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Erickson Park nears goal

Chippewa Falls’ Erickson Park project—a community goal to build a wheelchair-accessible fishing dock and park at a northern Chippewa Falls beach near Irvine Park—is nearing reality.

The park’s capital campaign has a small amount left to raise, after four couples, including Patti and Jeff Darley, Jim and Jan Docksey, Jerry and Mary Jacobson and Peg and Jake Leinenkugel, made a $40,000 contribution, a press release from Chippewa Falls parks director Dick Hebert said. The campaign needs $80,000 more to reach its final $250,000 goal.

The park will include a handicap-accessible fishing pier, observation platform at the top of the Glen Loch Dam, a walking bridge connecting the park with Irvine Park and Zoo, a bike trail, parking and a handicap-accessible boat launch.

Bids for the project will open March 6; those bids will be discussed by the Parks Board on March 13. Finally, the city council is expected to take up the matter March 20.

Construction may be completed by the fall of 2018 or the summer of 2019, Hebert said in January.

Individuals, businesses or organizations interested in making a contribution should contact the Chippewa Falls Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department at or by calling 715-723-0051.

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CJCC seeks county input on justice system

The Chippewa County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) is seeking public input.

Specifically, the county is looking for ways to help improve its criminal justice system.

Chippewa County residents can fill out a CJCC survey online, or pick up a copy of at the clerk of courts’ office in the Chippewa County courthouse, 711 N. Bridge St., room 220. The goal? Help low-risk offenders, identify parts of the system that aren’t working and more.

Community members are asked to complete the survey by Monday, Feb. 26. The CJCC is a state team selected to help Wisconsin implement the practices the National Institute of Corrections has been working on since 2008.

CJCC coordinator Rose Baier said the county is looking to gain insight into ways of improving the criminal justice system, such as providing more diversion programs for low-risk offenders, Baier said.

Baier anticipates results fully being compiled and presented to the community by June and for the results to be included in follow-up Meth Town Hall meetings, which are designed to work through solutions to methamphetamine use in the area.

These improvements are part of a wider conversation: The National Institute of Corrections is completing research on identifying harmful practices and finding the right solutions.

Chippewa County Judge Steven Gibbs said low-risk offenders include methamphetamine addicts, who might not be violent but struggle with addiction. Making more programs and jail-diversion resources available might help those offenders, he said.

The council began less than a decade ago, and has created a conversation between the different pieces of the justice system, Gibbs said.

“It’s definitely helped the dialogue between each different cog in the big wheel,” Gibbs said.

The National Institute of Corrections set up a framework for this research in 2008, and is implementing it in different counties and states.

Eau Claire and Milwaukee counties in Wisconsin were chosen to begin implementing the framework, and Wisconsin was eventually chosen as one of five states to continue on with the research.

Wisconsin was later selected, along with Virginia and Indiana, to discuss change targets within the criminal justice system. Now, Wisconsin is moving onto Phase Six, which includes implementing the practices within eight local teams – including the team in Chippewa County.

The National Institute of Corrections provided technical help and sent someone to the county to help with the implementation process of the CJCC’s work, Baier and Gibbs said.

Ultimately, Gibbs said the public’s input will tell the CJCC what they should be doing to improve the justice system in Chippewa County.

“What we’ve done in the past isn’t working, so we’d like to change and come up with new solutions,” Gibbs said.