Enforcing the code
Meet Waupaca’s code compliance officer
By Angie Landsverk
Elisabeth Holzwarth knew she wanted to work in criminal justice.
But she was unsure about what type of work she wanted to do in the field.
“I was always interested in the research side,” said Holzwarth, who grew up in the Kimberly/Appleton area and graduated from Kimberly High School.
At Marquette University, in Milwaukee, she double majored in criminology and anthropology.
Prior to graduating from there, Holzwarth had an internship at the Department of Justice in its Division of Criminal Investigation.
“When I was looking for internships, it was the most submersive,” she said.
Her work with the DCI included working with Waupaca County.
Holzwarth became a reserve deputy while still in school.
She graduated from Marquette University in the spring of 2016.
The following fall, Waupaca County sent her to the police academy in Waukesha County.
Last December, Holzwarth graduated from the police academy and began working for Waupaca County.
“That is when I realized I didn’t want to be a police officer full time,” she said.
During a job search, she noticed the city of Waupaca was looking for a new code compliance officer.
In September, Holzwarth became that officer.
Based on her experience as a reserve deputy, she believed she could easily transition into the position.
Interacting with the public was what she liked best about the police job.
She also liked how every day was different.
“I saw that with this job,” Holzwarth said.
She said one of the perks is normal weekday hours.
Holzwarth works from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and usually from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursday.
“It’s been going well so far,” she said.
Code compliance falls under the city’s Community and Economic Development Department.
People may visit www.cityofwaupaca.org/development/code-compliance for information about code compliance, including common violations and how to report concerns.
Holzwarth said the department wants to be more proactive rather than reactive in regard to the enforcement of the city’s codes.
Within the next year, there will be targeted efforts in neighborhoods.
It will ideally begin in the spring, she said.
The idea will be to have a spring cleanup and give people the opportunity to address their property first before the city checks for code compliance.
Holzwarth said the effort will tie in with the focus on improving Waupaca’s downtown.
“We want to keep things looking nice,” she said. “It affects the whole community.”
Waupaca’s aesthetics give a first impression to all who drive into the community, whether they are tourists or people considering a move here to live and work, she said.
“On the (city’s) website, it lists some of the general, main codes. You can click on them and look at them,” she said.
She encourages people to call or email her or use the online system to report concerns.
Those who are in violation of codes are encouraged to call her if they receive a letter in the mail.
“We want people to call. We want to work with them on things,” she said. “Call if there’s something you need help with.”
Holzwarth may be reached at email@example.com or 715-942-9914.
“We’re trying to take care of small things before it gets out of hand,” she said. “We don’t want to give citations.”
Fifty percent of Waupaca’s residences are owner occupied, and the other half are tenant occupied, she said.
The city wants to be more hands on and work with residents to improve neighborhoods and the community.
With winter approaching, the city reminds people they need to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks within 24 hours of when a snowfall ends.
Snow is not to be pushed or plowed into the right-of-way.
Holzwarth said the code says this must be done within 24 hours, and the city will go out after 48 hours to check sidewalks.
If a sidewalk has not been shoveled by then, a note will be hung on the property’s door.
She said that will essentially be a warning.
If the city’s Public Works staff goes around again and still sees the sidewalk has not been shoveled, they will then shovel the sidewalk.
The cost gets charged to the property owner when that happens.
Holzwarth said the door hangar will be a one-time thing for a property.
If a week later, the same thing happens at the same place, there will be no warning, she said.
“We want people to shovel,” Holzwarth said.