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Local
Blanket drive underway at Gundersen clinics in La Crosse area

Gundersen Health System will host its annual "Wrapping the Community in Warmth" blanket drive starting this week and running through Dec. 13.

The event helps local organizations throughout the tri-state region, including the Salvation Army, New Horizons, Place of Grace, La Crosse County Human Services, Northeast Iowa Community Action Corp., St. Clare Health Mission and Bluff County Family Resources, among others.

Blankets, store-bought or handmade, can be dropped off at the La Crosse Gundersen Clinic or Hospital Lobby, 1836 South Ave., the East Building Lobby, the Onalaska Clinic and Onalaska Support Services Building Lobby, as well as regional locations.


Education
Viterbo announces annual scholarship for Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year

Viterbo University will provide a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the annual winner of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse Youth of the Year award beginning in fall 2020.

“Viterbo University and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse have been outstanding partners over the years and this is a logical next step to collaboratively build pathways to college and to support students throughout the educational process,” Viterbo President Glena Temple said. “This scholarship initiative fits the mission of both organizations perfectly.”

In 2005, Viterbo and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse partnered to open the Amie L. Mathy Center for Recreation and Education, a joint facility on Viterbo’s campus that was the first of its kind in the nation.

In addition to much-needed space, the shared building has resulted in countless collaborative educational opportunities for both university students and club members.

“This new scholarship is an incredible opportunity for the club and members we serve,” said Jake Erickson, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse. “For almost 15 years, Boys & Girls Club kids have looked up to Viterbo students and have dreamed of walking in their shoes. It’s going to be a special day when a young person goes from walking through the doors of the club to walking through the doors of their first college course at Viterbo University.”

If the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse Youth of the Year chooses to attend a school other than Viterbo University, the Viterbo scholarship may be awarded to the runner-up.

“The very successful and mutually beneficial partnership between Viterbo University and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse is a great example of the power of community collaboration,” said Kent Handel, president and CEO of Trust Point, Inc., who serves on the Viterbo board of trustees and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse board of directors. “The best part about this particular collaboration is that it’s area young people who benefit the most.”

In addition to the full-tuition scholarship, Viterbo University will begin efforts to raise funds for additional scholarships and academic opportunities specifically for members of the Amie L. Mathy Center Boys & Girls Club.

“We want to be instrumental in creating opportunities for members of the Boys & Girls Clubs interested in pursuing a college degree and staying in the La Crosse area after high school,” Temple said.


Education
Western Technical College to offer framing and construction certificate

Western Technical College will offer a new, six-credit certificate in framing and construction beginning in January.

The 11-week program, made possible by a grant from the Western Technical College System, is designed to be a flexible option for adults seeking entry-level construction work next summer.

The class will meet three times a week at Western’s Apprenticeship Facility at 2860 S. 21st Place in La Crosse.

An additional session will be offered in April.

The certificate serves as a lean-in to Western’s wood tech technical diploma.

“There is such a high demand for workers in the construction industry,” said Josh Gamer, dean of the Integrated Technology division at Western. “We are using this grant to put workers out in the industry quickly using a strong mix of theory and hands-on courses.”

Scholarships are available for students attending the program.

To learn more about the framing and construction certificate, visit www.westerntc.edu/framing-and-construction.


Education
Viterbo announces ethics, culture and society major

Viterbo University will offer a new and unique major beginning in the fall of 2020.

Ethics, culture and society is an interdisciplinary program combining courses from history, philosophy, art and more, with a focus on collaborative problem-solving for the common good.

Students in the major also participate in service learning, internships, research, study abroad and cultural immersion experiences.

Cosby Ronnenberg

“In some ways, the program is a create-your-own major,” said English professor Susan Cosby Ronnenberg, who chairs the new ethics, culture and society program. “The program culminates in an upper-level class in which students choose to research a current problem, preferably in the La Crosse area. They are tasked with coming up with means to address the problem through a real-world application related to our community.”

Course assignments are also connected to the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership series of speakers and its annual conference. The program is similar to a traditional liberal studies major, but with an increased emphasis on advocacy and social change.

“This major is perfect for people who want to work with others to solve problems and make the world a better place,” Cosby Ronnenberg said.

For more information about Vitebro’s Ethics, Culture, and Society major, visit www4.viterbo.edu/programs/ethics-culture-and-society.


Crime-and-courts
Two charged in North Side home invasion, attacking man with hammer

Two men were in La Crosse County Circuit Court Thursday after they were accused of hitting a man with a hammer during a home invasion.

Kyle J. Wedekind, 36, no permanent address, and Kevin J. Weh, 23, La Crosse, went to a man’s apartment Nov. 2 and attempted to rob him, hitting him with a hammer when he didn’t cooperate, according to the complaint.

The victim told police the two men knocked on his door on the 1100 block of Island Street in La Crosse and claimed to be selling Girl Scout cookies, then pushed their way in when he opened it.

Wedekind

Weh

One of them men tried to take his gold ring off his finger and the other pointed what was later identified as a BB gun at him. Weh hit him in the face and head with the hammer. The victim then ran toward them, and the two men fled, chased away by the victim, according to surveillance footage reviewed by police.

Police were able to identify Wedekind from the surveillance footage and located him at the Adriatic Motel on Mormon Coulee Road in La Crosse.

Wedekind cooperated with police when arrested Tuesday, admitting he had 1.8 grams of meth in the motel room, according to the complaint. He told police that they went to the man’s apartment to retrieve meth Wedekind says was stolen by the victim.

According to the report, Wedekind told police he went after the man on behest of his drug dealer, whom he owes $20,000 for meth. Wedekind said his drug dealer was threatening his family.

Weh was arrested without incident Wednesday and interviewed by police.

According to the complaint, Weh denied any knowledge of the incident initially, then admitted to going to the apartment after he was informed that there was surveillance video. He also denied hitting the victim, saying, “I have no clue” how the man was injured.

Wedekind and Weh were both charged with armed burglary and substantial battery using a dangerous weapon as parties to a crime. Wedekind was also charged with possession of methamphetamine.


La Crosse County Circuit Court felony cases in November
La Crosse County Circuit Court felony cases in November

Local
topical
Mayo program to allow for safe disposal of opioids, other prescriptions

In an effort to make medication disposal easier and safer, Mayo Clinic Health System has installed new collection receptacles in its La Crosse, Eau Claire and Menomonie locations.

The addition of “Take Back Boxes” is part of an initiative from the Mayo Clinic Opioid Stewardship Committee, an organization developed to ensure safe and consistent opioid prescribing protocol.

The committee worked with pharmacy staff to select convenient disposal sites, with La Crosse’s located in the Clinic Pharmacy at 800 West Ave. The Take Back Box will be accessible from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Tempelis

“Adding this Take Back Box is a welcomed expansion of the services we already offer,” says Jennifer Tempelis, director of pharmacy for Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse. “The pharmacy team is often asked by patients and health-care team members how and where to safely dispose of medications.

“I am thrilled that we can point to the Take Back Box just inside the entrance to the Clinic Pharmacy in La Crosse,” she said. “Now, when patients come to see their doctor, they will know they can bring any medications along with them for quick, convenient and safe disposal on the way in or out of the clinic.”

In the midst of a national opioid crisis, proper discarding of prescription drugs is of great importance, with theft or misuse of leftover or expired medications a growing problem.

Drug overdoses nationwide have tripled during the past three decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In La Crosse County, 17 opioid related overdose fatalities were reported in 2016, with eight opioid caused deaths confirmed in 2017 and two in 2018.

The Alliance to HEAL reported a 21% decrease in the number of opioid prescriptions administered locally in 2017, numbers that have stayed consistent in subsequent years. From March to August 2019, 5,300 opioid prescriptions were written monthly.

“The opportunity to divert and abuse opioids is minimized if they are removed from our households when they are no longer needed,” Tempelis says.

All medications placed in the Take Back Boxes will be sealed to assure they can’t be opened before destruction.


Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune 

Western Technical College Learning Commons Coordinator Kirsten Daykin picks out items for students Thursday at the Coulee Region RSVP Handcraft Open House. Staff and volunteers from area medical facilities, long term care facilities, educational institutions and social service agencies were invited to pick from a variety of items including winter hats, scarves, mittens, afghans and quilts to distribute to the populations they serve. RSVP volunteers work to make the items throughout the year for the annual event.