Thumbs Up/Down for Monday, May 12, 2014

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Thumbs up to Duncan Pledger. This viewpoint is a bit self-serving, but it’s also well deserved. Pledger closed the book May 4 on 30 years of outdoor column writing for The Gazette. Duncan’s chronicles often went far beyond fishing and hunting and delved into the wonders of nature and the ecology that supports it. In his last of about 2,000 columns, he returned to some of the ideas in his first, suggesting the outdoors offers physical and mental benefits and helps keep modern man sane. As urban sprawl destroys our countryside, we lose our escape from the pressures of living in a crowded, noisy society. Outdoor experiences, Duncan wrote, “seem to put one’s cares on the back burner for a time and have a way of rejuvenating the spirit, while the fresh air and exercise involved help firm up that sedentary flab that infects many of us city dwellers.” Thanks, as usual, for saying it so well, Duncan, and for enlightening our readers for so many years.

Thumbs up to FamilyWize prescription cards. It’s great to read that the free discount cards, which help uninsured and underinsured residents get needed medicines, will continue to be available through a new 10-year agreement. The United Way Blackhawk Region struck the deal with FamilyWize and the United Way Worldwide. The cards helped needy Blackhawk Region residents save more than $1.8 million the past eight years and $300,000 in 2013 alone. Given that health—along with education and income—is one of the United Way’s building blocks to a good life, this agreement will help ensure that low-income residents don’t gamble with their health by skipping or skimping on medicines to save money for other needs. FamilyWize cards and a list of participating pharmacies are available at the local United Way office, 205 N. Main St., Janesville. Call 608-314-8426 for more information.

Thumbs down to selling alcohol to underage adults. Rock County sheriff’s deputies teamed up with Janesville Mobilizing 4 Change to test retailers April 30. The results were dismal. Too many failed and sold alcohol to underage adults. The six caught in the sting were Lions Quick Mart, 1620 W. Highway 14, Janesville; Footville Mini-Mart, 509 S. Gilbert St., Footville; County Line Beverage, 4141 S. County T, Brodhead; Jakes Mobile, 6501 S. Highway 51, Janesville; Carl’s Shell, 11180 N. Goede Road, Edgerton; and Lucy’s Hideaway, 5847 E. County N, Milton. That’s disappointing, given that only five stores passed the test by denying the sale. Those caught face fines of $452, and sheriff’s personnel will meet with those businesses to educate employees about the seriousness of illegal sales. That shouldn’t even have to happen. Those with licenses to sell can and must keep alcohol out of the hands of underage drinkers. Licensing municipalities should raise questions with these businesses about compliance, as well.

Thumbs up rising Rock County tourism spending. The recession took its toll. It didn’t help that one attraction, tours of Janesville’s General Motors plant, vanished. Tourism spending here fell from $238 million in 2008 to just $159 million at the low-water mark two years later. Still, tourism has been climbing steadily since, and spending reached $192 million in 2013. Christine Rebout and her staff at the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau deserve much credit for spurring growth. Promotional dollars from city room taxes and state grants helped. So did creative leadership at the Rock County Historical Society, the Janesville Performing Arts Center and Rotary Botanical Gardens. Likewise, the band Florida Georgia Line boosted Rock County 4-H Fair attendance in 2013, and Janesville’s first Irish Fest rang cash registers. A state consultant says tourism supported 3,749 jobs in Rock County and wages of $81 million. In a county still in need of more jobs, those numbers are worth applauding.

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