A Fond du Lac County Christmas Carol

Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel is out Christmas caroling, and wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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2016 Natural Beauty Council Beautification Awards

The Fond du Lac County Natural Beauty Council recently selected winners for the 2016 Natural Beauty Council Beautification Awards. Winners were selected for “outstanding efforts by homes, businesses, farms, institutions, and churches that contribute to the beautification and preservation through landscaping and outside property improvements.” The winners were announced at the September 20, 2016 Fond du Lac County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Natural Beauty Council Beautification Award Winners:

Thomas & Jane Andrews Ballon
E. Division Street, Fond du Lac

Breezy Hill Campground
Cearns Lane, Fond du Lac

 

Byron Historical Society’s Yellowstone Trail Markers
Highway 175, Byron

byron-historical-society-yellowstone-trail-markers-1

Frank & Debra Dorn Historic Ebert Home
E. Division Street, Fond du Lac

Kate & Gary Flohr
Deneveu Circle, Fond du Lac

Gärten Factory
Brooke Street, Fond du Lac

garten-factory

Robert & Beverly Kloos
Rose Eld Road, Rosendale

Keith & Sharon Krohn
Raube Road, Brandon

John & Jeanne McDowell
Eastbrook Lane, Fond du Lac

Patty Percy
US Highway 45, Eden

Red Cabin at Green Acres Bar & Supper Club
Fourth Street Road, Fond du Lac

Ed & Lynn Schneider
E. Division Street, Fond du Lac

Shepherd of the Hills Church & School
County Road B, Eden

shepherd-of-the-hills-church-school

Whispering Springs Golf Course & Banquet Facility
Whispering Springs Drive, Fond du Lac

Zacherl Funeral Home & Crematory
E. Division Street, Fond du Lac

4-H Club Welcome Sign Flower Bed
Corner of B & V, Eden

welcome-4-h-club-flower-bed

About the Natural Beauty Council

The Natural Beauty Council consists of five members appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Board of Supervisors to include citizens interested and qualified to act on matters affecting the preservation and enhancement of the county’s natural beauty. The membership of this council includes:

  • Marianne Gieger
  • Paul Levandowski
  • Mary Jean Nicholson
  • Sue Siegesmund
  • Gerda Strupp

Celebrating County Executive Allen Buechel’s 40th Anniversary of Public Service

Those who know County Executive Allen Buechel know his love of Fond du Lac County. He was honored Tuesday night for being an elected official for 40 years now, with no signs of slowing.

Buechel was welcomed by more than 150 people at the reception. At the presentation following, the crowd was serenaded with the County Song and a 10 minute video honoring Buechel’s professional achievements. Finally, he was presented with a proclamation from State Senator Duey Strobel and a plaque from the Fond du Lac County employees before he got up to thank the crowd.

View the full presentation here: http://view.earthchannel.com/PlayerController.aspx?&PGD=fonddulacwi&eID=69

A Piece of History: 1956 Time Capsule Opened

On April 8, 2016, The Meadows celebrated their recent grand opening with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Formerly Rolling Meadows Nursing Home, which was owned and operated by Fond du Lac County, The Meadows construction team discovered a time capsule inside the original cornerstone.

The time capsule was opened by Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel and shared the contents in front of the crowd.

County Clerk Lisa Freiberg Prepares for the Changes of Upcoming Elections

“There may be laws I am opposed to in this job,” says Fond du Lac County Clerk Lisa Freiberg, “but I have taken an oath to uphold the law and constitution.” It should go without saying that an elected official would uphold and enforce the law as prescribed. However, in the wake of a County Clerk in Kentucky being jailed for refusing to issue valid marriage licenses, many have strong opinions over what the role of a Clerk is and what they are elected to do. For Freiberg, this case is an outlier and not representative of her role in Fond du Lac County, stating: “I would never refuse to do the aspects of my job that I am elected to do.”

In the State of Wisconsin, County Clerks are elected every four years in each of the 72 counties. They are charged with many duties, including issuing marriage licenses and acting as clerk to the County Board of Supervisors. Additionally, they are each county’s chief election officer, which requires a Clerk to prepare and distribute ballots and count the results for each of the municipalities it oversees.

Before being elected as County Clerk, Freiberg started part time in the office in 1998, when she was hired by former Clerk Joyce Buechel. Over the course of her tenure, she worked many aspects of the office and served as the backup to Buechel during elections. When Buechel decided to retire in 2008, she approached Freiberg to consider running in the upcoming election. While initially hesitant, it was when Freiberg recognized she would be the one training a new Clerk on election procedures that she realized she could do the job.

Nearly two full terms into the role, Freiberg feels she has excelled in the position, with elections still being her favorite part. Overseeing all aspects of elections in the County can be quite challenging, and yet Freiberg loves the challenges. From coordinating with 33 municipalities and 11 school districts, there can be numerous variations to the election ballot and even crises that she must tackle on Election Day. “I love elections. I love to talk to groups about elections and explaining them. I push myself. I like the challenge,” Freiberg articulates.

Before the first election occurs in 2016, County Clerk Freiberg has been hard at work implementing new certified voting machines for all polling places in Fond du Lac County. The old voting machines were purchased in 1998 and most run on DOS, an outdated disk operating system. Programming on the new voting machines is Windows-based and allows for future upgrades as they become available. With the presence of the new voting machines, voters may notice one small change at the ballot box. “The voter will fill in an oval, just like we did on my high school exams, instead of completing the arrow,” explains Freiberg. The new voting machines will also save taxpayer money as it allows the Clerk’s office to program the machines in-house instead of outsourcing that work to another company.

The biggest change you will see in the next election isn’t related to voting machines, but to Photo IDs. Before you can fill in the oval on your ballot, voters will have to present a valid government-issued photo ID. Poll workers will be trained by County Clerk Freiberg to check the ID to see if the name matches the poll book and if the photo generally matches the voter in front of them. Voters who do not have a valid ID may obtain one for voting purposes from the Department of Motor Vehicles for free. The County Clerk’s office will soon be publicizing information related to obtaining a photo ID prior to the next election. “This new law will be for everyone,” Freiberg reminds, “It may feel weird to have to show your ID to the poll worker who may have been your neighbor for 50 years, but you’ll need to in order to vote.”

Freiberg expects 2016 to be a busy and productive year. Voters will elect the next President of the United States and make many decisions at the local and state levels. She will guide the Fond du Lac County Board of Supervisors to going paperless. And through it all, Freiberg thrives in the ever-changing realm of public service. “I have the willingness to work hard, I bring experience and knowledge to the office, and am a public servant. Even though there may be challenges, in the end, I always feel like I am doing the job I was elected to do.”

Lisa Freiberg is currently serving the remainder of her second four year term through December 2016.

2015 Natural Beauty Council Beautification Awards

The Fond du Lac County Natural Beauty Council recently selected winners for the 2015 Natural Beauty Council Beautification Awards. Winners were selected for “outstanding efforts by homes, businesses, farms, institutions, and churches that contribute to the beautification and preservation through landscaping and outside property improvements.” The winners were announced at the September 15, 2015 Fond du Lac County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Natural Beauty Council Beautification Award Winners:

AGNESIAN HEALTHCARE
430 E. Division Street, Fond du Lac
Allen Chantelois & Brenda Hill
294 E. Division Street, Fond du Lac
Dynamic Chiropractic & Wellness Center
952 S. Park Avenue, Fond du Lac
Michael & Teresa Keenan
275 E. Division Street, Fond du Lac
Knights of Columbus
795 Fond du Lac Avenue, Fond du Lac
Malone Area Heritage Museum
N8791 County Highway W, Malone
Redeemer Lutheran Church & School
606 Forest Avenue, Fond du Lac
Rienzi Cemetary
N6101 County Road K, Fond du Lac
Taycheedah Town Hall
W4295 Kiekhaefer Parkway, Fond du Lac
Fond du Lac County Veteran’s Memorial Park
Main Street, Fond du Lac
About the Natural Beauty Council

The Natural Beauty Council consists of five members appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Board of Supervisors to include citizens interested and qualified to act on matters affecting the preservation and enhancement of the county’s natural beauty.  The membership of this council includes:

  • Marianne Geiger
  • Paul Levandowski
  • Mary Jean Nicholson
  • Sue Siegesmund
  • Gerda Strupp

North Entrance Opening & Ribbon Cutting

After several months of renovation, the North Entrance of the City/County Government Center has reopened to the public. The entrance has been upgraded to include an elevator to provide a more accessible way into the building.

Former Fond du Lac Police Chief and County Board Supervisor Mel Heller was on hand to cut the ribbon, marking the official opening.

“Before it was very difficult for the elderly or people using wheelchairs to access the building at this point,” stated Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel. “Both City and County officials determined it was time to create a safe and easily accessible entrance that accommodates people with disabilities.”

County Staff Cross the Finish Line in Fondy Fair 5K

As lightning illuminated a deep red sky at dawn on a summer weekend, a small group of county employees awoke with excitement and anxiety for the day to begin. The stormy morning was the moment many of them have been working towards with effort, determination, and heart. The Fondy Fair 5K was about to begin. Under looming severe storms, these employees set out to accomplish their goal: run the 3.1 miles it takes to complete their first 5K.

Taking up running can seem like a scary prospect, especially if one feels out of shape or unfit. Many feel like they do not know how to start. As an avid runner, Justin Kluesner (Human Resources) knew the benefits that running provides and offered to lead a Couch to 5K program at Fond du Lac County. A Couch to 5K program is a running plan developed to help absolute beginners get into running. “For me, running has provided the obvious benefits that come with exercise, but I also feel I have more energy, more confidence, and a more positive outlook on life,” says Kluesner.

CouchTo5K group 2015Seven employees soon joined the program, which met every Tuesday and Thursday after work for nine weeks. Brenda Woelfel (Probate) says she joined because “running a 5K is something I had always wanted to do, but I felt I didn’t have the capability and was never sure how to start.” The first day the group met, they alternated between running 60 seconds and walking 90 seconds, for about 20 minutes total. After a few weeks, the running times slowly rose as each participant gained the strength, endurance, and stamina it took to run 30 minutes straight.

When the morning of the 5K arrived, severe storms delayed the start time one hour. “Since it was postponed, I got anxious the closer it got to [the start time],” recalls Marsha Spittel (Child Support). “I just wanted to get going!”

When the starting horn finally sounded, nearly 200 participants took off in temperatures that seemed to keep climbing. While starting the race made some nervous, the elation of completing it soon erased those fears. “I had a time in mind that I wanted to beat so that is all I was thinking when I was getting close to the finish line. Crossing the line is exhilarating,” states Becky Wagner (Land & Water Conservation).

Couch to 5K group at RaceOne by one each racer finished, most well under their goal times. In those moments, the hard work of the past several weeks flooded into their minds. “I came from being winded while running 60 seconds on the first week of the program and now I just completed the race!,” says Mary Fortney (Human Resources). For Kay Lock (Health Department), the experience has proved she is capable of more than she imagined, stating, “I thought I was getting old as I turned 52 this year, but I realized I can still do lots with the appropriate training.”

Reflecting back on the last several weeks has left Kluesner pleased with all the hard work and determination his colleagues displayed. “I am beyond proud of everyone for completing the 5K. I love to think about that first week when everyone was wondering what they got themselves into, because at that finish line, I saw 7 confident individuals who proved that they could achieve anything they put their mind to,” proclaims Kluesner.

Continue reading about each of the Couch to 5K participants and their experience.

Continue reading

County Employees Give Back With “Giving Garden”

The idea came to Melanie Boone on a spring-like March day, while walking outside with a few colleagues during a break – “It would be cool in the future sometime to start a garden here.” The very next day, plans were already being drawn up to start the first ever Giving Garden on the grounds of the Agriculture Service Center, home to the Fond du Lac County Land & Water Conservation Department.

Kelli Neitzel and Melanie Boone working in the Giving Garden.

Kelli Neitzel and Melanie Boone working in the Giving Garden.

Once County Conservationist Paul Tollard received approval to begin, Boone and Kelli Neitzel brought in leftover seeds from their personal gardens at home. Soon enough, plants began to grow in every window of the building. Everything from fencing and tomato cages to fertilizer, and even a hose extension was donated by numerous employees in the department. “Everyone kind of pitched in,” says Tollard. “It was neat to see.”

The Giving Garden is home to plentiful tomato plants, peas, green beans, summer and winter squash, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, and kale, all of which are harvested and donated weekly to Broken Bread, a food pantry at St. Paul’s Cathedral that serves more than 1,000 people every week.

Broken Bread coordinator Terry Hansen-Beno is very excited by the donations, especially because she can serve locally grown produce, which is not something the guests often see. “I love when [Melanie and Kelli] come in with the baskets of food,” says Hansen-Beno. “I can see the pride in their faces when they offer it. They take pride in what they have done.”

The first harvest of the season produced nearly 10 pounds of snow peas, zucchinis, and kale.

The first harvest of the season produced nearly 10 pounds of snow peas, zucchinis, and kale.

After just three weeks into the season, nearly 40 pounds of produce has already been donated. With roughly 10 weeks left in the growing season, Land & Water staff members are hoping to harvest and donate a total of 300 pounds of produce from the Giving Garden. “Fresh produce can be expensive, and giving people at the pantry an option is important,” states Boone.

At Broken Bread, Hansen-Beno sees the impact the donations have already made. “It’s something that [the guests] are not able to get, and it’s so nutritious,” she says. “It stands out – the color and freshness. It’s so nice to be able to offer this to people who may not be able to afford it.”

The sprawling garden is primarily maintained by Boone and Neitzel, who volunteer their time during breaks and sometimes before or after work. They are both thrilled to use their talents to help make an impact in the local community. “I love to garden,” says Boone. “It doesn’t feel like work to me. We’re going to continue to give stuff until they tell us it’s too much.” The successful first few weeks already has them planning next season’s garden, and they’re hoping to start earlier to grow cold-weather vegetables and potentially expand the garden.

Melanie Boone, Paul Tollard, and Kelli Neitzel in front of the Giving Garden.

Melanie Boone, Paul Tollard, and Kelli Neitzel in front of the Giving Garden.

“This is a great highlight for the year. [The idea] came out of nowhere and it’s been a great thing to happen on top of the great stuff we’re already working on,” reflects Tollard.

Since 2012, Broken Bread has seen a 37% increase in the number of families needing assistance. If you have unwanted produce in your garden and would like to make a donation, stop by St. Paul’s Cathedral at 51 W Division St in Fond du Lac Monday through Thursday from 9am-1pm or Fridays from 8am-8pm.

Shawn Kelly Plans to Bring Register of Deeds into Digital Age

“I thought I wanted to be an astronaut,” laughs Shawn Kelly, the Fond du Lac County Register of Deeds. “That quickly faded, because then I wanted to be a baseball player.” While childhood dreams in professional sports didn’t exactly pan out the way he had hoped, Kelly spent most of his career in public service, culminating in an appointment to the Register of Deeds post by Governor Scott Walker in 2013.

The Register of Deeds is an elected county-level position that is charged with being the primary custodian of significant documents to both the community as a whole and to its individual residents. These may include land records and vital records, like birth and death certificates.

Shawn Kelly, Register of Deeds

Shawn Kelly, Register of Deeds

Kelly is the son of a West Coast attorney father and an East Coast engineer mother. They met in the Army and settled near the Quad Cities in a small town called Milan, IL. Kelly decided he would go to school for accounting, but still wasn’t quite sure where his life would lead him. During college, he met his future wife – a Fond du Lac native – and not long after graduation, moved to Fond du Lac to start a family.

Those early days in Fond du Lac consisted of driving 800 miles per week back and forth to the Milwaukee area while he audited for the State Unemployment office. In an effort to be closer to home, Kelly later took a job as an internal auditor at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh in 1997. Over the course of his 16 years there, he was promoted to Controller where he oversaw and managed the University’s financial affairs.

“Personally, I was ready for a new challenge. The days were long and work would still not be done. I saw the [Register of Deeds] job and thought I could do that. It’s organizational skills. It would be nice to be in town where I live. I just threw my name in the hat.” After a first round interview, Kelly was called to a sit down with Governor Walker. “It was more or less just a conversation with [him],” he says. Before he knew it, the phone call came and it became real. “I didn’t know what to expect. But I realized this was more about personal fulfillment and here I am.”

After learning the role and assessing the Office’s future with the County Executive and other closely related departments, Kelly’s first major goal is to integrate technology into the day-to-day operations, including bringing over 100 years of important documents online. “Some counties are way out in front and have been doing this for years,” says Kelly, “while others are way behind and barely have any electronic records.” Next will be an E-recording tool that will allow title companies to submit land documents and records online. Finally, a public notification system will be unveiled which can help alert property owners to potential fraud or activity on their land. According to Kelly, these upgrades are already underway and plan to roll them out over the summer and into next year.

Shawn Kelly is currently serving the remainder of a four year term through December 2016.

Christmas Greetings from County Executive Allen Buechel

County Executive Allen Buechel wishes you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the season;
there’s much to be grateful for, from Ripon to Eden.
It’s the landscape and people you meet when you roam;
that make our County great – the place we call home.

We keep our streets safe and care for our poor;
Our roads are kept clean, and on the lakeshore.
I’m proud of our work for you — the people we serve,
Our staff is first-rate, providing the service you deserve.

Yet in our world, filled with anger and strife,
be kind to your neighbors and strangers alike.
For Christmas is a time for good tidings and cheer;
be a light in the world – compassionate and sincere.

The folks of this County are like my family, it’s true;
I’m humbled and honored – proud to serve you.
So my wish for you all on this cold, wintry night,
is for a joyous, peaceful Christmas; be it merry and bright.