Community projects, energy fair highlight sustainability week

Written by B.C. Kowalski, Stevens Point Journal Media


A new fence protecting Stevens Point’s third community garden on Third Street is just one more example in a county that’s become a hub for sustainable activity.
Portage County will celebrate Sustainability Week starting June 17, highlighting some of the many events focused on using fewer resources and protecting the environment.
Portage County Executive Patty Dreier said concept for the week came from a number of sustainability-based events that take place during the week.
“It’s a great convergence of timing and opportunity,” Dreier said. “We happen to be at the center of it all.”
Those events include the Midwest Renewable Energy Association Energy Fair, back for its 24th year on June 21, 22 and 23 in Custer. The fair is the largest in the world and brings vendors, spectators and workshops together in one place for a crowd of 20,000.
Dreier said the fair and the MREA itself are strong contributors to the county’s environmental hub status, along with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s College of Natural Resources.
Things such as the community garden are examples of the role sustainability plays in the county’s overall strategy, said District 1 County Board member Tom Mallison.
“I think it’s something we always keep in mind when we look at any project,” Mallison said. “When you look at sustainability, you’re looking at carrying projects out further than they would go, and it’s just well-spent tax money.”
Sustainable values are something Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, brings with her when she takes to the Assembly floor in Madison, she said. Shankland is on the Natural Resources and energy committees.


“As a rep for most of Portage County, I take that very seriously, and I bring many ideas and the great work that all our community organizations do down to Madison,” Shankland said. “They certainly inform me in my role.”