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Our view: Collaboration helped drive warming center expansion
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Our view: Collaboration helped drive warming center expansion

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Thumbs up to the group dedicated to expanding shelter services for a growing number of people who need help in La Crosse. Rick Staff, president and legal counsel of Gerrard-Hoeschler Realtors, has led the effort. He and wife Nancy Gerrard have an option to buy a new center at 413 S. Third St. that will serve 30 people overnight — more than the 19 that could be served at the previous warming shelter. The group has included Catholic Charities of the La Crosse Diocese, The Salvation Army, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, the YWCA, Riverfront Inc., Couleecap, and city and county leaders. Various churches have provided shelter as part of the collaborative initiative since 2010 — and other groups and businesses have provided support. In addition to warmth, the new center will offer showers, laundry machines and clothing. In a word, organizers hope to provide dignity to those who need help.

Thumbs up to La Crosse County Circuit Court Judge Dale Pasell, who has been selected judge of the year by the Wisconsin chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Pasell was selected by the group because he “demonstrates all the characteristics that ABOTA looks for in a great trial judge. Attorneys who walk into his courtroom have confidence that they will be treated with respect, and that cases will be handled fairly, professionally, and according to the law,” chapter president Lynn Laufenberg said. That’s high praise — and well-deserved.

Thumbs up to Aaron Rasch, recipient of the 2014 Shining Star Award from the Mental Health Coalition of La Crosse. Rasch works for Independent Living Resources in La Crosse and is state coordinator for Peer Run Organizations, drop-in community centers where people with mental illness or addictions can get support. Rasch has overcome obstacles to become an outspoken advocate for those living with mental illness — someone who fosters community and friendship, instead of being limited by labels.

Thumbs up for the selection of La Crosse to host the Wisconsin Republican Party’s state convention in May 2015. Regardless of your political affiliation, tourism is a nonpartisan benefit for our region.

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