The Highground Holds Annual Friends of The Highground Recognition Dinner

Donors were invited and honored at The Highground’s “Friends of The Highground” recognition dinner that was held on March 14, 2020, at the American Legion Post 73 in Neillsville, Wisconsin. The weather was very cooperative this year, and those in attendance enjoyed a wonderful meal, camaraderie, and a relaxing program.

This annual dinner is held as a way to say thank you to those generous donors who support The Highground Veterans Park and programs through cumulative annual donations that exceed $1,000. The Remember Our Fallen and Mini My War displays, along with a 2020 events display, were set up for attendees to see what will be happening at The Highground.

Kay Anason, Donation Coordinator, opened the evening by welcoming everyone to the dinner. She introduced the new Executive Director, Chris Pettis, who spoke about his background and future plans. “Bull Dog” Perry then explained the meaning behind the “Missing Man Table”. Mark and Lori Dawson read a selection of Wisconsin Fallen names from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan through the present day. That was followed by an invocation given by Skip Klabon of Colby, Wisconsin. Many board members were there to thank the donors as each person was presented with a beautiful plaque depicting the rededicated Gold Star. This is the sixteenth year The Highground has presented plaques to those who have met the $1,000 minimum donation.

This year, donors and board members from all around Wisconsin and Illinois were able to attend the dinner. Only three have acquired all plaques. They have contributed every year since the recognition was introduced. The Highground is exceedingly grateful to Central WI Broadcasting–WCCN/WKPG, Donald Quicker, and Dr. John and Rebecca Scaletta for their steadfast support.

From the 2019 donor calculations, the following individuals received recognition for their continued and inspiring support of The Highground Veterans Memorial Park:

16th Year Recognition

Central WI Broadcasting

Don Quicker

Dr. John and Rebecca Scaletta

15th Year Recognition

Joan Jungwirth

14th Year Recognition

Randy Meyer

Jerry Simon

Jerry & Alice Smith

13th Year Recognition

Joan Cervenka

Marjorie Short

12th Year Recognition

Marguerite Listeman Foundation

Walter Tollefson

Tom & Anita Werthman

11th Year Recognition

City of Neillsville

Jim & Susan Fox

Jakel Plumbing, Heating & Electrical

Gary Karczewski

Mar-Lin VFW Post #10203

10th Year Recognition

Jim Braatz

Hardee’s Cougar Enterprise

Michael & Joyce Huebsch

CW and Mary Ann King

Andy Rueth

Wes Waterman

9th Year Recognition

Dennis and Sharon Herzberg

Joyce Hoffman

Steve and Karen Maddox

Dave Sharretts

Lucinda Zimmer

8th Year Recognition

Citizens State Bank of Loyal

Michael and Kathy Gleisner

Maggie Mae and Roger Hilliard–The Heartland Country Band

David Kemp

Skip and Deb Klabon

Mike Olson

Donald and Noreen Schmidt

Steve Swanson

Gary and Kay Weirauch

7th Year Recognition

Curt Braatz

Robert and Gloria Beyer

Bill and Kathy Flemal

Kathy and Bernie Heit

LeRoy Johnson

Verla Lysy

Cole Peterson

Joel and Marla Raine–BP Drescher Oil

Andy and Nikki Smith

6th Year Recognition

Michele Benson

Chilson Automotive Group

Julie Diesing

Kimberly Knudsen

Paul Kokosz

Nick and Janet Lesar

Karen and Steve Swader

Thrivent Financial

5th Year Recognition

Lee and Kathy Anderson

Tom Babbitt

John Blank

Mike and Amy Bodoh

James  Feneli

Roy and Ginny Franz

Gross Motors, Inc.

Bonnie Henchen

David Reimer

Pat Watts

Dave Week

Russ & Kitty Wohlrabe

4th Year Recognition

Fred and Kim Berg

George and Betty Blauvelt

Bohl Associates, Inc.

The Cummins Foundation

Mark and Lori Dawson

Joel and Heidi Hazzard

Ho-Chunk Gaming–Black River Falls

Tom Kingsbury

Kokosz Family

Neillsville Dept of Public Works

Jim Ottman

Joel Paplham

Misty Peterson

Augie Stark Photography

Terrence Stein

Stanley Correctional Institute (SCORE)

VFW Lakeland Post #7898

3rd Year Recognition

Vernon and Gwendolyn Beloat

Mary Boortz

Ron Comer

Scott and Lori Daentl

Jay Froh

Shane Gurney

Al and Kay Lamovec

Terry Pezl, WSAU Radio

Jess Rebout

Dave and Ellen Schmitz

Duane Schwab

2nd Year Recognition

Andrew and Renee Bernard

Bernatello’s Pizza, Inc.

Jeffrey and Cherie Bignell

Tom Christian

Larry and Pat Dessner

Barry Hammarback

Randy Henchen

Phil Hiller and Hiller’s True Value

Kathy Houzner

Hardee’s of Oshkosh

Samantha Kleifgan

John and Donna Koutre

Leathernecks Motorcycle Club

Marine Corp League McCullen Kimpel Det #552

Marshfield Clinic

Michael W Stinson Nam Knights–Tundra Chapter

Neillsville Chamber of Commerce

Delmar Scanlon

Wendi Schmidt

Ellie Seymour

Simplicity Credit Union

The Buzzed Bus

Shannon Wachuta

Bonnie Wiater

1st Year Recognition

Ag County Farm Credit Services

Am Leg Fletcher Pechacek Post #121

Am Leg Riders Post #209 District 1

Randy, Carol and Caitlin Anason

Ronald Bellmare

Dan & Susan Berger

Christi Mitchell–Blue Bayou Pub

James and Diana Buechner

Linda Czlapinski


Forward Bank

James Griepentrog

Red Higgins

Gloria Johnson

Betty Kienast

Judy Lillie

Lulich Implement, Inc.

Ray and Pat Maertens

Traci Messner

Allison and Paul Osmak

Ralph and Peg Ottum

Leroy Peterson

James Rice

Harold Schmitt

Schreiber Foods Richland Center East

Henry Smith

Ralph Smrecek Sr

Stanley and Kathy Soderquist

Cyril Spangler

Terri Stott

VFW Dr Mueller Post #10452

VVA Dane Co Chapter #220

Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp

Russell and Nancy Young–Eagle Tire Center

Zacho Sports Center

Gary Weirauch, Board of Director Vice Chair, offered a heartfelt thank you to Jim Fox along with a plaque for his years of dedication to The Highground Board of Directors. Jim became a board member in 2006, and has spent many hours supporting efforts and sharing his expertise. Jim and his wife Susan also spend endless hours making the Vietnam colored keychains that are given to every Vietnam Veteran who visits the park. We believe they have donated more than 50,000 keychains.

A special “Spirit of the Highground” award, chosen by the staff is presented to someone who they feel has gone above and beyond and who also has the “Spirit” of The Highground in them. This year, the award was humbly accepted by John Myers of Eau Claire and Robert Barth of Neillsville. Although there are many people who embody the Spirit of The Highground, the staff wanted to keep with the gravity of the Gold Star Tribute rework and the dedication of these gentlemen to ensure the Gold Star was completed in time to make August 24, 2019, a very special night for everyone.

Events grow and others are added each year due to the increased interest in The Highground activities. The Park, Museum Exhibits, and many of our events are open to the public free of charge because of our friends. Contributors and Volunteers are the heart of The Highground. The Highground’s small staff could not do what they do without them. THANK YOU.

For event updates and more, visit our website Calendar of Events and follow us on Facebook.

For donation information, please call Kay at 715-743-4224 or send an email to donations@thehighground.us.