May 17, 2019
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair - 608.333.2285
County Board

The County Board recognized May as Mental Health Awareness Month


The Board held its regular meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. at the East Highway Garage at 3103 Luds Lane in McFarland. Prior to the meeting, Supervisors toured the Rodefeld Landfill which is now providing compressed natural gas which can be used as a motor fuel.


Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949, with the goal of reaching millions of people to fight the stigma, provide support and educate the public about effective ways to effectively treat those suffering with mental health conditions. It’s estimated that one in six adults in the U.S., and approximately 77,500 people in Dane County, are living with a mental illness.


“Dane County has long been a leader in addressing mental health concerns,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan (District 20, Middleton). “We’re continually working with the community, local health care providers and national partners to meet the needs of those with mental illness.  And yet, we must do more.”


Dane County presented a copy of the resolution recognizing May as Mental Health Awareness Month to National Alliance on Mental Illness Dane County in recognition of its role in increasing public awareness and advocating for those suffering with mental health conditions.


Also Thursday the County Board considered a resolution supporting equal access to driver licenses for all residents of Wisconsin, regardless of their immigration status or income.  Twelve states, including Illinois, allow drivers licenses for all residents.


Wisconsin currently bars an estimated 32,000 residents of the state from obtaining driver’s licenses due to their immigration status. In addition, over 100,000 Wisconsin residents had their driver licenses suspended in 2017 -- not for any driving offense but solely for failure to pay fines for minor infractions.


“Without a valid driver license, many people face barriers to meeting basic needs in day-to-day life, such as traveling to work, taking children to school, grocery shopping, going to medical appointments and visiting places of worship,” said Supervisor Tanya Buckingham (District 24, Madison).


Beyond the question of fairness, Buckingham said expanding access to driver’s licenses will reduce the number of uninsured drivers and result in lower insurance premiums for already-insured Wisconsin drivers. That savings is projected at $16 million.


“Restoring access to driver’s licenses for all in Wisconsin will allow more motorists to complete driver’s examinations and safety screenings and will also provide more residents with identification for law enforcement purposes,” she said.


The resolution approved by the Board urges Governor Tony Evers and the Wisconsin State Legislature to include provisions in the 2019-2021 State Budget that will restore access to driver licenses for all without regard to immigration status and to end the practice of suspending driver licenses because someone lacks money to pay fines.


The tour of the Rodefeld Landfill highlighted Dane County’s work of converting trash and cow manure into renewable fuel and injecting it into the interstate transmission pipeline so it can be sold to fleets of vehicles locally and across the United States.


Dane County’s landfill biogas facility will displace 3 million gallons of fossil fuels in the first year of operation, with this amount growing to 4 million gallons in future years. Due to renewable natural gas (RNG) having a lower carbon footprint that’s the equivalent to taking 4,800 cars off the road.


In addition to the facility’s environmental benefits, it’s estimated that Dane County will generate enough revenue from the facility to pay back the $28 million cost of the project in just a few years.