Downtown Ripon stock

Can’t count our blessings in Ripon.

We have too many.

Ripon’s cup doesn’t runneth over.

About 7,909 cups runneth over.

God has not been good to Ripon.

God has been great, shedding his grace on all of us.

Though our gratitude is boundless this Thanksgiving, let us count just five of the many ways our community has been blessed in 2021.

Apologies in advance for any who feel they merited a mention — they probably should have been included — but the price of ink shows no sign of declining so we had to limit our list to five.

You likely will identify yourself in at least one of the blessings shown in the list below:

1. Downtown:

Mapes House, Mugs and More, American House: All are right in the heart of downtown and all have been touched by the pixie dust the Rogers family so generously have sprinkled throughout Ripon’s commercial center. We are lucky to have a downtown that now is so vibrant that you can hardly visit Watson Street without noticing a new store. So many deserve credit for the renaissance, including entrepreneurial business owners as well as Ripon Main Street and its army of volunteers. But leading the list are the Rogers family and Graystone Ventures (developer Tom Rogers, T.J. Rogers of Accurate Controls, and Cory Pollesch and Mike Albright of Pollesch Construction).

2. Ripon Area School District:

School teachers, staff, administrators, board members and community volunteers have nobly navigated through rough Covid seas, creating a pandemic plan and then tailoring it on the fly as data suggested rising transmission. The virus has upset normality for many, but the district on all levels heroically fought to keep students in classrooms, while adopting mitigation measures to keep them safe.

3. City of Ripon:

Ripon’s city government is responsible, responsive and, thanks to “new” City Administrator Adam Sonntag, increasingly innovative. The city’s CEO, who has been on the job since mid March, has looked for ways to save the city money, bring in new grants and help the Common Council identify and plan for long-term needs. Mayor Ted Grant has shown remarkable leadership, particularly using his bully pulpit to offer residents guidance out of the “perpetual hell” that is the Coronavirus. Common Council members have given their time, ideas, encouragement and in some cases roll-up-your-sleeves initiative (e.g. ice rink volunteer manager Ald. Howard Hansen) to move the community forward. City staff weathered a surprise bout of 70-75 mph straight-line winds last July but didn’t miss a beat as they immediately dispatched emergency personnel and vehicles, began communicating with residents at 2 a.m. and already had started to clear debris by 5 a.m. After two decades of serving the city with straight talk and common sense, the council’s longest-serving member Ald. Al Schraeder will step down next April.

4. City residents:

They keep their heads down but lift a hand and a wallet to friends, family and even strangers in need. Through volunteering their time, feeding collection plates at church, participating in a service club, bringing food to a family who has suffered a loss, giving to a Go Fund Me cause or quietly visiting an elderly person to offer a kind word, these are helpers who live by the scriptural admonition to care for the last, the lost, the least among us. You know the helpers. You probably are them.

5. Commonwealth crew: 

Three paid, Ripon staff make sure ever week that the Ripon Commonwealth Press is distributed to local readers to make them aware of public affairs, current events, sports results and feature stories involving their friends and neighbors. They also call on local advertisers to keep readers up to date on goods and services they can buy locally to help prime the Ripon-area economy. These folks — Jonathan Bailey, Sue Procise and Joe Schulz — probably are too busy every week to pause and realize that by their labor, Ripon residents drink from a common font of information so that this experiment we call democracy continues to be healthy and vital and lasting.

So many other blessings.

Our prayer of gratitude on Thursday will be long, but be assured it will include the many who, like those above, dedicate their lives to improve our community, one person at a time.

— Tim Lyke

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