Thumbs up/down for Monday, March 10

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Thumbs up to Scott Snyder. Critics often argue the homeless “made their own beds” through poor personal choices that put them in financial straits and lack the gumption to make something of themselves. Such insensitive comments can be unfair. Scott Snyder is a prime example of a previously homeless man who is working hard to make a living. Snyder became addicted to drugs as a teenager. In 2012, the former carpenter spent time at Janesville’s GIFTS shelter for men. Each day he left the shelter, he borrowed a truck and scoured neighborhoods for scrap metal. Within a few months, he socked away enough money to move out of the shelter, and his efforts have blossomed into a small business, R-Zone salvage. Besides searching Dumpsters, he recycles junk cars and old appliances and steel buildings. Now 52, Snyder has kicked his drug habit with the help of a drug court program and psychotherapy and on April 1 plans to buy a home. GIFTS considers him one of its great success stories. Contact R-Zone salvage at 608-359-4646.

Thumbs up to Friends of Silverwood Park. Silverwood County Park spreads across 300 acres of Dane County next to Rice Lake in the town of Albion. It has been used as a laboratory for agricultural research and to educate students from Edgerton High School and the UW System. The nonprofit friends, however, would like to make it much more. They are partnering with Dane County to create a master plan that might include everything from canoeing and hiking trails to a chicken house and corncribs. The late Irene Silverwood, an Edgerton High School teacher, donated the land that her husband farmed north of Highway 106 and Liguori Road a decade ago. She wanted the land used for ag education. The friends will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Albion Town Hall, 624 Albion Road, Edgerton. They will seek public input on possible park amenities at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 22, at the Edgerton Public Library, 101 Albion St., Edgerton. For more information, visit the friends at silverwoodpark.org.

Thumbs down to resiliency of emerald ash borers. Wouldn’t you know it? As if this dreadful winter isn’t bad enough, those pesky insects, which kill ash trees, are tough enough to survive all this snow and subzero weather. In fact, forest health specialist Bill McNee told Gazette reporter Frank Schultz, ash borers have gained a local foothold. With each adult female laying from 50 to 100 eggs in spring and summer, expect the population to boom. Property owners should treat their trees with insecticide, typically in April or May. Ash trees left unprotected will die. “It’s a matter of not if, but when,” McNee says. Sort of makes you so mad you’d just like to smash one of those buggers with a snow shovel.

Thumbs down to hastiness with legislation. Two Republican senators, Mary Lazich of New Berlin and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, introduced two measures last Monday that were raced through public hearings Wednesday. Senate Bill 654 would codify into Wisconsin law “protection” from disclosure of phony issue ads. SB 655 would lift limitations on the ability of lobbyists to make campaign contributions and allow them to contribute more frequently, Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin explained in an email alert Tuesday. Heck decries both measures as “horrendous.” Whether you agree or not, there should be no debate that this is another deplorable effort to speed legislation into law without reasonable time for public scrutiny. It’s the type of heavy-handedness that occurs too often when one party controls all facets of government.

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