Paul Rusk, District 12 Supervisor

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Cold weather will be here when you read this. The long awaited Homeless Day Resource Center named “The Beacon” opened in October in the old Chamber of Commerce facility downtown at 615 E. Washington Ave. Many sites were considered but this one seems ideal. Combining resources from Dane County, City of Madison, United Way and Catholic Charities will make a key difference in advancing the community goal of helping those who struggle with homelessness get back on their feet.

Services to be provided via partner agencies include employment training, mental health services, alcohol/drug addiction assistance, case management, outreach and housing navigation for hundreds of men, women and children who face homelessness. Laundry services and a computer lab are included. I especially worry about homeless children growing up without permanent homes and schools, so this should be a big help.

The 2018 budget will be final in late November. I am pleased to report that the newly created Northside Early Childhood Zone in its first year hired a coordinator, secured office space and began working with young families on the Northside to assist with reducing the achievement gap, improving disproportionate minority unemployment and tackling poverty. With a robust start, an additional $61,000 in county money is in the new budget. This effort to stabilize families via home visitation, education and employment services will hopefully prove effective in reducing poverty by making sure all children get through school on their way to successful middle class lives.

The county continues to debate what to do with our aging and unsafe jail. The county executive included planning for Option 3 in his proposal. This would consolidate three jail locations into one by adding four floors to the Public Safety Building. Various county board committees and the full county board will make a decision soon.

Supervisor Rusk can be reached at 249-9667 or rusk@countyofdane.com.