The Wisconsin Land Information Association is a large group, and we may only interact with each other in person a few times per year. Considering this, our opportunities to make additional connections and network is limited. In an effort to generate some additional discussion among our members, and to let you get to know some of us better, I decided to ask some members a series of questions. Hopefully this will lead to additional conversations between us and or if nothing else, provide some amusement or provoke a little bit of thought.
In our fourth installment, I chatted with Zach Newton the Waushara County Property Tax Lister & GIS Specialist. Zach is currently the LION Chair Elect.
Jeremy: First off Zach where to you hail from?
Zach: Currently I live in Omro, but I have lived in the Fox Valley for the last decade.
Jeremy: Can you share a little about yourself?
Zach: Out of high school I spent 9 years in the National Guard, with 1 tour in Iraq. In the last few years of that service, I went to school to get my degree. I have been married for just under two years and bought a house just last year. Otherwise, I like cooking and traveling.
Jeremy: First of all thank you for your service Zach. It is easy to take our freedom for granted but it is not guaranteed. It takes people such as yourself who are willing to prepare for the known and unknown threats, put their lives on hold, and and to accept the call to action when needed. So considering that you have been overseas what has been your favorite location that you have visited in your travels?
Zach: My favorite vacation was to Italy and in particular a visit to Pompeii.
Jeremy: What was fascinating about Pompeii?
Zach: I guess it would be the scope of the city. It sprawled over such a large area and for the most part is intact, even some of the old plaster images survived.
Jeremy: Where did you attend school when pursuing your degree?
Zach: I received a BA in Geography and a GIS certificate from UW-Oshkosh.
Jeremy: Zach, how long have you been in your current position?
Zach: I have been at Waushara County since 2015 and have been the LIO since 2016.
Jeremy: How long did your time overlap with Shawn Kelly, he was a really good guy?
Zach: I started working with Shawn in August of 2015 and continued until his passing the following July. That time spent learning from Shawn was invaluable and I wish I had more. He was both a mentor and a friend.
Jeremy: I always enjoyed talking shop with Shawn. I was really taken aback when I found out he was gone. When he mentioned once in conversation that he was sick I didn’t connect the dots that his cancer was back. I felt horrible because I was invested in our conversation but still apparently was not doing a good enough job listening.
What kind of work do you focus on in your current position?
Zach: I currently fill the role of GIS specialist and Property Lister, but I try to focus on building web apps through ArcGIS Online so departments can take control of more of their data.
Jeremy: I can say from experience that a positive in filling that kind of role is you are really in-tune with changes made to the property ownership landscape. The negative though is your ability to work on additional projects is really hindered by the seasonal assessment cycle and other ebbs and flows in the number of document recordings.
What is your favorite app you have worked upon and why?
Zach: I think my favorite would be our address point collector. Mostly due to the shear amount of time it saves me, but recently I started working on a story map for the upcoming 2020 Census. It is mostly focused on outreach and is different than anything else I have worked on, so it is quite interesting.
Jeremy: Shifting gears a bit what has been your favorite WLIA meeting memory?
Zach: My favorite memory of WLIA is probably the retro gaming night social. Although I do remember being a lot better at them as a kid.
Jeremy: That was a favorite of mine as well. What was your favorite game growing up?
Zach: My favorite games were scrabble and later Cribbage.
Jeremy: I’ve never played Cribbage but I used to enjoy Scrabble. Is there anything interesting you would like to share about yourself?
Zach: Something interesting, I guess that I collect old globes and date them.
Jeremy: What is the oldest globe that you have dated?
Zach: The oldest one I own is from the late 1930s to the early 1940s.
A geography related item I must share is there is a location Southwest of Greenwood in Clark County known as Globe. At one-time a Globe Cheese Factory was located around there based on my research but I am uncertain as to the origin of the shared namesake. The location is also known as HOG Corners.
Jeremy: If you could spend an hour with a celebrity who would it be? Why?
Zach: Gary Sinise, who played Lt. Dan. I really respect all the work he does for Veterans organizations.
Below is a photo of Gary Sinise, whom performs at USO shows as a member of the Lt. Dan Band, to entertain troops and raise money for disabled veterans. The band is named after his character Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the movie Forrest Gump.
I would like to extend a thank you to Zach for taking time to let me ask him some questions. Have a happy and safe Independence Day and weekend everybody. Look for more installments in this series in coming months.