Kewaskum mourns loss of community leader Larry Ammel
Neighbors in the Village of Kewaskum are mourning the loss of former Kewaskum High School band teacher and community leader Larry Ammel.
“He was a pillar of the community,” said Jeanne Goeden. “He was the one who organized Music in the Park and people really like that.”
Ammel had retired from the Kewaskum School District years ago but while there he was active in many of the musicals including Fiddler on the Roof. “He was a very beloved teacher,” Goeden said.
Ammel was also extremely active in Kewaskum Kiwanis, he was the choir director at Peace UCC in Kewaskum and he was involved in the upcoming memorial dedication for Andrea Haberman.
“He used to do beginning band camp at Slinger Middle School,” said West Bend High School Band Director Leah Duckert. “He taught me a lot; he taught me beginning trombone.”
Duckert recalled Ammel’s humor during Friday band camp.
“Trombones are derived from an instrument called a sackbut and Larry brought in these brown paper bags and each kid taped a paper bag to their butt and so then they were all sackbuts. It was hysterical,” she said.
Duckert described Ammel as “jolly.” “He was the type of guy you wanted to hug every time you saw him,” she said.
Kewaskum Police Chief Tom Bishop said Ammel really gave back to the community. “He will definitely be missed,” said Bishop. “He was a heck of a good guy.”
Funeral services from Larry will be 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 29 at Peace United Church of Christ, 343 First Street, in Kewaskum, with Rev. Eric Kirkegaard officiating. Larry’s family will greet relatives and friends at the church on Friday, April 28 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Visitation will continue at the church on Saturday from 9 a.m. until the time of service. Larry Ammel was 73.
Pipe break forces delayed opening at ION Sports Pub
The owners of ION Sports Pub are asking for the community’s patience as they work through some new issues that have forced them to delay opening by a couple weeks.
Oskar Steinbauer Jr. said he came to the restaurant, 1102 Paradise Drive, this week to find water in the parking lot and some damage inside the building. The new sports pub was supposed to officially open on Monday, April 24 The new official opening will be the first week in May. Steinbauer and his business partner Nora Sanchez will keep the community informed on their progress. A new sign for the restaurant was installed Friday.
Removal of old WB Theatre bridge
The removal of the elevated bridge over the Milwaukee River is underway. The contractor staging area is on the west side of Veterans Avenue. The general contractor for this project is West Bend Crane, Inc. from West Bend.
Work will consist of removing the existing bridge over the Milwaukee River. A crane will be used to move the bridge to the right of way where it will be dismantled and hauled away.
Mass of Dedication at St. Peter Parish on Saturday, April 22
St. Peter Catholic Parish in Slinger will celebrate a Mass of Dedication and Blessing with Archbishop Jerome Listecki at 5 p.m. on April 22 in the newly renovated and expanded church.
The dedication and blessing will consecrate the new newly renovated building as a permanent worship space. Archbishop Listecki will be blessing not only the physical church building and altar, but other items and areas of the church as well.
There will be a reception to follow in St. Peter Church Hall. Please note the usual 8 p.m. Mass will be cancelled Saturday, April 22, 2017. The construction project expanding the original 1892 building began a year ago on February 29, 2016.
The goal to increase church seating capacity has been met, as 740 people can now sit in the main nave, as compared to the original 450 seating capacity. New meeting rooms, an expanded gathering space, and a more spacious church hall and kitchen have also been constructed.
Parishioners are also in the midst of completing a $600,000 furnishing campaign. This campaign will pay for and install all of the church’s stained glass windows and other new furnishing items throughout the building. An open invitation to worship and celebrate Mass is extended to all.
John McGivern to film in neighboring Dodge County
Fans of John McGivern in Washington County are familiar with his PBS show “Around the Corner with John McGivern.” The Emmy award-winning show highlighted West Bend in 2016 and Hartford was featured in 2014.
Now, our neighbors to the west will be featured as McGivern will be filming in Mayville this July. Here’s a note from the Main Street Mayville, Inc. “We are excited to announce that Milwaukee PBS “Around the Corner with John McGivern” will be filming in Mayville this July. We are seeking interested (and interesting!) parties who may be willing to be filmed and participate in the episode.
Kohlsville Fire Department celebrates gift
Volunteers from the Kohlsville Fire Department gathered under cloudy skies Tuesday afternoon to celebrate a strong donation by neighboring business Spiros Industries.
The locally-run manufacturer donated nearly $10,000 so the fire department could purchase its first jaws of life.
“We’ve always thought about getting one,” said Fire Chief Curt Martin. “Allenton has one and Kewaskum has one but if they’re 10 minutes out we can at least try to rescue a person who may be trapped in a vehicle.”
Spiros Industries recently used the back parking lot at the fire station while its building was undergoing some renovation. As a thank you the company made a generous donation.
“You don’t find a local business that too often does something like that for a volunteer fire department,” Martin said. “It’s amazing what people in the neighborhood do.”
Dennis Backhaus, president of Spiros Industries said they try to do something every year for the firefighters. “When we’re running out these are the guys who are running in,” he said.
Jim Maronde is a partner at Spiros Industries. “These are really a dedicated bunch of guys,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate in business and we like to help out where ever we can.”
On Tuesday afternoon the Kohlsville Fire Department also showed off its new ambulance. “Our old ambulance was 26 years old and that one we got second hand from Allenton,” said Martin.
The new ambulance is a 2017 E450 Ford custom cab and built by Foster Coach in Illinois. Kohlsville FD ordered the vehicle in December and it just arrived this week.
Foerster Signs in Slinger finished up the signage. The vehicle cost just under $120,000.
Herb Kohl Education Foundation winners
Neighbors in West Bend and Jackson can be proud of Fair Park teacher Renee Wilberg and students Mackenzie Mas from West Bend and Jiexin (Jessica) Yang from Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School in Jackson.
The threesome will be recognized during an awards luncheon, Sunday, April 23 by the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation. The event begins with a reception at noon at Waupun Junior and Senior High School in Waupun. The awards program follows at 1 p.m.
Each year the foundation recognizes students, teachers and principals for their excellence in academics, leadership and high achievement.
Wilberg is one of 100 teachers being awarded $3,000 by the Herb Kohl Education Foundation.
Updates & tidbits
– West Bend Friends of Park and Recreation need volunteers for the U.S. Open. “We have been invited to volunteer at the event entrances for checking bags and credentials,” said Lori Yahr. “There will be a 4 hour mandatory training session and you have to commit to working three 8-hour days.” The U.S. Open is June 12 – 18 at Erin Hills in the Town of Erin. Contact Lori Yahr by April 30 at email@example.com
– The annual Kohlsville Fire Department Smoker is Saturday, April 29 in Kohlsville.
-The West Bend American Legion Post 36 will be hosting a brat fry on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 28, 29 and 30 at 1421 W. Washington Street from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Proceeds go to local projects and veterans programs.
– April 28 is the annual Grandparents for Lunch at Holy Angels School in West Bend.
– The DIVA Spring Bling is coming up Thursday, April 27 in downtown West Bend. Proceeds from umbrella and specialty ring sales benefit Chix 4 a Cause.
– On Monday, May 8 there is a free community education forum at the West Bend High School Auditorium featuring internationally recognized researcher of suicide Dr. Thomas Joiner.
– Horicon Bank has stepped up this year to sponsor the fireworks during the July 4th celebration at Riverside Park in West Bend.
-The 30th annual Washington County Breakfast on the Farm is set for Saturday, June 10 at the Golden ‘E’ Dairy Farm on 8262 Orchard Valley Road, in the Town of Farmington.
-The Exclusive Company in West Bend will celebrate Record Store Day on April 22. The day includes sales, free food and live music as the store, 144 N. Main St., celebrates its independence. The store opens for 12 hours of sales from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Celebrating the Day Ladies at McDonald’s in West
This original story ran in 2014 in Around the Bend by Judy Steffes. Local McDonald’s owner Steve Kilian and son Steve Jr. took the time to offer a McSurprise to four long-time employees at the Galactic McDonald’s on Main Street after receiving a letter from a customer praising the Day Ladies for their friendly service.
“They call them the Day Ladies and each has worked for Steve Kilian for 20 years or more,” said Sharon Ruplinger, a McDonald’s veteran who started in 1973 when she was a 15-year-old sophomore at West Bend East High School.
“I was there when the special sauce for the Big Mac was mixed at the store and when the Hamburgler crawl thing, bouncy fry girls and metal slides were in the outdoor play land,” Ruplinger said recalling how they had to shut down the play area when it was “real hot because kids would burn their legs.”
As a teen Ruplinger had to know all the prices and the tax table, add by hand on a piece of paper, and cook by sight – not by computer. Ruplinger now works as Steve Kilian’s assistant and local marketing manager.
She said the Day Ladies have similar stories; they’re a unique group recognized by customers for their courtesy, commitment, and familiarity.
“I think we enjoy the customers as much as they enjoy us,” said Vicki Montanez, a Day Lady and an employee since Aug. 1, 1990.
“I was 36 when I started and the menu was really basic, we made all the biscuits for breakfast by hand and we had to bake and frost the cinnamelts ourselves and now it’s all done ahead of time.”
Montanez, who previously sold real estate, gravitated to McDonald’s because of the fast-paced environment but found she loved it for the flexible schedule. “It was really good because if my kids got sick at school I was able to leave in a second and that was really important,” she said.
Customers know the Day Ladies by name, they know their families, and many times their days off.
“You have the same people that come each day, some we know by name and others we know by order,” said Karen Wentz who knows a regular customer simply as ‘large coffee, seven cream, seven sugar.’
Wentz started in January 1997, when she was 33. She worked during the era when McDonald’s would bring breakfast to the high schools serving pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and egg McMuffins.
“We’d set up in one of the cafeterias and the kids just loved it,” she said.
Day Lady Caroline Schwartz started at McDonald’s in 1988 when the uniforms were baby blue with polyester pants and a blue striped button-up top. “I started because all my friends worked here,” she said. “I’ve stayed 25 years because it fit my schedule and the Kilians treated me like family.”
Schwartz talked about working alongside Steve Jr. when he was 12 years old and the appreciation shown by the owner.
“Steve sent us to the Packer game with a chauffeur and then they took us out to lunch at the Ninja Japanese Steakhouse; just so nice,” she said about Kilian who bought his first McDonald’s in West Bend in 1990.
Jane Sterr has been with McDonald’s since May 2, 1981. “I was 18, at West Bend East High School and the restaurant was across the street where Auto Zone is now,” she said. “We had a one-window drive thru and the popular sandwich was the McLean Deluxe.”
Camaraderie and customer service are reasons Sterr has stayed for 33 years. “We have our very regular customers and we joke around; we can still work while having fun. It’s a very good atmosphere,” she said.
Customer Judy Essig brought Jane a gift for her anniversary last year. Questioned about the longevity of the Day Ladies she said, “It speaks highly for the employer and the way they’re treated.”
Sterr admitted, she never thought she’d be at McDonald’s this long. “It’s hard work but we all work well together, we get along, and it’s amazing because we’re just dedicated.”