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Caleb Jones 

File - In this May 5, 2018, file photo, lava burns across a road in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. The lava hisses, crackles and pops. It roars like an engine as it sloshes and bubbles. It shoots into the sky, bright orange and full of danger, or oozes along the pavement, a giant bubbling blob of black marshmallow-like fluff, crushing homes and making roads impassable. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)


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Holmen mom Laura Mausolf shares strategies for dealing with postpartum depression in new book

Laura Mausolf was depressed, and she didn’t know why.

At 14, she had caring parents, a happy home life and a carefree childhood, and yet the sadness hovered, a weight compounded by her guilt for feeling down when she had so much to be thankful for.

Depression, she discovered, does not discriminate. For nearly two decades Mausolf, 33, has carried the burden of persistent depression and anxiety, a battle she chronicles in her first book.

“The Battle,” released in March, is an honest look at the challenges the Holmen mom has faced — and the coping skills and mindset shifts that helped her become a source of support and wisdom for others in her shoes.

Part memoir, workbook and pep talk, Mausolf began writing in January, self-publishing just two months later and jump-starting her mission to bring mental health and postpartum depression into the conversation.

“In our society, we just sweep it under the rug,” said Mausolf, a part-time nurse in the cardiac cath lab at Gundersen Health System. “We need to let other mothers know they’re not alone. It was really important to me to share with other moms you don’t have to be perfect — we put so much pressure on ourselves.”

The Battle, by Laura Mausolf

A proponent of self-reflection, positive mindset and letting go of guilt, Mausolf has, with the help of medication, developed an arsenal of skills to keep her depression and anxiety under control, but not without some missteps along the way.

Mausolf was a young teen when she was first prescribed antidepressants, a complex process of trial and error as medications were added and taken away in an effort to find an effective combination and dosage. The process was disheartening at times.

Upon entering college, Mausolf dabbled in illicit drugs and turned to alcohol to numb her mental anguish. Finding herself in jail her freshman year after driving under the influence was a wakeup call of sorts.

“I realized I’ve got to find a different way to deal with this,” Mausolf said. She set her sights on being a nurse, the career goal a catalyst for some self-examination, and met Bob, now her husband, who was understanding of her mental health struggles. When Mausolf became pregnant with first son, Easton, now 7, “Postpartum depression wasn’t even on my radar,” she says. “The sneaky thing with depression is you don’t realize it until you’re in the thick of it.”

Compounding Mausolf’s despondency were Easton’s difficult first months, when an undiagnosed milk protein allergy led to constant wailing.

“It was miserable,” Mausolf says in her book. “I didn’t want visitors because I didn’t want to worry that he was going to start screaming and not stop. ... People would tell me to relax and go take a nap ... but I was so overcome with anxiety that I couldn’t.”

Sleeping poorly and barely eating, Mausolf continued to feel anxious after returning to work, and her husband felt helpless.

“I think it broke his heart that I couldn’t enjoy this time,” Mausolf said. “Looking back, I wish I had something to reference, something to read from someone who’s been there.”

Digging into research, she made a conscious decision to focus on her mindset, learning to accept help from friends and family, meditating and cutting herself some slack when the house was messy or the kids acted up in public. “Let it go” became a mantra, and Mausolf stresses having a purpose, living intentionally, being open to opportunities and believing in oneself. Using antidepressants, she adds, is not a sign of weakness.

When Parker, now 4, came along, Mausolf’s postpartum symptoms returned, but she was better prepared, reaching out when she needed a break, expressing appreciation for the positive and working to cut negative thoughts before they became overwhelming.

“Anxiety and depression start when we develop irrational thoughts and draw conclusions from these thoughts,” Mausolf states in her book. “... During times of serious and prolonged stress, the brain develops neuropathways in which our thoughts and feelings are fired repeatedly along the same roads ... The good news is that we can actually ‘reroute’ those pathways.”

Doing so, Mausolf says, takes effort, determination and moving outside the comfort zone. Wallowing and comparisons help no one, Mausolf believes, and leaving behind the baggage is crucial. Change, she concedes, is difficult, and doesn’t happen quickly.

“There will be a mental war, and the universe will ask how badly you really want it,” Mausolf noted. “It will be up to you if you want to battle on and win, or give up and stay stuck where you are.”

Mausolf’s sympathetic but proactive approach to mental wellness has resonated with readers and those who participated in her Facebook Transformation Challenge to live a more positive and fulfilling life.

Danielle Harvieux, a mother of two, experienced postpartum depression herself and found she related to Mausolf’s struggles and advice.

“You learn why you are the way you are, and I’ve been able to use some of the exercises in my daily life,” said Harvieux, who extends the tips to conquering stress and mom guilt. “I’m trying to be more mindful.”

A mother of three, Kirah Heiden also dealt with persistent sadness after her daughters’ births, and found “The Battle” encouraging and engaging, appreciative of the jokes and even occasional swear word peppered throughout.

“It’s like she’s talking to you,” said Heiden, who also participated in the challenge. The meditation exercises recommended proved particularly enlightening, with individuals guided to “meet their future selves.”

“I saw myself confident, strong, successful, a fun mama,” said Heiden. “Then you work back to see how you can get there.”

Mausolf concedes that the battle is never fully over but believes struggles needn’t define or consume oneself.

“I am here to tell you,” Mausolf says, “that you are worth it and you can do this.”

For more information, visit lauramausolf.com. “The Battle” is available on Amazon.com.


Video shows police stop of Native American teens on tour

DENVER — Police body camera footage and telephone recordings captured an incident in which two Native American teenagers were pulled from a Colorado college tour and questioned after another tour member reported “odd” behavior by “creepy kids.”

The camera footage released Friday by Colorado State University shows two police officers searching the teens’ pockets and questioning whether they were part of the tour.

The officers eventually determined that 19-year-old Thomas Kanewakeron Gray and his 17-year-old brother, Lloyd Skanahwati Gray had done nothing wrong and let them go after about five minutes.

But the incident last Monday has caused an outcry as a case of racial discrimination and prompted the university to apologize and try to make amends.

The video footage shows the brothers — one wearing a T-shirt and the other a hooded sweatshirt — walking in a group and down a set of stairs when an officer approaches and directs them to step aside, saying he and another officer — who is not visible in the video — are going to check the teens’ pockets.

The younger brother has his hands in his pockets, and police officers ask him to take them out.

At first, the officer visible in the video asks the Grays short, focused questions, including whether they were part of the tour group and why they didn’t “cooperate” when others asked them their names.

“The reason we stopped you and talked to you is because someone from the group called and said you guys just kind of came into the group,” the officer said. “They also said they tried to ask you guys questions and you didn’t want to answer questions.”

The older teen quickly responds, explaining that they had arrived late for the tour and that his younger brother is shy. The younger teen offers to retrieve the email confirming their tour reservations.

“Yeah, yeah, do that, and then we’ll get you out of here,” the officer shown in the video said.

The other officer adds: “People were just worried because you guys were real quiet and they didn’t know who you were because you guys didn’t show up with parents or any of that stuff.”

By then, however, their tour group had moved on without them and the brothers left the campus in Fort Collins, a city of about 160,000 and 65 miles north of Denver, and returned home to New Mexico.

“I think it’s pretty discriminatory,” Thomas Kanewakeron Gray said Thursday. “Me and my brother just stayed to ourselves the whole time. I guess that was scaring people; that we were just quiet.”

According to a police recording from a woman on the tour that started the incident, the caller told a dispatcher that the teens arrived late in the tour and wouldn’t respond to questions about their names or what they wanted to study at the school.

“They are not, definitely not, a part of the tour,” said the woman, identified in a police report as a 45-year-old white woman from Colorado. “And their behavior is just really odd. And I’ve never called, ever, about anybody. But they joined our tour. They won’t give their names.”

The woman also said during the call that the teens were “lying the whole time,” but doesn’t offer specifics to support the claim, except to say that one of them laughed when she asked what they were studying. She also repeatedly told the dispatcher that her concern could be “completely paranoid” and apologized “if it’s nothing.”

“They’re probably fine and just creepy kids,” she said.

Other than saying the teens were wearing all black clothing with “dark stuff on it,” the caller did not physically describe them until questioned by the dispatcher. She said she believed they were Hispanic, and described their clothing as having a “weird symbolism or wording on it.”

It appears at least one of the brothers was wearing a T-shirt of a death metal band called Cattle Decapitation. On its Facebook page, the band offered the teens “free guest list spots to our shows for life.”

The caller’s name was redacted in the police report, along with the teenagers’ names.

The teens’ mother, Lorraine Gray, said Friday that she remained infuriated over the incident, and questioned the police handling of it, as well as the caller’s decision to report her sons.

“What do their clothes have to do with anything? Why would you be worried about a person’s clothes?” the mother said.

Gray says one of the officers who questioned her sons later told her in a phone call that maybe the incident would teach the teens to “speak up for themselves” in the future.

She said the family has received apologetic messages from the university and an offer to return to the school for a VIP tour. However, she said they are not ready to respond, given that she and her sons have not had the opportunity to fully discuss the situation.

The school also said it would refund the money that the teens spent on travel and take steps to prevent a similar situation from happening again, including the use of lanyards or badges to identify tour guests.

“Two young men, through no fault of their own, wound up frightened and humiliated because another campus visitor was concerned about their clothes and overall demeanor, which appears to have simply been shyness. The very idea that someone — anyone — might ‘look’ like they don’t belong on a CSU Admissions tour is anathema,” university president Tony Frank wrote in an email to students and staff Friday.

The younger son is a senior at Santa Fe Indian School, which is about a 30-minute drive from the family home and where he stays in a dorm during the week with other Native American students from tribes across the United States.

The older brother is a student at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola and hoped to transfer.

The siblings saved until they had enough money to drive the roughly seven hours from the family’s home in Santa Cruz, New Mexico, to Fort Collins for the tour.

The older brother said the school was their first choice, because of its proximity to Denver, where they could attend concerts. The brothers, both Mohawk, are musicians, and study contemporary and traditional music.

The brothers’ ordeal marks the latest in a series of incidences nationwide spotlighting treatment minorities often face in everyday circumstances, including the arrest of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia who were handcuffed and taken to jail after a worker said they had refused to buy anything or leave.


Zach James / ZACH JAMES, La Crosse Tribune 

UW-La Crosse freshman Shane Coker makes contact Sunday against UW-Whitewater in a WIAC doubleheader. Coker's at-bat ended in a ground out in Game 1 at Copeland Park.


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Why is an Indiana company spending $3.31M on property near the Winona interstate bridge? Nobody knows (copy)

WINONA, Minn. — An Indiana-based company has poured millions of dollars into buying property near the interstate bridge in downtown Winona — and nobody is exactly sure why.

Rock LLC, which lists an address in Shipshewana, Ind., on state sales records, has spent $3.31 million on six properties since late December, sometimes paying more than four times their estimated market value to acquire them. All of the properties are located next to each other between the bridge, Second Street and River’s Edge Condominiums.

That is enough to raise a few eyebrows. But no local officials — either from the city or county — have had substantial contact with anyone from Rock LLC.

“Not personally, and neither has anyone in the community as far as I know,” city manager Steve Sarvi said. “It looks like they’re just piecing property together. We’re not sure what quite for. We’re sort of in the dark like everyone else.”

Robert Weaver, the Indiana-based agent listed for Rock LLC, said he has signed a nondisclosure agreement and is legally prevented from sharing anything about plans for the land.

“What I’ve consistently said through the whole thing is that it’s good for the city of Winona, and it’s good for the downtown,” he said. “There will be more details coming in the not-too-distant future.”

Until then, residents and officials alike wonder what these out-of-state investors or developers — Weaver declined to say whether Rock LLC was going to carry out the unrevealed project or was just buying the land for someone else — have planned for the city.

“The city has zoning control,” Sarvi said. “We have other means at our disposal. We look forward to meeting them when the time comes.”

Big money

The company’s latest purchase came with the biggest price tag to date: $1 million for the Reinarts Stained Glass Studio building at 73 Washington St. That property was valued at $363,000 according to county tax records.

All of Rock LLC’s purchases were for well above estimated market value. The company’s first purchase was the Tri-Mac Do It Best Lumber site at 1 Washington St. The $965,000 purchase price was four times the estimated market value of $237,000. Rock also paid $400,000 for two small properties adjacent to the Reinarts building that were valued at a combined $95,000.

The closest it came to paying estimated market value was $250,000 for a building at 204 W. 2nd St. previously owned by Blume Properties.

Winona County assessor Stephen Hacken hasn’t seen anything like this locally, but it has happened elsewhere.

“You can go to Rochester and see the same thing,” Hacken said. “A lot of times, when you own one property (and want ones next to it), you’re a captive buyer. Sometimes those sales don’t fit the market value definition.”

The group may not be done just yet. There are still three other properties in the immediate area it doesn’t own, two of which are listed on county records as being owned by the Miller family and a narrow strip of land that belongs to the city. The two Miller properties combined have an estimated market value of $263,000, while the city land is estimated at $14,200.

Weaver declined to say whether his group was going to buy any more property.

“I and the folks we’ve dealt with have signed non-disclosure agreements,” Weaver said. “There are penalties involved. We have to honor it.”

Hacken wasn’t ready to say whether this project was going to drastically increase property values downtown, which were already on the rise before Rock LLC kicked the tires on the Tri-Mac site.

“We tend to be very trend-orientated,” he said. “This guy coming in it isn’t exactly going to set my siren off, but if i start seeing everything around it going up, then we might adjust. But we went up 20 percent downtown for next year’s taxes without this included in our decision making. Downtown seems to be on the upswing.”

A big mystery

If Rock LLC has been involved in other development projects, it likes to keep a low profile. The company is listed on a couple of Indiana registry databases, but that’s all a Google search reveals. Both entries list the general partner as Michael Jacka and the agent as Weaver. The address listed on state sale records and the registry is a residential address in Shipshewana, a northern Indiana town of less than 700 people.

Both Weaver and Jacka are principals of Anchor Construction in Granger, Ind., but Weaver said Rock LLC and these purchases are being done independently.

On the Anchor Construction website is a list of places the company has carried out projects in the country, and Winona is listed, although Weaver was not familiar with the project. One of the videos on the company’s YouTube page highlights a 2013 project in Scranton, Pa., where it built an automated retrieval facility for Winona-based Fastenal, but no other projects with Fastenal could be found.

While Weaver didn’t say who brought the opportunity to his group’s attention — he said that he’s been fortunate to work all over the country and has worked with people who are looking for different land opportunities in different states — he did have glowing things to say about the city.

“It’s a very nice community,” he said. “Nice folks there. It’s nice to live in a community where people want to invest. It’s a pretty location. There are a whole lot of things that make it an attractive community.”

Ten years ago, the area of Rock LLC’s focus was discussed as a potential site for a $30 million municipal event center in Winona that would host concerts, trade shows and sporting events, but those plans never took shape. The economy took a nosedive that summer, and there hasn’t been any more momentum behind the idea since.

There is nothing to suggest that’s what Rock LLC wants to build, however. There’s nothing to suggest anything.

“That seems to be the No. 1 question out there on everyone’s mind,” Winona Mayor Mark Peterson said. “I get that question all the time. I wish somebody would say something.”

Hacken said a member of his staff talked with the group when it was getting ready to buy the first property in late December.

“We have a standard set of questions, and right off the bat, they were asked what their plans were,” Hacken said. “They said ‘We’d rather not say, but it’s going to be really cool.’ That’s what my employee was told.”

Weaver said his group will be ready to share plans in the “not-too-distant future.”

All Winona can do is wait and wonder.

“They must have something pretty good on the agenda,” Hacken said. “They’re not going to spend that kind of money and just sit on the land.”

“We have a standard set of questions, and right off the bat, they were asked what their plans were. They said, ‘We’d rather not say, but it’s going to be really cool.’ That’s what my employee was told.” Stephen Hacken, Winona County assessor

Local
Downtown La Crosse intersection to see two weeks of lane closures beginning today

The intersection of La Crosse, Third and Fourth streets will have lane closures starting today and running through Memorial Day weekend for pavement replacement and utility work.

Northbound traffic on North Fourth Street will be reduced to one lane starting at Badger Street and rerouted through the left turn lanes at the La Crosse Street intersection.

Traffic at La Crosse Street will be closed to east- and westbound through traffic.

The city street department warned motorists that the changes will cause back-ups on nearby side streets and delays in the area.10 most crash-prone state highway intersections in La Crosse County(tncms-asset)ca727780-9fc9-11e7-b95f-00163ec2aa77[0](/tncms-asset)