Bits and Pieces for Sept. 21|
This has been an interesting summer for a number of good reasons.
One on that list is that I have noticed the loons at Bass Lake far more. And I learned to treasure them as most residents around the lake do.
They seemed to be around all summer. Their call is, indeed, haunting and they had offspring that were being taught the ways of the lake not far off the end of my dock.
The birds are rare. The state of Wisconsin has just over 4,000 adults visit for the summer and two of them have selected Bass Lake. When you total the number of lakes and open water in the state, having two is a pretty impressive number.
According to the Upper Wisconsin Environmental Center, Maine has the most at 4,100 there for the summer months.
They return in April and May, and at times have been here too early and ran into trouble because the lakes were still frozen.
They all dont stop in the lower North, but in the summer extend into much of Canada and well into Alaska.
The science center said they leave in October and early November.
They spend winters along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and on inland reservoirs.
They dont want loon visitors and if anyone comes to take over, the situation can be violent. I cant imagine that.
They also tend to live a long time, from 25 up to 30 years or more, so I suspect they will return next summer to Bass.
I had a good time watching them and their family this summer, and hope they continue the tradition in 2014, despite all the motorized hubbub on the lake.
Hundreds and hundreds of us attended the benefit for Castan Schisel a bit earlier this summer at Smittys.
Money was raised for expenses linked to his illness and it was a chance to visit and become informed about the infants serious medical problems. With the serious backdrop to the event, many had a good time.
Remembering that event, a friend brought me a flyer from Kiln, Miss.
A benefit is being held at the Texas Flat Off Road Track on Nov. 16 for Castan starting bright and early at 9:30 a.m. and continuing until 2:30 a.m. that Sunday.
Castan Schisel and a benefit in Mississippi? It is a puzzle like loons getting violent.
I contacted Castans father, Ron, on Wednesday and found him in the boys Milwaukee hospital room.
I asked about Kiln, he explained that contact was made through an Internet benefit organization guided by his sister.
I suggested he invite the best-known Kiln resident, and those of us in Wisconsin know him well: Brett Favre.
Wouldnt that be something if Brett showed up for a few minutes at the benefit?
On the non-urban streets, the lights are getting dimmer, or even dark in some cases.
When it got dark, it was really dark, a friend who lives on Eastview Drive said recently. Just less than a year ago, the lights were removed and I think many of them were taken down throughout the town of Antigo.
Every now and then I get to Eastview for social events, noticing that residents have put lights on and near their residences to make up for the loss.
This week, over lunch, I was reading the Vilas County News-Review newspaper from Eagle River and the lead front-page story had a familiar ring.
The same thing is happening up there, but on a far more grand scale.
Citing dropping revenues and higher utility bills, the town of Lincoln in Vilas County decided to shut off 47 of the lights.
The town board made the decision.
The lights, many of them along Highway 45 north of Eagle River, were costing the town about $10,000 per year in utility costs.
In terms of town and municipal finances, that does not seem to be a fortune.
The town signed a contract with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation when Highway 45 was rebuilt in 2002 that the state contributed $152,213 toward the purchase of the fixtures.
The News-Review story has a list of reasons the town cant afford it, including the cost of doing roadwork. It says the cost of paving a mile of road is $55,000 and the town is falling behind.
At that rate, the dark lights would bring another few blocks of paving to rural Eagle River.
So there sit the lights, that cost all of us taxpayers more than $150,000, with no juice going to them.
I certainly dont expect the state to pay the light bill that would set up a very bad precedent.
(Divide the number of lights by the cost to get a figure.)
Kaye Matucheski, the clerk of the city of Antigo said there are 867 of those lights hanging here and there in the city.
The light bill is in the area of $155,000 per year, which makes you wonder what it must look like in major cities including Milwaukee, Chicago or New York.
You wont need street lights to go to the airport today for the annual fly-in.
I enjoy the excitement of the people, planes and some of the displays and it is a good way to spend a fall Saturday.
The high schools marching band will be on hand from 12:30 to 1 p.m., ideas are being offered to the younger set through the Young Eagles program and there is plenty more going on. Admission is free, but there is a $2 parking fee.
There are a number of other things going on around here; the schedule in Fridays paper that listed things to do was huge.
Vic Ferrari will visit Friday night, but we work and by the time we escape from the Journal, the band will likely have left the Edison Club.
Despite that pendiing miss, enjoy your week. And be back next Saturday morning.
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