A partnership that is paying off for LaCrosse county. During the past couple of years the county has been working to get neighboring counties with residents at the Lakeview Care Center to pay their fare share. Has meant a big savings for taxpayers who have to make up for budget shortfalls at the West Salem facility says county administrator Steve O'Malley. He points out that the eleven county consortium brings in about 800 thousand dollars a year. Today Mississippi Valley Health Services will consider letting Outagamie and Winnebago counties join the consortium. O'Malley says the county had to get innovative because it would cost even more to find other places for these special needs clients.
City hall in Onalaska went green in 2009. Simple things like turning off computers, lights and other electronics helped the city save big bucks last year according to assistant city planner and Green Team leader Deena Murphy. The city saved over 20 thousand dollars with the green initiative. Murphy says the city all recycled more paper and printed on both sides to save money. Next year they would like to get some federal grant money to install energy efficient bulbs in city streetlights.
Wisconsin's DNR wants your help getting an accurate gauge on deer numbers in the state. DNR spokesman Bob Manwell says hunters will have access to an online hunter reporting web page. After a day in the woods they can report on weather conditions, deer sightings and anything that could impact the population. Over the next several years the DNR will be studying deer population. An effort to deal with complaints from a number of hunters who feel the DNR is way off on the current population.
If you own an ATV you could do some of your own snow removal. The Wisconsin assembly is considering a bill that would allow all terrain vehicles to plow snow on roads and sidewalks. Bad idea says LaCrosse county highway boss Dennis Osgood. These rigs could damage roads and don't have the capability to salt and sand which could leave some roads even more treacherous than if you just left the snow on the road. Osgood says allowing ATV's to plow snow would also be a safety hazard since they are difficult to see in a snowstorm.
Getting old can be tough. Especially when you can't drive anymore. LaCrosse county aging unit director Noreen Kuroski says getting to the grocery store, the bank or even to visit a spouse in the nursing home can be a challenge. The MTU offers special rates for the elderly and disabled. The county also has a mini bus that picks you up at home and takes you to your destination for a reasonable rate. There is also the the Find a Ride Program where volunteers will give you a lift in their car. Kuroski says they need more of those volunteers.
A junior hockey franchise is coming to Onalaska. The city has been negotiating for about five years with a team in Iowa trying to get them to relocate to the Omni Center. Mayor Mike Giese says an agreement was reached with the team after the Omni Center agreed to keep their ice available for a longer period of time to accomadate the hockey schedule. The Mayor expects the Omni Center to break even if they can attract over 800 fans per game. Junior hockey is a stepping stone for young players looking to catch on with college hockey programs. The Onalaska franchise will begin their first season in September.
LaCrosse county set up a business park in West Salem and then the recession hit. Community development coordinator Brian Fukuda says businesses like the first to move into the Lakeview business park and doing well. Select Trusses and Lumber was the first to move into the park and Brian tells us they've been a great tenant. Since then a number of other businesses have moved into the park and Fukuda says there's plenty of room for more. He admits inquiries have slowed down during the recession but he feels that will pick up along with the economy.
Has the idea of two or three shots kept you from getting vaccinated? Starting next fall one shot will vaccinate you against both the seasonal and swine flu. LaCrosse county nurse Brynai Weigel. She hopes more people will get the shot if they only have to go through the experience once a year. Weigel says cases of H1N1 are low right now. But, a third wave of the virus could still hit the region.
The area still has a lot to attract tourists. But, the economic recession has definitely had an impact on local tourism numbers. The city of Onalaska was looking at taking another hit this year when Sunfish Days was cancelled. It looks like their will be some events at the Omni Center to attract visitors according to Onalaska Tourism Director Jean Lunde. There will be a carnival and their could be some outdoor activities as well. Possibly an outdoor concert. Lunde says the Mississippi River continues to attract international visitors. Even during the economic downturn.
"We're all veterans now" "We've all had one game to get going and we're all out of excuses."LaCrosse Spartan Q.B. Jimmy Sangster following last night's pre season loss to the Green Bay Blizzard. The Blizzard kicked a field goal as time ran out to defeat the Spartans 14 to 11. Sangster is already gearing up for Friday's regular season opener versus Wichita.