WAUSAU - One Wausau nursing home pulls out all the stops for one woman's very special birthday.
“I can remember many years ago, when she was around in her forties, she says, ‘Don, I’m not going to live long.’ And I say, ‘Mom, I will be at your 100th birthday party’” recalls Donald Koy, Martha Koy's son.
Friday was a special day for Martha and her family. She turned 100. But Martha’s age isn’t what brought her friends and caretakers at the Mount View Care Center together: it was Martha herself.
“She's just always been full of life and spunk, and pizazz, and always has to dress nice, and always has to have her coffee right away in the morning,” says Erika Degroot, one of Martha's caretakers.
Martha may be queen for the day. But Erika Degroot and other caretakers say she reigns supreme everyday.
"She’s always making sure we’re okay. I mean, this woman’s 100 years old and has totally earned the right for us to just care for her and she still cares for us, and pats us on the arm, and pats us on the back, and are you okay, and why don’t you sit down and have coffee with me, or you’re working too hard," says Erika.
Donald Koy told the staff he wanted to throw his mother a birthday party. The staff jumped right in to help plan. This made the celebration extra special.
"Many residents, you know, I’m sure they don’t like to be in a nursing home. My mother loves it," Koy says.
Martha and her partygoers released 100 balloons in honor of Martha’s twin sister, Monica, who was also a resident at Mount View Care Center. She died 3 years ago.
"We wanted Martha to have a way to honor her twin. So we thought, 'Why don't we do a balloon release and let Martha release a couple of balloons for her sister? And then we're like, 'You know what? She's 100. Let's get a hundred balloons and let everybody put balloons out' because we all knew Monica as well, and the whole family's here," Degroot adds.
One hundred balloons for one hundred years. The secret to making every one of those years count is simple.
RHINELANDER - If you never met Monica Bartishofski, you would have loved her smile.
“Oh it was contagious, you couldn’t not smile when Monica greeted you into the store,” says Patti Pazera, Rhinelander Trigs Employee.
These are the aisles Monica used to walk during her days bagging groceries for the people of Rhinelander.
“You always knew if it was going on close to 1:00 in the afternoon, and we would go here comes Monica and we’d always just see her bright smiling face,” says Anne Cline, Rhinelander Trigs Employee. “She’d come and visit us before her shift and she just enjoyed coming down and seeing us girls.”
Monica was killed in a car accident on Valentines Day.
“It was Valentines Day when she had her accident,” says Cline.
“At first it didn’t hit me you know it didn’t comprehend and then I’m checking out a customer and of course we’re busy and the tears start coming down,”says Christa Stolzman, Rhinelander Trigs Employee.
“We all just stood there in shock and the day stopped for a bit,” says Cline.
“I had to apologize to my customers because I had tears in my eyes and I said I’m sorry I don’t mean to be crying but we just lost Monica and I tell you what, a lot of those customers couldn’t believe it and they teared up with me,” says Stolzman.
“After her accident customers were all coming up saying how they missed her smile that it always made even if they were having a bad day it made it a good day whenever they came in and saw Monica,” says Pazera.
Monica’s coworkers decided to raise money in memory of Monica. They sold carnations for donations and raised over $2,700 toward Special Olympics.
Monica Bartishofski worked here inside the Rhinelander Trigs for 17 years but it was her commitment to the special Olympics that coworkers, friends, and family will remember most.
“You could call her Monica “Special Olympics” Bartishofski,” says Tony Bartishofski, Monica’s dad. “She always had a good time bowling. She was really outgoing, bubbly.”
Monica lived life to the fullest.
“You just remember her with her smiling face, her laugh was just you know a great laugh that she had and just bright eyed always happy to be at work,” says Stolzman. “So I think that would be a good way of remembering her.”
ROTHSCHILD - Wisconsin farms play a key role in our economy, but today's farm owners aren't getting any younger.
One apprentice program hopes to change that.
The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program is building and preparing the next generation of farmers. It gives young farmers hands-on training and a path to a career in dairy farming.
"There's a lot of farms that are going to be transitioned and transferred in the next decade or so, and what we really need is somebody to be able to take these farms over," says program director Joe Tomandl. "We don't have that training program in place, and that's what the dairy grazing apprenticeship is about."
A recent government census of American agriculture found the average age of a farmer is 58 years old. Leaders believe the apprentice program has already seen success with new farmers over the past few years.
"We have a number of new producers just in the last four years in Marathon and Lincoln counties now running their own dairy farms using managed grazing techniques," says Paul Daigle of the Marathon County Conservation, Planning, & Zoning Department. "It's still a struggle no matter what, but it offers a profitable way to get into farming today."
Cattle farmers met at the 20th Annual Winter Grazing Conference today in Rothschild.
RHINELANDER - Your water and sewer bill could soon be on the rise if you live in Rhinelander.
Unlike other Northern Wisconsin cities, the water utility rates haven't changed since 2008.
The public works director says the cold winter only played a small role in the proposed increase.
Rising expenses and upgrades are the main reasons they hope to soon raise utility costs.
"Sewer rates are going up 13 percent in the city largely due to the expenses the utility has experienced because of the upgrades that have taken place and our best efforts to deliver the utility at a low expense," said Public Works Director Tim Kingman.
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