Monday, June 30, 2008

City of Oshkosh lifts Fox River no-wake zone beginning July 1

After reviewing the current conditions of the Fox River, City of Oshkosh Emergency Operations Coordinator Tim Franz has announced that the no-wake zone for the river within the boundaries of the City of Oshkosh will expire as of 11:59 p.m. on Monday, June 30. The boundaries of this no-wake zone included a point 900’ south of the Canadian National Railroad Bridge north-northwesterly to a point under or through the Lake Butte des Morts/US. Hwy 41 bridge.

City to collect flood-damaged appliances beginning June 30

City of Oshkosh sanitation crews will resume normal garbage and recycling pickup routes starting June 30th. In addition, beginning June 30 until July 11 the City of Oshkosh will be collecting appliances that were damaged by the flooding at no charge to residents. The following are considered large appliances: water heaters, stoves, microwaves, washers, dryers, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, freezers and refrigerators. Residents should place damaged appliances on the curb the day of their normal garbage pickup. In accordance with State of Wisconsin regulations, refrigerators and freezers doors must be removed. Refrigerators and freezers with doors still attached will not be collected.

The City of Oshkosh will also collect large pieces of metal from residences if the appropriate fee is paid before pickup is scheduled. Examples of metal items include lawn mowers and snow blowers. Fees must be prepaid at the Collections Department on the first floor of City Hall, 215 Church Avenue. City Hall is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Residents are also reminded that the July brush pickup week is the week of July 7. Materials accepted for brush curb-side collection include yard and garden waste placed in brown biodegradable bags. Branches and hedge clippings must be bundled and tied, and not exceed four (4) feet in length, three (3) inches in diameter or fifty (50) pounds in weight.

For additional questions or concerns please contact the Sanitation Division at 232-5383, 232-5393 or visit

Friday, June 27, 2008

2008 Flood Contact Updated Information from Rep. Gordon Hintz's office

FEMA Disaster Declaration-Winnebago County
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared Winnebago County to be a disaster area due to the recent flooding. This declaration means that federal funding is now available for in the form of low-interest loans and grants to assist with eligible expenses such as home repair and temporary housing to those who have been affected by this month’s flooding.

FEMA has also opened a disaster recovery center at South Park Middle School, 1551 Delaware Street, to assist Winnebago County residents who have been affected. In addition to meeting with FEMA officials to seek federal assistance, residents can also meet with Winnebago County officials and representatives from the Small Business Association (SBA). SBA offers low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters, and businesses of all sizes to repair or replace damaged or destroyed property. Anyone applying for FEMA assistance is also encouraged to apply with the SBA, even if they are not a business owner.

The center will be open from 10am-7pm daily. Affected residents are encouraged to register prior to coming to the center by contacting FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (TTY 800-462-7585) or by visiting Those affected by the flooding should gather the following information before contacting FEMA:
o Your current telephone number;
o Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you now are staying;
o Your Social Security number, if available;
o A general list of damages and losses you suffered;
o If insured, the name of your company or agent and your policy number;
o General financial information;
o Bank account coding if you wish to speed up your assistance with direct deposit.

Flood Clean-up Tips and other helpful information
o See attached document from Winnebago County UW-Extension
o Visit the UW-Extension flood resource website at:

Emergency Food Assistance
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services have approved a plan to issue emergency good assistance through the FoodShare Wisconsin program to victims of flooding. Winnebago County residents can apply through July 1. Residents who would not be eligible under regular FoodShare rules may qualify for benefits if:
o Their home, belongings, or place of employment was damaged or destroyed, or
o They have disaster-related expenses, or
o The have lost income, food or money as a result of the floods

Garbage removal
Construction and demolition debris pickup: Residents should place all construction and demolition debris in a separate pile from their regular trash and leave it next to their trash. Please remember that all recyclables must also be separated from the general waste stream. Recycling pickup is being suspended for the following two weeks (through June 29) and will resume on June 30 in order to maximize resources for debris pickup.
• White goods/appliances pickup: Residents should place all white goods/appliances in a safe location and ensure that all refrigerator doors are removed or secured. Winnebago County is working with the City of Oshkosh to arrange with a contractor to assist with pickup and removal of these appliances. A schedule and protocols for pickup will be shared as soon as it is available.
• Hazardous materials pickup: Residents must remember that hazardous materials may not be sent to the landfill, even after a disaster. Examples of hazardous materials include: Chemicals (household, cleaning and yard-related); lead and lead-based items; asbestos (including insulation, flooring and tile products); batteries, antifreeze, oil and oil filters; tires.

Residents who have had their electricity turned off due to flooding
Residents who had their electricity turned off due to flooding must have a signed affidavit by a local licensed electrical contractor before Wisconsin Public Service can restore their power. Electrical contractors can obtain affidavits from WPS or at the Inspections Division offices in City Hall. WPS will not restore power without a signed affidavit.

For additional questions residents can call WPS at 1-800-450-7260 or Inspections Services at 236-5050. Residents should contact WPS to confirm that they are scheduled for reconnection after the electrical contractor has completed their work.

Elderly, Disabled, Special Needs Assistance
o Lori Renning-Winnebago County Emergency Volunteer Coordinator 420-8433
o Red Cross 231-3590
o Dial 211

For a listing of local handymen (for seniors)
o Senior Connection-Lutheran Social Services at the Oshkosh Senior Center Mary Kay Rathe 232-5304

Gas or Electric emergencies
o If you smell natural gas leave the house immediately
o Call WPS 800-450-7280

Health and Safety Tips
o Oshkosh Health Department 236-5030
o Winnebago County Health Department 232-3000
For all non-emergencies in the City of Oshkosh call 236-5234

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Disaster FoodShare Benefits for Flood Victims in Winnebago County

Oshkosh, Wis. – Winnebago County has asked the City of Oshkosh to forward the following information to flood victims in the Oshkosh community:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) have approved a plan to issue emergency food assistance to victims of flooding in Southern and Southwestern Wisconsin. Affected residents in Winnebago County can apply for emergency food assistance benefits from June 23, 2008, through July 1, 2008.

These benefits will be available through FoodShare Wisconsin to help flood victims experiencing financial difficulty. The benefits will be deposited in an account and can be used to buy food with the Wisconsin QUEST debit card at any grocery store accepting the QUEST card.

Area residents who would not be eligible under the regular FoodShare rules may qualify for disaster FoodShare benefits if:

- Their home, belongings, or place of employment was damaged or destroyed, or
- They have disaster-related expenses, or
- They have lost income, food or money as a result of the floods.

When applying, residents are encouraged to bring verification of identity and residency, if possible. To apply for Disaster FoodShare Benefits residents should visit:

Winnebago County Department of Human Services
220 Washington Avenue, Oshkosh, WI 54903-2187
(920) 236-4600 Open 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Mon.-Fri.)

For more information, see:

Monday, June 23, 2008

EAA TIF considered by council (see update at end of story)

Tomorrow night the first phase of a TIF request by the Experimental Aircraft Association will be considered. As most readers know, I have long been opposed to projects using tax-incremental financing unless certain requirements and criteria can be met. Those requirements and criteria, as well as other interesting and pertinent information regarding TIFs can be found here, here, and here.

I have also believed that the City of Oshkosh uses TIF as a crutch to foster development when we’ve seen time and again other communities creating plenty of development without it. And given the criteria and requirements set forth in the foregoing information, I believe TIFs have been inappropriately used in some cases. Be that as it may, the city has been told that the development being proposed by EAA will occur with or without the TIF, but that certain things will be left out of the project if the TIF is not approved. That is how the “but for” requirement is being met by EAA and their “hired gun” (EAA is apparently willing to pay the city for the public finance advisor services offered by Ehlers).

If you look at this page of the Ehler’s web site you’ll see that they say they are independent. “To avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, we do not work for developers or bond investors. We work only for local governments,” they say. Well, in this case the City of Oshkosh may be getting invoiced for services rendered, but we now know who’ll really be writing the check in the long-run. How independent is that, really? It may be nice to not have to lay out the money for this particular service, but this is one time when it certainly doesn’t seem, at least to me, that outside advice was needed.

Councilman Tony Palmeri has a
humorous, yet to-the-point commentary
on his blog this morning that cuts right to the heart of the matter and discusses the “butt for” test. I encourage folks to check it out; then get ready to sit back tomorrow night and watch the discussion unfold. Warning: You may want to have your Dramamine nearby in case the spin gets too much to handle.

* UPDATE: THe Oshkosh Northwestern is reporting as of 9:03 p.m. Monday evening that the EAA has requested this item be pulled from the council agenda, citing a need to provide more information about its request. You can read more about this request by going here. There will also be a full story in tomorrow's Oshkosh Northwestern.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

FDA Requests Seizure of Animal Food Products at PETCO Distribution Center

FDA News
June 19, 2008

Consumer Inquiries: 1-888-INFO-FDA

Today, at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Marshals seized various animal food products stored under unsanitary conditions at the PETCO Animal Supplies Distribution Center located in Joliet, Ill., pursuant to a warrant issued by the United States District Court in Chicago.

U.S. Marshals seized all FDA-regulated animal food susceptible to rodent and pest contamination. The seized products violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because it was alleged in a case filed by the United States Attorney that they were being held under unsanitary conditions. (The Act uses the term "insanitary" to describe such conditions).

During an FDA inspection of a PETCO distribution center in April, widespread and active rodent and bird infestation was found. The FDA inspected the facility again in May and found continuing and widespread infestation.

"We simply will not allow a company to store foods under filthy and unsanitary conditions that occur as a direct result of the company's failure to adequately control and prevent pests in its facility," said Margaret O'K. Glavin, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "Consumers expect that such safeguards will be in place not only for human food, but for pet food as well."

The distribution center in Joliet, Ill., provides pet food products and supplies to PETCO retail stores in 16 states including Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

FDA has no reports of pet illness or death associated with consumption of animal food distributed by PETCO, and does not have evidence that the food is unsafe for animals. However, the seized products were in permeable packages and held under conditions that could affect the food's integrity and quality.

As a precaution, consumers who have handled products originating from the PETCO distribution center should thoroughly wash their hands with hot water and soap. Any surfaces that came in contact with the packages should be washed as well. Consumers are further advised as a precaution to thoroughly wash products sold in cans and glass containers from PETCO in the 16 affected states.

If a pet has become ill after eating these food products, pet owners should contact their veterinarian and report illnesses to FDA state consumer complaint coordinators.

Press release from Rep. Gordon Hintz on federal disaster declaration

OSHKOSH- Today President Bush declared a state of disaster for Winnebago County, just days after Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials met with local officials and residents affected by the recent flooding. This declaration opens the door for individuals to receive federal assistance in the form of grants and low-interest loans for home repair and temporary housing.

"I'm pleased to hear that the residents in Oshkosh and Winnebago County that have been devastated by the recent flooding will now be able to get some help," said Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh). "I've been visiting with some of the residents who have been affected by the flooding and have seen firsthand the damage that has been done. I would encourage anyone who has sustained damage to gather the necessary information and contact FEMA immediately."

People affected by the flooding should gather the following information before contacting FEMA:

* Your current telephone number;
* Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you now are staying;
* Your Social Security number, if available;
* A general list of damages and losses you suffered;
* If insured, the name of your company or agent and your policy number;
* General financial information;
* Bank account coding if you wish to speed up your assistance with direct deposit.

FEMA is advising citizens that its disaster assistance covers an individual's basic needs only and will not normally compensate the entire loss. The government may help pay for basic needs not covered under insurance policies.

Those seeking to apply for individual assistance should contact FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (TTY 800-462-7585), or by visiting The FEMA representative will explain the details to you when you call. People with any additional questions or concerns can contact the office of Representative Hintz toll-free at 888-534-0054.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Governor Doyle Announces Appointment of Senator Carol Roessler as Administrator of State, Local Finance

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today announced State Senator Carol Roessler will become the Administrator of the Division of State and Local Finance at the Department of Revenue (DOR). Roessler’s appointment begins July 7, 2008. Senator Roessler announced her retirement from the Wisconsin State Senate in March.

“Carol Roessler has honorably served her constituents for a combined 26 years of service in the State Assembly and State Senate,” Governor Doyle said. “Her experience working with local officials for over the past two decades as a legislator makes her well-suited for this position.”

State Senator Carol Roessler was first elected to the State Assembly in 1982. She resigned her Assembly seat in 1987 when she was elected to the State Senate in a special election. Her most recent Senate committee assignments included: Economic Development, Job Creation, Family Prosperity and Housing; Health and Human Services; and Small Business, Emergency Preparedness, Workforce Development, Technical Colleges and Consumer Protection.

Through her work over the years, Roessler has illustrated her commitment to the people and communities in her Senate and Assembly districts. She has been recognized for her service with numerous awards from a variety of organizations, including groups representing local governments:
• League of Municipalities Recognition 2006;
• Alliance of Cities Outstanding Legislator 2005-06;
• Wisconsin Counties Association Outstanding Legislator 2003-04, 2001-02, 1999-2000, 1997-98, 1995-96 and Legislator of the Year 2005, 2006.

“I am honored to be appointed Administrator of the Division of State and Local Finance at the Department of Revenue. I am enthused and eager to accept this challenge and continue my public service in this new capacity,” Roessler stated.

DOR’s Division of State and Local Finance is responsible for a variety of duties working in partnership with local governments. Specific examples of the statutory responsibilities of the Division include:
• Calculating shared revenue payments;
• Enforcing levy limits;
• Issuing equalized values for all properties in the state to ensure equitable distribution of state aid; and
• Assessing all manufacturing, utility and telecommunications property.

“I am confident the Division of State and Local Finance will benefit from Carol Roessler’s leadership and will continue the tradition of being an efficient, innovative and customer-driven division,” said Revenue Secretary Roger M. Ervin.

The Division of State and Local Finance has 127 positions.

Governor Doyle Announces Five More Counties Added to Disaster Declaration

MADISON — Governor Jim Doyle today announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared a state of disaster for five more counties including Dodge, Green, Washington, Waukesha, and Winnebago counties, bringing the number of Wisconsin counties where individual assistance is available to twelve. Earlier this week, FEMA made federal assistance available to those living in Columbia, Crawford, Milwaukee, Racine, Richland, Sauk and Vernon counties and is conducting damage assessments to allow declarations in other counties.

“As we continue to assess the extensive damage across our state from severe weather and record rains and flooding, it is clear that we need to get assistance to families and businesses in these areas as quickly as possible,” Governor Doyle said. “We are pleased FEMA continues to work diligently to assess the remaining counties that have been devastated by severe weather.”

Governor Doyle declared a state of emergency in 30 counties after severe weather this month brought record floods and other damage across southern Wisconsin. FEMA is in ongoing damage assessments in those counties to make disaster declarations.

FEMA’s disaster declarations make federal money available for individual assistance, such as home repair and temporary housing costs. FEMA has already provided nearly $38,000 to flood victims in declared counties. Those living in counties declared a state of disaster can apply for individual assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or online at

Monday, June 16, 2008

Akcess hoping to buy Chamber building

According to an article in this morning’s Oshkosh Northwestern local officials are working to come up with some means of helping to aid the Waterfront project proposed by Akcess Acquisition Group. To that end are steps to help make it easier to sell the building currently occupied by the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce. Some local developers have previously entertained the idea of buying the building, but haven’t pursued it because of the possibility that the building would eventually be torn down as part of road realignment plans for Division Street. Tim Rikkers of Akcess announced when he appeared on Eye on Oshkosh two weeks ago that he is trying to assemble a group of buyers for the chamber building; that group would include Akcess. Once the building is purchased, it would allow the chamber to move into Rikkers’ proposed office building and get the whole Waterfront project back on track. Besides the class A office complex, Rikkers is working with the Supple restaurant group to develop a hotel and separate restaurant on the land along the Fox River, but has maintained that no construction will take place on any component of the project until the office building has enough tenants to break ground there.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

In the aftermath of floods: Thanks to all!

As I write this the flood storm clean-up is winding down for some in the city and surrounding areas, while for others, it is just more of the same as it has been for a few days and may be for another week or so, maybe even longer, depending on the amount of one’s damage. But, no matter how much damage anyone sustained, we can all be thankful there were no serious injuries or lives lost in last week’s double-shot of storms and flooding.

I’ve heard from so many people about how their neighbors pitched in and helped each other out. That is something that renews one’s faith in humanity and everyone who offered to help out another in need, should be commended and thanked. I also want to thank the city administration and employees for their efforts in the wake – no pun intended – of a horrible situation. The city kept citizens informed through the various outlets of Oshkosh Community Media Services with hourly updates and others as the situation warranted. There was a lot of helpful, up-to-date information on the Oshkosh Northwestern’s web site too as well as other local and Green Bay media. And employees of the police and sheriff’s department were as helpful as they could be with providing information that was changing, sometimes by the minute, but at all times very polite, despite being deluged with calls. And the extra efforts will continue I’m sure, with relaxed garbage pickups rules for certain items and assistance with finding where to apply for state of federal assistance, etc.

Still, many citizens are unhappy – some rightfully so – and have suffered tremendous loss. I have heard plenty of complaints in the last few days, too, including from some who think that larger drainage pipes citywide are needed instead of a riverwalk, etc. The cost for one palls in comparison to the other, and I’m not even sure something like larger pipes would make it a difference when the filtration plant was pumping at maximum capacity. But all the week’s events beg the question: Is there anything more or different the city could have done, and if so, what? I am trying to get our acting city manager and the director of public works on an upcoming show to discuss these and other issues. If people have questions they’d like us to ask these gentlemen, please send them to me at, and if they're able to appear, we'll be sure to ask them. In the meantime, please feel free to participate in the online poll on this home page about whether the city did enough and acted quickly to alert people to the ever-changing situation during the recent storms. And thanks again to everyone for pulling together and acting like one united community, even if only for a little while.