RHINELANDER - Mental illness can be a tough topic to think about and deal with, but recent acts of violence like the shooting in Newtown have drawn more attention to the issue.
In May be recognize Mental Health Awareness Month. Governor Scott Walker said he wants to increase mental health spending by $30 million in his next budget. Some local advocates say that's a good start.
"Mental health is severely underfunded in this country. We don't have nearly enough caregivers, or professionals. There are no incentives to go into mental health care. I'd like to see all those things [change]," said Mick Fiocchi, the President of the Northern Lakes chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness.
Fiocchi says 20% of the population suffers from "severe mental illness"; that includes major depression, schizophrenia, and different forms of bi-polar disorder.
He'd like to see the increase in funding build a mental health support center in the Northwoods.
"Where people with mental health issues would be able to obtain services... like job support, peer support. And this could include not just people with severe mental illness, but it also could be military veterans who are dealing with PTSD. There are such facilities located in other parts of Wisconsin," he says.
Another goal Fiocchi would like to focus on during Mental Health Awareness Month, is breaking the stigma of mental illness. He says people around you are dealing with mental illness every day, and it's important to remember that like any other illness, mental illness CAN be treated.
The Northern Lakes chapter of NAMI meets every fourth Tuesday of the month, from 7 to 9 p.m. , usually in the community meeting room of the Rhinelander Goodwill Store.
On May 28, the guest speaker will be NAMI co-founder Bev Young she'll share her story and experiences of advocating for families with mental illness. That meeting will be at First United Methodist Church on Arbutus Street in Rhinelander.
NAMI also offers a support group the second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m.
For more information call NAMI Northern Lakes at (715) 362-0423 or (715) 272-1294, or the Oneida County Mental Health Inter-Agency Council at (715) 369-6118.
The Boulder Junction Town Board voted two to one Tuesday night to move forward with a town plaza plan. The plan will now go to a design phase.
The board estimated the cost of the design phase to be between $30,000 to $50,000, but it was dropped to about $25,000 at the meeting.
Town Chairman Dennis Reuss and Town Supervisor Dennis Duke voted in favor, with Town Supervisor Denny McGann voting against the plan.
A little more than $1 million may not seem like a lot of money to a city like Madison or Milwaukee. But for a town of fewer than one thousand people, it's a lot. The Boulder Junction Town Board could vote Tuesday whether or not to move onto the next phase of a $1.26 million town plaza project.
Dennis Duke has a vision of what Boulder Junction could look like in a few years.
"This one has a much more artistic flair, this has a more engineering flair if you will," said Duke while looking at potential design plans.
RHINELANDER - People in Rhinelander will be able to cast their November election ballots starting on Friday. It's the earliest people in Wisconsin have ever been able to vote.
The absentee ballots are stacked and ready for Friday at the Rhinelander City Clerk's office. To make the early voting process go as smoothly as possible, you will need to come prepared.
"When you come in make sure that you're registered. That is important. Make sure you're registered in the city if you're coming into us," said Clerk Valerie Foley.
Registering is easy; all you need is a photo ID and proof of residence. The registration form takes a couple of minutes, and then you will be able to fill out an election ballot.
"I think it is going to be a very busy day. I think people are pretty interested in the issues. And I think a lot of them would like to get and make sure they can vote if they're not certain they're going to make it to the polls in November or not," said Foley.
The clerk's office has already sent out about 200 ballots to people who have requested them.
Now, it is preparing for the early voter in-person rush.
If you are unsure whether you are registered to vote or where to go for early voting, the clerk's office suggests voters visit myvote.wi.gov for more information.
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