What started as a student project turned into a collaborative effort
Thanks to a group effort, the Fredonia Fire Department finally has a new, portable defibrillator.
The Fredonia Village Board actually made sure that the life-saving equipment would be available by fronting the needed money.
However, fire department officials appeared at last week’s board meeting with a $27,000 check in hand to repay the debt.
“This is the biggest check I’ve ever written, and that includes sending a kid to college,” said Assistant Fire Chief Chris Kunstmann.
The check reimbursed the village for the cost of the defibrillator — and also signified the successful community campaign.
Kunstmann noted the push for the new defibrillator started last spring with three Ozaukee Middle School students who decided to hold the fundraising drive as a school project.
Students Ben Berweger, Carson Rennicke and Mitchell Weyker started the collection effort as their eighth-grade exit project.
“They were actually able to raise a big chunk of the money we needed, something like $15,000,” Kunstmann said.
“The class project challenged the students to think outside the box — and they did that by sending letters to all the businesses and residents in town, asking them to support this project.”
Port Washington State Bank agreed to be the collection point for money for the purchase.
The Fredonia Fire and Ambulance Association, the fundraising branch of the fire department, also took up the cause. It held a series of brat fries and a raffle that completed the funding needed for the defibrillator.
Within 10 months, community support covered the full cost of the equipment.
“We actually ended up with more money than we needed, so the extra money will be used for a maintenance contract on the equipment,” Kunstmann said.
Department members will be trained on the use of the new defibrillator in January.
The fire department remained on the minds of village trustees later in the evening, when they approved the renewal of a service contract with the Waubeka Fire Department.
That approval, however, came with a warning from Village President Don Dohrwardt.
Under the contract, Waubeka agrees to pay the Fredonia Fire Department $6,411 for fire protection in designated areas of the township.
The renewable contract also specifies that notice needs to be given by the preceding August if the rate is going to change for the following year.
While recommending the 2016 contract, Dohrwardt said officials with the Waubeka department should be put on notice that an increase is long overdue.
“We haven’t changed our rate in the past 10 to 15 years. We will need to work out a new rate for the next contract,” he said.
Village records show the charge has been unchanged since 2000.
In contrast, Dohrwardt said the Newburg Fire Department has increased its service charge to neighboring departments by as much as 5% in recent years.
“The reality is our costs keep going up,” Dohrwardt said, “and we are starting to plan for a $1 million fire station project so we can’t just keep doing things as we have in the past.”
The board unanimously approved renewing the contract at the current rate.
INSPECTING THE FREDONIA Fire Department’s new portable defibrillator were (front row) EMTs Jerry Dimmer, Kyle Steffen and Michele Wester of Wester Premier Promotions, Annie Stadler of Port Washington State Bank, (back row) Fire Chief Brian Schommer, and assistant fire chiefs Chris Kunstmann and Brian Weyker. Photo by Sam Arendt