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.
RHINELANDER - If you never met Monica Bartishofski, you would have loved her smile.
“Oh it was contagious, you couldn’t not smile when Monica greeted you into the store,” says Patti Pazera, Rhinelander Trigs Employee.
These are the aisles Monica used to walk during her days bagging groceries for the people of Rhinelander.
“You always knew if it was going on close to 1:00 in the afternoon, and we would go here comes Monica and we’d always just see her bright smiling face,” says Anne Cline, Rhinelander Trigs Employee. “She’d come and visit us before her shift and she just enjoyed coming down and seeing us girls.”
Monica was killed in a car accident on Valentines Day.
“It was Valentines Day when she had her accident,” says Cline.
“At first it didn’t hit me you know it didn’t comprehend and then I’m checking out a customer and of course we’re busy and the tears start coming down,”says Christa Stolzman, Rhinelander Trigs Employee.
“We all just stood there in shock and the day stopped for a bit,” says Cline.
“I had to apologize to my customers because I had tears in my eyes and I said I’m sorry I don’t mean to be crying but we just lost Monica and I tell you what, a lot of those customers couldn’t believe it and they teared up with me,” says Stolzman.
“After her accident customers were all coming up saying how they missed her smile that it always made even if they were having a bad day it made it a good day whenever they came in and saw Monica,” says Pazera.
Monica’s coworkers decided to raise money in memory of Monica. They sold carnations for donations and raised over $2,700 toward Special Olympics.
Monica Bartishofski worked here inside the Rhinelander Trigs for 17 years but it was her commitment to the special Olympics that coworkers, friends, and family will remember most.
“You could call her Monica “Special Olympics” Bartishofski,” says Tony Bartishofski, Monica’s dad. “She always had a good time bowling. She was really outgoing, bubbly.”
Monica lived life to the fullest.
“You just remember her with her smiling face, her laugh was just you know a great laugh that she had and just bright eyed always happy to be at work,” says Stolzman. “So I think that would be a good way of remembering her.”
MADISON - A Wisconsin Rapids woman will spend three years on probation for threatening to kill a federal administrative law judge.
51-year-old Norma Prince was sentenced Thursday. Prince pleaded guilty in December.
Prosecutors say the incident happened Jan. 31, 2013, when Prince appeared at a Social Security disability benefits hearing in Wausau.
Administrative Law Judge Thomas Sanzi was presiding over the hearing by teleconference from Madison. Prosecutors say Prince became upset and threatened to shoot Sanzi and cut off his head. The hearing was halted and Prince was escorted from the courtroom.
Prince's husband told a federal agent that his wife had bought two .22-caliber rifles about a month before the disability hearing.
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman said Prince's mental health issues can be controlled through medication and supervision.
ROTHSCHILD - Wisconsin farms play a key role in our economy, but today's farm owners aren't getting any younger.
One apprentice program hopes to change that.
The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program is building and preparing the next generation of farmers. It gives young farmers hands-on training and a path to a career in dairy farming.
"There's a lot of farms that are going to be transitioned and transferred in the next decade or so, and what we really need is somebody to be able to take these farms over," says program director Joe Tomandl. "We don't have that training program in place, and that's what the dairy grazing apprenticeship is about."
A recent government census of American agriculture found the average age of a farmer is 58 years old. Leaders believe the apprentice program has already seen success with new farmers over the past few years.
"We have a number of new producers just in the last four years in Marathon and Lincoln counties now running their own dairy farms using managed grazing techniques," says Paul Daigle of the Marathon County Conservation, Planning, & Zoning Department. "It's still a struggle no matter what, but it offers a profitable way to get into farming today."
Cattle farmers met at the 20th Annual Winter Grazing Conference today in Rothschild.
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