Good Neighbor Hub Gets Community Update

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By: 
Michelle Phillips

MIDDLETON–The Middleton Good Neighbor Hub group kicked off its weekly Zoom meeting on March 27 with a call for district captains to organize volunteer efforts in various neighborhoods. The districts follow Middleton Common Council districts, and currently captains are need in districts 1, 4, 7 and 8.

City Administrator Mike Davis started off the updates and said the city has moved all voting precincts to Kromery Middle School. He reminded that poll workers are still needed for the Spring Election on April 7.

Davis said about 7,000 absentee ballots had been distributed as of Friday afternoon. The last day to request a ballot was March 30.

Bartlett Durand, who was conducting the meeting asked Davis how the city staff was doing during the Safer at Home order.

“People are stressed,” he said and added that it is hard to balance family, work and isolation. 

Tom Wilson, community resource officer for Middleton Police Department (MIPD), said that calls were down in the city. He said the department is still responding to calls and added that the medicine drop off at MIPD is still available. 

Wilson said people have some misconceptions about Safer at Home. “People think they need a permit to travel or show that you’re working. We’re not going to be out stopping random people,” Wilson said. “However, if we do get a call of a large group gathering or a violation, we’ll follow up.”

Durand asked if the department had experienced a higher number of calls about domestic disputes, but Wilson said they were about the same. “As far as I know we really haven’t seen any drastic increase yet.”

Mayor Gurdip Brar told the group he had been in touch with Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and he had offered help from the county if needed. 

“I want to say, city employees are really doing a great job,” Brar praised. 

School is about to go back in session via e-learning, Middleton Cross Plains area School District  Superintendent Dana Monogue reported. She said staff had worked hard on ensuring students had the equipment they need to start classes on April 1. In addition, staff spent the past two weeks preparing for virtual learning. 

Monogue said video conference is part of the process. “Educators will have office hours for conferences with kids and parents,” she said. 

She added that the district is trying to make sure everyone knows their roles as well as how to behave appropriately in video meetings. Monogue said social workers will reach out to those that don’t engage in classses.

Construction projects are continuing in the district, and Monogue said they are actually going to be ahead of schedule at the high school because there are no students present in the building. She included that Findorff, the contractor on the  project, will be practicing social distancing and will have hand sanitizer and hand washing stations on site. 

John Hausbeck Environmental Health Care Supervisor form the Environmental Health office of Public Health of Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) told the group that the county has seen an increase in cases of COVID-19. At the time of the call, cases were at 160 in the county, with one death reported. By press time on Tuesday afternoon, that number had reached 214 with two deaths in the county.

“We update out website every day at 8:30 (a.m.) and 4:30 (p.m.),” he said.

He added that with increased cases it has become hard to manage case contact lists. “We are moving past containment and getting more into the mitigation phase,” Hausbeck explained. “We really need to get people on board with the guidelines out there. We need people to focus on staying home as much as possible.”

Those who think they may have the virus are asked to self quarantine at home if at all possible. 

“What public health would really like is a vaccine and testing. Without those things, right now we need to talk about mitigation measures.”

Currently, only those in high risk groups are receiving tests, including healthcare workers, EMS and law enforcement officers. 

He reminded that if you are tested for COVID-19, you should self isolate until test results come back. 

Middleton Chamber Director Kate Wicker said,  “restaurant folks are freaking out,”  and all business have concerns right now. “They are doing their best to adjust their business,” she said.

Wicker said staff had been calling all at risk members and providing them with resources for their business. She said there is information on the Chamber’s website to help local business owners. 

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking making those calls sometimes,” she added. 

Wicker said the one week wait to receive unemployment benefits has been waived by the state as has the number of jobs an applicant is required to apply for in a week. She said there are jobs available at “essential” businesses, but that sometimes that means putting yourself at risk by being in public and potentially exposing yourself to the virus. 

Middleton Senior Center Director Tammy Derrickson said her staff has been going through the center’s database and contacting every client, about 1,800 people. She said they are also reaching out to at risk people identified through case management. 

Derrickson said that some of the referrals come through the police or EMS, but “The best referrals come from other seniors in their complex.” She added that sometimes people aren’t interested when they are called, but think about it and call back. 

She said the number of meals continues to go up, and that there is some fear of exposure among those that deliver Meals on Wheels. She said clients are getting the same number of meals, but deliver days have been reduced.

Derrickson said that the center is making efforts to prepare for the future and added that if a site becomes infected with COVID-19, it is shut down. 

Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM) has also reduced the number of days a week for food pick up to three per week, said Ellen Carlson, MOM Director.

“We’ve had some new people, they haven’t spiked yet, but I am expecting that to happen,” she said. 

Carlson said the boxes they are distributing are prepared by Second Harvest, and include one non perishable box, and another with some meat and extra meals. She said MOM has enough volunteers at this time, but Second Harvest in in need of help and encouraged people who want to volunteer to go to the Second Harvest website. 

She said case management services are still underway, and that she expects financial assistance needs to go up. She included that the senior program offering rides to the pantry is also still available. 

Canstruction has been cancelled for this year, and Carlson said that will take a huge bite out of the organization’s donations as it is their biggest food drive. She said some participants have given money instead, but she knows not everyone is in a position to donate funds. “Right now we can’t accept (food) donations,” she added. 

Gabrielle Hinahara, Middleton Youth Center Director said the center is still delivering boxes to members, and last week distributed 30 through Door Dash. 

“We have families that rely on after school and weekend food programs,” she said. 

She said that the boxes include a book, donated by the Middleton library, and an art activity pack.

“We have received some donations, but are open to more. It looks like it will be a lot of weeks that we will be doing this,” Hinahara, said. 

She said the center is working with the school to help with homework and provide additional resources. 

If you would like to become involved with the Middleton Good Neighbor Hub, visit their Facebook page or email goodneighborhub@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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