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New $500,000 UW-La Crosse river research vessel christened at Riverside Park



A new boat on the Mississippi will help UW-La Crosse and its students carry out research of the area rivers.

The Research Vessel Prairie Springs was christened on the La Crosse riverfront Tuesday, on a very rainy morning, where most of the official ceremonies had to be moved indoors to the Hatchery building.

The actual christening took place on the boat while it was a distance from the shore at Riverside Park.

The 32-foot aluminum boat carries equipment to aid scientific studies on the water, and bears the UW-La Crosse logo.

The university teamed up with the J.F. Brennan Company of La Crosse to build the boat. It was funded by a nearly $500,000 gift from UW-L alumni Jay and Carolyn Scott, through a trust in memory of Carolyn’s brother, Paul Fleckenstein, and arranged through the La Crosse Community Foundation.

An audience filled the Hatchery in La Crosse on Tuesday, when a boat christening ceremony was forced indoors during heavy rain

Interim UW-L chancellor Betsy Morgan remarked that the ceremony came within a week of two $1 million-plus gifts announced for university faculty and science projects.

Morgan jokingly referred to the research boat as a “dinghy,” available for “three-hour tours,” in a reference to the TV show “Gilligan’s Island.”

The ceremony also featured a monologue by “Mark Twain,” portrayed by local actor Michael Scott.

Eric Strauss, director of the River Studies Center on campus, says the boat is not just a big deal, but “a massive deal,” and major contribution to the program.

Brennan CEO Matt Binsfeld hopes that the project will lead to more local students preparing to work with his company.

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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  1. John Q Public

    May 22, 2024 at 7:32 am

    A waste of 500,000 for a boat that could have been gotten for a hell of a lot less.

  2. Ron

    May 22, 2024 at 10:26 am

    They got celebrate after.. hail to the dump asses

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