Vigil helps draw attention to suicide, depression

Leader Photo by Jason Arndt The Rev. Dave Barrett, former pastor of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Keshena, shares his experience in helping individuals with mental illness, including his time as a chaplain at Winnebago Mental Health Institute, at the third annual ROADS Candlelight Remembrance Gathering on Tuesday at St. Michael’s.

Leader Photo by Jason Arndt Vicki Heling, left, of the Shawano County Department of Social Services, and Ellen Swedberg, departing president of ROADS, listen to comments at the third annual Candlelight Remembrance Gathering on Tuesday in Keshena. Patsey Robertson is succeeding Swedberg as president of the organization.

Reaching Out About Depression and Suicide (ROADS) sponsored its third annual Candlelight Remembrance Gathering at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Keshena on Tuesday.

Organizers said the event was to help people whose lives have been touched by depression, mental illness or suicide to connect, heal and build hope for the future. About a dozen people attended.

ROADS was founded in 2002. Ellen Swedberg, of Swedberg Funeral Home in Shawano, was one of the co-founders.

“The funeral home saw a lot of suicide deaths, more than I thought it should be, and then upon research, I found out it was a nationwide event happening,” Swedberg said. “I actually had the experience of coming across a suicide attempt along the Mountain Bay Trail and that made me very nervous, that we should be thinking about this.”

Swedberg said people need to more openly discuss issues such as depression and suicide.


White Cane Safety Day observed in Shawano

Contributed Photo Jim Graser of the Shawano People with a Disability Committee walks across the parking lot outside City Hall using his white cane to lead the way. Wednesday is White Cane Safety Day.

As Shawano and the rest of the nation mark White Cane Safety Day on Wednesday, the city Police Department is reminding motorists to be alert to the presence of visually impaired citizens in crosswalks, driveways and parking lots.

Police Chief Mark Kohl said there have been some near misses reported recently, including one incident where a visually impaired man was bumped by a vehicle in a parking lot.

“That cane or guide dog should be like a flashing yield light,” Kohl said.

Kohl said many motorists might not be aware of the laws requiring them to yield.

“It’s something not a lot of people know about,” he said.

In 1964, Congress set aside Oct. 15 as White Cane Safety Day, “to celebrate the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired and the important symbol of blindness and tool of independence, the white cane.”


Perks and troubles

Along with all the benefits of farming, which I would consider perks of this job, there are troubles that come along, too. Pondering that statement, I think that would just about cover any occupation.

I was waiting for an empty wagon in the cornfield next to the woods one day and, looking around, noticed the view from my tractor cab was really quite amazing. I was eye-level with the corn tassels and just beyond, the trees on our hill were ablaze with color. Capturing that in a picture with my cellphone I posted it on Facebook: “The view from my tractor cab. Perks of the job.”

The fall chill has arrived and it’s invigorating. Fresh, crisp, country air on a sunny fall day is welcoming and enhances our work environment tremendously. In other words, I’m happier and work better when it’s just a little nippy.


Nonprofit Profile

Photo by Carol Wagner The Legend Lake Property Owners Association is dedicated to taking care of the lake. Pictured are, from left, employee Dave Santkuyl, assistant office manager Lisa Wilson, officer manager Thomas Strebel and employee Vinnie Emanuele.

The Legend Lake Property Owners Association’s mission is to preserve and protect the lake’s natural beauty, habitat, and residential and recreational opportunities.

“We govern the lake property owners,” President Steve Vanden Heuval said. “We enforce bylaws that were put in place when the lake was formed.”

The association got its start in the early 1970s on the lake that was developed in the ’60s. It is a 6-mile chain of spring fed lakes.

“We go a number of different committees,” Vanden Heuval said.

The architectural committee will revue building plans to be sure they meet with lake and county restrictions. Rental cabins, timeshares, hotels or commercial businesses of any kind aren’t allowed.

Vanden Heuval said there are typically five to seven new construction units a year, which includes not only homes but also garages, sheds and fences.

“We make sure the land is utilized properly,” he said.


Phones add more complexity to life

It is no secret that I have a love/hate relationship with telephones.

I grew up on a farm where we had no telephones. As a child, it was no big deal. I never worried about emergencies, where it would be an advantage to be able to call for help.

I am sure there were other emergencies, but the one I remember the most was when I broke my leg while in seventh grade. It was a cold December, late afternoon Sunday, and my brother and I were sharing a sled and sliding before it was time for barn chores. It was at that time that I skidded down the slippery, rutted hill, on my booted feet. My right foot got caught in a rut, and the rest of me kept going. I heard my leg break, but my brother thought I was joking. When I finally convinced him, he went into the house to tell my parents.


Mobile food pantry visiting area

A mobile food pantry will make two stops in the Shawano area next week.

Feeding America Wisconsin and UnitedHealthcare will deliver food to Goodwill, 300 Lakeland Road, Shawano, from 3-5:30 p.m. Tuesday and the Community Resource Center, W3236 Wolf River Drive, Keshena, from 3-5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“We are proud to partner with ThedaCare and Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin to ensure people throughout the state have access to fresh, nutritious food,” said Ralph Beck, chief operations officer for UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Wisconsin. “Through partnerships like these we have the opportunity to help people facing a shortage of healthy food live healthier lives.”

Food items available will be vegetables, proteins, whole wheat pasta and pasta. They will be available on a first-come, first-served basis with a limited supply.


Planning begins for Christmas production

I read an article in one of my magazines titled “40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years.”

I especially liked this one: Take all of your loose photos and toss them in a box. Photo albums are way too boring to flip through. It’s more fun for family to pull various photos out in no particular order and share the memory. It’s memory potluck!

All right! Now I don’t have to feel guilty about all those photos I already have in boxes that I’ve been meaning to put in albums at some point in my life. Memory potluck — I love it.

Our play “Rest Assured” was well-received by our audiences, and also was enjoyed by Warren Gerds, critic at large out of Green Bay. He attended the show the first weekend. The cast had a good time together, with ages ranging from teenager to senior. I hope you had a chance to see the show.


Volunteer Profile

Photo by Carol Wagner Don Pleshek started the Bohemian Fest Parade in the town of Waukechon. He is standing by his old duck skiff that was cut in half and made into a bookcase. The other half is in his living room with a cribbage board built on it.

Don Pleshek started the Bohemian Fest Parade in the town of Waukechon three years ago.

He was born and raised in Shawano, graduating from Shawano High School. He was in the Army for two years, but most of his life was spent working for his dad and mom, Bernard “Buck” and Sally Pleshek, at Pleshek’s Pavilion in the town of Waukechon. He tended bar and helped take care of the meat locker until freezers became a common household item. He was also a substitute mail carrier for 12 years.

After his parents died, Pleshek ran the family business for two years before selling it in 1997.

Pleshek built a house a short distance from the dance hall on 110 acres he purchased in 1960. Pleshek has two sons and four grandchildren. He was an avid hunter and fisherman and enjoyed playing cards.

Q How did the parade get started?


Vigil sheds light on domestic violence

Leader Photo by Jason Arndt About 30 people attended a candlelight vigil at Safe Haven in Shawano on Thursday to draw attention to domestic violence issues. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Leader Photo by Jason Arndt Safe Haven Executive Director Stacey Cicero listens as Shawano Police Chief Mark Kohl addresses attendees at a domestic violence candlelight vigil Thursday at Safe Haven in Shawano.

Sharon Meisner was a victim of domestic violence when she arrived at the Safe Haven shelter in Shawano in 2007.

Since then, she has become an advocate and, though she dislikes the term, survivor.

“People are uncomfortable about this topic. They sometimes don’t have the courage to say ‘I am a survivor of domestic abuse,’” Meisner said Thursday at a candlelight vigil intended to draw attention to domestic violence issues. “I had a problem with that term survivor. I hate that word. I do not want to be a statistic.”

The vigil was held at Safe Haven, an emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Police Chief Mark Kohl told the audience of about 30 people his department takes an aggressive stance on domestic violence.

A study released by the Wisconsin Department of Justice in March, he said, showed Shawano’s arrest rate of 80 percent for domestic violence calls was higher than the state average of 71 percent.


Miles and miles of art

Leader Photo by Jason Arndt Anthony DeSardi, of Mount Prospect, Illinois, demonstrates Japanese calligraphy during Miles of Art at the David Rand Memorial site Saturday.

Leader Photo by Jason Arndt From left, Keshena resident B.J. Weso explains how she makes Native American jewelry to Sue Kornely, of Oconomowoc, Jamie of Orlando, Florida, and Barb Schreffler, of Cecil, at the College of Menominee Nation Cultural Center on Saturday during Miles of Art.

Visitors enjoyed the art, and artists enjoyed the visitors at the fourth annual Miles of Art tour held throughout Shawano County on Saturday and Sunday.

The event was co-founded by the late David Rand and his wife, Kazuko, to showcase a variety of visual and performing arts in area artists’ studios and homes, and to bring visitors to an area commonly known for its agriculture. David Rand passed away in February.

Patti Peterson, tourism manager with the Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce, said the event drew people in from as far away as Chicago. She was pleased with the turnout despite the weather conditions on the first day.

“Despite the cold and rainy weather on Saturday, the visitor traffic was considerably heavier than Sunday,” she said.

Mandi Kieler, of Seymour, visited the tour for the second time.

“I really loved it last year so we came back this year,” Kieler said. “I have a new appreciation for the local artists and their work.”


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