Thumbs up/down for Monday, Jan. 13, 2014
Thumbs up to Jeff Helgesen’s construction plans. A decade from now when we look back on how Janesville recovered from the Great Recession, Helgesen will be seen as a key shaker whose investments helped move us forward. When General Motors closed its local factory, Helgesen found himself the owner of an empty 700,000-square-foot building that previously housed GM suppliers. He sunk $3 million into renovations, found Miniature Precision Components and Deere & Co. to fill it and now has sold it for $24 million. He will use proceeds to build three new buildings across Beloit Avenue from the Helgesen Industrial Center. A 300,000-square-foot building will have a flexible interior to accommodate tenants needing from 50,000 to 200,000 square feet. Another will be 225,000 square feet for a single tenant. Helgesen is optimistic he can fill them. The third, 65,000 square feet, will house Helgesen Development’s field operations. Helgesen also will double his 110-square-foot building at 505 S. Wuthering Hills Drive to give tenant Cummings Emissions Solutions more space. All are solid signs of progress.
Thumbs up to raising money for homeless vets. Four Janesville men plan to compete in a 24-hour, 64-mile endurance race Saturday through the rugged Kettle Moraine State Forest Northern Unit. It’s not a relay race; each hopes to complete all 64 miles. Fewer than 10 percent typically finish the trek, and these men hope to raise $4,000 for the local Housing 4 Our Vets program at Rock Valley Community Programs. Joel Galvan, Derrick Farris and Dick King are Marines, and Tony Estrada’s dad is a retired Air Force officer. The four have been training for the Frozen Otter Ultra Trek and want to help fellow soldiers who too often wind up homeless due to addictions, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Besides the money they raise, their efforts will help boost awareness of the ongoing need. To donate to their efforts, go to gofundme.com/51v3cg.
Thumbs down to allowing electronic cigarettes in workplaces. The state banned smoking in restaurants, bars and other public places 3½ years ago. That made workplaces much healthier. Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, has authored Senate Bill 440 to ensure electronic cigarettes stay exempt from that ban. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he was concerned about “busybody public health” officials and interest groups who might restrict e-cigarettes like New York City recently did. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, whose district includes Johnson Creek Enterprises, supports the bill. The company purportedly is the largest maker of liquids used in e-cigarettes, which use heating coils to turn nicotine-laced liquid into vapor. Fitzgerald said e-cigarettes help people halt tobacco use. But Maureen Busalacchi of Health First Wisconsin said it’s hard to know how dangerous the carcinogens in unregulated e-cigarettes might be, that e-cigarettes will entice children to smoke and that other methods for kicking tobacco habits are proven. Besides, imagine the potential for conflict when customers see someone puffing away on an e-cigarette.
Thumbs up to safe disposal of prescriptions. A record amount of prescription drugs were collected and safely disposed of in Rock County in 2013, Janesville Mobilizing 4 Change reports. That, as the organization suggests, is great news. Nearly 5,000 pounds were collected through seven permanent drop boxes and drug round-ups around the county. Safe disposal keeps these chemicals from seeping into our water supply and out of the hands of addicts and youngsters who might steal them. Authorities say many heroin addicts started out by abusing prescription drugs. Drop boxes are at the Janesville Police Department, 100 N. Jackson St.; Janesville’s Mercy Health Mall and Mercy Clinic East; and the Milton, Edgerton, Evansville and Beloit police departments.