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Publisher highlights Edgerton

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Stacy Vogel
January 20, 2008
— If something positive is going on in Edgerton, you can bet Diane Everson is involved.

The co-publisher of The Edgerton Reporter spends her free time building up her community—from helping create the city’s annual book festival to manning the food table at a motorcycle run to raise money for diabetes research.


She’s so well-known in Edgerton that there’s an acronym for the long list of people she calls on when something needs organizing or supporting: FOD or “Friends of Diane.”


“Anytime we need anything, we call Diane because she can usually figure out a way to make it happen,” said Kim Schuetz, president of the Edgerton Area Chamber of Commerce.


That was certainly the case in 2006 when the city wanted to find a way to celebrate the 100th birthday of its most famous author, Sterling North.


Everson says the idea for a book festival came from a series of community brainstorming sessions, but those involved with the event say it was her baby.


“The whole idea of our book festival started with Diane,” Schuetz said. “It was her brain child.”


That brainchild, the Edgerton Sterling North Book & Film Festival, proved a huge success.


Thousands of locals and visitors turned out to see a weekend of authors, starting with nationally renowned journalist Helen Thomas.


Everson made friends with the political reporter while serving as president of the National Newspaper Association and convinced her to take part in the event.


Everson helped organize the second annual festival in 2007, and she’s already hard at work planning the third one.


The book festival tops a long list of projects Everson helped make successful—from July’s Thunder Run to the expansion of the Edgerton Public Library completed in early 2006.


Everson lobbied hard for the referendum allowing the city to spend $2.5 million on the addition, she said.


As publisher of the local community newspaper, Everson sees it as her duty and her pleasure to promote Edgerton.


“You can’t have a strong newspaper without a strong community, and you can’t have a strong community without a strong newspaper,” she said.


It’s a lesson she learned from her parents, Helen and Harland Everson, who bought The Edgerton Reporter in 1951. Harland Everson served on the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1970 to 1982, and Helen Everson was instrumental in keeping the annual Tobacco Days festival going.


“It’s very important to be involved, especially in the newspaper business,” said Helen Everson, who co-publishes the paper with Everson.


But Everson thinks her greatest accomplishment might be yet to come. She dreams of the day Edgerton is named a “Book Town,” a special classification currently given to only 12 communities worldwide.


According to the Web site www.booktown.net, “a Book Town is a small rural town or village in which second-hand and antiquarian bookshops are concentrated.”


Edgerton might have a long way to go before achieving that goal; currently, the city doesn’t have any bookstores.


But Everson believes it’s possible, especially with Sterling North’s legacy and the annual book festival.


“I’m most proud of our rich history and the wonderful possibility we now have with this Book Town,” she said. “It can put our community on the map.”


DIANE EVERSON
Community: Edgerton
Occupation: Co-publisher of The Edgerton Reporter
Family: Mother, Helen, co-publisher of The Edgerton Reporter; father, Harland, died in 1992; younger sister, Carol
Education: Graduate of Carroll College, Waukesha, with a degree in social work
Notable awards: Awarded the Emma C. McKinney Award, the highest honor for a woman working in community journalism, from the National Newspaper Association in 2006. Named Wisconsin Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 1994
Hobbies: Travel, curling, cooking, reading
Countries visited: Japan, China, Korea, Egypt, Switzerland, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Scotland
Memorable quote: “I may be from a small community, but I am certainly not small-time.”

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