Local News Briefs Thursday 1/29/15

Fond du Lac Firefighters spent several hours Tuesday night investigating the source of a natural gas smell in downtown Fond du Lac. Fire officials say it was first noticed in the area of Macy and 1st Streets. It wasn’t until later when the same smell was discovered in an underground parking facility that the source was determined. The smell was actually fluid leaking from a truck’s differential.

FDL City Council Notes

The Fond du Lac City Council last evening approved a liquor license for Fond du Lac Festivals for two events in Lakeside Park this summer. Festivals will put on Walleye Weekend in June and the Taste of Fond du Lac moves to Oven Island in August. The Council also approved an appointment to the Ethics Board. Local attorney Paul Cziny was appointed to the board. The Council approved a resolution regarding International Migratory Bird Day. Public Works Director Jordan Skiff says it will actually be held over two days in Fond du Lac on May 1st and May 2nd. He says the local Park Watch group has arranged tours. He also noted that the Executive Director of Bird City Wisconsin will be in Fond du Lac the week before on Tuesday, April 28th when he will give a presentation at the Public Library. The Council also approved an ordinance change that will now refer to the Fond du Lac Fire Department as Fond du Lac Fire/Rescue. Fire Chief Peter O’Leary says the reference change is more inclusive in their mission. He says they are much more than a fire department. He says it’s something they became aware of while doing strategic planning as they seek International Accreditation status.

FDL City Council Proclamations

Agnesian HealthCare, three local Kiwanis Clubs and a retiring City employee were honored with proclamations during the Fond du Lac City Council meeting Wednesday night. Agnesian HealthCare was honored for their contribution to the Fond du Lac Bike Loop. In December Agnesian offered up to $200,000 to fund improvements of bike trail in Lakeside Park. Agnesian President Steve Little thanked the Council saying Agnesian appreciated the recognition but the commitment towards the bike loop wasn’t for the recognition. He said it was really about promoting health and wellness. The three local Kiwanis clubs; the Noon Kiwanis, Evening Kiwanis and Morning Kiwanis were honored in recognition of their work and the recent 100th anniversary of Kiwanis International. The Council also gave a proclamation and Key to the City to Fond du Lac Senior Center Director Dottie Winkelmann. She’s retiring Friday after 17 years with the City. Winkelmann thanked the City Council for the recognition and the opportunity to be Senior Center Director. She said, “It’s been a passion for me.” She added she will miss the seniors the City serves.

Unemployment Rates Up In December

The unemployment rate for the City and County of Fond du Lac both increased by three-tenths of a percent in December. According to federal labor statistics released by the State’s Department of Workforce Development the jobless rate in Fond du Lac increased to 5.3 percent last month and the County’s rate to 4.6 percent. Two-hundred fewer people were working last month, but 800 more people were working than in December of 2013.

Dean Foods Closing Sheboygan Plant

Dean Foods is closing its Verifine Dairy plant in Sheboygan at the end of April. The closing will affect about 70 jobs. Company officials say the decision is the result of plans to consolidate operations in Wisconsin. Employees affected by the April 30th closing will be encouraged to apply for openings at other Dean’s plants. The company will continue operations at its De Pere plant.

Berlin Mascot Will Stay

The Berlin School District will keep its Indian mascot. The Berlin School Board reviewed the results of student and community surveys on the issue at their meeting Wednesday night. Ninety percent of students and 92 percent of the community favored keeping the mascot. Over 450 students and 1,300 community members were surveyed. No motion was made during the meeting to get rid of the Indian mascot. No public comments were allowed on the issue

Retention Ponds Possible Concern

An official with the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department says Lake Winnebago isn’t the only body of water people should be concerned about when it comes to ice conditions. Sergeant Jeff Bonack is one of the department’s members who works cold water rescues. He says a retention pond is put in for each subdivision that is created. He says it’s tempting for kids to use those sites during the winter so he urges parents, guardians and grandparents to speak to their kids and grandkids about safety. Bonack says it would also help if you’re aware of ice conditions on those water surfaces. Andy Doro and his son Derek lost their lives in a tragic accident on Lake Winnebago last weekend after their jeep went through the ice.

Senator Gudex Working On Several Bills

State Senator Rick Gudex of Fond du Lac says he’s working on a couple of different bills that he will introduce this legislative session. He says one of the bills would eliminate the state treasurer’s position. Recent efforts to do that did not succeed. He says he’s also interested in creating a drug formulary for the Corrections Department similar to a law they created for nursing homes. It would set up a list of prescribed pre-approved drugs that could be used at state correctional facilities. He says it would save time and money for the corrections department. He says they will introduce a couple of other bills in the coming weeks.

Oshkosh Corporation Earnings Down

The decline in the Oshkosh Corporation’s military vehicle business continues to have an impact on their quarterly earnings report. Oshkosh Corporation this week reported a 40-percent drop in net income. The company reported a net income of just under $35 million for its fiscal 2015 first quarter. That’s about $20 million less than the company’s 2014 first quarter. The defense division saw a $212 million drop in revenue due to lower U.S. defense and international military spending. Overall net sales for the quarter were $1.35 billion, a decrease of 11.6 percent. For more click here.