ANTIGO - Last week a 52-year-old Dallas woman died after falling from one of the countryís tallest roller coasters at Six Flags. Carnivals and fairs happen without incident every day throughout the summer across the country. But we often only hear about the rides when something tragic happens.
The Langlade County Fair is this weekend. The company that owns the rides at the fair is ANP Enterprise. The family owned business has been traveling to county fairs throughout Wisconsin for more than 40 years. So theyíre MORE than familiar with safety standards in the fair ride industry.
In addition to running the company, two of the brothers are also certified ride safety inspectors. They say keeping the rides safe is the REAL full time job when it comes to running this business. And itís not just something they worry about when setting up at a new location, itís every day.
"It's out on a midway and we start our visuals and walk-arounds and if there is something that is reported to us by the operator from the previous day, we take that as a priority and take a look at that stuff. It's every ride here. It's 21 rides that we have here and we go through everything," says David Kedrowicz, ANP Enterprise Owner.
The woman who died in Texas was said to have been too big for the roller coaster she was on. Enforcing those size limits can be a delicate task, but itís one Kedrowicz says they don't take lightly.
"We'd be setting ourselves up for some court dates down the road so we pleasantly tell them 'Look, we cannot ride you' and they either understand or they ride something else that they're appropriate sized for," said Kedrowicz.
The Kedrowicz brothers spend much of the off-season in safety seminars to keep up with the latest safety standards in the industryÖ and the state of Wisconsin does random inspections of all fair ride companies twice a year.
RHINELANDER - The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce group held a seminar at Nicolet College in Rhinelander Tuesday, to plan how to make Wisconsin more attractive to skilled workers and manufacturing businesses.
WMC's president believes the shortage in younger people in the industry has to do with two big misconceptions about manufacturing.
"The younger kids, as do their parents, have a perception on what manufacturing looks like and it's about 40 years out of date. If you're in an advanced manufacturing facility now, it's clean, it's high-tech, the engineers and technicians are working together," said Jim Morgan."We have a perception problem. I think we still have a definition of success that's says unless you have a four-year degree, you're not successful."
Morgan says groups like WMC work to change that perception. He believes workers with a two-year degree are just as successful in the industry.
So far, WMC held seminars at nine other technical colleges. For Rhinelander, more manufacturers could mean more economic independence.
"The Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce is looking to see how it can help and partner with local manufacturers to make the Rhinelander area a more favorable place for them to locate their businesses, as well as to attract and retain skilled workers to make those businesses successful," said Dana DeMet, Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce director.
Over the next six months, WMC will continue to look for ways to attract more workers and businesses to the state.
In December, it hopes to have 1000 representatives for a meeting in Milwaukee focusing on how manufacturing will benefit the state.
WMC also works with the University of Wisconsin system and the Wisconsin Technical Colleges.
WAUSAU - Students at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau got to see Tibetan monks create a work of art steeped in Buddhist history.
The Mandala Sand Art is an ancient Tantric Buddhist tradition dating back thousands of years.
The Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery are on an international tour called Mystical Arts of Tibet where they create mandalas in front of an audience.
"The colored patterns we are using, we are following the scriptures, the Buddhist scriptures. It's a very old tradition, more than 2,500 years ago," says Geshe Loden, head of the Mystical Arts of Tibet.
The monks' last visit to Northcentral Technical College in 2011 was so popular, they were invited back.
"At NTC we feel like it's important to offer our students a variety of different programming, and one of the things we feel our responsibility to do is expose our students to other cultures, other religions, other ideas," says Director of Student Development Shawn Sullivan.
The monks work hours at a time placing sand delicately in the lines of the intricate pattern.
The mandala will take them four days to complete, but the beautiful creation won't last long.
"After finishing this, making the mandala, we consecrate this completed mandala, and we dismantle it to symbolize the impermanence of all the conditioned things, all the phenomena," says Loden.
The monks' tour raises money for more than 3,000 monasteries in India. They also do it to raise awareness about the plight of Tibetans.
"Lord Buddha had started this, and that tradition keeps going on."
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