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Mequon-Thiensville Memorial Day 2018

Memorial-DayI was privileged to stand-in for the Mayor this morning and deliver remarks on behalf of the City at the annual Memorial Day ceremony. If you have never attended, please consider it next year.  The parade is short and sweet, and the ceremony is meaningful. It adds some context to this holiday.

I am always moved by the veterans I meet at this event. Today, there was at least one WWII veteran and veterans from every conflict and time since then. My 87-year-old father-in-law, Dave Albert, who survived the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War, and who has severe mobility issues, attended.

On behalf of the City, I thanked the public, the Village of Thiensville, the Howard J. Schroeder American Legion Post 457, its Ladies Auxiliary and the veterans in attendance. Then I delivered the following remarks. It is a humbling experience trying to adequately put into words the collective gratitude of a community.

In 1969, when I was six years old, my mother, at age 41, flew on an airplane for the first time. She got on that plane to fly to California to attend the funeral of her youngest brother, Major Richard Beattie of the United States Air Force. Dick Beattie was a pilot and died flying his B-52. He was 33.

Dick left a wife and two sons, Kevin (7) and Brock (6).

Dick never saw Kevin and Brock grow up, never had a chance to grow old with his wife Ann, and never had a chance to spoil his grandchildren.

Close to 50 million Americans have served the cause of freedom and more than 1.2 million have died to preserve our liberty.

It is staggering to think of 1.2 million lives cut tragically short. It is staggering to think of the tragedy suffered by 1.2 million families, the children never born, the weddings missed, the friends lost. It is staggering to think of the contributions those 1.2 million people could have made to science, business, the arts and our communities.

1.2 million is such a large number that it becomes just a statistic. So I like to personalize it, thinking about the price paid by Dick, his wife Ann and sons Brock and Kevin. I remember my mother’s tears. I expect that many of us have friends or relatives that make this more personal.

These 1.2 million people gave their lives for something.

From Bunker Hill to Gettysburg and beyond, our first century was devoted to securing our country to making it free. For the past century, starting with the Battle of Hammel in the First World War, continuing with World War II, and including the countless actions and battles since, through the most recent military death in March in Syria, our brave men and women have toiled and died not just for our country and our freedoms but to make the whole world free. We live in a country that uses force reluctantly, but is prepared to use it for freedom and liberation.

While Memorial Day is an opportunity to remember and say thank you, it should serve a greater purpose. As Lincoln said at Gettysburg, “that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.” We must “resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”

Ronald Reagan put it in more modern terms on one Memorial Day when he said:

Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we—in a less final, less heroic way—be willing to give of ourselves.

The men and women we honor today recognized that it is worth fighting for freedom and that, if we fail to oppose tyrants – those who would take away freedom – tyranny will prevail, freedom will be lost and the American Experiment will have failed.

Let us remember them. They have, with their blood, paid a tremendous price for our freedoms. But to make their deaths meaningful, we must carry on their work. We must be prepared to oppose those outside and inside our country who are willing to empower government at the price of our individual freedoms. We must oppose tyranny wherever it exists. We must recognize that our freedoms are never safe from those who desire to impose their will on us.

In that way, we honor those who, with their deaths, made the down payment for our freedoms.

Thank you to our veterans, living and dead, and God Bless America.

 

Mequon’s Open Spaces

Open SpacesThere are many things that make Mequon great: its outstanding schools, its low taxes, its diverse housing stock (including some very upscale homes), its array of restaurants and shops and its community events. Together, these make for a unique community.

However, the coup de gras that knocks out its competitors is its amazing open spaces. Mequon is adjacent to the largest city in the state, yet much of Mequon has a rural feel. Part of Mequon is actually rural. We have some beautiful farms and, hopefully, many will remain for generations. However, Mequon has also planned for the future.

The Village of Grafton is 5.1 square miles. Within Mequon, there are approximately 5.1 square miles of land that is permanently preserved (about 3,100 to 3,200 acres). That is about 11% of the City’s total land mass. Those 5.1 square miles do not include our golf courses, the green areas around the high school and MATC, the setback of homes and businesses from roads, wetlands, private soccer facilities and other green areas.

Mequon’s 5.1 square miles of green space is made up of nature preserves, parks and land subject to conservation easements. Click here to see a map (there are a few more properties that should be marked on the map).

Mequon is unlikely to purchase much in the way of additional parks. However, Mequon can balance future development with green space.

Drive north on Wauwatosa Road to the area between Bonniwell and Pioneer Roads.  The entire eastern side of that mile of Wauwatosa Road, and three-quarters of the western side of the road, look like perfect places for future subdivisions. The east side alone has almost 100 acres of open space. What many people do not realize is that all of that land is fully developed. Nothing more will be built there. What you see is permanently preserved.  The developers of Hawks Landing, Hawks Bluff, Legacy Hills and Twin Oaks subdivisions put the home sites in a small part of the land they were developing, and deed restricted the remaining land.

Similar arrangements exist, for example, on the south side (County Line Road) and north side (Donges Bay Road) of Huntington Park subdivision, on the south side (Highland Road) of Cobblestone subdivision and on the north side of Ville du Parc subdivision (Highland Road). These are remarkably different subdivisions, but all of them left green space along major roads, giving the area a rural feel.

It would not be right to take away property owners’ ability to develop their properties or to make all developments fit one pattern. And, new development keeps a community healthy. However, Mequon should balance future development with the preservation of green space.  It might not be right for every development (depending on location and the attributes of the property), but it is right for many, particularly in the un-sewered areas (north and west sides) of the city.

 

 

GREAT OPPORTUNITIES

dollar signThe next time you review your charitable giving, please consider giving locally. Mequon has many excellent organizations that enhance our community.

Each of us is bombarded by requests for money. There are many excellent choices that make our world better, from organizations that want to cure disease, to veterans groups, to conservation organizations, to groups that fight poverty. The list is almost endless.

Our houses of worship, schools and youth organizations also request and deserve our contributions (perhaps even most of our contributions). (Click here for a prior post regarding houses of worship, and I plan a future post on school and youth organizations).

However, there are some organizations that are vital to the fabric of our community, and they are too often overlooked. We could make such a difference if each of us would set aside even 10-20% of our charitable giving for these groups.

Here are a few. I am certain I will miss many, so I hope readers will remind me of them, and I can update this list.

Mequon Community Foundation (a great way to designate a gift to our parks, our police, our fire department or any community activity)

Our Heritage
Freistadt Heritage Foundation
Friends of Jonathan Clark House
Mequon-Thiensville Historical Society
Mequon Nature Preserve

Our Veterans
American Legion Howard J. Schroeder Post 457

Our Community Events
Community Fun Events (Family Fun Before the 4th)
Gathering on the Green
Mequon Festivals Committee

All of Us
Weyenberg Public Library Foundation

We have many great service clubs (Lions, Optimists, Rotary, etc.) that do great things, but their focus is generally local and beyond. Besides, they have whole clubs to market their activities. I will likely do a post devoted to them. There are also many great state and county organizations that devote some of the resources to our community (Family Sharing, the Adult Literacy Center, etc). Mequon is also the home to many generous family foundations and professional associations. THANK YOU to all of them.

However, this list is devoted to civic organizations devoted only to Mequon-Thiensville. They are often overlooked.

Mequon Police Department is There to Help

Mequon Police Department
This Mequon PD badge has a slogan on it – “Service Trust Justice.” Note that it starts with “Service.”

Sometimes we overlook the fine services our city employees provide.  Unfortunately, sometimes we do not know about them. I received the following note today from a Mequon resident. It was enlightening to me. If you know someone who could use this particular service, please pass this on to him or her. 

 

John:

I’d like to tell you about a great interaction with Mequon PD today. Officer Darren Selk is my new hero. I’ve sent him a message via the city website so he hopefully knows my gratitude.

My husband has mobility issues as you know from previous emails about handicapped parking spots. He’s also a fall risk. He fell today at home, I couldn’t get him up and our wonderful neighbor was there to help us. God bless great neighbors!

Later….I Wondered what I would do if our call list of friends and neighbors weren’t available.

I stopped at the Mequon PD to ask about help if it was a situation that was not emergency but something I couldn’t handle on my own. Office Selk took all our information and flagged our address in the confidential data base. “Lift Assist” is another new phrase for my vocabulary. He was so kind and caring as he took my information. The non emergency phone number for Mequon PD is entered in all of our phones.

What a great service for our city. I’m hoping we never need to use it. Grateful if we do.

Thank you and Officer Selk for your service.

 

My Role on the Mequon Common Council

Tonight, my colleagues on the Common Council elected me to be President of the Council. I am honored, particularly considering that only two of the aldermen served with me prior to my self-imposed three years away from the Council.

To some degree, being President is an honorific. The first responsibility is to nominate alderman for various committees. That happened tonight. The other primary responsibility is to serve when the Mayor is absent.

However, I plan to assume a third responsibility. I want to work this coming year on building collegiality among my colleagues. Collegiality does not mean we have to agree. We should not when we do not. However, we should work with each other, and with City staff, professionally and amicably. In my first decade on the Council, that was a hallmark of the Council. Lately, that has not always been the case. Our three newest Council members have a lot to offer and have the opportunity to accomplish great things. However, they and the rest of us will be less effective if we deal with each other with suspicion and hostility. Federal and state lawmakers act that way, and see how functional they are.

At the beginning of each Council year, I give some thought about my role as a member of the Common Council. I made these remarks (click here) when I left the Council five years ago, and again when I ran two years ago. They still hold true today.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You, Candidates

Every year, we have a bunch of people who step forward to give their time to our county, city and school district. These people are not looking for jobs. Most have full-time jobs or are retired. Unless they are delusional, and I know most are not, they are not looking for power, money or fame. These positions give the officeholders none of those things.

Instead, they are offering their time and talent as a public service. Our institutions would not work without them.

Yet, in order to give their time and talent, they spend money and many hours campaigning. They also subject themselves to the electorate, a process that can be humbling and nerve-racking. Moreover, and often worse, they subject themselves to accusation and mud thrown their way (again, all for the opportunity to serve others). Most do it honorably.

Tonight, the following 17 Mequonites (and one Thiensvillian) had their names on a ballot. Win or lose, each made a contribution by running. Please join me in thanking them (names of the people who will take office are italicized):

Ozaukee County Supervisor District 19         Bruce Ross and LeRoy Haeuser

Ozaukee County Supervisor District 20         Patrick Marchese and Noel Williams

Ozaukee County Supervisor District 21         Justin Strom and Bob Walerstein

Ozaukee County Supervisor District 23         David Henrichs

Ozaukee County Supervisor District 24         Janette Braverman

Ozaukee County Supervisor District 26         Jennifer Rothstein

Mequon Alderman District 6                          Brian Schneider and Lewis Chamoy

Mequon Alderman District 7                          Kathleen Schneider and Chris Schelble

Mequon Alderman District 8                          Andrew Nerbun and Kim Steinbrenner

Mequon-Thiensville  School Board                John Daniels, Paula Taebel and Shelley Burns

I look forward to serving with Brian, Kathleen and Andrew, and hope to have opportunities to build relationships with the other bodies through the other officeholders.

Upcoming Mequon Common Council Election – Please Vote

Candidates2

If you live in District 6, 7 or 8 (southeastern Mequon and along the lake south of Highland), please remember that there is a contested election for the Common Council in your area. Early voting has started at City Hall and runs through Friday, March 30. Election Day is Tuesday, April 3.

We need Common Council members who appreciate our great community and want to improve Mequon rather than tearing it down. We can keep taxes low, have great police, fire and ambulance departments, maintain roads, improve the City’s services and plan for the future without being divisive. I hope that whoever is elected will work toward those ends.

Read about the candidates by clicking on the following links:

District 6: Brian Schneider and Lewis Chamoy

District 7: Chris Schelble and Kathleen Schneider (inc.)

District 8: Kim Steinbrenner and Andrew Nerbun (inc.)