MINONG– Books and libraries have woven their way through Linda Halvicek's life since she was a child, and now they have led the Minong Area Library director to being the grand marshal of the Minong Summer Days parade on Saturday, July 29.
Her first response when she heard the news was that all of the volunteers at the library, all 17 of them, should be the grand marshal jointly, not just her, but her fellow workers said she is the "face of the library."
"I'm really humbled," she said, "because volunteers, volunteerism, is all over in Minong. You can't look at an organization, you can't look at a church, you can't look at any group without seeing that. Vol-
unteers are what make it run. And to be singled out for this honor, it's very humbling."
Friends from Watertown and her children from Green Bay and Madison are coming up for the parade. One more person she wants beside her is her late husband, Tom, who passed away in January. If she is crying in the parade, she said, it will be because she is wishing he were there, too.
Tom did not even particularly like her when they first went out on a blind date arranged by her college roommate on a weekend visit to Watertown, she said.
Four months later they met up again when she was in town and went out for a second time. They "actually talked to each other," and he drove her and her roommate back to Whitewater. They started dating, and on January 7, 1967, they were married in Watertown. He passed away three days after their 52nd anniversary.
She said she wants her grandchildren to remember Tom as the eternal optimist, the one who felt the next opportunity was just around the corner, who would figure out how to move forward after any setback, who would not take no for an answer.
Havlicek agrees that maybe she shares some of those same qualities herself.
Havlicek's career life started out in a school in Watertown, not a library, where she taught fourth and sixth grades in Watertown until her three children (Mike, Karen, and James, known as Zip) were born. She took a few years off to raise them.
Meanwhile, Tom's aunt and uncle had a cabin west of Minong, and his parents had some property in the area with a summer cabin they bought in the 1960s. They drew the Havliceks north, and in 1975 Tom and Linda moved to Rice Lake and bought the Bungalow Bar. Ever the optimists, they borrowed the down payment for the bar and operated it for 29 years.
They had been there for about a year when they realized one of them needed to get another job. The next weekend they saw an ad in the church bulletin for a sixth-grade teacher at St. Joseph's in Rice Lake. Havlicek applied and was hired. She was a teacher there until 1999.
That became one of many contrasts in her life, being a Catholic school teacher by day, a bar waitress at night, after coming from a nondrinking, actively Protestant family. Tom was a "big, tall man," and Havlicek is short. She loves reading and quiet pursuits, and he loved stock car races and outdoor activities.
"And eventually he came to love books," she said. "And I love to go to noisy sports."
As the Havliceks grew closer to deciding it was time to sell the bar, a pair of circumstances converged to spur on their moving further north: they bought the family property after Tom's father passed away and Havlicek was hired at St. Francis de Sales in Spooner. Their long weekends on the property became their daily life, and Havlicek taught at St. Francis for a year and then served as the principal for eight years.
Havlicek's connection to the the Minong Area Library started in a roundabout way. When the couple moved to the area, Tom went to work for Burns Best, and when the company folded, he started his own business, Wood Stoves & More, which was located in the end of the Henson's Country Foods building. Also there was COMFORTS, a food pantry that had a shelf of books as part of its outreach. When Havlicek would visit Tom, she saw that Rod and Nina Fouks were inspired to expand that bookshelf into a library.
Havlicek, who had minored in library science in college and who had worked with the library at St. Joseph's, offered her assistance to the Fouks. By then the fledgling library had moved into an unheated storeroom in the Henson building. Next it moved to the Greenhaven building across the street and finally to the former funeral home-turned-community center on Minong's main street.
"I just started taking on more responsibility," Havlicek said. "Nina went to work part time at the school and got involved with Headstart and couldn't devote as much time to the library. And I gradually devoted more time to it."
By 2012 she had evolved into being the library's director, a volunteer position.
The first time Havlicek remembers being around a library was in fifth grade when a new library was built in her hometown, South Beloit, Illinois, just two blocks from her home. Kind of a "bookish" person, she helped with the summer reading program. Because she was there so much, the librarian took a liking to her and let her be a helper.
"And so until I was in high school, I would go over and shelve books or things like that for her," Havlicek said. "And I'm sure that's where it all started."
She has served on the Spooner Memorial Library board, and her love of libraries has carried her through from childhood to partial retirement. She has volunteered at the Minong library even while working at Henson's and, currently, at the Shell Lake State Bank in Minong. She has watched the Minong library grow from a bookshelf to potentially a satellite or branch of the Spooner library (working with Spooner's director, Jane Frankiewicz, as their advisor and mentor), to a standalone library.
She is gratified that people recognize the value of the library, though she also realizes not everyone sees a library that way.
"But it's all the things that are happening," she said. "Not just here, but globally, almost. People are putting together these Little Libraries. They're popping up all over. Don't tell me that people aren't reading. Don't tell me that computers have taken over the world. That we don't need paper books, that everybody is getting what they need on the internet and ebooks.
"It's just that's just another highway. Just another pathway. It's like audio books work for me. Yes, I do like to sit down and hold the book. But I don't have a lot of time. So audio books work for me. Ebooks work for some people. And some people like to just sit with a book in their hands.
"But the important part is that we're reading and we're reading good quality things. That's what means so much to me, that people are valuing things that take them out of where they are, you know, travel without leaving home. You learn about other people and other cultures and other places and other ideas and other points of view.
"You don't need to read nonfiction do that. Well-written fiction incorporates all of those things.
"Nickolas Butler was just at Northwood Book & Fiber [in Spooner]. I want so badly to go down and hear him because I've just gotten introduced to him. And I had just finished reading his latest book, 'Little Faith,' and I loved it. It's about an older couple and the things that are facing them, a friend who's dying of cancer and a family member whose path is not going where they want it to. That's life. I mean, there's always something in books that you can relate too.
"And that's why I think they're important. It either supports you in a place that you're at in life or helps you move beyond it," Havlicek said.
At 73, she recognizes that at some point she will pass on the baton at the library, and she has no worries about the right people taking it up.
"And I like it when people don't view this as something they have to do but something they want to do," she said. "And they feel an ownership in how this organization is moving forward. And they have a vested interest in it."
She is convinced that the diverse skills of those involved with the library will carry it well into the future.
SPOONER– The state budget that is being voted on by the Assembly and Senate this week – at more than 800 pages – is a good budget, one that has some solid funding for rural areas, Rep. Romaine Quinn said during a stop in Spooner on Friday, June 21.
The Assembly was to vote on Tuesday, June 25, and the Senate on Thursday. Gov. Tony Evers will have 10 days then to pass his judgement on it.
"Even though we didn't get to where the governor wanted," Quinn said, "this will be the biggest budget in state history. We went from 76 billion to 81 in a two-year period. That is a huge bump, and he [Evers] wanted to take us to 83.
"I'm sorry, we can't go up 7, almost 8 billion in two years. That's insane. So we try to get as far as we could, while trying to say we still have to watch the structural deficit. We can't bank on future money that may not show up."
Compared to Evers' budget, he said, the new proposed budget cuts the structural deficit by $500 million and does not raise the taxes by $1 billion, which Evers had proposed. Every department gets an increase in the budget, Quinn said.
"I think it's good budget. I think we invested in a lot of really important priorities, especially for rural areas," he said. "Our home health care, nursing homes, personal care workers, and schools. That was big. We're fully funding high-cost transportation, finally."
High-cost transportation is money to schools that have high transportation costs.
He said the budget also brings the low-spending schools such as Spooner up to the $10,000-per-pupil funding level by the end of the next two years. Other schools will see a $200 increase per pupil in the first year of the budget and
$204 in the second.
That increase would be the funding floor in the subsequent budgets, too.
Not as much went to schools as the governor requested but more was appropriated to nursing homes, personal care workers, CNAs, and Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments for hospitals with a high number of Medicaid and uninsured patients, Quinn said.
"So there's give and take, and obviously negotiation should happen with joint finance and the governor, but talks kind of stalled off and on with some of that stuff. But of course, that's the legislature's turn to work with joint finance to say, what would we want?"
Each legislator is assigned to a member of the Joint Finance Committee to work with through the budgeting process. Quinn said he, for instance, pushed hard for the new science building at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which made it into the budget and would be a significant project regionally.
"That'll be pretty transformational, even this far north, because it's a partnership with Mayo," he said. Undergraduates will be able to research alongside Mayo's top researchers.
Another project he pushed for was a dairy innovation hub, "more researchers in the UW System to further promote and use dairy products to try and create more markets because we know dairy's in the gutter right now."
He also supported keeping the budget a fiscal issue, not a policy-setting pathway, where topics like marijuana policies would be debated separately, outside of the budget.
He stressed additional funding for personal care workers and CNAs, which he said is a "dire need" because their wages are so low, especially when the economy is growing.
Child Protection Services would receive more money to help pay for the increased out-of-home and foster care for children due to meth issues in their home. Meth is the No. 1 law enforcement in area counties, Quinn said.
Another issue that has gotten a lot of attention is school funding, and Quinn said the budget puts funding at less than a percentage point from two-thirds funding. It has not been that close to two-thirds since Gov. Jim Doyle was governor.
Gov. Evers wanted to spend more approximately $900 million more on schools, but the problem, Quinn said, was that with the school funding, the governor's proposed Medicaid expansion, and raising the taxes by a billion dollars, even with the state's surplus and projected growth, the governor would have "spent every dollar and then we still had a structural deficit heading into the next two years."
A structural deficit results when the projected growth that budgets are based on does not materialize.
At some point, the economy will slow down, Quinn said.
Quinn believes the funding in the budget is sustainable but the governor's $1.3 billion request is too high because it banks on more than 3 percent growth in the economy each year.
The proposed budget provides the increase that most superintendents were hoping for, he said, including the $200 per-pupil increase plus another $96 million for special education (a 22 percent increase in special education revenue).
Schools absorb the highest proportion of the state budget.
Another bonus for the area, Quinn said, is that the number of state prosecutors will go up for the circuit courts.
"So, right now, Barron county is going to get another prosecutor," Quinn said. "We've been fighting for that for four years. Case loads are through the roof."
Washburn County is going to go from 1.25 prosecutors to two full time.
The budget also increases the private bar rate for private attorneys taking state public defender cases from $40 to $70 and increases the hourly rate for private attorneys taking county-appointed cases to $100 per hour.
Area counties have had trouble finding enough attorneys to take on the load of extra public defender cases due to the low reimbursement rates.
In the transportation budget, extra funding will come in the from raising the vehicle registration cost from $85 to $95 and increasing the title fee from $69.50 to $164.50.
Quinn said that will save more people more money than what the governor proposed, adding an 8-cent gas tax, especially for rural drivers, since they would spend less on registrations and titles than what they would for the gas tax on the extra miles they drive.
Quinn said the gas tax would have been shared by all drivers, not just Wisconsin-based drivers, but it would not have brought in much more money and would have cost rural drivers more.
He said the gas tax would have brought in about $600 million, while the registration fees would take in an estimated $400 million.
He pointed out that as more electric cars come on line, the gas tax will bring in less revenue, too.
Overall, he said, the budget has the least borrowing for roads since the 2001 budget.
Also, $90 million over the governor's proposal for LRIP (local road improvement program) was added to the budget, plus the budget lowers the local municipality's match from 50 percent to 10 percent.
Quinn believes the extra funds and lower match will be significant for the townships. He said getting more money for rural roads approved by those in southern Wisconsin is like "pulling teeth," and some people also believe state money should only go to state highways, not town roads.
"So it was a big to get them to go along with 90 more million dollars on top of a 10%," he said.
The budget also put $46 million into broadband, the "biggest injection of money for infrastructure," Quinn said. "We know connectivity is not a luxury anymore. It's necessary for education, business, health care."
"I think rural Wisconsin did very well in this budget," Quinn summarized.
Talking about additional priorities for next two years, Quinn said, "We can't take our eye off the ball on meth addiction. I think that's a big piece. It's busting our county budgets, and it's destroying families, and who knows the long-term consequences of these children that are exposed to that or the trauma that goes along with that."
He said it will be important to continue discussions on broadband, school issues such as what is the best way to treat children with mental health issues, putting money into rural roads as well as freeways in the southern part of the state, dementia care specialists, and issues that may not have the same importance in the southern part of the state such as stewardship programs, natural resources, and forestry.
He noted that Wisconsin has more fabrication labs (fab labs) in schools than any other state.
"At the end of the day," Quinn said, "we fixed a number of important problems, invested a lot more money in our priorities, and we held the overlying overhaul line on taxes, reduced the structural deficit, and lowered bonding, especially in transportation.
Though the budget gives "heartburn" to some of the conservatives, he said, because the budget spends billions more than a couple of years ago, it is new revenue coming in, not additional taxes.
MINONG– The golden days of a Northwestern Wisconsin summer will glow brightly this coming weekend at Minong Summer Days, presented by the Minong Area Chamber of Commerce.
Three days of family fun will run Friday through Sunday, June 28-30, with this year's theme "Salute to Volunteers."
Here is a day-by-day look at the schedule ...
Beginning at 9 a.m. and running to 3 p.m., inside the library, will be the Minong Library Book Sale.
From noon to 6 p.m. will be the Arts & Crafts Fair and Minong Merchandise Sales at the village hall.
The carnival opens at 1 p.m.
The MACC Beer Tent opens at 1:30 and will remain open until 11 p.m. From 3 to 7 p.m., enjoy the MACC Free Family Fun Tent.
Starting at 7 p.m. there will be a softball tournament on the main field. Also from 7 to 11 p.m. there will be live music from Brother Jon Band.
The softball tournament will get underway at 9 a.m., and the Minong Library Book Sale runs from 9 a.m. to noon.
From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., enjoy the Arts & Crafts Fair and Minong Merchandise Sales at the village hall.
Also at 9 a.m., the NorthLakes Community Clinic's 5K Run/Walk will take place.
The carnival opens at 10 a.m., running to 10 p.m., with wristbands from noon to 4 p.m.
The Classic Car Show will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Link Ford.
Starting at 11 a.m. will be the Bean Bag Tournament registration, MACC Beer Tent, and music by Riverside's Music and Karaoke.
From noon to 1 p.m., take in the big parade, featuring "Salute to Volunteers." Line-up begins at 11 a.m.
At 1 p.m. the Erickson Logging Free Food Stand opens in front of the Minong Area Library. From 1 to 2 p.m. at the library, enjoy the magic and comedy show of Robert the Magician.
From 1 to 4 p.m. enjoy the MACC Free Family Fun Tent. From 1 to 7 p.m. take in the Minong Summer Days Bean Bag Tournament and Music by Riverside's Music and Karaoke.
From 7 to 11 p.m. there will be live music by Austin Fire.
The softball tournament continues on Sunday, starting at 9 a.m. The Bean Bag Tournament registration begins at 10 a.m., with competition starting after all teams register.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the MACC Beer Tent will be open. The carnival will be open from noon to 6 p.m.
For more information, or to become a volunteer: Tracy, 715. 558.6840. For information on the parade: Deb, 715.939.0116. For information on the softball tournament: Chad. 605.787.2774.
For more general info: minongchamber.com, email@example.com, or 715.466.2488.