways to save energy. The cost will be minimal for the city, as the firm is paid by taking a percentage of the money Whitewater saves over the year.
  • Extending the hours of operation of public transportation. The council passed a proposal to have public transportation running until 9 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. and for there to be three drivers instead of just two. These changes would only be in effect over the school year and would only cost tax payers anywhere up to $1,200.
  • The Discover Whitewater Series Race. Stephanie Abbott discussed the Whitewater half-marathon taking place on Sunday. A total of 479 runners as of Tuesday’s meeting along with 67 sponsors were scheduled to participate. The city is partnered with five reputable charities in an effort to raise money for a good cause and get Whitewater’s name recognized. The half-marathon will hopefully become an annual event, Abbott said.
  • The elimination of specific parking regulations. The council passed a motion to eliminate four parking spot regulations in the city that only existed for businesses that have since closed down.

The meeting concluded late Tuesday evening. The Whitewater Common Council meets every Tuesday night to discuss matters regarding the city. The meetings are open to the public.

Kids’ Cartoon Catches Wind Among Adults

Audio Feature

A new fandom is exploding on the Internet as thousands of young adults discover what is now one of the most popular cartoons across online culture. The show is “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” and it’s not just for little girls anymore.

“My Little Pony” was a show created in the early eighties to appeal to kids, particularly young girls. After the show was canceled and picked up again multiple times, the cartoon reached its fourth generation in 2010 with the premiere of “Friendship is Magic,” a series created by Lauren Faust.

After the series premiered in October, users of the cartoon board of popular website 4chan dot org noticed Cartoon Brew’s review that was particularly harsh toward the show’s premiere. Several users decided to see if the critic’s review held any water, so they watched the first episode. Pretty soon the entire board was discussing the show, and the fandom only expanded from there.

I decided to see if I could get any first-hand information from the show’s untargeted fans. I met up at a local McDonald’s in Beloit with a few self-proclaimed “bronies,” as they call themselves, to see what I could discover.

For Nick Cervenka, he’s a fan because of the show’s intelligence.

[Nick on why he watches]

One of the reasons college-aged adults seem to love the show is partly due to nostalgia.Faust had worked on cartoons such as “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” before starting “My Little Pony’s” fourth generation. Other animators and writers on board have worked on other shows such as “Dexter’s Lab” and “Samurai Jack.” These are shows many now college-aged adults grew up with, and “My Little Pony” only fuels their nostalgia.

Faith Gustafson’s attraction to the show reminds her of cartoons from her childhood days.

[Faith on why she watches]

The show also holds plenty of Easter eggs for those willing to look for them. References to fashion designers, movies, or even specific alcoholic drinks are nods to parents or adults that watch the show, proof that the creators are aware of the unique demographic they’ve attracted. For those that have seen “The Big Lebowski,” one scene has quite the tribute.

[Nick on TBL]

Such pop culture references mean nothing to children, making them harmless, but older fans get a chuckle anytime such references surface.

Because the show’s fan base is mainly Internet-driven and somewhat of a taboo subject to some viewers outside the message boards and forums, those not familiar with the show’s following or origins may hold some stereotypes on what a brony is. Chris Sarvis shares what others may think of “My Little Pony” fans.

[Chris on stereotypes]

Despite others’ sometimes negative attitudes, the fan base is only growing. Even some you may not ever expect to watch—such as teachers, mechanics, and police officers—can actually be some of the show’s biggest fans.

Bronies often compare the cartoon to Pixar movies: both are created for children, but really, they can be enjoyed by anyone. With deep characters, intelligent writing, upbeat music and colorful settings, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” is an inviting cartoon for adults and children alike.

For Webhawk News, this is Jake in Janesville.

Jello Wars 2012 Expected to be Better Than Ever

Jello Wars Final

A Janesville church youth group holds a unique summer event that gets all the kids pumped. It’s called Jello Wars, and it’s quite a night to remember.

Jello Wars is an annual set of activities that takes place at New Life Assembly of God in June to kick off summer break. With loud music, free food and a wide range of insane activities, Jello Wars is the highlight of the year for every middle- and high-school student that comes.

Youth Pastor Cameron Rebarchek explains that the event is strongly visitor-oriented.

Kids are stamped on the hand with a specific color when they arrive , their teams for the night’s games. After each teenager has had their fill of food and drink, they’re escorted to the fields where several Jello-focused activities await them.

Some games change year to year, but a returning favorite is a massive slip and slide with nothing but Jello as the lubricant. Every kid gets a chance to slide, and the one who goes furthest each round wins points for their team.

Other activities include tossing a massive, gelatin-covered medicine ball around and seeing who can transfer the most Jello to a specific bucket using nothing but one’s mouth.

While the games may sound unpleasant to some, the youth group looks forward to Jello Wars every year.

Such an event doesn’t come without cost, however. A one thousand dollar budget is set for the youth pastors and their sponsors. Both youth pastors cut costs wherever they can so they stay as far below their budget as possible.

Pastor Ben Breit says that planning for such an event takes some foresight.

With summer only weeks away, Jello Wars is taking place June sixth on the N-L-A-G grounds at six P-M. For Webhawk News, this is Jake in Janesville.

Mayor Petykiewicz Finds Himself in Hot Water After DUI Accusation

Kittatiny’s Mayor Gustavus G. Petykiewicz will face criminal charges for an alcohol-related, two-car collision that occurred just after 1 p.m. last Saturday at the intersection of State Highway 117 and Fonebone Road in Frontenac.

Deputy Gordon J. Slivovitz responded to a 911 dispatch call and found Kittatiny civilian Robert H. Doane’s ’97 Buick Le Sabre and the mayor’s 2006 Ford Explorer in a farmer’s field on the east side of Highway 117. Both cars were heavily damaged and inoperable.

Petykiewicz, 53, was found uninjured at the wheel of the Ford without his seat belt on. An open bottle of vodka was found on the passenger-side floor of the vehicle.

The deputies questioned the mayor, asking if he was drinking. “You’d be drinking, too, if you were me,” he said.

Petykiewicz consented to a breath test, which indicated a blood alcohol content of .14, nearly twice the legal limit. He failed a field sobriety test and was promptly arrested.

Doane, 39, was found conscious in the Buick’s driver’s seat bleeding from the head and complaining of abdominal pain. The car did not deploy its airbags, but the driver was wearing his seat belt.

An ambulance was called and arrived at the scene at 1:23 p.m. Paramedics were concerned that Doane may have received serious spinal injury.

A Flight for Life helicopter was summoned and arrived around 2 p.m. Doane was flown to Northeast Pennsylvania Hospital and Trauma Center in Wilkes-Barre.

Witness Alice Q. Magarian, 30, was driving northbound behind Doane on the highway when he was hit. She reports that the Ford approached a stop sign on Fonebone Road from the west, hesitated, then continued through the intersection, striking the Buick on its driver side.

Petykiewicz was transported to the Schuylkill County Jail in downtown Kittatiny where he was booked and fingerprinted. He did not request an attorney.

The mayor’s wife, Gloria Petykiewicz, arrived at the jail at 3:02 p.m. and paid her husband’s bail of $500. The mayor was released to the custody of his wife.

According to Robert J. Morgenthau, the county’s district attorney, Petykiewicz will face the charge of causing great bodily harm by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle, a crime which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.

A nursing supervisor of the hospital in Wilkes-Barre claims Doane is in satisfactory condition, but suffers from several broken ribs and jaw and various abrasions and contusions to the head, chest, and abdomen. He did not suffer any spinal injury.

A preliminary hearing will be held in Schuylkill County District Court Tuesday at 9 a.m.

When questioned at her home, Gloria Petykiewicz refused to comment.

Local Plumbing Corporation Faces Financial Frustrations

Magee Plumbing Corp. of Janesville is somewhat of a business that began overnight, but the burdens the corporation faces now nearly ten years later don’t come without some frustration.

Matt Magee was let go of Lloyd’s Plumbing & Heating Corp. in the early 2000s as the residential development of Janesville slowed down, resulting in a far lower demand for plumbers. The corporation was then one of the highest plumber employers in the area, so the lay-off didn’t come easy for Magee.

In 2003, Magee began his own plumbing company with nothing but his own tools and van. It was somewhat of a gamble with other plumbing companies being so successful, he said.

“Matt preferred to be his own boss and thought he could run a business better than what he had experienced,” the plumber’s wife and secretary Kath Magee said.

Despite now being a very prosperous business with several hundred unique customers, Magee Plumbing still faces irritation dealing with a steady increase of customers who refuse to pay for its services.

“Customers aren’t paying because society in general tends to be having a hard time with the economy,” Kath Magee said. Some don’t pay because they think they’re the only ones doing it, and others still don’t have the money to pay but request the plumbing services anyway, she said.

Since the business began, Matt Magee has gone from roughly a moderate one percent total of non-paying customers to a staggering five percent. Of the nearly 1,000 unique customers Matt Magee plumbs for in any given year, around 50 have only partially or never paid him.

While Matt Magee worked for Lloyd’s Plumbing, non-paying clients were an issue, but he was paid the same wages whether or not the customer paid the company. Now that the Magees own their own business, not getting paid hurts them directly.

Chalyse Meicklejohn, a secretary hired on part-time in November to help Kath Magee, said, “If a customer doesn’t pay within a month, we send out a reminder, and if they still haven’t paid by then, we add a two percent finance charge every month until they pay.”

About five to 10 percent of customers don’t pay by the first deadline, she said.

Kath Magee has tried many methods to coax customers into paying their bills including emails, telephone calls and even letters giving warning of a possible lean on an offender’s property.

While irritating to carry out, these methods have gained the corporation some success in receiving their payment, but about 10 customers total have never paid the plumber for his work. The couple has essentially given up on pursing these individuals for their money.

Court action isn’t an option for the Magees because the time, effort and legal fees required to win a case wouldn’t make it worthwhile, Matt Magee said.

The master plumber has no concrete system for payment. Most established customers he leaves a bill for, but sometimes, although rarely, he has a “gut feeling” and requests his payment upfront.

The corporation has raised the prices of its services by an estimated 20 to 30 percent to match the growing rate of copper, oil and gas prices and to combat lost money of uncompensated work.

Despite these increases, the Magees’ business is still growing. The plumber considers his prices average when compared with other Janesville plumbing companies, but he’s confident that he “does it better,” making his rates the best value around.

Steve Jobs Shares Life Story in a Farewell to Stanford Grads

Steven Paul Jobs, the famous 50-year-old computer genius behind the founding of Apple Inc., addressed the Stanford University graduating class of 2005 today in his commencement speech that focused on everything from love and life to despair and death.

The speech addressed three stories from Jobs’ life, each of which had a touching life lesson that he hoped every student listening would take to heart and apply to his or her own life.

Jobs was born of an unwed undergraduate. Wanting a better life for her child, Jobs’ mother put him up for adoption the moment he was born.

Jobs was raised by two undergraduates who worked hard to put their adopted son through college. Jobs, however, didn’t feel right using his parents’ hard-earned money to pay to go to Reeds College in Portland, Ore., a university he claims was almost as expensive as Stanford.

So Jobs dropped out.

Over the next several months, Jobs dropped in on classes he found interesting rather than taking boring ones required by the university. One of these classes was a calligraphy course, a learning experience Jobs used later in life to design the first Macintosh.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards,” Jobs said. “Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”

Apple Inc., originally Apple Computer, Inc., was founded by Jobs and his good friend Steven “Woz” Wozniak in Jobs’ parents’ garage. What started as a labor of love between two people quickly bloomed into what is now a $2 billion company.

Jobs hired John Sculley, who was working for Pepsi-Cola at the time, to be Apple’s CEO. After some disputes between the two, Sculley fired Jobs.

“Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me,” Jobs said. “It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

Jobs started NeXT and Pixar during this time. In an unusual turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, and Jobs was back in his own company.

Jobs pleaded with the graduates listening to follow one’s passions and never settle. “The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

After Jobs found himself back in Apple, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was told he had months to live.

Later the same day as his diagnosis, Jobs was informed he miraculously had a rare form of pancreatic cancer that could be cured by surgery. He had the surgery, and now Jobs is fine.

However, such a close encounter with death taught Jobs a lot about life, a lesson he passed on to the Stanford’s graduating class.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose,” he said. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

Jobs concluded his speech with one lesson he learned from the final issue of Whole Earth Catalog, a publication he read in the ‘70s. A quote on the back cover of the issue read simply, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

“I have always wished that for myself,” Jobs said. “And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you. Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

Local Youth Group’s Annual Lock-In Event Proves to be Crazier than Ever

A chorus of “whoa’s” erupted from both the audience and band as lead singer Ryan Mickleson of the Pulse youth ministry’s guest worship band began the annual Overload Lock-In with a bang. Colorful lights flashed on stage as the music grew to deafening levels.

The night had begun.

The upbeat worship service was just one of the many events the middle- and high-school students of the church of New Life Assembly of God participated in the evening of Friday, Feb. 24. Ahead of the 30-plus kids in attendance lay many more adrenaline-fueled activities.

The Overload Lock-In is a yearly event put on by youth pastors Benjamin Breit and Cameron Rebarchek and the many youth sponsors who volunteer their time and energy to giving the kids of Janesville a chance to learn and grow in a night of fun.

“This is the third year of Overload,” Rebarchek said. “Last year’s theme was called ‘Super High Five.’ This year it’s ‘Uncrustable.’”

The titles for the lock-ins come almost exclusively from the theme of multiple promotional videos created by the youth pastors and sponsors shown weeks in advance to the event and don’t have much to do with the content of the events themselves.

After the initial worship service concluded, guest speaker Greg Washington spoke for about 45 minutes about removing distractions from one’s relationship with God.

The kids were then led to the church’s gymnasium to enjoy some free pizza while the numerous volunteers began rearranging the furniture of the large youth room into a makeshift obstacle course.

After an hour of preparation, the students were led back into the youth room to see it transformed into what was called the Nerf Gauntlet.

Smoke, flashing lights and loud music pumped participants up as they took turns trying to run the obstacle course while dodging a hail of foam Nerf darts that rained down on them from every direction by the volunteers shooting at them from above.

If the runners could make it to the end of the gauntlet without being hit and shoot a small target on the ceiling with their own Nerf gun, they won. Unfortunately no one could complete this near-impossible task, the same result as the previous year.

After participants fatigued themselves running the gauntlet, they were led back to the gym to play dodgeball in the dark as the volunteers cleaned up.

The event feels bigger, better and far more organized this year than years past, said Stephan Meiklejohn, a sophomore volunteer from U-Rock. It’s more spiritual, too, he said.

The youth went to sleep around 1 a.m. in various rooms in the church and awoke early in the morning for breakfast and another short sermon before heading home at noon Saturday.

Kittatinny’s Budget Crisis Leaves Mayor in Bad Position

The 17,000 inhabitants of Kittatinny have experienced devastation due to the loss of 600 jobs by the city’s largest employer, Susquehanna Steel Corp. Such numerous layoffs—over a third of the corporation’s total workers—had to be made due to the decommissioning of Blast Furnace Unit 1.

The city has lost over $100 million worth of property as a result. This means a huge cut in city income.

Mayor Petykiewicz has proposed a budget for 2013 that he hopes will best address such a massive problem. He knows, however, that during such a financial crisis, almost no one will end up happy with the result, regardless of what that is.

To begin with, to make up for the loss of the city tax levy, Petykiewicz is proposing to raise taxes from 4 mills to 4.3 mills. Even with such an increase, Kittatinny’s 2013 tax levy will still fall short by over $114,000.

To add to the hurt, the mayor is also proposing to require weekly garbage collection to be a paid for individually per home rather than remain added to a separate bill citizens don’t have to pay. The total bill is expected to be $180-200 per household for 2013.

After many discussions with chief of police Roman Hruska, Petykiewicz has also resolved to lay off two of the ten police officers in town. Along with this, the mayor is asking officers to distribute more citations in tickets in an effort to rein in more income, meaning fewer officers will be doing more work.

However, the mayor is also eliminating the 4 a.m. to noon police shift and signing on a contract with the Schuylkill County sheriff for over $30,000. In this change, along with the officer layoffs, the city will save over $75,000 due to the far lower salary sum going to Kittatinny officers.

Petykiewicz isn’t expecting sacrifice purely from others. He plans on laying off two of his own city officials.

According to a recent press conference, the mayor claimed to be willing to take a personal pay cut from his $54,000 salary, but insists that the feeling among Kittatinny must be that of collective sacrifice, and no one group or demographic should suffer more than any other. “Let’s come to a solution we can all live with,” Petykiewicz said.

Despite all these cuts in a desperate attempt to save every penny, there are costs being added for 2013 that some may deem less than necessary.

The mayor has added a $54,000 police cruiser to the proposed 2013 budget due the necessity of always having at least two on patrol at all times. A total of at least three cruisers are needed in case one is in the shop.

The cost of asphalt for 2013 is expected to increase by $40,000 due the needed repaving of Main Street. Whether this is something that has to be done as soon as possible as the mayor has proposed or can be held off until the city is in a more stable state is something Petykiewicz claims is open for debate.

Equipment purchases for the 2013 budget are expected to rise from 2012’s $223,000 to $278,000. The mayor claims such an increase is due to the need for a new lawn mower for Kittatinny’s parks, a weed-removal truck for the beach at White Deer Lake, and a combination dump truck/snow plow for the city streets.

Petykiewicz claims taking these purchases out of the budget would result in a far less attractive city overall, leading to a drop in tourism income in the long-run. Still, their necessity remains arguable.

The road to recovery for the humble city is not going to be short or easy. An equal “spirit of sacrifice” is necessary among Kittatinny’s residents and officials if they expect to pass through the hardships ahead mostly unscathed.

 

Local Elderly Woman Shares the Story of Her Struggle with Cancer

Lillian “Lee” Myers, a resident of the humble town of Janesville, Wis., is by no means a woman without a story. However, the latest tale in her life isn’t one she necessarily enjoys sharing.

Myers was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer just last year in mid-December.

It all began in early summer of 2011. She noticed her shoulder was beginning to hurt, but didn’t think much of it.

I thought I had simply pulled a muscle or strained something and that it would eventually go away, Myers recalls.

By August the pain had only grown. Myers called the doctor but couldn’t get in for a physical until December.

After her checkup right before Christmas, Myers went home to get some long-overdue lunch, waiting for the results of her X-ray. She had barely taken a bite of some toast before the phone rang.

The doctor kept apologizing to me over the phone, saying there was a dark mass on my shoulder bone, Myers said. She knew then something was seriously wrong.

Myers had an MRI done on her shoulder right away. The doctor confirmed to Myers’ daughter, Kathryn Magee, that the mass was indeed cancerous.

A full-body scan was done on Myers immediately. The doctors suspected that the tumor on her shoulder wasn’t the only one in her body.

They were right. They found a mass on her kidney that had already grown and begun to spread.

Myers was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer and given anywhere from six months to 10 years to live.

In mid-January, Myers awoke in her home in catastrophic pain. The tumor had eaten away at her shoulder enough that the bone had actually broken.

“I’ve had six children, and the pain from that was nothing in comparison to the pain from the break in my arm.”

Myers was hospitalized from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2. Since then she has decided to postpone the surgical removal of her kidney, the recommended procedure for someone in her position, in favor of immunotherapy treatment on her tumors and physical therapy on her arm.

Despite these many trials and struggles, Myers remains optimistic. Her illness has only brought her very large family closer together, something she has realized is the absolutely most important thing in one’s life.

Besides her loved ones, Myers’ faith in God and Jesus Christ is a crutch for her to lean on. She does not fear death.

Myers still has goals with her time left. Many of her numerous grandchildren are pregnant, and she wants to witness more of her own great-grandchildren be born and grow up.

Treasure every single moment you have with your family with all of your heart, Myers said with a smile. You don’t know how much time any of them has left.