MINOCQUA - A Wisconsin Department of Justice Special Agent believes synthetic drugs are on the rise in Wisconsin. That's what he told parents and community leaders Thursday night in Minocqua.
The synthetic drugs are marketed as legal and harmless. They vary from potpourri to bath salts. Both are labeled as not for human consumption, but can be crushed and smoked to get high.
Bob Kovar is a prevention specialist at the Marshfield Clinic. He's a member of the Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach Northwoods Coalition. He's seen the dangerous effects of these drugs in person.
"They could potentially die," Kovar said. "Their body core heat is up, they're having seizers, they're combative."
Lawmakers make certain ingredients illegal, but producers find a new ingredient before the law even takes effect.
State Lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday that would broaden the definition of synthetic drugs, which would make them more inclusive of all the various ingredients.
They believe that will help police react more effectively.
The Lac Du Flambeau tribe declared a fight against drugs this spring. Two operations since then have flushed drug users and producers from the reservation.
The tribe is its own sovereign nation, so laws are different than state and local governments.
Kovar says the county and state don't have as much flexibility as the tribe.
"We can't react as fast," Kovar said. "But we can certainly learn and try and react faster."
The special agent held the presentation at Lakeland Union High School.
RHINELANDER - The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce group held a seminar at Nicolet College in Rhinelander Tuesday, to plan how to make Wisconsin more attractive to skilled workers and manufacturing businesses.
WMC's president believes the shortage in younger people in the industry has to do with two big misconceptions about manufacturing.
"The younger kids, as do their parents, have a perception on what manufacturing looks like and it's about 40 years out of date. If you're in an advanced manufacturing facility now, it's clean, it's high-tech, the engineers and technicians are working together," said Jim Morgan."We have a perception problem. I think we still have a definition of success that's says unless you have a four-year degree, you're not successful."
Morgan says groups like WMC work to change that perception. He believes workers with a two-year degree are just as successful in the industry.
So far, WMC held seminars at nine other technical colleges. For Rhinelander, more manufacturers could mean more economic independence.
"The Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce is looking to see how it can help and partner with local manufacturers to make the Rhinelander area a more favorable place for them to locate their businesses, as well as to attract and retain skilled workers to make those businesses successful," said Dana DeMet, Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce director.
Over the next six months, WMC will continue to look for ways to attract more workers and businesses to the state.
In December, it hopes to have 1000 representatives for a meeting in Milwaukee focusing on how manufacturing will benefit the state.
WMC also works with the University of Wisconsin system and the Wisconsin Technical Colleges.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Ruby's pantry opened their doors Tuesday in Lac du Flambeau. This is the first time the Ruby's pantry has set up shop there. They decided to come to Lac du Flambeau because of the good turnout in Rhinelander. The food pantry asks that people give a $20 donation.
“It's not your typical food pantry,” says Gloria Cobb, Ruby's Pantry Lac du Flambeau Lead Coordinator. “This is an opportunity to give people dignity, to serve with dignity, and it's a donation base.”
“I mean look at the hustle and bustle going on we've got the community coming together not only Lac du Flambeau but the surrounding community coming together to meet a very basic need and that's to help with hunger,” says Cobb.
The pantry offered items like strawberries, cake mix, and toilet paper. More than 400 people were expected to show up.
“A participant will go through the line with a laundry basket and or box and they will be offered items,” says Cobb. “They can refuse them however we will encourage them to take the item because somebody else that they may know may have a need.”
“They get a certain amount of each item and they go through the line like an assembly line,” says Cobb.
The pantry had more than 21,000 pounds of food to give away.
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