County Employee Recognized for Extra Effort Making Sylvan Hill Even Better

Written by Lance Leonhard

Tubing at Sylvan Hill

As several other articles from this month’s newsletter explain, winter in Marathon County is positively FILLED with opportunities for exciting adventures. And one of the finest local venues to pursue your winter activity of choice is Sylvan Hill Park.

You’ll find miles of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking trails all within minutes of downtown Wausau. (See awe-inspiring, drone-shot aerial video footage of Sylvan Hill Park here.) For me and my family, though, the pinnacle of the winter experience at Sylvan Hill is zipping down one of its six tubing runs — the longest in Wisconsin. (See GoPro footage of me and my son going down the hill in Katie Rosenberg’s County Employee Night article).

It’s important to remember that behind all of these great local winter experiences are scores of devoted City of Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department employees.

Earlier this year, in the midst of one of the winter’s first true snowstorms, Marathon County recognized Keith Wilcox, one of our many Maintenance Technicians in the Parks Department, as our Quarterly Core Value Recipient. (Learn more about Marathon County’s Core Values here or read about our Core Value Recognition Program here.)

Keith was nominated in connection with his work at Sylvan Hill. As you might guess, the park’s success is directly tied to the quality and quantity of snow — leading staff to devote considerable time and effort to the task of snow making. This process involves the use of numerous lengths of fire hoses that connect to the snow cannon, which they move to various positions in the park. After each use, the hoses have to be stretched out, drained, and rolled. For years, this tedious process was done by hand. That physically demanding job is made infinitely more difficult when working on the park’s icy hills and in particularly cold conditions, when the hoses freeze within minutes.

snow cannon at Sylvan Hill

Keith, on his own initiative and on his own personal time, sought to find a way to improve the process. Ultimately, Keith designed and built a portable hose winder that not only does the job faster and better, but is also far safer for employees (see Keith with his contraption below).

Keith Wilcox

For the public, Keith’s efforts mean better trails for hikers, snowshoers, and skiers, and faster, more exciting trips down the tubing hill — like this one…

If you haven’t been out to one of Wausau’s best-kept secrets — Sylvan Hill — you’d better get moving. Warm weather is coming, and the season will come to a close on March 5 (if Mother Nature doesn’t end it even earlier). Call the park office at 715-261-1550 to check conditions.

And when you come out to take advantage of all that Sylvan Hill has to offer, if you happen to see Keith, feel free to say thanks for going above and beyond to make Sylvan Hill EVEN BETTER.

Lance Leonard - Marathon County Deputy AdministratorLance Leonhard

Marathon County Deputy Administrator 

Lance Leonhard began his career in Marathon County government in the Office of Corporation Counsel and currently serves as the Marathon County Deputy Administrator. Lance’s career in public service has spanned more than a decade, having worked for the federal government as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and for the state of Wisconsin as an Assistant District Attorney. Outside of work, you’re likely to find Lance spending time with his family, traveling, teeing off on a local golf course, or sitting around a campfire with friends. Email Lance Leonhard

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