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June 29, 2006


Kevin Korpela

Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts about re-visiting Wausau and including a nice juxtaposition of new photos with old memories to relate the past to the present to plan for the future.

Wausau has been my hometown since I was 2 years old. Though I left town after HS too but returned two years ago to live and work. I'm pleased with its changes and its possibilities.

Regarding two of your thoughts: 1. Wausau East HS and 2. More in store:

1. The retrofit of old East into apartments is a significant addition to our city because it suggests that the old can be new again and this past month the owners, Stone House Development in Madison, of the new old East won the 2006 Restoration Award from the State Historical Society. In addition, I was fortunate to be an associate architect hired by the lead architect, the architects ltd.com in Madison, to assist in the design and construction of this building which also happens to be my old HS.

2. There is more in store too because a new grocery store opened at 607 Third Street this past Summer. It might have even been open when you visited recently and I hope you stopped inside. The store is called Downtown Grocery.com! I hope you make time on your next visit because it's a special place too because it's interior was part of an interior reconstruction of a 1912 building and its part of a new/old idea: a neighborhood “corner” grocery store. I'm one of the founders and owners of this store plus the other owner is a local certified organic farmer, Blaine Tornow of Moonshadow Farm, where we’re working to grow a local food economy and instill opportunities to nurture new food entrepreneurs --- combining two old concepts, local food production and a small (accessible, easy-to-use, neighborhood, historic yet modern) store, to create a new version of those old ideas.

Re-visiting your hometown is an important event and it becomes even more significant when we, the citizens of Wausau, have been fortunate to have had leaders-citizens working to retain and grow our city's charm, character and complexity. Yes, it's true that we could have saved more of our buildings or places (such as the Pranges Christmas window displays) but we are fortunate to have retained what we have as many midwestern cities have retained much less of their historical urban context.

Perhaps mixing "new with old" and "old with new" is a method to reveal our possibilities where a re-visiting hometowner might like it so much that they return to become a new citizen and add to the charm, character and complexity?

Thank you again for sharing your memories and photos about Wausau!

Kevin Korpela

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