It was like a leap in time – spanning many decades – between the spring primary election and last Tuesday’s general election for Town of Royalton voters.
In the spring, they convened in the one-room town hall off State 110 just north of Weyauwega. It was the center for town government for years.
The town hall was built in 1910, according to Town Chairman Duane Bork.
The building remained locked in time. There was no running water. The outhouses stood unused, a reminder to voters my age the privy was common years ago. A port-a-potty in the driveway was a transition to the modern age.
The voting machine along the east wall was the sole hint of modern technology.
The pot belly stove in the center of the building was a link to the past. The stove was efficient heating the building and proving the convection principle that heat travels upward.
Pat Mittlestaedt, a poll worker, confirmed it, saying when she went out to her vehicle the snow on the metal roof had slid off onto it.
One can imagine the discussions around the stove, often emotionally charged, that took place over generations. Replacing the building has been one of those debates in recent years, at the annual meeting and by the board.
Finally the board voted 2-1 in July, after another long discussion, to purchase the west end of a building on State 54 for a new town hall.
The building has had many uses since being built for Faskell’s Gun Shop. It has stood empty as often as being used.
Getting to the polls in spring was an experience as the trip on White Lake Road was a snails pace as deep ruts and snow repeatedly threatened to put the car in a ditch.
My neighbor Dennis, who lives mid-way on my route to vote, said the road had been that way most of the winter, and fighting to keep his pickup on it was common.
There is some finishing work remaining, but the new building has all the amenities necessary for voting and holding meetings. There is plenty of room, easy access, abundant parking and indoor plumbing.
Neil Rasmussen, one of the poll workers, said several other people also commented on missing the stove.
Somehow it should be there as a reminder of our heritage and how today we take things for granted – including heat in winter and air conditioning in summer.
County Clerk Mary Robbins stopped while I was voting. She is overseer for voting in Waupaca County, having ballots printed and voting machines checked, educating poll workers and municipal clerks and verifying results.
“It is such an improvement,” she said of the new town hall. “It makes it much easier for voters.”
She said the county voting had a few minor problems, easily taken care of.
“Some polling places ran out of paper ballots. People were lined up for the voting machines and opted to use paper ballots to speed up the process.”
“We got extra ballots to those in need and had a good election,” Robbins said.
She said 51 percent of registered voters participated. The 20,262 votes are believed to be a non-presidential election record, she said.
The new town hall is voter friendly and its location makes access better, especially in winter.
The only thing missing is the old potbelly stove, a connection to the past for many of us old people who found them a good place to dry our mittens or melt the butter on our toast.