Reflections on 2019
Citizens share favorite memories of the past year
Star Journal Staff
As 2020 is ushered in, many media outlets will produce a recap of prominent news stories from the past year as way of looking back on noteworthy events. And while these events may have affected entire communities, countries and even the world, we believe it is the individual’s reflection of the previous year that is most interesting, and often most uplifting. This is especially true because it is human nature to remember mostly the good things in life.
While Rhinelander has had its share of both good and bad throughout 2019, we at the Star Journal wanted to remind everyone of some of the great experiences had by its citizens during the past year. A variety of community members were asked to provide favorite memories from 2019. These memories could be of a special event, an act of kindness or even something personal. The results spoke loud and clear, proving what members of our community already know: Rhinelander is truly an amazing place.
Rhinelander Police Chief Lloyd Gauthier:
I thought about this a lot and several things came to mind over the course of 2019 but I would have to say the top pick was being part of The Walking School Bus. Every Tuesday morning between October 22 and November 12, I escorted numerous grade school kids to Central School. The route started on Thayer Street and Freemont Street and continued on Thayer Street until High Street; High Street to Brown Street to Timber Drive to the school. I met some incredible kids who were full of energy and stories. I truly looked forward to each Tuesday. It was such a fresh and uplifting way to start my work day. Walking with me were Tom Jerow and Pete Cody. I really enjoy serving this great community.
Mike Cheslock, SDR Community Ed coordinator
My favorite memory from 2019 was watching my daughter swim for the James Williams Middle School Swim Team. The team did a great job, placing third at the conference meet!
Jessie Dick, station manager at WXPR Public Radio:
My favorite 2019 memory was Project North, a memorable weekend of music, art, yoga, food and beer – and I was able to share it with 1,000 of my closest friends!
Nancy Sattler, executive director of Northwoods United Way:
I had the opportunity to take over the Hodag Musky Challenge this year. This event is now being run by me at Northwoods United Way, and by Brett at Rhinelander Ice Arena. It was a lot of fun planning and organizing the event. I was glad we were able to keep this long running event here in the Northwoods. I loved seeing how our hard work paid off!
Oneida County Sheriff Grady Hartman:
I think my favorite memories from 2019 were watching the various Rhinelander youth sports and clubs compete. I was especially proud that the Hodag varsity football team competed and found a way to win six games. I had a great time travelling with the team and watching them have success. If I had to pick just one moment, I would say winning the bell back from Antigo was pretty special.
Stephanie Lueder, owner of Stephanie Lueder Coaching:
My best memory of 2019 was just a few months ago after one of the first seasonal freezes. I get up pretty early in the morning and this morning the sun had just started to illuminate the sky. As I drove down our driveway a little sparkle caught my eye, and then another, and then another. Everything was sparkling! The trees, the ground, the bushes… everything! In my 30-plus years of living in the Midwest I had never seen anything like it. In addition to living in one of the friendliest parts of the world, I realized we also live in a beautiful Hallmark gift card.
Kerry Bloedorn, Pioneer Park Historical Complex director:
We had an amazing season at the Museum with above average attendance and donations. I won Sexiest Men’s Legs in a Kilt contest at the fair, the weather was great for getting out on the lakes over the summer, just to scratch the surface of the many 2019 highlights. But above all else, I became a father this year to a beautiful baby boy. We are so proud to have named him Cedric in honor of our late friend Ced Vig. We hope to keep Ced’s memory alive by instilling our son with the many lessons he and his wife Marvel taught us; not least of which is appreciating nature and being good stewards of our community. We are delighted we get to raise our family here in the wonderful Northwoods of Wisconsin. I feel really blessed this year.
Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce Director Lauren Sackett:
I think I will remember that 2019 was a year of community involvement and collaboration. The Chamber partnered with so many local organizations to do some great things. Our Chamber members have been very engaged this year, we unveiled a new strategic plan, and we collaborated to host the first annual Project North Festival. I feel like there is a momentum around the community to continue with some really great initiatives and projects that will further benefit Rhinelander.
Tom Barnett, owner of Tom’s Drawing Board:
My best Rhinelander memory of 2019 would have to be when I opened my shop, Tom’s Drawing Board. I had always dreamed of having my own place where I could showcase my artwork and teach others that they, too, can create beautiful art through my classes. Opening the shop this year became a bit bittersweet for me as my mother passed away in September. She was always my biggest supporter and always encouraged me to chase my dreams. I am grateful she got to see my dream come true before she passed. I love Rhinelander and my community and am grateful to be able contribute to why Rhinelander is such a great city!
Ryan Zietlow, YMCA of the Northwoods CEO:
My best moment of 2019 has really been a culmination of many. In 2019, the YMCA Board of Directors actively set on a plan to ensure that the child care landscape for the Rhinelander community had a secure future. Through many discussions and countless hours of work, we realized a long-term future for child care. We are proud that we recently closed on our new Youth Development Campus. We look forward to sharing with our community the commitment that the Y has made for children of all ages as we embark on our next leg of our Youth Development journey.
Bob Lueder, owner of Plane Parts Inc.:
My family and business relocated here in January from Northern Illinois. It has been a great pleasure for us to be here in the Northwoods. We have met so many amazing people and have been welcomed with open arms. Our community has such a positive energy that makes being here even better. I’ve been a lot of places and can say that I’ve not met a more genuine grounded community. We look forward to being part of this great community and sharing the energy around us.
Rhinelander Mayor Chris Frederickson:
The relationship between myself and my pastor. Iron sharpens Iron. A gift that wasn’t expected!
Virginia Roberts, Rhinelander District Library director:
One of the most exciting events was the blossoming of the Rhinelander District Library Friends of the Library (RDLFOL). RDLFOL opened the Re-Tale Shop at 25 E. Rives just this June, only three years after their formation as a Leadership Oneida County project. Staffed by volunteers, the Re-Tale Shop is open Tuesdays and first Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Opening a business is daunting enough, but opening one run by volunteers is amazing. RDL FOL is doing so with grace and style. I am most proud of how they are managing this all volunteer endeavor as well as what they have contributed to the library. In addition to selling donated and library discarded materials—giving these things a new life and providing books and other items to the community for pocket change—RDLFOL volunteers dust shelving, provide a memory- and coffee-fueled discussion group at Milestone Senior Living, provide refreshments for library programming, and most recently hosted the annual Library Holiday Tea on what has been, up until now, the coldest day in the fall—a chilling 16 below (without wind chill). The funds RDLFOL raises have purchased magazines and other necessary small items and equipment for the RDL. They are RDLs “boots on the ground.” It’s sure good to have Friends!