Sep

26

Jury selection began this morning in the trial of a Fremont man accused of driving a boat drunk and causing a crash that killed a passenger.

Todd M. Frisbie, 44, is charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle in connection to a June 6, 2005, boating crash that killed Alan P. Richards, 38, of Holland, Mich.

According to the criminal complaint, Frisbie was intoxicated and driving a 30-foot power boat as he, Richards and a third man were boating home on Lake Butte des Morts from a riverfront bar and restaurant.

The boat crashed in the shallows of Lake Butte des Morts near Nickles Drive, ejecting Richards, who was found face-down in the lake by first responders.

Winnebago County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Gritton has scheduled 10 days for the trial.

If convicted, Frisbie faces up to 40 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

via Jury selection begins in trial of Fremont man, Todd Frisbie, charged in fatal 2005 boating accident on Lake Butte des Morts | The Oshkosh Northwestern | thenorthwestern.com.

Sep

26

Emergency workers from four agencies spent more than an hour early Sunday trying to pull an intoxicated man from the Fond du Lac River who refused to be rescued.

The 34-year-old North Fond du Lac man is expected to face criminal charges related to the incident, said Lt. Jason Laridaen of the Fond du Lac Police Department.

About 1 a.m. Sunday, a Fond du Lac police officer passed the man in the area of Brooke Street and River Road, just south of Scott Street, according to the report.

The officer heard a man call out “hey officer,” Laridaen said. When the officer turned around, the man got off his bicycle and ran southwest along the Fond du Lac River.

The officer ran after the man and saw the man dive into the Fond du Lac River. Temperatures outside were in the 40s early Sunday.

“He swam west across the river, but refused to exit the river,” according to the report. “Officers called out to him to come to shore but he refused.”

The man was swimming in the river and the current swept him toward Lake Winnebago. The water in the center of the channel would have been over the man’s head.

Several times officers threw the man a rescue ring, but he refused to grab it, according to the report.

Fond du Lac Fire Department personnel were dispatched to help. Police also requested help from the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department boat patrol and North Fond du Lac police.

The man refused to get on the Sheriff’s Department boat near Frazier Point in Lakeside Park, said Sheriff’s Department Sgt. John Toney. Eventually officers hooked him from the back by his clothing and hauled him to shore.

The man continued to struggle with officers who tried to get him out of the water, he said.

About one hour and 15 minutes after the man first dove into the water, he was turned over to city police.

He was taken to St. Agnes Hospital by ambulance.

via Man jumps in river to flee Fond du Lac police | Fond du Lac Reporter | fdlreporter.com.

Sep

20

Fox River lock fundraising goal met: fox11online.com

APPLETON — By 2015, boaters will be able to use 14 of the Fox River locks between Lake Winnebago and Wrightstown, thanks to the ongoing effort to unlock the historic hand-operated locks system.

On Monday, officials with the Fox River Navigational System Authority and Fox River supporters celebrated reaching the $11.2 million fundraising goal set in 2004 in a ceremony held near one of four Appleton locks that have been restored.

Jean Bartels, acting director of the state Department of Natural Resources’ Northeast region office in Green Bay, delivered a ceremonial check for $400,000 that constituted the final state payment to match the $2.8 million raised locally. The presentation was made at Pullmans Restaurant at Trolley Square after about two dozen river supporters disembarked from a private charter boat at the new canal-side dock just west of S. Olde Oneida Street.

The combined $5.6 million in state and local funding was recently matched by the last payment of $5.6 million in federal funds, providing the funding needed to complete the refurbishing of the five Kaukauna locks by May 2015.

“People with dreams, people with can-do attitudes made this happen,” said Ron Van De Hey, Fox River Navigational System Authority chairman, a non-boater from Kaukauna who has been involved in the effort on and off for most of the past three decades. “It isn’t all about boating. It’s about this quality of life we have here in the Fox River Valley.”

Among more than 400 local donors over the past seven years were three $250,000 contributors: the John F. Gillen Family of Neenah; Frank C. Shattuck Community Fund from the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region; and a tourism grant from the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“I hated to see (the locks system) close, but slowly but surely we’re getting it opened,” said Gillen, a Chicago native who moved to Neenah in 1978 as a Kimberly-Clark Corp. executive. He still lives along the Fox River in Neenah.

Gillen said he and his wife, Ann, support the Fox locks restoration “for historic reasons as well as to keep the waterway open from Green Bay down to Lake Winnebago” for future generations to enjoy.

Curt Detjen, president/ CEO of the Community Foundation, said the $250,000 donation from funds left behind by Neenah philanthropist Shattuck goes to one of his designated areas of interest.

“We all know that Frank was a lover of the water and loved community development, and this would have been a very important project for him,” Detjen said.

Cheryl Zaug Casey, board chairman for the Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the $250,000 grant supports attractions in the area.

“It was only natural for us to support the redevelopment and opening up of those locks so that both our residents and visitors alike can enjoy the gem we have here in the river and waterways,” she said.

Harlan Kiesow, Fox River Navigational System Authority chief executive officer, said the national recession forced a slowdown in the locks restoration process because of the impact on funding.

“We’re recovering at this point,” he said. “We delayed spending for a couple of years. We’re pretty sure financially we’ll be able to do what we want to do and complete it by 2015 and operate all the locks with the exception of Rapide Croche.”

While three locks (Menasha and two in De Pere) have been continuously operated, restoration is done on eight of the 14 other locks. The 17-lock system from Menasha to Green Bay will remain closed for through passage for now as officials continue exploration of a potential boat transfer station at the Rapide Croche Lock near Wrightstown.

Sep

14

Sep

14

Next summer, boaters are expected to be able to travel along the Fox River from Green Bay to Lake Winnebago.

That’s great for recreation, but it’s a concern for scientists.

Bart De Stasio, a Lawrence University biology professor, has been charged with studying invasive species in the river and detecting whether they have spread.

During a Newsmakers interview last week, De Stasio discussed a barrier near Wrightstown and how invasive species could hurt Fox Valley waterways.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Tell us how you describe invasive species and why they’re so destructive.

Invasive species typically are any kind of species that isn’t evolved in one location. It’s something that comes in new, but, more than that, it’s something that causes a problem for society or for the ecology of the system. Or, if it caused a problem someplace else, it can be considered invasive in a new location.

What kinds of problems can they create?

In the Great Lakes, we have a problem with zebra mussels. That’s a species that evolved in Europe, in the Caspian Sea region. When it was transported here on boats, it became a problem because it attached to boats, to piers, to bouys. The problem that it causes for companies, especially, is it clogs intake pipes. Those have to be cleaned out periodically. That’s a brand new expense for companies.

Tell us about your study of the Fox River.

The Fox River study that’s going on now is to look at invasive species that might be coming in through the Fox River to the upland lakes, like Lake Winnebago and the upper pool lakes.

The Fox River is a location where they’re trying to open up the navigational waterway. The state has purchased all the locks and they’re refurbishing them. As part of that, they have to ensure that they don’t allow invasive species to go upriver.

They’ve decided to keep one of them closed as an invasive species barrier, the one that’s at Wrightstown at the Rapide Croche lock. Our job now it to monitor for invasive species before anything else happens to make sure they’re not allowing invasive species to go upriver.

What species are you finding?

Our study is set up so we can look at locations below the current invasive species barrier at Rapide Croche. What we’re finding is things you typically find in Green Bay or Lake Michigan that are known to be invasive are occurring just below that barrier.

We have round goby, a fish that again was brought in from the Caspian Sea region. The round goby is established near the De Pere dam, and we found it even above the Little Kaukauna dam. That’s a species that has the potential for ruining the ecology of systems. It feeds on the eggs of other fish, like yellow perch, and crustaceans that live on the bottom.

How do you actually conduct the Fox River study?

I hire two students every summer to help me. We have three sites identified below the Rapide Croche dam and three above it. At each of those locations, we got out at least four or five times each summer.

What we’re doing is sampling for all fish that would be in that location, all the invertebrates that live on the bottom and also looking at all the animals that live in the water, like water fleas. We identify everything that’s there, and determine whether it’s native or invasive.

Why is the round goby so bad?

The round goby has been shown in Lake Michigan and other Great Lakes to really affect the ecology, so how the food web functions. Because it is a predator on other fish eggs, it has the potential for affecting fish reproduction.

Yellow perch is one that’s a concern. In Green Bay, there historically has been a great yellow perch fishery — all the perch fish frys we have on Friday nights.

Are you concerned that the lock system will not stop the invasive species?

Yes. There’s a lot of concern about that because once you open up a lock and allow boats through it, what you’ve done is allowed a lot of water with those boats to be moved upstream.

Anything that’s attached to a boat or that are in the live wells, perhaps, or attached to fishing lines — there’s a spiny water flea that attaches to ropes and fishing lines — anything that gets moved with the boat can potentially be transported.

What are the safety measures built into the lock system?

The state authority that’s in charge of this system is called the Fox River Navigational System Authority. It was created in 2001 to oversee the opening of the locks. That authority put in place a management plan, part of which was monitoring invasive species to make sure they’re not moving them.

What they’ve done is provided educational opportunities for boaters to realize they shouldn’t be moving boats upstream unless the boats are clean.

They’re allowing boats to cross that invasive species barrier only if they’ve been properly cleaned. The plan is to construct a boat cleaning station that would lift boats over the lock at Rapide Croche and then use a hot-water treatment to clean those boats.

Why does the hot-water treatment system work?

We wanted to avoid using strong chemicals because then you have to deal with dangerous waste. We investigated the idea of using hot water, which is easy to remove.

The Fox River Navigational System Authority contracted with us to do studies to test how hot would the water have to be and how long the boat would have to be in contact with that water.

I had a student work on that project with me and we determined that 110 degrees would be enough to kill the species we were seeing, and that they would have to have a five-minute immersion. The plan is to have a hot-water dunk tank essentially. The gear would have to be treated as well.

What concerns have you heard from boaters?

One of the main ones is that this transport of boats above the species barrier will allow sea lamprey or round goby to get through. Fish are usually a little easier to deal with because they don’t attach to the bottom of the boat. So if any boat is observed to have live fish on it, it will be denied passage.

How else can species get through?

One of the issues is that there are a lot of boat landings below Rapide Croche, so smaller boats that can be taken out of the water are transported around the barrier and put back in the water. In fact, we’re pretty sure that’s how the zebra mussel was introduced into Lake Winnebago back in 1998, that there was a boat in Green Bay for the first half of the summer and it was moved to Winnebago the second half and introduced that species.

Our barrier is not going to stop everything from coming in, but the authority is charged with making sure it doesn’t get through that (specific) barrier.

Is it a matter of educating boaters?

That’s a big part of it. The Clean Boats, Clean Waters program is an effort to make boaters realize they should not be transporting boats from one body of water to the next in a short time. The recommendation is to have at least a five-day drying period, if not longer, and to make sure a boat is fully cleaned before it’s moved to a new body of water.

Lake News: Q.

Sep

13

WINNEBAGO COUNTY – Boaters will soon have greater access across Northeast Wisconsin.

Workers began renovations on the Eureka lock Monday.

The lock is between Berlin and Eureka and would open up boating traffic the ten miles to Lake Butte des Morts then through Oshkosh into Lake Winnebago.

The spring rains postponed the work that was supposed to begin in April.

But now, water levels on the Fox River are low enough for work to begin.

The Berlin Boat Club announced earlier this year it received the funds to restore the locks.

Workers are hoping to finish the project before Thanksgiving.

Lake News: Eureka lock renovation project begins.

Sep

13

The Wisconsin D.N.R. is calling it a possibly devastating situation. Fish biologists are watching the Asian Carp move its way into Wisconsin waters. The State Assembly Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday to try to get some answers. Meanwhile, there’s concern the fast-moving fish will find its way to Northeast Wisconsin, and perhaps, even Lake Winnebago.

Video from  Youtube shows the fish frenzy. Asian carp have been flying out of these waters for years, now they’re heading north, to the Badger State.

“It’s kind of the enemy is at the gates,” said Kendall Kamke, Senior Fisheries Biologist, for the D.N.R.

Kamke says the fish have moved well into Wisconsin waters. They are stalled for now, at the Prairie du Sac dam, but 30 miles upstream, are the headwaters of the Fox River. A possible next stop, is the Lake Winnebago system.

“It could be devastating,” said Kamke.

Kamke says the big carp feed on tiny plankton,

“It knocks the foundation out from under your food-chain. It can collapse all other species,” said Kamke.

And possibly, a local economy that depends on fishing along with it.

“If you were to ruin the walleye fishing, or white bass fishing, or boating, you put that monetary value at jeopardy,” said Kamke.

“It’s not something I’d like to see in this lake, that’s for sure,” said Adam Reyes, a fisherman from Oshkosh.

“I don’t like it, but I don’t know what we can do about it. Once they’re here, it’s gonna be impossible, to get rid of them,” said Bob Marin, a fisherman from Oshkosh.

“Rarely will you ever get rid of them, you learn to live with them, or try to control them,” said Kamke.

And so far, this invasive species, shows no signs, of turning back. Biologists fear, the Asian Carp could also affect fishing in the Great Lakes. Leaders hope they can come up with a plan to keep the carp in check, during Wednesday’s meeting in Madison.

Lake News: Asian Carp fly into Wisconsin.

Sep

12

Rapid community response is making a new dive team at Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue a reality.

Private fundraising the past several months generated $65,000 of the $90,000 goal, which will cover the cost to train 12 firefighters, who are scheduled to begin courses this week.

Neenah and Menasha officials last week authorized the startup of training and a $16,020 contract with Dive Team International in Fort Collins, Colo., to provide instruction so the potentially life-saving service will available this winter.

NMFR Chief Al Auxier said 20 firefighters have signed up for the training but only 12 will be selected, providing four trained divers on each of three 24-hour shifts.

Auxier and Assistant Fire Chief Mike Sipin credited the family and friends of the late Bruce Peterson for the quick success of the fundraising that began in June.

Peterson, 58, drowned Feb. 19 when his truck broke through the ice in 16 feet of water on the north end of Lake Winnebago off Fire Lane 8, trapping him inside.

\”It\'s going to be funded by the community without using tax dollars,\” Auxier said. \”Without (Peterson\'s family and friends) we wouldn\'t be doing this. We do have all the training and equipment costs covered at this time.\”

The fundraising will continue due to concerns from officials about the future maintenance costs involved.

\”Our intent is to raise enough money to fund the maintenance for at least 10 years,\” Auxier said.

Due to the significant amount of waterways in Winnebago County, the county sheriff\'s department already has a dive team, along with Oshkosh Fire Department.

\”Winnebago County has a very good dive team, well-trained, well-equipped, but the one item that works against them, at least on our end of the county, are the response times based on where they have to respond from,\” Sipin said.

In Peterson\'s case, county divers found him underwater relatively quickly after arriving at the scene. But, he had been underwater for at least 30 to 45 minutes and resuscitation efforts failed.

Officials believe having an NMFR dive team will reduce the response time significantly. \”From the time we are notified to the time we are out there ready to go we\'re looking at about 15 minutes, 20 (minutes maximum),\” Sipin said.

The team will have identical training and equipment as the county and Oshkosh dive teams. So, if a county officer was close by, the deputy could \”conceivably respond right to the scene, jump in our equipment, and, since it\'s identical, work right alongside of us.\”

Sipin added, \”At a minimum it will dramatically increase the chances of survival of somebody who goes through, whether it be in the winter time or in the summer open water months.\” But cold water provides an extended period of potential resuscitation time.

The first phase of training starts Wednesday with a dive instructor from Outdoor Outlet/O2. It involves a combination of classroom instruction, work at the Neenah-Menasha YMCA pool and a Waushara County quarry since 30-foot depths are needed for diver certification.

Firefighters will then go through Dive Rescue 1 training in October with Dive Rescue International. An additional level of training will take place later this winter involving under ice dive techniques.

\”Having a dive team could mean the difference between life and death,\” Menasha Ald. Chris Klein said.

\”We\'re very excited about this, to get this up and running to try to make a difference,\” Sipin said.

via Neenah-Menasha dive team training gets approval | Appleton Post Crescent | postcrescent.com.

Sep

2

Anyone with a boat powered by a vintage Johnson motor will tell you that a well-maintained outboard engine can last decades. When then motor finally dies, don’t discard it. Convert the engine into the best-looking blender ever.

Spotted on Etsy is a 1958 18 HP Johnson outboard motor that was gutted and modded into a blender. The original 18 HP engine was removed and replaced with a blender-friendly Homelite 2-cycle motor. The blender uses the original tiller handle, kill switch, choke and throttle to control the blending. Anyone who has operated a boat motor will appreciate the custom exhaust, which was installed to keep the noise level reasonable. And that paint job is simply splendid.

The designer of this unique blend of technologies is offering up one unit for $2800.

via A Boat Motor That Blends A Fine Cocktail.

Sep

1

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Six attorneys general in the Great Lakes region called for a multi-state coalition Wednesday that would push the federal government to protect the lakes from invasive species such as Asian carp by cutting off their artificial link to the Mississippi River basin.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the officials invited colleagues in 27 other states to join a lobbying campaign to separate the two watersheds, contending they have as much to lose as the Great Lakes do from migration of aquatic plants and animals that can do billions in economic damage and starve out native species.

“We have Asian carp coming into Lake Michigan and zebra mussels moving out of the Great Lakes and into the heart of our country, both of which are like poison to the ecology of our waters,” Michigan Atty. Gen. Bill Schuette said. “This is not just a Great Lakes issue. By working together, we hope to put pressure on the federal government to act before it’s too late.”

Also signing the appeal were attorneys general from Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It was being sent to their counterparts across the Mississippi basin as well as Western states such as Nevada, where Lake Mead and other waterways have been infested by zebra mussels believed to have been transported from the Great Lakes by unwitting recreational boaters.

Five of the Great Lakes states are suing the Army Corps over its operation of a Chicago-area waterway network that creates an artificial pathway between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, a Mississippi River tributary. Bighead and silver carp, natives of Asia, have advanced up both rivers and are in Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, where the Army Corps operates electric barriers about 25 miles from Lake Michigan to prevent species migration.

DNA from the carp has been detected beyond the barriers, raising fears that some of the large, voracious fish might be getting through, although just one has been caught.

The Army Corps and other agencies are studying the barriers’ effectiveness and monitoring the waterways for the presence of carp while conducting a long-range study of how best to prevent species migrations between the two drainage basins. Among the options is severing the link created more than a century ago by reversing the flow of the Chicago River and constructing the canal.

But the study isn’t scheduled for completion until 2015, and it could take many additional years to reconstruct the waterway. In their lawsuit, the states demand a quicker timetable.

Schuette said the attorneys general weren’t asking their colleagues in other states to join the lawsuit, but to help ratchet up the pressure on the Army Corps.

“They can work with their congressional delegation, use their contacts with the Army Corps, with their governors,” he said. “We need to turn up the heat.”

Asian carp have attracted wide attention because of their size — up to 4 feet long and 100 pounds — and destructive potential.

Biologists say if they become established in the Great Lakes, they could threaten a $7 billion-a-year fishing industry by gobbling up tiny plants and animals on which the entire food chain depends.

But zebra and quagga mussels have already ravaged the lakes, and the Army Corps this summer released a list of 40 other invasive species with a high potential of slipping between the Mississippi and Great Lakes basins. Of those, 30 threaten to enter the Mississippi watershed.

“Invasive species … are a potential hazard to every waterway and every state in the country,” Pennsylvania Atty. Gen. Linda Kelly said.

Maj. Gen John Peabody, commander of the Army Corps’ Great Lakes and Ohio River Division in Cincinnati, declined comment on the letter, but said his organization will continue collaborating with others involved in fighting to block the Asian carp’s spread.

“The Corps of Engineers remains committed to working with all federal, state and local partners to aggressively advance our successful efforts to contain the Asian carp below the fish barrier system, as well as to address long-term measures to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins,” Peabody told The Associated Press.

Officials with the Corps have said repeatedly they could not speed up the study because of the complex scientific and engineering issues involved. It’s examining dozens of potential aquatic pathways, not just the Chicago area.

“The Corps welcomes the active involvement of all stakeholders, especially state authorities, in the development of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study,” Peabody said.

via Attorneys seek split between Great Lakes, Mississippi River to control invasive species | Wisconsin Outdoor Fun Wisconsin Hunting, Fishing, Camping| Wisconsin Hiking, Biking, ATV | wisconsinoutdoorfun.com.

Sep

1

OSHKOSH – Some major changes are coming to Oshkosh. The UW Oshkosh Foundation announced Thursday the purchase of the City Center Hotel and plans for a riverfront alumni center.

The $8 million hotel revitalization project is a partnership between a team of local investors, which includes the UW Oshkosh Foundation.

The renovations to the City Center Hotel are scheduled to begin by the end of the year.

Once completed, it will be a full-service hotel with 179 rooms, a restaurant and meeting and banquet facilities.

A few blocks away on the Fox River, a state-of-the-art Alumni Welcome and Conference Center is being planned.

The UW Oshkosh Foundation says the 22,000-square foot development will feature ample meeting space and a ballroom with capacity for 460 people.

Click here to see a video of what the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center will look like.

In the summer of 2008, rains flooded and destroyed River Center, a university conference space on Pearl Ave.

The first step of the conference center project began when the Foundation purchased the Carl Steiger Park property this summer. This is where the building will stand.

FOX 11’s Kristin Crowley is working on this story and will have a complete report tonight on FOX 11 News at Nine.

via Two major projects announced in Oshkosh.