The Watertown Public Library Campaign Leadership Committee has announced three co-chairmen to lead the fundraising campaign behind its renovation and expansion project. They are Don Kwapil, Jonathan Lampe and John Ebert.
Kwapil founded River City Distributing in 1981 and served as its president for 36 years until its sale last year. River City distributed Anheuser-Busch products and craft beers to 24 Wisconsin counties and employed about 100 people.
Kwapil said, “I am a lifelong resident of Watertown, my family and kids all grew up here. We need to retain current families and attract new families to Watertown. A new library center would be the perfect thing to encourage families to move here, live here and stay here. We have a lot of positive potential projects happening downtown and I am excited to be part of the library project. A new library center is a great start to other downtown projects happening in Watertown that will help our great community grow.”
Ebert and his wife Gladys have lived in Watertown since 1992. John was in commercial banking for 33 years with the last 16 years in Watertown, retiring in 2008. Since he retired he has served in various volunteer capacities such as serving as the Watertown Public Library board president for six years, Watertown Rotary Club, Watertown Food Pantry, Watertown Concert Series and St. Bernard’s Church. He and Gladys have two adult children, Laura and Robert.
Ebert said, “I look forward to serving the Watertown Public Library with other members of the campaign committee to help build awareness of the benefits that an expanded library can provide to the greater Watertown community and to help raise the private funds portion of this transformative public/private partnership,”
Lampe, the current library board president, has held leadership positions at several Wisconsin software companies, and is currently helping Kohl’s Department Stores expand and revamp its cybersecurity operations. In addition to the library board, he volunteers time to the Watertown Historical Society, coaches for a number of Watertown Park and Recreation programs and has served as an assistant scoutmaster with Watertown’s Troop 43. His wife Melissa leads the Watertown Main Street Program headquartered in the Chamber of Commerce building.
“My wife and I believe that the best thing for Watertown’s economy and educational system is to demonstrate forward progress,” said Lampe. “We want to see buildings refurbished, streetscapes revamped and exciting new spaces developed to serve the community. Our library is the cornerstone of downtown and its programs serve everyone, including many of our community’s most vulnerable residents. Renovations to update the library for the internet age are overdue and we are committed to providing updated and expanded programming, meeting and learning space that will attract families to Watertown and improving the lives of current residents.”
The campaign leadership committee plans to launch a communitywide library fundraising campaign in 2019, but is working on a number of initiatives behind the scenes now. The CLC functions as a subcommittee of the library board and its initial “100 Extraordinary Women” event exceeded its fundraising target by 80 percent. Additional information is available through any of the CLC members or Library Director Peg Checkai.
“This is a fantastic start to the campaign, and I am thrilled with how everything is coming together,” said Checkai.