Thumbs Up/Down for Monday, July 7, 2014

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Thumbs up to creative summer school programs. Reporter Nick Crow has showcased three programs in Janesville. Marianne McGuire is keeping kids active with Kennedy Elementary’s first tumbling and gymnastics program. She teaches special education at Marshall Middle School and has instructed kids at the Walworth County Gymnastics Center in Elkhorn since 2003. Brent Corey, principal of Kennedy’s summer school, sees kids having a great time whenever he walks past the class. Speaking of Marshall School, teacher Matthew Wolf explained that programming shifted three years ago from remediation to a fun, engaging environment that makes kids want to attend and learn. Instead of basic reading and math, kids get hands-on lessons in robotics and alternative energy sources to help them absorb knowledge in the so-called STEM curriculum of science, technology, engineering and math. Finally, in a pilot program at Wilson Elementary, kids in grades 4-5 are exploring learning on their own and using computers to track their progress. Principal Kimberli Peerenboom says research suggests kids who track their own goals are more successful and that using technology should help them prepare for careers.

Thumbs up to the Krazy Color Couch to 5K program. This new offering from city of Janesville’s recreation department got women of all ages off the couch and fit enough to finish a 5-kilometer run. Sara Weisman, recreation programmer, served as coach. Some women wanted to lose weight. Others wanted to keep up with grandchildren. Training for nine weeks, the women became a team of sorts, leaning on each other for support. Fifteen were proud to accomplish the 5k run June 7. For many, it truly was an achievement, as reporter Catherine W. Idzerda explained in a first-person account in last Monday’s Gazette. These women should inspire others to get off their couches.

Thumbs down to robocall and lottery scams. Officials are warning state residents about two swindles. Calls from “Card Services,” “Cardholder Services” and others use technology to make caller ID displays appear nearly identical to residents’ numbers, making the calls appear local and piquing interest. Sandy Chalmers, trade and consumer protection administrator, urges people to hang up and says the “service” can’t save you money. Pressing a key on your phone could trigger even more such calls. The goal in such calls is to get and sell your credit card number. Call the Consumer Information Hotline at 800-422-7128 or email datcphotline@Wisconsin.gov for information or to file a complaint. Also, Wisconsin Lottery officials urge residents to use caution with callers claiming you’ve won a prize and asking for personal information to “process” the claim. Be wary of any caller saying you’ve won a prize in a game or drawing you haven’t entered or saying you must act immediately or lose the prize. Legitimate lotteries never ask for a fee. Don’t provide bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers to someone you don’t know. For information, call 608-261-4916 or email info@wilottery.com.

Thumbs up to analyzing Wisconsin’s heroin problem. The FBI has completed a yearlong study with limited information. It reveals a growing heroin problem because traffickers are meeting the demand for a cheap alternative to prescription drugs. John Kumm of the FBI’s Milwaukee office believes Wisconsin is the only state that has conducted a broad assessment. He hopes other states do so to provide a complete national picture. Hampering the project was the lack of a statewide standard for tracking heroin deaths. Dana Brueck, state Department of Justice spokeswoman, says various state agencies compile their own statistics on drug abuse. It would require a state law, she says, to standardize reporting and set up a tracking system. Sounds like worthy legislation for lawmakers once they get past their focus on the elections and reconvene in Madison.

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