Bio: Poehnelt, Julie – Loyal Citizen of the Year (2023)

Transcriber: Stan

Surnames: Poehnelt, Toufar

----Source: TRG (Abbotsford, Clark Co., Wis.) 5 Apr 2023

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

Family members and friends agree this phrase is very fitting of this year’s Loyal Citizen of the Year, Julie Poehnelt, as she stays busy helping her community through participating in various clubs and organizations, willing to do whatever task needs to be done.

Poehnelt grew up in Eau Claire and graduated from Eau Claire North High School. She attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and received her bachelor’s degree in education, later receiving her master’s degree in education from that same institution. She moved to Greenwood at age 22 and to Loyal a couple of years after that.

Poehnelt taught home economics at Greenwood High School for 32 years and served as advisor for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America during her whole teaching career. She also coached volleyball, basketball and cheerleading. She received the Crystal Apple Award for excellence in teaching from the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2007.

Besides her involvement at school, Poehnelt has been involved in several community organizations. She was part of the Loyal Jaycees for at least 15 years, served as a Junior Girl Scout leader for three years and was on the food pantry board for about six years.

She has been a member of the St. Anthony’s Parish Council of Catholic Women for about 40 years and helped serve lunches after funerals. She also serves on the St. Anthony’s Fall Festival Committee, which plans for the annual event. She’s been a member of the Loyal Snow Angels snowmobile club for more than 30 years and served as vice president.

Poehnelt has been part of the Loyal American Legion Auxiliary for at least 35 years, and is a past president of that organization. She also serves as treasurer for the Clark County American Legion Auxiliary. In addition, she has volunteered for Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, rang bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign and regularly donates blood with the American Red Cross.

Her community involvement extends to the business community. She and her late husband, Duane, purchased Loyal Oil Company from Duane’s parents in 1987 and sold the business to their daughter and son-in-law, Kaila and Kyle Fitzl, in 2016 after 29 years of ownership. Poehnelt currently owns A+ Storage on Beaver Street in Loyal, which she began in 2003, as well as the building directly south of Mike’s Tire Service on Main Street, which she rents out as an apartment and business office.

Poehnelt was recognized for her contributions to the community with a plaque, bouquet and round of applause during the annual Loyal Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet at the American Legion last Thursday. About 15 family members and friends were waiting behind a closed door to surprise her and offer congratulations.

“Along with her many accomplishments and everything she’s done for the city of Loyal, one word that best describes her is friend. If you need any help, she is the first one to step up to the plate, or (you) just need someone to lean on and listen, she is always willing to be there for you,” said Shannon Toufar, who presented Poehnelt with the award.

Poehnelt was honored to receive the Citizen of the Year award. When asked what inspired her community service, she responded humbly, saying it was just the right thing to do.

“I like helping out my community,” she said. “To me, it’s part of your moral compass, to want to help other people.”

Poehnelt’s service will continue through a new avenue this spring, as she agreed to serve on the Loyal Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and was voted in at the annual banquet.

Also at the banquet, Poehnelt received a plaque for A+ Storage, for 20 years of a family-owned business.


News: Loyal – R & K Investment Group (Business of the Year – 2023)

Transcriber: Stan

Surnames: Mews, Horn, Badger

----Source: TRG (Abbotsford, Clark Co., Wis.) 5 Apr 2023
R & K Investment Group LLC (RKI), owned by Rick and Karen Mews, was named the Loyal Business of the Year at the Loyal Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet March 30 at the Loyal American Legion.

Rick started the business 17 years ago as a trucking company. RKI’s fleet of trucks hauls refrigerated and van freight to any of the lower 48 states. Between their own trucks and outsourced trucks, RKI has about 18 trucks on the road every day.

RKI also offers freight brokerage and drug testing services. The Mewses’ daughter Bobi Horn operates a drug testing site in Appleton and their daughter Cari Badger operates a mobile unit in Burlington. RKI also owns four rental units.


News: Granton – Roger’s Grocery Closing (Apr 2023)

Transcriber: Stan

Surnames: Nitschke, Drinsinger

----Source: TRG (Abbotsford, Clark Co., Wis.) 5 Apr 2023

Located on a corner lot at the crossroads of Maple and West Third streets, Roger's Grocery has been a longstanding landmark and crucial business in the village of Granton. Founded by Roger Nitschke more than 30 years ago, the 3,200-square-foot grocery store has provided the community with a local option to purchase their food, as well as supported the community in other ways during its years of business. That will all be coming to an end now, as Nitschke has announced his retirement after more than 50 years of working in the grocery business.

Roger’s Grocery will close its doors April 29, with the building now sporting signs on its availability to be purchased. Nitschke said after he retires, the building itself will remain as it is for a time in hopes that someone would be interested in continuing the building’s legacy as a grocery store. But as of right now, its future is uncertain.

“We will close on April 29; that will be our last day of business,” he said. “I will leave it for a while. I have it listed as it is. If it doesn’t sell within a reasonable time, I may have to auction off the items in here and try to sell the building for something else. We will see what happens.”

That building holds a special place in Nitschke’s heart. It’s the business he built from the ground up on a formerly empty lot back in 1992 after receiving the blessing of his former employers, Alfred and Dale Drinsinger, the father and son who owned and operated the Spaete’s Store just a couple buildings down the street.

“I had talked to Alfred and Dale and asked if I could buy them out but they didn’t want to do that,” said Nitschke. “They wanted to continue the meat packing part of their business. So I asked them, ‘If I built another store, would you quit the grocery end of the store?’ They said yes.”

By that point, Nitschke had already been working in the grocery business for about two decades, all at Spaete’s Store. He began working there as a part-time employee on Sept. 2, 1971, splitting his time between work and college.

“I had been looking for a job after I graduated out of high school,” recalled Nitschke. “I was going to go to college and was looking for a part-time job. I saw that Spaete’s had an opening. It was the last thing I thought of doing.”

For the next two years, Nitschke alternated between his schooling and his work at Spaete’s. His eventual goal was to become a funeral director, but when that door of opportunity closed on him, another one opened.

“I was going to be a funeral director and that required going to take classes in Milwaukee,” he said. “But those classes all filled up. Then Spaete’s offered me a full-time job and that is where I stayed.”

That job Nitschke held at Spaete’s proved to be a valuable one. Beginning with learning the basics of stocking shelves, cleaning meat saws and working behind the counter, he eventually became the manager of the grocery end of the business. The Drinsingers, he said, taught him everything they knew, which helped him when he decided to venture out on his own.

“Alfred Drinsinger was always teaching me stuff,” he said. “He would say, ‘Roger, I’m going to teach you this and you can use it for your own store someday, which I did. They taught me a lot of things I was able to use in my own store.”

Nitschke officially opened Roger’s Grocery on Friday, Nov. 13, 1992. While Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day for many, bad luck never came calling. Instead, his business prospered, and even expanded in scope as he gained a loyal customer base in the Granton community.

“There were a couple things I took on,” he said. “In my later years, I started doing catering after my roast beef became famous. One thing I always enjoyed were the customers and getting them what they wanted and keeping them happy. It was nice to see the smiles on the customers.”

That isn’t to say it wasn’t a hard job. Nitschke said that as a small business owner, he held a great deal of responsibility, one that could only be fulfilled through hard work and dedication. The job didn’t end at closing time; it was a lifestyle, and one he was happy to have.

“It’s a good life, but a lot of long hours,” he said. “When you own your own business, it’s not an 8-6 job. There is a lot of behind the scenes work after the store is closed. You have to do cleaning, bookkeeping, ordering. When you take a day off, you always worry about the store, how things are going with it and your employees.” Beyond the day-to-day operations, Nitschke said there were other things that changed over the years that had an impact on his store. A lot of the companies he used to buy food from, for instance, would merge together or change their product offerings, making it tricky sometimes to navigate ordering food. When COVID-19 hit, supply chains were disrupted, making some products unavailable.

“When COVID hit, it was hard to get product,” he said. “The supply chain still has some issues; there are a couple items even now that we can’t get. When you buy food, there is a dollar amount you have to spend in order for them to send a truck to you. As a small store, you can’t buy as much food all at once like a bigger store can. Now a lot of the big companies don’t want to support small stores anymore.”

While there were many struggles, Nitschke said there were also many blessings. His four current employees, along with all his former employees over the years, were good workers who loved the store and the customers who came to it. And the community itself, with all its organizations that he helped to support in various ways the last three decades, has always been important to him.

“Through the years I’ve made a lot of good friends with the members of the community,” he said. “I have had very good employees, and I have been very fortunate to have them through all my years of business. And I enjoyed helping all the clubs and organizations at the Fall Festival, dairy breakfast and helping all of them make their events a success. I will miss doing that. I have helped a lot of people and I want to see them continue to be successful in their events.”

The community too, knows the impact Roger’s Grocery has had in the past 31 years. The Granton Village Board, knowing of Nitschke’s upcoming retirement, released a statement acknowledging the work he has done through his small business and thanking him for his dedication to the community.

“Roger’s Grocery and Roger Nitschke have been a mainstay in Granton for many years and we cannot thank him enough. To say Roger’s Grocery will be missed would be the understatement of the year. Roger, we hope you enjoy your well-earned retirement,” said the statement released by the board.

As for Nitschke himself, he said April 29 will be a sad day as he closes this chapter of his life.

“It will be a sad day for sure,” he said. “But I know there is a time when you know it’s time to retire. I’m going to be 70 years old, and I can’t work 70-80 hours a week anymore. It’s time to take life a little easier.”

Roger Nitschke will retire at the end of this month, after having owned and operated Roger’s Grocery in Granton for 30 years.


News: Loyal – Malachi Askeland is New Police Officer (2023)

Transcriber: Stan

Surnames: Askeland

----Source: TRG (Abbotsford, Clark Co., Wis.) 5 Apr 2023

If you’ve been in Loyal any length of time over the past three months, you’ve probably seen him out patrolling the streets in a police vehicle.

Malachi Askeland is the Loyal Police Department’s newest member, having joined the force Jan. 2. He is from Grygla, a city of about 200 in northern Minnesota.

While newer to law enforcement, Askeland has always had a desire to serve others.

“Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be there for people. I wanted to be able to help people,” he said.

After graduating high school, Askeland spent a year providing humanitarian relief, including cleaning up after hurricanes Isaac and Sandy and volunteering overseas.

He then spent four years in the Marine Corps. He was stationed in Syria, Japan and South Korea as an infantry assault man, working with explosives. After his time in the military, he drove truck for a while. He then decided to pursue law enforcement as a career. He attended Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids, completing the college’s two-year criminal justice program and 720-hour police academy. He served as a reserve deputy for the Wood County Sheriff’s Department since last March.

While he was in the academy, Askeland saw the Loyal Police Department was hiring, decided to apply and the rest is history.

In the short time he’s been here, Askeland has come to appreciate the small-town atmosphere and the people he’s met.

“I love this town; I love the community,” he said.

When not on the job, Askeland enjoys outdoor activities like snowmobiling, hunting, fishing and hiking.


School: Greenwood – Competes in State Chess Tournament (Mar 2023)

Transcriber: Stan

Surnames: Anderson, Mitchell, Madison, Cullen, Simonsen, Arteman, Oldham, Ludovic, Agurrie, Durrstein

----Source: TRG (Abbotsford, Clark Co., Wis.) 5 Apr 2023

The Greenwood School District team competed in the 2023 Wisconsin State Scholastic Chess Championship on March 18 and 19 at UW-Oshkosh. The team tied for sixth out of 23 teams. Angel Anderson took 10th out of 116 competitors. Individual points earned are as follows (competitors earn 1 point for winning a game and 0.5 for a draw): Anderson 4.5, Andy Mitchell 3, Canon Madison 3, Jaren Cullen 2, Rowyn Simonsen 2, Caden Arteman 2, Chad Oldham 2, Gage Ludovic 1.5, Dameion Agurrie 1.5 and James Durrstein 0.5.


News: Greenwood – 4 Vets Receive Quilts of Valor (Mar 2023)

Transcriber: Stan

Surnames: Roberts, Barkus, Kitzhaber, Johnson, Lindner, Green. Boe, Peterson, Schwarze

----Source: TRG (Abbotsford, Clark Co., Wis.) 5 Apr 2023

In 2003, Catherine Roberts, who had a son deployed in Iraq, had a dream. That dream inspired her to form the Quilts of Valor Foundation, with the goal to provide every U.S military service member who has served during a time of war with a quilt to provide them comfort.

The organization has continued to spread since its founding, and now, 20 years later, has found its way to Greenwood. The Quilts of Valor Foundation presented Greenwood-area veterans Ray Barkus, Bernard Kitzhaber, Harry Johnson and Donald Lindner with their own quilt during a special ceremony April 2 at the Greenwood American Legion.

According to Jennie Green, the local group leader of the Quilts of Valor, the quilts are awarded to any nominated veteran who has served during a time of war. The quilts are a “thank you” to the veterans for their service and are given to provide healing and comfort to the veteran, who may still be carrying the scars of war.

“It’s an expression of gratitude,” she said during the presentation. “You were leaving all that you held dear to serve. This quilt says ‘thank you for your service.’ Use the quilt; it is meant to comfort you.”

Harry Johnson joined the U.S. Army Nov. 3, 1963, and received basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. He received training at communications school for wiring, climbing and as a forward observer and fire direction center for firing a howitzer gun. He was then sent to California and shipped by commercial airlines to Yokohama, Japan, before arriving at Kimpo Air Force Base in South Korea, when he was then transported by truck to Camp Pelhan, located about two miles from the demilitarized zone. Johnson was attached to Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 19th Artillery at Camp Pelham where he stayed until he left South Korea in August 1965. Johnson was nominated for the Quilt of Valor by David Boe.

Bernard Kitzhaber entered the U.S. Army Dec. 2, 1953, and was trained at Ft. Riley, Kan. He was stationed in Japan as a foot soldier until his discharge Nov. 26, 1955. He was nominated for the Quilt of Valor by Marge Peterson.

Donald Lindner entered the U.S. Army Nov. 2, 1953. After two weeks at Ft. Riley, Kan., he was deployed to Japan in the 1st Caliber Division where he served as a combat engineer until his discharge on Aug. 15, 1955. He was nominated for a Quilt of Valor by Roger Schwarze.

Ray Barkus entered the Air Force in 1958 and served there until 1964. He then entered the Army National Guard and served from 1977 to 1998. He served during the Vietnam and Cold War stateside in Texas, Michigan and Alabama. He was nominated for a Quilt of Valor by the Greenwood American Legion.

All of the quilts presented to the veterans, Green said, were made by local volunteers who have to follow certain guidelines to create these quilts. Currently, she said about a dozen individuals help with the process to make the quilts, and with every nomination, a new quilt has to be made.

“There are a group of us who make these quilts,” she said. “We have to follow the rules on how to make them to give them to the veterans.”

The goal of the newly founded Quilts of Valor group in Greenwood, Green said, is to provide a quilt for every Greenwood-area veteran first, potentially expanding out to other areas as the organization grows. Any veteran can be nominated, she said, with nominations being made online at www/qovf.org/nominations-awards/. 

For anyone interested in volunteering to help make quilts for the Greenwood Quilts of Valor group, or to ask for more information about the group, leave a message for Green at 715-415-7897.





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