Thumbs up/down for Monday, Feb. 3, 2014

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Thumbs up to Steve Van Galder. Janesville said goodbye to one of its top businessmen last week. Van Galder ran the Janesville-based bus company that his father, Sam, started and that still bears the family name. Steve worked with his brother Dave before becoming sole owner. Steve was a serious businessman who did things the right way—with passion, compassion and humor. He sought employee input and earned fierce loyalty. He arrived at work early to warm up the school buses and drove routes to explore possible hazardous road conditions. It's no surprise the company expanded greatly during his tenure, adding tours and daily routes stretching from Chicago's airports to Madison. He sold the company in 1999 to Coach USA but stayed on as president. Despite his hectic career, he made his family a priority. The former athlete ate right and ran or walked almost daily. Unfortunately, he couldn't outrun his history of heart problems and died at age 66. All of Janesville will miss him.

Thumbs up to Walworth's Agape House and School. It can only help about a dozen at a time, but it offers great hope and healing to girls and young women who've suffered abuse and trauma. It's the only such private treatment home in Wisconsin, and it operates on donations and whatever tuition families can afford. A former church houses Agape House and School. That's fitting given the Christian counseling and mentoring services. Volunteers make up most of the staff. The chance to make differences in the lives of children is their greatest reward. “When we meet them, they are mad or depressed with their hair hanging down over their faces,” founder and Executive Director Pam Patterson told reporter Anna Marie Lux in last Monday's Gazette. “When we see them transformed, it is worth more than all the money in the world.” Now in its 15th year, Agape House wants to raise $500,000 this year to meet current needs and serve more girls. Consider donating at agapehouseforgirls.org or P.O. Box 68, Walworth, WI 53184. Call 262-275-6466 for more information.

Thumbs down to email scams. Swindlers keep devising new tricks to snare unwary people. One of the latest involves fake emails that appear to be from a “shipping manager” for a delivery company such as the U.S. Postal Service or UPS or from a retailer such as Best Buy or Wal-Mart. As the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection explains, the email claims the recipient has a package awaiting delivery but a problem has arisen. The email urges the person to fill out a form on a linked page to fix the problem. The email also threatens that if you do not respond soon, your purchase money will be refunded minus a significant fee. By clicking the links, the recipient risks downloading malware or giving personal information to scammers. The state's consumer alert suggests you delete the email and warns not to click on any links in it. If you are expecting a package from a delivery service or retailer, contact that company directly. For more information or to file a scam complaint, call 800-422-7128 or email DATCPHotline@Wisconsin.gov.

Thumbs up to more memorials at Veterans Plaza. Janesville veterans organizations hope to erect two new monuments by Veterans Day. One will honor Vietnam vets, and the other will pay tribute to those who've served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism. Veterans groups will sink $36,000 into the projects. Sure, flooding has plagued Traxler Park, but Tom Stehura, a Vietnam vet and president of the Janesville Patriotic Society, says the 10 memorials already in the park's Veterans Plaza have held up well. Besides, it makes sense to assemble all war monuments in one spot for observances. Groups raising money include the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1621, American Legion Post No. 205 and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 236. They are soliciting contractors to donate services. All involved deserve a salute for helping erect lasting tributes to those who served so gallantly.

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