Miss Wheelchair of Wisconsin, Local Mazomania Resident, Helps Downtown Historic District Become More Accessible | New

ByShannon J. Cortes

Nov 2, 2022

MAZOMANIA (WKOW) — Some businesses that make up downtown Mazomania are making small adjustments to their building’s structure, which owners say could have a huge impact on their customers.

Annie Heathcote grew up in Mazomania and was recently crowned Miss Wheelchair of Wisconsin.

When Heathcote went to visit some of her favorite spots in Mazomania’s historic downtown district, she realized she couldn’t go in alone.

“A lot of businesses are not accessible and they have steps,” Heathcote said. “This communicates a message people with disabilities are not allowed.”

Heathcote told the story of the day she wanted to go to 1855 Coffee House, but noticed there was a lip of cement about two inches – which she couldn’t get over – leading to the ramp.

She said she immediately told the owner, Michelle VanSchyndel, about it.

Shortly after, VanSchyndel installed a steel cover to allow Heathcote to easily climb the ramp.

“After coming,” she said, “she loved this place, and then she thought, ‘But there’s a little lip on the concrete. And I can’t drive over it with the chair on my own.’ “, said VanSchyndel.

The small change made a big difference to neighboring businesses, like Mazo Graphics & Print.

The buildings that house 1855 Coffee House and Mazo Graphics & Print were built in the late 1800s. Like them, many downtown historic buildings are not yet accessible to people with disabilities.

Stefan Peterson is the owner of Mazo Graphics & Print. He said he added a ramp that was easy to find online and set up.

“It doesn’t have to be a big deal. And it’s a big deal for others to be able to access the buildings themselves,” Peterson said.

Tracy Johnson is the village building inspector. He told 27 News that they “enforce ADA accessibility standards by code. If someone is renovating an existing structure, it must be brought into compliance. We need permits for this type of work and inspections. »

Heathcote has been a lifelong advocate for disability awareness and will continue to do so. She said that sometimes all it takes is talking.

“It makes me feel like I’m really seen and welcomed here, especially since it’s my hometown,” Heathcote said.