As the decade comes to a close and McFarland looks forward to 2020, it’s time to reflect on the changes the village saw this past year. New programs were implemented, ordinances were redefined and villagers saw ideas become a reality. Each month saw changes, resulting in the top 12 headlines of 2019.
Monkeys OK’d as service animals
Trustees amended the ordinance to exempt monkeys from being categorized as a wild animal if they are a licensed service animals. The amendment does not include emotional support or comfort animals and the monkey would need to be registered and licensed through the village just like a dog or cat.
A resident desired to have a monkey as a licensed service animal to help with daily tasks and approached the village board to have the ordinance changed.
Salt inventory slammed by recent storms
As unusually cold temperatures and heavy snowfall continued into spring, hardware stores experienced ice melt shortages. Employees would answer the phone with a greeting and a statement that they had ice melt.
Hardware store owners expected existing stock to last until the end of the winter season, until the ice storm hit.
True Value delivered half-loads of salt on any given day to ensure all stores in need had some and some stores were completely sold out.
Monona’s public works department used 200 tons of salt in a three-week period. With 70 tons left, the director reached out to salt suppliers to restock.
Students take online gaming to a whole new level
McFarland High School League of Legends esports team ended its inaugural season at the top of its 12-team conference with a 7-1 record.
The team is part of the school’s Game On esports team, which competes in League of Legends, Overwatch and Rocket League. It functions as a physical sports team, with a set number of players, substitutes and a junior varsity team.
Game On is a part of the Wisconsin High School Esports Association that is made up of 675 students representing 31 schools throughout the state.
The esports team was founded by math teacher and League of Legends player Tyler Sarbacker.
Village President Brad Czebotar won by a close call during the 2019 election April 2. Just two votes pulled him ahead of opposing candidate Carolyn Clow.
An absentee ballot was presented to a polling place on election day but not counted. Canvassers evaluated the ballot and discussed a recount April 10.
The board of canvassers issued a recount, which indicated 1,187 votes for Czebotar and 1,186 votes for Clow.
Czebotar ended up winning the election by two votes after a recount. He was first elected to the village board in April 2012 has served as president since 2013.
Boy builds backyard field of dreams with Spartan logo
Brody Samuel brought his dreams to his own backyard after building a backyard baseball field — complete with a Spartan logo.
Samuel’s older brother played for McFarland High School, and Brody spent a lot of time at the field cheering him on.
He and his dad started the field last year with homemade bases and a spray painted diamond. All lines and the logo are spray painted by hand and Samuel is responsible for maintenance.
The family’s chicken coop cheers on the family as they play on the handmade field. Their kitchen serves as the concession stand and they use patio furniture in place of bleachers.
Work to learn program offered by police department
The McFarland Police Department started a work to learn program this year, led by Officer Jason Onken.
The program allows McFarland High School students at least 17 or 18 to learn about the day-to-day operations of law enforcement and participate in ride alongs.
The student receives much of the same training to department recruits, including going through most of the field training manual.
“This is potentially a springboard for pulling in future police officers into our police force,” Onken said.
Students put in a minimum of eight hours per week and earn school credit upon reaching at least 450 hours.
County to improve Babcock Park
Dane County Parks announced renovations to Babcock County Park to improve accessibility for people with disabilities and expand the shoreline by 650 feet.
The $1.6 million expansion includes closer parking, installation of hard surfaces, wider ramps and a pier that stretches into the water. The county plans to install a lift that will transition people directly into a boat over a ramp and accessible fishing piers.
The shoreline will be expanded with the purchase of two properties along the Yahara River and Lake Waubesa.
Dane County Parks System is working with several organizations to solicit input and hopes to complete fundraising in 2020.
Reaching out to LGBTQ seniors
LBGTQ OutReach Community Center in Madison began a relationship with McFarland Senior Outreach Services to provide services and resources for LGBTQ seniors and their caregivers.
LBGTQ seniors may neglect going to an assisted living facility because of past discrimination, preventing them from getting care they need.
“We have heard seniors say that they would rather die at home than to go to an assisted living center and have to go back in the closet,” OutReach senior advocate Ticia Kelsey said.
LGBTQ OutReach held a training with village officials in October to open a dialogue and inform the community.
District renovates to ‘prepare students for next steps’
McFarland High School started the school year with improved facilities after a $65 million referendum for improvements to all four district schools.
A new performing arts center accommodates 841 audience members with an orchestra pit below stage, a fly loft and improved accessibility.
The Angie O’Donnell Aquatic Center can hold up to 14 lanes with a movable bulkhead. A shallow area with steps serves as a space for classes and warmups during meets. A mezzanine with more than 500 seats was constructed. The center was rededicated to O’Donnell on Sept. 24, and a Spartan girls swim team victory.
The second floor is expected to be completed in January.
McFarland Fire and Rescue opens its doors to new volunteers
McFarland Fire and Rescue upped its recruitment efforts to fight nationally declining volunteer firefighter and EMT numbers.
The department typically has 42 volunteers but saw numbers dip to 35. The numbers of calls grew with the village’s population, and firefighters are responding to more types of calls than ever before.
As technology improves, fires now make up the smallest number of calls. The department also educates the public to prevent fires from starting.
Volunteers joined for a career change or chance to help their community.
After a recruitment open house Nov. 3, 10 new volunteers have joined the department for 2020.
Freedom from fines
The E.D. Locke Public Library has joined other libraries nationwide in the discussion to go fine free.
Late fees and fines for damaged items prevent those from low-income households from using the library over fear an item will get lost or damaged. These individuals may stop using the library altogether.
Studies found that fines to not act as a deterrent. Libraries that eliminated fines saw an increase in use.
The library eliminated fines for juvenile items in December 2018, resulting in more picture books and children items checked out.
Spartan Manufacturing makes strong comeback
After a one-year hiatus, the Spartan Manufacturing class at McFarland High School is back in business for the 2019-20 school year.
Other than the return of keychains and cutting boards with new designs, all of this year’s products were derived from the new class of students.
The capstone class functions as a real business with a hands-off approach from teachers.
Students conceive ideas, create products, market and sell to customers nationwide.
One third of the money goes back to the program, another third goes to the career and technical education classes, and the last third will go to a scholarship for students.