Thursday, July 27, 2006

Operation Welcome Home!

It was a pleasure talking with Ellen Sorenson Fond du Lac County's Director of Administration during a recent "The Focus" program on KFIZ. She's a busy lady with her job with the County, but we were talking to the Mom in her. She has a son serving in Iraq with the local National Guard's Charlie Company unit.

Ellen and a couple of others are organizing "Operation Welcome Home." It's an official welcome home celebration for the more than 180 soldiers from the Fond du Lac, Ripon and Waupun areas that will be held at the County Fairgrounds Expo Center on Saturday, November 4th.

Ellen says they can't believe how much support there has been for the troops in the area and she's hoping that will continue on their special day in November. The troops will actually be home about a month or a little longer before that, but the Military requires a sort of cooldown period before a formal celebration can be held.

I was at the sendoff ceremony in June of 2005. The turnout was tremendous and the family support was multigenerational. It was a proud moment for those about to serve and the community. I was also at the funeral for Sergeant Andrew Wallace last fall in Ripon. Another huge turnout for the community to say goodbye to a member of the 127th Infantry, who along with Michael Wendling was killed by a roadside bomb.

We don't have all the specifics yet on "Operation Welcome Home," they are still being formulated. It will include a parade, then a ceremony at the Expo Center and a time for fellowship. Support Our Troops, we certainly will. We hope you will too.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Rolling Meadows Closing

I learned a long time ago that the news that I report is impacting lives. Once in a while a phone call helps remind me of that fact.

It was from a young man who wanted to know if we were going to be talking with some of the nurses from Rolling Meadows about losing their jobs. We had talked to a few since Fond du Lac County Executive Al Buechel made the original recommendation in May.

Sometimes you just have to listen, that's why this call came my way. Here's what I learned. His mother is working a couple of jobs to make ends meet, 16 hours a day some days. She'd been working at Rolling Meadows for 16 years and didn't have enough seniority to be among those who may have a shot at jobs on a wing at the Health Care Center (Harbor Haven).

He went on to say that his Mom had worked at other nursing home facilities and wouldn't want to work at another facility in Fond du Lac County again. She's 49-years old and will be looking out of the County for another job.

I share this with you in part because of a statement made by a County Supervisor who had heard from people or who had through his own interpretation believes the media and others thought the group trying to save Rolling Meadows was a loud and vocal minority. We never made such statements in our news. Given the chance to fight for a job that I love and one that affects my life, you better believe I'd be vocal too.

I did try and schedule a few nurses for our Focus program, but they declined because it was too soon after the Board's decision and they were still coping with what had been done.

During a meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee studying the issue some of the Rolling Meadows workers brought a group of balloons to represent the residents being served at the nursing home. They shouldn't be forgotten either. Hence the photo.

I've shared one story about how the closing of Rolling Meadows will impact an employee. There are more than 120 others.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

My Friend Jerry!

My friend Jerry St. John has prostate cancer. That's about as much as I can say with a smiley face. He chose to go public with it this week, even though we in the KFIZ Family have known about it for some time. You can read about it at:

I'm confident Jerry will win his battle, but sometimes cancer can sneak up on you. Folks at the Fond du Lac City-County Goverment Center were recently devastated by the death of Debbie Horning who was 51-years-old. She kept fit, loved NASCAR and could be seen walking daily in the city.

It's true that if you aren't directly affected by cancer you probably know someone who has had some form of it. It attacked my mother and one of my sister's. My mom had to alter her life somewhat. My sister was robbed of the ability to have children of her own. Even when you beat cancer it can leave scars.

I knew a woman in Beaver Dam who survived cancer. She was coming up on her five-year anniversary when she was diagnosed with another form of cancer. She was a regular in a Relay for Life event. I asked her if she was bitter about getting cancer a second time. She said she'd rather have to go through chemo and everything else then to have to watch one of her children get it. Sometimes even when you lose you can be a winner. Go get'em Jerry!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Study This

It's not often I have time for breakfast. Well one recent weekend I had the opportunity and not wanting to miss the chance to have the perfect breakfast I commissioned a study.

Given my limited resources I hired Ajax Consulting & Taxidermy. The owner explained he once did consulting on a full-time basis, but found the other more rewarding. Go figure.

Here's what Mike (not his real name) found out. He suggested organic non-sweeted orange juice because of its health benefits, but argued flavored coffees are a popular choice. Mike also weighed the pros and cons of milk, prune juice, soda, water, the old breakfast shake and a few others.

Next eggs or not, there are a number of varieties including none at all. From the picture you can see which I like. Moving on to other choices I could have pancakes, waffles, french toast, hash browns, toast, a breakfast sandwich, cold pizza, breakfast bars.

If you have eggs there's usually a choice of meat such as bacon, sausage, ham, etc. Because it might offend some stray PETA member I decided to opt out of a breakfast meat choice.

My usual breakfast is cold cereal and milk, but Mike again pointed out the multitude of cereal choices and alternatives like oatmeal. I never knew there were so many breakfast choices. I've never seen that many at a fast food restaurant.

Mike was good enough to also list any breakfast options that might get me in trouble with any political factions like PETA, unions or health concerns. He also provided bar graphs on the popularity of certain choices and the overall cost and investment of time I would put into preparing my ultimate choice.

By this time I am wondering if I should have commissioned another study. After all you can never be sure that the data in front of you isn't tainted. Maybe Mike has stock in Kellogg's.

Finally a choice is made...and I've worked up an appetite. Problem is I've wasted the whole morning pouring over the study and now it's time for lunch. Although it wasn't backed by a study, I pick up a burger at a fast food restaurant.

My study is a success. I wasted my time, my resources and didn't trust my own instincts enough to make a choice that ultimately was up to me in the first place.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Small World

Recently local author Rochelle Pennington was a guest on KFIZ's "The Focus." She was going to give a presentation at St. Agnes Hospital and we talked about her latest book and some of her others.

She talked about the Christmas Tree Ship, which would pick up trees in the Upper Peninsula and bring them back down to southern Wisconsin in the early part of the last Century.

During a commerical break I told her that when I was in college during the summer months I worked at a limestone mine in Gulliver, Michigan. At the time it belonged to Inland Steel and each Christmas the workers there would cut down a huge pine tree and ship it out on one of the big iron ore dockers bound for Inland's Chicago offices.

That's when she said the Christmas trees talked about in her books were cut in Gulliver and shipped out of Manistique, Michigan. She asked me if I knew where Manistique was? I told her I grew up there and found out I knew all the local places in Manistique where her books are sold.

A couple years ago I had a similar experience when an advance man for the John Edwards for President campaign called to arrange interviews with Edwards' family members. He was calling from Detroit and I told him I recognized the area code. Eventually I found out that he was also born in Manistique and it turned out his mother owned the local weekly newspaper that I sometimes wrote for when my journalism career began.

I could give other examples. A boyhood friend lives and works in Sheboygan, a cousin in Plymouth. They say you should never forget where you came from. I doubt that will ever happen, especially when life keeps throwing little reminders at me.