Martin Luther King, Jr., “Day On” :: An Educational Day for Marathon County Employees

Written by Brad Karger


I am positively stoked about Marathon County’s upcoming “Martin Luther King, Jr., Day On” because I think we have an opportunity to do something important that will significantly improve our public service to the residents of Marathon County!

Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking right now:

Brad, what in the world is a “day on”?

Well, you know what a “day off” is, right? For example, on January 15, 2018, most bank, postal, and state employees will have the day off (with pay) in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

We’ll, that’s not it…

Instead, county employees will have the “day on.” But it won’t be like any other day…

It will be a day much like an in-service day that public school employees have. County offices will be closed to the public on January 15, and staff will be freed up to participate in a series of educational programs on topics consistent with the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr., such as:

  • Diversity
  • Non-violence
  • Poverty

(NOTE: We will re-open Tuesday, January 16, ready to serve you and apologize for any inconvenience.)

The day is still being planned, but so far we have secured preliminary commitments from some recognized subject matter experts:

  • Stan Davis is the owner of the Davis Group of Wisconsin and former Chief of Staff
    Stan Davis
    Stan Davis

    and Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Doyle. Mr. Davis will help us better understand “implicit bias” and teach us some strategies for avoiding bias in our public service.

  • Richard Lee Dawley is the author of Amish in Wisconsin and A Plain People. Mr. Dawley will help us know more about the German Baptist, Mennonite, and Amish people living in western Marathon County.

Additionally, our county employees with specialized knowledge will help us learn more about:

  • Understanding adverse childhood experiences
  • Preventing sexual harassment
  • Working with clients who are mentally ill
  • Recognizing secondary traumatic stress
  • Promoting health equity
  • Creating a Safety Plan in the event of an active shooter

Additionally, the people from NAOMI (North Central Area Congregations Organized to Make an Impact) — a coalition of church leaders working to promote social justice — will conduct a poverty simulation. I participated in the same simulation about 7 years ago, and I remember being so frustrated that I wanted to cry. That experience changed the way I think about people in poverty and made me much less judgmental of others.

Lunch will be served by the volunteers of the Salvation Army of WausauSalvation_Army

We chose the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, but also for a practical reason: MLK Day is a recognized state and federal holiday, and as a result, we have access to our county employees who support the courts, so they can partake in this training, too.

I credit the Marathon County Board for passing a resolution to give this “MLK Day On” concept a try, which supports one of the county’s established core values: DIVERSITY.

As I said, I am stoked to be on the ground floor of a potentially life-changing educational initiative that will help county government employees better understand our residents, so we can ensure that we provide high-quality and appropriate public services to all.

Brad Karger - Marathon County AdministratorBrad Karger

Marathon County Administrator

In his Administrator role, Brad Karger leads an organization with 700+ employees and an annual budget of more than $165 million. Brad has been in leadership positions with Marathon County for the past 30 years. He is known statewide for generating innovative ideas and solutions to problems, openness and transparency, and a commitment to community service that extends well beyond the normal workday.  Email Brad Karger.

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