June 7, 2008

Sphere Madness, garden division

As Sphere Madness takes over Downtown, it's also represented in the garden.

This allium popped out of my wife's garden, rising on a stalk more than four feet tall, a single white bloom of intriguing intricacy. At least to my eyes.

Wikipedia says allium "is the onion genus, with about 1,250 species, making it one of the largest plant genera in the world. They are perennial bulbous plants that produce chemical compounds (mostly cystein sulfoxide) that give them a characteristic onion or garlic taste and odor, and many are used as food plants."

I don't know any of that. Just that we have the one white one, and a few dozen pretty purple blooms that may or may not be allium 'gladiator.'

There's no hidden significance to this post, just a pretty picture from the garden.

Beaches open; boy, how we've missed the sun

MY EYES! MY EYES! Racine's beaches opened for the summer today, and the display of pasty white flesh was too much to bear.

By 11 this morning, there were a few dozen families enjoying North Beach. Well, the kids seemed to be enjoying the sand and the water. Mothers mostly sat wrapped in towels while alternately complaining about the cold or warning about the need for sunscreen. Or hoping for some peace and quiet as she cracked the spine on her first summer beach novel, James Patterson's Along Came The Spider, a Hannibal Lecter kidnapping ripoff if ever there was one.

The kids, as you'd expect, were oblivious to all that ... running into the water, splashing, playing with toy boats, building the first sand castle of the season.

Off shore, a lone kite surfer was trying out his new kite, skimming the surface as he went back and forth, under the watchful eyes of the lifeguards.

Meanwhile, down the road a bit in Kenosha, the seventh annual Outta Sight Kite Festival was taking place at Kennedy Park, alongside the lake. Scores of kids and adults launched their kites simultaneously at noon for a spectacular display. The kite festival continues today until 5 p.m. and tomorrow from 10 to 5.

June 6, 2008

Weather cooperates, giving a great First Friday

Sphere Madness was the center of attention

Downpours and tornado warnings disrupted the morning and afternoon, but magically disappeared just before 6 p.m., leaving in their wake bright blue skies, pleasant temperatures and the perfect environment for Downtown's First Friday.

Main and Sixth Streets were packed Friday evening, with families wandering into various galleries and shops, listening to the street musicians, and poking and prodding and posing with the art spheres that made their debut this week.

On Monument Square, the Roy Edwards Band -- rained out from its noon concert -- made up for it during its encore performance. The square was filled with concert-goers on one end, children dancing around the Civil War monument or communing with one of the two carriage horses, and HarborFest's beer tent at the other end. It was a peaceful coexistence.

Posing with one of the 75 Spheres

The Roy Edwards Band played under clear skies

Astrid Pierce rocked on Sixth Street

Cheryl McCrary & Heir-Born Praise Band offered Christian music

Young Haley Miller sang standards on Sixth

At Monument Square, kids danced...

...showed off great haircuts...

...and made friends with a horse.

More Spheres pictures HERE and HERE.

In outdoor concerts, weather is king

Music lovers who attended today's first Music on the Monument lunchtime concert got more -- and less -- than they bargained for.

Just two and one-half songs into the performance by the Roy Edwards Band, the concert was cut short by a downpour. The few droplets of rain that greeted the start of the 11:30 a.m. concert grew to a slashing rainstorm and heavy winds within 15 minutes, cutting short the concert.

Chairs and umbrellas were blown over, and DRC's Downtown Ambassadors had to scramble to collect them all, while a couple of hardy concert-goers huddled under an umbrella or two. To no avail. The band packed up, and the crowd was gone within 15 minutes.

And then the sun came out again. Sometimes, a blues band gets no luck at all, just something to sing about the next time.

June 5, 2008

June 4, 2008

UW-Parkside honors Dr. Herbert Roehrich

KENOSHA - The University of Wisconsin-Parkside recently honored Dr. Herbert Roehrich of Racine for his work in the community. Roehrich ('87, Biological Sciences), a psychiatrist, received the university's 2008 Distinguished Alumni Service Award.

It was while attending divinity school in Illinois that Dr. Roehrich was first called to return home.

"He decided he could better serve society as a medical practitioner than as a minister," said nominator Dr. Anna Maria Williams. "He chose the new and growing premedical program at UW-Parkside for his preparation."

After attending UW-Parkside, Dr. Roehrich was off again, to Madison for his doctorate and to Virginia, Michigan, and New Jersey for post doctoral training.

In 1987, while serving as the director of the National Cocaine Hotline, he visited UW-Parkside and local physicians convinced him to return home again. Since then, he has earned a legion of admirers.

"Dr. Roehrich is one of the best psychiatrists I have had the pleasure to work with," said UW-Parkside Clinical Professor Ed Conrad who is a licensed clinical psychologist. "He is the first person I think of when I need consultation regarding a psychiatric issue."

"He works with each person, even if they do not have the means to pay, and makes sure they receive the medications they need even when they cannot afford them," said another nominator.

He consults for the Public Defender offices in Racine and Kenosha counties, doing much of this work without pay due to limited budgets. Using the same pro bono arrangement, he consulted on UW-Parkside Professor Helen Rosenberg's research on geriatric alcohol abuse, providing "strong support...regarding older adult use of substances and the individual and community impact of this," Dr. Rosenberg said.

Since returning home again, Williams said Dr. Roehrich has "advanced his profession and made a significant difference in Racine and Kenosha."

The award was presented during commencement ceremonies in May at the Alfred and Bernice De Simone Gymnasium of the Sports and Activity Center on the UW-Parkside campus.

City beaches open Saturday

Here's a note from the city on beaches opening this Saturday. Weather looks OK for the weekend with temperatures in the 80s, but storms in the forecast.
The City of Racine’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department will open North and Zoo Beaches for the season on Saturday, June 7, 2008.

North Beach will be guarded seven days a week 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Zoo Beach will only be guarded Saturdays and Sunday’s from 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

To help guarantee a safe beach and swim area for you and others we ask your cooperation by observing the following rules:

1. No motor boats, wind surfers, or floating devices in the protected area. For example, water wings, inner tubes, rafts, etc.
2. Please do not block the area in front of the lifeguard chairs, boats, or rescue boards. Your interference could hamper our effectiveness for a rescue.
3. Swim only in the protected area. Lifeguards may restrict the swimming area for your safety when hazardous conditions are present.
While you are on the beach and in the park area, there are several ordinances you should be aware of. The following are prohibited in the park and/or beach area.

1. Alcoholic beverages;
2. Motorized vehicles on beach;
3. Glass containers on the beach;
4. Fire on beach; and
5. Dogs or any pets in park and beach area.


Your cooperation in following the above will be appreciated by lifeguards and others on the beach. When you desire to know the water conditions at North Beach, please call the beach recording at 636-9233.

We look forward to having a safe and enjoyable summer with your help.
Should you need any additional information, please call Ray Hammermann at 636-9454 or James Wilson at 636-9445.

Wasting no time, Kohl endorses Obama

Sen. Herb Kohl, D-WI, issued the following statement today:
“Both candidates ran spectacular campaigns, and it’s clear that either would make a great President. We were fortunate to have two exceptional candidates who were willing to put themselves forward and work tirelessly these many months, and for that they have our gratitude.

“Now that Senator Obama has won the nomination, we can unite behind his historic candidacy. He has worked to restore the trust of so many Americans who are clamoring for a new direction. I endorse and fully support Senator Obama’s candidacy and will work to see that he is elected in November.”

June 3, 2008

GM announcement is 'gut-wrenching,' says Ryan

Update:Tuesday night, Sens. Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl and Rep. Paul Ryan sent a letter to GM CEO Rick Wagoner asking him to reconsider the decision to close the Janesville SUV plant and requested a meeting to discuss the possible retooling of the plant for different production lines. A copy of the letter is HERE.

Original post: Congressman Paul Ryan, R-WI, 1st District, a fifth-generation Janesville native, made the following statement in response to today’s announcement that General Motors will close it Janesville SUV plant by 2010:
“Today’s news is downright gut-wrenching for Janesville. Growing up and living in Janesville, this is something we’ve always feared. First of all, my thoughts and prayers are with the workers and their families, many of whom I’ve grown up with and am still close friends with. If GM’s plans are fully carried out, this would be a big psychological and economic blow to our community and our state; but Janesville will survive this, because we simply have to survive this. As I have witnessed time and again, I have faith that our community will pull together to support one another in the difficult days ahead. It is my hope that as this 2010 shutdown date approaches, Janesville will be in a better position to reverse this decision.”
Ryan said he will work closely with union leaders, GM officials, and members of the Janesville community to support those hit hardest by the closure.

Sen. Herb Kohl, D-WI, issued the following statement:
“It’s a tragedy that General Motors plans to close its plant in Janesville, leaving behind thousands of skilled and dedicated employees. The community of Janesville depends on these jobs, and I will do everything in my power to convince General Motors to reconsider their decision or help their employees find new work.

“Today I’m urging officials at the Labor Department to make job training and transitional assistance for GM’s employees readily available. The people at the Janesville GM plant are second to none, and I hope that GM supports these employees with the same loyalty and commitment that these men and women have brought to the job everyday.”
And Sen. Russ Feingold, D-WI:
“For generations, the people of Janesville have poured their heart and soul into General Motors and have proven to be an incredible asset for the company. GM should immediately take steps to ensure the continued success of the GM plant including retooling the plant for new production lines. I will continue to work with Governor Doyle, Senator Kohl, Congressman Ryan, state and local officials, related businesses, and the leadership of GM to do all I can to support an ongoing and vital GM presence in Janesville. The people of Janesville have worked too hard for too long to deserve anything less.”
And Sen. Barack Obama, D-IL:
"My heart goes out to the workers and families affected by the closing of these GM plants, including the Janesville plant that I visited a few months ago. Today's news is a painful reminder not only of the challenges America faces in our global economy, but of George Bush’s failed economic policies. For eight long years, we’ve had an energy policy that funds both sides in the war on terror without promoting fuel efficiency or helping make our auto companies more competitive. That’s part of the reason thousands of more Americans in Wisconsin and Ohio will no longer be able to count on a paycheck at a time when they’re already being pinched by rising costs. Unlike John McCain, I’m not in this race to extend the failed Bush economic policies; I’m in this race to end them. I’ve proposed investing $150 billion over ten years in green energy and creating up to five million new green jobs. We’ll finally provide domestic automakers with the funding they need to retool their factories and make fuel-efficient and alternative fuel cars. And we’ll invest in efforts to make sure that the cars of the future are made where they always have been -- in the United States. Because the fight for American manufacturing is the fight for America’s future – and I believe that’s a fight this country will win."
Gov. Jim Doyle:
“After all the years of work and everything the people of Janesville have given, it is tough to stomach what GM is doing here today. Families here have dedicated their working lives to this General Motors plant. The city of Janesville, the state of Wisconsin – we have all been committed to making this plant work.

“So many people here have put their hearts into building trucks at the Janesville assembly plant, and now they are left with a cold decision that casts them aside. We all feel it in our guts.

“GM made it clear that this was a plant that they were invested in. They brought Barack Obama here just months ago. It was clear that this plant was the pride of GM. It should have been obvious long ago that the future was not where GM was headed. Bad corporate decision kept these lines turning out gas guzzlers as fuel prices went from 2 dollars to 3 dollars and now to 4 dollars per gallon.

“Now we stand here, carrying the burden of those bad corporate decisions – failed leadership that culminated in a calculation that left out the very heart of this company, the workers who built it.

“I am inspired by the workers who in the face of all this – in these difficult times – are saying they will work to make the best of this. That’s the spirit that made this company worth something, and that’s the spirit that built Janesville. I want Wisconsin workers that the state will stand with you. We will work together to fight for Janesville and our future together.”

June 2, 2008

What are we, chopped liver?

Gov. Jim Doyle appointed 63 men and women to various state boards and commissions yesterday. To be honest, we'd never heard of most of the boards and commissions, and have barely a clue about what they do.

The Burial Sites Preservation Board? Sounds straight-forward enough, but do we need a board to preserve burial sites? The Invasive Species Council? Are members for or against? The State Interoperability Council? The Telecommunications Relay Service Council? The Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan Authority?

We could go on, but the truth is there were some appointments to well-known boards and commissions as well...the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, for example.

Of all 63 appointments, only one went to a Racinian: John Magerus of Racine was reappointed to the Council on Affirmative Action for a term to expire July 1, 2009. Thank goodness for John, or we'd have been shut out.

The complete list of appointees is HERE.

If you would like to serve on some obscure Wisconsin board or commission -- "Members of Wisconsin state boards and commissions are vital participants in policy making, regulation, advisory and advocacy efforts for many issues affecting Wisconsin," the governor's release said -- there's an easy way to submit an application. Just go to the governor's website, HERE and click on the Boards and Commissions link in the left rail.

City attorneys going to Brewers game Wednesday

If you're planning on suing the city, Wednesday would be a good day for a sneak attack. The staff of the city attorney's office is taking a group outing to the Milwaukee Brewers game vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. It's an afternoon game.

We were initially tipped on this by an anonymous reader, who asked us to find out if this group outing would be at taxpayers' expense. Assistant City Attorney Nicole Loop assured that it wouldn't.

"There's no way we'd bill something like this to the city," said Loop, who is taking a vacation day Wednesday to go to the game.

She added that the "day off" comes at a good time for the office. "It's been crazy busy for all of us," Loop said. "This will be a good chance for us to get to know each other outside of the office. It's a morale builder."

Have a news tip for us to investigate? Email it here.

Here's lookin' at you, Tiny!

Once again, proving our ecumenical leanings here at RacinePost, our dog of the week is ... a cat!

Well, a kitten. Everybody loves kittens.

Meet Tiny, a small (Duh!) 10-week-old female domestic short hair gray kitten. Tiny was rescued by a caring person at a facility that does not do animal adoptions. When she was old enough, she was transferred to the Countryside Humane Society, 2706 Chicory Road, to find a new home.

All her brothers and sisters have been adopted, but not Tiny. Tiny has a special problem, you see ... she is cross eyed! Tiny acts like every other sweet playful kitten with the exception of her vision. She lifts her tiny head upwards and looks at you from the bottom of her eyes.

For more information, visit Countryside or call (262) 554-6699.

Our most recent dog up for adoption, Graham, has found a new home: Graham's new owners came all the way from Michigan to claim him ... a little girl with her Mom and Dad.

Racine Zoo collecting and recycling old cell phones

The Racine Zoo made this announcement today:
The Racine Zoo has teamed up with Eco-Cell to collect used cell phones at the Zoo’s main office and the Vanishing Kingdom historic building. The Zoo will accept all phones in any condition and donating your phone is free. A portion of the proceeds will directly benefit the Racine Zoo while also preserving animals in the wild.

Eco-Cell is a leading organization in responsible cell phone recycling. They emphasize their commitment to conservation by holding to a no landfill policy. Properly recycling cell phones is important because hazardous materials found in cell phones, batteries and chargers can end up in landfills and can send toxins into our environment.

Not only will recycling your cell phone help the environment, it will also help save some of its endangered inhabitants.

“Many people don’t know that some animals are in grave danger in part due to the mining of elements found in cell phones. According to the UN, the eastern lowland gorilla population has cut in half in the last 5 years. Recycling your cell phone is a great way to help these animals in the Congo,” said Jay Christie, President and CEO of The Racine Zoo.

Also, for every cell phone turned in to the Zoo, Eco-Cell donates a portion to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

The mission of the Racine Zoological Society is to foster an enlightening and affordable wildlife experience that improves the bond between people and nature. The Society will provide for the recreation and education of the people, the conservation of wildlife and wild places, and the advancement of science.

Caledonia's Christensen running for County Clerk

Caledonia Clerk Wendy Christensen is hoping to replace County Clerk Joan Rennert in the fall. Christensen will kick-off her campaign for the county-wide elected office on Wednesday, June 11.

"I believe that someone with experience as a municipal clerk would be a benefit to that office since Joan Rennert has decided to retire at the end of her term," Christensen wrote in an announcement.

Christensen has been the clerk in Caledonia for 13 years. Here's a nice rundown of her background, as reported by Caledonia Unplugged.