Whitewater’s urban forester is honored

By JAMES KATES / The Capstone

Whitewater’s retired streets and parks superintendent was honored Tuesday for another role that added to the city’s attractiveness – that of urban forester.

Chuck Nass, who held the forestry position along with his streets and parks job, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council during a meeting of the Whitewater Common Council.

“Chuck was instrumental in a number of projects,” including saving trees from the emerald ash borer and recruiting volunteers for beautification efforts, City Manager Cameron Clapper told the council.

Jeff Roe, urban forestry team leader for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said Nass’ work had helped draw attention to the often-overlooked role of trees in everyday settings.

“Trees are everywhere,” Roe said. “If you look around your city, they make better places to live. They bring in oxygen, beauty, economic value, stormwater mitigation – but mostly we just like them. They help give us a sense of place.”

Dwayne Sperber, a member of the Urban Forestry Council, said Nass had helped expand the definition of urban forestry by, for example, helping street crews use trees to beautify routes that Whitewater citizens travel every day.

Nass “has demonstrated true leadership,” Sperber said. “It was a very easy nomination to make. He’s leaving quite a legacy.”

Library report

In other business Tuesday, the council heard the annual report from Irvin L. Young Memorial Library Director Stacey Lunsford.

The city library had more than 66,000 visitors last year, Lunsford told the council. It has 3,771 registered resident users and 2,941 nonresident users. In 2019, it was a net lender of interlibrary loan items, “which speaks to the quality of our collections,” she said.

Lunsford said the library was expanding on its efforts to become a community gathering space by hosting the City Market during winter months and by hiring a programming and makerspace librarian. That person will lead efforts in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) for the community.

Lunsford said e-books and audio books continue to gain popularity, but she doesn’t expect print materials to disappear anytime soon.

“There are still a lot of people who like print books, a lot of people who read magazines. We are seeing a trend of people going more to digital, but they’re using it in addition to print. They just like to have all those options.”

Also on Tuesday:

  • Parks and Recreation Director Eric Boettcher told the Common Council that work on the new Cravath Lakefront Park amphitheater is ahead of schedule due to the warmer weather. Completion is targeted for June 13. The facility will be named for the Frawley family, who donated $50,000 for construction along with $30,000 from the Rotary Club.
  • The council approved spending $63,560 for a Wachs valve-turning machine from Jet Vac Environmental. The machine will be used to open stuck water valves during periodic maintenance and in emergencies such as water-main breaks. It includes a torque indicator that will apply pressure to the valves selectively to prevent breaking the valve stems.
  • Council members supported the Police Department’s application for a federal grant that would help fund a second school resource officer to work with the Whitewater Unified School District.

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