Archive for August, 2009

OK, all you hunters and anglers, it’s time to put some starch in your shorts to show a little love to the great state of Idaho.

Not only does it have one of the coolest football stadiums anywhere with the blue turf at Boise State, but one of the nation’s funniest-shaped states also is replete with hunting, fishing and outdoors opportunities for just about every desire. From hiking and camping to big-game hunting and fishing getaways, rugged Idaho offers a lot.

Fortunately, it also offers potatoes. Lots of them, enough to have an industry that has a great impact on the state and regional economy. Idaho’s potatoes are known around the world.

Idaho also has wolves. The population has grown over the years through conservation management — a key word there, please note — and now the state has deemed its numbers sufficient for a hunting season. Regulations have been set, along with a maximum number of 220 wolves, and the season is to begin Tuesday.

I read a short piece at The Outdoor Pressroom the other day that didn’t surprise me, given the group involved, but figured maybe hunters could counteract their silly gambit.

“Friends of Animals,” a wacko animal-rights organization based in Connecticut, which figures, is urging people to not buy potatoes as a means of a boycott. If these delusional people would put as much time and effort into productive programs involving human beings instead of idiotic stunts like this, perhaps they would be more well-regarded.

If they truly were friends of animals, they would understand conservation management and how hunting has a role in that process. Instead, they believe in preservation — something completely different from conservation — and put animals on the same plane as humans, which is stupid. These are the same kind of people who support President Obama’s selection for a high-level government position a guy who believes all hunting should be banned and animals should have the “right” to sue humans. Fortunately, his nomination is being held up. More on that later.

So today and this week, drop by your local grocery store and pick up two or three bags of Idaho potatoes. Make sure they’re from Idaho. Ask the produce manager if necessary. Tell the wife y’all are going to have enough fries, smashed taters, baked taters and hash browns to last for a few weeks. With dove season opening Friday it would be a good time to have an ample supply of taters on hand to go with the barbecue pork, beans and slaw for lunch before everyone starts hunting.

Spend a few bucks and lob some economic “Spud Missiles” this week for Idaho’s hunters and Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s support of the wolf hunting season.


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Howdy, y’all.

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. Crazy week.

Mercury officials announced Sunday they plan to continue in Wisconsin under the current agreement with the Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, which expires in 2012. That’s on par with the 2- to 3-year timeframe it said would be implemented to move the outboard production facility to its Oklahoma facility.

Mercury’s statement can be found below in its entirety.

The union chose to push Mercury to the final limits with an attempt late Saturday to have a second vote, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. But this was rejected by Mercury officials who have stuck by their repeated and obviously serious “final offer” to the union.

After a week, and knowing Mercury’s deadline was midnight Saturday, the union pushed things to the last hours. If the union wanted to have a second vote it should have decided earlier in the week to do so and not waited.

Big giant gator!

My pal Bryan Hughes of Gurley drew one of the tags for this year’s 10-day Eufaula alligator hunt that ends Monday, and on the second night he scored with a whopper.

Hunting with friends including Mark Land of Muzzy and Tate Morrell of Florida, Hughes arrowed what turned out to be a 627-pound alligator more than 12 feet long. It is believed to be the Alabama record for a compound bow, although no official records are maintained, and gave the 5-man hunting party about three hours of excitement.

Check out Mike Bolton’s column about Hughes in The Birmingham News and you’ll be able to see a photo of it. I also had a piece in The News today about the harvest data from all the gators killed in Alabama the last four years. I hope the state biologists can do something to take a look at any trends or impacts on the population, possibly in concert with other Southeastern states with gator seasons. This seems like it would be a good research project of some type for a college student, too.

For an update on the Mobile Delta gator situation, check out Jeff Dute’s piece in the Mobile Press-Register. Having attended hunts in both areas, I can say the Mobile Delta is a bit more enthralling with the marshes, larger population of gators and chance for some fresh shrimp and cold beer once the hunt ends.

Kayaks and redfish!

Interesting news last week for fans of inshore fishing from kayaks while pursuing redfish, one of the gamest species you’ll encounter.

It seems there’s a new tournament series starting up for the inshore crowd. The IFA Redfish Tour and Hobie Cat are joining forces and will kick off Sept. 20 in Titusville, Fla. The Indian River and its multitude of flats should provide anglers great opporunities.

Mercury Marine statement

Mercury Marine on Sunday confirmed that the contract proposal formally rejected by union members Aug. 23 expired at midnight Friday, Aug. 29, without acceptance by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).
The IAM conducted a last-minute vote on the original proposal terms and conditions but did not complete the process to a definitive conclusion prior to the expiration of the proposal.

As a result, Mercury said it will continue to operate the Fond du Lac facility under the terms and conditions of the existing contract, which expires in 2012. Manufacturing workers in Fond du Lac are represented by the IAM, Local chapter 1947. As previously announced, the company will now begin the transition planning process to its Stillwater, Okla., facility.

“We want to personally thank the business and community leaders of Fond du Lac and Stillwater, our local and state government officials and all of the committed employees of Mercury Marine who have supported us and given us their full effort during this difficult process,” said Mark Schwabero, president of Mercury Marine. “This has been a very difficult and stressful time for all involved but, as we said at the beginning of this process, it is our responsibility to make the best business decisions for the company to have a sustainable future.

“We will work closely with our teams in Fond du Lac and Stillwater to develop and communicate a smooth transition plan which we hope to implement with minimal disruption to our business and the communities.”

In light of extreme economic conditions that necessitate the consolidation of its manufacturing capacity, Mercury had submitted a contract proposal to the union leadership that would have enabled the Fond du Lac facility to more effectively compete in a different, much smaller market.

Mercury said it expects to finalize the details of state and local programs over the next few days and that detailed plans for the transition will be announced as they become available. The company expects the full consolidation to take between 24 and 36 months.

“As we begin the planning process, we value the ongoing support of our community, employees and local officials,” Mr. Schwabero said. “We will continue to communicate regularly and openly as transition decisions are made over the coming months.”

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They’re happy in Oklahoma, where the production group of Mercury Marine will be moving after the union’s vote Sunday to decline the contract proposal.

A follow-up piece to the decision in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel provides a little insight to the emotions.

Mercury officials said it was their final off and, obviously, they weren’t bluffing. Only a couple of hours after the vote Sunday they made an announcement saying they’ll shift the production jobs and consolidate them at the Oklahoma plant.

Now they’ll begin a roughly 2-3 year process to move at least half of the roughly 1,900 jobs from Fond du Lac, Wis., to its MerCruiser facility in Stillwater. Oklahomans are happy about it but know the people in Wisconsin affected by the union’s decision are coming to grips with the decision.

Wisconsin now must try to convince Brunswick Corporation to keep the Mercury headquarters in Fond du Lac, where it began 70 years ago. They’ve already said if the production is moved to Oklahoma, chances are the headquarters will be, too. Guess we’ll have to see how that turns out.

Huntsville NRA chapter hosting event

Huntsville’s “Friends of the NRA” chapter will host its annual banquet Sept. 3 at the Mariott near the Space and Rocket Center.

The event begins at 6 p.m. and tickets are $35. They’ll be available at the door, but it’s best to reserve one (or more!) earlier so they can plan for the meal.

Contact Mike Parsons at friendsofnrahsv@yahoo.com or (256) 776-2435 for ticket or donation information.

Click this link for events elsewhere in the state, and once you’re there you can go here to find out more about the NRA’s “Friends” chapters, events and other happenings.

They have serial numbers?

I don’t keep up with entertainment news because “reality” shows, who’s hot or not, the latest dance-cooking-“idol”-talent (really, no talent) shows and all that other stuff is mind-melting hooey.

But when I saw the headline “Slain Swimsuit Model’s Suspected Killer Husband Found Dead,” well, the slow-down-to-look-at-the-wreck in me jumped to the front of the line. The intelligent part of my brain weeps.

Within this tragic story it was stated the deceased woman had her teeth removed and fingertips cut off to slow the identification process. How horrible, and how sick is a person to have done that? Sheesh.

But then it said she was identified by the serial numbers on her breast implants. What? They have serial numbers? Good grief.

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Mercury Marine officials announced Sunday afternoon it plans to move production operations to its facility in Stillwater, Okla., following the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 1947 vote to decline contract concessions.

This isn’t a surprise considering Mercury officials have said this is the most likely scenario, but the confirmation still is a bit sad. The company was founded in 1939 by Carl Kiekhaefer, who started the ball rolling right out of college and dabbled in NASCAR for a brief but successful period.

Kiekhaefer’s success in the marine industry was so great that in 1976 his primary competitor, Outboard Marine Corporation, honored him with the Ole Evinrude Award for an ” … immeasurable contribution to boating.”

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It appears Mercury’s 70-year history in Wisconsin may come to an end.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 1947 voted “overwhelmingly” to reject Brunswick Corporation’s proposal, which it termed to be a final offer. The proposal included 30 percent less pay for new hires and workers who had been laid off and called back, along with a 7-year wage freeze.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an update and more will come later with updates from Mercury and union officials.

I would be surprised, given Mercury’s statements and obvious path, if the 70-year old company stayed in Fond du Lac. That’s where it was founded and Wisconsin has a lot of history and tradition, but business is business. I’m certain that Stillwater, Okla., will welcome the opportunity with open arms should Brunswick move its production facility.

Stay tuned.

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For the last couple of weeks I’ve been keeping up with the situation about Mercury Marine and its union vote, which is today, that could decide the fate of about half of the company’s roughly 1,900 workers at its longtime headquarters and plant in Fond du Lac, Wis.

I say half because that’s about what the production side entails of the total number at the plant. The other half is administrative, running the world headquarters for one of the most well-known and positively-branded marine products anywhere. The company was founded in 1939 and is considering a consolidation move to Stillwater, Okla., if today’s union votes against the proposed contract consessions.

But last week I thought about all the ancillary companies that supply parts to Mercury and other boating manufacturers. Boiled down, you don’t have all your widgets in one place. You make a product and need other products to get it done … screws, wires, clamps, hoses, cables, etc. It’s virtually identical to the automotive industry that relies on suppliers for seats, carpet and other items that help create a car or truck.

As usual, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has updated its great coverage with a story about today’s vote and how it could affect more than the immediate Mercury employees. It says more than 11,000 jobs statewide totaling about $600 million annually could be impacted, a staggering number if the company does move given today’s national economic stupor.

Suppliers could still provide parts but the shipping costs would, no doubt, increase the price. I feel for the union workers having to decide and their fears that Mercury could move anyway, no matter what the outcome of the vote.

Stay tuned today for more on this.

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Mercury Marine president Mark Schwabero said Thursday the 70-year old company probably will leave Wisconsin for its facility in Oklahoma if the union doesn’t vote to approve an offer that cuts pay for new hires and layoff callbacks along with a seven-year wage freeze.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has been all over this story like a cat on a rat and offered the latest from Schwabero after a Thursday press conference. The union is expected to vote this Sunday.

It would be hard to imagine Mercury not being based in Fond du Lac, where it was founded in 1939 and has been one of the city’s cornerstones. With between 1,900 and 2,000 jobs it is the largest employer. Wisconsin and Oklahoma officials have offered tax concessions and made pitches to woo or keep the company.

If the production efforts are moved to Oklahoma — Stillwater, specifically, which is the home of Oklahoma State University — the headquarters also probably will move there as well. Stillwater is about 60-65 miles northeast of Oklahoma City and the same distance from Tulsa.

Stay tuned.

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