Public servant wears many uniforms
Family: Wife, Karla; daughters, Cheyenne, 17, and Sammi, 15; dogs, Zeuc and Stormy.
Extended family: Nine horses on his family's 16-acre farmette, along with the rest of ol' MacDonald's farm: geese, rabbits, chickens and goats. Karla and Sammi love horses, he said, but he has a free get-out-of-cleaning-the-barn card because he's allergic to horses. "That worked to my advantage," he joked.
Job: Professor of criminal justice at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Evansville municipal judge and part-time police officer in Milton and Brodhead. Also volunteer EMS driver.
Job titles he's had: Substitute teacher, radio disc jockey, mud engineer in oil fields, sheriff's deputy, assistant fire chief and part-time deputy coroner—"The things that a dead body can tell you in terms of law enforcement just blew me away," he said.
Favorite hobbies: "My free time?" he asked, laughing. His newest interest is restoring old cars. He enjoys flying but hasn't flown "in some time."
Favorite song: "That Happy Feeling" by Burt Kaempfert
Favorite movie: "Titanic"
Favorite food: Italian
Role models: Steve McGarrett from "Hawaii Five-O" and Jim Kirk from "Star Trek."
"In terms of real people, this is going to sound really corny, but my wife and my kids. They add a part to me that I can't begin to describe."
Words that best describe you: Stands up for what's right.
Favorite quotes: "The days take forever, but the years slip away."
"A ship in a harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for."
EVANSVILLE Tom Alisankus cemented his career path after saving his first life during his freshman year of college.
"There's something about giving somebody their life back that is unparalleled and kind of a natural high," said the 49-year-old rural Evansville man, who gave CPR to a diabetic peer who had passed out and stopped breathing. "I knew I had to stay in some sort of public service."
His public service started when he won his bid for the local school board in New York at age 19.
In the decades since, Alisankus has held many job titles, ranging from deputy coroner to assistant fire chief. He has served as Evansville's municipal judge since 1991, and he is a criminal justice professor at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill., and part-time police officer in Milton and Brodhead.
He also chaired a committee in Union Township that developed an ordinance to regulate wind energy. The committee's document is becoming the foundation for many other municipalities facing the same issues.
Alisankus also is a volunteer driver for EMS and helps answer legal questions, EMS Coordinator Mary Beaver said.
"He's a huge asset to our service, obviously," she said. "He's a great person to work with … He does a lot for our community."
Raised on a farm in upstate New York, Alisankus said he wouldn't swap the experience for anything.
"Growing up on a farm, (it's) not only the values that you learn but the skills you learn," he said.
After graduating with a high school class of 30, Alisankus went to college before moving to Wyoming. He joined a group called the "sheriff's posse," a volunteer sheriff's group that led to his status as full-time deputy, then sergeant.
He met his future wife, Karla, on the job, and the pair together completed law degrees. The coupled moved to Evansville to raise their family and fell in love with the small city.
Alisankus stands 6 foot, 4 inches and wears a mustache, but the officer of the law's softer side still shines through. He likes telling "an interesting story" about his family's six-hour trip to get the dog that his daughter found online.
Police Chief Scott McElroy, a former court officer, regularly witnessed the focus on kids and fairness in Alisankus' courtroom. Alisankus takes time to listen and work with kids in the community, making them bring their report cards into court to follow up on his sentences.
"He always took the time necessary to deal with kids," McElroy said, "and that seemed to be his priority. Regardless of the matter, he always took the time to not only listen to kids but to actually talk to them."
Alisankus also has provided free legal and law enforcement advice throughout the community, McElroy said.
"He's been a nice asset to the community," he said. "Unless you work directly with him, you probably don't appreciate it, but I'm fortunate I have been able to."
Alisankus views his work for the community as an obligation. The needs are great, and people who are able should help the unfortunate, he said.
"It just became kind of a calling," he said. "The joy for me is, I enjoy doing it. It doesn't seem like an obligation."