A shoutout to area Wisconsin Reps. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, and Travis Tranel, R-Cuba City, whose efforts to speak up for the needs of their communities echoed through the Assembly last week and became law.
The pair, whose districts neighbor each other’s, co-authored a bill recently calling for a fraction of the state’s federal relief aid to be used to reopen by August all Wisconsin State Historic Sites shuttered due to budgetary shortfalls that followed the pandemic. Among the sites were Pendarvis in Mineral Point, Stonefield in Cassville, Villa Louis in Prairie du Chien, and First Capitol in Belmont.
While a few weeks ago Tranel said he couldn’t get Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on the phone to discuss the matter, wisdom prevailed and the governor took the suggestion.
That’s great news for these southwest Wisconsin communities who depend on tourism and these historical sites in particular. When federal relief aid can be used to help communities leverage more dollars through increasing visitors and economic activity, that’s the best-case scenario. Kudos to Tranel and Novak for continuing to push their sensible legislation.
It’s encouraging to see the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department embracing a trend to help community members experiencing brain health struggles by employing a full-time liaison to join authorities on calls involving someone in a brain health crisis. The liaison also will connect people with the right resources for help after they call the department to report a brain health matter.
This change has been a drastic need for a long time. The liaison will be funded by the Mental Health/Disability Services of the East Central Region for fiscal year 2022 and work through the Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based mental health agency Foundation 2 Crisis Services. The agency started helping embed liaisons in eastern Iowa law enforcement departments in 2018.
Having a mental health professional in the mix will ease the burden on law enforcement and fill a gap in the continuum of response to brain health crises.
Law enforcement officials have dealt with critical brain health issues on routine calls for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the instances.
To see mental health and law enforcement professionals working together to meet the needs of those struggling is a positive step for the community.
That one of the Wisconsin state officials who approved the controversial construction of a high-voltage transmission line was in communication with company employees and contractors involved in the project via encrypted messages casts a most disturbing shadow over the whole project.
To their credit, the three transmission companies involved have asked Wisconsin’s public utility regulatory agency to rescind its approval and rehear the proceedings over the Cardinal Hickory-Creek project. That’s absolutely necessary, and it’s a positive sign that the transmission companies recognize this.
Placing the 102-mile line from Dubuque County to Dane County, Wis., raised a host of concerns in the first place. Add in some sinister business dealings, and it’s time to go back to square one and begin again.
Now-former Commissioner Michael Huebsch was among the three state officials in 2019 who unanimously approved the $492 million joint venture proposed by ITC Midwest, American Transmission Co. and Dairyland Power Cooperative. Huebsch engaged in regular communications with an ATC employee, a former independent contractor for ITC and other individuals over several years, including during the proceeding. The messages came through an app that enables users to send private, encrypted messages that can be automatically deleted after a preset time period.
If this project is going to recover from such a scandal, it will require full transparency and a third-party vetting of the details. A project of this enormity, affecting so many citizens and raising so many concerns, calls for a thorough review of the plans before a new decision is reached.