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Jefferson Award winner, March 2019: Mark Geisler

MAZOMANIE (WKOW) — Mark Geisler has been part of the volunteer fire department in Mazomanie for decades.

When flooding devastated the village last year, residents turned to him for help.

“It was a whole different animal,” he says. “The water was coming up feet per hour.”

August 21, 2018 is a day that will never be forgotten in Mazomanie.

“We had 8 fire departments here helping us pretty quickly and we evacuated 110 homes in a few hours.”

Amid the chaos and devastation of historic flooding, was the calming voice of the chief of the department.

“He was a ray of hope for people on the worst day of their lives,” says Deputy Clerk Treasurer Tara Roessler.

Chief Geisler was able to mobilize a massive flood recovery effort, backed by his community.

“That Saturday morning there were 200 volunteers in front of this building, 18 garbage trucks and about a dozen people with bobcats,” he says.

“It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever witnessed,” says Tara. “People rallied around him.”

It’s a testament to the way people in Mazomanie feel about their fearless leader.

“To see somebody working for your village in the way he does, in all the different facets, you can tell he really genuinely cares about all the people in this village,” says Tara.

That drive to give back started when Mark was young.

“My dad was a volunteer firefighter, so from a young age I got to hang out at the fire station and climb around on the trucks.”

25 years ago he made it back to those trucks, when he started volunteering at the Mazomanie Fire Department.

“I wanted to get to know people in the community. It was also a way to give back.”

Mark’s held a leadership role there for 24 years.

“I ask a lot. I set the bar high and I lead by example.”

Taking his volunteer department to a top 10% national ranking.

“Try to elevate them to the highest level.”

His service was honored this year, when Mark was awarded Firefighter of the Year through the Wisconsin State Firefighters Association.

“It’s humbling,” he says tearfully. “I obviously don’t do it for the recognition. I have a lot of pride in our community and it makes me feel good to try to make Mazomanie a better place.”

Amber Noggle

Anchor, 27 News at 5, 6 and 10

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