Mayor's Column

Mayor’s Column — Prison Response and Pool Questions

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Mayor’s Column June 7, 2024
Rohn Bishop, Mayor of Waupun

Hello Waupun!

It’s been a tough week! You’ve all seen the news about Waupun Correctional and the charges that have been filed because of the deaths of inmates. Quickly, many politicians, most who’ve done nothing to fix the problems over the last 15 years, are sending out press releases and running to the cameras angling for good media coverage; going so far to even be calling for the prison to be closed. Even worse, these cheap shots are hurting the morale of the brave men and women who work there. The very people who help keep us safe, by keeping the bad guys locked up. They are now being dragged through the mud, because it’s convenient to blame Waupun for the failures of the last few administrations. It’s easier to point a finger at Waupun than the failures of the Madison bureaucrats at the Department of Corrections. It’s easy to punish our community because the political class looks to save themselves. 

It’s cowardly and not leadership. 

For 175 years, Waupun has helped keep Wisconsnites safe by housing those who’ve committed bad crimes. Waupun is Wisconsin’s oldest prison and Waupun inmates helped to build the Green Bay Prison. Every license plate in Wisconsin is made right here in Waupun and we’re really proud of that. 

Folks in Green Bay want to close their prison because it’s prime real estate for development, but to make their case, they keep bashing Waupun. And I’ve had it with that! Waupun’s prison means more to us than Green Bay’s means to them. They seem to think they can kick us around and it’s ticked me off!

Waupun may be an easy target because we’re a small city; but we’re a great one too! Waupun is Wisconsin’s Sculpture City, we’re America’s Rivet City, we have delicious water, and we still are, and always will be, Wisconsin’s Prison City. As your mayor, they’re not going to close Waupun Correctional without a fight.

The problems at Waupun weren’t caused by Warden Hepp or the good people who work there. These problems were caused by governors who didn’t care, legislators who didn’t care, and a media who cared too much about the prisoners instead of the safety of the staff. 

I’m hopeful Governor Evers gets serious about fixing these problems. I would recommend asking Governor Tommy Thompson to come out of retirement and help fix corrections and bring it back to the professionalism that corrections was under his watch. 

Wisconsin deserves better than what we’re getting. Our inmates deserve better. Our correctional staff deserves better. Waupun deserves better. 

Finally, to all our correctional families, keep your heads up high. Waupun is proud of the hard work you do, and this community will continue to have your back. We are Waupun! #WCISTRONG 

A few quick hits: 

It has come to my attention that both the Waupun High School and CWC’s graduation ceremonies might take place at the same time in May of 2025. I have heard from some folks who like to attend both ceremonies and are concerned they won’t be able to. I have nothing to do with graduations, so if this is an issue to you, please contact members of the WASD Board of Education. 

Finally, I saw a What’s Up Waupun post that said we won’t allow businesses to sponsor “Free Days” at the Waupun Aquatic Center, similar to the free days the Fox Lake pool has. This is simply not true, however, we’re not Fox Lake. First, our pool is twice the size of theirs. Second, they started a pilot program of “free days” to help attendance and Fox Lake was willing to increase their annual deficit that the pool runs. In Waupun, our pool attendance is strong and we don’t want to increase the deficit our pool runs. Because of that, if a business wishes to sponsor a day, we would charge the business the equivalent amount of admission per pool user. Our pool holds 600 persons when at capacity, meaning that if it is a hot and sunny day, and the pool is packed, the business would be charged at least $3,600 for that afternoon.

Waupun’s aquatic center is an awesome quality of life amenity for our community, and the city does operate it at a loss to help keep the cost for users as low as possible. The aquatic center is also another service offered by our city that the surrounding townships don’t contribute towards. 

If any business wishes to sponsor a day for the 2025 season, please contact Rachel at Waupun Recreation Department sometime before fall. We’d like all sponsorships to be paid before we sell annual passes. 

Thank you and God Bless, 

Mayor Rohn