Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Game changer for Pizza Ranch as land in WB is sold

A bit of a game changer for the location that was going to be home to a future Pizza Ranch in West Bend. On Monday, April 10, MG Development, LLC sold the site at 2001-2005 W. Washington Street, in West Bend to West Bend Enterprises, LLC, which is a partnership that owns the neighboring Sendik’s lot.

That 1.7-acre parcel will be cleaned up and soon available as a build-to-suit outlot to Sendik’s.

Adam Williquette from Anderson Commercial Group and Dave Hazenfield represented the seller in the transaction.

That parcel, just west of 18th Avenue, had been a hot topic as Matt and Stacy Gehring had their eye on it for a future Pizza Ranch. The couple had gone before the Plan Commission several times as they worked through revised site plans and easements.

One of the business partners in the Pizza Ranch development, Bob Rehm, said Monday afternoon that a “Pizza Ranch in West Bend is inevitable.”

A new location is being explored and more details will be released when they become available.

Side note: If you’ve been following the Pizza Ranch story from the start you’ll recall this isn’t the first time the location has been changed.

In March 2016, WashingtonCountyInsider.com was the first to report on a Pizza Ranch possibly coming to the community. Two short months after that, speculation was confirmed as site development plans were on the table.

The first location was on W. Washington Street just to the west of Westbury Bank.

On August 15, 2016 PRWB Real Estate LLC closed on the purchase of 1.7 acres on W. Washington Street for $300,000.

Then, within a couple weeks, PRWB Real Estate LLC flipped the property and sold the parcel for $500,000 to Steve Kearns.

The Gehrings and PRWB regrouped and announced a new location in October at 2001-2005 W. Washington Street, just to the west of 18th Avenue.

There were several more trips before the Plan Commission with easements and whatnot.

And that brings us to today – when the 1.7 acre lot on W. Washington Street was sold to West Bend Enterprises, LLC.

Rue21 in West Bend is closing

Rue21 is closing its store in West Bend. The retailer, 1331 W. Paradise Drive, is the third corporate store in the strip mall east of Wal-Mart to announce its closing. In February, WashingtonCountyInsider.com was first to report MC Sports was closing and at the end of December 2016 the Insider first announced Pier 1 was closing on Paradise Drive.

Rue21 first opened in West Bend in June 2014. It specializes in clothes for teens and young adults. There are currently sales, 20% to 40% off the entire store. Store management did not have any insight on why the store was closing. A record search shows the corporation may have some financial concerns and could be restructuring. Rue21 is based in Pennsylvania and has more than 1,000 stores in 48 states. Early word, the store closing in West Bend should take about 8 weeks.

ION Sport Pub to open April 24

ION Sports Pub, 1102 E. Paradise Drive, in West Bend will be opening in a couple weeks. The restaurant is a partnership between Oscar Steinbauer Jr. and Nora Sanchez. The pair have been working with their families to revamp the former Bender’s Sports Bar. There’s decorative strip lighting above and below the bar, new carpet, and the addition of 17 big-screen TVs. New signage will be put in place on April 21 and the restaurant will officially open Monday, April 24.

New facility for Double J Transport

Double J Transport LLC is building a new facility in the Town of Polk.

“We’ve come a long way since my dad and grandpa started the business out of a farmhouse on Highway 60,” said company vice president Keith Fechter.

For the young Fechter the olden days include memories of a transport company that ran out of Fechter’s Hwy 60 You Pick ‘Em strawberry farm. The business office later graduated from the farmhouse to a remodeled machine shed.

In 2004 the company then moved to Industrial Drive in Jackson and now 13 short years later, after experiencing 10-percent annual growth, Double J Transport is on the move again. (pun intended)

“We have 115 employees and 93 trucks here and we’re crowded,” Keith Fechter said. “Our office, shop, and the parking lot is crowded. We have to rent a lot behind our current facility to park trailers. We need a new facility to accommodate that growth.”

Family patriarch and company president Jerome Fechter said they seriously started thinking about a new facility in October 2013. “We knew we had to do something,” he said.

The new facility is going to be on the west side of County Highway P in the Town of Polk. “The freeway, Highway 45, is right there,” said office assistant Janice Fechter. “So it’s location, location and visibility.”

The new facility, contracted through American Construction Services Inc. of West Bend, will features a driver’s room with showers, Laundromat, a lounge and television and double the amount of office space. “It’s going to be similar to our current shop but a lot bigger and a lot nicer,” said Keith.

Quite a few truckers at Double J Transport are from out of state and the Fechters, who make vehicle maintenance a top priority, said they want to make the over-the-road drivers comfortable while in town as their vehicle is being serviced.

As far as the construction timetable, there are already earth movers on site and ground has been broken. The new facility should be finished by November.

DNR Spring hearings

There were 117 people that turned out Monday night in Washington County for the DNR’s Spring Fish and Wildlife Public Hearing at the Washington County Fair Park.

There were a couple hot topics on the night including whether the DNR should develop a hunting season for sandhill cranes. Bill from West Bend was short and sweet with his support.  “I’ve shot sandhills in North Dakota and they’re delicious,” he said.

A handful of other hunters voiced their support for hunting sandhill cranes; many cited the crop damaged caused by the cranes and how legislation was a bit messed up because if a farmer shoots sandhills to save his crops he can’t legally eat them.

A nature journalist named George said he was opposed to hunting sandhill cranes for a number of reasons. “Like most of you I believe in eating what I kill. I doubt people would eat it.  It might take like chicken or great horned owl,” he said.

“A biological point, the sandhill birds mate for life and if we remove one of the birds that removes the reproductive system. Most importantly, sandhills look a lot like whooping cranes and whoopers will be killed if this is approved.”

Tashina Peplinski spoke as a resident and not as a member of the DNR pane. “Sandhill crane are reaching a point where they’re becoming a nuisance population,” she said. “We need a way to find to do it safely. Other things to keep in mind is people say they look like whooping cranes, well the first thing we’re taught in hunter safety is to know your target and what’s beyond.”

Another topic that drew the most input on the evening was about reinstating back tags. In March 2016 Governor Walker signed a bill eliminating back tags worn by hunters.

A majority of those who spoke on the issue were in favor of returning the tags. Some of them mentioned how it’s easier for land owners to identify who is on their property. One man mentioned how ATVs, cars and snowmobiles have number ID’s or licenses “so why is it any different than a guy in the woods with a gun. I think it’s safer,” he said.

Pat Campbell of West bend brought up the 2004 incident in Rice Lake where six hunters were killed by Chai Soua Vang. “Vang shot a hunter who wrote his tag number on an ATV and that helped find the guy,” he said.

The tags were used as a way for law enforcement to identify hunters in the field. Dennis from Hartford spoke against the back tags and called them an inconvenience. “If it rains and I put on a jacket what do I do with my back tag,” he said.

The final hot topic dealt with a question about online voter accessibility.  “Would you support the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and the DNR working to offer an online option of the public to provide input on the questionnaire? The elections of the WCC delegates would remain in-person at each Spring Hearing location only.

Corky Meyer, 65, of Kewaskum spoke several times against it. “If they want to vote make them show up,” he said.

There were comments about having no restrictions on who takes the survey. J.R. Salinas of West Bend said, “If you don’t have the time to come down and vote then stay home.” The hearing lasted about two hours. Survey results will be available online as soon as they are compiled.

Proposal for deer pickup in winter

During this week’s annual DNR spring hearing at the Washington County Fair Park a resolution was proposed regarding dead deer pickup. The issue is becoming a rather hot topic since budget cuts have limited large animal carcass removal.

J.R. Salinas from West Bend offered a proposal at the end of the meeting where he suggested a 1-800 number to register the time a deer was killed and then people could have 20 hours within the fall and winter to salvage the animal. “There’s a lot of meat out there to be used,” said Salinas. “This would help get the carcasses off the roads.”

Local DNR warden Tom Isaac said considering logistics this may be difficult to work out. “The whole car-deer pickup system involves so many different agencies and townships and I don’t know if they’re looking for more work,” he said. “But if there’s any way to use the deer more that would be a good thing.”

The DNR will have to officially register the resolution but in the meantime do you think this is a viable process? Would you pick up a deer from a vehicle hit at the side of the road within a certain time frame and then process the meat?

St. Peter Dedication

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.

Updates & tidbits

Jacob Loehr and Hailey Herriges are the latest recipients of the J.O. Reigle Scholarships awarded annually by Regal Ware. The $18,000 award recognizes the outstanding scholastic achievements and is designed to assist with a college education.  

Interfaith Caregivers is in desperate need of volunteer drivers, especially those who would be willing to take an elderly veteran down to the VA, drive an Interfaith van for a wheelchair-bound client, or take a lady or two to the grocery store. Volunteers can call Interfaith at 262-365-0902.

– On Monday the Main Stage headliners will be announced for the Washington County Fair which runs July 25 – 30.

-The Coffee Syndicate, 1229 S. Main Street in West Bend, is giving away a free Kindle Fire 8GB. Customers must enter to win at the location.

– Saturday, April 22, from 8 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. West Bend Police will sell its spring 2017 inventory of 60 abandoned/recovered bicycles. The sale will be at the West Bend Police Department, 350 Vine St. All bicycles are $15 which includes a City of West Bend Bicycle License which is required for all sales.

-Tim Wiedmeyer is the new owner of the “Fill-N-Chill” in Slinger.

– April 22 is the Money Smart Women’s Conference at UW- Washington County.

– The DIVA Spring Bling is Thursday, April 27 in downtown West Bend. Proceeds from umbrella and specialty ring sales benefit Chix 4 a Cause.

-Record Store Day at The Exclusive Company, 144 N. Main St., in West Bend is April 22. The day includes sales, free food and live music. Store open for 12 hours of sales from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Fond memories of Easter dresses

One of my favorite stories to write is memories of Easter finery. The frilly ensembles hearken to the day when people wore their Sunday best to give to the glory of God.

The history photo, courtesy Jeanne Goeden of Kewaskum, features a 1954 picture of Goeden’s grandma Esther Eggert. “Grandma made our pinafores,” said Goeden pictured above with her sister Sandra Berres Ohmann. The photo was taken in Kewaskum in 1946.

Goeden’s story of homemade dresses sparked memories from others who also reflected on the extra effort families made to dress in bows and lace with a special outfit for Easter Sunday.

Carol Johnson Cler grew up on a farm in the mid-1950s in the Norwegian Valleys of Black River Falls. “My mother made all my dresses out of flour sacks we got at the A&P; the flour sacks were pretty in those days,” said Cler.

“Sometimes, when I was lucky she’d buy material. My cousin, my best friend and I all had the same dresses because our mothers shared the pattern and they were all blue and white dotted swiss.”

Accessorizing for Easter included costume jewelry borrowed from different aunts. Tights were not in the budget so Cler combined cotton socks with a pair of Buster Brown shoes. “I loved saddle shoes. We’d get one pair in the fall when we started school and they had to last all year,” she said.

Dolores Koenig was a volunteer at the recent Holy Trinity Women’s Social in Kewaskum. “I was in seventh grade and I got a new green, three-quarter length coat,” Koenig said.

Wide-brim Easter hats were an annual fashion staple for Koenig as were white gloves. “My mom did a lot of shopping at Schuster’s Department Store in Milwaukee,” she said. “I remember one dress from high school was purple. It was 1948 and I really, really liked that dress.”

Joan Albers has lived in Kewaskum 45 years. “Easter was always a time for new spring clothes; nice hats, cutesy purses and ruffles and lace.”

Albers grew up in Port Washington in the 1950s when the city had two stores with clothes. “We shopped at the Smart Shop on Main Street. They didn’t have ‘chubette’ size and I used to take chubby sizes because I have always been chubby,” said Albers. “They would try and squeeze me into little sizes and therefore my feet were always hurting or dresses were too tight – which was not too flattering but we made it,” she said.

Merriann Rose-Cudewicz, 72, of Kewaskum grew up in Milwaukee. “I was a citified country girl and a graduate of St. Agnes High School in 1961,” she said.

Spoiled by an aunt from San Francisco, Rose-Cudewicz said little girls always got new clothes for Easter. Her mother worked for people like Pabst and Schlitz Uihleins. “She didn’t have a lot of money but she knew how to dress,” she said recalling shopping at stores like Chapman’s and Boston Store in Milwaukee “My aunt sent me an organdy white dress with blue trim for Easter. Dresses made me feel elegant and I was only six years old and felt really fancy,” she said.

 

Judy Steffes, Editor

Washington County Insider

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