As the seasons change and the days get longer, things stay pretty much the same in the Town of Hallie. There remains a Town of Hallie, which should not be confused with its younger sibling — the Village of Lake Hallie. The Town of Hallie lies to the south and east of the Village of Lake Hallie. The Town is 7½ square miles and has a population of 180 people or so.
On Tuesday, April 16 there will be a change in the Town of Hallie. The Town Board will lose two very experienced people George Szotkowski and Ron (Ronald) Steinmetz. Both members’ last meeting will be April 16. George has served the Town of Hallie for 16 years and Ron has served for 29 years.
George brought a lot of expertise to the town board. His background in engineering and his quiet dedication were appreciated by all of us that worked with him. George worked for many years for SEH Engineering and is well known for his expertise and solid work ethic. George has a world of common sense behind him and has the ability to see through nonsense. His quiet sense of humor was always welcome and I will miss working with and for him.
Ron will retire with 29 years of service to the Town of Hallie. Ron was on the town board prior to the creation of the Village of Lake Hallie and served again after the Town of Hallie remained after the creation of the Village. Ron’s years with the Town of Hallie were not without controversy. For those too young to remember, Ron was on the Town of Hallie Board during the great “water wars” of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Without reliving those years, for many too young to remember, Ron and town chairman Dave Meier were recalled from office for supporting the creation of a Hallie Sanitary District in July of 1992. A group of residents called the “Hallie Citizens Committee” forced the recall. Its main advocate, Carl Malom, who was elected town chair after the recall, got the boot 18 months later. A leading citizen of the time, Clark Hughes, sought to bring peace to the “Valley of Hallie” by annexing the Town of Hallie into Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls.
Well 27 years have passed since that time. The “Valley of Hallie” remains as a village and a town. The groundwork laid by Ron Steinmetz and Dave Meier exists to this day. Water is a sought after commodity in the village. After his recall, Ron went into semi-retirement from public service but came back to the town board in 2003. Ron also served on the board of directors of the Chippewa Fire District for 29 years; his common sense has made the Chippewa Fire District what it is today.
Ron once told me that eighth grade was the highest year in school he completed. Yet his education went well beyond eighth grade. Ron has always treated people with the dignity and respect they deserved, even though some people did not deserve it. He is always courteous and has a big smile on his face most of the time. You learn that in life, not in school.
Ron is so typical of the farmers in this area; he is thoughtful, conservative, easy going and has a ready willingness to help people. He is extremely loyal to his family and to his friends. I know Ron’s kids and they share many of his traits.
Which brings me to Mrs. Steinmetz. Darlene is active in the town, serving as one of the chief election inspectors. During the difficult years of the late 1980s and early 1990s, I know she put up with more nonsense than she should have and I am sure it caused her some sleepless nights. I do not know how many years she and Ron have been together — probably 60 at least — without her hard work and patience, the Town of Hallie and Village of Lake Hallie would not be what they are today.
To both Ron and George, thank you for your service to the Town of Hallie. Others may sit in your chair, but you will never be replaced.