Amery will see your resolutions and raise you a several new beginnings. 2022 was certainly a year of change for 54001. That theme will carry on into 2023 as new businesses, changes to the schools and popular events are slated for the upcoming year.
As a year in review, the Amery Free Press compiled the biggest stories of 2022. Some of the topics will trickle into the new year. You will also find the most popular answers as to what the people of Amery would like to see for the future of Amery.
January 2022: Big numbers for small town pharmacy-Amery’s very own Chet Johnson Drug tackles vaccinations
The beginning of the year saw Chet Johnson Drug celebrating the administration of almost 11,000 COVID vaccinations.
When the vaccine was about to launch, even big box pharmacies grappled with the logistics of providing the vaccination service to those wanting it. Chet Johnson Drug tackled the dispensation of the vaccine with the same attitude the third-generation pharmacy has always handled business, doing whatever it takes to provide exceptional service to their customers.
In 2023 Chets will continue to keep customers vaccinated and boostered. All information pertaining to vaccination scheduling can be found on their website.
February 2022: Lights, camera, the Amery Theater is almost back in action
Those who have been a part of the Amery community for some time, have many recollections of hours spent in the downtown movie theater. Amanda Whiting, Adelle Green and Adam Flor decided to create a space in theater where the next generation can create memories of their own. The iconic Amery theater, which had been empty and for sale for some time, sold.
The theater/coffee shop/gathering space opened to the public in November and has been a hit. Theme nights and other special events are planned for 2023.
March 2022: Warrior Wrestlers
First, the Amery Warrior wrestlers captured a team State win at the end of February, making them back to back champions. Next, March saw Robert Beese and Koy Hopke bring individual titles home to 54001.
At the sectional Feb. 19 in Amery, Hoffman from Neillsville/Greenwood/Loyal defeated the Amery senior 5-2 in the semifinal, forcing Beese to win the next three matches to qualify for state, which he did.
Saturday at the Division 2 State Individual Wrestling Tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison, Beese got his opportunity at redemption and didn’t let it slip by.
Hopke, who hadn’t lost a match yet in his high school career, defeated Lodi’s Wyatt Ripp in 59 seconds to take the title. He previously pinned Ashland’s Isaac Pearce and New London’s De Evian Ross to advance to the final. Hopke became 53-0 on the year.
Going into this year’s season, the 14 wrestlers which wrestled in last year’s state championship against Luxemburg-Casco, contained six seniors but the Warriors are still armed as five wrestlers return who have wrestled at state and they have 13 letter winners overall. They are looking to take their third title in the spring of 2023.
April 2023: Election sees
new faces and changes to places
The 2022 Spring Election brought several changes to Amery and the surrounding area. Joe Vierkandt became the newest member of the School District of Amery Board of Education, defeating longtime member Chelsea Whitley. Chad Leonard became the 20th official Mayor of the City of Amery. Representing the City of Amery, Denise L’Allier-Pray was elected as the District 12 Supervisor for Polk County.
Later in the year, Mike Manor, Mykaela Thompson and Sharon Marks were appointed to empty seats on the council.
Voters in the School District of Amery passed both the $35 million and $8.5 million dollar referendums.
The $35M referendum passed with 1,464 votes in favor and 1,169 against. The purpose of the $35M district wide, building system/infrastructure repairs and improvements referendum is paying the costs of improvements to the elementary, intermediate, middle and high school buildings and grounds including upgrades and renovations to major building systems; upgrades to safety and security systems; American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance renovations; upgrades and improvements to the intermediate and high school sidewalks, drives, and parking lots; upgrades and improvements to building exterior walls, roofing, flooring, lighting, doors and windows; upgrades and remodeling of high school classrooms and labs.
The $8.5M referendum passed with 1,487 in favor and 1,145 votes against. The purpose of the $8.5M referendum is to pay the costs of elementary school renovations and building additions; safety and security upgrades, upgrading and remodeling elementary classrooms; upgrades and improvements to sidewalks, drives, and parking lots; upgrading and renovating classrooms for the Early Learning Center.
Timelines for 2023 District construction show work being done throughout 2023 and 2024.
May 2022: Governor Evers
stops in Amery to celebrate National Economic Development Week
Visits to two of Amery’s newer gems, The Schweet Stop and Brew & Sip were part of the agenda for Gov. Tony Evers as he celebrated National Economic Development Week in Wisconsin.
Amery has been successful with the Bounceback Grant Program efforts. One of the requirements of the Main Street Bounce Back Grant is an Acknowledgement Letter from an organization such as the Amery Economic Development Corporation (AEDC). By May, the AEDC had provided 29 Acknowledgement Letters to Amery Community businesses that meet the criteria for the grant. 21 businesses had been successful in obtaining the grant and the remaining eight applicants were in the process of gaining approval. Many of these business leaders were in the process of opening businesses when our main street was still torn up. Paul Shafer, Executive Director of AEDC, said, “I applaud their entrepreneurial spirit and I am very happy that the AEDC could help in some way to assist them in getting a grant to assist them as they help the Amery Business Community grow.”
Entering into 2023 both the Schweet Stop and Brew & Sip have relocated to downtown locations. They are both businesses that have been a part of the rebirth of downtown in recent years. There are more new businesses slated for downtown Amery later this year.
June 2022: Luciana Aizpurua
wins state title in 100
Aizpurua, the only freshman in the field won the Division 2 100-meter dash at the WIAA Track and Field State Championship in La Crosse.
The Amery standout won with a time of 12.27 seconds. Clinton’s Sylvia Johnson was second at 12.45 as Pius XI Catholic’s Le’Nehja Norwood took third at 12.55.
While the final win was certainly impressive, what Aizpurua did in the prelims was even more jaw-dropping.
She broke her own school record with a time of 11.96 seconds. The state record in the event is 11.95.
Aizpurua is starting out 2023 playing basketball. She will return to the track this spring.
July 2022: Police Chief Tom Marson
announces retirement plans
Tom Marson dedicated 37 of service to the City of Amery as an officer and Chief of Police. He announced he planned to hang up his badge in September.
September saw Marson passing the torch and swearing in Jason Hickok as the Interim Chief of Police.
By February 2023, Steve Hainzl, currently of Milwaukee, will take over as Amery’s new Chief of Police.
August 2022: Paula Johnson starts school year as Principal of Lien Elementary.
Paula Johnson was always on track to become a principal, but it was Amery’s supportive spirit that brought her to Lien Elementary. “My favorite part of working in Amery is the community. I am amazed all the time by the support and compassion there is for families and kids in this community. We put kids first here.”
While working towards her master’s degree from UW Superior, Johnson was connected to a unique network of directors, supervisors and principals, including Lien Elementary’s
previous principal, Cheryl Meyer. Johnson continues to learn from Meyer in preparation for her new role. Meyer advised Johnson to branch out and explore new methods of direction and management. “She said to remember I don’t have to do everything she did, but ‘make it your own.’”
Johnson has settled into Lien and the students will no doubt continue to keep her on her toes until the school year releases in June 2023.
September 2022: Dave Waterman and Klopoteks honored during Fall Festival
You would be hard pressed to find many in the area who are not familiar with the name Dave Waterman. The family man, contributor to the community of Amery and founder of Waterman’s Sanitation selected to be 2022 Honorary Grand Marshal of the Fall Festival Parade.
The big hearts of Ray and Shirley Klopotek have made quite the difference in Amery, so it was no surprise when they were chosen to be the Grand Marshals of the Amery Fall Festival parade.
Over the past few years, Ray had fallen ill. Shirley’s husband of 52 years passed away August 19, 2022. He was Shirley’s Co-Grand Marshal in spirit, shining on the small town he touched in so many ways.
Crowned Amery Royalty were Miss Amery/Miss Congeniality Haley Pulkrabek, 1st Princess Sarah Meck, 2nd Princess Kylie Burch and 3rd Princess Grace Ziegler. Pyper Littlefield was crowed Little Miss Amery.
Amery Fall Festival 2023 is slated for September 14-17.
October 2022: First Annual
Ladies Night Out is huge success
Lisa Lee of Tin Cat Studio, said she had been thinking about a Ladies Night concept for years. “Because we are in different galleries in other towns, I follow the events they have and I put this idea in the back of my mind,” said Lee.
She visited a similar event in a neighboring town. Lee said, “It was amazing! Town was packed and there were people everywhere.”
The idea was brought to the Amery Community Club’s Promotion Committee and took off from there.
“For me, it was about trying to highlight small businesses in town. It is a way to help them out. They have been struggling between COVID and downtown construction. There are so many new businesses too, that I thought this would give people a chance to see what is new and give other businesses the opportunity to reintroduce themselves,” said Lee.
The event saw over $7,000 being spent within a few hours in Amery that evening. Also $900 was donated to the Salvation Army Backpack program.
The successful event is slated for a return in 2023.
November 2022: New faces
at Amery Area Public Library
Three newcomers to Amery Library positions: Director Heather Wiarda, Adult Services Librarian Trevor Richards, and Youth Services Librarian Brooke Christensen, took the helm at 54001’s public library.
Plans set for 2023 include subscription services, new book clubs and a gaming room.
December 2022: First ever Holly Jolly Stroll
Typically, November saw the Amery community preparing for the annual Thanksgiving Eve Eve Fire Department Chili Feed and Light Up the Town parade. This was a Tuesday to which many looked forward, but it seemed to be a hectic week. With a new date, and the pairing with the annual Amery Free Press Holiday Stroll, these events saw new life during a day filled to the brim with fun called the Holly Jolly Stroll.
Saturday December 3 marks the 37th Annual Holiday Stroll in Amery. The Holiday stroll was an idea set forth by Palmer Sondreal as a day to drop by participating Amery businesses for a little holiday friendliness. The tradition has continued on at the hands of the Amery Free Press and cooperating businesses.
This year’s combined efforts were a smash and plans are brewing for December 2023.