Getting to work

City Council members and department heads list challenges and opportunities moving forward at the strategic planning meeting, Feb. 27. The meeting is the second in a series of meetings with Erin and Joel Ylvisaker from Lake Mills firm Cream City Marketing, which continues at the next city council meeting on March 6.

The City of Lake Mills is looking towards the future, and used its planning skills to meet with Cream City Marketing to achieve those goals.

The group held a strategic planning workshop, Feb. 27, broke into groups and discussed strengths, weaknesses and opportunities moving forward.

The meeting was the second in a series, Cream City Marketing Creative Director Erin Ylvisaker said.

“The previous session was with the city council, but this time we have all the department heads, so everybody is talking about new subjects and things they haven’t talked about before,” she said.

Analyst Joel Ylvisaker said at the previous meeting, they defined the project and talked about specific goals.

“We got some great discussion about our hopes for the strategic planning project, we talked about rebranding and what that would mean as a result of the strategic planning.”

He said the meeting was more about specific goals and actionable items, which included strengths, weaknesses and opportunities moving forward.

The first challenge brought forward was the aging workforce.

City Council Student Representative Blaise Kneuppel said the people attending Lake Mills High School are ready to move onto their next big challenge.

“I think they also care about Lake Mills and what goes on here,” he said. “We look forward to the future in our hometown.”

Councilman Mike Foster said misinformation campaigns are also a challenge.

“How do we get the truth out there,” he said. “There is a lack of shovel-ready ground to attract businesses.”

He also said housing is an issue.

“We’re working on the housing at least in one subdivision,” he said.

Attracting volunteer staff for emergency services, Foster said, remains a challenge.

“We do have the paid-on-premise program (for the fire department) that we can’t attract people for it,” he said.

Fire Chief Rick Heinz added that public safety across police, fire and Emergency Medical Services are getting more difficult.

“The crime and drugs puts a strain on everybody, public safety wise,” he said.

Council President Dianne Fritsch suggested a periodic review of the city’s comprehensive plan.

“I think staff does that already,” she said.

Councilwoman Vickie Schmidt suggested prioritizing projects in development, like the Mill Pond, Sandy Beach development and the community center.

“I don’t think we’re at a point where we can decide which one we want to tackle first,” she said.

In comments after the meeting, Erin said she thought it went well.

“I thought it was really interesting to hear what the department heads had to say, in addition to the council,” she said. “I don’t think they always get the chance to meet together.”

She said the group enjoyed the interaction.

“We have a lot of things on our plate in this city,” she said. “Having to choose what to focus on and how to allocate resources is really challenging. We’re still a small town.”

She said there are a lot of opportunities in Lake Mills.

“We’re trying to figure out how to handle and foster growth, instead of just dealing with problems,” she said.

The city has also improved their communication over the last four years, she said, and there are more lines of communication open.

“There is a feeling that people have more ways to communicate with our city government,” she said. “Going forward, we’re hoping that can create a sense of working together as they plan for all these changes.”

Police Chief Pat Matuszewski said the meeting was productive.

“I can definitely see how things are coming together,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to get with the department heads and hash some of these things out.”

He said discussion about growth coming to Lake Mills follows his forecasts.

“That’s something I have been looking at since I’ve been here,” he said.

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