Members of the Clinton County Conservation Board had the money pledged to purchase a huge aquarium for the Mississippi River Eco Tourism Center in Rock Creek Park when they scheduled a bid opening for Aug. 9.

But when that date came, they were told  no bids had been received.

Walt Wickham, executive director, told the board members the specifications for the aquarium had been sent by the architect to an address on the web site of an interested company, but the company had moved. By the time the company received the specs, there was not time to work up a bid.

Meanwhile, Wickham said, he had seen a television show about an aquarium company in Las Vegas. He sent an email to that firm and received a phone call saying they were interested in bidding. Bids are now scheduled to be opened this Wednesday, Aug. 24.

And there were more problems to come before the board. Clinton Engineering Co., the general contractor on the Eco Center project asked for an eight-week extension of the completion date because flooding conditions delayed their work. The request was granted.

But a request from Shawyer Drilling Co., for an additional $8,146.95 for drilling the wells for the geo-thermal system at the Center was denied. The company said they encountered “weathered (soft) limestone” and needed additional material to finish the work. They had drilled 20 wells to a depth of 300 feet.

During a discussion, the board noted that the company relied on test holes which had been drilled for the building structure and which only went down 25 feet. Also, the company did not report their problem until their work was completed.

The request for more money was denied.

In other news

The board welcomed Kim Rixen as a new member, replacing Ross Spooner, who had resigned due to ill health after eight years on the board.

Mark Roberts, education chairman, reported more than 1,000 people stopped at the conservation booth during the recent Clinton County 4-H Fair, when camping and archery were emphasized. Also, he said the Thursday evening cruises of the Blue Heron boat have been busy, with two cruises being full almost every week.

The dream of the late Marie Ketelsen of Brookfield Township to have her 40 acres of land used to teach children about nature was presented to the board. When the lifelong teacher died, her will outlined the creation of a Marie Ketelsen Learning Center.

The area includes a prairie planting, woods, a small pond and a shelter house. Her will provided for a board to manage the center and funds for its upkeep.

Since the plot is on gravel roads and not easily accessible, the conservation board has been asked to consider taking over the operation, perhaps for youth camping.

The board members expressed an interest in the idea and asked Wickham to provide more information next month.

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