Outdoor: Did you hear?…

Wi-Fi hot spots springing up in SoCal, Werner receives patent on adjustable ferrule system, Joe Hyer shoots for city council re-election, Murray Merkley in hot seat with firefighters, plus much more...
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>> Only in California. In early April, two Southern California state parks enabled Wi-Fi access to the park so that camper and picnickers could use laptops or PDAs at campsites and picnic tables. The two parks are San Clemente State Park in Orange County and San Elijo State Park just north of San Diego. California Department of Parks reports that it has plans to equip as many as 80 more parks in the coming months. Campers or park visitors simply have to register with the ranger station or visitor's center and pay $7.95 for 24-hour access to SBC FreedomLink Wi-Fi service. Approximately 6,000 Wi-Fi hot spots will be installed, most in individual campsites or picnic areas. Not all parks will receive Wi-Fi access because they are too remote and the park service can't even afford to provide Wi-Fi to their own employees. To find out which parks have access, go to www.parks.ca.gov and enter "Wi-Fi" into the search field.

>> Werner Paddles has been awarded a U.S. patent, 6881111, for the company's Adjustable Ferrule System. Werner Paddles Adjustable Ferrule System changes feather angles from zero to 90 degrees, left or right, in 15 degree increments. The design is light weight, elegant and easy to use. To change angles, you simply pull, twist and push back together. Also unique to Werner's design is an internal molded system that does not require extra tools to change angles and is protected from potential damage and wear.

>> The "People For Joe Hyer" committee has officially launched a re-election campaign to ensure Joe Hyer, co-owner of the Alpine Experience store in Olympia, Wash., keeps his seat on the Olympia City Council. Hyer tells SNEWS® that in his position, he is "able to be a voice for environmental and business issues like health care costs, wilderness preservation and conservation, and community issues like parks, trails and open space funding on the local, county, state and federal level." It is long been Hyer's position that all of us in the outdoor industry must work now for "livable communities, parks and open spaces, access to outdoor recreation, and a positive, sustainable business environment." Hyer is inviting industry friends to attend a campaign kick-off and fund-raiser on May 18. If you can't attend, send Hyer an email and at least wish him your very best -- joe@alpinex.com. Ask for a campaign contribution envelope to be sent to you as well. Who knows? Maybe we'll see Hyer running for state office soon?

>> At the Fifty-Fourth Annual Maggie Awards, held in Los Angeles April 23, the Western Publication Association (WPA) recognized Rock and Ice as the best in the "Outdoor Sports and Recreation consumer magazine" category for 2005, awarding the publication its "Maggie" for editorial and design excellence. Rock and Ice competed with nearly 1,900 magazine entries vying for different trade and consumer magazine awards. Sierra Magazine also took home a Maggie in the "Best Special Theme Issue for a Consumer Publication" with its March/April 2004 Wild America issue.

>> Good news for the upcoming surf kayak season, and retailers selling Speedos and other such bathing suits -- Cape May, N.J., has repealed the community's ban on "skintight, formfitting or bikini type" bathing attire on males over the age of 12. The ban, enacted in the 1960s was rarely enforced, but still -- talk about ridiculous legislation.

>> Merkley headgear's Murray Merkley is getting pilloried in Canadian press, and on firefighter websites for reneging on an agreement to help families of firefighters who died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. An April 9 story in Toronto's Globe and Mail by Andrew Willis (one that is making its way around chat rooms and sites frequented by firefighters) begins: "In the days after the World Trade Center attack, Murray Merkley devised a plan to help the families of the 343 New York City firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001. His North York-based hat-manufacturing company designed a baseball cap with the soon-to-be-famous "FDNY" logo and the crossed flags of Canada and the United States. Then it enlisted local firefighters to help sell them, with the promise that a portion of the proceeds would go to a Fire Department of New York charity. What started in a few Toronto fire stations soon caught on with chains such as Canadian Tire and National Sports. The Toronto Maple Leafs even got involved, inviting firefighters to sell caps at the Air Canada Centre during their Dec. 8, 2001, game with the New York Rangers. That one night saw 2,418 hats sold. By the time the campaign wound down in March 2002, more than 44,000 caps had sold, raising $291,021. That's the good news. The bad news is that the New York Fire Fighters 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund hasn't received a cent from Merkley Headgear." -- click here to read the full story. Firehall.com, a site for Canadian firefighters has been, well, less than kind, with postings encouraging folks to string Murray up by his shoelaces. Ouch! SNEWS® View: Murray, now making a mere $100k a year (that's Canadian) and no longer owner of his company, is working for Filmar Corp. -- the company that purchased Merkley out of bankruptcy and the company that also makes Bula. And while it is Murray that made the deal, it was as an executive of Merkley. Bankruptcy or no, the debt must be paid and we would suggest that it is Filmar that needs to step up and make the payment. Perhaps industry retailers who buy Merkley headgear need to force Filmar's hands by refusing to buy anymore hats or gloves until the company makes good with the firefighters' families.

>> Marmot, Marker and Ex Officio will be establishing a new distribution facility located in Reno, Nev. Effective with spring 2006, all products for each company as well as Dana Designs packs and accessories will ship from Reno. The facility is designed to feature advanced materials handling systems and equipment as well as provide continued innovative quality control. Growth has outstripped the ability of the current fulfillment facilities, according to the company. With the new distribution facility and location, Marmot, Ex Officio and Marker apparel will be able to better balance seasonal flow of product and be better positioned to improve levels of efficiency and customer service. Marmot President Mark Martin pointed out that, "Reno is easily accessible to the two major ports of Long Beach and Oakland and features spectacular outdoor activities in the Eastern Sierra and Lake Tahoe areas. Reno has clearly established itself as a key regional distribution location for many companies, with attractive square footage costs." No changes are being made to corporate locations, however. Marmot headquarters will remain in Santa Rosa, Calif., Ex Officio in Seattle, Wash., and Marker Skiwear in Salt Lake City, Utah.

>> Backcountry Magazine announced the addition of three snowboarding-focused writers: Mike Harrelson, Chris Van Tilburg and Dan Kostrzewski, have been brought on by Backcountry Magazine to work on the magazine's first Snowboarding Annual to debut in October. Bozeman, Mont.-based, Harrelson has been named the new contributing editor and added to the masthead to help steer the editorial mission of Backcountry's snowboarding content. Van Tilburg will manage all snowboard-related product reviews, while Kostrzewski will write features.

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