By Craig Howard
Wiese is the driving force behind a project called the "Fallen Heroes Circuit Course," an outdoor exercise feature that would be installed at various city-owned properties in Liberty Lake, including Rocky Hill Park and Pavillion Park. The course will eventually occupy space at a quintet of venues, span a five-mile loop and honor each respective branch of the military - Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy.
"There's nothing I cherish more than the freedoms we have in this country," said Wiese, a resident of Liberty Lake since 2005. "I think it's important to learn the history of what it took to get us those freedoms and the sacrifices other people made. Part of the idea behind the Fallen Heroes Circuit Course is to educate people about those sacrifices. It helps you respect life and respect others. Life's not all about yourself."
Along with those who have died in the line of duty, Wiese also wants to raise awareness for veterans dealing with the effects of battle, from post-traumatic stress disorder to depression. He talks regularly with fellow soldiers who have served numerous tours of duty in the Middle East.
"There are some tough stories out there," Wiese said. "These veterans need our support."
A self-described "selfish kid" in high school, Wiese quickly developed a more magnanimous outlook after enlisting in the Marines at the age of 18. He worked as a utilities engineer for five years before transitioning to the role of drill instructor, where he served for three years.
"I wasn't going to be able to afford college and the Marine Corps stuck out as one of the most challenging options," said Wiese, who was born and raised in Colorado. "I like a challenge, so I figured I'd go for the most difficult one."
Wiese's commission in the Marines lasted from 1993 to 2000, a period that fell between the two Gulf Wars. His tenure included stops in North Carolina and California as well as an overseas deployment in Okinawa, Japan.
"One of the things it does is teach you to put others above yourself," Wiese said. "It humbles everyone."
In 2000, with his enlistment in the Marines up, a business opportunity presented a new challenge for Wiese. He would bring his background in leadership, discipline and team-building to Northwest Tank Environmental Services, a company specializing in compliance testing for underground storage tanks.
"I decided to see if I could succeed in civilian life," Wiese said.
The transition brought him to western Washington, where Wiese met his future wife - Angela Ansbury, a graduate of Central Valley High School. In 2005, the couple relocated to the Inland Northwest and a home in Liberty Lake.
In addition to his work with Northwest Tank, Wiese launched his own venture called R&R Technologies, a Liberty Lake-based software company that records environmental compliance data. Wiese said the opportunity to live and work in Liberty Lake is something he savors every day.
"I've been in well over half the states, and it's tough to find all the amenities that are here in Liberty Lake," he said. "You have everything here you need without getting on the Interstate. At lunch, I can run down to lake for a swim. I can run and ride my bike on the trails here and the Centennial Trail. It's pretty amazing."
Wiese said the goal of the Fallen Heroes Circuit Course is to supplement "an already amazing parks system in Liberty Lake." He appeared before the City Council last year to pitch the project, which eventually earned a place on the list of prioritized capital projects for 2013. A total of $35,000 in municipal funds are set aside for the first installment of the course in Rocky Hill Park. Wiese and his committee - comprised entirely of Liberty Lake residents - will be charged with generating the remaining $4,432. Wiese expressed hope that a competitive bid process could leave money remaining to start the second project in Pavillion Park.
"We have such a great community here; the idea immediately brought a lot of support," Wiese said. "The City Council had a lot of positive things to say about it. No one saw it as something that was frivolous."
Wiese is quick to point out that the project is "a true community project developed by community members." The committee has had conversations with local groups like the Liberty Lake Kiwanis and Rotary and Friends of Pavillion Park. Now that funding has been secured, groups like the Veterans Outreach Center and VA Hospital will also be consulted.
"This was a complete team effort with highly enthusiastic and professional individuals who volunteered many hours of service in research for the committee," Wiese said.
The course will include a variety of features emphasizing strength training and cardiovascular exercise. Each of the five venues will vary, depending on the allotted space. In Rocky Hill, there are plans for a 20- by 30-foot tract with pull-up bars, a sit-up bench and jumping obstacles designed for plyometric drills.
"There's some really neat outdoor equipment out there," Wiese said. "It will be a challenge, a really good workout. Eventually, you'll be able to complete the entire loop or just do some strength training as you're walking or running on the trail."
Wiese will likely be one of the first to tackle the circuit course. He participated in the 2009 Coeur d'Alene Ironman and has run a pair of marathons. This year, he will take part in a half-marathon in Lake Stevens.
"I've always been a runner, but when I got tired, I just stopped," Wiese said. "Eventually, I learned to get past the second wind. I don't consider myself a major athlete. I'm just trying to keep in shape."
The hope is to have the Rocky Hill site ready by late May, Wiese said. The ambitious timeline would mean a debut for the start of the Windermere Marathon, scheduled for the park on May 19.
More critical than the exercise element, Wiese said the course will stand as a unique tribute to soldiers who have served and died to preserve the freedoms many citizens take for granted. The plan is to honor a different fallen hero at each site every year with a ceremony taking place on Memorial Day.
"We really want it to be something that is special," Wiese said. "There are some unbelievably amazing sacrifices that people have made in the line of duty for this country that a lot of people aren't aware of. We want people to see these names and know these stories. We have an incredibly patriotic community, but you can see how complacency would make you forget. It's our duty to remind people."
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