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Education
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Parker assistant coach remembered as a Viking 'through and through'

JANESVILLE

Few people will dispute that Mike “Bruny” Brunhoefer was a Parker Viking to his core.

Brunhoefer spent his teen years at the newly constructed Parker High School, graduating in 1973. When it came time to pick a career, he stuck to his roots, returning to the school as a longtime coach and maintenance worker.

He spent nearly 30 years with the Parker girls basketball program. He also coached softball and football.

Brunhoefer died June 5 at age 63 after a battle with cancer, but his impact on Janesville can still be felt, co-workers say.

Former girls basketball head coach Tom Klawitter asked Brunhoefer to join his staff after seeing him work at the scorer’s table.

“When I became the head coach, one of the first things I wanted to do was get Mike on my staff,” Klawitter said. “I immediately went to him because he is so amazing with kids. He loved working with the girls, and that’s what made him such a good coach.”

Brunhoefer looked out for all players, Klawitter said, and he worked closely with the girls who weren’t in the starting lineup.

“He took care of the underdogs on the team, and he was always there to help and bring up the kids that weren’t stars at the time. He was their advocate and always found reasons for those kids to get an opportunity,” Klawitter said.

Brunhoefer was the ideal assistant coach, Klawitter and former Athletic Director Steve Schroeder said.

“He was a very loyal assistant coach. He always had my back, and he had the girls’ backs, too,” Klawitter said. “It’s just one of those things that is hard to really even put into words, but he really cared about them.”

Schroeder saw the compassion, too.

“Bruny melded very well both with the girls and the coaching staff,” he said. “I think the biggest thing was that he was an excellent liaison between Klawitter and the players. He honestly would have coached for free because he loved the kids so much.”

He was just as committed to his work as a custodian and maintenance worker.

When an athletic field needed to be prepared at the last minute or something needed doing, Brunhoefer was the one people called.

“I knew he was somebody that I could go to when I needed something done right,” Schroeder said.

He recalled when a junior varsity baseball game couldn’t begin because the field needed work.

“I called Bruny, and he drove straight to the field and dragged the infield and sprayed the baselines,” Schroeder said. “He didn’t complain. He truly wanted that game to take place for those kids.”

One of Brunhoefer’s biggest projects at Parker was the light show that dramatized the player introductions before basketball games.

Schroeder said Brunhoefer worked diligently to make Parker’s intros different from those at other schools. Parker was one of the first area schools to have a pregame production, and the assistant coach spent hours every game day to ensure that everything was ready.

After coaching at Parker, Brunhoefer coached girls basketball at numerous other schools, including Milton, where he worked with Craig head coach Kerry Storbakken.

“The guy has a huge heart, and his passion just rubs off on others. Sometimes as a head coach you have to make decisions that the kids don’t agree with, but Bruny could always cheer them up and make them happy. They adored him,” Storbakken said.

Klawitter also remembers Brunhoefer as a selfless man.

“He didn’t want any thanks or praise. He was such a giving guy, and he never wanted anything in return. He just wanted to help other people,” Klawitter said. “He was a humble man, and he gave a lot of people many laughs and good times.”

That make-a-difference attitude will continue to be felt by the people whose lives he touched, Schroeder said.

“We lost a true Parker Viking,” he said. “Bruny was diehard Parker, and he wanted to make the kids successful both in basketball and after basketball. We miss him already. He was a Viking through and through, and it showed in everything that he did.”


Angela Major 

Karen Gilbank, left, and her husband, David Gilbank, right, sit with Carol Ohls, center, who is visiting from California on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, during Pork Fest at the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds in Janesville.


180614_DEATHLIST

Robert V. Affeldt

Albert “Al” Brovick Jr.

Robert J. Barwick

Robert G. “Bob” Heimerl, D.D.S.

Geraldine “Gerry” Quaerna

Roger O. Runaas

Edward Emil Stephan


Government
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Survey of council members suggests city is open to residential TIF deals

JANESVILLE

If a project helps address Janesville’s housing shortage, and if the financial details make sense, city council members said they’re open to using tax increment financing to subsidize residential development.

They stressed the council must unravel those ifs before approving any deal. But using TIF incentives for housing—something the city hasn’t done in nearly two decades—could become the new normal for Janesville if it wants to boost its housing stock.

Last week, the city and Forward Janesville co-sponsored a housing forum where two outside developers suggested tax increment financing was essential if Janesville wanted more residential projects.

Several council members attended the forum. They learned more about a tactic that hasn’t been used here for housing development since the Marshall Apartments in 1999.

“It would be a major policy shift for the city and city council to investigate that,” Council President Doug Marklein said Wednesday. “But based on the realities of the marketplace, what we heard at the meeting from two outside people, that is becoming the norm now. That’s what cities are doing to make the economics work, to fill the gap.”

Marklein is a partner at a family homebuilder business. He sees the issue from both sides: the struggle to make money in a market with relatively low rents and the city’s limited ability to provide assistance.

His business is interested in constructing a 12-unit apartment building, but right now it’s not financially feasible. Marklein fears he wouldn’t see a return on his investment because Janesville rents are too low, he said.

Higher rents would attract developers, but it could make housing unaffordable to some city residents. If rents stay the same, developers might need municipal dollars to cover construction costs. Otherwise, they might not bother building here, he said.

Marklein and other council members who spoke to The Gazette said they were willing to consider TIF incentives for residential purposes. They lean toward reserving those funds for multi-family developments rather than single-family homes.

Tax increment financing has become more common in Wisconsin because it’s one of the few development tools municipalities can use under state law, said David Callender, communications director for Wisconsin Policy Forum.

Successful TIF deals also help generate more property tax revenue. State-imposed levy limits otherwise restrict a community’s ability to enlarge its tax base, Callender said.

Council members were interested in seeing multi-family developments that cater to a variety of income levels. But market forces would have to drive that, not city policy, they said.

Assistant to the City Manager Maggie Darr agreed, saying it was not the city’s job to tell developers where they should set their rental rates.

For Section 8 housing and other projects that receive federal funds, the city could include some sort of requirement for low-income units. But such influence would not extend to all types of housing, she said.

Besides tax increment financing, Janesville could also revive an old program that helped cover such infrastructure costs as curb and gutter installation, Darr and other council members suggested.

But TIF incentives could make a significant dent in a tight housing market where rental vacancies hover around 2 percent.

Council member Tom Wolfe said if the terms of a TIF package are mutually beneficial, they could help stimulate far more development than curb and gutter coverage could.

Though many cities could use more housing, Wolfe said Janesville must also deal with a possible influx of jobs as the former General Motors site undergoes redevelopment.

That makes the housing shortage even more pressing.

“I think we have to have several hundred units before the GM development even starts. We have to be ahead of the curve in terms of the housing market,” he said. “We’re not going to get there under current terms, so something needs to change. What that is, I guess, remains to be seen.”


Antarctica's ice sheet is melting 3 times faster than before

WASHINGTON

The melting of Antarctica is accelerating at an alarming rate, with about 3 trillion tons of ice disappearing since 1992, an international team of ice experts said in a new study.

In the last quarter century, the southern-most continent’s ice sheet—a key indicator of climate change—melted into enough water to cover Texas to a depth of nearly 13 feet, scientists calculated. All that water made global oceans rise about three-tenths of an inch.

From 1992 to 2011, Antarctica lost nearly 84 billion tons of ice a year. From 2012 to 2017, the melt rate increased to more than 241 billion tons a year, according to the study Wednesday in the journal Nature.

“I think we should be worried. That doesn’t mean we should be desperate,” said University of California, Irvine’s Isabella Velicogna, one of 88 co-authors. “Things are happening. They are happening faster than we expected.”

Part of West Antarctica, where most of the melting occurred, “is in a state of collapse,” said co-author Ian Joughin of the University of Washington.

The study is the second of assessments planned every several years by a team of scientists working with NASA and the European Space Agency. Their mission is to produce the most comprehensive look at what’s happening to the world’s vulnerable ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.

Outside experts praised the work as authoritative.

Unlike single-measurement studies, this team looks at ice loss in 24 different ways using 10 to 15 satellites, as well as ground and air measurements and computer simulations, said lead author Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds in England.

It’s possible that Antarctica alone can add about half a foot to sea level rise by the end of the century, Shepherd said. Seas also rise from melting land glaciers elsewhere, Greenland’s dwindling ice sheet and the fact that warmer water expands.

“Under natural conditions we don’t expect the ice sheet to lose ice at all,” Shepherd said. “There are no other plausible signals to be driving this other than climate change.”

Shepherd cautioned that this is not a formal study that determines human fingerprints on climate events.

Forces “that are driving these changes are not going to get any better in a warming climate,” said University of Colorado ice scientist Waleed Abdalati, a former NASA chief scientist who wasn’t part of the study team.

In Antarctica, it is mostly warmer water causing the melt. The water nibbles at the floating edges of ice sheets from below. Warming of the southern ocean is connected to shifting winds, which are connected to global warming from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, Shepherd said.

More than 70 percent of the recent melt is in West Antarctica.

The latest figures show East Antarctica is losing relatively little ice a year—about 31 tons—since 2012. It was gaining ice before 2012.

So far scientists are not comfortable saying the trend in East Antarctica will continue. It is likely natural variability, not climate change, and East Antarctica is probably going to be stable for a couple decades, said study co-author Joughin.

Another study in Nature on Wednesday found that East Antarctic ice sheet didn’t retreat significantly 2 million to 5 million years ago when heat-trapping carbon dioxide levels were similar to what they are now.