In its latest post from 2021, the Oshkosh Examiner provides the editor’s take on the 10 most important trends and stories of the year. Be sure to check out the reviewer’s list of the 10 titles that have garnered the most attention on the internet.
10. Oshkosh Defense wins major contract but sends work out of state.
It was a big victory for the shareholders of Oshkosh Corp. when the company’s defense unit won the contract to replace the post office delivery vehicles. But local union members were dismayed to learn that most of the new jobs would be created in South Carolina.
9. Oshkosh Food Co-op opens, then struggles.
After years of waiting, Oshkosh finally got a new community-owned business this year. The co-op offers enormous potential to the region, helping to anchor the new Mackson Corners neighborhood, providing a range of healthy nutritional choices to residents, and supporting local farms and food producers. A member-owned co-op is a new type of business for Oshkosh, but one that is not immune to market challenges or obstacles that any startup must face. At the end of October, the general manager of the cooperative resigned after less than a year in office.
8. Citizens make their voices heard.
If you know someone who doubts the importance of the election, tell them to come to Oshkosh, where city, county and school board incumbents were removed from their posts in 2021. But the Voting booth wasn’t the only place residents made an impact. A determined group of Jefferson Street residents finally got the Corrections Department to admit their neighborhood was not a suitable place to host a transitional living program for newly released offenders. On the east side of town, citizens are organizing a campaign to minimize the visual impact of the huge new storage tanks planned for the lake. Citizen participation is generally seen as a good thing, but the school board had to cancel a meeting in August when attendees refused to follow mask requirements.
7. Money from out of town begins to mark Oshkosh.
With few exceptions, local businesses have been the driving force behind the Oshkosh redevelopment. This started to change considerably at the end of 2020 and has become more pronounced this year. Merge Urban Development Group, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, opened the new Brio building on Jackson Street over the summer, then opened two new structures along the waterfront. A third building and a row of townhouses are also planned on the site. In July, the city selected T. Wall Enterprises of Middleton as the developer of a $ 38 million project on a prime 8.6-acre site near the mouth of the Fox River, and in November a Ohio real estate broker handled the sale of the former Morgan Door Co. site to new, as yet unidentified owners. Native son TJ Rodgers, who made his fortune in Silicon Valley and spends most of his time there, has revealed that he bought the iconic building from the Daily Northwestern and is considering ways to bring it back to life.
6. A new normal is taking hold with COVID.
Even as medical authorities and government officials warn of the dangers of a new strain of COVID, many local residents continue to gather – to shop, eat or work – without wearing masks or picking up others precautions. Case rates and hospitalizations are back to what they were a year ago, but complacency has replaced the alarm bells in many neighborhoods. The school district said it will make masks optional next month.
5. The community struggles with diversity in public spaces.
As the city becomes more and more diverse, it is struggling to know how to recognize changes in demographics in its public spaces. After years of discussions and months of often heated debate, the city agreed it needs to correct the historic record of the Chief Oshkosh monument in Menominee Park with complete new signage. In a split vote, the Board of Education decided to name the new college after civil rights pioneer Vel Phillips, a turnaround from a previous recommendation to honor Jessie Jack Hooper, a white suffragist from the ‘Oshkosh. Meanwhile, senior NAACP officials were awaiting a response to their September letter criticizing UW Oshkosh for removing the name of actor and social justice activist Fredric March from the campus theater.
4. Oshkosh takes the problem of homelessness seriously.
The community has taken several steps to address the “continuum of care” that is seen as essential to making a difference for the homeless. These included starting construction on the long-delayed expansion of the Salvation Army facility on Algoma Boulevard and the purchase by the Oshkosh Region Community Foundation of a building where COTS, an Appleton-based nonprofit, will launch a homeless bridging program. The Day by Day Warming Shelter unveiled plans for a new year-round facility with increased capacity that followed the city’s review process. Meanwhile, a “cottage” project is taking shape on Packer Avenue that promises to solve the problem of homeless affordability.
3. The criminal justice system adapts to new realities.
Law enforcement in towns and counties are under pressure, feeling pressure from national and local forces. Partly for competitive reasons, the sheriff’s office is struggling to recruit and retain qualified deputies, and its staffing shortage has become so acute that it has announced its intention to downsize and stop holding officers. state prisoners in prison. National outrage over George Floyd’s death also led Sheriff John Matz to underscore his agency’s commitment to transparency and accountability by posting statistics on the use of force on his webpage. Evidence of the Oshkosh Police Department’s intention to hold staff accountable emerged this year as two officers first publicly challenged, and then agreed to accept, disciplinary action based on their conduct towards citizens. Meanwhile, police and prosecutors are looking for ways to tackle the underlying causes of criminal activity related to drug addiction and social distress. Oshkosh created a Behavioral Health Officer position this year, and Winnebago County District Attorney Christian Gossett has secured the backing of County Executive Jon Doemel to expand a jail diversion program that could result in police interventions that do not result in charges being laid.
2. County government resets to zero.
On the first day of his tenure, County Executive Jon Doemel wasted no time putting his mark on the Winnebago government, overthrowing the Highways Commissioner and moving forward with his plan to hire a former Tea Party activist as chief of staff. Although he has been repeatedly blocked by the opposition in the county government, Doemel has been successful in getting the departments to work together and shows no signs of backing down on his “communication, collaboration, growth and reform” agenda. One thing that might help is that he can expect to work with a very different supervisory board after the spring election as nearly a third of the current members have decided not to stand again. But the county manager, who has said on Facebook that he needs to have surgery to deal with a recent intestinal tract diagnosis, is looking at some very difficult issues while continuing to operate the business he owns, a pizzeria that had to adapt to challenges. of the pandemic. Doemel, who tries to apply his own brand of compassionate conservatism locally, says he wants to tackle the drug crisis, staffing issues in the county’s workforce and the lack of consensus or strategic plan for future direction.
1. Winds of change are blowing through the school district.
Three new members of the Board of Education, a new superintendent and a new college about to be built. These are some of the clear signs of change in the Oshkosh Region School District. More changes are coming, with a plan to make masks optional next month and a spring election campaign in which two board seats are at stake. Meanwhile, teachers struggle to make up for lessons lost to the pandemic and virtual learning as students yearn for a return to normalcy. Virtual school board meetings made it difficult for community members to be heard, and their frustrations increased. For years, Oshkosh has been described as a low-spending neighborhood with a significant number of low-income students, factors that tend to hamper academic success. But the new superintendent, Bryan Davis, has signaled that he wants the district to adopt a new way of thinking and teaching, which will “break the trend,” as he put it, and allow Oshkosh students to ‘reach beyond the expected level. by their economic situation. If the school district succeeds, the troubles of recent years will soon be forgotten.