When Roger Holman introduced a resolution on sustainability at the Dec. 17 Waupaca County Board meeting, he also introduced three local high school students.
Monte Mueller and Brock Navin are members of the Waupaca High School Green Team, and Ian Field is a Manawa High School student who has been helping his district develop a forest plan.
In conjunction with the group Working Together for Waupaca County (WTWC), local students brought the sustainability resolution to the county board’s attention.
WTWC member Hélène Pohl noted that Waupaca’s Green Team raised $93,000 in donations and grants to install solar panels at the high school.
In October, WHS student Hailey Johnson, along with WTWC members Pohl, Jane Haasch and Pat Timm, presented two proposed resolutions to the Waupaca County Solid Waste Management Board.
The first resolution, Clean Energy Choice, encouraged state legislators to change the law to allow third parties to invest and install solar panels and other energy devices on somebody else’s property and sell the energy to the power companies.
The Waupaca County Board adopted the Clean Energy Choice resolution at its October meeting.
The second resolution was for a county commitment to sustainability, which appeared before the county board at its December meeting.
“Sustainability is working to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” Holman told county supervisors.
Holman, who directs Waupaca County’s Solid Waste and Recycling Department, as well as Parks and Rec, described how the county has already made substantial commitments toward moving toward sustainability.
He noted the growing percentage of materials that are being recycled and reused in Waupaca County through the county’s Processing and Transfer Facility in Manawa.
The county retrofitted its lighting throughout the courthouse, installed a new roof and upgraded the insulation and the heating and air conditioning systems to save money and energy.
Holman said the county highway department uses more durable and more recycled materials in its roads.
“We are making a system that will provide for the future,” Holman said.
The resolution is called “A Commitment to Inspire Sustainability in the County of Waupaca.”
The word “inspire” was added at the recommendation of Supervisor Joyce Boyer. She wanted the county to inspire or encourage sustainability rather than mandate it.
“We are cool with this,” Pohl said, regarding the resolution’s change to include the word inspire. “We aim to cajole, prod and convince, not browbeat.”
The resolution says the county commits itself to strive to reduce and eventually eliminate “our contribution to the progressive buildup of materials (and their associated wastes) that are extracted from the Earth’s crust; the progressive buildup of toxic synthetic materials; the ongoing physical degradation of the Earth; conditions that undermine people’s ability to meet their basic needs.”
Pohl said 10 other municipalities in Waupaca County have adopted similar sustainability resolutions. They are the city of Waupaca, the villages of Iola, Scandinavia and Ogdensburg, and the towns of Dayton, Waupaca, Lind, St. Lawrence, Scandinavia and Little Wolf.
“In the past, green solutions were viewed as costly or at minimum not as cheap as the alternative. Today, with a view to long-term investment, they make sense,” Pohl said. She described the resolutions as necessary first steps toward a sustainable future.
“They are an acknowledgement that each township, village and city needs to be mindful of the actions it undertakes and that every action often has long-term implications,” Pohl said.