By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The new administrator and clerk-treasurer for the Village of Colfax, Jackie Ponto, has come home again.
Well, sort of, anyway.
Ponto is not originally from Colfax but her husband, Troy, grew up in Colfax, and she has many family members living in and around Colfax.
Ponto, who is originally from Glenwood City, also previously served as the clerk for the Village of Downing and as the deputy clerk and then the clerk for the City of Glenwood City. She began her duties as the administrator/clerk-treasurer in Colfax at the beginning of July.
Ponto and her family had moved to Florida to operate their own business and returned to Wisconsin three years ago to be closer to family.
“When we came back, there was nothing open. I checked all over the state of Wisconsin because I am a certified municipal clerk. There was just nothing open at that time … so when this came open, I thought this was the perfect size, the perfect fit for me. Colfax is about the same size as Glenwood,” Ponto said.
Ponto actually had applied for the administrator/clerk-treasurer position last year.
When that didn’t work out, “I just kept doing what I was doing. I was working at a nursing home doing the accounting and the medical billing. I enjoyed the stories from the old people. I really enjoyed working in a nursing home. It was rewarding. Very rewarding. This will be rewarding too. Right now, it’s organizing. Kathy (Morse) did a great job for the amount of time she could be here,” Ponto said.
Kathy Morse, the clerk-treasurer in Rice Lake, has been serving as the interim clerk-treasurer in Colfax since January of 2011.Clerk-treasurer John Jahr passed away in November of 2010.
Pete Gehring, Colfax police chief, also has recently spent time in the clerk’s office filling in when necessary.
Ponto’s husband, Troy, is the terminal manager for U.S. Special Delivery in Hammond. Her daughter, Brooke, is going into her junior year of high school, and her son, Andrew, is attending college at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
When Ponto started as the clerk in Glenwood City, Andrew was 9 years old and Brooke was 5.
Andrew plans to be married in Florida in December. His fiancée, a pre-law major, also attends Florida State. Andrew is majoring in computer programming.
Troy and Jackie own a house in Downing, although they plan to buy a house in Colfax.
“We are looking forward to moving to Colfax. My daughter will be starting school here,” Ponto said.
Duane and Sue Jenson, Troy Ponto’s mother and step-father, live near the White Tail Golf Course. Ponto also has a number of sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law in the area.
“Troy went back and forth. His mother lived in Colfax. His dad lived in Menomonie. He went to school here a few years but graduated from Menomonie,” Ponto explained.
Al Stai is Troy’s great-uncle.
“Yes, we have family in the area. We moved back here to be closer to family. My mom and dad lived in Glenwood. But now they have both retired and they are thinking about moving to Texas to be closer to friends. They have spent the whole summer up by the lake at Brainerd. My sister lives in Clayton,” Ponto said.
The Colfax village clerk’s office has been busy since Ponto started her new duties.
“I have enjoyed meeting everyone who has come in. I make sure to get their name and to shake their hand and say ‘hello.’ I am trying to familiarize myself with people in town. I want to get to know people. And it’s starting. Now I am seeing people on the sidewalk who are starting to say ‘hi,’” Ponto said.
“I hope I can fill John’s shoes. Everybody speaks so highly of him. They were very proud of him,” she said.
The biggest new thing around Colfax soon will be the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center’s building project.
“I am excited to see the nursing home project coming along. I think it will be a great addition for Colfax,” Ponto said.
The designer for the Colfax Health and Rehab project, Architectural Design Group out of Menomonie (ADG), is the same company that designed the Woodville nursing home, she noted.
“Woodville is phenomenal. It is just beautiful. My mom was the accounting person there. Everyone who came in commented on how wonderful the building looked after the remodel,” Ponto said.
As if starting a new position as the administrator/clerk-treasurer in Colfax were not enough — especially under the circumstances of the village being without a permanent full-time clerk-treasurer for nearly two years — Ponto also is working on another pursuit: a bachelor’s degree in web design. She has nine classes left to finish her degree.
“I am hoping I can expand (on the village’s website). After my son moved out, I needed a distraction. My empty-nest (syndrome) kicked in. It was something I always wanted to learn,” she said.
Ponto says the Colfax municipal website would be a good way to promote the village and to provide information to village residents.
“There are very few municipalities out there now that do not have a web site,” Ponto noted.
For Ponto, taking over as the administrator/clerk-treasurer in Colfax “feels right.”
“We had a good time while we were in Florida, but we are glad to be back,” she said.
“Sometimes I think you have to get out of the area for a while to appreciate what you have when you come back,” Ponto said..