From “Western grad following farm-to-table dreams” — Josh Powell has a vision. One day, he wants to be in the kitchen of his own restaurant. A customer might compliment his pork chops and ask where they came from, “and I can just point west,” Powell said.

And then, he’ll say something like: “See that pasture with those six hogs?”

After more than a decade in the culinary arts, the 32-year-old La Crosse native went back to school to learn more about the meat and vegetables that end up in his kitchen. Powell begins an internship at Organic Valley on Monday after graduating from Western Technical College’s agri-business science technology program.

“It’s a huge weight off my shoulders,” Powell said. “There were a couple times where I really thought about, ‘Is this the right idea?’ ”

Powell is one of 1,136 graduates who will be honored at 2 p.m. today at Western’s spring commencement ceremony in the La Crosse Center. College officials will grant 527 associate degrees and 242 technical diplomas, with 321 students graduating from Western’s certified nursing assistant program.

Powell’s Western degree marks his second spin at college. He also studied the culinary arts at Fox Valley Technical College, but he realized about two years ago that he needed to return to the world of higher education to realize his dream.

Powell wants to own a farm-to-table restaurant — a place that mixes modern cooking with “old-school” butchering, Powell said.

“I think butchering is kind of a dying art,” Powell said. “People don’t eat heart. People don’t eat liver. People don’t eat kidneys.”

Powell was the type of student who always added to the conversation in his classes at Western — often to talk about his favorite food, said Tracy Harper, an instructor and department head.

“Lots of discussions about bacon,” Harper said. “Every class.”

Powell’s passion for food was obvious, and it was infectious, Harper said.

His love for food dates back to the baked goods served up by his grandma and aunt. He wouldn’t settle for anything that wasn’t as tasty as his grandma’s cuisine, Powell said.

He started brushing up on his skills with different ingredients. About 12 years ago, he got a job at Syl’s Place, a Barre Mills supper club. Powell worked in the kitchen and behind the bar.

“Pouring drinks wasn’t really my thing,” Powell said. “I like playing with fire.”

He also has worked in kitchens at the La Crosse Country Club and restaurants in the Green Bay area.

“I was pretty lucky in my 12 years in the kitchen,” Powell said.

He was the executive chef at Pogreba in La Crosse but relinquished that title when he went back to school.

An unfortunate incident with a mechanical bull forced Powell to focus on his transition from cooking to agriculture. Nursing an injured elbow — compliments of the bull — Powell took two months off to focus on his studies.

Now, he’s back where he started, at Syl’s, but the horizon is completely changed. Western instructors and the people he met there have given him the ability to pursue his goals. They taught him things he could never have learned in the small garden of his childhood home on the North Side, Powell said.

He and some of his friends are raising livestock and testing recipes on family and friends, but Powell is focused on Organic Valley, where he’ll work this summer as an intern in the quality assurance department.

“Between a couple of my buddies, we’ve got to find a plan,” Powell said. “If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right.”

From “La Crosse summit seeks Rx for health gap for disadvantaged” –Coulee Region health officials are pressing their quest to improve residents’ overall well-being by diagnosing the impact of factors such as socioeconomic conditions.

The evolving concept of health equity “includes health care, but it’s a lot more,” said Jordan Bingham, who will address the topic as keynote speaker Friday at the annual Health Summit of the La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium.

“Having access to health care is only about 20 percent of it,” said Bingham, health equity coordinator for public health in Madison and Dane County. “Other things include the environment — and I don’t mean just clean air and water. Those play a part, but it also includes healthy housing, healthy food and healthy activities.”

Some people don’t have access to such advantages, she said, adding, “Where people live, their education, their income, race and social class are significant health predictors.

“Over the years, we’ve educated people on how to be healthy but not addressed the environmental factors,” Bingham said.

The theme of the summit from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Lunda Center at Western Technical College is “Health Equity: The Opportunity for Health Begins in Our Families, Neighborhoods, Schools and Jobs.”

It piggybacks on the outcome of the summit last year, when participants resolved to examine factors such as income, poverty and education, consortium executive director Catherine Kolkmeier said.

“I hear more and more in the community about how health is tied to people’s circumstances — how we live, where we work,” Kolkmeier said.

“There is a lot of momentum in the community about neighborhood revitalization, and that is tied into health,” Kolkmeier said.

Previously, health considerations often were split into clinical care at hospitals, the physical environment in the city and county and socioeconomic conditions that various public agencies addressed, she said.

“It’s become more obvious now that you can’t separate the health and the socioeconomic conditions,” she said.

Although data exist on the federal and state levels, it’s harder to discern statistics locally, so the consortium is working on that, Kolkmeier said.

The consortium, which covers 20 counties in the tri-state area, and other local agencies have developed a reputation for taking health initiatives seriously, said Bingham, who previously was the state’s Healthy Communities coordinator.

“A lot of places around the state see La Crosse as a leader,” she said. “Folks there are doing great work with smoke-free living … and increasing access to healthy foods and activities.”

Avoiding the political rabbit hole of the Affordable Care Act, Bingham said Obamacare at least is creating access to health care for people who didn’t have it before.

Beyond that, though, she said, “What is our responsibility to create opportunities for people to live, work, learn and play?”

Bingham acknowledged differences between urban and rural areas.

“Urban communities traditionally are more walkable, more dense and have more resources,” such as being able to get to a park to exercise, she said.

“In rural settings, which are a huge challenge in Wisconsin, people may have a lot of physical activity. But in reality, most who live in rural areas traditionally drive to their jobs,” she said.

“When it comes down to it, the reality is we don’t all have the same opportunities,” she said. “I live close to two grocery stores. I can ride, walk, bus or drive to work.

“I can provide the basic needs, but people on limited income or with disabilities or who live in apartment where the only place to play is the parking lot cannot,” she said.

“All of us need to understand that our community isn’t healthy until all have the opportunities to close the health gap,” Bingham said.

“It may be obvious — but maybe not — it’s a sad state of affairs when where people live or their ZIP codes determine how healthy they are or how long they live.”

From “La Crescent men receive WTC Distinguished Alumni Award” – Two La Crescent brothers are this year’s Western Technical College Distinguished Alumni.

Jeff and Brian Wieser graduated from Western in 1983 and 1986, respectively, completing the Wood Tech Program.

The brothers are now the owners of Wieser Brothers General Contractors in La Crescent.

The business has grown from two employees to 85, with annual sales exceeding $30 million dollars.

The Wiesers have stayed connected with the college over the years; they have established a scholarship fund and serve on the foundation board.

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From “Mary Burke visits college students, pushes jobs plan” – Governor Scott Walker visited on Tuesday, and democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke followed by bringing her “Invest for Success” tour to La Crosse on Wednesday.

Burke toured the Health Science Center on the UW-La Crosse campus on Wednesday, and spoke with health and science students.

Burke said she is committed to making Wisconsin a top ten thriving economy, creating more “good-paying” jobs, and making sure workers have the necessary skills to fill those jobs.

Burke also met with students at the Lunda Center on the Western Technical College campus, as she believes technical colleges plays a critical role in worker training—which would fuel job creation and strengthen Wisconsin’s middle class.

“We are constantly looking at how to produce more at a lower cost, and we have to approach education in the same way. We still want to keep quality really high, but we need to have more people to get skills and education after high school,” Burke said.

Burke said to help send the future workforce to college, she plans to increase tuition and fee deductions to help make higher education more affordable and available for middle class families.

“In terms of job creation, we are 9th our of ten Midwestern states. (Governor) Walker has cut funding for the technical colleges just at the point where we need to make sure we are investing in our students and investing in their skills,” Burke said.

Burke said 70 percent of new jobs created will require more education, and she said she believes the earlier they speak to high school students on what the next steps are ahead of them, the better Wisconsin will be able to create jobs.

From “WTCS Board recognizes D&S as ‘Futuremakers Partner’ — The Wisconsin Technical College System Board recently awarded its Futuremakers Partner award to D&S Manufacturing of Black River Falls.

The award recognizes the unique and dynamic partnerships between Wisconsin’s technical colleges and their employer partners.

D&S Manufacturing, specializing in metal fabrication of large-scale components and assemblies, is a long-time partner with Western Technical College. While its main campus is in La Crosse, Western also serves communities throughout the region, including Black River Falls.

“It was an honor to receive this award, and particularly fitting that company president Mike Dougherty and the Dougherty family were specifically recognized for their outstanding support and long-term commitment to Western,” said John Barkley, D&S vice president and general manager.

“Many of our employee owners have taken advantage of and benefited from the educational opportunities that Western offers. We look forward to continuing our support of Western and the opportunities it provides to our community and region.”

In presenting the award, WTCS Board president Drew Petersen noted that D&S was a driving force in establishing the Jackson County Welding Skills Institute, a unique partnership formed with Western and other partners to meet the growing need for trained welders in the Black River Falls area. Without that support, Petersen noted, the initiative would not have been possible. The company has also funded scholarships at Western over many years, and provided tuition assistance for its employee owners.

“D&S Manufacturing is a true partner,” said Lee Rasch, president of Western Technical College. “Members of both their management and production staff serve on our program advisory committees. We value their support and honest feedback, which helps to ensure that our educational programming is relevant and responsive to the communities we serve.”

From “Bridges2Healthcare” grant funds healthcare academy at WTC” – One of seven colleges to receive the “Bridges2Healthcare” Grant, Western Technical College hosts a Healthcare Academy which introduces career options in healthcare to those interested.

The four day Academy runs from April 8 through April 11, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The Healthcare Academy provides introductions to various career options in healthcare, training, and employment requirements.

The participants are additionally mentored by a Success Coach in communication and study skills, financial literacy, safety, stress management, customer service, and how to stay healthy.

Not only is it a 30 hour introduction program, but the benefits stretch beyond the four days.

Tutors and Success Coaches will be available to participants if they choose to pursue a career in the health field.

“I have seen a huge increase in the need for employees, well trained and prepared employees in the health care field,” said “Bridges2Healthcare” facilitator, Ray Heidel. “The healthcare field is huge.”

The program is partially funded by the nearly $13 million “Bridges2Healthcare” Grant from the Department of Labor, making it free to all those interested.

The grant was awarded to seven colleges in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin recognized for a growing need in healthcare employees as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program.

Those interested must be at least 18 years old, out of high school, and be interested in the healthcare field.

The next Healthcare Academy session is set to take place in June; to preregister for the event, contact the “Bridges2Heathcare” Facilitator, Ray Heidel, at (608)789-6216.


From “Walker promotes worker training; signs $35.4 million bill” — Gordon Murphy is still mastering his new trade, but on Monday he gave Wisconsin’s governor a quick lesson on operating a computer-controlled tool mill.

Murphy, a 29-year-old machinist and welder, is one of a dozen students enrolled in the machine tool operation program at Western Technical College, where Gov. Scott Walker stopped on a tour promoting new worker training bill.

The bill, which Walker signed into law Monday, will provide $35.4 million for worker training at places like WTC.

The Republican governor, seeking a second term this fall, touted the state’s falling unemployment rate — down to 6.1 percent in January, the lowest jobless rate since November 2008.

“More people are working, more employers are hiring and personal income is up,” he said. “We want that trend to continue. But one of the things we hear time and time and time and time again from employers is that one of the things they’re looking for to grow — not just to fill positions, but to grow — is even more well-trained, well-prepared, skilled employees.

Walker said spending on worker training will not only help fill job openings, but it also will attract more employers.

Western President Lee Rasch said the region’s greatest demand now is for welders, information technology specialists and behind the scenes workers in health care administration.

Electromechanical workers, who maintain the sophisticated machines used by workers like Murphy, are also in demand, Rasch said, though there aren’t necessarily waiting lists for any of those programs because of a lack of public awareness.

The new Wisconsin Fast Forward funds are designed to help technical colleges work through backlogs, give high school students access to vocational training and enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Rasch said WTC has submitted a $1.9 million proposal, which he said would be used to fund one-year certificate training rather than degree-based programs that would require ongoing funding.

That could mean training for 180 to 190 potential workers, he said.

Walker said the state should focus on advanced manufacturing in order to recapture some of the manufacturing jobs that were outsourced to China and Mexico in the 1990s.

“That’s why it’s so important for people, whether they’re coming right out of high school or coming back to support a new career, for them to have spots available in our technical colleges,” he said, “because they’re teaching them cutting-edge technology.”

Murphy said he landed a job at Chart a couple of years ago after starting the program at Western. He returned to school this year in hopes of landing a better job in the company’s tool room.

If successful, Murphy said he’ll be earning 15 to 20 percent more.

“It’ll pay for itself the first year on the job,” he said.

From “Could be a shortage of manufacturing workers in Wisconsin” — Skilled workers may be hard to come by in the state of Wisconsin over the next 20 years. The Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation was in La Crosse Tuesday to highlight its 20-year plan to combat the issue.

Western Technical College is one of 16 stops the Manufacturing Commerce Foundation is making in Wisconsin. Technical colleges play a big role in giving students the education needed to become skilled employees in manufacturing.

With the baby-boomer generation coming to retirement age, there could be a higher number of job openings in Wisconsin.

“Well this is an aging state. We expect about 800,000 additional people in this state over the next 30 years but 95 percent of those are going to be over the age of 65,” Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation President, Jim Morgan said.

According to the Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation, skilled laborers are a dying breed.

“We’ve got some challenges coming down the road around talent attraction, around business competitiveness, that we’ve really got to start that conversation right now,” Morgan said.

The WMC Foundation wants to establish a 20-year plan called Future Wisconsin.

“The things that were outlined here today are trying to get people to think more about manufacturing careers as viable options,” Western Technical College President Lee Rasch said.

Schools like Western Technical College are big contributors to the plan.

“We’re key players because we do a couple things. We work very closely with area manufacturers, we have an existing network, we provide a lot of education and training for the next generation of the workforce in manufacturing and we also represent this region,” Rasch said.

Training the next generation may be tough. The WMC Foundation says keeping that age group in Wisconsin is not easy.

“Unless we do something to keep our young people here and figure out a way to attract more people here we’re not going to have the people available for the jobs that we’re going to have,” Morgan said.

The president of Western said he was glad that the foundation stopped in La Crosse. It allowed for more of the manufacturers in our area to take part in the discussion.

The Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation will be working with colleges and universities throughout the year.


From “WMC Foundation looks into 20-year strategic plan for Wis.” – LA CROSSE – With the baby boomers retiring, Wisconsin will soon lose it’s largest group of workers.

The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation is looking for ways to replace them.

WMC Foundation President Jim Morgan traveled to Western Technical College Tuesday to find out where there is a job shortage in La Crosse, and discuss ways to train students to fill those positions.

The foundation will use that information to create a 20-year strategic plan for the state, called “Future Wisconsin.”

“And we’re trying to look at a couple of key areas like talent attraction, business competitiveness, globalization, entrepreneurship. The types of things that I think if we’re going to be successful in 20 years, we’ve got to start planning for now,” Morgan said.

There’s already a need for welders and machinists, he added.

The WMC Foundation will be meeting with 16 technical colleges, along with other schools, businesses and commerce associations for input.

From “The School Bell: Filling the skills gap — a Tomah tradition” –February is Career and Technical Education Month, and we have been hearing a consistent message from many important individuals about the value of career and technical education for our students, the future workforce, and our economy.

In Gov. Walker’s State of the State address he talked about the skills gap which exists in Wisconsin and the employment needs which exist in skilled trades, manufacturing, and construction. Governor Walker acknowledged that “we need enough skilled workers ready to fill jobs open today — as well as those that will be open tomorrow, and in the days to come.”

President Obama, in his State of the Union address, also commented on the need for real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career. While in Wisconsin visiting a General Electric engine factory near Milwaukee, President Obama stressed the importance of having job-training programs that work. He also recognized that a four-year degree is not needed for all good jobs today, but those good jobs do require specialized training.

Our State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Tony Evers, has also stressed the importance of preparing our students to be “college and career ready” through his Agenda 2017. The Department of Public Instruction has been working to advance education reforms to ensure every child graduates ready for further education and the workplace. It appears this is common ground on which we all agree — it is important for our young people to develop skills while still in high school which will allow them to either enter the workforce after their graduation or continue with their schooling.

The Tomah School District has a strong tradition of providing instruction to interested high school students in the area of construction, engineering, and industrial technology. As a matter of fact, Evers, purchased and lived in a house that was built by high school students in the building trades class when he was the Tomah High School principal.

During the THS Success Showcase held on Jan. 16, I spent time in the “shop” classrooms to see the work in which students were engaged. Students were welding, cutting and bending metal, programming a plasma cutter and practicing skills needed in the construction trades. The Technology Education Department at THS provides opportunities for students to gain real-world hands-on experience. Students can learn about engineering robots and mapping digital electronic circuits through Project Lead the Way classes. Through industrial technology classes, they can become competent with power tools, experienced in rough and finished interior and exterior carpentry and trained in advanced machine tool skills, oxyacetylene welding and horizontal and vertical over-head welding.

We also value the partnerships developed with the Construction Professionals Association and AGC of Wisconsin, both of which have provided financial resources and materials for our programs at THS.

All of our Career and Technical Education areas, which include business, family and consumer science, agriculture and technology and engineering education, provide meaningful school-to-work opportunities for our students. Strong articulation exists between Tomah High School, Western Technical College and the Milwaukee School of Engineering in our CTE subject areas. Students enrolled in these courses have opportunities to earn college credit while at Tomah High School. This creates a seamless transition from high school to the post-secondary educational level and into the workplace. We are working on having these instructional experiences enable our students to receive state-approved skill certificates so that our local businesses and industry will have qualified entry-level employees. In recent years advisory councils have been developed in which our local construction, engineering, agriculture, and business leaders meet with school personnel to share their expertise and to provide insights into program improvements. Students at THS have the ability to develop specialized skills that will make them employable in a number of businesses/industries, as well as prepared for pursuing post-secondary education. Options exist, opportunities await and openings in the workplace can be filled by Tomah High School graduates. Filling the skills gap is a Tomah tradition.

If you have any questions or comments about the information and opinions expressed in this edition of The School Bell, please contact Cindy Zahrte, District Administrator, at or 374-7002.

Cindy Zahrte is superintendent of the Tomah School District.


From “Welders wanted: Employers with jobs struggle to fill them” – By Peter Rebhahn – It’s a familiar story: An economy still shell-shocked from the Great Recession of 2008-09 has left businesses downsizing and workers scrambling for a dwindling supply of low-paying jobs without benefits.

But what if the story isn’t as true as we think?

“We lose a lot of business because we do not have enough people to staff our shop,” said Larry Willer, operations manager for W.M. Sprinkman Corp. in Elroy.

Sprinkman needs more welders. In fact, Willer said, the welder shortage is one of the biggest problems the company faces.

Willer said the welder shortage has persisted for years in spite of starting hourly pay “in the teens,” plenty of overtime opportunity and a full benefit package that includes vacation time and health insurance.

“We’re looking to expand our night shift and we would probably hire in the neighborhood of anywhere from 10 to 15 welders if we could find qualified people,” Willer said.

That would be a big staff increase at Sprinkman, a manufacturer of stainless steel tanks for the dairy, food and beverage industry. It now employs 56 people – about two-thirds of them welders.

The company, which Willer said has benefitted from the microbrewing boom within the beer industry, serves customers nationwide from its 14,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in downtown Elroy.

Sprinkman’s customers include Fortune 500 giants such as Coca Cola and the Campbell Soup Company, as well as many smaller companies such as Capital Brewery in Madison.

The welder shortage is not Sprinkman’s problem alone.

At Walker Stainless Equipment in New Lisbon, Human Resources Manager Nancy Jacques said the “Welders Wanted” sign has occupied a prominent spot on the lawn at the front of the company headquarters for years. They’re looking to fill 20 vacant welder positions right now.

“It’s hard to find associates who are interested in the trade or who have any skill in welding,” Jacques said.

Walker, which also makes stainless steel equipment for customers nationwide, is Juneau County’s biggest manufacturing employer, with more than 500 workers in New Lisbon and at another facility in Elroy. About 225 of the company’s employees in Juneau County are welders, Jacques said. Like Sprinkman, business at Walker is good. Jacques said it’s frustrating to leave jobs unfilled.

“Walker’s market continues to expand,” Jacques said. “Therefore, the need for experienced welders increases also.”

Last week, the Juneau County Board of Supervisors took official notice of the problem when it passed a resolution that asked Western Technical College to “provide the necessary leadership, teachers, technical assistance, and monetary support for the establishment of the type of welding courses needed by Juneau County manufacturers at the New Lisbon High School.”

In fact, talks between officials from the technical college and New Lisbon schools are already well underway.

New Lisbon schools Superintendent Dennis Birr said the high school teaches a welding class. He said he’s “solidly behind” allowing the technical college use of the school’s welding laboratory. Talks with technical college officials about a sharing arrangement have been going on for more than a year, he added.

“The school’s perspective has been that we have a welding lab and we’d be happy to let it be used to help more people get the welding skills that help local employers,” Birr said.

The high school’s welding lab accommodates about a dozen students. Birr said the welding class attracts a mix of students – some who are merely curious and others who think they might like a career in welding. But even the career-minded students at New Lisbon are still only high school students who, unlike college students, haven’t necessarily made up their minds to pursue a career in welding.

The problem is meeting the increased immediate demands of industry. Training welders to step from a classroom and into a real-world job at a manufacturer like Sprinkman or Walker would require an expensive upgrade to the high school’s facility. That’s an expenditure Birr said the district isn’t interested in making because the existing facility meets its limited needs.

“The people who would be taking this class aren’t our students,” Birr said.

Patti Balacek, director of business and industry services for Western Technical College, said the hope is to copy in New Lisbon the success of a similar high school-technical college link-up in Black River Falls.

“It’s been an incredible boon for everyone, but it also was a year and a half of a lot of work, a lot of fundraising,” Balacek said.

In Black River Falls, Jackson County and the Black River Falls School District came up with $80,000 to create the Welding Skills Institute at the high school. The Ho Chunk Nation, which provided Jackson County’s $50,000 contribution, played a key role in the Black River Falls funding. The Black River Falls School District contributed the other $30,000.

Other partners in Black River Falls included the Department of Corrections, Jackson County Circuit Court and the state Department of Corrections.

“If we were to proceed with New Lisbon, it will take a great deal of commitment from a number of partners,” Balacek said. “I respect that the Juneau County board would like Western to provide some of the leadership, but it was only successful in Black River Falls because other people made a significant contribution to making this happen.”

She said she awaits word of a grant application that could allow expansion of the college’s welding training. But right now the technical college doesn’t have the money for an upgrade to the New Lisbon High School welding lab, said Balacek, who added she has also discussed the issue with Mauston school officials.

One of the problems educators face, Balacek said, is getting high school students to understand that manufacturing jobs are no longer the dirty, noisy and dangerous occupations they once were.

“The view of manufacturing is something we have to help young people understand has changed, and can lead to a very viable and financially sound career move for many people,” Balacek said.

Willer said a few of Sprinkman’s welders live outside Juneau County, but attracting welders from distant areas runs up hard against a fact of life that all manufacturers face.

“People generally do not relocate for a shop job, so it limits us to people within a reasonable driving distance of our shop,” Willer said.

Willer said Sprinkman gets many job applications but the “vast majority” of applicants have no skills. They don’t understand that precision welding is exacting work that can’t be learned on the job in a week.

“These guys are fabricators,” Willer said with a nod toward workers on Sprinkman’s shop floor. “We don’t call them welders. We call them fabricators.”

Willer said company officials are considering taking matters into their own hands.

“We have gotten to the point where we are also looking at developing our own welding course and training people for the work we have available,” Willer said. “We can provide, I feel, good-paying jobs with benefits and a future – if they have the skills.”

From “Scott Walker’s plan would overhaul tech school funding” — Western Wisconsin property taxpayers would save about $15 million under tax cuts proposed by Gov. Scott Walker.

Money from the state’s expected surplus would offset taxes levied by Western Technical College, benefiting homes and businesses in Western’s 11-county district.

But Walker’s proposal is more than a money dump. It would also transform funding methods for Wisconsin’s technical colleges.

Western’s top official lauded the plan but wondered about the future.

“Essentially, it’s shifting the balance,” Western president Lee Rasch said. “If this plan is going to help reduce the impact on property tax, it’s really a wonderful thing.”

The governor’s plan would inject state funding into Wisconsin’s network of tech colleges in 2015 to ease the burden on local taxpayers. The average homeowner would save $89 per $100,000 of property value in Western’s district, which includes La Crosse County.

It’s a savings from this year’s rate, but it’s also lower than taxes were before voters passed an $80 million bonding referendum in 2012, Rasch said. Western’s total levy this year, not including debt, was just more than $25 million. Walker’s plan would cut that to $10.3 million.

“That’s a pretty significant drop,” Rasch said.

Western’s ability to tax property owners would be reduced from $1.50 to 61 cents per $1,000 of property value.

Western and other technical colleges would switch to a K-12-style of financing, Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance President Todd Berry said. The governor’s proposal would link technical college levies to state aid and impose a cap on all revenue.

Like public schools, low property taxes would depend on continued support from the state. Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said the 2015 aid increase “will repeat in future years.”

“This is not one-time money,” Evenson said.

However, if state aid does dip, property taxes increase.

“That puts a new pressure on the state budget that hadn’t existed before,” Berry said.

Last year, Republican lawmakers recommended removing Wisconsin’s technical colleges from property tax bills.

At the time, Rasch criticized the proposal as a threat to local control. Walker’s proposal is “a good plan,” as long as local campuses still have the flexibility to develop courses and react to regional employment trends, Rasch said.

Walker also wants $35 million extra for training skilled workers. The program that would benefit is managed by the Department of Workforce Development, but some of the new funding would be channeled to technical colleges.

Money would go to eliminating wait-lists for high-demand courses and dual-credit programs, so tech schools could offer more college-level classes at nearby high schools.

Western officials are already considering ways to take advantage of the proposed funding, Rasch said. The college has wait-lists for welding, information technology and health care classes.

“We’re watching it closely,” Rasch said.

From “College Facilities As Living Laboratories for Sustainability” – College campuses across the country have been expanding their focus on sustainable practices with facilities, operations, and curriculum. These efforts have been bolstered by the efforts of several high-profile national associations such as the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and Sustainability, Education and Economic Development (SEED).

One of the most prominent elements of this trend is that sustainable facilities not only reduce operating costs, but also serve as learning spaces for students … a concept referred to as living laboratories. Sustainable practices can be incorporated into a wide range of programs, from technician training to managing sustainable systems.

In Wisconsin, Western Technical College is extending the concept of facilities as living laboratories with two new initiatives: Passive House Construction and Applied Hydro Technology.

Passive House Construction
Western Technical College has existing associate degree and diploma programs in Building Systems Technology, Wood Technics, Architecture Technician, Landscape and Horticulture Technology and Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technician. These programs provide a stream of graduates with excellent job placement rates in their respective areas. Though there has been some coordination in curriculum and projects, these programs for the most part are stand alone. That is changing with the faculty-led initiative to develop Passive Houses.

Passive House technology has an established presence in Europe and emerging presence in the United States. Passive houses use ultra insulation and air circulation techniques to reduce energy consumption by at least 80 percent. By adding alternative energy elements such as solar panels, a passive house can exceed 90 percent reduced energy consumption.

In order to provide instruction in passive house technology, the five programs involved in the initiative must integrate their curriculum. And, the ability to construct real homes would be ideal.

The college entered into a community partnership with Hillview Urban Agriculture Center (HUAC) … an organization that promotes locally grown food and healthy eating. HUAC was located in a century old greenhouse located in a residential neighborhood in La Crosse, Wis. The building inefficiency placed a real burden on the operational viability of the organization. Western Technical College partnered with HUAC to relocate the greenhouse to the college campus. In turn, HUAC donated the land (three city lots) from the old greenhouse site to be developed into passive houses. Once the homes are constructed, they will be sold to private owners.

By developing these houses, the five programs will be adding a new dimension … an integrated curriculum in passive house technology. Over the years, the college built more than two dozen traditional homes as part of a neighborhood revitalization program for the City of La Crosse. Now the college looks forward to building energy-efficient, passive-rated homes.

Hydro Technology and the Angelo Dam
Prior to 2013, Western Technical College did not offer a hydro technology program. But as a signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, the college was seeking opportunities for alternative energy sources. One presented itself when Monroe County decided to sell a dam on the La Crosse River, approximately one-third mile from Western’s public safety facility. The County no longer wished to maintain the dam and in 2011, offered to sell it to the college for $1. An engineering analysis determined that the structure was in excellent shape and could easily accommodate new hydro technology equipment. In September 2013, the college received Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) approval and the hydro equipment is currently being installed. The dam will be powered and generating electricity in December 2013.

The newly powered dam will allow the college to offer a five-course certificate in hydro technology in 2014 … a certificate that is unique in the upper Midwest. The college will also offer a technical seminar on How to Power a Dam. And, since there are more than 600 non-energy producing dams in the state of Wisconsin, there is great potential for influencing increased use of hydro technology as a viable alternative energy source in the upper Midwest.

Back to the Concept of Living Laboratories
So, these are interesting program initiatives in sustainability, but how do they serve as unique examples for living laboratories? First of all, both initiatives literally pay for themselves. The passive houses will be sold one at a time, with the proceeds of the sale being used to build the next house. The Angelo Dam will generate 1.2 million kwh per year with the energy sold to a regional utility. The annual revenue will cover the annual borrowing payments for the hydro equipment. Ultimately, once the equipment is paid for, the energy generated will be equivalent to removing the college’s six satellite locations from the grid. Even a LEED Platinum building has to assume the cost of construction as part of the overall cost.

Western is pleased to see these two new initiatives launched. But beyond their program impact, we also realize that a new door is being opened. On the other side, lies community-based facilities as living laboratories and new educational opportunities for colleges and universities.


From “Walker ‘still focused’ on jobs” — By Patrick B. Anderson - Training programs and new businesses will drive Wisconsin job growth, Gov. Scott Walker said Monday during a tour of Western Technical College.

The governor and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch visited with educators and students at the local technical college. Wisconsin is not on pace to add 250,000 private sector jobs by 2015 as Walker promised when he was elected. However, new businesses and schools such as Western will help more Wisconsin residents find work, Walker said.

“We’re still focused on that,” Walker said. “New jobs are going to come from small businesses, not big corporations.”

The governor toured Western and local offices for the Job Center of Wisconsin. The visit followed Walker’s proclamation of October as Manufacturing Month.

Kyle Larson, 21, took a break from his work at a vertical milling machine to talk to the governor. He started at Western’s machine tool program after struggling to find a job working on cars. Manufacturing work seemed to offer more opportunities to find work and move up the ladder, Larson said.

“I didn’t want to waste my time,” Larson said.

Lukas Bright, 19, saw the same type of job opportunities in welding. That’s partly what drew him to the field, the Western student said. He’s still in his first year, but already he’s already got work prospects.

“There’s hundreds of jobs available,” Bright said.

Western president Lee Rasch shared with the governor the local campus’ plans to add new facilities and take on more students. Voters passed an $80 million referendum last year for Western building upgrades, and work has already begun on some of the projects. Remodels and additions will create new learning opportunities for students who want to land a manufacturing job out of college, Rasch said.

The $32.6 million overhaul to Western’s technology center, for example, will help the college better mimic real world work environments and give students the skills they need to impress local employers, Rasch said.

“They’re looking for skilled workers,” Rasch said. “They want to know what we’re doing.”

Wisconsin added 24,305 jobs between March 2012 and March 2013, ranking 34th in the nation in job creation, according to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state added 72,710 jobs from when Walker took office until March, according to the bureau.

However, the state has added 11,000 new businesses under his leadership, and new businesses will help add more opportunities for Wisconsin workers, Walker said.

“We want to build off of our positive foundation and move the state forward,” Walker said.

Walker said his office has poured $100 million into workforce development. But direct state aid to Wisconsin’s technical colleges was held flat this year, and will increase by about $5 million next year. Western will also have more flexibility next year to use categorical grants from an existing $22 million pot of funding for worker training programs.

Worker training programs are a major focus for Wisconsin lawmakers, Walker said.

“As employers tell us as we go around the state, they have jobs,” Walker said. “We want to make sure we’re putting our money where it has the biggest impact.”


From “Partnership allows Western students to build “green” – La Crosse – Imagine saving up to 90% off your utility bill. Students at Western Technical College will build a home that efficient thanks to a new partnership.

Western, Mayo Clinic Health System, The Hillview Urban Ag Center, and the La Crosse Community Foundation are working together to deconstruct the old Hillview green houses and build in their place 3 energy efficient homes.

Organizers broke ground on the first home Thursday morning. The homes feature “passive” technology; a construction model that focuses on sustainability.

Western students from multiple programs will help build the homes. The first of which is expected to be finished early next year.

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From “Classes back in session at Western Technical College” – Classes are back in session at Western Technical College.

The fall semester got underway Thursday to mark the beginning of a new school year.

Roughly 15-hundred full time students are enrolled at Western this semester.

This year’s fall class includes the first group of students to attend class under the new trimester schedule.  Students in 10 programs now attend class year round.

To get the new year off to a fun start, the school handed out free ice cream to students and presented entertainment in the student center.


From “Jail educators prep for GED test changes” – Changes are coming to the GED test in Wisconsin that could make it harder to pass the high school equivalency exam.

Willa MacKenzie is the jail educator from Western Technical College. She works with inmates at the La Crosse County Jail, in an effort to help them complete their GED. In 2012 and 2013 about 40 percent of those who started the exam, successfully competed it.

“The thing about the jail setting is they don’t have that outside network of friends to deal with,” MacKenzie. “They don’t have the problems and the addictions in jail so it really is a nice clean, clear time for them to complete.”

Beginning January 1, there will be changes to the GED in the state of Wisconsin. The test will only be administered on a computer, so test takers must have basic keyboarding and computer skills. It will also be harder..and condensed in to four sections instead of five

“We’ve raised the level of things people need to be able to do,” said Chad Dull, the dean of instructional support services at Western Technical College. “There’s very little memorization, it’s more comprehension and being able to respond to text and make an argument.”

While the new test is more difficult, educators say those who successfully complete it are more prepared to continue their education or enter the workforce.

“On the current test, when you write you write a 5 paragraph essay based on a random prompt, which is not a very real world thing to do,” Dull said. “Now you’re going to read things and respond to them in writing which really mirrors more of what most of us do in the real world.”

Mackenzie says many of the inmates she works with have the skills to pass the exam, they just need to know how to apply them.

“What we’re looking for is them to understand something they read, understand what the argument is and use that argument to back up their opinion,” MacKenzie said. “And I think that’s what these people can do in real time and that’s what gets them ready for the work force. So I think those skills together that they already have on board, for survival skills, if we can channel those, they’re going to be good.”

Anyone in the jail interested in completing their GED is able to get in to the classroom 3 to 4 times a week. And Mackenzie says if you started the GED, you must finish before the new test in January, or you will have to start over.



From “Western program helps ex-offenders” – LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)– Western Technical College has a new initiative to help inmates transition to life outside of jail.

Western received a nearly $292,000 grant from the Federal Department of Education to aid a program geared toward helping inmates re-enter the community through education and social services.

For 15 years Western has provided educational opportunities in the jail but the new grant, called the Positive Re-entry Offered through Vocation-and Education-focused Narratives or PROVEN, goes beyond classes in jail.

Clifton just got his High school diploma, but the he didn’t take the typical route to graduation.

Clifton Traywick just got his High school diploma, but the he didn’t take the typical route to graduation.

“Partying, drinking and stuff, I got in some trouble ended up in jail. I did six months in jail,” Traywick said.

Clifton used those six months to get back on track, getting his GED and utilizing Western Technical College’s PROVEN program.

“People coming out of jail, while they’re in, will receive employability training through our education program, learn how to use the services that are available to them as they enter back in to the community,” said Chad Dull, dean of Learner Support and Transition at Western. “The intention of the grant is successful re-entry and for Western, hopefully transition to educational programs here at Western.”

To reduce the rate of re-offending, Western works not only with the La Crosse County Jail but other programs and groups like the YWCA, Justice Sanctions and Workforce Connections.

“Helping participants identify the resources that are in the community, to help them find housing if they have a felony, to help them maintain their sobriety in whatever capacity that looks like for those individuals, that’s definitely a huge part of this program,” said Tonya Vantol, the project coordinator.

Traywick says the program could reach a lot of inmates.

“It can help people not just as young as me, but people older too,” Traywick said. “Everybody needs help sometimes. People mess up and I feel like Western is a good way to get back on your feet.”

But it’s not just the inmates and ex-offenders reaping the benefits of Western’s program. The Proven Grant is working for the greater good of the community.

“It’s a fair question about why invest in people when they’re in jail. It’s always more cost effective to make sure people don’t go back to jail,” Dull said. “This is a way to turn tax users into tax payers. This is an investment in our community.”

The PROVEN grant is still in it’s infancy but already there are success stories like Clifton’s.

“I’m doing so well. I’m not hanging out with the same crowd, I’m not partying anymore. So I feel like, what can stop me?”

Clifton got out of jail a couple of weeks ago and is still utilizing the Proven program. He will begin classes at Western on Aug 29.

There were over 80 programs that applied for the grant with Western being one of just three selected. Western is the only program that serves a jail. The other two assist prison populations.

From “‘Active shooter’ training underway at UWL” – The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Western Technical College are teaming up this week to help first responders prepare for possible emergencies.

The “active shooter” training began Monday and runs through Thursday.

Kellie McElroy, Western’s law enforcement academy director, said UWL holds yearly, active shooter exercises. But she said this is the first year Western, which holds various tactical training classes of its own, is participating in UWL’s drills.

“Getting training for all the different public safety entities… that’s not something we get to do very often,” she said.

Law enforcement and emergency response officials from as far as Dane County are taking part in this week’s drills at UWL. Although McElroy said the bulk of the departments are from the Western Technical College area — covering La Crosse, Monroe, Jackson, Trempealeau and Vernon Counties.

Muddy Boots Tactical Training, a Florida security company specializing in emergency response, has been brought in to oversee the classes.

Mike Kilian, of Muddy Boots, said the active shooter training focuses not just on tracking down and disarming any potential shooters, but also on treating victims.

“If somebody is injured or shot, we don’t have time to let law enforcement clear the entire building before we can go in to help,” Kilian said. “So what we’re doing in this class is practicing escorting EMS personnel to the victims and extracting them while other teams are looking for the suspects inside the building.”

Kilian said it’s important to make the training as realistic as possible.

“You will react how you train,” he said. “If you have no formal training and don’t practice things, you’re not going to react very well.”

The training exercises are also expected to foster cooperation and collaboration between the various departments responding to various emergencies.

“You should all be training together,” Kilian said. “We get better results if we all train together because we all have the same goal: public safety.”


From “Demolition underway for Greenhouse Project and Learning Center” – La Crosse -Western Technical College has started demolition on their former residence hall on Vine Street, to make way for their greenhouse system and learning center.

The project on campus will provide space for Hillview Urban Agriculture Center, as well as for the college’s Landscape Horticulture program.

In July 2010, HUAC received a $25,000 grant from the La Crosse Community Foundation to develop a business plan for an urban agriculture center. That plan included: educating the community on growing, preparing and preserving nutritious foods, growing produce, and developing community-wide composting.  However, the weight of the property mortgage, along with the age of facilities, created significant barriers to developing a financially sustainable plan.

Franciscan Healthcare has stepped up to financially assist HUAC with their current mortgage,  teaming up with both Western and HUAC to provide community wellness programs focused on nutrition and physical activity.

“Western, along with the collaborative efforts of Mayo Clinic Health System and Hillview, will promote local food, healthy eating and sustainable practices through the new venture called Sustainability Institute,” said Lee Rasch, President of Western Technical College.  “This is a component of our 10-year master plan, Vision 2020.”

As part of this new collaborative effort, a state-of-the-art, Urban Landscape and Agriculture Center, including an energy-efficient greenhouse will be constructed on Western’s campus at the corner of 7th and Vine Streets, where the former Ivy Motel and previous residence hall are located.  Horticulture, landscape, science, agriculture and culinary programs will all reap the benefits of having the facility on the downtown campus.  In addition, Hillview Urban Agriculture Center will be housed in this greenhouse, providing their mission with greater visibility and accessibility.

All three organizations believe this effort among educators, growers and health care is another step to improve the health and well-being of individuals and the communities they serve.

Demolition will last approximately 2 weeks. Construction will begin in late 2013 or early 2014, with completion in 2014.

From “From Wisconsin to Africa: Technical education translates to lives saved” — By Lee Rasch, president Western Technical College - Healthcare facilities in Cameroon need much more than staff with medical training. This third world country needs to link clinics isolated by thick rainforest, desert, and rugged terrain. Sharing medical expertise via a reliable connection could mean the difference between life and death. Recognizing that need was the first step in what would be a three-year, 6,400-mile journey to another country.

Picture this: two women from West-Central Africa, neither with a technology background, given an opportunity to study computer networking in the United States, with a goal of returning to their homeland to set up a viable network serving 16 hospitals and clinics in this remote land.

That mental image briefly summarizes the challenge facing Sister Kathleen Shela and Sister Virgilia Zamah of the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis in Cameroon.

Five years ago, both women were working in clerical positions. Neither had any formal education beyond the secondary level, nor any technology background. But when they were invited by their Provincial Superior to study computer networking at Western Technical College, they embraced the opportunity.

To be certain, this was a rapid and unexpected change in their career plans. And neither was familiar with the plans to embed computer technology into the operations of the extensive hospital and clinic network operated by the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis in Cameroon and parts of Nigeria and the Central African Republic. But they did agree to accept the challenge.

Western Technical College in La Crosse, Wisconsin, is a far cry from Cameroon. However, the college had prior connections with the Tertiary Sisters, providing instruction in dental assisting and basic education. The college offered the opportunity for these two sisters to study in La Crosse and pledged to raise the scholarship funds needed for their education.

Sister Kathleen arrived first in January of 2009. She was joined by Sister Virgilia in the fall of that year. Both sisters started with a basic education skills refresher in their first semester. Both acknowledged that there was a culture shock of sorts. In fact, Virgilia said she was on the verge of returning to Cameroon before her first semester ended. They faced such a rapid redirection in their lives, in an unfamiliar field of study and in a foreign country (with cold winters). And the task ahead seemed so daunting.

Despite a literacy rate on the higher end by African standards, Cameroon is clearly a third world nation with massive poverty, a high rate of HIV and other diseases, and huge gaps in infrastructure. In spite of these challenges, both women persevered. They received positive encouragement from the La Crosse-based Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and a number of faculty and staff members at Western.

They credit their many new found friends in La Crosse for their success so far. Both credit Western faculty member Don Thesing with incredible instructional leadership and technical assistance. Don helped them acquire donated materials and assemble two servers (as a class project). The servers were shipped (shipping to Cameroon is a whole story in itself!) to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital to serve as the backbone for the Shisong-based flagship facility.

Recognize that these two women are smart and very capable. But, their story also involves courage and incredible determination. They both graduated in 2012 – Kathleen with associate’s degrees in computer networking and office technology support, and Virgilia with an associate’s degree in computer networking. Both became members of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community and technical college students. And both are now back in Cameroon at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, hard at work in advancing their project.

I feel the world will be learning more about these two wonderful women. Their work is really just beginning.


From “State budget outlines K-12 funding” – Governor Walker made a stop at Western Technical College Monday, as part of what he’s calling his “Working for Wisconsin Tour.” The governor’s speech focused on the newly signed budget and what he sees as the benefits for the state, including a $650 million income tax cut. The budget also includes K-12 education funding for the next two years.

“We want to continue to transform education in this state so we put more money in our public schools, about $300 per student over the next two years, in our public schools,” Gov. Walker said. “We provide more educational options for our families.”

All Democrats in the Senate and Assembly voted against the budget, in part because the K-12 education funding. Rather than $300 dollars per pupil over the two years, Democrats hoped for close to $550 per, money they say could have come from other portions of the budget.

“We don’t think that the income tax break is a really logical thing because most people won’t even notice the couple dollars a week that it’s going to benefit them,” said Rep. Steve Doyle, a Democrat from 94th Assembly District. “That money we think would have better gone to K-12 education so that we really can fund our schools to the level they need to be funded. Talking with my local school superintendents, they’re not sure what they’re going to do to make ends meet in this next budget.”

But the governor says schools are finding ways to operate within their state mandated means, citing a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report released last week, that shows many districts in the state maintained the same amount of full time staffers or close to it over the last few years. The governor says the funding Democrats wanted just wasn’t in the numbers.

“The last time the Democrats had control of the budget process, they raised taxes more than $1 billion, they raised taxes via local property taxes, and they still cut money from public education,” Gov. Walker said.

Still it’s not all disagreement between the two parties, one portion of the budget garnering bipartisan support is a two-year tuition freeze for UW-System. Both the governor and Rep. Doyle say that will be boost for students and the state.

During the Assembly budget debate, Democrats didn’t bring up any amendments. Rep. Doyle says Republican leadership told the caucus they would reject the democrats proposed changes anyway. Rep. Doyle says instead, they will bring up the reforms in various pieces of legislation next session.



From “Western breaks ground on $4.1 million addition” – Western Technical College officials broke ground Thursday on a $4.1 million addition for training diesel and heavy equipment technicians.

It is the first project to get underway from Western’s $80 million referendum in the fall. The referendum is slated to fund six major building projects, including extensive remodeling to the Coleman and Kumm centers, and the college’s technology building.

College officials expect to support an extra 1,000 students with the new spaces funded through the referendum.

The 20,000-square-foot training addition begun Thursday in La Crosse includes more classrooms and more space for teaching students in-demand technical skills, according to the college.

The revamped Truck and Heavy Equipment Facility is scheduled to be finished next spring and open to students in the fall.

The new building will also house Western’s new compressed natural gas training program, funded by a grant from the state’s tech college system.


From “Western Tech. College praises Doyle/Nerison assembly bill” – An administrator at Western Technical College praised a bill that recently passed the Wisconsin State Assembly Tuesday.

Assembly Bill 226, co-authored by Rep. Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska) and Rep. Lee Nerison (R-Westby) cleared the assembly one week ago on a voice vote.
It’s now awaiting passage in the senate.
The bill pertains to yearly small business grants doled out by the state technical college system board.
The grants, which were established eight years ago, are given to partnerships between businesses and technical colleges.
Doyle said, on average, a grant is “a few thousand dollars.” The money is awarded in July of each year and can be used as needed through the following August, said Patti Balacek, Director of Business and Industry Services and Life Long Learning at Western Technical College in La Crosse.
Balacek said grant money is currently used exclusively to train workers.
But the Doyle-Nerison proposal would change that — and allow the money to also be used for “market expansion” and/or “business diversification,”
“We’re opening up a new market by helping them see what steps they need to take to get to a new market,” Balacek said.
“It might involve exporting, for example, to a business that has never looked at selling overseas,” she said. “So we can help them research what they need to do and write a plan to help them do that.”
Training employees is vital, Balacek said, but “it’s not always what a business needs.”
Doyle and Nerison said in a joint news release last week they’re hopeful the bill will pass the senate and be signed into law.

From “Local law enforcement undergo tactical emergency medical training” – LA CROSSE – Police officers, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs responded to a mass casualty shooting drill at Western Technical College, Sunday.

It was part of a 40-hour tactical emergency medical support course led by Waukesha County Technical College instructors.

Sunday’s drills included a mass casualty shooting and a downed officer.

“In a mass casualty situation there’s a triage situation that has to happen,” said Jim Hillcoat a La Crosse firefighter and paramedic. He’s taking part in the class.

“There was a danger in the scenario we just did that wasn’t mitigated yet – or we weren’t sure it was mitigated. So, that needed to be dealt with and you have people who need help medically that have traumatic injuries,” Hillcoat said.

The course teaches first responders how to utilize military and emergency medicine under the threat of gunfire, for example, the shootings at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and the Azana Spa in Brookfield, Wis.

Tactical EMS Instructor Chad Stiles responded to the Azana Spa shooting.

“You never think it’s gonna happen in our community but when it does, we need to really be prepared to give the best response,” Stiles said.

That’s why he’s training law enforcement and EMS to work together in dangerous situations.

“Usually they operate side-by-side, but they’re working independently of each other,” Stiles said. “This class kind of brings them together like a marriage, almost, and teaches them each others objectives.”

The Tactical EMS class is funded by the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance and Wisconsin Hospital Emergency Preparedness.

Upon completing the course, EMS responders can submit their training record to the state and get a tactical EMS endorsement with their license, Stiles said.

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