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.
CONOVER - June 22 makes it the 14th day of rainfall for us this month, and it's not been very convenient.
People all over northcentral Wisconsin have had to deal with storm damage or flooding in some way.
Pioneer Lake in Conover has had a particularly tough time with flooding not only because of the rain, but also because of a dam upstream.
"We've got 20 piers here, and they're floating away, they're underwater," said Maple View Resort and Campground Owner Tony Osiecki. "I've never seen it like this in fifty years."
Osiecki blames the deluge of rain we've gotten in the past few weeks for the flooding in his resort. But he and many others on the lake also blame a dam upstream.
It's located on the southwest side of South Twin Lake in Phelps. It's owned by Wausau-based Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company, and it's meant to maintain the levels of the Twin Lakes. Peter Hansen, the company's Vice President of Operation, admits they are releasing a lot of water--because they are federally required to.
"We are releasing an amount of water that is more than the 500-year rain event," Hansen said. "That means the rain that we've had, according to our calculations, is only supposed to happen every 500 years...We're doing everything within our federal license to lower the water level on Twin."
Downstream of the dam is the Twin River, which flows into Pioneer Lake. Hansen says the company is not responsible for what happens downstream.
That leaves some people frustrated
"[People] have been calling wanting to know what we're doing about the water and what they've got to do to fix it," said Pioneer Lake Association President Terry Wright. "If it's affecting us we have to have somebody we can call to change it."
In the meantime, Osiecki deals with the flooding.
"Move everything back a bit and try to get someone to close the dam and compromise," Osiecki said.
Hansen says the company has been able to cut back on the water release in the past few days, but with more rain in the forecast, that might change. He says Pioneer Lake does not have a controlled structure to help with the lake's water levels.
RHINELANDER - Hodag Park received a sizable donation Thursday morning. New sand was dropped off to help the Rhinelander Parks Department grow the beach back to its original shape.
There were thousands of pounds of sand dropped off and spread out. There was a high need for this because of all the rain we've had this season.
"It was getting in pretty poor shape and washing out more and more, but this year especially, it just seems like we've lost a lot of sand. So now we're going to shape it up nicely and hopefully it'll last the year," said Rhinelander Parks Director, Jeremy Biolo.
All of that sand was donated and delivered by a company in Rhinelander.
"Musson Brothers, Inc. donated all the sand and they said we could help ourselves to as much as we want, which is unbelievable because this beach really needed some work," said Biolo. "Every little bit like that helps our community out and it improves the community. It's awesome that the Musson Brothers stepped up and would do that for us."
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