Thumbs up/down for Monday, Feb. 10, 2014
Thumbs up to Friends of Oak Hill Chapel. The Janesville City Council should support the friends and recommendation of City Manager Mark Freitag on Monday and let the group take over restoration of the historic chapel in Oak Hill Cemetery. An architect had told the city it would cost at least $36,000 and perhaps up to $300,000 to restore the chapel in the city-owned cemetery. Residents convinced the council to give them time to raise money and devise a renovation plan. The group has collected $33,000 and lined up skilled craftspeople among about 60 volunteers ready to donate labor and supplies. The council also should support a staff recommendation to grant the friends up to $73,333, through the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin that the city set aside for chapel work. Janesville is home to many historic buildings but has a sad history with the wrecking ball. Instead of investing in demolition, the council should endorse the efforts of these preservationists to rescue a small but important piece of our city’s heritage.
Thumbs up to Friends of Noah and their Arftic Art for Animals fundraiser. Speaking of friends groups, this Janesville animal rescue, founded in 2010, uses all volunteers to do great things. It educates kids about the responsibilities of pet ownership, provides free pet food through nine area pantries, fosters hundreds of stray and abandoned animals and helps pet owners with low-cost emergency vet care. Each year, Friends of Noah rescues and fosters between 100 and 125 animals, about 75 percent of them dogs. It will hold its fourth annual Arftic Art fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Pontiac Convention Center, 2809 N. Pontiac Drive, Janesville. Admission is $5 or free for kids younger than 10, and all profits will support the nonprofit group’s services.
Thumbs down to jury service scams. The Wisconsin Senior Medicare Patrol and Wisconsin Newspaper Association are teaming up to warn residents this scam has again cropped up in the Badger State. Callers identifying themselves as court employees have been contacting residents and stating warrants are out for their arrests for failing to show up for jury duty. To “clear it up,” the caller asks for information for “verification purposes,” such as birth date, Social Security number or a credit card number. The judicial system does not contact people by phone to ask for personal information. Any such call is an attempt to steal or use your identity to apply for loans or credit cards. If you get such a fraudulent call, contact the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection at DATCPHotline@Wisconsin.gov or 800-422-7128. Or call the Senior Medicare Patrol at 800-488-2596, ext. 317.
Thumbs up preventing suicides in Rock County. The county coroner’s office has received a letter of commendation from the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners, and it’s well deserved. For years, the coroner’s office has been doing outreach at schools, churches and even in homes, speaking about ways to prevent suicide. The talks apparently are having a positive effect. Rock County had 32 suicides in 2011 but only 17 in 2013. It has gone 21 months since the last juvenile suicide. Even one suicide is too many, but credit this program for helping reduce the numbers. Acting Coroner Lou Smit says that in the past 24 months, the coroner’s office has recorded 42 “saves,” in which someone who hears the program helps save someone from suicide or calls a deputy coroner amid a crisis. That is remarkable and worth applauding. These interventions not only help save lives but save loved ones from lifetimes of heartache. To set up a suicide prevention talk, call the coroner’s office at 608-757-5908.