A passion for the community; Chamber member plays important role in recovery
By Elizabeth Bolin
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – It will be a while before Wisconsin Rapids area forgets about the damage done by the July storms. Fortunately, thanks to the help of the entire county, the city will not soon forget about its impressive recovery efforts either.
Krista Coon, vice president of the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, played an important role in pulling the community together in the time of crisis. Coon has a “passion for the community,” that has motivated her to become involved. She has been involved with the Heart of Wisconsin chamber since 2006 in various roles and as vice president since January of this year.
The July storms caused significant damage in Wisconsin Rapids, namely wind damage that left trees downed and businesses closed. The city, along with the county and other municipalities, Wisconsin Rapids Waterworks & Lighting Commission, and Alliant Energy worked together to get the city up and running again. According to Coon, over 100 workers came from out of the area and worked in the city for around 10 days.
Coon saw the efforts of those workers and organized a spontaneous luncheon to thank them.
“On that Sunday morning, I drove in to check on our building and saw all the damage,” Coon said. “I reached out to my boss and asked her if she could reach out to our mayor. I then drove up and down Eighth Street and other areas to see who was open and relayed it on Facebook. Then (my co-worker) Steph Schmid and I checked in on over 100 businesses to see if they had power or internet and if they needed anything, and communicated the updates with the community through Facebook. Finally, I reached out to all the areas high schools and had some sports teams help clean up the area, particularly churches, area residents, and a local golf course that was hit hard.
“Thanks to the help of the out of town volunteers, sports teams, and the rest of the community, most of the damage was sorted out in less than a few weeks. The luncheon was held towards the end of the end of the workers time in the Rapids area. It was great to hear how they felt welcomed here and that they loved our community.”
Heather Sairs, friend and coworker of Krista, watched the situation unfold. “(Krista) pulled together the luncheon in less than two days and got sponsors from businesses in the community to provide the food for the event.”
Sairs was on vacation, and says she came home to a wreck. “There were lots of trees uprooted, homes damaged, and sidewalks ripped up, but I also saw a community that came together and supported one another.”
In the case of another emergency, Coon advises everyone to get involved by following the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, City of Wisconsin Rapids, County of Wood, Wisconsin Rapids Water Works & Lighting Commission Facebook pages.
“We are here to help. There are lots of emergency plans in place, but we need to make sure we connect the dots between all of them,” she said.
Coon has witnessed a lot during her time involved with the chamber. “It’s a triumph seeing how much the community is growing and getting its vibrance back. Some of the struggles involve ignoring negativity that you see and hear on social media. We have so much good going on right now!” Coon added.
In the future, Coon will be handling the Community Leadership Program, Workforce & Talent Development, Events and working with local high schools.
In her spare time, Coon loves spending time with her daughter Kallee, who will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall studying Biomedical Engineering. She also enjoys stock car racing, UTVing, and hunting with her husband.
“My family inspires me,” said Coon, “My parents have always taught me to be the best that I can be and to give it my all. Watching my daughter grow into this beautiful and intelligent young lady inspires me every day.”
Coon is proud to serve the community and hopes to “grow old in this job.”