Jefferson Award Winner, Barbara Rice - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Jefferson Award Winner, Barbara Rice

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Sparta, Wisconsin (WXOW) --- As the clock strikes five some people are closing up shop for the day but Barbara Rice is just getting started.

For the past 60 years she has been doing whatever it takes to make the city of Sparta a better place to live.  She says community pride is important.

As for the Jefferson Award, Barbara says she's not so sure she deserves it.

"I mean I'm handy in this community in that I've lived here and I know a lot of people. If someone in this community needs something, if I don't know I can direct them to someone else who can help them," said Rice.

But anyone who knows Rice will say she does a lot more than that and that she's the reason the historical parts of Sparta are still intact in particular, the Lady Justice statue that use to sit on top of the court building.

"I went up there once because I had never been in the attic so I asked Jim to take me up there. It was full of old books and I see this Lady Justice laying on her back with missing parts. I found a metal man, and he fixed her, and she had been put up where she had been before," said Rice.

Barbara and her beloved husband were instrumental in starting the Sparta Boys and Girls Club 20 years ago.

She also helped start the Holiday Lights, one of the biggest food drives that feeds thousands of families every year during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Rice is also a well-known public activist who wishes more people would get involved in city government issues.

"Government is absolutely the base of a healthy life, a healthy community. It's necessary. If you disagree you have to do something about it," said Rice.

Rice says she found the key to a successful volunteer career that came in the form of advice from a friend.

"He said 'if you don't make volunteering fun, you're gonna lose your volunteers', so I always take that to heart. I don't do something if I don't think it would be fun," said Rice.

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