The pressure placed on local law enforcement is tremendous, and now they have another resource to help them handle the stressors they encounter in the line of duty.
Hakes Wellness Solutions, a clinical practice that exclusively serves law enforcement officers, first responders and their families, opened its doors Wednesday morning in Chippewa Falls.
The tiny home converted into an office at 200 N. Rural St. is the brainchild of licensed professional counselor Holly Hakes, who has been surrounded by law enforcement officers her entire life.
“We know firsthand what the stressors of living and working in a law enforcement are all about,” Hakes said. “The reason I am passionate about starting my own practice is to be able to stand on a mountaintop and say we support police officers, law enforcement families and people who are working hard every day to make the right and best decisions. All cops don’t make poor decisions, in fact, most cops make hard, heart-wrenching decisions. I feel honored to support them through those things.”
Hakes opened the business with the help of her husband, Lee Hakes, who served as a police officer for 27 years. Prior to marrying Lee, Holly’s mother served as a 911 dispatcher when she was growing up and her brother-in-law is Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm.
“We want to thank Holly for dedicating her life to something that is so important to law enforcement, which is the mental health of our officers,” Kelm said. “So much is being talked about right now on the state and national theaters about what our law enforcement officers go through on a daily basis, and I know my officers have utilized your services in the past after they’ve experienced critical incidences. Having a resource like this in our background is a tremendous asset.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for Hakes Wellness Solutions Wednesday morning by the Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. Normally, only a red ribbon is cut during the ceremony, but Hakes requested a blue ribbon be used prior as well. The blue ribbon was not cut, however, as she said the thin blue line law enforcement defends is never cut and never taken down. She said they protect their communities with their lives and deserved an additional showing of support during the ceremony.
Hakes has a master’s degree in counseling from UW-Stout and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from UW-Eau Claire. She brings a diverse background of personal and professional experiences, including work in the industry herself, fueling her passion for aiding law enforcement officers any way she can.
“I know the people I support will feel comfortable here,” Hakes said. “I think it’s pretty awesome to be a born and raised in Chippewa Falls and then be able to open a business here. Being able to continue to support organizations and their employees is a duty I take tremendous honor and pride in. To be trusted by those who work behind the thin blue line is a professional honor that I will take to my grave with me.”
You can contact Hakes Wellness Solutions for more information through Hakes’ Facebook page and at 715-861-3045.
Two storied Chippewa Falls gathering places are collaborating to capture the beauty of the area.
The Heyde Center for the Arts and the Chippewa Falls Parks and Recreation Department are hosting “Celebrating Irvine Park through Art” to encourage people to visit Irvine Park and actively capture the wonder and beauty there through an artistic prism. To participate, artists are required to paint, sculpt or sketch while in the park so that they can interact, inspire and share their artistic vision with visitors.
“John (Jimenez) and I had a chance to talk recently about a number of different ways that we could collaborate,” said Debra Johnson, executive director of the Heyde Center for the Arts. “When John brought up this idea (art creation in the park), it fit perfectly with our upcoming events and our mission.”
With over 300 acres of natural and scenic beauty, Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls offers a zoo with wildlife and a petting zoo, a scenic dam, museum, picnic shelters, restrooms and historical displays. Take a tour of the Sunny Valley Schoolhouse or Pioneer Norwegian Log Home on the weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Also take in a natural historical marker, the Irvine Park Cave, which is about 20 feet long with natural springs running through it. In winter enjoy the Christmas Village, open from Thanksgiving to New Years, with over 100 displays and 100,000 lights.
“I am super excited about all of this. It is a way to get people into the park and for visitors to see artists in action,” said John Jimenez, director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, City of Chippewa Falls.
Artists submitting their work will be qualified to exhibit it at the Heyde Center for the Arts from February 23 to March 9, 2022. The top five artworks will receive a prize. Four of the prizes will be chosen by a judging panel of people from the Chippewa Falls Parks and Recreation Department and from the Heyde Center for the Arts. The fifth prize will be a chosen by visitors to the exhibit through popular vote.
There is no age limit to enter, but photographic proof must be submitted to show the artist created their artwork in Irvine Park. The application process will open on August 15 and end on January 14, 2022.
The head of the Wisconsin Department of Justice says the state’s five Catholic dioceses are not all cooperating in a statewide inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy and other faith leaders.
Attorney General Josh Kaul held a press conference Tuesday to provide an update on his office’s review of clergy and faith leader abuse. Kaul said they’ve received more than 100 reports of either sexual assault or how faith organizations have responded to abuse since launching the investigation in April.
“Many of the people who reported to us have previously reported, but some of the people who reported are reporting for the first time,” Kaul said. “Some of the people who reported provided information about various different religious organizations. Other people who made allegations that didn’t relate to any religious organizations at all.”
Kaul said anyone who has experienced abuse or who may have information about a potential abuse case should report it to the DOJ’s office even if they’ve previously reported to a Catholic diocese or local law enforcement.
He said people shouldn’t assume that a previous report will be received by his office because of a lack of cooperation from the state’s five dioceses.
Kaul referenced a 2019 report from the Green Bay Press Gazette that found officials from four of the five dioceses said they would cooperate with an attorney general investigation.
“I’m not going to speak about specific dioceses but by and large, that has not been the response that we have received so far,” Kaul said. “Overall, between dioceses and religious orders, I would say that the response has been uneven and it’s part of the reason that these reports are so critically important.”
Last month, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee challenged the statewide inquiry in a letter to Kaul, saying the investigation had “an unreasonably broad scope” and questioned Kaul’s legal authority to launch the review.
Instead of providing Kaul’s office with requested documents, the archdiocese said they offered to provide information in relation to any new allegation of abuse against a person who is still alive.
Kaul said on Tuesday that many of the reports his office has received so far are related to past incidents that are outside of the statute of limitations. He said the DOJ will refer cases that are eligible for further investigation or prosecution to local district attorneys, but declined to say how many cases have been referred so far.
Kaul emphasized that people can report in a confidential manner and will speak directly with a trained victim services specialist who can refer them to other resources.
Sarah Pearson is associate director of Nate’s Mission, a Wisconsin-based project of the group Ending Clergy Abuse. She said hearing about the lack of participation from the state’s Catholic dioceses is concerning for survivor advocacy groups like hers.
“For an organization that has such a bad track record of dealing with this issue, to see them respond in that way I think is disheartening, although I will say it’s not particularly surprising,” Pearson said. “What we have to do is people have to report.”
She applauded Kaul’s efforts to encourage people who may have information about potential abuse to also come forward, saying that information could be especially important given the lack of cooperation from church officials.