News: Neillsville Kiwanis Club (95th Anniversary - 2016)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Solberg, Krogstad, Burmeister, Bjerke, Tomkins, Patey, Bailey, Hellios, Seebandt, Berry, Slezak, Barth, Cook, Evans, Harnisch, Herbrand, Karlen, Morrow, Osegard, Pekol, Quicker, Ratsch, Shoup, Van Dam, Beilfuss, Rush, Kieser, Nehs, Ray, Scott, Clinton, Jackson, Presley

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 10/19/2016

Neillsville Kiwanis Club Celebrates (95th Anniversary - 2016)

By Todd Schmidt

The Neillsville Kiwanis Club (NKC) celebrated its 95th anniversary Oct. 8 with a gala banquet at the Neillsville American Legion Club.

The NKC, chartered in 1921, has the distinction of being the longest continuously operating service club in Neillsville. Throughout its history, as somewhat of a big brother or sister, the NKC influenced the start of other service clubs in the community.

The NKC had 66 members in its first year. The fledgling service club was the only one in town for quite a few years. The NKC met weekly, with members decked out through the 1930s eras in formal business wear, including suits and hats.

Incoming president Bob Solberg has been a NKC member for 47 years. He provided an overview of club history and activity for the 55 people in attendance at the anniversary banquet, which included Kiwanis Lieutenant Governor Roger Krogstad and Wisconsin Kiwanis Immediate Past President James Burmeister.

Posing for a group photo at the Neillsville Kiwanis Club’s 95th anniversary banquet held at the Neillsville American Legion Club are (l-r), Wisconsin Kiwanis Lieutenant Governor Roger Krogstad, Neillsville Kiwanis Club Past President Ken Slezak and Wisconsin Kiwanis Immediate Past President James Burmeister. (Contributed photo)

Well-wishers from other area service clubs offered their congratulations on 95 years of service to the community. Representatives were present from the Lions Club, Optimist Club, Men’s Club, Rotary Club and the American Legion.

The 95th anniversary banquet was accented by a fine musical presentation by the Clark County Male Chorus. Pastor Douglas Bjerke offered opening and closing prayers.

Members of the Clark County Male Chorus belt out a tune during the Neillsville Kiwanis Club’s 95th anniversary banquet held oct. 8, at the Neillsville American Legion Club. (Contributed photo)

Solberg said the NKC was instrumental in awarding Schuster Park to the City of Neillsville. He said club members pushed the construction of an outdoor swimming pool and were regular attendees at local government meetings, offering advice to the city fathers and school district leaders.

The NKC has sponsored Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs since 1938.

Solberg said the NKC used to meet at the former Neillsville Bank (in the basement).

“Mrs. Tomkins provided a nice home-cooked meal for each meeting,” Solberg said.

In future years, NKC meetings were held at a succession of locations, including the Merchants Hotel, Arbutus Café and Mary Lou’s Restaurant. Solberg said the NKC has been meeting at the Legion Club for many years.

Neillsville Kiwanis Club President Bob Solberg displays the coveted axe, decoration belt and a placard resolution announcing the annual Liar’s Tournament, which was sponsored by the club from 1938 to 1991. (Contributed photo)

Solberg gave a presentation on the annual Liar’s Tournament sponsored by the NKC, complete with props, including the coveted axe, decoration belt and a placard resolution announcing the annual event held from 1938-1991. Sid Patey was the best liar the first year of the tournament.

“The liar’s contest was held once per year,” Solberg explained. “Outside judges were brought in. They had to be ‘truthful lies,’ with some basis in fact. Prizes were awarded, and everybody that won put a trinket on the official belt and kept it for a year. Some tried to steal the axe; if the winner lost it, a fine had to be paid.”

Solberg told the group the liar’s contest may start back up, but no one was sure if he was kidding or not.

“Participation dwindled over the years,” Solberg said. “Jim Bailey was the last liar’s contest winner in 1991.”

The NKC membership roster now stands at 20. Officers include Solberg as president, vice president Peter Hellios, secretary Herman Seebandt, treasurer Henry Berry and past president Ken Slezak. Members include: Bob Barth, Mark Cook, Jean Evans, Robert Evans, Tom Harnisch, Dan Herbrand, Mary Karlen, Jeff Karlen, Judy Morrow, Larry Osegard, Stan Pekol, Don Quicker, Russell Ratsch, Brent Shoup and Ken Van Dam.

The NKC has been very active in community projects. They recently worked with the Men’s Club on a maintenance project at the Neillsville Senior Center.

The NKC donated a commercial freezer to the Clark County Food Pantry and Resource Center and has supported various drives to stock the food pantry shelves. The club also supports Special Olympics and the Yell and Tell program.

Several years ago, the NKC coordinated a performance by the UW-Madison Band in the Neillsville High School Fieldhouse.

Members Cook, Shoup and Jeff and Mary Karlen coordinate meetings of the Aktion Club, which is geared to provide organized community service opportunities for Clark County people with disabilities. In the summertime, monthly Aktion potluck meetings are held in the Greenwood City Park. In the winter months, the Aktion Club meets at Missionary Baptist Church in Greenwood.

The NKC also hosts the Junior Kiwanian program. An outstanding Neillsville High School senior is selected each month during the school years to participate in meetings. Each Junior Kiwanian receives an official Kiwanis membership, along with a t-shirt and a recognition pin.

Seebandt and Osegard coordinate the NKC scholarship program. Neillsville High School graduates are eligible to apply for a college scholarship ($1,000), a technical college scholarship ($750) or the newly-created Bruce Beilfuss Memorial scholarship ($1,250 to $1.350).

“For a small Kiwanis Club, you are more active than many larger clubs who have more members,” Krogstad noted.

To support their community activities, the NKC operates a food stand in the red barn during the Clark County Fair, sells Buck-a-Duck raffle tickets during Heritage Days and hosts a brat stand several times a year at Hansen’s IGA.

Solberg said the NKC has had some notable members, including Judge Bruce Beilfuss and former State Representative Walter Rush, who was instrumental in getting electricity to rural Wisconsin in the 1920s. Several NKC members have risen to the rank of Wisconsin Kiwanis Lieutenant Governor, including Fred Kieser, Jim Bailey, Hubert Quicker, Victor Nehs, Sam Ray and Jess Scott.

Master of Ceremonies Harnisch gave an overview of the national history of Kiwanis. Prominent people who have been Kiwanis members include President Bill Clinton and entertainers Alan Jackson and Elvis Presley.

Harnisch said the first Kiwanis Club was organized Jan. 21, 1915, in Detroit, MI. A year later, the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, was chartered. In 1962, worldwide expansion was approved, and today, Kiwanis Clubs are active in every part of the world.

The Kiwanis motto is: “We Build.” Its mission is: “Serving the Children of the World.”

Membership in Kiwanis and its family of clubs is more than 600,000 members strong. Each year, Kiwanis Clubs raise more than $100 million and report more than 18.5 million volunteer hours to strengthen communities and serve children.

As a global project in coordination with UNICEF, members and clubs contributed more than $80 million toward the global elimination of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), the leading preventable cause of mental retardation. Beginning in 2010, Kiwanis International joined with UNICEF to launch a new worldwide health initiative, The Eliminate Project, dedicated to wiping out maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT), with kills more than 100,000 babies worldwide each year.



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