County officials, deputies, veterans explain government
By Brian Mathu
Usually when students visit a capitol building, one envisions the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., or the State Capitol in Madison.
But 24 New London ninth-graders visited another “capitol” – the Waupaca County courthouse – as part of the 56th annual Waupaca County Youth Government Day on April 27.
County Board Chairman Dick Koeppen greeted students from New London, Clintonville, Manawa and Weyauwega-Fremont. Koeppen, a former Clintonville city council member and mayor, has led the county since 2004.
“The Courthouse is the Capitol of Waupaca County,” Koeppen instructed the 100 students in attendance, adding, “County government is one of the least known entities around.” He described county government as a $76 million business led by 27 elected board members and run by many dedicated employees.
Koeppen concluded his remarks with some memorable commentary on the power of positive thinking and a can-do attitude. He proffered to students that “our smile is our logo. Our personality is our business card. How we leave others is our trademark.”
Additionally, students heard remarks from American Legion member Arien Herminath (chairman of the Youth Government Day program), VFW Post 1037 Commander Rich Morey and Wisconsin Assemblyman Kevin Petersen. Students also met with county officials, participated in a mock trial in the courtroom of Circuit Court Judge Vicki Clussman, enjoyed lunch at the VFW Clubhouse and got an extensive tour of the county “Capitol” building.
Specifically, Communications Officer Jody Schultz explained the inner workings of the Communication Center, including how 911 calls are handled and how emergency services are dispatched; Deputy Jon Loken showed the components of a patrol vehicle and introduced K9 Deputy Keira; and Lieutenant Jason Russell instructed students as they toured areas of the sheriff’s office and jail facility.
“I enjoyed Youth Government Day because we learned about how county government works,” New London freshman Alex Willner said. “I did not know a lot about it until we toured parts of the ‘County Capitol.’”
“I enjoyed the day because it gave me a real world feeling,” added New London ninth-grader Mackenzie Fischer. “To get to see in the dispatchers’ office was a once in a lifetime thing. Each person who works in there is always busy and has to be a good multi-tasker to be a good fit for the job.”
Brian Mathu is a teacher at New London High School.