Friday, Apr. 10th, 2015

UW Report finds Sconnie hunger for organic food outpaces supply

Veggies at the Downtown Eau Claire Farmers Market.
Veggies at the Downtown Eau Claire Farmers Market.

The report features some interesting findings, such as the increasingly younger demographic of organic farmers in Wisconsin and the fact that the majority of these farmers are women.

A report issued by the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that demand for organic foods in Wisconsin is outpacing supply. With the second highest amount of organic farms in the country and a growing, younger demographic of organic farmers, Wisconsin seems to be a strong player in the organic farming movement. However, while the state is meeting demand of organically produced meat, dairy and produce, it is failing to meet the demand for grains, soybeans, and processed vegetables. This is evidenced by the fact that Wisconsin still relies heavily on imports for organic grains.

Dr Erin Silva, assistant professor of plant pathology and co-author of the report, says that these failings in production are due to a few challenges for farmers: high rent for farmland and startup costs for organic farming methods, a lack of training on organic practices, and a lack of a solid network for small-scale growers. The report goes on to cite a lack of educational resources as the major roadblock to progress in this field.

The report features some interesting findings, such as the increasingly younger demographic of organic farmers in Wisconsin and the fact that the majority of these farmers are women. You can read/download of the report's findings here.

Add a Comment »

Thursday, Apr. 9th, 2015

Right now is a BRUTAL time to be a Wisconsin sports fan

"Oh dear."
"Gasp."

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the Wisconsin Badgers lost Monday night's NCAA Basketball Championship.

It still hurts. It still stings. The collective Badger Nation's soul has been crushed. Again.

After a heart breaking loss in last year's Final Four against Kentucky, Wisconsin's big man Frank Kaminsky announced that he would return for his senior season with the mission of coming back to win it all.

"Frank the Tank" led the Badgers to an incredible 36-4 record this season and the Badgers' first ever #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He also won Player of the Year and raised his NBA Draft stock. He should he a mid-first round pick, which will bank him anywhere from $1.2-$2 million bucks in his first year. Way to go Frank.

Long story short, the Badgers went on an incredible 2015 run, including knocking off the heavy tournament favorite, the undefeated 38-0 Kentucky Wildcats in the Final Four. Frank, Dekker, Nigel and Koenig played out of their minds in the tourney.

It was all great, until the Championship game Monday night. Bucky came out flat and couldn't seem to get anything going, eventually losing to Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils.

Failure. Disappointment. Heartbreak.

Knowing that the ride was over and it didn't end like we'd all hope crushed us. We all wanted them to win SO BAD. We all EXPECTED to win. Our hopes and dreams were all shattered in one fell swoop.

A win would have meant mayhem. Pandemonium even. We were all ready to go crazy. After so many Badger tournament teams falling short over the years, this would be THE time. OUR time. If they'd won, we would've celebrated for years to come. Always clanking glasses when mentioning the 2015 Wisconsin Hoops team.

But, the Wisconsin sports gods ran out of gas. It was the wildest tournament run in the history of Wisconsin basketball and it all came to what seemed an abrupt end.

Now we sulk. We hang our heads for a minute. We text and post and call and write about how it COULD have played out, how it SHOULD have played out and what we would do differently.

The Badger loss stings even more since our hearts were broken when the Packers lost back on January 18th against the Seahawks in mind-blowing fashion.

The Pack had that game all but won, until somehow they lost, in what I still think is the most devastating loss in Green Bay Packer history, just due to the nature of events.

These two season ending losses in such high profile games make it a BRUTAL time to be a Wisconsin sports fan.

But it's over. Time to heal. Time to move forward. Time to take a step back and appreciate the journey, the ride, the memories we've all gained by watching the most amazing college basketball team Badger fans have seen since 1941 and Rodgers' incredible MVP season, leading an awesome Packer squad.

In fact, it's not REALLY a brutal time to be a Wisconsin sports fan. It's actually still an awesome time to be a Wisconsin sports fan, as always.

The Badger basketball team took us all on an incredible journey, the Packers gave us all something to cheer for, barring disaster the Bucks will make the Playoffs this season, despite their star rookie being injured early on and Brewers baseball is back!

Time to crack open an ice cold beverage this weekend and clank your glass to everything Wisconsin sports, especially the 2015 Badger Hoops team!

We love you Bucky! Thanks for the memories.

#onwisconsin

And don't forget ... football season is just four months away!

#gopackgo

Comments 2

Just Look at Wisconsin's Oldest Building

The the Wakely Home of Nekoosa, Wisconsin: Still standing.
The Wakely Home of Nekoosa, Wisconsin: It's still standing.

The blog Supercompressor put together a fantastic list of the oldest standing building in every State o' the Union, with a brief look at the history of each.* Of course I went straight to Wisconsin’s entry and found the Wakely Home of Nekoosa, Wisconsin. Built in 1842 by Robert and Mary Wakely, the Wakely home is a symbol of American pioneerism and western expansion. In 1837 the Wakelys bought a raft full of lumber in New York City and began traveling westward by way of rivers. They sold the lumber in Cincinnati and poled up the rivers in a keelboat to what would be known as Point Basse, the place they would build their home.  

Not the most rivieting of travel adventures, but there you have it. We may not have an amazing fortress for our oldest building (as Florida does), or the Taos Pueblo, built sometime between 1000 and 1450 CE (like New Mexico),  but the Wakely Mome is a prime example of people striking out west to wild territories to make a new life.

*As  Supercompressor says, "...due to some record-keeping discrepancies
there's no doubt some of these might be a bit... disputable."

Comments 1

Snuggle Time at The Local Store!

These adorable bear, fox, and piglet friends are  cuddly and  individually handmade with up-cycled materials right here in Eau Claire, Wisconsin by Kristi at  kiki b omi designs  – from her home to yours. Children, adults, and Wisconsinites of any size will appreciate the cuteness of these locally crafted, one-of-a-kind, snuggly buddies –  now available at The Local Store.  

Add a Comment »

Wednesday, Apr. 8th, 2015

America Keeps On Truckin'

Boy do we love that Ford. Get a closer look.
Boy do we love that Ford. Get a closer look.

Have you ever wondered what kind of car America loves most? The answer won’t surprise you, but just how much we love it might. According to research done by everycarlisted.com, America loves one very specific automobile the most: the Ford F-150. It sounds cliched, but the image of America as a truck-loving country really isn’t that far off. Truck sales beat sedans by 53% to 47%, and those numbers are largely represented by “middle America,” in which Wisconsin squarely sits. Along with another 38 states, Wisconsin buys the F-150 more than any other automobile. Regardless of brand, I’m going to chalk up some of Wisconsin’s truck-love to our winters. 

Head on over to the original blog post for some really revealing statistics about how much America loves cars and how much each state is willing to pay for them.

Comments 1

Tuesday, Apr. 7th, 2015

TODAY: VOTE

WHEN: Wisconsin’s spring general election will be Tuesday, April 7. Polls are open between 7am and 8pm.

WHERE: Your polling place will vary depending on where you live. To find your polling place, go to myvote.wi.gov, click on “Regular Voter” and then “Address Search.” (The website can also help you find out if you’re registered to vote at your current address and show you a sample ballot for your district.)

Add a Comment »

Monday, Apr. 6th, 2015

Eau Claire's best Pac-Man levels

Upper campus at UWEC: Pac-Man Fever.
Upper campus at UWEC: Pac-Man Fever.

As you've no doubt seen, starting last week, (as an April Fool's day gag) Google started letting you play Pac-Man on the roads found on nearly any frame of Google Maps. Some areas don't work, as the game requires enough roads to function, but most areas will let you flee from ghosts as you gobble up white dots and fruit through city streets.

Finding which areas in Eau Claire make for rousing and challenging games of Pac-Man has certainly been a good use of my time – and has had no negative impact on my overall productivity. So behold – here are my best picks for great games of Pac-Man in EC. 

The north side of the Luther Middlefort Campus
Upper campus at UWEC 
Downtown Eau Claire

Leave a comment if you find any other great locations!

Comments 1

Saturday, Apr. 4th, 2015

Saturday Event Picks (April 4)

Check out the Aero Flynn album release party tonight at the House of Rock. Details below.
Check out the Aero Flynn album release show tonight at the House of Rock. Details below.

From early in the morning and into the night – a lot of fine quality events occurring on Saturday. Wanna know what they are? Of course you do. Our picks are below. Check out the rest of Saturday  here.

Add a Comment »

Friday, Apr. 3rd, 2015

Downtown Budget Theater Re-Opens Friday

The Downtown Cinema re-opens Friday, April 3. Here's the nearly complete main screen.
The Downtown Cinema re-opens Friday, April 3. Here's the nearly complete main screen, complete with dining accommodations. (Photo from March.)

Eau Claire’s own downtown budget theater celebrates its grand re-opening tonight with more than a few changes to show for its extensive remodeling. At the Micon Cinemas Downtown Budget Cinema and Marquee Restaurant, all of the films have now gone digital, a 50-seat screening room was added to the second level, and a restaurant now serves food and beverages to moviegoers. In addition to the theater’s high quality popcorn, the restaurant will serve pizza, sandwiches, flatbread, pulled pork, and alcoholic beverages like beer and wine. While alcohol will be served, the owners say it is a secondary focus to the restaurant, and the theater is still a great family experience.

The concessions stand at the newly re-opened theater.
The new concessions stand.

The owners, Mike and Connie Olson of Micon Cinemas, intend to use these changes, along with a slight rebranding, to bring more independant, rare and award-winning films to the culture of downtown Eau Claire. With the new upstairs screening room, they’re planning events like a Saturday morning cartoon block, private showings, and maybe even a film festival. Above all, they want give people more reasons to spend a night out at the movies. Tickets will still cost $4/adult and $3/child (Tues. $3/$2).

Tonight they’ll be showing the academy award winner for best animated picture Big Hero Six [PG], a family-friendly, action adventure and the winner for best picture Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance [R], a comedy-drama.

This seems like an incredible investment in the culture and future of downtown Eau Claire and this moviegoer intends to be a frequent patron.

Head to Miconcinemas.com for showtimes and to learn more. The theater is located at 315 S. Barstow St.

Comments 6

Wednesday, Apr. 1st, 2015

Swift opposition forms against Chippewa Tube Lane project

NO PAIN, NO LANE. The Eau Claire City Council has approved the final funds needed to construct the Chippewa Tube Lane. However, a local citizen action group questions the legality of the decision. Above: A conceptual rendering of the tube lane project by SPF Aquatects .
NO PAIN, NO LANE. The Eau Claire City Council has approved the final funds needed to construct the Chippewa Tube Lane. However, a local citizen action group questions the legality of the decision.
Above: A conceptual rendering by SPF Aquatects. Take a closer look.

At Tuesday night’s legislative meeting the Eau Claire City Council voted 7 to 3 in favor of the $1.7 million Chippewa Tube Lane project, approving the final $500,000 in funds needed to begin construction. Another $500,000 will come from UW-Eau Claire, and an additional $700,000 will come from a matching grant provided by the Federal Waterways and Buoys Commission.

Supporters hope to immediately open developer bidding so construction on the much-anticipated addition to the Chippewa River can begin as soon as late May.

But local tubers excited by the project might hit a few snags along the way. A citizen group calling itself “Boaters With Facts” is already demanding the city reverse its funding decision.

First proposed more than two years ago, the Chippewa Tube Lane would be a safe, fun, tube-only zone along the east bank of the Chippewa River for its entire course throughout the city. It would also provide the aqua-infrastructure needed to add an adjoining tube lane to the Eau Claire River in the future, stretching all the way back to a new launch point in Altoona’s River Prairie development.

At Monday’s public hearing on the project, supporters said the dedicated tube lane will help turn Eau Claire into a world-class tube town. It will also create a “boat calming effect,” reminding boaters that tubers share our waterways. Councilman Andrew Worthmen believes tube lanes encourage tubers to float in the correct direction.

Construction of the Chippewa Tube Lane will involve the removal of historic lumbering pylons scattered along the Chippewa River’s banks. Once demolition is complete, workers will install signage and a miles-long floating safety rope, clearly marking where boisterous tubing is allowed.

A feasibility study by Minnesota’s TubeWorks includes data on potential usage, saying the tube lane would be well-used, mostly by UW-Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Technical College students, making up 48% of the expected floaters, with visiting tubers at 37%, townies at 11%, and at 4%, ducks.

Potential student use is why UW-Eau Claire is partnering with the city to pay for the tubeway, but some citizens question the public/private alliance. At the public hearing, one opponent told City Council, “UWEC already has its Little Niagara creek right on campus. Why would students walk all the way to the river to use [the new tube lane]?”

Early Wednesday morning, UWEC Chancellor James Schmitz took a break from organizing a University of Wisconsin System-wide bake sale to respond, saying, “Little Niagara is a vastly inadequate waterway. It’s very small, and it’s leaking all over the place. It was never designed to support that much fun and relaxation.”

Trouble Comes to Tube Town

Mere minutes after Tuesday’s vote, Boaters With Facts released a statement sharply criticizing the Chippewa Tube Lane, calling it a gross misuse of taxpayer money, and questioning the legality of city funding for a tubing super-fun zone. They say boaters and their rights should come first, not “these trendy inflatables.”

The group hopes to get a binding “riverendum” onto April 7’s ballot, barring the city from funding anything “remotely fun, exciting, or worth celebrating” on or near Eau Claire’s waterways in excess of $499,999 without a (second, even more confusing) riverendum allowing taxpayers to decide on project funding. If passed, such a measure would delay construction on the project until a public vote could be held in November.

“I can’t believe how fast they’ve mobilized. It’s like they were just sitting around, waiting to oppose something.” – Eau Claire City Council President Kerri Kancaid on the newly formed citizen group Boaters With Facts

“I can’t believe how fast they’ve mobilized,” said City Council President Kerri Kancaid. “It’s like they were just sitting around, waiting to oppose something.”

The Boaters With Facts press release includes a statement from Mary Jane Cohan, CEO of Eau Claire’s Prasto Companies (maker of the pizzaBOOM Frozen Pizza Sizzler). Cohan states, “The boaters and their rights are what are important here. If this bloated, boatless boondoggle is such a great idea, why hasn’t the private inflatable sector stepped up to pay for it?”

On Tuesday, Veronica Lewis, one of three City Council members to vote against the tube lane funding, said, “We as City Council cannot spend tax money and reshape our riverscape all willy nilly. Hundreds of years ago, Half Moon Lake was part of the Chippewa River. Then, as the river route shifted, it became separate – an oxbow lake. And nobody even bothered to ask the taxpayers about it.”

Lawyers representing Boaters With Facts have put the city on notice of its clients’ general distaste for lazy, recreational floating. In response, Eau Claire City Attorney Nick Steve said, “I honestly don’t know what that even means.”

In a lengthy string of online comments against a variety of things, Boaters With Facts volunteer Cindy Blurtin slammed the project, saying, “Bottom line, I’m not even sure I like rivers. I mean, they’re situated squarely in a floodplain. How dumb is that?”

Comments 33