Thumbs Up/Down for Monday, May 5, 2014

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Thumbs up to the South Central Wisconsin Builders Association. The same group that received kudos for plans to build a cover for the stage at Lower Courthouse Park earns praise for its support of local students. This is the seventh year the association has worked with the Janesville School District’s Advanced Construction classes to build a home. Craig and Parker high school students are nearing completion of a 1,742-square-foot ranch home on Wright Road. The association buys the lot, and a member volunteers to serve as general contractor and arrange for vendors and subcontractors to supply advice and donate or discount materials. At the end of each school year, the home is sold and proceeds finance the next year’s home project and go toward scholarships. Student adviser Joe Kruser says the teens gain experience and do most everything short of some electrical, heating and plumbing work. It’s a great way to encourage the next generation of skilled trades workers.

Thumbs down to plastic “microbeads” harming our environment. Did you know tiny beads of plastic are in many cosmetics, body scrubs and even toothpastes? Wastewater treatment plants struggle to filter out these beads, which wind up in surface waters and are showing up in Great Lakes fish. That’s according to a report from Wisconsin Public Radio. Chemistry professor Lorena Rios of UW-Superior has been collecting samples and says fish eat the microbeads, retain them in their stomachs and might even be developing tumors from them. She says humans who eat the fish might absorb the beads, as well. Some Great Lakes states are considering bans on microbeads, the report said, though Wisconsin isn’t one of them. It should be. To their credit, some cosmetics manufacturers are voluntarily phasing out the plastics. Tyson Cook of Clean Wisconsin says microbeads do not biodegrade. He urges people to check labels of toothpaste and body and facial scrubs. Avoid those containing microbeads, polyethylene or polypropylene.

Thumbs up to starting council meetings at 6 p.m. The Janesville City Council agreed last week with an ordinance amendment proposed by new council President DuWayne Severson and Councilman Matt Kealy. Yes, The Gazette sought the change from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. years ago when this newspaper switched to morning delivery. The move will allow our reporters to cover more of the meetings and report results to residents in a timelier manner. But the earlier start time also should make it easier for residents and staff because meetings won’t drag so late into evenings.

Thumbs up to UW-Whitewater students “making a difference.” For a decade, UW-Whitewater students have been volunteering around the university’s host city during the annual nationwide Make A Difference Day. This year, about 200 students also spread their good deeds to Janesville, serving here a day ahead of their Whitewater work stints. They helped local volunteers and city staffers tackle large-scale projects that needed many hands—grooming terraces in older neighborhoods, picking up Ice Age Trail litter and painting fences and sprucing up Dawson Ball Fields. Kyle George of BMO Harris Bank chairs Downtown Development Alliance events and told The Gazette the student volunteers did Janesville a big favor. “It’s a huge impact not just on the downtown but everywhere,” he said. We’d love to see UW-W students spread their goodwill this way each year and more local volunteers join them, as well.

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