News: Neillsville - Chamber of Commerce Recognition (Jan 2017)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Davis, Schmitz, Anderegg, Kaczor-Smith, Kujawa, Mabie, Opelt, Schmidt, Thompson, Wilsmann, Barth, Bennett, Clough, Ehlen, Hoppa, Sebesta, Mohr, Foster, Grap, Quicker, Dickinson, Magnuson, Krall, Garret-Holets, Petkovsek, Morrow, Gaier, Solberg, Clinton, Jackson, Presley, Gowey, Pleus, Brandner, Egland, Gross, Felser, Kuchenbecker

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 1/25/2017

Chamber Recognizes ‘Treasures of the Community’

By Todd Schmidt

The Neillsville Area Chamber of Commerce (NACC) recognized many businesses and individuals for their achievements and contributions to the community during the annual recognition banquet Satruday evening at Neillsville American Legion Post 73.

NAAC President Dr. Bruce Davis of Davis Chiropractic welcomed the gathering, stating the attendance of 165 people was an all-time record for the event. Davis thanked the members of the American Legion for their service to the country and for their exceptional hospitality. Davis said 2016 was a busy year for the NACC, collaborating with many civic organizations.

Davis introduced NACC Executive Director Jana Schmitz and members of the NACC Board of Directors and Ambassador group.

Board members and the entities they represent include Cheryl Anderegg (Memorial Medical Center), Roni-Kaczor-Smith (Neillsville Optimist Club), Jenny Kujawa (Unity Bank), Mayor Steve Mabie (City of Neillsville), Connie Opelt (Excel Plumbing), Kris Schmidt (Citizens Accounting), Brian Thompson (Norm & Ann’s Campground), Sharon Wilsmann (Citizens State Bank of Loyal), and Davis.

Ambassadors and the entities they represent include Regan Barth (City of Neillsville), Julie Bennett (First Weber Realty), Dan Clough (Thirsty Bookwork), Nate Ehlen (Sav-Rite), Karen Hoppa (American Legion Auxiliary), Tom Opelt (Memorial Medical Center), and Regina Sebesta (Sunrise Real Estate).

The special evening included dinner music provided by Karen Mohr and an entertaining presentation by emcee Dr. Greg Foster as “Neillsnac the Magnificent.” The banquet hall was transformed into a huge treasure chest by Kaczor-Smith’s decorating talents.

At the start of the award program, Foster recognized Veterans for their contributions.

“Veterans are owed a lot,” Foster said. “The freedom we have today to change administrations at the federal level and government at the local level is a result of their service.”

The first award of the evening was presented to Sav-Rite Building Center as Business of the Year.

Sav-Rite Building Center Ltd. Was started in January 1978 by Bob Barth, Lewis Grap and Don Quicker. It is located just south of the Clark County Fairgrounds on Fairground Avenue.

During the first couple of years, business was good. Grap passed away in August 1980.

By the early to mid-1980s, business became more difficult. Interest rates climbed to over 20 percent. Hundreds of jobs were lost in Neillsville and the surrounding area.

The price of milk fell drastically, which adversely affected the strong farm economy of the area. Sav-Rite’s sales fell off drastically, but the company persevered through it all.

Initially, Sav-Rite was a “lumber yard” selling building materials, paint, and some builder’s hardware. In the mid-1990s, an Ace Hardware franchise was added. This increased their hardware line tremendously – with the ability to order almost anything in the hardware line.

Sav-Rite continues to grow. They are in the process of totally reconfiguring the interior of their store, to improve their lineup of merchandise and to improve the customer’s shopping experience.

They supply building materials to many contractors. Their trade radius is 30-plus miles, although sometimes they go out further.

In setting up a succession plan, a couple of year ago, Barth and Quicker added the ownership as equal owners Barth’s son, Brian Barth, and Nate Ehlen.

Ehlen started working for Sav-Rite years ago, as a 16-year-old high school student and is now the manager as Bob eases out of that position.

Since its inception, Sav-Rite has been very active in supporting the community. They have sponsored many sports teams – from softball, bowling, volleyball, and fishing groups. They have donated to almost every cause or fundraiser that has come by during the past 39 years.

Sav-rite has a combination of 15 full-time and part-time employees. Over the past 39 years, they have proudly hired over 75 high school and college students to work for them part-time.

“It has been a pleasure to watch these young men grow into responsible young adult members of the community,” Bob Barth said. “We have been a part in shaping their lives. Without our employees and the tremendous support of our community, we would not have been as successful throughout the years.”

This year’s Spotlight award was presented to an individual who is sort of hard to find these days.

Paul Dickinson began “Paul’s Piano Tuning Service” in October 2013. At an early age, Dickinson’s band teacher in Burnsville, MN, discovered that he possessed perfect pitch, the ability to distinguish notes with no point of reference - a trait only one in 10,000 people have.

After a long career playing in the Twin Cites music scene, Dickinson decided to investigate the art if piano tuning. In his mid-20s he served a brief apprenticeship at a local piano shop and began tuning in the Twin Cities.

Dickinson then became interested in the radio field. He moved to Neillsville and put piano tuning aside for 20 years.

After a cancer battle in 2012, Dickinson was looking for something new and began refocusing on piano tuning. Greatly relying on word of mouth, and a sign in front of his house, Paul now regularly tunes for many schools and churches and people in the area.

“Real pianos are here to stay,” Dickinson said. “I take great enjoyment in bringing sour-sounding pianos back to life. Few people are doing this anymore. Perhaps it is a dying art.”

The Agri-Business of the Year award was presented to Greg, Sharon, Scott, and Heidi Magnuson.

In 1972, Greg and Sharon started milking cows on his grandmother’s farm, along with Greg’s father Earl. In 1973, they purchased their current farm from neighbor Al Krall.

The location originally consisted of over 200 acres, but Krall had sold a large portion to the Neillsville Airport, leaving only 53 acres. Magnusons’ Mini Acres received its name not only because of the small amount of acreage they started with, but also because they had Minneapolis Moline tractors.

In 1981. Greg and Sharon bought out his father’s half of the operation and continued to milk 70 cows. Over the years, they managed a majority of the labor themselves with help from their children, Stacie, and Scott. Scott formally joined the operation in 2004.

Over the course of that year, the Magnusons constructed a new heifer shed and then renovated their former heifer shed into a milking barn.

The farm has expended from its original 53 acres to 500 acres of owned and rented property on which corn, hay and soybean are planted. Scott and Heidi’s children, Ashley, Courtney, Sydney, and Ryan, assist with the daily chores. The Magnusons are also blessed with good friends who lend a hand during the planting and haying season.

Sharon said in 2016, they had the honor of hosting the Neillsville Dairy Breakfast for the third time.

The Special Business Salute award honored a business founded on professionalism, teamwork, and community service.

Custom Heating and Cooling is a reliable source for all your HVAC, LP gas service and plumbing needs, both residential and commercial.

“Tim, Sue and staff would like to thank you for your past, present and future business,” Foster said. “For years, they have been providing the highest level of home comfort products for Central Wisconsin. Their philosophy is simple; their clients are their most important assets, and to protect you, they provide the best service and equipment available.”

Custom Heating & Cooling began in October 1996 as a two-man show. Today the company has 11 full-time employees.

In March 2006, they added the LP gas division to offer a complete service to their customers.

They are fully licensed and qualified to install virtually any type of heating system from forced air gas to geothermal and radiant heat. With so many options to cheese from, you can be sure they will install and provide you with the best equipment and service to ensure your comfort.

Their expertise is second-to-none … you can be confident that you are getting the peace of mind you deserve. Their website offers an overall view of their company, and the products and services they provide.

Proudly accepting the Entrepreneur of the Year award presented at the NACC recognition banquet Saturday evening at Neillsville American Legion Post 73 are (left to right) Linda Garrett-Holets, Barb Petkovsek, and Dr. Sarah Holets. (Photos by Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)

The Entrepreneur of the Year award went to the Clark Cultural Art Center (CART).

In January 2016, Linda Garrett-Holets and Dr. Sarah Holets purchased the United Methodist Church and parsonage at 205 E. 4th Street to open CART.

Simultaneously in March, the Clark County School District Kids Art Show was taking place, the CART Board of Directors was being formed, application was being made for non-profit tax status and renovations were taking place.

With the combination of community contributions and the continual support of volunteers, committee members and an innovative board of directors, the creativity and passion for the arts became a reality to be shared and enjoyed by folks near and far. The grand opening was held in May 2016.

The six areas of art that are distinguished are visual, music, theater, dance, journalism, and culinary. In less than a year, CART has had a new art show every two months, hosted classes, music events, an art studio, and a tour of homes. CART has provided a venue for Memorial Medical Center’s Mingle, birthday parties, Christmas parties, and youth summer camps. The 2017 pre-planned schedule of events will be published soon, with many special events offered through the year.

Assistant Barb Petkovsek thanked everyone who has helped get CART up and running. “This is a dream come true in this community,” Petkovsek said, “Many volunteers and businesses assisted CART to get started.”

Holets added, “We feel incredibly blessed for being a part of this community.” Garett-Holets called 2016 “the craziest eight months.”

“Many key players have worked hard and have been instrumental in our success,” Garrett-Holets said. “We all love being in Neillsville.”

The NACC honored a business that is “Making a Mark on Our Community.” Josh and Nicole Egland Enterprises took home this award.

Egland Enterprises LLC was founded in April 2015 with a mission to provide quality rentals as well as preserving and maintaining the historic downtown.

Throughout 2015, residential apartments were the primary focus. Starting in 2016, commercial spaces became the primary focus and Club E Fitness Center and Shindigs All Occasion Location were launched. Lyin’ Around Furniture Store was also created; while open online, the store-front is still in the works.

Egland Enterprises continues to do its part in cleaning up the downtown while striving to make it a flourishing part of Neillsville once again.

A lady who is truly priceless in the community was honored with the Volunteer of the Year award. Judy Morrow was recognized as the ultimate volunteer.

Morrow has voluntarily chosen to undertake many duties and services. She helps provide for the homeless as the program director of Catholic Charities house of Mercy Shelter. She helps the less fortunate as director of the Clark County Area Food Pantry and Resource Center.

Morrow has helped keep the area’s cultural traditions strong and thriving by being director of Interfaith Volunteers of Clark County, director of Holy Family Social Concerns Group, a member of the Kiwanis Club, and the current president of the Neillsville Optimist Club.

She makes sure youth in the community have proper mentors by being the president of the Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts and head of the 4-H Lucky Clovers.

Morrow is involved with the Junior Achievement Committee as a teacher. She also serves as a religious education teacher.

When Morrow believes in a cause, it doesn’t matter how great or how small, she knows how to make a difference.

She has been a strong voice by serving on the Mental Health Task Force and Clark County Prevention Partnership. She has been dedicated to the Salvation Army and is also a member and facilitator for the Coordinated Service Team Committee.

Morrow is always willing to help a neighbor or friend. She has the unique ability to empathize with those in need.

In addition to all her civic accomplishments, Morrow found the time to raise five children. She also can be found following her 16 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren in their activities and yes, she volunteers with their activities too.

Everything Morrow does is with love and care from the heart.

Several anniversary salutes were presented.

The School District of Neillsville has had the privilege of serving children and families for the past 150 years. Displaying the anniversary award presented at the NACC recognition banquet Saturday evening at Neillsville American Legion Post 73 are (left to right) school board president Dewey Poeschel, school board vice president Sue Voight and superintendent John Gaier.

For 150 years, the School District of Neillsville has had the privilege of serving children and families in the area.

The School District of Neillsville has always focused on the whole child to support their educational, physical, and emotional well-being. The district has had the privilege of witnessing caring educators inspire their students to chase their dreams and achieve things that they didn’t think were possible.

The School District of Neillsville is tremendously proud of the partnerships they have built with the community of Neillsville, parents, business, and institutes of higher education. Those partnerships have allowed the district to maintain innovative educational programming that will help students be successful in life after graduation.

Superintendent John Gaier thanked the businesses and members of the community, including school board members, and school district employees for their support of kids through the years. Gaier said Neillsville is a special community.

“When we moved here, we found a place of kindness, compassion, caring, and unity,” Gaier said. “Neillsville became our home. This is a great place to be.” Gaier added, “We all hope to create a brighter future for our children than we had growing up. Education can help put an end to the hate-filled politics and divisiveness in the country. Kids can chase any dream they want to chase.”

In 2016, the Neillsville Kiwanis Club (NKC) Celebrated its 95th anniversary. The Kiwanis Club, chartered in 1921, has the distinction of being the longest continuously operating service club in Neillsville.

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

President Bob Solberg has been a NKC member for 47 years. Solberg said the Kiwanis were 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 club has sponsored Cub Scout, and Boy Scout programs since 1938. The membership now stands at 20.

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. They donated a commercial freezer to the Clark County Food Pantry and Resource Center, while supporting various drives to stock the food pantry shelves. The club also supports Special Olympics and the Yell and Tell Program.

The club hosts the junior Kiwanian program. An out-standing Neillsville High School senior is selected each month during the school year to participate in meetings. Each Junior Kiwanian membership, along with a t-shirt and a recognition pin.

Members 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).

To support their community activities, the Kiwanis 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 Hanson’s IGA.

Prominent people who have been Kiwanis members include President Bill Clinton, and entertainers Alan Jackson, and Elvis Presley.

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

Solberg said the main goal of the club is supporting the youth of the community.

Gowey Abstract & Title Company celebrated its 85th Anniversary. Gowey Abstract & Title was started in 1931 by Glen a Gowey, who was the Taylor County Register of Deeds at the time.

After serving his country in WWII, Glen’s son, Harold R. Gowey, took over the business in 1954. Harold followed in his father’s footsteps and served as Taylor County’s Register of Deeds while running the abstract business.

Harold continued as owner of Gowey Abstract & Title until he sold the business to his longtime employee, Shirley Pleus, in 1986. Harold continued working for the company as an abstracter until he retired in 2005 at the age of 86.

Pleus was hired right out of high school in 1961 and continued unwavering commitment to excellent service and unmatched accuracy in the title services provided by Gowey Abstract & Title. Under her leadership, Gowey Abstract & Title expanded the services it offered by actively writing title insurance. Until she took over the business, Gowey only provided abstracts of title.

In 1995, Shirley hired and trained Michael Brandner, who subsequently bought the business in 1998. Pleus continued to work for the company and provided stability and unmatched accuracy in the title work provided, while Brandner focused on growing the company. During her final years with the company, Pleus trained the staff and instilled a culture of accuracy throughout the company. It is because of her commitment to excellence that Gowey Abstract & Title has incurred fewer claims than virtually every other title company in the industry. She retired in 2004 after 43 years of dedication to the company.

With the purchase of the business by Michael Brandner, Gowey Abstract & Title aggressively began to expand. He purchased Integrity Title, formerly Clark County Abstract, in 2013. Under Brandner’s leadership, the company has become an industry leader in all title services, including 1031 Tax Deferred Exchanges, DOT Highway Searches, Construction Disbursing, and complex Commercial Transactions. Gowey Abstract & Title is also one of the few companies that provide title services for Native American land held in Trust by the United States.

In recent years, the company’s service area has also greatly expanded. Gowey Abstract & Title has grown from serving one county out of one office, to directly providing title services for 25 Wisconsin Counties out of 8 physical locations and a merger with Wisconsin Title under Midwest Title Group, they now have 18 physical locations.

Gowey Abstract & Title has embraced technology and currently delivers all title work electronically. The company also appreciates that many customers prefer traditional means of ordering and receiving the title work and has systems in place to meet those needs in the most efficient manner. Title orders are delivered within 72 hours, regardless of where the property is located. Closing usually occurs a day or two later. Gowey Abstract & Title has continued to grow in a market in which many other title companies have struggled.

“The staff is well trained and dedicated to providing an unmatched level of service to all customers,” said employee Nicole Egland. “The company looks forward to continued growth and is committed to providing the people of northcentral Wisconsin with the best service at the lowest rates for many years to come.”

Displaying the 60th anniversary award presented to Gross Motors are (left to right) Karen Kuchenbecker, Mrs. Clifford Gross, and Jerry Gross.

Gross Motors was recognized on its 60th anniversary.

Partners, Clifford Gross, and Dwayne Felser founded Fel-Gross Chevrolet in Neillsville Sept. 6, 1956. Gross sold cars and parts and Felser managed the service department.

Felser sold out to Gross in October 1957. From 1956 to 1966, the business was located downtown at 234 W. 6th Street. In 1966, a new facility was built on USH 10 and the name was changed to Gross Chevrolet-Oldsmobile.

After the sudden death of Gross in September 1976, his sons Wayne and jerry immediately took over and the business grew. In 1978, the Buick and Pontiac franchises were added and the name was changed to Gross Motors, Inc.

In 1996, the House of Cheer Liquor Store, which was adjacent to the dealership, was purchased. The building was moved and the area was leveled and transformed into an extension of the vehicle display lot.

On Jan. 3, 1997, an out-of-control semi-truck veered off the highway across this new lot and crashed into the front portion of the dealership building, destroying the show room and sales offices. Because of the crash, a major remodeling project was completed in 1997. Finally, because of mandated GM specifications, another huge transformation was completed in 2014. This building project updated the service and parts departments along with an addition of a five-car showroom, and new sales offices, an indoor sales delivery area, a new customer lounge, and restrooms, and new Verizon Sales offices along with additional storage areas.

Owners, Wayne, and Jerry Gross, along with their sons Mike and Dylan and their sister Karen Kuchenbecker, are all employed at the dealership and are proud to be a part of this community.

“I don’t know of a better place to grow up than in Neillsville,” Jerry said.

Other special business anniversaries were honored as follows:

30 years-Westwood Kitchens;
20 years-Custom Heating and Cooking; Thrivent Financial;
15 Years-Neillsville Retirement Community; Spectrum
10 Years-Clark County United Way; Davis Chiropractic; Drippy Creek II; First Weber Group; Northern Indoor Comfort Systems;
5 years-BMO Harris Bank; Dallman Insurance Agency; Dan Herbrand Agency

Mayor Steve Mabie provided closing remarks, reminding everyone the Neillsville Winter Carnival is coming up Feb. 24-26.

“We have heard Neillsville is a great place to live and raise children,” he said. “We have a good school district and many nice churches.

It is wonderful that we can recognize people, entrepreneurs and business people who have been here for many years. The work you do makes this town great.”

(Note: So many nice photos were provided, but we only have posted a few here. Dmk)



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