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The Five Most Interesting People of 2012

I have had the privilege of meeting many of you; whether it was a brief conversation, or an ongoing observation over the course of the year, these are my picks for those people who made things happen in Muskego.

I'm humbled whenever I consider the position I have. I get to tell your stories, whether it's crime, fire, personal triumph, or even just a fun weekend activity that brings a smile to kids' faces. 

This is not a scientific list, nor indicative of how well I may have gotten to know people personally; it's just my observation of who always seemed to 'be there' when something was happening in the community. There is also no meaning to the order, so don't read into it.

1. Suzi Link - folks either love her or hate her, but I have to admit she shows up. A lot of long Common Council meetings during much of the year would have worn others out, but Link has been a perennial presence to argue her point and to make sure the aldermen take the public into account. It has made her a lightning rod, and may make some shrink from speaking out.

That's admirable when I consider so many other people don't come to important meetings that do impact their lives. Small government is also the most accessible, and as one alderman once told me, "it's her voice that I hear whenever I'm considering a decision, because I know I have to state my reasoning so that people understand why." If that is Link's impact, we all win.

2. Phil and Steve Ziegler (yep, that's two, but it's one pair that I can't separate) - heading up InPro Corp. in Muskego's business park, the brothers have posted quite a year: expanding their markets to India, expanding their footprint locally to reunite their New Berlin offices back in Muskego and hosting Mitt Romney at the end of March. Most of the philanthropic work they do is unheard of by many, and they often request it to be that way. If not their name in print, their impact on many sports teams, buildings and organizations has been lasting and appreciated.

3. Gary Mrotek - an officer with the Muskego Police Department, Mrotek (and I may never get out of a speeding ticket for saying this) is called 'Mr. Incredible.' However, aside from the likeness, Mrotek is also incredible in his involvement with the community.

He teaches the Muskego Police Citizens Academy twice yearly, a ten-week course to show residents what police officers have to know and deal with on a regular basis. He is also an instructor with Safety City, teaching the youngest residents how to react in an emergency. For the grown-ups, he's at the head of the class for Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, and also is active with that organization on a regional level. Basically, if it's a community-centered initiative, Mrotek is the ambassador for the police department, and we're a lot smarter and safer as a result.

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4. Tina Weiss - taking a lot of flak over her signature on a Walker recall petition - and I mean a LOT of flak - may have had others bowing to public  pressure to quit a position at the Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce. Fortunately for the pro-business lobby, she stayed on and helped bring back a hugely successful Jammin' on Janesville 2012, and added on to the Chamber's scope by helping foster two new groups under its wing.

The Young Professionals networking group seeks to bring in the 20 and 30-somethings to build their careers, and Women's Business Connections, which will hold its first program meeting on January 22, helps connect and empower women in business in the Muskego area. It takes a lot of backbone and just as much vision to thrive, and Weiss has helped grow the business community into a much stronger unit than it was even two years ago.

5. Gail Levin - If you want to get something done, ask a busy person. Levin is the Energizer bunny, which not only helps her direct her clients at the Curves fitness center she's owned for 12 years, but has also helped the organizations she's a part of. An active Woman's Club member, Levin also is a co-founder of the Women's Business Connections group, a part of the aforementioned Muskego Chamber satellite groups. 

With health as part of her focus, Levin has also spearheaded 'Conversations for the Cure," which provides breast cancer information to women. 

Underlying all of her efforts is a positive and enthusiastic 'I dare you, life' attitude that is infectious to those who work with her, are counseled by her, or happen to share a room with her for a little while. It's not hard to imagine Levin as a former mud logger on an oil rig, all five feet of her. While it's said of some people that you are smarter for having known them, Levin is that person I feel stronger for having met.

I look forward to sorting through another list in 2013. Thanks for sharing your talents and your tales, everyone.

Bonnie Johnson December 31, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Last two are my favorite!
The Warrior December 31, 2012 at 03:26 PM
#1 is interesting but she plays loose with the facts. Someone needs to tell the real story...
Lisa Ziolkowski December 31, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Hey Gail.....congrats!!!
Denise Konkol (Editor) December 31, 2012 at 05:02 PM
The key word is indeed interesting, Warrior. I'll leave it at that.
Suzi Link January 01, 2013 at 03:22 AM
Denise: As you well know, I am rarely speechless, but you pulled it off. I am sincerely flattered by your comments. Those who know me know that I strive to involve already busy people in the process of local government by keeping them alerted to current issues facing Muskego. After that, I respect each person's right to form their own opinions, regardless of the side they ultimately take. I have Muskego friends ranging from Teamster's to Tea-Party members. While we don't always agree, I respect each of them. I find the most informative discussions are always with someone holding a different "take" on an issue. I learn much more PLUS often make new friends. Being a "lightning rod" isn't fun. I agree it takes courage to stand up and "own" opinions in public. What I consider questionable is why the same people who claim to be "afraid" to speak out at a public meeting are frequently all too willing to launch personal attacks, especially from local barstools. I whole-heartedly agree with your assessment that anything increasing government accountability is a good thing. I believe voters always get exactly the government we (collectively) deserve, no better and certainly no worse. Again, thank you for recognizing my efforts to help connect Muskego voters with our local government. Happy New Year Suzi Link P.S. I find it ironic someone too cowardly to identify him/her-self by name accuses me of "playing loose with the facts".
Denise Konkol (Editor) January 02, 2013 at 10:14 PM
Suzi - we don't have to agree on everything, but it does amaze me that people can get worked up over issues, then never show up to a meeting, where it really counts.
Suzi Link January 03, 2013 at 01:21 AM
Denise - That always confuses me too! I understand that all of us have very full plates. Fortunately, not all issues strike a chord for each Muskego resident. For the issues that do get our respective hearts pumping, however, we have to make the effort to state our opinions in the appropriate setting to have a constructive impact. (I realize that standing up in front of a group is intimidating for each of us, but after the first time you speak up at a public meeting, it does get easier and is worth the effort.) I was raised to believe that participation in local government is similar to voting. If you don't exercise the right to participate/vote, you have forfited your right to complain about the outcome. The other thing that regularly amazes me is how predicably discussions on Muskego issues get twisted into personal attacks. The name-calling and accusations belong back in grade-school. I hope we can 2013 as grownups and discuss issues on the merits of the issue itself. Time will tell.

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