Chamber Recognition Banquet



The Oconto Chamber held its 3rd Recognition Banquet on Saturday, March 21, 2015 at the Oconto Legion Golf Club. The Volunteer of the Year Award was changed to the Ed Zahn Volunteer of the Year Award after the late Ed Zahn who manned the Chamber Welcome Center for many, many years. This year’s recipient was Karl Ballestad who was chosen due to his outstanding community involvement. Karl is a member of the Rural Urban Recognition Committee, Public Property Committee of Oconto County, the Extension Committee of Oconto County, the Oconto Hospital Citizen’s Foundation, the Friends of Farnsworth Library, Oconto County Historical Society and a past member of the Oconto Jaycees and Winter Wonderland. Karl was an Oconto middle school math and science teacher from 1967-2002. Karl was  “Teacher of the Year” in 1999. He and his wife Sheila also deliver meals on wheels. Of course, Karl is Santa as he dons his suit to visit children throughout the area at Christmas time. He and his wife Sheila have 3 children: daughter Amy and husband Tri Mia; son Ted and wife Michelle; and daughter Julie and husband Al. There are also 6 grandchildren. The Chamber had chosen Gary Zahn in 2011 and Jeremy Wusterbarth in 2013 for the Volunteer Award.

The “Business of the Year 2015” is Wagner Shell and owner Betty Wagner. In the 1950’s Harvey Wagner started a gas station and fuel delivery route in Antigo. In 1970, son Howard Wagner opened a convenience store in Wittenberg. In 1984, Betty Wagner and her family moved to Oconto and opened a convenience store. She has been in business for over 30 years. Wagner Shell not only sells gas, beer, and liquor but also sells the City of Oconto garbage bags, has a delivery service from 9 a.m-9 p.m., has a full service food mart, coffee bar, blending bar and deli food items. Wagner Shell is a lottery retailer and serves as the Chamber Welcome Center. Sen. Hansen along with Betty Wagner and other businesses were instrumental in getting the State of Wisconsin to allow blue promotional signs on Highway 41 after the by pass was constructed. Betty has utilized an extensive “Employee of the Month” and “Employee of the Year” program for her employees. She also works around the schedules of high school students to allow them to work parttime and learn important skills for the work force. Let’s not forget all the floats that Wagner Shell has entered in the Copperfest Parade. Some of the winners were “Alice in Shell-Land in 1987; “Life’s a Beach” in 1988; “Let the Good Times roll” in 1989 and one of the most memorable ones: “Shell Salutes America” in 1991. The manager of Wagner Shell since 1996 is Kim McDonald, deli manger is Katie Belongia, night time manager is Zach Feldt and night time deli manager is Brett Johnson. Betty and Wagner Shell have contributed to many of our community organizations often anonymously and without fanfare. Thus, they are a community supporter and community advocate. Past recipients of the “Business of the Year” include Thompson’s County Market in 2011 and Matravers Hardware etc., owner John Matravers in 2013. Congressman Reid Ribble and Senator Ron Johnson sent congratulatory DVD’s which were played at the end of the presentation of awards.

The Chamber also wishes to thank the Oconto Legion Golf Club for the great meal, Sara & Tim Perrizo for their technical assistance and all those who attended.

Ron Hayes, Oconto Chamber, President


Kathy Hayes, Oconto Chamber, Board Member

After 5 Hall Land Title

2015-02-26 19.14.16      On Thursday, February 26th, the Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce facilitated an After 5 event at R L Hall Land Title Company. The company recently purchased the former Associated Bank building and has completely renovated the inside with much memorabilia from the Company and Oconto County . Refreshments were catered by Brothers 3.  This company specializes in all of your Real Estate Title Transaction Needs, tile insurance and reports, escrow services, notary services, witness closings and much more. This is one of the oldest continuously family owned businesses in Wisconsin. They offer services for Oconto, Marinette and Shawano Counties and other parts of Wisconsin. They are open Monday-Friday 8:00-4:00 P.M.

A customer states: “Most experienced company around – Sold my cabin myself and they were extremely helpful with all the little details. They also quoted me the best price of the four companies I called, after all the costs that is. They were very upfront with what all the costs would be and helped me understand just what I was paying for.”

In 1855 Richard L. Hall Sr. founded R.L. Hall Abstract Company on the kitchen table of his home in Oconto. This table is presently on display in the kitchen of the Beyer Home Museum. Originally from Ithaca, New York R.L. Hall arrived on West shore of Green Bay in 1844. He is the son of Dr. Jonathan Cory Hall, one of the founding fathers of the City of Marinette. Hall was already a practicing surveyor at the young age of 18, and by the early 1850’s had laid out many of Oconto County’s earliest roads, including the Fort Howard to Menominee Road. After graduating from business college he formed the county’s first title company. In the 1850’s abstracts of title were hand written under lamp light with quill pens dipped in ink. Document copies were made using a heavy water press copier.

In its sixth generation, Hall Title is presently owned by Peter Stark and David Hall.

Pictured left right is the staff: Becky Saari, Peter Stark, Currie Dolata, Kaleb Hall, David Hall.Hall After 5 (2)