Monday, Jun. 23rd, 2014

Governor Walker speaks in support of the Confluence Project

Gov. Scott Walker at
Gov. Scott Walker at The Florian Gardens in Eau Claire. Image source

At a lunch event Monday afternoon with the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made comments in support of the Confluence Project. On Twitter, WQOW reporter Aarik Woods quoted Gov. Walker, saying, "It's a great partnership with public, private sector, so I support going forward with this project," while WQOW's main Twitter feed quotes Walker as saying, "We think that's an important project not just for Eau Claire and not just for UW-EC, but for this entire region."

In the past, Walker has expressed interest in the partnership model seen in the proposed Confluence Project, saying at a press event on June 5, 2013, "We're very interested in it. What I like about this particular project in Eau Claire is it's leveraging public and private dollars."

The "Business Luncheon with Governor Walker" event took place on Monday, June 23 at The Florian Gardens in Eau Claire. The Leader-Telegram has a few more details.

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5 Lesser Known Wisconsin Superstars

Above: Revered Wisconsinite.
Above: Revered Wisconsinite.

There are certainWisconsinites who’ve given our state genuine bragging rights (Harry Houdini, Orson Welles, I’m looking at you), but they aren’t only people we should be proud of. Below are just some of the lesser known, but still influential Wisconsin natives. Pay your respects. 

1. Donald Goerke

Donald Goerke, a Waukesha homeboy, left Wisconsin only to impact the childhood of generations. As a Campbell Soup Company executive, he not only created the classic Chunky soup, but the iconic SpaghettiOs. That’s right, if it wasn’t for him, we’d have no choice but to eat spaghetti….with non-circular noodles. What a disgrace.

2. Joel Hodgson

In the town of Stevens Point, on a cold day in February in 1960, a man was born. That man would go on to create the cult classic Mystery Science Theater 3000. That man is Joel Hodgson. The Comedy Central show defined the technique of movie riffing and showed a positive example of a robot-human relationship.

3. Virginia Mae Morrow

Going back a little further in time, a controversial woman of the 1950s had roots in our dear capital. Virginia Mae Morrow underwent numerous hypnosis sessions that revealed a previous life as Irish Bridey Murphy. The detailed account of her previous life spawned a reincarnation sensation across the nation resulting in movies, books, and even themed parties.

4. Barbie

Fictional? Yes. Too iconic to ignore? Yes. The one and only Barbie was born in Wisconsin. As written in the fictional biography published in the early ‘60s, Barbie, or Barbara Millicent Roberts, was born in the fabricated town of Willows. She, of course, went on to accomplish pretty much anything possible. And impossible.

5. John Matuszak and BONUS! John Fiedler

Wisconsin is home to some pretty famous actors (Chris Farley, Gene Wilder, etc.), but two lesser known Wisconsinites were responsible for some of the most lovable characters in film and TV. Those actors would be ... John Fiedler, the voice of Piglet and John Matuszak, Sloth from The Goonies. Would the world have been the same without them?

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Sunday, Jun. 22nd, 2014
Saturday, Jun. 21st, 2014
Friday, Jun. 20th, 2014

Mosquitapocalpse 2014

Hey, what's up. I invited trillions of my friends over, is that cool?
Hey, what's up. I invited trillions of my friends over, is that cool?

If you’re anything like the other 5 million people living in Wisconsin, you’ve probably noticed the state is being swarmed with mosquitoes. According to an article posted by Wisconsin Public Radio, the pesky little bugs have gotten so bad that canoe/kayak rental businesses on the Wisconsin River have been turning customers away to save them from being eaten alive, and hardware stores are struggling to keep insect repellent on the shelves. It’s a straight up mosquitapocalpse.

As if we didn’t think mosquitos were irritating enough, UW-Madison entomologist PJ Liesch tells us that their eggs have no qualms with below freezing temperatures and were able to survive just fine all winter while we humans were bundled up by our fireplaces. However, this summer's insect influx is due mainly to the speedy rise in temperatures and consequent rain after an especially long winter – the perfect conditions for mosquito mania.  

But don’t give up hope! Liesch told the Star Tribune that early studies have predicted that this, too, shall pass, and the rest of the summer should be pretty typical. Mosquitoes will continue to hatch throughout the next several months, but with consistent temperatures, the numbers should return to normal in a matter of time. In fact, predictions that this summer might be a bit cooler than average give reason to believe that we may even see fewer mosquitoes than usual as the summer goes on.

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Thursday, Jun. 19th, 2014

Fantastic 1920s Aerial Photo of the Confluence

Image: Steve Johnson
Image: Steve Johnson | Make it bigger!

Check out this great old aerial photo showing the Eau Claire river right before it runs into the Chippewa – from the 1920s. Steve Johnson posted the image (a cropped version of a photograph given to him) to the You Know You Are From Eau Claire When... Facebook page last month. Eldbjorg Tobinm, who helps maintain the  Chippewa Valley Museum’s collection of historic photos tells us the photo was taken sometime between 1920 and 1926. You can zero in on the timeframe by seeing which buildings are and aren’t yet standing.

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Wednesday, Jun. 18th, 2014

Deal! 2 for 1 Express Tickets

Get your 2014 Eau Claire Express Baseball tickets at The Local Store! All summer, The Local Store is offering 2 for 1 Reserved Grand Stand Seat Tickets for $8 and 2 for 1 Box Seats for $10. The tickets don't have a committed date attached and are valid through August 10, so you can secure your tickets and decide on a whim what night tickles your fancy. Stop into The Local Store, find us down at Phoenix Park during The Sounds Like Summer Concert Series every Thursday, or order your tickets online to be shipped right to your door! Summer is the time for baseball, people. Catch the fever.

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How did Wisconsin get its borders?

An 1810 map of Wisconsin’s ginormous boundaries, back when Wisconsinites ruled the realm! Image: American Geographical Society Library, UW-Milwaukee
An 1810 map of Wisconsin’s ginormous boundaries, back when Wisconsinites ruled the realm! Image: American Geographical Society Library, UW-Milwaukee

Did you know that Wisconsin used to make up the vast majority of the Midwest? 'Tis true.For many, Wisconsin is 65,556 square miles of cheese curds, beer, Green Bay Packers, Badgers, and, despite those irritating California commercials, the country’s happiest cows. But! It hasn’t always been that way! In fact, did you know that Wisconsin used to make up the vast majority of the Midwest? Prior to the Louisiana Purchase, the Territory of Wisconsin consisted of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and the eastern half of the Dakotas. So, how exactly did we go from having all of that land to the border lines we find in place today?

Wisconsin Trails published a great article by Robert D. Temple (author of the award-winning book Edge Effects) highlighting how our fair state got its borders, and it’s not quite as simple as you might think. Ours is a tale of lengthy arguments, nonexistent boundary lines based on severely inaccurate maps, daring explorers, and a couple of tongue twisters of potential names. (Try saying “Assenisipia” five times fast.)

In addition to some very fascinating Wisconsin history, the article also mentions a few historical landmarks that can be found around the state marking crucial points in the development of Wisconsin’s borders. Summer road trip, anyone? It’s definitely an interesting read, so release your inner history nerd and go check it out.

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Tuesday, Jun. 17th, 2014

5 Weird Wisconsin World Records

JR Radcliffe
That’s one determined boat. Photo: JR Radcliffe

Whilst perusing lists of world records Wisconsin has set or broken, the eclectic talents of our community come into full focus. Who knew Wisconsinites were so good at ping pong and spitting crickets? NOW YOU DO.

1. Longest Table Tennis Rally

In 2013, two Wisconsin high school friends broke a nine year record with an epic ping pong rally lasting over eight and a half hours. Being the selfless Midwesterners they are, they used their record rally to raise money for the Special Olympics. But I have one question … how did they eat? And, well ... you know.

2. Largest Human Waterskiing Pyramid

Granted this world record was completed with a team comprised of 60 people from both Wisconsin and Illinois, it was completed on Lake Wazeecha, 100% of which resides in Wisconsin. Breaking their own record, it took one boat with three separate engines to pull the five teams of water skiers.

3. Farthest Indoor Cricket Spit

Madison man, Danny Capps, spat a dead, frozen cricket a total distance of a little over 30 ft. back in 1998. How and why one trains for such a feat, will be sure to puzzle generations to come.

Sure he's tall, but check out that gorgeous hair!
Sure he's tall, but check out that gorgeous hair!

4. Most Big Macs Consumed

Donald Gorske, another Wisconsin fellow (from Fond du Lac this time), ate his 23,000th McDonald’s Big Mac back in 2008 and wouldn’t ya know it? He’s still going. Starting when he was 18 years old, he’s spent 40 years eating at least one Big Mac every day.

5. Tallest Living Horse

Big Jake, a Belgian gelding, was nine years old and 6 feet, 10 inches when he was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records for 2012. And this is before he has his shoes on.

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Monday, Jun. 16th, 2014

Wisconsin Bike Fed seeking strong female "Roll Models"

Women make up 55% of all cycling trips in the Netherlands and 49% in Germany. But the U.S.? Statistics show that only 24% of cycling trips in the states are made by the ladies. What’s that all about?

Now that the weather is perfect for some outdoor adventures, many of you are probably planning to dust off your bicycles – if you haven’t already. The Wisconsin Bike Federation recently published a post specifically calling for women to pull out their bikes this summer. According to the organization, the U.S. is seriously lacking in the number of cycling trips made by women. In fact, they stated that women make up 55% of all cycling trips in the Netherlands and 49% in Germany. But the U.S.? Statistics show that only 24% of cycling trips in the states are made by the ladies, and men are a whopping three times more likely to commute to work. What’s that all about?

The Wisconsin Bike Fed pointed out that biking has a plethora of awesome benefits, including impacting Wisconsin’s economy by making bike-related purchases, encouraging healthy and active lifestyles, saving money, and increasing the vitality of Wisconsin neighborhoods. For these reasons and more, the organization is launching a Women & Bicycles Roll Model Program that will enlist women to be “Roll Models” in their community and inspire other women to take a ride on their trusty two-wheeled steed.

Several Wisconsin women have already signed on to be Roll Models. Will you be next? Check out the Bike Fed's post for more information.

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