Thumbs Up/Down for Monday, Aug. 18, 2014

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Thumbs up to a bike path linking Janesville and Beloit. For advocates, work on this long-awaited project has been painfully slow. Yet securing easements takes time, and the Rock Trail Coalition is pedaling down the path of progress. President Dean Paynter expects a bridge in Beloit’s Big Hill Park to be built this fall and two key easements to be in writing yet this year. The city of Beloit is offering some money and using two state grants and money raised by a Leadership Development Academy Team for bridge construction. Bicyclists will join motorists on roads in short stretches around Afton, but most of the route will be off road, albeit on proposed or existing gravel paths. Paynter says Rock County likely will have to apply for grants to lay crushed limestone where needed. When completed, the path linking the county’s two largest cities could serve not only recreational enthusiasts but ambitious commuters.

Thumbs down to ignoring dangers of lightning. A lightning strike Aug. 2 killed two men building a children’s treehouse in a white pine in Oconto County. We’re not sure whether they could hear the approaching thunderstorm, but this tragedy should serve as a lesson to others. Do not underestimate lightning’s danger. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the U.S. has averaged 51 deaths from lightning strikes each of the last 20 years. Some types of horizontal lightning discharges can be miles long. The National Lightning Safety Institute advises that if you’re caught outdoors in a thunderstorm, avoid water, high ground and open spaces. Avoid metal objects. Canopies, small picnic or rain shelters and trees are also unsafe. If possible, seek shelter in a substantial building or a vehicle with the windows shut.

Thumbs down to ousting UW-Whitewater coach Tim Fader. As the Aug. 7 Gazette explained, UW-W’s wrestling coach thought he took appropriate steps when he learned a recruit was accused of sexual assault while in Whitewater for a campus visit. The visit had ended, but the recruit stayed in town an extra night. Fader took him to Whitewater police. Fader did not, however, alert UW-W, which two weeks later forced him to resign. Fader coached the Warhawks 10 years. Last year, they won the conference title and finished second in nationals. Fader believed police would inform the university and says that has always happened in past policing matters. New Athletic Director Amy Edmonds wouldn’t comment because of an ongoing investigation into Fader’s recruiting practices. Fader was told he was being forced out because of two minor recruiting violations. The university was among 55 institutions nationwide that came under federal investigation this spring for the way they handled sexual abuse complaints. In the absence of more information about those supposed minor infractions, we’re left to believe UW-W is making an example of Fader by forcing him out rather than suspending him.

Thumbs up returning a new ’63 Impala to Janesville. An amazing story emerged out of Nebraska last year, complements of the Lincoln Journal Star. Some 1,700 collector cars from a dealer’s lot were going to auction. Some were new autos that dealer Ray Lambrecht stored in a warehouse if they were left unsold when the next year’s models came in. Gary Leidich of Painsville, Ohio, bought this Impala, with just 11 miles on the odometer, at the auction and became its first registered owner. It rolled off Janesville’s GM assembly line Aug. 3, 1963. Now, he’d like to display it in Janesville, perhaps inside a hotel or convention center, so former GM workers and the public could appreciate it. He might even donate it to a museum, he told columnist Anna Marie Lux in Thursday’s Gazette. It would be great if it returned here permanently. For information, call 330-714-8214 or email leidichg@gmail.com.

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