This past weekend in Lake Geneva felt and looked like a typical warm spring weekend.
Parking was full, people were out and about, restaurants had orders to fill hand over fist (carry out and curbside services only), and if it wasn’t for the mandated closure of the downtown shops they would have been busy also. The number of people crowded into the small area of downtown and not going in and out of regular small businesses is placing business owners, who are finding it harder and harder to justify keeping the shops in existence. Also, the big box stores are extremely busy, as anyone might guess, as their competitors for things, not food-related, have been shuttered. They continue to sell. Home Depot’s parking lot was full, as well, for the entire weekend, as people picked up essential flowers, gardening supplies, and home improvement materials. Home improvement work and workers are essential today, while teeth and dentists are not. Hair and hair stylists are not essential either. Society may survive the virus but it’s going to look a bit more haggard when it gets to arriving at some safer plateau.
Hooray, the Yerkes is back!
The University of Chicago transferred ownership of Yerkes Observatory on Friday, May 1st, 2020, along with 50 acres of land, to the Yerkes Future Foundation. The foundation has been working for the last two years to save the observatory and bring it back to its former glory. The University of Chicago is happy to pass the observatory on to the foundation, knowing the benefits it will have to Williams Bay and future visitors. There are 120 years of history surrounding the observatory and the foundation plans on restoring the property and getting it ready for public tours once again. The foundation members are currently assessing the building and grounds to determine what has to be repaired and landscaped. They are also planning to add more parking spaces and use the onsite buildings for different events and research, all of which will require permits. The foundation is waiting on permits from the Williams Bay village, which has slowed due to the COVID-19 crisis, its onset causing government meetings to be canceled. Incidentally, the family that was supposed to be ceded the observatory by original contract when the institution was closed, apparently made a deal to get rid of everything. The foundation gets the building and fifty acres, but they only get a lease on the stuff, including the astounding telescope, inside. The family of Yerkes was ceded the building and the stuff, but, in secret, as most things are today in this kind of business, must have decided to surrender the stuff and not allow the foundation to own it. In some ways, the University of Chicago is a lot like Harvard University. Don’t ever get in the way of those institutions and money.
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