Quality of life important in Jefferson County

November 18th, 2013 | Uncategorized | No comments

The Jefferson County Board members met last Tuesday to discuss the budget proposal for 2014. There was great debate over quality of life issues and amendments to the 2014 proposed budget.

The meeting started off with a citizen coming forward to express his feelings towards multiple amendments that would create budget cuts in the Parks Department. Andy Didion said that Jefferson County is known for their parks and outdoor recreation. The proposed amendments to the budget would cut a large portion of the Parks Department budget if passed.

“Leave those dollars in the budget and enhance our county, encourage people to spend money here,” was Didion’s final comment. This very much set the tone for the debates over the proposed amendments.

There was great debate over whether or not it was necessary to eliminate money out of the Parks Department for multiple issues. George Jaeckel, Representative for District 23, proposed to eliminate $55,000 from the Parks Department budget for a Groomer and UTV for the snow mobile trails.

Jaeckel says that these are things that can only be used for three months of the year and the money would better be served buying new squad cars for the Sherriff’s Department.

John Molinaro, County Board Chairman, stated that the Sherriff’s Department has added another year to the life expectancy of the squad cars by extending the miles from 150,000 to 250,000. The Sherriff’s Department is not currently in need of new squad cars so the money will stay in the Parks Department.

Gregory Torres, Representative for District 12, had three proposed amendments involving cuts in the Parks Department.

Proposed Amendments

  • Eliminate $10,000 from the Parks Department budget for the capital item, ‘Install 9-hole disc golf course at Carlin Weld Park.’
  • Eliminate $45,000 from the Parks Department budget for the capital item, ‘Recreational Equipment.’
  • Eliminate $13,000 from the Parks Department budget for the capital item, ‘Install Well at Garman Nature Preserve.’

Torres didn’t think that disc golf was popular enough to use $10,000 of the budget to create a course. Others disagreed and said that the sport is gaining popularity fast and this could help attract people to Jefferson County.

The installation of a well at Garman Nature Preserve is very important as there isn’t a water source hearby. This would attract more people to the Garman Nature Preserve.

All of these proposed amendments were denied after a lengthy debate. There were a lot of repeated comments about the quality of life issues. Most members of the County Board agreed that they need to keep the money in the Parks Department to attract people to the county.

John Molinaro said, “we’ve heard this from all the big employers in Jefferson County who tell us that those type of quality of life issues are a key element in recruiting high level employees to their businesses.”

In order for Jefferson County to grow economically, it requires the money to maintain its beauty and blossom into something more. The money remains in the Parks Department budget and will help bring great things for the communities involved.

Squirrel hunter hunts for enjoyment and sustainment

November 12th, 2013 | Journalism Capstone | No comments

SquirrelThe day started at five o’ clock in the morning for Eliot Keller, 26, who went squirrel hunting on Saturday.  He bundled up and head out into the woods before the sun was up.

Squirrel season in Wisconsin started on Sept. 14 and ends Jan. 31, 2014.  Hunters must have their small game license, which costs $18 for residents, to hunt squirrel.

Preparation is necessary

Keller prepared for hunting season by buying his hunting license and the proper ammunition.  Then he checked all of his gear to make sure that he had what he needed for the season.

Keller said that there are a few necessities that he has to have on a hunting trip:

  • His gun
  • His knife
  • Ammunition
  • Hunting License
  • A bag or something to put the squirrels in
  • A pair of dry socks

All of these things help Keller feel fully prepared for squirrel season.

Once he had all of his equipment prepared for the season he had to decide where he wanted to hunt.  On Saturday, he hunted in some public property over by Albany, Wis.

Before he set out into the woods, Keller made sure that his gun was sighted in so that when he was ready he could kill a squirrel.

Keller spent hours out in the woods walking a little way, and then stopping to look for squirrels.  Every once and a while you could hear them talking to each other up in the trees.

The woods were very peaceful with the layer of leaves on the floor and the sun was shining.  It was very windy but it helped Keller’s scent move downwind from the squirrel.

Keller did not kill any squirrels this time out in the woods but he says it was still a successful hunt.

“I didn’t kill anything, but that’s not what it’s about,” Keller said.  He said just spending time out in the woods makes you feel at peace.  He enjoys it because he doesn’t have to think about the real world for a few hours.

Why hunt?

“I hunt because I enjoy it and for sustainment,” Keller said.  When he is out in the woods he feels at one with nature and it brings back good memories of spending time with his father and grandfather.

Hunting is a big part of Keller’s life and he tries spending as much time in the woods as he can.  If he is not out in the woods he’s out on the water fishing.

Keller says he will try and get out as much as he can before the end of the season and hopefully bag a few squirrels in the process.

Whitewater Water Conservation Program

September 23rd, 2013 | Journalism Capstone | No comments

The City of Whitewater Common Council met Sept. 17 and accepted the signing of a service contract with H2Oscore to provide water conservation with Whitewater residents.

McGee Young, founder of H2Oscore, gave a little history of the program.  Two years ago Young was a professor of political science at Marquette University.  He was working with a group of students doing studies on the water crisis and how they could help communities.

Waukesha was one of the communities they were looking at.  The city was facing difficulty with their groundwater and trying to get permission to access water from the Great Lakes, which is currently illegal.

When word spread that Young was working on a project, a professor at Whitewater wanted to collaborate on the project.  Whitewater had recently installed smart meters and the city wanted to find out if better information could connect people to their water system.

Though the process of building the final product was long and difficult Young stayed positive, “this is powerful.  There is going to be something neat if we can just see this through.”

Last summer, Young sent letter out to multiple residents of Whitewater in hopes that they would help with the study.  Residents would be able to long into an H2Oscore dashboard and start tracking their water use online by using their utility account number and a special access code that would be sent in the mail.

This year was a hot and dry summer so Young thought it was good to raise awareness in the community.  Shortly after he installed the programs into the homes, he received multiple calls like:

  • “I had no idea that if I watered my tree for three hours that it is using 500 gallons of water.”
  • “I didn’t realize that my water softener was running and running, and that was part of the bill that I was paying every month.”

Young admitted that he wasn’t very happy with the initial system because it was unreliable and would stop working randomly.  “But we learned from this,” he said.  He continued to work with students and other faculty to make a better dashboard to engage residents and local businesses.

The program has been started in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Grafton and now in Whitewater.  Young wants to continue doing research to build a next generation dashboard for this community.

Starting Sept. 17, Young and his team presented the new dashboard to the Whitewater community.  Now all residents will be able to use their utility account number to create their own personal portal on the site to access their water use data online.

Young said that one of the additions to the new dashboard is the H20score Conservation Rewards Program, an idea that came from a local business in Milwaukee.  The business had been investing in sustainable technologies and low-flow fixtures.  They wanted to provide in-store rewards or discounts to residents who are also doing the right thing by conserving water in their homes.

The program works by if a resident reduces the amount of water that they use in a month they can redeem it for in-store credit at local businesses.  This is good for the businesses because it doesn’t cost them anything and helps them connect with their community.

Young has been in contact with a few local Whitewater business, such as Hawl Bowl, that are interested in the rewards program.

“A community coming together can make themselves stronger by becoming more sustainable,” Young said.  Whitewater will be the testing ground for the new product and they plan to continue developing more functionality as the program goes on.

“It’s crazy that some Political Science professor from Marquette and a group of students can do something that is this big, but it’s evidence that when we pull together as a community and we figure out what we’re good at, we can do some really amazing things,” Young believed.

Young will be speaking at the Water Smart Innovation Conference on Wednesday Oct. 2 in Las Vegas.  This conference is where thousands of professionals will come from around the world to hear the latest and greatest.  Young cannot wait to discuss the work he has been doing in Whitewater.h2oscore

Summer Vacation

September 4th, 2013 | Introduction, Journalism Capstone | No comments

The final summer vacation for most college students seems to fly right by.  For me, I worked as much as I could to save up money for the school year.  I did get to take one vacation towards the beginning of summer, camping in Gordon, Wisconsin.

My boyfriend and I try to make it up to Gordon at least once a year.  His family owns property on Simms Lake, just outside of Gordon.  We spent a week in the great outdoors, hiking, fishing for our meals, and like any true Wisconsinite, enjoying a nice cold Leinenkugel’s.

Our trip seemed just the same as the previous year, we caught our limit of bluegills, hiked and canoed around the lake, and just enjoyed ourselves.  The only difference this year was that we had a little friend come and see us for the last few days.

An orphaned black bear cub, about 60 pounds, decided to hang out with us for a while.  We talked to the neighbors on the lake to make sure that there wasn’t a mama bear roaming around not too far behind.  The locals said that somebody had shot the bear’s mother last year during bear hunting season.

My biggest concern about having a black bear cub less than five feet from our camp was getting video footage of little Jaycub, our name for the bear.  He stayed around camp while we were frying up our fish for dinner.  On a normal camping trip we just leave our cooking oil sit out overnight and we’ll use it the next day for cooking.  This time, Jaycub thought he would get a nice treat and drink our cooking oil.

Jaycub started getting a little too comfortable around us and ended up being a little pest.  The last few nights he would try and open our garbage cans to look for food.  He thoroughly enjoyed the fish guts that we dumped into the woods for him, but that didn’t seem enough for him.

We tried to scare him off by shooting a gun at the ground towards him, making sure not to actually hit him.  We saw him a few times after that, but for the most part he stayed his distance.

So far that has definitely been the most exciting and terrifying  camping trip I have ever experienced.  It was interesting to see a black bear cub that close but then at the same time a little frightening.  I hope that Jaycub is behaving himself and stays out of the way of hunters as he gets older.

Jaycub found a sense of security ten feet up a tree.