Thumbs Up/Down for Monday, Nov. 4, 2013

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Thumbs up to testing crops at the Rock County farm. It’s great that researchers are using about 27 acres owned by Rock County for studies that could improve farming practices and reduce erosion and water pollution. It’s even better that experimental cover crops such as giant radishes can help the county farm reap extra revenue. Farmers pay rent to till most of the Rock County farm. Studies funded by grants and UW-Madison test cover crops, compare crop varieties and experiment in row spacing, seed treatments, pesticides and fungicides. Figures show these tests can produce even more revenue through sales of the crops. The county plows the money back into the general fund, and the revenue helps offset the county tax levy.

Thumbs down to shutting the public out of hearings. Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign describes an Oct. 24 public hearing on a sand mining bill this way: First lawmakers talked and talked as if rehearsing for a filibuster. Then industry lobbyists droned on and on. Citizens who rose before dawn to travel hours, attend the hearing and voice concerns about damage to natural landscape and property values never got chances to speak. Instead, they had to submit written comments. “The politicians and lobbyists who scratch backs and make deals in the Capitol most every day seemed utterly oblivious to how rudely and disrespectfully these citizens were being treated,” McCabe wrote in a column in Thursday’s Gazette. Blame mining committee Chairman Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst. Unfortunately, as McCabe explains, “this hearing was no different than any other held these days.” Not hearing the public during so-called public hearings is no way to conduct good government.

Thumbs up to Makerspace in Whitewater. The new nonprofit organization lets residents use equipment such as 3D printers, looms, sewing machines, pottery kilns and greenhouses that they otherwise might lack access to. Members with different knowledge, backgrounds and skills can learn from each other and share ideas that might spur the next great entrepreneurial project. Having UW-Whitewater, with its strong business school, in the community makes Whitewater a good fit for Makerspace. The organization has its roots in Germany and has spread outlets across the U.S. Whitewater’s is open from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily except Fridays at 1206 E. Bluff Road. Cost is $40 a month or $70 for families and $20 for students. The organization will have experts in engineering, physics and industries to help members. It plans seminars and lectures. For more information or to join, click on whitewatermakerspace.org.

Thumbs up to Data Dimensions. It’s hard not to applaud a Janesville company that makes the list of our nation’s top 100 job creators and ranks No. 2 in Wisconsin. According to Inc. magazine’s ratings, the company that specializes in converting paper documents to digital ones added 350 jobs from Jan. 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013. While Data Dimensions also has a facility in Iowa, most job growth came in Janesville. That’s great news for a community still recovering from the loss of General Motors five years ago. Best yet, Data Dimensions Chairman Mark Bush expects the company’s growth pattern to continue. He projects revenues to be at least 50 percent ahead of last year’s. That should bode well for employment in the private, family-owned company.

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