Monday, April 28, 2008


EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is supplying one of most-requested items for campers at its event with an expansion of wireless Internet access this summer. EAA AirVenture, "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration," will be held July 28-August 3 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

Wi-Fi access will be available in many areas of the North 40 aircraft camping area, the drive-in Camp Scholler campground, and in the vintage aircraft and ultralight camping areas. This access is provided free of charge to EAA members and their guests in those campgrounds. Signal strength may vary because of computer type and setup, weather conditions and other factors.

In addition, EAA members can log on to their e-mail through computers provided at Internet Cafes located in EAA Member Village and in Camp Scholler. A limited number of Ethernet connections are available for members at those locations as well.

"We're expanding wireless access because we know that many members want to stay connected during their trips to EAA AirVenture," said Tom Poberezny, EAA president and AirVenture chairman. "We're happy to respond to the requests from our members and supply this resource without charge in our camping areas. And we remind them that complete coverage of each day's events throughout the grounds will be available at the website."

EAA AIRVENTURE OSHKOSH is The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration and EAA's yearly membership convention. Additional EAA AirVenture information, including advance ticket purchase, is available through the World Wide Web at EAA members receive lowest prices on admission rates. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 1-800-JOIN-EAA (1-800-564-6322) or visit

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The city's east side water tower in jeopardy

Along with renovations to the city’s water filtration plant are plans to raze Oshkosh’s historic water tower with its beacon that has safely guided so many boaters back to the Lake Winnebago shore near Menominee Park. City officials say the pumping station underneath the tower is in violation of DNR codes and it would cost slightly over a half million dollars to bring it into compliance. But in order to make those repairs the tower has to be torn down anyway, says the city’s public works director Dave Patek. The city also says tearing the tower down would give them more room for expansion at the existing water filtration plant.
(*NOTE: I have been told by Deputy Mayor Bryan Bain that there is apparently a way to make the needed repairs without tearing down the tower.)

Those interested in historic preservation or even those who just want to keep some of old-time Oshkosh have asked the Common Council to hold off on making a decision until ideas can be presented, even though the city’s Landmarks Commission has tried coming up with ideas on its own.

You can read more about the council’s decision in this Oshkosh Northwestern article. And be sure to vote in our online poll as to what you think should be done with the tower.

Waterfront development project in "trouble"

Following repeated delays in groundbreaking and no tenant announcements many have suspected it for a while now, but today we officially learned from this report in the Oshkosh Northwestern that the Waterfront redevelopment project – specifically the office complex - is “really in trouble,” to quote the developer – and as such, there is a very real possibility that it may not happen.

This is both discouraging and disappointing because this was one project and developer that I, for one, had high hopes for. It wasn’t “pie in the sky” like the Five Rivers proposal was and the developer – Akcess Acquisition Group – was putting much of its own money into the project. The entire proposal was structured more soundly than we’d seen in the past and taxpayer interests were more judicially looked after in the way it was structured and the way our Common Council approached it. We’re told that the proposed Cambria Suites and Montreal Bread Co. complex can’t work without the office complex. Why, I don’t know. Hotels and restaurants work fine without an office complex adjoining or abutting them; but that’s the developer’s position.

So what is it about Oshkosh and its waterfront? Many other communities don’t struggle like this in developing their waterfronts, so it begs the question of what is wrong here.

I think one of the problems is we don’t think outside of the box in our community; another is that many people, both in elected office and the citizenry at large, are somewhat pedestrian in their attitudes. These are just a couple of my guesses and who knows, there could be a dozen or more reasons why our waterfront development is stalled. One thing’s for sure, once we figure out the problem, perhaps we can find a way to fix it. Hopefully it won’t be too late.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Alderman faces ethics inquiry over newsletter addressed to residents' pets

Last week the Oshkosh Northwestern unveiled a new Datamine feature, whereby people can search by address or pet’s name to see if someone’s dog or cat is licensed. I understand the need for public information but, like others, I think some information goes too far, especially when it can be used for less than honorable means – as most of it probably can these days, when it gets right down to it. Winnebago County Board supervisor Jef Hall gave some good examples of what could happen in this piece. Now take a look at this story in today’s Chicago Tribune and see how a local alderman there used dog and cat information from city records for his own political newsletter.


Cell phone users will get text message alerts of emergencies under a new nationwide alert system approved late Wednesday by the Federal Communications Commission, according to FCC spokesman Robert Kenny. You can read the complete story here.

Monday, April 07, 2008


EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. - (April 7, 2008) - NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has confirmed that he will participate at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008, which will be held July 28-August 3 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh. Griffin's participation will be part of the activities commemorating NASA's 50th anniversary during the 56th annual edition of EAA AirVenture, "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration."

Griffin has served as NASA Administrator since 2005 and will be making his first visit to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in that role. Griffin, who holds a flight instructor certificate with instrument and multiengine ratings, also has a long career in space sciences and education.

"We are very pleased that Administrator Griffin will be participating at EAA AirVenture this summer," said Tom Poberezny, EAA president and AirVenture chairman. "It's fitting that his visit coincides with EAA's observance of NASA's 50th anniversary and all the agency's achievements over the past half-century."

EAA AirVenture has long been a destination for NASA Administrators, particularly during several NASA/aviation industry joint research initiatives in the 1990s. Griffin's schedule at Oshkosh is still being finalized, with any public presentations to be announced as they are confirmed.

"I'm looking forward to being part of the world of flight that comes together each year at Oshkosh," Griffin said. "EAA has long been a supporter of NASA, as we have a shared passion for innovation and flight."

EAA AIRVENTURE OSHKOSH is The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration and EAA's yearly membership convention. Additional EAA AirVenture information, including advance ticket purchase, is available through the World Wide Web at EAA members receive lowest prices on admission rates. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 1-800-JOIN-EAA (1-800-564-6322) or visit

Thursday, April 03, 2008

"Eye on Oshkosh" wins state award

I'm proud to announce that I've been notified by the Wisconsin Association of PEG Access Channels that "Eye on Oshkosh" - specifically the program we featured on sex offenders and residency requirements - has won an Award of Merit in the category of Talk Show in the 10th Annual WAPC Video Festival. Our entry was among 60 programs submitted to receive this honor and we're very honored to have been selected.

As the producer of the show, I would like to take a moment to publicly thank my co-host Dan Rylance for his expertise, and the entire crew - Nick Jurgella, Mary Helen Casper, Mike Domke, and Ken and Cindy Walker - for giving of their time and talent to help make the show the continued success it is. Without them, the show, much less this honor, would not be possible. I also want to thank the show sponsors, the many guests we've been honored to have on, the staff of Oshkosh Community Media Services for all their ongoing help and the audience for their continued viewership. Thank you all very much!

- Cheryl Hentz

Saturday April 5th Benefit for the Winnebago Peace & Justice Center

Friends of the WPJC,

You're all invited to our spring fundraiser concert, this Saturday April 5th at the Algoma Club, titled Music & Mayhem. The event coincides with the Oshkosh Gallery walk and runs from 4pm to late. From 4pm to 9:30pm is the artists market featuring local artists from throughout the Fox Valley. 8:30pm is the fashion show w/ new designs by PROGRESS Label clothing & SaraDae designs and throughout the evening there will be music of all genres, drumming with the Oshkosh Rhythm Ensemble and belly dancing with Tribal Element and performance artists. The event is Free from 4pm - 7:30pm & $7 after 7pm. Free beer will be available early and donations will be accepted throughout the evening.

To check out all the activities and musicians, please follow this link to the WPJC myspace page:

Thanks & Hope to see you all Saturday!

Winnebago Peace and Justice Center
321 Market Street
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The people have spoken

The results are in and I think, by and large, yesterday’s election went pretty smoothly. I haven’t heard of any real problems at any of the polling places as has been the case in the past (though we may learn of something later, I suppose). Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all those who ran and participated in the democratic process. As far as the specific results in each race go, I am pretty pleased overall with the way the election turned out.

To recap:

Oshkosh Area School District Board of Education
Incumbent Tom McDermott and first-timer John Lemberger soundly defeated incumbent Ben Schneider II and three-time candidate Michelle Monte. While the turnout was lower than desired, it was about what many expected. I have read some comments that seem to be blaming a low voter turnout for the Schneider-Monte defeat. Such "reasoning” is kind of silly, I think. To make such a comment is to suggest that a higher turnout would have garnered votes only for those two candidates. Common sense and the laws of probability tell us that more voters at the polls would have brought more votes for each of the four candidates.

Now if someone is suggesting that the Schneider-Monte supporters didn’t get out and vote – bringing about their defeat – I can only surmise the following: That, either the would-be voters weren’t such strong supporters after all; they thought their candidates had the election locked up so didn’t bother voting; or the things Schneider and Monte tried to paint as the biggest issues in the race really weren’t so crucial to the voters after all.

I also have talked with poll workers in different communities and a common theme seems to be that in February that were a lot of newer faces voting, presumably because it was a presidential primary. Yesterday’s election, they said, brought out the usual faces – people who have been voting in elections for some time. That also may have made a difference in yesterday’s results.

And while the results are not necessarily a ringing endorsement for the newly-approved facilities plan, I do think the elections results tell us two things: First, voters are tired of stagnation in board action and want to see something happening. Second, voters are tired of negativity and divisiveness on the board or amongst candidates. That is not to suggest that we need board members who are putty in anyone’s hands. But it is important to have board members who have common sense and are reasonable (i.e., they are people who can be reasoned with and who, if you make a compelling argument, are willing to concede that point and change their minds.). Far too often with some board members and candidates, we have seen people who are unwilling to compromise on anything. They seem to want things their way or no way at all. I think voters are tired of that and that is one thing we can conclude from yesterday’s election.

Oshkosh Common Council
This race had only three candidates – all incumbents and each who ran unopposed. Though each got re-elected by virtue of having no challengers, the interesting thing about the results from this “race” is it seems Paul Esslinger’s popularity is not as great as it once was. According to the results on the county’s web site, he finished last amongst his council counterparts – quite a contrast from someone who in the past has been a top vote-getter. Perhaps what we’ve been reading on other blogs in the past year or so is right; that his edge has slipped a little more each of the last few times he’s run. Deputy Mayor Burk Tower, on the other hand, finished in first place among the three incumbent candidates. That also was in direct contrast to what some were saying on the blogs about Tower’s popularity and so-called vulnerability.

Winnebago County Board
There were four contested races in Oshkosh and each of the incumbents – with the exception of Donna Lohry in District 14 – was able to retain their seat for another two-year term. There were contested races elsewhere in the county, due at least in part, to a two-seat reduction n the size of the county board and a subsequent redistricting of the county. One of the more interesting races was in Neenah, where 30-year county board member Joseph Maehl mounted a write-in campaign after losing his place on the ballot when some of his nomination paper signatures were challenged and subsequently thrown out. Deepest thanks to Maehl for his years of county service and best of luck to him in the future. A complete run-down of the county board election results is listed below:

District 1 in the city and Town of Menasha – Thomas Konetzke defeated Jackie Miller (daughter of deceased county board member, Woody Weber)
District 4 in the city and Town of Menasha, - incumbent Paul Eisen beat incumbent Joe Hotynski.
District 6 in the city of Neenah - Bill Roh defeated Joe Maehl
District 7 in Neenah – incumbent James Koziczkowski beat Kyle Reppert.
District 9 in Neenah – incumbent Tom Widener beat incumbent William Pollnow Jr.
District 14 in the city and town of Oshkosh – incumbent Claud Thompson defeated incumbent Donna Lohry
District 15 in Oshkosh – incumbent Kathleen Lennon beat challenger Travis Swanson
District 18 in Oshkosh – incumbent Bill Wingren handily beat John Daggett
District 21 in Oshkosh – incumbent Robert Warnke beat Christine Kutnink-Richards
District 28 in the towns of Menasha and Neenah – incumbent Jerold Finch defeated Jay Schroeder
District 36 in the towns of Clayton, Winchester, Poygan and Wolf River - John Reinert beat Susan Rubick

City of Menasha
There were council races here, but probably the most significant race in the city of Menasha last night was for the position of mayor. In a major upset, 20-year incumbent Joe Laux was handily defeated by alderman Don Merkes. Merkes captured 56 percent of the vote total compared to Laux’s 44 percent.

Congratulations again to all the winners in yesterday's election. I hope you will serve your constituents with common sense, sound reasoning, due diligence and careful deliberation in each of your votes.