From “NWTC set to offer student housing” — GREEN BAY – Expanding the college experience is what Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is looking to do by offering students on-campus housing.

A privately-owned and operated dorm is in the works to be built and ready for students in the fall of 2015.

After more than a century of educating students, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is taking the first steps to house students on campus as well.

Plans are set to break ground next year on the college’s first dormitory.

“The scope and the depth and the breadth of the college has changed so much in 100 years, it seems to be the next evolution of what the technical college can offer the community,” said Karen Smits, NWTC vice president of college advancement.

Smits says the college entered into a deal with DeLeers Construction which will build and own the student housing building. DeLeers purchased this private land on the east side of campus and will pay to build and manage the four-story, 216-bed facility. It won’t cost NWTC or taxpayers anything.

“It’s not like the dorm when I went to college. These are apartments where students will share common rooms and each have their own bedroom,” said Smits.

The concept of housing at smaller community colleges is growing in demand according to Smits. Last year UW-Fox Valley expanded to offer student housing for the first time near its Menasha campus through a private company.

“This is a public venture, but we are here to help and support that, but it is definitely the developers that are in complete control of all the housing issues,” said Carla Rabe, UW-Fox Valley assistant dean in January 2012.

An NWTC survey last year found students wanted the option of student housing to help round out their college experience.

More than 40,000 student take classes at NWTC, 7,600 are full time students. So a dorm accommodating 200 is expected to fill up. Could there be more dorms in the future? College officials say don’t rule it out.

From “First tiny home to be occupied thanks to a village effort” — Last spring, Betty Ybarra occupied a tent in a county park and with her tentmates dug moats to discourage oncoming floodwaters.

Starting Christmas Eve, she and a tentmate will upgrade to a brand new “tiny home” they helped build with aid from a variety of helpers including local colleges. It has a roof, insulated walls, a toilet and a sink. Christmas lights hang outside it.

It’s a twist of fate more fortunate than they could imagine possible.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, right,’ ” Ybarra, who’s been homeless since April, said of her reaction when originally presented the idea. “I’m too skeptical.”

Their house is the first of what organizers hope will be a village of similar houses that provide basic shelter against the elements and a home to be proud of for the homeless, who earn the residences through sweat equity at an East Side workshop set up to build and decorate the units.

Its construction came about thanks to a massive volunteer effort that included more than 50 people and started early in the summer with fundraising and technical support from Occupy Madison Inc., a nonprofit.

Steve Burns, an MATC math instructor, trained volunteers and oversaw much of the construction and design of the first two houses, which follow a basic blueprint but can include whatever touches and innovations their creators want.

One of those innovations — a pole-mounted solar panel — comes with heavy fingerprints from MATC and UW-Madison and origins in rural Costa Rica, where villagers use the solar-powered lights to guard against snake bites while heading to outdoor latrines. It can charge the battery that provides light to the house.

UW-Madison donated the panel for this house. The idea came from Ken Walz, an instructor of chemistry, engineering and renewable energy at MATC and an adjunct professor at UW-Madison. For seven years, Walz has led students on study abroad trips to a national park in Mastatal, Costa Rica.

The village, rebuilding its economy after its cocoa industry cratered, had unmet energy needs because of its rural location. Walz had won a federal Department of Education grant to lead study abroad trips framed around renewable energy for international development.

Walz and his students helped with the village’s most pressing problem — a lack of reliable light — with solar panels of 40 to 60 watts. They’re designed for simplicity and ease of use. They matter especially because villagers have outdoor toilets and used to fall prey to vipers, nocturnal snakes that used darkness to their advantage. The nearest hospital is 30 miles away.

Calvin Cherry, a UW-Madison graduate student who’s been on Walz’s trip to Mastatal, saw an opportunity for the solar panels on Madison’s new tiny homes, which are based on models in Portland, Ore., and Olympia, Wash.

The 80-watt solar panel he developed will charge a sealed lead acid battery. It can power the 98-square-foot home’s four LED lights and cellphone charger base. Burns, the MATC math instructor, engineered a metal pole to mount the panels outside the house.

The first homes are heated with a vented propane heater mounted on the wall. They also can use a space heater if parked near a plug-in electricity source.

However, the plan needs a bit more refining. A recent attempt to mount the metal pole exposed a problem: it’s too tall to fit under bridges, said Bruce Wallbaum, project organizer for Occupy Madison.

The houses currently must be trailered around the neighborhood a couple of times a week. City ordinance allows them to be parked on the street as long as they’re moved every 48 hours.

The transient life will eventually end for the houses as it does for their occupants, Wallbaum said. He and other organizers of Occupy Madison are working with area churches to allow the houses to park up to three in each lot. Eventually the organization hopes to buy land and create a village of up to 30 of the houses.



From “WITC’s welding program helps inmates find work after incarceration” — School may not be in session at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior, but learning through WITC’s welding program is still sparking.

The welding room at WITC was filled with the bright flicker of flames as people on probation, parole, or currently incarcerated, took advantage of the Accelerated Welding Program being offered through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Employment Program.

“We’ve been doing these for about five or six years,” said welding instructor Dan Wilkinson.

Years of teaching valuable skills that can make all the difference in the lives of participating inmates.

“It’s great that they’re giving us an opportunity to learn something, because a lot of us don’t have skills,” said Matthew Sanford, an inmate at the Gordon Correctional Facility.

The intense learning program involves many different styles of welding, to prepare inmates for possible careers after the completion of their sentence.

“We’ll bring these guys in for three weeks and there’s an employer at the end of it that’s agreed to interview them… so that’s the big piece of this program… that there’s an opportunity,” said Wilkinson.

…an opportunity that is paying off for many.

49% of the program’s 59 past participants are now working in the area either in a welding capacity or as a general laborer.

“A lot of us never had the opportunity for this and the fact that they’re giving us the opportunity means so much,” said Sanford.

Accelerated Welding Programs like these are among the most successful community corrections employment programs in the state, providing the spark for success after incarceration.

The current welding class is the fifth Accelerated Welding Program that WITC, NW-CEP, and Wisconsin DOC have partnered on.

From “Recipe for Milwaukees feast mixes volunteers, fellowship” — After 24 years, they really do have the Christmas Family Feast down to a science.

On Wednesday, thousands of people streamed through the Wisconsin Center to savor a free festive meal, bringing joy and cheer to the quiet downtown on Christmas Day.

There was turkey and ham, green beans and sweet potatoes, pie and ice cream.

Choirs belted out Christmas standards.

And a musician named Kevin Kennedy donned a red and white suit, put on a white beard and took his place on a seat that looked a little like a throne.

Santa Claus was in the building.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” Kennedy said. “You’ve got kids and adults and you can make them all happy.”

The Salvation Army of Milwaukee County was once again the host, with lots of local sponsors pitching in with support. There were other smaller, events around town, like at the Guest House of Milwaukee, where 86 men who stay at the shelter had a holiday party.

Volunteers are the key ingredient for the Family Feast, with more than 1,200 doing everything from seating visitors to clearing tables to handing out gifts. The volunteers included Gov. Scott Walker; his wife, Tonette; and sons Matt and Alex. The Walker family has volunteered at the event for 11 straight years.

“The last few years it has gotten bigger, which probably reflects on the economy,” Walker said, taking a brief timeout from putting pats of butter on rolls. “Talking to people here, you see not only folks in need in terms of food, you see a lot of folks in need in terms of family and fellowship. So this becomes an extended family.”

That extended family could be seen at dinner tables, complete strangers sharing meals and conversations.

Lisbeth Maturin; her husband, Miguel Moure; and their four young children were seated with Norma Anwar and her two middle-age sons.

“We wanted to do something special for the kids,” Maturin said.

Anwar said she enjoyed the food but especially enjoyed the spirit of the event.

“It brings Christmas back,” Anwar said.

Anwar’s older son, Marlon, said the event provided “a beautiful experience. This is the chance to say hello to a lot of people.”

A 3-year-old named Donovan Webb celebrated his Christmas Day birthday with his mom, Latonya, and other family and friends.

“This was a good year,” Latonya Webb said.

East siders Marilyn Kruger and Kim Morgan bumped into one another at the event. Kruger enjoyed Christmas morning, visiting her grandchildren and attending a religious service. The feast, she said, capped “a wonderful holiday season.”

Morgan said many people may be struggling through the year, but the feast serves as a way “to make the community come together.”

Back in the kitchen, the staff was busy making up parcels of food that were to be taken to shelters around the city.

Between the people who attended the feast and the food parcels, about 10,000 meals were made under the supervision of chefs Gus Kelly, a veteran of the feast, and Bob Ilk, who was volunteering at the event for the first time.

The pair taught together for years at Milwaukee Area Technical College and worked easily under great pressure in the kitchen on Christmas Day.

“Bob can take over next year and I’ll be his helper,” Kelly said.

Don Rosette, the former longtime general manager of WMCS-AM (1290), was back for another year. It was Rosette and the station who helped get the first feast off the ground in only 55 days and helped it grow through the years.

“The Salvation Army has taken the reins and it’s going well,” Rosette said. “It’s a tradition now.”


From “Nicolet offering new Electromechanical Technology Degree” — Continuing to work with area manufacturers, Nicolet College has announced a new degree in Electromechanical Technology.

The new associate degree focuses on the electronics and computers that control the systems to operate a production line. The college surveyed area employers such as Printpack, Foster and Smith and PCA to gauge demand for the skill set.

Brigette Kumbier, dean of Trade and Industry at Nicolet says the manufactures were excited to hear the college was looking at starting the program and strongly supported Nicolet in the effort.

Graduates with the degree are able to install, troubleshoot, repair and upgrade electronic and computer-controlled mechanical systems.

This raises the number of manufacturing credentials at Nicolet to 12, ranging from certificates to associate degrees. Often credits earned in the certificate programs can also be applied to the degree programs.

Classes in the new Electromechanical Technology program are expected to start in the Fall Semester of 2014.

From “CVTC Foundation receives grant from DuPont Pioneer” — DuPont Pioneer has donated $5,000 to the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Foundation toward the development of an Energy Education Center. Local account manager Patrick Branick sponsored this grant.

The funds will be directed toward the development of an Energy Education Center which is aimed at preparing a skilled workforce in energy technologies, and serve as a regional demonstration site to support energy-based economic development.

“We are excited to support the development of the Energy Education Center which will focus on areas such as bioenergy development,” said Branick.

Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) already works diligently to fill the need for an energy workforce. The College currently offers eight energy-related educational programs, including: Agriscience; Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration; Civil Engineering; Electrical Power Distribution; Electric Line Utility Apprenticeship; Environmental Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, and Heating Service; Landscape Management; and Residential Construction.

“With the agricultural base and strong manufacturing industry in western Wisconsin, Chippewa Valley Technical College is ideally suited for pursuing additional economic growth and development in the bioenergy sector,” said CVTC Dean of Industry, Agriculture and Energy Aliesha Crowe.

Pioneer makes contributions to community-based organizations on behalf of the business and employees. Consideration for outreach grants are given to communities where Pioneer representatives, employees and customers live and work and that support quality-of-life initiatives to create an improved, sustainable lifestyle for people worldwide.


From “Fox River Lighted Sculptures To Be Unveiled on Saturday” — Appleton – Lighted sculptures designed by Fox Valley students will turn on Saturday night in the City of Appleton to spotlight hydroelectric history.

Just off of water street in Appleton, a group of volunteers makes final preparations setting up the lighted sculpture displays before they are unveiled and lit up at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

It’s part of a celebration highlighting the first usage of hydroelectricity along the Fox River.

“We’re just getting these power lines set up that we’re going to connect to our house and run back towards the river to represent hydroelectricity lighting up the house,” Joey Stammer, Appleton East senior said. Students from Fox Valley Technical college along with Appleton and Little Chute high school students began designing the lighted scenes including a lighted flag in September.

Light Up the Fox, INC. raised close to $10,000 for the project.

“Many people in the area don’t realize how rich it is and unique it is…for example being the first place in the world to have a central electric system that used Thomas Edison’s system,” Barb Sauer, Light Up the Fox spokeswoman, said.

And, they hope to commemorate the Appleton’s historical third ward neighborhood over the years by adding more light displays.

“We’re looking at in the future growing this every year, school by school by school and just adding displays throughout the year and making it a bigger and bigger and bigger display,” Mike Cattelino, FVTC Associate Dean of Manufacturing and Agriculture programs, said.

The lighting of the displays will kick off on Saturday starting at 6:30 p.m.  The public also will be able to participate in a candle light walk.  The lighted displays will be featured through February 11th.

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