Northwoods Spotlight - Kayla Dalka June 18Submitted: 06/18/2014
Story By Marisa Silvas

PHILLIPS - Chances are, Kayla Dalka can lift more weight than you. That strength has earned her a spot in the Special Olympics USA Games. She'll be representing Wisconsin in powerlifting.

"I like powerlifting because I like to go to the meets," Kayla explains. "And every time I make a lift that's right, I like to see my coach smile."

Kayla was born with a cognitive disability which affects her IQ. She may have some limitations, but her spirit is undeniable.

"It makes me feel like a champion," says Kayla.

"She wanted to meet different friends and get to know the different kids around school," Kayla's mom Pam Lentz adds. "So she started out in powerlifting."

More than 3,500 athletes will travel to New Jersey to showcase their talents this week.

"When she passed and mom told me she was gonna go, I was really excited for her," Phillips powerlifting coach Jeff Schillinger explains. "I've had five kids make it to worlds and this is just as cool if not better than those kids that were world champions."

One of Kayla's biggest cheerleaders is her lifting partner Damien.

"She's awesome. She did really good, really good," Damien Klepac said. "It's like way to go!"

Kayla's favorite event is the deadlift. At the Wisconsin State Special Olympics she lifted a personal record 305 pounds.

"If you do the right techniques then the good weights will come," Schillinger adds.

She's also flourished working at Club 13 in Phillips.

"Always on time, does whatever you ask her to do, keeps up very well," owner Mike Reed said. "She does a very good job for us."

Powerlifting has helped Kayla grow in many ways.

"She can talk in front of crowds, she opens up her mouth now. She's got a lot more confidence," adds Lentz.

"Kayla will get first place," Klepac exclaims. "She rocks!"

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PARK FALLS - Many people in the Northwoods go to church on Sunday mornings, and for some of them it may be begrudgingly.

But there are plenty of people, often elderly or sick, who want to go to church but have a hard time doing so.

Peace Lutheran Church in Park Falls wanted to change that. Since May, they've been undergoing some construction. On Sunday, the church had a dedication ceremony for a special new addition—an elevator.

Now people like 100-year-old Ruth Olson can worship with greater ease.

Before the elevator, Olson said she would get to church by literally pulling herself up the stairs using the railing.

Olson's story is like many. As the older population grows, church buildings don't evolve with them. The buildings are often old and sometimes lack accomodating features for the elderly or disabled, and takes money to update the buildings.

"We have churches where the people are getting older and it's very hard for people to get around," said Rev. Dwayne Lueck, the district president for the North Wisconsin District Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod.

Some parishoners couldn't do what Ruth used to do, and so they would have to worship at a service held across the street in the day care center, instead of in the beautiful church.

"Now all the services can be over here," said Rev. Dale Heinlein, the pastor of Peace Lutheran.

The congregation at Peace Lutheran believed in an elevator, so they paid for it.

"We been talking and planning this for...a long time," said Dick Ross, president of the congregation. "Pretty hard for some of the people, and I think you saw them, pretty hard for some of the people to worship here, so it was time."

"You can see it in their eyes more than anything when they know they have access and when they come up here and just enter the building and no steps, it's a great thing," said Buzz Peters, a parishoner who helped design the new elevator and space.

"We can finally have access for everybody to get into the worship facility, free access, that's what this is all about," Heinlein said. 

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MADISON - Two Republican legislators have created a bill that would shift federal road dollars from local projects to major state projects. Opponents say the bill is a backdoor attempt to make sure federal prevailing wage requirements don't apply to local projects.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Duey Stroebel and Rep. Rob Brooks would transfer $47 million in federal funding from local projects to state projects and move $47 million in state dollars from state projects to local ones.

Stroebel says the swap would save money by removing local projects from burdensome federal regulations.

He has been a vocal advocate for doing away with prevailing wage statutes, which require minimum salaries for workers on government-funded construction projects.

Spokeswomen for GOP legislative leaders didn't respond to inquiries about the bill's chances.

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MADISON - New state data show that nearly 15,000 Wisconsin residents lost access to food stamps in the first three months of a new law that requires some recipients to seek jobs.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1Ple8j5 ) it obtained the data from the Department of Human Services under the state open records law.

The rule took effect in April for participants in the state's food stamp program, FoodShare. It requires able-bodied adults without children living at home to work at least 80 hours a month or look for work to stay in the program.

The DHS data show about 25 percent of the 60,000 recipients eligible to work were dropped from the program between July and September. But about 4,500 found work through a new job training program for FoodShare recipients.

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