Community Awards
Community Awards
A Preserve America Community

Osceola Designated As A Preserve America Community

In 2007 the Village of Osceola was awarded a federal designation as a Preserve America Community. Osceola received this designation for its efforts in using its historical resources for economic development and community revitalization.

Preserve America is a White House initiative that encourages and supports community efforts to preserve and enjoy priceless cultural and natural heritage. Communities are recognized for protecting and celebrating their heritage, for using historic assets for economic development and community revitalization and for encouraging people to experience and appreciate local historic resources through education and heritage tourism programs.

Benefits of this designation include White House recognition and eligibility to apply for Preserve America grants. The grants are available to help communities find self-sustaining ways to promote their cultural resources through heritage tourism. The Village of Osceola will also receive a Preserve America Community road sign, authorization to use the Preserve America logo on signs, flags, banners and promotional materials, a listing on the Preserve America website, inclusion in national and regional press releases, and official notification of designation to State tourism offices and visitor bureaus.

Osceola is proud to be one of eleven Wisconsin communities who have received this designation – and joins the St. Croix Valley communities of Red Wing and Stillwater in sharing this honor.

Crown Community Award

Each year, American City & County Magazine recognizes the extra efforts local governments take that have lasting effects on residents, businesses and the environment. The magazine’s editors asked their readers to nominate projects completed by counties and cities that demonstrate creative methods for solving enduring problems. Osceola, Wisconsin is proud to be one of five communities awarded the 2006 Crown Community Award.

Excerpts from American City & County Magazine December 2006


Being a quaint village listed on the National Historic Downtown Register may be prestigious, but as the local government officials in Osceola, Wis., discovered, it also may mean trouble is brewing below the surface. Established in 1844, Osceola’s treasures include an old millpond and other historical landmarks, yet more recently the town had to address problems throughout its century-old infrastructure.

In 2002, heavy rains broke an earthen dam upstream from the village, flooding a major portion of Osceola’s downtown and nearby State Highway 35. The flooding also filled the historic millpond with silt. The year before, the village had begun planning for a much-needed wastewater treatment plant, but the flooding — which damaged sections of Highway 35 and threatened a federally endangered species of mussel — revealed a need for additional stormwater control and wastewater treatment upgrades. The town responded by creating a plan to fortify its historic identity while paving the way for its future.

Emergency repairs were made, but before making permanent changes, the town first developed a comprehensive $9.25 million project that included building a new wastewater treatment plant, re-establishing the historic dam and millpond, replacing elements of the water and sewer system, reconstructing streets and storm sewers, landscaping and adding enhancements to the downtown area, improving parking and adding new lighting compatible with the town’s historic character.

The new wastewater treatment plant was built to accommodate increased commercial, industrial and residential growth with a flow capacity of 0.9 million gallons per day, says Neil Soltis, village administrator and clerk. The town routed a new sewer line beneath the old millpond and lowered the inlet to the wastewater treatment plant, eliminating the need for a lift station and force main. The millpond, which had filled with silt, was dredged and fitted with a stone-covered dam and new box culvert for better flow control.

The Osceola Historical Society contributed ideas for the aesthetics of the dam and millpond reconstruction as well as downtown lighting, benches, trash receptacles and landscaping. Local businesses and residents were consulted and updated on the project’s progress through e-mails from Soltis and through a weekly construction feature published in the local paper.

The project spanned two years, and ended just in time for the annual Village Fair and Wings to Wheels Labor Day celebration. “Most people felt this was a huge investment in the future,” Soltis says.

Agencies/companies involved: Osceola, Polk County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, U.S. Parks Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Short Elliott Hendrickson, A-1 Excavating, Staab Construction, Edward Kraemer & Sons, Canadian National Railroad, Push.