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Etc.: His desk says ...
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Cleaning my work space is about as fun for me as, well, (insert your least favorite activity here). Of course, you might find something worthwhile:

For sale by taxpayers: The Platteville Common Council is scheduled this week to discuss, and possibly approve, the Request for Proposals for the 12 houses Darrel Kallembach used to own that the city now owns.

The debate on selling the houses between at-large Alds. Mike Denn and Amy Seeboth two weeks ago was interesting to watch, and represented the two poles of the spectrum on what to do with the houses. Denn (and at least one other alderman) wants to get rid of the houses as quickly as possible. Seeboth (who wrote the draft RFP with Community Planning and Development Director Joe Carroll) thinks the buyers of the houses need to be vetted so that they represent an improvement on what is now there in those dozen properties.

Whether Denn or Seeboth are right depends on how much interest the RFP generates. I haven’t seen the inside of any of the houses, but if I had to surmise based on exteriors I’d say at least two would be worth purchasing as is. The remaining 10 appear to range from extensive fixer-uppers to B&Bs (“bulldoze and build”) — houses whose best attribute is the land they’re on. The city had better have a plan B just in case the houses get fewer bids than the city is betting on in going to the RFP instead of hiring a real estate agent to sell them.

The Kallembach house sales, however and whenever they take place, dovetail interestingly with a Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission study that projects that Platteville will grow substantially more than the surrounding area over the next few years, but that the city’s housing stock is a detriment to future growth. Platteville has a lot of old houses that have not necessarily been modernized to meet, for instance, today’s energy efficiency standards, and now Platteville has 12 more of them on the open market. It’s a Catch-22, as Seeboth noted during her Common Council campaign — houses need to be affordable to purchase, but also to own for the young families city officials keep saying they want to attract to Platteville.

Rim shot: I was more amused than I usually am by commencement speakers at Platteville High School’s Commencement Sunday. The speakers managed to successfully combine observational humor (Josh Beck thanked his classmates for giving him material for the speech) and ironic wit (William Cooley thanked the PHS English department because without them he “couldn’t speak good,” which seems to indicate he been learned good). The stroke of genius was the graduation-speech bingo card played by Sumaia Masoom, something you will probably find elsewhere in future years. (It makes me think I should devise an Etc. bingo card for readers at home.)

Meanwhile, I have a thought for high school band directors, perhaps because I go to several commencements, while most people don’t: Can we hear something other than “Pomp and Circumstance” when graduates march into the gym? It’s like hearing the Wedding March, over and over again, year after year. (The PHS orchestra’s recessional was the “Star Wars” theme. Now that was cool.) I suppose I shouldn’t complain since I attend three commencements per year (until Iowa–Grant and Potosi resolve their mutual graduation conflict); I have to imagine wedding and graduation photographers grow to despise both songs.

Cue Alice Cooper: This is the final week of Platteville School District classes for everyone who didn’t graduate Sunday. I’ve had teachers tell me that nothing particularly constructive gets done in classes that don’t have final exams after Memorial Day, which makes you wonder why school is held after Memorial Day. Now that the 180-day school requirement has been eliminated by the Legislature, I wonder if school districts will shorten their school years and lengthen the school days (since the minutes requirement remains) in  future school years.

30 years ago: Sunday was also the 30th anniversary of one of the more grim events in this area, the Barneveld tornado, which killed nine people. There was no warning of the tornado, because it formed just outside of Barneveld, so it was neither detected on weather radar nor seen by spotters until after it flattened much of Barneveld.

Weather technology and science have come a long way since 1984. The problem is that we’ve swung from not enough warning of tornadoes to too many tornado warnings. I call them the STCOPAT, for “Severe Thunderstorm Capable Of Producing A Tornado,” which is not actually a tornado. You need not be a social scientist or a psychologist to know that the more false warnings there are, the more warnings will be ignored, until something like the Joplin, Mo., tornado happens, where more than 100 people die despite plenty of advance warning.

Play (cough cough) ball: Given our hideous past winter I feel a bit ungrateful for complaining, but any moment now I expect to find out that people have been carried off by this summer’s plague of gnats. (One theory I heard is that the number of bat deaths from white-nose fungus is why the gnat population is so large.) It’s hard to watch a baseball game when you cough through the first inning because you swallowed two of them. So far, they also seem to resist any kind of bug spray cure, at least based on experience … or they’re particularly aiming at me.