Around the Bend by Judy Steffes
Toucan’s Custard is For Sale
The Moehr girls are notifying staff today that they’ve made a family decision.
“We are announcing as a family we’ve decided to sell our business Toucan Custard,” said Rebecca Moehr-Lambrecht. “It’s been a huge part of our life and a part of our heart for the past 27 years and with our dad’s passing this year it feels fitting that the torch also be passed with Toucan.”
During a Friday morning gathering at Toucan the Moehr girls discussed their decision while taking frequent breaks to reminisce about growing up the daughters of Al Moehr and working at Toucan.
“The frozen custard shop was our dad’s baby and it was a great part of our childhood,” said Jacquelyn Heise. “I’ve been here all 27 years.”
Al Moehr bought Toucan when Jacquelyn was 14 years old. “I didn’t really have any thoughts on it,” she laughed. “I had my own thing going on.”
Rebecca vividly remembered walking down the hill with her brother Allen to get ice cream. “I was 9 years old and we lived close and my brother and I walked down here and it was fall and although it was cold we sat outside eating a black forest ice cream cone,” she said. “We were by ourselves and we were able to get whatever we wanted.”
The girls recall having instant jobs and climbing the ladder from the entry-level position of making waffle cones to serving custard and on to manager.
“None of us really wanted to cook,” said Jacquelyn.
“I remember I was a manager at 14 years old because my dad needed one,” said Rebecca. “I cried and said ‘I can’t be a manager.’”
Rebecca remembered training people who were 16 years old. “It was so weird,” she said.
Just in their teens and running a business the girls said their dad was normally just a phone call away.
“Oh dad would call down here like six times a shift,” said Rebecca. The pair then mimicked Al’s grilling. “How are things going? How much custard do you have? Do you need help?”
The decision to sell the business came from a couple different angles. Larry Porter and his wife own the building with a business partner and he passed away in April. The girls said they too had concerns about their mother’s health.
“For us mom had been sick and she’s recovered but this is a family thing and if the whole family is not here, with dad gone it just seems kind of bittersweet that it should go with him,” said Rebecca.
The business was quietly listed a couple months ago at $99,900; now it’s at $89,900.
Mentioning how Toucan is an institution in West Bend, hits the girls right in the feelings. “That’s the part that makes me want to cry,” said Jacquelyn as she dabbed away tears.
“We have a strong emotional attachment to it, that’s for sure,” said Rebecca. “We hope someone who loves it as much as we do will take it and make it the same.”
Some people who found out earlier about the family’s decision are adamant that nothing change with the sale. “Everybody wants it to be what it is because everybody has a memory,” she said.
The girls told their children earlier this week about their decision and that didn’t go over well.
“They were devastated,” said Jacquelyn. “My daughter laid on the floor and cried.”
The Moehrs understand their children’s reaction as they too grew up in the business.
“We’d bring our babies to work, sitting in highchairs gnawing at cones while we’d do setup,” said Rebecca.
Toucan has also been a drop site for vintage memorabilia. Look around the walls of the checker-floor restaurant and you’ll see a number of toucans, a donated framed picture of Elvis, and a car. “The picture belonged to the parents of one of our customers and she had a little plaque made for it because her parents loved it down here,” said Jacquelyn.
There was also the 3-foot stuffed toucan a woman won at the county fair that hung out in the corner of the restaurant for a while.
“Remember the Toucan car?,” said Rebecca.
Al always drove Cavaliers when he worked for AT&T. “He’d pile the miles on and he eventually put Toucan on the side and the address on the back and he got Toucan license plates and when we were 16 we had to drive that car because he knew we’d behave in the Toucan car,” said Rebecca.
That car, so the story goes, once had a toucan on top that held a magnetic sign advertising the flavor of the day. “Dad went under a parking structure and ripped that bird off the top,” Rebecca said.
The girls told their children earlier this week about their decision to sell… and that didn’t go over well.
“They were devastated,” said Jacquelyn. “My daughter laid on the floor and cried.”
The Moehrs understand their children’s reaction; they too grew up in the business.
“We’d bring our babies to work, sitting in highchairs gnawing at cones while we’d do setup,” said Rebecca.
Thoughts of Al Moehr creep back into the conversation. “He had a lot of great one liners like ‘that one’s as sharp as a marble’ and he’d always want us to have our lips on,” said Rebecca. “He just thought if you didn’t have lipstick on it made you look tired; lipstick meant you were ready for the day.”
For a teenager in the restaurant business – Friday nights meant fish and working with your dad. “But it was really stressful in the cooking line because mom and dad were both there and we couldn’t talk,” said Jacquelyn.
“He’d yell at someone to get the phone or he’d be throwing stuff at us but he made it fun,” said Rebecca. “He’d be pushing his glasses up and say with urgency, ‘Beck can you believe this? Can you believe what’s goin’ on down here right now?’
“I’d say, no dad I can’t believe it,” said a mono-tone Rebecca. “He just loved it because it was so busy.”
While Al Moehr had his own unique personality, the girls developed a following as well.
“Da’ Moehr girls down at Toucan,” said Rebecca with a Midwest-Bender accent.
They acknowledge they look alike and it’s difficult to tell them apart.
“We had one customer, a 12-year-old boy, and he’d look at our shoes and that’s how he’d know which one was which,” said Rebecca.
When John McGivern visited to do a segment on Toucan for his Around the Corner show he remarked, “Can Al Moehr have an ugly daughter?”
Al Moehr’s legacy is a long list from the creation of the Duck Derby Kiwanis to the taco cheeseburger to the fried baloney sandwich. “Dad was watching a travel channel show and there was a place in Michigan that sold 3,000 a day … so he thought he’d try it,” said Jacquelyn.
Some people, according to the girls, still ask for it.
“We have many great memories of working together as a family and with all our great employees both past and present,” said Rebecca. “We want everyone to know we’re not closing but we’re hoping to find somebody who loves Toucan as much as we do who can carry on this awesome tradition.”
The Moehr girls said they will be “here until the end” and will celebrate the eventual sale with a big party. “We’re going to make a memory book…. something so our kids can remember this too,” said Jacquelyn.
Former Washington Co. Attorney Kim Nass to be hired in Dodge County
Former Washington County Attorney Kim Nass is expected to be approved later this month as the new lead attorney for Dodge County.
According to WBEV Radio Beaver Dam the Dodge County Board’s Executive Committee selected Nass to be the county’s lead attorney. Nass interviewed for the post along with two other candidates. Supervisors in Dodge County were impressed with her broad range of experience as a corporation counsel.
Dodge County is looking for someone to provide legal oversight including contract reviews, traffic and civil cases and human services matters. The Dodge County Board will confirm the position at its meeting Wednesday, Feb. 22. If approved, Nass would begin her duties Monday, Feb. 27.
Recognizing West Bend Firefighters for their heroism
West Bend Fire Department Lt. Al Hefter and Motor Pump Operator Kyle Demler were recognized this week for their heroic efforts after they rescued an 18-year-old woman from a fire at her home Sept. 26, 2016. The West Bend Fire Department was requested to respond for a fire and possible explosion with an 18 year old trapped in the basement.
There was heavy smoke coming from the structure and Lt. Hefter and MPO Demler were advised by a family member that his sister was trapped in the basement.
After a short search they were able to locate the victim who was unconscious on the couch. The pair pulled her from the home to the front yard where rescue efforts continued. The victim was unconscious but breathing. The fire conditions worsened and the structural integrity of the building was deteriorating fast. It is the West Bend Fire Departments belief that Lt. Hefter and MPO Demler put those conditions aside while completing their task of saving the girl.
For their efforts the WBFD honored Hefter and Demler with the Lifesaving Award. The award is based on an intentional act to save another person’s life and they take substantial steps in saving a life where a person would have otherwise suffer a grave consequence.
Rallying 103 birthday cards for 103rd birthday
Neighbors in Washington County are a helpful lot and WashingtonCountyInsider.com is working with a family on a good-will project. Lucille Christianson is at the Samaritan Health Center and on Feb. 18 she will turn 103 years old. The family is trying to rally 103 birthday cards to help Lucille celebrate. “It’s not every day someone turns 103,” said the request. Cards can be mailed to Lucille Christianson, Samaritan Health Center 531 E Washington St., West Bend, WI 53095
Local family walks away with cash on Family Feud
Liz Borden was preparing to settle in for the second night of Family Feud as her family had advanced to the next round. “I cannot believe it. What wonderful timing! Not!!!!,” wrote Borden. Her TV went on the blink. She ended up watching the Tuesday night episode at a friend’s house.
“We did not win but we had so much fun,” Borden said. “We won about $1,100. It was an amazing experience and it’s something not many families get to do together.”
West Bend School Board candidates share views during forum
About 75 people turned out for the candidate forum at the West Bend Moose Lodge on Wednesday night. West Bend School Board candidates included Rick Cammack, Ryan Gieryn, Nancy Justman, Bob Miller, Joel Ongert, and Tonnie Schmidt
Richard Cammack – Lived in West Bend for 22 years and excited about running for school board. I turned on WVCY and preacher Charles Stanley said, “Don’t quit. People who quit miss opportunities.” This is one of the ways I can help guide your kids to a better future. Three things important to me are family, students and teachers. Local business is also important to me.
Ryan Gieryn – I’m from West Bend and a grad of WBW in 1994 and graduated UW-Madison. Two kids in district. Wife is a teacher in Menomonee Falls. I just wanted to make a difference, work for our kids and education. We hired a good superintendent in Erik Olson and I’d like to stay and work on things with him.
Nancy Justman – Lived in West Bend for 18 years and has three daughters in school district. Work in marketing in Brookfield. Excited about opportunity and working with the superintendent
Bob Miller – Lived in WB for 19 years and have three kids in the WBSD. Strong supporter of the arts. Works for Charter. Appreciate your vote.
Joel Ongert – Running because I care. This district used to be one of the best, people would choose to live here but we’ve lost that. We lose great teachers and administrators each year. Lived here for 8.5 years and two kids in school district. Worked entire career at Caterpillar. Want to turn this back into the excellent district we all deserve
Tonnie Schmidt – Co owner at Delta Defense and employ over 100 people and I’m running on their interests. I feel comfortable dealing with big numbers and familiar with politics and red tape with big government. Lived in WB for 18 years and have three teens who have attended local schools. We talk to people and are involved in the community and I feel we’re in a position to help.
Common core – what’s your opinion and how should WBSD handle it?
TS – We need standards but believe in local control and teachers should develop their own curriculum.
JO – Common Core is the standard and not the curriculum. We need to equip parents with tools to get through math. In favor of having teachers set their own curriculum.
BM – Not a fan of Common Core and there are other alternatives out there. Like to see our kids succeed and if we can go above.
NJ – Want to see student excel and Common Core is a standard and want to see teachers and curriculum directors work together.
RG – Common Core is just a set of minimum standards and in WB we strive to be better than minimum standards. It should be left up to teachers to decide what works best.
RC – Looked at Galileo standards and gone to lectures in the past that are against Common Core. Need to sit with teachers and see what they think. I’m opposed to Common Core but I think if there’s something we can use then it’s worth looking at.
Proper way to evaluate teacher performance – competency vs. tenure-based pay?
JO – We can look at surrounding districts to see what they’re doing to see why our teachers are leaving. How about common-assessment tests. Use observations in the classroom. We need to give our teachers more credit and let them come together and write a common assessment.
BM – In some instances teachers can submit questions – don’t need to 100% testing on Galileo. Look into another assessment program. Check with the parents.
NJ – Important to look at a well-rounded evaluation. Observations and grading of students is one thing that’s important. Don’t look at just one quarter – evaluate over the entire year.
RG – Well-rounded evaluation. Research shows basing a teacher’s performance solely on test grades doesn’t work.
RC – A lot more I have to learn to make a sound decision.
TS – Interesting question. Lots of excited and energetic young teachers. Want to have a standard set and there would be an improvement plan on the table. Let teachers with great reputations teach and we should get out of their way.
What’s proper relationship between board and school superintendent/administration?
BM – Superintendent reports to the board. Super should be a resource
NJ – Super reports to the board. Staff underneath reports to Super. Board is also there for guidance and to help portray proper goals and image.
RG – Board is the governing structure that sets the vision. The super is the CEO for acting out that vision. Important for the board to be visible.
RC – Superintendent is the head and the board is the hands and feet but both have to work together. Important that the board gets out to meet people.
TS – Board and Super have a good relationship. Board represents stakeholders and Super executes mission. Board can ask questions of the Super and all actions should be transparent. It should be encouraged for board members to talk to teachers and parents
JO- Board needs accountability. Great opportunity to challenge and support the Superintendent. Board’s job to make sure that happens.
Parents are opting students out – why is this happening, how to win students/parents back?
NJ – Not sure why parents are opting kids out. We could speculate but win them back by instilling school pride and help teachers be happy in district. Get staff to be proud of district.
RG – Lots of reasons people leave including size and travel. Some are threatened by size of the high school. Studies show kids learn better in smaller environments. How to change size of H.S.? How do you make large environment feel smaller.
RC – Main goal is to study this question. Why are people leaving? Traffic pattern is a problem. We have to stop this from happening – it’s going on at UW-WC too. Vital issue we need to address.
TS – We have too much standardized testing, we focus on bare minimum and not excellence, we don’t offer as many AP classes and teacher pay is tied to testing.
JO – We have to ask the families why they’re leaving. Is it testing, is it bullying and we need to do exit interviews with teachers to find out why they’re leaving.
BM – Board does do exit interviews and contact families. We need to make the answers transparent on why they’re leaving. We should focus on the children first and not so much on the politics.
What conditions would you propose operational referendum to raise taxes?
RG – If we were looking at cutting programs from our schools that would be the first indicator for an operational referendum.
RC – Priorities dictate what we do. We need to talk as a community on what our priorities are.
TS – Until we fully understand how our taxpayer money is spent and the structural makeup of administration. I need to understand our costs. I won’t vote for an operational referendum.
JO – We’ve yet to see an operational budget. What are we spending? We should see a transparent budget. I won’t vote for an operational referendum.
BM – Only if we’re cutting back on arts and creativeness.
NJ – Agree we need to see line-item budget. Want to see budget. Don’t want to see programs cut.
Common Sense Citizens lean towards conservative – how do you keep your position nonpartisan while still pleasing all stakeholders?
RC – I call myself a realist – what is the issue and how do I address it. Important to think about reality.
TS – I’m a conservative and believe in checks and balances. Everybody can voice their opinion and I want to work with the adults in the room.
JO – I consider myself a conservative but I have a big heart for teachers and students. This is for the betterment of teachers, students, and community. Need transparency in budget.
BM – I’m conservative but we have to listen to everyone
NJ – School district is backbone of community. Most important to think of what’s best for students and community.
RG – Politics don’t play a part in education. As part of the board we represent everybody
Why are you the best candidate?
TS – I’m one of the top 3 candidates. I’m very invested in this community. I have experience and I’m locked into this community.
JO – I care about teachers, kids and the community. I want to rally behind our superintendent
BM – I’m one of the best because I was born and raised here and I can make tough decisions
NJ – I care about causes. We can make this an amazing experience but we need to work together
RG – First year is like drinking from a fire hose. Big thing about being on the board is longevity. I know what it’s been like for three years and I can continue to do good work
RC – For the last 10 semesters I’ve been going to UW-WC and define what best is. I love learning and it’s my passion and that’s my biggest asset
RC – I’ve been visiting schools and principals. I want to bring a future of hope
RG – I’ve had opportunity to do the job of hiring a superintendent. We have a $70 million budget and we’re the largest employer. The super is doing what the board has asked him to do.
NJ – I understand difficulty of reporting to a board. I want the super to stick around and the district to be successful. We need to communicate better.
BM – I have a strong passion for kids.
JO – Not easy and there are some challenges. I’m the guy who can help make this a destination district
TS – I want to know cost, alternatives, criteria to determine facts and I’m running because I’ve had a hard time getting answers. I’m good at asking questions.
There will be 7 candidates for West Bend School Board on the Feb. 21 primary ballot. Six of the top vote getters will advance to the April 4 Spring Election. There seven candidates running for three open seats on the West Bend School Board.
In reality there are six candidates running for three seats. Tina Hochstetter has announced she is not running but her name will still be on the ballot.
In-person absentee voting is open until Friday, Feb. 17. Voters are reminded to bring an ID.
In the West Bend School Board race the ballot order will be: Nancy Justman, Richard Cammack, Joel Ongert, Tina Hochstaetter, Ryan Gieryn, Tonnie Schmidt, Bob Miller
Updates & tidbits
– Students and staff at St. Kilian School in Hartford packed over 400 lunches for the House of Peace as a service project during Catholic Schools Week.
– West Bend City Clerk Stephanie Justmann swore in three new police officers Nicholas Ratas, Shawn Spencer and Brock Bateman during Monday’s Common Council meeting.
– The Elbe family from Golden “E” Dairy on Orchard Valley Road and Shalom in the Town of Farmington will host the 2017 Washington County Breakfast on the Farm on June 10.
– In-person absentee voting is underway and runs through Friday, Feb. 17. You must bring an ID to vote. There are only a couple of items on the primary ballot for the Feb. 21 spring election.
– The gloves come off Feb. 25 at Washington County Fair Park as Tiny Love, Justin Dredd and Damon Knight climb into the ring for Mayhem for Mason. Money will be raised for Mason Holbrook and family.
– A Safe Space workshop is Feb. 22 at the Democratic Party of Washington County, 132 N. Main Street in West Bend. The event is free and open to the public.
– West Bend Youth Football registration is Saturday, Feb. 25 at 8 a.m. at Silverbrook School.
– Paul Eve as Johnny Cash Alive is coming to the West Bend Moose Lodge on Feb. 25. Eve has portrayed Johnny Cash since he was 9 years old; he captures the essence of the Man in Black.
– There will be casino games and prizes at the annual Vegas Night at Fillmore Fire Department on Feb. 25 starting at 7 p.m. Information or tickets call Judy 262-692-9434 or Dale at 689-4799.
– The deadline is coming up March 3 to take part in the 2017 Washington Co. Tree Program.
– Ice racing on Wallace Lake on Sunday, Feb. 12 has been cancelled.
Frieden’s Church to go to auction
There’s quite a bit of history behind the old church that sits on the corner of County Highway P and Cedar Creek Road. Local historians Terry Becker and Steve Kissinger chimed in with some interesting facts.
Frieden’s Church was founded in 1852. The first church was a log structure. The present church was built in 1878. The church was remodeled in 1927 and again in 1952. History photos show an original steeple on the building.
The church was in use until June 1991 when the congregation joined with Peace Evangelical Reformed church of Jackson and they moved into a new building.
It is now called New Hope United Church of Christ. The minister still lives in the house across the street.
The bank currently owns the building. Over the weekend a crew out of Racine put a new roof on the building. The church will go up for auction in a few weeks.
County Highway Commissioner Scott Schmidt said there will be work done to add sidewalk and curb and cutter on Highway P.
There was word the state was going to build a roundabout at that intersection and raze the church – that, however, is false.