Library also boasts art collection

Our new library is open and what a fantastic achievement. There is much to celebrate with this milestone but let me highlight one element. Our library is filled with local art! As one of the artists whose work has been selected to become part of the permanent art collection, I’m delighted and grateful. To be among some of the best artists in Waunakee is a double bonus. Much has been discussed in this paper regarding the creative economy. It is significant that our local library leadership recognizes the impact of the creative economy and has acted in such a positive manner. Just one more element that this community should be proud of!

Mark Weller

Give ugly fruits and vegetables a second chance

I scavenged the kitchen for something tasty to eat. Nothing. My eyes darted around the kitchen one last time and landed on the ripening bananas in the corner that were turning the unfortunate shade of brown. That could only mean one thing: time to make banana bread.

Unlike the bananas that have the opportunity to redeem themselves as banana bread, many fruits and vegetables don’t get a second chance once they look a little bruised and beaten up. They get dumped in trash cans without a second glance and abandoned in landfills where they do nothing but rot and emit methane.

However, produce that looks ugly and overripe is often still safe to eat. A representative of Zero Waste SG claimed, “Ugly food is still food, and a lot of resources go into growing the food. If we throw it away just because it doesn’t look nice, then I think we are wasting these resources.”

Each year, 20% of edible produce is thrown away because of its unattractive appearance. That amounts to 60 million tons or $160 billion of produce wasted by sellers and consumers. In the United States, approximately $1,600 worth of food is wasted by the average family of four each year.

To fight this, there are a few things that you can do to put unwanted but edible produce to good use.

To prolong the life of fruits and vegetables, find the best way to store them. For example, be wary of bananas, they are the harbingers of death to other fruits. As bananas ripen, they emit ethylene gas that speeds up the spoilage of nearby fruits. For those that rely on the wits of Amazon’s Alexa, saving food is as easy as asking her for storage advice.

Another way to give imperfect fruits and vegetables the attention they deserve is by making recipes that call for blemished produce. Websites like savethefood.com and Imperfect Produce offer a variety of recipes such as Ugly Vegetable Pasta or Leftover Mashed Potato Apple Cider Donuts. For a simpler recipe, unattractive fruits can make a delicious smoothie.

Just because produce may not be perfect, it doesn’t mean that it is unsafe or unsavory. If anything, it may taste better because it saves us money without creating pointless waste.

It’s all about perspective, ugly produce may not be so ugly after all.

Kylie Thomason

Tree removal appreciated

A big shout out of thanks to the village for remedying some of the overgrowth of the natural space in the Six Mile Creek subdivision. We built here 20 years ago and managed the dike behind our house until the kids left home. The growth of vegetation slowly overtook the dike resulting in cottonwood trees of some 60 feet in height encroaching on our own property and leaning precariously towards our home. This year the excess water and wind storms knocked some trees down and split others down the middle. I and a few other residents approached the Parks Department and the Village president for help.

It took a little while but the results are in; the Parks Department cut down the major trees (~22 inch diameter) down this week. Our home is safer and the sun has come back to our backyard: a bonus for sure. So, a big thank you to Bill Fredrick who managed the tree removal, his boss Kevin Even and Chris Zellner, our village president who coordinated these communications.

The dike behind the 5{sup}th{/sup} addition to Six Mile Creek has become an overgrown jungle of sorts. It does bring in song birds, raccoon, deer, coyote, squirrel, groundhog, field mice, chipmunks and many more critters which both plague our homes but delight many of the resident here. But when the unstable and brittle trees like cottonwood grow to such heights near homes, they are a danger to our own habitation.

We appreciate the response to our needs.

Daniel Moran

Schools need better mental health support

In my three years as a high school student, I’ve watched countless friends struggle with depression and anxiety that made their course load excruciating, eating disorders that have caused them to miss months of classes, and attention deficits and compulsions that make school as it is now nearly impossible to get through. With the current standards we hold our students to, advocacy for mental health support in schools is essential, both to the wellbeing of the students and the future of our communities as a whole.

Counselors in our public schools are overworked. At Waunakee High School, there is roughly one counselor for every 325 students, and each is made to do too much. In such a large school, it’s impossible for counselors to do much more for students than make schedules or help with scholarship applications. And while that work is crucial, only 40% of students with diagnosed mental health issues nationwide end up graduating at all, and these students need support with their current classes before moving on to college.

Earlier this year, Gov. Evers proposed a plan for increased school funding to pay for social workers, psychologists, and more counselors for Wisconsin schools. He got roughly 1/3 of the money that he asked for, and little has changed. What we really need are in-school programs with the suggested extra staff available to help students. This fall, Gov. Evers be submitting a request for a $100 million increase in school budget for creating these programs and training existing staff on mental health services. In order to support this request, and help stop the estimated one in five high schoolers who struggle with mental illness from slipping through the cracks, it’s crucial that we contact our elected officials and urge them to accept the budget change.

The erasure of stigma that comes from just having an outlet to talk and feel supported can be encouraging to all students, and by providing resources and support for these kids through their schools, we can help to create safer spaces for everyone. The lives of these students, their families, and our school community as a whole would be better off for it.

Raina Bogost

Library board expresses its appreciation

The new Waunakee Public Library is OPEN! Staff and volunteers witnessed a lot of excitement and enthusiasm at our Grand Opening on Aug. 1. Almost 1,400 people passed through the doors in four hours that afternoon. We are grateful to Neil Kruschek and Phil Willems for supplying hot dogs and to Waunakee Community Bank for the bottled water, cookies and chips.

We will be forever grateful to all the organizations, businesses and individuals who worked on this project and supported the need for a larger library. There are too many to list, but we would be remiss not to publicly thank Todd Schmidt and the current Village Board, along with past trustees Steve Kraus, John W. Laubmeier, and Susan Springman for all their work on the project during planning and construction. Vogel Bros. Building Co., OPN Architects and Thysse also deserve a huge thank you for their roles in the success of the building. This library will serve our patrons for generations into the future. The doors are open! Please stop by soon to check out YOUR new public library.

Gratefully,

The Waunakee Public Library Board: Annie Ballweg, Jean Elvekrog, Kathy Grosskopf, Erin Moran, Mike Ricker, Cynthia Turner and Geoff Vine

Village president thanks trustee applicants

I want to thank the nine citizens of Waunakee that applied for the vacant Village Trustee position, and the four individuals who went through the interview process with trustee Joe Zitzelsberger and me. I’m sure the candidates I didn’t select, along with their supporters may be a bit disappointed, but please know we had some pretty awesome candidates apply for the position. This was not an easy decision for me or the Village Board members, and one that we took very seriously. My #1 goal was finding the right person to represent all the citizens of Waunakee while also acting in the best interests of the Village of Waunakee. My second goal was looking at the person’s background, both professionally and personally. The third goal was simply to have a person who didn’t have an agenda and his/her sole purpose was to give back to the community.

Ultimately I recommended Kristin Runge to the Village Board and they accepted her unanimously. Kristin brings a tremendous amount of knowledge, passion, and expertise to our Village Board. Kristin’s background through University of Wisconsin will pay dividends immediately as we are addressing housing needs in the community and she brings a tremendous amount of perspective and knowledge of this and many other topics to the Village Board.

I’m sure some will say I was picking someone for “my team” and that is true from a certain perspective. The Village Trustees are about making Waunakee the very best it can be. It wouldn’t have made any difference who was selected from the candidate pool, the goal would still have remained to make Waunakee the best it can be. To say, I had an agenda against someone or that I was picking one of my friends is just plain false, and I wanted to make sure the people of Waunakee know how seriously this was taken. Our community is strong and the addition of Kristin Runge will only strengthen what we already have.

Lastly, if you see Kristin or want to send her a note, please congratulate and support her as she will be working for you, as do all the board members. I would also like to recognize and say thank you to David Lisowski, John Soper, Mary Heimbecker, Steve Miller, Robert McPherson, Roxanne Johnson, Ann Lewandowski, and Nila Frye. Thank them if you see them around town or know them. Publlc service isn’t always easy and these people were willing to step up and serve our community.

If you are interested in viewing the candidate interviews, I invite you to go to youtube and type in Village of Waunakee.

Chris Zellner

Waunakee Village President

Thank you and stay involved

I would like to thank all of those who wrote letters to the editor on the topic of the trustee vacancy. I appreciated every perspective I read. The people who reached out to me over the several weeks of my candidacy to share their stories of support also warmed my heart.

And now, I must ask you to please approach Trustee Runge with an open mind. She deserves a chance to prove herself to you.

Secondly, I want to encourage people not to hold grudges. Research shows grudges can impact your physical health increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. I don’t want that for anyone. The decision has been made and nothing can be done to undue it. We need to find a path forward.

A single topic of personal importance is what drove me to attend meetings, watch the videos, and ask the difficult questions. I’ve learned a lot and still have more to go. The best outcome I can hope for is additional civic engagement by other voices, so we can make decisions that represent the diversity of thought here in Waunakee.

Thank you,

Ann Lewandowski

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