Aug

30

A Ripon man is heading a petition drive to bring an end to mandatory boat launch fees.

Fred Krahn says that Article 9 of the Wisconsin Constitution guarantees free use of state waterways.

He is hoping to gain support for a two-part complaint he has leveled against the Department of Natural Resources, and his petition, during a Wednesday meeting of the Winnebagoland Musky Club.

The public is invited to attend the meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 500 Fond du Lac Ave.

Krahn, who calls himself an avid fisherman, said local municipalities are being forced by the DNR to collect boat launch fees under threat of losing large sums of grant money.

Wisconsin Waterway Commission meeting minutes include references that indicate $5,000 in grant money would be withheld from municipalities if they did not charge boat launch fees, Krahn said.

But a gas tax that goes into a state water resources account is supposed to be used specifically to maintain and create access points to the water, he said.

“The DNR already has the money to maintain the launches. Instead they use it for other things, like fighting invasive species,” he said.

Winnebagoland Musky Club President Scott Klapperich said boat launch fees, which started out around $2, have increased to as much as $12 in some areas. At Supple’s Marsh boat launch in Fond du Lac, the fee is $5. Most landings in Fond du Lac County charge between $3 and $5, he said.

“We understand these landings don’t just take care of themselves. There’s trash pickup and maintenance and the need for nice piers. We have no problem with that,” he said.

However, club members take issue with how the money is used. Of the $30,000 collected in boat launch fees in Fond du Lac, the majority has been used to put up playgrounds, Klapperich said.

“We support Fred’s effort. He is trying to raise awareness of what is going on, so fishing clubs can get involved,” he said.

Krahn’s first complaint states the DNR’s act of withholding funds violates a DNR administrative code stating “the department encourages free access.” The second complaint demands the state of Wisconsin and the DNR fulfill their civic duty to provide free access to the waters of Wisconsin.

“This is the only instance in which the state is charging us for a right. They don’t charge you for walking into a public building, even though it may need a facelift,” he said.

Krahn said he has about 150 petition signatures so far.

via Petition requests free boat launches | fdlreporter.com | Fond du Lac Reporter.

Aug

30

According to Jaimee’s Facebook page, she has broken the world record of 157 for the fastest female in a boat.  Jaimee complete a run at 177mph during this past weekends LOTO shoot out in Lake of the Ozarks.

Here are some quotes from Jaimee’s Facebook page:

Sunday Aug. 29th a@ 11:18PM:  “Broke the world record in offshore racing at 177 mph in lake of the ozarks today! I had a great run thanks to all the people that made it happen for me …. Winna winna chicken dinna”

Mon. Aug. 30th @ 8:40AM: “…I set it for fastest GIRL!!!! It was 157 I added 20 for 177”

Way to go Jaimee!

Aug

30

On a midnight lark after drinking on shore, Cassandra Meyers, her boyfriend, Josh Meline, and a friend, Travis Foss, unfastened a 14-foot boat and glided out on the still waters of Lake Wapogasset.

Meyers, 19, remembers little of that night on May 7, 2009, in northern Wisconsin, except that she was instantly awakened after plunging into the cold water as the boat overturned.

While Meyers was flailing in the water, her arm hooked a life jacket floating nearby.

Meline, 27, and Foss, 28, were highly intoxicated at the time and weren’t so lucky. The bodies of both men were recovered hours later by Polk County divers.

The double drowning was among the state’s 104 boating accidents in 2009 that left 16 people dead. One out of four victims was intoxicated at the time of the incident, according to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources records. So far this year, 11 people have died in state boating mishaps.

Last year, alcohol use was reported as the fifth highest contributing factor in boating accidents. Despite the lethal mixture of alcohol and boating creating havoc on Wisconsin waters, lawmakers have yet to pass new legislation to toughen OWI laws governing recreational vehicles — including boats — that would aim to deter users from the risky behavior.

Lax laws

“Good grief, under our current laws, you can get behind the wheel of a boat and chug a beer at the same time — and it’s perfectly legal!” said boater Buddy Wilson of Fond du Lac. “You see people out on the lakes tipping them back one after another. I’m surprised there aren’t more boating fatalities.”

Safety advocates like Roy Zellmer, the DNR’s boating law administrator, are behind legislation that would tie OWI convictions on recreational vehicles to a person’s permanent driver’s license.

“People are pretty agitated when they’re arrested for driving their recreational vehicles drunk. But when they find out the arrest doesn’t affect their driver’s record, it’s not such a big deal to them anymore,” Zellmer said.

Legislation in a bill drafted earlier this year by state Rep. Louis Molepske Jr., D-Stevens Point, would make a second offense for OWI on any recreational vehicle within five years a criminal offense.

“Right now, you could get arrested for driving your snowmobile drunk in February, ticketed again in June for drunken boating and again in October for driving your ATV while drunk and wind up just paying fines,” said Gary Eddy, DNR snowmobile/ATV safety administrator. “In fact, there’s no law to keep someone with a revoked driver’s license from jumping into a boat that’s capable of carrying one to six people and driving that vessel while intoxicated. The most they could get is a ticket, and it wouldn’t even impact their driver’s license or prior OWI offenses in their motor vehicle.”

Intensifying effect

Wisconsin has more than 626,304 registered motorized boats, the fifth highest number in the nation, according to U.S. Coast Guard records.

Trying to keep tabs on the conduct of boaters navigating the state’s 15,000 lakes, streams and rivers is a small army of conservation wardens and local deputies, including Mike Matoushek, recreational patrol officer for Dodge County. From May until after Labor Day, Matoushek spends weekends patrolling the waters of the county’s biggest lakes.

The nuances of guiding a boat through the wind and the waves can be challenging for even the most skilled boaters, Matoushek says.

“Add the effects of noise and vibration to the fatigue from the elements — it takes a lot out of you. With those additional factors out on the water, you could have just one or two beers and show the signs of being intoxicated,” Matoushek said.

Those with little experience navigating a boat are more at risk, especially if alcohol is in the equation. In Wisconsin, only those born after 1988 are required to take a boater safety course to legally operate a boat.

“A lot of people get in power boats that don’t have any instruction on how to operate them. They think it’s like a car and forget they’re handling a five-ton vehicle without any brakes and have no clue what the rules of navigation are,” said Candace Bowen of Operation Dry Water. “Add the fact that they’re impaired, and it becomes a serious issue.”

Enforcement of OWI laws on Lake Winnebago is taxing on DNR and Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department officials working to cover an area the size of the city of Chicago. Last year, sheriff’s deputies spent 326 hours patrolling the lower third of the lake — equivalent to the size of 35,309 football fields.

“I’m surprised there aren’t more tragedies out here, but I think boating, snowmobiling and ATV communities are more educated than 30 years ago when I started,” said Sheriff Mick Fink.

Matoushek believes his fishing boat, emblazoned with the Sheriff Department logo, is a deterrent to risky behavior out on the water.

“Everyone knows we’re out here as soon as the boat hits the water,” Matoushek said. “Since I’ve started in this position three years ago, we’re actually seen a decline in violations.”

Zellmer thinks a deterrent of stronger laws will go a long way to changing the public’s attitude toward obeying OWI boating laws and making the state’s waterways and trails safer.

“People ‘get it’ when they’re being arrested for driving drunk in their car. But when they’re out recreating on their boat or snowmobile, they’re mad at us because they’re just trying to have a good time,” Zellmer said. “People forget that we have 80 to 90 people dying each year while operating recreational vehicles in Wisconsin.”

Aug

26

Just weeks after its opening, an Oshkosh roundabout is drawing criticism for its safety record.

The roundabout at the intersection of Jackson and Murdock streets has seen at least 22 accidents in six weeks.

Some pedestrians say it’s just as dangerous on foot.

Dodging cars while being extra careful, people attempting to cross the roundabout are complaining after a number of close calls.

“Near misses, yeah. I’ve been pretty close,” Chase Jackson said.

Jackson says his bicycle was struck in a minor run-in with a car just a few days ago.

“I was coming across, and the car just kind of nicked my front tire. I’m like, OK, and kind of crossed the street. Didn’t say anything to me, asked if I was all right or anything, just took off,” Jackson said.

George Harrington complained, “People don’t slow at this roundabout. You’re supposed to obey a speed limit on it. People don’t slow down.”

The posted speed limit is 15, and drivers are supposed to yield to pedestrians.

Since many drivers aren’t getting the message, extra signage and tougher enforcement are now possibilities.

Police continue to keep a close eye on the roundabout. So far they’ve issued a lot of warnings, but the city manager says it could shift to citations soon.

“They’ve been very courteous. They’ve been stopping people and instructing them on what they’ve done wrong and how they can correct it, but eventually the instruction is going to have to taper off and the enforcement is going to have to kick in more, and I think the police are beginning to do that,” City Manager Mark Rohloff said.

In the meantime, it’s up to people on foot to cross at their own discretion.

“People just need to be careful about what’s going on, surrounding them. It’s more looking,” Jackson said.

via Pedestrians Say New Oshkosh Roundabout is Accident-prone – WBAY-TV Green Bay-Fox Cities-Northeast Wisconsin News.

Aug

26

Streets and sewers have garnered most of the attention utilities in Oshkosh receive for more than 10 years now.

But the city of Oshkosh has undertaken a study of its water distribution system for the first time in 20 years to determine where growth will occur, identify any problem areas that may need attention and to plan for future demand, Public Works Director David Patek said.

“This helps you set up planning for five to 20 years of service,” Patek said. “It looks at the service, the water use requirements, but also makes sure we do have the correct pressures and elevated storage capacity for fire protection.”

The study will also look at placement of water towers around the city, including the oldest one in the city along Marion Road which has drawn attention for its appearance and placement in the center of a redevelopment area. But City Manager Mark Rohloff said the water system study was not undertaken specifically to find out if the downtown tower can be relocated.

“It’s a minor issue related to the whole study. It’s not as simple as saying ‘Gosh, it’d be nice not having it there,'” Rohloff said. “It’s our oldest tower and we need to find out what options we have. But the study is more about the distribution network than the tower itself.”

Patek said the study will create a computer model to be used to determine how growth in different areas will affect the water system and what improvements would be needed to accommodate growth. He said the city’s last study, conducted in 1990, did not include the extensive modeling that will be possible thanks to current technology.

Rohloff also said the study should identify independent pressure zones where water service is dependent on single wells or pump stations that, if they failed, would result in residents being without water.

“We don’t want to be in a position where we’re developing independent pressure zones around the city,” Rohloff said.

via City of Oshkosh to undertake study on water distribution system | thenorthwestern.com | Oshkosh Northwestern.

Aug

25

The beach at Menominee Park was closed today after water samples revealed elevated levels of E. coli bacteria in the water.

A water sample taken Monday had an E. coli concentration of 1,733 E. coli colony forming units, or CFUs, per 100 ml of water, a concentration well in excess of the 1,000 CFUs per 100 ml at which state and federal regulators say a beach should be closed.

Concentrations between 235 and 1000 CFUs require a beach advisory and signs indicating an elevated health risk. The primary concern with E. coli in lake water is it can cause diarrhea and vomiting if it is ingested.

The cause of the high level of E. coli has not been determined.

The beach will remain closed until samples show conditions have improved.

via Menominee Park beach closed due to high E. coli levels | thenorthwestern.com | Oshkosh Northwestern.

Aug

25

Councilors unanimously approved extending the no wake zone surrounding the Oshkosh Avenue bridge from a weekend designation to in effect all week.

Residents of River Mill condominiums petitioned the city to extend the no wake zone to all week to combat damage done to shoreline properties and boat docks in the vicinity.

“The village of Winneconne has had a no wake zone for their entire stretch of the river because they have condos with docks, homes with docks and businesses with docks,” River Mill resident Tom Moore said. “They came to the same conclusion I hope you do: The amount of damage by boat wakes is significant.”

Oshkosh resident Mark Hanson, who said he boats on the Fox River frequently for both work and recreation, opposed the extension of the no-wake designation because of the extra time he said it would add to a trip from Lake Winnebago to upland lakes and rivers and because it would make Oshkosh less boater-friendly.

“Boaters want to come through Oshkosh. They want to run around our city,” Hanson said. “If you want to kill boating in our city, then pass this. All you’re going to do is hurt boating in our town.”

But Moore and other supporters of extending the no-wake designation said they had timed how much longer it takes going fast through the area and adhering to no-wake rules. The difference was four to five minutes, Moore said.

“I think this is a reasonable, small stretch of river,” Moore said. “I hope you’ll support it.”

via It’s no wake all week for boaters around Oshkosh Avenue bridge | thenorthwestern.com | Oshkosh Northwestern.

Aug

24

Vince Neil of Motley Crue ·

Mt Olive ·

Bad Medicine

$5.00 before 6:00pm
$10.00 before 7:00pm
$15.00 after 7:00pm

Kids 12 and under are FREE all summer long when accompanied by a responsible adult.

Veterans are FREE anytime all season long!

For more information please see http://www.waterfest.org/index.html

Aug

24

Eddie Money

Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women

007

$5.00 before 6:00pm
$10.00 before 7:00pm
$15.00 after 7:00pm

Kids 12 and under are FREE all summer long when accompanied by a responsible adult.

Veterans are FREE anytime all season long!

For more information please see http://www.waterfest.org/index.html

Aug

24

The Oshkosh Redevelopment Authority unanimously approved spending almost $700,000 to construct a second segment of the river walk urban trail system Monday.

RDA members awarded the $696,403.45 contract for construction of the trail system in front of The Rivers senior apartment building, around the Mercury Marine property and west to the Wisconsin Street bridge to Radtke Contractors. The project will be funded using dollars the RDA controls, and will be the second segment under construction this year.

Phenco, a Neenah contractor, already has started work on the segment from the Leach Amphitheater to the Main Street bridge.

Radtke will construct the trail and replace riprap and sheet piling along the shoreline. This is the first half of the trail system to be funded in the Marion Road Redevelopment Area and is required under the agreement between the city and Oshkosh River Development, the developer of The Rivers.

Oshkosh Community Development Director Allen Davis said the remaining half of the river walk along Marion Road, from The Rivers east to the Oregon Street bridge, will likely come up for Oshkosh Common Council consideration in September.

Radtke submitted a low bid of $1.2 million bid to build that segment, which Davis said the city, not the RDA, would have to fund. Bid sheets indicate Radtke bid $720,870.90 for shoreline improvements and $522,228.30 for paving, utilities and landscaping the actual trail.

“The bids came in so well itd be to our advantage to build this other part now,” Davis said. “The goal is to connect the University (of Wisconsin-Oshkosh) to the Leach. If we can get the whole north side done by 2013, we can begin to focus on the south shore then.”

Davis said he expects construction of the second segment to last much of the rest of this year, giving the city time to decide how to fund the eastern portion while locking in a bid that came in well below estimates.

Davis also told the board the city has secured a Wisconsin Waterways Commission grant for $325,000 to fund installation of some docks along the Marion Road segments of the river walk. He said the docks would not be installed until next year at the earliest.

RDA members like the progress made thus far on the urban trail system and suggested that if the RDA could help fund the final segment of the north shore trail–between the Oregon Street and Main Street bridges—it should. According to its most recent audit, the RDA has $3.5 million in cash on-hand, but RDA Chairman Tom Belter pointed out much of that money is allocated to other projects at this time.

“The sooner we could get this done the better,” RDA member Ben Schneider Sr. said. “I think the sooner we get it looking like the pictures do, the better. I dont know anybody who doesnt want it.”

via Oshkosh Redevelopment Authority approves second river walk segment | thenorthwestern.com | Oshkosh Northwestern.

Aug

23

Spellmans Marina owner Tim Doberstein really wished the Oshkosh Common Council didnt have to consider extending a no-wake zone near the Oshkosh Avenue bridge.

Dobersteins business caters to everything from small fishing boats to larger power boats, and he enjoys the chance to open the throttle and fly along the Oshkosh areas rivers and lakes as much as the next boater. But he also had to spend $600 to replace the rub rail on a customers boat after a massive wake pushed the boat atop a pylon and broke the rail clean off as the wave subsided.

So hes of mixed feelings about a petition councilors will consider on Tuesday to extend the no-wake area from the current weekend and holidays designation to seven days a week.

“This wouldnt be necessary if boaters used some common sense. If boaters would see us over here tied up to the dock and keep it to a minimum, this wouldnt be necessary,” Doberstein said. “I want to see people have fun and be able to go. It;s just that people have to use common sense.”

Property owners along the stretch of the river from southeast of the Oshkosh Avenue bridge past the River Mill condominiums building, many of whom are boaters themselves, feel a little stronger about the need to extend the no-wake rule.

Nancy and Dennis Biedrzycki, who own a condominium in River Mill, told councilors they have seen heavy wakes violently toss boats around in River Mills, shake docks, snap mooring lines that damage boats and docks. Across the river, they have seen wakes pull boaters into the river as they prepare to launch from Rainbow Park.

“We dont want the entire river (to have a no-wake rule), just this very busy area,” Nancy Biedrzycki said. “Boating is supposed to be a leisure activity. Whats the rush?”

Winnebago County Sheriff's Department Lt. Greg Cianciolo said deputies received complaints about large wakes near the Oshkosh Avenue bridge toward the beginning of boating season this year, but the complaints have waned in recent months after directed enforcement patrols in that area heightened boaters' awareness of the rules.

Cianciolo echoed Doberstein’s assessment that boaters need to be aware of their surroundings — especially with Fox River water levels higher than usual — and a lot of docks, piers and other boaters using the river in that area. He added boaters are responsible for damage that results from their wake, regardless if it occurs in a no-wake zone.

“People need to remember that as they’re driving the bigger boats down narrow waterways in the county, that with the high water levels there’s more potential damage to docks, piers and whatever’s along the river,” Cianciolo said.

But Doberstein said to hold a boater accountable for the damage their wake does is easier said than done.

“You have to get their (registration) numbers. If you see them do it and can catch a number, then you can do something,” he said. “But if they’re out there a ways, you have to rip after them. Most of the time you don’t have a boat in the water, so you can’t get after them.”

At least one boating club in town supports the effort spearheaded by River Mill residents like the Biedrzyckis. Oshkosh Boat Club member Tom Sitter said the club supports the extension of the no-wake zone’s effective hours, as well.

“Our own members have witnessed the conditions condo owners are talking about. And our members have had boats damaged when filling up at Spellman’s,” Sitter said.

via Councilors consider extension of no-wake zone on Fox River | thenorthwestern.com | Oshkosh Northwestern.

Aug

19

TOWN OF MENASHA — Officials Thursday recovered the body of an unidentified man from Little Lake Butte des Morts.

Chris Shea, a deputy Winnebago County coroner, said there were no obvious signs of trauma.

Winnebago County Sheriff’s Lt. William Anthes said this afternoon the body is of a black man in his late teens to early 20s. The only clothing he was dressed in was a pair of red, athletic shorts with an elastic waistband.

Anthes said the description does not match anyone reported missing.

“That’s what we’re working on yet,” he said.

Results of the autopsy are pending.

The body was pulled from the lake off Palisades Lane in the Town of Menasha after someone saw it from shore, Shea said.

Town of Menasha police said the case was being handled by the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department.

Officials were notified of the sighting about 7 a.m., said Deputy Fire Chief Susan Phillips.

“It is a John Doe,” Shea said. “We have no proof of who he is. Everybody is kind of on hold right now.”

http://www.postcrescent.com/article/20100819/APC0101/100819041/1004

Aug

19

A Howard man thought his wedding ring was gone for good — lost somewhere in Lake Michigan.

Married nearly 24 years, he thought telling his wife would be the worst. But what he never expected turned out for the best.

Truth be told, Michael Hnilicka is no stranger to losing his wedding ring.

“I was at work and it slipped out of a watch pocket and got mixed into a huge basket full of trash, and this was right before they dump it into a compactor.”

This time, though, while snorkeling in the Great Lake off Door County, he figured it was gone for good.

“On my way back in, I realized I did not have my wedding ring any longer. My finger had shrank up and it slipped off.”

If by plain luck or fate, a series of events would intertwine a group of strangers who are now asking, “How?”

“I find stuff, yeah,” Bob Hazelwood said.

It was only several days later, Hazelwood, a SCUBA diving instructor, was teaching in the same area where the ring was lost.

“Went down, brought my student with me to go down. There was a ring, sitting right on top of a wooden pillar down there — a horizontal pillar.”

After Hazelwood found the ring, he brought it to the Door County Clerks office — really for no particular reason, just knowing he had to bring it somewhere.

“We kind of looked at it. OK, perfect, there was an inscription on the ring,” County Clerk Jill Lau said.

So the ladies in the clerks office searched in the register of deeds, trying to match the name and date inscribed on the ring.

“One person came up that was married on that date 1986 in the whole state,” Lau said.

Michael and Brenda Hnilicka.

They called the Hnilickas,,, and left a message.

“I was up at the front counter and the phone rang, and she said ;My God, its our ring number. I said, Youve got to be kidding me;” deputy county clerk Linda Viste said.

“I started to cry,” Brenda Hnilicka said. “He called me at work, and I started to cry.”

Wednesday morning, man and ring were united once again.

And if not to test luck or fate, Michael Hnilicka is thinking of finding a safer place for this ring than his hand.

“It was amazing. It was nothing short of amazing,” Mr. Hnilicka said.

“Somebody is looking down on us. Were expected to be together, I guess,” said his bride, laughing.

via Diver Discovers Lost Wedding Ring – WBAY-TV Green Bay-Fox Cities-Northeast Wisconsin News.

Aug

13

Tall Ships Are Coming® Twelve vintage vessels will sail into the Port of Green Bay, dock on the shores of the Fox River and host a three day festival as part of American Sail Training Association’s (ASTA) 2010 Tall Ship Challenge.®

Green Bay is one of only seven ports in the USA and Canada and the only port

in Wisconsin to be honored as a host.

An international festival of sailing pageantry!

Visitors will be able to tour the ships – each offering their own historic story. Relaxing sailaways, free entertainment and food and drink from dozens of vendors make this truly one of a kind festival experience. In addition, the Baylake Bank Tall Ship festival will include environmental programming on protecting our earth’s natural resources.

Detailed Ticket Info

Enjoy the Festival & tour the ships

* Adults $10, Kids/Seniors $8, Kids 4 and under FREE

Sail on one of the sailaway ships (75-90 minute sail)

* Tickets $40 & price includes festival admission

Quick Ship Pass

* $40 and includes admission to the festival, but saves you time to tour the ships.

* The pass gets you to the front of the line to tour 8 ships.

* Only 120 of the Quick Ship tickets are sold each day and they are valid for only one day.

Private 1 Hour Tour

* Private Tours are $30 and provide a more in depth look of one ship where guests learn more about the intimate details about the ship’s operation.

* Involves a tour of where the crew sleeps and eats. This tour is in the morning before the festival opens and provides more access to the ship.

* Only 30 people allowed for each tour.

* Festival admission is included.

Parade of Sail

* Sail on one of the Tall Ships from Sturgeon Bay to Green Bay August 12.

* Be on board as the ships arrive in Green Bay for the 3-day Baylake Bank Tall Ship Festival.

* Tickets $250 and includes box lunch and admission ticket to the festival the next day. Bus available from Green Bay to Sturgeon Bay for $5.

* A special three hour plus sailing experience from Sturgeon Bay to Green Bay on one of the Tall Ships® is available for purchase. This incredible opportunity puts you onboard one of these historic vessels with a unique chance to sail and rub elbows with captain and crew as they make their trek to Green Bay.

* Ships participating in Sturgeon Bay to Green Bay Trip: Roseway, Lynx, Denis Sullivan, Friends Goodwill, Appledore IV

For more informatinon please see:  http://www.tallshipgreenbay.com/

To purchase tickets, please see: Ticket Star Online – The Official Ticketing Company of the Resch Center – Green Bay :: Baylake Bank Tall Ship Festival.

Aug

6

August 4, 2010 Rescind Emergency Slow, No Wake

Slow–No–Wake

EFFECTIVE DATE: Wednesday, August 4, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SLOW–NO–WAKE FOR THE WATERS OF THE WOLF RIVER

IN THE TOWN OF WOLF RIVER, WINNEBAGO COUNTY, WISCONSIN,

HAS BEEN LIFTED.

Effective: 4:45 p.m.

August 4, 2010

By order of the TOWN BOARD Dated: August 4, 2010

Susan J. Gilbert, Clerk

Town of Wolf River, Winnebago County, Wisconsin

via Town of Wolf River, Winnebago County, Wisconsin : Notices.