NEW AUBURN - With four sand mines in operation within a few miles of New Auburn public schools, district officials have taken extra precautions to keep silica sand out of the building's air system.
Superintendent Brian Henning says the district has been using higher-quality air filters at double the price, spending about $1,500 this school year.
West-central Wisconsin is a hot spot for sand mining and residents have expressed environmental and health concerns about the tiny sand particles generated by mining. The sand is mixed with chemicals in hydraulic fracturing _ a high-pressure process used to extract natural gas and oil from the ground.
Henning tells the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram (http://bit.ly/HjCgBE ) school officials took dust scrapings from the air filters and sent it to a Madison lab for testing. They found a small amount of silica on the filters.
PRESQUE ISLE - The art of violin making dates back hundreds of years, and Brian Derber is carrying on the tradition. He wanted to go into furniture making, but fell into instrument design after taking a class in college. In 1999, he opened his own school. It's the only violin making school in Wisconsin.
"The program itself is modeled after a German school of violin making," said New World School of Violin Making Owner Brian Derber. "Students have to fulfill a certain requirement before they can apply to graduate. So the minimum time they are with me is three years."
Students start out by making the body of a violin in their first year. As they progress, they add the scroll and varnish, which can take months for students to finish. Nearing the end of their stay, they can even try to make a cello.
"In the time that I have with students in the school here, I can only give them so much, and then it's time for them to go someplace else and get more knowledge," said Derber.
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