Jeff Lindsay is a long-time resident and fan of Appleton, WI, one of America's best small towns (and recently named by CNN as one of America's top 100 best places to live). Though now living in Shanghai, Jeff will be returning to Appleton and comes as often as he can. Jeff is married to Kendra Lindsay, a primary founder of the Classical School in Appleton that has made a difference for hundreds of children in the area. We have raised four sons in Appleton and found it to be a terrific place for families. Not that it matters, but Jeff has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from BYU, has been an Assistant and Associate Professor at the Institute of Paper Science and Technology on the Georgia Tech Campus (actually began at the old Institute of Paper Chemistry in Appleton and was part of the move to Georgia), where he taught graduate-level science and engineering courses and advised many graduate students. Jeff is a registered U.S. patent agent and the former Corporate Patent Strategist of Kimberly-Clark Corporation, and loves inventing, photography, writing and learning.
Appleton, Wisconsin is one of America's best places to live. With far more culture, entertainment, and convenience than you would expect for a town its size, Appleton is a charming, safe, friendly, and beautiful Wisconsin town with a population of 77,000, nestled in northeastern Wisconsin near Lake Michigan and at the north end of large Lake Winnebago. (Precise coordinates: 44.26 degrees north of the equator and 88.39 degrees west of the prime meridian.) Other basic statistics on Appleton are available at City-data.com, or check Appleton's weather at Wunderground.com.
As someone who has been to many parts of the world, I'm happy to say that Appleton, WI is just about as pleasant a place to live as you can find on this planet, at least when it's not winter. I am thrilled by the large and numerous trees, the numerous city parks, the lively downtown, the diversity and quality of its restaurants, the security and peacefulness of the community, and the friendliness of the people. In fact, in 2004, Appleton was honored for being in the top 10 most secure cities in the United States (interestingly, I was born in the #1 city on the list, Provo, Utah). Money Magazine in 2010 named it as one of America's top 100 places to live. Persoanlly, I'd say it's easily in the top 20.
Lawrence University at night, reflected in the Fox River by Oneida Flats. Photo by Jeff Lindsay, October 11, 2004.
One of my favorite things about Appleton is the majesty of the Fox River. Of course, anyone who grew up in Utah is awed (that's a-w-e-d, not o-d-d!) by the sight of a river more than 10 feet wide. The Fox River runs through the heart of Appleton. Though once heavily polluted, in recent decades it has been largely restored to a clean and biologically diverse wonder. Many species of fish live in the river, including (so I hear) sturgeon, bass, pike, trout, perch, walleye and carp. The Fox River is unusual in that it flows north for its entire course. It exits into Lake Michigan at Green Bay about 30 miles to the north of Appleton. A series of locks exist that once permitted navigation from Lake Winnebago to Lake Michigan and from there, the world. The locks aren't used now in order to prevent the infiltration of zebra mussels and other unsavory critters from other parts of the world.
Appleton is a beautiful place to live, especially when it's not winter. Abundant wild flowers line the roads and many species of wild birds inhabit the area, including the ubiquitous and gorgeous red-winged blackbird. And recently, I had the inspiring and even breath-taking experience of watching a large hummingbird moth dine on our petunias (see the larger image on a page of Appleton photos). I thought it was a hummingbird - until I noticed its antennas and six legs. (I believe it is Hyles lineata - actually a sphinx moth).
Perhaps most spectacular of all the beautiful sights in this area are the sunsets. I don't know why - perhaps it's the interaction of Lake Michigan with northern winds - but this area is frequently blessed with rich and varied cloud formations sprinkled across an open sky that leads to stunning colors and dazzling light effects in the evening. A sunset viewed from the shores of Lake Winnebago or Little Lake Butte des Morts or even my own front yard can often be too much for words. Come visit us and see for yourself!
Appleton: A beautiful, peaceful, and exciting community, one of America's best!
French explorers came to this area in the 1600s, seeking a northwest passage to the Pacific. Explorer Jean Nicolet saw the Fox River in the 1630s. Later, Louis Nicolet and Father Jacques Marquette paddled the length of the Fox River (upstream - but it's a slow river in most places), portaged to the Wisconsin River and then discovered the Mississippi in 1673.
One fur trader, Hippolyte Grignon, built a spacious home, the White Heron, in 1835. It also served as an inn and trading post. The Grignon Mansion remains a major historical site in the Fox Cities (actually in Kaukauna). Then, two important men came onto the scene: Amos Lawrence and a Methodist minister, Rev. Reeder Smith. Interestingly, the 1880 census records from Outagamie County lists the occupation of Reeder Smith (husband of Eliza P. Smith, born 1804 in Pennsylvania) as the "Founder of the City of Appleton, Wisconsin" (search for Reeder Smith at FamilySearch.org). The story of Rev. Reeder's collaboration with Amos Lawrence found a college in Wisconsin is told on the page, "Appleton History: Amos A. Lawrence and Reeder Smith," one of a series of articles in the "History of Appleton" provided by the Appleton Public Library. Part of Mr. Lawrence's motivation was to enhance the value of land owned by Eleazer Williams, who later claimed to be the Lost Dauphin of France. The Williams land was not chosen as the site for the new college, but an improved location not far from the Grignot trading post was chosen, a site next to the Grand Chute falls on the Fox River. Soon the Lawrence Institute (now Lawrence University) was chartered in 1847 with financial help from Amos Lawrence.
Mayor Timothy Hanna buying flowers from a Hmong woman named Tria at Appleton's Farmers Market, August 6, 2005. Click to enlarge.
Samuel Appleton donated $10,000 for the new college library. The community that sprung up around Lawrence University, initially called Grand Chute (there is still a community of Grand Chute next to Appleton), was given the name of Appleton. It has long been claimed that the new name was in appreciation for Samuel Appleton's generosity, and he certainly believed that this was the case. However, according to historical information from the Appleton Library, Reeder Smith was the first to call the area Appleton, not in honor of Samuel Appleton, but the wife of Mr. Lawrence, Sarah Elizabeth Appleton. She was the daughter of William Appleton, a merchant in Boston and a member of Congress. Samuel Appleton was a cousin of William.
Whoever was being honored by its name, the community of Appleton became incorporated as a village in 1853 and as a city in 1857. The records show John F. Johnston as the first resident and village president, with Amos Storey becoming the first mayor in 1857. And the rest is history! (For another historical overview, see "About Appleton" at Appleton.org.)
Appleton was settled by northern Europeans. Many people here have German, Dutch, or Polish ancestry. In recent years, Appleton has become more culturally diverse as peoples from other parts of the world have come here to live. Nearly three thousand Hmong people, originally from Laos, now live here, as do smaller numbers of Hispanics (mostly from Mexico), African-Americans, and Native Americans. The Oneida Indian Nation, with a rich and fascinating history, is especially prominent in this area. (The Oneida reservation is just a few miles to the north of Appleton.) Though we have a long way to go, Appleton has made good progress in welcoming and working with diverse peoples. The school system has worked especially hard to reach out to the Hmong people and others. For more information on the history of Appleton, see the Local History Page provided by the Appleton Public Library.
In spite of being a small town, Appleton has a lot of sophistication. Both the Performing Arts Center and Lawrence University bring a lot of culture into town, but there is plenty of local musical and artistic talent, along with outstanding music instruction and numerous performance opportunities for students. Music seems to be taken pretty seriously in Appleton, along with other arts.
Appleton is where Harry Houdini grew up. He was born in 1874 in Budapest as Eric Weiss, then brought to Appleton in his infancy. Internationally known as an escape artist and a magician, the Houdini name remains prominent in this area (e.g., the "Houdini Historical Center" (now the History Museum at the Castle, featuring the "A.K.A. Houdini" exhibit and other material on Houdini), Houdini Elementary School, Houdini Plaza, etc.). Annual efforts to reach the spirit of Harry Houdini in seances have failed so far (a group really tries this every year - I think on Halloween). Maybe he doesn't have call waiting.
A few years ago Appleton was an epicenter for magic and illusion as part of the incredible Houdini Days magic festival, held in honor of Appleton's own Harry Houdini. The 2004 Houdini Days event (Sept. 2-5, 2004) was amazing. For photos and my comments, see my page of photos from Houdini Days in Appleton and Jeff Lindsay's page of magic.
As a center of the papermaking industry, Appleton hosts the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame, celebrating the accomplishments of major stars from industry and academia. I attended the Hall of Fame dinner recently (2007 and also in 2002), and came away truly impressed at the lives and accomplishments of recent inductees. The building for the Hall of Fame is the old Atlas Mill on the Fox River.
Appleton's Fox Valley Technical College began in 1912 as the first school in the United States exclusively dedicated to vocational education. Fox Valley Tech is a surprisingly advanced and truly excellent school. I am continually impressed with the visionary leadership of the school and the quality of the education that they provide. A few of their educational areas include agriculture, aviation, business, culinary and hospitality, electronics, finance, information technology, law enforcement and public safety, manufacturing, marketing, and transportation. I've talked with many of their students and graduates, and have almost always had positive reviews. They have some truly leading edge programs there. The Venture Center is a remarkable program helping entrepreneurs and advancing innovation in the Valley. As one of the tools that can help businesses and inventors, Fox Valley Technical College is one of 16 places in the world to offer a FabLab - an extension of MIT's advanced fabrication laboratory with a host of rapid prototyping systems that can help inventors, manufacturers, and product developers create the physical prototypes they need, or create specialized complex parts easily and at low cost. I attended the luncheon where this facility was inaugurated and look forward to being further involved with the FabLab in the future. It's truly a feather in the cap of Appleton.
Appleton's Lawrence University is the second oldest coeducational college in America. And what a great asset for Appleton. One of the finest private liberal arts universities in the nation, Lawrence offers a host of low-cost or free programs and recitals for Fox Valley residents, plus numerous opportunities to strengthen our education. Lawrence students really stand out, as well. Walk around the beautiful campus and listen to the students. Typically intelligent, wholesome people who respect others, use decent language, and really are a cut above. It's a campus largely inhabited by the kind of people you want to have in your neighborhood. And that's not something you can take for granted anymore!
A Great Place for the French Horn!
For students learning the French horn, Appleton can't be beat, thanks to the foundation provided by master instructor Don Krause and others. Few communities in the nation offer the quality of instruction and other opportunities found in the Fox Valley. To learn more about the French horn community here, write Don at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appleton was the hometown of Heimo Korth, the subject of the popular and highly acclaimed book, The Final Frontiersman by James Campbell of Lodi, Wisconsin. Heimo Korth left Appleton in the 1970s to live north of the Arctic Circle, many miles away from any other human. Heimo is one of only seven hunter-trappers with a permit who live in the 19.5-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). He lives with his wife from Alaska and two daughters 130 miles above the Arctic Circle, where they are the only settlers for more than 500 miles (250 miles from the nearest road!). An amazing story of survival and courage. And it makes Appleton seem far less remote and much less cold!
Maury Laws may be one of the more famous people from Appleton. He was the music director for many movies, TV shows, etc. He directed the music for Frosty the Snow Man, The Hobbit, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and many more. His web site is www.maurylaws.com. He moved away to Hollywood but now lives in the heart of Appleton once again. Welcome back, Maury, and thanks for your significant accomplishments!
Senator Joseph McCarthy got his political start in this area. A bust of him is on display in the Outagamie Museum.
Author Edna Ferber moved here in her youth and graduated from high school in Appleton. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel So Big (1924). Her novel Show Boat (1926) was made into the famous 1927 musical and Giant (1952) was made into a 1956 Hollywood movie). An Appleton elementary school is named for her.
John Bradley, a man from Appleton, is one of the soldiers raising the flag in the famous photo from Iwo Jima in 1945. His son, James, is author of the best-selling book, Flags of our Fathers, which deals with the lives of the six men in that photo. John Bradley died in 1994, the last of the six to pass away. John Bradley was honored on March 31, 2007 with a new orchestral piece that the Fox Valley Symphony commissioned as part of its 2006/2007 anniversary season. The work, "Quiet Heroes (A Symphonic Salute to the Flag Raisers at Iwo Jima)," pays tribute to those who were part of one of the most memorable events of World War II. Chris Brubeck, the East coast jazz musician and composer, wrote music. Wow!
Author Gladys Taber, who wrote over 50 books and was once a regular columnist for several magazines, grew up in Appleton and graduated from Appleton High School. She later taught creative writing in the English Dept. of Lawrence University, and earned her M.A. there. She was the daughter of renowned Professor of Geology, Rufus "Rocky" Bagg of Lawrence, who was a legend himself. Though Edna Ferber is better known, Gladys' writing could be found in virtually every American home for over 5 decades. She not only wrote books and for 30 years was a columnist in Ladies Home Journal followed by Family Circle, she also had columns in the American Antiques Journal and the Cape Cod Oracle. Her hundreds of short stories were published in every major magazine of the day: Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, American Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Pictorial Review, Nation's Business, McCall's, Woman's Home Companion, Farm Journal, Chatelaine, The War Cry, Ford Times, Cape Cod Compass, Australian Women's Weekly, This Week, Maclean's, Country Home, Life Story, Liberty, and many more. It would have been difficult to walk into any home and NOT find her writing on their coffee tables or in their bookshelves. (Thanks to the Friends of Gladys Taber for this information.)
Billie Pirner Garde is an Appleton native who is a well-known activist and attorney for workers rights. According to e-mail from her daughter, "her team managed to prevent at least one nuclear facility from becoming another Russian Chernobyl incident."
Appleton also had the first electric cable car (running along College Avenue), and the first hotel with all electric lighting.
Appleton claims to have the nation's first enclosed shopping mall, the Valley Fair Mall at 2145 S. Memorial Drive. (But I am told that Watertown, New York, may have a more legitimate claim to this honor.)
The American Standard Band (formerly the Chris Aaron band) had roots in Appleton. Chris Aaron, who plays lead guitar, grew up in this area and currently lives in Appleton with his wife and child. Other band members include Corey Sterling, Matt Miller, Dave Schoepke, and Adam Berzowski. In 1996, Jim Sonefeld of Hootie & the Blowfish said, "I just heard the best band I ever heard in my life...."
The Cool Waters Band also has Appleton roots, with 75% of the group being from Appleton.
The Appleton area was where Steve DeDecker performed on stage as a singer (he's also a songwriter) from 1969-1992. The Steve DeDecker Band, with Steve and Susan DeDecker and Bruce Siebers on lead guitar and harmonies, is now performing in this area. Send e-mail to Steve at Sdedecker1@wmconnect.com.
I should also mention Michael Murphy, who leads Michael Murphy and the Mob (formerly Michael Murphy and the Men Of Blues). Michael has recorded live locally (two of his CDs were recorded in town) and has many ties to the Appleton area. Welcome, Michael! He can often be seen playing and singing at the Appleton Farmer's Market, downtown, early on a Saturday morning. He tells me he will be there every Saturday during October. I recently met Michael again at a fine little cafe in Appleton, Brewed Awakenings.
Angela Buxman is a celebrity in the beading community and winner of a first prize award in a 2004 national beading show. She was featured in the October 2004 edition of Bead and Button Magazine (page 32). Her Website is Earthspeaks.biz.
Rocky Bleier, a football star, grew up in Appleton and was a star player at Xavier High School. After serving (and being injured) in the Vietnam War, he joined the Pittsburgh Steelers (I guess football looked easy after Nam!). He was in the National Football League for 12 years . His story is told in a book (Fighting Back) and a TV movie. Trim B's Restaurant, which sadly closed in 2007, was once "Bleier's Bar."
Alex Rodriguez (a.k.a. "Arod") played for the Appleton Foxes for a season before going to the Seattle Mariners (shortstop), the Texas Rangers (shortstop), and now the New York Yankees (third baseman).
Tony Kubek is another famous name from baseball who lived in Appleton for many years, though he was a native of Milwaukee (a large suburb of Appleton, about 100 miles to the south). With the New York Yankees, he was rookie of the year in 1957, played on six World Series teams, and was in three All-Star games. He was also a well-known broadcaster for NBC in the 1970s. After achieving fame, he moved to Appleton. I think he's still here.
Speaking of baseball, major league umpire Gerry Davis is from Appleton.
Speaking of sports, Appleton was honored in 1986 as "Sports City USA" by Sports Illustrated (you know, the swimsuit magazine for lonely men that occasionally features stories on sports). Appleton was featured on the cover.
Blane Reichelt, the recently retired NBA referee widely viewed as one of the best NBA refs in the game, was from Appleton. He retired in 2005 after 24 seasons with the NBA. Great work, Blane!
Lan Samantha Chang, an Appleton native and prominent writer of fiction, has received a lot of press recently after being appointed as director of the nation's most prestigious writing program, the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop. She is a professor at Harvard University (the East Coast answer to Appleton's Lawrence University). You may wish to read an interview with Ms. Chang.
Greta Van Susteren, another graduate of Xavier High School and daughter of an Outagamie County judge (Urban Van Susteren), has became quite a TV celebrity. She was an on-air analyst for CNN during the O.J. Simpson trial, then had her own show, "Burden of Proof," and has recently joined FOX. Greta was born in Appleton.
Doug Yankus and his band "Soup" were famous all over Wisconsin (at least) in the late 60s and early 70s. They were from Appleton.
Actor Willem Dafoe of Green Goblin fame began his career acting with the former Attic Theatre in Appleton. He was a student body vice president in middle school here, so I've been told by the candidate who lost to him.
Actor Campbell Scott (who, I am told, was in Dying Young with Julia Roberts) is a Lawrence alumnus, and has even come back and lectured at Lawrence, where he also serves on the board of trustees. He is the son of George Campbell Scott (Patton) and Colleen Dewhurst.
Terry Meeuwsen was Miss America in 1973. Before that she was Miss Appleton and then Miss Wisconsin (Wisconsin's only Miss America in the 50-plus years of that pageant). She has recently cohosted Pat Robertson's "The 700 Club."
Singer and actress Lynn Kellogg came from Appleton. She was in the original Broadway cast of "Hair" and costarred with Elvis Presley in "Charro!"
Linda Butler, an outstanding photographer noted for her fine black and whites, hails from Appleton.
Famous blogger RachelleB used to live in Appleton.
Ellen Kort, an award winning poet and speaker, hails from Appleton.
Rob Brackenridge, a well-known comedian, is an Appleton native now living on the West Coast.
LaVahn G. Hoh, born in Appleton, is currently a Drama Professor at the University of Virginia and (according to his brother) is the only professor in the country who teaches a class on the "History of the Circus." Co-author of Step Right Up, a history of the circus. Also the historian for Ringling Brothers, and the Walenda family of high wire aerialists. He's been featured in People magazine and has done several productions for A&E and the History Channel.
Professor Mark Dintenfass of Lawrence University English professor has published several many of fiction and has done numerous book reviews for the New York Times.
Kristin Steede of Appleton was a popular contestant on the hot TV show, "The Biggest Loser," in 2009.
Dale Duesing is a well-known opera star and graduate of Lawrence University. He lives in Appleton for part of the year.
Judah Bauer, guitarist for the very popular national new wave/blues band, The John Spencer Blues Explosion, grew up in Appleton and went to Appleton East High School (go East!).
Mike Lowe, Editor in Chief for Madison's weekly The Onion, came from Appleton. This spoof paper used to be just something enjoyed by southern Wisconsinites but now is internationally popular.
Mark Stewart, lead guitarist and cellist for Paul Simon, grew up in Appleton. You'll see his name on many of Paul Simon's solo CDs. I understand that his father was a head pastor at the Episcopal Church at College and Drew.
Larry W. Stephenson, M.D., is the Ford-Webber professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery for Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is also chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Detroit Medical Center and Harper Hospital. Besides having a busy clinical practice, he has authored or co-authored more than 270 scientific articles and book chapters and three medical books. Dr. Stephenson was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, and attended college and medical school at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Way to go, Dr. Stephenson!
Other professional athletes with Appleton ties include J.P. Hayes (pro golfer), Ron Kostelnik (defensive lineman from the Packers in the 1960s), and Don Werner (former backup catcher with the Cincinnati Reds).
All three members of the Gilmour Brothers, a popular irish band, lived in Appleton. They owned the Gilmour Music on College Ave for many years. They had a number of albums out that sold all over the US.
Sue (Dilley) Birch was the bass player/backup vocalist/song writer for the rock bands called "Alchemy VII" and "Gina's Alchemy." She's from Appleton and attended Appleton West High School.
Appleton draws lots of artists each year for its Art in the Park festival (the link is for my photos from 2004).
Another source of local fame is Appleton's parades! For a small town, we're pretty big on parades and enjoy some fame for a few of them. We hold the nation's largest Flag Day parade and the nation's largest Christmas parade, held on an evening a couple weeks before Christmas in weather that we affectionately term "bitter cold." We also have an unusual early-morning Memorial Day Parade with all the high schools showing off their marching bands. Besides the hundreds of parents proudly watching their children march by, literally dozens of other interested people attended this year's Memorial Day Parade at 9:00 AM. You can see some of Appleton's stalwart youth marching by in my page of photos from Appleton.
Appleton and the Fox Cities are well known for significant paper mills. Indeed, the area was nicknamed the Paper Valley because of the significant presence of major paper companies such as Kimberly-Clark, Wisconsin Tissue Mills, Menasha Corporation, Appleton (formerly Appleton Paper), and many others.
Before the paper mills came here near the turn of the century, the Fox River powered mills for flour and woolen goods. Wheat crop failure caused farmers to convert to the dairy business, and many of the mills were converted to paper production. Wisconsin soon became the leading paper producer in the nation, although in recent years that honor has shifted to the South (I think Georgia owns it now, for the much longer growing season makes the land more productive for forest products industries). The paper industry remains dominant, but other industries are making important contributions. These include finance, insurance, food services, dairy products, and others.
Here are some specific institutions and businesses of
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Formerly Aid Association for Lutherans (AAL), Thrivent is a large insurance group employing 1,600 people at the Appleton office. They interact closely with the community and have a great reputation for taking care of their employees. Their Appleton office on the north side of town (visible from Highway 41 between the Ballard and Richmond exits, on the north side of the highway) is one of the most beautiful buildings in the area - and it offers a world-class day care facility for employees.
Oscar J. Boldt Construction - A large national construction firm that has been an important part of Appleton for many years. Boldt Construction volunteered its expertise in rebuilding Oklahoma City after the bombing, and has done much to support the community. The owner, Tom Boldt, enjoys magic and supports the local Society of Young Magicians - something else which impresses me.
Kimberly-Clark Corporation -- This major corporation employees many hundreds of people in Appleton and the surrounding community. K-C, of course, is the producer of products such as Huggies® diapers, Kotex® feminine care products, Kleenex® brand facial tissue, Scott® towels, and so forth. K-C has many offices and production facilities in the Fox Valley, including the large research and engineering campus on Winchester Road in Neenah where used to work. The company, naturally, is heavily involved in community activities and programs, helping to make a difference in the lives of many people.
Appleton -- formerly Appleton Papers Inc., this is a leading high-tech paper company that developed carbonless copy paper. The microencapsulation technology behind carbonless copies is simply a marvel of modern science and engineering, in my opinion. This company has a strong research component to keep them in the lead technically. A lot of excellent people (4,200 employees) keep this company strong!
US Venture -- a private business with operations in oil (U.S. Oil), gas, convienice stores, and several other areas. Headquarters are in Appleton but they operate throughout the Midwest. Their new headquarters building is a beautiful addition to the Valley. It's at 425 Better Way (wat a great name for a street!), visible off of County Road CE on east side of Appleton.
Appleton Wire Division (of Albany International) - also a leading manufacturer of the sophisticated wires and fabrics that are essential for modern papermaking. There are some outstanding people on AWD's sales and technical staffs.
Ducommun LaBarge, Inc. -- This division of DuCommun was once known as Pensar. In 2008, Pensar was acquired by LaBarge, Inc., a leader in the electronics manufacturing services industry specializing in production of electronic components. In 2011, LaBrage was acquired by another leading manufacturer, Ducommun. Ducommun's niche in the broad Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) industry is low-to-medium volume production of highly complex, high-rate-of-change electronic and electromechanical products and systems. EMS capabilities include cable assemblies and interconnect systems, printed circuit board assemblies, higher-level electronic and electromechanical assemblies, and system integration, along with engineering and design support, and program management. I've heard some great things about the local leaders and employees at Ducommun, who have done a lot for the community. Keep it up! And please keep manufacturing alive in the US!
Pierce Manufacturing - leading producers of fire fighting equipment, especially fire engines. They export their vehicles around the world and provide jobs for many hundreds of people in this area.
Affinity Health Care - A major employer in northeast Wisconsin, Affinity managers 23 clinics throughout the community, three outstanding hospitals (St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton, Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh, and Calumet Medical Center in Chilton), Appleton's Franciscan Care and Rehabilitation Center, and the Network Health Plan. The Affinity Health System is one of the top 100 integrated healthcare networks in the nation.
CMD Corporation - An Appleton conpany that creates equipment for packaging and converting. For example, they develop new systems for making medical pouches and for packaging trash bags, helping the converters of such products to be more productive and successful.
The John Birch Society - Headquarters of this conservative non-profit group are located in Appleton. Membership is around 50,000. JBS describes itself as an educational organization dedicated to preserving the Constitution and working for less government. Their Trim Bulletin report card for Congressional voting is especially interesting.
The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region - a tax-exempt public charity established in 1986 to manage funds to support charitable causes for the benefit of the community. During fiscal year 1999-2000, more than $6 million dollars in grants was awarded to nonprofit organizations to help solve community problems and to address opportunities for improvement in the areas of human services, arts and culture, health care, education and community development.
Fox River Paper Company - a leading manufacturer of premium writing, text and cover papers, and a company with real expertise in the area of watermarks. Founded in 1883 and located in Appleton, Wisconsin. Their CEO, Bob Buchanan of Appleton, was named 2000 Executive of the Year by PIMA (Paper Industry Management Association).
School Specialty - the nation's largest distributor of school supplies and a major employer in the area. School Specialty does over $800 million of business each year. Corporate headquarters are in Appleton, with 25 locations throughout the US.
Miller Electric - a large company with hundreds of employees, producing goods related to welding, electrical work, and more. They are national leaders in the area of arc welding.
FOCOL - Fox Communities Online, offering lots of information on this area (events, businesses, etc.). One of the BEST resources to better understand our amazing community.
The Post-Crescent - The major newspaper of Appleton and surrounding cities, providing coverage since 1853. In several categories it is ranked as #1 in Wisconsin. They have some very good journalists and a hard-working staff. They generally work hard to be balanced in dealing with highly charged political and moral issues. Maybe a bit heavy on Packers coverage - but hey, fellow citizens of Appleton, I'm not complaining. No sir. Go Pack, go!
The Scene - A monthly arts, entertainment and events magazine for the Fox Cities. The Scene has about 66,000 readers every month. This publication is available FREE at any one of over 300 locations throughout the Valley. Their listing of events was a couple months out of date last time I checked, however.
In addition to these big businesses, Appleton has a lot of growth in small businesses. I'm beginning to realize that much of the heart and soul of Appleton is found in the small businesses we have rather the big corporations (although I'm grateful to the latter - they clearly play a huge role in shaping our community and one of them even gives me a monthly paycheck!). I'll be gradually adding information about some of our small businesses as well. Here is one that was just called to my attention: Sun Flower Spa at 1004 South Olde Oneida Street. Lovely Website and an interesting place - looks like a nice addition to the community.
My favorite small business, though, is the one I work for: Innovationedge. Innovationedge was founded by the former Chief Innovation Officer of Kimberly-Clark, Cheryl Perkins, who BusinessWeek named as one of the world's top 25 champions of innovation. We help companies improved their innovation strategy, and help inventors and start-ups "Complete the Circuit of InnovationTM" by developing the marketing roadmap and strengthening intellectual assets to support a powerful pitch to major corporate partners. I'm having more fun than ever in working with amazing inventors, great companies and great universities. And I really like what we do for our client. We'd be happy to talk about your company, business, or invention. Give me a call at 920-967-0466, or email me: jlindsay at innovationedge d0t c0m.
Building the Hispanic Community in Appleton
While Appleton's Hispanic community is relatively small, we do have a growing population with Hispanic roots. Many are naturalized citizens or citizens by birth, in addition to those not yet citizens. One resource for the Latin American community in the area is Latino Link, a non-profit organization at 1800 Appleton Road, Menasha, WI 54952, located in the Goodwill building. Latino Link is dedicated to advancing the education, economic development, and cultural contributions of the Hispanic community, and in helping advance the quality of life of Latinos. They provide a wide variety of services and can even help with "nitty gritty" details like figuring out how to deal with electric bills, etc. I met the leader of Latino Link recently and was impressed with their work. Bienvenido, Latin Link!
Lawrence University - a private university with an outstanding reputation and a beautiful campus, drawing students (1400, all undergrad) from nearly every state of the US plus over 50 foreign countries. Founded by the Wisconsin territorial legislature in 1847, it has been coeducational since its founding and is the second oldest coeducational college in the U.S. In 1964, Milwaukee-Downer College in Milwaukee consolidated with Lawrence, thus merging the traditions of an established coeducational institution with a highly regarded women's college. Lawrence University is a source of numerous cultural events for the community. The music offerings rival that of many larger cities and larger universities.
Fox Valley Technical College - a college providing training in many career-related areas. It began in 1917, becoming the first school dedicated exclusively for vocational education. It is one of the best technical colleges in the nation, in my opinion and the opinion of many others. Large, beautiful campus with numerous high-quality courses and leadership committed to excellence. It's a gem for the Midwest and truly one for the Valley.
Rasmussen College, Appleton. Rasmussen College - Appleton offers Bachelor's and Associate's degrees in Business, Allied Health, Justice Studies, and Technology & Design. Founded in 1900, Rasmussen College is an accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and offers degrees both online and through a network of 21 campuses in the Midwest and Florida.
The Classical School - This new charter school is a public school that began successful operation in the Fall of 1999. With over 300 students in grades K-8, it offers what many parents have long wanted: an education based on academic achievement with intensive phonics, a classical curriculum, and direct instruction. Kids learn a foreign language (Spanish) in every grade level. My wife, Kendra Lindsay, was a key driving force that made this dream become a reality. Many kudos to Kendra and to Dr. Tom Scullen, former Superintendent of the Appleton School District, and the School Board for sharing the vision that gave life to this charter school. And thanks to the many other board members, administrators, teachers, and parents that have made it what it is.
Renaissance School for the Arts - A charter school in the Appleton Area School District with about 140 students in grades 9-12. In their half-day program, the RSA offers classes in topics such as dance, theater, visual arts, music, media arts, play and screen writing, poetry, etc.
More Info and Tips for Visitors and Newcomers: Local Hotels, etc.
FoxCities.org - the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. A great source of information for visitors. They also offer the Fox Cities FUNLINE: call 1-800-2-DO-MORE (1-800-236-6673, or locally 920-734-3358) for the latest information on what's happening in the Fox Cities. The Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau is at 3433 W. College Ave., Appleton, WI 54914.
The Fox Cities Information Radio Station: 590 AM. Tune in to learn what's happening and to get suggestions for shopping and dining.
Lodging. Appleton has many good places to stay, as you will learn if you call the Visitor's Bureau. Before moving here, I stayed several times at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in downtown Appleton (ph: 920-733-8000), which is a good choice in terms of location and facilities. It's much better than a small town has any right to have!
The Best Western Bridgewood Resort Hotel and Conference Center was just given two awards at Best Western's North American convention: "Best of the Best in Quality" and "Best of the Best in Design," according to the Post-Crescent, Dec. 2, 2007, p. E-2. Two friends of mine who have traveled to the Fox Valley many times told me that this is their favorite place to stay now. They liked the wide variety of room choices, the cleanliness, the design, and the service. I've been there for many meetings and really like the design. Have no qualms in recommending it.
I frequently recommend the Copperleaf Hotel - my guests have always enjoyted it. The CopperLeaf Hotel is one block from the Performing Arts Center at 300 West College Avenue, Appleton, right in the heart of downtown Appleton. Phone (920) 749-0303 or (877)303-0303. It's a beautiful building with great amenities, similar to European boutique hotels. Has 73 rooms. Just opened in 2004.
Another good choice is Country Inn and Suites. I've stayed there and found it to be comfortable with a great free breakfast. One of our newest additions is Cambria Suites near Evergreen and Ballard on the northeast side of town: at 3940 N. Gateway Drive, Appleton, WI, US, 54913, phone: (920) 733-0101. Cambria is 100% smoke free and offers high-speed wireless Internet access and other amenities. Another good chouce is Woodfield Suites (3730 W. College Ave., 920-734-9231). They offer true suites, well suited to prolonged stays. The Holiday Inn of Appleton at the intersection of Highway 41 and College Avenue (150 Nicolet Road) is another popular destination. And for a good room at a low price, you may consider the Excel Inn at 210 North Westhill Blvd. I also have received an excellent review of the Settle Inn in Appleton (ditto for the Settle Inn in Kaukauna), just north of the Fox River Mall, which a friend told me was surprisingly affordable with excellent service, great rooms, good Internet access and a good breakfast.
If you'd like a delightful bed and breakfast experience, I recommend the Franklin Street Inn, a beautiful and historic Victorian-era home in the heart of Appleton. Great place to stay for a week or weekend, and wonderful place for a reception or gathering. See my review on the Appleton Blog.
Hmong American Partnership - An important organization working to help the Hmong people in the Valley and to improve relationships between the Hmong and the Anglos. Call 920-739-3192. They are at 2198 South Memorial Drive in Appleton.
Air Travel and Airports
Appleton has an excellent airport, Outagamie County Airport (ATW), just two miles west of Appleton. It is served by Northwest, Skyway, United Express, Midwest Express, and Comair/Delta Connection Airlines. There are nonstop flights to Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, and Detroit. Overnight express parcel and freight services are available (FedEx, for example, has a large office close to the airport.) Few towns the size of Appleton have such an excellent airport so nearby. Makes travel a breeze!
Other local airports include Wittman Field in Oshkosh and Austin Straubel Field in Green Bay, both within 30 miles of Appleton. About 90 minutes south in Milwaukee is General Mitchell International Airport (MKE). a medium-hub airport.
FYI: Smoking and Drinking
One of the interesting things about Appleton and many Wisconsin towns is the large number of bars in the area. I moved here from Provo, Utah in the 1980s, a town then with one true bar then that I knew of (surely I missed a few!) for a population not much less than Appleton's. Suddenly I was in a city in the top 10 of the nation for bars per capita. A bit of a cultural change. Yes, Wisconsin has plenty of beer and other drinks, but Appletonians seem to be remarkably sober and responsible, in my opinion. And I've found people to be kind and understanding of those who don't drink. Visitors looking for a place to get a few drinks will have no trouble, with many popular choices, like Cleos on College Avenue. But instead of liquor, why not join me and my family for a healthy smoothie? Hey, we love visitors, when time permits. The Lindsay specialty of smoothies made from a secret mix of frozen fruit surely beats any cocktail out there, and you can still walk or even drive after reaching your limit.
Smoking is a different story here. Appleton has a strict no-smoking law that bans smoking in workplaces, including restaurants and bars. This new law is the bane of many bar and restaurant owners, who say that it drives business to surrounding towns that don't have the ban, though I think that early pain has declined - and non-smokers from other towns may be increasingly coming to Appleton (where we honestly have a surprisingly great mix of good restaurants). The smoking ordinance is a controversial law that passed by referendum in 2005. Personally, I don't smoke and appreciate the fresh air of Appleton, but I voted against the ban out of a philosophical concern for private property rights. If your dream is to puff away your life in a bar, Appleton might not be the ideal place for now - but there's always nearby Menasha or Neenah.
A new page on this site presents the results of an exclusive interview with one of the area's best realtors, Bradd Syring. Find out what you need to know about the real estate market in the Fox Valley before you buy your home. (Many of the tips apply to buying a home in Wisconsin as well.)
First of all, you should know about a wonderful resource for newcomers: The Appleton Area Newcomer's Club. They have been helping newcomers for over 40 years. They provide you with a monthly newsletter, help you make friends and learn about the area, keep you aware of interesting events and activities, and help you make the most of this wonderful community. So if you're new here or coming here soon, contact them today!
People moving here will be pleased to learn that Appleton is a very safe and pleasant place to live, with high employment and many rich opportunities for culture, education, and entertainment. It's clean and beautiful and filled with good people and fine institutions. The cost of living is also relatively low, especially when it comes to housing. Reasonable homes for families can be found for well under $100,000. It's generally much less expensive than what you'll find on either coast or anywhere close to Chicago.
Appleton has some outstanding builders. One that I know and recommend is Syring Homes, owned by Bradd Sying. I give a couple reasons on a related blog post.
Many people ask me about two common concerns: taxes and schools. Taxes are high (but again, the cost of a home is generally low compared to many parts of the country). Someone with a $100,000 home here will have to pay about $2,500 a year in taxes. That's twice the rate we had in a suburb of Atlanta before moving here, and since homes here were somewhat expensive than in Georgia at the time, our property taxes tripled. I'm not really sure where all the money goes. With such high taxes, new home owners are surprised to learn that they may be billed thousands of dollars in addition to property taxes to pay for road improvements on their street and possibly for the installation of sidewalks. One year we had to pay an extra $4000 when our paved street was converted to concrete. Ouch. (Avoid corner lots!) But we're still glad to be here. After all, in Appleton, we don't have fire ants, kudzu or 4-inch long cockroaches.
What about schools? We're proud of our public schools here. The facilities and teachers are generally very good, and there are many great activities and extracurricular programs. One of the most impressive things is that high school students have access to many advanced classes, including some classes at Lawrence University for qualified students. I'm especially proud of the Classical School for grades K-8 that my wife, Kendra Lindsay, helped to found as a charter school.
Appleton has lots of stable families that take time to read to their children and encourage them in school, and I'm sure that helps a lot. For parents concerned about reading education, they need to know that the reading program is a mix of "whole language" and some phonics (definitely not intensive phonics). The amount of phonics included depends on the teacher. The source of the phonics component is primarily the spelling book for that grade, though some schools don't use the spelling book as a resource. (The elementary schools have tip sheets for parents urging them NOT to tell their kids to sound out new words, but to use "prediction techniques" like looking at pictures or extrapolating from the context to guess the word. Ouch!)
One related issue for parents concerned about early childhood education is the lack of reading in kindergarten. The philosophy of the Appleton School District, like most school districts, is that kindergarten children are not "developmentally ready" to learn how to read, so no serious attempt is made to teach reading in the manner some parents expect. Since first grade reading ability is known to be one of the strongest predictors for a child's success in school, some parents will want their kindergarten child to start learning how to read in kindergarten. They may need to supplement the education of their child by teaching reading themselves. However, the new Classical School teaches reading in kindergarten and uses intensive, systematic phonics. Seems to be working very well!
For those interested in alternatives, nearly 24% of Appleton students attend home school or private schools (based on Title I records for 1996).
Until recently, Appleton lacked school buses. Now some privately owned buses are available through a contract with the city, apparently for kids living over 2 miles from school, and Valley Transit buses can also be used for a fee. Many people still struggle with carpools for their kids going who aren't really within walking distance. The paucity of buses is perplexing for many outsiders given the high taxes.
In spite of a few problems, the schools have a lot to offer, including a number of really outstanding teachers and principals and other staff members. For example, one of my sons has come home several times with obvious excitement about the things he has learned - topics with depth and importance like causes of the Civil War and the physics of comets. (Thanks, Mr. Lynch!) It's great to see teachers helping my kids and making them eager to learn. And the high school and middle school musicals in this area are superb!
The successful development of the Classical School in Appleton also provides strong evidence that the Appleton School District listens to parents in the community. Both the Appleton School District and the School Board deserve a lot of praise for their help.
A good apartment and rental finding service is Start Renting, Inc., which published a widely used listing of places available to rent. They also have a Web site: startrenting.com. Call 920-997-9500.
One interesting place to rent with a useful Web site is Fox River Mills, where historic buildings on the Fox River have been converted to apartments. Friends who have lived there liked the apartments and the community, but check things out for yourself.
Now, some general advice. Before you rent in an apartment complex, go there and SMELL the air carefully. Sniff around. If there is an unpleasant musty or fruity odor, the complex may be inhabited by heavy party animals who get drunk and throw up a lot. It can make an entire building reek! Also see if heavy smokers live there.
Check to see if you're close to a train track or other source of unwanted noise. Talk to some people there about their experiences.
Make sure you read the rules carefully and understand the policies, the parking, etc.
Much of the growth in town is in the northern section of Appleton. The communities are new and well kept, and students go to the popular new North High School. But West High and East High are excellent schools as well, and there are several other fine parts of town that some newcomers overlook. Work with a flexible real estate agent and insist on looking at a variety of communities around the city.
An unusual aspect of housing in this area, compared to
many parts of the country, is the use of plaster walls with sand paint (textured
paint containing large grits). Miserable to clean and guaranteed to remove
prodigious quantities of skin from knuckles or other body parts, the ubiquitous
sand paint seems to be favorite of local builders. Perhaps the ability of rough,
texture paint to hide defects in a wall is what has given it such appeal. My
recommendation: if you're buying a new home, insist on user-friendly walls. If
you're having a home built for you, there's no excuse if you allow the builder
to use such a merciless material.
Based on my experience with two homes in the area, combined with the experience of others, here are my tips for home buyers:
Many homes in this area have a radon problem. If your home has a basement, be sure to have it carefully tested for radon before you buy, preferably with two tests at different times. High radon may not hurt you physically, but it can make it very hard to sell your home and require you to spend a thousand dollars or so on repairs later on.
Check the quality of utilities and appliances in your home. Some builders use the lowest cost items for things like sump pumps, furnaces, toilets, faucets, and air conditioners. Sump pumps are critical! A flooded basement can really dampen your spirits, among other things.
To cut costs, some new homes in the area have no water valves under the sinks to cut off flow. The only way to shut off water anywhere is to use the main water valve for all water to the home. This is especially handy when you need to repair a faucet, for it allows you to cut off all water in the home for as long as your project lasts (potentially several days if a part is unavailable or other unexpected problems occur).
Soil in the area tends to be poor, having high clay content. If you buy a new home, make sure that plenty of real top soil was brought in to support a lawn, and make sure that is properly graded to prevent water accumulating near the house. For best results, watch the work when it is done or carefully inspect it before you accept it. And make sure that they don't mix in cheap gravel with the soil.
If you have a cell phone, check the signal strength and see how well your phone works. And if you are getting a new cell phone service, test it carefully in the places where you will be using it.
The city government of Appleton has the City of Appleton Web Page which offers information on officials, city policies, public transportation, the library, the Appleton police, and other services.
Our mayor is Tim Hanna. I have been quite impressed with him and was delighted recently with his kindness when I took Boy Scout Troop 178 to a Common Council meeting, where he came and met with us before the meeting to talk to the boys, and then warmly greeted us in the meeting. Thank you, Mayor Hanna! (And thanks to my friend, Alderman Paul Trelc, for meeting with us also.) Appleton has had 36 mayors over the years, including one female mayor, Dorothy Johnson, who served many years and is still very active in serving the community. (A remarkable woman - she's been a role model for me in many ways.)
Representatives from this area include Reid Ribble of the 8th District and Thomas Petri of the 6th District. Steven Kagen, a Democrat, is a medical doctor who replaced Republican Mark Green after the latter left Congress to run for Governor in 2006, losing to the incumbent, Jim Doyle.
Wisconsin.Gov is the State of Wisconsin's information server and a starting point to guide you to the many resources available from Wisconsin state agencies, departments and other governmental branches. It also provides links to information resources at the University of Wisconsin campuses, as well as sources from other states and the federal government.
Though Appleton is a tolerant and diverse community with respect to most matters, when it comes to worship, you had better adhere to the dominant religion. That's right - you've got to worship the Green Bay Packers - or you might as well move out of town. Some of us are only superficial converts and still harbor many secret doubts, but we try to walk in faith nevertheless.
A few Appleton congregations now have Web pages,
Emmanuel United Methodist Church -- A congregation with a rich history and bright future, dating back to 1870 in the days of the "circuit rider" when the Emmanuel congregation was founded as an outreach mission of the Evangelical Association church in Neenah. It became part of the Appleton Circuit in 1884.
First United Methodist - One of the prominent churches in Appleton with a congregation of about 1300 members. Their website includes sermons you can listen to.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a group of congregations known as the "Appleton Stake." Appleton has two large congregations, the Appleton 1st and 2nd Wards, plus some Appletonn residenrs are part of the Neenah Ward. There are also congregations meeting in Oshkosh, Oneida, and Green Bay.
As always, what follows is based upon my
biases and personal experiences. But I think many people will agree that the
following groups deserve some special praise for what they bring to the
The Appleton Fire Department
I have been truly impressed at the professionalism and the kindness of the Appleton Fire Department as they have helped a Hmong young man in my church, Peter Lee, with his Eagle Scout project on fire safety for the Hmong community. Peter is working to get many Hmong families prepared for the danger of house fires, moved by the tragic and unnecessary death of a Hmong friend of ours, Tony Vang. I am Peter's advisor on this project. We have been meeting with Cheryl Kuhn and Geri Larkee in the department to organize assistance from fire fighters as we work with the Hmong community. We've been able to meet and work with ten firefighters so far. We've been so grateful for the assistance they have offered. Smart, sharp, kind, and competent, the firefighters and other employees of the Department are truly among Appleton's finest. Working with them has honestly made me feel even better about my community. (Peter's project has also been greatly assisted by the Hmong-American Partnership and their President, Lo Lee, as well as Kimberly-Clark Corporation and the great leaders and young men of Troop 178 of the Boy Scouts of America, sponsored by a local congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Special thanks also to the Menasha Fire Department for the help they will be offering in coming weeks.)
Brave men and women who really know and love their community. They are part of the reason that Appleton is one of the safest and most desirable places to live in the country - and in the world. They face difficult challenges and do so with professionalism and honor, like the other emergency responders in our community. Kudos to the police of Appleton!
These two organizations do so much to help the needy in the Fox Valley. The Community Clothes Closet accepts donated clothes and makes them available to needy individuals and families (on a referral basis) at no cost. The Food Pantry likewise makes large amounts of donated food available to the needy. I've seen many lives blessed by these organizations. They both have need of volunteer labor as well as donations. (Hint: the Clothes Closet is a great place for a family or small youth group to work for an evening.) Call 920-734-9461 for the Food Pantry, or 920-731-7834 for the Clothes Closet. Both are on Midway Road (1465 Midway Road, Menasha) between Oneida Street and Highway 47 a little south of Highway 441.
Generous Local Businesses
I'm continually impressed by examples of kindness from the leaders of local businesses in this community, men and women who generously donate their resources for community projects, charities, and needy individuals. Much of the generosity is quiet and unpublicized. Recent examples that come to mind involve Pensar Corp., Image I.T., Syring Development, Boldt Construction, Kimberly-Clark Corp., and AAL. Thanks!
This division of Appleton's city government does an awesome job in providing great educational and recreational opportunities for Appleton residents. Their Website has a link to the latest brochure about events and activities in the area, plus a guide to parks and trails in the area. Hats off to a fine example of local agencies doing good things for the community. (And be sure to see some our parks on the Jim Froeming's Trivia Asylum's page of Appleton's Parks and Places.)
Appleton's Churches and Religious Organizations
Appleton provides a diverse and vibrant religious community that does a great deal of good for the community. If you're looking for a broad choice of religions and churches in a community with solid family values, Appleton is the place!
Appleton is loaded with coolness, in my opinion. Of course, not everything is cool. If I were a whiner, I could talk about a couple of pet peeves. You know, things like Appleton's plague of "temporary" concrete roads. Well, for those of you moving here, be warned that most streets in Appleton are made of concrete and require many weeks to install. An entire street or neighborhood can be closed to traffic for nearly 2 months when a road is being in, compared to the few days that asphalt roads need. The advantage of concrete is that it can last for years in Appleton's challenging weather - and it makes sense economically, if the road is left there for years. But over and over we see fairly new concrete roads being torn up to put in new water lines or cables or gas lines or whatever - probably costing a lot more money and much more inconvenience that asphalt. Just seems crazy to me - and definitely uncool. Here's an idea for a bumper sticker: "Asphalt rocks!" But we're in better shape that many places. For example, a meaningful bumper sticker in Utah a few years ago, during a period of intense road construction in preparation for the Winter Olympics, was "Welcome to Utah! All roads closed."
Other less-than-cool things, besides high taxes and low temperatures, might be the mosquitos, the occasional hatches of lake flies if you're near the lake or river, and perhaps the current lack of Vietnamese restaurants. But there is hope for change in at least one of these areas, if only we can bring back good ol' DDT.
I've had hundreds of comments on my Appleton page over the years. In 2004, I decided I should share a few. Yeah, it's blatant self-promotion. I probably won't share the ones that say what a loser site this is! The first three are legitimate, real messages that I did not make up. As for the last one, well, you judge.
Here's a comment from 2009:
Thank you so much for your wonderful website about Appleton. My husband has been interviewing in several different places over the past few months for a job promotion. Every time he has had an interview I have looked on the internet for information about the area we could possibly be moving to. I an always baffled by how hard it can be to get the type of information one needs when considering moving somewhere new.
Your site was so informative I knew that Appleton would be a good place for our family. So, yesterday when my husband was offered the job in Appleton I was able to support him in that opportunity without reservation.
Here is a comment from 2006:
As someone who is considering moving to the Appleton/Green Bay area in the future, I was searching the net for info. when I stumbled upon your website. I'm originally from Wisconsin, but haven't lived there in about 25 years.
None of the websites I've found in the past with regard to ANY area of the country offered the things I was looking for. Fortunately, your website has EVERYthing that I was looking for - and more!!!
I wanted restaurant lists - and reviews. You have it. I wanted housing info, shopping info, neighborhood info, etc... and it's all on your site! Most of the photos that travel/city guides offer are sorely lacking. Although Green Bay has one of the better guides, so many of the photos are the standard photo, or a business photo. Boring. I wanted to see what the actual streets and neighborhoods and events looked like... and thanks to you, I have a great idea of what Appleton is really like. I now know about area restaurants, mechanics, where to go for Christmas trees, where to get good groceries, etc. You name it - it's there!
Here is a comment received in November of 2004 and used with permission:
This is long overdue. My fiancé and I looked at your web site while searching for a place to relocate in WI and to open a new flower shop. It is in part due to your unique site that we made the trip to Appleton and ultimately choosing this location to open the first KaBloom in the state. When we visited the people were so nice and helpful (so much for "MN nice" -- you guys are the best) and we ended up moving here in June. Thank you for putting so much time into the site and this reader does appreciate it.
On a selfish note, stop by and see our new store located next to WalMart on 441 and Calumet. We are bringing a new flavor of fresh flowers and plants into the Fox Valley and plan to spend the rest of our working lives here. Thanks again for helping us make the right decision to call Appleton our home!
I'm delighted that this little ol' Web page would help bring people from Minnesota to Appleton. If the word continues to get out about what a fantastic place Appleton is, we expect thousands more Minnesotans to flee that state and head to greener pastures here.
I was surprised by another interesting comment in 2004, used with permission from a reader in New England:
This labor of love is the most impressive thing I've encountered in my 10 years of web surfing, so much so, that my wife and I are going to retire there this summer! I always had the feeling it was a special place when I drove through eons ago whilst a grad student at UW-Madison. Thank you.
A reader in Ohio had this to say:
Fantastic website! I realize their are many facets to it, but speaking about the portion covering Appleton, your site is better than most convention and visitor websites across this nation. They tend to be all the same and so commercial, as to not to reflect the personality of the municipality they are covering. For example, each city claims it has culture, sizzling night life, recreation abound, etc., etc., as if it is a god given right to list it on their site, regardless of legitimacy. They all do it in the same way, making the same claims with the same adjectives and same commercial rhetoric. The only variable? In many cases, the smaller the city, the more ridiculous the claim becomes. I realize your purpose in presenting your website may be different than convention and visitors sites, however, you achieved what the site visitor is looking for. Your website is informative, easy to use, professional, real, a pleasant surprise, and minus all the gibberish! Yet you could add commercial links and ads to it, and it would still have heart to it, unlike convention sites. Every city should be so lucky to have one like it, and a resident like you. (Your love for the community is reflected in the site.) It is honest and informative in its portrayal of the area. It is, "A Day in the Life of Appleton". I particularly enjoyed the photos (Pictures say a lot). Incidentally, they are hard to come by on most convention sites, aside from the standard pic of the skyline on the cover page. Good luck in the future with this project.
More recently, Greg T. gave me permission to quote this statement:
I've seen a LOT of websites, and I could definitely say that the diversity of content contained on your website is exceptional! I'd also have to say that its one of the best resources I had prior to visiting Appleton, WI! Any other site such as CitySearch or the Appleton chamber of commerce/tourism sites sucked!! Its almost ridicoulous what they concentrate on - its a concentration of Wisconsins biggest commercial developments (woo hoo!) vs. the privately owned businesses that make APPLETON, WI unique. Isn't that what tourists want?
Plus, I'm an extreme foodie so I really appreciated the restaurant reviews on your site because eating good was probably one of my main priorities during my visit.
So keep up the great work on the site!, and if possible I'd like to see if in the future I'd be able to figure out a way that I could add your link to my friends business site in Appleton. Her (Lacy) site, is Sunflowerspa.net because I love to promote sites like yours...... I think the City of Appleton should add your link to their site. I'd be willing to contact them urging them to do so.
And of course, that led me to investigate and praise the outstanding SunFlowerSpa.net site.
Here's a note from a man coming to Appleton, received Sept. 2005:
Dear Jeff, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the information you provide in regards to life in Appleton. In fact, I can truthfully say it has been a major part of my decision to move up there next spring.
In Feb. 2006, I received this kind note:
We came across your interesting, informative, balanced, and humorous website while looking at Appleton as a possible place to relocate. You are an excellent ambassador for your city, and you have done a nice job posting useful information for long distance "Appleton neophytes!"
We live in Southern California and are exploring better geographic areas to raise our young daughter. Having visited Wisconsin while I was growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, we are intrigued by data that suggests Appleton might be a possible area that meets our relocation criteria. Your information underscores positive attributes that we have discovered (so far.)
Thanks, from afar, for your creative efforts! We will continue to refer to your site and its links while we think about coming up to take a look!
Another visitor top my site in Feb. 2006 wrote this (quoted with permission):
I wanted to take a minute to let you know how much I enjoy your website. I was born in Appleton but have lived in Houston all my life. I still go back to visit family there and it is great to be able to check out your website to find fun things to do with my kids when we go. Your site is more informative and far more interesting than any other Appleton website I have seen!
Here's a note from early 2007, used with permission:
I just wanted to give a quick thank you for putting all the time and effort into your Appleton home page. I work for a company that relocates it's employees all over the country, and I, having been relocated myself once before and will be relocating again in the near future. I have done an extensive amount of research on different communities that I might potentially be moving to, and in the dozens of communities I have researched none have ever had such a guide as this town. One of the most frustrating things about moving to a new lacation is the you know nothing about the people of the community. I will admit that at the first word of a new store in Wisconsin, I wasn't too thrilled about the prospect of relocating there. But after having read your site it has become my number one choice for my next home.
Coldwell Banker - a major source of realtors for the Fox Valley with a very positive reputation. They also provide a space for some of us local magicians to get together occasionally, in addition to doing other great things for the community like building a home for Habitat for Humanity.
Northing East of Wisconsin: Photo Gallery - an MSN group where hundreds of Appleton pictures have been posted, including a lot from many decades ago. Many are of poor quality, but it's a unique and valuable collection.
United Way Fox Cities - A tremendous coalition of charitable groups helping all parts of our society. They've made tremendous progress in recent years and are doing a great job of building our community, strengthening families, and meeting the needs of many individuals who might otherwise be overlooked. United Way Fox Cities stands out among the United Way groups across the nation and has tremendous leadership and strong local support.
City of Neenah - another one of the Fox Cities, about 20 minutes south of Appleton and on Lake Winnebago. Has a reputation for wealth (quite a few executives from paper companies used to have mansions there).
City of Menasha - on Appleton's south border, rich with industry and heritage.
MegaPlacebos Plus - an exciting new business concept developed right here in Appleton, bringing the incredible power of placebos directly to you. Nothing works as well as their placebos! (Think about it.)
National Lawn Care Now! - a grassroots, cutting-edge, green organization based right here in Appleton. Is this for real??
AppletonJaycees.org - the organization that sponsors our big annual fireworks around the Fourth of July, and does many other things for the community.
House on the Rock - a bizarre Wisconsin tourist attraction. Pricey and several hours away from Appleton, but many people recommend it.
Appleton Chocolates Company - of Appleton, NOVA SCOTIA, population 41. Couldn't resist adding this link. They make wild blueberry and maple chocolates dipped in Belgian and French chocolate. Mmm! (Thanks, Alan of Nova Scotia, for the link suggestion.)
Wisconsin Dells - a favorite tourist spot. Noah's Ark and other major attractions draw thousands of people daily. Be sure to catch the Wilcox Magic Show while there. Alternative site: Wisconsin-dells.net.
Wisconsin Court Search - find out who's been convicted of what in Wisconsin. Even minor court actions and traffic tickets show up. Ouch!