It's falcon season

Morning Update: Thursday, May 19

In this newsletter

It's falcon season

☁️ Today's weather: Partly cloudy. High: 83° Low: 57°

Good morning, Madison!

Spring is really, truly, officially here. How do I know? The MGE peregrine falcon chicks have begun to hatch.

If you don't know the story of MGE's peregrine falcons, here's the quick version. (And here's the longer version.)

In 1999, an MGE employee and his son built a nesting box for the son's school project, which MGE then installed atop its Blount Generating Station. The box remained unoccupied for 10 years until a pair of falcons — Frightful and Vern — decided to move in.

Between 2009-11, Frightful and Vern successfully hatched 11 chicks.

After a turf war, Frightful and Vern eventually left the nesting box to make room for Trudy and Melvin, the current residents. Trudy and Melvin have used the nesting box for the past seven years and all four eggs in their most recent brood hatched this week.

If you ever find yourself in need of a break from daily life, you can watch the falcons via live stream here.

— Hayley

🏨 As Covid-19 numbers climb, Parisi urges the continuation of the county's emergency hotel shelter program.

  • Dane County Executive Joe Parisi has "asked staff to explore the feasibility" of extending the county-run emergency hotel shelter program for individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • The program launched in mid-2020 and is set to end this June, according to a press release. The program helps people experiencing homelessness who also have an increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19 find a safe place to stay. It also provides space for individuals to isolate or quarantine due to Covid-19 positivity or symptoms.
  • To date, Dane County has spent $23.1 million on the program. Parisi is asking for an additional $3 million to help extend the program another eight months.

🏘️ Affordable housing could be coming to East Washington Ave.

  • The Wisconsin Housing Preservation Corp has proposed redeveloping the vacant Gardner Bakery site at 3401 E. Washington Ave. into multiple affordable housing buildings.
  • According to the Cap Times, the WHPC proposal, which was formally submitted Monday, would construct four buildings ranging from two to five stories and would support people with income levels between 50% and 70% of the area median income.
  • Overall, the neighborhood supports the project but pointed out concerns surrounding noise levels for residents pending the future arrival of the F-35s to Truax Field, which is about a mile from the proposed development site.
  • WHPC hopes to demolish the Gardner Bakery later this year (or in early 2023) then begin construction.

🗳️ Finding District 3's next alder.

  • Some context: District 3 Ald. Lindsay Lemmer announced her resignation from Madison's City Council in April. Lemmer agreed to stay on the council until the conclusion of its next meeting, May 24.
  • The city received six resumes to fill the vacant District 3 seat. At a meeting Tuesday, the Common Council Executive Committee recommended Erik Paulson to take on the role. The full council will consider this recommendation at its next meeting.
  • Paulson, according to the State Journal, is a design engineer at Johnson Controls with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in computer science from UW-Madison. If confirmed, Paulson said he's "inclined toward running to retain the seat" in the next election.

🌊 Reimagining the Lake Monona waterfront.

  • If you'll recall, the city launched a competition to help transform the Lake Monona waterfront between Willy Street and Olin Park into a "must-see" destination.
  • In all, 14 firms submitted proposals to revamp the highly trafficked path, including national designers behind some of the country's most recognizable outdoor spaces like Chicago’s Riverwalk and Navy Pier, and The High Line in New York City, the State Journal reports.
  • An ad-hoc committee will select finalists and recommend a preferred master plan by Sept. 1, 2023. Up to three finalist teams will receive $75,000 each to create draft plans and the winner will receive up to $200,000 to "refine the preferred master plan."

💻 A shift in MMSD's online learning program.

  • Starting next year, the Madison Metropolitan School District will expand the Madison Promise Academy — its new online learning program — to include fourth- and fifth-grade and temporarily end 11th- and 12th-grade services.
  • The State Journal reports the move is to help better accommodate younger learners, with the goal of ultimately adding back 11th- and 12th-grade classes in 2023 and 2024, respectively.
  • Some context: Madison Promise Academy launched as a pilot program this year for students in grades 6-12. While the district was initially unsure of the response it would receive, more than 450 students applied to be part of the academy’s first year, twice the number the district had planned for.

🦠 Rebecca Blank tested positive for Covid-19.

  • Just days after appearing at the university's various commencement celebrations, departing UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said Wednesday she tested positive for Covid-19 and is currently experiencing mild symptoms.
  • In a statement Blank says her positive test results serve as a  "reminder that the virus remains with us." Adding "I have attended several public events in recent days. I would encourage anyone who is feeling new symptoms that could be related to COVID-19 to test and based on results, follow CDC guidelines."
  • Related: Did you test positive for Covid-19? PHMDC wants to know.

👔 Your lunchtime read: Can Madison become the best place in the U.S. for entrepreneurs of color?

  • From the Cap Times: "'Historically, in this country, the only way to create true wealth is to be in the ownership class,' said Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce. 'And so how does that happen?'

    At a Tuesday panel at Madison College, convened by the Chamber, four experts on entrepreneurship took on that question. All the panelists, as well as moderator David Aguayo, the Chamber’s head of public policy and advocacy, are people of color."

👕 Stinky flower: gone but never forgotten.

  • It came, it stank, and then it left. So long!
  • Buy your shirt here. The proceeds will be split between Olbrich Botanical Gardens and local artist Jess Draws (aka bumblechub).

📅 Events

Thursday, May 19

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