Sunday, May 26, 2013

Week Off Edition: Week of May 27

The Appleton City Council is off this week because May has five Wednesdays. If you haven't yet figured out our schedule, this is how it usually works:

  • We have full council meetings on the first and third Wednesdays of the months.
  • The weeks immediately following council meetings, we have committee meetings (mostly).
A few times a year, though, we have a month with five Wednesdays. Since there's no council meeting on these weeks and our committee work is already done, we don't have any meetings scheduled. These weeks come along roughly four times each year. I'm planning on using this one to go to a couple of baseball games.

Before I go, though, here's a quick glance at some of the things I worked on last week.


On Thursday Alderman Martin and I joined several members of the city's Library Board of Trustees, the League of Women Voters and library staff on a bus trip to Illinois to tour relatively recently updated facilities in Elgin and Skokie.

This was a long day (we left before 6 am and didn't get back until after 9:30 pm), but it was a great trip and I think I gained a lot by seeing these facilities firsthand. Both of these libraries are over 130,000 square feet compared to around 80,000 for our current facility, so it was interesting to see what can be done with a similar collection but much more space. 

In the coming years (probably sooner rather than later) Appleton is going to have to make a really tough decision regarding our library. The current building is somewhat dated and small for its current purpose and use, meaning we may need to consider a pretty significant project to renovate, move or expand to better serve users of the city's most-visited facility.

I'm a strong supporter of our library and I think the staff is doing a great job of doing everything they can with the tools and space they have available to them. But the day is coming where we'll have to talk about our options, and I'm glad I'll have this trip to think back to when we start to have that conversation.

Recreation and Youth Sports injuries

Two weeks ago at council we recognized a youth sports team that had recently won a championship. I won't name the coach, team or sport because I'm not here to publicly shame anyone, but a single sentence from the ceremony caught my attention. While mentioning the hardships his team had overcome, the coach said this sentence:
"We had concussions, broken arms...all the things that come with (sport)."
For me this was a startling reminder that sports in general and especially youth sports are a major part of our culture, but they also carry a not-insignificant health risk with potential long term implications. Without looking up the numbers, I'd guess they're easily the #1 source of brain injuries for young people.

On Friday I sat down with Appleton Recreation Manager Niki Wendt to talk about the city's youth sports programs and the training that takes place to both help prevent and handle injuries. Here are some of the things I learned:
  • All youth sports coaches undergo mandatory training at least once every three years, including instruction on how to deal with injuries. It's recommended coaches have CPR training.
  • Athletic trainers are on site on all game days to respond to any injuries, large or small.
  • A new concussion law requires that all coaches, parents and players receive information on diagnosing concussions, and players must remain off the field until receiving clearance from a doctor if they believe a concussion may have occurred.
What I was looking for from this meeting was assurance that everything we can do is being done to ensure our youth sports are as safe as possible, and that's what I found. I'm not that old (I just turned 30 recently), but our understanding and handling of injuries has come a long way since I was old enough to play youth sports.

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Making the council's activity as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested is part of my goal to make it easier for more people to get involved with issues that matter to them.

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