These two items may be tied together by the song “Fire,” written by Bruce Springsteeen and recorded by Springsteen and the Pointer Sisters; “I’m on Fire,” two separate songs recorded by Springsteen and Dwight Twilley; or “Fire,” two separate songs recorded by Jimi Hendrix and an act called The Crazy World of Arthur Brown:
The Main fire: I’m not sure how many people realize how disruptive something like the early Memorial Day fire was to more people than the owners or occupants of the building.
I doubt Platteville firefighters planned on spending 12 hours Memorial Day fighting a fire. (Nor did police or state investigators, though they are paid for their work.) If you own a business around the fire location, you may have had people wondering, based on a photo of a fire truck near your building, if your building was significantly damaged (only the building that housed 42 W. Main St. received significant damage), or if there was a giant cloud of methamphetamine fumes downtown (there wasn’t).
I heard someone say that something more needs to be done about methamphetamines, given the meth lab discovery on North Water Street earlier this year, and the house and hotel fire in Fennimore earlier in May. (Particularly given that children were at the scene of all those incidents.) The question that follows from that is: Well, what? Those of us who are plagued with bad sinuses already are inconvenienced while ill (because who buys medication when you’re healthy?) to have to jump through various legal hoops to get sinus medications that contain pseudoephedrine, which unhappily is one of the ingredients in meth.
Grant County Sheriff Nate Dreckman has spoken numerous times in public about the problem of heroin use in this area, which seems to swap places with meth depending on the month. Dreckman said when I heard him at Platteville High School that alcohol and marijuana are potential gateway drugs, as are prescription painkillers, for people whose brains appear to be susceptible to addiction. (My favorite non-illegal story on that subject was the man who went around in the 1990s talking to schools about alcohol and drug addiction as a recovering addict himself. The first thing he asked for when he arrived was black coffee, which suggested to me that he had replaced illegal addictions with legal addictions.)
Another person suggested that landlords need to be able to check the criminal records of their prospective tenants, particularly given that some insurers apparently will not reimburse their clients for damage caused during criminal activity. State law does not prohibit housing discrimination based on criminal record (but read state statute 106.50 for yourself, and remember that I’m not a lawyer), although lack of specific criminal record doesn’t necessarily predict future criminal activity. This is somewhat analogous as well to the debate going on over whether prospective employers should be able to ask job applicants about their criminal records. A number of major employers have decided to not even ask applicants.
On a happier note (get it?): The depth and variety of musical talent was noteworthy (get it?) at Platteville High School’s annual pops concert Monday night. That followed the celebration of Platteville Public Schools’ second consecutive Best Communities for Music Education award. The speaker was state Sen. Howard Marklein (R–Spring Green), who sang while a River Valley High School student, including madrigal performances.
PHS alumnus Mark Fairchild thanked his high school and UW–Platteville band teachers, who double as his parents. Fairchild also came up with a great term to describe us hack musicians when he said he works with people “who are not professional musicians, but who do play professionally … or they play at an unprofessional level, but they do enjoy doing what they’re doing.” I suspect my high school band teacher probably thought I was playing at an unprofessional level when I’d warm up for wind ensemble practices by playing pep band music.
PHS alumnus David Schoonover said while at George Mason University he would mention Platteville’s population and then list all the music offerings in Platteville, far more than expected for a community of 12,000. And that list grows this year with UW–Platteville’s new Backyard Concert Series, the first Make Music Platteville on the first day of summer, and the first Southwest Music Festival at the end of the annual attempt to kill the editor of your favorite weekly newspaper, Hometown Festival Week.
(Unfortunately, I only saw the last few pops concert performances, and got no cake, which is the fault of the Platteville Plan Commission. I think the commission owes me cake.)