News Archive - 2005
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Edmund Fitzgerald sinking 30 years ago
Documentary to air Thursday night at 7 on KUWS
(11/6/2005) Thirty years ago in one of the fiercest storms of the 20th century on the Great Lakes, the ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald went down with all hands on eastern Lake Superior. Mike Simonson reports.
Twenty nine souls were on board, all lost to the fury of a November gale. Captain Dudley Paquette was ship master of the laker Wilfred Sykes on November 10th, 1975. He had spent decades on the Great Lakes, but this Lake Superior storm was like nothing he had ever seen. "We were really out right in the middle of the lake. Just huge seas, 30-35 foot seas. I was completely awash and I was on a super ship. I was registering 70, 75 knots steady with gusts to 100. Huge seas, I was completely awash. Water was flying over the top of my bridge." Captain Jimmie Hobaugh was the skipper of the Coast Guard rescue vessel "Woodrush" which left that night from Duluth. He says the intensity of the storm pounded his ship and crew. "I've ridden North Atlantic storms and hurricanes in the Gulf and it was rougher than I've seen it there. Of course the Great Lakes, you don't get a big swell and blowing sea like you do in the ocean. You get that chop. And it's rougher and harder on a crew. I don't think my crew slept very much for 72 hours."
On the Atlantic Ocean waves are 600 feet apart, 1500 feet apart on the Pacific. But waves on the Great Lakes are just 150 feet apart. Army Corp of Engineers Marine Museum Curator Thom Holden says Fitzgerald Captain Ernest McSorley saw ominous signs of trouble for his ship. His topside fence rails had snapped, his vents were torn off, his radar was out and all his pumps were on. "The topside damage was an earlier report. After suffering this damage that McSorley did contact Cooper and ask him to shadow him down the lake. It was really several hours later that what could be his last transmission from the Fitzgerald was made. Essentially Captain Cooper or the mate asked McSorley how he was doing, how the vessel was riding. He said 'We're holding our own, going along like an old shoe.'" In an interview from his retirement home in Florida, Arthur Anderson Captain Jesse Cooper said the memory of that night still haunts him. He says Captain McSorley didn't let on that his ship and crew were in danger. "I think he knew he was in trouble but he couldn't spread the word because it would panic the crew. (reporter): How do you think he knew he was in trouble? (Cooper) What the hell would you think if you had a hole in your bottom and were taking in more water than you could pump out." At 7:10 that evening, the Fitzgerald disappeared from radar as it sailed into a snow squall only a few miles from the safety of Whitefish Bay. "My gut feeling was I knew she was gone when I couldn't see her on the scope. Turning around, I hated the thought of going back in that sea." This is a recording from the Coast Guard at Sault St. Marie Michigan later that night...asking captains to turn back into the storm and search for the Fitzgerald. You'll hear a distressed Captain Cooper answer the call. "(Coast Guard) Think there's any possibility that you could turn around do any searching, over?' (Cooper) 'Oh God, I don't know. That sea out there is tremendously large. If you want me to I can but I'm not going to be making any time. I'll be lucky to do two or three miles per hour going back out that way, over.' (Coast Guard) 'It looks like with the information we have that it is fairly certain that the Fitzgerald went down. We're talking now a matter of life and death and looking for survivors that might be in life rafts or in the water. We can only ask the masters to do their best without hazarding their vessels.'"
It took rescue vessel Woodrush 21 hours to arrive on scene. Captain Hobaugh says a life ring from the Fitzgerald popped up as they arrived. "Of course we searched for three full days and it was rougher than you can imagine. No matter how I turned the ship, we were taking green water over the top. If there had been someone there, I'm positive my crew was good enough that we would've got 'em." Among the crew of 29 was Third Mate Michael Armagost of Iron River, Wisconsin. His widow Janice remembers the powerful storm as it hit her home the night before. It may have been a premonition. "Of course it was snow and ice and it was an early storm. The electricity went out in our house. The two kids ended up waking up and I brought them in bed with me. And that was the first time I ever worried 'How am I going to take care of these kids?' And it was just an overwhelming feeling." Since none of the bodies were recovered, that left no one for families to bury. Armagost says that makes it harder. "And see nobody realizes that there are survivors. I mean, my kids' father is on that ship and my husband's on that ship. And people just think of it as a shipwreck that happened so long ago, and it's not." The families of the crew of the ship now say all they want is the final resting place of their loved ones to remain undisturbed by divers. Only the bell of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was recovered and placed in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, Michigan ten years ago. A documentary produced in 1995 will air from 7-9:40 Thursday evening on Wisconsin Public Radio station 91.3 KUWS-FM. The documentary is also available on line at www.kuws.fm
food shelves getting help
Media reports help get the word out
(11/5/2005) Two area charities are struggling to build up their food shelves for the winter and donations are starting to trickle in. Danielle Kaeding reports.
The Salvation Army in Superior is working hard to fill their food shelves this fall. Major Rosemary Mattson says that recent help they’ve received has been none other than divine intervention. “One of the elementary schools came in with several children walking down the street with little wagons full of food. And if you don’t think that was heart wrenching to think of these little ones and their teachers thinking of the needy at this time of the year—when we are so needy—it was a blessing straight from heaven.” The Northwest Community Service Agency in Ashland is also beginning to get the help they need. Office Manager Melody Fleig says things are looking a lot better. “The Daily Press here in Ashland. They’ve done a food challenge to the area businesses and they did an excellent article in the paper for us. So, the response to our community has been really wonderful with contributing food here and it’s starting to build it back up. Now we have food on our shelves again.” Major Rosemary Mattson says that soon the Salvation Army should also be tied over for awhile. “In a couple weeks on the eighth of November is our silent auction—our bell-ringers’ auction—that’s at the public library in Superior and that is like a godsend. And then we hurt no more for food for awhile.” Fleig says donations coming in now are proof of the goodness people have to offer. “They really do reach out to try to help.” Expect to see the red kettles and bell ringing around Thanksgiving until Christmas.
Homeowners can get an extensive home heating test
Rebates are available
(11/4/2005) Wisconsin is offering refunds to any resident who does a home energy audit and does away with things like cold air leaks. Nick Pelletier has the story.
The test costs around $250, but refunds of $100 are available. After the home exam is done the owner is given a list of places heat is getting out. Focus on Energy Consultant Gary Fellbaum says there are many causes of leaks like joints in the construction but something like a nail hole can bring in the cold. “Usually what that will do is it is not so much a leak as the nail will get cold from the transfer of the cold from the stud to the nail. It is pretty minute.” Fellbaum says some homes can be fixed for as little as $30-$40 for caulk and spray insulation. Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Barb Lawton is on the home tour in Superior. She says people can save money by making a few changes to the house. “What we have found with the energy audits and evaluations that citizens will save like 30 percent on their first year heating bill. That can be a $450 dollar savings on the first year. Safety and comfort go up and the energy bill goes down.” Mike Doyle’s house was the site of the tour in Superior. The audit shows that a few holes need to be plugged. “I was surprised by some things, not surprised by others. I knew that there would be leakage in the home through some of the vents. I wasn’t anticipating to have things like that around the windows since they are new windows. Maybe the installation techniques that the installers used weren’t as good as what they could be. They could learn something from that. Also hopefully if it is just a caulking job it is something fairly easily taken care of by myself the homeowner.” Fellbaum says Doyle does need a few inches of insulation in the attic. Fellbaum says somebody can save as much as thirty to fifty percent on their heating bills. People can call 1-800-522-3014 or go online at www.energyhelp.wi.gov for a list of consultants in the area.
Bayfield Schools talk about Rosa Parks
School district unique in the state
(11/3/2005) As the mother of the civil rights movement is laid to rest, students in a mostly Native American school district are learning about the struggle of another minority. Mike Simonson reports.
The death of civil rights activist Rosa Parks is a chance for students in the Bayfield School District to talk about her life. School Superintendent Mark Jansen says his student body is 65% Native American, many from the nearby Red Cliff band of Ojibwe. Jansen says they may be a world apart from Rosa Parks. But he says they're making a connection in classrooms this week. "The students do feel a kinship with Rosa Parks in the sense that people have to be vigilant to make sure everybody's rights are observed." Something akin to the struggle for treaty rights, Jansen says Rosa Parks was only struggling for her rights. That parallels treaty rights protests in northern Wisconsin during the late '80's when tribal members exercised their spearfishing rights. As a result of that, the Bayfield School District was the first in Wisconsin to launch a comprehensive Ojibwe curriculum. "An example of that is the Ojibwe language, history and culture is taught to Native American students and on-Native American students. It's not only part of our curriculum but we have three personnel hired to make sure that that happens, that all of those things, the history, culture and language take place." Jansen says part of the teaching about Rosa Parks is that one person can make a difference, even if it means not giving up your seat on a bus.
Local historian honored by state, community
Retired History Professor Mershart has life of works
(11/2/2005) The Wisconsin Historical Society is honoring a former faculty member of UW-Superior. Danielle Kaeding has the story.
Ronald Mershart knows a lot about history. At least, the Wisconsin Historical Society thinks so. They just awarded him the Local History Award of Merit for his work preserving history around the area. A history professor at UW-Superior for thirty years but now retired, Mershart says that he's not the only one who cares about history. "I discovered that there are thousands of people that are turned on by history, and they're not necessarily formal trained historians. They're often involved with popular views of history, sometimes family history, sometimes the history of their town or community. History is thriving. It's in good shape these days." Mershart says that not only is history thriving, but it's a blueprint of how to live out our daily lives. "We're all about learning and applying it to issues, problems, the society we live in." Mershart says that history isn't the dull subject that some of his students made it out to be. He says that history holds many lessons...that people shouldn't forget the past. "I think that no one should pass through life thinking that the only thing that counts is who they are and where they are at this moment." Mershart says that one thing he enjoys about history is teaching it to others. "It's the sharing with other people." A reception will be held for Mershart by the Douglas County Historical Society November 12 at the society headquarters in Superior.
Short hunting season goes on without problems
(11/1/2005) Wisconsin's four day special hunting season designed to cut down the deer herd drew plenty of hunters, and no incidents in the woods. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
The weather was pleasant last weekend, but that's not always a good formula for hunting white-tailed deer. Assistant Big Game Ecologist Brad Koele in Madison says although they won't have deer kill figures for another couple of weeks, he says it appears the harvest was lower than usual. This year the Department of Natural Resources made a special effort to avoid confrontations between property owners and hunters...after last year's confrontation that left six hunters dead in Sawyer County. "Yeah we tried to make hunters aware that they should know where they're hunting, whether or not it's public or private property. Just kind of be alert to their surroundings and know where they're hunting." Koele says the information campaign seemed to work. "From what I've heard from law enforcement it was a safe four day hunt. No accidents were reported that I'm aware of." One thing that stayed the same was in spite of a one-win season so far, most hunters packed it in when it came time for the Green Bay Packers to take the field Sunday afternoon. "Not much to cheer about this year but they're watching them nonetheless (haha)". The regular nine-day gun deer season begins November 19.
Indian Veterans home proposed for Superior
Idea would put center in St. Francis South facility
(10/31/2005) State Veterans officials are working with Lake Superior Ojibwe tribes to create what would be the first Native American Veterans nursing home. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
Although there hasn't been any commitments made, State Representative Frank Boyle of Superior says the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council is very interested in going in with Wisconsin to start a shelter/nursing home for Native American veterans. Boyle says the time has come. "It's a pretty unique concept in terms of Native Americans, who disproportionately serve in larger numbers than any other minority in any other group in the United States of America. There are more Native American veterans than any other group of citizens in this country." State officials are looking at a nursing home facility already in Superior next to the VA Clinic here. State Veterans Secretary John Scocus says it's important for the state to reach out to native veterans. "Nationwide, if you look at the totals, some of the most highly decorated veterans are Native American. It's not only that but a tribute to their dedication to the United States of America armed forces." The home would also be open to non-native veterans. Funding hasn't been worked out, but it is expected money would come from the federal government along with the tribes. This process could last a few years before it becomes a reality.
Food shelves bare in Superior and Ashland
Call for donations as people donate to other crisis
(10/30/2005) The food shelves in Ashland could use a few more donations. Danielle Kaeding reports that the need is up while donations are down.
The Northwest Community Service Agency in Ashland has been helping feed the hungry for years. Fewer donations this summer have made their job more stressful. That and Office Manager Melody Fleig says that more people than usual have turned to them for help this year. “Our donations typically run pretty slow in the summertime, and I think that usually in the summertime we don’t serve as many families. But, this past summer we continued serving as many families as we did throughout the winter. So, I think maybe there is a bigger need for people to get food.” The agency usually serves about 300 families. Superior Salvation Army Major Rosemary Mattson says that the horrible impact of Hurricane Katrina may have caused less giving around the area. “Because of the hurricane, people are obligated to sending money down there, but the local agencies right now are hurting very badly, and I’m sure others are too.” Matson says some people would have nowhere else to turn if the food shelves weren’t there. For many, the food shelves are a lifeline. “I think that they would probably be hungry, and people don’t realize that there are hungry people in this a community.” Matson says that even though it’s a difficult time now the Salvation Army will always be there to help out the area. “We make sure we have food. If I had to go out and beg from door to door, I would.” Mattson says for the thousands of people in our community using their services things aren’t looking so good. “We’re doing very, very poorly. We were very fortunate this week that there were some schools and some private sectors that had food drives for us. So we now have food on our shelf. Last week we ran out of food. I bought a thousand dollars worth of food, and it’s gone in about a week and a half.” Mattson says that a lull in donations always happens this time of year. Fleig says a greater turnout of people this year and funding cuts from The Emergency Food Assistance Program make it difficult to keep up with the needs of the area. “We’re only getting about a third of what we were getting a year ago. So, I think a combination between that and our donations have been low and that we’re serving more families, our food really depleted.” Fleig hopes that people are thinking of those in their community who are in need. “Like I say, no matter how poor you are, there’s always somebody who’s under you. And I think that if it is just a can of food or even if it’s some service of your time that you would contribute and give to somebody else…I think that’s what’s so important…that we try to help out people who are less fortunate.” Fleig says any donations they receive are appreciated.
Unnetted: Not everyone goes on line
Unlikely rebels just say no to the internet
(10/29/2005) Some people won't touch
the internet with a ten foot pole. Not everyone uses e-mail or cell phones,
either. Mike Simonson talks to these people in the final segment of our series
"Netted: On Line".
As the high-tech revolution spins off with something new seemingly all the time, a few people are rebelling against this upheaval. Even though he spent a lifetime communicating with students, even at one point Chairman of the UW-Superior Communicating Arts Department, Professor Emeritus John Munsell has never surfed the internet. Not until now. His task: Stump the net. The challenge is to find a long lost obscure jazz artist. "Phil Nimmons. Canadian artist out of Toronto. N-I-M-M-O-N-S. He did a piece called 'Prince Edward Island Suite'". It didn't take long for a search engine to come up with three pages about his subject. But the search has only just begun. He wants to buy the song "Prince Edward Island Suite". "'Buy a recording', maybe it's under that. 'Find a score'? No. I don't want the score." People who choose to say "no" to the internet aren't necessarily living in caves. Superior attorney Toby Marcovich, former President of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, doesn't use e-mail. He tried it five years ago, but gave it up. "So the time that it took to wade through all the e-mail that was coming in, find the important ones and try to reply to them and then conduct other business at the same time, it just because ridiculous." Marcovich says it's quicker to send a fax or pick up a phone. Phone conversations are immediate with less chance of misunderstanding a text message because he can hear voice inflections. He can have a give and take on the phone. His law practice thrives, but some people don't buy it. "Oh, once in awhile someone will ask me when I'm going to join the 21st century but I can handle that."
The ever-changing technology is no big deal to Gen-X'ers who grew up with computers and the internet. But for others, it can be intimidating. UW-Superior Psychology Professor Gary Sherman says technology isn't always the best answer. In the classroom, in communication, it can stifle learning and imagination. "What's wrong with picking up the phone and saying 'Hi Jill, what you doing?' You never know for sure what's going to come about with that conversation." Sherman says this technological explosion is happening in a culture that is slow to change. So it's an overload. "So yes, some folks are going to embrace change as a challenge and others are going to be frightened by change as that may be difficult to cope with." Then there's the time factor. People have to do their jobs but don't always have time to learn the latest power point technique. "At some point we do have to say 'no' to anymore learning and say 'I want somebody else to do this for me'." And Sherman says people are afraid of losing their privacy since e-mails and web surfing can be tracked. That's why State Representative Frank Boyle of Superior has never surfed or e-mailed in his life. "Absolutely not. I am totally illiterate. I've had that little mouse in my mealy hand once or twice in my life. Carpal tunnel I will never acquire from my computer skills. Ha!" Boyle admits the computer age may have snuck up on him and left him behind, but he doesn't feel left out. "There are so many interruptions in my life at this point. I want to simplify. I don't want to complicate. I watch Katie my wife deal with a computer failure. My staff all are computer geniuses." So he gets by without a computer or for that matter, without a cell phone. He has no inclination to read blogs as long as he has his radio and newspapers. "There's nothing better in the morning then get the newspaper and sit down with a cup of coffee, my cocker spaniel in the reading chair in the corner of my living room and spend 30-45 minutes. It's certainly one of the most relaxing times of my day. I can't envision myself spending hour after hour looking into a screen, typing things in. I can get on the phone and call people directly. I can have a personal conversation with folks if I want to." But the internet is rich with information, even for obscure Canadian jazz artists like Phil Nimmons. "Is that it? I doubt it. Let's try a different one. It might be under this one." Sure enough. Not only information but a CD with "Prince Edward Island Suite" on it. "Oooo. There it is. This is recorded back in the late '70's. This is really old. It can be purchased for a mere, oh, $35. But hey, what the heck!" The entire series "Life Online" can be heard, online of course, at www.wpr.org
Superior's "Dirty Helen" to appear at Halloween Howl
Fundraiser to help Douglas County Historical Society
(10/28/2005) Pope John Paul II and Superior’s first Mayor are all invited guests to the Douglas County Historical Society’s Halloween Howl. Nick Pelletier reports.
Halloween Howl is a fundraiser for the Douglas County Historical Society. The event replaces the tour of Superior’s historic buildings. Society Director Kathy Laakso says there weren’t enough people to lead the tours this year. As for the party, she's going as Superior’s Dirty Helen. "She was a madam in Superior in the 1920’s, 1930’s. She lived here for the rest of her life. She came from Chicago and she decided she saw going to have the flossiest house in town is how she put it. I don’t know what she looked like but I know she was blonde and dressed very well. So I have a 20’s costume, maybe no one will know who I am." Laakso says this masquerade party is an idea that they have thought about for some time. She says the money helps them add more historic artifacts. ”We would like to buy more storage for our collection. We would like to create more exhibits, do more programming go out and do some things with the schools. Grant writing is part of it but sometimes you have to have the event so people know you are still with us.” Laakso says almost 100 tickets have been sold. She says Mama Gets Restaurant can hold 200 people or more and would like to fill it. The event is this Saturday at 6pm at the former Mama Gets/Berger Hardware building. For more information call 392-8449.
Short deer gun season underway over much of northern Wisconsin
Hunt ends Sunday
(10/27/2005) Wisconsin's special zone
hunting season is underway. It started Thursday and ends Sunday. As Mike
Simonson reports, this is a way to knock down the deer population in areas
crowded with deer.
With a statewide deer population around 1.5 million and the ideal number is 700,000, fully half of the state is under what the Department of Natural Resources calls its special T-Zone deer gun season. Wildlife Biologist Fred Strand says T-Zones have 20% more deer than they should. He says this helps get them to a less crowded population. "Yes, it's very effective. We've used T-Zones since 1996 in the state. It has worked to reduce deer populations where it's used. As evidence of that we have fewer units of T-Zones than previous years." This could be the last time a T-Zone hunt is held in October. Strand says they're considering moving it to early December next year. That proposal is getting mixed reviews around the state. "In the north, there was not support for a December anterless gun season. It was primarily opposed by the snow sport industries of cross-country skiing and snowmobiling." The regular nine day deer gun season begins November 19.
Agriculture Department finds different soil samples in survey
It's a dirty job but someone has to do it
(10/26/2005) A complete soil survey of Wisconsin. Ten northern Wisconsin counties were last to be sampled. Danielle Kaeding reports that they're not all alike.
Seven million acres of soil in ten Northern Wisconsin counties were sampled by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to bring a 13 year project to an end. Soil scientist David Hvizdak says findings included a variety of soil types across the area. "You've got basically the clay plane that runs along the south shore of Superior; those clays are pretty heavy. You've got a sand outwash area that runs down from the north central part all the way down to the southwest. On the southeastern part, basically you have sandy loam and tills. It's quite a variety of soils and it's like that all over the northwest ten." Hvizdak says that these different types of soils helped shape the history of the northland. "The soils pretty much dictated, besides the culture aspects such as closeness to markets, but the soils were able to dictate as to how the land was used." Hvizdak says that early settlers lived off the land as best they could without the findings we now know. "In the early settlement days people worked to clear the land and at least produce a living. Even though the climate was not always the best in northern Wisconsin, at least the soil fertility was such where they could at least produce a crop that was sufficient enough to support them." Hvizdak says that the survey gives us the upper hand and makes land planning easier.
officials keeps fingers crossed for winter tourism
Chambers not worried about the price of gas slowing things down
(10/24/2005) Resorts and ski hills are getting ready for the sporadic winter tourism season. Nick Pelletier says many people in the tourism business are keeping their fingers crossed for snow.
Local Chambers of Commerce say a lot is riding on the winter months. Bayfield Chamber Director Cari Obst says a dry winter is no good for bringing in tourists. "The winter season for us usually, Nick, means that it will be very healthy if we get snow. Snow seems to be the key ingredient. If you get snow they come." Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce Director Mary McPhetridge says snow makes for a good winter. She says if they don't get snow all is not lost. "If we get snow it is great for everybody. If we don't get snow we rely on the Ironwood, Hurley area because they tend to always get snow but they don't have enough hotel rooms. They will fall and trickle over here to Bad River to Odanah's Bad River Lodge and of course to Americinn and so forth down the road into Ashland. We will get business even if we see the snow. Of course we always want it though." McPhetridge says fuel prices won't turn away many snowmobilers because they just load up the truck and go.
$38-million dollars in new buildings gets go-ahead at UWS
Planning money approved by the state
(10/25/2005) Some proposed changes to the University of Wisconsin Superior campus are receiving money from the State Building Commission to plan the next step. Nick Pelletier has the story.
Money is set aside for planning renovations to the UW-Superior Jim Dan Hill Library and a new academic building. State Senator Bob Jauch of Poplar says the $821,000 planning money means taking the project right up to breaking ground. “The planning and the design of the project to determine what exactly it is going to look like. To comply with what are the expected costs of the building. In terms of the library the next step in both places is the construction. Approving the money is really critical because you can’t build it without the plans and the design.” Jauch says construction could begin on the library next year. Construction of the new academic building could start between 2007 and 2009. Jauch says this is two years ahead of schedule. He says the private fundraising by UWS is pushing the project forward. “It is pretty hard for even conservative legislators to turn down a public investment when the private investments have been so substantial.” Total cost for the project is more than 38-million dollars. Thirty-two million dollars for a new academic building and $6.5 million dollars for renovations to the library.
Obey: U.S. blew opportunity with Saddam trial
(10/23/2005) Wisconsin's senior member of Congress says the trial of Saddam Hussein could have been an opportunity for human rights but thinks it now may be a break for Saddam instead. Mike Simonson reports.
Charged with murder, torture and crimes against humanity, Congressman Dave Obey says the trial of Saddam Hussein should be a chance to renew dedication to human rights by all nations. But the Democrat from Wausau says the U.S. scandal of prisoner abuse and torture means that's not likely to happen. "Yes, right now that is an albatross around our neck." In fact, Obey says defense attorneys for Saddam may instead point to prisoner treatment by the United States as a way to refute charges. He says there are parallels. "You had people way down on the lower end of the military chain of command who were talking the blame for what happened there when in fact the tone was set by people quite far up in the chain of command. It's the old story of the grunt getting the blame and the brass being able to hide themselves from any responsibility." Saddam's trial began Wednesday but recessed until next month.
Ashland and Washburn become first eco-communities in Wisconsin
Believe this is best for the long term
(10/22/2005) Two communities on Lake Superior's south shore have designated themselves as "eco-communities". They pledge to be friendly to the environment and save money for taxpayers. Mike Simonson reports.
City councils in the Chequamegon Bay communities of Ashland and Washburn voted this year to go "eco". That means getting off fossil fuels and on to sustainable energies and not using chemicals like PCB's or mercury that can't be safely absorbed back into the environment. This may sound "radical" to some people, but Ashland City Councilor Mary Rehwald says it's a gradual but steady process. She says interest has spiked this year. "There's a consciousness through Katrina, the price of gas, the fact that polar ice caps are melting fairly quickly that something's going on that's not right." Last week Swedish consultant Karl-Henrik Robert visited Chequamegon Bay to encourage these eco-communities. Robert advises companies like Home Depot, Mitsubishi USA and Nike which use his "natural step" theory of self-sustainability and waste reduction. He says it's working for these corporations. He says other companies aren't looking at the big picture. "Those who have a defensive attitude have bad luck. They are hit by skyrocketing energy costs. They are hit by penalties, insurance costs, tax, lost confidence on the market, difficulties in recruiting intelligent staff." In July, Washburn became the first city council in the United States to vote to become an eco-community. Ashland followed suit last month.
Leaves at peak in northern Wisconsin
Could be last weekend to get a good look
(10/21/2005) The leaves have stuck around a couple of weeks longer than usual but this weekend will probably be the last hurrah for northern Wisconsin. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
Brule River State Forester Jay Gallagher says things are a bit past peak in his region, but the colors are still "pretty nice". Gallagher says a big weekend blow could end the leaf season. In the Ashland, Superior, Hayward, Cable, Chequamegon National Forest area… the leaves are at peak. Hayward Chamber of Commerce's Patty Wood says they're getting lots of calls. "Oh yes, lots of interest. We also offer pamphlets suggesting different roads to take to get a good look at the leaves." Also at peak are Grantsburg and Hurley. Past peak are Spooner and Birchwood. There's a chance that the South Shore could get its first accumulating snowfall this weekend. The National Weather Service says lake effect snow could fall Saturday or Sunday night, as winds kick up off Lake Superior.
pigs on the loose in northern Wisconsin
DNR wants to send these little piggies to market
(10/20/2005) Feral pigs are running loose in northern Wisconsin and in some cases it is legal to take them home for dinner. Nick Pelletier has the story.
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Biologist Fred Strand in Superior says the wild pigs are mostly in northern Douglas County, from the east end of Superior to the Douglas Bayfield County line. He says the area could get bigger if hunters don’t bag some pigs. “Many other states particularly to the south of us have them. It is a constant problem where they try and reduce and keep the numbers in check. We don’t want them to become established in Wisconsin so that we have more of a problem” There are other reports by the DNR of these pigs in Bayfield, Ashland and Burnett Counties. Strand says if a hunter sees a feral pig on their land it is legal to shoot it without a license. If as hunter does not own the land a license is needed. He says the pigs aren’t usually dangerous. “They tend to avoid people but like any animal that is large and wild if cornered or feel threatened they may be aggressive. For the vast majority of times, no, they tend to avoid people.” Strand says like regular pigs feral pigs make good eatin' form bacon and ham to ground pork.
Summer tourism up or normal in northern Wisconsin
Gas prices haven't hurt business
(10/19/2005) It was a good summer for tourism dollars across much of northwestern Wisconsin. Nick Pelletier has the story.
High fuel prices and a rainy spring didn’t keep tourists out of northern Wisconsin. Bayfield Chamber of Commerce Director Cari Obst says summer tourism was average for the area. She says the nice summer weather helped. “We have had beautiful weather here. We have had rain to the north and rain to the south. There was a lot of concern, quite frankly, going into the fall because of the dryness.” Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce Director Mary McPhetridge says their summer season started July 4th. She says it was a great summer and fuel prices didn’t drive people away. “We are not a fly in destination. We are a drive in destination. We are really still relatively close to Minneapolis, St. Paul. That is our largest market for the bay area. The price of gas didn’t really effect us because of the four hour driving time.” She hasn’t seen the final numbers yet but thinks is was a better summer than normal.
Medicinal marijuana to get a hearing in the Assembly
Both Democrats and Republicans are supporting it
(10/16/2005) A bill proposing using marijuana as a medicine has support on both sides of the political isle. Nick Pelletier has the story.
Democrat State Representative Frank Boyle of Superior first introduced the medicinal marijuana bill twelve years ago. He says the Assembly Health committee fought the legislation every step of the way. Republican representative Gregg Underheim of Oshkosh chaired the committee. Underheim is now sponsoring the same bill. Boyle says the change of heart may have been from first hand experience. “I believe that he had a bout with cancer and came into contact with a number of doctors who prescribed medical marijuana for the after effects of chemotherapy or what they call wasting. It is a viable solution. It is medically sound and solid and recommended by cancer doctors across this country.” Boyle says if this bill is passed, marijuana would be to help sick people. “It would by prescription only. It would be controlled. It would be manufactured and literally sold as any other pharmaceutical drug behind the counter. I’m sorry, by prescription only.” The next step is for a public hearing on the bill. Boyle says he will testify at the hearing.
Washburn County Board to vote on power line Tuesday
Last county to settle with American Transmission line
(10/15/2005) Washburn County has reached a tentative agreement with American Transmission Company (ATC) for their leg of the Duluth to Wausau transmission line. Nick Pelletier reports.
After eight hours of bargaining the agreement is tentative. The County board still has to pass it. The agreement pays the county $646,000 for attorneys’ fees and the timber. When construction begins the county will get another $731,000. Washburn County Board Chairman Pete Hubin says the county couldn’t get much more. “It is about as we are going to get. When the Montgomery legislation was passed and signed by the Governor, the only thing we could discuss would be the value of the land. If we could not have reached an agreement with ATC it would have gone to arbitration. We felt the value of the land, we researched it and so did they and we agreed on a number.” On top of the money, ATC is building a substation in Washburn County that will supply power to part of northwestern Wisconsin. Hubin says some of the money will go to pay for county expenses. “The legal fees and the cost for our committees that will just go back and send the money back to the various departments. The other money I don’t know that has not been decided yet.” Hubin says spending the money on looking into alternative energy source is a possibility. Hubin says before the county went to the bargaining table they wanted some electricity out of the deal. “They will make the substation in Stone Lake permanent. What that means to this part of the state is basically an off ramp for electricity. All the power in the United States is on a big grid. It is a constant shuffling electricity around on that grid. If there is a shortage someplace then electricity just flows through the grid from someplace where they have it to a place that needs it. Some folks on our board have thought that maybe we should spend some of that money to invite companies in to see if we are feasible for developing wind power on our County Forests. We have 149,000 acres of that as a way to not only make electricity for this area but to generate funds.” Hubin says solar power is another option. The County Board will vote on the agreement at their next meeting on October 18th.
Stones at Veterans Wayside rest to remember old soldiers
Washburn County effort is ongoing
(10/14/2005) The future isn’t etched in stone, but the past certainly is for Washburn County veterans. A memorial at the Washburn County Wayside pays tribute to their service. Danielle Kaeding has the story.
The Northern Wisconsin Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery on Highway 53 is a reminder to honor vets and their service. But, it’s not the only one. Just across the way at the Washburn County Wayside are six ebony stones paying tribute to vets from the area. Veteran’s Service Assistant Kathy Lehmann says that the stones are a reminder to appreciate those who served. "It’s remembering a veteran that gave up part of his life whether it be to quit a job, to leave his home, to enter the military to protect the country. And if we can do anything to help them, and, for them to see something like this—to see their name in stone—they love it." Each stone holds 24 names of Washburn County vets including the length of time and branch they served. Work has just begun on the seventh Veteran’s Stone. The cost of etching the names on these stones is 100 dollars per name. Lehmann says it's worth it for vets. "Usually their discharge paper, you know, they tuck that away and nobody ever sees it. But when you see a stone with your name on it and other veterans that you know because you’re from the area, then it’s an honor." The names of 172 vets are already displayed on the six stones. Lehmann says it’s great to that people are coming to see the stones and pay tribute to vets in the area. "It’s just a beautiful sight up there." Nine spaces are left on the stone. If you'd like to participate, call 715-635-4470.
Training to fight gay marriage ban set for Superior Sunday
(10/13/2005) A gay rights group is making a statewide effort to fight the proposed state constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
Action Wisconsin hopes to stop the constitutional amendment...which can't be vetoed...by changing the votes of five state senators. But if they can't, this would come up on a statewide referendum a year from now. Beth Olson is helping organize a training session at UW-Superior Sunday. "We don't want to be stuck with very little time to organize and get information out as has happened in other states when these bans have come up. We want to be well organized." Olson and her partner are raising a 7 year-old daughter together. She says while supporters of this amendment call it "pro-family", she says it will have the opposite affect. "Really hurts real families. It hurts real people that are living in our state, are operating as a family and have taken on those commitments and responsibilities as a family, financially, emotionally. By barring people even the chance of legal recognition, it hurts a lot of people." UW-Superior Gender Issues Coordinator Dianna Hunter and her partner were married in Canada last year. She compares this fight to the one for women's suffrage. She says the 14th amendment guarantees all citizens be treated equally under the law. "I feel the same frustration. If we aren't citizens, what are we? If we're not entitled to equal protection, what are we?" The training sessions are being held around the state. They give people talking points to make presentations to community groups and churches. The training session begins at 2 o'clock Sunday at the Rothwell Student Center at UWS.
Healing ceremony takes place at UW-Superior
Instead of Columbus Day
(10/12/2005) An Anishnabe healing ceremony on the UW-Superior Campus Wednesday offered prayers for people beyond Native Americans. Nick Pelletier has the story.
Columbus Day was once celebrated on October 12, Columbus' birthday. It is now celebrated on the Monday nearest the twelfth. UW-Superior First Nations program Director Gary Johnson says he chose the traditional Columbus Day for the ceremony because it is a way to move forward without forgetting the past. "A way to remember the things that have happened but at the same time not to dwell on the things that have happened to us instead try to find a way to heal those wounds, that anger, and to try to move ahead. The idea is to try to come together with people and to try to remember the past so that is doesn't happen again and to try to find a way for in the future that American Indian culture can survive and flourish." He says the healing goes beyond Native American's. The ceremony offers prayers for the Red Lake reservation, the war in Iraq, and the recent hurricanes. Skip Churchill led the ceremony. He says during the ceremony he asked the spirits to show us the way. "We are lost. We are always sickly. That is what is happening to us today. It is the same thing we are lost. We are bumping in to each other running into problems that really don't exist for us. If we honor all things and practice the things that we are taught and use the things we are given." Katie Neffdawson was at the ceremony. She says she is uncomfortable about the Columbus Day holiday because Columbus discovered America after people were settled on the land. "Counterbalance that idea of conquest. And moving on beyond that conquest to a time when we can all live in more balance on this earth." She says the ceremony helps her do that. Churchill says 1492, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue doesn't mean anything to them.
Book about real Apostle Islands bear released
(10/11/2005) A Bayfield author shows readers that life’s no picnic being a bear. The first- time author has a children’s book out aimed to improve how bears and people get along. Danielle Kaeding has the story.
Stockton Island in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is home to many black bears…one of the highest per capita in the National Park Service. One of them is the main character of a new children’s book called "Skar’s Picnic". The book by Bayfield native Vicki Redenbaugh follows the adventures between one black bear and campers. Apostle Islands Chief Interpreter Myra Foster says this is based on a real bear. "We had a very sad event with a large black bear that we called Skar on Stockton Island, and he had become so habituated to humans and their food that we had to remove him." Skar was put down because he just couldn't stay away from people. Foster says the children’s book is a good way to prevent that from happening again. She hopes the book will help people exercise better conduct while camping and recreating in bear territory. Foster stresses the importance that people properly store food and clean their campsite. "We want to be able to not just be visitors in a habitat we want to be able to share habitat and take care of the habitat." A dollar from each sale of the book will go toward helping people learn how to get along with Yogi and Boo-Boo in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Foster says although nothing could be done for Skar, his story will benefit both bears and people down the road. "Skar is going to continue speaking for a very long time." People can pick up a copy at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Visitor Center in Bayfield.
Wisconsin ash threatened by exotic beetle
Could devastate ash
(10/10/2005) An insect in Michigan’s UP may soon be coming across the border into northern Wisconsin. It could mean the death of ash trees. Nick Pelletier has the story.
The Emerald Ash Border Beetle was found ten years ago in near Detroit. After making the trip from overseas, it spread to Indiana, Ohio, and Ontario Canada. It is now in Michigan’s Brimley State Park on the eastern end of the U.P. DNR Forest Health Coordinator Jane Cummings-Carlson says the bug can’t be stopped. "Its population is just too large in Michigan now to actually eradicate the insect. The movement of the beetle can be slowed. We have had surveillance for the beetle, intense surveillance, for the past two years in Wisconsin and have not found it yet. It is likely that when we do find it its population will be extremely low." Carlson says one way to slow the bug is not moving firewood. She says the bug moved to northern Michigan when people packed up firewood and ventured into the great outdoors. She says this bug could hit the timber industry hard. "It is difficult to put a number; a financial number on the industry because we don’t have a good handle on how much ash is used for instance for different products such as railroad ties or chips for pulp and paper. We are just starting to meet with industry representatives to start discussions on what the impact of this insect might be to them and how we might be able to mitigate those impacts." Wisconsin has 700 million ash trees. Carlson says if the bug doesn’t have help moving from humans it will take five or six years to make it to Wisconsin.
Toxic chemical ban in Lake Superior could be extended to tributaries
Public hearing is set for Wednesday
(10/8/2005) A proposal to regulate toxins dumped into Lake Superior is being pushed by the Wisconsin DNR. It will bring Lake Superior closer to the lofty goal of zero discharge. Mike Simonson reports.
The proposal focuses on what's called the "Nasty Nine" toxic chemicals. In 1991 the United States and Canada signed an agreement to make Lake Superior the Zero Discharge Demonstration project. To some, eliminating the discharge of persistant toxic chemicals may sound pie-in-the-sky, but Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Water Specialist Nancy Larson in Ashland says it's a goal worth shooting for. The new proposal would restrict nine chemicals like PCB's, mercury, and pesticides from draining into Lake Superior. "Because these are pollutants that don't go away. They persist for decades, they build up in the food chain, and they build up in fish. So we want to make sure that people don't discharge these pollutants unless they really have to by even using the best technology out there." Larson says it would prohibit rivers and streams that run into Lake Superior from having any discharge of these chemicals and also tag those tributaries with the more restrictive "Outstanding Resource Water" designation. "The idea was for some of the tributaries that are very high quality and that are already classified as Outstanding Resource Waters. This public group wanted to extend that Outstanding Resource Water classification into some of the waters of Lake Superior right off the mouth of those tributaries." Lake Superior is considered the cleanest of the Great Lakes and also has the most water, equal to all of the other Great Lakes combined. Because of that, it takes more than 150 years for a pollutant to leave Lake Superior. A public hearing is set near Ashland on these regulations Wednesday at the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center.
World War Two Pilot from Duluth to speak at Bong Center Saturday
Remembers the battle for North Africa, drank with Patton
(10/7/2005) More than 60 years ago the Allies took the offensive for the first time by attacking the Nazis in Northern Africa. Nick Pelletier reports on one soldier's story.
The Nazi empire stretched from France through northern Africa and from Spain to the gates of Moscow. Tom Dougherty of Duluth was a naval observation pilot during the first allied attack on North Africa. His plane was shot down and he landed in the sea. "I was taken prisoner. My radio man was taken to a hospital or to some place. I never did see him. I was sent to a jail. It would be like the jail on the shore. Within the next hour there were three pilots off the ranger, the carrier." Dougherty says these were the first American prisoners of World War Two. Days later American troops landed and freed the prisoners. The troops were under the command of General George S. Patton. "I drank champagne with him. He was the white haired general at Casablanca. But I didn’t know it was Patton until, who the hell knew Patton in November of 42. You never knew about Patton until he slapped that G.I. That is when you heard about General Patton." Dougherty says he spent a few days in a hotel and returned stateside for the remainder of World War II. Dougherty is speaking at the Bong World War Two Heritage Center Saturday at 1 o'clock.
Apple Fest expects another big crowd for the little apple
Begins Thursday and ends Sunday
(10/6/2005) It is apples upon apples with other apple treats thrown in the middle. Bayfield is celebrating Applefest this weekend. Nick Pelletier reports.
This is the 44th Applefest. Bayfield’s population is more than 600 people…so it's a crush when more than 50 thousand come to town to celebrate. Bayfield Apple Company Owner Einar Olsen remembers the days before his first Applefest in 1986. "The town of Bayfield the day before looked not really like a ghost town but pretty close to it. The following day it just came alive, teaming with people, unbelievable." Bayfield Chamber of Commerce Director Cari Obst says it’s fun for the whole family. "People come and they like to eat and shop and be entertained. Take their kids to the carnival." Olson says everything has apples in it from the cider, jam, butter, and the Wisconsin tradition with a Bayfield twist apple bratwurst. He says they have the right condiments. "Apple mustard, you have to have apple mustard on apple brats." Olsen says the parade on the last has a marching band with 600 people, the number of people that live in Bayfield.
Duluth Mayor talks with UW-Superior GLBT class
(10/5/2005) Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson traveled across the bridge to speak to a UW-Superior class about acceptance of homosexuals and transgender people. Nick Pelletier reports.
The class is Intercultural Communication. It focuses on communication between culture and identity. UWS instructor Keith Berry says having the Mayor is an important. "We are in a society here tolerance and diversity is more supported and yet not enough. Conversations like these about culture and different people and accepting different people are just so important in 2005." Bergson supports the Twin Ports Pride Festival, while his predecessor did not, nor did Superior Mayor David Ross. Bergson says younger people as a whole are more tolerant of diversity. "There are people in the generation preceding me that get it. But there are fewer in that generation than my generation. I think each generation passing increases the number of tolerant people. It doesn’t matter if you paint a black face on it or blonde hair, blue eyes, religion, family income, or sexual orientation. We can’t treat people differently because of any of those labels. People don’t need labels placed upon them. They are just people." Bergson says he supports the community even though not all citizens support his view. "I signed a gay rights proclamation of gratitude to the community back in 1994, my last year in office. The thanks I got for it was my car was vandalized. A nasty three letter word was scraped into my car that night. In gratitude for signing something that said hey, thank you for what you do for charity for this community and thanks for all you do in aids education and awareness. It was my first experience with hate crime. It matured me a lot." Bergson asks why can’t we all just get along.
Superior and other Wisconsin cities seek relief for high gas prices
Ask state to exempt them from gas tax
(10/4/2005) City leaders across Wisconsin are asking the legislature for a gas tax exemption for city vehicles. Nick Pelletier reports that the high price of gas is sticking it to essential services too.
A fire truck holds 50 gallons of diesel fuel. In an average year Superior buys 190 thousand gallons of fuel. Fifty-thousand dollars a year goes to paying state fuel taxes. City Finance Director Jean Vito says they are looking to save money on fuel tax. "We are looking for elimination of the state fuel tax. What would happen is we could then reduce our expenditure budget by about 50 thousand dollars and then correspondingly reduce our local property tax levy by the same amount." Superior Mayor Dave Ross says the fuel costs are taking a big chunk out of local budgets. He says if cities to get tax relief from the legislature local residents will notice. "We are going to pass that savings onto the local property taxpayer by reducing the levy by the same amount of the savings if the legislature gives us this kind of relief. It is unfair. It is double taxation. It is punitive to the property taxpayers. In our effort to drive down property taxes we need this relief from the state of Wisconsin." City vehicles are already exempt from federal fuel taxes.
Feingold to press the flesh in New Hampshire
Superior attorney will accompany him
(9/27/2005) Wisconsin's junior United States Senator will cover ground favored by people running for President. Russ Feingold will make his first speech in New Hampshire Friday night. Mike Simonson reports.
New Hampshire and Iowa have the earliest presidential primaries in the nation and are often considered springboards for successful presidential campaigns. Feingold hasn't said he's running for president. His senate campaign treasurer, Dan Hannula of Superior, says he's simply spreading his gospel of progressive politics at a democratic party rally. Hannula, who will be with the senator in New Hampshire...says it's Feingold's way of rebuilding the Democratic Party. "Russ won re-election with 55% of the vote. And that's after he voted against the presidential tax cuts, after he was the lone vote against the USA Patriot Act and after he voted against the war in Iraq." Even as a non-candidate, Feingold has been busy. He's also made speaking tours in Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and California. Hannula says the New Hampshire trip includes speeches in Manchester and Dartmouth College. "I'm very curious. I've been to several of Russ' listening sessions throughout Wisconsin. I know the reaction he gets there. I can't contain my curiosity. I want to watch the crowd in New Hampshire and see the kind of reaction he gets when he's 1500 miles away from this state." Hannula says they've had to make space available for extra reporters from the northeast. Feingold's speech to the Rockingham Democratic Party annual dinner will be carried live Friday evening at 6:30 central time on C-SPAN.
Pumpkinfest about community and catapults
Annual Clear Water Folk School event in Washburn
(9/26/2005) A "back to the basics" school celebrated the annual harvest recently in Washburn. Their message is as simple as their celebration. It's centered on pumpkins. Mike Simonson reports.
The Clear Water Folk School of Chequamegon Bay began five years ago. It's one of just two folk schools in Wisconsin and a few dozen in the entire country. It's also the fourth year they've sponsored "Pumpkinfest". Pumpkin festivals aren't unique this time of year, but this particular one has something the others don't have. They have a catapult: A 15 foot high "trebuchet" aimed at a monster pumpkin boat on Lake Superior. "Just give everyone a heads up when we're ready to go and who's going to pull the trigger?" said Tim Edwards, one of the Clear Water Folk School vice-presidents who this warm Saturday afternoon is in charge of the trebuchet. He says the catapult harkens back to medieval castles and a different kind of way neighbors showed their displeasure with each other. "Fling stones and dead animals and various other unpleasant things on each other's homes. Obviously here it's used for recreational purposes. We're flinging pumpkins with it today." The celebration of pumpkins was sparked by the generosity of a local man named Jeff Steffenson. Clear Water Folk School co-founder Mike Jones says Steffenson may have been limited by Down's Syndrome, but there was no limit to his capacity to give. He had a pumpkin patch and every autumn he'd quietly leave pumpkins on people's porches. Jones says that's the spirit of this festival. "This is all 100% volunteer put together. It's a real tight-knit group of people. Pretty much everybody knows each other and we're all just tired of working hard all summer. We need a chance to relax."
The folk school teaches people to be more independent, from cooking to sewing to Jones' favorite, he's learned how to be a blacksmith and make wrought iron gates. "It's empowering to craft your own gifts or create something you're going to use personally." This pumpkin festival sticks to that theme. It is crowded with families, children playing bean bag and ring tosses, none of the games use electricity. A far cry from video games, a line of kids wait at the spinning wheel. The challenge is to do whatever the wheel tells you to do when it stops. It could be somersaults, standing on your head, or a linguistic challenge. Or there's the balloon-tying class or the tug of war. Heidi Goehring of Bayfield teaches story telling and clothes making. She says this kind of "hands-on" traditional art reminds her of her own past - and her grandfather from Germany - a blacksmith. "He had a glass eye, many of those blacksmiths did. I can recall that glass eye. I can recall him pounding away in his 'smitty'. As I'm learning now how to spin on the wheel and working my own fleece, washing it, carting it, now spinning it and then knitting it, seeing how years ago how when there was a garment, it definitely was passed down between those six to eight kids. And it was patched up because it is so much work." Goehring says traditional arts aren't simple. She's not about to give up her washing machine. But she's also not going to become a soccer mom either. "That is one of my goals as a mother not to have overly scheduled hassled kids. I cringe when I see people over scheduling their children. It's such a technological age and obviously I want my children to be skilled in computers but I really want them to enjoy a lot of the traditional skills that unfortunately are slipping away." That's one of the goals of the Clear Water Folk School. School President Bob Cornett...also a volunteer...says their slogan is 'learn to live'. He says it's both practical and good for the spirit. "Oh yeah. When people use their hands it's a remarkable thing. They did say that Jesus was a carpenter. He's quite a spiritual man people say. I would have to agree." So this fine autumn day at a park overlooking Lake Superior, Cornett sees much of what their mission is all about: becoming closer to family and community. "We're thankful of everybody working together. So I don't think we're anti-anything. We're pretty much the most laid-back people on the face of the earth. (laughs) Wouldn't you agree by looking around? (laughs)"
Weather watchers forecast a mild winter
Both the National Weather Service and Old Farmer's Almanac
(9/23/2005) Some good news amidst the warnings that heating bills will be way up this winter: It looks like we'll have a milder winter than normal this year. Mike Simonson reports.
Two very diverse weather organizations agree that temperatures won't be severe. The Old Farmer's Almanac says the northern part of Wisconsin will be milder and dryer than usual, while the rest of the state will be milder but a little wetter than normal. Old Farmer's Almanac Editor Janis Stillman says this isn't based on the hair on the back of woolly caterpillars...but on solid science. "We use three scientific disciplines. We use solar science, which is the study of the sun spots and other activity on the sun. Those occur in cycles typically 11 years. They are the study of climatology, and so we look at some short cycles and we look at some longer ones and we see in the years and decades and sometimes centuries past." The National Weather Service winter forecast for December to March is much the same: Milder temperatures for Wisconsin. Meteorologist in Charge at the Duluth bureau Mike Stewart says they monitor upper air movement, ocean temperatures and computer models. But they don't ignore the competition. "We have a copy of Old Farmer's Almanac out here. We refer to it just to see what their forecast says. We use it just as a comparison with them." Stewart says they don't put much stock in the almanac. In fact, they don't advertise the fact they even read it. "We have it in a drawer so that there are any visitors to come by, it's hidden so it doesn't look like we use it." In either case, both say milder temperatures mean fuel bills might not bite as deeply this winter.
Native Wardens want equal protection as other law enforcement
A bill will have a hearing in the state Assembly Wednesday
(9/22/2005) The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission is asking the legislature to give their wardens the same power and protections of other state law officers. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
Right now, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife wardens do not have the same powers and access as other wardens around Wisconsin. So GLIFWC Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Jim Zorn in Ashland says this legislation is a safety issue for the public and his wardens. "So that they would know who they are stopping out in the woods. Like state conservation wardens they tend to work alone, at night and they just need to know who they are encountering for their own safety for example." Zorn says they are often first responders in emergencies and have the same kind of training as other law officers. He says this bill has the support of the Department of Natural Resources and the state Attorney General's office. "This has been a true example of a cooperation that was forged from the tough early days of the boat landings and treaty rights exercises in Wisconsin. Back in those days it was quickly realized by law enforcement officers that it didn't matter the color of your uniform or the agency you worked for, that there really is that brotherhood and sisterhood of law enforcement officers that in the field the primary concern is to do their job to protect public health and safety." The bill would apply to GLIFWC wardens off the reservation as well as on. A hearing on this bill is set Wednesday before the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.
moose on the loose around Brule
Part of the outdoor report for the first day of fall
(9/21/2005) There's a moose on the loose in the Brule River State forest. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
Moose are rare in northern Wisconsin… if they do hoof their way here they came from either the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or Minnesota. But the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in Brule says a gent by the name of Rudy Listing photographed the young moose and they could make out small horns on it. Meanwhile the elk are bugling away in the Bayfield/Sawyer County area. The Hayward DNR says the bull elk started bugling earlier than usual this year in spite of the heat wave this month…they're in full rut…that's dating for the uninitiated. The early rut will mean an earlier calving season next spring. That's better for the newborns because they arrive before black bears start looking for fawns and calves. The DNR also reports that trees with buck scrapes are being found and some bucks with well polished antlers are being sighted. There's an ample acorn crop this year for the deer as well. And geese are seen in flying formations flocking as they begin staging in the area for the flight south. As for fall colors, they changing of the leaves is still a ways away. Birchwood in Bayfield County has the most colors with trees just one week away from peak and halfway to peak colors. Otherwise Ashland, Mercer and Spooner are about two to three weeks from peak…a third of the way to peak. Other places like Bayfield, Grantsburg, Hayward and Superior are four to five weeks from peak,
Murphy Oil USA faces second hurricane after oil spilled from Katrina
(9/20/2005) Murphy Oil’s refinery in Meraux, Louisiana flooded during Hurricane Katrina causing a major oil leak. Nick Pelletier reports that the new Gulf Coast hurricane is causing even more concern.
The storm surge from Katrina moved one holding tank off of its foundation. When it settled the wall buckled and oil began leaking. Murphy Oil Treasurer Kevin Fitzgerald says the leak was stopped as soon as it was discovered. “People are still out there recovering the oil and dike area and the like. But now they have evacuated again because of the new storm that is in the gulf.” He says the Louisiana refinery isn’t up and running yet. “Our whole refinery is down. We still don’t have power in that area. Been in the process of getting boats and equipment in to the area so we can do an assessment on the refinery. Until very recently the whole area around the refinery was still flooded so access was limited to helicopter or by boat on the river. We were real limited. Now that you have access we are starting to build that up so we can go in and make a full assessment on the refinery.” Fitzgerald says the tank is repairable. He also says Hurricane Rita could do more to gas prices than Katrina. “You could have a bigger issue with gasoline prices with this new storm if it heads towards the Houston Corpus Christi area. There is a lot of refining capacity in that area.” Superior’s Murphy Oil Refinery Manager Dave Podratz says the off-line refinery won't affect Wisconsin. “It shouldn’t have any effect on our refinery but the hurricane is kind of had a huge impact on prices all around the country and all around the world for that matter. Anything that happens anywhere in the world in our business has an impact on prices everywhere, including locally here. In terms of a direct impact on our refinery, no. We are running normally.” Fitzgerald says the spill is 35,000 barrels at 42 gallons a barrel. He says most of the oil stayed on refinery property. Vacuum trucks and skimmers have recovered some of the oil. The rest has been contained.
Apostle Islands picking up and straightening up
(9/19/2005) The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is offering a free trip to the islands Saturday, if you're willing to pick up some trash. Nick Pelletier has the story.
This is part of the 12th annual National Public Lands Day. The goal is to clean up the parks for all people to use. Apostle Islands' staff is looking for people to pick up trash on Little Sand Bay Beach on the mainland and Long or Stockton Island. Apostle Islands' Neil Howk says the Islands aren’t covered with trash. “We are very fortunate here that generally our beaches are pretty clean. Under some conditions certain objects do tend to float in. We see a lot of items like cigarette butts, plastic containers and Styrofoam cups.” Howk says things like tires, radio antennas, and cans wash up on shore. He says there are quite a few cigarette butts on the islands. “A gentleman on Stockton Island last week who picked up about 300 cigarette butts on a half mile stretch of beach out there just a week ago.” People who want to help in the cleanup on the islands need to sign up to reserve a place on the boat. Anybody who wants to help on the mainland can just show up. Those who help in the clean up will receive a certificate good for admission into any National Park site that charges admission. For more information or to sign up call Neil Howk at area code 715 779-3397 extension 302.
Pledge of Allegiance to continue in Wisconsin schools
Court decision may makes its way to Supreme Court
(9/16/2005) Last week an appeals court decision in Sacramento stopped three California school districts from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
The court ruling won't change the way things are done in Wisconsin. State law requires schools make the pledge, although it is optional for students. Bayfield School District Superintendent Mark Jansen says it's a tricky topic because 65% of his students are Native American and opt out. But he says that doesn't mean students feel left out. "That could happen in some school districts but because the majority in this district are Native American, it might have the opposite effect." In Ashland, Superintendent Ken Kasinski says it's important the pledge is optional so religious freedom is not trampled. "For some students it may be, for other students it may not. It almost gets down to an individual basis on doing that." The court ruled the pledge is unconstitutional because it contains the words "under God". Even so, state law requires schools to have the Pledge of Allegiance. Wisconsin Association of School Boards Legal Services Director Steve Hintzman says unless the Supreme Court agrees with the Sacramento case, things will remain the same in Wisconsin.
leaders concerned new law would end international shipping
Major topic at annual ports meeting in Washburn
(9/15/2005) Leaders from Wisconsin's ports say a proposed state law would end international shipping to Wisconsin. Mike Simonson reports on a meeting of port officials Thursday in Washburn.
The proposed bill is still being shaped, so port directors are hoping to do an end run before it damages shipping on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Wisconsin Ports Association Director Dean Haen of Green Bay says the proposal would require all ocean-going ships to have no ocean ballast water on board when entering Wisconsin waters. "It would shutdown all international porting activities which would impact Superior, Green Bay, Marinette, Menominee and Milwaukee. It would cease all importing and exporting." The law is designed to stop the spread of invasive species from overseas like the zebra mussel. But Hean says the technology isn't in place to rid the ballast of all organisms. "With that legislation there is no targeted number. It is just so arbitrary that it's unobtainable." Adolph Ojard is the president of the American Great Lakes Ports Association. He says this environmental legislation would backfire. "Certainly not only in terms of business and jobs and the economy of the area but also if you have a modul shift because you can't have ships on the Great Lakes and now trains and trucks are delivering from the East Coast, West Coast and Gulf Coast." Ojard says that would mean much more air emissions, thus more pollution.
Ashland TV station to go on the air Oct. 3
Will feature former WDIO-TV reporter Julie Moravchik
(9/14/2005) A new TV station will go on the air next month in Ashland. True North TV is a UHF low-power station that will cover the Chequamegon Bay area. Mike Simonson reports.
Project Manager Alan Ralph says they'll go on the air and on local cable October 3. They'll be bringing back a familiar face. True North television Project Manager Alan Ralph says they've hired former WDIO-TV reporter Julie Moravchik. "She's been working for KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities, but now she'll be the station general manager. Because this is a small television station she'll wear different hats and also do news stories from time to time." Ralph says having Moravchik who grew up on a farm in Ino in Bayfield County and is a former reporter at KUWS-FM, gives them instant credibility for doing weekday newscasts. Ralph says they'll be on the air as a low-power station on channel 25 and on local cable probably on channel 9. True North TV will carry UPN programming and have a news agreement with KBJR-TV. They'll have weekday newscasts at 6:30.
State Senators ask about expanding Murphy Oil and Enbridge Energy in Superior
Duo took an energy facilities tour
(9/13/2005) Two state senators are looking at ways to expand Wisconsin's energy resources, including the state's only oil and gas refinery. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
State senators Dale Schultz and Dave Zein toured energy facilities in Wisconsin late last month, poking around for ways to make sure Wisconsin doesn't run out of gas. The stop included Superior, which is a hub of energy operations. Enbridge Pipeline pumps oil from Canada through Superior to Chicago, Midwest Energy Coal ships millions of tons of low-sulfur western coal every year through the Superior port, and Murphy Oil runs the state's only refinery. Superior Mayor Dave Ross says now's the time to look at expansion. He says the nation is walking an energy tight rope because its refining capacity is threatened by events like Hurricane Katrina. "That is not good energy policy. That puts our nation in jeopardy, that's what spiked our terrible gas prices that we're living with right now. In order to have reasonably priced gas and refined oil products, we need capacity and I think that capacity a good place to do it is right here in Superior, Wisconsin." Ross says Enbridge Energy is considering expanding its pipeline network, and Murphy Oil Refinery Manager Dave Podratz says there is room to expand his operation. The visit by state legislators encourages growth. "They had asked us to put together a wish list and stay in touch with them, keep on them. Keep reminding them about the things that are important from our industry's standpoint." Right now, Murphy Oil supplies gas to northern Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and parts of Minnesota. If it expanded, it could also serve the rest of Wisconsin to Chicago.
Families of hunters ordeal continues at trial
(9/12/2005) Relatives of the hunters who were shot and killed in the north woods of Wisconsin are dealing with the trauma of the murder trial. The trial began Saturday. Mike Simonson reports from Hayward.
While many family members are in the courtroom to watch the trial of Saint Paul truck driver Chai Vang, at least as many are in a room sealed off from the public and reporters. They don't want to talk right now. They want to listen. Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager is the chief prosecutor in this case. She says it's a painful time to hear testimony and arguments of their loved ones death. "Reliving this experience is no easy task. Reliving the loss of a child, the loss of a brother or loved one is no easy task for any of them but yet they have found in each other a certain strength that's special." Lautenschlager will call some of them to testify. Again, that's hard but she says they rise to the occasion to see justice done. "Yeah. It's been quite a heartening experience to work with all of them. Their ability to move beyond this while remembering their loved ones is quite extraordinary." Six hunters were killed and two wounded November 21st in a confrontation between hunters in the Sawyer County township of Meteor. Most of the relatives are from nearby Rice Lake. Testimony is expected to continue to the end of this week.
trial being watched by new civil rights group
Hmong community wants to make sure every thing is on the up and up
(9/11/2005) A Hmong civil rights group is watching the murder trial of Chai Vang very closely. Mike Simonson reports from Hayward that volunteers will be observing the case first hand.
The group "Coalition for Community Relations" formed immediately after November 21, the Sunday that six hunters were killed and two wounded in a confrontation between one Hmong hunter and white hunters in Sawyer County. Suzanne Murphy of Minneapolis says her job is to make sure justice is served. "When we talk about our highest democratic ideals, alot of it is through our judicial system. So we just hope that justice is being administered here and as serving witness to that." Murphy and other Coalition members like Pakou Hang of Saint Paul will be in the courtroom. Hang says so far, so good. "Everybody showed a judicial demeanor, very respectful. Jurors are alert. I was surprised that the audience is mostly Caucasian, mostly middle-aged. But overall everyone has been very respectful." Hang says this lends credibility to a racially volatile case. Their presence may help counter-act others who believe defendant Chai Vang is being railroaded because of his race. "So that this case can prove to have constructive dialogue toward interracial harmony and social justice." The Coalition for Community Relations is not part of the defendant's family or defense team, but is acting as an independent group for the Hmong community.
Sawyer County braces for Vang trial Saturday
(9/10/2005) Little has changed at the site of the hunter killings in the woods of Sawyer County. But Mike Simonson reports that people in that rural township are not quite the same.
The shootings happened in the wooded township of Meteor in southern Sawyer County. Meteor Chairman Dale Olson says people are apprehensive with the trial and the coming hunting season. "The leaves are changing color here. I believe they're waiting to see what's going to happen this year. People who have had trespass problems with anyone in the past, they always have that thought in the back of their mind now." The confrontation between eight hunters and Chai Vang of Saint Paul started over Vang using the hunter's deer stand. The two surviving hunters say Vang started shooting and hunting the hunters...many of them unarmed. Vang says he was defending himself, and that the first shot was fired by the hunters. Olson knows the arguments, and has heard media reports that racism is part of the reaction, since Vang is Hmong. But Olson says the race card has been overblown. "I certainly haven't heard word one in that regard at least not in this area. I can't speak for other areas but I would expect to see more honestly, but it isn't there." He says local people want this to be resolved in the courts. "People will hope justice is done, in what form that is." The trial will be traumatic for many in the Meteor Township, a place that was an escape and a retreat from violence.
Glensheen murders featured in forum at mansion Thursday night
To go along with second edition release of book Will to Murder
(9/9/2005) The second edition of the
book focusing on the
Glensheen Mansion murders is
being released Thursday along with a discussion of the murders. Nick Pelletier
has the story.
The 1977 murders of Elisabeth Congdon and Velma Pietila are the subject of the book Will to Murder. Duluth’s Glensheen Mansion.. the scene of the double murder…will also be the site of the release of the second edition. It is scheduled along with a symposium to discuss the investigation for the murders. Glensheen Director Wade Lawrence if people on the tours don’t ask it is easy to see that the subject is coming up. "They don’t outright ask but you can tell that they are discussing it among themselves. The subject is on a lot of our visitors minds." Lawrence says the subject is not something to hide. "It is part of our history. Even though some parts of history might be a little difficult to discuss, sometimes history isn’t comfortable. It is a part of the history of Glensheen and we saw no reason to ban any discussion of it from our tours." Lawrence says the discussion won't go into all of the details of the crimes out of respect for the families. "We are trying to address it with some sensitivity to the family not go into the gory details of how the murders took place and how the bodies were found all those crime scene investigation types of bits of information. We are more concerned with the investigation and the trial." Lawrence says there is more to the mansion than the murders. He says there are also many amazing decorations and arts. The discussion is a one time event. All 250 tickets for the discussion have been sold.
Back to class at UWS and Northland College
(9/8/2005) It's the first week of classes at UW-Superior with 360 freshmen, many of them exploring life away from mom and dad for the first time. Mike Simonson reports.
UWS Chancellor Julius Erlenbach says enrollment numbers look good. It's the largest freshmen class at UWS in five years. Erlenbach says the only area that's down is retaining last year's students. He says the rising cost of tuition could be a factor. UW-Superior will have about 2800 students total this fall. Back to school time on all levels this week. While some kids were back in class last week, the bigger kids are back at college studies. Northland College in Ashland has a unique way to orient its students: They're required to rough it for a few days in the great outdoors. Northland College President Karen Halbersleben says the outdoor orientation started in the 1970's. She's done it herself with 10 incoming students. "It was a great bonding experience. In fact, I was no longer college president to them. I was just Karen. Everyone got to know each other." Halbersleben says it's a hands-on type of education, practical for a college with an environmental emphasis like Northland. Northland College has about 750 students enrolled this fall.
Northland College to make room for 25 student victims of hurricane
From Dillard University in New Orleans
(9/7/2005) Northland College in Ashland is accepting 25 students from hurricane ravaged New Orleans. Nick Pelletier reports.
This is part of an agreement with Dillard University, which is swamped from the remnants of Katrina. Twenty-one hundred students are enrolled to begin classes at Dillard University this fall. But the school has been damaged by six feet of water across its campus from Hurricane Katrina. Northland College Vice President of Enrollment Lisa Lail Bunders says this is a way they can help a sister college. "There are some colleges right now who are closed and don’t have any room to move for any students. I think generally higher education really opens its arms in a time of need. I don’t think there would ever be a time at which a college would not open to help its sister college." The two colleges are related with the United Church of Christ. Bunders says the doors are open for students of any class level but seniors won’t receive a degree form Northland College. "They would absolutely earn their Dillard Degree. We are working with Dillard and the ACE which is the Higher Education Association to make sure it is all transferable." She says they are also offering five staff members from Dillard a position at Northland College. She says they are offering space for 25 students because that is the numbers of beds available. They are waiting to hear if students will take them up on their offer.
Northland College student loses everything, including tuition, in hurricane
But the college is working things out
(9/6/2005) A Northland College student in Ashland is receiving extra financial aid after her family lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. Nick Pelletier has the story.
Northland College senior Rachel Parker is from Waveland, Mississippi 20 miles north of New Orleans and 20 miles west of Biloxi, Mississippi. She says all her family is accounted for but they lost most everything in the storm. That includes the money to pay for college. “When my friend went to check on the house he couldn’t get into the attic because the ceiling sagging from the flooding. At this point we are waiting to see if we can get in but at the same time if one bad wind comes our house may come crashing down.” This is a tragedy she's still trying to come to grips with. ”People I don’t even really talk to are just coming up to me asking about my family and my home and things like that. It kind of helps you to get through it all because it is hard being away from home and being away from my family. To know there are so many people that are here to support me, it really helps out a lot.” Parker is starting her fourth year at Northland but has at least one semester left. Parker says Northland College is helping out to cover the almost 5 thousand dollar balance so she can attend classes. “They understand at this point that I can’t pay. I have no money. They are working with that. Normally they require you to have a balance of one thousand dollars or less in order to attend your classes and everything. Obviously I owe more than that. Right now they are telling me not to worry about that.” Parker says her family is looking for rental housing to begin rebuilding. She says she is definitely going home for Christmas even though she isn’t sure where that will be. Parker is a member of the school's dance team. She says they are planning on doing a fund raiser.
Flu vaccine requests being made, should be normal this year
(9/5/2005) Flu season doesn't start for a few months but vaccine is already on order. Nick Pelletier reports health officials want to get a jump on vaccination supplies.
Flu season begins in early fall. Douglas County Deputy Director of Heath Services Deb Clasen says they have ordered over 3000 doses of vaccine. "We have not had confirmation yet as far as the availability when it will be or how much will be available in the United States. At this point in time everything looks like it is moving ahead nicely as far as the production numbers." Clasen says they are working with St. Louis County to give out the information like when and where vaccine will be available. She says she isn't sure yet if there will be enough vaccine for everybody. "That is a million dollar question. We are uncertain at this time what the total amount of vaccine will be. I have read nothing from the CDC or the State Public Health Department that would lead me to believe there wont be." She says if there is a shortage on vaccine it will be distributed as it was last year. She says private clinics and nursing homes also plan to have vaccine on hand.
Grant pays for Bad River elders to teach the old ways of protecting wetlands
Hopes of improved cranberry harvest
(9/2/2005) The Wisconsin Coastal Management Program has awarded grants to a number of south shore communities for conservation projects. David Hopkins has the story.
The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has been awarded a $20,000 grant to study their wild cranberry habitat. Wetlands Specialist and Project coordinator Leah Gibala will be doing a study to understand cranberry harvesting on the reservation. "There's been talk that the fruit production has diminished in recent years, but we don't really know if that's true or not. There are not a lot of cranberry harvesters anymore. It's kind of gone down to about three or four families." She says the problem may be the result of cold spring weather during the cranberry bloom. Environmental conditions of the bog may be another factor. The assessment began in July. The cranberry harvest of the Anishinaabe once provided a significant staple food. This is no longer the case. The Anishinaabe are a nation with plenty of fish harvesting and many traditional wild rice harvesters. The Bad River Band's Gibala says that things have changed with cranberries. This grant will allow them to hear from tribal elders. who have passed down stories over the generations. Usually told during the winter months, the traditional storytelling time of the Anishinaabe, Gibala says that she will blend her scientific studies with stories from elders. She says the loss of knowledge about this native plant that has been used for centuries by Anishinaabe may hurt today's harvest by Bad River, Ho-Chunk and other Wisconsin tribes. Elders will be the primary teachers of community educational workshops to help people learn about harvesting and preserving cranberries. "They have these little rakes, hand rakes, and they scoop the berries off the plants without dislodging the roots." Gibala says it is important to include the stories of elders in all tribal projects. "The culture is based on an oral tradition. We're trying to reconnect with the traditional use of the resources. That's an important way to make sure that we manage the resource for the seventh generation."
Bio-terrorism drill set for this month
Part of Homeland Security efforts
(9/1/2005) Superior is going to be
hit by a bio-terrorism attack, but it's all pretend. Nick Pelletier has the
The September 20 attack is going to be some communicable disease like small pox, bird flu, or hepatitis A. Douglas County Deputy Director of Heath Services Deb Clasen says training like this is mandatory. "All local health departments and tribes belong in our jurisdiction and several counties around. We have 12 local health departments and 4 tribes that are in what we call the Northern Lights Health Care Consortia. From a public health standpoint we have received CDC monies and state monies to prepare ourselves for major events." Clasen says we'll find out if Superior is ready for this type of attack "I couldn't answer that. We are one small player in one very large world of environmental health. Are they as ready as they want to be, I don't believe any entity is but we continue to prepare ourselves to a better degree." Clasen says members of emergency management, law enforcement the Red Cross, and Health and Human Services will be involved.
to make civil unions take place of marriage
Liberal answer to gay marriage ban
(8/30/2005) Democrats will introduce a bill next month that could end the gay marriage debate in Wisconsin. But it's a long shot to get through the Republican-controlled legislature. Mike Simonson reports.
State Representative Frank Boyle of Superior, along with State Senator Fred Risser, will re-introduce the Civil Union/Domestic Partnership bill next month. Boyle says it will take the fire out of the gay marriage debate by giving everyone the same rights without going through a marriage ceremony. "Very similar to a real estate partnership, a law partnership. They would be given essentially the same obligations, the same legal and political status as a married couple." The only requirement is that the agreement be made between two consenting adults entering into a domestic partnership. Boyle says it'll end discrimination not just to same-sex couples. but also a man and woman who want to live together. "We're constantly reacting to various conservative bill drafts that are there to denounce gay/lesbian equality. I'm sick and tired of it. We need to put something positive up front to simply say we're not going to talk about marriage. We're simply going to establish and alternative." This is the third time the bill will be introduced into the state assembly.
Accordion Museum wins Midwest writers' award
(8/27/2005) History and personality combine to earn A World of Accordions Museum a GEMmy Award. Melissa Spero reports.
"A World of Accordions" Museum owner Helmi Strahl Harrington says it took about twenty years to complete her ideas for the museum. "I've been in accordions in all my life, and very early-well a couple decades ago I was presented with an instrument that triggered a response inside that said this is not just a commodity. This is something that is worthy of museum. This deserves to be honored for its history." Harrington says her museum not only displays the chronological development of the accordion family, it also captures the culture of the times. "With accordions the history is of cultures, of philosophies, folk rhythms, body dynamics, song texts, stories, customs of all kinds, and the instruments accompanied these elements that deserve to be retained for future generations." Created in 1993 by the Midwest Travel Writers Association, GEMmy awards honor the spots that make travel fun. Midwest Travel Writers Association member Gary Knowles says the accordion museum won because it's infused with personality. "You know here's the accordion, a musical instrument that often kind of gets poked fun at and here it is a really, truly classical instrument that in the right hands can really be just a fantastic instrument." Harrington's museum also has information about historic people and events that are linked with the accordions development.
epidemic hits northwestern Wisconsin
Children being placed in foster homes because of addicted parents
(8/26/2005) Child welfare officials in rural counties of western and northwestern Wisconsin say a drug epidemic is hitting small town Wisconsin. Mike Simonson reports.
The instantly addictive, easily accessible drug methamphetamine is putting a strain on child care resources. Meth has only been a rumor of a problem in Washburn County until this year. Social Worker Lisa Cottrell in Shell Lake says suddenly they're short of foster homes because parents are using meth and neglecting their kids. "They're the unseen victim that with the meth epidemic, when people are using this drug, they are not able to parent their children. They're also bringing a lot of strangers into their home which could cause both physical and sexual abuse of these kids." This comes as no surprise to Eau Claire County Sheriff Don Kramer. He's the former head of the West-Central Drug Task Force. Meth is making its way from Iowa and Minnesota into western and northern Wisconsin. That's why he says it's important to take the children away from addicted parents. "Get those kids away from the parents until we can get them clean and sober. A lot of these parents get right back into it or they'll move out of the area because they get back the custody of their children, move to another county and they'll start all over again. We've got to protect these children." Cottrell says babies in meth homes have been in unchanged diapers for 5 to 10 days. Other babies had the toxic drug passed on through pregnancy. "These children cannot even wear diapers upon birth due to their own acidity levels in their body. Their own body fluids would burn their skin to the point that they can't have diapers on them because it would hold it too close to their skin." Cottrell says half of all the children placed in foster homes in Washburn County are taken from parents addicted to meth.
Wing Marina seeks to double its slips
Latest Lake Superior marina to announce expansion
(8/25/2005) The permits are submitted and expansion is on track for the Port Wing Marina. Nick Pelletier has the story.
The Port Wing Marina has 50 slips. Marina Owner Skip Jardine is looking to double it's size. Jardine says the idea for expansion was brought up about ten years ago. He says permits have been submitted to the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers who are in favor of the expansion. "We have to resubmit the permits with some modifications to our previous ones. They have indicated they are amenable to allow us to go ahead." He says there are 15 people on a waiting list this year and they will have the demand for the space. "We will have, yes. Every year it continues to expand here. Demand has been expanding every year. The harbor this year is quite full, the whole harbor." Jardine says the space is available and will not use the wetland space. He says the marina is drawing people in from all over the region and helping the area. "Oh yes, lots of people. It is a destination point. A lot of people that come up here originally was just their boats now have bought and remodeled or built new houses in the area. It has contributed a lot to the resurrection of this whole area, the south shore, which has been a depressed area for 50 years." Jardine says people are coming to Lake Superior from Rice Lake, Eau Claire, Grantsburg, the Twin Cities and Rochester, Minnesota. He says people are fed up with the congestion on the rivers down there. Jardine says because of the cost, expansion will happen over a few years with construction beginning this spring.
Governor meets protesters on northern tour
(8/24/2005) Governor Jim Doyle and his cabinet members are in the northern Wisconsin to meet with people. Nick Pelletier has the story.
This is the third annual northern tour for Governor Doyle. He says this is sort of like Superior Days in reverse. "People have a chance to ask me questions or make comments. Let me and the cabinet know what is on peoples minds." He says this gives local people a chance to meet with officials from Madison. Jacqueline Strand was at the Hayward lunch. She came to say thanks for restoring 62% funding to her organization Northwest Connection Family Resources. "We work with childcare providers doing trainings and technical assistance for them. We also have parent referrals that we do. We have an 800 number for. Anyone in the 10 counties can call us for a parent referral and then we give out free referrals about quality child care, how to chose it." She says without the funding they would be up a creek. Mora McCusker of southern Douglas County wants to know why Doyle allowed the ATC transmission line to go through. In February the Douglas county Board voted not to Negotiate with American Transmission Company for the Duluth to Wausau transmission line. Representative Phil Montgomery introduced legislation that allows public land condemnation for the utility. Doyle says this was a hard decision to sign the bill into law but it had to be done. "I have never made any secret from the day I ran for Governor I said that I we believe we needed to have that line and we do, for the long-term economic health of the state. We have the lowest number of transmission lines of any state in the country coming in. We simply need more." McCusker was among a handful of protesters there. "I don’t understand why government can’t have a backbone and say no to this type of thing. That is what everybody espouses that is what they would like to do but nobody will have the guts to just do it." She says what Doyle says and does doesn’t add up. "He seems to want to portray himself as an environmentalist but at the same time you look at other things he is doing that are far more consequential. It doesn’t make sense to me. I know he wants to put the Totogatic River and the upper St. Croix under the state wild rivers act but what is the purpose of that. This line is going to be either going by these rivers, crossing them, or within sight of them. I just don’t understand those things." Doyle says the line will allow the state to keep running. "We are able to say to people that we are going to have an adequate supply of affordable electricity into the future." He says even if he did veto it, it may have been overturned.
worms chomping on corn crops
Now in Bayfield County
A Forest Tent Caterpillar (aka the Army Worm
Image © Wisconsin DNR
(8/23/2005) The troops are gathered
and moving north through Bayfield County claiming corn crops as they go. Nick
Pelletier has the story.
The armyworm invasion started in Sawyer and Polk Counties. It moved north into Bayfield County and claimed 100 acres in the Washburn area. UW Extension Agricultural Agent for Bayfield and Ashland Counties Vijai Pandian says there is no trace of the worm in Ashland County. Pandian says there is nothing good about the army worm because it chews and chews. "If armyworms start attacking and defoliating all of the leaves, you don’t get a good healthy corn. You may not be able to use the corn for hay production or you may not be able to get any corn for feeding the cattle or sweet corn for consumption purposes. Because the corn quality will be very poor because almost all of the leaves of the corn have been defoliated." Pandian says the worm is more likely to go after younger corn than the more mature plants. He says prevention is the best way to stop the invasion before it starts. "Start spraying some kind of an insecticide around the borders or the perimeters of the field like from 20 to 40 feet wide pyramid that they can spray some of the insecticide." He says once the worm is on the plant it is more expensive to get rid of it. Pandian says there is only one worm per plant, which is not a bad invasion. By the way, Pandian says the armyworm gets its name from how it moves in groups like a military invasion.
rivers of northern Wisconsin proposed for added protection
Upper St. Croix and Totagatic Rivers to be preserved
(8/22/2005) For the first time in a quarter century, two far northern Wisconsin waterways could be designated "wild and scenic." Mike Simonson reports on the push to protect the rivers from development.
An eight mile stretch of the Upper Saint Croix River in Douglas County and a 70 mile flow of the Totagatic River are virtually untouched since the lumber baron's days of early last century. Saint Croix Basin Water Leader Cathy Bartilson says the "wild and scenic" designation will help keep it that way. "For a lot of people who have spent anytime on the river, yeah, there's a passion for keeping it wild." Right now only three rivers in the state, the Pine, Popple, and Pike Rivers, have 'Wild and Scenic' designation, which needs state approval. The classification wouldn't stop development, but it in many cases means leaving the waterfront alone. Bartilson says people are worried about demand for waterfront property spreading to the far north. "With more and more of our lakes here being developed and getting into really high price brackets for property, we're seeing people turn more to river property." Public hearings will follow this fall. But there is another problem. Bartilson says there are three ways to spell and five different ways to pronounce "tuh-TOE-gatic". "Seems like no matter what group I go to to talk to about the river, they say 'No. Here's how it's pronounced. Here's how it's spelled.' But I don't think there's one official pronunciation."
Superior City Center to strut its stuff this week
Looking for tenants
(8/21/2005) The jail is gone and the city government is being run from across the street. The old government center in Superior is ready for new tenants. Nick Pelletier has the story.
More than two years ago the Superior City offices moved into the new government center across Hammond Avenue. The empty building sat waiting for the wrecking ball until a redeveloper was found. A and L Properties of Duluth is the white knight. A and L President Rob Link says they've sunk more than $6 million into the building. He says except for the outer walls, the building is brand new. "It has been 100 percent renovated. In other words we tore out every pipe, every conduit, every interior wall, every everything, right out floor to ceiling, wall to wall." Ironically, Link says there was no insulation on the outer walls, a factor of having a Texas contractor build the complex in 1970. Superior Mayor Dave Ross says the project allows the city to develop. "If you don’t partner with the people who make things happen, you know what, you go nowhere. Then you cry in your soup and wonder why there are no jobs and no progress in a community like Superior." He says he hardly recognizes the building because it's so open. A and L Properties General Manager Mike Kratt says the interior walls will be put up- when leases are signed and he knows how much space everybody wants. "It is kind of like a Rubik's cube trying to position everybody so everybody has adequate space positioning they want, visibility they want. Different tenants have different needs. We are working with probably a dozen potential tenants right now in various stages. Some are ready to sign where we have got firm commitments. Some are just starting to look." Kratt says no leases have been signed but one restaurant says they will move in. He says they've just begun to market the complex. An open house is scheduled for Tuesday from 11:30 to six and Wednesday from noon to six.
Sex offender warning system working well in Superior
(8/20/2005) A sex offender who is a high risk of committing another crime is being released into Superior today (Tue). Nick Pelletier reports the public has been notified.
Wayne J. Nelson was convicted of 1st degree attempted criminal sexual conduct in 1987, 2nd degree sexual assault on a child in 1994, and most recently attempted robbery. Superior Police Department Captain Charles LaGesse says the notification is important, and the program is working well. "It is always a concern when somebody has been identified as a sexual offender is released into the community. We are doing our best to make sure the community is aware of the releases and information is available to our public." LaGesse says schools and daycares are aware of Nelson's release. He says information was hand delivered to residents and businesses in the 16th and Ogden Avenue area where Nelson will live. "It is as safe as we can make it. When somebody is a sexual offender and they have served their time they are released into the community generally where the offense occurred. The Milwaukee offenders don’t get released here and our people don’t get released in Milwaukee. The most we can do to assure the safety of the public is to let them know that there is somebody who has been identified as a sex offender living amongst them." LaGesse says there are about 50 sexual offenders living in Superior. He says he is doesn't think any of them have committed another sex crime while on release.
Minnesota smokers heading to Wisconsin
New 75 cent fee is driving business to the Badger State
(8/18/2005) A 75-cent fee tacked on to every pack of cigarettes in Minnesota is causing many people there to head across the border to buy their smokes. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
The 75 cent per pack "health impact fee" as Minnesota is calling it, kicked in August 1, 2005. Since then, Mark Casper at Keyport Liquor in Superior says his tobacco sales have soared. He says that comes after a few years of having higher cigarette taxes in Wisconsin. "For quite a few years even Wisconsin people have been going to the other side of the bridge to buy their cigarettes. So we're seeing the return of Wisconsin people buying plus the Minnesota." Wisconsin Convenience Store Association Director Bob Bartlett says new business from Minnesota smokers comes at a good time. He says cigarettes are one of the top 10 selling items at convenience stores. "When you see your inside sales go up, especially nowadays, that's a good thing. Unfortunately as gasoline prices have risen, motorists have a little less change in their pockets after they fill. So they are probably less likely to buy some of the inside items." Several tobacco stores in neighboring Duluth didn't want to talk about the "health impact fee".
Agreement reached over transmission line
(8/18/2005) Douglas County has reached an agreement in principle with American Transmission Company to build a mega-power line through county-owned property. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
ATC Vice-President Mark Williamson says the agreement to build part of the Duluth to Wausau 340 kilovolt power line on Douglas County owned land was reached Thursday afternoon. A formal agreement still has to be written up and approved by the Douglas County Board at its September meeting. Douglas County will receive a one-time payment of $3.6 million from an environmental fee.
Feingold: We need an exit plan and date for Iraq War
(8/17/2005) U.S. Senator Russ Feingold is considering setting a date for withdrawing American forces from Iraq. Mike Simonson reports that date could be as soon as the end of next year.
Feingold says he's getting an earful from people at his county listening sessions about the war in Iraq. The Democrat from Middleton says he's telling them that President Bush needs to have a withdrawal plan. But requests for that by Congress have hit a brick wall. "Nobody's really responding to it so now I'm thinking about at least throwing out there what kind of a timetable we should have. I don't think I'm the one who should be deciding that but if nobody is going to have the guts to talk about it, I think I'd better start talking about it." Feingold says the president is not showing leadership in dealing with the Iraqi war by not having an exit plan. "There's no science to it. It obviously involves a lot of factors, there has to be some flexibility, but at some point you just have to make a judgment that things aren't working and that we need to finish what we can and cut our losses and return to the focus on the real fight against terrorism, against Al Qaeda and their associates." Feingold says an Australian general told him U.S. forces could be out by the end of next year. He says he'll investigate that and if it makes sense, he'll bring that to the U.S. Senate. President Bush has said no pull-out date can be set until the security situation improves in Iraq. Feingold held listening sessions Tuesday in Price, Rusk and Sawyer Counties.
Douglas and Washburn Counties close to end of transmission line talks
Tentative settlements expected this week with ATC
(8/16/2005) The stalemate over negotiations between northwestern Wisconsin counties and American Transmission Company is expected to be broken this week. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
A Washburn County committee will vote on Tuesday to accept terms by American Transmission Company to build the first major transmission line into Wisconsin in 30 years. Then on Wednesday, ATC will open talks with Douglas County, the only county that refused negotiations. A new state law supersedes the local government now, forcing Douglas County to the table. Douglas County Administrator Steve Koszarek does expect to reach an agreement this week, but he says there are sticking points that could force this into the lap of an arbitrator. "There are issues such as the use of herbicides, damage to roads, law enforcement, court costs considering something could happen in the construction phase. All those things will be part of the negotiations here and were part of the negotiations in both Marathon and Washburn." For ATC's Mark Williamson, it's the culmination of contentious meetings with the public and county boards. But he expects a tentative agreement with Douglas County by Thursday. "We know and the county seems to acknowledge the clock's running and we ought to do this and see if we can't bring closure to that issue." Construction has begun in Marathon and Clark Counties and will work northward to Douglas County to join with the already completed Minnesota segment. The line should be electrified by June of 2008.
Palace Theater given deadline: Redevelop or be torn down in two years
Committee to be formed in the fall
(8/15/2005) The days may be numbered for Superior's 1917 vintage Palace Theater under a proposal by Mayor Dave Ross. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
Ross says he's going to set up a committee to renovate the Tower Avenue landmark. "We'll give it two years and if nothing happens by that time, we'll have to make the tough decision of tearing it down." Ross says this Palace Theater committee will look at ways to make the building re-usable but he says it's a difficult task. He compares it to Duluth's NorShor Theater, which was closed by the Duluth Fire Marshal last week for code violations. Ross says the spacious old movie theaters are expensive to maintain and the utility bills are high. But Ross says having an empty building in need of work in the middle of the Tower Avenue/downtown Superior strip can be a detriment to revitalizing the entire region, so he says the city must get the job done with the Palace Theater one way or another. The Palace Theater has been shuttered for about 20 years. It was the city's premiere first-run movie house, complete with ushers and chandeliers.
(Click here to read a related June 2002 news report)
wants to hear from you Tuesday
Listening session precedes DNR Board meeting on Wednesday
(8/15/2005) The Department of Natural Resources is looking for the people's say-so at a listening session Tuesday in Spooner. Nick Pelletier has the story.
The Natural Resources Board is a group of seven citizens chosen by the Governor with the legislature's approval. They make DNR policies and recommendations to the legislature without pay. Before this month's meeting the board is holding a listening session. DNR Public Affairs Manager Jim Bishop says he expects issues like wolves going after cattle and dogs will come up. He also expects to hear from hunters. “We have a number of hunters that come in that want to comment upon the deer season changes, that the department proposes or that the Wisconsin Conservation Congress proposes. Any time we change a regulation fishing, hunting, people are free to come to the department especially before this policy making body and comment on it.” Bishop says the board has some authority to make changes to policy but some things need to go through the legislature. He says comments from the public are important. “It is listened to by the department. At times just how much merit and weight is put into the comments. The board members will have one of the department staff meet with the citizen or have a follow-up. If a change in the policy is needed, then it is taken under advisement and a change may be forthcoming.” Bishop says 115 people attended last years meeting. He says if that many people come again a time limit will need to be put on speakers. Tuesday's listening session is at the Civic Center in Spooner and begins at 4:30. The board meeting is Wednesday at 8:30.
Using harbor dredge materials for construction gets a public hearing
But...no one showed up except the DNR and us
(8/14/2005) A public meeting last Wednesday looked at the impacts of using harbor dredging materials for construction. Nick Pelletier has the story.
Thirteen hundred cubic yards of sand dirt and other materials is set to be removed from Connors Point Marina. After it is taken from the harbor it will be used as fill for under a parking lot and the footings of two buildings on the Point. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Waste Management Specialist Jim Ross says the material is safe to use. "It has been determined that once the material has been removed and used in construction that is going to be paved with an asphaultic material it will be sealed and there will be no direct contact for human contact." Ross says there are only background levels of lead, chromium, and arsenic. But he says it isn't dangerous for someone to play in the dirt and breathing the materials. "It is real common, In fact we encourage the use of this material compared to land filling material which fills up valuable landfill space." Ross says this is a small task. Some dredges are 20,000 cubic yards. No members of the public were there when the meeting started. DNR Water Management Specialist Steve LaValley says not having members of the public at the meeting is common.
Winter Texans enjoying northern Wisconsin summer
Held picnic in Maple last month
(8/13/2005) You may think there is nothing as beautiful as a cold, clear Lake Superior winter day. Winter Texans from our area have a different idea. David Hopkins has the story.
Lou Ellen Axelson has been traveling to the south for thirteen years. She says that like many retired people, she feels more comfortable traveling to a warmer climate for half of the year. She says you might call the Winter Texans a migratory neighborhood. "The people that come to our picnics all go to the Rio Grand Valley, which comprises anywhere from South Padre Island to McAllen and Mission, all the way across the valley south to Brownsville." She says the people of the Rio Grande Valley are very welcoming. "Matter of fact they even put banners across the street to welcome us back." Axelson is part of a group of Midwesterners from Minnesota, Canada, Wisconsin, and Michigan who live in Texas in the winter months, but they stay in touch year around. They gathered for a dinner, games and entertainment at the Arne Anderson Park in Maple. "Last year we were in Brule. We've been in Iron River quite a few years in different locations. So far we haven't been over in Minnesota. Usually it's the people in Wisconsin who host it." She says some people drive RV's but most keep a winter home in the south. Some have a vehicle in both places and fly back and forth. She says the Winter Texans spend a lot of time golfing and doing crafts like quilting. "And then we eat out a lot. That's a typical thing to do." She says many people also enjoy volunteering in the community. "They go into the schools and teach English to the Spanish speaking children." They've become good friends and enjoy the reunion, but Axelson says they encourage future Winter Texans to come too.
Apostle Islands interpreters spreading out
(8/12/2005) If you take the cruise to Stockton and Michigan Islands in the Apostles you will be thanked for using public transportation in a wilderness area. David Hopkins explains.
The National Park Foundation has selected the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to join the Transportation Interpreter program. With money from the Ford Motor Company, two interns are now riding the daily cruise service shuttles to Stockton and Michigan Islands. Apostle Islands Lakeshore's Neil Howk says the interns are on duty to encourage the use of mass transportation to reduce pollution in the wilderness areas. "The main purpose, behind the program, is called the Alternative Transportation Interpreter Program. Limit crowding and air pollution in the National Parks increasing the number of people who are using mass transportation." This is the second year that the Apostles have had interns. Howk says the interns make it more pleasant for people to leave their own vehicles behind. Every day the interns ride the cruise boat that goes to Stockton Island at noon. "Some people get off at Stockton Island and some people stay on the boat and continue over to Michigan Island where they get a tour of the historic light houses." On Stockton Island the interns lead nature walks and present evening programs to campers and hikers. They also assist with the living history tours that have been part of the Raspberry Island programs for many years. The Raspberry Island lighthouse will be off-limits to tourists after this weekend because of construction until 2007.
to revisit mystery barrels in Lake Superior Thursday
Will visit Red Cliff and Duluth
(8/11/2005) Officials from the Department of Defense will meet with Red Cliff tribal officials Thursday about recovering mystery barrels dumped into Lake Superior almost a half century ago. Mike Simonson reports.
More than 1400 Department of Defense barrels were dumped into western Lake Superior by the Army Corp of Engineers from 1958 to 1962. There are several dumpsites over 20 square miles, all on the Minnesota side of the lake near Duluth. Over the years, a handful of those barrels have been recovered. Although some contaminants like PCB's and unidentifiable ash were found, the amounts were too small to concern the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency or the Corp of Engineers. So the barrels remain on the lake's bottom. Enter the Red Cliff band of Ojibwe. Their reservation overlooks the Apostle Islands. A big part of their subsistence is netting Lake Superior fish...and Lake Superior falls in their ceded territory. This year, they're using a $105,000 DOD grant to do their own investigation of these barrels. Tribal officials will talk to the DOD about their findings including the possible discovery of some new dump sites. They will also visit Duluth and review documents of the submerged barrels at the Army Corp and MPCA offices.
Barker's Island expansion will make it largest on Lake Superior
Open house set for Saturday
(8/10/2005) National Marina Day is Saturday, and Superior will celebrate it with an open house of what will be the largest marina structure on Lake Superior. Nick Pelletier reports.
National Marina Day is in its fifth year. It was designed to bring recognition to the many marinas springing up across the country. Barkers Island General Manager Joe Radtke says this year Barkers Island has something special to show. He says adding a 24,000 square foot storage and maintenance building will keep the marina busy all year. "This building allows us to offer not only dockage but year-round services to our customers who will In addition to storing their boats with us also be demanding increased services of our marina staff. Which is a year round staff. This is not a seasonal business. This is a year round business." Radtke says the Barkers already brings 4 million dollars a year into the city and this will bring more people into the area. He says the new building will hold 35 to 40 boats that are too big to haul out of the lake with a truck. "Those people that dock here or in this region can bring their boats here have us lift them out with our heavy equipment, our travel lift which is a special straddle lift designed for lifting boats out of the water and also some other specialized equipment that we have. Then move them into the building, set them up for storage on blocking and stands." Radtke says the storage building will be complete in December. Also being added to Barkers Island is a new boardwalk from the causeway to the Boathouse restaurant, more parking spaces, a playground, garden, and sidewalks. The open house starts at 10 o’clock Saturday morning at Barkers Island Marina.
on Great Lakes drilling made permanent
Included in energy bill signed this week
(8/9/2005) Environmentalists are applauding one provision of the new energy bill signed by President Bush Monday. As Mike Simonson reports, it bans drilling under the Great Lakes.
The ban on drilling was left off the first version of the energy bill although a moratorium has been in place and extended twice by Congress since 2001. Individual Great Lakes states have had drilling bans in place except for Indiana, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. Alliance for the Great Lakes Director Cam Davis in Chicago says this is a big victory. "It shows once again that people who live in this region, residents and visitors alike, all are saying the same thing. That is, that they are not willing to roll the dice and gamble with the fate of the Great Lakes." He says although there is slant drilling in Canada without complications, he says leaks happen. "The amount of fossil fuel under the Great Lakes is so small, that it really wouldn't fuel the country for very long, probably a matter of minutes really. Again the amount that's down there and the amount it could supply us is not worth the risk." The five Great Lakes supply drinking water to 30 million people and make up about 20% of the world's fresh surface water.
Gaylord Nelson Wilderness at Apostle Islands dedicated today
(8/8/2005) The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area has been named for former Governor and U-S Senator Gaylord Nelson. Nick Pelletier reports that doesn’t change access to the National Lakeshore.
About four-fifths of the Apostle Islands remains a wilderness area. Only the lighthouses and some other buildings aren't included. President for the Friends of the Apostle Islands Ruth Goetz says the designation encompasses the ideas of Gaylord Nelson. "His vision was number one to preserve the Apostle Islands as a National Lakeshore and number two to provide the opportunity for people to see it in its wilderness atmosphere and its wilderness element. I think he has done a marvelous job of making that happen on both fronts." Goetz says this preserves the lakeshore for all generations to come. Former Bayfield Mayor and local lakes outfitter Larry MacDonald says this designation guarantees the park will remain the same. "It really doesn’t change much. I think 99 point 9 percent of visitors will find that they will be using the same park. It will feel the same as they used it before. That was one of the key parts of this legislation. It protects what we liked and what we wanted." He says without this designation there could be more changes such as more buildings. He says most people using the islands are looking for peace and quiet and now they will get it.
Leadership program gets young people involved in region's future
(8/7/2005) The Youth Leadership Program in Superior is giving students new perspectives on their community. Melissa Spero reports from Superior.
Youth leadership was created so students could learn more about their role in their community. Superior/Douglas County Chamber of Commerce President Dave Minor says students are more up on things than we realize. "When I was high school I never even thought of going to Madison other than for a state hockey tournament. Students today are much more aware of what's going on around them not just locally but on an international flavor. Minor says students talk about issues in their community and international problems. Youth Leadership member Megan Sura says these talks allow students to share their concerns or ideas. "One time we met at the library and basically all we did was talk about how to make the community better and with stuff going on in the world." The program involves juniors and seniors from Superior, Solon Springs and Northwestern high schools. Students attend a session once a month between September and April. Minor says the program goes beyond community and leadership skills. "They form bonds and anytime that you can form a bond with another individual and another group you certainly benefit. So I think they walk away with a lot of different aspects in their life that have changed." Sura agrees the bonds she's made through the program make learning fun. "In April we went to Florida and stayed at the walk Disney Resorts and we had two youth leadership classes and we just got know each other way and it will make this next year a lot more fun now that we know each other more." There are currently 18 students involved with the program.
Rip tides worse in some parts of Lake Superior than others
(8/6/2005) Rip currents in the Great Lakes can be survived, and one Superior man is making it his mission to get the word out. Melissa Spero reports from Superior.
When waves push water to the shoreline and the water flows back to the lake in a concentrated flow a rip current is formed. Sea Grant Coastal Engineer Specialist Gene Clark in Superior says Lake Superior is prone to have more rip currents than other lakes because of its size. "We have an open access to the lake and a very long distance that the waves can travel over and so that sets up some of the mechanisms that make rip currents occur. Chequamegon Bay is a little more sheltered and even though we get some waves in the bay they aren't waves from all away across the lake." Swimmers should stay calm and swim parallel to shore until they are out of the current. Then they should swim at an angle until they reach the shore. Clark says to watch for these signs because Lake Superior can create bigger and longer rip currents. "It doesn't matter the age or the physical ability of the person. It's virtually impossible for anyone to swim against them." They are hard to see from shore but Clark says to look for smaller waves, foam, or different colored water. "They are quite common it's just we only hear about them normally when there's dangerous situations or someone is pulled off shore in one or in worse cases a fatality but they happen a lot but it's just because they're often associated with fatalities that happens not very often so we don't hear about them a lot." Clark says while rip currents vary in size most are narrow and between 30 and 40 feet wide.
Historic Superior organ to be dedicated Sunday
Old Hammond Avenue Presbyterian Church organ
(8/5/2005) The old pipe organ of the Hammond Avenue Presbyterian Church in Superior has a reputation for its deep and great mixtures of sound. Now it has a new home and a new sound. David Hopkins has the story.
The pipe organ was installed back in the 1930’s. Then it was rebuilt into a 26 rank instrument in 1952. Reverend Joel Huenemann says it has been updated with electronic components and moved into the new United Presbyterian Church. "A 50, 60, 70 year history in Superior and was a much beloved organ by organists in the area." Reverend Huenemann says rebuilding the organ has been an expensive project. But he says the congregation is glad they decided to spend the money and are pleased to preserve their history. "There are other things that we have taken. For example the bell from First Presbyterian Church which has been in Superior for over 150 years." Huenemann invites everyone to attend the worship service when the organ will be dedicated. There will be music by the choir and hymns accompanied by organist Chrissanne Gates-Yule. She is a 1979 graduate of U-W Superior and once was the organist of Pilgrim Lutheran Church. Huenemann says that maintaining the organ is a small contribution to the community and to those who appreciate great pipe organs. The dedication is scheduled for the 9:30 worship service on Sunday morning August 7.
Superior woman spearheads efforts to get wheelchairs to Vietnam
Big 5K race set for Saturday at Barker's Island
(8/4/2005) Twenty people are spending Friday in a wheel chair to bring attention to Wheels in Motion. Nick Pelletier reports that it’s a group that donates wheelchairs to underdeveloped countries.
Wheels in Motion founder Lynn Ross of Superior says they donate to Vietnam because it isn’t one of the more popular countries like Africa. She says a good income in Vietnam is 200 dollars a year. The group spends 150 dollars to restore and ship each chair to Vietnam. She says without the chairs people have a hard time getting around. "Having individuals drag themselves or have to slide on a piece of cardboard or be pulled on a blanket carried in on a cot. That is the only way you would get out. A lot of these individuals end up out of homes because they can’t get out. So when we bring them their wheelchairs we not only provide mobility of them now we have provided dignity and hope for a better life." Ross has been to Vietnam to distribute the chairs. She says some kids light up while others cry. "Oh! It is incredible. There was one little girl that just, I took a picture of her. Of course I took a lot of pictures but we have used her on our brochures. When she came in, when her father carried her in she just started crying. She cried and cried. And then she would stop and then she would cry again. I asked the interpreter can you ask the father is she in pain or what is the problem. He asked her and she started crying again. She said I am so happy." Ross hopes to raise 28 thousand dollars with a 5K race at Barkers Island.. The money will go to wheelchairs and toys for children in a Saigon orphanage who lay in bed all day. Wheels in Motion is going to distribute the chairs and toys in November. Anybody wishing to donate a chair or money can contact KDNW at 218-722-6700. The race is Saturday at Barkers Island in Superior. Registration starts at 8 o’clock. The race starts at 9:30.
breakfasts at Superior School for all students
Plan so popular the school is hiring more kitchen staff
(8/3/2005) When students return to Superior's Northern Lights Elementary they can begin their day with a free breakfast. It appears to help students learn. David Hopkins reports.
Superior School District Business Manager Jack Amadio says the idea of a universally free breakfast came from the State Department of Public Instruction, the DPI. "The last time the DPI was up, and did an audit of the food service program, one of the recommendations that they made, they have found that the program becomes more successful if we just make it a universal breakfast program, meaning that everyone comes in and eats free. They've had success in other districts." Amadio says that with the universal breakfast, low-income students do not stand out from the others. Now that the breakfasts are equally available to all of Northern Lights 632 students, more of the low-income students are eating the breakfasts. "The kids don't assign a stigma or, to it, y'know that only low-income kids eat." There is such an increase, the school district is adding extra kitchen staff at Northern Light Elementary School. It is popular with teachers too. "Performance increases. Kids behavior is better if in fact they don't come to school hungry or if at least when they get to school they have something to eat. The kids seems to be more content after breakfast." "The other thing that it does. It gets the kids used to eating in our cafeterias. If they eat there in the breakfast program they're more apt to come back at lunch and get something to eat. It becomes a meeting place for them." School superintendent Jay Mitchell says there is more work to be done with the program but he says the growth has been very significant. He says some principals are eager to have the program in their schools too. Amadio expects the food service program to eventually provide free breakfasts to all 4800 students in the district.
Eight year extension of northern hiking
trail finally finished
Northern Wisconsin trail eventually to connect with Jay Cooke Park
(8/2/2005) The North Country Hiking Trail provides a path to some of northern Wisconsin’s most scenic natural views. Volunteers have completed another new section. David Hopkins has the story.
The new 31 mile section of the North Country Hiking Trail links a trail near Solon Springs to one in Iron River. North Country Trail Association volunteer Peter Nordgren says it is much more than that. "It’s also connected to 60 miles of trail running over to Mellen for a total of 93 miles of continuous hiking across northern Wisconsin." Nordgren says the new trail provides outstanding views of the Brule River state Forest and Bayfield County Forest. Hikers can see remote kettle lakes and streams such as Jerseth Creek. He says there are mixed forest types from hardwoods to old growth Red and White Pine. "Well I think my favorite part of the new trail is just south of Brule where the trail runs along the edge of the Brule Valley. It’s very scenic. You get some great views of the Brule Valley and some of the state natural areas." The new section of trail has four campsites. The National Park Service manages the trail. Since they have only two staff on the North Country Trail, there is a constant need for volunteers to mow brush, keep branches off the trail and keep signs in good shape. Nordgren says plans are to continue expanding the trail south to the Gordon Dam County Park, back north to Pattison Park, then into Minnesota toward Jay Cook State Park and beyond. "There is more than 4,000 miles of trail in the plans and there are 1700 miles of trail complete, so you can see there is plenty of opportunity to build new trail." When Minnesota’s Superior Hiking trail connects, the two trails will all be known as the North Country Hiking Trail. There are six marked trailheads with access from County A south of Iron River, from Highway 27 south of Brule, County S near Lake Nebagamon and County A at St Croix Lake northeast of Solon Springs.
Protecting endangered animals along the
Study began this spring in northwestern Wisconsin
(8/1/2005) The St. Croix River Basin in northern Wisconsin is being studied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Melissa Spero reports from Superior.
The study began this spring and will last 18 months. U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Biologist Elliot Stefanki says protecting endangered animals is the main reason for the study. "We have a couple federally listed species-a couple federally endangered species on the St. Croix River. Those include the Wing Maple Leaf and Higgens Eye. And in fact with the Wing Maple Leaf they were I believe previously found in as many twelve different states. As of right now, as of what we know, the St. Croix is one of only two remaining viable populations of the Wing Maple Leaf." A Higgin's Eye is a clam. The study will also look at ways to improve water quality, reduce erosion and sediment problems along with flooding. Stefanki says the study is being done for the people who enjoy the St. Croix River. "The social importance and how many people rely and look to the river and its distributaries for recreational value whether it's boating, canoeing fishing, wildlife viewing. Certainly try to talk to people and emphasis the variety of different uses and how those uses really depend on a high quality of the river system." Stefanki says another thing they'll be looking at is the growing pressure to build along the St. Croix and what that's doing to the health of the St. Croix River.
Clean up of Superior harbor hotspot
Hog Island inlet no swimming signs will come down
(7/31/2005) Hog Island is currently posted for no swimming as it has been since the early 1990’s. But it will be safe again soon. David Hopkins has the story.
The cleanup project began in the early 1990’s when Murphy Oil cleaned up a holding pond that was spilling contaminants into Newton Creek. Then a mile or so of the creek was cleaned up in 2003. Wisconsin DNR Project Director John Robinson says work began in late June to clean up the contamination that reached the Superior Harbor Basin. "This it the third and final stage of the cleanup of the Newton Creek System." The crew can be seen from Highway 2 working behind ICO and McDonald's near Ogdensburg pier. "They have diverted Newton Creek and they have also cut off Hog Island inlet, and they’re de-watering the inlet right now and they’ve begun the removal of the contaminated sediments in the culvert that goes underneath Highway 2 and also along the portion between the culvert and Hog Island inlet." The St. Louis River is identified as one of 31 toxic hot spots around the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Legacy Act was passed in 2002 to deal with the problem of contaminated sediment. That provided money for the $6.3 million project which includes $2.2 million from the Wisconsin Department of Resources. The crew is removing 40,000 cubic yards of polluted sediment from 15 acres at the Newton Creek and Hog Island inlet. The contamination includes petroleum lead, mercury and chromium. The material will be stabilized in the Moccasin Mike landfill. "We’ll do confirmatory sampling to make sure that we have all the contaminated sediments when we’re done." Robinson says the projected completion time is December and will be followed by good prospects for a diverse population of healthy fish and safe swimming. "This is great news. It’s great for the citizens of the area and for the environment."
"Trail of Tears" Remembered at Sandy Lake
Wednesday observance draws more than 50 people
(7/30/2005) 155 years ago in the north central Minnesota community of Sandy Lake, a great wrong was committed. Mike Simonson reports from Sandy Lake.
Sandy Lake was chosen by federal officials who wanted to move Indian tribes from their land in northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and Upper Michigan. Chosen members from 19 tribal bands arrived there in 1850, and 400 would die before making it home again. Ceremonies this week remembered this region's own "trail of tears". The trick was to get the tribal bands to move to Sandy Lake, which is just north of present-day McGregor. The U.S. government notified 19 bands that they would no longer get their annual annuity treaty payments at Madeline Island in northern Wisconsin. Instead, if they wanted their payments they would have to trek 100 miles northwest to Sandy Lake. This was 1850. Before they could use highways or trains. So 5000 Ojibwe set out on foot and canoe. They arrived in October and waited. The annuity payments did not arrive as promised. October turned to December. Sickness and starvation set in. 400 people died trying to return to their homes. Now, tribal members gather again to remember with tobacco, song, and a feast at Sandy Lake. Several people prepare potatoes, fish, wild rice, fried bread, beans, corn, fruits and pies. They'll celebrate their ancestors' sacrifice after a solemn ceremony. But first, a dozen canoes and kayaks finish a three hour paddle across Sandy Lake to the boat landing their forefathers may have used in 1850. Canadian Spiritual Leader Tobasonakwit: "The blood that was flowing in the ancestors veins, that's the same blood that you're carrying. Someday in the future there will be a young man and a young woman with the same blood. They will be doing the same ceremony here 10 years, 15 years, 500 years they'll be doing the same ceremony because we made a commitment that we would never forget our ancestors." Gerald DePerry: "In 1850, when the people died here it caused such a stir in the territory of Minnesota and the state of Wisconsin. A lot of people were outraged, not just Indian people, but non-Indian people. Chief Buffalo traveled to Washington D.C., he was in his 90's, paddled a canoe out there to meet with President Fillmore, to have one more treaty. That one more treaty was to make sure that nobody would ever be removed again, to this place or any other place." It's a windy day on Sandy Lake. Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Director Jim Schlender had to bail out his canoe so it wouldn't get swamped. He says this is a reminder of what his ancestors went through. He says it's a way to honor those who died and lived. "So that we don't forget. So that generations coming along will always remember this. It was forgotten for a time, and we don't ever want it to be forgotten again." The lives were not lost in vain. Schlender says outrage from this tragedy lead to the treaty of 1854 which established permanent reservations for bands of this region. Even so, he feels sorrow at this place. "Some of those spirits are reaching out and I'm glad that people remembered them and tried to remember them in a proper way." If it is to be passed on to younger generations, then this is a success. Rene Ford of the Bad River Tribe braved the lake and made the three hour canoe trip. "It was windy out ther.e It was pretty tough. I'm glad that I did it. I'm really proud to be a part of this. I want to keep the tradition alive. That's why I'm here, because I'm a youth and I can keep on doing it and doing it." So, this 14 year old says she's proud of her ancestors. "I know it's sad, but we've got to keep our heads high and just honor them for what they did."
Tourism up in Ashland/Bayfield Counties
Good weather and pent up demand
(7/29/2005) Summer business in Ashland Bayfield area is on the upswing. Melissa Spero reports that tourism around northern Wisconsin reports an uptick this summer.
Cold weather ruined people's summer plans last year but weather hasn't been a problem for vacations this year. Bayfield Chamber Director Kari Obst says the heat reminds people that they need the cool waters of Lake Superior. She says Bayfield offers this with a small town feel. "We don't have national chains. We don't have--We just have one of a kind lodging, one of kind restaurants, one of a kind shopping. You know, you get tired of kind of shopping at all the same types wherever you go in this country. We've turned into an industry of national chains. But you don't find that all in Bayfield." Ashland Chamber Director Mary McPhetridge says occupancy rates are up so far. She says the Chequamegon Bay area offers a peaceful escape from every day life. "Leave your cell phone because we don't get good coverage and we do that on purpose. Come and relax it's very relaxing. Basically Ashland county, Chequamegon Bay you can do anything here." Obst says tourists mostly engage in water activates. She also says since the Apostle Island National Lake Shore received Wilderness designation, more people have been visiting the area. "It's God's country. No stop and go signs. No heavy traffic. The best in food. The best in temperatures. The best in beauty. That's why I live here." McPhetridge says people are also drawn to the waterfalls in Ashland County. She says there are six waterfalls between Iron and Douglas County.
Boating accidents down, fatalities up
Alcohol incidents down too
(7/28/2005) The number of boating fatalities is up by a third so far this summer. But the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) isn't surprised as more people flock to the water to beat the heat. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
More than 600,000 boats are registered in Wisconsin and another 600,000 boats are either from out of state or not registered. That's a lot of traffic. DNR Director of Recreational Enforcement Bill Engfer says the increase in deaths is because this summer there are simply more "boatable" days. "Very little rain, the holidays have been pretty much clear weather. That generally increases the amount of boating. It's nothing that we are really surprised about with the increase in the number of fatalities. Although we obviously don't want to see any, we do expect more just because of the boating conditions out there and the number of people out there on lakes in Wisconsin." Twelve people have died on Wisconsin lakes this summer. That compares with 9 last year. The up side is the number of crashes are down. There have been 50 this year, compared with 65 last year. Engfer says the biggest culprit isn't personal watercraft, like jet skis, or even alcohol, which is down this year. He says the problem is inexperience. "Just not being aware of all the rules of the road, how to operate the boat. That tends to be the key thing. A lot of people are buying boats who haven't boated before, we tend to see those people involved in more accidents, or somehow being part or cause of the accident." Most of the boats involved in crashes are 16 to 18 footers. Engfer says boating safety classes are offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the United States Power Squadron and the DNR. The DNR course can even be taken on-line at the DNR website.
Poker Run speed boat competition making
waves in Apostle Islands
Set for Saturday
(7/27/2005) There is a 100 mile an hour game of poker coming to the Apostle Islands Saturday. Some people upset by the speed boats aren't bothering to put on their poker faces. Nick Pelletier reports.
Apostle Islands Kayaks Owner Ed Kale says the so-called cigarette speed boat competition goes against the pristine nature of the islands. "The Apostle Islands are known for kayaking and small craft and are known for peace and quiet. To have cigar boats zipping around at 90 miles per hour or more is not my idea of the Apostle Islands." The "Poker Run" starts at Ashland between the Apostle Islands to Devils Island to Bayfield over to Madeline Island and back to Ashland. There are 5 stops on the way where racers will pick up a playing card. Kale rents kayaks on Madeline Island. He says a kayak can disappear in a wave. "I am concerned about the safety. My whole operation is based on safe kayaking, as are my colleagues you know, Track and Tail, and living adventures. That is our main theme, safety." He says he will tell renters not to go in the area of the race. Apostle Islands National Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker says racers aren't going to be in the park so there isn't much he can do. "We have the only authority that the law and the boundaries of the park allow for us. Whether this is a good event for the Bayfield community or the users, I think is a very legitimate question that a lot of people are asking." The park boundary is only one quarter of a mile out from each island. Krumenaker says lakeshore staff and DNR officials will be monitoring the lakeshore boundary. There are no speed limits on the water.
Meeting Thursday to talk about two plans to save Lake Superior
(7/26/2005) There are two plans to protect the Great Lakes. Both plans need public comment until Labor Day. David Hopkins has the story.
The Great Lakes Annex and the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration are two plans that will help protect the quality and the quantity of Great Lakes waters. Julie O’Leary works in the Duluth office of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. She says the Great Lakes Annex prevents the diversion of Great Lakes water to other regions. She says the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration focuses on persistent toxics and invasive species. It includes eight groups developed by many people. "A broad stake holder group that included government and industry and environmental organizations. So the public wasn’t real well represented in that one. Both of these documents are big long documents (laughs) and some fairly subtle things, particularly in the Annex. She says it is confusing to have both proposals taking comments at the same time. "Both of them is happening over the summer and both of them will be done by Labor Day." O’Leary is prepared to answer questions for people who would like to make comments in writing, by email and at the upcoming public meetings. The information meeting will be held on Thursday, July 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the Paulucci Building at 525 Lake Ave South in Duluth’s Canal Park.
Mayors to learn about life in a
To raise awareness for people who are disabled
(7/25/2005) A picnic was held at Billings Park to celebrate the signing of the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Melissa Spero has the story.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of took effect July 26, 1992. North Country Living Scott Anderson pushed the act along by providing ideas on different types of transportation for people with disabilities. He says although it’s been 13 years, people with disabilities still struggle with equal rights. "People are people. People are more alike than they are different and everybody deserves an equal chance, an equal opportunity, regardless of who they are, or how they get around, or what their situation is." The act prohibits employers from discrimination against people with disabilities. Employers must also make their work places accessible and allow interpreters to explain procedures if the person isn’t able to understand. Superior Mayor Dave Ross says he understands the problems people have with accessibility to places. "Eleven years ago I stood at St. Mary’s hospital and was told there was a possibility my wife would never walk again. And fortunately through science and a lot of hard work she’s regained much of her ability but still uses a wheel chair and we face this decision of how do we get places, how do we get into a business, how do we get into a hotel room, how do we get into a bath tub. How do we do some of the simplest things none of us even think about?" Ross and Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson will spend a day in a wheelchair next month. Bergson was inspired to help with this act after a fellow student thought it was important that people without disabilities see what it’s like to have them for a day. "I remember not being able to hear and how difficult I realized that was. I remember how difficult it was to go over a bump, you know, the threshold of a door. This will never, ever be where it has to be unless we can all get in the same buildings, we can all go to the same parks, we can all go to the same events." One in five people have some sort of disability.
Drought being felt in northern counties
(7/24/2005) The drought in Ashland and Bayfield affects more than farmers. Melissa Spero reports that these counties are feeling the pinch from the lack of rain this month.
A drought is when the amount of rainfall isn’t sufficient for plant growth. Department of Natural Resources Agent of Ashland and Bayfield Counties Vijai Pandian says the droughts in his area affect the communities in more than one-way. "I see this community as very tightly linked with their agricultural system. If there is a drought which his affecting the agricultural up here it directly and indirectly affects the whole community up here. It also affects the tourism industries also. And tourism once again is also correlated with the agriculture industry. So I say the whole economy of Bayfield and Ashland counties is affected by the drought. "Farms have struggled the most with the drought. Pandian says fruit production lags because farmers don’t have the water needed to grow the produce. He says Bayfield farmers are really in a stressful condition. "Especially the fruit growers up in Bayfield because there is a time period where the fruits are in a developmental stage. The apple production especially and the water level the water table right now has gone below the normal range." Pandian says the drought has been going on for the past two months at least and he’s not sure when it will end. "Saturday we had a very severe thunderstorm right up here and we got a good rainfall but the next day—Sunday—we got temperatures up to 80-90 degrees and all the water didn’t stand up on the ground. So we got everything evaporated so it’s hard to say how long this drought is going to be." Pandian says that people should conserve water whenever possible.
Jackpine budworms ravage nearly a
quarter million acres in NW Wisconsin
Budworms at their 12 year peak
(7/23/2005) Damage from the jackpine budworm this summer is worse than first thought, and many jackpine forests in northwestern Wisconsin have lost their needles and may die. Mike Simonson reports.
First estimates were that 100,000 acres of jackpines would be victims of this pest. But now, Department of Natural Resources Entomologist Shane Weber has surveyed 220,000 acres of damaged pines. Hardest hit are Douglas and Washburn Counties, but also parts of Burnett, Bayfield, Vilas, Onieda and Lincoln Counties. Weber says over the next two weeks, they'll evaluate which trees will live. "You have to get some rain and wind to wash all these dead needles out of the crowns once that happens you can look at the trees and have a much better idea of what's completely bare and going to die and what has a pretty good chance of surviving." He says one-third to one half of the trees will die in each pine stand. This is the peak year. Jackpine budworms have major outbreaks every 12 years or so. "The vast majority of our stands up here now have anywhere from moderate to heavy damage, some severe. Those stands are not going to be acceptable budworm habitat next spring, even if they have eggs laid in them." Weber says a colleague from central Wisconsin sent him an ominous sample of unusual moths. They were moths from budworms, indicating this pest is migrating and may be chomping on jackpine needles farther south next year.
Bears and campers behaving on Apostle Islands
(7/22/2005) The bears on the Apostle Islands are behaving themselves not going after picnic baskets or jelly doughnuts. Nick Pelletier reports.
There haven’t been any reports of bears coming to close to humans. Apostle Islands Planner Jim Nepstad says the bears do a good job of staying away from people. "They are typically no more enthused about being within 50 yards of humans than humans are of having bears within 50 yards of them. They are basically out on their island homes. Every once in a while they will just kind of stumble by accident a little too close to a visitor use area." If a bear comes too close banging on pots and pans will usually scare the bear away. The bear doesn’t mistake the banging for the ringing of a dinner bell. Nepstad says there is another place to see the bears but he didn’t believe it until he saw it with his own eyes. "They are fabulous swimmers. Just being out on park boats a couple of times I have run across them. You can pull your boat up to a safe distance of them and watch them swim. They will just look at you like "Nice day." It is kind of a fun thing to see. They are fabulous swimmers. They have no trouble swimming a mile and a half or 2 miles between the islands." Nepstad says for the most part bears stay on Oak and Stockton Islands. There are some on Sand Island. Ironically Bear Island isn’t a good island to go bear watching.
More people visiting the Apostle
Islands this summer
Warm weather is bringing people out to the lake
(7/21/2005) Better weather and hot days means better attendance than last year at the Apostle Island National Lakeshore. In fact, it's on par with previous years. Nick Pelletier has the story.
The Apostle Islands usually draw about 200 thousand visitors a year. 80 thousand visitors venture out to the islands. Apostle Islands Chief of Planning Jim Nepstad says the weather has helped. "Compared to last year it has been wonderful. Last year, of course, we had this unbelievable sting of cold, wet, rainy weekends. Although the weather hasn’t been necessarily ideal every weekend this summer it has been than it was in years past." Nepstad says there is one new area in the park named in tribute of Wisconsin’s late Senator, Governor, and lakeshore founder Gaylord Nelson. "One of his longest living legacies will be the Gaylord Nelson Wilderness here in the Apostle Islands. It is our first summer with designated wilderness in the islands. Given his recent passing, it just seems all the more fitting." Nepstad says people have been visiting the wilderness named for Nelson just as in years past. The official dedication for the Gaylord Nelson Wilderness is August 8 at 1 p.m. at Big Top Chautauqua south of Bayfield.
New rules and staff cuts may be leading
to more wetlands violations
(7/20/2005) The DNR is looking into the possible doubling of wetlands violations around the state. Mike Simonson reports that more people are illegally building on wetlands.
Last year, water protection rules were changed to make it easier for people to get permits, with less waiting time. But since last year, Duane Lahti has seen the number of wetlands violations double. As Water Program Supervisor for Lake Superior, Lahti is concerned something is broken. "The focus of course is to crank out as many permits as quickly as we can. We have very, very limited staff resources here. In fact our storm water person covers 18 counties. He right now has 30 enforcement cases in the storm water program." Lahti says with increasing development pressure, this problem may only get worse. Wisconsin Wildlife Federation Director George Meyer says he's hearing about a substantial increase in illegal filling of wetlands by developers. He too thinks it's cuts made to DNR staff and the new regulations. "Some of it is inadvertent. They think they're no longer covered by the regulations, and others figure 'Well people are sort of giving a wink and a nod, government policy is changing, and we need to get things done, and let's go ahead and take our chances'." Simply put, Meyer says there's less of a chance of getting caught. DNR Water Administration Supervisor Todd Ames isn't sure the problem is all that bad. He says in one of his regions, wetlands violations are down. "It's something that we're looking into. How you go about tracking something that might be happening without getting proper permit is a bit of a challenge." In a state that has 5.3 million acres of wetlands to protect, Ames hopes this is something that will pass, once the confusion of the new rules is cleared up.
Shipwreck Noble found: Reward paid in Duluth
(7/19/2005) 90 years ago, the Benjamin Noble approached the Twin Ports with a load of rail for the Great Northern in Superior. It has been missing ever since. David Hopkins has the story.
"It’s a great day here on Lake Superior today, bright and sunny and very calm. It wasn’t that way in the early morning hours of April 28, 1914. There was a stout little 239’ steel steamer by the name of Benjamin Noble who vanished with a crew of twenty known. It went down about twenty miles from Duluth up toward Two Harbors." Lake Superior Magazine publisher Paul Hayden says the Noble turned into the waves for the last leg of the trip and was broadsided by a wave that sent it plowing into the lakebed. "Contact with this ship was made on October 31, 2005 with side scan sonar with a crew that was really searching for the Robert Wallace." Jerry Eliason is one of the crew who discovered the Noble. "Putting it on the National Registry of Historic Sites, or just getting it nominated, prevents any private salvage claims from being made." He says the wreck is special because it went missing for so many years. "Noble represented the largest loss of life on Minnesota’s Great Lakes water." Lake Superior Magazine Chairman Jim Marshall first offered a $1000 reward to whoever could find the Noble in 1987. "I’ve been waiting a lot of years to give this check out." That check will go to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society Duluth chapter. Shipwreck sleuth Randy Beebe says the reward will pay about a third of the fee to officially register it as a historic site.
Local officials confront poverty by
spending the day poor
50 people walk a mile in a poor persons shoes
(7/19/2005) Poverty is a complicated issue. Teachers and human service workers gathered in Superior Monday to try to understand. David Hopkins has the story.
A few County Board members, a district attorney, advocates for victims of sexual abuse are among the 50 attending. Workshop leader Linda Bruce provides guidelines as people role-play to learn how they might handle being poor. Frustration is typical according to one person. "It was exhausting trying to exist. It was just an existence is all it was." Many say a survival mode kicks in and that the effect is like a snowball going down hill. People are tempted by food stamps scams, relief with drugs and alcohol and give too little attention to their kids. "Like everybody else we’re rushing, rushing and there’s never enough time. We felt like the people we were talking to are very matter-of-fact, indifferent, not really caring about us. We felt like time is a huge issue. We never sat down. I did say one time, do your schoolwork that was about it. We didn’t talk to the kids." Douglas County Aging Resource Center Director Brad Beckman says many older people are hit by poverty. "Medication is a huge issue. Overall I could see your frustration and all of that, and you deal with that on a daily basis, and it came out and I think you played the role very well." The victimization of poor people often follows bad renting and credit records. "Anybody want to take a guess at what the average interest rate is for a payday loan, a tile loan. (crowd): 21.9%… 400%? No, the average is 500% (crowd: huhhh…oooh.) Workshop attendants now understand that a medical emergency, loss of employment or unexpected tragedies that lead to poverty can happen to anyone.
Dog houses may become regulated in
City Council to take up proposals for animal laws
(7/18/2005) An effort to prevent cruelty to animals in Superior goes to the City Council Tuesday. That includes how dog houses are built. Melissa Spero reports.
The Animal Rescue Federation says animals can be treated cruelly and the city can't take action because the ordinances have too many gray areas. ARF Vice President Bill O'Keefe says these ordinances need to be changed because animals are more than pets. "I consider my dogs I have four of them right now. I keep acquiring them. And they're part of the family, I mean they sleep in the bed with me. It's crowded my wife and four dogs but they do." O'Keefe says a focus of the updated ordinances is weather. He says the Animal Rescue Confederation receives too many phone calls about animals being left in cars or outside in hot or cold weather but he hopes the ordinances change these problems. "I don't want to take pets away from people. I don't want to charge tons of money to people. I mean that's--they're people. I just want people to treat their pets right." O'Keefe says people will be fined or ultimately lose their pets if owners aren't taking proper care of their animal. Fines vary according to Wisconsin Statues. O'Keefe says the goal of the ordinance changes isn't to punish people but to raise their awareness. "Sadly we have an entire shelter full of animals and each one of those animals was no doubt a pet. They're not wild animals. They were all domesticated which means that they started out as somebody's pet. They're here because somebody did not watch them." Some examples of changes are how dog houses are built, that pets can't be harmed even with the owner's permission, among others.
Community leaders to find out what it's
like to be broke
Day long workshop set for Monday
(7/17/2005) Community leaders from around Douglas County will find out what it's like to be poor on Monday. David Hopkins reports on the poverty simulation workshops in Superior.
Linda Bruce is the Family Living Educator with the UW Extension in Douglas County. She says that poverty is growing and it affects everyone. She says the poverty simulation workshops help people understand. "When people actually have to walk in somebody else’s shoes they get a much greater understanding of what it is like for many families of Douglas County who are living in poverty." She says the program uses role-playing and group discussions to help human service workers, police officers, grocers, landlords and many other community members. "They work with low-income families, they think they understand what it’s like for them on a day-to-day basis. And many times that’s not true. Until you actually live their life for a short time, or experience what they’re experiencing, you may find out that beliefs that you held are not accurate at all." The simulations are presented with the help of low-income volunteers who share their experiences. "Douglas County does have a rather high amount of families living in poverty or low-income situations." Bruce says the poverty simulation workshops have been attended by as many as 75 people. The first was held three years ago. The first of this year’s three sessions, held at WITC, was so well received that people were turned away. The roster for the July workshop is full. The August workshop is still receiving registrations. People can register for the August workshop by phoning Linda Bruce at 395-1363.
Midwest Travel Writers award Bayfield
(7/16/2005) The Bayfield Heritage Tours combination of history and fun has won a GEMmy Award. Melissa Spero has more.
A GEMmy award honors places that are worth a visit. The Bayfield Heritage Tours by is one of the first places to receive a GEMmy Award for 2005. Heritage Tours owner Virginia Hirsch says the tours make the history of Bayfield fun. "Bayfield has 52 structures on the National Historic Registry and I don’t know that very many people coming into Bayfield are aware of that. I know when guests come to Bayfield. They look around. They see an old historic town. But they don’t necessarily know the history of Bayfield." Besides historical tours, Hirsch also does ghost tours. People can choose whether they want to hold a candle lantern because the tours are in the evening. Hirsch says she even dresses in costumes to make the tours as believable as possible. "I do the tour in the persona of a lady who actually lived in Bayfield in 1909 and who made some headlines in the front page of the Bayfield press by wielding an axe. So I think that makes it kind of unique as well." The Midwest Travel Writers Association sponsor the GEMmy award to give recognition to these places. Midwest Travel Writers Association member Gary Knowles says Hirsch’s heritage tours show there is more to the Northland than people realize. "Virginia’s tours managed to take history and really make it come alive in Bayfield which is exciting community in any case but to be able to go on a tour and hear Virginia’s stories and hear the tales of everything from ghosts to famous people in the community really gives Bayfield a whole other dimension." Gemmy's have been awarded since 1993.
|Cover for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince|
|Image ©2005 Scholastic, Inc.|
Potter party set for Superior bookstore
Hogwarts is coming to a bookstore near you for the release Saturday of the 6th
book in the Harry Potter series. Many book stores will celebrate with "Potter
Parties". Nick Pelletier reports.
The release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince has Superior’s J.W. Beecroft Books & Coffee throwing an early morning party. Beecroft's Ellen Baker says the store will be transformed…and get into the spirit of Potterdom. "The owlry which is of course where the owls stay. We will have the dungeon which is the potions classroom. All wizards need to know how to make potions. We will have the dissents against the dark arts room. That is another classroom in Hogwarts. We will just have these different areas created here in the store." The store will open at 7:00 AM to start selling the book. They won't say how many copies they'll have for sale, but Baker says chances are, everyone who shows up will be able to buy a book. The tournament begins at 8 and at 9 they'll have a trivia contest. All ages are welcome and encouraged to wear costumes for the contest. Hogwart's opens for business at 7 o’clock Saturday morning at J.W. Beecroft in Superior.
Washburn County to begin talks with ATC/Douglas County too
(7/15/2005) The Washburn County Power Line Committee will begin talks Friday with American Transmission Company today. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
Washburn County Board Chairman Pete Hubin doesn't expect any breakthroughs today, but he says it is the beginning of the process that until now has not begun. Hubin says Washburn County will present its wish list to ATC before allowing it to build on its nine plus miles of county-zoned land. The meeting is in Shell Lake and begins at 1:30. Meanwhile, the Douglas County Board vote to negotiate with American Transmission Company about the Duluth to Wausau transmission line has the board of supervisors planning their next step. The County Board voted 14 to 10 to open talks, but there is a condition: If Governor Jim Doyle doesn’t sign the bill allowing public land condemnation negotiations will stop. That bill essentially forced Douglas County to the negotiating table with ATC. County Board Chairman Doug Finn says they are looking at it as though the bill will become law, so Douglas County wants to make the best of a difficult situation. "They just felt that we still have a little bit of leverage here. If we sat down and talked the sooner the better. And made some requests and so on because there are a lot of issues here. Maybe we can be somewhat successful in getting more than we would I we go through the whole process and go through arbitration or whatever." Opponents of the power line still believe they can stop it in Douglas County. County Board member and power line opponent Mark Liebaert doubts talking to ATC will solve the problems facing the environment posed by building this 240 mile long transmission line. Finn says corporate counsel; the county Administrator and the department of forestry will be involved in the negotiating. Finn says lines of communication will be left open between other counties.
Bears being trapped at Copper Falls
Ranger uses jelly doughnuts with success
(7/14/2005) Bears are encroaching on Copper Falls State Park in Ashland County. They've had to trap six bears this summer, compared to one in past years. Mike Simonson reports they've discovered a secret bait.
This is the most trouble with bears Copper Falls State Park Superintendent Kent Goeckerman has seen in many years. The 125 to 250 pound bruins are digging into dumpsters alongside campgrounds. "My concern is that children are right there in the campground and you've got bears in the campgrounds. This is not good so we try to get them moved out." They call in the United States Department of Agriculture to lure the bears into barrels. The bears are moved about 30 to 40 miles away. So far, Goeckerman says they've had good luck trapping, thanks to a discovery in nearby Mellen. "The bakery in town has real good sugar coated jelly doughnuts. That's pretty good bear bait. We sometimes use that in our bait can in addition to what USDA puts in there. That has brought in a little bit of success in trapping bears, yes." Goeckerman says he stumbled across this discovery by thinking like a bear. "Ha! It looked very good to me. Lots of things we like, bears like too." Goeckerman says even though it sounds like an episode of Yogi Bear with Mr. Ranger, they'll keep using jelly doughnuts as long as they work.
Berries "berry" good in Bayfield County
Cherries took a hit, but the rest look good
(7/13/2005) The berries of the Bayfield Peninsula have begun to supply the kitchens of local residents and visitors alike. David Hopkins reports.
People supply their freezers, enjoy the pastoral views or find employment at the Bayfield Peninsula orchards. In business since 1908, Jim Hauser’s Superior View Farm is known for its panoramic view of Chequamegon Bay. Hauser says the winter was easy on the fruit crops. "The weather was good except when the cherry trees came to bloom we had that foggy rainy week there and they didn’t get pollinated. There’s probably enough out there for a pie. The cherry crop is very small this year." But the first harvest of the Peninsula is bountiful. "Very good crop of strawberries. Strawberries are winding down and the raspberries are just starting." He says the raspberry crop has just begun and will be yielding heavily next week. "The raspberry season is just starting and blueberries look like they’ll be somewhere around July 25th." Blue Vista Farm operator Eric Carlson says his blueberries look like a better than average crop but they need rain. "When we’re getting weather like this, when it’s 90 and sunny everyday and we’re not getting any rain, we have to irrigate, otherwise there wouldn’t be a lot of crop. I’ve already heard from some people that the wild crop is totally drying up on the sandy ground." Apples are the big crop. Hauser says they are doing well. "When they came to bloom there was good weather so there’s plenty of apples. Early apples will start about the 20th of August." Carlson says that his apple trees also look good and indicate an average size crop and good-looking fruit.
Croaking frogs getting attention in northwoods
(7/12/2005) Frogs teach people about their surrounding environment, so frog-watchers head out in strength three times a year. Melissa Spero has more.
Over the past 15-20 years frogs discoveries of deformed frogs have become a focus for scientists in the Northwoods. They believe frogs are kind of a "canary in a coal mine"… to see if the environment is healthy or not. Natural Resources Research Institute Researcher JoAnn Hanowski in Duluth says that not many people realize that the study of frogs began locally. "If you remember the story of the young grade school kids in Minnesota finding the deformed frog. That was some of the impotence for looking at you know what’s going on with frog populations." Forest Fishery’s Biologist for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Sue Reinecke says frogs aren’t just about science they’re about fun also. "I grew up playing in the water and I just loved kind of playing in the river looking for all the different critters that lived in the river." Hanowski says volunteers go to wetlands twice in spring and once in early summer at night and listen for frog calls. Hanowski says each species has its own call, which can make calling surveys tricky. "An individual frog calling sounds different than a chorus of frogs and so you know when you have an individual singing it’s kind of like a choir. It sounds much different when the whole choir is singing." Reinecke says not a lot of people know what frogs sound like when they mate. "A lot of times people are out in like May and they hear all these calls at night and they think they’re birds but they’re actually frogs." Reinecke says frogs in this region are in good health but that can always change. She says even a slight change in water quality harms frogs because they absorb water through their skin. Hanowski says seeing frogs in the area is a healthy sign.
B-17 bomber no threat to Twin Ports
Historic plane visiting Superior for two days
(7/11/2005) The Lake Superior area isn’t a combat zone but if you look up you might see a B-17 bomber flying overhead. Melissa Spero went on a bombing run with the "Fuddy Duddy" at the Bong Airport in Superior.
Built in April of 1945 the "Fuddy Duddy" never flew a combat mission. It was sold as surplus in September of that year for $600. That included the 2000 gallons of gas. Today the plane is worth more than $3 million. William Beste flew with the 447th on the original "Fuddy Duddy" as a radio operator. He says piloting a B-17 isn't so easy. "I got hundreds of hours on that plane. I couldn’t fly it myself. That’s a job for two guys." There were more than 14,000 built but only 14 still exist. Beste says he tours the B-17 when he has a chance but the mood is more relaxed on flights. "My pilot one time he says get on the gun because we had fighters. And he says a couple minutes later he called up and he said don’t shoot off the tail. And then he said don’t shoot the guy behind you. Then he said maybe you should forget about it." Pilot Dave Mann is flying the "Fuddy Duddy" over the Twin Ports. He says he can't imagine what it was like flying the plane in combat. "No I give you some perspective of what these people that flew this went through. Originally I got to go home after 25 missions. And then as it got safer they got to go home after 35 missions. I flew over 300 missions in Vietnam before I got to go home." Superior is one of 28 stops in 10 states. Flights and tours are done through the Experimental Aircraft Association. The Flying Fortress is on display and available for flights in Superior Tuesday and Wednesday. Flights are $395 per person per bombing run.
Superior Senior students grad projects
at the zoo
Includes going into the den of the tiger
(7/10/2005) For many students entering their senior year summer vacation means taking it easy. Some Superior Senior High students are using the break to do their senior projects. Nick Pelletier reports.
Senior projects are required before students can graduate in Superior. Some students are doing research or job shadowing to learn about careers. 60 students from Superior Senior High are working at the Lake Superior Zoo this summer. Not all of them are doing senior projects. Amanda Moeser supervises the students. She says they are doing more than just sweeping and shoveling. "We walk the barnyard animals. We might help the keepers clean out some of the exhibits. We plan enrichment activities for the animals at the zoo. The high-schoolers are taught to be zoo keepers and zoo educators at the same time." George Houssell is doing his senior project. He says he got into the program because it offers more than the traditional classroom setting. "I just thought it would be nice to get some hands on experience and learning what actually goes on in the zoo-keeping career." Gretchen Peterson is doing her project. She says they get to come up with their own ideas and put them into action. "The first day we went we were researching some animals of our choice. We learn about enrichment programs. We get to look for them ourselves and think them ourselves. If we get any ideas so we will be able to do some of those in the future." Moeser says an example of an enrichment activity is walking the barnyard animals through the tiger cage to put different scents in the area. "It’s completely safe" The tigers are in a different cage when the students are there. Houssell and Peterson plan to study biology after high school. Houssell wants to go to UMD. Peterson wants to go to college but doesn’t know where.
UWS Public Safety launches program to
help women defend themselves
Ongoing program underway now
(7/9/2005) UW-Superior Campus Safety is offering a class to teach women self defense. Nick Pelletier reports on this effort to reduce risk to women.
It is called Rape Aggression Defense or RAD. The class is divided into three sections: risk reduction, self-defense and a real life simulation where the instructor wears a protective suit and the students practice defensive moves. UW-Superior Police Officer Paul Winterscheidt says they cover a wide variety of topics including standing next to the buttons on an elevator. "They have control of the elevator at that point. The emergency buttons are right there. Now if they are standing on the other side and there is somebody in between them, obviously they have control of that elevator. That's just an example. We talk about things they can do at home, things they can do in their car all kinds of different scenarios." Winterscheidt says there hasn't been more rapes in this area that any other part of the country. He says Superior is a safe place but there are areas where the risk is higher. "There's different parts of the city of Superior. Certainly the bar district on Tower Avenue is much more dangerous. Students need to be very cautious when they are down there. Stargate, any of those clubs down there, you need to be thinking about your surroundings." The course is open to all women. No previous training is required. The class will be geared to the skill level of the students. The cost for UWS students and staff is $15 and $25 for all others. Women interested in taking the class should call the campus safety department at 715-394-8247.
Looney for Loons
Northland College looking to count the birds
(7/8/2005) Loons rule in the Chequamegon Bay area, but the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute in Ashland wants to know by how much. David Hopkins reports they'll be counting loons on July 16.
Loon Watch was created at Northland College in 1978 to help protect the loon and its habitat with a program of population monitoring, research and education. They survey the loons of northern Wisconsin every five years. Project coordinator Amber Roth says that the loon population appears to be stable. "From 1995 to 2000 there was no significant change in the population at that time. What we'll find out on July 16 is whether there's been a change in the last five years or not." Roth says that loons are near the top of the food chain so their condition helps scientist understand the rest of their environment. "Loons are good indicators of the health of our lakes, so having loons successfully rear their young is a good sign." Roth says that Loon Watch depends upon citizen volunteers to gather data for the program. "I think we have about 95 lakes that we're still looking for volunteers all across Wisconsin. Some of the small lakes you're able to survey from shore, but a lot of them will require either having a canoe, or for the really large lakes, you'll probably want a motor boat of some sort." Loon Watch focuses its activities in Wisconsin, but is interested in all of Loon Country that includes Michigan, Minnesota and Ontario. People who would like to volunteer for the loon survey should contact Amber Roth at the Sigurd Olson Institute. That phone number is 715-682-1220. People can also email email@example.com or visit the Northland College website.
Heads up for turtles
(7/7/2005) Turtles are on the move this time of year, including crossing roads, which can be hazardous to the shelled ones. Nick Pelletier reports from Superior.
This is the time of year when turtles are laying eggs and looking for food. For some, that means crossing to the other side of the road. And unless the turtle is of the Teenage Mutant Ninja kind, the crossing may leave some turtles flat. DNR wildlife Biologist Fred Strand in Superior says people can help a turtle if they see it in the road. "If it would be safe for them to pull over and to stand and watch and make sure the turtle crosses the road and not be hit by somebody else coming that would be something they could do. If it is a painted turtle or a wood turtle they could pick it up and move it across the road. If it is a snapping turtle it would be best just to watch it and see that it safely crosses the road." He says a painted turtle has a red shell a wood turtle has a yellow bottom. A snapping turtle would keep its head out when approached by people. He says common safety techniques don't work for turtles. "They may look both ways but their speed versus our automobile speed makes them pretty vulnerable." A positive point about all of this is that unlike deer or coyotes which can startle drivers by jumping in the way of cars. turtles just aren't quick enough to catch anyone off guard.
Superior cops to send teens out to buy smokes
(7/6/2005) Superior Police and the Douglas County Sheriff's Department are going to be using juveniles in a county-wide sting operation. The goal: Stop selling smokes to kids. David Hopkins reports.
Superior Police Department Captain Mark Cummings says that when someone who appears to be underage asks retail clerks for tobacco, they are obliged to check their ID. If the customer is not 18, it's illegal to sell them smokes. Cummings says the Wisconsin WINS program has recruited underage volunteers to work with authorities to see how easy it is to buy tobacco. "We do not send them into any liquor establishments. It's all retailers, convenience stores, that type of stuff. If they're asked how old they are, they have to tell them. I'm 16, I'm 17, whatever." Retailers who sell to minors risk paying fines of $50 to $200. But Cummings says not is not the only point. Retailers who refuse sales to minors receive a commendation and a thank you letter. "We're not trying to see who we can nick for a fine, we're looking for compliance. Often that just involves educating their sales staff. If you're not sure that their 18, and they don't have a valid ID that says they're 18 or older, y'know, tell them no." "There's no fake ID's involved or anything like that involved. Like I said, we're looking for compliance, that's the bottom line. Compliance and awareness." Cummings says that in spite of big tobacco settlements, advertising campaigns, and programs like Wisconsin WINS teenage smoking continues to be a problem. "The health consequences are just huge." The community-monitoring program is beginning and will run throughout the summer and fall.
High capacity deep water wells
scrutinized by DOJ
Department of Justice wants answers or a new law
(7/5/2005) The state Attorney General is assessing two proposed high capacity deep wells which may threaten neighboring lakes. Mike Simonson has the story.
One well is for municipal water for the village of East Troy which might effect neighboring Lake Beulah, and the other is in Brown County by the Polar Ice Water Company...which had wanted to make bottled water but the Department of Justice says that case is on hold. Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager says these deep well controversies will continue to surface. "What we're finding with some of these deep, high capacity wells, it's impacting the water tables in the area and it's eventually going to have impact on water levels in lakes and rivers and streams. It's going to not just impact the aquafir but impact the eco-systems of the surface water." A similar controversy over a proposed Perrier plant ended with no wells drilled. Lautenslauger says they're concerned that these wells might draw down the water levels of area lakes. "If we do do the high capacity wells that we do them in such a way that their impact on surface water is minimized." That probably will lead to legislation regulating wells for municipalities and bottling plants. A task force has been appointed by Governor Jim Doyle to take a longer look at high capacity deep water wells.
Thousands of acres of northern
jackpines expected to die
Attack of the jackpine budworm at its peak this summer
(6/29/2005) Tens of thousands of acres of jack pine forests in northwestern Wisconsin are expected to be devastated by the attack of the jack pine budworm. Mike Simonson reports.
The jackpines starting showing damage in the past week. This three-quarter inch long black-topped budworm peaks every dozen years, last time wreaking havoc in the northern sand barrens in 1992. Although the jack pine budworm might hit small spots around Vilas and Oneida Counties, the brunt of the assault is a stretch of 115,000 acres between Polk, Burnett, Washburn, Douglas and Bayfield Counties. Department of Natural Resources Forest Entomologist Shane Weber says more than half the jack pines over 20,000 of those acres will die, as the worms eat the pine needles. As devastating as that sounds, Weber says this worm is part of the natural cycle of things for pine forests. "What they're trying to do is kill a fair number of trees so it opens a stand up and creates a lot of growth in the underbrush to make the area very fire prone, but have enough live trees so you've got those closed cones with viable seed in them, so when fires go through, it pops them open and you start a new jack pine forest. That's basically how a jack pine budworm and the jack pine forest made their living." But the lingering fire danger is of concern to the DNR, so Weber says they have to clear cut much of the dead tree areas. Weber thinks this summer will be the worst of the budworm. "Boy, I hope so." Weber says there's not a whole lot anyone can do about this native worm, which has been around longer than people. Next year, the scourge of the jack pine budworm should be all but gone.
Washburn man finds solution to crop
failure in West Africa
To speak about it Wednesday evening at NGLVC
Photo © Virginia Tech University
A northern Wisconsin man is proving that people in his area can make a
difference in the lives of impoverished people on another continent, with the
help of a miracle tree. Mike Simonson reports.
For 3000 years, people in India have used seeds from the Neem tree to fight dysentery, malaria and lice, as well as a component of it to protect their crops from locust invasions. For 20 years, Peter Strzk of Washburn has been spreading the gospel of this native tree to Africa as part of the Hubert Humphrey Institute. He says experiments in 1988 showed Neem extracts sprayed on crops kept pests away. "To see if this would repel locust and grasshopper invasions, and it turned out to be almost 100% efficacious. So this is the proof that a locally available product can be used by farmers to protect their high value crops." But politics entered the picture, and Strzk says his efforts were stopped cold. "Khaddafi called the president of Mali and said 'Watch out for those Americans. They're doing experiments in Africa they're afraid to do in America.' It killed the project for 16 years." But this year, he and others with him have had a breakthrough in Western Africa. After a devastating attack of locusts that destroyed 95% of the crop in Senegal, the president of that country wants to give Neem a try. "To see if we can work with villagers, for them to see the benefits of Neem. There's health benefits, there's crop protection benefits, there are other benefits as a means of alleviating poverty." Other African nations including Mali, Morocco, and Algeria are also going to try this natural pesticide. Peter Strzk will speak at the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center west of Ashland Wednesday evening June 29 at 7:30.
Washburn/Ashland holds arts council Wednesday
(6/27/2005) Ashland will hold an Art Summit meeting this week to discuss ways to bring art and tourists into the community. Melissa Spero reports.
Chequamegon Bay Arts Council President Sharon Stewart believes the people involved with the projects need to work together. "The think that’s significant in our area is that there are three or four or five of these projects going on right now. And for a small neighborhood like we are around Chequamegon Bay that’s a lot of impact. No one of these projects if it were implemented would get in the way of the other one." Stewart says the 19th century vintage Soo Line Depot will have a restaurant, private and public businesses, and an art gallery. She says Ashland needs an art gallery. "It would pull definite travel advantages for tourism in Ashland. They would bring together the artists in the region in a new location. And it would enhance the statue of Ashland as a place to live, a place to work, and a place to visit." The Madeline Island School of Arts is a newly developed school held at a dairy farm. Stewart says the school hopes to have year long classes with weekly schedules. Students will be able to learn basket weaving, oil painting, rod iron making, and more. She says the school will help more than students. It’s to bring in tourism. It’s economic development. It’s also an opportunity for jobs for local artists of which we have so many here around the bay because they can be the teachers and the younger ones can be the students. The art summit meeting will feature five projects. Among them, Stewart says is Northland College’s new art building. Stewart says classroom space will be made for visual and performing arts, along with music. There will also be a gallery for students but Stewart believes the gallery will draw more attention from travelers. "People from the cities that come up here to enjoy our natural beauty the thing that keeps us all here. And these people are looking for reasons to get away from the cities. They’re looking for something to do once they decide to retire and move here. And it really does enhance the livability of the area to have opportunities to grow in creative ways and develop creative skills." Another project, the Clear Water Folk School lets students explore folk crafts. Students can weave baskets; make wooden boats, and many other activities. Stewart says the Washburn Historical Museum and Cultural Center is a place where artists can collect and discuss their projects. She believes it is crucial for community members and public officials to release the importance of art everywhere. "What I’m hoping is that by bringing everyone together from the different communities people will realize that hey it’s not just our town that’s being asked to support this. Those people across the lake are being asked to support it too. And maybe this is it’s something we out to look at more seriously simply by the sheer number of projects going on they will realize this is not something frivolous." The Community Art Summit will take place on Wednesday June 29 from 2-3 p.m. at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland.
Communities doing some quick borrowing
before July 1
Reacting just in case of legislation
(6/25/2005) Communities around Wisconsin are borrowing money at an unusually high rate, rushing to meet a July 1 deadline. Mike Simonson reports this is an effort to thwart legislation pushed by Republicans.
The way things are now, local governments can borrow money for improving main street or routine housekeeping by simply approving it on their local councils. But legislation passed by the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee would change that, making all local governments put borrowing to an election referendum. Alliance of Cities Spokesman Rich Eggleston says because of that, this week alone governments from Superior to Milwaukee's suburbs approved borrowing limits. Eggleston says either that, or if this becomes law, there'll be a tangle of referendums every election. "I don't think that voters would react kindly to having a whole slate of different proposals that they haven't done their homework on. This is the kind of thing that gets people mad. We don't want to get people mad." Superior approved borrowing $25 million this week, enough to meet its needs for five years. Mayor Dave Ross, a fiscally conservative Republican, is hoping Governor Jim Doyle will veto the bill if the legislature passes it. "I don't think the legislators are going to be successful on passing this legislation so, we're just doing it to pre-empt the possibility that this would occur." But Ross made a point to calm the fears of Superior residents, assuring them he had no plans to go on a $25 million spending spree.
Duluth Postal Encoding Center slowly
30 employees left at West Duluth site
(6/24/2005) The Duluth Postal Encoding Center is on schedule to shut down as the work is being done by technology. Nick Pelletier reports.
In early January, the United States Post Office announced plans to close the encoding center. Postal Service Communications Specialist Jim Stanley in Minneapolis says there are 30 postal employees and none of the temporary workers left. He says when the center was fully staffed there were 400 employees, less than 100 of which were full timers. "The thirty employees left there all have been given job offers. Some have gone to the processing plant there in Duluth. Some have gone to post offices there in the area." He says some have gone as far as Saint Paul but many have stayed in the area. He says the centers were never meant to last forever. "When these remote-encoding centers were first set up it was a transitional temporary thing. As our equipment has improved and we have been able to read more of the mail through technology equipment. There has been less need for data conversion operators to process the addresses." There were more than 50 encoding centers ten years back. Now there twelve left in the country.
Power line committee says okay to talks
But doing it under duress
(6/23/2005) There may be a break for the proposed Duluth to Wausau transmission line. The Douglas County Power Line Committee voted to open negotiations with American Transmission Company (ATC). Mike Simonson reports.
The stalemate began in earnest February 2nd when the full Douglas County Board voted to not talk with American Transmission Company to allow it to build the land on county-owned property. That sent ATC back to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for an alternative route, which was approved, and prompted legislation that would allow the PSC to overrule local government. Added to it was a lawsuit by ATC against Douglas County, and County Chairman Doug Finn says they get the message that this can't be stopped. So, Tuesday night, the power line committee voted 4-2 to open talks with ATC. "It's extremely tough. People feel strongly about this power line. Quite honestly I don't think ATC has treated the residents of northwest Wisconsin and Douglas County very well and not always been upfront with them." Finn says people think energy conservation and local generation are better than a 340 kilovolt transmission line through pristine areas and across people's property. But ATC Vice-President Mark Williamson says they've done their best with the locals. Now, he says they can get moving. "Just getting that recognition is an important first step. The best place to put the line is on the route approved by the commission, that's the least intrusive to the people. Now, I think we're finally beginning to talk about that, getting some work done." There are still obstacles. ATC needs approval from the full Douglas County Board, and is looking for similar action from the Washburn County Board. A Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hearing this week in Hayward will determine if ATC can build the 210 mile line across waterways and wetlands of northern Wisconsin.
Ashland to develop small business center
(6/22/2005) Ashland is putting money into business in hopes of future payoffs. Melissa Spero reports on the Ashland Business Park.
The Ashland Area Development Corporation will use a $19,000 community block grant to get small businesses out of the current business incubator and into their own building. Ashland City Manager David Frasher says the grant allows people to open their own business. "I think it matters to anyone in the community who wants to see the local economy strengthened and developed. It certainly matters to any person in the community who wants to start a business. This creates an opportunity for them to do that with a less risk than they would have other wise." Frasher says the grant provides a location for start-up businesses, access to business plans, loan funds at discounted interest rates, and money for start up costs. He says the goal of the Ashland Area Corporation is to encourage people to take those initial risks for so they can achieve financial and personal success. "The philosophy here is that this will help the business person minimize their risk at the outset. And then if the corporation or the company the enterprise is successful and they want to expand. Eventually the idea here is to get them to develop their business where it’s strong enough that it can move out of the incubator to another site." Frasher says the incubator is more than half full with more people showing interest.
DNR warns dog owners to beware of poison in Chequamegon National Forest
(6/21/2005) The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is warning people to watch out for poison bait in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Mike Simonson reports that the poison may have been deliberately set.
The investigation began in March, when this poison bait was found in six locations within Ashland and Price Counties in far northern Wisconsin...all but one site in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Warden Adrian Wydeven says it appears this poison was deliberately set. "We are concerned that somebody's either trying to poison dogs or wolves or bears or some other predator." It took awhile for results to come back from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Oregon, so this warning is just being released now. But Wydeven says tests showed it is a lethal substance put on food attractive to dogs. "Right now we aren't disclosing it yet because it's still an ongoing investigation, but it's one that normally serves as an insecticide." The warning is for anyone with pets who hike in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, and especially bear hunters who begin training season with their dogs July first. "If a hunter sees any kind of unusual materials, dog foods or scraps with a bluish liquid over it, they should be aware of that. If they find anything unusual, people leaving animal food in places where there aren't normally animals." Wydeven says he's not aware of any dogs or other animals that have died from this poison. He says they're asking for help from people if they have any information to call them at their tip line. That tip line phone number is 800-TIP-WDNR.
Ontario: Leave the Edmund Fitzgerald
Ministry of Culture doesn't anticipate allowing anymore dives on doomed freighter
Edmund Fitzgerald, St. Mary's River, 1975
Photo by Bob Campbell; © 2005 Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
The Ontario government is making expeditions off-limits to the doomed ore
carrier Edmund Fitzgerald. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
For years, families of the 29 men lost in hurricane-force winds November 10, 1975 in eastern Lake Superior have asked that the ship be left alone. None of the bodies were recovered and are believed to be in or around the ship, which rests in 500 feet of water. Earlier this year, the Ontario Ministry of Culture warned the director of the Great Lakes Shipwrecks Museum on Whitefish Point near the sinking site to stop all dives to the Fitzgerald. They admitted to an unlicensed dive in 2002. Ministry Spokesman Guy LePage doubts they'll grant anymore permits for expeditions to anyone. "So the Ministry of Culture in Ontario regard the Edmund Fitzgerald wreck site as a watery grave for the 29 people who lost their lives in the sinking. Given that the tragedy didn't happen all that long ago and there are living next of kin, we've not supported diving on the wreck. I mean, what is there to go down from an archeological perspective to find out? Not much." This being the 30th anniversary of the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald, LePage says in contrast to the 20th anniversary, no [one] has applied for an expedition permit. Ten years ago, there were three dives to the carrier, which lies in three pieces on Lake Superior's mud bottom.
KUWS News Briefs: Major development for
old Superior Central site
Douglas County Power Line Committee to re-consider talks with ATC
(6/19/2005) Two Duluth developers are presenting a $12-15 million proposal for the old Central High School site in Superior. Mike Simonson reports.
The developers are both from Duluth and have other properties in Superior. City Planner Jason Serck won't say who the developers are, and cautions that nothing is set in stone and is very preliminary, but they'll present it to the City Council in closed session on Tuesday, along with plans for the New York building renovation on Tower Avenue. "Together with the New York Building's five million dollar re-development and the Central site plan, this is really, really exciting." Serck says many hoops have to be cleared, including possible tax increment financing or other government assistance, but the Central High School site development would include upscale apartments and street level commercial and retail businesses on the Belknap street-front.
In other business developments, the Douglas County Power Line Committee will meet this week and consider whether or not to open talks with American Transmission Company (ATC). Douglas County Administrator Steve Koszarek, faced with legislation which would supersede the board's vote and a lawsuit from ATC, says the committee will go over alternatives. Appearing Friday on KUWS Radio News at Noon, Koszarek says the realities of the situation may force the board to the negotiating table. Koszarek says the county may still be able to influence the path of the power line. Right now he says their alternatives are dwindling. The power line committee meeting is tentatively set for Tuesday at 4:30.
Jackson trial may deter reporting of victims of child abuse
(6/18/2005) Domestic abuse counselors are concerned that the not guilty verdict for Michael Jackson this week may send the wrong message to victims of abuse. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
To many domestic violence counselors, the issue isn't Michael Jackson or the verdict. Ericka Leif at the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse in Superior says that's up to the jury. But she is concerned that victims of child sexual abuse may not come forward now. "That's one of their first concerns is "Am I going to be believed?'. Society has a lot of misconceptions about what an actual survivor or rape victim is. It can get tangled up and they can be looked at as they're held responsible. There's a lot of icky things they are blamed for." Leif says blaming the victim is a common problem. But she says the high-profile of the Jackson case does put a light on an often dark part of society, so lessons can be learned from this case about child predators. "What are their techniques to either groom children or even groom adults for that matter. Take that educational piece and learn from it and teach people who you know and love what to look out for. Again, to not let it deter anyone from reporting an assault." The pop singer was cleared of all charges of child molestation after a four month trial.
Jurors in Chai Vang trial to come from
Impaneled jurors will be selected and then brought to Hayward
Image ©2004 CBS News
(6/17/2005) The jury in the case of the man accused of killing six hunters in
northern Wisconsin will come from Dane County. Mike Simonson reports on a court
order handed down Thursday.
The trial of Chai Vang will take place in Hayward in Sawyer County next September, but Sawyer County Circuit Court Judge Norman Yackel is ordering that a jury be taken from citizens of Dane County. After the jurors are selected, they will be moved for the duration of the trial to Hayward. Yackel's one sentence order said his decision is based on the entire file and the argument of counsel. Six hunters were killed and two wounded during a hunting confrontation last November in the Meteor Township of Sawyer County. Vang's defense attorney Jonathan Smith argued that the emotions and some case racism revolving around the case might make justice hard to find up north. "We would have a better opportunity in terms of ensuring a fair trial, and that's the goal for both sides, certainly in a place outside of Sawyer County. So our argument was we didn't believe that that would necessarily be the case in Sawyer County. I suppose to that extent it would seem so." The Attorney General's office had no comment. The trial is set to begin September 12. Vang remains in the Sawyer County Jail on $2.5 million dollar bond.
Power line hearing set for Monday in
Critical to future of line
(6/16/2005) Part two of a hearing to remove materials and build bridges over wetlands to construct the Duluth to Wausau Transmission line begins Monday in Hayward. Nick Pelletier has the story.
The proposed Duluth to Wausau transmission line runs 225 miles, one-third of which crosses wetlands. American Transmission Company (ATC) along with Minnesota Power and Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service Corporation applied for a permit to develop the project across waterways and wetlands. That permit was issued in December. This hearing challenges those permits. Glenn Stoddard is the attorney representing opposition group Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL). He says now it comes down to the judge ruling. "His decision in this case ultimately will become the final decision of the DNR (Department of Natural Resources). So even though he is from a different agency, the DNR has essentially given him the authority to conduct the hearing and to make the final decision for it based on our challenge." Stoddard says if SOUL wins this hearing it would slow or stop the power line project. "If they prevail, obviously we may appeal that, but if the prevail they would unless we could get a court to adjoin them they could probably move forward pending those other additional rules." Part one of the hearing was held in mid May. That gave people a chance to say their piece. Part of this hearing will allow more time for people to speak. The other four days are for expert testimony. Stoddard expects 12 witnesses to speak and a ruling to come in the weeks following the hearing. The hearing begins 12:45 Monday at the Hayward Veterans Association at 10534 Main Street. It is scheduled to run the whole week.
Diamond rings getting bigger for June
Local jewelers seeing national trend
(6/15/2005) Bigger diamonds seem to be the trend these days. Melissa Spero reports that when it comes to engagement rings…a whole carat is better than a half for newlyweds.
Local jewelers say engagement rings have at least a half-carat to one-carat diamonds cut. That's a change from times when the average engagement ring was a half-carat. Superior’s Nummi Jewelers co-owner Karen Nelson says a half carat ring costs three thousand dollars on average. But she doesn’t want the price to discourage buyers. "Whatever he picks out she will love because she’ll love it because she’s engaged and it’s beautiful." Ashland's Malmberg’s Jewelers sales person Gail Benson says the store keeps busy year-round with engagement ring purchases. Benson says buyers should look at the quality and clarity of the ring but keep their significant other’s interest in mind. "It’s very important to a young girl to get a nice, sparkly ring. It marks the occasion. Makes it special." Choices range from white gold or yellow to the cut of the diamond. Nelson says some women come in to guide their mates but not often. Men can pick from the case or create their own rings. Benson says the goal is to design the perfect ring for each individual. "I really enjoy my job because it’s fun to see these girls come in. They’re all excited. It’s a happy occasion for all, including us here at the store."
Parents not using opt-out option for high school kids and the military
(6/14/2005) Although parents can tell schools to not allow information about their children passed on, few are using the "opt-out option". David Hopkins has the story.
Before the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law in January 2002, student contact information was treated as confidential. But new provisions require schools to give this information to military recruiters. Parents can protect their children's privacy by requesting to opt out of the requirement. At Superior High School the guidance office secretary gives the student information to military recruiters when they request it. Guidance councilor Scott Bruce says the information needed to opt out of this requirement is sparse and complicated. "Basically all that's done, that she knows of as far as a disclaimer, is a blurb in the August newsletter. Not just check off a box in a form, but pick up a phone and call the school or the district office and say no I don't want my son or daughter included on that." Bruce says no parents have filled out the form to keep their child's information from military recruiters.
Wisconsin bill to help port development of heavy industry
(6/13/2005) There's an effort to help Wisconsin's ports draw more blue collar waterfront jobs. Mike Simonson reports that the legislature may soon be considering something called "port development zones".
The problem isn't finding something to locate along Wisconsin's waterfronts. The problem, according to Wisconsin Commercial Ports Association President Dean Haen of Green Bay, is to find good paying lunch bucket jobs for ports. "Most of the waterfronts in the ports of Wisconsin are underutilized. They're really up against competition for softer land uses like condos and eateries and other things. This is a good opportunity to hold those land uses for industrial purposes." That opportunity is in the form of tax incentives for industries, in a bill to be proposed by Representative Steve Wieckert of Appleton. "One of the things that's often overlooked is the beauty of our ports. Wisconsin has quite a number of ports. Many people don't realize that. Whether it's in Superior or Green Bay or Marinette or Milwaukee or many other ports of the state." Wieckert's bill would make $5-$15-million in tax incentives available for ports to have sites that would cluster industries. Ports would compete against each other for those tax credits. Wieckert hopes to have bi-partisan support for this port development bill, and believes he can get it passed in this session.
Washburn and Ashland to consider
Superior's deer hunting tactics
Washburn meets Monday night
(6/12/2005) Superior's urban deer hunting program is being used as a model for other Wisconsin communities. David Hopkins has the story.
Superior's deer population grew to a point where problems called for an urban-hunting program. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Biologist Fred Strand says it has reduced accidents and other complaints as well as providing venison for the food shelf. Strand says the program is now available as a model for other communities. "Two years now and it's working very well." Strand has been working with communities such as Ashland and Washburn to create urban deer-hunting programs. Jeff Langford is a member of Washburn's nine member planning committee. "The first thing we did was, the city created an ordinance that it's against the law to feed the deer in town. It came down from the chronic wasting thing when it was illegal to feed deer anywhere." Langford says their initial survey showed that 56% of Washburn's residents had near accidents with deer. Eighty percent said there were too many deer in town. Even though deer feeding is illegal in Washburn and Superior, Strand says some people continue. "For the most part we can gain voluntary compliance when people know that it's either inappropriate or illegal. The city police department generally will advise people that need to stop doing that, and then if they persist in doing it, they have and they will issue citations for that." Strand says that the urban hunts help ease the problem but people need to be aware when driving that deer are all over in urban as well as rural areas. "And particularly the twilight periods of morning an evening when deer tend to be more active." On Monday (June 13), the Washburn City Council will consider the committee recommendation to begin an urban archery-hunting season.
Flat Stanley book brings Superior second graders closer to Iraq
(6/11/2005) Second grade students at Bryant Elementary in Superior are sending letters around the world. Nick Pelletier has the story.
Flat Stanley is a series of books where a boy, Stanley Lambchop has a bulletin board fall on him and flattens him. He is okay but again, he's flat. The good news is that he can do things like mail himself anywhere. Bryant School second grade teacher Linda Munson says her kids are mailing Flat Stanley cutouts to learn about reading, writing, and geography. Student Karlie Mattson sent a letter to her uncle in the military. He's stationed in Fort Hood Texas. Because her uncle is in the service, she says her Stanley went a longer trip. Her uncle took old Stanley along with him. "He went to Arizona and Las Vegas and Arizona. He went to Big Boy. He rented a car and saw some little racecar cars at night. He went to Iraq. He did some things. He went in the war. He flew in a top secret mission. He got this suit that they made with boots." So Stanley was now dressed in his own fatigues. Linda Munson says once in Iraq, Flat Stanley got to more people than Karlie's uncle. "They had all sorts of other people even their commander. All sorts of people have pictures with Flat Stanley doing different things. They made up a whole little book with pictures of Flat Stanley. They made camouflage fatigues for Flat Stanley. They did a great job and the kids just loved it." Flat Stanley was sent back to Mattson along with a U.S. flag that was flown in Iraq and a certificate and some pictures. Now, the students are sending more letters to the soldiers.
Apostle Islands to consider charging
Process may not begin until later this year or next
(6/10/2005) Wisconsin's lone national park may charge more fees. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore only charges to reserve camping spots but as Mike Simonson reports there are other ways to raise money.
Right now, going to the Apostle Islands is free. No sticker is needed, no fees for camping unless you want to reserve a spot, overnight docking for sail and motorboats is free. Not a bad deal, says Apostle Islands Chief Planner Jim Nepstad. But he says they are floating some trial balloons about charging user fees. "There's a lot of creative thinking that's taking place right now on the topic of fees. It's widen open. We strongly encourage groups to contact us and we'd be happy to meet with you and chat with you about it." Nepstad says they wouldn't start any new fees this year or next. But he says charging people who use the 21 island park which features eight 19th century lighthouses is a good way to maintain things. "That could be expanding in the future. Congress continues to pass legislation that encourages federal agencies to charge user fees. We are considering charging for more than just reservations for camping, but actually charging for camping." Eighty percent of the money raised from camping reservation fees are returned to the park. About 200,000 people visit the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore every year.
Sherman to introduce bill to notify schools of sex offenders
(6/9/2005) A state legislator wants to make sure local schools are notified of any newly relocated sex offenders in the neighborhood. David Hopkins has the story.
Wisconsin Representative Gary Sherman says a school superintendent in his district asked to be informed when sex offenders move into the community. State law currently leaves it to law enforcement to pass along the information, but Sherman’s constituent believes the system can be improved. "He asked if they just be automatically notified the same way that the local police department is as long as they’re going through the procedure anyway." The Port Wing Democrat says it is necessary for schools to be aware of sex offenders who live in their communities because the chances for repeat sex offenses are high. "That’s at least statistically true. Nobody has successfully developed any program to successfully rehabilitate pedophiles. We have a number of things in Wisconsin that attempt to protect the public from repeat offenders after they complete their sentence. If a person is a habitual sex offender and is really dangerous to the public, they can even be institutionalized under the mental health law." Sherman plans to introduce the bill as soon as co-sponsors have signed on. He says he has strong support from the other legislators.
Judge: Hold trial in Hayward, admit his
statement without attorneys
Motions hearing today in Hayward
(6/8/2005) An important decision for the prosecution Wednesday in a motions hearing for the man accused of killing six hunters in Sawyer County last November. Mike Simonson reports from Hayward.
The courtroom was crowded with four pews, almost half the courtroom, reserved for the families of the victims and of defendant Chai Vang. Security was tight before Vang was lead into the courtroom, every observer was screened. The testimony began by focusing on his 7 page statement to investigators. Chief Investigator Gary Gillis of the Sawyer County Sheriff's Department told Circuit Court Judge Norman Yackel that two days after the shooting, Vang wrote a note saying he just wanted to tell his story. But the story was told without an attorney present. Gillis had Vang sign the Miranda statement and put in writing that he wanted to talk without an attorney. Vang's defense attorneys tried to show that the Saint Paul truck driver's rights were violated...that he may have been coerced into giving the statement detailing how he shot and killed six hunters and wounded two others. Gillis says there was no coercion. What he says happened was Vang changed his story that someone else did the shooting. "I didn't get in his face or nothing but I put my elbows on the table and says 'You know that that's impossible. I've been out on that scene, I know it couldn't happen. How in the world could a guy you claimed shot all these people, how could he have shot himself? It didn't happen.' I might have even told him that it was bullshit." Judge Yackel ruled that the statement can be used in the September trial, that it was obtained voluntarily and none of his rights were violated. Included in that statement is Vang's description of chasing some of the hunters, and in at least one case, shooting one of them in the back, and then yelling at a wounded hunter "Aren't you dead yet?", and then shooting him again.
The future of state parks will get a hearing in Superior Thursday
(6/7/2005) The DNR is holding town meetings to find out what people think of the state parks and how they could be better used. Nick Pelletier reports that the meeting for all of northwestern Wisconsin.
Department of Natural Resources Parks Director Bill Morrissey in Madison says he expects the parks to expand either with more land for the existing parks or more parks. "It shouldn’t be the Department of Natural Resources deciding on that. When you look at the demand that we have and when you hear the people saying that you cant get a campsite then I think it is time to take a look are we capable of providing more opportunities not only for Wisconsin citizens but also the visitors to our state. Of course it those visitors to Wisconsin that bring the new dollars to Wisconsin and really help the system pay for itself." Morrissey says he would like to add more to the education side of things. "Most of the state or at least a good part of the state was covered by the last glacier the Wisconsin glacier. That was ice a mile thick. That is hard for people to imagine. You can see good evidence of that throughout the state of Wisconsin. Probably the state with the richest geological history." He says people have been saying that they don’t have enough electrical hookups for when somebody brings their RV. He says the DNR wants to keep the rustic feel to the parks and not add pools basketball courts and the like. Morrissey says right now the parks are being used. "We have a relatively small state park system. I think the smallest in the lake states. We have had a lot of demand. We are generally full on weekends. People are telling us that they can’t find campsites." Morrissey says in 10 years he expects more people to use the parks. "I see that the populations are going to continue to go up. As we become more urbanized and sort of pack people into cities they are going to look for places to get away. So I see that in response to demand I see a logical expansion of the State Park system. I see more trail opportunities. Certainly we could provide more educational opportunities." Morrissey says expansion could be to add land to existing parks or to have more parks. He says he would like to see more education about the areas and its history like the glaciers that once covered Wisconsin. The town Meeting is scheduled for June 9th from six to nine p.m. at the Superior Public Library.
Vang hearing set for Wednesday in
Attorneys will argue six different motions
(6/6/2005) Attorneys for the man accused of killing six hunters in Sawyer County last November will go to court this week to argue that the trial should be moved from Hayward. Mike Simonson reports.
Sawyer County Circuit Court Judge Norman Yackel will hear arguments beginning Wednesday over several defense motions, prominent among them to move the trial out of Sawyer County. Milwaukee Defense attorney Steven Kohn argues that extensive media coverage of the case and community prejudice from all of the memorial services and fundraisers for the victims' families would stack the deck against defendant Chai Vang. Attorney General Peg Laughtenslauger filed counter-motions, saying publicity was nationwide, as much in Milwaukee or Madison as in Hayward. Yackel will also hear other motions vital to the case. The defense wants statements made by Vang to the FBI and Sawyer County investigators be thrown out, since his attorney wasn't present. Vang described in detail how he shot and killed the six hunters. But Laughtenslauger says Vang was repeatedly read his Miranda rights, and he has the right to speak without an attorney. Three days have been blocked off for these motion hearings in Hayward. The trial has been set for September.
Wisconsin Poet Laureate visits UWS
First Native American poet laureate/will host summer poetry boot camp
Image ©2004 UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association
Wisconsin's first American Indian poet laureate was in Superior last month, when
she read poetry at
UW-Superior. David Hopkins has
Wisconsin poet laureate Denise Sweet is a tribal member of the White Earth Reservation and a professor at UW-Green Bay. She says that the heritage of American Indian literature is much deeper than the body of contemporary works published since the 1960's. American Indians have been known for a legacy of oral literature for centuries. Published Native literature dates back to the 1760's. "We were the original poets of the Great Lakes region, the Anishinaabe, the Odawa, the Cree, the Ho-Chunk, the Menominee, all of us, and pardon me for those nations I've not included, but suffice it to say we were the first poets." She believes that Governor Jim Doyle appointed her to a four year term as poet laureate partly because he understands the importance of the native voice in poetry. "As an Anishinaabe I have responsibility to carry this honor with humility and with gratitude. There is a certain reticence that I have for all this attention that I'm receiving, but I seize it as an opportunity to speak about the issues that most concern my people." She says issues such as racist team mascots, tribal health concerns, water quality and protection of resources are important to everyone. She remarks that her special interest is in the rural Great Lakes region. "That's the way I see myself. I write about the land. I write about the water." "It might be spoken in a Native voice, but I'm speaking about people who are people of the land. That is the people of the Great Lakes region and those are the people of Wisconsin." Among her traveling and speaking duties she addresses the legislature on Wisconsin Arts Day and meets with the other 31 state poet laureates annually. Sweet encourages people to express themselves with poetry. She has a special interest in elders, women, people of color and youth. "This summer I'm hosting a slam poetry boot camp and I'm going to be training young people how to slam." She is working to create a Wisconsin Academy of Poetry to help bring poetry into newspapers, radio programs and classrooms. She asks that everyone take five minutes a day for poetry.
DNR looking to fill 28 positions
Northern region has just three slots open
(6/4/2005) The Department of Natural Resources is looking for a few good men and women to fill an unusually high number of vacancies in the coming year. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
The DNR is looking for people who are intelligent, honest, passionate about the outdoors, good with people, and dedicated. Kind of like looking for adult Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Warden Training Director Darrel Waldera says the 28 open positions is twice as high as normal. "We've just had a large group of people come to retirement age in the past few years. Added on top of that was the budget problems we've been going through in terms of not having had a license fee increase for a number of years." In all, there are 206 full-time wardens in the DNR, so 28 openings takes a bite out an already overtaxed warden crew. Northern Region Warden Supervisor Mike Bartz in Spooner says they're spread thin in a state that loves its outdoors. "As far as the ratio of licenses hunters and fishers to wardens in the state, that ration in Wisconsin, we're pretty much dead last nationwide. We have about one officer for every 14,000 licenses hunter or fisher." With the diversifying population, Bartz says they hope to hire people from different cultures as well. The DNR is taking applications from now until June 24.
DNR holds family outings at the Brule
Free, even the fishing and parking
(6/3/2005) The Brule River State Forest celebrates its third annual Family Fun Day this Saturday. Melissa Spero reports on an effort by the DNR to get the whole family out on the river.
Family fun day was created so families could spend time together and enjoy nature. Brule River Hatchery Foreman Bill Gobin says the event is free but the fun is priceless. "It qualifies as free fishing day so there’s no need for fishing licenses for anybody. It’s also the free day at the state forest campground so there’s no sticker needed. So it gets them out and they get to see a few things that the state has to offer them." The event was started by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Gobin says the activities are unique to this region…from fly tying to fish printing to just getting in the great outdoors. "We have a lot of scenic, like the state forest is a very scenic area. The Brule River is a very scenic river. We’ve got some interesting wildlife and fish and birds and stuff around that people can see if they just take the time and look for it. And that’s what we’re here to do is help them look for that." Last year 180 people showed up. Gobin hopes at least 200 will come this year. Children are asked to bring a white T-shirt if they want to fish print. The activities last from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Brule Hatchery.
UW looks to close Ashland Agricultural
Locals trying to save it
(6/2/2005) The University of Wisconsin says it can no longer afford the Ashland Agriculture station, but people in the area say there is too much going on to close it down. David Hopkins has the story.
Wisconsin’s thirteen Agricultural Research Stations were once called "experimental farms". They are outdoor laboratories used to study farming. Ashland Ag Director Tom Severud says the activity there parallels local farming. When he first began his job in 1978, the area had 1400 dairy farms. Although the amount of acres farmed remains about the same, the number of farmers is down to 70. "The Ashland station has been in a period of down-sizing since the dairy herd was sold in 1994. Four years ago the agricultural research at the station was down-sized as well, along with staff. Yes, I think it’s a very real option, or outcome, that the Ashland Station will be closed or at least the College of Agriculture will not be involved in running the facility." Since the dairy herd is gone, Severud says it is no surprise that the College is looking to close the facility. Nevertheless, some people say the Ag Station is still important. One of the new developments has been a two acre field of community gardens. "There’s about sixty families I think that have gardens out there. It’s a good activity." 4-H’ers and high school students help grow food shelf gardens and a cash crop strawberry garden. After meeting with the UW Dean of Agriculture Richard Straub, a local group is petitioning the UW College of Agriculture to help restructure the Ashland Ag Station for better community use. The Bayfield County Board, State Senator Bob Jauch and Ashland Mayor Fred Schnook have endorsed a group called FEAST, meaning food, education, access and sustainable traditions.
Ashland/Bayfield League of Women Voters
to hold late Mother's Day
To hold a peace rally Thursday
(6/1/2005) Even though Mothers Day was observed on May 8, the Ashland/Bayfield League of Women Voters will be celebrating on June 2. David Hopkins has the story.
League of Women Voter’s Barb Bayuk says that the traditional Mothers Day began in 1872 on June 2. Mothers Day was originally started after the Civil War as a protest to the carnage of that war. Julia Ward Howes, a poet and the writer of the Battle Hymn of the Republic started it all with the Mothers Day Proclamation. The Ashland-Bayfield League of Women Voters public forum includes speakers and a public dialogue to launch a new League topic of study. Speakers will include Northland College Peace Studies professor Joy Meeker and Reverend Carl Doersch. Barb With will speak about the effort to begin a United States Department of Peace. The public Peace Forum will be from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday June 2, at the United Methodist Church, 601 Third Street West in Ashland.
Aerial Lift Bridge inspection done
ahead of time
Will be open Wednesday, ahead of schedule
(5/31/2005) The Aerial Lift Bridge inspection finished ahead of time, so it will be re-opened to shipping traffic Wednesday. Melissa Spero reports that for awhile, only the Superior entry could be used for ships.
The Aerial Lift Bridge was closed for eight hours Tuesday for routine inspection. When the bridge is closed, vessels on Lake Superior must use the Superior entry instead of the Duluth entry. Duluth Port Authority Captain Ray Skelton says the hassle is not major but still causes changes. "Anything that causes a delay is a problem. But is it a serious problem, no it’s not." The delay is due to the straight stretch of the Superior entry. Vessels can be pulled to the sides of the canal, which delays their arrival time. The Superior entry puts vessels about seven miles out of their way. While vessel workers do not complain about the extra time, Captain Skelton realizes it can be stressful. "Anytime you’re operating, you always want to operate the most efficiently you can. When you’re adding seven miles to a trip that does add up." At the end of the last century, the Duluth ship canal was man built. The Superior entry is natural. Skelton believes the two entries are crucial. "It’s very significant. It is one of the significant factors of this area is that we have the dual entries to the port. That’s rather an exceptional condition." The Duluth entry is preferred. Sandbars and water depth can cause problems for the Superior entry but this year there have not been any problems.
President Coolidge 1928 Summer White
House re-created in Superior
Features recovered bust of President Lincoln
(5/27/2005) A new exhibit commemorating President Calvin Coolidge making Superior his summer White House in 1928 is on display at the Douglas County Historical Society. David Hopkins has the story.
Featuring the bust of Abraham Lincoln that was in the original summer white house office in 1928, Douglas County Historical Society Director Kathy Laakso says the Coolidge Room Exhibit is nearly complete. She has included much of the original furniture. "We do have the original desk that he used. The school still had it. It’s a great big heavy desk. It’s partially filled with cement because that made it fireproof for any kind of presidential paperwork that he had." Using photos of the office for guidance she includes chairs, pictures and a plant in the exhibit as well a bottle of spring water that the president used during that summer of 1928. "The room was filled with books. It was a library. And it had several bookcases full of books, the American flag, the desk that he used." She says it was an exciting time when the president was here. The people of Brule scurried around fixing up the church where the Coolidge’s attended and Highway 2 got a new blacktop. "Some things that had to happen too. Telephone systems had to be updated. There was an article here telling how 300 men worked for more than a week stringing up telephone and telegraph lines to Brule, to Chicago and to Washington D.C." After a yearlong effort to save the old Central High School, Laakso says all is not lost even though the 1910-vintage building is gone. The Historical Society has the landmark sign that stood in front of the Central High School since the 1970’s. It tells the story of the 1928 summer white house. "It’s a big heavy iron sign and we have to find some way to hang it on the wall without pulling the wall down." Laakso says she wants to give the people what’s left of the summer Whitehouse. She says that buildings are the icons of our past and should be saved for the sake of history as well as for economics. "Some people think that remembering history is enough. The problem with that is if you don’t have any tangible evidence of history, there’s no way that people beyond us can ever remember anything, There’s nothing to remember, nothing to see, nothing to imagine. That’s the importance of preserving history. Preserving the irreplaceable. I mean that just says it all." The Douglas County Historical Society has acquired the long lost bust of Abraham Lincoln that once adorned the office of President Coolidge’s summer white house. Laakso says that completes the President Coolidge Summer Whitehouse Exhibit that occupies a corner of the Historical Society exhibit hall. "We were able to get the Lincoln bust, which really makes it. I mean it really adds to the finishing touches." The bust had been made in the early part of century a life cast taken of President Lincoln by Leonard Volk, a relative of Stephen F Douglas. It has a chip in the base that shows up in the photos. She says the Superior School District was generous in sharing the pictures they had of the president when he was in Superior. The collection of photos includes shots of the presidential office. "And that was how we were able to track down, or to identify the bust of Lincoln that sat there." Laakso says that the bust somehow ended up in an antique shop in Superior in the 1970’s. The people who bought it heard about the Historical Society's effort to save the old Central High School and asked her if she would like to have it. The owners decided to donate it. This left some money that is now earmarked for cleaning and restoring the bust. Laakso explains that the Coolidge Office exhibit replicates the office that was in the Central High School in 1928. She says it is a small nod to the history that was lost with the demolition of the old school last year. The Douglas County Historical Society is located at 1101 John Avenue in Superior. It is open to the public Wednesday through Friday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Restaurants fight abuse and CASDA
First fundraiser last month called a success
(5/26/2005) Money is still coming in from last month's Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse Dine Out to end Abuse fundraiser. Nick Pelletier reports from Superior.
Sixteen restaurants helped CASDA raise money through the Dine Out to End Abuse. CASDA Director Kelly Burger says the event was a success. "It was wonderful. We had a lot of community support. We are still getting checks in so I don’t have a final dollar figure yet about how well we did. It was very interesting because we did have little slips of paper that we asked people to sign up for a weekend getaway up on the northern shore but we also asked if they specifically came because of the dine out event." Restaurants in Duluth, Superior, Iron River, Solon Springs and Lake Nebagamon took part. Burger says more people went out to eat that night than usual. "We don’t have those kind of figures. I know that just talking to the individual restaurant people they did say themselves as employees saw an increase definitely throughout the day. So we don’t have a number of how many people went out." Burger says this will become an annual event like the October walk-run to end violence.
Northland College sends high school kids to nature camp
(5/25/2005) Northland College is holding a camp for high school kids to learn more about the land around them. Melissa Spero reports.
Northland College's Lake Superior Pathfinders Program in Ashland sets up weeklong camps in the summer for high school students who want to learn more about the environment and develop leadership skills. Environmental Education Specialist Elizabeth Post says the program helps kids share their concerns. Students in the past, one of our biggest comments, that they have given us is that they're really relieved to meet other people that feel the same way about environmental issues that they do. While Post says the program talks about serious issues, they have fun too. "One of my favorites was camping out at Waverly Beach on the Bad River Indian Reservation. We had a talking circle that night with a tribal elder by the name of Joan Rose and some of our students were out swimming in the water at sunset and that is one the best images that sticks in my mind about the program." Ninth and twelfth graders can attend. Students pick from three sessions to attend between July 17 and August 6. The program lasts for six days. Students spend four nights in Northland College dorms and two nights camping. Post believes students can set the course for taking care of the land in decades to come. "I've been involved with environmental leadership since I was young. When I was thirteen I started an ecology club in my own middle school. I just have a lot of faith in young people doing environmental leadership. It's something I'm really passionate about. The application has eight questions. Post says the students are asked to explain an environmental issue in their community they would like to change and how. She says an application from Minnesota student reminded her of the talent youth have. "He is really concerned with finding alternative means of energy for transportation. So one of the things he wants to do is to build a car that runs on hydrogen. This young fellow is seventeen years old. Some of the individuals are just extremely motivated and very, very active in their communities and environmental issues already."
CASDA housing will not be closed after
Loss of money still means cuts
(5/24/2005) CASDA’s been cut from the Community Development Block Grant. In spite of that, the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse hopes to keep its transitional apartments. Nick Pelletier reports.
CASDA Director Kelly Burger says the city gave them one year notice of the budget cut. She says that gave them time. "I think we are going to be OK. We have been writing grants to private foundations and securing money to support that program that way. So far we are OK." CASDA has two types of housing: The emergency shelter which helps people in crisis, and a transitional housing program where women and children who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault can live for up to 2 years. They pay up to 25 percent of their income. Burger says the transitional housing provides women the opportunity to get on their feet after a bad relationship. "What we are seeing is that it is getting harder and harder for women and children or families in our community in Douglas County to find safe and affordable housing. If we don’t have our transitional housing that would be four more families that would be not sure what to do or not be able to find the resources they may need." She says the transitional housing program is not in danger of closing.
Congress fails to extend drilling ban
in Great Lakes
Doubtful any exploration for oil will take place in Lake Superior
(5/23/2005) A wildlife group is criticizing Congress for not extending the ban on Great Lakes drilling for oil and gas. But one petroleum geologist thinks some drilling is needed. Mike Simonson reports.
The moratorium on drilling for oil and gas in the Great Lakes expires in 2007. That's why the National Wildlife Federation backed an amendment to the recently-passed energy bill to make the ban permanent. The Wildlife Federation's Jordan Lubetkin says the failure of passing that amendment threatens the environment. "Congress misses an opportunity to protect the Great Lakes from oil and gas drilling. Currently the Great Lakes are under a number of attacks from toxic pollution to aquatic invasive species. As lawmakers talk about Great Lakes restoration, we believe we should be cleaning up the mess we've already made, and not create new ones." But retired UW-Superior Petroleum Geologist Bert Dickas says parts of the Great Lakes should be tested for oil and natural gas. He says it will help economic development and energy independence. "Ontario has been successfully drilling in the north shore of Lake Eric for decades. They've done so as far as I know with zero environmental harm to the area. From the United States side there is the potential, but I think that potential is related to Lakes Erie and Ontario than the more westerly and northerly of the Great Lakes." A test drill hole was sunk in Bayfield County in 1992, but came up dry with only a hint of natural gas. Dickas, who acted as a consultant for that drill hole, suspects Wisconsin and Minnesota are not prime areas for hydro-carbons, but other areas have proven productive. Dickas does say the information gleaned from the drill changed many geological theories about the Great Lakes region. One major find was an ancient mountain range now under Lake Superior, that was once the size of the Rocky Mountains.
ARF fundraiser to cage humans
Going on Saturday and Sunday in Superior
(5/22/2005) People will be caged like animals to help raise money for the animal shelter in Superior. David Hopkins has the story.
The Animal Rescue Federation Adoption Center is a volunteer organization that runs the city animal shelter in Superior. Volunteer Director Lynne Lowney says its members have been involved since 1988 to keep the shelter is open and the animals are socialized for adoption. The volunteers work to raise money for the annual $100,000 budget. The City of Superior provides about a third of that budget. "We’ve been running the shelter since 2001 and it’s going great, very successful. Our numbers have quadrupled in amounts of adoptions, and every animal is spayed or neutered which helps with that feral cat issue." The fundraising goal is $5000. The money is needed for some new kennels for cats. "The ones we have are kind of falling apart and a little dilapidated, so yes, we need some new kennels especially for our quarantine room to help keep diseases under control. The average cost of a kennel is around $500 to $550. We’re hoping to get 10 new ones put in." The fundraiser will involve the Superior Fire department with engine #2 and discussion of safety issues for pets. The event will also feature a bake sale, perennial plant sale, barbecue, a craft and art sale. The events will be held from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (May 21-22) at the City Center Park on Belknap and Tower in Superior.
Northland College race set for Saturday
Expects to challenge the heartiest among us
(5/21/2005) Northland College is preparing to host an adventure race Saturday. This isn't your average three-sport event. Nick Pelletier reports.
The race consists of four legs. A trail run at Mount Valhalla, a mountain bike ride to the Chequamegon Bay and a sea kayak across to Ashland. Northland College Recreation Coordinator Greg Weiss says the last leg is what makes Adventure Northland different. "We have something kind of unique that I haven't seen before in another race. We have a team run to the end. So the whole team gets back together after it being a relay and then they all run to the finish line." He says some people are using Adventure Northland to train for other summer events like the Whistle Stop Marathon. Weiss is hoping lots of students take part in the race. That means more than just lacing up the shoes and grabbing a paddle. "It is through the college, Northland College so trying to get them involved. Trying to get them to actually design the race year after year next year. That is my plan for next year to have them actually run the whole thing. It would be a leadership opportunity for them and a good thing to put on their resume." Weiss hopes to have 20 teams in this year's race. The race begins at Mount Valhalla outside of Washburn and ends at Northland College. Weiss says other events may be added in the following years like canoeing, orienteering, and swimming. For more information call 715-682-1344. The race is Saturday, May 21.
Volunteer Fire Departments need help
Friday is the annual recruiting day in northern Wisconsin
(5/20/2005) If you see a member of the local fire department standing on the side of the highway Friday, they are not lost but they are looking for something. Nick Pelletier reports.
Volunteer fire departments are looking for more people to join. Brule Fire Department Captain Borg Isaksen is the regional spokesman for area volunteer fire departments. He says attracting people is his biggest challenge. He says not having enough volunteers hurts their ability to fight fires and can raise costs. "In some cases I don’t know particularly about northwestern Wisconsin but in some cases departments have had to go to contracting out volunteer services to career departments in neighboring communities. That is at a large expense to the taxpayers plus it decreases the level of service." He says there are many volunteer opportunities beyond grabbing the hose and walking into burning buildings. Volunteer Fire Departments are looking for medical responders, truck maintenance, and secretarial positions. He says more people would volunteer if they knew what would be asked of them. "Once people get to know their local responders, see their local fire hall, understand what their policies, procedures are, that seems to really spark their interest." Douglas County Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Kesler says the need is great. "Quite a few of the departments are short people. The demands that are placed on volunteers today are different. The volunteer fire fighters are held to training standards, the same standards as any career department. It is a real time commitment. It takes dedicated people who are willing to serve their community. That is part of the reason we are looking for the non-traditional volunteer to help us with some of the maintenance items. These people do not have to take the same kind of training and things that the actual fire fighter has to take." Kesler says a well-staffed department has between 25 and 30 volunteers. Some departments need to have more than that because they cover several townships. To volunteer in a local fire department call toll free 888-926-1676.
Tribal Chairman says Red Cliff casino
Council voted it down this week
(5/19/2005) Efforts to build a new casino/resort/marina/hotel complex at one of the state's poorest tribes have apparently collapsed. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
By a 6 to 1 vote Tuesday night, the Red Cliff Tribal Council voted to stop efforts to build a casino complex overlooking the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior. The $22-million project had been championed by Tribal Chairman Ray DePerry. He took the project off the shelf after it was first proposed a dozen years ago. "I was hoping that at least I would be able to get the ground broke and get something built, but now it appears this thing is dead." DePerry says Red Cliff is battling poverty and a tight budget...in fact, only last year the band was cleared by auditors after several years of scrutiny when hundreds of thousands of dollars were missing. DePerry says a bustling casino could have improved the quality of life for tribal members. "A bit, a little bit by being able to provide the opportunity for some job security and some revenue for the tribe which is desperately, desperately needed." One tribal official who voted against the project preferred not to comment. Meanwhile, the tribal council has refused to certify DePerry for re-election. His term will end in mid-July.
Revised power line bill bypasses
condemnation of public land
Introduced by Rep. Montgomery Wednesday
(5/18/2005) New legislation introduced Wednesday would take away control from local governments and give it to the Public Service Commission (PSC). Nick Pelletier reports.
This after the Douglas County Board voted last February not to negotiate with American Transmission Company for the Duluth to Wausau power line. The bill would take away the rights of local governments like the Douglas County Board and give it to the PSC. This would allow the construction of the Duluth to Wausau power line without condemnation proceedings. Representative Frank Boyle of Superior says this bill lets big companies into local government. "It flies it the face of local autonomy of local control. I am sick and tired of eliminating local government and zoning from the local process here. Most importantly I am sick and tired of American Transmission Company having their way with the residents of northern Wisconsin." He says without local governments having domain on zoning land who knows what could happen. "Potentially they could locate a nuclear plant on Wisconsin point without any zoning or without any input by local government. Sanitary districts could be located anywhere without compliance of local zoning or authority. It absolutely flies in the face of sane legislation." Boyle says this does not guarantee that the line will go through. "I think it is going to focus renewed emphasis on the inconsistencies of this line, of the overpriced ness of the line of the many Enron of this line of the danger of having a for profit an extension cord extending from Canada to Green Bay. If [Republican Rep. Phil] Montgomery needs, and the legislature needs, electricity in Green Bay or Milwaukee let them produce the power plants there." Montgomery (R-Green Bay) is sponsoring the new legislation. Boyle says if the bill passes the line would not need to go back to the PSC it would be grandfathered in. Montgomery defends his bill as necessary. "Wisconsin has a method in place for siteing power lines. If the PSC goes through their exhaustive process and determines a power line to be in the best interest of the state of Wisconsin, than that line should be built where the PSC sited the line. This legislation will create parity between public and private landowners while insulating ratepayers from higher costs of power line construction by providing certainty to the siteing process." The public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in the state capitol.
Weather slows boaters getting ready for
Wet and windy keeps action down
(5/17/2005) The cold winds blowing off Lake Superior have got people holding their hats and wondering if we’re in for another cold summer. David Hopkins has the story.
Barker Island Marina’s General Manager Joe Radtke says that Lake Superior sailors are not terribly surprised by the recent cool spring weather. "It’s not all that unusual here by the lake to have these kind of cold temperatures because the Lake pretty much sets the weather here." He says that many boat owners use their boats and the marina as a summer home and they make the most of it. "Fortunately the marina is a place that people use to get away to whether they’re out running their boats on the lake or just enjoying being on their boats here at the marina." He says the cool weather is causing a lag in the number of boats going into the water so far. High gas prices are another concern for Radtke. "People tend not to just go run around burning up gas. They plan their use more. They still use their boats but not so much running around the lake. Much of their time is just spending time with family and friends right here." In Bayfield, Memorial Day usually marks the beginning of the summer season, but this year tourism events start a week earlier with the Apple Blossom Run. Bobbie Rippel of Apostle Islands Outfitters says there are two sides to the story and that the cool weather improves prospects for fishing. "They find places where they don’t have to go quite as far. And they still catch fish. Fishing last year was good and we expect it to be terrific this year." She says that last years cool weather cut back local business. Still she is optimistic. "They still come up no matter what, because they love Bayfield, they love Madeline Island and they love Lake Superior."
Superior Library struggles to recoup
Private efforts helping
(5/16/2005) Over the last three years the Superior Public Library has had its materials budget cut in half. A group is doing what they can in order to raise more money. Nick Pelletier reports.
In 2003 the Superior Public Library had $129,000 to spend on books magazines, newspapers, CD’s and DVD’s. In 2004 they had $75,000 for the same thing. Superior Public Library Director Janet Jennings says the 2005 budget doesn’t get better. She says money is tight at libraries nationwide. "With the economy hurting some libraries have been threatening to close in some parts of the country. Many libraries have seen cutbacks. And in Superior it isn’t just the library that has had to cut back it is all the city apartments." Jennings says the group Friends of the Superior Public Library is helping to raise some money back "They have an ongoing book sale going in the library. We get money all the time for books that are donated. They sport through the books and put them out. They are a big support for the library." She says if the money isn’t there to buy materials, people won't come. "We don’t buy as many materials. Basically we have however much money we get that is how many books and AV materials we buy in a year. If we don’t have it we don’t buy as many." She says for the first time since 1997 library usage hasn’t increased. She says this is connected with having fewer materials. The Friends of the Superior Public Library had their annual meeting last week. In 2004 the group raised $14,000. That is compared to $11,000 the year before and $9000 in 2002. That doesn't offset the $53,000 in cuts to the budget that buys books, magazines, newspapers and DVD’s. But Jennings says they did have some surprises along the way. "The book sale that we just had in April, just last month we made the most money we have ever made. That was $4580. Those were all with donated books. That was probably $1000 more than we have ever made before so that was definitely a surprise for us." This isn’t the only way they are raising money for the library. Jennings says the Rotary Club donated $1000 and there is a donation box in the libraries lobby. She says even if somebody isn’t interested in reading materials, they have dozens of murals to boot. "It shows the history of the Ojibwa creation story all the way up through the Edmund Fitzgerald. It depicts different parts of Superior’s history in beautiful large color murals that are around three sides of the library." Note cards of the murals are available for purchase. Some of the other fundraisers the Friends do for the library are cookbooks and coupons books.
Ashland High to sponsor its own senior
Principal says it's safer than the alternative
(5/15/2005) Ashland High School hopes to avoid the pitfalls of senior skip day parties and drinking and driving, by sponsoring an official "Senior Skip Day". Mike Simonson reports.
Ashland High School Principal Nick Madison's remedy to senior skip days, is to hold one of their own. He says it's safer than the alternative. "First of all if there is a senior skip day, they can't march in the graduation ceremony, so we kind of have a coercive end of it. I don't know that that always works. So what we try to do as a positive way to promote something healthy is we basically try and have a supervised senior skip day." This year they'll head to Pattison State Park near Superior and grill out. Madison says he understands the skip day mentality of wanting to be independent, so he hopes this will allow them to get out of classes but without the dangers of cutting classes for beer parties. "We say to them 'Look we know as a senior you want to get out of here, you want to get on with your life', it's healthy that seniors want to do that, so we try to just work with them, work with us." This will be the fifth year they've had this event. Ironically, Madison says they have the highest attendance of the year for senior skip day.
Obey to get investigation into public broadcasting
(5/14/2005) Two Democratic congressmen are calling for an investigation into the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
Wisconsin Congressman Dave Obey says new leadership may be breaking federal law by trying to bring more conservative programs on public television. Obey and Michigan Congressman John Dingell join a chorus of critics of new Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson. He says Tomlinson's job is to shield public television from political pressure. But Obey fears the opposite. "If the stories are true, this is a straight effort to politically intimidate and politically influence what is supposed to be a totally non-political broadcasting operation." Obey says one example is Tomlinson's hiring a consultant to review guests on the NOW with Bill Moyers show. If true, Obey says that would be politicizing programming. He says that could cripple public confidence and Congressional funding. "Anytime that public broadcasting becomes embroiled in political controversy, it endangers not just public funding but also public support. That's why I think Mr. Tomlinson has been extremely careless in crossing the line and bringing politics in what is supposed to be an independent operation." The CPB will begin an internal review, and report back to Congress.
Legislator proposes studying combining UWS and UMD
Study would be part of Wisconsin budget
(5/13/2005) There's a proposal from a southern Wisconsin legislator to study consolidation of the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) and UW-Superior. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
A member of the legislature's powerful Joint Finance Committee would like to see some consolidation of two year and four year campuses. But now, Representative Scott Jensen says combining four year institutions might also make sense, even if the campuses are in different states. The proposal is to launch a study to combine - possibly even merge - the campuses at UW-Superior and the University of Minnesota-Duluth. It's the brainchild of Representative Scott Jensen (R-Waukesha). "That would provide an even greater education opportunity for people in that part of the state. (But you see keeping both campuses open?) Again, I'm not trying to determine the results of the study. I'm asking people from both campuses to work together with area leaders to determine what makes the most sense." The campuses are six miles apart. Jensen says that gives them a unique opportunity to work together. UW-Superior Chancellor Julius Erlenbach says they already have working agreements for students to take classes at each campus. Erlenbach says a similar proposal was made in 1979. "It was reviewed and it was studied and it was found to be not a particularly fruitful idea. In fact, the word 'dumb' was used to describe it." Jensen says he'd like to talk to Minnesota legislators about his idea. UW Board of Regents President Toby Marcovich of Superior thinks he should do that before launching any studies. Otherwise, he says this smacks of politics. "I don't see any southern legislators proposing merging or closing any southern campuses. That's an interesting point." Marcovich says he isn't advocating merging any of the system's four year campuses, let alone one from another state.
Attorney General: Vang trial should be
in Hayward, statements admitted
Replies filed in motions of accused hunter killer
(5/12/2005) The Wisconsin Attorney General's office says accused murderer Chai Vang's statements to the FBI and Sawyer County investigators should be admitted into evidence. Mike Simonson reports.
Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager filed the motions in Hayward Wednesday, replying to motions made by Vang's defense attorneys in March. Vang is accused of killing six hunters and wounding two others last November. Laughtenslauger says Vang was properly and repeatedly advised of his right to have an attorney present, but he said he wanted to tell his story. He was given his Miranda warning and so there was no violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Attorney General also says Vang should be able to get a fair trial in Hayward, even though the incident took place just a few miles south of the city. The six people killed were from the Rice Lake area. She says there is no proof that the news coverage was inflammatory, or that things like memorial services and fundraisers held for the victims' families will prejudice a jury. Laughtenslauger argues that many news reports depicted Vang as a respected person, a shaman and a community leader. Laughtenslauger also contends that publicity on the case was widespread…as much in Milwaukee as in Hayward. It even included a quote from State Senator Bob Jauch as calling for restraint and no knee-jerk responses in the wake of the shootings. The motions will be heard June 8 at the Sawyer County Courthouse, with a trail date set for September 12.
SPD working to work with locals
Chief says it takes lots of outreach
(5/12/2005) The Superior Police Department is looking to improve their relationship with the community. Nick Pelletier reports.
In Superior, Police Chief Floyd Peters says people do feel confident when they call the Superior police Department. "We handled 26,000 calls for service last year. We are out in the community doing a lot of presentations. I think we have a good relationship with the community and it continues to become even better." Even so, Peters says they are trying to be more accessible to the community. "One of the things we have tried to do over the last two or three years is really open the department up to the community and focus on our core mission and purpose, which is to protect and serve. One of the ways we do that is to educate the community on who we are and what we do our limitations our capabilities. We are doing that through a number of ways inviting the community in to see who we are and working with us. My message when I speak to the community is we work for you. We work to serve you and without your help we will fail." Peters says the police department is there to protect and serve the people.
Elk herd loses 14, parasites could come
First time herd size has not increased in 10 years
(5/11/2005) For the first time, elk watchers are concerned about the growth of the herd. As many elk died in the past year, as were born. Mike Simonson reports.
The official estimate is that 103 elk roam the north woods of Wisconsin, concentrated around the Clam Lake area where 25 were unloaded in 1995. The elk have survived harsh winters, a proliferation of all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles, and the herd has grown, until this year. Department of Natural Resources Elk Biologist Laine Stowell in Hayward just returned from examining two dead elk, killed when they crashed through the ice earlier this winter. He says they've lost 14 radio collared elk since last June, which means they've lost as many as were born last summer. Autopsies show more drownings than ever, more deaths from brain worm and three deaths by a liver parasite. He says they've never had an elk die of the liver parasite before. "There's something going on here, and we think we've figured out what it might be, but it'll be interesting to see what we might be able to do about it." Stowell suspects people feeding elk and deer in far northern Wisconsin are the cause. He says group-feeding causes elk to congregate, making them more vulnerable to traffic accidents and breaking through lake ice. He says it's also a good way to spawn parasites and fatal disease. But proposing a ban on baiting and feeding has been fiercely opposed by locals in the past. "It's going to be a hot potato to do something about it obviously, there's going to be controversy if it's proposed to...you know, we've asked people not to feed in some of these situations, but they continue to feed 'em." Stowell is applying for a grant to investigate these deaths more closely...to see if this is just an anomaly or if people feeding the elk may be a danger to the future of the herd.
Frat accused of trashing resort
recommended for maximum suspension
Sig Tau at UW-Stout already was under suspension
(5/10/2005) An investigation into a UW-Stout frat is recommending the maximum penalty after students trashed a Gordon resort in a scene right out of the movie Animal House. Mike Simonson reports.
The recommendation by the UW-Stout administration is for a four year suspension. Sigma Tau Gamma is accused of spending a weekend at a Gordon resort in Douglas County… drinking and damaging the golf course at Forest Point Resort. Owners say some of the frat brothers used golf carts to spin doughnuts on the golf course fairways. UW-Stout Spokesman Jim Enger says this frat is bad news. "They were on suspension during the incident. So this is very serious. It had to do with some violent acts associated with the organization. They were told to provide some leadership training for their membership. They did not do that, so they essentially violated the terms of suspension, so the suspension will be made up for at least four years if not longer." Enger says if the student government doesn't act, the UW-Stout administration will. "Being recognized as a student organization is a privilege not a right. And this privilege carries with it certain responsibilities. Students are going to have to learn that if they fail to carry out those responsibilities, they will lose their privilege." Meanwhile, the Douglas County Sheriff's Department is forwarding the report of the May 1st incident to District Attorney Dan Blank…if damage totals warrant charges. Enger says some of the student's parents are coughing up money for the resort owners.
Superior Police Chief making push
against drugs and booze
Peters blames some abuse on region's culture
(5/9/2005) The Superior Police Department is getting word out through schools and community leaders to warn people about alcohol and drugs. Nick Pelletier has the story.
Superior Police Chief Floyd Peters says alcohol and drug use in the city has the police departments' attention. He says alcohol use is as it has been for some time. "Some of it is a cultural issue in our state, I believe. Certainly on a local level with the number of liquor licenses we have. We have 77 class B liquor licenses. That certainly adds to our workload with the number of people that visit the city and come to our entertainment district." He says marijuana is the more commonly used drug in the area, however more and more people are using meth. "I am very concerned about growing drug problems. I wouldn't say they are out of control but they are of very great importance to us. We are dedicating more resources towards enforcement and investigation of drug issues and drug problems. Working with other agencies to do that." Peters says an officer is now working at the Duluth (MN) Police Department on a task force. He says the ability to work with other agencies is extremely important.
Superior's accordion museum hosts
The former Hammond Avenue Presbyterian Church is now concert hall
(5/8/2005) Florian Chmielewski celebrated 60 years of playing the accordion by performing at Superior's Harrington Arts Center last month. Nick Pelletier reports.
In 1945 Florian Chmielewski's brother gave him an accordion. His brother couldn't keep it because it was too loud for his neighbors when he played in his twin cities apartment. Chmielewski was given 90 days to learn how to play so he could keep the instrument. By the time his brother came home to see if he had learned to play, he already had jobs booked. He says World War 2 helped him get his first job. "That's exactly why I got my break. You see there was no one else to play. When I got my first job in 1945, there wasn't another musician around anyplace. When I got my first job in I only knew four songs on the accordion the guy said geez that was good. Come on over play for my wedding." His brother was surprised to hear that his playing had come along that fast. Adam and Irene Klosowski saw Chmielewski perform at the Harrington Arts Center. This wasn't the first time they saw him. "We decided to get married. Gonna have a wedding. You have got to have an orchestra. Her brother said Florian has got some, let him play. So we went to see him. And that is what he said. Florian only knew four songs. We said well that's alright, play them over again nobody will know the difference." Over the past 60 years Chmielewski has played on three Duluth television stations, 15 hundred television shows and in Germany, France, England, and Vienna to name a few. Three generations of Chmielewski's performed. Florian Chmielewski has played the accordion for 60 years. His sons Jerry and Florian Junior were on drums and trumpets. His daughter was on saxophone and trumpet. Florian Chmielewski says all of the music played on the accordion is upbeat. "It is all just happy music. Frankie Yankovic said the happiest music in the world. That's it. No sad songs. No tearjerkers, just happy songs. Roll out the Barrel, In Heaven there is no Beer, No Beer Today, Love is the answer, see, that's the kind of music we play." One of his granddaughters asked him why they don't play anything more classical. She had her chance after 3-year-old Kati and 10-year-old Lexi Devitt sang the national anthem. Devitt hopped on the piano and played some Beethoven. Chmielewski says the Harrington Arts center provides the opportunity to see artifacts of the whole accordion industry in one place. Chmielewski is making plans to play at Ironworld. That's the international festival in Chisholm, Minnesota, the last week of June.
Opponents of Project ELF plan
celebration in Ashland
Naval communications base closed in September
(5/7/2005) More than two decades of opposition to the Navy’s submarine transmitter near Clam Lake will be celebrated. David Hopkins reports on a celebration Saturday.
Project ELF once transmitted one-way extremely low frequency messages to U.S. submarines. Opponents of nuclear proliferation objected to the signals being sent to the Trident nuclear missile submarines. NukeWatch activist John LaForge says that nobody likes to think about nuclear weapons, but it is a serious issue that needs attention. "Going back over and over to that site, fifty-eight different acts since 1991, forced not just the community and the people reading the papers to think about this nuclear war system right in their back yard, but it forced the Navy to confront what itself is doing." LaForge says the demise of Project ELF became clear when the Anishinaabe people at Lac Courte Oreilles began studies on the transmitters health effects and how it affects treaty protected hunting and gathering in the ceded territory. "We gave them a lot of excuses to shut that place down." After years of demonstrations, civil disobedience, arrests and court cases, the protesters and law enforcement people grew familiar with one another. "The cops came to be friends of ours. The last time a group of us was arrested there, we’re all sitting around waiting to be processes talking about the birds. Many of these cops are bird watchers as well as the anti-nuclear crowd." NukeWatch is planning a celebration at Northland College. LaForge says the efforts to close down Project ELF are part of an international and intercultural desire to bring peace to the world. The celebration will be at the Sigurd Olson Institute on the Northland College campus in Ashland on Saturday from 7 – 10 pm. Music, poetry, dancing and speakers will highlight the event that is free and open to all.
Wild rice labeling may become law to
protect Wisconsin tribal harvesters
Termed a consumer protection bill
(5/6/2005) Some state legislators want to keep the "wild" in wild rice. A bill would require proper labeling to make sure people buying wild rice get the real thing. Mike Simonson has the story from Superior.
Wisconsin tribes are pushing a bill that would clearly label wild rice as the real McCoy...hand-harvested in the traditional way from natural areas...not cultivated or machine harvested. State Representative Gary Sherman represents part of northwestern Wisconsin and serves on the State Tribal Relations Committee. He says not-so-wild rice...but cultivated rice from California...is undercutting real wild rice from Indian Country. "To make sure that the labeling is clear so that people know what they're buying. Nobody is restricted from growing anything but people should have a right to have things properly labeled so they know what they're getting." In Sherman's opinion, real wild rice from the ceded territorial lakes and wetlands are head and shoulders above the hybridized competition from California. "It will have to say if what you're selling is machine harvested or if it is cultivated rather than wild grown those kinds of classifications will have to be prominently displayed so that people know that they're not actually getting genuine wild, hand-harvested, hand-parched wild rice for $2.50 a pound." The $2.00 per pound packages are generally not the traditionally harvested rice. Sherman says real wild rice can cost four times as much as the hybrid rice. The bill has already passed one committee.
Landlords and tenants to get low-down
on Superior rental ordinances
Aim is to improve housing
(5/5/2005) Superior adopted a Rental Housing Maintenance Code three years ago, but enforcement has been slow. Now a new ordinance is designed to help activate that code. David Hopkins has the story.
Catholic Community Services Director Gary Valley says Superior's new Rental Licensing Ordinance is designed to improve the quality of rental housing. "Many people in this community want to make Superior a better place for all of us to live. It’s a very unique community but it does have some very severe housing problems." Since the Maintenance Code was adopted three years ago, there has been little enforcement and a lot of confusion. "There’s a great need for landlords, tenants and the public in general, to be informed about this simply because it is new and there’s a lot of misinformation about this. The idea was to put some teeth into the maintenance code through a rental licensing ordinance that many, many cities around the country have adopted." Valley says that the code is necessary for safety and will benefit all citizens of Superior. "If you allow properties to continue to deteriorate, and that causes… we had one case as you probably remember a fire that killed two people. That I think was an alarm bell for a lot of people. It’ll bring properties up to the maintenance code standards which means they’ll be safe and livable. They’ll be relatively energy efficient." Valley says that the housing ordinance is one component of a much larger effort to make Superior an attractive place for people to live. There will be a panel discussion to explain the new ordinance and answer questions. It will include Superior Mayor David Ross, the City Inspector, a Fire Department member, a tenant and a landlord. The meeting will be held at the Peter Rich Community Center, 1201 North 8th Street on Thursday May 5 from 6-8 p.m.
Project ELF may become Project Elk
Navy holds meetings in Cable and UP
(5/4/2005) Instead of Project ELF, the now shuttered Naval submarine communications base in Ashland County, several people are telling the Navy they'd like it to become Project Elk. Mike Simonson has the story.
The Navy is holding open houses this week to get a sense of what people would like to see become of the base in the middle of the Chequamegon National Forest. Navy Public Affairs Officer Gary Wagner says the land belongs to the U.S. Forest Service, they just borrowed two acres for the transmission site. The base leaves behind a handful of buildings in a fenced in area and 28 miles of antenna strung on telephone poles. Wagner says options range from dismantle everything to doing very little. "Leave buildings that are there now intact. Leave the telephone poles that carry the antenna line in place, don't disturb the fragile environment up there. Leave the grounding wires that are buried, leave those in place." Opponents of Project ELF, short for extremely low frequency, have often said they'd like to see it become a park for the growing elk herd. Bonnie Urfer of Nukewatch like the idea of recycling things. "So the buildings that they have, if they could be used for group camping and gathering sites in bad weather, that would be one thing. our fear that they would disallow use of the buildings, that the military is very fond of leaving all of their junk behind." The Navy will conduct an environmental assessment to determine if underground wire needs to be pulled up or if it will do more harm than good to remove the few thousand telephone poles running through the forest lands. The conversion from Project ELF to project elk may take as long as three years.
Northland College students head to
Alaska to make environmental statement
To protect the National Wildlife Refuge
(5/4/2005) As Congress considers whether to approve drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, students at Ashland's Northland College are heading up north. David Hopkins has the story.
Peace, Ethics and Global Studies student Leah Olm will be traveling to Alaska with seven of her classmates. They will drive to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge during May to observe conditions. Olm says they also plan to meet with scientists, teachers and other students of Eco-League Schools in Fairbanks and Anchorage. "The budget has passed in the Senate, which included a provision to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling. A bunch of us decided that we needed to give our bodily presence to this issue and also help our own communities become more aware of what was actually going on up there." The group intends to return with a report that includes scientific material and artistic representations to raise local awareness. "Through our diverse perspective we'll be able to reach a lot of different kinds of people, both in our communities and in the greater community of the Midwest." Art Major Emily Pimm is saddened how the degradation of the Arctic wilderness region will affect the lands and indigenous peoples. "Concern for the native populations in the region and what we can do to preserve their arts as well." "To think of that as being gone or taken away because someone wants to drive their cars with more gas, it seems ridiculous to me." The students will receive credit for their project, but they say their concern for the loss of wilderness is their main interest. When the students return in June they will present their findings in several communities of Wisconsin.
Congressman Green announces for
Makes swing around state, except northern Wisconsin
(5/3/2005) It is 19 months until the election for governor, but the race is off and running. Even so, it hasn’t made it to our area yet. Nick Pelletier has the story.
Republican Congressman Mark Green from Green Bay announced his candidacy in six cities but the closest he has come to northern Wisconsin is Eau Claire and Wausau. "We did a pretty good loop in our first day and a half. But we will be coming through Superior real soon. It is an area in which I think we can be very competitive." "We didn’t fly we drove around the state. It was literally just a matter of time, getting back to Green Bay. I had some obligations to help present to the ward in Green bay last night. So that was the only reason. I have been up to Superior and will go back up to Superior real soon." Green made his announcements in Madison, La Crosse, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Eau Claire, and Wausau. He says the reason he is announcing his candidacy so early is to keep up with the competition. "Jim Doyle actually started his campaign for Governor even earlier by several months than what we have done. I wish it didn’t have to start so early. Jim Doyle actually started his campaign even earlier. Obviously he has been essentially running for reelection a couple years and raised an awful lot of money. So really we have to get going to get our message across the state." Green says Governor Doyle has been raising money hand over fist. He wants to be competitive with Doyle financially. Over the last seven years Mark Green has served in the United States Congress, representing the Green Bay region. He says he is doing things for northern Wisconsin like trying to reduce unemployment by bringing good jobs to the area. "I helped to bring a paper science research center to northeastern Wisconsin. I secured the start-up money for it. That is going to do cutting edge, high tech research, patentable research. Using the patent authority of the UW system. I believe by doing that you can take what we already do well in manufacturing and marry it to emerging technology. By doing that you can help create those exciting rewarding career opportunities that I believe our economy needs to be based on." Green says there is another way to create more jobs. "It is lowering the tax burden. We have the 10th worst business tax climate in America. We have the 5th worst local tax burden in America. According to Forbes magazine and Bloomberg News we are now the worst state to retire to financially in the country. That is driving folks away and businesses away. I think that is a place to start." Green says it is important to keep the college graduates in the state and not drive them away. Green says college graduates in Wisconsin earn 11% less than elsewhere in the country. Green looks at a variety of issues at the forefront to the northland, unemployment, the great lakes and gay marriage. "We are 47th in the nation in terms of starting up new businesses in the state. I think that is horrendous. What has happened is we are no longer presenting the opportunities for our college graduates to stay in the state." Green says he wants to protect the Great Lakes. He says they are unique. "Great lakes obviously it is a treasure to us in so many ways. It is a cultural treasure. It is part of our heritage. It is a natural resource treasure, quality of life. It is also a business treasure. The commerce that takes place on the lakes and the boats going back and forth taking goods to market. We have to protect our great lakes. It is one of our greatest assets." Green says he sought funding to clean up the lakes and assist in habitat restoration. He opposes drilling in the lakes calling it a terrible tragedy. Green says he supports a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage.
Island project to cost $330 million, includes 470 housing units
Permitting process could take two years
(5/2/2005) Plans to develop Whiteside Island on the Saint Louis River including condos, homes, a marina, golf course, and resort were announced today by Superior and developers. Nick Pelletier reports.
When completed the Whiteside Island project will include a five star hotel with 200 to 400 rooms, 68 single-family homes, 340 condos, 162 villas, 100 town homes, a restaurant, marina, retail shops and an 18 hole golf course. The catch is Whiteside Island is a 320 acre island, one-third of it is wetlands. The proposed development would use 20 acres of wetlands which would be replaced somewhere else. Superior Public Works Director Jeff Vito says everybody is aware of the environmental protection issue for the island. "How do we enhance those wetlands and have the least amount of impact. I believe that by getting the regulatory agencies involved right from the beginning it gives the developers a clear understanding that there is a very sensitive environmental aspect to this project. We need to work together to accomplish that." Superior Douglas County Chamber of Commerce CEO Dave Minor says this project will put Superior on the map to tourists. "What we can look back from 40 50 years from now is a project of this magnitude that I don’t think most people or probably anybody in this community has ever seen or will ever see again. I think both from supporting our members in the chamber and through our tourism bureau the convention and visitors. This is going to make Superior a landmark." Superior City Council President Dennis Dalbec says when the project is completed it will lower taxes by up to 30 percent. "In other words it will be like having your taxes paid for every 3 to 5 years by someone else. Not only that it will increase disposable income of our citizens in this community. Where they won't have to be paying their taxes here." The next step is to have the land rezoned. That city planning commission is expected to hear the case on May 18. Developers expect the permitting project with state and federal agencies to take two years. Progress Land Company developer John Stainbrook says they'll be seeking permits from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife. the Coast Guard, Departments of Natural Resources in Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as local governments. The proposal also includes two miles of roadway through the Superior Municipal Forest on Chase's Point which will be built by the city but Superior would be reimbursed by the developers. No decision has been made on transportation to the island, but a ferry, bridge or tram is being considered. Superior City Planner Jason Serck says this project would create 170 to 200 permanent jobs. Serck also projects the project will raise $3.2 million in taxes for the city, $1.9 million for Douglas County, and more than $3.5 million for the Superior School District. Stainbrook says while it isn't certain, he believes they will have to conduct a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement before proceeding. Meanwhile, Lake Superior Bi-National Forum member Bob Browne says he is keeping an open mind on the project, but is inclined to believe that this development is too big for such a sensitive habitat on the St. Louis River. But because he doesn't want to come across as anti-development, he says he'll wait for the agencies to evaluate this proposal.
Ballast water lawsuit of concern to
Duluth Port Authority
They're following it closely
(5/1/2005) Aware of invasive species arriving in U.S. waters through ballast water of ships, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority is keeping an eye on a federal court case. David Hopkins has the story.
That case ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to repeal its exemptions to the Clean Water Act. The Federal Court ruling is against ships that dump ballast in the Great Lakes. Port Commissioner Bob Maki says this case could have sweeping consequences on international shipping. "The court ruled that the valid exemption by the EPA is invalid. That ships can no longer can dump ballast. The Clean Water Act prohibits discharge of a pollutant without a permit, and that's what the fight is about." Since the court has ruled that the EPA has no authority to issue exemption permits, Duluth Port Authority members say such exemptions probably wouldn't stand much longer. Maki says the maritime industry is better off to work on the problems of ballast water discharge regardless of court activity. "The problem for ballast water will probably be eradicated and dealt with long before we get through this issue. Internationally this is starting to get a lot of attention as well. There are platforms in Singapore where ballast water treatment is an ongoing process, and analysis. Europe is very actively involved, and the United States certainly. We've started programs and we have a program that will start in Duluth-Superior this summer to evaluate several systems ourselves." Despite Federal Court and EPA activity, industry, states and environmental groups that apparently see eye to eye on this issue are addressing the problem of invasive aquatic species.
Porta potties fall under budget ax in
Half the budget is cut
(5/1/2005) Local governments faced with holding the line on spending are leaving no stone unturned, or in the case of the city of Superior, no lid unlifted. Mike Simonson reports.
Superior Mayor Dave Ross has ordered all of his department heads to look for places to save money. Like most cities, Superior needs to offset funding cuts from the state and federal governments. City Parks Director Mary Morgan says they've reduced park maintenance, ice rink time, and even essential services like portable potties. This year public porta-Johns will be harder to find. "You might go to a park even now in April but we consider the high season to be May 15 to September 15, and so the toilets will be placed at parks and ballfields right around mid-May." The porta-pottie plan for this summer will cost less than half of previous years. Superior will spend $11,000 by concentrating portable privies in high-use places. Even so, Morgan says she's finding people like their porta-potties and tell her they miss them when they're not around when they need them.
May Day art and doorbell ringing and
Celebration in Superior Sunday
(4/30/2005) May Day weekend will feature an Art Show at the Red Mug Coffee House in Superior. David Hopkins has the story.
Artists from around the region are displaying "May Day" art. It reflects International Workers Day May first, about the coming of spring through the visual arts, music and poetry. Duluthian Karin Kraemer has a pottery studio and teaches classes in Superior’s old City Hall building. "A few artists thought they should celebrate May first for various reasons got together and said, hey we’ve got this neat space to do it in. Let’s have some fun." The festivities will begin by taking hand-crafted May baskets to homes in the neighborhood. The baskets are a northern European tradition. They carry the symbolic bread and roses with an invitation to the Art Show. The plan is to drop off baskets on porches…ring the door bell and run. Kraemer says the art displays a variety of ancient and seasonal meanings of May Day as well as the international workers holiday. "It’s pretty exciting. And kind of an interesting cross-section too. Some poets and painters and musicians and a whole bunch of fun people." Kraemer says a goal of the businesses in Superior’s old City Hall is to be a neighborhood center. "The thing we’re doing at the North End Arts Center in this old Court House Building is to try to include the community in things and get them excited about doing things together. We have some kids’ classes and pottery classes and this May Day thing is a bit more outreach, doing more than just showing art or selling coffee. It’s getting folks in the area involved in the place." The May Day Art Show will be on display into mid May. The Art Show is free and open to the public from noon until 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Seniors urge help for heating as fuel
prices go up
Rally set for Madison May 11
A statewide rally is set for next month in Madison asking for help for elderly
people to heat their homes. Nick Pelletier reports from Superior.
Higher heating costs didn't cause any casualties this winter in the region, but some fear what could happen if something isn't done to help people pay their furnace bill. With the cost of heating up 25% or more this winter there was concern that some seniors may have to make decisions between heating, eating or medications. Douglas County Aging Resource Center Director Brad Beckman says prescription drug plans made it easier to spread out a limited income. "Because we have senior care where the prescription drugs were at a lower rate so people were able to afford that but if that were to go away or any of that and heating continues to rise I think you would have a concern. I do have a concern because of the way gas prices are going up. Obviously food is going to go up and that. Obviously Social Security and their pensions have not went up. It is going to be a major concern. I think we have some very difficult challenges ahead." Beckman says the best thing to do is contact elected officials to tell then what is needed. He says it's more effective when people give first person accounts. "I tell them the story but sometimes it comes better when you have an 80 year old person telling their story, living in their own home, and telling some of the issues that they are dealing with. I think it has much more of an effect." Beckman says a rally is scheduled for May 11 to discuss heating costs, prescription drugs and Social Security with legislators.
Take Back the Night in Duluth tonight
While CASDA has "Dine Out Night" by restaurants
(4/28/2005) The Take Back the Night March is an annual international event that began in Germany 32 years ago. The regional event will be held in Duluth as well. David Hopkins has the story.
Sue Mark is with the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault. She says that the Take Back the Night march is a positive family event. "To bring the focus onto violence against women, children and men in our communities, trying to bring a positive spin onto it that our communities can do something to address it and bring awareness to the issue." She says the event is an effort by many people from around the Twin Ports region including the mayors of both Duluth and Superior. She says the march shows that the community takes responsibility and it makes a collective statement that sexual violence is unacceptable in the Twin Ports area. "It’s happening to people we know. It happens to our friends and our moms, our sisters, daughters and our sons. If we say that it’s not acceptable, that there’s not one acceptable sexual assault, if we say that together we can start changing things." Marks says the problem crosses all cultural lines, but it is one where each victim requires attention. "We would like to affect the larger climate too and that’s part of social action, trying to change some of that. We also want people to know they can come forward with your story and you’ll be supported and believed and let people start moving down that road of healing and toward finding some sort of justice." Marks says men are often victims of sexual assault as well. They are the focus of this year's march and are a critical part of the solution to the problem. Men as Peace Makers is one of the major organizations involved in this year’s event. he march will be held on Thursday, April 28. With speakers from various community organizations, the Sisters Circle drumming group, the Hillside Flyers, Hmong dancers, food and information tables, people will gather for the march at the Washington Center in Duluth beginning at 5:30. The march itself will begin at 8:00 pm. Meanhwhile, several restaurants in Superior, Duluth, Solon Springs, South Range, Gordon and Iron River will return 20% of their food proceeds tonight to the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse.
Lake Superior mystery barrels
DOD investigating clean-up of dumped debris of French River area
(4/27/2005) The Department of Defense will re-open the case of the 1400 mystery barrels secretly dumped into Lake Superior during the Cold War. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
An agreement between the Red Cliff tribe on Lake Superior's south shore and the DOD promises to investigate weapons dump sites on the great lake. Documents show 1437 barrels of weapons scraps manufactured by Honeywell in Saint Paul from 1958 to 1962 were secretly dumped by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers a few miles east of the Duluth Superior harbor. Red Cliff Environmental Consultant Dave Anderson says they have found even more evidence of dumping into Lake Superior. "From K.I. Sawyer (Air Force Base) in Marquette to the Army Corp of Engineers in Duluth have used Lake Superior as a bombing range, as a disposal area, as a way to hide classified materials. The DOD is now coming to the reality to do something about that and make amends between the governments." Anderson, with the Bessemer (MI) based Flintsteel Restoration Company, says his 15 year investigation through archives and using the Freedom of Information Act have found more than dumped barrels. "There are cases of unexploded ordnance, there are full motor vehicles, engines, other barrels of other sizes and crates that we believe the Corp or someone else may have dumped in that area." At a three day conference this week in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the DOD is telling leaders of 15 tribes that they will clean-up or mitigate dump sites around the country. Red Cliff Tribal Chairman Ray DePerry tells us from Albuquerque that this is good news. "But it is a concern for us because of our fishing and our exercising of our treaty right and plus it effects the water. I think we all should be concerned." Anderson agrees there is an imminent danger to the water supply. The barrels are rusting away 100 to 300 deep near Duluth's water intake. He's found evidence of PCB's and unidentified ash. "Right now we know that there is more to these barrels that have been disclosed in the past. That the barrels are not just scrap steel grenade parts. There are other wastes that are hazardous that are contained in the barrels and we now know that the barrels are leaking some of those substances." The DOD has awarded Red Cliff a $105,000 grant to assess and further investigate this 20 mile square site and report the findings in October for possible clean-up.
Frankenstein to open at Duluth Library
Series to begin public conversation about classic
(4/26/2005) It isn't in a mad scientist's lab with lightning bolts but Frankenstein's monster is coming to life at the Duluth Public Library. Nick Pelletier has the story.
Duluth is one of 80 cities nationwide to have a visit from a traveling exhibit by the American Library Association. The Duluth Public Library's Mary Wennberg says this will give people a chance to connect modern issues with the story. "It's a classic piece of wonderful literature. So that's just the very beginning of it. I hope that they will come to the exhibit and study some of the subjects in the exhibit like what has happened with science and what has happened with ethics as it relates to science and then just come up with their own conclusions." She says some issues that relate to today directly form the story are cloning and the human genome projects. "It changed dramatically. The monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was a sensitive, intelligent, articulate person. And then by the time MGM got a hold of it he was a different monster all together. It is going to touch on things like that science, cloning. You have heard of Frankenfoods, how foods have changed. That is what they call it, Frankenfoods." During the month of May the Fourth Annual One Book One Community program will be looking at Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Wennberg says the exhibit is geared more to adults. The exhibit runs April 27 to June 10 at the Duluth Public Library.
Wisconsin low cost prescription drug
Open to all ages
(4/26/2005) Badger RX is a new program allowing Wisconsin residents to get cheaper prescriptions. But as Nick Pelletier reports, the program is so new that a lot of people don't know about it.
Badger RX is an expansion of the SeniorCare program which began in 2003. The new design started the last day of March. Douglas County Aging Resource Center Director Brad Beckman says this is necessary because it is becoming more difficult to go to Canada. He says this program offers safe prescriptions at a lower cost. "It is a program that offers lower cost on selected medications monitored for your safety and well being, obviously through a team of Wisconsin physicians. Like I mentioned before if you do not have health insurance or if your health insurance does not cover prescription drugs this would be another program to access and to find out for cost reduction of your prescription drugs." He says this is like SeniorCare except it is open to all people of Wisconsin not just those over age 65. Beckman says without the two programs some were left with a tough decision on their medication. "People were going without. People were choosing to cut their medication in half or cutting their food budget or their heating budget or things like that. So they were making a choice. Now with senior care we have been able to provide a service that they are able to access and use keeping people healthier in the community and in their own home." Beckman says Badger RX will help when more people know about it. For more information on Badger RX or senior care call the Douglas County Aging Resource Center at (715) 394-3611 or visit the web at BadgerRXgold.com
Wolf hating waning as many surveyed say wolves should be protected
(4/25/2005) Wolves are still scary to people. but a new survey says most folks no longer think wolves should be exterminated. Mike Simonson has the story.
A Northland College Sociology professor in Ashland has finished a five year study of what people think about wolves in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. After decades of bounties, poisoning and trapping, the last wolf in Wisconsin was killed when it was hit by a car in 1960 near Cornucopia. Wolves were temporarily annihilated, but have recovered to the point of being down-listed from endangered species to threatened. More than 600 people in Michigan and Wisconsin responded to a survey about wolves done by Northland College Sociology Professor Kevin Schanning. He says people from both states feel the same way: 62% think there's reason to worry about wolves being dangerous, and only 20-percent think killing a wolf is wrong. But Schanning says 57% think wolves should be protected. "The general public in both states are saying 'I'm not exactly sure how to manage them but managing them by euthanizing them or somehow killing them doesn't seem to be very accepted." Schanning says this survey shows people appreciate wolves as a natural part of things. "When you ask people about 'are wolves the symbol of the beauty and wonder of nature? Do we need wolves to help manage the eco-system'. 75%-80% responded are saying 'yeah, we need wolves. They're a part of our state now and we need to manage them, we need to protect them." A judge's ruling is keeping wolves in Wisconsin on the endangered species list, but federal officials want to see wolves moved to a less urgent "threatened" level. 120 wolf packs roam Wisconsin. mostly in the Northwood area north of Highway 8.
Superior cop cars go retro
Back to the black and whites
(4/24/2005) The Superior Police Department is getting a new look even though it looks like something out of old movies. Nick Pelletier reports.
Retro is in when it comes to paint jobs on police cars. Superior Police Chief Floyd Peters says the idea for the black and whites didn’t come from the movies. It came from within. "Line level officers had a great deal of input on designing this new look and the graphics. Actually I have 2 officers who are doing the majority of the graphic work themselves. They are very talented people and just doing a great job for us and again they take a great deal of pride in that." He says this old time style is something that departments across the country are doing. Peters says aside from a new look, this is cheaper to maintain on the departments 14 marked squad cars than the current design they’re replacing. "They also faded out from sun damage and car wash damage. After 5 or 6 months didn’t look as good as we would have liked them to stay. We believe that the black and whites, we know they will be cheaper on the front end as far as the graphics but it is a nice clean look. We believe they will stay cleaner and more professional looking longer into the future." There are some cars with a new paint job and five new Ford Crown Victoria’s coming in.
UWS "Upward Bound" program in danger of
Program helps at-risk kids get into higher education
(4/23/2005) Upward Bound guides students to their future, but the future of the program may be on the rocks. Melissa Spero reports that a chapter at UW-Superior may fall victim to federal cuts.
Upward Bound is a federally funded program that allows high school students to be tutored by college mentors. Superior Director Vince Repesh says the program targets students who are at a high risk of not completing high school. He says many students have succeeded with the program's aid. "I've got a young man that's playing football out of Morehead State University. I've got a young lady that's playing basketball at Hibbing Community College. I've got a young lady that's majoring in nursing and modeling that's running track at Concordia Green Bay. I've got a fantastic singer that's at Carthage College that's going to be going on a tour around the United States with her vocals. You know I could go on and on." The program may be terminated with the nation's new budget plans. Repesh says he's concerned about what would happen to at-risk students if Upward Bound is cancelled. "It's going to affect, oh god, close to over 600,000 thousand students in the United States if these programs are cut." Through the program, students pass their high school classes and pursue college. Upward Bound mentors like UWS student Nicholas Feller are keeping their fingers crossed. "This program gives a new outlook for kids who cannot look forward to much. And if this program is cut they will go back to that outlook that I have nothing to accomplish in life." They are 46 students involved with the UWS program.
Democracy summit to be held in Duluth
Students organizing it
(4/22/2005) UMD students active with the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group holding a community wide Free Democracy Summit starting Friday Duluth. David Hopkins has the story.
University of Minnesota Duluth Political Science student Peter Starzynski is excited about a weekend of activities which begins with a free dinner and keynote speakers. "Dr. May Weems, who is an amazing poet, is coming up here. Oh, this is great. Let’s coordinate this dinner. Because we had Dr. Stephen Miles and Mark Ritchie who wanted to come up here as well, but they could only come on Friday. But let’s have her do her poetry, then they can speak and sit together on a panel and talk about these certain issues. I just can’t wait, it’s going to be so exciting." The opening ceremony and dinner starts at 5:30 at Duluth’s YWCA. MPIRG’s student intern organizers Starzynski and Jamison Tessnor, have arranged music, theater and dialogue in venues all over Duluth. "The Harbor City School is where all the panel discussions are and all the events on Sunday." The Street Fair will be on Superior Street between 2nd Avenue East and 3rd Avenue East starting at 4:00 on Saturday. It will include a Gonzo Brothers debate, speeches by City Councilor Laurie Johnson and Jim Hightower with a performance by The Hillside Flyers. They’re a community group of acrobatic performers. "They just do flips and tumbles and play loud music and it’s quite high energy and very fun to watch." Starzynski says Duluth’s Free Democracy Summit originated when area students went to Miami to join demonstrations opposing the North American Free Trade Agreement. "We had Labor, Big labor who organized it, marching with environmentalist groups and animal rights activists, marching with teenagers, with anarchists, with women’s rights groups, with immigrants from Central America and Mexico. So we had all these different groups marching together for one thing, all these groups who would leave Miami and go back to work on their own issues, but while they were down there it was all for the same thing and that really inspired us." The full weekend schedule can be found at the website http://www.freedemocracysummit.org.
Red Cliff tribal chair on way out,
casino plans may go too
Action happened on what some are calling "Tragic Tuesday"
(4/21/2005) Red Cliff’s $32-million casino/marina/ resort complex is on the ropes, and could be knocked out at a Tribal Council meeting Sunday. Mike Simonson reports.
Last month Red Cliff Tribal Chairman Ray DePerry made an historic address to the state assembly…the first tribal chairman to deliver a "state of the tribes" speech. Now, it appears that he’s on his way out as tribal chairman. Tuesday the Red Cliff Tribal Council fired its Chief Financial Officer and refused to certify Tribal Chairman Ray DePerry’s bid for re-election. The council decided DePerry didn’t meet residency requirements. DePerry says he has an apartment in Red Cliff, but factions have split support. "I knew this was coming. I knew in April that this day would come because during some of our dialogue, there’s been mumblings and grumblings about impeaching me because of a residency question. I’ve often said to them ‘bring it on’." This week the tribal council was told by potential banking investors that the 32-million dollar casino project had to be scaled back to about $25-million. DePerry says that’s not all bad news. If they did that, they could break ground next month and be open by the summer of 2006. But now DePerry says this project is upin the air. "That would tell any bank that even if they want to give us $25 million, we were interested, but now with all the instability, I don’t know if we want to invest 25." Sunday’s Tribal Council meeting will consider whether or not to continue with the casino project. DePerry’s term expires in July. Other tribal council members were not available for comment.
Northland College students taking on
As state debates shooting the cats
A heated discussion about feral cats has is the subject of study for two
Northland College students. Their research may contribute to an intelligent and
humane solution. David Hopkins has the story.
Northland College sophomore Laura Rycroft is on the Board of Directors of the Chequamegon Humane Association. She’s been closely following the discussion about Wisconsin’s feral cats. "I think there definitely is an issue with the feral cat population, but I don’t think that going around shooting them is the solution." From Chicago, Rycroft is a double major in natural resources with an emphasis on fish and wildlife management and psychology. She says that one problem is transmitting a feline variety of HIV and leukemia, but it has not been showing up very significantly in her research. "The big issue right now is songbirds that people are concerned about, that feral cats are killing lots of songbirds. And they’ve quoted all sorts of numbers. Personally myself, I’m very data oriented and I’ve been collecting data myself. I’d like to see some more accurate numbers." Though she believes there is truth to the claim, Rycroft suspects that there are bigger causes of songbird loss from pesticides and habitat loss. She thinks the biggest issue is the suffering of the cats themselves. She says that people should care for domesticated animals. Her research partner, Northland College senior in veterinary life science Lindsey Edmundson, helps respond to people who have feral cats hanging around. "We’d catch three or four that they knew about, then we’d catch three or four more, then three or four more after that. And we ended up catching 8 to 10 cats that they didn’t even know they had. So how are you going to shoot the cats you can’t see?" Lindsey and Edmundson see some hope for trapping feral cats and domesticating them as pets. In a feral cat colony, the abandoned ones are the ones people usually see because they are unafraid of people. The truly feral cats stay hidden and are harder to work with. "You could determine if, over a three or four week period of time, you could socialize these cats. So eighteen out of the twenty cats that we’ve trapped, we were able to socialize, and we placed twelve of them in homes so far." Rycroft and Edmundson would like to begin a trap, neuter, and release colony so they can begin collecting data on the feasibility of such an approach.
HIV cases on the rise in Wisconsin and locally
(4/20/2005) After several years with a declining cases of HIV in Wisconsin, there has been an increase. David Hopkins reports from Superior.
Superior’s Aids Resource Center Director Luther Christianson says from 2003 to 2004 there has been a 14% increase of new HIV cases. "We had more than 400 cases reported in 2004 in Wisconsin that’s a record high since 1997 so we’ve really seen things drop, so it’s strange that we would see things go back up." Christianson says rural northwestern Wisconsin mirrors the statewide numbers. There were ten new cases of HIV in Douglas County last year. In spite of these figures, the studies have not concluded that there are more infections in Wisconsin. "That could mean that more people are getting tested which is a good thing." He also notes that fewer people are dying from HIV because of medications. But HIV remains a large issue of the gay population, nationwide and in Wisconsin. "There’s two and a half times more gay men becoming infected with HIV than high risk heterosexual people. The highest number of single demographic are still men who have sex with men." Among this population the primary challenge is be straightforward about risks they take. "It’s really important for people to learn to be able to discuss issues of sexual orientation among their immediate family and friends. I think that’s the way that we can really create change." The Wisconsin AIDS Resource Center in Superior now offers a test for HIV that gives a result in 20 minutes. The Douglas County Health Service also provides testing and counseling for people who think may have been exposed to HIV. Meanwhile, successful prevention of HIV in Wisconsin and the tolerance of gay and lesbian people go hand in hand. Superior's AIDS Resource Director Luther Christianson says that social tolerance of gays is critical to preventing the incidence of HIV. He says it is ironic to combat a disease while physicians of gay and lesbian people remain unaware of the sexual orientation of their clients. "We can really see that the effects that the negative climate towards gay and lesbian people manifest itself as a real health crisis." Christianson explains that the internalized oppression of gay and lesbian people results in self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse and unprotected sex. He says the closeting of gay and lesbian people affects the way that they receive medical care and makes HIV prevention more difficult. "Usually their actual sexual behavior is not discussed because their physician does not acknowledge that they are gay or lesbian, or they don’t disclose, they don’t feel comfortable disclosing their orientation to their physician. Therefore their physician may not be aware of risk behaviors that their patient is engaging in. That’s a real health crisis that we have in our country right now." Christianson says his work with HIV prevention is personal as well as professional. "When I came out, I was really isolated and alone and I was unaware that anything I was doing was of risk. I don’t want to see more infections. I’m tired of getting new clients. I’m tired of seeing clients suffer under medication side effect and getting sicker and dying. Those are things I don’t want to see for the next generation." The Wisconsin Aids Resource Center now offers a rapid HIV test that shows the results in twenty minutes. HIV testing and counseling is also available from the Douglas County Health Department.
Wildfire chopper to land in Solon
Will stay for a month until high fire danger is over
(4/19/2005) For the next month Solon Springs is going to be the base for one of the DNR’s fire prevention tools. Nick Pelletier has the story.
A temporary DNR [Department of Natural Resources] base is being set up at the Solon Springs Airport to house a helicopter that can pick up water from area lakes and dump it on a wildfire. It can also carry water to an area near a fire to prevent the spread. DNR Ranger Mark Braasch in Gordon says this year has been dry causing increased fire danger. "This spring is probably some of the worst early season just because it has been so dry. At Gordon we have not had more than I think a quarter of an inch since the snow left. We had one storm about two weeks ago that we had about an inch on. Since then we haven’t gotten any rain. We have been either high or very high for the last week or so." Braasch says the chopper can carry 100 gallons of water. It can refill at any lake or stream the bucket can fit in. That compares to a tanker plane that can carry 750 gallons or a fire truck that can take about as 1800 gallons. He says the helicopter can be sent to a fire anywhere in the state but right now would be most likely be used in Bayfield, Douglas, Washburn and Burnett Counties because of the sand and pine trees. "It makes a different on potential fire size. We can run very large fires real quickly on the sand and pine areas. Where there is heavier soil you can have bad fires but typically you don’t have quite as big a risk as size and how quick it is going to go, those type of things." The helicopter has been coming up north for at least 10 years. Braasch says because of budget cuts this may be the last time the helicopter is up this way. He says this isn’t the only option to put a fire out from the air. It is possible for planes to come from Minnesota or Ontario. Meanwhile, the fire danger remains either high or very high across all of northwestern Wisconsin. Even after a good rain, dry conditions can return within a day.
State makes effort to supersede Douglas County power line vote
(4/18/2005) A legislator is proposing to give utilities the power to condemn public land. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
The issue comes after a vote two months ago by the Douglas County Board to not negotiate with American Transmission Company which is trying to build the Duluth to Wausau transmission line. Representative Phil Montgomery of Green Bay says a single county board shouldn't be allowed to block or delay a power line already approved by the state Public Service Commission. So Montgomery...as chairman of the Assembly Energy Committee...wants to pass a law allowing utilities to condemn public land. Douglas County Administrator Steve Koszarek says this will trump home rule enjoyed now by county boards. "I don’t think anyone wants to see this happen because it’s more far-reaching than just Douglas County. It would put the Public Service Commission and the state in a whole different position on a lot of different issues when you talk about county land and certainly the home rule that has existed in Wisconsin for years and years." But Montgomery says Douglas County shouldn't be able to stop this high-voltage transmission line from sending power to the rest of the state. "It is inherent right of the state to set our energy policy. This just brings the transmission and production of energy in line with the state’s ability to produce it." Montgomery also hopes this proposed legislation will force Douglas County to the negotiating table with American Transmission Company. Power line opposition group SOUL [Save Our Unique Lands] attorney Glenn Stoddard says Montgomery is accusing Douglas County of looking out for itself. But one of the utilities pushing for this transmission line is Green Bay-based Public Service Corporation...in Montgomery's district. "It’s easy for him to say ‘Douglas County ought to put up with this project. The company’s located in his district and is likely to benefit and it’s one of the sponsors. It’s a different issue statewide. You have people in the northwestern part of the state who are going to get minimal if any benefit at all in terms of electricity from the project." Stoddard says if this bill passes, it could allow many different projects to be built without the approval of local county boards.
Boyle proposes doctor assisted suicide bill
(4/17/2005) A doctor-assisted suicide bill will be re-introduced into the state Assembly this session. The "Death with Dignity" bill allows physicians to administer lethal medication to end a life. Mike Simonson has the story from Superior.
Bill sponsors Fred Risser of Madison and Frank Boyle of Superior say this is a human rights issue, for people who are at the end of their lives. The Democrats have introduced this bill seven other times since 1990...but it has proved too hot of a political potato to go anywhere in the legislature. But Boyle says its time has come with the recent case of a brain damaged woman in Florida. "I understand the political gamesmanship that was being brought to bear in the Terri Shaivo case. But what it did do was the response was overwhelming, 80% of the folks say 'hey, you stay out of the dying process government, it's a family matter, and we want the right to make that decision." "Death with Dignity" has strict controls. It requires a person wishing to die to be of sound mind, terminally ill and assessed by two physicians. Then a physician leaves a lethal dose of medicine for the person to take. "For mentally competent, terminally ill people as in Oregon, that it's a tremendous comfort for people to have the option if the pain becomes unbearable, if life conditions become not worth living, that they engage in the decision to terminate." Doctor-assisted suicide is based on Oregon's 1997 law, and is also being debated in several other states including Vermont and California. Thirty-seven terminally ill people used doctor-assisted suicide to end their lives in Oregon last year.
Kids in Bennett get the facts about poochie
(4/16/2005) Man's best friend is getting some special attention from 4H these days. Melissa Spero reports it plans to teach kids and dogs how to better get along.
4-H Youth Development Educator Joan Wimme in the Town of Bennett says the bond between children and their dogs is special. "As a dog owner and pet lover, I mean a number of things. I mean number one there's that compassion between an animal and the child. There's a responsible of care and making sure that animal is safe and well taken care of. Pride I knowing that their animal is learning and they're learning right along with them. First, the instructor explains dog and veterinarian care, then obedience and showmanship lessons. From there, kids can go on to dog shows. Wimme says through the program children will realize the responsibility that comes with having a dog. "They're cute and furry the first day you get them. But then they grow up into big dogs that have needs. And they need to be exercised and they need to be this and that. So I think it's trying to get kids to realize you don't just throw these things away like you might a toy you aren't interested in anymore." Wimme says there are 40 to 45 youths involved but she isn't sure the numbers will stay that high. "You know if they aren't interested in showing their dog they may or may not sign up to be in one of these project groups that are organizing. For some kids that might not be the way they want to go. But having these project meetings gives kids a resource to take themselves and their dogs to learn more about them." This is the first time this program has been offered in Bennett, and is one of only a few programs of its kind in 4-H.
Former Northern Waters Library Director
gets award for fighting Patriot Act
Now directs library in Washington State
(4/15/2005) A former northern Wisconsin librarian from Ashland has been given the 2005 PEN American First Amendment Award by an international writer’s organization. Mike Simonson reports.
Joan Airoldi stood up to a Patriot Act subpoena demanding the names of people who read a book about Osama Bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. Deming, Washington has a rural library near the Canadian border, the library itself is only the size of a regular family home. Last June 8th Deming Librarian Joan Airoldi's quiet world changed suddenly. An FBI agent demanded the names of all patrons who borrowed the book "Bin Laden: The Man who Declared War on America". Airoldi says it was a frightening moment. She took it to her library board, which backed her proposal to deny the information to the government. "For the names and identifiable information of all persons who had checked out that book since November of 2001. That could be an enormous amount of people, and what have these people done? There's no checks and balances in place. That's the real scary part." The FBI asked a grand jury to subpoena the library. That was granted ten days later. Again, Airoldi and the library board resisted, having an attorney file a motion to quash the subpoena. The FBI backed off, and no names were released. Airoldi says it's important for library boards to take a stand against this provision of the USA Patriot Act. "It would defeat one of the purposes for having public libraries in our country which is free and open access to whatever information people are interested in without any kind of fear of being judged by anyone including the United States government." PEN America Freedom to Write Director Larry Siems says librarians have often stood up for civil liberties. "There's a long and unhappy history of incursions by federal intelligence agencies into libraries in particular there was the infamous "Library Awareness Program" during the Cold War in which the FBI was trying to track the reading habits of people who had immigrated from Soviet bloc countries or had foreign sounding names." The Patriot Act provision which forces libraries to disclose the names of people who have checked out certain books sunsets at the end of this year unless Congress renews it.
Dinner illustrates tribal unity in face of tragedy at Red Lake
(4/14/2005) In the aftermath of the school shooting, tribal members of the Red Lake Nation are receiving support from around the country. David Hopkins has the story.
Of the 300 Red Lake tribal members who live in Duluth, about 50 showed up for a Community Feast at the Washington Center. The occasion was also a fundraiser for the victims of the recent shooting tragedy. Duluth’s Red Lake tribal liaison Mike Sayers says the gathering helps people give one another support. "It’s pretty much what we do wherever we’re at, whether we’re back home on the reservation or in an urban area such as Duluth. I know my family down in the Twin Cities is doing the same thing." Sayers has family and friends close to all the victims of the shootings at Red Lake. He’s been to numerous funerals recently and personally shares the shock and grief of the tragedy. "It’s always been prevalent in the Native American community, being there for each other." The tragedy occurred during heated discussions between the tribes about the future of casinos. But they put those differences aside. I’ve gotten calls from tribes in New Mexico, out in Arizona, California, New York, Florida, Oklahoma. We have volunteers from all over the country in Red Lake right now, with mental health services helping out with some of the victims deal with the trauma, some of the other students and families that have lost family members. It’s been amazing." He says the impact of the tragedy has touched many lives. "We have 10,000 enrolled members, about 8000 live in the state of Minnesota and another 2,000 scattered around the United States. We have tribal members in Europe, we have tribal members in Asia, we have tribal members in Australia. People get around." Sayers says that people realize positive effects during tragic events and one benefit is the experience of people and communities coming together with compassion and respect.
Duluth holds dinner for Red Lake
Fundraiser is Wednesday night
(4/13/2005) The city of Duluth is stepping forward as a community obliged to assist the people of Red Lake who are recovering from the recent shooting tragedy. David Hopkins has the story.
Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson says that this traditional Native American dinner will help the community come together in support of the victims of the recent Red Lake tragedy. Food vendors around the community donated the free meal. "We’ve got an obligation as the largest city in northern Minnesota, the largest city in the region, and the richest city in the region. We have the obligation as a big brother to the smaller communities that don’t have the ability to raise a significant amount of money to help their people." Duluth American Indian Commission Chairperson Robert Powless says that the fund-raiser is an effort of generosity by concerned people in the area. "We think about those folks in Red Lake and hope that some of them will be able to make it down this evening and to shake hands and get away from this horrible situation, this horrible tragedy that has occurred in their lives." American Indian Community Housing Organization Director Sherry Sanchez Tibbetts says people need to come together to help solve this crisis. We’d like to thank the mayors office and the commission for spearheading this effort and giving the community a chance to come together and focus and share what we have with other people who have experienced a tremendous tragedy." Bergson says that compassion and understanding is important, but the victims also need money. "The raffle tickets will be sold by the Indian Commission and by three businesses, one in Lakeside, Marshall Hardware, one at Wells Fargo Bank downtown in the center of the city, and one on the west side at Mr. D’s. As mayor of the largest city in Minnesota I say I am sorry to the victims in Red Lake. This is our very small way of trying to help you get through this painful moment." People can also send donations to the Red Lake Memorial Fund in care of the mayors’ office. The Washington Center is located on Lake Avenue at Fourth Street in Duluth. The meal is being served from 5 until 8 p.m.
Douglas County surveying residents
about job opportunities
Friday is last day to participate
(4/12/2005) The Douglas County UW-Extension is conducting a survey to find out what local businesses think about the community’s economic development. Nick Pelletier has the story.
The last time a survey like this was done was over 10 years ago. Douglas County Board Chairman Doug Finn says this is a way of giving the area a report card on how government is doing in working with and attracting businesses to the area. "We try to grow the communities slowly but steadily. That would be my position. We need more jobs. We need better jobs. We need more stable jobs. I think we are seeing some of that. We don’t rely on the bigger industries like we used to." Finn says having a convention center for medium sized conventions would also help. He says this could be as easy as adding meeting rooms to a hotel or something on the UW-Superior campus. He says another way to help is by attracting more people to the area. "Our population has been fairly stable the last few years after declines for decades. It is real important that we maintain what we have and we grow upon what we have. We keep our younger people here and that we attract younger people to this community. We are going to be stagnant if we don’t if we don’t bring in new people and keep younger people here." Finn says plans to expand the UW-Superior campus will have a good economic ripple throughout the region. "That is one of the areas that do attract more people, younger people to the community to grow. One of the good things you go back 15 years ago there was significant discussion of closing UWS or making it a two year campus or whatever. Now we don’t hear that discussion. We hear about new buildings and growth. We need to just make sure that continues and the university is strong and continues to be strong." Survey are due Friday. Finn doesn’t know when the final results will be in. You can fill out the survey by calling 395-1363.
Students to be silent on Wednesday to
support gay issues
They say the political atmosphere is oppressive against gays
(4/12/2005) The UWS Queer and Allied Students Union [QASU] joins a national Day of Silence Wednesday to bring awareness to the issues of the gay and lesbian students. David Hopkins has the story.
UWS student Mike Crawford identifies himself as an ally who supports the cause of gay liberation. He has taken a one-day vow of silence. "The focus of the Day of Silence is to manifest and reflect the silence faced by the GLBTQ citizens of America. The silence that they cannot come out to some of their family, to society, and some even to come out to themselves." Queer and Allied Students Faculty Adviser Dianna Hunter says that regional tolerance for gay and lesbian people seems to be growing. But she says it’s been tough. "Twenty years ago we weren’t even ready to debate these issues in public. A few years ago on this campus the student leaders of QASU, then called the 10% Society, had their tires slashed and some of them were actually physically assaulted. But I think we’ve made a lot of progress and at least on our campus we haven’t seen that sort of thing happening in the last few years." Hunter says that gay people live with the knowledge of gay oppression and the real possibility of abuse and even murder. "I don’t feel it every day as a palpable, visceral reality. If one did you couldn’t live with that stress." While regional tolerance seems to be growing, Hunter says that the general climate remains unstable. "It’s hard to see the State of Wisconsin considering domestic partnership benefits and then having it be one of the issues that the Legislature chooses not to support. When all the other Big Ten institutions do provide domestic partnership benefits it leaves us feeling a little left out here in the University Wisconsin system." Students participating in the Day of Silence will wear T-shirts and distribute cards that explain their silence. The Day of Silence will be followed by a celebratory Night of Noise at Shakers, 525 Tower Avenue in Superior beginning at 7 p.m.
Northern Wisconsin astronaut weighs in
on return to space
Believes NASA will be ready next month
(4/11/2005) As NASA readies for its return to space next month, some astronauts with the shuttle crew are questioning safety procedures. Mike Simonson has the thoughts of Wisconsin's lone astronaut.
Colonel Jeffrey Williams was in line to be the commander of a space shuttle mission to the international space station. That was before the shuttle Columbia blew up while re-entering the Earth's atmosphere more than two years ago. Now, Williams is training with a Russian crew to launch on the Soyuz space capsule in about one year. In an interview from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Williams says he understands the concerns of his fellow astronauts, but says those problems are being addressed. "In this business, you have to have a level of confidence in the team and generally everybody does that that. Now, are we ready to fly tomorrow? No, obviously not. There are a few things that we have yet to do, but there's no plan to, we have a plan in place to fly in May." Williams...who grew up in Winter in Sawyer County...flew his first shuttle mission five years ago on board Atlantis. He says new techniques are in place to check the shuttle for damage to its outer heat deflection tiles. "If you have something fall off and have something strike the vehicle then you want to be albe to find that and detect it, so there's some detection technology and methods we would use in orbit to do that." The return to space is set for May 15, 27 months after the Columbia tragedy which took the lives of all seven astronauts on board. Captain Laurel Clark of Racine was one of those killed in that mission.
Native American students show off their
diverse art at UWS
Art display sends individual messages from students
(4/10/2005) April is American Indian Awareness Month at the University Wisconsin Superior. To launch the month of events, the Kruk Gallery is showing an American Indian Art Exhibit. David Hopkins has the story.
Kruk Gallery attendant Melissa Burlaga has viewed the entire show of regional art while it has been on display through the month of March. "I would say I have a couple favorite pieces. This fox right here is different, the beading on it, the eyes and the nose is realistic. It's a rattle by Andrew Bresette of the Red Cliff Ojibwe High School." Andrew Bresette is one of a several regional native youth with work on display. The notion of a mixed show of works by students and professionals supports young Indian artists. "Over here there are a couple of statues made out of Colorado alabaster and I think they are really nicely done. There's nice detail. I like how he has the bird on top of his head and on his shoulder and he's holding the little bowl." The sculptures by Jeff Savage are among works by other notable artists of the region. That includes Carl Gawboy and Camille LaCapa. LaCapa is the featured artist of the show and will be the keynote speaker at the reception. The student work will be judged and scholarships will be awarded during the reception that will kick off American Indian Awareness Month at UWS.
of fire towers in northern Wisconsin forests are up in the air
Looking for public comment
(4/9/2005) There's an effort underway to save the handful of remaining Depression-era fire towers in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National forests. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
The U.S. Forest Service is asking people to tell them what they think of these old 100-foot high towers. 38 of these erector-set type towers were built in the 1930's. It was a time when unemployed people were hired for public service work, and before airplanes were used on fire patrols. A solitary fire ranger would sit above the tree tops on the look-out for smoke. Forest Service Program Manager Mark Bruly says most of these towers were taken down in the 1960's and 70's. Today, nine remain although only two are staffed by rangers and one in Oconto County allows visitors. "The Mountain Tower is our one and only accessible tower. It is the one tower the public can climb. When we made a decision to do that in 1993, we did a few extra things to make it safer. We put some additional support on the railings and made the stairs a little bit safer and so forth." Bruly says they're asking people to contact the Forest Service about these towers. They've already gotten dozens of e-mails and letters, including one from a Milwaukee man whose family had a cabin by the Mountain Tower. "He's climbed the tower many times. He said now a fellow in his 80's, he's no longer able to climb up the tower. The tower's important to him, his family, it's a part of the landscape, it's become familiar and valued." And there's the romance and adventure of a 100 foot open tower in the middle of a forest. "When the wind is blowing and the tower's swaying, it's a disconcerting feeling." Bruly says they have no plans to tear any of the remaining towers down. But he says they are eyeballing the 70 year-old structures to see what kind of maintenance each will need to stay up and safe.
KUWS News Briefs
Obey at Vatican City, Red Cliff chairman being challenged
(4/8/2005) There’ll be a primary race next month for chairperson of the Red Cliff Tribe. Incumbent Ray DePerry is running for a third term. Mike Simonson reports.
Ray DePerry's being challenged by tribal council members Marvin Defoe and Jean Buffalo-Reyes. Patricia Ruth DePerry, who was Red Cliff tribal chairwoman more than 20 years ago, is also running for the seat. The primary is set for May 6, and the general election will be July 5.
Wisconsin Congressman Dave Obey is in Vatican City, preparing to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Obey, a practicing Catholic, met the pope more than 20 years ago. He says Pope John Paul II was a force in dismantling communism in his native Poland and around the world.
Wisconsin Public Radio has won a Peabody award. The long-running news magazine program To the Best of Our Knowledge from Wisconsin Public Radio won for its examination of contemporary political and social trends. "The Book" as it’s called after its initials is distributed nationally by Public Radio International.
Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson is launching a fundraiser for the victims of the Red Lake High School shootings. The Duluth Indian Commission will host a benefit dinner at the Washington Center at Lake Avenue and Third Street next Wednesday.
The first salty of the Twin Ports shipping season is set to arrive early Monday morning. The Bahamian-flagged Utviken will take on a load of wheat at Duluth’s Cargill Elevators. The Utviken is a frequent visitor of the Twin Ports, but also had a fling with stardom. The ship the setting for several scenes from the movie U.S. Marshals starring Tommy Lee Jones and Wesley Snipes.
The nice stretch of warm weather across northern Wisconsin is also bringing reports of several migratory birds making the trip back north. The Spooner DNR says mallards, wood ducks, geese and mergansers have been observed across the region. A small flock of sandhill cranes was reported in the Shell Lake area too.
Duluth 4th Fest will headline Chuck Berry at Bayfront Festival Park. Other acts include Foghat, Tone Loc, and Walter Trout. Fourthfest is set for July 2nd - 4th.
Islamic and Christian community get
together to fight Twin Ports poverty
Event is Saturday at Peace United Church
(4/7/2005) The face of homelessness and poverty is changing in the Twin Ports. More working families are seeking help for food and housing. David Hopkins has the story.
Churches United in Ministry Development Director David Clanaugh says many working poor families just don’t have enough resources to take care of all the bills. "At the end of the day they’re wondering where they’re going to purchase their food after they pay their rent. Cutbacks in things like Minnesota Care, increased co-pays. All these are whittling away at thin resources that people have for their basic needs." He says that living wage jobs are especially scarce. Clanaugh says that people endure much hunger and discomfort before they endure the embarrassment of asking for help. Clanaugh describes a Twin Ports man with some health problems who lost his job. "He was living on his savings, living in his car, sleeping in a storage unit until we got the first real serious cold spell in January. Between his medical issues and the cold weather he came to CHUM. One of the first things he said to our stabilization advocate is "I’ve always been able to take care of myself. I’ve never had to ask for help before, but I’m basically at my wits end here." The help that people find at CHUM is only part of what is provided by area agencies like Harbor House and the Salvation Army. Clanaugh says they handle 2500 different people every year at their food shelf and the homeless shelter has 15-thousand bed nights. A fund-raising dinner with the help of the Twin Ports Islamic Community and India Palace is being met with community enthusiasm. "We are sold out and have a waiting list. Tremendous response from the community Local support from individuals and businesses has been very encouraging." He says that grassroots fund-raising only partially replaces traditional support that once came from foundations and the government. The event is Saturday at Peace United Church in Duluth beginning at 5:30.
Panel at UWS on the Red Lake tragedy asks why
(4/6/2005) The shootings at Red Lake have brought up questions about what can be done to help the people of Red Lake. Some UW–Superior faculty hope to help. David Hopkins has the story.
UWS First Nations Chairman Gary Johnson thinks talking about the tragedy will help find solutions. A student in the audience is frustrated with the media. "It’s all about how it happened and what to do about it. I think today, one of the good things about being here is we’re trying to ask the question, why. Why did it happen?" UWS Human Behavior and Diversity Professor Lawrence Martin thinks the reasons run deep and are long term. "It is worthy to note that Native Americans historically have always been oppressed. They’ve always been pushed down. Oppression to families kind of squishes the family, knocks out the love, knocks out the joy, and whadya got?" Martin points out oppression affects everyone and that the Red Lake incident is much more than an American Indian issue. UW-S Women’s Studies Lecturer Dianna Hunter wonders about the role of boys in school shootings. "Columbine wasn’t the first. Remember there was the one in Arkansas and the one in Mississippi preceded that. And all of these were perpetrated by boys who took on this tough guise of the killer, the cold-hearted, the weapons interest. And I guess I would also ask if there is a link to militarization and the importance of war and militarization in our country." Johnson emphasized that mentorship and support of all children is inadequate. "You know, it does take a village to raise a person. You look at a lot of young people and they are trying to find out what it means to be an adult and if we don’t have somebody there to teach those kind of values, what it means to be a to be a man, that it’s not about violence, then society’s going to shape you and tell you that it is violence." Larry Martin agrees. "From an Anishinaabe point of view, we need our elders to show us again." Johnson says that when the Red Lake Nation closed its borders it only shows that the tribe is dealing with its problem and that the mourning runs deep. At the same time it appears clear that the Red Lake tragedy reflects a problem that is fully American.
Week of the Young Child focuses on family ties
(4/5/2005) The Northern Lights Family Resource Center of Douglas County is celebrating "The Week of the Young Child". Melissa Spero has the story.
The Week of the Young Child is a nationwide event that promotes family ties and child development. Douglas County Family Outreach Worker Amy Shaw says the celebration is a good reminder children are important. "They are people with voices and needs. We’d be best suited to take care of those needs and to be positive and to have a family feel at a young age because if we don’t catch those situations at that—at the inception of it we’re going to have a problem later in life." Kids can make crafts or paint, listen to the DJ or sing karaoke. The celebration is open to anyone. Shaw even wants people who don’t have kids to stop by. "To see their creativity and to see their pleasure and enjoyment with the projects that we make. They have such a great energy about them that you can’t help but feel good when you’re in their presence." The celebration is free. A meal will be served to start the activities. Shaw wants people to realize the importance of children. "It certainly is a community thing and it’s something that benefits us all because at some point we were a kid or we will have children or we baby-sit or we’re part of a community. You know, we all interact with children and it’s important to keep in our minds that that’s kind of the thing that’s precious and that we need to cultivate positive experiences with them as much as possible. The celebration is on Thursday April 7 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Northern Lights Elementary School.
Boyle: Draft would be fairer than current system
(4/4/2005) With the conflict in Iraq, many of Wisconsin's National Guard members are being called to active duty. Nick Pelletier spoke with Representative Frank Boyle about Wisconsin guard units.
Boyle says most every member of the Wisconsin National Guard unit will be called to active duty because of the military's involvement oversees. "A stint in the guard now is not a weekend and two weekends a year. It is hard duty being shot at in Iraq. I think people now are tending to shy away from involvement in that conflict if they can." He says a draft will be necessary if the military continues to expand into other areas of the world. "If we are going to continue this military conquest in the Middle East, the axis of evil. If something breaks out in North Korea or Iran we will have to institute the draft immediately." Boyle says military duty of the guard often depends on a soldier's pocketbook. He says lower income people need the money they can earn from the guard. "It ought to be a fair and equitable responsibility of rich and poor alike. A draft would make it that. I guess for that reason I am an advocate of the draft. Although I am absolutely opposed to what is occurring in Iraq an outspoken opponent from the getty-up and will continue to be." He says recruiting of 15 and 16 year olds isn't working. Now the better recruiting tactic is to appeal to patriotism of poor parents.
Fake cop investigation spreads to
Probably not related
(4/3/2005) After the police impersonator on Highway 53 the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department has narrowed the list of possibilities. Nick Pelletier has the story.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Investigator Jim Radtke isn’t going as far as calling anybody a suspect. He says the tip line has received about 30 phone calls. He says there has only been one incident in Douglas County. There have been two other incidents one in Ashland and one in Hudson, however, Radtke says they are unrelated. "A white male, tall and thin. Probably 6 feet or taller. A mustache, which may or may not be there now. Dark hair clean-shaven, other than the mustache, mid 40’s, which could be from 40 to 50 I am estimating. White and other than that we are sort of limited." If a driver feels concerned about the car pulling them over Radtke suggests letting them know you see them and calling 911. "You should acknowledge that the car is behind you, turn and look, or waive or flash your lights or something. Then just continue on at the speed limit obeying the traffic laws. It is not suggested that you try and outrun from them or escape from them or whatever. Just stay on the main roads until you can come to a safe area." Radtke says he’s using vehicle records to find drivers of a White Ford Crown Victoria, and he’s looking at the person’s description for a possible match. Anybody with information is asked to call 715 395-7468.
UW-Superior Native Specialist recalls
week at Red Lake
Will help whenever he can
(4/1/2005) The University of Wisconsin-Superior will allow its Native American Specialist to help the students at Red Lake High School recover after last week's shootings. Mike Simonson reports.
Tony Fairbanks opened his bible to Psalm 23 to bring a comfort that has eluded him since he heard the news March 21 that a gunman shot and opened fire at Red Lake High School. Five students, the school security guard, and a teacher were killed. The UW-Superior Native American Specialist has spent nine sleepless nights at Red Lake trying to help. "It's been a nightmare, constant nightmare, and I'm still trying to wake up from this nightmare." Fairbanks grew up on the Red Lake reservation in northern Minnesota. From 1998 until two years ago, he coached the middle school's football team, which included several of the dead and wounded students and the alleged shooter Jeffrey Weisse. Now, he hopes a thorough investigation by law enforcement will break this cycle of violence. He says U-W-Superior will send him to Red Lake to be part of that effort. "My concern is that when the media leaves and the dust settles, what's going to happen in Red Lake? What's going to happen to those kids? How are they going to number one recover, number two heal, number three, survive? This has changed our lives, this has changed our lives." Fairbanks says this recovery will be long-term, but culturally, he says Indian people have been through a lot. "We've been through genocide, we've been through oppression. We've experienced conflict, violence, all the things that take away from all the good things within our reservation system, within our homes, within our families, within our culture, within our spirituality." He says Red Lake is a close-knit, caring community that's been infected by gang violence. So for now, recovery is day to day at Red Lake. "Look back on this someday with sorrow, but hopefully that day will be better." That someday may still be a long way off. Fairbanks says during one of the student funerals last week, there was a drive-by shooting just two blocks away.
Deer hunters come out for increased fee and lower hunting age
The Department of Natural Resources is proposing fee increases for fishing and
hunting licenses. Nick Pelletier reports.
In Tomahawk, Wisconsin Deer Hunters Association Board Member Jim Blankenheim says last year there were some fee increases but not as much as the department asked for. He says this goes beyond deer. "As a result we have seen a large reduction in the amount of services the department provides. What is really important is habitat development. This austerity that we are going through has cut into a lot of those habitat enhancement programs. Whether it be working on a trout stream putting shelter in there for the fish or working with some wetlands. These projects are all put on hold." Blankenheim says he is willing to pay an increase. "If you look at this in terms of real dollars, I think it was George Meyer from the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation went back quite a few years and said that a license costs X number of dollars 20 or 30 years ago and if you apply inflation to that now the proposed increases will not actually be any more than we were paying 20 or 30 years ago. So yeah I am willing to do that." Blankenheim says things will be downright bad if the fees aren’t increased. "Things are going to go from bad to worse. Within the next 2 years I would imagine the warden vacancies would add another 20 positions to what we already have. Either you want to live with this or you want to do something about it." He says if the increases don’t go through the warden force will be cut to 75 percent of what it was a few years ago. Meanwhile, the Department of Natural Resources is looking at reducing the minimum age of hunters from 12 years old to 10. Wisconsin wouldn’t be the first state to allow hunting licenses for 10 year-olds, and Deer Hunters Association Board Member Jim Blankenheim says it doesn’t seem to be a problem. "What these folks tell us is that they have not seen that it has been a cause of any increase in the rate of any hunting accidents. In fact those reel young folks are some of the safest because of the way the law is designed." The proposed law would require an adult to watch the youth hunter. The adult would not be allowed to be hunting at the same time. They also wouldn’t be able to have their weapon with them. Blankenheim says he still has concerns about 10 year-olds hunting. "I look at it sort of like youthful drivers. I don’t care how good of a kid you have, a straight A student, no trouble what so ever. But they get behind the wheel. It is a matter of inexperience handling that piece of machinery. Their accident rate is much much higher that adults. It is not so much because they are goofing off or irresponsible it is just a lack of experience. I think you can apply that same lack of experience to handling a firearm." He says it comes down to maturity. He has seen kids as young as 8 years old hunting.
Veterans nursing home proposed for Superior
Clough Island development to go public in two weeks
(03/30/2005) A veteran’s nursing home may be built in Superior, and a public campaign will be launched for the Clough Island project. Mike Simonson reports.
State Representative Frank Boyle of Superior says the state is looking at building one more veterans’ long term health facility. He says an ideal place would be to build it next to the current Twin Ports Veteran’s Outreach Clinic in Superior. Boyle says the state’s Veteran’s secretary says it is a possibility. Boyle says a veteran’s nursing home in Superior would have between 50 and 250 beds.
A campaign to get public support for the largest development in Twin Ports history will be launched in about two weeks. Superior Mayor Dave Ross says they’ll hold a news conference about the $300 to $400 million Clough Island project. The project on the Saint Louis River’s largest island is controversial because it is in an environmentally sensitive area and of its large scope. It would include a golf course, condos, and recreational facilities. Ross says this will be the beginning of an effort to get the public behind it. "Without public support, this project will never happen". The project would add several million dollars to Superior’s tax base.
UWS music program goes international
(03/29/2005) An international music exchange program from Superior to Rio blossomed over spring break last week. David Hopkins has the story.
Once a professional performing musician and a music professor himself, UWS Chancellor Julius Erlenbach accompanied 120 students and 12 to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They took in the sites and of course, the cuisine. "Now we all know about what a chorrascarria is and the wonderful kind of dining and grilling that presents. It’s really one of the most popular forms of dining in Brazil." A professional musician and music professor before getting into university administration, Erlenbach says the cultural exchange with Brazilian students and teachers was deeply educational. But he says being chancellor often makes it difficult to mingle with students. "Because I do hear them perform on campus, certainly, but to hear them perform in another venue, a totally different country, and to do it so well, was really exciting. I mean they really did represent the University of Wisconsin Superior extremely well in Rio de Janeiro and were warmly received by the Rio audiences." Since the UWS Choir spent some time in Slovakia a year ago and with the success of the trip to Brazil, Erlenbach is enthusiastic about a growing reputation for international experiences. "Let’s face it, the world is becoming the global village that Marshal McLuhan years ago predicted with the communications revolution and now the advent of such rapid air travel among countries and around the world. It really behooves us, I think, to provide the experiences of this type that enable our students to live in a global society." The trip was a two-year effort by music department faculty and students.
Snowmobile skipping raising eyebrows of DNR
Late season fun is also dangerous
(3/28/2005) As ice goes out on northern Wisconsin lakes, the Department of Natural Resources says a new, if not dicey, sport is gaining popularity. It's water skipping with snowmobiles. Mike Simonson reports.
Water skipping has been around for awhile. It's a sort of underground sport that the DNR reports is attracting a few more riders each year. DNR Recreational Safety Specialist Mike Smith in Spooner says the object is to stay afloat over open water without being the first to blink. "Just a regular street stock snowmobile, you can run across the water if you get going fast enough with them. They start out on the ice, hit the water at a fairly good speed and cruise across the water. If they don't chicken out or let up on the throttle and everything goes good, they make it across the water." Smith says the brakes don't work very well on open water, either. He says one case a few years ago in Burnett County lead to a drowning and several broken bones, because sometimes snowmobilers buzz around against each other. "Part of the problem is when people get on the open water, peole come from different directions, nobody wants to sink. Steerage is not too good on those snowmobiles, you can see them, they're going to crash. People just don't let up on the throttle because they don't want to be the one who gets wet." As the snow melts and lakes open up, Smith says this is often and perhaps literally the last gasp of snowmobile season. Water skipping is against the law in many Wisconsin counties.
Veterans cemetery looking for customers
New Spooner facility encouraging veterans to sign up
(3/26/2005) The Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Spooner is taking applications for burial. Melissa Spero reports they are soliciting veterans and their significant others.
To qualify for a plot at Memorial Cemetery in Spooner veterans must be discharged under honorable conditions from active duty or serve at least twenty years in the guards or reserves. While applications to a cemetery might seem strange, Director Matt Bergs explains why they are efficient. "It helps us when the veterans register, we can kind of determine when we need to expand the cemetery. When we need to look into the next space of expansion. Or to make sure we have enough room the for the actual veterans that wish to be buried here." The cemetery has space for 40,000 people over its 90 acre lot. Every five to ten years, the cemetery will have more land cleared so more veterans can be buried. Bergs wants veterans to know they have a place to go. "For the veteran that wants to be buried along side other veterans. This is certainly something that they should at least look into. Just for the--to honor veterans. It's a place of honor for these veterans. It's a place where the veterans can be proud that they served with all the veterans that are interred here or buried here." There are currently 1,900 living veterans registered for burial.
Chamber Directors say winter tourism solid
Gas price hike may help area
(03/25/2005) Winter tourism business is better in northland than last year. Melissa Spero talks to area tourism officials.
The more snow the northland receives the more tourists show up to enjoy it. Superior/ Douglas County Chamber President Dave Minor says snow draws snowmobilers. "What we see is the snow really helps our county resources-county hotels because that’s where the snowmobilers really want to go. They can have-they can have better access to the trail system out there. They can ride right in on their snowmobile. So the more snow we have out there the better we all are." Minor says snowmobilers are able to ride up to their hotel, which is less of a hassle. He says although hotel occupancy rates are up slightly for the year the winter was a good one. "This winter we’re probably going to see the numbers rise more than any of the four seasons just due to the amount of snow that we had. Which means the amount of snowmobiles that could come up. It’s a huge industry for this area and they spend just an awful lot of money." Bayfield Chamber of Commerce Director Kari Obst says visitors know to expect snow when they come to the Chequamegon Bay. "I think that for the most part, tourist area in Northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, we all kind of look for the person who wants to come and go on the dog sled ride or snowmobile or ski down hill or cross country ski. Usually I think snow is a pretty big factor." Minor and Obst agree businesses this winter equaled last years rates or passed them. "Last year was a great snow year for us as well. And in fact we still have over well we have about two feet of snow right now in a lot of areas. So we still have a lot of people coming up and playing even though we’re almost at the end of March." Meanwhile, higher gas prices are denting everyone’s wallet. Local businesses rely on tourists who take trips closer to home. Minor says he isn’t worried higher gas prices will keep people away. "When the gas prices go up we will see people take more frequent smaller trips. Meaning they will take maybe longer weekends, three, four, five, day weekend trips closer to home which does well for us. With our number one market being Minneapolis, St. Paul and Thunder Bay and things like that. People are just going to make more frequent trips here and so it should be okay for us." Bayfield Chamber Director Obst agrees. "Our area in northern Wisconsin pretty much attracts from a four or a six hour drive time. So you’re talking a tank of gas to get up a tank of gas to get back. Whether that $20 or $25 or $30, I don’t really think that that’s a factor." The weather affects winter business more than gas prices. Minor says the more snowfall the northland receives the higher the tourism rates are. "For the most part when we see the gas prices rise, in the past, we’ve been okay. The negative factor for us is more the weather. If we don’t get good weather, that’s going to hurt us more than anything." Obst says lack of snow hurts business in the Bayfield area more than anything because their activities involve the outdoors. "Up here in Bayfield we’re begging for snow all of the time. We celebrate our snow and have a lot of fun things that go on." Minor says resorts, hotels, and gas stations receive more business than others in the winter but most manage.
A lot of bubbly for little lakes in
(3/24/2005) Dozens of small lakes around Wisconsin are bubbling up, in hopes of saving fish for summer anglers. Mike Simonson reports on an effort by the DNR to avoid the annual winter kill of fish.
Every winter and spring, small lakes covered with snow and ice have what's called a "winter kill" of many of its fish, fish that go belly up because they are starved for oxygen. DNR Fisheries Biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says aeration pumps are set up around some of these lakes, if they can find a "co-operator". "By cooperator I mean someone who would assume operational costs, electrical costs, as well as barricading. It's a lightly developed lake. There just wasn't a lot of private interests up in that area." Little Clam Lake in the Chequamegon National Forest is the latest small lake to get this system installed. Sommerfeldt says the idea is to bubble the water, leaving a hole in the ice where sunlight can get through and allow plants to grow and give off oxygen. "It's kind of a misconception that the air bubbling is providing the oxygen. But in fact, it's bringing the warm water up, melting the ice and creating an open water area, and it's that air-water interface." Since many of these lakes are out in the boonies and off the grid, many of these pumps are powered by diesel, solar or wind power.
Raspberry Island Lighthouse to get a facelift back to the 1920's
(3/23/2005) The most-toured lighthouse in the Apostle Islands will get a boost to renovate it to the way it looked in the 1920's. Melissa Spero has the story about fixing up the Raspberry Island light.
The Raspberry Lighthouse is toured the most of the six Apostle Island lights. In the summer of 2006, visitors will see a 1920's style lighthouse. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore's Neil Howk says the interior will have a more authentic design. "We'll be removing the wall, not furnishings, but wall coverings and the ceiling panels, -- the items that have been added after the 1930s. There were several rooms for instance that had wood paneling installed in them. We're going to be removing the paneling, fixing the plaster, we're going to be removing the old but not quite old enough electrical outlets. So that what you see in the lighthouse, in the basic rooms, will be pretty similar to what to what it was in the 1920s. We'll be acquiring period furnishings-tables, chairs, beds, and various other-lamps-in order to reconstruct the feel of the 1920s." Besides a new interior, they'll fix doors, windows, and the roof on the Raspberry Lighthouse. Built in 1862, the lighthouse hasn't been redesigned for a century. Howk says they'll document the restoration process with the digital cameras and photo printer courtesy of a grant from the Kodak Corporation. "All the stuff that--when you have to stand behind a fence and peak inside--you really want to know what's going on. We'll be taking pictures of that work so that even if people can't go in the lighthouse they'll have some idea of what work is happening this summer." Five to ten thousand people tour the Raspberry Lighthouse yearly between June and September. The Raspberry lighthouse used to guide ships through the west channel between the Duluth and Chequamegon Bay area.
State to continue treatment to contain
spread of gypsy moths in northern Wisconsin
Bayfield, Ashland, Price Counties targeted
(3/22/2005) Gypsy moth treatments are recommended for 19 Wisconsin counties this summer. Melissa Spero reports that includes some northern counties to stop the spread of the moths.
In 1869 a man from Boston imported gypsy moths from Europe to breed silk worms. The moths escaped and migrated across the United States. Public Information Officer Rick Roseneck says gypsy moth populations are now established in eastern Wisconsin. "The gypsy moth can defoliate these trees. And what happens is the trees can then die. After they defoliate like two or more years in a row, it can weaken the trees. They can be more susceptible to disease and die. They're not growing-the trees will not die because of one defoliation but they could over years. What this will do, it will negatively impact our tourism industries, our timber industries, the paper mills, and the pre-nurseries. So it could really affect business." The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer protection started the Slow the Spread program to limit the reproduction of gypsy moths. Pesticides or pheromone flakes are sprayed in counties that are overpopulated. Roseneck says the pheromone flakes halt the mating process because they carry the female's scent. After an area is sprayed, males are confused because they do not know where to go to mate. "The first treatment actually occurred in 1990. It was very minimal back then. There was only 490 acres treated back in 1990. This year we're going to be we're going to be treating 303,000 acres." Roseneck says unlike Europe, the United States does not have natural predators for gypsy moths. So, they use pesticides. "People do not need to be worried about it. We will notify people--call people in the areas ahead of time that we are spraying. Just so people know it will not harm them at all in terms of any type of negative reaction. It will not hurt them or animals." Spraying will take place in June in Bayfield, Ashland and Price Counties.
Congressman Obey regrets Congressional vote on Schiavo case
(3/21/2005) The vote by Congress today for court intervention to allow a feeding tube for Terry Schiavo is a crock, according to one Wisconsin congressman. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.
Democratic Representative Dave Obey is in northern Wisconsin holding hearings on social security reform, so he couldn't vote. And he doesn't think his colleagues should have either, because they don't know enough about the case of one person. Obey says he wouldn’t have voted on the issue because of that. He doesn’t think it’s the place of politicians. "I have only one question for people on this: If you were dying and you were about to go through the door into the next life, who would you want to have holding the door? Your doctor or your friendly local politician?" President Bush is applauding Congress for giving Terri Schiavo's parents another chance "to save their daughter's life." He has signed the bill letting them ask a federal judge in Florida to have her feeding tube reinserted.
UWS music students head to Rio for spring break
(3/20/2005) The offices of the UW-Superior Music Department has been awash in a sea of paperwork. David Hopkins reports that 113 students are heading to Rio de Janeiro for spring break.
Department Secretary Dana Luzaich says it’s been a team effort to book flights, reserve hotel rooms, arrange concerts and workshops, organize passports, visas, insurance, and raise money for the $172,000 trip to Brazil. UWS band director Pamela Bustos inspired the department decision to make the trip two years ago, Brazilian conductors have traveled to Wisconsin to teach UWS students. Bustos likes the mix of travel and music. "Instead of reading about something, living it. That’s really the only way to truly engage and understand another culture and another way of living. I’m really excited that it can be done in this way, through an expressive art form as sort of the medium in which we’re traveling, not only physically but expressively, to another culture." Bustos says that she strives to teach more than music, but also a desire for life-long learning, multicultural awareness and expanded thinking. "I think music is one of those special art forms that you can do that because we have our universal system of reading music and even if we can’t have a verbal conversation we can have a musical conversation. So that’s another advantage of using art as a medium to reach these purposes." UW Foundation and trust fund grants are helping pay for the trip. With money from concerts, and private donations providing over $100,000, students each pay $600 for the trip, and those with financial hardships get a break on the rate. But it’s all worth it to the students. UWS clarinet player Rachel Hagen has never traveled abroad. "To get this kind of trip for what we’ve put in, and for what people down there have put in and done for us I think it’s going to be a fantastic once in a lifetime experience." The group still needs to raise another $7500 to break even. Bustos says that a lot of the student activities will be planned day by day so that they can take in events of holy week before Easter. "Their traditions of Catholicism include a lot of celebration, a lot parades and costumes." Bustos has studied and taught in several South American countries during past years. Now in her third year of teaching at UWS, the maestra has introduced many pieces of Latin music to her students and co-faculty. She says the music is a vehicle for larger concepts. "Through experiencing the way of life of another culture, the value systems of another culture, the environment and also how they express themselves, and how that might enlighten and give them some thought about how they might rebalance their own views and ways of living their own lives." For the students, this will be an unforgettable experience. Rachel Hagen has never traveled abroad before. "I’m excited to go see the culture and the food and the dancing and the people and the beaches, but I think I’m most excited to hear the music the way it’s supposed to be played, the way it’s supposed to sound, just fantastic." The group will return to Superior on Easter Sunday.
People's legislature to meet at
Saturday gathering to talk about people's issues
(3/19/2005) A "People’s Legislature" at Telemark lodge in Cable Saturday. Nick Pelletier has the story.
The peoples legislature meeting is one of a few regional meetings across the state. Peoples Legislature Organizer Tina Matlock says people are not happy with the State Legislature. "The state legislature I know there is a lot of discontent among a lot citizens across the state. As said at the last Fighting Bob Fest folks had expressed interest in trying to organize and reform what they felt was broken or not working." A meeting in Madison brought out four main points the group plans to discuss: campaign finance reform, competitive elections by redistricting, independent ethics enforcement, preserving local governmental budgets from being controlled by the legislature. Matlock hopes this grows from the local levels they are focusing on to bigger areas. "We are really focusing on reforming the most basic aspects of government locally and then hopefully eventually nationwide. We are really focusing on Wisconsin currently." Matlock says other issues more local to northern Wisconsin will come up like energy and power and local fiscal control. She says 100 people are registered. Registration is still open online and at the door.
Image ©Duluth News-Tribune
Siinto Wessman, community leader, passes away Thursday
Prominent life-long Superior resident Siinto Wessman has passed away. Mike
Simonson reports from Superior.
Wessman was a reporter for the Superior Evening Telegram in the 1940’s and later owned a food processing firm in Duluth. He served on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents from 1966 to 1971. He and his wife Lois continued to serve on different boards and donated to the UW-Superior Foundation. Wessman Arena was named after Siinto Wessman while he was a regent. Barstow Hall was named after attorney Barney Barstow while he was a regent in the 1950’s. Wessman died late yesterday. Funeral arrangements are pending.
KBJR shared agreement could be trend across country
More TV newsrooms could be cancelled
(3/18/2005) For the first time in a Wisconsin media market, a TV station has taken over the newsroom of another TV station. Mike Simonson reports that this may begin a trend to reduce television newsrooms.
Federal Communication Commission regulations forbids one station in a single market from owning more than one of the top four stations. But the FCC is approving so-called "shared services agreements". That's allowing NBC affiliate KBJR in the Duluth-Superior market to control and manage the CBS station. Earlier this month, the NBC station fired all of its former competitor's reporters, photographers and producers, 30 in all and gave notice of lay-off to another 15. Only a news anchor and producer remain doing news, along with a sports and weather person. KBJR-TV President Robert Wilmers says it was a tough decision. "You never want to do this. But when the business places you in that position, you have to take action because if it wasn't done now, it would have been done later and it may have been much worse," said Wilmers. "Look, the law is clear. One company is not supposed to run two stations in the same market." That's former CBS affiliate reporter John Schadl who now works as an aide to Congressman Jim Oberstar of Minnesota. Shadl says the FCC is no longer looking out for the viewer by allowing corporations to own and operate large numbers of TV stations. He thinks that leaves little money for local news. "The only way to be competitive and make money was to put out a real quality product and excel with those stations you could own. Now the industry is looking at companies that simply acquire large numbers of stations and the debt service of these companies becomes huge." Shadl says that means one less set of eyes reporting local news in the Duluth-Superior market. CBS affiliate KDLH-TV's new owner is Sarasota-based Tony Malara. In spite of the lay-offs, Malara insists this will allow expansion of local news, even with the elimination of an entire news department. "(reporter) It does mean fewer reporters going out there to get stories. (Malara) There are people on the news staff who will be moving over to Channel 6. There are other reporters who will be doing double duty." KDLH-TV will continue to do newscasts, using stories from KBJR news people. Malara and Wilmers say other "shared services agreements" are being hatched in other markets, often eliminating the news department of one of the stations.
Superior's historic New York block developers see big potential
1890's vintage Tower Avenue structure has glimpses of glitz
(3/17/2005) Superior’s New York Building has been offices, Chef’s, Zona Rosa and Library restaurants, and some small apartments. Nick Pelletier reports on the next stage.
Built in the around 1900, the New York Building has been many things, but it's been vacant for some time. Superior Business Improvement District Director Kaye Tenerelli says when the contractors from MetroPlains who hope to work on the building were like kids in a candy store exploring the building. "We found skylights on the inside a shaft that ran up that was a skylight. 10 ceilings which today would be so costly to reproduce. They like the woodwork that they found on the outside of the building taking the windows out and putting back the arch windows." She says when the building is renovated it will be 22 apartments designed for seniors. But that won’t mean an easy conversion. "They will be taking everything down to the fore walls and starting over again. They will keep the bearing walls there. Because of the ways these apartments were developed it is just not first of all it was not safe. You could get lost in that building. I kept saying I hated to go through the building unless I had Sue Sandvick the County Clerk with me. You could get turned around. This building is huge on the inside." MetroPlains also looked at purchasing Old Central School and Pattison School. Tenerelli says those buildings didn’t work with their plans. She says they will know if the $4 million to renovate the building will be available by April 15.
Hayward may land a veterans clinic
Proposal would cut down vets travel time for care
(3/16/2005) The backlogged Superior Veterans Clinic could be getting some relief if a proposal goes through. Nick Pelletier reports on an effort to bring a veterans clinic to Hayward.
A new Veterans outpatient clinic in Hayward may not be to build a new clinic but use existing clinics like are being used in Duluth or Marshfield. Bayfield County Veterans Officer Chris Johnson says a clinic in Hayward would fill a gap between other clinics. "There is a hole for services right in the middle and it is close to the Rice Lake, Spooner, and Hayward area. It means that veterans in the western Wisconsin area have to travel over 100 miles to get to a regular clinic system." Johnson sees vets leaving extra early for other clinics just to get in. "I have gotten up at 2 o'clock in the morning so I could pick a veteran up at 3:30 in the morning to transport them back to Superior, Wisconsin to catch a van that runs down to Minneapolis. The vans out of Superior leave at 6. The process starts all over again the van will bring them back some between five and six o'clock in the evening." Johnson says some of these early morning trips to Minneapolis are for some things as quick as a blood test or to have a blood pressure check. He says vets who need more specialized care like chemotherapy would still need to go to the Minneapolis clinic. Johnson hopes the clinic may be open by the end of this year.
Duluth City Council to talk about storm
Rain gardens on Monday night's meeting
(3/15/2005) Sewage overflows into Lake Superior have alarmed residents and inspired solutions to protect the lake. David Hopkins reports that the Duluth City Council might take action to clean up run-off.
Residents of the Lake Superior area have responded in various ways to reports of cleaning up Lake Superior. Sweetwater Alliance Director Jill Jacoby (ja-C0-be) thinks that a storm water garden in Duluth’s Bayfront Park area can help. "I teach at Northland College in Ashland and they’ve actually done a really good job of building rain gardens around some of their new buildings that catch storm water runoff. Fresh water is the issue right now and maintaining clean fresh water is going be a continued issue." Jacoby says that a water garden in Duluth would act as a wetland and freshens runoff before it gets into the lake, but people can also expect educational benefits. "They’re going to see a transformation of polluted water go through different wetland plants and come out on the other end cleaner. That’s going to be a graphic explanation for people as to why wetlands are important in what they can do to cleanse." Jacoby will present an update of the storm water garden project to the Duluth City Council. She will ask for money for the next phase which is design. Sweetwater Alliance has raised $58,000 for a match grant. Since 2002, when Duluth’s City Council offered land for the garden, she has found enthusiasm for the project. "Foundations have tried to take up the slack of some of the government funds that have been cut, but they’re doing it mostly in social services. So the things that get hit the hardest are environmental." Western Lake Superior Sanitary District has pledged $5000 for the money. Jacoby expects they will contribute to construction costs as well. She feels encouraged by their interest in rain gardens. "…building rain gardens and using different alternatives in construction to allow rain water to percolate into the earth instead of running off into bodies of water. The more that we have that kind of technology being promoted and discussed, the better." Rain gardens are also being used at the Hartley Nature Center in Duluth.
Proposed law would encourage home improvements
(3/14/2005) Fixing up your home may not cost you more in taxes right away under a new bill introduced by an area legislator. David Hopkins has the story.
While poking around in the neighborhoods of his Assembly District, Representative Gary Sherman developed his new legislative proposal. "I noticed that there were a lot more people were fixing up their homes than I have ever seen before, especially in Ashland. All over Ashland there were home improvement projects going on, roofing and siding, remodeling and additions. It was very, very noticeable both on private homes and on rentals." He says that people mentioned it would be easier to take on repair expenses if they did not have to face increased tax assessment. "So I came up with this proposal to allow, but not mandate, local communities if they want to encourage a program of home improvement, to allow up to three years of deferral of the adding of the new value." Sherman hopes the bill will encourage even more home repair projects that in turn benefit the community as a whole. "If they encourage more fix-up, in the long term they may be actually be collecting more revenue." Sherman says that this proposal can help communities reduce conditions that feed local housing blights and sprawl.
Attorney General wants action taken against pay day loan stores
Calls it a parasite business
(3/13/2005) Wisconsin’s border towns have a large number of payday loan shops. The State Attorney General say it is time to do something about that. Nick Pelletier looks at those efforts.
Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager says there are over 400 of these stores statewide. She says these stores are vultures, although Pay Day loan store operators say they provide a service to people who can’t get quick loans from banks. She hopes to target people who charge 500 or more percent interest. "This is about being decent and fair with the people of Wisconsin. The reality is that the 1000% loan doesn’t help out one poor person who gets that loan all it does is drive that person deeper in debt." Laughtenslauger would like to limit the interest. "I would like to see Wisconsin enact an interest cap bill that would regulate both the amount of interest payday loan companies can charge and as well put some enforcement teeth into actions that could be taken by the Attorney Generals office on the consumer end if there are misleading practices." She doesn’t think anybody except owners of Pay Day loan companies would try to lobby legislators to keep these stores open. In Superior, Catholic Community Services is helping people who have spent too much paying these loans back. Catholic Services Director Gary Valley helps people including one who lost her car and house. "She had medical bills and other things that she could not keep up with and went to one of these vendors looking for some possible relief some possible way to pay off some of her bills and just got over her hear very quickly because of the very inappropriate and negative characteristics of these loans which are very high interest rates." Valley says she is now owns a home and is out of debt.
Karpeles Manuscript Museum a special place
(3/12/2005) The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Duluth is more than a resource for academics; it offers a look at history that everyone can appreciate. David Hopkins has the story.
Former Duluth resident David Karpeles likes to tell stories of history by looking at original documents. He displays his collections in the nine Karpeles Manuscript Library Museums that encircle the country, from Buffalo and Newburg to Charleston and Jacksonville, to Shreveport, Santa Barbara, Tacoma and Duluth. Lee Fadden attended Denfeld High School and UMD with Karpeles in the 50's and 60's. Fadden has been the director of the Duluth museum since its beginning in 1993. "We don't want to let everything just be seen in a history book. It's so very, very important to look at the actual document itself because you get a better idea about the writer was trying to do. You see his corrections, his changes, what he was thinking a little bit more, by looking at the actual document itself, than by seeing it in a textbook." Working closely with his wife Karen, they are both retired and don't think about giving up this job. Besides caring for the exhibits, the Faddens work with volunteers and interns to get manuscripts into regional schools. "We have quite a list of schools, and a few colleges that we send documents out to, and these are all copies. We probably have now well over a hundred documents that we can send out to the schools. Oop, there's the phone. Take a look at this for a second while I grab the phone. Karpeles Museum. Lee Fadden." Karpeles lives in Santa Barbara California where he collects and organizes his manuscripts into exhibits that change every three months. His current Duluth exhibit is titled "Women In Aviation". The Karpeles Manuscript Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday noon to 4:00PM. There is no charge.
Legislators look back 20 years on
Many changes since the first years
(3/11/2005) As the 20th Superior Days concludes, Nick Pelletier talks with two northern Wisconsin legislators who have been along for the whole ride.
The first Superior Days was in 1986. The goal of the first group was to expand Highway 53 into a four lane road. State Senator Bob Jauch had only been in office for a couple of years. He says the event began because legislators didn't know enough about the north. "The Superior Days idea occurred 21 years ago when I invited the assembly economic development committee to northern Wisconsin. There were 13 members who came to the hearing. It was a hearing on economic development for the north. Eleven of them had never been to northern Wisconsin before." Representative Frank Boyle hadn't even been elected to office yet. That was almost 20 years ago. He says the first group to come down took a chance. "When we first came down we had no idea what to expect. This kind of citizen lobbying effort had never been attempted or tried before 1985. We were immediately gratified. I remember well the kind of euphoric feeling those of us who attended the meeting had." Boyle says this years Superior Days is quite a bit different that the first. "It has evolved tremendously sophisticated effort this point. Over the years we have fine-tuned the movement and flow of folks from northern Wisconsin as they interrelate to the agencies and legislators here. It is a marvelous organizational effort." Jauch says as Superior Days gets older the biggest difference is how the event is getting younger. "They all begin to realize they are empowered by the experience. They realize that this is an exciting opportunity to make a difference. They realize that they have a role and are respected for that role in their communities." Another change from that first year to this year: More than 40 students were involved in the 20th Superior Days.
New bill would look at the way school
money is dolled out
Rep. Sherman says current system must change
(3/10/2005) Answers to the way the state sends money to school districts could come from a bill proposed by Rep. Gary Sherman. David Hopkins has the story.
With school closings and cuts for programs in education, Sherman says the situation has become desperate. He says that the state barely meets its constitutional requirement to provide adequate education for K-12 students. His bill could overhaul the system that distributes state aid to schools. "Most of our current aid is distributed through a program known as equalization aid. It has led to this tremendous disparity between schools in different parts of the state, and its different sizes. So the system is broken. The one thing I know for sure is, we need to get rid of equalization aid." The Port Wing Democrat is unsure what an equitable system looks like. So he’s cautious about introducing a new program that may be worse. "My bill says, ‘Let’s do a cost-out study’. Let’s put numbers on paper and let’s see if this works." Sherman says the business of financing public education is complex and confusing. "I think what the citizen should realize is that they are being treated unfairly. And they partly are to blame for that, for falling for the siren song of lower taxes which normally has turned out to be lower taxes for somebody other than them." Sherman points out that Kindergarten through 12th grade education uses 50 % of the state budget and that 60% of most people’s property taxes. His bill will ask if the overall tax structure is fair and equitable. "There has been a massive, massive shift of the burden of maintaining the government away from business and the wealthy and toward homeowners. I think that’s the more legitimate question." The Governors Task Force on Educational Excellence has recommended this same study that Sherman proposes.
Wisconsin Point Coast Guard station
expected to be returned to Fond du Lac tribe
Could become official in six months
(3/9/2005) An 80 year old injustice may be corrected for a Lake Superior Indian tribe which was forced to leave its land. Mike Simonson reports that might right an old wrong.
Wisconsin Point is a spit of land dividing Lake Superior from the Superior Harbor. The U.S. Coast Guard station on the site was no longer needed, so five years ago the 18 acres was listed as surplus property for whoever wanted to bid for it in the federal government. The lone bid came from the Bureau of Indian Affairs on behalf of the Fond du Lac Tribe of Ojibwe. Although a few more bureaucratic paperwork hurdles have to be cleared, it looks like that land will be given to the tribe. Actually, BIA Agent Herb Nelson says this is a case of returning land taken from the tribe. "In fact, the environmental person who I'm working with from the tribe, her grandfather was the chief at the time. It's professionally interesting to her and personally interesting. She's described how some of the other tribal members have felt and seen things in the newspaper and I think there's some very strong feelings about the location." According to the official request, the Fond du Lac tribe arrived on Wisconsin Point in the 1600's, and was given the land as part of the Treaty of 1854. But in 1918, U.S. Steel wanted the land to build docks to ship ore from Superior. The document says the Ojibwe were removed as trespassers and more than 200 graves were exhumed. The tribe hopes to return to their land within a year. They plan to preserve the remaining burial sites and establish an historical and cultural center where the village once existed.
Uncommon women named in Superior
Ceremony tonight in Duluth
(3/8/2005) Ten area women are being honored for their outstanding community service, some that is local, some that is global. Three women from Superior are among those "Uncommon Women". David Hopkins reports.
The celebration began in 1909 and March 8 was designated by the U.N. as International Women’s Day in 1977. Among them is Superior resident Liz Schmidt. She volunteers at the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse. She is also honored for her work abroad with Witness for Peace and Grandmothers for Peace. She has been committed to peace and justice issues for more than 50 years. "I guess I’ve always had a feeling for the underdog for one thing. I was in the service as an Army nurse at the end of World War Two. That was when we did hear about the death camps and all that. I think from then on I’ve just felt that people needed to know what was happening to people that were being held in more or less bondage by the powers that be. Jody Pittsley is also being honored. She has worked for five years as one of the founders of the Animal Rescue Federation in Superior. "The difference that there is in the shelter now, from when it used to be a dog pound, is just amazing." Her work to save pets from unnecessary euthanasia is noted as exceptional, but one of the traits of uncommon women may be humility. "It was quite an effort by a lot of people. I was just one of the many." Schmidt says she too feels slightly embarrassed. "I know there are loads of people that do more than I do." The third Superior woman is Carol Stevens, who is making her mark in American Indian education in the community. The other women being honored work with low income housing and homelessness, environmental issues, emergency relief from tornadoes and floods, equal access for people with disabilities, and community education about American Indian culture and racism.
Summer beach monitoring to continue for
final year of funding
Program has helped inform people about cleaning up the water
(3/8/2005) Health officials will be meeting this month to divvy up money to test beaches along Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Mike Simonson reports this is the last year for a 3 year federal program.
There is optimism that this experimental testing program will be renewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency beyond this summer. Department of Natural Resources Environmental Toxicologist Toni Glymph hopes it will be continued. She says this is the first consistent testing done on the Great Lakes shores of Wisconsin. It's lead to closing some beaches and placing advisories on others. "One of the successes is the public awareness that there is now. The public is learning that e-coli is not this horrible word that you hear, that a lot of this bacteria is naturally occurring in the water and is really quite normal after a rainfall for the numbers to go up." That rainfall washes animal waste into the water, raising the e-coli bacteria level. Glymph says common sense things like cleaning up after pets, building grassy buffers between the lakes and parking lots all help. But Douglas County Health Official Vicki Drake says the surprise of this two year program is the impact of bird poop. "We do get the Canadian Geese, we do have ducks, we do have seagulls, so they're as much as factor as animals are. So blaming the birds wasn't out of line." This $226,000 program tests 113 of the 192 beaches along the coasts of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.
Snow plowing on Highway 53 still not
Superior Days delegates pushing to make it round the clock
(3/7/2005) The first Superior Days set out to make highway 53 a four lane highway. This year the focus is on keeping the highway clear during winter. Nick Pelletier updates the story.
Currently Highway 53 north of Rice Lake is only plowed 18 hours a day. Washburn County Administrator Mike Miller says this needs to change because the traffic won't. "The Department to look at increasing the service level to 24 hour service all the way up. Currently right now that service ends at Rice Lake. I don't think the traffic is all diving off at Rice Lake, matter of fact I am quite sure it continues on." He says a big factor is the trucking industry's use of 53 night and day. "Trucks are not all going north. It is not all that far to Thunder Bay. But they are also going south and coming back down through Washburn County. So what we would like the Department to do is increase that funding on that from 18 hours to 24 hours. We have done some things internally to try to maximize our use. We put on a night person at our own cost to make sure our trucks are all ready to go as soon as the guys come in." Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi says the department looks at several things before jumping to 24 hour service. "One of the major ones is the volumes or hourly volumes during those off periods. Right now we just are not tripping that level of vehicle use in those periods that we don't provide service up there and those are the things. We keep looking at it." Busalacchi credits the Washburn County Commissioners who keep bringing this issue up to him.
Mackinaw Two almost ready for duty
To replace World War Two vintage ice breaker
(3/6/2005) The Coast Guard ice cutter Mackinaw will be retired, and then there'll be a rebirth. Melissa Spero reports on the launching of Mackinaw II this spring.
Once a powerful ship that broke through ice, the World War Two-vintage Mackinaw will be put to as soon as the new Mackinaw is launched. That's set for April 2. Lake Superior Maritime History Center Director Thom Holden says the new ship will resemble the old one. "It will be interesting to compare the new and old one as to their durability and life expectancy. Can we get sixty years out of the new one or not?" Holden says the Mackinaw is being replaced simply because it is out of date. Little change will be made to the Mackinaw. Fewer people will be able used in the ship because not as many people are needed to operate it. Built in 1944, the Mackinaw has historical value to the area. "It's been, you know, so instrumental throughout its entire career. In the late season and early season navigation. If it just disappeared without a replacement it would be truly, sorely missed. Its icebreaking capabilities skills are legendary." The Mackinaw is known for cutting through twelve to fourteen feet of ice. The new Mackinaw will be launched at the Menominee River in Marinette, Wisconsin.
Prom dress exchange held at Bayfield
Helps keep the prom affordable
(3/5/2005) The Bayfield Library is holding a fundraiser with a formal appeal. Melissa Spero reports that they’re trying to make going to the prom affordable for everyone.
Prom is a fun occasion but it is also expensive. The Bayfield Carnegie Library hopes to change that. They are sponsoring a fundraiser that allows girls to exchange their prom dresses or buy a new used one. Assistant librarian Teresa Weber says she knows the problem first hand. "I have two daughters. So I understood the expense of prom for girls and other girls in the community and so I thought this would work for lots of different reasons and people." Ten dollar certificates will be given to girls who turn in a dress. The certificates can be cashed in when the girls choose their new dress. Weber says prices range from 20 to 30 dollars, making it affordable for high school girls. A Mary Kay representative and hairstylists will be at the exchange to give facial and hair tips. Weber says the goal is for girls to enjoy the prom while saving their parents money. "I mean, I just really want it to be fun for them. It’s a fundraiser for the library, but that’s really fairly you know somewhat insignificant. I really just wanted to have—get girls in the library and let them have some fun. And you know have fun trying on dresses you know just kind of like a little party. So far ten dresses have been brought in. Exchanges take place Saturday March 5 at 3 p.m. at the Bayfield library.
Superior Diocese Bishop accused of
covering up pedophile
Lawsuit filed Thursday in Milwaukee
(3/4/2005) A lawsuit has been filed against the Milwaukee Archdiocese alleging it hid a pedophile priest's criminal past. Mike Simonson reports this names the Superior Diocese bishop as part of a cover-up.
Two John Doe victims of abuse are filing the lawsuit with the help of "SNAP", short for Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. The say that the late Father Siegfried Widera was transferred in 1973 from a Port Washington parish to one in Delavan, without disclosing that Widera was convicted of sexually assaulting a boy in Ozaukee County. The lawsuit contends Widera then molested two boys at the Delevan parish. Milwaukee SNAP Director Mary Guentner church documents indicate then-Father Raphael Fliss allowed the transfer to take place. "He was presented by the Archdiocese as being a competent, appropriate man to have access to children in parishes. Particularly with someone who was a convicted pedophile on probation." Fliss became bishop of the Superior Diocese 25 years ago. The lawsuit continues to say one of the 10 year-old victims and his mother feared reprisals by the church if she went to the police. Guentner says she wants an apology and assurances this kind of thing isn't continuing. "These are the worst records we've seen in the country. I've been looking at these records for weeks and it remains stunning to me that they would specifically plan and not tell the police about crimes by a convicted pedophile." An attorney for Fliss did say the bishop takes these accusations seriously and doesn't recall being involved in any decisions to transfer Widera to Delavan. Kenneth Knudson says he has asked "SNAP" for these documents to refresh Fliss's memory, but hasn't been provided that information.
Deer meetings may mean changes to next
deer hunting season
Meetings were held around northern Wisconsin last month
(3/3/2005) Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources held meetings to discuss deer. Melissa Spero reports it will probably mean changes in the way the state controls the overpopulated deer herd.
Every year, public meetings are held for Northern region counties to discuss deer situations. Biologists explain the deer population of the area and how the population is maintained, or why it is overpopulated. DNR Wildlife Biologist Nancy Christel in Washburn County says deer hunting is a part of the regional culture. "When you think of Wisconsin you think of cheese and Packers, and deer, deer hunting. You know, that's kind of the biggest things here. So I think the most important thing with these meetings is it gives the public a chance to talk with us one on one about how we're managing the population, why we're doing different things." T-zones and earn a buck ideas may be changed after last week's hearings. A T-zone is created in October to bring down the population within 20 percent of the goal. DNR Wildlife Biologist Tom Naas in the Ashland/Bayfield region says there are problems with using t-zones or earn a bucks to limit deer population. "We don't have an even distribution of deer across the landscape. And that's one of the sources of contention with many of the hunters is that when they find out we're talking about having a t-zone or earn a bucks season, the vision of you know that aggressive seasons brings to their mind there's a deer behind every tree. And that's not the case." Christel says car accidents lower the population but that's a lousy way to control the deer herd. Naas says the weather affects the deer population more than anything. The DNR uses a winter severity index to measure the weather affects on deer. Naas says March is the hardest winter month for deer. "If we have severe weather, snow depth, and freezing temperatures in the March to April period, that seems to have the most impact on the herd because they're already under some stress and those late season-that late season severe winter can cause an increase in mortality in a short amount of time." More meetings will be held April 11th in each county to discuss resource, wildlife, and fishery laws.
Bad River gets indepedent air quality
review status from EPA
Bad River now has same input rights as the state
(3/2/2005) The Bad River Band of Ojibway near Ashland has become the first tribe in Wisconsin to receive the Environmental Protection Agency’s designation as a state. David Hopkins has the story.
Tribal officials say it acknowledges of tribal sovereignty. The new designation means Bad River will now receive notices from the EPA, the same as are sent to the state when there are concerns over air quality. When industries apply for air quality permits in Bad Rivers’ 50 mile radius, the tribes’ air quality officers will be notified and asked for comments. EPA Region 5 Air Quality Department spokesperson Ben Giwajna in Chicago says the tribes’ response now carries more weight. "It gives them a little bit of a bigger role in the permitting process up there, though there is no regulatory authority or enforcement authority conferred upon the tribe by our actions. They just get notice above and beyond the public notice, and an opportunity to submit comments that are responded to directly by the permitting authority to the tribe." The tribe will gain greater financial support from the EPA, which helps offset recent cuts in environmental funding. Bad River Air Quality Specialist Lynn Hall says that regional tribes recently requested nearly $2 million from a $1 million pool of EPA money. "In the beginning there was what we thought was a large pot of money, and just a few tribes had access to that because they were just starting their air programs or many of them didn’t have any. So the tribes that did have air programs had a lot of money to play around with and start up their programs. Now air quality is becoming a more important issue and a lot of tribes are getting into air quality. Of course, the pot of money has stayed the same, but the growing interest for tribes to start an air program has increased." Giwajna also says the status gives the tribe a financial advantage. "In a sense, there is increased competition for limited amount of funding. Our funding process has been getting more competitive over the years as interest in the air program has grown and our funding levels have been relatively flat-lined. Next, the Bad River tribe hopes to get the same recognition it has now for air quality from the EPA for water quality. That process may take a couple of years.
Wayside rests to stay open in northern Wisconsin
(3/1/2005) A year later after a state proposal to keep some wayside rests closed, opening seasonal waysides along northern Wisconsin highways in the winter are still an issue. Melissa Spero reports.
Drivers might have to plan their breaks depending on which waysides are open. State Representative Gary Sherman says having seasonal waysides make winter road trips hard because they are only open in the summer. He wants to see them open all year. "I drive a lot, I drive probably four to five times as much as the average person. I think it's important for people to be able to stop and get off the road. They used to call them rest areas. Driving can be pretty stressful and people need a place where they can get off the road." Sherman says the Department of Transportation wants either the Department of Natural Resources to manage waysides as parks or have the local government take over the waysides in their area. The budget for the Department of Transportation tries to distribute money evenly. However, Sherman says other areas still suffer. "It's hard not to have some sympathy for them. The transportation budget is stretched pretty thin and that maintaining waysides takes money away from maintaining roads." Last year, some waysides in Bayfield and Iron County were almost closed. Sherman says the waysides are still open for drivers in the summer.