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Thursday, 26 December 2013 14:57

Stories that shaped Walworth County in 2013

Written by  CSI Media staff
A snowy owl preens on a perch on a cold winter day. In May, Lake Geneva was designated as one of Wisconsin's new bird cities. A snowy owl preens on a perch on a cold winter day. In May, Lake Geneva was designated as one of Wisconsin's new bird cities. Kristen Westlake

 

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY — Newspapers are like a snapshot. Each issue chronicles a slice of life in our communities at the time. In 2013, we reported on many events that became important stories for those who live in Walworth County. In this, our last edition of 2013, we take a look back at five of those stories that shaped the news.

Read the current edition here: http://www.server-jbmultimedia.net/CSI-WalworthCountySunday

Lake Geneva is for the birds

May 19

LAKE GENEVA — As tourists arrive in Lake Geneva each spring, so too do migratory birds. Tying the two together isn’t new, but sometimes it takes extra effort to appreciate our feathered friends.

On May 19, Lynn Greene reported on Lake Geneva’s designation as a bird city.

The Bird City program aims to ensure that Wisconsin maintains a healthy population of birds in rural and urban settings. The program is a coalition led by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Audubon Society, the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative and the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.

 

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.

“It sort of got put on the back burner that first year,” 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

June 16

ELKHORN — The last day of the 2012-’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 “last” 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.

“I’ve always enjoyed the closeness of working with the kids, and I’ve taught many of their parents,” said Pappa, whose son and two daughters attended St. Pat’s. “We have eighth-graders working with first-graders ... we’ve worked as a family on many, many projects, so it’s been a wonderful thing.”

The Rev. Oriol Regales said the decision to close was a heart-breaking but necessary move.

“Fifty-five years of unity will not end. We will keep these memories and feelings in our hearts,” Regales said. “We’re losing something important for our community, but hopefully the parish will continue to support these students, parents and teachers.”

Helping people smile at free dental care event

July 7

LAKE GENEVA — 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.

“We 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 we’ve received tremendous support,” Dillman said. “Because even though this is all done by volunteers, there are costs involved.”

However, the most important components are showing a need and meeting the need for dental care.

“We have a lot of unmet need in this area, especially in our Medicaid population ... a lot of residents don’t have access to care and no dental home,” Dillman said. “This is a win-win situation. Patients benefit by getting the necessary care, and it’s a win for participants because they get to provide care and give back to the community.”

A new park for Walworth County

Aug. 24

LYONS TOWNSHIP — “I could have done a lot of things to it, and I could have sold it to 100 to 150 different people,” Duane Clark said of his rural property in Lyons Township. “But they all wanted to develop it or break it into pieces for this or that.”

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.

Clark’s property straddles both sides of the White River — about 9,200 feet of frontage — 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 it’s time for somebody else to manage the place, more than half of which is considered farm land.

County’s first Boys & Girls Club opens

Oct. 27

DELAVAN — 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 organization’s first location in the county.

On Oct. 27, Todd Mishler reported on the club’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.

“The community will benefit most by kids having a safe, positive place to spend time after school,” 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.

“Our programming will vary, with staff offering six different activity sessions the members can choose from daily,” Slayton said. “Topics will include sports and fitness, visual arts, reading, music, writing, community service, leadership and character development.”

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