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Tuesday

September 2014

16

Huge crowd very little time

Expo had just 30 hours to stage big rally

Nothing quite like it has ever happened before.

The call came in on a Saturday to the Waukesha CountyExpo Center. The center had 30 hours to prepare for the arrival of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan, and a rally expected to draw thousands. Never has the center had to stage an event with such short notice.

Teri Adlam, who has worked as the Waukesha County Expo Center manager for the past 14 years, explained how they pulled it off without a hitch. It was the only weekend between Memorial Day and Thanksgiving that the Expo didn't have an event planned. Adlam and her crew left a bit early that Friday in anticipation of their weekend plans. Then the call came.

Frantic calls were made requesting as many staff as possible back to the Expo center. Being part of the countysystem, the Expo Center drew staff from the Waukesha County Parks and Recreation Department. Mitt Romney's campaign arrived with a semitrailer full of supplies and equipment, but Adlam and her crew still had tobustle to set up Internet connections, bring in miles of bicycle racks, water and more.

The Secret Service, City of Waukesha Police and FireDepartments, Waukesha County Sheriff's Department and their tactical squad and the Milwaukee County Police Department were planning security measures and Expo staff was preparing for the indoor event when another call came in; the event was to be held outside.

"All the way aroundeveryone had to stop, make a change, and reconfigure everything in a very short amount of time," Adlam explained.

Since it was the weekend, most suppliers were closed, so some creative strategizing had to take place. A set of bleachers was borrowed from an area college, Beer Capitol Distributing supplied bottled water and bike racks were brought up from Chicago. An electrician was called to come in at 11 p.m. Saturday night to hook up the outdoor wiring. Campaign staff informed the Expo Center that they needed hay bales. Adlam had 450 bales of hay coming the next weekend for the Dirty Girl Mud Run and had them delivered early.

Thirty semitrailers were needed to create sightline barriers to potential snipers. Adlam called across the street to Golden Guernsey, a company who has generously supported the Expo Center in the past, to see if they could spare the trailers. So, one trailer at a time, Golden Guernsey staff worked with the Waukesha County Sheriffs Department and the Secret Service to strategically place the trailers to create a barrier in front of anyone who might hide in bushes.

"There is so much that goes into (planning for events) and it's having those relationships with those people that when you pick up the phone on a Saturday night and say 'I need help' and they drop everything and come running," like Golden Guernsey, that makes events a success, said Adlam. "That's what I love about this community - that you have people who drop everything and do that. Having those relationships is key to being able to do something like (the rally)."

Cooperation was key to a successful event.

"Everybody stepped up. It just kind of flowed. It flowed so well because everyone said 'yes, I'll come out and help you,'" said Adlam.

In the end, everything went off without a hitch., said Adlam. "This was really, from an operations standpoint, very challenging. I was so proud of my staff, I was so proud of the County workers and the suppliers. I can't thank everyone enough."

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