Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

New owner for former Friedens Church

One year to the date when Steve Kissinger placed a bid at a sheriff’s sale on the old Friedens Church on Cedar Creek Road his dream came true. “If I find a collection plate I’m going to put it outside the front door,” said Kissinger.

Dressed in blue jeans and a white t-shirt and garden gloves, Kissinger was celebrating his purchase and questioning his future at the same time. “It’s definitely a little overwhelming,” he said.

A year ago Kissinger and friend Terry Becker were completing a cemetery tour. Becker’s father and his grandparents were buried in the cemetery next to the church.

“My great great great grandparents were charter members,” said Kissinger. “And my great great grandparents are buried right next to the church.”

Kissinger started to look at the church and found it in foreclosure. “Last July 31 it went up for auction at the sheriff’s sale. No one bid. I followed it for about six months when it finally went up for auction online,” he said.

The bank, according to Kissinger, “wanted WAY too much for it.” A post published on WashingtonCountyInsider.com in April listed the price at $74,200.

“It never sold and was relisted every week or so. They finally accepted my bid on the July 6 and I closed Friday, July 28,” he said.

Built in 1878 the former church has definitely been neglected for many years. “It is in very poor condition,” said Kissinger. “And that’s being nice.”

All of the church furniture was removed long ago. Although a new roof was put in place last October there is significant water damage and some leakage. Kissinger has already reconciled “this will be a long-term project.”

He also realizes he has to pace himself. “If the steeple cannot be saved I would like to rebuild it to its original 1878 appearance,” he said.  “My friends are calling it St. Stevens.”

Kissinger’s plan is to work on it during the summer and hopefully have it ready by the time he retires in the next five years. “I want to restore it and turn it into my own personal museum for all of my collections including a huge collection of the products from the West Bend Aluminum Company,” he said.

Kissinger also thinks it will be the perfect home for his pipe organ.

In the meantime, Kissinger has moved an old WWII pump organ into the building…. and if you listen close you can hear the hymn “Stand up for Jesus” coming through the doorway as you pass by.

Camera Case in Hartford is sold

On Tuesday the sign on the door at Camera Case in Hartford, 1336 E. Sumner Street, says “This U.S. Cellular location will be temporarily closed on August 1 for an All-Associate meeting.”

According to Scott Henke with the Hartford Chamber of Commerce the shop owned by Bob Stumpner has been sold. “He’s been in business in this community for 40 years,” he said.

Camera Case has reportedly sold to Premier U.S. Cellular. A spokeswoman with Premier in Tulsa, Oklahoma did confirm “Premier has acquired the Camera Case.”

Wendy Drummond from Drummond Communications responded with an update.

Did Premier acquire all 7 U.S. Cellular locations owned by Bob Stumpner?

Premier Locations, authorized agent for US Cellular, acquired 6 Camera Case locations in Hartford, West Bend, Kewaskum, Neenah, Ripon and Saukville on August 1.  The Camera Case store in Green Bay was permanently closed on July 31.

What is the timeline on the Camera Case in Hartford opening?

The store re-opened August 2 and we are planning some fun grand re-opening events soon!

Why did Premier buy these stores?  What made it attractive? The market, the number, the reach, you’re taking over other outlets too?

Premier has owned and operated 5 stores in Germantown, Monona, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac and Plymouth for many years and has always looked for the opportunity to grow.  The CEO of Premier, Wendy Drummond, attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is a huge Badger and Packer fan, so expanding in Wisconsin has been a strategic goal for some time.  When Bob and Sue Stumpner approached Premier about their upcoming retirement, it was a match made in heaven – the Stumpners were ready to relax and enjoy their retirement and Premier was ready to grow and provide a world-class customer experience to more Wisconsin customers.

I’m checking with the city assessor in Hartford. Did you buy the Camera Case building too on Highway 60?

No, Premier is renting the building from Bob and Sue Stumpner.

 German flare sets the scene for upcoming GERMANfest

A bit of German flare highlights Main Street in downtown West Bend. Thanks to a team effort with the West Bend Fire Department the flags for GERMANfest are now in place. The flags symbolize the start of the annual Germanfest celebration which will be held August 25 – 26 in downtown West Bend. The event is brought to you by Habitat for Humanity of Dodge and Washington Counties.

Pizza Ranch at Ponderosa moving forward

Designs for the proposed Pizza Ranch in West Bend were approved by the West Bend Plan Commission on Tuesday, Aug. 1. Last April, WashingtonCountyInsider.com reported Pizza Ranch had a purchase agreement in place with Steve Kilian for the former Ponderosa building, 2020 W. Washington Street.

A segment of the April article read:

For the past year, since its initial announcement in March 2016, neighbors have been supporting the development of Pizza Ranch in West Bend. Many chimed in on social media, itching for the restaurant chain to take over the old Ponderosa building on W. Washington Street which has been vacant since Kilian purchased the property in 2011.

During a Friday afternoon conversation, Miller acknowledging the Ponderosa parcel was actually one of their first preferences.

“We looked at this property a while back, but because of the higher price we didn’t really think it made sense,” said Miller. “After considering the better location with the frontage road, we are real comfortable with the whole situation and we signed the purchase agreement. Steve Killian has been excellent to work with in putting this deal together.”

As far as the timeline on moving forward, Miller said it should be rather swift. “The nice thing about the old Ponderosa is it has concrete walls, which we can keep as well as the steel roof support. We’ll completely gut the interior and upgrade the facade to Pizza Ranch standards.”

Miller said the “site also requires no excavation work, allowing for a quicker start.”

Miller said that the principal owners Matt and Stacy Gehring will be managing the property.

It’s taken several months to draw up new plans to remodel the old Ponderosa. Some of the details approved by the Plan Commission on the 1.9-acre lot include: a 5,154-square-foot building, 100 parking stalls, two proposed building additions including one pickup area.

Next up the Gehrings will close on the purchase of the property at the end of August.

West Bend Noon Rotarians spend afternoon spreading the love | By William Schroeder Sr.

What does a turtle, a beaver, and an otter on a train have in common? It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke but a stroll along the Eisenbahn Trail in downtown West Bend will answer that question.

They’re all statues surrounded by a fresh bed of wood chips at the playground behind the Museum of Wisconsin Art. During lunchtime on Monday, volunteers young and old from the Noon Rotary Club of West Bend stepped up to spread mulch at the small playground. Rotarians Lisa Sanborn and David Slinde spearheaded the project.

“After a Rotary meeting a few weeks ago, we were talking about getting our fifth Monday service projects going again,” Sanborn said. “Slinde reached out to Craig Hoeppner (director of the West Bend Parks, Rec, and Forestry Department) for ideas.”

Forgoing a typical lunch meeting, Noon Rotary plans to participate in hands-on service projects in the community when there is a fifth Monday of a particular month. Service projects are selected to provide non-profit organizations the opportunity to use the labor of Rotarians.

Slinde, who has been a member of Rotary for nearly 15 years, enjoyed volunteering on a sunny Monday, though he wishes more folks would get involved with service organizations.

“Rotary is unique that like-minded people come together from different backgrounds to commit themselves to ‘Service Above Self,” Slinde said. “I believe that by volunteering, everybody can participate in the building and maintaining of our community.”

Everybody indeed! Volunteers ranged from their mid-20s up to their mid-80s. In addition to Sanborn and Slinde, other Rotarians on hand included Richard Klumb, Amanda Follett, and Anna Jensen. Klumb, a spry 86 years old and member of Rotary since 1958, manned a pitch fork to assist with the woodchip spreading.

“We are young, middle aged, and old,” Klumb said. “But (we) work as a team. Yesterday… was a prime example of some of the things we do to make West Bend a great place to live, work, and play.”

The next time a month has five Mondays is October; Noon Rotary is currently exploring opportunities for a service project on that date.

Updates & tidbits

-Registration is underway for the Washington County FC Little Dribblers co-ed soccer program for kids 4 – 6 years old. Outdoor practice is at Ackerman’s Grove Park.

– There was a practice burn in Jackson on Monday night that turned a lot of heads. Huge plumes of black smoke could be seen by passing motorists from Highway 45. Jackson Fire Chief Aaron Swaney said firefighters were conducting a training burn at the old Jackson Lumber Sales. That company moved to a new location in the industrial park.

-West Bend High School class of 1948 is preparing to relive its glory years as there’s a reunion luncheon August 19 at the Top of the Ridge. 1948 was an era when choosing the class ring (the Royal Crown) was a big deal, along with winning the debate championship and taking first place in the American Legion Essay Contest. Dorothy Barnes is coordinating the noon reunion. The cost is $17 and reservations needed by August 10. Call 262-438-5938 or 262-438-5951.

– It was a steamy day for the annual COLUMNS scholarship run on Thursday. Nearly 220 people participated in, Not Just a Walk in the Park, sponsored by Horicon Bank. Alec and Aric Miller lead the pack at the start of the 5k and the brothers ended up finishing No. 1 and No. 2. Brianna Renner, 17, of West Bend was the first female to finish. Her time was 24:24:09. Proceeds from the annual run go to scholarships at the West Bend High Schools.

-The building, 305 W. Kilbourn Avenue in West Bend, has been sold by Thomas and Kathleen Perry to Gregory and Lisa Lorenz. The 680-square-foot building, constructed in 1840, was most recently home to Sarah Campeau Photography. Adam Williquette, Senior Vice President of Anderson Commercial Group represented the seller in the transaction.

A new T-Mobile store has opened in the West Bend Shopping Center. T-Mobile is a national provider of wireless voice, messaging, and data services. There are a bunch of T-Mobile stores in the Milwaukee area. The new store is in the strip mall space north of Papa Murphy’s Pizza.

– The Local Collective has moved from West Bend to Hartford. Moving into its former location on N. Main Street is Wood N Art, currently located at 111 N. Sixth Ave. above Slesar Glass. Owner Janalee Bach has custom-made wood signs and photography.

-The annual Cedar Community Butterfly Release is Saturday, Aug. 12 at Cedar Ridge Campus. This fundraising event benefits Cherished Moments, Cedar Community at Home’s hospice program, and helps with the purchase of a new pontoon boat for residents. Reservations are $25 and the deadline is Friday, July 28.

-The Kettle Moraine YMCA will hold its 16th annual Golf Outing Friday, Aug. 14 at the West Bend Country Club. All proceeds benefit the YMCA’s Annual Campaign. The Kettle Moraine YMCA provides over $325,000 in financial assistance, helping a total of 1,600 individuals, which is one in six of our members. Register today – a foursome is $700.

-The annual Jingle Bell Open is Monday, August 7 at West Bend Lakes Golf Course. The fundraiser is for the West Bend Community Christmas Parade. Registration is 10 a.m. with an 11 a.m. shot gun start.

-The West Bend VFW Post 1393 is looking for a bar manager, full-time and part-time bartenders. Please send resumes to PO Box 982 West Bend, WI 53095

Leave a Reply