Date: April 24th, 2018

Crawford County Community Fund Presents 2018 Leadership Awards

Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien was the site for the presentation of the 8th annual Crawford County Leadership Awards, hosted by the Crawford County Community Fund. Rusty Cunningham, executive editor of the La Crosse Tribune, was the keynote speaker. CCCF Board Chair Camille Smith provided an update on activities of the Crawford County Community Fund and Lori Bekkum and Bob Van Hoesen presented the awards. Music was provided by a flute ensemble from North Crawford School.
Event sponsors included BAPI; Community Development Alternatives; Driftless Development; the Kickapoo Culinary Center; the Marketplace; Mississippi Valley Printers Inc/Courier Press; Nelson True Value; Peoples State Bank; River Bank; Royal Bank; and Scenic Rivers Energy Cooperative.

Front row (from the left): the Bushnell Sisters (Tammy Otteson and Liz Bremmer); Seneca educator Diane Yager; Opportunity Center CEO Pam Ritchie. Back row: Ron Wagner & Cindy Kohles; reps of the Big River Long Rifles – Julie Rosauer and Butch & Norma Smith; Seneca principal Pat Connors; reps of Rivers & Bluffs Animal Shelter – Bev Pozega and Staci Roth.

The Community Leadership and Service Award, honoring public service that enhances the economic, cultural, or social well-being of the Crawford County community, was presented to Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter, with Bev Pozega as ‘driving force.’ The Shelter – located on the north edge of Prairie du Chien – is open and providing services for homeless animals to find ‘forever’ homes. Ms. Pozega invested countless hours scheduling, organizing, and staffing fundraisers that, with the help of many dedicated volunteers, raised over $750,000 for the animal shelter construction.

The Tourism Award, recognizing a commitment to the enhancement of Crawford County tourism development and promotion, was presented to Big River Long Rifles Inc for their organization and sponsorship of the Prairie Villa Rendezvous. The Rendezvous recreates life as it was in the 1840’s when Prairie du Chien was the hub of fur trading. This year celebrating its 43rd anniversary, this event brings hundreds of participants and thousands of tourists to Crawford County and Prairie du Chien, year in and year out.

Two Educational Leadership Awards were presented. Diane Yager, a teacher at Seneca, was recognized for her role as SHARE advisor. One of the longest running youth leadership programs in Wisconsin, SHARE’s activities include the annual Christmas gift basket project, which distributes some 200 baskets to persons in their community and the annual School Wellness Day which features mini-sessions on topics such as drug abuse prevention, mental health, mediation, healthy eating, and fitness as well as plenary assemblies with well-known presenters like Miss Wisconsin, renowned humorist/hypnotist Terry DaVolt, and motivational speaker Mike McGowan.

Seneca administrator and teacher Pat Connors was applauded for his role in creating the STARS (Students and Teachers Achieving Real Success) program, designed to recognize and reward those students who follow the rules and do their part to create a productive learning environment in the middle school. Pat was also cited as the driving force behind the academic probation program, which, since its implementation, has reduced the number of low/failing grades in the school.

There were two Above and Beyond Awards presented. This award recognizes an individual, business, or organization that has demonstrated “out of the box” thinking that promotes regionalism, cooperation among communities or organizations, creative strategies or innovative approaches. Sisters Liz Bremmer and Tammy Otteson, were recognized for their efforts to support and help others by raising money. Whether it be the Eagles Heart and Cancer Telethon, Wheel of Todd, the Hooking for Hope Annual Fishing Tournament & Auction, or benefits for those suffering traumatic illness or disaster, Liz and Tammy share their knowledge and experience in fund raising then pitch in, with their families, as volunteers.

Cindy Kohles and Ron Wagner, known as the ‘Above & Beyond’ volunteers in Gays Mills, are known for their modesty and their dedication to recognizing the work of and crediting others. Whether it is the 2nd Harvest mobile food pantry, the CouleeCap food pantry, the Gays Mills Public Library, the Kickapoo Exchange Natural Foods Co-op, the Kickapoo Cultural Exchange or the Kickapoo Valley Friends, you’ll find Cindy and Ron working to make Crawford County a better place to live, work, and play.

The Business Development Award recognizes an individual, business, or organization that has demonstrated a spirit of community involvement toward the improvement of business and economic development in Crawford County. Pam Ritchie, CEO of the Opportunity Center in Prairie du Chien, was recognized for her leadership in building new enterprises to fund the Opportunity Center, citing the development of the Sharing Spaces Kitchen and Greenhouse, Unity Adult Care, and – specifically – the recently opened Café Hope. Located in the building on Beaumont that formerly housed Kozelka’s Men Wear, Café Hope opened in January teaching vocational skills to clients with the ultimate goal of their locating community-based employment.

The Crawford County Community Fund has presented Leadership Awards since 2011. Nominations are solicited, county-wide, in the first quarter of the year with the annual recognition event held in April. The Crawford County Community Fund, a component of the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, Inc, is a tax-exempt public charity. The mission of the Crawford County Community Fund is to create stronger communities by matching generosity with economic need. That mission is accomplished by building an endowment to fund a grants program, through the continuation of the Crawford Markets Care initiative, and through this recognition program.

For more information, contact Camille Smith, Crawford County Community Fund chairperson (camillemsmith@icloud.com), or Barb Daus, donor services representative with the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, at (608)778-3344, barb@cfsw.org.