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A semicentennial of business
Platteville chamber celebrates 50 years, hands out Arthur Virtue awards
chamber poster sesqui

The Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce held its 50th Anniversary Gala at the UW–Platteville Ullsvik Hall Saturday night.

Recipients of the chamber’s annual Arthur J. Virtue Awards include:

Business Persons of the Year: Ron and Tim Boldt are the second and third generation at Pioneer Ford. Ron is the son of Wilson Boldt, one of the founders of Pioneer Ford Sales in 1961. Ron began as office manager and parts manager at 20, and became half-owner at 24 and major stockholder at 26. Ron was board chair of the Wisconsin Automotive and Truck Dealers Association, and was awarded the WATDA Gold Award for extraordinary service. Ron was named Wisconsin Dealer of the Year in 2009 and was a 2010 Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award nominee.

Tim Boldt started at Pioneer Ford at 12. He was working full-time when he was 16 and started selling cars in 1983. Tim was president of the chamber in 2007, and received the President’s Award for Outstanding Chamber Service in 2011. Tim chairs the committees of the two largest fundraisers of the chamber, the Golf Outing and annual Hometown Hog Roast. Pioneer Ford is a chamber corporate sponsor at the Silver Level. Tim also is on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Ford dealer advertising fund.

Pioneer Ford moved to its new location on Business 151 in the summer of 2012, making way for new potential development downtown while giving new life to a building that had been vacant for many years.

Community Service Award: Lori Erschen-Bahr is the second-generation owner of Erschen Florist, and started the Midwest Floral Design School at Erschen’s location at 10 W. Main St. She bought Erschen’s from her parents in 1989. Erschen-Bahr helped organize downtown businesses by forming the Downtown Parking Alliance, a group of business people concerned about protecting downtown parking. The DPA worked with the city Downtown Redevelopment Authority to have the city conduct a parking survey.

In 1997 Erschen’s distributed 3,000 roses in bunches of one dozen as part of its Good Neighbor Day observance. Erschen’s sponsors the chamber’s Ambassadors ribbon-cutting events. Erschen’s has been involved in the send-offs and welcome-home events for the Wisconsin National Guard 229th Engineering Company.

Erschen-Bahr chaired the chamber’s business and membership committees. She organized Santa Claus visits, and worked with Heritage Days, the Fourth of July, and the Adopt a Bear promotion and banquet during the Chicago Bears training camp. She participates in the New Student Welcome, Hometown Festival Week and holiday window decorating promotions.

Community Spirit Award: The Veterans Honor Roll Committee created the Veterans Honor Roll three years after nearly 50,000 people visited Platteville for the Vietnam Moving Wall Memorial and Celebration of Heroes parade.
The committee determined the design, got approval of the City of Platteville Common Council and Park Board to locate it in City Park, and raised funds to build the memorial, which was unveiled to the public Independence Day.

Mike Myers served as committee chair. John Dutcher secured the talents of artist David Oswald. Also serving on the committee were Tom Nelson, Tom Taber, Bob Johns, Ed Hirchert, Dick Bonin, Paul Budden, Gen Hale, Bob Hale, John Huehne, Greg Johll, Lyle Habel, Gabe Loeffelholz, Frank Lofy, Dorothy Genthe, Greg Tanner, Jean Ann Eustice, Terry Woolf, John Carpenter, George Curry, Eric Fatzinger, Dave Langkamp, Tim Murphy, Gary Tuescher and Joe and Kathy Kopp.

The committee secured donations for local contractors including Digman Construction, Mike Droessler Masonry,
Lynch Excavating, Bard Materials, Delta 3 Engineering, Lawinger Bros. Construction, Mathy Quarries, Platte Construction, Eastman Cartwright Lumber, Rural Excavating and the City of Platteville Public Works Department.

Junior Spirit Award: The UW–Platteville FarmHouse Fraternity is a college home where a man can be creative, share responsibility, make lasting friendships and learn the essence of brotherhood. FarmHouse members strive for excellence in scholarship, learn important social skills, and are involved in the campus environment.

FarmHouse has participated in such UW–Platteville events as Homecoming, intramurals, and bingo with senior citizens. FarmHouse also assists in the Dairy Days parade, including being in charge of individual sections of the parade, making sure that everyone is lined up according to plan and being creative when they aren’t, hopping on a tractor that has stalled, driving the cleanup tractor and trailer at the end of the parade, cleaning up after the horses, and walking the entire parade route with garbage bags to help pick up litter. Members of FarmHouse also volunteer in Katie’s Garden at the chamber office and Travel Information Center.

Outstanding Award in the Field of Agriculture: The Platteville Farmers Market has been in downtown Platteville since the early 1980s. The Farmers Market has become a destination for many who treasure fresh locally grown produce and work of a number of local artisans. Only handmade or homegrown products are sold at the market.

The market moved from the Oak Street parking lot to City Park in 2004, and to the north side of City Park in 2008. The farmers market is now a year-long event, with the summer market in City Park Saturdays and at Take 2 Restaurant Tuesdays from May to October, and at Trinity Episcopal Church the first and third Saturdays from November to April.

The Platteville Farmer’s Market is certified for WIC and, since 2009, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program has been available through the County Health Department. The Platteville Farmers’ Market, Main Street Program, and Food Pantry have teamed together to provide food to local residents in need by sponsoring the Senior Nutrition Program and the Food Pantry Program, which distribute $40 in vouchers that can be used to purchase locally grown fresh foods at the Platteville Farmers’ Market.

President’s Award for Outstanding Chamber Service: Gary Osterholz served on the chamber board of directors for six years, serving on the Buildings & Grounds Committee, Hometown Hog Roast Committee and Golf Outing Committee. He was on the Building Task Force a decade ago when the chamber was considering options before the four-lane U.S. 151 was built.

Osterholz has assisted for years with maintenance at the chamber office. He provides his flatbed truck for the Dairy Days parade, stakes for signs, and a large ladder for decorating the Katie’s Garden trees for the holidays.
Osterholz represents one of the chamber’s charter members, Eastman Cartwright Lumber Co. He has hosted several Business After Hours events over the past years.

Lifetime Service Award: Dee and Terry Wolf have been deeply involved in the Platteville community since their marriage 41 years ago.

Dee, a graduate of St. Clair Academy in Sinsinawa and Clarke College in Dubuque, taught at St. Mary School for 31 years and now works part-time as a dietary aide at Manor Care. She is involved in the Council of Catholic Women and has been president for five years. She is involved in the American Legion Auxiliary Badger Girls State Program for 21 years, the past four years, as the volunteer state director. She is on the Platteville Food Pantry Committee.

Terry worked for UW–Platteville in a full time position for 36 years in their maintenance and grounds departments, and continues to work at UWP part-time. Terry has been a member of American Legion Post 42 since 1971, serving as commander of the post, county commander, district commander and vice commander of the State American Legion. He has served as a trustee at St. Mary’s Catholic Church for the past 10 years and a member of the parish’s finance committee. He has been involved with the Knights of Columbus for 40 years, is a 4th Degree Member, and has served as Grand Knight. He has also traveled to Jamaica three times with a group to build homes.

Terry and Dee have been involved for the past three years with St. Mary’s Second Harvest, a food bank. Both Dee and Terry have worked with Habitat for Humanity and have both served on the Alone for Christmas Committee. Dee is a den leader for Cub Scout Pack 83, and Terry has been Cubmaster of the pack.