By Ben Rodgers
HOWARD/SUAMICO – There was lots of news for the Howard-Suamico area in 2018, but education and recreation dominated the headlines.
The Press Times dived into the Howard-Suamico School District’s April referendum with a series of four in-depth stories that examined the different areas of need and how they would be addressed.
We ended the series urging readers to vote “yes” on the referendum to allow the district to exceed the revenue cap by $5.85 million for five years.
Voters agreed in April with 4,417 in favor and 3,122 opposed.
The 2018 referendum came on the heels on a 2017 failed effort.
The 2018 results, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, rates in the top 20 for turnarounds in state history.
In July, the district added 22 teachers to reduce classroom size and used $2.3 million to do so.
The district is continuing to work on teacher compensation and facilities maintenance.
A Press Times story in June highlighted how people are also looking for fun things to do in Howard-Suamico.
The Press Times broke the news about the opening of Duck Creek Quarry in Howard.
“To us it’s a quality-of-life issue,” said Paul Evert, Howard village administrator in June. “It gives people more recreational opportunities. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a clean place to swim in Green Bay outside of public pools. We don’t have a public pool, and this thing is 18 acres, so we kind of have a public lake in the middle of the village.”
The story quickly caught on with other news outlets and before too long the village had a popular Green Bay area recreation destination.
Throughout August and early September, the Howard village board looked at making the quarry more attractive to visitors and banned smoking there, as well as looked at reducing the speed limit nearby.
People also enjoyed reading about the accomplishments of area students outside of the classroom in 2018.
An April story by The Press Times highlighted the spring musical at Bay Port High School, “Guys and Dolls.”
Stephan Gullickson, Morgan Tiedt, Alexander Muzaski and Abby Frank all had lead roles in the production.
“I don’t have words to explain how hard they work on this,” said director Jacki Beattie in April of the 120 students involved in the musical. “Everything we throw at them they take and they do and they don’t complain. The amount that they work on it is just as hard as any sports team, or any other extracurricular activity.”
Another Press Times story in June highlighted 99 Bay Port orchestra students who got to experience the trip of a lifetime, playing in Carnegie Hall in Manhattan for the Viennese Masters Orchestra Invitational.
“I’m very, very proud. I think you could hold them up to anyone. They’ve come a long ways. We’re not perfect, but no orchestra is. But in terms of skills level, absolutely these kids are incredible,” said Audrey Nowak, orchestra director in June. “It’s not because of me or even because of them, it’s a community effort. It’s our school district and school board who has backed me personally, and kept me going. It’s the community who passed the referendum that built the Ferguson Family Orchestra Center. Before we didn’t have a room, we squeezed in between band rehearsals. It’s the parents in the area, and the music stores that supply us. It’s such a community effort and that’s what makes it remarkable, that all the stars have to align.”
In 2020, the orchestra has been invited to perform in Austria for Beethoven’s 250th birthday. In 2022, they are invited to Shanghai, China, as well.
Howard-Suamico area businesses also were popular stories in 2018.
The sale of Olsen’s Piggly Wiggly in April garnered some of the most online views of the entire year.
“The hard part is you build relationships over a 30-year span,” said Chris Olsen in April. “I’ve formed relationships with the customers, the people I’ve worked with. That part I’m going to miss greatly. You know these people, you know a little about their lives, it’s difficult to walk away from that aspect.”
Christine Herman opened a new store in Vickery Village that The Press Times covered in January called Willow Clothing Co.
“I’m not here to make a gazillion dollars,” Herman said in January. “I’m here to provide cute clothes for women.”
Her business has become so successful that she has since opened a similar store for girls’ clothes in the Urban Edge Towne Centre called Willow Bud.
Finally, readers of The Press Times were interested in some bling in 2018.
Feldsteins opened a location in Howard, and the 126-year-old family business looks to continue in the area.
“The minute you walk in the door we try to get to know you,” said Scott Francois, co-owner in February. “We’re not the type of jeweler that is going to push you, we’re not pushy. If you say ‘Hey this is what I want to spend,’ that’s what we’re going to show you. We know what you say is what you mean.”