From wkow.com: “Law enforcement agencies say Alzheimer’s is becoming a growing problem” — Of all the types of emergencies police officers, fire fighters and EMT’s respond to on a daily basis, Alzheimer’s Disease isn’t one that most people think about. The disease is typically associated with senior care centers and retirement communities, but law enforcement officers say the issue is becoming a bigger part of their daily lives.

“We’ve seen a startling increase in calls in recent years,” Alzheimer’s response trainer Hank Levenson says.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s once every 68 seconds. There’s a 60% chance that they will wander off or get lost at least once in their lifetime. That is where local law enforcement agencies come in. Officers say they’re being called out to an increasing amount Alzheimer’s related situations.

“Not knowing how to recognize that it may be Alzheimer’s, you look at it as possibly someone who is just being uncooperative, somebody that might have been drinking,” Levenson says.

The issue has prompted the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to organize a nationwide training initiative. A team of trainers is currently traveling to several cities across the country to teach officers the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. On Monday they held a training session at Madison College for nearly a hundred police officers and first responders from across the state of Wisconsin.

“Wandering is a huge issue with Alzheimer’s patients. If someone is out in the weather, on the street, inappropriately dressed, officers and first responders need to understand that is not a deliberate act that they’re doing,” trainer Deborah Thompson says.

One of the most important lessons that instructors are teaching first responders and officers is that if they come across someone who might have Dementia or Alzheimer’s is to not run the sirens or the lights on their vehicles. They say the patient may become confused or violent in that situation. Trainers say violent behavior is already a major concern in Alzheimer’s situations. Law enforcement agencies receive numerous domestic violence calls every year. By knowing how to deal with these patients, officers are hoping to not only protect the patients and their families, but other people in their community as well.

“It’s a huge issue and it’s only going to increase in magnitude. It’s not going to reverse,” Thompson says. “It’s not just people who are 65 and older anymore. It’s people who are in their 30’s and 40’s. It’s really becoming a big issue.”

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From lacrossetribune.com: “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 thenorthwestern.com: “Life after Oshkosh Corp” — Evaristo Mondragon Jr. got used to the lines.

He had lined up for interviews and skill tests at job fairs across the Fox Valley, welding gear usually in tow, since February. An assembler at Oshkosh Corp. for four years, until he was laid off last July, Mondragon’s unemployment benefits had run out and graduation from Fox Valley Technical College’s welding program in May approached fast.

The cold-calls to companies throughout the valley, like the job fairs, produced only glimmers of hope. Mondragon, 30, was told he wasn’t quite qualified yet, even for the part-time jobs, so often he can still recite the standard response from memory.

“‘We like everything about you, but we really need someone with three to five years of welding experience,’” he said.

So earlier this month, when officials at Ariens Co. directed him to another line, after the lines for his interview and another for the skills test, he wasn’t sure what this line was for.

“Eventually one guy walking by told us ‘They’re offering you a job,’” Mondragon said. “A couple of days later, I got offered a job on second shift. They either liked something in my skills test or they liked everything.”

This summer more than 700 Oshkosh Corp. employees will face those same lines as they look for new work in the wake of another layoff driven by declining orders for the company’s military transport trucks.

But examples like those of Mondragon and others who were let go in previous layoffs offer hope, for both the former employees and for the broader economy, that there is life after Oshkosh Corp. for the company’s former employees.

Life after layoffs

Mass layoffs are never easy affairs.

They can depress a regional economy, push longtime employees into a crowded job market, strain families and require government assistance to support and retrain people in the name of recovery.

And then there’s Oshkosh Corp.’s 2013 layoffs.

As defense revenues declined by more than 30 percent, the size of the company’s workforce had to shrink. After 8,700 Mine-Resistant All-Terrain Vehicles and 26,000 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles trucks and trailers rolled off the line, layoffs had to come once the orders were filled.

But an odd thing happened: The region’s economy absorbed a significant portion of the 1,150 production and office employees Oshkosh Corp. laid off last year.

After the layoffs in April and July of 2013, local unemployment rates in Winnebago, Outagamie and Fond du Lac counties continued to decline for the rest of the year. At a job fair Oshkosh Corp. held last year to help more than 500 laid off workers find new jobs, it boasted that participating companies had more jobs to fill than there were employees being laid off.

And that hasn’t changed. Even today, 19 companies have 121 welding and metal fabrication jobs available in the region according to Wisconsin TechConnect, a job service offered through Wisconsin’s technical colleges.

“It shows the brilliance of the economy up there,” said Reed Hall , CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. They’ve been through these issues before,” Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. CEO Reed Hall said. “The good news is there are not a lot of mass layoffs going on. Mass layoffs at a 10-year low which is a good sign for our economy.”

Support systems

When Oshkosh Corp. completes the layoff this summer of another 700 production and 60 office employees itwill have laid off more people than the combined workforces of both hospitals in Oshkosh.

Affected employees aren’t the only ones taking notice, though, as local, state and federal agencies continue to look for ways to help soften the blow.

Just last week, the WEDC unveiled a special loan program to help manufacturers, fabrication shops, machine shops, parts suppliers and other parts of the supply chain months ahead of time specifically to help Oshkosh Corp. suppliers.

Hall, WEDC’s CEO, said the agency would provide a loan or loan guarantee of $50,000 to $250,000, provided the company matches 50 percent of the loan amount, to help businesses fund equipment purchases, add staff and take other steps to pursue other business opportunities.

“We certainly understand the impact the Defense Department cuts have and how that ripples through our economy,” Hall said. “We’re doing what we can to retain these jobs here in Wisconsin. And Oshkosh Corp. will make it through. We have a lot of confidence in Oshkosh Corp., that they will … grow again.”

The WEDC program is just the most recent of a series of federal, state and local efforts to mitigate the impact of the layoffs.

The Department of Defense took notice last fall and awarded the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission an $837,000 grant to find ways to soften the blow of defense cutbacks on the company’s supply chain. The grant includes funds to explore diversifying the economy and specifically allocated funds for a marketing and cluster study for the aviation business park under development at the southeast corner of Wittman Regional Airport.

Chamco CEO Elizabeth Hartman said the study will identify a focus, or market, for the aviation business park that would identify 20 to 30 companies economic development officials could target to fill the park.

“When they reach out to contacts, they really try to identify potential folks that would want to be a part of a cluster centered around a business issue or cluster,” Hartman told the Council in March. “You already have built-in prospects as a result. There’s also a marketing aspect to it, but there might be some additional work we want to do locally.”

Moving forward

Some former Oshkosh Corp. employees, like Mondragon, went back to school for new training. He said the state offered him $1,000-per-semester to help with tuition and that FVTC staff “was a pleasure to work with” and helped make sure he started school in the fall.

Fox Valley Technical College Welding Instructor Ben Cebery said the college’s Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center welcomes 64 new students to its one-year welding certificate training program each school year. In addition, students are able to take individual courses to upgrade their skills.

“All of our classes have filled up to the max for a long time now,” Cebery said. “There’s definitely a mix between laid off workers and young people here for their first series of training. The night classes are definitely a big mix.”

Others found new jobs, like machinist Pat Wallace, who said he was offered three jobs within a month after he was laid off last summer.

“It was a good time to be laid off,” Wallace said.

Wallace opted to take a job as an inspector at Eagle Supply and Plastics over ones at F. Ziegler Enterprises and Mercury Marine because it paid better and he could work first shift. An added bonus: He’d be working with his friend and former Oshkosh Corp. coworker John Schmitz.

Wallace, 55, was prepared for the worst, though, because he had already been there five years ago. He had worked at Marvel Manufacturing for 22 years when the recession struck. Sales plummeted and so did the hours.

In 2009, Wallace landed at Oshkosh Corp. at a time when production was ramping up so fast then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the company on Nov. 12, 2009. Gates called what he saw the most impressive military vehicle production run since World War II.

Workers hired at that time largely knew going in that they were being hired for the duration of the order, and that peacetime would bring reduced orders and a scaled back work force.

Wallace said his job search experiences, in good times and bad, have taught him that staffing companies can be useful, but workers should avoid signing contracts with them; that age isn’t the issue older workers may think it is, and that building up savings is key.

“It worked out that my training and experience were right for Eagle,” Wallace said. “The only thing I was worried about was health insurance. I’m older. But I had money in savings to hold me over.”

From wxow.com: “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.

View video from wxow.com

From jsonline.com: “Building a ‘ladder of opportunity’ ” — By Tom Barrett – Too many Milwaukee workers are either unemployed or underemployed, and too many local businesses assert they cannot find the skilled workers they need. City government is committed to doing what it can to connect workers with jobs. The federal government is stepping up, too.

The Obama administration with its American Job Training Investments: Skills and Jobs to Build a Stronger Middle Class announcement earlier this month is making a priority of job training, apprenticeships and partnerships between community colleges and businesses.

Several years ago, I attended a community meeting and listened to frustrated residents say they could not find jobs. On the same day across town, at an event at an employer, I listened as company executives said they had a shortage of qualified workers. This experience led to the development of Milwaukee’s proactive, employer-driven training initiative, the Mayor’s Manufacturing Partnership. Since the launch of the initiative, more than 100 area employers have hired or advanced the skills of more than 800 individuals in the manufacturing industry.

President Barack Obama has highlighted the Milwaukee area’s innovative workforce partnerships in his visits here, and he has engaged in discussions about replenishing the workforce as baby boomers retire. We have a real need to expose more young people to skilled labor trades. The federal investments outlined in the American Job Training Investments announcement will be responsive to these issues and support the current efforts.

In Milwaukee, we are ahead of the curve. Milwaukee’s workforce system, coordinated by the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, fosters strong relationships among industry, businesses, the technical college system and training organizations to train workers for current job openings. Milwaukee area manufacturers work closely with the technical college system and workforce partners such as the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership to develop employer-driven customized training. As a result, technical college graduates, from schools such as the Milwaukee Area Technical College, are being hired by local manufacturers, many of them with industry certifications, such as Manufacturing Skills Standards Council certification.

Our regional economy is growing and needs skilled workers, from entry-level workers to higher-level workers with specific skills. The commitment outlined in the announcement supports workers who face challenges in upgrading and certifying their skills, as well as middle- and lower-income city residents who have been particularly hard hit by the economy. The investment the White House is making in technical college education and apprenticeships will deliver newly skilled workers and build the pipeline needed for the growing economy, enhancing the efforts of Milwaukee’s forward-thinking business community.

And the timing couldn’t be better.

The City of Milwaukee has developed plans for an advanced manufacturing center at Century City, at the site of the old A.O. Smith industrial site. The center will be operated by a coalition including our technical college, workforce investment board and businesses to train and connect workers with real jobs in modern manufacturing. The Century City location puts this innovative center close to new and existing manufacturers in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor. It will be close to potential workers who are unemployed or underemployed.

Another added benefit is the investment to be made in modern equipment to train advanced manufacturing workers also will be available to companies for prototyping and testing operational improvements. Manufacturing provides a large number of well-paying jobs, with wages 31% higher than the regional average for all workers. Manufacturing is the very heart of our region’s “ladder of opportunity.”

Our goals are aligned. The City of Milwaukee and the business community are working collaboratively with workforce partners to close the mismatch between jobs and workers and to connect the public and private sectors to research and innovation.

 

From wispolitics.com: “Instructor earns American society of Microbiology Faculty Enhancement Award” — Dan Harrigan, a lab tech assistant instructor at Blackhawk Technical College’s Monroe Campus, is one of three college instructors from across the nation to be named a Faculty Enhancement Travel Award winner by the American Society of Microbiology.

In bestowing the honor, the organization described Harrigan as a “stellar example of commitment to teaching undergraduate microbiology and biology.’’

Harrigan will receive a one-year society membership and funding to the ASM national convention for undergraduate educators from May 15th to May 18th in Danvers, Mass.

The Faculty Enhancement Program Travel Award recognizes leaders in biology education and provides them with opportunities to learn research and pedagogy developments, practice new technologies and techniques, and connect with other educators and researchers by attending ASM national convention. Awardees are educators who teach microbiology at two- or four-year institutions with large percentages of historically excluded and underrepresented students selected based on their leadership capacity, commitment to improving teaching, and dedication to participating in education and outreach programs, among other criteria.

The other two awardees are Nastassia Jones of Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Ark., and Carol Stiles, Georgia Military College, Valdosta, Ga.

Sponsored by the ASM Committee on Undergraduate Education, a committee of the ASM Education Board, ASM convention is an interactive, four-day conference where educators learn and share the latest information about microbiology and biology as well as their most effective teaching strategies. The conference program includes poster presentations and plenary, concurrent, and exhibit sessions. Participants engage in formal and informal small group discussions among colleagues who are all focused on the same goal— improving teaching and learning in the biological sciences.

From uwsp.edu: “Nicolet College, UW-Stevens Point partner for education program” — A new program at Nicolet College, Rhinelander, will provide a smooth transition for students interested in completing a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at UW-Stevens Point. It begins in June 2014. 

The associate of science elementary education emphasis program will allow Nicolet College graduates to transition into the School of Education at UW-Stevens Point. 

Nicolet students who transfer to UW-Stevens Point after completing an associate degree will have satisfied all UW-Stevens Point general education program requirements plus 48 required credits toward a bachelor of science in elementary education. They will be on schedule to graduate with students who started their elementary education major at UW-Stevens Point. 

“We’re committed to providing our students seamless pathways to earning a bachelor’s degree that ultimately lead to multiple career options,” said Teresa Rose, Nicolet College transfer coordinator. “This collaboration is a perfect example.” 

“Both partners value the collaboration and thrive on enabling our students to be successful future educators,” said Patty Caro, head of UW-Stevens Point’s School of Education. 

Nicolet students will now be able to transfer to UW-Stevens Point and pursue a bachelor’s degree to teach middle childhood through early adolescence level, ages 6-13. A program for students to teach early childhood level, ages 0-8, regular education and early childhood special education has been in place between Nicolet and UW-Stevens Point since 2006. 

For more information, visit nicoletcollege.edu or call the Nicolet College Welcome Center at (715) 365-4493, or visit the UW-Stevens Point School of Education at www.uwsp.edu.

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