Tag Archives: Dane County

DAIS: Making Adjustments to Provide Services During a Pandemic

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski

On January 12, Shannon Barry, executive director of Domestic Abuse Intervention Service, spoke about how her organization adjusted to support survivors through the pandemic. This required new strategies just when their clients’ own situations were more dire. During the Covid lockdowns, victims were isolated with their batterers. DAIS provides an array of personal services and advocacy and has the only domestic violence shelter in Dane County. The volunteers who previously staffed the DAIS 24-hour helpline were let go, and all staff members had to help staff the line. With a Paycheck Protection Program loan, DAIS has purchased additional phones, improved its technology and made the workplace safer.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_vVhluFXRI&t=2269s

Joe Parisi: Update on Dane County

submitted by Mary Borland; photo by Mary Ellen O’Brien

joe parisi 1 9 2019   Joe Parisi, Dane County Executive since 2011, shared information with downtown Rotarians about area lake cleanups; mental health assistance in our schools and an update on airport expansion.

To address algae growth in our lakes due to too many nutrients flowing into them, partnerships have been formed to address run off at their sources. In urban areas, this means creating more retention ponds and in rural areas, partnering with local farmers to plan buffer strips and to utilize manure digesters. These digesters remove about 60% of the phosphorus which leads to algae bloom. Then with the use of nutrient concentration systems, the remaining 40% of phosphorus is removed!

In addition, centuries old streams contain high phosphorus levels in their muck. Two years ago, the County began a 4 year $12M project to “suck the muck/phosphorus” out of streams. This is proving to be a highly successful project and we have another 33 miles of stream to go.

As we are starting to experience warmer and wetter winters and will likely see more frequent high impact rains according to climate change experts, the County is using software to analyze which “choke points’ along the waterways are moving too slow so they can be opened up. For example, they are looking to remove a lot of muck between lakes Monona and Waubesa and to utilize weed cutters more to help keep the water moving so it doesn’t back up.

With increasing population growth, lands to protect are being identified and will be purchased to keep them available to absorb rain and more wetlands may be purchased for water storage.

The County is investing millions of dollars to increase energy and renewables in county buildings. With MG&E, the county is building a 41 acre solar farm near the airport. We are “walking the walk” and when doing good for the environment we are also doing good for the bottom line”, stated Parisi. We all need to consider climate change action plans.

Regarding mental health services, which is a big part of the county’s budget, partnering with schools is a large initiative. Building Bridges is a school-based mental health program that is a collaboration with Catholic Charities. Some area schools now have mental health professional staff available to meet with young people instead of engaging with law enforcement. Issues are being identified early and students are getting the help they need.  In 2019, an 11th school district is being funded.

Our airport is growing!  2018 brought 5 new destinations bringing the total of non-stop destinations to 19. Terminal modernization is being planned to include larger spaces, new seating and more dining.

In closing, Parisi stated the goal is to not rest until all county residents have access to all we have to offer.

Joe Parisi Describes Action Plan to Break Down Barriers in Dane County

–submitted by Roger Phelps; photo by Mike Engelberger

Joe ParisiJoe Parisi offered a down-to-earth pragmatic approach to some of the recurring problems of unequal access to key services.  Many of these approaches transcend the single agency or single resource access.  Instead, Joe offers a “partnership model” for addressing problems that plague our youth, minorities, poor and underprivileged communities and other segments that are finding themselves increasingly cutoff from traditional means of accessing services.  A few examples:


  • Early Childhood Zones – partnership with schools, parents and United Way designed to stabilize vulnerable families and better prepare young children prior to 4K.
  • Mental Health Issues in Schools – partnership with schools, parents, mental health professionals and Catholic Charities to build bridges and provide help to schools struggling to deal with individual mental health crisis among its students.  The goal is to provide staff and parents with options other than calling law enforcement – options to de-escalate a crisis and stabilize it to help minimize future crises.
  • Driver’s License Program – a program to increase Drivers Training for job seekers who find it difficult even to drive to an employment interview.  There are currently extreme inequities in driver’s license ownership by white and minority communities.  This is a major factor in inequities in employment rates in Dane County.

Joe Parisi’s general approach to the above and other problems is to map out the problem, identify the choke-points and then form a partnership between public and private stakeholders who can provide a combined solution.

Thank you, Joe, for enlightening Rotarians at today’s meeting and for showing us how we can all be part of real-world solutions to some of our county’s problems.  Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work on these issues.