Jeff Wall was appointed to the Lake Geneva Avian Committee two years ago and after a bird event drew nearly 100 people last year, he began promoting Lake Geneva as a bird city.
Lake Geneva is among several communities in the county with the Bird City designation.
Fontana received its designation last year after a determined effort to complete the process, Village Clerk Dennis Martin said.
â€śIt sort of got put on the back burner that first year,â€ť Martin said. But he worked with the parks and recreation department and the village created a new ordinance to fulfill some of the requirements.
Modeled on the Tree City USA program, Bird City Wisconsin has developed 22 conservation criteria across five categories. If a community meets at least seven criteria, it becomes an official bird city. Official community recognition of International Migratory Bird Day is one of the requirements for becoming a Bird City Wisconsin.
Elkhorn school closes after 55 years
ELKHORN â€” The last day of the 2012-â€™13 school year also was the end of an era at St. Patrick Parish School. In May, officials decided St. Patrick would close after 55 years due to declining enrollment and rising costs.
In June, the â€ślastâ€ť last day at the school brought a mix of tears and happy memories for many.
On June 16, Todd Mishler talked to those with fond memories of the Catholic school.
Jan Pappa served the school since 1975. Her emphasis was social studies, but her second family meant much more than that.
â€śIâ€™ve always enjoyed the closeness of working with the kids, and Iâ€™ve taught many of their parents,â€ť said Pappa, whose son and two daughters attended St. Patâ€™s. â€śWe have eighth-graders working with first-graders ... weâ€™ve worked as a family on many, many projects, so itâ€™s been a wonderful thing.â€ť
The Rev. Oriol Regales said the decision to close was a heart-breaking but necessary move.
â€śFifty-five years of unity will not end. We will keep these memories and feelings in our hearts,â€ť Regales said. â€śWeâ€™re losing something important for our community, but hopefully the parish will continue to support these students, parents and teachers.â€ť
Helping people smile at free dental care event
LAKE GENEVA â€” People waited in line for hours to be among those to receive more than $1.18 million of free dental care at the 2013 Wisconsin Dental Association Mission of Mercy event, held June 28 and June 29.
On July 7, photographer Terry Mayer covered the volunteer dentists, hygienists, assistants, students and other volunteers as they staged the massive dental care event at Badger High School, serving about 1,975 people.
Dr. Robert Dillman has been a dentist in the area since 1987 and was instrumental in getting Walworth County to host the 2013 Mission of Mercy, but he said pulling off an operation of this magnitude takes teamwork and coordination of dozens.
â€śWe had to show that we had enough community support behind it, so we sent out more than 900 letters to businesses in seeking donations and weâ€™ve received tremendous support,â€ť Dillman said. â€śBecause even though this is all done by volunteers, there are costs involved.â€ť
However, the most important components are showing a need and meeting the need for dental care.
â€śWe have a lot of unmet need in this area, especially in our Medicaid population ... a lot of residents donâ€™t have access to care and no dental home,â€ť Dillman said. â€śThis is a win-win situation. Patients benefit by getting the necessary care, and itâ€™s a win for participants because they get to provide care and give back to the community.â€ť
A new park for Walworth County
LYONS TOWNSHIP â€” â€śI could have done a lot of things to it, and I could have sold it to 100 to 150 different people,â€ť Duane Clark said of his rural property in Lyons Township. â€śBut they all wanted to develop it or break it into pieces for this or that.â€ť
On Aug. 24, Todd Mishler reported on plans by the county to purchase the property and turn it into the White River County Park.
Clark tentatively has negotiated a $1.91 million deal to sell the property to Walworth County, which intends to use the pristine real estate as a county park, almost doubling its current acreage of such land.
On Nov. 12, the Walworth County Board approved the purchase of the 190.5-acre property. The county will pay $1.91 million for White River County Park and then be reimbursed by a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources grant for half, or $955,000.
The park will be the first that the county has purchased in 10 years, and it likely will open next summer.
Clarkâ€™s property straddles both sides of the White River â€” about 9,200 feet of frontage â€” and parcels sit on both sides of Sheridan Springs Road about five miles northeast of Lake Geneva. It features a pond, walking trails, wooded areas, picnic tables, a barn and house.
Clark, 82, has owned the land for almost 50 years but said itâ€™s time for somebody else to manage the place, more than half of which is considered farm land.
Countyâ€™s first Boys & Girls Club opens
DELAVAN â€” Gov. Scott Walker returned to his high school alma mater in early November to mark the opening of the Boys & Girls Club of Walworth County, the organizationâ€™s first location in the county.
On Oct. 27, Todd Mishler reported on the clubâ€™s partnership with the Delavan-Darien School District, which gives the club free use of portions of Phoenix Middle School three afternoons a week when school is in session.
â€śThe community will benefit most by kids having a safe, positive place to spend time after school,â€ť said Karin Slayton, club director.
In addition to Slayton, the staff includes four part-time program coordinators as well as volunteers. Homework help and a variety of activities are offered.
â€śOur programming will vary, with staff offering six different activity sessions the members can choose from daily,â€ť Slayton said. â€śTopics will include sports and fitness, visual arts, reading, music, writing, community service, leadership and character development.â€ť