From “Super Steel trains new welders” — Milwaukee manufacturer Super Steel LLC has recruited and trained its first class of new employees through a partnership with Milwaukee Area Technical College and Wauwatosa staffing firm Aerotek.

The program aims to hire and train 45 new welders over nine weeks. Aerotek recruits the candidates with the right skill sets and MATC provides the training facilities. Bill Peterson, trainer and weld engineer at Super Steel, runs a one-week intensive course at MATC to get the candidates to entry level.

Since Super Steel engineers, fabricates, assembles and paints large metal structures like trains, construction equipment and agricultural machines, it can be difficult to find employees who have the right experience, he said.

“To be a candidate for this program, you have to have gone through some schooling,” Peterson said. “These people are past the point where they know they want to be welders.”

Joe Rouse, plant manager, said heightened demand for agriculture and locomotive equipment has kept Super Steel busy and hiring for the last two years.

They haven’t been able to hire enough welders to catch up with the order backlog, Rouse said. Super Steel has experienced 50 percent sales growth in the last two years.
“We have so much volume,” he said. “We’re in serious growth mode.”

Last year, Peterson tested and trained more than 200 welders. The company now has about 400 employees.

The company hopes the training program can help get welders to the needed entry level certification, AWSD 1.1, 1.3, and hit the ground running to fill orders.

“When they get through with the training program at MATC, they are going to be able to walk into our facility and start welding,” Peterson said.

New Super Steel welders who started last week said the program gave them the leg up they needed to get the job.

“It was a learning experience to work with (Peterson) because most of us have a little bit of the welding experience” but needed to learn more, said new welder Anthony Mendoza-Perry.

From “MSTC creates new mobile app development program” —  Software developers in central Wisconsin soon will be able to learn how to create mobile apps, thanks to a new program through Mid-State Technical College.

Starting in the fall, Mid-State will offer a 10-credit advanced technical certificate for developing mobile applications for Android devices, said Sean Stilson, associate dean for business and information technology.

“We always try to stay in tune with what’s happening in industry, so we looked at our curriculum we currently have in programming,” Stilson said.

The three-course program is designed to complement a software development degree and is open to anyone with such a degree or equivalent experience, Stilson said. The program is one of several changes the college made after reviewing the results of a recent survey of local businesses.

“They’re based largely on employer input,” he said.

Although an increasing number of central Wisconsin businesses are looking to create their own mobile apps, they are at different stages in the game when it comes to developing the technology, said Tim Krause, an assistant professor of computing and new technology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

“Even if they want to do mobile, they don’t have people in house who have quite the skill set,” said Krause, who helped to develop the MSTC curriculum and likely will be teaching two of the three courses for the certificate.

“There are some really exciting, compelling opportunities when you think about the job market in the state of Wisconsin in general because it’s an area where there are jobs available,” he said.

As part of the third and final course of the program, which will be available starting next spring, students will get matched up with local employers to help develop mobile apps as a capstone project, Krause said.

With an increasing number of people using smart phones and other mobile devices, the prevalence of mobile apps has increased dramatically during the past few years, and businesses are hoping to capitalize on that, Krause said.

“As quickly as PCs and desktops were adopted and as stunning as that was, the pace with mobile is more stunning than that,” he said.

Given the increasing desire from employers to create mobile apps, Stilson encouraged software developers to enroll in the certificate program.

For some industries, such as the health care and insurance sectors, which are on the forefront of mobile application technology, the possibilities are almost limitless, Krause said.

“The biggest opportunities are not things that we’re going to directly see as consumers,” he said, noting companies can use mobile apps internally to share data with co-workers who do not have a home office.

From “WITC students to volunteer in Guatemala” — In one of the poorest districts in Guatemala, there is a small school of about 70 elementary, middle and high school students. Of the 15 computers the school owns, only 10 are operable, but five technical college students are hoping to make a difference.

As part of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College’s first international service learning project, five informational technology-network specialist students and two staff members will travel to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, where they will repair and configure the school’s computers, configure donated laptops and teach computer and software skills to the students and staff. The project is in cooperation with IRFE Volunteers Abroad, and the group has received two grants to help fund the project.

“I’ve always been interested in service learning, and I even considered going on missionary trips with my church,” said Pat McCullough, project coordinator and WITC-Ashland network technician. “I was very pleased to be able to find a project where students could use the skills and knowledge that they learned at WITC.”

The group will leave the day after graduation, May 12, and will remain in Guatemala until May 21. That gives the students just weeks to raise additional funds, collect donations for the school and brush up on their Spanish language skills. They also need to build a curriculum of sorts.

“I’ve been practicing with all the Word applications – it’s very interesting that that’s what they (the school) seemed most interested, including photo applications like PhotoShop,” said WITC’s Dan Schmidt, New Richmond, in anticipation of the service trip to Guatemala. “I’ve also done some research on the culture and country to familiarize myself. I enjoy international travel and look at this as a leadership opportunity and a way to gain experience in the field. I’m looking forward to teaching, as I may pursue that as a career.”

Brian Carlson, Carl Haughn, Jacob Koval and Dan Nourse, IT students from the Ashland Campus, will join Schmidt, McCullough and WITC-Ashland instructor, Paul Gordon.

WITC introduced the international service learning initiative this year, allowing staff to compete for a grant to help fund a project that complements student learning abroad.

“This represents a new direction for us,” says Lenore Knock, dean of students at WITC-New Richmond. “Now we’re starting to share our students’ learning and skills with countries that don’t have access to the level of higher education we have in the US. Plus we can make a sustainable difference because we’re teaching and not just fixing. In addition because of our students’ ongoing commitment to service, WITC Student Senate district-wide has voted to support this initiative both financially and with materials and tools.”

“Some of the students from our area have not had the opportunity to travel,” McCullough said. “This will expose students to a different culture and lifestyle. And it might just cause us to look at things differently, make us more aware of people who don’t have all the benefits we have in the United States.”

The students are accepting donations of cash and school supplies. WITC has donated 12 used and reconfigured laptops to the school. Individuals wishing to donate should contact McCullough at 715.682.4591, ext. 3203.

From “Blackhawk Tech’s Aircraft Maintenance Technician Program receives Civil Air Patrol Awards” — At the Wisconsin Wing Civil Air Patrol’s annual Wing Conference in Waukesha, Blackhawk Technical College’s revered Aviation Maintenance Technician Program was recognized for its significant, long-term contributions to the aerospace field with the prestigious Frank G. Brewer – Civil Air Patrol Memorial Aerospace Award by the Wisconsin Wing and the Great Lakes Region of the Civil Air Patrol.

Patrick Ripp, one of Blackhawk’s three instructors, accepted the awards from Major General Charles L. Carr, Jr., Civil Air Patrol National Commander, Colonel Robert Karton, Great Lakes Region Commander, and Colonel Clarence Peters, Commander, Wisconsin Wing.

As a result of these awards, Blackhawk’s AMT program is under consideration by the Civil Air Patrol’s National Aerospace Education Review Committee, which includes members of the Brewer family, for the National Award.   Civil Air Patrol consists of six wings in the Great Lakes Region, with a total of 52 wings comprising the eight regions of the national organization.

The Brewer award is presented by CAP in commemoration of Frank G. Brewer, Sr., and his lifelong interest in aviation, youth and education to individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the aerospace field over a continuous period.  Blackhawk Tech’s AMT program has been operational for more than 70 years and certificated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) since 1949.  Current instructor Rick Theis has been at Blackhawk for 20 years, Pat Ripp for 15, and Mario Flores for 12 years.

Two graduates, including Archie Henklemann and Richard Wixom, have been inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame.  Visitors to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh see the ‘Wright Flyer’ replica on display.  This replica was built by Blackhawk students under the direction of then Blackhawk AMT chief instructor, Archie Henklemann of Janesville.

Other graduates have gone on to become engineers, pilots, or managers/directors of maintenance at EAA, Air Tran, Midwest Express, and US Airways; work at NASA and the Smithsonian; own and operate aviation and aviation maintenance companies, and become restoration specialties for the EAA, Blackhawk airways, and Tab-Air.

The citation which accompanied Blackhawk’s nomination for the Brewer Award read in part, “Blackhawk Technical College’s Airframes and Power Plants Mechanics program has made and continues to make significant contributions to the aerospace field by providing invaluable aerospace education to the State of Wisconsin and the nation.”

From “WITC set to add new programs” — With the addition of health information technology and medical office specialist, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College continues its commitment to providing career-focused training.

Employment opportunities in the health care industry are projected to grow faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That remains true despite the sluggish economy and job losses in other sectors. As a result, WITC will begin offering health information technology (HIT) at each of its four campuses.

“People who prefer to be ‘behind the scenes’ will be more interested in the health information technology program,” said Kate Siegler, dean of allied health. “They will be able to code records for reimbursement, research and statistics and gather health information for multiple purposes. This is a growing career with a wide variety of opportunities.”

Career paths for graduates of this associate degree include work as a health information technician, reimbursement coordinator, privacy and/or security officer, and data quality and integrity monitor.

A medical coding specialist diploma will be embedded into the HIT program. This will allow students to earn a diploma after one year and enter the workforce while they continue the final year of the program to earn the associate degree. The program is also ideal for those currently working in medical and clinical offices who would like to advance in the field.

A new Medical Office Specialist program will also be offered at all the WITC campuses as well. This technical diploma combines medical office skills with computer skills to prepare graduates of the program for employment on the administrative side of health care working in physician’s offices, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and other health organizations.

“This program is a good option for people who are looking at the medical field, but want to work in an office or customer service capacity rather than in a lab,” says Leslie Bleskachek WITC academic dean, business division.

Graduates of this program can grow their technical diploma into the medical administrative specialist associate degree offered through WITC’s New Richmond and Rice Lake campuses. The medical office specialist technical diploma combines medical office skills with computer skills to prepare graduates for employment on the administrative side of health care working in physician’s offices, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and other health organizations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment related to this field is expected to increase by 11 percent through 2018.

For more in-depth information, contact a WITC Admissions Advisor or visit Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College serves the educational and career needs of more than 25,000 residents of Northwestern Wisconsin each year. With multiple campuses, WITC offers career-focused associate degree programs, technical diplomas, short-term certificates, customized training and a wide array of courses for personal or career enrichment. WITC is a member of Wisconsin Technical College System.

From “Elderly care: Fastest growing job may be hardest to fill” — Wisconsin’s population is growing older, and in the coming years there may be nobody to take care of us.

It’s what Pat Killeen calls a “perfect storm” for the health care industry.

Killeen is the former head of the Gundersen Lutheran Health Plan and now serves as vice chairman of the Coulee Region Long-term Care Workforce Coalition, an organization that has tried to foster training programs and educate the public on long-term care issues.

He’s worried because the fastest-growing occupations in Wisconsin — jobs taking care of the elderly and disabled — are the hardest to fill.

There’s no question that the nation is getting older. Life expectancy continues to rise, the oldest baby boomers are already entering their 60s, and younger people aren’t having as many babies as they used to.

That means by 2035, nearly one in four Wisconsin residents will be 65 or older — more in some rural counties — according to projections from state demographers.

People living longer are more likely to need care for chronic health conditions, which doesn’t just mean more visits to the doctor, but also help with daily tasks like bathing, dressing and housework.

But those same people moving into old age are also leaving the workforce.

Though the majority of people who receive long-term care rely on unpaid help — usually from family or friends — direct care workers, such as home health aides and personal care attendants, are the state’s largest occupational group and some of the fastest growing occupations.

They account for about a third of Wisconsin’s health care workforce and are responsible for about three-quarters of all paid hands-on care, according to a report by the Paraprofessional Health-care Institute.

But long-term care providers say they can’t fill job openings.

An economist will tell you there’s no such thing as a worker shortage. It’s just that the jobs don’t pay enough.

That’s the case at Independent Living Resources, one of several providers serving disabled people in the La Crosse area, which struggles to fill openings for home and personal care workers.

“People don’t get paid well for the type of work they’re doing, and it’s hard work,” said executive director Kathie Knoble-Iverson. “Everything from cleaning floors to cleaning the person.”

The average home health aide in La Crosse earned about $11 an hour last year, according to data from the Department of Workforce Development. A personal care worker made about $9.

At Independent Living Resources, some personal care workers are nursing students getting experience in the field; many are older women supplementing their Social Security benefits.

So why not offer better pay? Because Medicaid, the primary funding source for long-term care, reimburses for personal care services at $16.08 an hour, which providers say doesn’t cover their costs. Rates were last increased in 2008 — by 1.5 percent.

“If we could get a decent raise I’d pass it directly on to our employees,” Knoble-Iverson said.

‘Not a pretty picture’

With funding from a three-year federal grant, Western Technical College is rolling out new programs to recruit students to the health care field.

Beginning this spring, students can enroll in a 40-hour personal care worker training program for about $112 that will provide graduates with a certificate to allow them to start work, and — the college hopes — provide a stepping stone to a career in nursing.

“We want to get people employed and give them a taste of the health care profession,” said Sandra Schultz, coordinator of the Bridges2Healthcare program. “Perhaps they would move onto another field on down the road. It’s all about building new skills.”

But the training requirement is a disincentive for new workers considering an entry-level job.

“You can go work at Best Buy for $10 an hour,” said T.J. Brooks, chairman of the economics department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he teaches a course on the economics of health care. “And they start paying from day one.”

Even with a labor surplus, Brooks said many unemployed workers will wait for the economy to improve to land higher-paying jobs.

“It’s not a pretty picture,” said Jerry Hanoski, chairman of the long-term care coalition. “What do you do when you need a service and it’s not there?”

From “Gateway president serves on 50 boards” — Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht has joined his 50th board.

“I’m supposed to start saying no now,” Albrecht said, laughing.

Gateway announced last week that Albrecht had been appointed chair of the American Association of Community Colleges’ Sustainability Education and Economic Development Task Force. The position, to advance sustainability and environmental curriculum, brings the number of regional, state and national boards Albrecht serves on to 50.

He acknowledged it’s a lot but said they’re all related to Gateway, which means the college isn’t hurt by his attention getting pulled in so many different directions.

“Gateway Technical College does not suffer. I would hope people would see just the opposite,” Albrecht said, explaining he’s always connected to Gateway in person, by iPhone or via iPad. “My role is to be that liaison between our college and our community.”

Because of the myriad boards that boast Albrecht as a member, Gateway has state and national ties, and the college has increased opportunities for grants. Plus Albrecht can bring good ideas back to Gateway and can tailor Gateway’s offerings to meet community needs, he said.

“Everything has a correlation along the way, whether it’s working with early, elementary, middle, high school or adult learners,” he said.

The Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha Board allows Albrecht to support youth who are future Gateway students or whose parents may attend the college. The National Manufacturing Skill Standards Council Board helps Albrecht connect Gateway to new industry advances. Workforce development boards let Albrecht and Gateway help dislocated workers.

And that’s just to name a few.

With all these boards, Albrecht said he doesn’t just lend his name; he actually participates.

“He’s one of my most active board members,” said Wally Graffen, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha. “He brings a lot of enthusiasm. He is not afraid to think outside the box.”

For example, Graffen said, Albrecht helped bring culinary arts, GED classes and dental screenings to a newer Boys & Girls Club location at 1330 52nd St. in Kenosha.

When Albrecht can’t attend a meeting in person — which is bound to happen when you serve on 50 boards — he’ll conference call in or send a Gateway representative in his place. He’ll also read the minutes and offer some comments, he said.

Between his board and college duties, Albrecht said he works 15 to 17 hours a day. When asked how much sleep he gets, Albrecht laughed before replying, “Not enough.”

“There could be an event I would go to every night of the week,” he said, adding he usually has three to five board meetings a week.

His schedule last week showed he had 13 board-related events Monday to Saturday, from meetings to forums and recognitions.

But it’s all by choice and all of the boards are volunteer, Albrecht said.

“I don’t want the article to feel like I’m feeling sorry for myself,” he said. “I choose to lead our college by community engagement.”

From “New partnership between NWTC and Southwest” — GREEN BAY – Area high schoolers will soon have an edge after graduation.

It’s part of a new partnership between Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and Green Bay Southwest High School.

Come next school year, juniors and seniors at Southwest High School will be able to take courses like those offered at NWTC, within the walls of their school.

“It’s really trying to bring training out into the high schools so that students can experience what are the career pathways in the technical areas,” explained NWTC vice president of learning Lori Suddick.

Next school year five courses will be offered through NWTC, including welding and graphic technology.

The classes will be taught by Southwest staff.

NWTC will provide the training.

The partnership has been in the works for more than a year.

It was approved by the Green Bay school board Monday.

Already, school officials say students are showing interest.

“There are a lot of kids who are starting to talk about it, I think the word is really now starting to travel,” said Southwest High School principal Rod Bohm. “In fact, I got a couple calls today (Thursday) from parents who are also very excited to know more.”

According to some recent reports, this opportunity couldn’t come at a better time.

Data released this year by the Northeastern Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance says one in four jobs in Wisconsin is in manufacturing.

And almost one out of two companies will find it difficult to find skilled, local talent.

“Employers need skilled workers and they need them quickly,” Suddick said. “So by providing duel credit experience in high school, we can put them through the pipeline into those careers.”

NWTC officials plan to expand the program the following school year.

They expect to add around seven new courses, from engineering to design courses.

District officials say other high school students can participate.

“Travel is always a trouble spot for students when they try to stay at one school and travel to another for courses, but because these fall into a block, that might be possible, for them to stay at their home school and then come over,” explained executive director of learning Kim Pahlow.

If this program goes according to plan, Pahlow hopes it can eventually expand courses to other district high schools.

NWTC officials say this is partnership is a spin-off of another partnership they have with schools in Marinette County.

They’re also currently in talks with Door County schools to start similar programs.

From “MATC training brings Oak Creek programs together” — A training exercise ongoing at Milwaukee Area Technical College provides a pretty good glimpse at what goes on at the Oak Creek campus.

The situation is this: a (fake) person fell out of a tree and had to be hospitalized, which put nursing students to work. After he got out, he got his hair done, got some cosmetic services, saw a dietician. All things taken care of by students in those particular fields.

On his way home, however, he got into a car accident, which was staged Thursday on the west end of the campus, 6665 S. Howell Ave.

Students training to become police officers, firefighters and paramedics responded. The crash required extrication of two mannequins, a car fire that needed extinguishing, CPR and a police investigation.

The person — played ably by a talking mannequin — will later have complications in the hospital and die, necessitating the work of students training in the funeral services field.

The exercise shows how the MATC programs work together and helps build collaboration among disciplines, officials said.

Thursday’s two-hour training also included two Oak Creek paramedics who lent their services and an ambulance.

From “Our view: Jobs more important than politics” — Counting jobs — or the lack of jobs — seems to be a popular Wisconsin pastime these days, perhaps surpassed only for a few months in the fall by avid hunters obsessed with the way we count deer in the woods.

It’s hardly surprising in the midst of a governor recall election that there’s plenty of political spin on the numbers, but they are legitimately at the center of the campaign debate.

Gov. Scott Walker promised to create 250,000 of them during his first term — so far the tally is at 5,900 in the private sector. And let’s not forget that candidate Tom Barrett — who would like to challenge Walker again if he makes it through the Democratic primary — made a lofty promise in 2010 that he would help create 180,000 jobs.

Predictably Walker’s campaign is focused on the fact that our state’s overall unemployment rate continues to fall and there were 17,000 jobs created in January and February. But the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs from March 2011 to March 2012, the worst in the country. By far.

Clearly this topic will receive much more attention as the governor’s recall election heats up. But the solution is neither partisan nor magical — it will require everyone’s focus in both the public and private sector. It’s unfortunate that the Legislature did not focus more on the economy and jobs in a special session last fall called by the governor for that very purpose and during the recently concluded spring session.

We need more innovative programs like Wisconsin Workers Win, a new law passed last year that will allow potential workers to continue to collect unemployment benefits for up to six weeks while they are enrolled in job-training programs. A pilot program is being launched in southeastern Wisconsin that also would pay trainees $75 a week during the period to help with additional costs.

We need more collaboration with our technical colleges to better match training with careers that are in demand. That’s difficult to do when we’ve cut $71 million from the state’s technical colleges. Western Technical College has a waiting list of students wanting to get into the welding programs. Local companies need more welders, which are better- than-average paying jobs.

We need to eliminate the skills gap for other jobs that prevents the long-term unemployed from being chronically unemployed as the labor market continues to adapt and change to the new economy.

We need to find a better way to prepare high school students for pathways into either technical training or higher education by forging stronger business and college partnerships. The days of high school graduates landing high-paying jobs without more skills or education are over.

Promises from politicians to create jobs are worth the hot air they’re built upon. We’re bound to hear plenty more hyper-partisan rhetoric about jobs through the recall election and, unfortunately, beyond as we head into the fall elections.

We can hope then to remove the politics and get to work putting Wisconsin back to work.

From “Local caramel company signs deal with Williams-Sonoma” — Beginning this fall, high-end gourmet giant Williams-Sonoma will feature a local company’s wares in its catalog and online offerings.

Salted gingerbread and cinnamon apple crisp are just two of the caramel flavors that will be included in a series of seasonal collections and variety boxes, all bearing the name of Pewaukee’s Becky’s Blissful Bakery.

The journey began when Rebecca Scarberry, owner of Becky’s and recipient of the Business Journal’s 2012 Forty Under 40 Award, Googled Williams-Sonoma and found the name of the buyer she needed to contact. Once she obtained that information, she sent him a spec sheet, along with samples of all of her caramels. The rest, as they say, is history.

“It was almost 7 o’clock at night when I got the phone call from their buyer,” Scarberry recalls. “He opened the conversation by telling me that they were the best caramels he’d ever tried in his life. He also told me they were the cleanest product he’d ever seen – no extracts, no emulsifiers and no preservatives. And then he asked me how I knew Todd.”

As it turns out, the buyer from Williams-Sonoma was a college roommate of Todd Wickstrom, co-owner of Rishi Tea and one of Becky’s Blissful Bakery’s local vendors.

Partnering with local companies has always been a large part of Scarberry’s business model. With an emphasis on high-quality, organic products, her caramels incorporate offerings from Lakefront Brewery, Rishi Tea and Stone Creek Coffee, in addition to Clover Meadow Winery, the only certified organic winery in the state of Wisconsin.

“When I first started my business I always said, ‘If I get into Sendik’s Fine Foods, then I’ve made it.’ Then it was, ‘If I can make it into Whole Foods, I’ve made it.’ And after that, ‘If I can just make it into Williams-Sonoma …’ so I don’t know where else I’m going at this point, but I really like it.”

But, lest you get the idea that Scarberry’s business has always traveled a fairytale path, it’s useful to take a look back at her humble beginnings.

Rebecca Scarberry was seven months pregnant when she moved to Wisconsin with her now-ex-husband, after spending 10 years living in Arizona. During her first winter in the state, she spent the bulk of her time baking.

“I grew up in the kitchen with my grandma. I felt comfort in the making and baking. I don’t cook much, but I love to make anything with sugar. Cookies, cakes, bars, candy, you name it. When I was pregnant with my son I shifted over to making everything with organic products.”

In 2007, the manager at Good Harvest Market in Pewaukee offered to sell her organic caramels in the store. Subsequently, she met a woman at church who had just purchased a candy shop in Waukesha, and they allowed her to rent their kitchen by the hour.

Her hobby business continued through December of 2008, when Scarberry hit bottom. In the same week that her divorce was finalized, she lost her job as an executive assistant for an Elm Grove architecture firm. Her world was turned on end.

But, rather than sitting home over the holidays feeling sorry for herself, she turned to her kitchen stove and cooked up a caramel business.

As a first step, she rented a kiosk at Southridge Mall and sold caramels during the weekend before Christmas. The next season, she started selling at the Fox Point farmer’s market. That’s where she met Deb Deacon, and subsequently journalist Karen Herzog. Herzog was impressed with Becky’s story, and ran a piece featuring her business over Thanksgiving weekend.

The publicity threw Scarberry’s business into full swing. But then, as luck would have it, she was offered a full-time job. As a single mom, it seemed like a no-brainer to simply take the job, so she did.

But, after three months of work, Scarberry realized that she would regret it for the rest of her life if she didn’t move forward with her caramel business.

Scarberry attended a quick-start business workshop at the Waukesha County Technical College Small Business Center. She employed a WCTC student, Brianna Dederich, to design her brochures and labels. And then she began ramping up production.

When circumstances required that she move out of her current commercial kitchen, Scarberry realized that she had to make some serious decisions about her business. She had just used up all of her capital purchasing a $9,000 cooker, and didn’t know how or where she could afford to move. Fortunately, she met Pewaukee resident-turned-developer Bob Zimmerman, who had just put his money into rehabilitating the village well house at 214 Oakton Ave. in Pewaukee.

With a new roof and other repairs, Zimmerman gave the 1929 “Water Works” building a new life. He also threw Scarberry a life-line when he helped her acquire the building to house her business.

Although she had a new space, Scarberry still needed to ensure that her new digs were up to code for food production. Since banks still weren’t handing out loans, let alone to a recent divorcee with a small business, she sold her minivan to pay for the $15,000 build-out for her new kitchen space.

After moving into the well house, Scarberry hit another bump in the road. Her caramels began crystallizing, creating production issues. Some were too soft. Some were too hard. She didn’t know what to do. So, she hired a consultant from the American Association of Candy Technologists, who assisted her in making changes to her recipe and cooking processes to solve the crystallization issues and give her product a nine-month shelf life to boot.

“Hiring the consultant saved me,” Scarberry reflects. “It cost me a lot of money, but it saved me. I wouldn’t be in business had I not taken that step.”

Becky’s Blissful Bakery currently offers 10 flavors of caramels, including original caramels, original with sea salt, dark chocolate with sea salt, cashew, espresso dark chocolate, chai tea, salted beer and pretzel, margarita and sangria. They also produce jarred caramel sauce, and are working on a champagne caramel to push out into the market later this year. Scarberry also hopes to create a new layered marshmallow caramel using organic marshmallows.

With current production exceeding 1,750 four-ounce boxes of caramels per week, Scarberry now employs three full-time staff as well as several part-timers who help out with events. In addition to wholesale and limited retail distribution, she also continues to sell her product at three area farmer’s markets.

“People ask why I still sell product at the farmer’s market,” remarks Scarberry. “I get real-time, true feedback, and I get to stay connected to the community, which is huge. For a small business, once you pull that plug, it changes everything.”

With regard to her recent success, Scarberry attributes it to the support she’s gotten from her partners and individuals in the community, in addition to good old fashioned hard work and good timing.

“Everything happens for a reason,” she says. “The fact that I made it through 2011 is just amazing. Had I reached out to Williams-Sonoma before now, it would definitely have been a ‘no.’ Everything literally happened as it should.”

From “Goals for regional economic growth outlined” — About 300 elected officials, company heads and community leaders from south central Wisconsin were told Wednesday it’s time to stop resting on their laurels, get past any rural-urban conflicts of the past and work as a team if they want to spark the area’s economy in the coming years.

Advance Now, the eight-month project to create a plan to spur economic growth for the eight-county Madison region, presented its recommendations and promised a series of goals that include:

• Increasing the number of businesses by 5.2 percent in the next five years.

• Compiling a list of “shovel-ready” sites for development.

• Matching local company needs with training and education programs.

• Increasing access to capital and developing a regional system to bring innovations to market.

• Closing racial and geographic achievement gaps.

• Increasing the number of minorities in leadership positions.

• Creating a regional brand identity and a national public relations campaign.

In a presentation at the Sheraton Madison Hotel, Mac Holladay, chief executive of Market Street Services, exhorted local leaders to set aside any bickering of the past.

“This is not a partisan politics game,” Holladay said sharply, drawing applause. “It is time for you all to stop yelling at each other and start talking to each other … (or) this place is going to fail.

“The silos need to come down. The boundaries don’t matter.”

Holladay’s Atlanta consultant firm has been working on Advance Now with Thrive, the economic development partnership for Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock and Sauk counties.

Holladay reiterated statistics compiled for Advance Now showing while poverty in the region is low, it is growing faster than in peer regions of Austin, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; and Lincoln, Neb. In addition, per capita income is below the national average.

“You cannot take your past success for granted, because it is slipping away from you already,” he said.

A 119-page report details hundreds of specifics, which also include piloting a network of life sciences entrepreneurs and considering establishing an arts incubator.

Holladay said it’s “going to take a lot of money” to have adequate staff and resources to handle this type of effort. At a reception after the presentation, Holladay estimated costs of $1.5 million to $2 million per year for the next five years.

A strategy of this size generally involves 10 to 20 staff members, said Thrive communications manager Betsy Lundgren. Thrive currently has six full-time employees and two part-time interns.

Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, said the effort may involve hiring someone to boost opportunities for minorities to create “a true region, not one based on fiction but one based in reality.”

The next phase of Advance Now will be to put the recommendations into effect, starting in 2013.

“We’ll proceed with implementing it and tracking it as we go,” Lundgren said.

From “CVTC hosts regional conference focusing on future of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education” — The future of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in Wisconsin was the focus of a regional conference held recently at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC).

“The STEM conference was a wonderful opportunity to bring together representatives from business and industry, higher education, K12 education, and a number of community agencies to assist us as we work with others from across the state to create Wisconsin’s road map for STEM education,” said Dr. Ellen Kirking, CVTC’s vice president for education.  “Through these conversations we were able to generate ideas that will help us as we build this framework.”

The gathering at CVTC was one of six regional conferences held throughout the state.  In her welcoming address to the nearly 90 participants gathered at the Manufacturing Education Center, Ellen said, “Our economy and the quality of life in Wisconsin will grow and thrive through the development and promotion of STEM education and careers.”

Ellen cited statistics from the State Office of Economic Advisors indicating that 10 percent of all jobs in Wisconsin are STEM-related, and that percentage is expected to rise to 20 percent for all new jobs created in the state between now and 2016.

The purpose of the STEM conference at CVTC was four-fold:

  • To build awareness of the value of STEM education as a pathway to economic success.
  • To provide resources and experiences for Wisconsin educators, from pre-kindergarten through college, to develop STEM knowledge and skills.
  • To position STEM education as a valued outcome for all Wisconsin students.
  • To promote STEM skills as an economic advantage for those entering the Wisconsin workforce.

Aliesha Crowe, dean of Energy, Agriculture, and Technology at CVTC, led the K-12 educators during their discussion of STEM issues at the conference.  Her group included administrators, teachers, counselors, and high school career prep staff from school districts throughout the CVTC and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College districts.

Aliesha explained that the Wisconsin Technology Council will compile the ideas and suggestions coming out of the conference at CVTC and the five other regional STEM conferences into a “white paper” that can serve as a guide for a statewide approach to STEM education during the next decade.  This “white paper,” also referred to as a “road map” for the future of STEM education in Wisconsin, is scheduled to be released this fall.

“The people at our conference were excited to contribute to the STEM road map report, and they are very interested in receiving the report when it is completed,” Aliesha said.

“Success in advancing STEM education relies heavily on cooperation amongst those with a vested interest in STEM and a shared knowledge and language of what STEM really means for Wisconsin,” she added.   “I see the road map as a critical step in establishing the partnerships and sharing the knowledge.  In addition, I think the STEM road map report will be very helpful in fostering further development of STEM initiatives at CVTC.”

Aliesha explained that CVTC established a STEM Planning Team in 2010. That team, which includes Student Services and Academic leadership as well as faculty, has been working to increase enrollment in STEM-related programs at the college and to create awareness of STEM education at CVTC and throughout its 11-county district.

“The advancement of STEM education in the state of Wisconsin is not a K-12 issue or a higher education issue, but rather a statewide issue,” Aliesha said.  “The great turnout of K-12, higher education, business and industry, and community representatives at our STEM regional conference clearly indicates the importance of STEM education to west-central and northern Wisconsin.”

Ellen also praised the outcome of the regional conference at CVTC.

“Using our vision for Wisconsin, we can work to overcome myths and misinformation about STEM, give students the foundation they need for their careers, and give employers the talented and qualified workforce their businesses need,” she said.

From “Experts offer advice for job seekers, displaced workers” — New numbers show Wisconsin lost more jobs in the past year than any other state in the country. The state lost 23,900 jobs from March 2011 to March 2012 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.

But it’s not all bad news. During the past two months, the unemployment rate fell in every county in our viewing area but two: Vilas and Forest.

Employment experts told Newsline 9 jobs are out there, you just might need some extra training to land one.

That’s why Terry Olds is hitting the books to land a new job. “Last time I was in high school was 1975 so now coming back to school and doing math, some of that I’ve never had,” he said.

Olds started working at the NewPage mill in Whiting after graduating high school, but he lost that job last year when the mill shut down. “You know, I’ve worked there for 34 years, high school education, you know, ‘what do I do now?,'” he said.

His answer? Go back to school–a choice employment experts say is becoming more common.

“You know you have jobs and you know you have people who need jobs but we need to get people’s skills upgraded,” Tom Younger, manager of the Marathon County Job Center said. “We have so many really good workers who were displaced because of the economy.”

To some of those workers, he recommends getting some specialized training. Olds did. He’s enrolled in a welding program at Northcentral Technical College. School leaders say such specialized training gives graduates an edge.

“We help them gain the skills and knowledge they need to really get a good job now,” Vice President of Student Services for NTC Laurie Borowicz told Newsline 9.

Over at UW-Marathon County, officials say laid-off workers can benefit from getting a degree.

Jim Rosenberg, adult student initiative coordinator for the school said, “If you look at the statistics about unemployment, and also pay ranges coming out of that it really matters to have academic credentials.”

But going back to school can be expensive. School leaders said there are federal programs to help pay for it. Olds qualifies for one of those programs and says this new adventure has given him a second chance.

“Everyone that’s lost their jobs, just keep your head up,” he said.

From “WTC Annual Dumpster Dive” — La Crosse, WI (WXOW)  How much of what’s thrown away could be recycled?  That’s a question Western Technical College officials set out to answer Monday morning.

They call it the annual Dumpster Dive.  It’s one event marking Earth Week on campus.

WTC President Lee Rasch and Vice President of Operations Mike Pieper went into a campus dumpster, looking for recyclables.

Lee Rasch says he hoped to find few recyclables.  Whatever the find, the goal is the same – creating awareness.  They want students to recognize how much of what goes into a dumpster could actually go the recycle bin.

The Dumpster Dive is just one event this week.  To learn more about what WTC is doing to provide education and create awareness about Earth Week, you can go to

From “Home sweet (tiny) home: Fond du Lac family downsizes” — When Peter and Abby Simon decided they wanted to downsize, they weren’t kidding. The young Fond du Lac couple is in the process of building a tiny house and they can’t wait to move in.

Given the state of the current economy, they are among a growing number of Americans with ordinary lives who choose to scale down — way down.

The Simons say the downsizing — from a three bedroom, two-story home to a 300-square foot house — will bring them a sense of contentment. Many others across the country are doing the same.

“It’s about doing more with less. It’s about enjoying people and not things. It is some people’s response to the wasteful ‘McMansion’ trend,” Peter said.

Peter, who is employed as an instruction technology specialist at Moraine Park Technical College, enlisted the help of instructor Don Enders and his building trades construction students. The class is building the tiny house as part of their semester project. A couple of welding students are also assisting.

Enders said he first heard about the movement a few years ago, and is excited to be working on the project. He said the biggest challenge was working without blueprints.

“We sort of did it as we went along. It’s just like building a regular house, the size of the walls are the same, the materials are the same. It’s nice to be able to build a whole house in a few weeks,” he said.

The tiny house trend isn’t new. Sarah Susanka’s 1997 book “The Not so Big House” is credited for first getting people to think smaller when it comes to living accommodations. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, Marianne Cusato developed the Katrina Cottages that start at 308 square feet, as an alternative to FEMA trailers.

In fact, the Simon’s project started with a utility trailer.

“We had to level the trailer first so we jacked up the ends and front to make sure we started out on an even surface,” Peter said. “Then we put six and a half inch carriage bolts through the joists and the bed of the trailer.”

The mobility of the house frees the family from being tied down in one spot.

“We can build this and know that we have shelter wherever we move it. This will open up our property search options. We don’t have to find land with a house already on it,” Peter said.

With a 14-month old son, Elliot, Abby likes the idea of setting an example.

“I don’t like putting an importance on material possessions. Instead, we want to focus on each other and the things we do together,” Abby said.

Because of less storage space, the couple will keep only what they need.

Sometimes owners of tiny houses face zoning issues, Peter said. It all depends on city and state codes.

“As of right now, most tiny houses are treated like RVs, and are hooked up (to utilities) in a similar way,” he said.

The Simons first looked at RVs and campers as an alternative to their large home but Peter said the materials are often flimsy, and cheaply made.

Costs to complete the Simon’s tiny house should run about $14,000.

Whether a family of three can get along in such a small space — time will tell. Peter and Abby view it as a social experiment.

“It is entirely possible that this experiment will fail but we are going to give it our best and I’m fairly confident we can make it work,” he said.

From “Car fixed, gifted to FVTC student” — GRAND CHUTE – What happened when students in Fox Valley Technical College’s Vehicle Refurbishing & Repair Technology Club were donated a car that was totaled in an accident?

They put their skills to the test to not only bring it back to life, but to specially equip it for one of their classmates.

Michael Miller, who is handicapped, is a student at FVTC and one of the leading volunteers for Easter Seals Wisconsin .  It’s a non-profit organization that provides services to people with autism and other disabilities so they can live, learn, work and play in their communities.

The students who repaired that once-totaled vehicle will be donating it to him so he can use it in his service to the Easter Seals, providing transportation for other people with disabilities.

Since Miller himself is handicapped, the students in the Vehicle Refurbishing & Repair Technology Club had to specially equip the vehicle with handicapped-friendly devices.

FOX 11’s Angela Kelly spent Wednesday morning with Miller, the students who created his special vehicle and representatives of Easter Seals Wisconsin to learn more about how all of this came together.

From “FBI warns of Internet doomsday” — Your computer could be infected with a strain of malware without you knowing it. Traffic from computers with the trojan is redirected to malicious websites created by cyber criminals, who made millions of dollars in an online advertising scam.

Network Security Instructor at Madison College (MATC) Mike Masino says the FBI was able to track down the source of the malware, called DNS Changer. Investigators are maintaining the servers until all computers are rid of the malware. “They are gonna shut these machines down, which will stop the criminals from being able to get your information … the flip side is, if you don’t know that you’re infected, from your point of view it just looks like your machine stops working.”

That means infected computers — PCs and Macs — will no longer have access to the Internet on July 9. Masino says users can visit a website to see whether a computer is infected and how to fix it.

The FBI is estimating at least 360,000 machines are still infected in this fairly widespread cyber-attack that had affected almost twice that number. The malware also prevents anti-virus software from being updated, thereby making the computer vulnerable to more attacks.

Masino says you might be inadvertently giving your personal information to the hackers when you unknowingly use your password at a legitimate-looking fake website, as a result of the malware tricking your computer into being redirected away from your intended website. Masino says it’s always a good idea to frequently change your passwords.

The trojan first surfaced in 2007.

From “Entrepreneurs heading to Madison for Startup Weekend” — Have an idea for a software program that will make life easier or an online business you’ve dreamed of?

Tech types and their supporters will gather on Friday for Startup Weekend Madison, a marathon, 54-hour collaboration aimed at turning digital ideas into reality.

The first event of its kind in Wisconsin, Startup Weekend brings together people with different skills and sets them up in teams to create a software projects that are solid enough to form the basis for startup companies.

“We want to foster and encourage people who are doing startup companies and get more people involved,” said Forrest Woolworth, one of the organizers of the event and brand director at Per Blue, a Madison mobile and social gaming software company. “We want to continue to make Madison known as an awesome place to start a company.”

Startup Weekends have been held around the U.S. and worldwide. This weekend, for example, technology buffs in such places at Iceland, Poland, Turkey, Uganda and Australia will stage Startup Weekends.

Nearly 500 Startup Weekends have occurred over the past few years with about 45,000 participants, according to the website for the Seattle-based organization, A grant from the Kauffman Foundation helps support the events.

For Startup Weekend Madison, leaders from UW-Madison, Madison Area Technical College, Edgewood College, Capital Entrepreneurs and Sector67 organized the event, which will run from Friday night through Sunday night at the Madison College-West campus, 302 S. Gammon Road.

“This is a fun, high-energy opportunity to create something new with a team of innovative thinkers, and we’re proud to be bringing it to Wisconsin,” said Lorin Toepper, executive director of Economic and Workforce Development — Southwest Region at Madison College.

Between 100 and 150 people are expected, and about 15 mentors will be there, including lawyers, business development and marketing professionals, Woolworth said.

“The support we got from the community was overwhelming,” he said.

Mayor Paul Soglin said the city’s information technology department has been working with organizers. “Younger startups are now growing to become a cornerstone of the Madison economy,” Soglin said.

Startup Weekend is part of Capital Entrepreneurs Week in Madison, which starts Wednesday and features events such as an entrepreneurs’ boot camp and speakers, including Craig Culver, co-founder and chief executive of the Culver’s restaurant chain.

A program similar to Startup Weekend, 3 Day Startup Madison, will be held the following weekend of May 4-6, and is aimed at commercializing technology by UW-Madison students.

From “MPD officers learn first-hand combat medic skills in realistic tactical training” — 

When Milwaukee police find themselves in a bad situation – a really bad situation – there’s only one way out: and that’s to rely on their training to save victims and each other when a scene is too hot for traditional paramedics.

While police are regularly shouldered with the job of neutralizing a threat, the task of tending to the injured while an active shooter looms in the foreground is both extremely stressful and perilous.

But proper training can make such situations at least more familiar.

That’s where Tactical EMS Training, or TEMS, comes in. For the last several years, a handful of police officers and EMTs have led a week-long seminar at the Waukesha County Technical College to bring law enforcement up to speed on the latest modalities for applying triage care while the bullets are flying.

At the April course, 28 MPD officers and EMTs studied, in classrooms, the Tactical Emergency Casualty Care guidelines for civilian EMS and law enforcement. The development and implementation of this course is taken straight from the pages of the Department of Defense’s requirement to establish mission-specific combat casualty care.

On the final day of the class, they put what they’ve learned to the test in three ultra-realistic scenarios. I was fortunate enough to join them.

Scenario one: “cult house,” with active shooter and an unknown number of wounded

After grilling out for lunch, the tone of officers becomes much more serious as they go through a safety check to make sure their real guns have been replaced by “airsoft” pistols and rifles. The instructors, led by MPD Officer Chad Stiles, literally frisk each and every one of them.

“This training can mean life or death to officers,” says Stiles. “We have taken evidence based military medicine concepts and adapted them for the law enforcement setting to treat injuries that can kill an officer or other victim in 3-5 minutes. Even given the fact that we have one of the best EMS systems in the state, and access to a hospital in less then 10 minutes from anywhere in the city, if the officer can’t get to that definitive care due to an unsafe scene or prolonged extrication time, they will die.”

The group is split up into three teams, and they’re given the rules of engagement: “deadly” force is authorized, but officers must be careful not to hurt the “victims” or the “suspects.” The victims in this scenario are friends and family of the students. The suspects are fellow officers, and they will get shot with pellets.

At 12:10 p.m., the officers switch their police radios to channel one and pile into three vehicles. They have a general idea of what’s about transpire, but they don’t know details.

At 12:20 p.m. Stiles and I drive just off campus to a ranch house donated to the college for these kind of exercises. He puts up a “police training” sign in the driveway, then feigning breathlessness, he relays the situation to dispatch: a loud music complaint at a house with previous issues. Suddenly he yells, “Shots are fired! There’s a male suspect wearing some type of red hoodie!”

As the teams pour onto the scene, the “cult leader” steps outside and begins firing his gun. The officers leap out of their vehicles and begin to advance upon the house; first from behind trees then across the driveway, guns drawn.

Inside the house, it’s a scary scene, and for a moment, I forget that I can walk amongst the action – because, like the instructors, I’m wearing a yellow vest and safety goggles.

It feels like I’m a ghost, actually, taking photos and video with guns pointed in my face. I do my best to stay out of everyone’s way.

It’s dark, and loud music is blaring. A smoke machine makes the carnage hard to discern, but screaming and moaning victims lie strewn throughout. The police apprehend the suspects – the mock cult leader has already committed suicide – and bring the victims out for triage by 12:45 p.m.

During the debriefing, Stiles notes that this group performed the quickest entry of all his classes, and that’s important, because a person can bleed to death in 3-5 minutes. The officers discuss how hard it was to hear each other (in a typical scenario like this, they would’ve killed the music and turned on the lights, but were instructed not to for training purposes). A student also notes that one of the victims in triage had a gun, and they need to ensure they separate the victims from the suspects. The amateur radio volunteers who coordinated the radio response report that they are impressed with the smoothness of the operation.

For me, it all feels more surreal than terrifying. Little do I know how much more intense it is about to get.

Scenario two: officers down at the “fire grounds,” call for backup

This situation is more precarious. When we pull up to the fire tower at 1:20 p.m., sirens are already blaring as bleeding “officers” lie on the ground outside their squad cars. We advance upon the tower and quickly notice that we’re taking fire from the upper floors. I follow one team onto the second level, where we come upon an injured policeman. As the officers consider how to evacuate him, they realize they’re barricaded in.

The next few minutes are tense, and two officers aim their guns at the door, while another calls down for a rope. Eventually, one is tossed up, and two officers make an impromptu pulley to get him down.

The floor is cleared, and we head out of the room and up the stairs, when suddenly, a voice screams, “Bomb! Everybody get the f*ck out!”

A wave of officers come flying past me, and because I feel dumb just standing there, I join them in sprinting down the stairs and out the building to “safety.” During the debriefing, the sargeant explains that he found an improvised explosive device on the top floor. Obviously, the participants didn’t know this was coming, and it made for an interesting wrinkle in an already scary scene.

Scenario three: school shooting with active shooter and multiple victims

Ripped straight from the headlines, this is the most chilling scenario for me because it feels the most real. At 2:15 p.m., the dispatcher announces that a while male, dressed in black, standing at 5 feet, 8 inches, is shooting up a school.

The three teams assemble at an actual school across from campus and enter from the parking garage. They gather up in a diamond formation, hands on each others’ shoulders, so all angles are covered.

It seems like organized chaos as the teams split into two groups to storm the building. They go room to room, finding and treating victims, but also confronting potential armed suspects. What is unexpected is the breakdown in communications as the radios became overloaded in chatter.

“Communications took a header,” Sgt. Walter McCollough says during the recap, and he relied on verbal – and very loud – communication to take over. “Shut up now! Pay attention!” he screams, and people do.

As the police neutralize the threats, they then focus on the victims, first bringing them into a safe room for triage, then carrying them back to the parking garage to stabilize them until the Flight For Life helicopter arrives.

Even though it feels sloppy – and what disaster isn’t – Stiles says he is pleased with what he saw. “Medically, it was good, all three,” he says.

Adds Stiles, “The officers that took this course were able to treat, tactically extricate, triage and prepare for transport and turnover to EMS over 20 critically injured patients in three major mass casualty scenarios all in a hostile environments, and arrest or stop the treat of all the all bad guys in a matter of minutes.

“These officers, who represent many of the districts and units all over the city – many of which have never worked together before this week – were able come together and work as a team to save lives. The scenarios were designed to test the limits of the their past training as they implemented their new training they learned this week … They are heroes who really do risk their lives everyday to keep the citizens of Milwaukee safe.”

And for Officer Christopher Martin, who used personal days to attend this workshop, the seminar was helpful. An officer on the Major Incident Response team at District One since 2004, he says this kind of training saves lives, and it could even save his own.

“You always want to better yourself,” he says.

One of the trainers, Chris Cook, of the Walworth County Sherriff’s Office SWAT Team, would know. While serving in Iraq with the Army National Guard, his vehicle was struck with an IED in 2004 and he had to apply his own tourniquet, barely saving the amputation of his left leg.

“Traditional EMS general comes to a scene when it’s deemed safe, and these guys are already working in an unsafe environment.

“We’re utilizing military medical skills,” says. “Prior to doing any medical care, we’re asking the officers to stop the threat, rescue themselves, injured officers or civilian, and then do these medical skills.”

Before the first scenario I asked Cook if the officers took this seriously. At the end, I know for sure they did.

Says Cook, “We try to make it as real as possible, but the different scenarios, there’s an adrenaline dump going on for sure.

“Statistics show that survivability is increased when care is rendered at that point of wounding. This is akin to a combat zone; a bullet does not know geography. We’re just giving these guys an opportunity to save their life.”

From “The Global Oil Market and How it Affects You” — LA CROSSE – Demand for gas in the United States is down.

But Americans are just one chunk of the global gas market.

That’s according to Dr. Mike Haupert, a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

“This is a commodity that trades around the world, and demand is up in Asia and East Asian Countries,” Haupert said.

Emerging markets like India are demanding more gas, as are economic powers like South Korea and China.

“In these growing economic countries, the populations are growing much faster and the number of people driving automobiles is growing faster,” Haupert said. “There are a lot of people driving cars in China that didn’t a generation ago.”

“That has a huge impact on the demand for oil,” he added.

“We’re just another country in a line of many countries purchasing gasoline,” said economics instructor Cindy Munson, of Western Technical College.

“We’re just going to have to recognize that we’re just like everybody else on the planet,” Munson said. “We don’t have a right to gas.”

So with the Unites States no longer sole heavyweight world oil, are Americans now at the mercy of the market when it comes to gasoline prices?

“You can always take public transportation, ride a moped or buy a small car,” Munson said.

“It’s doesn’t matter that Americans are buying less gasoline,” Haupert countered.

“It’s that the world is buying more oil. If the world buys more oil the price goes up and it doesn’t matter what we do here,” he said.

Haupert added just marginal increases at the pump can still weigh on the average consumer.

“Over a whole year it could cost you several hundreds more dollars to do exactly the same thing you used to do,” Haupert said.

“So that’s the part that gets a lot of people is you’re paying more but you’re not getting anything more. There’s no higher quality, you’re not getting any more miles out of your car,” he said.

From “Area Women Honored by Waukesha County Women & Girls Fund” — Four Waukesha County women will be honored for outstanding volunteerism and community leadership by the Women and Girls Fund of Waukesha County during the 28thAnnual Women of Distinction Luncheon on Tuesday, May 1, at the Country Springs Hotel. The event, the Fund’s largest fundraiser of the year, begins at 11:30 a.m. and will be emceed by Joyce Garbaciak of the WISN-TV news team.

The 2012 honorees and their respective categories are:

Women of Distinction

  • Barbara Prindiville, Oconomowoc, president, Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC), Pewaukee
  • Susan Bellehumeur, Brown Deer, managing director and branch manager, Robert W. Baird & Co., Waukesha
  • Nancy Major, Hales Corners, executive director, Safe Babies Healthy Families, Waukesha

Prindiville has nearly 30 years of leadership and teaching experience in the Wisconsin Technical College System and is respected for her work with area business and education leaders to facilitate increased interaction between technical colleges and communities.

Named president of WCTC in 2006, Prindiville has championed business, industry, education and community collaborations in response to changing needs in adult education and workforce development. Working closely with the Manufacturing Alliance of Waukesha County, Prindiville has positioned WCTC to proactively meet current and future training needs of southeastern Wisconsin’s skilled workforce.

Responding to the needs of adult learners, Prindiville has spearheaded the development of new degree and certificate programs and led efforts to expand articulation agreements with various colleges and universities, allowing students greater ease in transferring WCTC credits toward two- and four- year degrees. An advocate for service-learning, Prindiville has advanced opportunities for WCTC students to integrate meaningful community service and civic responsibility with academic preparation. As a result of her initiatives, WCTC was acknowledged on the U.S. Presidential Higher Education Community Honor Roll for Service Learning in 2009 and 2012.

Prindiville is active in numerous professional and community organizations, including Public Policy Forum, Executive Board for Community Colleges International Development, International Institute of Wisconsin, Waukesha County Business Alliance, WCTC Foundation, Board of Advisors for the Carroll University Center for Leadership Excellence, Waukesha County Economic Development Corporation and the Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington County Workforce Development Board. Her other memberships include the President’s Advisory Council at Carroll University and the Workforce Development Center Leadership Executive Committee.

From “WCTC instructor wins worldwide mold maker award” — Waukesha County Technical College instructor Bob Novak has been awarded the 2012 Mold Maker of the Year by the Society of Plastics Engineers Mold Making and Mold Design Division.

The international award recognizes one industry professional who has contributed to the betterment of the mold-making industry. Last year’s award winner hailed from China.

Novak, who has been an instructor at WCTC since 1990, said he was humbled to win the award and enjoys working with students.

“It’s rewarding to see these students start with little or no experience and work themselves into a great career path,” Novak said.

Novak is a journeyman tool and die/mold maker and holds a bachelor of science degree in career technical education and training from the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

The Society of Plastics Engineers is located in Newtown, Conn., with a European office in Belgium.

From “Eilertson, Inc. works with Moraine Park” — Moraine Park Technical College’s Electrical Power Distribution (EPD) program is preparing its Beaver Dam campus training site for the next phase of substation construction. The program’s new Electrical Substation Certificate allows students to enhance their skills by learning how to inspect and maintain electrical substations. Thanks to a donation of labor, material and large equipment from Fond du Lac-based company Eilertson, Inc., students receiving the certificate will be able to get the hands-on experience they need for success in the field.
Eilertson, Inc. specializes in the installation of below-grade materials in electrical substations, from low-clearance drilling to finish graveling. At Moraine Park’s Beaver Dam campus, Eilertson, Inc. drilled large holes for the pier foundations with a 80,000-pound, high-pressure digging machine capable of boring through rock and all soil types.
“This was a real-life opportunity for the substation students to learn and participate in the below-grade construction of a substation,” said Mark Theyerl, Moraine Park EPD instructor. “The students learned how to tie reinforcement bar, lay out the form for the pier, pour the concrete pier and set anchor bolts. We are very grateful for the generosity of Eilertson, Inc. to the College.”
For more information on Moraine Park’s EPD program and new Substation Certificate, visit

From “Job placements high for some FVTC graduates” — It didn’t take Jenna Gehring long to find employment after she graduated from Fox Valley Technical College.

She landed a job with Aerotek, a professional employment agency in Appleton, following graduation in May of 2010 when she received a two-year degree in marketing.

“I had heard a lot of good things about the marketing program at Fox Valley Tech and that it could open up a lot of opportunities and a broad range of jobs,” said Gehring, who attended the FVTC Riverside Campus in Oshkosh. “I also heard there were some excellent professors.”

She isn’t alone in finding employment in an economy that has yet to regain a lot of its robustness since the recession struck in 2008.

Graduates who attended the four FVTC sites in Oshkosh — Riverside Campus, Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, S. J. Spanbauer Center and FABTECH Training Center — have experienced a very high rate of employment.

In some programs, every graduate in the 2010-2011 academic year found a job after graduation. Programs with 100 percent placement of graduates included pilot training, aircraft electronics, metal fabricating and nursing.

“I think first and foremost it says we are really connected to the employers in our region,” said Chris Matheny, vice president of Instruction at FVTC. “Each of our programs has advisory committees made up of individuals, who are in industry in a particular career sector. They work in the field every day, so they know exactly the skill sets that our graduates will need in order to be successful in their industry.”

The annual Graduate Employment Research Report revealed a record 29 FVTC programs in its district reported 100 percent job placement for the 2010-2011 academic year, said Chris Jossart, a spokesperson for FVTC. In all, 88 percent of the college’s graduates were employed within six moths of graduation, up from 85 percent reported in the same survey in 2011.

Before the economic crash of 2008, FVTC averaged more than a 90 percent job placement rate for its graduates, based on the same data.

Matheny said the goal is to continue to strengthen employment opportunities FVTC graduates.

“The pride that we have is really based in the college’s mission to train a skilled work force for our regional economy,” Matheny said.

Jossart said FVTC has a Student Employment Services Department, which helps students prepare for the workforce and learn where the job leads are located.

Oshkosh resident Steve Lemmens was able to upgrade his job skills through training at FVTC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center on Poberezny Road.

Lemmens said he had a job at Muza Metal in Oshkosh and the opportunity came up for him to go back to school to improve his jobs skills. He graduated from FVTC in the spring of last year with a degree in welding and metal fabrication.

He said the degree opened up more opportunities at Muza Metal.

“I wanted to advance and learn more and upgrade my skills so I could be more valuable to Muza Metal,” Lemmens said. “It was a sense of accomplishment for me and I’m glad that I went back to school. I got a good education at Fox Valley Tech.”


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