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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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042121frontBousleyretires.jpg

SALUTE RETIRING MAYOR - State Senator Mary Felzkowski, of Tomahawk, left, and State Representative Jeffrey Mursau of Crivitz, right, presented retiring Niagara Mayor George Bousley, center, with a commendation plaque and flags that had flown over the state capital, and saluted him for his many accomplishments during a retirement reception in his honor at Niagara City Hall on Friday, April 16. Bousley had been Niagara Village President since 1975, and became its first mayor when the village became a city in 1991. He also served many years as a Marinette County Board Supervisor and eight years as County Board Chair, leaving that position in 2012. He announced his plans last year to retire as Mayor when his current term ended on Monday, April 19.

Mayor George Bousley Retirement Marks End Of An Era For Niagara

Issue Date: April 21, 2021

After over 41 years in public service, longtime City of Niagara Mayor George Bousley has retired. His remarkable career and lifetime of service were honored at a farewell reception at City Hall on Friday, April 16, and he attended his last City Council meeting as Mayor on Monday, April 19.

Bousley announced in advance of time to circulate nomination papers for the spring election on April 6 that he would not serve another term, but there was no candidate on the ballot to replace him. Alderman Joe Johnston, who had been a member of the Niagara City Council for one year, was elected Mayor by a write-in vote and took office on Tuesday, April 20.

Bousley's official involvement in Niagara government began in 1975, when he was elected Village President. He held that position until Niagara was changed from a "village" to a "city" 1991/1992, and his position transitioned from President to Mayor. He served as Mayor until 1995, and then again from 2009 to April 19, 2021.

In 2000, Bousley was approached by a member of the Marinette County Board to run for a seat that had been vacated on the premise that "it won't take too much of your time. There is only one meeting a month." Four years into his tenure as a County Board Supervisor, Bousley was elected as County Board Chair. He remained in that role for another eight years.

Those once-a-month County Board meetings had quickly evolved into multiple monthly meetings, as Bousley was also an active member and/or chairperson of several county committees, including Economic Development, Housing Authority, Association for Business and Industry (MCABI), Industrial Development (MCIDC) and Emergency Management. He opted not to re-run for his County seat in 2012 because he felt a need to devote more time to his job as Mayor of Niagara. He had been elected as Niagara's Mayor again in 2009, and held that position until his retirement on April 19.

In addition to municipal and county government, Bousley was a board member of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and the Niagara School District. He served in the US Army on active duty from 1957 to 1960 and in the reserves from 1960 to 1963.

In addition to his civic responsibilities, Bousley owned and operated Bousley's Auto Repair on the main street in Niagara, from 1963 until his "first" retirement in 1999. The station was known as a place to stop, not only to get your vehicle repaired, but also to get advice, a snack, and a warm welcome to the area. Many local youths were employed by Bousley, and he enjoys catching up with them as often as possible.

One notable visitor to the service station was Governor Patrick Lucey in 1973. Since that time, every governor until current governor Tony Evers has been to Niagara. Rose Bousley, George's wife of nearly 65 years, has baked and presented a plate of chocolate chip cookies to each of them.

Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Audrey Frederick, perhaps following Rose Bousley's cookie-making tradition, baked the cookies that were served at Friday's reception.

City employees honored their outgoing mayor with an open house celebration on April 16. Many current and former residents attended to share stories and thank the mayor for his service. Also in attendance were members of the Marinette County Board, including current County Board Chair John Guarisco, and County Administrator John LeFebvre. State Representative Jeffrey Mursau and Senator Mary Felzkowski presented Bousley with a commendation plaque and flags that had flown over the state capital, and saluted him for his many accomplishments.

Bousley's son Jim presented him with a plaque of commendation from Governor Evers, as well as state and US flags that had flown over the capital.

The commendation from Gov. Evers read:

"Whereas, George Bousley, longtime mayor of the city of Niagara and former chair of the Marinette County Board, has announced his retirement after 32 years of service as mayor, and

"Whereas, George served our country in the United States Army from 1957 to 1963 and, following his return to Wisconsin, he was elected Village President of Niagara in 1975 " later transitioning into the role of mayor after Niagara became a city and served until 1995, and again from 2009 to present and

"Whereas, in addition to his service to the City of Niagara, George served as a board member of the Wisconsin League of Municipalities, as well as a member of the Marinette County Board for 12 years, including eight years as chair; and

"Whereas, George has dedicated his career to serving the people of Niagara and folks across Marinette county, and legacy of his work will to continue to be felt by generation of Wisconsinites; and

"Whereas; known by all in his community as a dedicated, knowledgeable, and experienced leader, George's leadership will be greatly missed by his constituents and coworkers in city government;

"Now therefore, I, Tony Evers, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, do hereby commend George Bousley for his 32 years of dedicated service to the city of Niagara and to our state, and wish him the best for an enjoyable and rewarding retirement."

There also was a congratulatory call from former Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Jim said his father worked well with state and federal officials, both Democrat and Republican. He shared testaments of his father's dedication and commitment, and also thanked his mother for her support.

Two of Bousley's sons have followed their father's footsteps as local leaders. Jim was on the City Council in Cuba City for 14 years, and served as Mayor for one year to fill a brief vacancy in that post. He retired from government service five years ago. Son Larry served several terms on the Wrightstown Village Board.

On Monday, April 19, Mayor Bousley presided over his final City Council meeting. During the session, Marinette County Administrator John LeFebvre presented the Bousleys with a brand new road sign for a section of Tyler Road that City Council renamed Bousley Parkway as a permanent tribute to the Bousleys.

The newly named Bousley Parkway is the north section of Tyler Road leading to the Menominee River boat landing and recreational area that George and Rose Bousley walk daily.

Also at the April 19 Council meeting, Curt Witnyski, Deputy Director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, honored the mayor by thanking him "...for the many years of extraordinary service you have provided to Niagara. You stand out as exemplifying the ideal local leader. Your honesty, humbleness, love of your community, hard work, tenacity to get things done a rare combination."

Witnyski also added that Bousley is the only person he is aware of who has served as both president and mayor of the same community.

The 86-year-old mayor's future plans include adding more miles to his running log. His goal after retiring from the service station in 1999 had been to run the equivalent of the circumference of the earth " 24,901 miles. He has exceeded that goal by running 27,765 miles. He plans to continue running regularly, individually and in marathon races,

Most importantly, however, he and Rose will spend more time with their children Judy, Jim, Kathy and Larry and their families (son Tommy passed away in infancy), including 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Rose said her husband has kept up pretty well with chores, so she does not have a significant "honey-do" list for him.

A former County Board Supervisor who had served while Bousley was board chair praised him for his leadership and the wisdom and insights he was willing to share when she or other supervisors went to him for advice.

In written comments on the reception guest log, Attorney Kim Coggins declared that Bousley had been the driving force behind Niagara becoming a city in 1992 and in getting the new City Hall and library built later.

Coggins concluded, "I have always been impressed by your concern for our community and making things better for the people who live in it. Your common sense and savvy concerning public issues was instrumental in your ability to make things better for Niagara and its citizens"your sense of citizenship and humility are wonderful traits!"






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