Thumbs Up/Down for Monday, June 9, 2014

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Thumbs up to United Alloy’s expansion plans. It’s great to see the Janesville company’s 112,500-square-foot expansion off Kennedy Road. United Alloy employs more than 100 and is shifting directions from projects to products. It had been a regional fabricator of complex welds. Led by new President and CEO Stephan Achs, it plans to compete nationally and internationally in the power equipment, construction and agriculture industries. The expansion will double production space and could grow employment 30 percent within three to five years. United Alloy joins companies such as Data Dimensions, Seneca Foods, Goex and SHINE Medical Technologies that are growing or planning to bring jobs here. Rather than hold out hope for a return of the auto industry, residents should applaud these companies that are helping Janesville and Rock County build a more diversified and stable economy.

Thumbs up to Walworth County’s sensitive crimes initiative. The countywide effort gets the district attorney’s office, law enforcement agencies, schools and health and children’s advocates using the same rulebook. They use identical procedures and standards to report and investigate sensitive crimes. These involve children who become victims of assaults and abuse, but also vulnerable adults and the elderly, as well as adult victims of domestic abuse and violence. Agencies have been following the protocols for about two decades, but they gather to sign new protocols about every five years to keep up with changing laws. The latest update occurred May 29. Two key changes make school districts mandatory reporters and, with the proliferation of heroin, add drug-endangered children to the protocol. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch attended the ceremony and rightly called Walworth County’s practices and cooperation “a beacon throughout the state.”

Thumbs down to farmers who ignore phosphorus runoff. A new study by the USDA Agricultural Research Service and UW Marshfield Agricultural Research Station, both in Marshfield, suggests manure management and changes in dairy heifer diets could reduce runoff that harms surface waters. Nitrates from manure can also degrade groundwater. Researchers say phosphorus in runoff encourages algae growth that hurts fish and hinders recreational uses of lakes and rivers. If farmers monitor phosphorus content in soil, they can avoid applying too much manure, which doesn’t help crops and leads to pollution. Also, changes in heifer diets can produce manure with lower phosphorus content. The good news, researchers told the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, is that many farmers, including large farms required to follow nutrient management plans, already use practices recommended in the study.

Thumbs up to Brian and Annie Dudgeon. Brian’s health problems led to amputation of both legs, but that didn’t stop this Edgerton couple from raising money and planning a new disc golf course at Racetrack Park. They used social media to raise $2,800 in sponsor donations last year. That paid for baskets and signs marking the nine holes. Edgerton’s parks and recreation committee and city council approved their plans. The Dudgeons also donated equipment to the middle school. Kids use this to practice, and the school shuttles students to the course as part of its physical education program. Alderman Mark Wellnitz deserves credit, as well, for pushing the course as a creative use for the park’s hilly, oak-filled south end. Why not check it out and get a little exercise and enjoy nature while you play?

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