Bio: Peterson, Steve (Occupation - 1999)
Contact: Stan

Surnames: Peterson, Porath, Halverson, Perry, Waller, Marsh, Comstock, Falcon, Laubach, Mack, Porter, Anderson, Gearing, Prindle, Olsher, Swenson, Wontor, Brandt, Cummings, Danielson, Hornby, Mack, Steien, Johnson, Nicholas, Nosbisch, Petterson, Sherman, Dolesy, Kitowski, Teeples, Geimer, Hagenbrock, Crotteau, Pfianz, Guy, Gilbert, Anderson, Geimer-Zahrte, Larkin

The Chronicle (Jackson County, Wis.) June 23, 1999‏

Changes Occur in City Rec Director's Job in 10 Years

By Toddy Porath

This article is being written to tie in with publicity about the Festival in The Park to be conducted Saturday, June 26, at the Lunda Community Center.

Ten years ago I wrote a feature article which was captioned "A Story About A Farmer Turned Recreation Director". It was about Steve Peterson, the City Recreation Director. I happened to see the article in my files recently and mentioned to Steve it would be fun to bring the article up to date and now that the Festival In the park will be a big event very soon for the City Recreation Department, I interviewed Steve again. This article is aimed at providing information many persons do not know, relative to the Lunda Community Park and related athletic programs.

Ten years ago, Steve said he was being assisted by Don Halverson, Mayor Louis Perry, Naire Waller, Sig Peterson and Wayne Marsh. Now ten years later when I asked him who helps him he responded very graciously providing a list. The list is as followa: Pool Manager, Wendy Comstock; 1999 lifeguards Samson Falcon, Kelsey Laubach, Sarah Mack, Melissa Porter, Sara Anderson, Dessa Gearing, Megan Prindle, Andrea Olsher, Erika Swenson, Becky Wontor, Beth Brandt, Louise Brandt, Nathan Cummings, Leah Danielson, Carl Hornby, Ellyn Mack, Dana Steien, Tim Johnson, Theran Nicholas, Kara Nosbisch, Josh Petterson, Dustin Sherman, Dorsey Peterson, Michelle Dolesy, Beth Kitowsi, Mark Swenson.

Improvements In City Recreation Department

By Toddy Porath

Continuing the feature about City Recreation Director Steve Peterson and showing how greatly recreation programs have advanced in this area, this will be part two in that report.

Ten years ago when Steve Peterson was asked how he changed from farming to being the Director of the City Parks and Recreation Department, his response was "Bob Teeples is the reason I am in this job. He came to me about eight years ago to help with the Saturday morning programs for kids."

Then Steve said, "I got into working with the city basketball program Wednesday nights and all the time I've been blessed by having a very cooperative wife. I could not have done what I have without "Curly".

The odd thing is, back when Bob Teeples was looking for someone to take the Recreation Director job, then a part time one, he approached "Curly", who was then working at Block Printing, to see if she might be interested in the job. Cindy Geimer had done a dandy job as Recreation Director and Teeples thought "Curly" might be interested.

That day I had read about the job vacancy and I wondered if I would have a chance. We needed the money and I saw the job as a chance for me to work with kids and I knew I would love that."

Steve had been very interested in dairy science and had had two years at River Falls State University and had been taking correspondence and night courses in genetics and farm related subjects. At River Falls, he had worked on a minor in coaching.

The ten years ago article told Steve did not think he would be hired, as he did not have a degree, but the story tells, "I'll never forget the night Don Halverson phoned us and told me I was being hired. "Curly" does not drink but that night, to celebrate, she even had a glass of wine."

The story ten years ago mentioned the Petersons had "four children, two boys and two girls, ages 8, 7, 5 and 2 years." They were married February 3, 1979, and credit association with the Falls Players for getting them acquainted.

Steve said ten years ago changing from farming to the new job was not difficult, as he was accustomed to long hours, "and he feels blessed that he can continue to be with his family in the community he loves and be able to "work with kids". He summed it up, "long days are not a problem if you see results"

Ten years ago Steve was "learning to delegate some duties' and the article told about the Petersons selling their farm and moving into Black River Falls.

Steve was quoted saying, "Leaving the farm had never entered our minds when I applied for the position. We had a real good auction, but it was tough that day to see the cows walk out of the barn. They had been my dream and now I was letting that dream go. We touched every cow and calf as it went out of the barn and said, "goodbye Connie, goodbye Louise"--we had them all named.

There was mentioned about who helped Steve in his new job, especially the late Don Halverson and Sig Peterson. Steve also mentioned how John Hagenbrock had always been so cooperative.

The article said, "Steve had special praise for Ron Danielson, who he said, "has been coaching for some years and he does a terrific job with kids, but he needs more help. Steve added, he thought gratefully about the fellows who had held his job before him and he named Dave Crotteau, Fred Pfianz, Jack Guy and Bill Gilbert and he mentioned he had learned it was when Michael Anderson was Mayor, the city recreation program, one of Anderson's pet projects, was established. Special credit for Cindy Geimer-Zahrte would come later in the interview.

The article of ten years ago quoted Steve saying, "There is a lot more paper work than one thinks with this job, but it is fun even though all of it takes a lot of time."

When he referred to Cindy Geimer Zahrte, Steve said, "One of her strongest pluses was Red Cross and swimming" and that got him onto the subject of the city's swimming pool. He stated, "We have been blessed with many good quality kids as lifeguards at the pool, guards who really care. Jim and Paul Larkin have been terrific, great teachers, good leaders, just terrific kids and it will be hard to replace guys like them with their four or five years of experience at our pool".

Then came mention that the Black River Falls swimming pool was one of only three in the entire state where charges were not being made. Steve was quoted saying, "Eventually all of the pipes for our pool will have to be replaced and the filter needs modernization. We may have to make changes about the chlorine process we are now using, but the bathhouse is basically sound and we recently went to electric heat for the hot water, so that can be shut off easily. For about $3,000 a year, we can maintain the pool nicely for a long time to come, as we are only using it 90 days a season."

What he thought the future would bring is a good place to end this section and have the conclusion follow with that material next week.

The Chronicle (Jackson County, Wis.) June 30, 1999

Continuing with the Steve Peterson Story

By Toddy Porath

When Steve was asked what he sees in the future or what his biggest challenges are, he admitted a limited budget prevents him from doing all he would like to do.

He would like to see a well developed soccer program; would love to see the city have its own building, like a YMCA and would like to have more gym spaces. He predicted, "If the city had a gym just for city recreation programs, that thing would be full all day and all night with kids and adults". He explained, at present there is never enough gym space, "because the schools are doing a good job and they have to share their gyms with other groups like lodges and places for meeting. There are always conflicts".

He added the Arena at the fairgrounds is "a real plus", but added there are not enough ball fields in the Black River Falls area community for the amount of kids we have wanting to play ball." He mentioned Brockway allows him to use their ball field, but there just are not enough ball fields for all who want to use them.

Peterson said he had 24 adult teams in volleyball this year, about doubled over the prior year, but there are major problems because there are not gyms enough for everyone who wants to play every week and Peterson said he regrets because of this lack of facilities this area does not have a program for senior citizen recreation like the highly successful one he knows of at Richland Center.

His records show there are over 550 kids from Black River Falls in the baseball and softball programs this year and more youngsters came in from the villages to play here, too. He said last year they had nine ball teams with 180 kids involved and there were seven minor league ball teams with 15 kids each, and enrollment indicates there will be more enrolled next year. In girls softball there were over 60 enrolled in the 9 to 12 group; 22 in the older group and he had 60 kids in the older group of boys; 25 kids in the pony league, and will have more than that number in that division next year. There were 20 kids in Legion baseball this past season.

Peterson's philosophy about recreation is, "We want to have quality programming and teaching so when kids come off our programs they are ready for advance play. I stress to kids you do not have to be somebody to play, You do not have to be a great athlete to play. If you want to play baseball or softball you can play. We have increased about 250 kids nine to twelve and now six and seven-year-olds are coming out because they know they will have a chance to play. I feel if they are playing ball they will get tired and not get into mischief. That was the original thinking back when Mike Anderson started the program. Lots of kids are playing ball now when they weren't before, and now their parents are getting involved too, and some are from split families and we see both sides of some split families coming to the games and getting involved in the various activities."

Speaking about the City Parks, Peterson commented. "My next challenge is the parks and making them more beautiful. We have such a beautiful area and it would be great to make it even more beautiful".

Now, ten years later, there have been some wonderful changes. Little did Steve Peterson think ten years ago that the city recreation program would grow so, that he would need an answering machine in his office, but today he has one and it is kept busy.

When Steve was contacted for this feature he said, "Ten years ago it was just the City and Hixton. Now we have the whole county involved in the Little League programs and other activities. Ten years ago we did not have a girls Little League softball but now we have that too. Ten years ago we were just getting into rookie ball and now have several levels." He added, "There is nothing in my life, or my time frame, when I thought I would be managing something like this. Being a pool manager was probably the one area where I was most naive, but now I am certified as a pool manager and all of this has been an almost unbelievable challenge and yet a complete joy. I went to school and got a food handlers license and got an aquatic center license and have gone to different seminars to become properly licensed as a pool operator and aquatic facility operator.

It is a challenge. You must go and meet people who are in your field. You meet others with parks and recreation facilities who are trying to get well informed about operation of these recreation programs. For someone like me, with new facilities, I have questions and get intelligent answers".

It is a great change from farming and Steve Peterson loves it.



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