Verona’s $182 Million School Referendum

Wow.

VERONA — At $162.8 million, a referendum here to build a high school, convert the existing high school to a middle school and complete several other projects is one of the largest in state history.

Yet, if the April 4 ballot measure passes, the tax bite on the average homeowner will be smaller than other recently approved referendums.

That’s because $140 million of the construction costs could be absorbed by a tsunami of new money that flowed into the district this year after Epic Systems Corp. was fully entered on the city’s tax rolls.

Just a note… there’s an additional referendum that gets it up to $182 million.

The circumstances are pretty cool for Verona. They had a TIF that helped with the funding of Epic’s headquarters. Epic is a massive growing company that does EMR software. As Epic has grown, it has also brought in a lot of growth to Verona. It’s all upside. And now the TIF is expiring, thus allowing the property taxes from Epic to flow into the local tax base instead of paying off the TIF. This is exactly how TIFs are supposed to work.

Here are the tax implications:

To get a sense of the opportunity Verona faces, consider this: If the district does nothing, the school tax rate would drop from $11.98 per $1,000 of valuation to $9.45, saving the owner of a $250,000 home $527 a year.

But by tapping the Epic money to complete what district officials say is a much-needed expansion, the school tax rate would rise by 42 cents, costing the owner of a $250,000 home an additional $105 a year.

[…]

The Verona area is booming, too. Since 1989, the Verona School District has seen its enrollment more than double to 5,111 students. In that time, the district has built three elementary schools and two middle schools, but more students are on the way, according to district projections, with 4,400 housing units expected to be added by 2030.

Given the growth in the city, a lot of spending on growing the school district’s facilities is certainly justified. But it sure does seem like they are on a spending spree over and above what is necessary. We’re talking about a swing of $632 per year for a $250,000 home. That’s some real money.

So the TIF worked and brought in a large business that helps take some of the tax burden off of homeowners, so… the homeowners get to pay even more? Isn’t this supposed to work to lower the homeowners’ property taxes?

Time and time again – no matter what Wisconsinites do – it always seems to result in paying more in taxes.

Protecting Our Kids

One subject that I’m a little surprised hasn’t been more of an issue in the race for the West Bend School Board is the issue of allowing firearms in our schools. One of the candidates, Tonnie Schmidt, is the co-owner of Delta Defense, which has been incredibly active in promoting more progressive and realistic means of defending out schools.

Last year I attended a forum sponsored by Delta Defense where the panelists discussed the varying benefits and worries about allowing firearms into our schools. The basic premise is that gun-free zones are targets for deranged lunatics. A more rational response is to allow people the defend themselves just like they can across the street from the school. That might mean just allowing anyone who is already licensed to carry a weapon to also do so in schools. It might mean just allowing willing teachers and staff to be armed. It might mean some other flavor of armed deterrence and defense. The point is that there is no rational basis for not allowing adults to protect themselves and our kids with access to lethal force should the worst happen. As I said in my column about this subject:

Banning the same people who safely carry a concealed weapon into grocery stores, banks, restaurants, parks and many other places from carrying that same weapon into a school is nonsensical. The ban is based on an irrational fear of guns that has been debunked everywhere else in society. And for many CCW parents, like me, it is ludicrous to disarm parents precisely at the time when they are with the people they most want to defend — their children.

Perhaps if Schmidt is elected to the School Board, this is an issue she could champion. Many of us would be 100% behind her if she did.

Putin’s Enemies Dropping Like Flies

He learned from the best.

An outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin was shot dead in broad daylight in Kiev Thursday, just two days after a lawyer for the family of a slain Russian whistleblower was injured in a mysterious fall from his fourth-story apartment near Moscow.

Denis Voronenkov was a former Russian Communist Party member who’d become increasingly critical of Putin’s policies after fleeing to Ukraine in 2016. In light of his murder, which Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called an “act of state terrorism by Russia,” the Washington Post’s Moscow Bureau Chief David Filipov compiled a list of nine other Putin critics “who died violently or in suspicious ways.”

As it has after similar incidents, the Kremlin swiftly rejected any suggestion it was involved in Voronenkov’s murder. Still, Filipov argued, the people on his list had more in common than simply disapproving of the president.

Venezuela Asks UN for Help with Healthcare

This headline is a bit more chilling today than it was a few days ago. America faces a long future with socialized medicine. This is where it leads.

(CNN)President Nicolas Maduro said he has asked the United Nations for help in dealing with Venezuela’s medicine shortages, which have grown severe as the country grapples with a crippling economic crisis.

[…]

The country is lacking roughly 80% of the basic medical supplies, according to the Pharmaceutical Federation of Venezuela.
Hundreds of health care workers and other Venezuelans staged protests this month demanding better access to medicine and health treatment. Many of the protesters brought prescriptions for medicines that they said they can’t buy at local pharmacies.
Last year, the opposition-led National Assembly in Venezuela declared a “humanitarian crisis” in the health care system.
CNN visited a hospital in Caracas and found that health care workers believed medicine was being swiped to be sold on the black market. Government rationing of medications has made even basics, such as pain relievers, hard to come by.
For years, Venezuelans have had to hunt for penicillin and other remedies at pharmacies, often without success. Public hospitals are in no better shape, with people dying due to the scarcity of basic medical care.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

New floral business moving into downtown West Bend

It didn’t take long for the building at 136 S. Main Street in West Bend to acquire a new tenant. The triangular two-story on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main, formerly home to Hemauer Paint and then Century Farmhouse Soap will now host a florist.

“I feel really, really blessed to have such a fantastic location in downtown West Bend,” said Amanda Strassburg, owner of Consider the Lilies.

For over six years Strassburg has operated her business of her home and her historic barn in Barton. She said she was drawn to the shop on S. Main and its brilliant interior.

“The gorgeous lime green tin ceiling is my favorite thing,” Strassburg said. “I love the color lime green and it’s appropriate this year because the Pantone Color Institute, based in the United States, projects color trends of the year for home interiors, floral and clothing design. This year the color for 2017 happens to be greenery. Plus I’ve used green a lot in my marketing and branding and when I saw the ceiling I instantly knew.”

Strassburg gravitated to downtown West Bend because of the variety of shops, restaurants and locally-owned establishments.  “People from outside the community seem to really want to come and explore the downtown,” she said.

Originally from Menomonee Falls, Strassburg got her start working weddings and events. “I did not go to school for floral design,” she said. “I got a lot of my education through the industry, working different seminars and conventions and traveling around the country.”

The style of Consider the Lilies is described best by Strassburg as “modern floral art.”

“I like to take the flowers and materials people are used to seeing and design them in a different way; something you haven’t seen before,” she said.

An example would be using garden mesh in a floral arrangement. “I want people to look at it and say, ‘I know what that is but I’ve never seen it in a floral arrangement before,’” Strassburg said. “I love getting that response.”

Planning the move from a larger space to a triangle interior is more inviting than intimidating for Strassburg. She gushes about the windows and the well lit front room.

“The beautiful natural light; flowers look best in natural light. They will really pop with the white background and the green ceiling,” she said.

And the storefront windows, according to Strassburg, are like a built in stage. “People really enjoy seeing artists of all type and I’m excited to put my workbench right in the window and create,” she said. “If people want to stand on the sidewalk and watch that would be great, if they want to come in and ask questions I welcome that as well.”

During a walkthrough of the empty building, Strassburg quickly laid out the back area as her primarily work area to process flowers and get arrangements for events.  The storefront will be for displays and customer consultations; modern floral books will be available so customers can sit and learn.

The space is also inviting for classes. “It’s one part of my career as a floral designer that I absolutely love,” she said. “I love teaching design and holiday decorating and being able to host classes and parties.”

Another form of education Strassburg will feature involves introducing a unique flower a week. “Then I’ll focus my displays on that flower along with some different containers and plants so when people walk in they’re not bombarded with too much going on but they really get excited with the things on display,” she said.

Consider the Lilies is expected to open by the end of April. “I’ll have limited hours to start but I’ll be fully open in May,” Strassburg said. “I’m very excited; we have lots of plans for different things the shop will offer and to get involved in the community.”

On a side note: The name Consider the Lilies is faith based. “A friend of mine suggested it to me long before I even started my business,” said Strassburg. “It comes out of scripture but I love the thought of considering the lilies; remembering the flowers. Every occasion in life is a great opportunity to celebrate with flowers and I have to remind people of that.”

Former Sears building for sale

The old Sears building, 102 S. Main St., in downtown West Bend is for sale. Paula Becker with Re/Max posted the listing this week for $269,000. Prime location in the heart of downtown West Bend. Historic building once housed Peters General Store, the very beginnings of Amity Leather Products Co, Sears Roebuck, and most recently Generations Christian Fellowship Church. Over 13,400 square feet of space, zoned B-2 which allows for a multitude of uses. Large windows along Main St. and Hickory would be ideal for retail. Property has an apartment with full BA, roughly 15 multi-functional rooms, 4 restrooms and a 4,200-square-foot basement. Sold AS-IS.

Records in the city assessor’s office show the bank took the building in 2017 at $161,800.  The building is partially assessed at $157,600.

Last week to vote in-person absentee before April 4 election

Friday, March 31 is the last day to vote in-person absentee before the April 4 election. West Bend city clerk Stephanie Justmann said 50 people vote in-person since Monday, March 20.

Couple from Hansen’s Piggly Wiggly die 12 days apart

The couple that started Hansen’s Piggly Wiggle has died.  Doris Ansay met Jack Hansen during WWII. They were working at the Wisconsin Chair Factory together. The war ended, the couple married and settled in Saukville. Jack was a traveling salesman but soon grew weary of the job and moved his family to Hubertus where they ran a tavern and grocery store. Years later the family operated several Piggly Wiggly grocery stores in Washington and Ozaukee County under the name of Hansen’s.

On March 10 Doris died and on March 22 Jack died at the age of 92. The obituary read, “Jack joined Doris in heaven, she preceded him in death 12 days prior.” The couple had been married 70 years.

County Board reverses property sales, forced to give back money       By Ron Naab

The Washington County Board passed four resolutions this month that rescinded property sales made in February.

There were six resolutions passed by the County Board in February to sell six properties. The county had taken possession of the parcels because no taxes had been paid on them for five or more years. Daisy Hill Properties LLC, from Hartland, purchased most of the properties.

On March 14 the board was forced to rescind the sale of three properties to Daisy Hill Properties and another to Steve and Michelle Brandt for a total of $128,034.

According to Supervisor Tim Michalak, city of Hartford, there was an oversight by the County Treasurer’s Office in doing complete and thorough research for any liens or mortgages on the properties.  Michalak filed a request with the Human Resources Department to inquire how these four errors occurred.   Supervisor Chris Bossert thanked County Clerk Ashley Reichert and her staff for doing diligence and finding this problem.

Michalak state it appeared the four buyers were no longer interested in purchasing the properties and the county is out a fair amount of money due to the error.

The County Treasurer’s Office and County Administrator Joshua Schoemann referred all comments to County Attorney Bradley Stern. “In light of the County Board’s action, I am reversing the tax deeds, so we’re conveying the properties back to the property owners,” said Stern. “Additionally, the successful bidders will receive refunds.  For the Treasurer’s part, she is going to resend the Notice for Application of Tax Deed to the necessary parties to start that part of the process over again.”

Stern qualified the mistakes during the title searches as “simply the result of human error.”

Moving forward, the county indicated once the title searches are completed and clear of any mortgages, etc., the properties will again be listed for sale.

Therese Sizer resigned from the West Bend School Board.

Therese Sizer has resigned from the West Bend School Board. Sizer, a clerk on the board, read a prepared statement following a vote on policy 511.1 which related to nepotism within the district.

The board passed the policy on its second reading with a 6 – 0 vote; Sizer abstained as she has a daughter that works in the West Bend School District.

The policy essentially made clear that a board member cannot vote on a measure that affects a direct relative. After the measure passed Sizer read a 3-page statement and left the meeting.

“I didn’t take it that she was upset,” said board member Ryan Gieryn. “She made clear that she didn’t try to do anything that would have an effect on her daughter and she’s always been very ethical.”

Gieryn described Sizer’s statement as “eloquent.” During her statement Sizer mentioned how the nepotism policy would only allow her to vote on minute amounts and she’d have to recuse herself so much that she could not fulfill her responsibilities on the oath she took to perform her duties on the board.  At the close of Sizer’s statement she mentioned “do not go around spreading rumors about each other.”

Sizer chose to refrain from making any comments after the meeting. Sizer had one more year left on her term. Gieryn will fill in the next meeting as board clerk.

The board will also review the process to fill the seat during its next meeting April 3.

In other action the board named Jeridon Clark the new principal for the West Bend High School.  Clark is currently the Executive Director of Information & Technology in the Mequon-Thiensville School District. Clark will take over for interim principal Tracy Conners who will return to her position as Director of Elementary Education.

Side note: Replacing Therese Sizer on the school board cannot be completed in the April 4 election. Those ballots have already been printed and in-person absentee voting is already underway. There are three seats that will be filled in the April 4 election.

Gieryn said the current school board will not make a motion to fill the seat. He said that will be up to the new board.

New executive director of activities at Washington Co. Senior center

There is a new executive director of activities at the Senior Center in Washington County.  Mary Russell is stepping out to help with her husband’s business and Paula Hader will take over. Hader has extensive work with senior citizens as she held a long-time position as activities director at Cedar Community.

Updates & tidbits

West Bend Deputy Chief Chuck Beistle, Firefighter/Paramedic Alec Hakes, and Firefighter/Paramedic Jake Lodl participated in the annual American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb. Last weekend all three successfully climbed the 47 floors of the US Bank Center building in Milwaukee, while wearing full turnout gear and an air pack.

The Downtown West Bend ArtWalk is Saturday May 13 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Museum of Wisconsin Art. The event will feature free admission to MOWA and a silent auction of banners.

The Allenton Buffalo Feed has been modernized. Come out for a steak dinner on Saturday, April 22 and do some gambling in the casino. Who would have ever thought…gambling in Allenton! The evening is being presented by the Allenton Area Advancement Association.

-Free Easter dinner at the West Bend Moose Lodge on Sunday, April 16. Please call to make reservations, 262-338-8122.

-Tickets are on sale for the 22nd Annual Newburg Lions Big Raffle. The Grand Prize is $5,000. There will only be 500 tickets sold. There will be five $100 “Early Bird” drawings from April – August. Drawing will be held Saturday Sept.9 at 1 p.m. at the Newburg Fire Department. Tickets are $50 a piece. Contact any Newburg Lions member or call 262-338-0432

– The West Bend Korean War Veterans Post 111 will host a brat fry on Friday and Saturday, April 7 and 8 at 1421 W. Washington St., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Proceeds will go to the Honor Flight Program, The National Flag Day Foundations and other veterans’ programs.

-The city of West Bend will be hosting Loyalty Day in 2017.  The event will feature a parade Saturday, April 29.  Loyalty Day is observed nationally. All VFW Posts are invited to take part.

-The 30th annual Washington County Breakfast on the Farm is Saturday, June 10 at the Golden ‘E’ Dairy Farm on 8262 Orchard Valley Road, in the Town of Farmington.

– The 35th annual Kiwanis pancake-sausage brunch with the Easter Bunny is being held Saturday, April 8 at The Columbian.  Tickets are at Horicon Bank in West Bend, The Columbian and Minuteman Press.

Thecla Richter – life of a West Bend nurse during WWI     By Lee Krueger

Resident historian Lee Krueger is highlighting his great aunt Thecla Richter, who served as a nurse during WWI.  Below are two letters home from Richter dated August 30, 1917 and  Sept. 28, 1917.

Aug. 30, 1917 (received Aug 30)

“Somewhere in France”

Dear Brother….. Will you do me a favor and order some candy at Webers or the Princess for me.  Ask father to give you the money.  I have enough at home.  Put in a standing order for them to send one pound every week and have them send it directly to me so it won’t be any trouble for you.  They could send you the bill with postage each month…..   I don’t want chocolate creams but do want an assortment of hard centered chocolates such as nougats, caramels, puddings, coated nuts, peppermints.  Also some of their assorted caramels.

It is absolutely impossible to buy any sugar. Our foods such as rice, tea and puddings are sweetless….. If they send me one pound a week I will at least get quite a bit and still allow some to Fritz to feed the fishes.

Now for some real news. We had an air raid the other night but not a German air raid.  It was a real wind storm. We had to abandon a great part of our hospital. Fifty-three marques (small tents) were abandoned and are lying in ruins.  That means 1000 beds are out of commission-a loss estimated to be $100,000.

Have many of the boys from West Bend come over? But then I must not go into details because it would all be censored….

…. I do not want any chocolate creams because they do not come in good condition.

Sept. 28, 1917   (received Oct. 17)

Almost a week has passed and I haven’t written but we have been so very busy. When we receive several hundred new patients a day it means that everyone works as hard as they can and all day.  Really it is pathetic the condition of some of these patients are in.  Even at the very worse they try to be cheerful and patient.

Sometimes these cases are sent back to England to recuperate. Many are permanently unfit for service and others whose injuries are not as severe stay at the base hospitals until they are ready to go to a convalescent camp or to their own base camp and then go back into line to do their bit.

The other day I met a man from the same town in Scotland where Miss Wood lived. You remember, Miss Wood was the Evanston girl killed on the boat coming over here. We were glad to see him.  He had visited at Miss Wood’s home only several weeks ago.

Undoubtedly you read about the bombing of hospitals. It is true but fortunately no one was hurt in our camp and I really don’t think it was meant for hospitals and probably won’t happen again.

Judy Steffes, Editor

Washington County Insider

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The Homogenization of Islam’s Holiest City

From the Economist.

Critics call this Islamic Maoism. Out went the city’s heterogeneous mix of Maliki, Shafii and Zaydi rites; in came homogenisation under the Wahhabi creed. Alongside the black and white dress they forced on women and men respectively, the new tribal rulers reshaped the urban environment, stripping away the past. They replaced the four pulpits at the foot of the Kaaba, one for each of Sunni Islam’s schools, with a single one, exclusively for Wahhabi preachers. They cleansed the faith of saint-worship, demolishing shrines venerated by Shia and traditional Sunnis alike. Of the city’s scores of holy sites, only the Kaaba survives.

Obamacare Repeal Dead

Seriously… why even bother supporting national Republicans?

“Hello, Bob,” Trump began. “So, we just pulled it.”

Trump was speaking, of course, of the Republican plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, a plan that had been languishing for days amid unrest throughout the party as the president and his allies courted members and pushed for a vote.

Before I could ask a question, Trump plunged into his explanation of the politics of deciding to call off a vote on a bill he had been touting.

Republicans withdrew the American Health Care Act moments before a scheduled vote on March 24, after failing to woo enough lawmakers to support it. Here are the key turning points in their fight to pass the bill. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

The Democrats, he said, were to blame.

“We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it,” Trump said.

There’s a lot of blame to go around. In no particular order, those responsible are:

  • Trump and his supporters. Trump is not a conservative and supported the continuation of some Obamacare provisions like forcing companies to cover preexisting conditions, keeping kids on their parents’ plan until 26, etc. This forced the House to create a bill that pleased nobody.
  • House conservatives who refused to vote for a 90% repeal bill thus leaving all of Obamacare in place. Idiots.
  • Senators Paul and Cruz who agitated the House members in order to build their own egos and national profiles.
  • Speaker Ryan. He has a strong majority and couldn’t get this through his own caucus. He needed to be a Speaker that would crack heads, replace committee chairmen, campaign in his members’ districts, etc. in order to get this done. I think he just doesn’t have enough bully in him to do what needed to be done.
  • And finally, Trump is right. Democrats are also to blame. They don’t give a rip about the people being harmed by Obamacare and didn’t even pretend to work on fixing it. They are willing to sacrifice them on the altar of socialized healthcare. Socialists are always to sacrifice people.

Obama won. Obamacare is here to stay. Our nation is worse off for it.

Justman’s Troubled Past in County

One of the West Bend School Board candidates has a troubled history in Washington County. Before taking her current job, Nancy Justman was the Executive Director of AIS, which runs the Washington County Fair Park, for about eight years. She resigned abruptly after a lot of heat for botching the budget and running up a massive debt. Mark Petersen, one of the now defunct liberal columnists for the local paper, has some of the background:

The Education Committee minutes, starting on March 31, begin to tell the story. Nancy Justman, chairwoman of AIS, “presented a draft master plan for Fair Park dated February 11, 2008, and reviewed the 32 items identified in the plan. It was noted the items have not been prioritized and there are no cost figures associated with the items.” The Education Committee members approved the draft – apparently on the basis of trust, since they accepted a “master plan” that had no cost figures and no spending priorities. In the months that followed, no plan beyond this draft was approved by the County Board.

After March 10, new supervisors were elected, summer passed and, by early November, the Finance Committee had hammered out and approved a solid county budget.

Then something odd happened: a few weeks after the budget was finished AIS asked for the extra $410,000 to cover its overruns. AIS had to know about the additional $130,000 worth of improvements, apparently approved on the fly as construction was underway. Moreover, since the summer’s main events had failed to produce the anticipated profits, someone at AIS had to have known, well before the budget was finished, that they needed an additional $410,000. So why would AIS bring it up after the budget was passed? I’d like to know.

More alarming, when the request was finally presented in December, it was still missing the dollar amounts any competent County Board needs to make a good decision. The minutes from the County Board proceedings on Dec. 9 indicate that, as they’d done nearly seven months earlier, members of the Board asked for an updated business plan, this time to be submitted no later than Jan. 15.

While not excusing the poor management of the Washington County Board at the time, Justman’s failure to provide basic budgetary information was negligence bordering on incompetence. Justman resigned and ran for the hills a couple of months later under a cloud of controversy.

TOWN OF POLK – Nancy Justman, Executive Director of the Washington County Fair Park since July 2001 has accepted a new position outside of Washington County. Her last day at the Fair Park will be April 9.

“We are sorry to see her leave. She did a good job for the Agriculture and Industrial Society,” said Gordon Tonn, board of directors president. “We wish her well in her new endeavors, and it’s unfortunate that she had to leave us. She did a good job for both the AIS and the county.”

County Board Chairman Herb Tennies was surprised when notified by the Daily News that Justman had submitted her resignation. He declined to comment until he could read a copy of the resignation letter.

Justman touts her experience working with a board as a qualification for the West Bend School Board. Experience does not always mean successful performance.

Attack in London

These kinds of unsophisticated attacks are impossible to prevent except to identify and act upon people who adhere to the Islamist ideology. That’s difficult in a free society.

The Westminster attacker was British-born and known to the police and intelligence services, Prime Minister Theresa May has revealed.

She told MPs he had been investigated some years ago over violent extremism, but was “peripheral” and was not part of the current intelligence picture.

The so-called Islamic State group has said it was behind the attack.

Another Arrest in Threats to Jewish Centers

Usually, it seems, when the story says that they don’t know the motive, it means that they know the motive and don’t want to say.

Israeli police say a 19-year-old man with American and Israeli citizenship is suspected of making threats against Jewish institutions worldwide.

Police arrested the suspect in the south of Israel on Thursday morning over threats against Jewish communities in the US, New Zealand and Australia.

[…]

But Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Thursday the latest suspect’s motives are unclear.

Catholic School Sues MPS Over Busing Kids

This will be an interesting case to watch.

Officials at a private school say the more than $100,000 they’re paying to bus its 70 students could be better spent on academics, and they’ve filed a federal lawsuit to get Milwaukee Public Schools to cover the costs.

[…]

St. Joan’s is represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (W.I.L.L.), which says busing costs are an issue for the 27,000 kids in the Milwaukee Choice program.

“This is a justice issue,” said Paul Gessner, SJA’s Head of School. “Our kids really deserve to have safe and reliable transportation to and from school. That’s why we’re doing this.”

The state Constitution calls out transportation to school as a right:

Transportation of school children. Section 23. [As created April 1967] Nothing in this constitution shall prohibit the legislature from providing for the safety and welfare of children by providing for the transportation of children to and from any parochial or private school or institution of learning. [1965 J.R. 46, 1967 J.R. 13, vote April 1967]
No, I don’t think that should be in the constitution, but it is. But WILL is suing in federal court, so it is unclear to me what basis they are suing under. Like I said, it will be interesting to watch.

West Bend School Board Candidate Forum

The West Bend Chamber of Commerce held its forum for the candidates for the West Bend School Board. You can find a run down of the questions and responses at the Washington County Insider.

Chickens Flee the Coop

Well, that was a short-lived effort.

West Bend will remain chicken-free as officials highlighted their concerns to permit chickens in the area, despite several constituents publicly stating they are in favor of the measure. An ordinance that would modify the municipal code to allow chickens within city limits failed Monday because no other Common Council members would support the motion introduced by Alderman Chris Jenkins. Many highlighted enforcement issues and concerns from residents worried about the smell and noise.

One vote for Gieryn, Miller and Cammack

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. The resignation of Therese Sizer last night puts it in a different context this morning. Here you go:

April 4 brings us another opportunity to exercise our right to elect our political and judicial leaders. While the national and state elections tend to get all of the attention, it is our local elected officials who arguably have more of a direct impact on our everyday lives. It is also our local officials who often work long hours, deal with a lot of quirky citizens and do so for little money or fame. We should all give our neighbors a big “thank you” for being willing to serve our community.

One of the important races on the ballot in West Bend and neighboring communities is for the West Bend School Board. Three of the seven board seats are on the ballot with only one incumbent running for re-election. The results of this election could push the school board in an entirely new direction.

Two incumbent school board members decided to not seek re-election. President Rick Parks and Vice President Bart Williams are both concluding their second terms and deserve a sincere thank you. While ideologically different, both Parks and Williams went about their business on the school board in a thoughtful, thorough, collegial, and effective manner. During their tenures, they navigated the district through the aftermath of Act 10, implemented a merit pay system for teachers, started a charter school, started a clinic for district staff, hired a new superintendent and many other things for which they should be proud. Thank you, gentlemen.

The third incumbent school board member did choose to seek re-election. Ryan Gieryn is running for his second term and wants to see through some of the issues he worked on in his first term including continuing to refine the teacher merit pay system, evaluate the effectiveness of the district’s testing regimen, direct the new superintendent that he helped hire and look ahead to replacing Jackson Elementary. While I did not support Gieryn when he ran the first time, his thoughtful and measured service on the board has been commendable and he has earned my vote for a second term.

There is also the issue with experience on the board. Our republican form of government is kept healthy by the constant refreshing of elected officials, but some experience in governing is necessary. An inexperienced and naïve school board shifts power to the unelected administration. If Gieryn does not win re-election, then every board member except one, Therese Sizer, would be serving their first term. Gieryn’s experience on the board will be particularly important as the new superintendent settles into his role.

Bob Miller is running for the school board for the second time having fallen just short last year. He has spent the past year talking to people, participating in school events and learning more about the district. Miller is a graduate of the district with three kids attending schools in West Bend.

He is a fiber optic technician, school bus driver, Boy Scout leader, father and husband who has some great common sense ideas to improve the district’s outcomes. A fiscal conservative, Miller wants to ensure that the district spends money wisely and has seen enough working and volunteering in the district to have some tangible ideas on how to save money. The second time is the charm for Miller and he deserves a seat on the board.

Richard Cammack has lived in West Bend for 22 years and wants to see the district improve in many areas. He believes in the importance of family, students, teachers and business and a school district that serves all constituents. Cammack considers himself a realist who needs to fully understand an issue and listen to the district’s stakeholders before making a decision. Cammack is receiving my third vote April 4.

The remaining three candidates, Tonnie Schmidt, Joel Ongert and Nancy Justman, are running as a bloc with virtually identical platforms. They all claim to be conservatives (one stands little chance of winning election in a district that is 70-plus percent conservative if one does not claim to be one). They trumpet “accountability” but only seem to want to hold administrators accountable. While that is a laudable goal, their reluctance to continue or strengthen even the mild performance pay standards for teachers is troubling.

Their repetition of the talking points coming out of the local teachers union and lefty talking heads leads one to believe that these three would be reliable agents for whatever the West Bend Education Association wants. Many of the yards in West Bend whose Hillary and Bernie signs died during the winter have now sprouted signs for Schmidt, Ongert and Justman with the coming of spring.

I will note that all three of these candidates refused to be interviewed for this column. Despite claiming to be conservatives, they had no appetite to be probed by the district’s only resident conservative columnist.

Once again West Bend is privileged to have some great people running for local office. I am happy to support three of them for the West Bend School Board. I will be happily voting for Ryan Gieryn, Bob Miller, and Richard Cammack on April 4.

 

Therese Sizer Resigns from West Bend School Board

The Washington County Insider has the story:

March 20, 2017 – West Bend, WI – Therese Sizer has resigned from the West Bend School Board.

Sizer, a clerk on the board, read a prepared statement following a vote on policy 511.1 which related to nepotism within the district.

The board passed the policy on its second reading with a 6 – 0 vote; Sizer abstained as she has a daughter that works in the West Bend School District.

The policy essentially made clear that a board member cannot vote on a measure that affects a direct relative.

After the measure passed Sizer read a 3-page statement and left the meeting.

“I didn’t take it that she was upset,” said board member Ryan Gieryn. “She made clear that she didn’t try to do anything that would have an affect on her daughter and she’s always been very ethical.”

Gieryn described Sizer’s statement as “eloquent.”

During her statement Sizer mentioned how the nepotism policy would only allow her to vote on minute amounts and she’d have to recuse herself so much that she could not fulfill her responsibilities on the oath she took to perform her duties on the board.

“Sizer just said that with this policy in place she doesn’t feel she can truly fulfill her duties as a school board member because anything she votes on would affect teachers,” said Gieryn.

Wow. Clearly she thought that the new policy would conflict with her ability to fulfill her duties. Hats off to her ethics, but it doesn’t seem that the policy would effectively prohibit a family member of a school staff member from serving. She seems to be adhering to an exceedingly strict interpretation of the policy.

As you will see in my column tomorrow, this means that if Gieryn fails to win reelection, every single board member will be in their first term. I’m all for a healthy turnover on the board, but a little experience is helpful too.

Chickens Coming Home to Roost

The chicken craze is coming to West Bend.

According to the proposed ordinance, individuals who wish to keep chickens must pay for and possess the necessary license, and must keep the area clean, sanitary, and free from odors and vermin.

The ordinance also limits permission to those living in single-family dwellings and owner-occupied duplexes. It states roosters are not permitted at any time and slaughtering animals is not allowed.

The chickens must be kept in a waterproof,

rodent-proof and predator-proof enclosure in a fenced-in area. They cannot be placed in the front yard and have a side and rear yard setback of at least 5 feet. Residents are also not allowed to place the enclosure within 25 feet of any residential structure on an adjacent lot.

Eh, whatever. We have ordinances for nuisances, noise, etc. As long as those are enforced, I don’t have a problem with people keeping chickens. It’s probably less annoying than some folks’ dogs.

Gorsuch Hearings Begin Today

Expect strong warm winds emanating from Washington today.

Judge Neil Gorsuch will appear Monday before senators looking to pin him down on his philosophy — and some will air grievances about why Gorsuch is even here at all. Gorsuch, for his part, will try to defend his approach without discussing specific cases or damaging his smooth nomination in any way.

Guy Arrested for Tweet

This will be an interesting bit of case law.

A man accused of sending a flashing image to a writer in order to trigger an epileptic seizure has been arrested, the US justice department says.

John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Maryland, sent Kurt Eichenwald an animated image with a flashing light on Twitter in December, causing the seizure.

He has been charged with criminal cyber stalking and could face a 10-year sentence, the New York Times reports.

“You deserve a seizure for your post,” he is alleged to have written.

Mr Eichenwald is known to have epilepsy. He is a senior writer at Newsweek magazine, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a best-selling author of books including The Informant.

On the one hand, if the allegations are true, Rivello clearly acted with malicious intent to cause harm to Eichenwald and succeeded in causing that harm. On the other hand, we are treading in dangerous territory if we are going to start arresting people for stuff that they wrote on Twitter.

Automation Disrupting Chinese Manufacturing

This is a good reminder that automation is a global economic trend.

Rapidly growing appetite for industrial robots in China is set to hasten the decline in manufacturing jobs, according to the findings of an FTCR survey.

As part of a top-down push, local governments are subsidising companies to produce and purchase robots, while most companies reported productivity gains and forecast a reduced need for frontline workers.

This is not a zero-sum game: companies also cited a growing need for more skilled workers. This is creating demand for vocational skills and the robot revolution will be able to absorb only a minority of such workers.

The increasingly rapid adoption of industrial robots on Chinese production lines is set to hasten the fall in manufacturing employment. Among companies that intend to purchase robots in the coming 12 months, 72.7 per cent said this would mean job losses, according to an FT Confidential Research survey conducted across manufacturing centres in Guangdong in the south and Zhejiang on the east coast.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

The ordination of Bishop Jeffrey Haines    By Jill Maria Murdy

Hundreds turned out Friday for the ordination of Bishops Jeffrey Haines and James Schuerman at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee. Jill Maria Murdy, Director of Liturgy and Music at Saint Frances Cabrini Parish was selected to attend as a representative from the Cabrini and she filed this update for WashingtonCountyInsider.com

It was a beautiful liturgy, bursting with the rich sounds of organ, choir and brass, a train of priests and 20 bishops, and the church overflowing with God’s people.

There were so many symbols: the incense, being anointed with holy oil, the Eucharist, placing the Gospel Book over the Bishop’s heads.

Scriptures about God’s calling were prevalent (Jeremiah 1: 4-9, Psalm 139, 1 Peter 4: 7b-11, and Luke 5: 1-11.)

In his homily, Archbishop Listecki reminded the Bishops that it was not an honorary area title.  Bishops were to be the servants of their people. Their shepherds and servants.

Taking all these wonderful elements of the prayer and then remembering Bishop Haines was the one who hired me and brought me to Wisconsin, and it made for one powerful day, filled with tears of joy.

I felt very blessed to be able to represent Saint Frances Cabrini Parish.

Teacher from Fair Park Elementary wins Herb Kohl Foundation award

Fair Park Elementary School teacher Renee Wilberg is one of 100 teachers being awarded $3,000 by the Herb Kohl Education Foundation. Each year the foundation recognizes students, teachers and principals for their excellence in academics, leadership and high achievement.

Local students recognized this year include Mackenzie Mas from West Bend who is a student at St. Mary’s Springs Academy, Fond du Lac and Jiexin (Jessica) Yang from Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School in Jackson.

Wilberg, Mas and Yang will be presented with their awards during a banquet in April.

Chicken discussion Monday at the West Bend Common Council meeting   

On Monday, March 20 the West Bend Common Council will talk about possibly amending the municipal code regarding keeping live chickens within the city limits. Currently the city’s ordinance bans keeping livestock in outdoor pens or sheds.

Live chickens in urban areas is a hot topic. Over the years Madison and Green Bay adopted ordinances allowing chickens while other communities, like Wauwatosa, have given the idea a 1-year trial run.

In Washington County, the Village of Slinger approved chickens in 2015. Some of the stipulations include having up to six hens, no roosters, the building inspector must approve a coop, and there’s a $10 license fee.

Dist. 4 Alderman Chris Jenkins is the one bringing the bird to the table, so to speak. He acknowledged there is quite a bit to discuss. “We’d talk about things like noise and cleanup and how much of a distance the coop would be from your neighbor’s lot line,” he said.

After Slinger passed its ordinance in 2015, the Village of Kewaskum broached the subject.

“I’ve looked into it and Oshkosh allows chickens, Janesville and Mequon just passed an ordinance allowing chickens within the city limits,” Jenkins said. “I think allowing self sustainability is great.”

Jenkins researched obstacles that may arise. “Obviously no roosters and keeping it small is a good idea,” he said. “All the communities I’ve talked to didn’t really have a problem.”

In 2013 the Common Council debated whether to allow teacup pigs as a family pet, rather than as the ordinance listed, as livestock.

The city attorney has drafted an ordinance. Some of the particulars include a license fee of $8 per chicken, no slaughtering of chickens and a total of four chickens will be allowed per property.

People who are passionate about chickens are encouraged to show up on Monday. The meeting gets underway at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

Buildings sold on Schoenhaar Drive

Two of the original buildings on Schoenhaar Drive have changed hands. Vic and Frank Albiero constructed two buildings in the industrial park in April 1971. Those two buildings, 601 and 605 Schoenhaar Drive both sold for a total of $550,000.  The current tenants purchased the properties on Feb. 28, 2017 – Craig’s Auto and Habitat for Humanity.

St. Lawrence Fire Company honors its own        By Ron Naab

The St. Lawrence Fire Company took time to thank those that support the organization. Former Fire Chief and president of the fire company Anthony “Tony” Montag was honored for 50 years of dedicated service.  Lieutenant Andy Messig was awarded Member of the Year and former Fire Chief Gary Karntiz was recognized for his work. Karnitz joined the fire company in 1986 and served as chief for 21 years. Presenting Karnitz with awards were the Allenton Volunteer Fire Department, Badger Firefighters Association and the St. Lawrence Fire Company.

Updates & tidbits

In-person absentee voting for the April 4 Spring Election begins Monday, March 20 in Washington County. In-person voting runs through Friday, March 31. Some of the races on the ballot include State School Superintendent, Circuit Court Judge Branch 3, and school board races in Kewaskum, West Bend, and Hartford Joint #1.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner has a series of town hall meetings coming up in Washington County. On Saturday, March 18 the Congressman will be at West Bend City Hall at 9 a.m. and Richfield Village Hall on Sunday, March 19 at 1 p.m.

The Downtown West Bend ArtWalk is Saturday May 13 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Museum of Wisconsin Art. The event will feature free admission to MOWA and a silent auction of banners. The banners by local artists hang along Main Street and Sixth Avenue creating an outdoor gallery from May through October.

The Allenton Buffalo Feed has been modernized! Come out for a steak dinner on Saturday, April 22 and do some gambling in the casino. Who would have ever thought…gambling in Allenton! The evening is being presented by the Allenton Area Advancement Association.

March is Youth Art Month and the West Bend School District has its Mile of Art on display in downtown West Bend. This is the 15th year for the exhibit, according to Decorah Elementary School art teacher Mickiah Wolff.

-Free Easter dinner at the West Bend Moose Lodge on Sunday, April 16. Please call to make reservations, 262-338-8122.

-On Monday, March 6 a ceremony was held as Russ Darrow broke ground on his new Nissan dealership on Highway 33. Within a short 7 days contractors have cleared the land to make way for construction of a new 24,449-square-foot dealership.

-Tickets are on sale for the 22nd Annual Newburg Lions Big Raffle. The Grand Prize is $5,000. There will only be 500 tickets sold. There will be five $100 “Early Bird” drawings from April – August. Drawing will be held Saturday Sept.9 at 1 p.m. at the Newburg Fire Department. Everyone is welcome to attend. All profits go to local charities. Tickets are $50 a piece. For tickets contact any Newburg Lions member or call 262-338-0432

– The West Bend Korean War Veterans Post 111 will be hosting a brat fry on Friday and Saturday, April 7 and 8 at 1421 W. Washington Street, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Proceeds will go to the Honor Flight Program, The National Flag Day Foundations and other veterans’ programs.

-The city of West Bend will be hosting Loyalty Day in 2017.  The event will feature a parade Saturday, April 29.  Loyalty Day is observed nationally. All VFW Posts are invited to take part.

-The 30th annual Washington County Breakfast on the Farm is Saturday, June 10 at the Golden ‘E’ Dairy Farm on 8262 Orchard Valley Road, in the Town of Farmington.

-Make your Easter plans early and come out to The Columbian on Saturday, April 18 for the 35th annual Kiwanis pancake-sausage brunch with the Easter Bunny.  Tickets are available at Horicon Bank in West Bend, The Columbian and Minuteman Press.

Hartford F.D. to make honorary walk-through

There will be a special walk-through service Sunday for Cade Peter Werner, 14, of Rubicon who died March 14 following a car accident in neighboring Dodge County. Family will greet relatives and friends at the church from 1-6:45 p.m. with a Prayer Service at 7 p.m.   The Hartford Fire Department will be present at 1:30 p.m. for an honorary walk-through.

Remembering former W.B. Police Chief Jim Skidmore

There was a respectful sendoff to former West Bend Police Chief Jim Skimore on Saturday as police, veterans, family and friends gathered at Calvary Church to pay tribute. The service began with a final salute as police and veterans in uniform gathered at the front of the church.

Skidmore was recognized for the impact he had on the lives of kids, his dedication to his faith, family and the community.

“Chief Skidmore taught us to be strong but not unkind. Treat everyone with respect,” said daughter Lynn. While tough as nails in his demeanor, Skidmore’s family recalled he was “good at talking smack” and he “made The Claw famous” – a reference to WWF wrestler Baron von Raschke.

Former West Bend Police Chief Whitey Uelmen said a few words remembering Skidmore for his integrity, moral guidelines and his love of handing out nicknames. His family recalled how Skidmore “taught us to be strong and always to work hard.”

The West Bend Police Honor Guard presided over the flag-folding ceremony and a gun salute. The local VFW played Taps. Some local police, active and retired in attendance included Mike Hartwell, former Police Chief Steve Rinzel, Captain Tim Dehring, and Chief Ken Meuler… to name a few.

Skidmore served from Sept. 1, 1978 – Dec. 31, 1993. Skidmore died Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 in Florida. He was 79.

Principal at school in Jackson camps out on rooftop on snowy Monday

Fifteen inches of lake-effect snow on Monday didn’t dissuade Trinity Ev. Lutheran principal Dennis Leckwee and teacher Jim Speerschneider from paying off a bet. The pair promised to camp on the roof of the school if students reached a goal of $500 for the third-quarter offering.  The goal was met March 10 and students studied the 7-day forecast.

Their go-to day ended up being Monday, March 13.  Snowmageddon for much of Washington County.

“As you know the weather was crazy but they had made a promise and they followed through with it,” wrote school secretary Kathy Minzlaff.

Thecla Richter – life of a West Bend nurse during WWI     By Lee Krueger

Resident historian Lee Krueger is highlighting his great aunt Thecla Richter, who served as a nurse during WWI.  Below are two letters home from Richter dated July 14, 1917 and July 26, 1917 and Aug. 26, 1917.

July 14, 1917  (received Aug 6, 1917)

I wish that you could see the city of tents around here.  There is one hospital right next to another. And all are about 2000 patient capacity.  Seems awful to see hundreds of men wounded daily, many killed and little or nothing gained. Let me know in your next letter how many troops have been sent from the United States.

I do hope that they will send enough to start with so that their strength will really be felt and hopefully hasten the end of this awful slaughter.

The gains for either side are not very marked, at least not according to reports we hear.

July 26, 1917 (Received Aug 14)

I wish that you could see the hill of poppies here.  They grow wild and really are considered a weed.

…..  The only kind of meat that we ever get is beef.  Wouldn’t pork chops taste good.  Our bread is a heavy dark bread and we eat it without butter two meals a day.

We are getting some heavy rubber boots from the Red Cross Society in England.  It rains so much that we certainly cannot get along without boots, umbrella, raincoat and rain hat.  Are also receiving sleeping bags for the winter.

I have read how much the U.S. Red Cross is doing.  I think it is the best thing they can do because no one at home can realize how much the Red Cross has done for this war and the help that they give us.  Of course what we have been receiving now has been mostly from the British Red Cross.

August 26, 1917  (received Sept 17)

The American Red Cross gave each of the nurses a warm heavy soft woolen sleeping bag…..  Money that anyone has given or is going to give to the Red Cross is certainly well spent.  You actually see what they do with it.

……  We have seen many train loads of American soldiers going by our hospital to training camps and it is a big problem to get enough food into France to feed thousands and thousands of people.

We are expecting 35 additional nurses any day now.  We will give them a hardy welcome as we are in great need of them. Are my letters censored badly?   I try to be very careful and not write anything that would not pass the censor.thecla-richter-operating-room