Invention lends aid to those in need
Severe storms and flooding caused problems locally and statewide in June 2008. The following photos were submitted by users of Gazettextra.
NEWVILLE Everybody was talking about the local hero.
But nobody could quite remember his name.
On Monday, residents and businesses owners around Lake Koshkonong were piling up more sandbags and talking about “that guy.”
“That guy” was a Lake Koshkonong resident, businessman and inventor who had created a device that could fill a sand bag in six seconds.
No kidding. Six seconds flat without a shovel.
The guy—his name was Steve Something or maybe Shawn or was it Bill?—took his inventions around the lake, allowing people to use them free of charge.
He could have made a financial killing.
“We couldn’t have done it without him,” people said repeatedly. “You’ve got to find this guy.”
Kandi Swanson, manger of the Lakeview Lodge and Campground, thought his name was “Stacey Babriz”; a campground owner who heard the name suggested checking with an Edgerton bar owner.
Finally, the local hero was spotted driving a Bobcat in an empty lot near the Newville Culver’s, helping workers from the Rock County Jail fill sandbags. Two massive hills of sand were waiting.
His name is Stacey Babiarz, and he lives with his wife, Diane Bloecker, on Lake Koshkonong in Dane County. Since Friday, the two of them have been stacking or filling sandbags.
Babiarz, a compact, muscular guy, is the inventor and manufacturer of Bucket Bagger. It’s a bucket that can be attached to a skid steer. A giant auger at the bottom of the bucket rotates briskly, moving the sand across the bottom of the bucket, through a round port and into the bag.
It can fill a 30-pound bag in about 6 to 7 seconds.
“He thought it up after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans,” Bloecker said. “The other day, he said, ‘I never thought I’d need my own product.’”
So why did he loan out his invention, rather than taking advantage of the market?
When asked, Babiarz got choked up.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s just that people have been so good; we’re so grateful.”
The couple were in Texas when the water started to rise. Before they got home, their neighbors went to work, placing sandbags around the couple’s home.
He couldn’t stand the desperation he saw, either.
“There was an old couple here filling sandbags with their hands,” he said.
Babiarz wasn’t aware that everybody was talking about him.
After a brief conversation about his contributions, Babiarz climbed up into the skid steer and went quietly back to work.
On the Web
Want to see the Bucket Bagger in action? Go to www.bucketbagger.com to watch a video.