Dec

20

A park bench, bicycles,lily pads, rocks and other items are being found in the muck of Lakeside Park lagoons as a dredging project continues.

About 1½ miles of tubes are transporting water, liquified mud and other ground items from the lagoons to an area on the west end of the park property.

About 60 residents turned out for a meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Lakeside Park Pavilion that provided an update on the project. Fond du Lac Public Works Director Jordan Skiff, City Engineer Paul De Vries and Kent Petersen, owner of PCI Dredging based in Minocqua, were on hand to explain the work.

“This has been a good project,” Petersen said, adding that the park setting without houses at the banks has made it easier to maneuver equipment.

Hydraulic dredging involves use of barges with claw-like arms that dig the material and send it in pipes to an area where water and solids are separated.

The first phase of work is nearly complete. Crews have been working around the clock in an area south of the Promen Drive bridge. That area was nearly clogged with sediment washing in from Lake Winnebago.

PCI Dredging plans to shut operations down after this week. Work is likely to resume in March with completion scheduled for May.

“The cold weather is a challenge,” Petersen said. “We’ve proven we can work in minus-7 (degrees).”

Petersen showed residents jars of clay balls and rocks that clog equipment on a regular basis. He said the machines pump about 2,500 to 3,000 gallons of diluted material a minute.

The dredged material is being stored in an open pit at Lakeside West. Residents are asked to stay away from the storage area.

Lakeside Park dredging project shuts down soon story, video | Action Reporter Media | fdlreporter.com.

Nov

25

The date was Nov. 14, 1813. British Colonel Robert Dickson arrived on Lake Winnebago’s Garlic Island, and established an encampment with his group of 27 fighting men. Dickson’s goal as an “Indian Agent” for the British in the War of 1812 was to recruit the support of Native Americans against the Americans in the battle that basically was over the fur trade. Dickson’s goal was to use gifts and merchandise to gain support with tribes located in the corridor from Green Bay to Prairie du Chien.

Weather conditions prevented this group from completing their travel to Prairie du Chien that cold November, so Dickson and his troops set up camp on Garlic Island. Nearby on the mainland was a Menominee village that soon became reliant on Colonel Dickson for goods and supplies.

As winter pressed on, conditions became more difficult. Supplies from Green Bay were not able to get through, creating a serious situation for Dickson, his men and the local Menominee’s. “Although Dickson and his men were themselves often on the edge of starvation, both his natural humanity and strategic considerations compelled him to feed the Indians as well as he was able” (source: Illinois in the War of 1812).

Letters from Colonel Dickson to his lieutenants and others describe the rapidly deteriorating conditions. On March 15 he wrote, “…I am heartily sick and tired of this place. There is no situation more miserable than to see objects around you dying with hunger, and unable to give them but little assistance. I have done what I can for them, and will in consequence starve myself. With best wishes. Yours truly, R. Dickson” (source: Garlic Island War Letters, 1813-1814, Colonel Robert Dickson).

It was soon after, provisions arrived as spring allowed travel routes to become more accessible. Dickson and his men eventually continued their trek southward.

The result of the War of 1812 as stipulated in the Treaty of Ghent is that American forces prevailed.

Here, on Nov. 14, 2013, the 200th Anniversary of the arrival of Colonel Dickson, a few local citizens joined the Winnebago County Historical and Archaeological Society to commemorate this historic occasion on Garlic Island. On hand for the dedication was Richard Keene of Neenah, Archaeologist Richard Mason of Neenah and Randy Domer of the Winnebago County Historical and Archaeological Society. Two flags were hoisted onto the flagpole located near the waters edge. First, the American flag followed by the British flag. The flags were raised by Keene and Mason, followed by a commemoration read by Domer.

Historic Garlic Island is located on Lake Winnebago near its west shoreline, north of Asylum Bay between Oshkosh and Neenah.

via Garlic Island celebrates bicentennial | Post-Crescent Media | postcrescent.com.

Nov

11

MENASHA- Special recognition for friends and family of a man who met his untimely death on Lake Winnebago: The tragedy on the ice spurred an effort to help Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue start its own dive team.

It was a frantic scene on Lake Winnebago off Waverly Beach.

On February 19, 2011, Bruce Peterson’s truck went through the ice.

Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue responded, but had no dive team to go in after the 58-year-old.

Peterson didn’t make it out alive.

“We miss him dearly,” said Jeanne Schiesser, Peterson’s sister.

Shortly after the tragic drowning, Neenah-Menasha firefighters decided to raise funds for a dive team.

Those close to Peterson took the lead, and had great success raising most of the money.

Monday night, city officials took note of those efforts.

The mayor and council officially presented them with a proclamation.

“Thanks will never be able to convey how we feel with what they did. they really are the heroes in putting this together,” said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Sippin.

Those who were on the scene the day of Peterson’s death say his family and friends have provided the department with a wonderful gift.

One that allows it to be more prepared.

“We could see the hole where the truck had gone down and we knew that there was really nothing we could do. It was a pretty helpless and empty feeling,” said Firefighter Troy Janz.

It took a frenzy of fundraisers, but the group quickly raised 60 thousand dollars towards the 90 thousand the department needed.

“Right away, everybody said absolutely. We’ll do what we can to help so no one else loses a loved one,” said Diane Kiesow, Peterson’s partner.

“I wanted to do something to try to make some sense of the loss that we had,” said Debbie Becklund, Peterson’s friend.

By late 2011, enough was raised to purchase equipment and train divers. The team is now in service.

Peterson’s sister says she’s proud of the work accomplished, and feels so would her brother.

“He would be proud, but he wouldn’t like all the hoo-ha at all,” said Scheisser.

But by turning a tragedy into a community asset, Peterson’s loved ones are making a difference.

“It’s been a long journey, but very fulfilling,” said Becklund.

“Even if we can save one person, it’s all worth it because anyone that needs help, we can help them now,” said Kiesow.

Donations continue to be accepted to help defray maintenance and future training costs.

Dive team started in honor of ice victim.

Oct

31

icestarOshkosh – He’s an icon around Lake Winnebago, because for more than thirty years, Don Herman’s company has helped to pull hundreds of vehicles from the lake after they’ve fallen through the ice. And now that lifestyle could be turned into a reality TV show.Don Herman is the expert when it comes to Lake Winnebago ice conditions. He has decades of experience to prove it. So when a reality TV show producer called Herman and expressed an interest in doing a show on his business, Sunk? Dive and Ice Service, and what happens around the lake in the wintertime, Herman was not interested.

“I said yeah, whatever! And I hung up,” recalls Herman. “I thought it was fake.”

But persistence paid off for producer Jay Russell who finally got Herman to agree to participate. Russell truly believes the Lake Winnebago ice fishing sub-culture is something America would love to see.

“We feel like it’s something that is different,” says Jay Russell from ACR Productions. “I mean one of the big positives is you don’t have shows, reality TV shows from this geographical area. There’s none on there because it just hasn’t been found.”

So, since April, Russell has been working with Herman and a cast of characters to produce a trailer that will be shown to network executives with hopes to sign a deal for a reality TV show. It’s a vision that Russell says actually has potential of being picked up.

He says, “Everybody seemed to really like it, you know, that it was different. It was dangerous, it was high stakes, that kind of thing.”

And for herman it’s helped to breathe new life into his decades old career.

Says Herman, “I said I was going to retire, but it kind of gave me a boost of energy now.”

A boost that will get bigger if the show is picked up, something that could happen by early next year.

 

Lake Winnebago Icon Could Become Reality TV Star – WBAY.

Aug

26

KAUKAUNA — Imagine boating down the lower Fox River from Lake Winnebago to Wrightstown.

For the past three decades, that’s been a pipe dream. By spring 2015, it will be a reality.

The Fox River Navigational System Authority has begun a $3.3 million project to restore and reopen three Kaukauna locks — Nos. 1, 2 and 3 — for boating. Restoration of a fourth Kaukauna lock — No. 5 — will be bid separately later this summer but also will be finished by the 2015 boating season.

“The restoration of the Kaukauna locks is part of the final phase of the overall lower Fox River lock restoration project that began in 2005,” said Harlan Kiesow, CEO of the Fox River Navigational Authority, which was created by the state.

Upon the reopening of the shuttered Kaukauna locks, only one obstacle — the Rapide Croche aquatic invasive species barrier near Wrightstown — will prevent boaters from traveling between Lake Winnebago and Green Bay.

The Rapide Croche barrier will remain sealed, but the navigational authority plans to construct an overland boat lift and cleaning station to clear the obstacle. That work is scheduled for 2015-17 and would be the last piece of a puzzle that hasn’t been together since the 17-lock system was shut down in 1984.

“The opening of the lock system should not only provide boating opportunities but will also foster recreational and historic tourism, as well as promote community waterfront economic development,” Kiesow said.

The lower Fox River lock system was once key to Wisconsin’s shipping and paper industries but was closed as those industries declined and maintenance costs grew.

The navigational authority took over management of the system from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2004. Since then, the authority has reopened to boaters the Menasha, four Appleton, Cedars, Little Rapids and De Pere locks. The Little Chute locks have been restored but are not open to boaters because of a required bridge replacement on Mill Street.

“Everybody has been waiting for this for a long time,” Kiesow said. “They are getting excited about it.”

The Boldt Co., based in Appleton, has been hired to restore the Kaukauna locks to their 1930s style. The project includes repairing the locks’ mechanical systems and rebuilding the locks’ walls, gates, chambers and guard houses.

The Wisconsin Historical Society and Legacy Architecture of Sheboygan are working with Boldt on the historical preservation. All 17 locks are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We’re just repairing what we can and replacing what we can’t to make sure the locks work and function properly,” said Jennifer Lehrke, principal architect and consultant at Legacy Architecture. “However, we’re also matching old parts and ensuring the locks retain their historical value.”

Reed Rodenkirch, project manager for Boldt, said his crew will try to replicate the outstanding workmanship of a bygone era.

“I consider it sort of working in an outdoor museum,” he said. “We are actually building a museum display for the public.”

— Duke Behnke: 920-729-6622, ext. 32, or dbehnke@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @DukeBehnke

via Unlocking the locks | Appleton Post-Crescent | postcrescent.com.

Aug

12

On a windy July afternoon amid a fleet of sailboats, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Todd Miller dived into the tumultuous waters of Lake Winnebago, the state’s largest inland lake and the only source of drinking water for more than 200,000 people.

With waves crashing on his back, Miller grabbed hold of a 4-foot-wide, 3-foot-tall solar-powered water monitoring buoy and hooked it to a chain attached to one of four 262-pound metal weights that will hold the buoy in place.

Through research financed with a $750,000 five-year grant from the National Institution of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Science Foundation, Miller hopes to learn more about dangerous toxins produced by blue-green algae in the lake and whether these toxins end up in the drinking water of the cities of Oshkosh, Appleton, Neenah and Menasha.

Little is known about the conditions that lead to the production of the toxins, known as cyanotoxins, and the four cities that derive drinking water from the lake don’t know if the toxins end up in their water.

But ingestion of some toxins can be fatal.

In 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told the Journal Sentinel that the toxins were a low-priority item and weren’t being dealt with because of a lack of resources.

Twenty years later, not much has changed.

Last month, Miller, an assistant professor at UWM’s Zilber School of Public Health, and his students deployed one of two homemade buoys equipped with sensors that measure physical variables, like water and air temperature, and blue and green algae pigment levels in the lake. Every five minutes, a modem on the buoy will send data collected by the sensors to the Miller Lab website.

The Miller Lab also is sampling water at each of the four cities’ water plants at various stages of the treatment process to determine what level of cyanotoxins, if any, are in the drinking water. Through his research, Miller hopes to better understand the conditions around the occurrence of these toxins. He hopes to construct a model that will help water plants prevent human exposure to the toxins.

While acute poisonings are well-documented, chronic exposure to low levels of cyanotoxins in drinking water is not. The toxins are known to cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, gastrointestinal illnesses, joint pain and damage to the liver — even cancer in extreme cases.

Since 1998, the EPA has listed cyanotoxins on three consecutive lists of contaminant candidates to regulate in drinking water.

“The EPA has this process: put stuff on the list and figure out the data gaps. Unfortunately, they hit the current federal financial squeeze and moving through that process has gotten more difficult,” said Alan Roberson, director of federal relations for American Waterworks Association.

Conducting the research to assess the occurrence of the toxins nationwide and develop a standardized analytical method to determine appropriate toxin thresholds for drinking water would cost millions of dollars, Roberson said.

No human deaths caused by algae toxins have been confirmed in the U.S. and not all algae blooms produce them. But there are documented fatalities in other countries, like Brazil, where 60 dialysis patients died in 1996 due to the presence of toxins in the water supply.

In 2003, a Dane County coroner’s report determined anatoxin-a, a neurotoxin produced by cyanobacteria, to be the culprit in the death of a Cottage Grove teenager who died after swallowing water in an algae-covered golf pond the prior summer. Today, officials still question the validity of the findings.

In Wisconsin, Lake Winnebago is the only inland lake used for drinking water. Mark Werner, section chief at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, said cyanobacterial algae blooms are not much of an issue in Lake Superior or Lake Michigan, where the City of Milwaukee derives its drinking water.

“It’s fairly safe to say that the removal is pretty good at surface water plants in Wisconsin, but it’s not something that is regularly on our radar,” said Steven Elmore, chief of public water supply at the state Department of Natural Resources.

Elmore pointed to studies conducted in the late 1990s, including one specific to Lake Winnebago, that showed treatment processes were effective at removing the toxins.

“It’s really up to the U.S. EPA to say this is something that we’re going to regulate,” he said.

But Miller pointed out the concentrations of toxins detected in the raw water were rather low back then, much lower than they are today.

“The problem is that you have a lot of dissolved organic carbon or other stuff in the water that can inhibit the breakdown of the toxins,” Miller said.

An auto-sampler attached to one buoy, located near the Oshkosh plant’s raw water intake, will collect at least two daily water samples that researchers will test for about two dozen possible cyanotoxins. Back at the lab, cyanotoxins in the raw water samples will be measured, but because the technology cannot detect all possible variations, researchers also will use a zebra fish assay to detect unknown toxins and overall water toxicity.

Wayne Carmichael, professor emeritus at Wright State University who has studied cyanotoxins over the past 40 years, said nearly half of the states have some kind of response strategy in place to monitor cyanotoxins. But it isn’t a nationwide problem.

Over the past four years, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has run a surveillance program that documents human and animal illnesses potentially linked to algal bloom exposure. In 2012, the program received 33 reports, five of which were for animals.

In Dane County, public health officials regularly monitor the water at recreational beaches and if there is an indication that a bloom is developing, they will issue an alert or health advisory. When levels of microcystin reach 20 micrograms or higher per liter, the beach is closed.

Every time Dane County sees large algae blooms in recreational waters, public health officials find that the toxin levels in the blooms are rather high — “greater than we expect,” says Kirsti Sorsa, program manager for the Department of Public Health for Madison and Dane County.

“There hasn’t been any significant move toward setting nutrient levels. All we’re doing is a better job of recognizing it,” Carmichael said. “We should be doing more.”

Twitter: twitter.com/skbaer

http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/buoys-in-lake-winnebago-search-for-dangerous-algae-toxins-b9959471z1-218616731.html

 

Aug

12

All boat traffic through Oshkosh will be shut down next week, cutting restaurants and other waterfront businesses off from key customers during a 120-hour construction blitz on the Fox River railroad bridge.

The river will be impassable for five days between midnight Aug. 18 and midnight Aug. 23 while Canadian National Railway, which owns the bridge, removes and replaces the main span that opens and closes to boat traffic.

The job will put a cap on nearly two years of reconstruction work on the 114-year-old structure that supports an average of 25 freight trains every day. The company said the new bridge will improve boating access to the river by widening the pass-through and allow trains to move across more quickly.

Boaters and riverfront business owners said they hope for improved access, but they’re frustrated the work is taking place in the midst of peak tourism season. Vacationers may find themselves confined to Lake Winnebago and unable to access restaurants and marinas on the Fox River and the upstream lakes. At the same time, Oshkosh residents who keep their boats along the river won’t be able to go out on Lake Winnebago.

The cutoff is the latest in a string of complaints boaters have with CN railroad over its operation of the bridge, said Ron Kelbert, 60, president of Lakeside Harbour Dockominiums Association in Oshkosh.

Kelbert said the company has not listened to boaters’ complaints about long wait times for the bridge to open — it will close 30-45 minutes before trains arrive — and he worries the company will disregard boaters during and after the bridge work.

“I guess we thought at some point, since we’re almost to the end of the season, why not just wait another month?” he said. “If they have one thing go wrong it could push the date to another day, another week, another month. To boaters, every day in the summer is precious.”

Restaurant owners expect to take a hit in both lunch- and dinner-time customers, said Jay Supple, Chief Executive Officer for the Supple Group, which owns Fratellos Waterfront Restaurant.

“Anybody on Lake Winnebago that’s coming this way obviously can’t get to us… It’s not just us. It’s all the restaurants on the river that flows from Oshkosh down to Winneconne,” he said. “I understand they have to do it, and it’s great we’re getting a new bridge, but I’m just surprised they’re not doing it in September.”

CN railroad spokesman Patrick Waldron said the company wants to finish the work before Labor day. He acknowledged the disruption and said the company cooperated with the U.S. Coast Guard to limit impact on the waterway by working only on weekdays.

“This is a very large portion of the project we’re doing all at once to minimize the interruption to the boat traffic,” he said.

Minimizing disruption

The U.S. Coast Guard has been notifying area boaters and organizations of the bridge closure so there are no surprises next week, said Scot Striffler, bridge program manager for the Ninth Coast Guard District, located in Cleveland, Ohio.

“They’re not going to be able to get through there, so I’m sure it will impact folks for this five-day period. That’s the nature of the work, and we’re doing all we can to minimize that impact,” he said.

The payoff at the end, however, will be greater access for boaters.

The old bridge was made up of three steel through-trusses that span 480 feet across the river. The center section consists of a swing span that twists horizontally in the center to allow boats through one of two 64-feet wide navigation channels.

The new, $27 million bridge will replace the swing span with a vertically-lifting bascule span that will open to a single 125-foot wide navigation channel.

Much of the new bridge is already in place. The bascule span is the only section not yet installed.

The construction schedule has been set up to ensure boaters will be able to pass through the bridge normally on the weekends.

Boaters appreciate that, but still, “it’s an inconvenience,” said Dave Pable, 56, who owns a small fishing boat he keeps at Kubasta’s Landing along the river.

Pable said he he could still access Lake Winnebago by pulling his boatacross town on a trailer , but that would defeat the purpose of paying to rent a boat house directly on the river.

“I’ll be shut down for August, but I’ll find another way to go fishing,” he said.

The bridge closure will also affect Becket’s and the Ground Round restaurants, which just had their river access restored last week when the river walk was completed.

“I wish it wouldn’t take a week,” Becket’s co-owner Kris Larson said about the bridge work. “It certainly will inhibit access, but it will be better when it’s done. Luckily, boaters know about it and can prepare for it.”

Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel General Manager Dan Schetter said awareness among boaters should minimize the impact on Ground Round at River’s Edge’s business.

“A lot of our traffic comes down the river from the west,” he added.

Adam Rodewald writes for Oshkosh Northwestern Media. Northwestern reporter Jeff Bollier contributed to this story.

via Bridge work will shut down boat traffic on Fox River through Oshkosh | Appleton Post-Crescent | postcrescent.com.

Jul

11

All,

Good afternoon. I’m writing to notify everyone that CN RR has provided the schedule for the removal and replacement of the bridge in Oshkosh. The floating of the new bridge span and removal of the existing swing bridge via barge is scheduled from 2359 on August 18 to 2359 on August 23, 2013. The swing bridge is expected to be removed by noon on August 21, with the new span already in place but not operational. The waterway would essentially be impassable throughout the entire period, but small craft that can pass under the new bridge (approximately 6 feet vertical clearance) in the closed position would be able to pass between noon on August 21 and 2359 on August 23.

We request that this information be distributed as widely as possible in the local area. We will issue our Broadcast and Local Notice to Mariners with this information, but request additional outreach be done for local users.

Please feel free to contact me at the number below, or Lee Soule at (216) 902-6085, with any questions, and thank you in advance for getting this information out.

Scot

Scot Striffler
Bridge Program Manager
Ninth Coast Guard District
(216) 902-6087
Fax: (216) 902-6088
Scot.M.Striffler@uscg.mil

Apr

1

NORTHEAST WISCONSIN – Although many are celebrating the arrival of spring, not everyone is thrilled about the warmer weather.

Don Herman from the Otter Street Fishing Club and Sunk? Dive and Ice Service sent FOX 11 this photo.

It happened on Lake Winnebago by Black Wolf Avenue near Oshkosh.

Herman said the driver went through the ice while coming back to shore from fishing.

The driver wasn’t injured, and Herman was able to pull the truck out of the water.

In Door County, officials say a 59-year-old Sturgeon Bay man went through the ice on his snowmobile.

It happened just before 6:45 p.m. Friday between the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge and the Bayview Bridge in Sturgeon Bay.

Police say the man was traveling toward the city’s downtown when he turned around and the back of his snowmobile went through the ice.

The man said he was in the water for one to three minutes up to his neck but was able to pull himself out. He was not injured.

Authorities said they suspected he had been drinking, and tell FOX 11 the man then admitted he was drinking. Officials say initial tests showed he was over the legal limit. He was arrested for operating while intoxicated.

Officials are urging everyone to use caution on the ice and venture out at their own risk.

The Door County Sheriff’s Department said conditions have deteriorated with the warm weather and the predicted rain will only make them worse.

They said anyone going out on the ice shouldn’t go alone, carry a cell phone, have proper clothing and equipment and be aware of current ice conditions and weather.

via Truck sinks in Winnebago County.

Jan

21

OSHKOSH — Rescuers used a Husky airboat Sunday to retrieve a fisherman who was stranded overnight on the ice of Lake Winnebago.

The fisherman, Ronald R. Derr, 47, of Oshkosh, was not injured in the ordeal.

A spokesman for the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department said Derr had gone to his shanty Saturday night and became stranded as high winds pushed apart the ice. At 7:45 a.m., a passer-by spotted Derr on the ice about a quarter mile offshore near the W. 24th Avenue boat landing. About 200 feet of open water was between the shore and Derr.

The sheriff’s department said high winds have created an impassable crack in the ice extending from Merritt Avenue to Black Wolf Point in the southern part of the county.

via Ice conditions leave fisherman stranded | Appleton Post-Crescent | postcrescent.com.

Jan

8

Monday’s incident on the Bay of Green Bay, where people were stuck on ice that separated from the shore, raises the question of how safe local ice is right now. It’s an important question as we get closer to the ice fishing and sturgeon spearing season.

Each year thousands of people flock to Lake Winnebago to take advantage of it in its frozen state. This year is no different. And with fairly cold temperatures recently the ice seems to be in pretty good shape.

“We have about five to eight inches on Lake Winnebago and there isn’t any open holes,” says ice expert Don Herman.

He adds, “We took snowmobile around the whole lake yesterday, so the lake looks actually in excellent condition, but with the warm weather coming that could change in a hurry.”

Those changes could come this week when temperatures are expected to be above freezing.

The warm-up, according to Herman, will definitely have an effect on the ice and delay any preparations for opening these gates to allow for heavy vehicle traffic on the lake. Those delays could linger into the season.

“Most of the events start at the beginning of February, and sturgeon spearing is a month away yet, but if we don’t get cold weather it can affect all of that.”

Even though conditions out on Lake Winnebago right now may be pretty good for foot, four-wheeler, and snowmobile traffic, the sheriff’s department warns ice is never 100% safe and those who venture out on it need to protect themselves.

Lt. Greg Cianciolo with the sheriff’s department says, “We just don’t see a lot of use of personal flotation devices in the winter, and certainly if somebody goes through the ice that is going to increase their odds of survival and their odds of being recovered quickly if they can stay afloat. So one of the things I always try to do is persuade people to wear a PFD even during the winter on the ice.”

Because with changing conditions, it’s always best to be safe.

via Lake Winnebago Ice Conditions – WBAY.

Nov

5

Residents in Fond du Lac, Calumet, Outagamie, Waushara and Winnebago counties will be asked to participate in upcoming stakeholder sessions to talk about issues that affect the Lake Winnebago System.

Calumet County, working with the neighboring counties, was recently awarded a $50,000 grant by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to begin the process, which will include surveys, focus groups and meetings.

The public and focus group meetings are tentatively scheduled for late December and early January and will be held throughout the project area to accommodate Winnebago System users. Online surveys will also be available.

Many issues affect Lake Winnebago, including blue green algae, invasive species, weeds, varying boat launch fees and a general overall lack of coordination to address matters of concern.

Although the DNR, non-profit organizations and conservation groups have done their best to address specific issues, there lacks an overall lakewide approach to managing Lake Winnebago and the pool lakes that comprise the Winnebago System.

The Lake Winnebago System includes the waters and surrounding watersheds of Winnebago, Butte de Morts, Winneconne, and Poygan lakes, encompasses four counties, four cities, four villages and 20 towns, and has economic and health impacts on municipalities further downstream in Outagamie County.

• To receive notification of the surveys or meetings, send contact information to: santry.danielle@co.calumet.wi.us.

via Lake Winnebago may get some help | The Oshkosh Northwestern | thenorthwestern.com.

Sep

12

A boater’s drive to create a no-wake zone on the Fox River from Lake Winnebago to the Butte des Morts bridge appears dead in the water with an advisory board and the city manager both against the proposal.

About 119 people signed Oshkosh resident Daniel Henning’s petition that asks Oshkosh Parks Director Ray Maurer to designate the entire length of the Fox River from Lake Winnebago to the Butte des Morts bridge a no-wake zone.

On Monday, the Oshkosh Advisory Parks Board unanimously voted to reject Henning’s request, saying it would hurt boating-related businesses and increase travel times between Winnebago and Butte des Morts. Henning was the only person at the meeting who spoke in favor of the no-wake expansion.

“You’re taking your life into your own hands if you try to go out in the afternoon. We’ve had several close calls,” Henning said. “Something needs to get done, that’s all I know. It would still be ‘Oshkosh on the Water.’ It’s just going to be Oshkosh on the Water, Safely.”

The petition cites “terrible” shoreline erosion and the damage done to little boats as they make their way along the river. At present, there are already no wake areas from the mouth of Winnebago west to the Oregon Street bridge and another no-wake zone from west of the Wisconsin Street bridge almost to the Butte des Morts bridge.

Oshkosh City Manager Mark Rohloff has recommended the city take no action on the petition and leave the existing no-wake zones in place.

“We don’t support it. We’re recommending the Parks Board take no action it,” Rohloff said. “We don’t think it’s necessary.”

Parks Board members agreed with him on Monday, saying it would hurt marinas, restaurants, hotels, bait shops and other businesses that cater to boaters. Board member Terry Wohler also noted it would significantly increase the amount of time it takes boaters to get from Lake Winnebago to Lake Butte des Morts.

“This is going to kill everything in Oshkosh. You can’t have a no-wake zone on the whole thing,” Wohler said. “It would take you all day to get from one way to the other.”

Beyond those who signed the petition, there appears to be little other support for the idea.

Rohloff said he’s gotten about 20 calls from businesses, residents, boaters and fishers from the region and all expressed opposition to the idea. Maurer said he’s received more input on the petition in three days than he did on the entire Menominee Park Master Plan in six months.

“Everything I’ve gotten in the last 24 hours has been unanimously against it,” Rohloff said. “It’s totally impractical. At the speeds they recommend, it would take 55 minutes to go from the Butte des Morts bridge to the Pioneer.”

Mercury Marine tests many of its boats on a stretch of the Fox River near the Wisconsin Street bridge and Director of Product Integration Engineering Daniel Clarkson said a no-wake zone would add about 3,600 hours of test time to each project when driving times to areas of Lake Winnebago are factored in.

“All of those tests we do are able to be done because of our access to the Fox River, the Winnebago System,” Clarkson said. “We know that access to the river and to the Winnebago and Butte des Morts systems are paramount to our ability to complete the work that’s part of the pride we have in the marine industry today.”

Only a portion of the signatures collected come from Oshkosh residents, though. The remainder come from boaters from Racine, Oconomowoc, Edgerton, Fort Atkinson, Elkhorn, Lake Delton and other areas of the state.

Henning said he collected the signatures in a week or two from people he runs into along the river. He said a lot of the close calls he has had in the past could be avoided if boaters used more common sense.

“There’s just an awful lot of stuff we see on the river … a lot of these guys don’t use any common sense when it comes to the river,” Henning said. “There’s a lot of stuff that could be addressed if people slowed down.”

Jeff Bollier: (920) 426-6688 or jbollier@thenorthwestern.com.

Sep

6

There is a petition submitted to the Oshkosh city council to make the Fox River slow-no-wake from the Butte-des-mortes bridge to Lake Winnebago (all of Oshkosh). This would roughly triple the current slow-no-wake distance.

If this concerns you, there is a preliminary meeting Monday at 6:00 to talk about it. The petition is being presented to the City Council at 6:00 Monday Sept 10th.  This is a preliminary meeting held by the parks dept. Oshkosh city hall room 410. With enough opposition, the issue might be killed right there. Please be there!  (Note correction to meeting time and location.)

Please get involved.

For more information and discussion on this please see the following forum post:  http://www.boatingwinnebago.com/forums/navigation-and-safety/proposal-to-extend-slow-no-wake-to-entire-fox-river-in-oshkosh/

Sep

4

PIPE— One person was injured Sunday when a boat caught fire and sank in the Lake Winnebago entrance to the channel leading into Columbia Park.

According to police scanner reports, a caller told the dispatcher around 3:50 p.m. that a boat in the mouth of the channel was on fire and that all people on board had evacuated before it sank.

One person on the 19 1/2-foot boat sustained burns and was advised to seek medical treatment.

The owner of the boat, Steve Schoepke of Fond du Lac, said the engine backfired and burst into flames. Schoepke described the boat as a 1977 Checkmate jet boat.

The Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department towed the damaged boat out of the channel and over to where a large crane from Whealon’s Towing of Fond du Lac could retrieve it from the water.

Columbia Park is located on the east shore of Lake Winnebago at N10340 Calumet Harbor Road west of Pipe. The park contains boat slips and a launching area, as well as a harbor wall used to dock boats.

 

Oshkosh – The Winnebago County Sheriff Department responds to a boating accident on the Fox River near the Wisconsin Street bridge in Oshkosh on Saturday afternoon. According to scanner reports, one person was injured when the boat struck an object in the water.

Jul

18

This is a reminder / notice of the temporary security zone on Lake Winnebago for EAA Air Venture. This security zone is Monday July 23rd through Sunday July 29th from 8AM to 8PM every day.

This is a no entry zone, patrolled by the USCG. The purpose of this no entry zone is to facilitate the takeoff and landing of sea planes during EAA’s Air Venture. The zone is usually very clearly marked with large orange buoys.


View EAA Security Zone in a larger map

Below is an excerpt from the USCG “Code of Federal Regulations.”

61) EAA Airventure; Oshkosh WI.
(i) Location. All waters of Lake Winnebago bounded by a line drawn from 43°57 30″ N 088°30 00″ W; then south to 43°56 56″ N 088°29 53″ W then east to 43°56 40″ N 088°28 40″ W; then north to 43°57 30″ N 088°28 40″ W; then west returning to the point of origin NAD 83 .

(ii) Enforcement date and time. The last complete week of July, beginning Monday and ending Sunday; from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.

via Electronic Code of Federal Regulations:.

Jul

2

TOWN OF MENASHA — A 21-year-old Hortonville man was injured early Sunday when a recreational boat struck an anchored fishing boat on Lake Winnebago.

Matthew Parafiniuk was transported to Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah, where he was treated for his injuries and released.

Lt. Gordon Ledioyt of the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department said Anthony Capener, 29, of the Town of Menasha was operating a 23-foot recreational boat at 1:30 a.m. when he hit a 16-foot fishing boat occupied by Parafiniuk and Joshua Jackson, 27, of Grand Chute.

Ledioyt said Capener was unable to see the fishing boat because of rainy, stormy conditions.

“It is suspected that the fishing boat did not have the proper lighting on it,” Ledioyt said. “The incident is still under investigation.”

via Fisherman injured in two-boat crash on Lake Winnebago | Appleton Post Crescent | postcrescent.com.

Jun

7

NEENAH — The city’s Landmarks Commission has received confirmation that the Kimberly Point Lighthouse has been designated to the Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places by the Wisconsin Historical Society.

The commission nominated the lighthouse structure due to its iconic role in the history of the community.

The fully operational lighthouse, located at the Northern point of Kimberly Point Park, was constructed in 1945 and is considered of local historical significance for its association with Neenah’s history of water recreation. The structure is one of only two surviving park improvements funded by the city’s prominent paper manufacturers. The other is the distinctive 1922 Doty Park bridges.

The lighthouse was increased in height by 10 feet in 1954 to increase the lantern’s visibility and slightly altered due to vandalism in the 1970s, when the first floor windows were enclosed.

Constructed of painted brick and wood boarding on the upper levels, it is decorated in elements of Colonial Period Revival and houses two public restrooms, along with a series of platforms that lead to the lantern and contemporary lighting mechanism.

Significance to community: Neenah’s early industrialists worked hard, but still made time for recreation which centered on Lake Winnebago – pursuing yacht racing in the summer and ice boat racing during winter months. Yacht racing began on Lake Winnebago around 1859 and over time became one of the premier Fox Valley sporting and social events of the early mid-20th century. Lake Winnebago continues to be a popular water recreation destination, so the Kimberly Point Lighthouse will continue to stand guard overlooking the headwaters of the lower Fox River and guide fisherman, just as it has for over 65 years.

For more information about the Landmarks Commission, contact Carol Kasimor at ckasimor@ci.neenah.wi.us.

via Kimberly Point Lighthouse gets historic designation | Appleton Post Crescent | postcrescent.com.

Jun

4

The Lake Winnebago Quality Improvement Association will meet for the first time at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6 at University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac, rooms 113/114, 400 University Drive.

The group’s objective is to improve the overall quality of Lake Winnebago for recreational purposes while preserving its natural resources and caring for the creatures that make the lake their home.

Fishermen, boaters, jet-skiers, windsurfers, birdwatchers and anyone interested in natural resources, wildlife preservation and conservation practices is invited to attend the charter meeting.

Fond du Lac County and the UW-Extension are co-hosting the meeting.

via Lake Winnebago improvement group meets Wednesday | Fond du Lac Reporter | fdlreporter.com.

Jun

4

EUREKA – Boaters now have greater access across Northeast Wisconsin.

Renovations on the Eureka lock are complete and it is open to boater traffic.

The $300,000 project was spearheaded by the Berlin Boat Club.

It took about three years to complete.

The lock is located between Berlin and Eureka.

It opens up boating traffic to Lake Butte des Morts, through Oshkosh, into Lake Winnebago.

“It’s great for the city of Berlin. It connects us back up to the Winnebago system. I’m thrilled we’re now connected back to the Winnebago system,” said Berlin Boat Club treasurer Dick Schramer.

The Eureka lock will be open every weekend from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

It can also be operated with 24 hour notice.

A grand opening is set for June 30th, which will include food, entertainment and fireworks.

 

Renovations complete on Eureka lock: fox11online.com

Lake News: Renovations complete on Eureka lock.

Jun

1

This summer the Railroad bridge in Oshkosh is under construction and we’ve already heard numerous complaints about the bridge being closed more than it’s open.

With the bridge being constrained to one lane this has become a concern and we wanted to make sure that all boaters have the proper information to contact the bridge tender directly and if that fails to know that you have the option / right to file a complaint to the US Coast Guard.

To contact the bridge tender directly you can hail them on channel 16.  If you do not have a marine radio or they do not respond you have the option to call them directly.  The bridge tender is required to carry a phone and answer it at all times of operation.  (8AM to Midnight.)  That number is 920-456-9864.

I have it on very good information that the head of bridge operation for the CN railroad is highly committed to responding to boaters this summer with the inconvenience they are unfortunately imposing.

If contacting the bridge operator directly fails or you are not happy with the wait times or see any unsafe behavior due to bridge openings being delayed, you can submit this form to the US Coast Guard and they will be meeting with the CN Railroad to review all complaints later this year.  (There is a reason the tender was required to be at the bridge starting last navigation season.)

train bridge – coast guard blank form

For more information or help from the members of Boating Winnebago please visit our forum by clicking here!

Apr

20

The Village of Winneconne could see a new resort and marina on the banks of the Wolf River.

A developer identified as Winn-Win Resort Inc. is pursuing the redevelopment of a parcel of land located at 111 North 1st St. in Winneconne into an upper-midscale hotel and marina resort, positioned along the banks of the Wolf River. The hotel would have 60 units and the marina would include 116 boat slips. The site is currently home to Lang’s Landing, a motel owned by Dennis Lang.

Winn-Win is headed by Mike Mullen, a professor of marketing and international business at Florida Atlantic University, said Winnebago Village Administrator Steve Volkert. Lang contacted Mullen, an Appleton native, to look at the property, and an offer for Winn-Win to purchase the land has been accepted, Volkert said, adding that Mullen has spent a lot of time as a tourist in Winneconne and spent about three months investigating the site last summer. Neither Mullen nor Lang could be reached for comment.

“The mere presence of an upper-scale resort in the village is going to really bring us kicking and screaming into the 21st century,” said Tom Snider, the Winnebago County Board supervisor who represents the Winneconne area and is chairman of the Town of Winneconne. Snider said the resort would help combat a shortage of accommodations in the area and might make events such as fishing tournaments more successful.

Snider is the sponsor of a resolution that will be considered by the board Tuesday that urges the state Department of Natural Resources to approve the development of the marina. Snider said he plans to amend the resolution to simply voice the board’s support of the development. Similar resolutions have been prepared for the Winneconne town and village boards.

According to the county board resolution, the marina is part of the redevelopment of an existing Brownfield marina, motel and industrial site on a well-flushed waterway that requires no new dredging and that will substantially reduce runoff consistent with the 2010 Wisconsin Clean Marina Guidebook.

Officials said the resolutions do not represent approval of any specific plan for the project.

Volkert said Mullen will meet with the DNR within the next few weeks. After that, Volkert said, Mullen will determine the total construction costs for the project and begin explore options for financing it. Mullen completed a feasibility study in February that showed that the 60-unit resort model would be financially feasible, Volkert said.

It is unclear if Mullen would seek public assistance to finance the project.

Snider said after one meeting with the developers, he doesn’t foresee a request for public money to finance the project, but the project is in the early stages and could go in that direction.

Volkert and Snider see the project as an opportunity to bring a different market and different kind of clientele to the area, taking Winneconne’s tourism industry to a new level.

Increasing the number of tourism dollars coming into the community would help sustain Winneconne’s restaurants and other businesses that rely heavily on money from outside the community, Volkert said.

“Tourism is huge,” Volkert said. “The community doesn’t have an enormous amount of industrial or commercial properties. The dependency to get people to come to Winneconne primarily because of the water is extremely important to all our businesses.”

New resort and marina may be headed to Village of Winneconne | The Oshkosh Northwestern | thenorthwestern.com.

Apr

13

Oshkosh – zebra mussels are back near Lake Winnebago, spreading out across shorelines and clogging boat channels.

The Department of Natural Resources says the zebra mussel population is “extremely high” right now, and that’s causing problems for area boaters and residents.

People who come to the lake regularly near Oshkosh are noticing a changing look the beaches.

“This has been a radical change. This I’ve never seen before,” Bill Glander said.

Glander has visited the lake for more than half a century but hasn’t seen this many zebra mussel shells until now.

Just a few miles south of Oshkosh, homeowners are seeing even more shells. There are thousands of them at the very least. Residents say the infestation grew by about 40 percent just this year.

“They’re filled right in. You can’t get out… and, if you open them up, couple days the wind picks up and they close right up again,” said Gary Weber, Point Comfort resident.

The influx of those shells has blocked the Point Comfort boat channel. That’s putting a damper on some people’s chances to boat and fish.

“There’s no spawning for the fish in here, there’s no crop. This used to be great fishing here,” said Patrick Schaeffer, a Point Comfort resident and Lake Winnebago boater.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources doesn’t have a practical way to dispose of them.  The agency urges boaters to be cautious when moving from lake to lake to watch out for hitchhikers.

“It’s important that people be very careful about not transporting any water or live plants anywhere from Lake Winnebago or among any lakes,” said Rob McLennan, DNR basin supervisor.

But residents still want rid of the invasive species.

“You’d need dump trucks to come in here and get the stuff out of here. It’s no shoveling deal to get them out, it’s not going to happen,” said Schaeffer.

Residents cannot remove the mussels without a permit from the DNR.

In the meantime, some Point Comfort homeowners say they’re thinking about moving out.

Lake News: Zebra Mussels Impact Residents and Boaters at Lake Winnebago.

Mar

28

LAKE MICHIGAN – WI – FOX RIVER

FROM DECEMBER 12, 2011 THROUGH APRIL 30, 2013

THE CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY SWING BRIDGE AT MILE 55.72 OVER THE FOX RIVER AT OSHKOSH, WILL BE REPLACED WITH A SINGLE LEAF BASCULE BRIDGE. CONTRACTORS WILL BUILD NEW PIERS IN THE RIVER UTILIZING: COFFERDAMS, FALSE WORK, AND CONSTRUCTION BARGES. FROM APRIL 1 TO DECEMBER 31 ONE HALF OF THE NAVIGATION CHANNEL WILL REMAIN OPEN TO VESSELS. FROM JANUARY 1 THROUGH MARCH 31 THE CONTRACTOR IS AUTHORIZED TO HAVE EQUIPMENT IN BOTH SIDES OF THE CHANNEL. MARINERS ARE REQUESTED TO TRANSIT THE
AREA WITH CAUTION AT A SLOW NO WAKE SPEED.

Feb

14

The U.W.-Oshkosh Foundation has bought into a hotel.

The on-again, off-again plan to buy a share in the City Center Hotel and Convention Center from Nashco Hospitality Group was on again, and the purchase was completed Tuesday, according to the U.W.-Oshkosh web site.

The foundation partnered with two local hoteliers — Richard Batley of RB Hospitality in Neenah and John Pfefferle of Pfefferle Companies Inc. in Appleton.

Last year the foundation was working with the WHC hotel group, but in November the potential buyers determined some issues with the renovation costs made that deal impossible.

The new ownership group plans to revitalize the 179-foot waterfront hotel into a full-service, state-of-the-art business hotel with a restaurant in 2013, the UWO web site said.

The partners estimate the renovation will provide more than 200 construction jobs, and the renovated hotel could create more hospitality jobs.

The partners also plan to use revenue from the hotel for UW-Oshkosh Foundation scholarships to Oshkosh high school students, and possibly use the hotel for a hospitality learning program for university students.

Batley also owns the Bridgewood Resort Hotel and Conference Center in Neenah, and Batley and Pfefferle are partners in the CopperLeaf Boutique Hotel and Spa in downtown Appleton.