Abrams theater to present 3 shows in its 20th season

Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. will present two musicals and an original comedy in its 20th anniversary season. Plus, the community theater is raising money for a new roof. The nonprofit organization invites individuals and businesses to support the arts by becoming a Spotlight Sponsor.

The ASPI season opens with the musical “Gypsy” March 16-19 and 23-26. “Gypsy” is the tale of an ambitious stage mother fighting for her daughters’ success, while secretly yearning for her own. Tickets for “Gypsy” are on sale now at Abramstheater.com or by calling the box office, 920-826-5852. ASPI seeks volunteers to construct sets, sew costumes, work backstage, and fulfill other roles. Please contact the box office to volunteer. 

“Lustful Youth,” a two-act comedy written by Mike Eserkaln, will be performed June 8-11 and 15-18. A fast-paced farce, “Lustful Youth” tells the story of a television statistician who is contractually obligated to write an evening soap opera. With the help of his muse, he pieces together an out-of-control romp known as “Lustful Youth.” Eserkaln, the artistic director of Comedy City in De Pere, is an ASPI performer and director. 

In the final show of 2023, youth will be the featured performers in the musical “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr.,” scheduled Nov. 30, Dec. 1-3 and 7-10. The show takes the audience on a fantastic musical adventure with a magical car.

Season tickets for the 2023 shows are now available at Abramstheater.com or 920-826-5852. All performances take place at the Nancy Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple St. Abrams. ASPI has an exciting goal for its 20th season. By the end of 2023, ASPI seeks to obtain 100 new Spotlight Sponsors: Silver ($100), Gold ($250), Platinum ($500), or Corporate ($950 per show). With the help of its sponsors, the theater hopes to raise over $30,000 for a new roof for its facility, a 100-year-old former church. All sponsors receive early access to tickets and recognition in show programs. Gold and Platinum sponsors receive two or four tickets, respectively, to each show. To become a Spotlight Sponsor with a tax-deductible donation, visit abramstheater.com and click “Support.”

The cast of “White Christmas” performs a song at the Nancy Byng Community Theater in Abrams. Abrams Spotlight Productions presented nine sold-out shows of “White Christmas” in December and is gearing up for its 20th season, starting with “Gypsy” March 16-19 and 23-26.
The cast of “White Christmas” gathers onstage at the Nancy Byng Community Theater in Abrams. Abrams Spotlight Productions presented nine sold-out shows of “White Christmas” in December and is gearing up for its 20th season, starting with “Gypsy” March 16-19 and 23-26.

Oconto Falls Renews Bronze Level Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation

Oconto Falls has again received a Bronze Level Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation. Oconto Falls had previously received a designation in 2018 and this renewal is recognition of continued work and programs towards improving local health.

This program is intended to recognize and encourage achievements in health improvement in Wisconsin communities, and to promote cooperation across multiple sectors.

Through the collaborative efforts of the Oconto Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital, Bellin Health-Oconto Hospital, and Oconto County Public Health – programs such as the Run for the Trails 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon event; Mental Health First Aid training opportunities within schools, businesses, and organizations; Starlink Pilot Project providing broadband access; planning and financial support of Oconto County Farmers Market; and coordination of Medication Take Back events – improve the health and wellbeing of all.

Gail Yatso, Oconto Falls Area Chamber of Commerce President states, “Our community is proud to be among the 28 Wisconsin communities that received designations this year. Our city is committed to sustain community collaboration to continue to improve health, wellness, and safety in our area.”

The designation recognizes Oconto Falls and the bronze level for its commitment to improve health and the quality of life for another three years.

The Healthy Communities Designation program is designed to be accessible to communities of all shapes and sizes, both rural and urban. The definition of community is broad and can include counties, municipalities, neighborhoods and other self-defined, place-based communities in Wisconsin. The program uses a three-tiered approach – gold, silver and bronze – which are meant to provide a trajectory and serve as a guide for communities as they continue to strive toward better health.

“This is a well-deserved recognition for the collaborative efforts to improve community health, fitness, and safety. We continue to create a vibrant community for people to live, work, and explore,” says Yatso.

The Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation is an initiative offered by the Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) group of the UW Population Health Institute (UWPHI), in collaboration with diverse statewide groups. The Healthy Communities Designation program, funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, is designed to recognize and encourage achievements in health improvement in Wisconsin. To learn more about the program, visit the program website: www.wihealthycommunities.org

Theater Launches Raise the Roof Campaign

Stephanie Holman, president of the Oconto Falls Lioness Lions Club, presents a ceremonial check to Bill Koehne, president of Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. The club contributed $1,000 to the community theater’s Raise the Roof fund and $250 for a new toilet.

Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. launched its Raise the Roof campaign with a $1,000 donation from the Oconto Falls Lioness Lions Club. Stephanie Holman, president of the club, presented a $1,250 check to Bill Koehne, president of ASPI, with $1,000 earmarked for a new roof and $250 for a new toilet. Holman said the donation to ASPI fits well with the Lion Lioness Club’s mission to serve the community.

“The theater gives unique life experiences to a diverse group of people in our community, whether they are attending the live performances, the actors, or working behind the scenes. We feel it enriches our community, especially with the youth and the veterans,” she said.

“It’s exciting to have a local organization like the Lioness become our initial donor in kicking off the Raise the Roof campaign,” Koehne said. “Within the first couple of weeks, other donors stepped up to contribute an additional $2,500, but we’re still a long way from achieving our goal.”

The theater hopes to raise over $30,000 for a new roof. Koehne encouraged people to become Spotlight Sponsors, either Silver ($100), Gold ($250) or Platinum ($500). All sponsors receive early access to tickets and recognition in show programs. Gold and Platinum sponsors receive two or four tickets, respectively, to each show.

Approaching its 20th season, ASPI performs three or four shows every year at the Nancy Byng Community Theater, formerly St. Louis Catholic Church in Abrams. The facility, built in 1927 and home to ASPI since 2007, has undergone a series of transformations. These include the construction of a stage with modular set booms, backstage dressing rooms, a concession stand, a light, sound, and projections booth, and restoration of the original hardwood floor. ASPI built an outdoor patio and replaced the old church pews with more comfortable, padded chairs. The roof is the next project on the list.

The latest ASPI show, “White Christmas,” will be presented in eight performances, Dec. 1-4 and 8-11. An anonymous donor provided 50 free tickets to veterans, and the eight shows sold out by mid-November. So, a ninth, Raise the Roof show was added on Dec. 6.

“All but seven seats sold out within the first 72 hours,” Koehne said, referring to the Raise the Roof show. “What a tremendous show of community spirit and support of community theater.”

Only single seats are available for “White Christmas,” and the box office has a waitlist in the event of cancellations.

Over the past 20 years, ASPI has presented many amazing shows for the community to enjoy. None of these performances would be possible without the theater’s volunteers and sponsors. To make a tax-deductible donation, visit abramstheater.com and click “Support.”

Support the Arts: Theater Auction is Dec. 8-11

Brigette Finger, a volunteer with Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc., shows prize baskets included in the ASPI Spotlight Auction on Dec. 8-11. To bid on prizes, visit biddingowl.com/ASPI.

Support the arts by participating in the online auction benefitting Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc., an Oconto County community theater organization. More than 60 items are up for grabs, including sailing cruises, golf packages, hotel stays, and homemade candy, cookies, and dinners. The auction also features theater-related prizes like season tickets, a cameo appearance in an ASPI musical, and in-person performances by characters from “Beauty and the Beast” and “White Christmas.”

The ASPI Spotlight Auction opens at 12 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, and ends at 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11. Prize pick-up is scheduled from 12-6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12, at the theater, 5852 Maple St. Abrams. Merchandise is sorted by category for easy viewing and bidding online. To view prizes and place a bid, visit biddingowl.com/ASPI.

ASPI is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that presents musicals, comedies, and dramas at the Nancy Byng Community Theater. The theater is operated solely by volunteers, and proceeds from the auction help bring high-energy, live entertainment to the community. ASPI currently is running two capital campaigns to raise funds for a new sound system and roof.

ASPI thanks all of its supporters, especially the local businesses and individuals who donated to the auction. To learn more about ASPI, visit AbramsTheater.com.

Iverson Named Exemplary Employer

Bryce Iverson, owner of Iverson’s Piggly Wiggly of Oconto Falls, was awarded the Exemplary Employer Award from the State of Wisconsin – Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). Each October, during National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Wisconsin Workforce Development Area (WDA) 5 chooses one award winner from Brown, Door, Florence, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Shawano, and Sheboygan counties. An award presentation was held on Thursday, October 27, 2022, with Meredith Dressel, Deputy Administrator of DVR; Jennifer Bscherer, Director of WDA 5; Whitney Hostettler, Supervisor of WDA5; and Lynn Hardginski, Business Services Consultant. Iverson was surrounded by staff from the location, including Mr. Pig, and board members from the Oconto Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. 

Danielle Kline, Employment and Training Specialist with New View Industries, nominated Iverson for the award, “because he (Iverson) sees a person’s abilities, not their disabilities.” She continued, “Bryce has created a culture of natural supports within the store to help support people with disabilities. Bryce and his employees deserve to be recognized for their outstanding partnership and support for the community.” 

DVR provides services such as career and guidance counseling, job search and placement, transition to work services for students with disabilities in high school, vocation and other training, job shadows, and more. 

Congratulations to everyone at Iverson’s Piggly Wiggly!

Prescription Drug Take Back Day in Oconto County

In conjunction with National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital is partnering with Bellin Health, Healthy Oconto County, Oconto Falls Police Department and Oconto County Sheriff’s Department to offer drive-thru, medication drop-off locations on Saturday, Oct. 29:

  • HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital, 855 S. Main St., Oconto Falls, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Bellin Health Oconto Hospital, 820 Arbutus Ave., Oconto, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Lakewood Town Hall, 17181 Twin Pines Rd., Lakewood, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Gillett Police Department,150 N. McKenzie Ave., Gillett, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

All waste pharmaceuticals must be generated by a household – no businesses are allowed.
All sites will be drive thru only and we request persons stay in their vehicle. A volunteer will come to collect your items.
Bring: Prescription (controlled and non-controlled) and over-the-counter medications, ointments, patches, inhalers, non-aerosol sprays, creams, vials and pet medications. Vape pens or other e-cigarette devices (batteries removed).
Do not bring: Illegal drugs, needles/sharps, acids, aerosol cans, bio-hazardous materials (anything containing a bodily fluid or blood), personal care products (shampoo, soaps, lotions, sunscreens), household hazardous waste (paint, pesticides, oil, gas), mercury thermometers.

  • Participants may dispose of medication(s) by removing the medication from its container and disposing of it directly into a disposal box or into a clear sealable plastic bag. Plastic pill containers should not be collected. Blister packages without the medications being removed are acceptable.
  • Liquids will be accepted during this initiative. However, the liquids, creams and sprays must be in their original packaging and their weight evenly distributed within the boxes of collected solid prescription medications. Liquids without the original packaging will not be accepted.
  • Illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are not a part of this initiative and should not be placed in collection containers.

Community members are also reminded that many drug disposal boxes are open year-round.

Unused or expired medicine should never be flushed or poured down the drain as water reclamation facilities are not designed to remove all pharmaceuticals and trace amounts are showing up in rivers and lakes.

Abrams Troupe to Present ‘White Christmas’

Ali Carlson and Elizabeth Jolly will perform the song “Sisters” with these feathered fans in the Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. show, “White Christmas.” Tickets are on sale now for the Abrams community theater production.

Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. invites the community to its performance of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” Tickets are on sale now for this tale of joy and goodwill. The musical, directed by Debra Jolly, will be presented Dec. 1-4 and 8-11 at the Nancy Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple St., Abrams.

“’White Christmas’ is a long-time tradition for those of us who remember the beloved movie televised every Christmas and remember the sacrifices made by the soldiers and those on the home front of World War II,” Jolly said. “It is about longing for home and family and love, especially when you are far away, not knowing when or if you will get home again.”

Veterans are an important part of “White Christmas,” and a generous donor gifted 50 free tickets for veterans. Veterans are encouraged to call the box office, 920-826-5852, to reserve free tickets while supplies last.

“We are proud to honor all veterans and thank them for their service as we offer all our audience members this classic story for Christmas,” Jolly said.

“White Christmas” is a story about a song-and-dance team, played by Bobby Buffington and Preston Pelegrin, who put on a show in a Vermont inn and fall for a stunning sister act, played by Elizabeth Jolly and Ali Carlson. The show is full of dancing, laughter, and some of the greatest songs ever written. The score features “Blue Skies” and of course, the unforgettable title song, “White Christmas.”

“The songs are great, and the harmonies this cast produces are amazing,” Jolly said. “The dancing includes tap, jazz, ballroom and ballet – something for everyone.”

The colorful costumes ring true to the happy 1950s look.

“The number of costumes required is daunting, especially with a community theater budget and a theater building that needs a new roof, but we had a wonderfully hard-working and frugal costume crew to make it work,” Jolly said.

New at the theater for this performance is a side stage to keep the show moving seamlessly through scene changes. Also new is a winter-themed special effect.

“We will have snow for this ‘White Christmas!’” Jolly said.

“White Christmas” is based on the Paramount Pictures film and is written for the screen by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, and Melvin Frank. Music and lyrics are by Irving Berlin, with book by David Ives and Paul Blake. “White Christmas” is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals. www.concordtheatricals.com.

To order tickets, visit abramsspotlightproductions.com or call the box office, 920-826-5852.

“Blessing of the Animals” in Green Bay, Sheboygan and Oconto Falls

In October, people all over the world celebrate the feast day (Oct. 4) of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis is known as the patron saint of animals, and his life of love and service is followed by the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, the founding institute of Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS).

In honor of the Feast of St. Francis, HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center in Green Bay, HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan and HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital in Oconto Falls will host “Blessing of the Animals” events – free and open to the public.
Pets of all kinds – and their people – are welcome to these outdoor, Ecumenical events. All animals in attendance must be on a leash, and pet owners must clean up after their pets. Community members are also welcomed to bring photos of their pets to be blessed.

HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center, 1726 Shawano Ave., Green Bay

  • 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 2
  • Event to be held in far west parking lot.
  • Parking: Far west parking lot closest to Shawano Ave., immediately to your right as you turn into the parking lot.

HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital, 3100 Superior Ave., Sheboygan

  • 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 2
  • Event to be held in parking lot, west of Chapel.
  • Parking: Enter through Superior Avenue entrance. Proceed and use road around the parking lot to Chapel Entrance.

HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital, 855 S. Main St., Oconto Falls

  • 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 9
  • Event to be held on South lawn.
  • Parking: Use Entrance 6 off County Hwy I.

New Beginnings and New Heights Training Center Ribbon Cutting

L to R: Gail Yatso, Oconto Falls Area Chamber of Commerce President; Danielle Kline, Chamber Vice President; Scott Shackelford, Director of Oconto County Health and Human Services; Will Kline, Director of New View Industries; Debbie Arndt, Chamber Treasurer; and Katie Daul, Chamber Secretary

New Beginnings Resale Store and New Heights, which fall under the umbrella of services offered by New View Industries, opened their doors June 17 with a ribbon cutting held with the Oconto Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. The new 6,000 sq. ft. building, located at 228 W. Park St. in Gillett, houses the New Beginnings Store as well as program space aimed at assisting disabled youth and adults at New Heights. 

New Beginnings is currently open, but mark your calendar for their Grand Opening on Saturday, July 9 offering specials, treats, and a chance to win prizes!

This building project was made possible through funding provided by the Community Development Block Grant, a federal program focused on community development.

“Many people were instrumental in making this addition possible,” said Kline. “I’d like to thank the Oconto County Board, Health and Human Services Board, the City of Gillett, former Health and Human Services Director, Mike Reimer and former Oconto County Administrative Coordinator, Kevin Hamann.”

New View Industries is a non-profit training facility for individuals who are intellectually/physically disabled or who have other barriers. Their mission is to provide participants with outstanding vocational and skills training to help them achieve greater independence in all aspects of their lives.

HSHS St. Clare Memorial Celebrates 100 Years

As HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital in Oconto Falls celebrates 100 years of service, community members are invited to a Mass of Celebration with The Most Reverend David L. Ricken, DD, JCL, and a community health fair on the hospital campus on June 1.

“This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to this community – for choosing us, for trusting us and for making us a cornerstone of this community all these years,” said Chris Brabant, President and CEO, HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital. “This is a very important milestone for our hospital, and we are celebrating it by honoring our history and all that is to come in the future – especially as we look to continue to expand and advance our services to meet the health care needs of our county and our community.”

HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital 100th Anniversary events
Wednesday, June 1 at 855 S. Main St., Oconto Falls

  • 9 to 10 a.m.: Mass of Celebration with The Most Reverend David L. Ricken, DD, JCL
  • 10 a.m. to Noon: Reception including food and beverages
  • 3 to 6 p.m.: A family-friendly community health fair and celebration including food and beverages

HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital officially marked its 100th anniversary in 2021, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic is celebrating the milestone with community events this year.

Formerly named Oconto Falls City Hospital and Community Memorial Hospital, HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital has been a part of Oconto Falls, Wis. history since 1921. The hospital was formed as a not-for-profit organization with a board of directors chosen from citizens of the community.

When the hospital opened its doors in 1921 at 125 S. Main Street it was Oconto Falls City Hospital. In 1954, the hospital was named Community Memorial Hospital in honor of military veterans and moved to the former City Hall which was remodeled to accommodate a larger facility with modernized services. In 1972, the current facility at 855 S. Main Street opened its doors, further expanding medical services available to Oconto Falls residents and surrounding communities. In 2014, Community Memorial Hospital joined Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) and became HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital.

A certified critical access rural health hospital, HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital offers 24-hour emergency care and a variety of other services at 855 S. Main St. in Oconto Falls. It also operates five rural health clinics in partnership with Prevea Health. This year, HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital was named a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the U.S. by The Chartis Center for Rural Health.