A 'mayor's dozen' get keys to the city in Waukesha

Lorayne Ritt
Jerry and Judie Couri were awarded a key to the city this year Mayor Jeff Scrima says for their dedication and drive in helping downtown Waukesha.
Published on: 12/17/2013

What better way to wrap up the year than to thank those who toil day and night within the community for what they do to make it a better place?

For a third year, Mayor Jeff Scrima will hand out keys to the city to those who stood out this year.

"The practice of presenting a Key to the City to an individual may be traced back to medieval times, when admission into a city was hampered by walls and locked gates. Back then the key symbolized free entry. Today the presentation honors people and organizations for their outstanding civic contributions, and symbolizes that the city is at their service.

"As a citizen Mayor, and custodian for the city residents, I am humbled to give these keys to the following 12 2013 recipients, whom have my utmost respect and whom deserve this recognition. Their contributions have further stabilized the family values of Waukesha — values of empathy, responsibility and creativity. They have carried out these values with strength to proactively build a brighter future — a brighter future for ourselves and for our children," Scrima said.

Here are Scrima's 12 recipients and explanations as to why he chose them.

1) Jesús (Jesse) Mireles

Honors the dignity of individuals and families through his work in child protective services and foster care (in partnership with the Waukesha County Department of Health and Human Services) for the last 33 years. His planning has enabled children to continue to live in Waukesha, near their friends and relatives, and in many cases continue to attend their same school. He served as a Board member for La Casa de Esperanza for 23 years, and is committed to collaborating and promoting an improved quality of life for everyone.

2) Karen Tredwell and the Waukesha Food Pantry

Relentlessly and lovingly advocate for the elimination of local hunger. The Food Pantry just celebrated 35 years of service to the community. Mrs. Tredwell has been the director for 16 years. Together, with the support of the community and in collaboration with over 40 other programs, they provide access to food for our neighbors in need – ensuring human dignity and good health to more than 6,000 people each month.

3) Chris Becker and the Waukesha YMCA

Strengthen the fabric of our community. The YMCA was established in Waukesha in 1894, and Mr. Becker has been the CEO of the Y for 17 years. The YMCA has evolved over the years as the community needs have changed. As an organization, they are perhaps more relevant today than at any time in their proud past. Mr. Becker is quite humble. He just believes in doing the right things.

4) Gregg Wandsneider

Is Waukesha's very own "Paul Harvey" broadcasting news and commentary throughout Waukesha with his famous, "The good, the true, and the beautiful" segments. Gregg has brought wisdom and insight to thousands of people. He has a tremendous resume of work experience with children and youth, volunteering at churches and with other civic partners.

5) Jerry and Judie Couri

Exhibit a personal and meaningful touch through local community partnership and service. They are visionaries and have greatly contributed to the Renaissance of downtown Waukesha through growing their business, adding employment, and encouraging others to come downtown. They have also served on various local committees since 1980. The Couris believe that they are blessed in order to bless others in life. The Couris make a positive difference for and with others.

6) Kerry and Terry Mackay

Are shepherds in the downtown. When they quietly help lead one of our community front porch events — whether Friday Night Live, the Farmer's Market, GuitarTown, or Silver Bells — the event lacks nothing. They choose to refresh, guide, walk beside, protect, comfort, and serve all people. They are motivated by building a stronger, more-connected community. When with Kerry and Terry, your cup will overflow (both literally and figuratively). Surely their goodness and love has created positive waves in Waukesha.

7) Dr. Amy Schley

Is trustworthy, understanding, and innovative. She graduated from Carroll College, taught in Waukesha Public Schools, earning her doctorate from Marquette University in Child Psychology. She states that "there could not be a more rewarding profession — my greatest pleasure is to work with these young, talented, intelligent, clever individuals, who teach me everyday what truly is important in life." She has helped hundreds of children paint the picture of what they want to be in life, and has given them the courage and mindset to make it reality.

8) John Cramer and the Waukesha Civic Theater

Remind us all that as different as we might think we are, we all share a universal human experience. Mr. Cramer is personal, funny and touching, and under his tenure the Waukesha Civic Theater has doubled their live performances and educational opportunities. Today they are open 46 weeks of the year, producing eight Mainstage shows, two ACAP PlayMakers shows, three Education and Outreach shows, and presenting seven to 15 Random Acts of Entertainment (approximately 130 performances). They enrich, challenge and make our community smile.

9) CEO Peter Davis and Gaco Western

From NASA to your neighborhood, Gaco Western leads the waterproofing coatings and spray foam insulation industry. This family-owned company has grown tenfold in 10 years, with most of the growth since they moved their operations to Waukesha five years ago. We are delighted that this last year they have expanded their Waukesha facility by 80,000 square feet and added additional jobs ranging from warehouse positions to PhD scientists.

10) Principal Lisa Kovaleski and Waukesha Catholic School System

Provide a quality education that Waukesha families can have faith in. Ms. Kovaleski has served for the last eight years as administrator of the Waukesha Catholic School System — which has two elementary campuses, St. Mary and St. William, and St. Joseph Middle School Campus. Their dedicated teachers, staff, and approximately 580 students actively participate in many community initiatives and give thousands of hours of volunteer time. In national standardized tests their students score among the highest in the nation, giving our community a bright future.

Rev. Paul B. R. Hartmann and Catholic Memorial High School

Guide and prepare each student to bring values of love, faithfulness, and generosity to whatever role meets their desired challenge. In over 60 years, Catholic Memorial High School has graduated more than 11,000 men and women. The City of Waukesha and beyond, has benefited greatly from CMH's near 65 years of sending forth good citizens, strong servant leaders, and devoted faithful, who are having a positive impact on the community and the world.

11) Larry Blanton and MetalTek International

Has been an outstanding corporate citizen of Waukesha for some 66 years. They support the families of more than 500 employees. Most of the products produced by MetalTek are shipped outside of the local area thus bringing new money into the local economy. Its employees and ownership have been very active in serving Waukesha's community organizations and events. They are recognized around the world for the ingenuity and craftsmanship to build products that go into space, below the seas and everywhere in between. We are proud of the talented men and women who work at MetalTek International in Waukesha.

12) Chief Russell Jack and the Waukesha Police Department

Serve as the bedrock of our community — as having a safe and secure community is the foundation to living, working, playing and raising a family. Under Chief Jack's leadership, these over 150 men and women provide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week professional coverage, in the wretched weather of rain and sleet and howling gales, working perilously close to unforeseen danger. They also offer a variety of opportunities and specialties, including Citizens Police Academy and School Resource Officers. With dedication they see the things we don't want to see and they do the work we don't want to do, so that we can sleep in our beds, warm, comfortable, safe. We are truly honored and privileged to have them serving our city.

"Together, as the Waukesha family — a caring responsible family — we celebrate and are proud of what makes each of us unique. We recognize that we need each other. By treating each other as we would like to be treated, and by working together towards the good, together we can build a brighter future home and an outstanding experience for our children. For in the Waukesha family, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and this is the Key to the City!" said Scrima.