Grateful at Thanksgiving

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Times Herald Staff

Kay Runkel has been director of the Gillett Public Library for 20 years. (Wolf River Media photo by Greg Mellis)

The area in and around the Gillett Public Library has undergone a transformation the last couple of years, and director Kay Rankel is thankful for it.

Rankel is one of eight local civic, community, governmental and business leaders who we asked to share their personal thoughts regarding why they give special thanks during the Thanksgiving holiday season, in a special section inside this week’s Oconto County Times Herald.

A popular feature for several years inside the Shawano Leader, the Times Herald’s sister newspaper, “Why I Give Thanks” was expanded this year for inclusion in all three Wolf River Media publications, including the Times Herald and the Wittenburg-Birnamwood Enterprise & News.

The Gillett library is a busy place this week as students are on their fall break. Kids gathered for a showing of the animated feature “Sing” on Monday afternoon, and Tuesday brought a make it and take it crafts program.

Wednesday is a Teen Zone movie and pizza party at 1 p.m. and, after closing Thursday for Thanksgiving, the library will reopen for its usual 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours on Friday — including preschool story time at 10 a.m. and another craft session at 1 p.m.

The activities are part of Rankel and her library board’s vision of the library as a community center. Since 2015, when the library expanded to the former BMO Harris bank building, the staff has worked to make the two structures and the Ebenreiter Community Square in between a place for people to gather, have fun and learn.

Funded entirely with donations, the largest being from the Sally Ebenreiter family, the project has transformed the area around 200 and 204 E. Main St. in Gillett.

“We have accomplished some amazing things for a library of our small size due to several forward-thinking individuals and the generosity of our community,” Rankel says in the introduction to her “Why I Give Thanks” column.

The others whose are featured in the special section are Adam Bieber, Shawano County sheriff; Stacey Cicero, director, Safe Haven; Wendy Crawford, Leadership Shawano County/Boys & Girls Club of Shawano County; Ken Harter, Oconto Falls School Board/Oconto County Fair Board; Charlie Harvey, owner, Charlie’s County Market, Shawano; Todd Senzig, owner, Senzig’s Fine Furnishings; and Bill Switala, Wittenberg village president.