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Local History Index - Government - Park System

Sussex Village Park

John Moyes paid $100 for today's Sussex Village Park

How would you like to buy 80 acres for $100? That's what John Moyes paid back in 1842 for the 80-acre claim that is now Sussex Village Park.

He had it for only a few short years, however, when he died in 1852, leaving his wife, Elizabeth, and his 15-year-old son, James, to work the farm.

The Village of Sussex bought the 78-acre property from James Moyes' descendants in 1958 for $36,088.19. (The family lost two acres when the Bug Line Railroad came through the northeast corner of the Moyes farm.)

I tried for years to find a photo of the former owner of the park land, James Moyes (l837-1913). Then in one fell swoop I acquired several photos of him in 1999 at the three-day auction of The William Harland Estate on Duplainville road. Farmer and antique dealer Harland (1906-1999) left three volumes of Weaver and extended Weaver family photos, which were for sale at the event.

Among them was one of Moyes' wife, Mary Sophie, and their two daughters, Eve and Alice. By estimating the ages of the girls in the photo - Eve at about 8 and the older, but diminutive, Alice at age 14 - the photo can be dated at about 1877.

Alice had a hard start in life and never grew into a robust girl. She died of tuberculosis (called consumption then) April 5, 1892, at 28. Never married, Alice was an accomplished seamstress, a job that allowed her to work at home making dresses for girls and other women.

James Moyes was born May 21, 1837, in Scotland. The family moved to the United States, ultimately settling in Lisbon by no later than 1842.

At the urging of his Lisbon Presbyterian minister, James enlisted August 21, 1862, in the 28th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment to fight in the Civil War.

Ultimately 105 men would serve in the regiment's Company F, 99 from Waukesha County, one from Milwaukee and five from Arkansas, once the regiment arrived there.

Lisbon supplied the regiment with 18 of its men. Three died in service: Lt. Jeremiah Noon, Charles McGill and George Fielder.

Surviving with Cpl. James Moyes were George Bohrmann, Thomas Butler, Ben Cambell, Amos E. Carpenter, Samuel Couch, Levi L.H. Palmer, Lt. George Higgins, George Dingedein, John Field, John Taylor, John Walsh, William Rankin, Sgt. Alexander Rodgers and Cpl. John Watson.

Moyes was allowed to return to Lisbon the weekend after his induction to clean up his affairs - and marry Mary Sophia Weaver, daughter of Stephen and Phoebe (Maxson) Weaver, on Aug. 28.

Alice was born nine months later on April 26. Eve was born Jan. 21, 1869, 3½ years after he was discharged from the army.

His regiment's first assignment was to put down a draft riot in Ozaukee and Sheboygan Counties. They then deployed to Arkansas with the Trans Mississippi Army.

Their biggest engagement was the Battle of Helena, Ark., on July 4, 1863 - an important but little remembered battle that occurred about the same time as the Battle of Gettysburg and the Surrender of Vicksburg.

The regiment continued to fight small battles in Arkansas, then in New Orleans, and finally in the Battle of Mobile, Ala., where the war ended. Moyes was involved in the capture of the Spanish Fort, a key element in defeating the Confederates at Mobile.

After the war he went to Texas to back up the Mexicans who were encouraged to revolt against French-installed Emperor Maximilian I. Moyes received his discharge Aug. 23, 1865, while he was in Texas.

He came back to Lisbon and lived out the rest of his life as a farmer, husband and father. James Moyes died July 31, 1913, and is buried at Lisbon Central Cemetery.

Eve married a prominent businessman, Joe Marsden, and their son, Clifford, sold the family farmland to Sussex for the park.

The village will celebrate the 50th anniversary of that purchase Aug. 1-3 with a picnic and festival in the park.

Sussex Village Park is 50 years old

By Fred Keller

Sussex Sun, Posted: Jan. 29, 2008

The year 2008 will be marked by an important milestone in the Village of Sussex history: the 50th anniversary of the purchase of land for Sussex Village Park.

The first inkling of a possible land purchase came in February 1958 when Trustee Ray Podolske, the Village Board's public works committee chairman met with Waukesha County Planner William Nelson.

Nelson, Podolske told the board, had strongly urged Sussex to acquire centrally located property for a village park quickly, before land prices went up.

Two people had been prodding him to bring this to the front burner: his wife, Isabell, the coordinator-director of the village's child recreation programs, and John P. Kraemer, the "Mr. Everything" of Sussex as head of Mammoth Spring Canning Co, founder of the Sussex Fire Department in 1922 and leader of the movement to incorporate Sussex in 1924.

He had also found time to serve for nearly a quarter-century on the Village Board. He was pushing for a new park in the background, and would eventually serve on the first Sussex Park Board.

The progressive leadership of Sussex Village President Roy Stier also played an important role.

Both Kraemer and Stier had been members of the Sussex Lions Club since its founding in 1939 (by Kraemer, among others), and both had served as its president.

Another reason the village was considering the acquisition of parkland was that Sussex Main Street School was about to take over the only parkland the village had at that time, the plot behind the school, which now forms the parking lot for Pauline Haass Public Library and Elsie Mae Weyer Park.

That parkland had served as the site of community softball games and the Land O' Lakes baseball field, but the school district wanted it for the Main Street and Orchard Drive School playground.

The district paid the village $8,000 for the land, with the proviso that the village could use the hardball field for two to three more years until the village found an alternate site.

Surreptitiously, the Sussex Village Board put together a parkland acquisition committee headed by Village Trustee Carl Stoper, an accountant at Mammoth Spring Canning Co., whose ear was already attuned to the wishes of his boss, John Kraemer.

Another committee member, local real estate agem Gordon Schuelke, secretly looked around to see what land was available and at what cost.

The committee considered a number of parcels and eventually zeroed in on the old 78-acre Moyes-Marsden estate at the western boundary of Sussex, which was then Roland Kufalk's tenant farming land.

It was very poor farmland by then because the tenants' less-than-ideal farm practices had allowed its topsoil to be flooded down to the lowlands. A prevailing community joke said that if a sparrow flew across that land, it would die of starvation before it got to the other side.

In August 1958, the Village Board announced that they had settled on purchasing the 78 acres for about $36,800, a little over $470 per acre. Only 20 acres was within the village borders. The rest of it had to be annexed to the village from the Town of Lisbon. The closing date was set for Oct. 1, 1958.

Dissent began, however, once the Village Board's plans became public. Some village residents collected 215 signatures - a potential majority of eligible voters in this community of 800-900 people - on a petition to stop the village from buying the land.

A meeting to protest the purchase attracted 32 residents, who told the Village Board that 78 acres was too much land for a village park, it wasn't even within the village borders, it cost too much to acquire, and it would cost too much to develop.

"Tax burdens are getting pretty bad, and if we have to build a high school (the proposed Hamilton High School) our taxes may double," said Chester Rowlands, a new Sussex resident on Sunset Drive.

A petition challenged the right of the Village Board to purchase the land for the park without first consulting the village residents through a referendum.

Village Attorney Ken Luce scotched that idea, however, when he told the board, "The petition has no legal force or effect. The board is not compelled to call for a referendum."

The Village Board mulled the opposition, and Trustee Carl Stolper, also a longtime Lions Club member, came up with a response defending the purchase:

"The purchase is a good investment. We hope that in 10 years this will be looked on as one of the wisest moves of the present board. We do not need 78 acres for a park right now, but perhaps in the future we will."

Stolper said the village could use money from the sale of the land to the school district and the sale of the old Lisbon Town Hall site (today's Sussex Family Practice) to offset the $36,800 purchase price, and also held out that a piece of the parkland could be sold.

(The Sussex Fire Department and Sussex VFW ultimately located on that piece of land and Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church took a few more acres off Weaver Drive.)

In the end, all seven members of the Sussex Village Board voted to approve the purchase.

Once acquired, Village Park became a community project as civic groups stepped forward to enhance it bit by bit The Land O'Lakes baseball team built a field with its money and donations of labor and money from individuals and community groups. The Sussex Lions Club furnished a concession stand for the baseball team.

The first big community event was the Olde Engine Show in August 1961. Founded in 1959, the Antique Engine Club held its first two shows on Springfield Road in Brookfield. It moved the show to Village Park's north diamond kettle area in 1961 and has called the park home ever since.

The club's show this summer will celebrate both its own and the park's 50th anniversary, which will also be the theme of that season's Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society Museum exhibit.

The Sussex Lions Club joined the Olde Engine Show for several years, but decided to build its own program with the first Lions Daze in 1967. The Antique Engine Club built one major structure that is also used by the village and the club.

Once the Lions starting holding their own events in the park, they began a building program that includes the park's tennis courts, open-air pavilion, the Lions Building, the softball diamond and the Lions storage building. The club is now looking into putting up another building in the park.

The Sussex Jaycees put in the concession stand and Village Park crew equipment storage building next to the softball diamond.

Since Village Park's beginnings in 1958, the village has added 12 more parks to fullfill its part of the village plan requiring all subdivisions to be within walking distance of a park.

Some years after the park was purchased, Stolper bought a lot next to the park and walked the park, his big backyard, almost every day for the rest of his life. As he strolled through the park, he always looked for stray trash to pick up.

"It's my park," he said. "I gotta keep it clean."

Sussex celebrates Village Park’s 50th

The village staged a Village Park 50th-anniversary party this weekend.

The village staged a Village Park 50th-anniversary party this weekend.

The three-day event offered an outdoor movie, music in the Sussex Lions open-air pavilion, food and beverages from a variety of community vendors, a Sussex Area Chamber of Commerce wine tasting party, a Land O’ Lakes baseball game, a farming history display at the Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society, a golf hole-in-one contest, raffles, a variety of booths that promoted wellness and exercise, bingo, a softball tournament and a dunk tank featuring, among others, Hamilton School Board President Gabe Kolesari.

The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department’s Sussex and Lisbon deputies and the town and village fire departments also displayed their equipment, along with the county’s canine corps.

Saturday morning’s 5K Fun Run drew a record 179 participants, just about double the usual 80 to 100 runners who participate in the annual Sussex Lions Club event.

Former Hamilton distance runner Ben Orvold of Sussex, now a runner for University of Wisconsin-Parkside, took first place with a time of 15:49. The top overall female runner was Lauren Rein of Pewaukee, who came in at 21:32.

Children enjoyed a variety of events for them only: a mini fun run, moon wa1ks and an Action on Kids show.

The Village of Sussex subsidized the event, which is expected to raise seed money for a proposed electronic sign at the Weaver Drive park entrance that will advertise upcoming events in the park.

Sussex now boasts 16 parks, including the Waukesha County Bug Line Recreational Trail (the other 15 are village-owned). Village policy includes the goal of having a park within walking distance of each subdivision.

The village paid $36,083.19 to buy the 78-acre Marsden-Moyes farm for the park in 1958.

Today Sussex Village Park is worth many millions of dollars.

The village sold a few parcels of the property to the VFW and Faith Lutheran Church to help defray the cost, which reduced the parkland to about 75 acres.

Part of the land purchase also provided the site for today’s Sussex Fire Department, whose expansion will soon provide police headquarters for Sussex, Lisbon and Merton.

The park has provided a community center for such events as Hamilton High School’s homecoming week, the Antique Engine Show, Lions Daze, the British Car Show, flag football for elementary school students, Land O’ Lakes baseball, Sussex softball leagues, youth baseball leagues and a nine-hole disc golf course.

Villagers bury time capsule in Village Park to celebrate first land claim in 1836

By Fred Keller

Sussex Sun, Posted: June 25, 2008

The 150th anniversary of Sussex’s beginnings in Sussex Village Park was celebrated Oct. 25, 1986, ending with the burial of a time capsule, to be opened 50 years later, at the bicentennial celebration in 2036 – 28 years from now.

This year the village is commemorating the 50th anniversary of its purchase of the land that became Village Park in 1958 for $36,088.19. The village will stage a three-day birthday party Aug. 1-3. Interested people, and potential 2036 time capsule openers, will be taken to the burial spot so that at least some people will be around who remember its location.

The exact location is about 30 feet east of the southeast corner of the park’s Weaver Drive entrance, west of the tree and shrub plantings behind the triangular park event sign boards. The heavy-duty bronze plate reading “Time capsule to be opened in the year 2036, Buried Oct. 25, 1986, by the Lisbon-Sussex Sesquicentennial” is bolted to the concrete cap of the buried vault.

Sussex and Lisbon joined forces in 1986 to stage a yearlong event to honor Thomas S. Redford (1818-1903), who claimed 160 acres just west of Town Line Road and bisected by today’s Silver Spring Road on May 15, 1836, shy of his 18th birthday. The claim indebted him for $200 ($1.25 per acre). This first land claim in the Town of Lisbon was followed by a rush of other claims behind Redford’s.

Melinda Weaver also graced the year’s festivities. Arriving 10 months after Redford, on March 4, 1837, she was Lisbon’s first woman settler. She lived on a Weaver family claim around Maple Avenue, bisected today by Clover Drive.

The yearlong affair’s official name was the Lisbon-Sussex Sesquicentennial 1836-1986. Lisbon appointed former Town Chairman and then Town Board member Art Manke to co-chair the events with Sussex Village Trustee Carl Senger.

As the year progressed, commemorative items were manufactured, including T-shirts, a limited run of 150 ceramic plates, beer mugs, brass pins and several sesquicentennial signs and bumper stickers.

The time capsule, itself, was a full-sized burial vault donated by A.A. Schmidt Funeral Home. According to the firm’s Terry Marcou, the vault was guaranteed not to break or leak for 50 years after burial..

Schoolchildren were encouraged to write letters to future grandchildren, children and themselves for burial, so the 2036 capsule opening will be something of a homecoming for all those youngsters of 1986, who are about 29 to 40 years old now.

Here’s a partial list of the items that went into the capsule: a series of local history books, including the “The First 150 Years” (of Lisbon-Sussex); sesquicentennial celebration tickets; that year’s Greater Milwaukee telephone books; a complete set of the first 10 months of that year’s Sussex Sun; special sections of the Waukesha Freeman, Milwaukee Journal and Menomonee Falls News noting the event; Hamilton High School football and basketball programs; stacks of letters from the public and local students; political bulletins, local business advertising, a Tiddly Winks game, a Sussex-Lisbon Jaycees hat, a Hamilton yearbook, letters from the Sussex Friends of the Library; a Hamilton student handbook, video and music recordings; financial advice from Mammoth Spring Canning Co.; letters from the Sussex Teen Club; local, state and national maps; Lisbon and Sussex ordinance books;, J.C. Penney catalogs; local calendars (for the advertising); toys; Coke and Pepsi bottles; church bulletins; a Templeton Middle School yearbook; political pins; Sussex Fire Department memorabilia; a Town of Lisbon tax roll, a Quad/Graphics yearbook – in all, more than 88 inventoried items.

I put in a beer can bank filled with pennies, myself, with a letter to give to my then just-born grandson, Jimmy Fred Keller. He has been advised that he has to be present in 2036 to get the letter and pennies that I left him. Today he is 22 and a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture.

Podolske playground, Sussex Village Park

During the Sussex Lions Daze Festival in 1992, the lower playground of Sussex Village Park was named for a family important to both Sussex and the park. The Podolske family was well-known in Sussex from 1915 until the late 1980s when the members moved away.

The Sussex Park Board recognized the contribution of the extended Podolske family and authorized the lower playground to be named the "Podolske Playground, George, Ray, Isabelle Podolske." A historical marker and naming sign was put up courtesy of the Sussex VFW, Auxiliary and the Sussex Lions Club. It has been moved slightly over the years, and today it is on a playground fence facing the entrance to the south. The remaining Podolske family members who formerly called Sussex home gathered for the dedication of the marker in July 1992.

When Isabelle Podolske died in 1983, there was a discussion by the Sussex Park Board during one of its monthly meetings to consider naming the Village Park lower playground after her. The idea was forgotten until former park board leader Terri Bernhardt remembered the extended conversation and contacted current members of the board to reconsider, so there would be some way to honor the Podolske family for their contributions to the community and the park. Bernhardt's memory was jogged by the Nov. 25, 1991, death of Isabelle's husband, Ray.

At the recent Sussex Lions Daze celebration, many children played on the lower park toy complex just off Weaver Drive, between the softball field and the upper park open-air Lions shelter building. The kids were attracted to the estimated $70,000 worth of playground equipment that fills the semi-fence-protected area, also heavily shaded by massive trees. At one time, this area was the edge of a big swamp that covered what is the lighted diamond, central field and adjacent lower parking lot today.

The park, once 78 acres, was purchased in 1958 by the Village of Sussex for about $37,000 and slowly became a major park for Sussex. The development was initially on the northern part around the "kettle" and then the hardball field. In 1974-75, many organizations such as the Lions and Jaycees and softball enthusiasts organized to build a lighted softball diamond using a lot of volunteer labor and equipment. At first, the field was only 275 feet from the home plate to the snow fence. However, in later developments it was pushed out to a 10-foot chain link fence at a near uniform 300 feet.

With the development of the softball field with lights, there was a need to have a playground close enough so that children and parents could see each other. Oftentimes, the playground is the central hub of activity for kids attending Lions Daze, while parents sit on nearby benches or park tables to recharge their batteries.

George Podolske was born in 1892, moved to Sussex in 1915, and married his wife Laura in 1916. Their son, Ray, was born in 1917, and he married Isabelle Benson, a girl from across Main Street, in 1945. Their four children became part of the fabric of Sussex as they grew up. Their son Larry, the last remaining child, is the director of the current Sussex baseball club that shepherds the local Sussex Cardinals Land O' Lakes baseball team, even though he does not live here.

Podolske playground: Part 2

The Sussex Village Park lower playground was discussed in last week's Retrospect, specifically the efforts in 1983 to recognize the contributions of the Podolske family, resulting in the 1992 dedication of the playground in their name.

The following history of the Podolske family outlines why they were so important to the Sussex community and particularly the park.

George Podolske (1892-1976) came to Sussex in 1915 to do tin work at the new Malsch Furniture Store on Main Street. A short time later he started a tin shop and hardware store across from the Main Street School. It became a fixture in the community, operating for 51 years (1915-1966).

George was a charter member of the Sussex Fire Department, serving for 33 years. He was the second chief, elected first in 1923 then again for a second term in 1928.

The very same group that started the fire department in 1924 petitioned to combine and incorporate the adjacent villages of Sussex and Templeton as the Village of Sussex. George was one of the prime movers behind this, and one of the 16 incorporation signers. He proceeded to serve for many years on the Sussex Village Board as a trustee.

He was also a prominent half-century member of the local Ashlar Lodge. In 1939 he was one of the founding members of the Sussex Lions Club and served as its second president (1940-41). In his declining years, he was a charted member of the Sussex Golden Agers who evolved into the Sussex/Lisbon Senior Citizen Club, serving as its first president.

Raymond Podolske (1917-1991) was the son of George Podolske. He was born and raised in Sussex, attending Sussex's Main Street grade and high school before finally graduating from Waukesha High School in 1935.

During World War II, he was in the U.S. Army Air Force as an officer, flying as a navigator of a B-17 bomber. His plane was shot down over Germany, and he became a prisoner of war for 18 months. He married a local girl, Isabelle Benson, on July 18, 1945, only weeks after he was let out of the German prisoner of war stockade.

After returning to Sussex, he took up his life work as a plumber at his father's Podolske Hardware Store. He helped found the Sussex Horne-Mudlitz VFW Post 6377 in 1946, and he is considered one of the three founding members. He continued to be a member for 45 years.

Ray joined the Sussex Fire Department and was a member for 29 years, serving as secretary-treasurer for over a decade. He was elected to several terms as village trustee, besides serving on untold various village committees and boards. In February 1958, he was chairman of the Sussex Public Works Committee.

Ray made the suggestion that the village think of purchasing a centrally-located, fairly large piece of land for a park. This suggestion was acted on by the board, under then-president Roy Stier. In August 1958, the Kufalk-Marsden-Moyes 78-acre farm was purchased for the Sussex Village Park for the sum of $36,088.17, with Podolske one of the seven voting for the expenditure. It was a unanimous board decision, despite a petition signed by more than 200 people opposed to the park purchase.

In his declining years, Ray served as the village building inspector before he retired.

Isabelle Podolske (1922-1983), the wife of Ray, came to the Sussex community with the influx of Swedish stone cutters during the late 1920s. Motherless, the little Isabelle Benson was cared for by her father until his death at an early age. Her landlord Shirley Morgan took her in as her daughter. She lived across the street from her future husband, in a home where the Associated Bank is today. She lived from Red Cross letter to Red Cross letter when her boyfriend Ray was captured in late 1943. Soon after his release from the German POW camp, Isabelle and Ray were married and had four children: Elaine, Larry, Ralph and Janet.

Isabelle was extremely active in the local community, being a perennial volunteer. She served for many years on the Sussex Park & Recreation board, rising to the rank of president. She is credited with starting many of the current programs that are part of the annual activities in the parks.

She became involved locally and at the state level in the American Red Cross, helping form the Gray Ladies school nursing program at Maple Avenue School.

In 1951, she was a co-founding member of the Sussex VFW Auxiliary, serving as president for three years.

At the time of her sudden death, she was the Sussex area representative on the State Department on Aging.

Ray and Isabelle are buried in St. Alban's Cemetery, and the Sussex Lions, VFW and VFW Auxiliary paid for the marker sign.

All four children graduated from Hamilton High School, with Elaine and Larry participating in the very first classes. Elaine was an outstanding student. Janet was part of the 1979 Hamilton class that sent a team to the state basketball tournament, with Janet being a prominent member of the group. Earlier she had been a key original and longtime member of the nationally famous Sussex Robinettes Drum and Bugle Baton Corp.

Today the only Podolske left with Sussex ties is Larry, who is a director for the Sussex Baseball Club's Land O' Lakes team. A few years ago his son, David, was an outstanding main pitcher and league all-star for the Sussex team until an injury sidelined him.



An article in the Feb. 18 issue of the Sussex Sun incorrectly stated that former Sussex Village President Michael Knapp opposed the renaming of Sussex Village Park to Sussex Lions Park. He has not, in fact, taken a position on the issue.


Sussex rejects bid to rename Village Park

New entrance sign will display Lions Club name

Village of Sussex – - Village of Sussex – Village Park will not become Sussex Lions Park.

The Village Board last Tuesday voted down that request from the Sussex Lions Club on a 5-2 vote, but also recommended that the new $30,000 electronic sign the Lions are donating for the park entrance at Weaver Drive display the club's name in large letters.

The Lions originally requested approval of the name change from the Sussex Park Board, which recommended against it, despite an informal poll that turned up 42 who favored the name change, 24 who opposed it and 18 who didn't care.

Village Trustee Jason Wegner, who is also a Lions Club member, objected to the Park Board's equation of "don't care" votes with no votes, making the results appear to come out as a 42-42 tie.

Trustee Claire Bletcher, who also sits on the Park Board, said the informal poll was not conducted to come up with a majority vote for or against the idea, but just to see if there were strong feelings on the issue or an overwhelming consensus one way or the other.

"You can't draw any great conclusion from it," she said.

At least one opponent of the name change also objected to the process – not the Park Board's, but the village president's.

Former Village President Mike Knapp didn't like the way Tony Lapcinski, who ousted him from the village presidency in an election two years ago, handled the issue.

"The place to discuss this is at a Village Board meeting," he said, "not through e-mails."

Knapp will try to take his old post back from Lapcinski in the April general election.

Sussex Lions Club President Erik Olsen said the club needed the recognition that renaming the park would provide to help recruit younger members to the club.

In an interview Monday, he said he was "disappointed they decided not to (rename the park), to recognize all we've done for the village and the park over the years.

"We used to do things behind the scenes for the first 60 years or so we've existed – word-of-mouth was enough in those days – but if we continue to do things that way, we'll die out."

Sussex Hawks want fee policy changed

Baseball group wants free practice on park diamonds

Village of Sussex – Dave Kotlan of the Sussex Hawks Baseball Organization doesn't think the village is treating his group fairly when it comes to using Village Park's baseball diamonds for practice.

Kotlan thinks his group's teams should be allowed to use them for free "if we just want to take some kids out to practice."

The Sussex Hawks should have reserved the diamonds back in February when they had the chance, Assistant Village Administrator Jeremy Smith said in a recent interview.

"We asked them back then if they wanted to reserve practice time on the diamonds," he added, "but they said they wanted to save the money."

Kotlan said his organization has not been treated the same way the village treats other groups, he wrote in an e-mail to the Sun.

Megan Sackett, the Sussex Recreation Department's program coordinator, disagreed. "Everyone gets the same policy, unless it's a village-run program, like soccer or T-ball," she said in a recent interview.

The village charges $25 to reserve a three-hour block of time for games or practice, Smith said.

Reservation fees cover 25 percent of the cost of maintaining the fields and other park facilities, he added, with the remaining 75 percent paid by taxes.

Kotlan had hoped the village would change its policy if the April 1 elections had turned out differently.

"I agree with Mike Knapp that the village has become 'fee happy,'   " Kotlan said in a recent interview. "We pulled out our parents to vote for him."

Knapp supports the group's position. If they come out to practice, and no one else is using the diamond, they should be allowed to use it without being charged a fee, he said in a recent interview. "That's the way we've always done it," he said.

Lions gear up for third Piston & Rod show

Organizers expect 400-500 cars at Saturday show

Village of Sussex — This weekend is a good time to park in Sussex. No, not at night with the doors closed and windows fogged up but all day Saturday, Aug. 15, during the Sussex Lions third annual Piston & Rod Show in Sussex Village Park. Park your classic beauty, hot rod or tough truck at the park, pop the hood and open the doors so everyone can see what you've got.

Jake Walters who plans to enter two '55 Chevys this year, said the event is a great family experience and an opportunity to show off the hard work he and his father, Jim, have put into the cars. Jake said the two have been working on the 1955 sedan for about four years as a father-and-son project. "It's a good time to have father-and-son talks," Jake said of the time the two have spent together refurbishing the cars.

Walters said he also enjoys the wide-eyed looks from the children at the event.

"The kids will come up and ask if they can hear the cars, take pictures by them and of course, they ask if we do burnouts in them," Walters said. The occasional burnout is also rumored to be spotted at the show.

The Lions' Piston & Rod Show is the only one of its kind in the area, said Walters, noting that because of this, it will likely have 400 to 500 cars. He said it's a great opportunity for car aficionados to get together, show off, answer some questions and just have a good time. Both Jake and Jim live in Richfield but own and operate two Sussex concrete businesses: Gordy's Concrete Pumping Service and Sussex U-Cart. Jake agreed the show is a win-win in that proceeds from the event will go back to charitable efforts through the Sussex Lions.

Rick Vodicka, co-chairman of the Piston & Rod Show Committee, said the event, along with a golf outing slated for September, are efforts the Sussex Lions have recently initiated to help grow funding for the community and even international efforts. Vodicka said the Sussex Lions Club is working with the village to replace the Sussex Village Park sign and is also working with the high school to help fund a new press box.

According to, the club has contributed $1,009,695 to community, scholarship and other projects throughout the years.

Vodicka said preregistration for the event is up from last year and hopes that is a sign that total participation will increase for the event's third year. The show is open to cars, pickups, motorcycles and semis. "If you've got a motor, we want to see it," Vodicka said. Entry fee is $10 for a number of classes, see for registration information.

A swap meet will also be held during the event; the cost of a 10-foot-by-10-foot spot is $25. Call Bill Evers, (262) 538-1117 for information. Vodicka also noted that if you'd like to enter your vehicle in the judging contest, have it there by 11 a.m.

Jake Walters said one of his favorite things about the free family event is the RC car track where youngsters can safely burn some rubber years before they get behind the wheel.

If you go

What: Sussex Lions third annual Piston & Rod Show, with multiple classes of stock and modified cars, trucks, semis and motorcycles. Food, beer and soda will be available.

When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 15

Where: Sussex Village Park at Main Street and Weaver Drive

Cost: Admission and parking is free. See for registration information





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