Walt Kenel is a hometown boy, even in his 80s. Walt graduated in 1956 from Kalkaska High School, married Rita, and together, they raised four children: Rick (Denise) Kenel, Rod (Robin) Kenel, LynnAnn (Alan) Stiff, and Chris Kenel, who passed away in 2004. He has nine grandchildren and 15 greats! The family moved to the Flint area for work and Walt was able to retire from the General Motors assembly line after 30 years, in 1986.
Walt and Rita moved back to Kalkaska to the Bear Lake area. Walt became active in the volunteer fire department. Over the years, Walt enjoyed building and racing stock cars. Walt was involved with the Kalkaska Senior Center where he created and donated a variety of beautiful wooden furniture pieces. Many were used for fundraising raffles and countless dollars went to the Center due to Walt’s craftsmanship. In 2003, Walt was asked to help with the float for the National Trout Festival. He had never created a float so he considered it a challenge. For nearly 20 years, Walt was the mastermind of the float and he hosted an annual party for family, friends, and the Senior queen & king.
It wasn’t long before Walt became involved with what is now called Christmas in Kalkaska. Right from the beginning, Walt put on many hats for that celebration. He solicited many parade entries, visiting local fire departments and businesses. He was responsible for the bon fire in the Kalkaska Museum’s parking lot, usually getting a friend to tend the fire of his donated wood. Without fail, he entered two of his prized possessions, his 1949 Plymouth and his 1947 Dodge police car. He gathered tons of stuffed animals to toss from the cars to the kids along the parade route. One car always had a live Christmas tree on its top which was then given to a local family in need of a tree.
Walt hung up his parade hats a few years ago and he is certainly missed. These days, he still enjoys some wood working and spending as much time as he can with his family.
Lisa Marie Anderson was born in Traverse City but raised in many cities due to her Dad’s job. They had moved back by her high school years and she graduated from Traverse City High School. After achieving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Lisa enlisted in the US Army in 1986 to help pay for her education. She served for eight years then moved to TC but ended up in Kalkaska as it was less expensive to buy a house there. She also served in the Army Reserve for three years. Both of Lisa’s children, Rachel and Aaron, were active in school and graduated from KHS. Lisa went to work for Michigan Works where she held several positions over the years.
This job is where she began to get involved in the community and to see the issues many of our youth face including homelessness. She has advocated for and mentored youth for over 20 years. She has provided shelter for many along the way. Ideally, she sees Kalkaska to be a place that makes sure everyone has a home and job, can be productive, and has the ability to give back.
Over her years of community service, Lisa has been involved with the following: Kalkaska County DHHS Board, Live Well Kalkaska Substance Free Coalition, Kalkaska County Agricultural Fair, Partners and Collaboration for Kalkaska Seniors (PACKS), KMHC Family & Patient Advisory Council, Regional Families Against Narcotics Family Forum & Advisory Board, Angel Volunteer for Hope Not Handcuffs Initiative, Kalkaska County representative to the Coalition to End Homelessness, National Trout Festival, Regional Substance Free Coalition of NW Michigan, Kalkaska County Veterans Committee, Tobacco Free Coalition of the North, and Kalkaska County Commission on Aging Advisory Board. She has also lent her efforts to several other projects throughout the community including planting trees in the Village, clean up at Chalker Park, the Commission on Aging’s Christmas Brunch, gift wrapping, household products drive, and many others.
Lisa currently works for Catholic Human Services as a Certified Substance Use Prevention Specialist covering three counties. She is a recognized public speaker on the opioid crisis, vaping epidemic, and the stigma of addiction. She works hard to educate youth and young adults about the dangers and informing them of choices they have and helping them to help themselves.
Lisa said that she loves Kalkaska and its varied culture and community members. She loves being in a small town and how she will always see so many people she knows even on a quick grocery trip. She is very thankful to be part of this fabulous community.
Dawn Triplett has authored and self-published four Kalkaska County, Michigan, history books: Barker Creek, Michigan: A Ghost Town; Church of Christ at Barker Creek and Rapid City, Michigan; Brave Boys Were They! Civil War Veterans of Kalkaska, Michigan; and Dear Editor, Kalkaska, Michigan. She also co-authored the history of the Kalkaska Church of Christ 125th Anniversary 1888 – 2013. She was editor and wrote many articles for Big Trout, Black Gold, the History of Kalkaska County, Michigan, published in 2002 by the Kalkaska Genealogical Society. Triplett is listed in Michigan Authors, 3rd Edition published by the Michigan Association for Media in Education and also in Michigan Authors, 4th Edition in recognition of her writing on local history. She is currently the president of the Kalkaska Genealogical Society and has researched and self-published her own family history. Triplett is currently researching the schools of Kalkaska County for a future book.
Triplett became interested in family history at a young age after meeting several great-aunts and uncles. Her interest in family history led to wanting to know where her ancestors came from and the history of the little towns and bergs where they settled in Kalkaska County.
Dawn Triplett was born on September 10, 1951, the daughter of Don and Kay (Bluer) DePeel. She attended Lewis School, a country school in Excelsior Township until the school closed. She was then transported into Kalkaska Public Schools. She graduated from Kalkaska High School in 1969 with the Commercial Business Award. She ended her secretarial career as an Administrative Assistant at Erb Lumber in Kalkaska. Dawn married her high school sweetheart Allen Triplett after graduation and they recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. After Allen’s retirement from the Village of Kalkaska DPW, they moved to the country and built a house on land that once belonged to Allen’s grandparents. Allen and Dawn have three children, twelve grandchildren and three great-granddaughters.
Rochelle Nevedal-Dombrowski was the winner for the 2020 Logo Design Contest. When the NTF board decided to cancel that year's festivities due to the pandemic, they also decided that such a great design should carry over until the next Festival could be held.
Rochelle is the owner of Quirky Headquarters (a gift shop in downtown Kalkaska) and Quirky Crate (a monthly subscription box). She is one of the founders of The Small Town Outlaws- Kalkaska’s roller derby team and she is on the Kalkaska Downtown Development Authority board, as well. She has lived in the village for over 10 years and every year, she and her family look forward to their favorite weekend of the year- Trout Fest! Rochelle wanted to enter the logo design contest because she loves the festival and wanted to be able to help out in some way. She attended school for fashion design, but love all design including graphic and interior, so taught herself. She was so excited to have her logo chosen for the 2020 National Trout Festival® and subsequently, the 2021 Fest!