Splash: Reporter says so long to another Laker season

JOE SCHULZ RINGS a bell at the Tichora Conservancy on one of his summer adventures. submitted photo

by Joe Schulz

Is it really the end of Green Laker season already? 

Yes, it is. That means, unfortunately, this will be my final column of the summer. 

But don’t fret, there’s still plenty to be excited about in Green Laker Country. 

When I returned to the area in April to begin working on the first issue of the Green Laker — pandemic edition — I didn’t know what to expect. 

Last summer felt like a million years ago, and I wondered “What would my job look like with so many event cancellations?”

I quickly got my answer. 

This summer has been a whirlwind that saw a pandemic, a vice presidential stop in Laker Country, an influx of Illinois residents and a slew of canceled events. 

Needless to say, I’ve been busy.

One of the projects that’s occupied a lot of my time this summer has been covering the developments surrounding the Heidel House.

When I first came to Laker Country last summer, the iconic resort had closed its doors and the community voiced their worries of what it would mean for the local economy. 

Next year, however, when the Green Laker returns, the Heidel House may be returning alongside it. 

As someone who’s only ever seen the community without an operating Heidel House, I’m excited. 

I’m also grateful to my employers at the Ripon Commonwealth for allowing me, a college kid, to cover this story. 

It forced me to learn about tax increment financing, developers agreements between private companies and municipal governments, all of which is extremely valuable experience for someone looking to build a career in local journalism.

JOE SCHULZ PILOTS a vietnam-era boat through Big Green Lake. submitted photo

This summer has been a learning experience. With many of Green Lake’s iconic events canceled because of COVID-19, I was able to focus on telling stories about small business owners, community members and others that have left a positive impact on the community. 

Despite the uncertainty of COVID-19, Green Laker Country welcomed me back with open arms and entrusted me to tell its stories. 

I’m truly honored and blessed to have been able to watch this community rally to overcome adversity created by the pandemic.

People came together time and time again to find creative solutions for hosting events amid the pandemic. On your average summer weekend, Green Lake’s downtown bustling with life, with pedestrians wandering down Mill Street and boats covering Big Green, was a welcome sight.

While we aren’t done with this pandemic yet, Green Laker country has offered a welcome reprieve from all the gloom and doom in the news. 

As summer bids farewell and fall begins to say “Hello,” I’m reminded of my first column of the summer, in which I lamented about how foreign the world seemed at that time. 

Green Lake succeeded in restoring a sense of normalcy this summer. At times, I almost forgot that we’re living through an unprecedented period in history because it felt so much like a normal summer in Green Lake. 

To everyone who worked so hard to make this a great summer, thank you. You folks are what make Green Laker Country such a special place.

Even though this is my final column in the Green Laker, it’s not the end of me covering this community as I will be continuing at the Commonwealth during my final semester at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. 

I’m excited for the opportunity to stay on, and looking forward to continuing to tell everyone’s stories.