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 fifth installment, I chatted with Joe Martell the Langlade County GIS Coordinator/LIO. Joe is currently a LIO-at-Large on the LION board.
Jeremy: Where do you hail from?
Joe: I’ve always lived in Marathon County. I grew up on a farm in Athens as a kid. Many of my relatives lived in Wausau so we have always remained in the area.
Jeremy: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Joe: My parents each had their hand in the home selling and remodeling business so that is what I ended up doing too. I was in CENTURY 21 from High School until 2006. Once I could hold a bucket and a paintbrush I helped my dad on and off for my whole life. Now I’m onto Chapter 2 of life so to speak. I got remarried two years ago and between Cindy and I we have 4 kids all of whom are adults.
Jeremy: Where did you go for your degree(s) if any?
Joe: In 2009 I went back to school at UW Marathon Campus then moved onto UW Stevens Point where I completed my degree in 2014-15.
Jeremy: Was there anything in particular or a certain moment that lead you to going down the GIS path or was it just a natural considering you were working with real estate and land related information in realty?
Joe: Yeah, I do think it was a natural progression. I’ve always loved Cartography, my experience at UWSP included plenty of cartographic specific classes. I was very blessed to have Dr. Keith Rice as my Advisor, he really was and is an amazing professor and person.
Jeremy: What are some of your current work related goals?
Joe: Langlade County has been behind in the times with some of their data. My goal is to get the various data layers either created or up to a higher standard. It sounds simple, but even the parcel layer was not yet completed until after I started.
Jeremy: I think to do everything right it takes time and money. I feel like I have been chasing what other counties have already achieved for years. It is like the goal line keeps moving and you just hope that you are at least getting closer to it. My advice is to keep setting goals and patiently keep fighting the fight. Speaking of advice. What advice would you give to a brand new member of the WLIA?
Joe: The WLIA is very welcoming. As a student I volunteered to help with the Map Gallery which I had absolutely no idea what that meant. That first year it turned out that some of the people in charge of the volunteers had also gone to UW Stevens Point. Then after some encouragement I submitted my own map for the annual gallery. After joining Langlade County, it has been great to continue meeting people and finding out what various professionals do in their fields. A great benefit to me personally is the help I’ve been able to seek out from other LIO’s and members. I appreciate it and would encourage anyone in a related field to join the WLIA.
Jeremy: You talked about some of your past work experiences already, but what was your favorite or first job from High School or College? Did it help prepare you for your current role?
Joe: The most unique and favorite job I had during High School and after for a time was helping out one of my grandfathers’ best friends. Bob Alternburg his name was, had been a lion tamer in the circus, owned his own carnival equipment and had a business in Rib Mountain selling electrical motors. I worked those summers on and off all over the place selling Cotton Candy, Popcorn, & Soda. It was more than that though. If he could make money at it, he dabbled in it. Bob contributed to my people skills and taught me that fostering business sense can start at any age.
Jeremy: That is pretty unique job and probably was very interesting. One could say that being GIS Coordinator that you are a LION tamer of sorts as in domesticating data for the Langlade’s Land Information Office Networks. On the topic of first jobs, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Joe: I wanted to be a soldier, my health never did allow it. On my father’s side every generation has many people who have served. My grandfather was in WWII, My dad served 12 years during the Vietnam period, 5 of my dad’s 8 brothers and sisters served in some capacity in various military branches. Now one of my sons was in the Air Force and some of my cousins serve.
Jeremy: That is a very noble aspiration. I live near Fort McCoy and living around so many military families that have ended up here that come from all regions of the country has opened my eyes to more of the sacrifices that they make. It isn’t just the person serving it is their entire family. Thank you for your family’s service and sacrifice for our country.
I have a few lighter questions. What is your favorite quote?
Joe: My favorite quote is…
I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.~ this quote is often credited to Stephen Grellet
Jeremy: Can you recommend a good book?
Joe: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Jeremy: If you could be any living thing other than a human what would it be and why?
Joe: A bird, preferably an Eagle. Being able to soar and fly like that. Amazing.
Thank you Joe for quickly taking the time to answer my questions. You are a valued member of our organization. I think that your people skills, spirit and work ethic will lead to great accomplishments and already have. Speaking of great accomplishments, skill, spirit, and work ethic, I also would like to extend a thank you on behalf of the WLIA to all members of our organization that have served our country. Veterans we thank you for your service.