Nov

30

Long time bartender Beaner from “The Other Place,” in Winneconne has passed away. His daughter posted the following on her Facebook page:

“Beaner passed away quietly at his home this morning surrounded by his family. For those of you who wish to share in the “Celebration of Beaner’s Life”, please come to Robbins Restaurant between 3:00 to 8:00 PM this Friday, Dec. 2nd. 2011. Beaner did not want a wake, he wanted a party, so that’s what we’re having. Please come and tell your “Beaner” story. Dad had a brain tumor that was just discovered 5 weeks ago & for the most part he was comfortable & pain free. He just celebrated his 73rd birthday on Oct. 5th & as the picture attached shows, he had a blast at his last birthday. Thank you to those of you who attended that party. Here’s to Beaner!”

I personally have many fond memories of Beaner and all his help with the Winnebago Rally when I was involved with it.

Beaner always had a smile on his face and was part of the atmosphere that is “The Other Place.”

Fair winds and Following Seas Beaner.

Nov

21

The Sheriff’s Amphibious Rescue Craft (SARC) took to the cold November water of Lake Winnebago for the first time Wednesday afternoon and drew solid reviews from those who will depend on it.

The $145,000 SARC is designed for year-round use and features an enclosed, heated cabin that can hold a driver, spotter and Dive Team members with room for a victim and paramedic.

“It is designed to cut the ice, throw it aside and then the hull passes through. We developed a patent-pending hull design,” said SARC designer Matthew Cain of Midwest Rescue Airboats in Kansas.

Cain joined Fond du Lac County Sheriff Mick Fink on the maiden voyage from Lakeside Park West before Dive Team members boarded the vessel for extensive training. Deputies delivered fist pumps and cheers as Cain hit the gas with the Sheriff in the passenger seat. Employees of Mr. Marine filed out of the business along the Fond du Lac River to watch the spectacle.

Cain will return to Fond du Lac for additional training when ice forms on the lake.

The Fond du Lac County Board approved purchase of the craft. The Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Windsled (ERW) was sold for $16,000, said Sheriff Mick Fink. An $18,000 donation made by Joe Colwin of Mid-States Aluminum Corp., 132 Trowbridge Drive, paid for the SARC’s $7,500 trailer and other expenses.

Cain said the ERW was unsafe.

“It was like a pontoon boat,” Cain explained. “(Deputies) did not feel safe on the boat. That got the ball rolling to develop this for them.”

The ERW was loud, had no cover for deputies and required one member to sit above 40 gallons of gas, according to Fink. He said purchase of the ERW was a good decision by retired Sheriff Gary Pucker to deal with the dangers of Lake Winnebago, but an upgrade was needed.

The SARC can travel on water or land, as well as ice, grass, marshes and snow, Fink observed. Each panel on the boat can be removed and the cockpit can be raised for inspection and ice removal. If the engine fails and deputies are stranded, a generator can heat the cabin.

The boat features a crane than can pull up to 500 pounds to the surface and a Garmin radar that will be used to survey the area, Boat Patrol and Dive Team Commander Lt. Bill Tadych said, adding that the SARC could have been used last year during a blizzard to travel down county roads for the rescue of stranded drivers.

“The biggest thing we see a use for (in summer) is a shallow water scenario,” Tadych said. “Our three patrol boats can’t draft in less than two feet of water. (The SARC) can operate in six inches of water.”

As windshield wipers pushed aside the water of Lake Winnebago and Cain took the craft up to 40 mph, Fink turned around and gave thumbs up for the smooth ride.

“We can’t even compare this to where we were,” Fink said. “We knew we were somewhat underpowered when we bought the ERW. Sheriff Pucker said we needed a stable dive platform on the ice. This boat can handle open water, has enough thrust to go through a marsh and snow. You can drive this in a parking lot. It changes our capabilities unbelievably.”

via Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department takes new, all-weather rescue craft on test drive | The Oshkosh Northwestern | thenorthwestern.com.

Nov

16

MADISON – The state Department of Justice has fined two Fox Valley companies for unpermitted work they did on a Wolf River development.

The Attorney General’s office released a statement today concerning Appleton developer G&G River Investments and Gene Frederickson Trucking in Kaukauna.

The department said G&G River Investments built a pier, seven boat lifts and five permanent boat shelters for a development on the Wolf River in the Fremont area. Those structures were not covered by the company’s permit.

The release also states Gene Frederickson Trucking and G&G River Investments placed unauthorized riprap on the shoreline.

A Winnebago County judge today signed an order for G&G River Investments to pay $137,000 in fines. Gene Frederickson Trucking will have to pay $15,000.

G&G River Investments is also required change the shoreline development so it fits the permits and monitor the site for five years.

via Two Fox Valley companies fined.

Nov

16

NEENAH — A former ambulance will be converted for use by the newly formed dive team at Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue.

Both the Neenah and Menasha common councils recently accepted the donation of the 2002 Ford ambulance from Gold Cross Ambulance Service. The action is contingent upon a final inspection of the vehicle’s engine.

Fire Chief Al Auxier said the cost of converting the ambulance for use as a dive team vehicle is estimated at $6,000, including painting and upgrades such as a trailer hitch, new batteries and suspension. Most of the work will be done by fire department mechanics between now and spring.

Auxier said money to pay for the ambulance conversion would come from the fire rescue’s equipment maintenance budget and donations. The former ambulance is expected to last 10 to 15 years due to the expected limited calls for service.

The 12 firefighters chosen for the new team (four per shift) have completed two phases of dive training and will undergo their first ice dive training this winter.

In September, Neenah and Menasha officials authorized the training and creation of the unit to speed response to underwater rescues after private fundraising efforts generated $65,000 in startup costs in just a few months. A trust fund has been established to accept donations and the goal is to raise $90,000 to equip, train and maintain the team.

Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue currently staffs and stores an open-water rescue boat and ice-water rescue craft owned by the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department to respond to water-ice emergencies in the northern part of the county.

Assistant Fire Chief Mike Sipin is unsure when the dive team will be put into service. The goal first to improve the team’s skills via practice, he said.

via Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue dive team accepts donated ambulance | Appleton Post Crescent | postcrescent.com.

Nov

15

The body of a man missing since his canoe capsized Oct. 16 off Washington Island was recovered Monday.

The Door County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call at 1:23 p.m. from a resident on Washington Island who found a body on the shoreline. The body, later identified as Mayur A. Patel, 45, Highland Park, Ill., was recovered about a quarter-mile north of the original accident scene by Washington Island police and fire officers.

Patel and a friend, Paolo R. Luzzatti, 49, Lisle, Ill. went out in a canoe in the afternoon of Oct. 16, but the canoe capsized off the southeast corner of Washington Island, according to a Door County Sheriff report. Luzzatti swam to shore to call for help, but Patel stayed with the canoe.

Patel was familiar with the Island from prior visits. Neither Luzzatti or Patel were wearing life preservers.

Door County Sheriff Terry Vogel said the mishap occurred in about 14 feet of water, but Lake Michigan’s depth drops off dramatically not far from that spot. Search and dive teams and aircraft attempted to locate the body, but search efforts were suspended Oct. 18.

via Washington Island: Body of missing canoeist found | Door County Wisconsin | doorcountyadvocate.com.

Nov

14

MINNETONKA, Minn. — World-class bass fishing, premier destinations and hefty payouts are on tap in the North American Bass Circuit’s second season of team-format tournament action.

The NABC’s 2012 schedule is as follows:

Qualifiers

May 12: Lake Winnebago Chain at Menominee Park, Oshkosh.

“The Winnebago system is a hotbed for large- and smallmouth action, with an amazing amount of water on which our anglers can fish a variety of presentations,” NABC executive director Dan Johnson noted.

Lake News: Lake Winnebago chain on bass circuit.

Nov

5

A consortium’s agreement to purchase the City Center Hotel collapsed under the weight of renovation costs that increased as investors got a more extensive look at the downtown property’s condition.

Wogernese Hotel Group LLC and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Foundation reached a tentative agreement to purchase the hotel from Nashco Hospitality Group LLC in late August and had until late November to secure financing and determine the extent of renovations that would be necessary. Oshkosh Area Community Foundation CEO Eileen Connolly-Keesler brought the group together and worked with the partners to secure investors needed to generate $5 million in private investment for the project.

The group initially expected the purchase and renovation of the 179-room hotel into a modern, full-service convention and business hotel would cost $8.5-$9.5 million. But in a press release, Connolly-Keesler said the consortium “uncovered a number of unforeseen costs necessary to bring this hotel up to operational standards.” She added the group could not arrive at a mutually agreed-upon purchase price in light of the renovations, so the purchase offer was withdrawn.

“There were large-ticket items that were more than we could handle,” Connolly-Keesler said.

The partners envisioned an $8.5 million renovation to create the Athearn Waterfront Hotel, a modernized, full-service convention and business hotel in the heart of downtown Oshkosh, two blocks from the planned site of an UWO alumni welcome center. Representatives of the consortium’s key partners cited a confidentiality agreement that was part of the purchase agreement and declined to talk in detail about what their review of the property’s condition revealed or how much the total project would have cost.

Oshkosh City Manager Mark Rohloff said a request for $2 million in up-front public financing provided via a proposed tax incremental financing, or TIF, district will be indefinitely tabled now that the group has abandoned its effort. He’s disappointed one of the few remaining impediments to downtown revitalization efforts will not get the investment it needs to revive the business.

But he said the group’s attempt proves a deal can be put together if the purchase price is right, a full inspection of the hotel is completed and private financing comes together.

“I think it demonstrates what’s needed to make this project work. It’s just at what price can you make it happen,” Rohloff said. “There is a formula to make this work, but it involves the right price, the number of investors and the right amount of public support.”

Rohloff and the city’s Community Development staff now must return their focus to Nashco Hospitality. Rohloff said city staff has to both encourage investment in the hotel and address the many problems and complaints about the property’s condition. Rohloff said inspectors closed the hotel’s pool this week because management did not install a filter cover required by federal law and that the restaurant and bar no longer open at all.

“As they’re barely providing any services in that hotel, the owners have to decide at what point they believe this is a viable investment for them,” Rohloff said. “They have to decide what they want to do with that hotel. We know what we’d like to see there and we’re willing to help within certain parameters, but so far they haven’t demonstrated any genuine willingness to make this succeed in the way they represented to us and the community.”

Attempts to contact Nash and Chhinder Gill, of Nascho Hospitality, were unsuccessful Friday.

via Update: Excessive renovation costs scuttled City Center sale | The Oshkosh Northwestern | thenorthwestern.com.

Nov

4

Makers of outboard marine engines say scores of their products could be ruined if consumers use a fuel mix that contains a higher level of ethanol.

On Tuesday, an engineer from Fond du Lac-based Mercury Marine Corp. is scheduled to testify before a congressional committee that recent engine tests showed severe damage to Mercury products run on a 15% blend of ethanol that’s coming to market soon.

The tests showed that three outboards run on an E15 fuel blend were damaged to the point of engine failure, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Makers of other smaller engines, used on equipment such as lawn mowers, snow throwers and all-terrain vehicles, also have said they believe that a higher ethanol blend in gasoline – scheduled for introduction as early as this fall – could result in catastrophic damage to those products.

Overheating and engine performance issues are among the problems that face owners of outdoor power products if they’re mistakenly fueled with E15.

In the Mercury Marine tests, paid for by the Department of Energy, a 200-horsepower outboard engine broke down after less than 300 hours of continuous operation, at full throttle, on the biofuel blend.

“The bearings on a piston disintegrated,” said John McKnight, director of environmental and safety compliance for the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

An identical engine powered by gasoline without ethanol was not damaged in the industry-standard test, according to McKnight.

A 300-horsepower Mercury outboard, one of the company’s most expensive engines, sustained valve damage after 280 hours of testing, while an identical engine running on gasoline without ethanol wasn’t damaged.

A small 9.9-horsepower engine running on ethanol completed the test but also was damaged.

“It was running very poorly,” McKnight said. “The results of the testing reinforce the recreational boating industry’s significant concern that E15 is not a suitable fuel for marine engines. We expect that additional testing will reveal similar real concerns to fuel tanks and fuel systems.”

‘Blaze orange warning’

Most gasoline now contains up to 10% ethanol, which is made from corn. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved a 15% blend for newer-model cars and trucks, but it has not extended the fuel waiver to vehicles manufactured before 2001.

It also has not approved the 15% blend for small engines.

“Even as an ethanol guy, my advice to Mercury would be to tell people not to use E15 in their outboard engines,” said Ron Lamberty, senior vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol.

Not only shouldn’t they use the 15% blend, it would be a violation of federal law if they did, according to Lamberty.

“There’s going to be a blaze orange warning label on the fuel pump,” he said.

The biofuels industry has pushed hard for higher ethanol blends in gasoline, saying it’s a source of renewable fuel and provides additional income for corn growers.

“We need lawmakers with a broader vision, and a policy discussion that goes beyond engine performance,” said Josh Morby, executive director of the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance.

The Mercury Marine test is not considered statistically significant, since it used only a handful of outboard engines.

And the tested engines were not calibrated to run on E15, ethanol supporters say.

Ideally, gasoline stations will have fuel dispensers where the consumer could choose an ethanol blend, advocates say, ranging from 10% to E85, which is 85% ethanol. It comes down to consumer choice, they say, and people should have the right to choose whatever fuel they want based on price and engine requirements.

Checking labels

Choosing the wrong fuel by mistake is a big concern, according to small-engine makers.

E15 could damage more than 200 million pieces of outdoor power equipment that were not designed to run on ethanol content higher than 10%, according to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, which represents Wisconsin engine manufacturers Briggs & Stratton Co. and Kohler Co.

It’s potentially disastrous for boat owners if they put the 15% ethanol blend in their boat’s fuel tank while filling the tank of their late-model car or truck.

“I don’t think people are naturally inclined to look at all of the labels on a fuel pump to make sure they are putting in the right amount of ethanol,” said Mercury Marine spokesman Steve Fleming.

Biofuel advocates say consumers are smart enough to choose the right fuel, and that engine makers should improve their products rather than complain about ethanol.

Small-engine makers say they’re testing isobutanol as an alternative to E15.

Like ethanol, it can be made from corn and other organic feedstock. Also, Briggs & Stratton engines tested with a 16% blend of isobutanol in gasoline were not damaged.

Briggs is encouraged by the test results, Todd Teske, chairman, president and CEO said in a news release Friday.

There are 70 million Briggs & Stratton engines that could be adversely affected by E15, according to the company.

“We are very interested in alternative fuels that do not cause damage to the substantial number of engines in use today while lessening the country’s dependency on foreign oil,” Teske said.

New ethanol blend damages marine engines, industry engineers say – JSOnline.

Nov

4

This weekend we will be doing an upgrade to the software that runs the forums. We expect there to be some downtime throughout the weekend and you may see the forum in various revisions of layout as we tweak everything to make it as similar to what it was before the upgrade.

We do not anticipate any loss of data and your usernames and passwords should remain valid after the upgrade.

Thank you!

Nov

1

UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences attracted new faculty for the start of its fall semester, including Laura Grant and Itziar Lazkano, two young economists specializing in natural resources; Todd Miller, a human health scientist studying toxins in water; and Matt Smith, an aquatic microbiologist developing new DNA sensing technology. The research of Lazkano and Miller is profiled below.

Todd Miller: Studying Algal Toxins

Todd Miller speaks softly, wears horn-rimmed glasses, and doesn’t use antibacterial soap.

He’s unaware of any research to suggest antibacterial soaps remove more bacteria from skin than regular soap, but he is aware of research that their estrogenic compounds, once rinsed down our drains, fester in the environment and can degrade into carcinogens. “So I think those things are going to come back to bite us,” he said.

But his latest research isn’t about soap. It’s about other fickle contaminants in water, toxins from “harmful algal blooms” of cyanobacteria, better known as blue-green algae. Miller hopes his research can improve the forecasting of harmful algal blooms and the dispersal of their toxins.

The two major toxins are microcystin, a liver toxin, and anatoxin-a, a neurotoxin. Microcystin causes nausea, joint pain, and headache. Anatoxin-a causes dizziness, shortness of breath, and numbness in limbs. It’s also been implicated in at least one Wisconsin death after a teenager consumed water from a algal-covered golf course pond in 2002.

In addition to noting recreational exposures, Miller is researching the presence of these toxins in drinking water. Lake Michigan is generally too cold to support blue-green algae, but shallower inland waterways like Lake Winnebago are warmer and provide drinking water to surrounding cities.

“There has been some research done to show that the chlorination process and ozonation process [drinking water treatment] is good enough to destroy the toxins; however, other research has shown that at times when organic carbon loading is high, that can inhibit the ozonation and chlorination. People haven’t looked at it over a time series, which is what we’re doing,” Miller said.

He’s also investigating the toxins that bioaccumulate in Wisconsin fish, including walleye. Some levels of toxin are expected. “What we don’t know is what concentrations they’ll be at in the fish relative to background levels in the lake,” he said. Initial results are expected in January.

Miller also wants to better understand what constrains the dynamic algae, which can control their own buoyancy, from forming blooms.

“We want to also monitor the lake conditions. When there’s a bloom of algae we want to know what was the water temperature, wind speeds…what sort of lake characteristics would lead to these organisms forming a bloom?”

His team is deploying buoys in several Wisconsin lakes to gather real-time data and monitor blue-green algae using fluorometric sensors, which measure the amount of blue and green algal pigments in water samples.

Two problems with the fluorometric data, however, are that the algae can clump together and that their pigments get “bleached out” over time. So, with UW-Madison engineers, Miller developed the “Water Guy,” a shoebox-sized device “that sucks up water, blends the sample, and holds it in the dark for about 20 minutes, thereby normalizing the previous light history between samples to some extent.”

In the lab, Miller uses a tandem mass spectrometer, an instrument sensitive enough to detect chemicals even at the very low concentrations at which the toxins occur in water samples.

He’s also part of a team led by John Berry at Florida International University and scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory designing a device to apply a “pregnancy test” that detects specific algal toxins. It’s a tool that one day could do chemical testing on Mars.

Long-term, Miller hopes to chronicle human exposure rates to algal toxins and perhaps develop a human blood test.

Last fall Miller joined UWM’s School of Public Health as an assistant professor; as one of several interdisciplinary faculty, he obtained adjunct status at the School of Freshwater Sciences this fall.

Itziar—call-her-Itzi—Lazkano talks like a tornado.

The self-described “hard-core economist” hails from the Basque Country of Spain, where she earned an undergraduate degree in economics and then worked for AZTI Marine Science Technological Institute, analyzing data sets to determine the effect of European Union policies on the fishing industry. She considered the efficiency of fishing boats, the capacity of fisheries, and the amount of EU subsidies paid to the industry. “I found that they were getting too much money,” she said.

Earlier this year she earned her doctorate in economics from the University of Calgary, writing on the theoretical relationship between environmental quality and economic growth.

“Environmental quality and economic growth are tied together, so that if one is bad the other will be bad as well,” she said. “And this is something that economists didn’t know before because we always thought that if we have technology, that will fix everything and we shouldn’t worry about anything else.”

But Lazkano looked at the conflicting economic incentives across different generations, which she said prevent widespread implementation of clean technologies.

“At the end of the day, firms are providing the technologies, but we are the ones who have to implement them,” she said. “So policies should not be directed only to firms and production, but also to individuals like us.”

Lazkano said she enjoys solving complex problems and hopes to apply her economic theory in three possible arenas: incentivizing more efficient water supply technology, predicting the efficiency of stricter minimum standards for water quality, and exploring whether and how climate change limits economic growth by looking at global water quality data.

Lazkano’s assistant professorship is joined between UWM’s Department of Economics and the School of Freshwater Sciences.

“In theory we know that when we all behave well, things go well,” Lazkano said. “But that coordination doesn’t happen in the public nature of things. And that’s sort of like an ironical thing, because we know what we should do, but we don’t do it. And natural resources are a clear example of that. Even if we know, we always end up in a situation where we don’t coordinate.”

Lake News: New scientists at Freshwater Sciences at UWM.