Potential Council Member Forum 2021

As in recent years, the Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce has sponsored a forum for candidates running for the City of Oconto Council/Committee of the Whole. 

Due to Covid-19, we feel that an in-person forum will not work this year. So, we asked each candidate to answer the following questions in 25 words or less for each  response.


  1. What are Oconto’s greatest weaknesses in being able to attract visitors?

JEAN FELDT- Shopping is limited. Covid hasn’t helped.

TINA FRYE- No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN–  Although our summer recreation options in this beautiful community are plentiful, Oconto is limited in recreational offerings for visitors during the winter months. 

JOHN REED – I believe the image that is portrayed on social media hurts Oconto. 

                                            Would like to focus on changing Oconto’s image.


  1. If you could focus only on 3 things on the Oconto City agenda in the next 3 years, what would they be? 

JEAN FELDT- Economic development, Tourism, Historic Preservation/Technology

TINA FRYE– No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN– Improving the safety and quality of our sidewalks, encouraging new businesses to improve our economy, and finding winter recreation options to appeal to visitors year-round.  
JOHN REED- Safety of the citizens, employees, businesses and visitors.  Focus on making Oconto a place where the citizens, employees , and  businesses are proud to be part of. Education for myself on what my roles and responsibilities are as a council member. Education of the citizens on the process of getting their  concerns addressed.


  1. What was the greatest “team” accomplishment in your life and how can this benefit you as a council member?

JEAN FELDT- Rolling out the first huge collaborative project during my Kraft Foods years. The excitement of launching and watching takeoff of a new product or service with a team is rewarding. 

Understanding innovation and team dynamics including working with and appreciating people who possess very different strengths and weaknesses and styles of getting things done is critical to success of the whole. 

Everyone brings perspective which we cannot see on our own.

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN- My greatest team accomplishment has been serving on the Oconto City Council and being able to help support the needs and growth of this community.
JOHN REED – I was part of several unique rescue missions where critical thinking and  team effort was required to perform a quick and positive outcome. 

  1. Do you think we should further develop the downtown area of Oconto or concentrate on developing Business 41? Why would you choose?

JEAN FELDT- Oconto is not a huge city and development of both areas will need to happen.

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN- The downtown area of Oconto is thriving compared to Business 41. We should concentrate on filling the vacant businesses on the south side. 

JOHN REED –I believe we should concentrate on doing what we can to develop all of  Oconto.


  1. What can be done to improve the look of the City of Oconto? Which sections of the City especially need to be revitalized?

JEAN FELDT- The city has made great strides in encouraging the residences and businesses to spruce things up. The Chamber’s Rose Award has honored many residents and businesses for rehabilitating old properties and making them glorious once again. The Troy Fonder project on Pecor Street is an excellent example of what can be done in our historic community. Supporting Troy and others as they take on these challenging projects have the power to preserve our history for generations to come.  

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN-– Keeping up on ordinances has already improved the look of our neighborhoods. Fixing sidewalks would also improve the appearance and safety for our citizens.
JOHN REED –I believe we should concentrate on revitalizing all the areas of Oconto if  needed. Will help instill pride in our community.


  1. What additional services can be provided for our aging population?

JEAN FELDT- House Calls – Home healthcare visits that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Help with life tasks top to bottom including personal care, home and property upkeep and maintenance. Tech support including helping to recommend, procure and set up tech solutions that make life easier.  Culture at home. Live performances, art lessons. Establish a buddy program, adopt a grandma, grandpa.

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN- Improving the number of full-time EMS staff available, as Chief Bostedt has started to do, to decrease response times for emergencies.
JOHN REED –I believe we need a non-medical transportation service to help our elders 24 hours a day , seven days a week.


  1. What is the City of Oconto’s biggest challenge and how do you propose to address it?

JEAN FELDT- Growing our local economy. Continue to support the improvements the city is working towards including our school system. Our kids are in need of a YES vote on the school referendum.

TINA FRYE – No response

WELEY MARKUSEN- Drug-related issues are a big challenge in Oconto. Increasing resources and technology for the police as well as community rehabilitation programs can address it.  
JOHN W REED –Instilling pride by trying to promote more community member involvement and listen to their concerns. Address the issues  that can be done, fairly and consistently.      


  1. What are your top priorities to ensure that the businesses in Oconto continue to grow?

JEAN FELDT- Shop local everyone, whenever you can. Reward those who shop local. Create incentives to shop local. Attract and welcome new businesses to Oconto.  

TINA FRYE – No response

WESSLEY MARKUSEN- My priorities include researching options to fill our vacant businesses, supporting the Chamber of Commerce’s advertising efforts, 

and frequenting local businesses myself.
JOHN W REED –Promote the change of Oconto’s image to get more visitors within our community .


  1. What is the most surprising thing you have learned in your life?

JEAN FELDT- That life is so much shorter than you think it’s going to be when you’re young. To be the last of my immediate family (Mom, Dad and sibling) was not something I ever imagined. Don’t wait to live your best life. 

TINA FRYE –No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN- I have learned how gratifying and fulfilling it is to serve my community and speak up for the needs of my fellow citizens.
JOHN W REED –The damage that social media and people can do with stories or comments in today’s society, and doing so without fully understanding the situation.


  1. We know The City of Oconto has limited spending capacity—are there certain city departments in which you envision investing more resources? Are there City Departments where you envision spending less resources?

JEAN FELDT- Are there certain city departments in which you envision investing more resources?

Technology to connect with residents, businesses and potential new residents, visitors. 

Are there City Departments where you envision spending less resources? 

Having been through the budgeting process 8 times, I can vouch for the fact that the budget is run as tightly as possible. 

We are fortunate to have an extremely exceptional and talented city administrator  who has used her skills as a CPA to turn our finances around during her tenure. Important to note also is that our departments are constantly researching grant opportunities and other opportunities to source revenue to ease the burden on tax payers.

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN- I would like to invest more resources in the Parks and Recreation department to improve winter recreation options.

 I would prefer not to take funds away from any other department, and instead focus on seeking grants and other funding sources so we aren’t robbing Peter to pay Paul.
JOHN W REED –The department heads do a great job with their respective budgets, and do so with creative ways of saving money. Allow them to do their jobs.


  1.  In your estimation, has reducing the number of council members from 10-6 improved or hindered the progress of the City Council?

JEAN FELDT- Helped. We get things done.

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN– I don’t have any personal knowledge of how the council functioned with 10. However, I feel 6 representatives is sufficient for the size of Oconto.

JOHN W REED- I believe we should have at least 8 council members. This would allow the recreation of necessary committees that have been removed.


  1. Please summarize with 3 things why you are the best candidate to be a new or continuing Council member.

JEAN FELDT- I am committed to this town, its people and its treasures. Continuing to represent and support the goals and dreams of Oconto residents would be a great honor. 

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN- I am understanding of our community’s needs, I judge issues based on facts, not personal opinions, and I rely on common sense. 

JOHN W REED-I don’t believe I’m better than any of the candidates. I believe I have something to offer to promote the best interests of Oconto.

HARVEST FEST 2020

      Even though  Covid 19 is still a major concern, vendors and many shoppers turned out for the annual Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce Harvest Fest on September 26th from 10:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. on Main St, Oconto.  Shoppers got to sample wine and alcoholic beverages at Jorene’s Lecuts, purchase caramel apples and baked goods from Bonnie Forgette, purchase amazing ice cream from the booth of Mr. & Mrs. John DeMuth, purchase chicken booyah from Frank Mathy and the Oconto Kiwanis, sit down and enjoy sandwiches from Crivello’s and Aurora Carrazco’s Mexican booth. Children were able to decorate and take home with them a pumpkin from Crossroads Janitorial and Brenda Race. Other vendors selling their wares were Mommy & Me, Beggin Bites, produce from Jim Cherney, Creative Treasures, Plexus, L’Bri, Birch Bark Jewelry, crafts from Lisa Fonder, Lula Roe and 31 Bags, rummage items from Tim Groll, crafts from Arlene Hanarahan, Color Street, bicycles from Bobby Jo Lipp, wood carvings from Power Tool Artist, Heart Scents candles, t-shirts from the Republican Party, crafts from Ann Ristow, Senegence makeup, Usborne Books, Glass Garden angles, Paparazzi jewelry, amazing canned goods from Norine Walters, Ebbie’s Boutique, and info from Copperfest, Chiropractic Advantage,  the Oconto Humane Society and Christian Lit from Josh Zepnick. Many businesses were open on Main St. including Corner Stone Nutrition, the Garage, Beyoutiful Boutique, Main St. Creative Apparel, Main St. Insurance, Omni Ray Lighting, Bay Impressions, Associated Bank, Benzer Pharmacy and Robert’s Hardware. The Chamber wishes to thank all the vendors and shoppers, the City of Oconto, Jeremey Wusterbarth and his crew for the barriers, John’s Johns, Gary Zahn and Copperfest for refuse barrels, Bob Schwartz, Chamber Board member, WOCO and the Reporter for advertising the event.

Ron Hayes, Chamber President, and Kathy Hayes, Board Member.

Miss Oconto 2020

The Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce had a monthly meeting called to order by President Ron Hayes in June at the Carriage House with a picnic lunch provided for members and guest.

The announcement of the winners of this year’s scholarship contest and the crowning took place prior to the meeting.  2ND RUNNERUP – BECKY BERTH who is a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead where she will graduate in December 2020 with degrees in Audio Technology and Sports Communication. Her special interests are playing the saxophone, softball, and creating videos. After graduation she hopes to start a career in Broadcast Engineering. Her Chamber sponsor is Cain Accounting. She will receive $250 as 2nd Runner Up. She is currently an intern with the Green Bay Booyah.

1ST RUNNER UP – JENNA HORNBLAD who is a recent graduate of Oconto High School where she ranked 4th in her class. She was class Vice-President, a member of National Honor Society, All Conference in Basketball, Honorable mention in Volleyball, and All-Fox Valley Girls Basketball Honorable Mention. She plans to attend NWTC & then UW-Green Bay to pursue a Degree in Nursing and perhaps a Doctorate of Nursing at U W-Oshkosh. Her Chamber sponsor is Care Partners

“MISS OCONTO 2020” – KALISTA SUSA attends Oconto High School where she will be a senior in the fall and she is an avid softball player on the High School team and with River Rebels Team. Her interests also include painting, volunteering at the Humane Society, reading, and mentoring young softball players. She was the most improved softball player in 2019 and the Miss Copperfest 1st Runner Up in 2019. She hopes to pursue a career as a Dental Hygienist. Her chamber sponsor is BeYoutiful Boutique.  The judges were Beth Larson, Kim Bronikowski and Kathy Hayes and the greeter during the judging was Sara Perrizo.  Each of the 8 candidates we had this year were interviewed one at a time.

Each of the 8 candidates submitted their resume and responded to this year’s essay question: “What it means to be an American to you?” The 3 finalists presented their essay in about 3 minutes and then answered 10 personality questions and 5 history questions. Alayna Westenberg, Miss Copperfest 2019 did the crowning. The other candidates who did not place in the top 3 received $25 in Chamber Bucks.  The other sponsors of the remaining candidates were: Crivellos, Machickanee Players, Sportsmans Club, Avon & Patsy Bake, & Wagner Shell. Mane Street Creative Apparel donated the sash.

      The Chamber would like to welcome one of its newest members, John’s Johns which provides portable toilets to the surrounding area.

      The Chamber will begin next month conducting a monthly drawing for a member in attendance at the monthly meeting. $25 in Chamber Bucks will be awarded.

      The annual golf outing with Oconto & Oconto Falls has been cancelled for this year. Members are looking into a golf social sometime in the future.

      Items are needed for the Chamber Welcome Bags which are given out to new residents at Oconto City Hall. These items can be dropped off at OCEDC ON Main St. Oconto or call Kathy at 920-373-7377 for pick up. These items that include coupons, menus, business cards, pens, and any info about your business or organization.

      “Tunes on Tuesday” will begin on June 23 at the Gazebo behind the Carriage House from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Bring a lawn chair and enjoy a variety of music coordinated by the Oconto Tourism Committee & Steve Peterson. Thank you to an anonymous donor for defraying a great portion of the cost. If there is rain, the event will be cancelled. Watch for updates on Face Book.

     The Chamber thanked Laura Cormier of Bellin Hospital on her retirement at the end of June. Julie Bieber, her replacement was introduced. Bellin Hospital is up and running and practicing social distancing and safety procedures. If you have any symptoms for Covid-19 you may call for an appointment at 920-834-1105 and obtain free testing between the hours of 6:00-10:00 a.m. at Bellin in Oconto.  The hospital will celebrate its 15th Anniversary on June 30th. Laura thanked the Chamber and its members for their support of the hospital over the past 15 years.

      Abrams Theatre had postponed its events due to Covid-19 but “My Fair Lady” is scheduled for its first performance on Sept. 17th and thereafter. Go to www.abramstheatre.com for more info, dates and tickets.

      The National Walleye Tournament is coming July 23-24. The rules meeting will be virtual and OCEDC will present coupons to the fishermen. If you have something you would like included, drop these items off to Samantha at OCEDC. Micro Loans up to $10,000 are available and well as grants for small businesses. Please let Samantha know if you have any events that are cancelled and she will get the word out.

      The City Wide Clean Up will occur on July 15 and July 18th. You may drop off items free of charge on those two days only at the City Recycling Center.

      The Chamber is still planning to sponsor its annual Harvest Fest on Sept. 26th on Main St. If conditions change due to Covid-19, further info will be available. There is a great amount of space on Main St. and social distancing can be practiced. There will be form shortly on the Chamber website at www.ocontoareachamber.com The same fees as the last several years will apply.

A group of people posing for a photo

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Alayna Westenberg, Miss Copperfest 2019, Jenna Hornblad, 1st Runner Up 2020, and Kalista Susa, Miss Oconto 2020, Becky Berth, 2nd Runner Up was unable to attend crowning.

Open House & Ribbon Cutting at The Bay

      The Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce Business of the Month is the Bay Facilities, formerly Woodland Village. The Health & Rehabilitation Centers are now The Bay at Suring, The Bay at Oconto and the Home Health Agency is now known as The Bay at Woodlands. This home health agency and these skilled nursing facilities have been located in Oconto County for over 40 years.

       The skilled nursing facilities have 50 licensed beds providing 24-hour care and rehabilitation services with a wide range of inpatient and outpatient services. They also provide service to patients who require additional support & recovery following an illness or injury.  There is a wide variety of therapeutic and clinical programs, amenities, engaging activities & events for residents. To make the transition to The Bay easier, they offer transportation from a hospital to the facilities upon admission.

       Their commitment is to help residents reach & maintain their greatest potential by encouraging functional ability in many ways such as physically, emotionally, mentally and socially. Therefore, the following services are provided to residents at no additional cost: fresh meals with alternative menu options, medication management, housekeeping and laundry, and a large variety of activities & recreational opportunities in house & within the community.

      An Open House and Ribbon Cutting was held on December 5 at The Bay at Oconto from 3:30-6:00 p.m. There was music, food, a silent auction, baked goods, a visit from Santa, & tours of the facility. This launched the new beginning of the Champion Care Company in Oconto. Leah Guiliani is the Director of Community Outreach and Admissions and can be reached at 920-392-2291 or email admissions@bay-suring.com The administrator in Oconto is Mary Dufek and she can be reached at administrator@bay-oconto.com  You can also visit the facility on Face Book.

Some of the staff performing the ribbon cutting
Ron Hayes, Chamber President, Leah Giuliani, Admissions Director, Mayor LLoyd Heier and Santa

CHAMBER 2019 EXPO

The Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual Expo at the Bond Community Center on March 23rd from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Many new vendors displayed their products and services. If an attendee showed their already purchased coin medallion or bought one at the Expo, he or she qualified for a raffle drawing. Jean Martin was the winner of the coin medallion drawing and won a table top grill donated by Robert’s hardware and an anniversary t-shirt and cap donated by the Chamber. The Chamber also held its own raffle which consisted of many Oconto Beer items which was won by Pat Honish. We would like to thank the following vendors for participating: ABRAMS THEATRE,  AVON,  BAY IMPRESSIONS,  BELLIN HEALTH, CARE PARTNERS, CHIROPRACTIC ADVANTAGE, CITY OF OCONTO INSPECTIONS, CITY OF OCONTO/PARKS, EDWARD JONES, FARNSWORTH LIBRARY, HSHS ST. CLARE REGIONAL SURGERY,  HSHS ST. PHARM & PRESC SERVICES HSHS ST. VINCENT CANCER CENTER KOEHNE BUICK GMC LIBERTAS TREATMENT CENTER MACHICKANEE PLAYERS MAIN STREET CREATIVE APPAREL MAIN STREET HEALTH INSURANCE NEW CREDIT UNION NEWCAP OCONTO AREA HUMANE SOCIETY OCONTO FIRE & RESCUE OCONTO POLICE DEPT OCONTO SCHOOLS PATRIOT GOLF CLUIB PREVEA THERAPY INSTITUTE SUNVALLEY HOMES II UNITY HOSPICE VITAL SIGNS WAGNER SHELL WOCO WOODLAND VILLAGE

Santa’s Visit & Christmas Parade 2018

The Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored its “Visit with Santa” and its annual Christmas Parade on Dec. 1st. Over 70 children chatted with Santa and enjoyed cookies,  milk and hot chocolate while coloring and making ornaments.  The weather was not the greatest for the parade but the Chamber wishes to thank the participants: Machickanee Players and their magicians, Unlimited Services, Edward Jones, the Girl Scouts, Sportsman Club, Mayor Heier and Mrs. Mayor, the ATV Club and the Oconto Fire Dept. with Santa(Bob Hellman) on the fire truck. We wish to thank the Oconto Woman’s Club for helping with the event, Brothers 3 for the hot chocolate, Robert’s Furniture for the use of Santa’s chair,  the City of Oconto for the use of the multi purpose room and Council Chambers and the Oconto Fire Dept for transporting Santa in the parade. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!

Chamber Harvest Fest

The Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored its annual Harvest Fest on September 29th on Main St. Oconto. This event occurred from 10:00 am-3:00 p.m. Prior to the start of Harvest Fest, the Oconto Kiwanis Club conducted its 5k run walk with the start at John O’Neil’s Garage where chicken booyah was also sold. Main Street was very festive with the fall decorations. The Chamber would especially like to thank Pat Heier and Wendy Spice and their committee for the decorations on the light poles and OCEDC, Sam Boucher and Nancy Rhode who planted the pots. Monetary donations for these projects were received from the City of Oconto, OCEDC, Oconto Woman’s Club and the Chamber.

   The weather wasn’t as nice as last year, but over 60 spots were reserved for Harvest Fest.

The Chamber would like to thank all the vendors that attended and also the shoppers who patronized the vendors and also the businesses on Main St. that were open.

      Some of the highlights of Harvest Fest include the “Cutest Pet” sponsored by the Oconto Area Humane Society, pumpkin decorating by Brenda Race and Main Street Nutrition, games for the kids at Newcap and Westenberg Financial, a coloring contest sponsored by Bay Impressions, face painting by the OHS Art Club and Jim Arneson, and a variety of jewelry and crafts booths. Food vendors provided a good variety from Crivello’s, Kellie and Tim Belongia, Lori Boyd of Wise Guys, Aurora Curazzco’s Mexican food and Jim Truckey with kettle corn. Don Marovich provided musical entertainment. The Chamber intends to keep the same approximate date for Harvest Fest with plans for next year on the last Saturday in September which is Sept. 28th.

      The next Chamber project is Santa’s visit and the annual Christmas parade on December 1st. The Chamber is looking for businesses or individuals who would like to enter a float in the parade, a vehicle, or a group to walk. Any participation is welcome. Please contact Kathy or Ron at 920-373-7377 or 920-835-5348 if you are interested. If any group would like to sing Christmas carols in Freedom Park on that day, contact the above numbers. Santa will visit with the children at City Hall from 2:00-3:30P.M. before the parade.

      The Chamber meets at restaurants the 3rd Tuesday of each month. The October meeting is at the Oconto Legion Golf Club on October 16th.

 

 

 

Culpepper & Merriweather Circus coming to Oconto

The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus is coming to Oconto August 17-18th. The Advanced Clown,  Skeeeter, made an all day appearance on August 6th to entertain young and old alike and to promote the circus. She made stops at Farnsworth Library, Oconto Day Care, WOCO radio for an interview, the Zone, Oconto City Hall and Woodlands Nursing Home. A lunch stop was also made at Crivello’s.  Skeeter has been a circus clown for about 28 years and yes she did attend Clown School to perfect her magic coloring book trick and her balancing act with Macaroni, her peacock feather. She entertained by going back in history to play a flute and a wooden slide whistle. She taught children how to balance Macaroni the feather on the tip of a finger. She made balloon shapes that the children could take home and gave out free circus tickets.