Category Archives: Schools

More Buildings Down

Click for Larger ImageUnfortunately, I was not prepared with a pad and pen when I ran into a delightful young lady who was watching the demolition of the buildings at 6th St. and Bridge. Well, I use the word “young” advisedly as she is the wife of Gordy, and she and Gordy were the previous owners of the Pine Bar, which was housed in the block which was demolished.

And I don’t mean the most recent owners, either. She and Gordy bought the Pine Bar in 1946. It was a true saloon before that, with sawdust floors and spitoons. For almost 20 years it was just a bar, but in 1962 there was a fire, and in rebuilding after the fire, a restaurant was added. I was told that the most interesting feature of the bar (and the saloon before it) was that a creek ran right under the building, and that there was a removable concrete cover that allowed access to the creek from inside the building.

And in an indication that maybe the good old days weren’t always so good, I was told that the arrangement with the creek down below made the back room of the bar an convenient place to slaughter a cow every now and then, with the waste products being sent downstream. Slaughtering next to the kitchen? Offal in the creek? Thank goodness for the health department.

Click for Larger ImageIn the pictures you can see some advertising posters that were revealed when the brick facade on Bridge Street was pulled down. I was told that the lower level of that building was first a meat market and later a Dairyland store. The Dairyland store might have been the first “supermarket” in Wausau — for the first time you could get your own groceries right off the shelf. Now that was progress.

The buildings coming down might be older than you first think. Not only was Gordy, the bar owner born in one of the houses on that block, but his 97 year old sister was born there as well. So, the house on Bridge street was over 100 years old.

Click for Larger ImageMost people will not lament the taking down of the buildings on that block as they had been blighted considerably, especially in the last few years, but even here there was history. Ironically, I was told that the business at the bar and restaurant started to go down when the roads were widened and traffic increased. Not everything goes as planned, I guess.

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And Here’s Bill With the Weather…

By Bill Coady

Those of you who know me and who have followed the blog for a while know that I am a bit (OK, maybe more than a bit) of a weather geek.  No expert by any means, but do keep advised of things and help out the local amateur radio club with storm spotting when I can.

So, like everyone else, I was a bit concerned when I checked out the forecast this morning and saw that conditions were setting up as a virtual certainty for severe weather today.  Frankly, anyone who thinks that weather forecasting is so inaccurate as to be useless can learn from today.  Several days ago the long term models showed conditions were going to be ripe here for severe weather today — and those predictions were perfect.  Yesterday and this morning the National Weather Service was again saying that conditions would be almost certain for severe weather.  Which in fact did happen.

Tornado warnings were issued all over Central Wisconsin this afternoon and preliminary reports indicate that one or possibly two tornadoes touched down east of Wausau near Ringle.  For this time of year, this was in fact a pretty significant “outbreak” of severe weather.  So, the Weather Service got their part right.

That being said, I do have to wonder out loud and denizens of the blog can certainly discuss whether cancelling schools on the basis of the forecast was wise.  Of course this is a two edge sword.  A tornado warning was issued for the Stevens Point area (where schools were cancelled for the day) but it came around 4:30 when schools would not have been in session anyway.  Merrill area schools had an early dismissal (which I think made more sense) but bascially no storms were reported in the Merrill area, although tornado warnings for areas north of Merrill were issued during the day.

I think it is very worthwhile to continue to talk about the appropriate level of warning and caution in regard to the weather, especially when it comes to schools.

At one severe weather training someone who works for the weather service (who does not want to be quoted) said that he personally feels the threat from torndoes is over rated.  He feels the other threats from thunderstorms — high winds, hail, lightning, and especially flash flooding — being more common, actually pose a bigger threat to life and property.  But, he said, if the attention to tornadoes got people to pay attention to thunderstorms, he was all for it.

So, although today’s severe weather event seems to be over, keep your eyes on the skies and let us know what you think about what kind of weather warnings we need — and when schools, businesses, and other organizations should change their schedules and behaviors based on those weather warnings.

An Open Letter to Coach Simon

Dino CorvinoBy Dino Corvino

Eds Note:  Dino wanted to share this with Coach Simon — and the rest of the world, apparently. 

Dear Coach Simon,

I have been reading stories about you stepping down, and honestly was shocked.  I never imagine something like that was possible.  So I thought I would sit down, and tell you thank you.

Your were my Ninth Grade Basketball Coach.  With Bob Hinck.  It was honestly the last time I took participating in team sports seriously.  As an Everest student who did not play football, I was left with the outcast sports of swimming and tennis.  But you made an impact on me as a young man, and as an adult.  So I thought thank you was in order.

I was an arrogant 9th grader, if you can believe that.  I was pretty much as tall then, as I am now.  So, for a ninth grader, I was doing good.  I had been to UW-EC basketball camp, played with the kids from East at the YMCA (I worshipped East basketball…Pellant, Vince Kuhn, Jay Featherstone, Andy Beuchel, Matt Fethke…those guys were gods) in the summer, and I felt pretty sure of myself.  You reeled that in one time, and took me aside and taught me a lesson.  We were playing in some gym that had a balcony, and we were winning big.  For whatever reason I managed to make a steal, and had an unopposed run at the basket.  When I jumped for my layup, I put the ball between my legs.  It was all about Spud Webb, as he was the man that year.  I made the layup, and ran back goofing to the bench and my friends.  You immediately pulled me from the game.  I was done for that day.

You told me I took an unneeded risk.  I was not an open court player, and should not do something like that.  I was also rubbing it in the other teams face.  Pretty much made a jack ass out of myself.  You told me that stuff, and then you did not talk to me for a few days.  The silent trip killed me, but it showed me effectively how you disapproved of my actions.

At summer camp I saw a city kid who had cut off some sweats, and was wearing them as shorts.  That had not gotten to Everest, and I did it one day.  I cut off a pair of sweats for practice.  You stopped me, and told me that you thought it looked cool.  A coach, and adult told me something was cool.  It was beyond me.

I can remember most of that team now…Dave Webber (who I think has passed away), Steve Osswald, Rob Szekeress (whos name no one could read, so we all called him Ska Vaz) Bill Fleischman, Chad Engstrom, Bill Grams, Steve Skalecke.  And some other guys.

I knew both of your children.  I knew your wife.  Mike was an amazingly cool dude.  And he drove a pick up truck.  Kris was one of the best athletes Everest had.  Jackie, my ex, used to talk about her in college.

I never played baseball.  Which was your main sport, but you made an impact on my life.  You taught me to be humble, to work hard, what really firm hair looks like.  You and Bob Hinck both took an active role in my life when it spun out of control in high school.

Thanks Mr. Simon.  I hope you are okay.

Art Cluster at the Library

Phyllis ChristensenBy Phyllis Christensen

When someone says “library” most people think “checkout books”. Yes, Marathon County Public has books, over 340,000 of them. Art Cluster PosterAnd people do check them out – more than 800,000 last year. Sometimes, though, instead of taking things, people bring things to the library. The Wausau school district Art Cluster brought their art work to the library to share with the community. Their display opened last Saturday. A giant bird made from a decorated gourd flies over the entrance to the children’s area. More gourd-birds have flocked to the tops of the book shelves. Posters of colorful, imaginary fish cover the walls. Click for Larger Image

The Children’s area has been transformed into a colorful, whimsical gallery. The creativity and talent of these fourth and fifth graders is amazing. Come and see for yourself, but don’t delay too long. Everything swims or flies away at the end of the month.
Click for Larger Image

“He Was Just Showing Me a Whistle”

Eds Note:  Dino decided to just start a conversation this week.  Or maybe 31 of them.  Thirty-one flavors of discussion?  I think he has been hanging out on Myspace too much.

Aaron Sorkin is smarter than I am.

Dino CorvinoBy Dino Corvino

So as I ponder this new wave of constructive criticism, and some great opinions, I have decided that I am not all that interested in any of it.  For me it sort of comes down to this, I like Bill.  He is a nut case, but he is nut case who is finding his way through this whole thing.  I think rather than telling him what he is not doing, why do we not tell him what he is doing right, and gently ask him to do more.  Or we can try other options, like quitting.

In a continuation of my previous threads, here we go.

My questions for the week:

  • 1.Who brought the idea of the Weston Dog Park to the table?  How come we Wausau people do not have a good Dog Park?  Dog Parks rule.
  • 2.Do you remember the Wausau Timbers?  Is there an organ at Athletic Park?  Who is the organ player?  What kind of grass is the field?
  • 3.How many people live in Wausau?  Weston?  Rothschild? Schofield?
  • 4.How many video stores are there in this city?
  • 5.Have we ever had someone drown in the city pools?  Does the city remember when the lifeguards from R-S Pool invaded?  I had nothing to do with that.
  • 6.What is the oldest person in the big cemetery on Grand Avenue?  Who owns cemeteries?  Are they a good investment?
  • 7.How many people go to the Chess Club?
  • 8.How does Wausau Area Events pay for itself?  I think it is sort of part of the city, but have never seen it on the agenda.  I know there is something to do with room taxes, but in all honesty I have no idea what that even means.  But I thought Leah would know, and since she is here, why not get the actual correct answer.
  • 9.How big of a company is Eastbay or whatever it is called now?
  • 10.Who makes the best Egg Foo Yung(sp?) in this city?
  • 11.Why in god’s name are snowmobile trails not open to mt bikers in the summer?  Or horses?  We need more horses.
  • 12.If you had to go someplace to slow dance with the girl you love, where do you go?
  • 13.Does St Clairs have the best ties?  I bought a suit there once.  They are really nice.
  • 14.How come the guys from Downtown Grocery are not millionaires already?  What in god’s name is stopping the whole town from shopping there?
  • 15.If one wanted to buy a viola, where would one go?
  • 16.What are the things on ballerina’s feet?  Those shoes with the pointy toes?
  • 17.Does Datawave still exist?
  • 18.In the Wausau public schools what sort of sexual education do young people get?  HOW ABOUT THAT FOR A LIGHTNING ROD.
  • 19.Are you Democrats and Republicans meeting regularly and getting ready for the election season?  Who is the Republican boss?
  • 20.What happened to the guys who started Wee Bee CD’s?
  • 21.In Heiniken better than Guiness?  What is a good introductory beer for non drinkers?
  • 22.Do you think Tom Jeter and Lucy will make it?
  • 23.Who are Wausau’s version of the Kennedy’s?
  • 24.If we added another festival to the island of Big Bull, what should it be?
  • 25.Do you believe in God?
  • 26.Am I convincing you about the whole Burt thing?  He is trouble, and I think he does not have America’s best interest at heart.
  • 27.Is Ed Gale a ninja, or am I just totally off base?
  • 28.Was Don Mattingly a better hitter than Tony Gwynn?
  • 29.Is Wayne Steffenhagen a good football coach?
  • 30.What about that Burt thing?
  • 31.Do cows ever run?

What’s In a School

Eds Note: And now, batting cleanup, Drrrrrrrrrr. Rent!

John H. FischerBy Dr. Rent

This past week I had the opportunity to participate in one of the discussions being held by the Wausau School District’s superintendent to help determine the direction of Wausau Schools for the next 20 years.

So, why does a single guy who is unlikely to have children care about Wausau Schools?  These children are our future; and from a business point-of-view, there are issues that need to be addressed.  The kids in school today are my employees AND my customers of tomorrow.

The Wausau School District (WSD) is ranked as high as 11th in the country by certain organizations that do such rankings.  But one of the biggest obstacles to “great” is “good.”  The WSD realizes that the world from 20 years ago is nothing like the world of today.  Just think of some of the every-day items that were not available to the general public in 1987:  the internet, e-mail, cell phones (available, but not to people of average income), even computers, and the list goes on.  Let’s be honest, much of what we learned in school in 1987 did not prepare us for the technological advances of 2007.

The WSD wants to figure out what they need to do to prepare the children of today for 2027.  To do this, the WSD is having 24 discussions with stakeholders throughout the Wausau Area to determine how the school district can best prepare students in the following general trends:  Technology, Globalization, Social Justice, Demographics, and Innovation & Life-Long Learning.  The School District is not only looking at what type of classes will help our students in these trends, but also is looking at how delivery of education may need to be changed.

I applaud Superintendent Stephen Murley’s personal involvement in helping with the future of Wausau’s schools.  This is the kind of forward thinking that I honestly didn’t know a government entity was capable of.  And in their planning, they are including businesses.  The WSD realizes that their product is NOT education and the consumers students.  They acknowledge that their product is educated individuals ready for the “real world” and WE are ALL the consumers of that product.

Although this forward thinking is great, what I found surprising is that EVERY MEMBER of the group that I participated with agreed that no matter what is done, there has to be a better focus on the fundamentals (reading, writing, math) and more importantly, their application.  We have all seen that too many people are graduating not knowing how to apply these basic skills.

In my business this means people who can’t handle a simple personal budget to know what they can afford; it means people who can’t balance a checkbook; it means people who were just holding onto middle class when they got into a real estate mortgage deal that didn’t make financial sense – lost the house in foreclosure – and are now homeless and fighting poverty.

The purpose of this post?
1)    To stress that good schools are important to all of us, they are just as important to those of us without kids.
2)    To commend the Wausau School District on its forward thinking and including as much outside input as possible.
3)    To stress the importance of students not only having basic knowledge, but knowing how to apply that knowledge.
4)    To encourage all of us to get involved in education, regardless of what we do or if we have kids in the school system or not.

I have been a Junior Achievement volunteer for 7 years now, teaching 8th graders about our free enterprise system and the basics of being in business, and would not trade that for anything.

Dr. Rent.