The hare raising history of the Easter Bunny

Leader Photo by Greg Mellis Fill your Easter dinner with flavor by making the maple bourbon barbecue ham your holiday centerpiece.

The Easter holiday has become a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. However, the actual roots of the holiday come from ancient pagan rituals of spring, long before the time of Christ.

Historians believe that the celebration began to honor Eostre, the Anglo Saxon goddess of spring. In Germany, she was known as Oestre, or Eastre, and she represented the fertility and rebirth of the vernal equinox. In fact, her name, translated as “The Dawn Of Spring,” is the basis for the name of the female hormone estrogen.

So the question is, where does the bunny come in? The goddess of spring is always portrayed in Teutonic drawings with the spring hare, and eggs, both powerful symbols of fertility. One German myth involves a young girl who prays to the goddess to save her dying bird. Eostre appeared before the girl, and transformed the bird into a healthy hare. She then promised the girl that she would return each year with brightly colored eggs to commemorate the occasion.


A closer walk

Staying in a close walk with the Lord takes time and diligence, especially with secular worldview slamming us 24-7. His Word is filled with knowledge and truth. Any time I can learn more about the Bible from those who are more learned than me, I take advantage. It falls along the lines of my philosophy of life: If I don’t know something, ask someone who does.

I attend a Tuesday night Bible class and as we were studying one evening, one of the facilitators (who happens to be my brother-in-law, pastor of Valley Harvest Church in Neenah), taught us to pray the scriptures, putting ourselves in the verses, so they become more personalized. The God of the universe desires communication with His beloved, and what better way to pray than to pray His words back to Him?


County historical society planning, planting

Photo by Carol Wagner Jeanette Griepp Berkovitz, left, and Jesse Borlen, co-archive directors, stand in the schoolhouse that is ready for tours after a fire last year damaged much of the original building.

A World War I victory garden will be planted this year by the Shawano County Historical Society. Jesse Borlen, co-archive director, said it will be west of the Old Tabor Church and is to honor the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

“It’s based on an original plan from 1918,” Borlen said.

The garden will be 480 square feet with heirloom seeds including beans, onions, beets, tomatoes, peas, lettuce, spinach, peppers, turnips, and radishes. They will get help from high school students in the horticulture classes who are starting some of the plants. Master gardeners will be taking care of it.

Returning this year on June 16 is the regular Rhubarb Fest, which was interrupted by road construction at the park.

“We had a lot of disappointed people last year,” said co-archive director, Jeanette Griepp Berkovitz.

She said volunteers are needed for the event along with vendors and demonstrators.


Meet Jeannie Otto

Photo by Carol Wagner Jeannie Otto is helping with the Purses for a Purpose event that benefits the Boys and Girls Club where she is on the advisory board.

Jeannie Otto is on the advisory board of the Boys and Girls Club and is helping with the Purses for a Purpose event that benefits the club.

Otto is a native of Hermansville, Michigan, graduating from North Central High School. Otto earned a degree in business management and speech communication from Northern Michigan University. She worked at Schneider National for 18 years managing truck drivers and in human resources where she did recruiting and training. Otto got her master’s degree from Silver Lake College in organizational behavior and training development. She worked at the College of Menominee Nation for a semester where she was the office tech instructor. Otto has been at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College for nine years, where she is the west regional manager and also earned a human resources associate degree.

Otto and her husband, Todd, who sells senior insurance, have been married two years and live in the town of Richmond.


Safe Haven to break ground on expansion

To better serve the needs of area families in crisis, Safe Haven is expanding. The Shawano domestic violence and sexual assault centerwill host a groundbreaking ceremony for its new addition at 380 Lakeland Road, Shawano, at 3 p.m. April 8.

The April 8 groundbreaking ceremony will include remarks from Rep. Mike Gallagher and tours of the current facility.

The 2,200-square-foot expansion will, among other things, added much-needed bedroom space to the emergency shelter, which was at or over capacity nearly two-thirds of last year. Currently, the shelter can house five families in crisis; when it goes over capacity, families are forced to share bedrooms.



Aromas of sweet, spicy and smoky filled the Shawano Community High School commons on Monday night as a large crowd took advantage of the great selection of food from vendors at the 11th annual Taste of Shawano.

The Taste of Shawano fundraiser benefits Junior Achievement.

“It looks to be the biggest turnout we have had yet,” said Sandra Ebbinger, Junior Achievement director.

All of the funds raised stays here for the youth served by the JA programs in the Wolf River District.

Isabella Haen, Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair, was in attendance after she met two women from Shawano at the same event in Brown County.

“I thought it was a great opportunity,” she said. “The food is delicious, and the people are very laid back.”

Karen Kupper has attended the event almost every year. Her answer to the question why do you keep coming was, “What do you mean? For the food.”


Home country cooking

Photo by Grace Kirchner Teddie Mitchell, originally from Holland, ladles soups from her home country to an unidentified guest at the Ethnic Food Faire in Clintonville on March 18. She served curry soup with meatballs and a cheddar cheese soup.

The 18th annual Ethnic Food Faire at Clintonville’s United Methodist Church featured many cultural dishes — including two types of Dutch soup. Their authenticity was guaranteed because the soups were made by Teddie Mitchell, of Clintonville, who emigrated from Holland more than 50 years ago.

When Teddie Mitchell, then known as Teddie Stohman, arrived in New York on Nov. 26, 1965, her plan was to stay for about a year before returning to Holland. She was sponsored by a couple who lived south of Albany, New York, the husband having met and befriended Mitchell’s father during World War II.

She found work as a burler in a felt company near Albany, which was where she met her first husband, Herman Minschell. They fell in love, and Mitchell’s plans to return to Holland were forever changed. Mitchell got married in New York, and she gave birth to their first child, daughter Natalie.


JA fundraiser showcases good taste

Photo by Carol Wagner Sandra Ebbinger is the Junior Achievement director for Shawano and Menominee counties.

Junior Achievement is funded by donations and fundraisers, and their biggest fundraiser is on Monday. It is the 11th year that Taste of Shawano has been held at the Shawano Community High School commons with many different kinds of food and drink.

“We have three new restaurants this year,” said Sandra Ebbinger, JA director for Shawano and Menominee counties.

Also new this year will be a traveling trophy that will be given to the vendor who is voted Best of Show by those attending. One voter will also have a chance of winning a prize for themselves.

“We’re trying to really encourage everyone to vote,” Ebbinger said.

Junior Achievement helps students potentially find a career and prepare young people to succeed while building academic and social skills. Next year the program will be 100 years old.

Ebbinger, who is going into her third year as director, is very familiar with the program, having been a classroom volunteer in the Eau Claire area.


Meet Mary Luepke

Photo by Carol Wagner Mary Luepke chairs the board of Wolf River Lutheran High School.

Mary Luepke is the chairperson of the board of Wolf River Lutheran High School.

Luepke was born in Chazy, New York, graduating from Chazy Central High School. She worked at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh, New York, for 25 years in multiple departments. In 2008, she moved to Shawano and is a customer service representative at Aurora Health Care in Shawano.

Luepke and her husband, Patrick, who works at Siah Motor Freight, have been married 23 years and have three children. They live in Bonduel where she enjoys making stained glass.

Q What do you do at Wolf River Lutheran High School?


Bonduel woman didn’t let cancer stop her living

Photo by Carol Wagner Barb Wickman holds a photo of her daughter, Jenny Hacker, left, and her granddaughter, Cheyenne Eccles, who participated at the American Cancer Society Shawano-Menominee Relay for Life in 2012. Her granddaughter survived cancer, but her daughter passed away in May 2016 after a five-year fight.

This spring, Bonduel resident Barb Wickman will mark the second anniversary of her daughter’s death due to colon cancer. Her message to others? Pay attention to what your body is telling you.

Wickman’s daughter Jenny Hacker, who lived just a few doors away, was 35 years old when she was diagnosed in 2011. Wickman said Hacker hadn’t been feeling well for a while, complaining of tiredness and low-grade fevers. She also later reported some additional warning signs, such as blood in her stool, that Hacker attributed to stress — but certainly not cancer.

When Hacker went in to see her doctor, a CT scan revealed a pool of cancer cells. They were able to determine the disease had metastasized to her liver, and she was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.

“I’ll never forget that day,” said Wickman. “She was determined not to let this beat her.”


Subscribe to RSS - Community