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River studies at UW-La Crosse to be assisted by high-tech research boat

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A local public and private partnership has been formed to assist education, commerce and the condition of the Mississippi River.

The collaboration involves the J.F. Brennan Company of La Crosse and the River Studies Center at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Brennan will supply the university with a modern research vessel to be called the Prairie Springs, sharing its name with a science building on campus.

The La Crosse Community Foundation and a local trust are providing $500,000 in funding to supply the research vessel.

Roger Haro with the studies center says a good deal of planning will take place before the boat is ready to go on the water.

“We’ve got an 18-month wait ’til we get the boat, plan to use those 18 months extensively to plan and understand and explore how we’re going to use this boat, look at partnerships beyond what we already have,” Haro said.

Brennan vice president Mark Binsfeld said the project can help his company train new employees and establish La Crosse as a hub for river education.

“The Freshwater Science Center is there to test these new technologies, to develop these new technologies,” Binsfeld said. “And so as these students learn, get hands-on learning operating a vessel like this in the city of La Crosse, it helps us again on that workforce development.”

The vessel will include high-tech equipment to monitor underwater conditions in the river, including drones to fly over the river.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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