Biking lauded

I bought a bicycle in my 70th year. The night before I was to retrieve it from the shop I awoke with the thought, “Sometime I will fall off of that thing; maybe I should cancel it.”

But the next day I bought it. I resolved to be very careful and practice procedures that would avoid a fall.

This year I began using it more than before. I live near the State and Garfield intersection. So, to ride to downtown errands is easy: Just Local Foods, the clinic on Bellinger, the YMCA. I would sometimes also ride it to work on Hastings Way, peddling down the bicycle path and across the river on the walking bridge, then up the least challenging hill, Main Street.

Recently I became more practical and decided to place the bicycle on the front of city buses to get up the hills. I am surprised by how well this works.

In every case I have a smooth and easy ride back down the hills. I enjoy the logistics of this and bring flash cards to handle waits. Most bus routes take an hour, but the bicycle eliminates the wait to ride back.

With the car I am accident-free for several years but being old and having an accident is not appreciated by insurers, so using the bus reduces my odds of having an accident where one is most likely to occur — in city driving. I save some gas money, but bike/bus economy is mostly a matter of environmental responsibility.

Winter is coming on and I have talked with a bicycle dealer about snow tires, but I think I will retire the bicycle for the season and take a book along for time spent waiting for bus rides back down the hills — or on mild winter days, walk back.

Dan Norstedt

Eau Claire

Nursing woes

At a recent well-attended meeting held in Eau Claire, the results of a study put together by several groups across the state were presented.

The study results say one in five direct caregiver positions in the state is going unfilled. That’s up from one in seven in 2016.

The reasons? Starting wages in the profession are so low that many potential workers never apply, and the current hourly starting wage for personal caregivers is $10.75, while positions outside health care start at $12 an hour.

The report found Wisconsin’s low rate of Medicaid reimbursement is a factor keeping wages low. Demand for long-term care continues to grow, but with so many unfilled positions, many facilities are cutting back. Assisted living agencies are shutting their doors because they don’t have the staff, and that means people are having to go to nursing homes or dying.

Those of us with loved ones need to push Wisconsin state lawmakers to build wage and benefit increases for this vital area and recruit and retain certified nursing assistants to the profession. These are difficult jobs with no health insurance, benefits and little time off. It’s time Wisconsin takes care of its more vulnerable populations, when two-thirds of the state’s nursing home residents are on Medicaid.

Wisconsin needs to care for those who have cared for us and those who cannot with dignity. Our state legislators need to face reality and remember they, too, may need in-home care at some point in their lives.

Donna Fortin

Eau Claire