Jackson County and Wisconsin as a whole has been facing a growing epidemic of opioid-related deaths in recent months. Just a few weeks ago, the Ho-Chunk Nation buried two members in the same week because of opioid overdoses.

That event motivated members to come together May 17-18 at the Ho-Chunk Casino in Black River Falls and provide three sessions on opiate overdose treatment, Narcan, use, training a total of 120 people.

Tena Quackenbush, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, and Laura Runchey, from the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, gave a rundown of how to use Narcan, where it can be picked up and answered questions from the crowd.

Narcan doses can come in either a vial with a needle or in a nasal spray device.

The villages of Alma Center and Taylor voted during their monthly meetings last week to make cost of living increases to water and sewer rates for residents.

The Alma Center board voted to increase the water rates by three percent. Sewer rates will increase by three percent every quarter until May 2018 when it will be reviewed again.

Taylor voted to pursue increasing their water and sewer rates by three percent each.

Both villages have submitted their water rate increase applications with the Public Service Commission (PSC).

“The PSC’s role is to ensure that the [public utilities] have sufficient financial capacity by approving rates and monitoring utilities’ financial solvency,” said Elise Nelson, communications and legislative director for the PSC.

The Jackson County Board voted Monday to approve a resolution formally establishing the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC), which will foster evidence-based and effective programs for adult and juvenile offenders to reduce numbers in the criminal justice system.

This program will be a smaller version of JCC2, which was a similar program.

“What we had prior really encompassed the whole collaborative system in the county so we had people from all different agencies and it was more a social justice model, so we are narrowing it down to focus on the criminal justice system,” said Judy Luttio, who is the adult treatment and H.O.P.E. court coordinator for Jackson County. “The purpose behind doing another resolution is we want to start from scratch once again.

Jason Hausler, Patricia Malone and Marie Ritscher have been named finalists for UW-Extension area extension directors of area nine, which includes Jackson, Trempealeau, Buffalo and Pepin counties.

UW-Extension is undergoing a reorganization process that is set to be completed by the end of the year. The area extension directors will be in charge of the entire four-county area and will be responsible for staffing, programming and working with the counties in the area.

Naming the area extension directors are the first local-level employment decisions being made in the reorganization.

The area extension directors are expected to be in place July 1 to help smooth the transition, including helping with the new contract between UW-Extension and Jackson County that needs to be completed by September for 2018.

After the storms subsided and moved out of Black River Falls Wednesday, the city's common council held a special meeting to sort through some issues.

One of the most pressing items on the agenda was issuing a state of emergency to help expedite the process of fixing the washed out culvert underneath the Black River bridge near Advanced Chiropractic.

Officials said the culvert needs to be fixed as soon as possible, especially after the recent heavy rains, as every storm washes it out even more.

Todd Gomer, the BRF street supervisor, said he has been having trouble finding a vendor that could do it within the next two weeks. Most companies that have put in bids are not available to complete the project until August of September.

Heavy rain and wind covered northwestern Wisconsin and caused massive damage across the area Tuesday and Wednesday night, including a tornado warning Wednesday night that produced heavy winds for much of the county.

Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency Wednesday for Jackson County following the damaging storms.

Numerous power outages were recorded Wednesday night throughout Jackson County. The Jackson Electric Cooperative reported that approximately 1,900 members were without power from the recent storms in their service area. Crews continued to work Thursday to restore power.

Jackson County Emergency Management advised Wednesday night that travel was not safe. The travel advisory has since been lifted.

Crews are removing trees blocking local highways and roads. Numerous roads continue to be closed and/or damaged due to flood waters.