No newbies in this office

After 43 years on the job, Pam Bares is retiring from a Register of Deeds office that boasts the county’s three longest-serving employees

THE THREE LONGEST-SERVING Ozaukee County employees gathered for a photo Tuesday in the Register of Deeds Office, where they have worked together since 1979. They are (from left) Register of Deeds Ron Voigt, Deb Weyker and Pam Bares, who officially retires on April 24. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Call it a separation, not a divorce.

After 43 years, Pam Bares walked away from the people she has seen almost every day for the last 43 years — her colleagues at the Ozaukee County Register of Deeds Office.

The same people.

That’s because Bares, who officially is still employed by the county until April 24 but whose last day in the office was Feb. 20, is the second longest-tenured county employee, having been hired in 1976.

The longest-tenured employee is Deb Weyker, who started in 1975, also on the Register of Deeds staff.

And their boss, Register of Deeds Ron Voigt, is the third-longest serving county worker, joining the county in 1979.

“I guess people like working here,” Voigt said. “At least I’d like to think so.”

Bares said she has probably spent more time with the Register of Deeds staff than she has with her husband, Gary, whom she married 40 years ago and who worked as a long-haul truck driver.

“I only saw him on weekends,” she said.

Bares joined the county when she was 19, about a year out of high school.

“It was advertised in the paper and at the time if you could get a job at the county, that was a good place to work with good benefits,” she said.

Bares said the office had just started using computers when she started. She was hired by then-Register of Deeds Anita Becker to index paper files to create digital files.

Now just about everything is computerized, Bares said.

“I’ve witnessed a lot of changes,” she said. 

So has Weyker.

She joined the office in 1975 “right out of high school,” she said.

  “I bounced around (county departments) for a while as a floater until I came here and stayed,” Weyker said.

Voigt grew up in Fredonia and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in cartography.

He was hired as a cartographer by Becker after graduating. When Becker retired in 1985, Voigt ran to replace her and was elected.

Bares said she thought of running, “but I didn’t care for the politics part of it. Plus, I had young kids.”

Technology plays a major role in the office’s operations. 

At one time, the office was one of the busiest in the county, with people crowding the counter wanting to do their real estate business. But no more.

“We can go a couple days without anybody coming in because they can do it from their offices,” Bares said.

“Anita used to say some day this will be a paperless office and we used to laugh but now we are just about are,” Bares said. “We’re much more efficient now. I can’t imagine how many people we would have to have in the office now if we had to do everything the old way.”

In an email, county Administrator Jason Dzwinel called Voigt’s office “the highest-performing and technologically advanced in the state. I stand in awe of their service to Ozaukee County.”

“That’s a little bit sugar-coated,” Voigt said in response. “But we are right on par with most everybody (in the state), if not beyond. Being that we’re of middling size, we don’t have all the resources that Dane, Milwaukee or Waukesha counties have.”

In Ozaukee County, for instance, users can look online for any of the county’s 42,000 land parcels by tax key number, something not that common, he said.

“They can punch that parcel number in without sorting through (a group of properties). That’s rather unique,” he said.

The office is “almost paperless,” Voigt said. “You can still record documents in the old paper way but probably two-thirds of our records are filed electronically.”

The other employees in Voigt’s office, which includes the Land Information Office, are no newbies either.

Almost all of them have over 20 years experience, one has more than 30 years. It’s an “amazing” office, Voigt said.

Dzwinel agreed.

“The service of Deb Weyker, Pam Bares and Ron Voigt are the best examples of commitment and adaptability we have in our workforce,” Dzwinel said.

“I empower my employees to do their best work. I don’t stand over their shoulder. I think that makes for a happier employee,” Voigt said, explaining why perhaps workers in his office have stayed on so long.

“We all did our jobs and performed them with no problem and adapted to the changes,” Bares said. “We all worked well together.”

Weyker said she is not ready to announce her retirement.

“Maybe next year,” she said.

Neither is Voigt.

With Bares retirement, Voigt will move into the No. 2 slot for longest-serving county employee.

The new No. 3 is Louise Schwengel, a dietitian at the Lasata Senior Campus in Cedarburg who was hired by the county in 1979, according to the county Human Resources Department.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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