12 years of leadership, passion behind Thallemer’s legacy

Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer (Right) shares a laugh with former Warsaw Mayor Ernie Wiggins Wednesday at a reception for Thallemer at the Zimmer Biomet Center Lake Pavilion. In the background is one of a series of photos highlighting his career. The one pictured is of Thallemer in a meeting earlier this year with U.S. Sen. Todd Young and Kosciusko County Commissioner Cary Groninger discussing the topic of law enforcement policies. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer’s reception Wednesday at the Zimmer Biomet Center Lake Pavilion saw a constant flow of guests stopping by Wednesday afternoon in honor of the three-term mayor who is stepping down at the end of December.

Many of the visitors included city employees, city and county police, and others who wanted to wish him well. The crowd also included city leaders from Angola and Mishawaka, among others.

Those who have worked with him closely over the years were asked about Thallemer’s best attributes — and there were consistent themes.

Jeremy Skinner, who started out as city planner under Mayor Ernie Wiggons and now serves as the director of community & economic development, summed up his thoughts:

“Leadership — being able to get people to work together, knowing what the city needs and having the right people at the table to accommplish those goals and objectives that make the city a better place,” Skinner said.

Staci Young, who joined the city as director of recreation in the parks department, has been Thallemer’s administrative assistant for much of his tenure.

“I would say his ability to bring people togethere no matter what their viewpoints or their stances on issues. He’s good at bringing everyone into the room and working through issues, collaborating and getting everyone on the same page,” Young said.

Kosciusko County Sheifff Jim Smith got to know Thallemer as a patient at Thallemer’s optometry business even before he entered his law enforcement career.

He pointed to Thallemer’s passion.

“His work and his vision that he’s done for the community has been a reflection of that. You don’t get that when you don’t have the drive and passion for what you’re doing,” Smith said. “Warsaw’s been very lucky to have him.”

Thallemer’s final year has seen completion of the renovated pavilion, park office and recreational trail along Center Lake.

He said having the reception at the pavilion was a fitting conclusion to his tenure.

Changes to the pavilion opened up a view of the lake, greatly improved lighting, as well as  a revamped kitchen and restrooms.

“It’s just kind of the heartbeat of the community and now we’re ready to go. We’ve got a nice place for the next administration,” Thallemer said.

From the start as mayor, he said he worked hard to put people first.

“If you put the people first, you’re going to serve them and do what they want done,” Thallemer said.

“At the end of the day, we all want the same thing,” he said.

Thallemer will be rememered for a wide-ranging list of accomplishments.

Aside from his efforts to help oversee the local approach to the pandemic — Off-hand — he listed the development of the Technology Park, work on US 30 and improvements to the downtown as his biggest his accomplishments.

But he also expresseed satisfaction with keeping attention on smaller issues such as establishment of public art and an emhasis on the city being more inclusive, which included numerous attemmts to provide translation services and connections with the Spanish-speaking community.

Look for Mayor Joe’s final thoughts in this week’s In the Know on News Now Warsaw.