From “Whitney makes settling down difficult for gypsy moth in Wisconsin” —  

If you’re a gypsy moth bachelor seeking summer romance in western Wisconsin, chances are Chris Whitney will find you before you find a date.

Whitney is the trapping coordinator for the Wisconsin Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread (STS) Program at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Wisconsin is among several states involved in the STS Program, a national effort to postpone the establishment of gypsy moth in new areas.

For 14 years, Whitney has led a team of trappers around the state to set traps for gypsy moth.

“It’s an invasive species that needs to be monitored, and trapping is a way to show us where they are and where they are not,” Whitney said.

Trapping is just one phase of gypsy moth management. The others are egg mass survey and treatment. Data collected every fall from the trapping and egg mass surveys help the STS program determine which areas in western Wisconsin need treatment the following spring.

“To fight it, we need to know where it is. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know where to treat,” he said.

Before becoming the trapping coordinator, Whitney started as a trapper himself when he was still a science teacher in 1989. He also learned about the invasive gypsy moth for the first time.

“The caterpillar stage of its life cycle is the most destructive. Gypsy moth caterpillars are not very picky eaters. They have a big appetite for oaks as well as for hundreds of other kinds of trees and shrubs, and they only have a few natural enemies. So, they have the potential to cause heavy defoliation. In the adult or moth stage, they don’t eat anything and spend most of their time looking for a mate instead,” Whitney said.

The traps only catch male gypsy moths because the females cannot fly. Males find females by following a pheromone released by the females. This behavior is the key to capturing the moths. Lures in the traps mimic the female’s pheromone and attract interested males.

“In hopes of finding love, they find doom,” Whitney said.

Setting traps for gypsy moth not only taught Whitney new things, but it also sparked a new interest.

After 13 years of teaching, Whitney decided to change careers. He returned to school and attended Fox Valley Technical College where he earned a degree in Natural Resources Technology. After two years as a trapper and two years working for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as its trapping coordinator, Whitney reached the position he is at today.

“It’s a nice balance between office and field work. I like to travel around the state and see a lot of cool stuff that I don’t normally see,” he said.

The trapping survey is conducted every summer in most of western Wisconsin. Eastern Wisconsin is considered to be generally infested with gypsy moth and therefore, is not surveyed.

Naturally on its own, gypsy moth spreads about three to five miles per year. However, with the aid of people, it spreads much quicker.

“Moving firewood, transplanting infected nursery stock, logging or moving outdoor household items that have gypsy moth egg masses on them all contribute to the spread,” Whitney said.

The STS Program has reduced the spread of gypsy moth nationally from 13 miles per year to five miles per year and provides a cost-to-benefit ratio of more than 3 to 1.

“It is the goal of our state and national programs to contain the spread to about six miles or less per year,” Whitney said.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a feasible way to get rid of all the gypsy moths, according to Whitney. They’re here to stay and in time, will inhabit the whole state.

“But, not without a fight,” he added. “We’re going to hold the gypsy moth back for as long as possible.”

Gypsy moth history

The U.S. “invasion” started when some gypsy moths escaped after an amateur entomologist brought them to Boston from Europe in the 1860s in a failed attempt to breed a hardier silkworm.

Wisconsin started surveying gypsy moth spread by trapping in 1969 when egg masses were discovered in Kenosha County.

Currently, gypsy moth has established itself throughout much of the Northeastern and Eastern United States, the Upper Midwest, and portions of Canada.

From greenbaypressgazette: “Welder-fabricator program unveiled at NWTC” — A welder-fabricator apprenticeship program starting at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College as early as next month is aimed at helping bolster the skills of the area work force while helping meet employer demand for workers with fabrication skills.

The apprenticeship program could start as early as February with an initial group of about one dozen participants in the four-year program, said Todd Kiel, NWTC apprenticeship manager.

It’s envisioned program participants will come from — and fill — jobs within the marine sector, paper industry and manufacturing sectors — to name a few. The program is designed to give participants an American Welding Society certification.

“A lot of people can get to that through the regular (welding) program, but there are a lot of businesses who want their guys to upgrade their skills and this fits in perfectly,” Kiel said. “We had a company call last week that could find welders but can’t find fabricators. We can give them credit for their welding and teach them the fabrication portion.”

About 90 percent of the program is on-the-job training from a skilled worker.

Larry Adamus, maintenance coordinator at Domtar Paper in Rothschild, said the apprentice program allows the mill to beef up the skills of its work force; something needed as more experienced workers move toward retirement age.

Domtar, which has several locations in Wisconsin, initially expects to send three people through the program, Adamus said.

Participants in the program are sponsored by their employers who

pay for employees to attend the 440 hours of required classes.

The program was developed by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards and NWTC.

While the college offers a basic welding program, the welding-fabricator apprenticeship is designed to help teach welders some of the more advanced and niche skills needed in the workplace.

“With all the retirees coming, apprenticeship is going to be big, and these guys are going to have to learn on the fly,” said Scott Massey, welding instructor at the college. “We will cover some of the (welding) fundamentals when they come back, but we’ll also take it up to another level, and these new students will be allowed to move into more realistic situations from work.”

Troubleshooting and problem-solving are skills the program will include, he said.

“The companies I’ve seen show interest have been across the gamut from local fab shops that will build anything you want them to build to specialized shops like the shipyard or Oshkosh Truck and the sheet metal trades,” Massey said.

The program also is expected to train workers in skills that can be applied to green industries, such as the construction of wind turbines, said Owen Smith, Wisconsin Sector Alliance for the Green Economy outreach coordinator.

The welder-fabricator program is one of six apprenticeship programs developed through a $6 million SAGE grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. It is the second such program developed with NWTC.

Kiel said apprenticeship programs can help stabilize a work force by providing upgraded skills to the employee, who in turn, may be more likely to stay with their employer.

“There’s always a fear that once you credential people they’re going to leave, but generally speaking the opposite happens. They stick around and become more loyal,” he said. “It builds a higher-skilled, more competitive work force from the employer’s perspective, and it creates an employee who knows you want them around because the employer) is investing in them.”

Kiel said beyond the first group of workers, he doesn’t know what kind of numbers to expect, but he pointed out the program could be run on other NWTC campuses if needed.

From “Residents are heading to the ER instead of the dentist for tooth problems” — Eau Claire (WQOW) – A health care need is playing out in the ER, but perhaps not the way you think.

Last month, there were 57 visits to the ER at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire for oral health problems.  The hospital says that number has been fairly consistent the past few years.

“It’s pretty common, it’s usually one or two a shift,” says Dr. Chris Felton, Sacred Heart Hospital Emergency Medicine Physician.

However, there’s little Felton can do.

“For a typical toothache we’ll place them on an oral antibiotic and an oral pain medicine,” says Felton.  “Sometimes we can perform a dental block depending on the location of the tooth involved.”

The dental hygiene program at Chippewa Valley Technical College is a low-cost option.

“We can provide oral surgery services, endodontic which is root canal service, we do some limited crowns if they’re approved, we do cleanings,” says Pam Entorf, CVTC Dental Hygiene Program Director.

CVTC says it’s seeing an increase in numbers, up to 200 patients a week not including cleanings.  Both the college and hospital say it boils down to a lack of dental coverage.

“I have seen this, just in general, is patients I would see in a private office that had dental insurance, have lost their job, lost their insurance, haven’t been to the dentist for several years because they couldn’t afford to go,” says Entorf.

“We’re happy to see anyone that wants to be seen, but there are a number of patients that don’t have dental coverage and could be more efficiently managed if they were able to get in to see a dentist,”  says Felton.

Dental health can play a big part in overall health.

“The oral health and systemic health or overall body health, if you have an infection in your mouth it can cause all kinds of negative things,” says Entorf.

CVTC says of their patients, six to 12 a month are referrals from ER’s.  Entorf says they try to get them in that day or the next.

View video from

From “New Statewide Apprenticeship Program” — Green Bay, WI – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College announcing a new statewide apprenticeship program. The program will offer hands-on training for two high demand manufacturing skills in Wisconsin welding and fabrication. NWTC leaders and the Department of Workforce Development got a tour of the learning facilities this morning.

Owen Smith, Sage Outreach Program said, “We have met one of the key needs for heavy manufacturers in Northeast Wisconsin, as well as provided an integrated program for 2 occupations that are critical to green skill training and green manufacturing in Wisconsin.”

The Welder-Fabricator Program is one of six new apprenticeship programs to be developed through a six-million-dollar grant from the US Department of Labor and the second at NWTC.

View video from

From “Janesville working with medical isotope maker on incentive agreement” — JANESVILLE — Community leaders were thrilled Tuesday that SHINE Medical Technologies selected Janesville over two other communities for a facility that will produce medical isotopes and create more than 100 high-paying jobs by 2015.

But they remain cautious, tempering their excitement with the reality that several steps remain before medical isotopes leave Rock County for health centers around the world.

City officials have been working with SHINE for months to site the plant in Janesville. The Middleton-based company also considered locations in Stevens Point and Chippewa Falls.

After months of closed-session strategy sessions, the city council directed staff to forward a revised developer’s agreement to SHINE. It was sent late last week.

For the most part, the agreement is acceptable, said Greg Piefer, SHINE’s founder and chief executive officer.

“We feel that we’re close enough that we can work it out,” Piefer said. “The fundamentals are all there. We just need to do what we would call ‘wordsmithing.'”

The city council is expected to vote on the agreement Monday, Feb. 13. Details, including specific employment benchmarks and incentives the city is offering, will be released before the council meeting.

Janesville Economic Development Director Vic Grassman said the city worked hard to make itself attractive to SHINE while protecting the city’s interests. The economic and financial incentives—which he would not release Tuesday—are tied to specific benchmarks SHINE must meet throughout its regulatory, construction and production processes.

The new plant would make SHINE the first large-scale domestic supplier of molybdenum-99, a medical isotope used in more than 30 varieties of diagnostic imaging procedures. Each day in the United States alone, medical professionals perform more than 50,000 diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures that rely on moly-99.

SHINE plans to use a proprietary manufacturing process and technology that Piefer said offers significant advantages over existing production technologies. It will not use highly enriched uranium and will not require a nuclear reactor. Its process, he said, will generate hundreds of times less waste than any current moly-99 production process.

Piefer said the Janesville plant would produce enough of the moly-99 isotope for approximately 10 million diagnostic and treatment procedures each year, representing approximately one-half of the U.S. need for moly-99.

“SHINE is an exciting project, an exciting company for the community,” City Manager Eric Levitt said. “But it is not a done deal and won’t be until the city council votes on it in February.”

In December, the council agreed to spend just more than $1.5 million to buy an 84-acre parcel on Highway 51 south of the city as the potential home for SHINE. The city plans to annex the parcel and fold it into the existing Tax Increment Financing District 35 just to the northeast.

Piefer said the plant must satisfy a litany of federal regulations before it begins production. The company has been doing environmental assessments at the site since October.

If all goes well on the federal level, Piefer said construction could start in the next 18 to 24 months, with production starting in 2015. Salaries, he said, will be about $50,000 to $60,000 per year for production workers.

“We plan to pay our people well,” he said. “It will be a highly efficient operation, and our people need to be highly disciplined.”

He said the company is excited to join the community as an employer and corporate citizen. He will meet next week with officials at Blackhawk Technical College to discuss programming for potential employees.

“Janesville worked very hard with us,” he said. “The thing that was most important to us was to feel welcome in the community, and we got that from all three communities, but it was loud and clear in Janesville and left no room for doubt.”

Also tipping the scale in Janesville’s favor is the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport just across Highway 51.

“When you produce a product that decays 1 percent every hour, that proximity is important,” Piefer said, noting that Janesville also is closer to SHINE’s major customers in St. Louis and Boston.

In Rock County, SHINE could join another medical isotope maker, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, which plans to build a $194 million plant in Beloit and create more than 150 jobs by 2016.

SHINE and NorthStar are two of just four U.S. companies supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration as it pushes for a more reliable and diverse supply of Moly-99.

“This in combination with the Northstar project in Beloit would really put a whole different halo on our Rock County brand,” said John Beckord, president of Forward Janesville.

Beckord said SHINE and Northstar represent a new model of manufacturing for the county. The potential for spin-off projects and ancillary businesses is significant, he said.

“We’ve been talking about diversification for years, even when the auto industry was strong,” he said. “Having SHINE in Janesville—assuming it all falls into place—really moves us down that path of diversification.

“And this is not the type of operation you can just pick up and move, so there are no outsourcing issues.”

Founded in 2010, SHINE Medical Technologies is based on inventions co-licensed with Phoenix Nuclear Labs, which operates a lab in Middleton.

Earlier this year, SHINE secured $11 million in venture equity funding for further development of its technology.

Mary Willmer-Sheedy, co-chairwoman of the public-private Rock County 5.0 economic development initiative, said Tuesday’s news was good.

“We’re thrilled that SHINE is committed to Rock County,” she said. “SHINE will join a host of other medical businesses in the community that make up a strong medical sector.

“They recognize the attributes of Rock County and the talented workforce we have here.”


Molybdenum-99 is a medical isotope used in more than 30 varieties diagnostic imaging procedures. Each day in the United States alone, more than 50,000 diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures take place that rely on moly-99.

It is primarily used for detecting heart disease and determining stages of cancer progression, according to SHINE officials.

“The medically important isotope, moly-99, is crucial to the successful diagnosis of cancer and heart disease throughout the world,” said Dr. Richard Steeves, professor emeritus of human oncology at UW-Madison. “With moly-99, physicians can determine the extent to which heart disease or cancer has spread, information which is critical to successful treatment.”

Historically, most moly-99 used in the United States has been produced in Canada and the Netherlands using highly enriched uranium placed in high power research reactors, SHINE said in a news release.

Both the Canadian and Netherlands reactors are operating beyond their originally licensed life and unscheduled shutdowns of the reactors in 2009 and 2010 caused worldwide shortages of moly-99 leading to the delay or cancellation of millions of medical procedures.

From “Marketing campaign aims to recruit factory workers” — 

The Waukesha County Business Alliance said Wednesday that it has selected Scheibel Halaska as the agency to design and implement Wisconsin’s “Dream it. Do it.” manufacturing career-building initiative.

“Dream it. Do it.” is a national recruitment strategy sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers.

“The campaign is designed to re-brand the manufacturing industry as an industry providing high-paying, high-quality careers,” the WCBA said in an emailed statement.

The campaign is targeted at young people ages 17 to 27. Wisconsin will be the 20th region nationally to implement the program after a statewide license was secured by the Wisconsin Technical College System.

Manufacturers in the state have repeatedly said that finding qualified workers with the skills needed to operate complex, computer-controlled machinery is the top business challenge they face.

The initiative will first be implemented in the Milwaukee 7 economic development region, with the WCBA leading the program. Eventually, the program will be unveiled statewide. “The region will serve as a successful foundation for a statewide adoption in subsequent phases of the initiative,” according to the statement.

The program will begin with the development and launch of a careers website.

“A foundational element of the website will be tools and resources to support area manufacturers in becoming better at attracting, retaining and engaging next generation workers,” according to the statement.

The Waukesha County Business Alliance is a countywide chamber of commerce with over 900 member companies, representing more than 60,000 employees.

From “Welder-Fabricator Apprenticeship Program introduced at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College” — GREEN BAY – The Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (BAS) and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) introduced the new Welder-Fabricator apprenticeship program today, January 25, in Green Bay. The program is the second apprenticeship developed in partnership with NWTC and the fourth under the federal Sectors Alliance for the Green Economy (SAGE) grant.

“This program showcases the responsiveness and flexibility of apprenticeship in meeting workforce training needs in the green economy,” said Lisa Boyd, Administrator for the DWD’s Division of Employment and Training. “Welding and fabricating are integral to producing components of renewable energy systems and energy efficient products. The Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards, in partnership with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, worked jointly to develop this comprehensive apprenticeship program.”

The Welder-Fabricator apprenticeship was developed in response to the needs of Wisconsin’s heavy manufacturing sector. It offers hands-on learning for two high-demand occupations in heavy manufacturing (welding and fabrication) in a single program. It follows a hybrid model in which apprentices are assessed on-the-job using a combination of time and competencies. The program is structured for four years, or 8,000 hours, including 7,560 hours on-the-job learning and 440 hours of related instruction.

“Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is very excited about our ability to offer the Welder- Fabrication apprenticeship,” said Todd A. Kiel, Apprenticeship Manager for NWTC. “We feel it gives us a full range of offerings that provide access to credentials for our constituents. With the increased demand for heavy manufacturing in Northeast Wisconsin, this cannot come at a better time.”

The Welder-Fabricator program is the fourth of six new apprenticeship programs to be developed through the $6 million SAGE project grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. SAGE’s purpose is to employ short and long-term strategies critical to the greening of Wisconsin’s workforce by forming partnerships with businesses, educators and other stakeholders to identify and address labor force needs specific to “green” or clean energy jobs in construction, manufacturing and utility industries.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 173 other followers

%d bloggers like this: