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See sunflowers in bloom at conservancy

See sunflowers in bloom at conservancy

A spectacular scene is in full bloom in the town of Middleton.

A 9-acre field of sunflowers at the Pope Farm Conservancy is the highlight at the educational preserve in its sixth year.

Mel Pope will host an annual free walking tour Wednesday evening from 6:30-8. Pope will discuss the history and features of the conservancy.

A 1,200-foot stone fence built in the 1840s-1850s that wraps around the field “really makes it special, that’s for sure,” Pope said.

The conservancy at 7440 W. Old Sauk Road is managed by the town of Middleton.



County buys 65 acres near Lake Mendota in nearly $1M deal

County buys 65 acres near Lake Mendota in nearly $1M deal

Dane County will buy 65 acres of land near the north side of Lake Mendota from a local religious group in a nearly $1 million deal, officials said.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said on Thursday that the county would acquire the land from the Middleton-based Benedictine Women of Madison at Holy Wisdom Monastery for $929,000.

Parisi said the purchase agreement included an additional five acre easement on the property that would help plans for a new off-road bike trail to improve road safety for motorists and cyclists along a heavily traveled stretch of County Highway M. 

In a news release, county leaders said the decision to purchase the property was made to help maintain lakes, increase public safety and continue the recreational opportunities the area provides.

Middleton preps for flooding

Middleton preps for flooding

The city of Middleton is getting ready for more potential flooding as water levels continue to rise.

Lake Mendota is coming close to the record-setting 100-year flood height. The 100-year flood elevation was 852.8 ft. Lake Mendota is now at an elevation of 851.5 ft with more heavy rains in the forecast.

Middleton has issued a declaration of disaster, enabling the city to deliver sand to residents who need it.

There was a pile at Dewey Court and a new 10-ton pile at the north end of Middleton Beach Road.

As the storm clouds roll in, resident Tom Pellino began taking down his pier sections on Lake Mendota. He said he and his neighbors will start bagging their shoreline to combat the rising water.

However, experience has shown that sometimes preparations just aren't enough.

MCPASD: Nearly $30K in energy costs saved over 10 months

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District is on track to to far exceed its best year-end energy savings performance, Energy Manager Neal Bickler said.

According to the district's June 2013 report, which covers the performance of all MCPASD buildings in May, the cost avoidance savings is $29,894. This exceeds the district's previous best June report of $23,911 (18.73 percent), which occurred in 2012.

For the school year, the district said it has saved $319,212 (24.33 percent).

"With two months remaining in 2012-2013, I'm hoping that we can reach the $340,000 plateau," Bickler said.

In 2012, MCPASD saved $278,865 (22.71 percent) during the same 10-month span. The district reported it has avoided paying nearly $2.4 million since September 2004.

Bike the Bird City: several dates this summer

Middleton Public Lands is offering several dates for bike treks being offered once a month from June to September.

Trips will range from 4 to 12 miles and will be led by a local ecologist.

The next coming date is June 8, meeting at the Quaker Steak & Lube and touring Esser Pond and the North Fork of Pheasant Branch.

Registrants get a water bottle, t-shirt, food and drink from the trek's sponsor.

Binoculars will be available. Free bikes are also available, but participants are encouraged to bring their own.

Registration for the June 8 trek is open to 25 participants till June 6. The cost is $25 per person. 

Treks are also scheduled for July 13, August 10 and September 14. Two sessions per date are offered.

Participants must register and pay ahead of time at City Hall or online at: https://activenet003.active.com/middletonrec/

Cross Plains plans annual Trout Days festival

Cross Plains is celebrating its annual Trout Days weekend with food, fun and more this May.

The festival will take play May 2-4 with activities including a trout fishing contest, garage sales and a flea market planned throughout the weekend.

The Cross Plains Lions will host a parade Saturday at 4:30 p.m. to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Beer Parade, put on by Esser's Cross Plains Brewery. The brewery is also celebrating 150 years in the business this year.

Donations raised during Trout Days will benefit the Lions charities and other community organizations.

'Conservancy' excursions to discuss frogs, fireflies, fish

Community programs to guide residents through wildlife areas   

A local preservation group plans to share wonders of Middleton nature in upcoming free educational events.

The not-for-profit Friends of Pheasant Branch has sessions planned in May, June and July that teach attendees about creatures indigenous to the Pheasant Branch area.