From logos to ice cream social, Sussex plans to mark its 75 years - Organizers prepare events to add to celebration of village's anniversary
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Thursday, February 4, 1999
11-12 grade level (Lexile: 1270L)
Author: CINDY CREBBIN, Special to the Journal Sentinel
The Community Development Authority, which focuses on downtown development, is planning a diverse celebration.
Events will stretch into the summer, culminating with Sussex 's anniversary month in September, Village President Patricia K. Bartlett said.
Proposals include several designs for an anniversary logo, which will be printed on T-shirts and mugs available to purchase "to build a communitywide identity," Village Administrator Chris Swartz said.
Swartz also is hoping flags with the logo can be flown from poles on Main St.
According to a history written by village historian Fred Keller , the municipality became a village on Sept. 12, 1924, breaking away from the Town of Lisbon after 86 years.
Its population was 323 at the time. Sussex 's population grew to 5,000 by 1990 and has a current population of about 7,800 in an area of about 4.5 square miles.
One of the events in the planning stages is to have a downtown street dance.
"Years ago, Sussex closed off Main Street and got a band and had dancing on the street," Bartlett said.
Swartz said: "The important thing is the close-knit community here -- we're a small-town USA. Communities are losing their identities. But Sussex has always been a community trying to maintain that (identity). It's always been based on people helping people.
"For our 75th anniversary, we want to celebrate that and let people know what we're still about. . . . This is a great place to be," he said. "We have a lot of really good, strong people here."
One of those who agrees with Swartz is Paul Fleischmann, who served as village president from 1971 to 1981.
Fleischmann, 73, now chairman of the Water Commission, served on the Village Board for 32 years. Fleischmann has lived almost his entire life in the village, with the exception of a brief period when he lived with his parents in Waukesha and Dousman.
Looking back to the years he was president, Fleischmann said he is most proud of the land use plan of 1989 that was adopted for future development.
"We're seeing the effects of that today, such as the industrial park at highways J and K and on the east end of the village," he said.
Sussex hall built on hope, and still standing - Built during Depression, it now houses teen center and food pantry
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Thursday, November 6, 1997
Readability: 10-12 grade
level (Lexile: 1170L)
Author: CINDY CREBBIN, Special to the Journal Sentinel
A Works Progress Administration project during the Great Depression, these were the typical hourly wages: water boy, 35 cents; unskilled concrete laborer, 40 cents; a skilled plumber, 60 cents; and a foreman, say an ironworker, 70 cents.
These are just some of the interesting facts those attending the hall's recent 60th anniversary celebration learned from Village Historian Fred Keller , who gave a slide presentation at the community hall. The event was sponsored by the Sussex Teen Center, which now uses part of the hall.
Keller , 65, noted the hall was one of the projects built during President Franklin Roosevelt's administration to put people back to work.
The community hall, N63-W23626 Silver Spring Drive, cost $27,000 to build. A WPA grant of $11,046 and a loan of $13,500 were given by the federal government.
Keller , who has more than 260 books referencing the history of Sussex -- 15 of which he has written -- said 14 $1,000 bonds were sold to help pay for the hall. The bonds were dated April 1, or April Fool's Day, 1937 and were due on the same day -- April 1, 1940, he said.
"It's ironic at that time, taxable property in the village was assessed at $439,319. Today, recent estimates for just renovating the historic hall run about $400,000," he said.
According to Keller , more than 400 people -- most of the community of 496 residents -- went through the Sussex Village and Community Hall during its grand opening, six months after construction had started. The Menomonee Falls Legion Band provided music for the event.
Today, Sussex has a population of about 7,500.
When the hall was built, it had a siren on top, which was used to alert people of fires.
"Years ago, it was also used for a curfew warning at 10 p.m. for kids," recalled Keller . "Now the siren is used as a tornado warning."
Keller said the auditorium-gym upstairs in the community hall was used for basketball games, including teams from the village's two-year high school.
Keller also recalled that the longest shot ever made by a basketball player in the gym was during a Sussex High School game in 1945. Bob Fryda, now a prominent farmer in neighboring Lisbon, attempted to throw the ball to another player near the basket. Instead, the ball zoomed the length of the gym floor, landing right in the basket.
The gym, which could seat 500 people, also was used for school plays, graduations, wedding receptions and an annual flower show by area elementary school students.
The lower level of the hall was used for Village Board meetings.
The back part of the lower level of the hall, facing Silver Spring Drive, housed the Fire Department. Keller said one feature of that department people didn't see was the 40,000-gallon water cistern, underneath the hall, used for fighting fires. Previously, water had to be pumped from a flooded quarry a mile away.
When the Fire Department moved out of the hall in 1963, that portion became the public works garage.
Then, in 1976-'77, the garage area and adjacent lower area were remodeled into the first Village Hall. It was the Village Hall until 1990, when the Main Street School became the Sussex Civic Center.
Gym use in the building ended in 1989, and the Sussex Teen Center now uses the upstairs. The downstairs houses the Sussex Emergency Food Pantry and the executive offices for the Cooperating Churches of Sussex , which sponsors the pantry.
About a year ago, Judy Casper, director of ministries for the Cooperating Churches of Sussex , proposed the hall be renovated and brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The renovations, which were estimated to cost at least $400,000 over a 10-year period, failed to win approval of the Public Safety and Welfare Committee of Sussex .
However, Keller said he expects the improvements to be done "piecemeal," possibly over a five-year period. Already, he said, St. James Church in Sussex has received a $30,000 grant to be used to improve the food pantry itself and make it accessible to people with disabilities
Memo: Photos ran in Zone H