Wisconsin Attorney General Schimel hosts roundtable in Waushara County on July 28
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel made a stop in Waushara County on July 28 to host a roundtable with local law enforcement and elected officials regarding the issues they are currently facing within the county.
The roundtable discussion, held at the Waushara County Courthouse in Wautoma, was part the 72-county tour Schimel embarked on earlier this year in an effort to discuss public safety concerns specific to each county.
In a recent release, Schimel expressed his mission for the county roundtables was to find out what’s working, what’s not where does the county need more resources, and how can the Wisconsin Department of Justice help the community stay safer.
“Since taking office Attorney General Brad Schimel has had a good working relationship with the Wisconsin Sheriffs,” said Waushara County Sheriff Jeff Nett. “He is willing to work to resolve problems and by him stopping in Wautoma last week, this is an example of that commitment.”
The topics discussed throughout the afternoon focused mainly on drug abuse and mental health, with the biggest challenges being drug abuse especially meth and heroin.
Coming out of the roundtable the concerns raised by those attending regarding drug abuse included:
•Waushara County Public Health Director Patti Wohlfeil voiced her concern with the large percentage of pregnant mothers are drug addicted, which is more common now than years ago. She also expressed her appreciation to Schimel for his efforts to divert prescription drugs through the Drug Take Back Program.
•Nett stated he continues to see more Narcan deployments and was happy with the Waushara County Treatment and Diversion (TAD) Programs that have been implemented in the county.
•Waushara County Department of Human Services Director Dawn Buchholz shared that her office has seen a large increase in out of home placements of children in recent years with it stabilizing in this past year, with nearly 80 percent related to Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse issues. She also shared her struggles with transporting drug addicted individuals to treatment if they aren’t on medical assistance.
•Hancock Sgt. David Vargas told Schimel he has seen generational problems with drug abuse and believes the state needs to start better preparing youth with common life skills in high school.
•Waushara County District Attorney Scott Blader stressed that economics is a big problem for a rural area when it comes to drug abuse and better job opportunities would assist in reducing abuse. He also indicated his office is seeing more meth cases because heroin is killing people.
•Wisconsin Senator Patrick Testin indicated he is working on a bill related to fentanyl to ensure cases are moved through the system faster.
•Waushara County Administrator Robert Sivick said the state is making progress to look at other ways than simply incarcerating drug abusers and we should look at more ways to strengthen those efforts.
“When my career began in the late 1980s the one size fits all solution to the drug problem was lengthy prison sentences,” Sivick said. “It was heartening to hear everyone involved acknowledge this was just as much a public health as criminal justice problem.”
The challenges facing mental health in the county were also an important topic discussed with Attorney General Schimel with many of the county officials expressing their views on the issue.