Waupaca year in review
Local news highlights in 2022
By James Card
• Jim Olsen retired from the Waupaca Library Foundation. He served as their treasurer for 33 years. He is the last of the original foundation board members when it was started in 1989.
• The city of Waupaca contracted with Graichen Disposal/GFL Environmental to collect trash and recyclables citywide.
• The city council approves the archery antlerless-only deer hunt to cull the city’s overpopulated deer herd. Hunters would eventually harvest 12 does throughout the winter.
• The city council voted to move ahead with the River North subdivision and they approved a 12-month contract with the Hoffman Development Group for pre-development services.
• Waupaca city crews worked with the DNR to drop fish sticks on Shadow and Mirror Lakes. The fish sticks are trees anchored to boulders and dragged onto the frozen lake. When the ice melts, it sinks to the bottom of the lake and provides habitat for fish and aquatics invertebrates.
• Bethany Home celebrated its 125th anniversary. The organization started out as a children’s home. The orphanage closed in 1953 and the focus changed to providing care to the elderly.
• There were four candidates running for two seats on the Waupaca School Board. Incumbent Dale Feldt was seeking re-election and Steve Hackett filed non-candidacy papers. The new candidates were Ronald Brooks, Ben Warren and Kayla Van Dyke-Griena. Feldt retained his seat on the board and newcomer Brooks won a seat.
• The Waupaca High School Chess Team became the smallest school in state history to take the Division I state championship title. They are also the northernmost school to win the state championship and they beat out bigger schools from the Milwaukee and Madison area.
• Field crews from the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources worked in the Waupaca River Fishery Area near Foley Road and County Trunk Q. Much of the work involved running a skid steer with a mower head to reduce invasive brush and to open up access for anglers. • Gov. Tony Evers visited the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King. It was part of a statewide tour in conjunction of him signing an executive order for an initiative that would help veterans.
• Henry Veleker was elected to the Waupaca Common Council to represent District 5.
• Paradise Coin & Gift opens on 215 S. Main St. Owner Bill Anderson grew up in Waupaca but his life’s journey took him to Paradise, California where he operated a coin shop for 42 years. The Camp Fire of 2018, the state’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire, was a push for him to relocate back to Waupaca.
• Andrea Wanty started her position at the new director of Waupaca’s Senior Center. She has 18 years of experience specializing in working with memory care patients at the Weyauwega Health Care Center (now called Crossroads).
• At the age of 81, Joyce Boyer retired after serving nine years on the Waupaca County Board. Her late husband, Jim Boyer, was a Waupaca city mayor and a county board member.
• Jay Krcmar stepped down as head of the Waupaca Baseball Organization. He served youth baseball for 15 years, helped many players develop and improved the fields and facilities. Kyle Douglas is his successor.
• Riverside Park reopened after months of restoration work by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Riverbanks were reinforced for flooding and trout habitat features where built into the S-shaped bend that runs through the park. Rainbow trout were stocked for the state trout fishing season.
• Main Street Popcorn opened at 209 N. Main Street. Every morning Scott and Gina Diem make fresh movie theater-style popcorn and also set aside some for special flavorings that ranges from banana to macaroni-and-cheese.
• The city of Waupaca was awarded a $50,000 grant by T-Mobile. The city was picked out of 25 other small towns across America. The money was earmarked to purchase some outdoor furniture and other infrastructure outside of the library and city hall.
• Huck & Finn, a home décor shop, opened its doors for business after owners Mike and Megan Swisher spent months remodeling the historic storefront on 111 N. Main Street.
• During his rookie year as the Waupaca High School’s athletic director, Trevor Leopold worked to create a new weight room at the high school. Partnering with the Waupaca Foundry, he was able to outfit a modern weight training facility for students and as an added touch, the students can exercise using hometown-made kettlebells cast by the Waupaca Foundry.
• Leslie Beyersdorf started her position as recreation program supervisor for the city of Waupaca. She studied health and fitness management, has coached and refereed sports and served in the Army National Guard.
• Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Secretary Emilie Amundson gave a speech at city hall on June 2. This was related to the city and Waupaca County being awarded a $75,000 Dream Up! Childcare supply-building grant.
• The Waupaca Community Theater put on a production of the Disney hit, “The Little Mermaid.” The musical was delayed three years because of COVID-19.
• Piggly Wiggly tore town a wall and remodeled the liquor section in a way so shoppers could take advantage of a new city ordinance that allows people to purchase beer and liquor together with their groceries instead of having to make a separate purchase at another register.
• Husband-and-wife team Matt and Brittney Klatt of KlattAero became the new managers of the Waupaca airport. The Klatts are familiar faces at the airport as Matt rented a hanger there were he restores vintage canvas-covered airplanes and performs other aviation services.
• Construction work on Harrison and High Streets was an everyday sight for the summer and fall months. The project not only gave the streets a freshly paved look but all utilities got upgraded: storm, sewer, water and private companies took the opportunity to upgrade electrical, gas and internet networks.
• The Waupaca Rotary launched a twice-monthly radio program on 96.3 FM. New Rotary president Check Reynold’s civic-minded vision for it is to spread positive news in the Waupaca community.
• The city approved some re-zoning for H.H. Hinder, the city’s only brewery. Owner Mike Stroik laid out plans to expand his business around the city block area of his Churchill Street address.
• A health advisory was lifted for swimming at Shadow Lake. Some swimmers became ill and after investigation by health officials it was determined that the cause was norovirus, a virus spread by fecal contamination.
• Molly McDonald was named to the Waupaca School Board to fill Mark Polebitski’s seat.
• Luke Schwiesow took over W.J. Doran, the landmark plumbing and hardware store in downtown Waupaca. He is keen on preserving the history of the business and the building.
• The sculpture, “Cresting Canoe Atop the Great Wave of Waupaca,” by artist Luke Achterberg was installed on Main Street. Faye Wilson donated the funding and grant writer Greg Grohman helped get the project off the ground.
• The final results of the most comprehensive management plan on Shadow and Mirror Lakes were presented by Todd Hanke, an aquatic ecologist. The verdict: the lakes are in good health but invasive plants need to be kept in check and road salt leaching needs to be addressed.
• Sheriff Tim Wilz won the Republican primary garnering 5,132 votes over Detective Sgt. Cameron Durrant who got 3,594 votes.
• Eric Bailey started his new position as director of the Waupaca Area Public Library. It was a homecoming for him as he grew up in Waupaca and later gained professional library experience in northern Illinois.
• Fletcher’s Jewelry celebrated their 85th anniversary. The longtime Main Street business was founded in 1937. Richard Heckenlaible relocated his business from Main Street to 701 S. Industrial Drive. His business, Heckey’s Corner Pet Shop, Computers and Vacuums is the only place in the area where one can pick up a computer part, get a vacuum fixed and buy a goldfish in one stop.
• Laura Colbert was appointed as the new director of the Waupaca Park and Recreation Department. She previously was working with the Waupaca Arts Hub. Her predecessor, Andrew Whitman, left to be the director at the Central Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in King.
• Waupaca seventh graders spent Sept. 29 at Eco Park as the first-ever field day. It was collaboration between Winchester Academy, the Parks and Recreation Department and the Waupaca Middle School. Students rotated among various stations where professors and other experts provided hands-on learning about the natural world.
• Weasels had its final bash on Sept. 30 after 38 years of business. The bar and restaurant were packed and the last pizzas were brought from the ovens. Weasels was established by Gary Holtane in 1984.
• The Waupaca School District announced that a 1, 2, 3 grading system would be put in place for high school students in the 2023-24 school year. K-8 students already have this grading system in place.
• Ground was broken for the Swan Park splash pad. There was a small ceremony of key people involved to make this years-in-the-making project happen. A
• U-Haul acquired the old K-Mart and took the first steps to transform it into a massive indoor climate-controlled storage unit area and a U-Haul service and retail center.
• The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments at the Waupaca County Courthouse concerning a jail inmate’s sexual assault. It was for Justice on Wheels, an outreach and educational program.
• Dr. Jack Rhodes passed away on Oct. 10. He helped establish Fox Valley Technical College’s campus in Waupaca and the community foundation.
• Northern Kitchen opened on the corner of North Main and West Session streets. It is epicurean-focused boutique selling food, drink and cooking items.
• Halloween-on-Main was held for a second year. Main Street was mobbed with costumed adults and kids who trick-or-treated at downtown business.
• Waupaca County District attorney Veronica Isherwood announced her resignation to be effective Dec. 17.
• The first shipment of Wine Under the Sea arrived in Waupaca. It is a rare wine that is aged 100 feet underwater in the Adriatic Sea. Local importer BZ Consortium spent a two-year lettering writing campaign to the FDA and the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to allow its sale in the United States.
• Waupaca students of all grade levels came back on stage after a two-year pandemic hiatus. They performed the “Sound of Music” numerous times in early November. It was directed by Holly Saunders.
• Waupaca County had the third highest deer harvest during the state nine-day firearms season. Hunters killed 5,849 deer.
• Foundations for Living was approved by the Waupaca Common Council to open a woman’s shelter. It will be located on 1310 Royalton St.
• The Nov. 8 referendum passed with a vote of 4,852 yes and 2020 no to fund a $3.87 million upgrade for single-point entrances for all four Waupaca school buildings.
• Moses Hall, a skilled nursing facility with 192 beds, opened at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King.
• The city council voted to give Lakemen Field an upgrade for lighting and other infrastructure.
• Festive Foods reopened after a fire on June 13 burned down approximately half of the facility.
• Parks and Recreation Director Laura Colbert convened an informal citizen input meeting to gather ideas about how to make Eco Park a better utilized place. More of these meetings are planned for 2023.
• Kat Turner was appointed to serve as Waupaca County district attorney by Gov. Tony Evers. She will serve for the remainder of the unexpired term that ends in 2025.
• Celestial Kinetics Flight Academy, Waupaca’s newest school for flying lessons, had its first student earn his private pilot license.
• Long-serving City Clerk Sandy Stiebs retired from her position and Barb Nowak took over her duties.
• A delegation of visitors from Tajikistan toured Waupaca. They were sponsored by the Rotary Club.
• Stephanie Rief was appointed as the city’s finance director and treasurer after a probationary period while learning the ropes of the position from partially retired former finance director Kathy Kasza.
• The long vacant St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church at 223 S. Division St. was sold Schuelke Properties LLC of Green Bay for $150,000. There is a plan to turn it into multi-family housing.