Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Thanks to Roger Kist for being a great community leader

There are few communities as lucky as Washington County to have a plethora of people dedicated to helping make it a better place. One of the notable community leaders is Roger Kist.

Kist, 81, was a young pup when he moved to Ridge Run Park in November 1967. Originally hired as caretaker of the park, Kist said it “reminded me a lot of when I worked on the farm.” A supervisor at the park, Kist sported a handlebar mustache and eventually became a fixture known as Ranger Roger.

Aside from the parks and Washington County Tourism, Kist has been a familiar face in politics on both the West Bend common council and as a supervisor, elected in April of 2016, to the Washington County Board.

“When I was on the council and I was also chairman of the local Republican Party,” said Kist. “I remember Mike Schlotfeldt was elected alderman and he chaired the Democratic Party. When he sat down he looked over at me like the devil had just shown up.”

Kist took his time and built a relationship with the representative from Dist. 6. “When Mike decided not to run again we had a little party and he said to me, ‘Roger you’re the only friend I’ve got.’”

Over the years Kist has made quite a few friends and below are some comments from friends and coworkers about the impact he’s made in this county and the community.

West Bend Police Chief Ken Meuler: I met Roger before he ever ran for alderperson as he has always been actively involved in the community. He donates his time to a number of community events, and supports almost every community function. Anyone out in the community will see him at Music on Main, Farmer’s Market, church festivals, parades, and numerous fundraisers in the community. During his time as an alderperson he has not been someone that pounds his fists or grandstands, but he always speaks up on issues that are important to him and his constituents. He has called me on a number of police issues to get a better understanding of our policies and practices. He has been a strong supporter of the police throughout his tenure as alderperson. I have always enjoyed working with Roger as an alderperson and appreciate all he has done for the community. More important, I value his friendship.

Washington County Supervisor Marilyn Merten: “Roger has always been a considerate and caring individual and he’s willing to do a good job at whatever he did.” Merten was county clerk and worked with Kist when he was at the Washington County Planning and Parks Department. “I’d contact Roger to help make the grounds look nice at the county building. Roger would always take care of it.”

Leah Baughman at Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County: “Roger Kist is very active and in touch with the West Bend community and knows what is needed to help support its citizens. When asked if he would like to be a part of the Interfaith/RSVP Advisory Council Roger very graciously accepted right away. Even though this venture has just begun he has been an important member that has contributed many great ideas and support.”

Todd Tennies remembered Kist when he worked and lived at Ridge Run Park.  “As a little boy I can remember going to Ridge Run Park and riding bikes past the log cabin as we headed to our favorite fishing spot. Roger would always stop and say ‘Hi’ and ask us how the fishing was. He was always friendly and willing to talk to us kids. After his retirement from the county he settled in and served the community through his involvement in city government. He did a great job and always had an interest in what was best for the community. His interest in our county also carried over into the Tourism Committee for Washington County. He did an extraordinary job promoting the Washington County Fair Park as well as all of our wonderful parks we have in this county.  Great job Roger.”

Dist. 5 alderman Rich Kasten said Kist is somebody he really admires. “The things he’s accomplished at the county and city and he can still walk down the street and people know him from Ridge Run Park. I wish I could be more like him with his ability to relate to people and between him and his wife the way they’re prepared for every meeting. I’m very lucky I’ve been able to spend time on the council with him.”

Mayor Kraig Sadownikow said serving the community is in Roger’s blood. “Whether it’s an elected position, or in his career or during his time off he’s always been committed to service and giving back to the community.

West Bend City Administrator Jay Shambeau said Kist’s name is relatively synonymous with park land and this community.  “To promote the development, use and preserving of parks and the fact he has not wavered in his opinion is really a tribute to him. He’s everywhere. He’s the longstanding West Bend member of the Mid-Moraine Municipal Association and he attends league conferences and the Alliance meetings.”

Former West Bend city clerk Amy Reuteman spent 15 years at City Hall and noted, “Roger Kist has been there forever. And he’s early; you can always count on Roger to be early.”

Thank you Roger Kist for your dedication and service to help make West Bend and Washington County a great community.

Plans scrapped to raze old West Bend Brewery building

City officials in West Bend have confirmed development plans have fallen through regarding razing the old West Bend Brewery on N. Main Street and building a 90-unit apartment complex.

City administrator Jay Shambeau said Robert Bach from P2 Development Company, LLC is no longer pursuing the development.

Since November 2017 Bach was moving forward with a proposed multi-family residential development which would have leveled the brewery building from Franklin Street and Main to the north and include retailers RT Speed Shop, Casa Guadalupe, Pruett’s Floor Covering, Ray’s Shoes, and Fuge Plumbing.

“Everything was progressing in a positive manner,” according to Shambeau. “And then just like that he (Bach) informed Chris Schmidt, the building owner, he was no longer interested.”

The project made an initial pass before the West Bend Plan Commission last November 2017 and a site survey was underway.

“We’re disappointed the development is not going forward but we’re hopeful that this idea has paved the way for someone else to take the ball and complete a project,” Shambeau said.

The old brewery building is owned by Chris Schmidt and Clifton Davis. Schmidt said, “I can’t speak for P2 Development, but I can tell you we are continuing to work with the City and discussing development options with a few different people.  There are a lot of good things happening in West Bend, and we believe the property can be improved and be a positive catalyst for the west side of the river, north of Washington Street.  I thought P2 Development’s plans would have been successful, but we are currently looking into various uses, in addition to a residential component.”

Building tenant, Ray Carlson owner of Ray’s Shoes, 459 N. Main Street, was pleased to hear the news. Carlson has run his cobbler shop out of the old brewery office building for nearly 20 years.

When the story about razing the brewery first broke in November neighbors were disappointed and heart sick at the loss of another piece of history in West Bend.

Shirley McDaniel Schwartz – My heart high has no skin or money in the game says “ no, no, no.” My brain, as simple as it is, sees the problems and the money needed to take an old building and make it doable in today’s codes. I hope whatever is done is tasteful for downtown and the history it holds and not the ultra modern, industrial look that says nothing to the history of downtown West Bend.

Russ Lange – There surely can be something that could go into the building to preserve it and not another multi-family building.

Richard Frank – Is the WB Company Apartments 100% occupied that more are needed? Sad to see bits and pieces of Historic West Bend removed bit by bit.

Adam Bunkelman West Bend can find more ways to destroy the history than saving it. Why can’t it be rehabbed in its current state? Leave the structure and history. They did it with the Enger Kress building and Amity building. Maybe think outside the box. It can’t be cheap to tear it down!!

Chris Weston That is sad that so much of West Bend’s history has become irrelevant.

Calls have been placed to Bach and building owner Chris Schmidt. Their comments will be posted when information becomes available.

Shambeau said the city is still moving forward with plans to vacate Franklin Street. That item will go before the council during its next meeting in March.

Former Barton State Bank and Barton TV sold

The building formerly home to Barton State Bank, Barton TV and currently Woodland Iron & Firearms, 1715 Barton Avenue in West Bend, has been sold. According to real estate records at City Hall the property sold Feb. 21, 2018 for $91,200.

Joseph and Mary Eisen of West Bend bought the parcel from Roger and Barbara Landvatter.

The 2017 assessed value was $77,000. The Landvatters purchased the property from the VFW in July 1983 for $22,000.

Records show an addition was put in the back in 1985.  The commercial lot is identified as “Old Bank Bld (building) – T.V. Showroom and Store.  An added note: Women’s toilet room – plumbing disconnected.

The Eisens are owners of Eisen Arms LLC, 409 Main Street, in Kewaskum. The store carries handguns, rifles, shotguns, and ladies lines of concealed-carry purses and Glock clothing.

The Eisens opened in Kewaskum in October 2016. “Barton will be our second location,” said Mary Eisen. “We were welcomed with open arms in Kewaskum and we’re just going to see if both stores will work out.”

The Eisens happened to be looking for a property. They said they made an offer on the Barton location because it basically “fell into our lap.”

“We’ll have the stores running simultaneously, but we’ll make the Barton location the hub,” she said.

The timeline includes an update on the Kewaskum store and, with a tenant in the Barton building, that opening will be this summer possibly in June. “We liked the Barton location because it’s closer to home, the property is larger and we’ll have more retail space and more space for classes,” Mary Eisen said.

On a history note: The building at 1715 Barton Avenue was built in 1915. According to the book A History the Village of Barton by Richard H. Driessel the bank “was a substantial brick building with a fireproof vault and a burglar alarm system.”

Also written by Richard H. Driessel: The stock market collapse of 1929 is well-remembered. Locally a rather large manufacturing plant, the Barton Axle Company, at first created much optimism and employment but did not survive.

Several housing developments, ambitious for the size of the village no doubt for the hurt the local economy. In 1930 the bank was strain to the point where it closed its doors and eventually declared bankruptcy, which was the fate of so many others soon afterward.

The assets and liabilities were assumed by a bank in West Bend and eventually the depositors recovered almost all of their funds, although several years elapsed.

At our time in history it’s hard to understand why a bank would fail during that so-called period of prosperity. The fact is that the prosperity was not on a solid foundation and they were basic flaws in the post-war economy.

To put the Barton State Bank situation in proper perspective it’s only fair to point out that between 1921 and 1928 the number of banks in the United States which close their doors was 5,214.

The bank was vacant for several years but later was used for other purposes. It was purchased by Joseph Kirsch in 1932 and used as a harness shop.  In 1941 Louis Kritz had as a tailoring and dry cleaning establishment.

In 1945 Baltus Rolfs bought it and started the Ivo Chapstick Company which manufactured a lip balm and applicators. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Adrian Neubauer Post 8658 but the building from Lip Ivo Inc. in 1954 to use it as their clubhouse. Later it was used as a commercial building.

Upgrades in store for the former Sears building

The old Sears building in downtown West Bend is going to get a face lift. This week the West Bend Plan Commission reviewed a site plan for exterior architectural building alterations the incoming Pearl of Canton restaurant, 102 S. Main Street and 515 Hickory Street.  The property is zoned B-2 Central Business District.

Architectural Building Elevations:

o       The north elevation of the building will be updated with an “Antique White” colored EFIS treatment that will be constructed over the main door entrance Hickory Street.  The Existing brick will be also repainted “Antique White”.

o       All of the existing windows have been or will be replaced during the renovations.

As a part of the improvements, a wall sign is proposed on the east and north sides of the building above the entrances.  The exact size of the sign is not shown and will have to conform to the zoning code size requirements.  Staff has no concerns with the sign location.

Gift of Giving fundraiser for Bo’s Heavenly Clubhouse

The Gift of Giving fundraiser is April 7 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at King Pin Bowl and Ale House, 1022 S. Main Street in West Bend. Bo’s Heavenly Clubhouse is a nonprofit charity organization that was formed when Amanda Hartwig’s family experienced the loss of their 10-month-old son, Bo. “We had nowhere to turn for grief support and aid for mental anguish,” she said.

West Bend School District notifies parents of student walkout

The West Bend School District sent a note to parents today notifying them about a potential student walkout next week.

According to School Board member Joel Ongert, “This is a national thing and we have not heard much chatter about it in our district with our middle or high school kids,” he said.

The letter was initiated by Laura Jackson Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning/ Lead District Administrator. “Laura felt we need to let parents know we are aware of this and here are our expectations of students,” Ongert said.

The district reportedly took its cue on the walkout from social media. “We’ve been in touch with West Bend P.D. to make sure kids are safe,” said Ongert.

When questioned who is in charge in the West Bend School District, Ongert said Laura Jackson is in charge.

“Laura has been asking principals, homeroom teachers and to see if kids are talking about this and if they want to participate and we want to be prepared,” he said. “If there’s a national campaign for a walkout we want to make sure if our kids participate they’re going to be safe.”

Questioned whether students are safer during the day in school or out of school Ongert said “in school, absolutely.”

Questioned whether this will disrupt education that day, Ongert said “we certainly hope it won’t disrupt.”

In Slinger Superintendent Daren Sievers said they too have heard about the day to bring national attention to school safety and the concerns following the school shooting in Florida.

“What we’re doing is we’re trying to channel the kids to do something positive,” he said.

At 10 a.m. on March 14 students in the Slinger School District will be participating in a school-wide moment of silence for 17 seconds.

“Mr. Ourada will go on the P.A. and announce the 17 students lost in the Florida shooting and then at lunch we’ll have banners where the kids can come write down a pledge in support of eliminating school violence,” said Sievers.

A couple of students at Slinger High School will also release 17 balloons following the moment of silence.

Note from West Bend School District: Administrators and teachers at West Bend Joint School District #1, West Bend East High School, West Bend West High School, and Badger Middle School are aware of the potential peaceful school walkout on March 14 at 10 a.m. by students to show their concerns about school safety.

The West Bend School District will not penalize students who choose to assemble peacefully for 17 minutes on March 14. After talking with students and staff, the school principals have developed plans to maintain the safety of the participating and non-participating students and to minimize interference with educational programming.

Those students who wish to participate in the walkout will be monitored and supervised by school staff to ensure that any walkout is safe and orderly. The West Bend Police Department will also help to ensure the safety of students to assemble in pre-designated areas.

Students who choose to participate will be expected to return to class in a timely manner and resume the school day. Students who fail to return to class will be considered truant in violation of school rules. For students who choose not to participate, school administrators and teachers are planning for classroom instruction to continue.

No media will be allowed on school grounds during this event to help maintain the safety of all involved.

Mike Christian is the new Dist. 2 alderman in West Bend

There’s a new District 2 alderman in West Bend. During Monday night’s meeting the Common Council reviewed two applications to fill the seat left vacant following the resignation of former alderman Steve Hutchins.

Two applicants submitted resumes by the Feb. 26 deadline including Mike Christian and Sonja Hanrahan. The pair made brief 3-minute presentations before the council and then Dist. 7 alderman Adam Williquette made the motion to select Christian.

“What I really like about Mike is that he’s been involved in the community with various boards and organizations and then he ran for city council,” said Williquette. “He’s going to be a good fit and he’s been following from the sidelines.”

Christian was then sworn into office by city clerk Stephanie Justman. “I feel like a lot of what I have done over the past years has led me to this point,” said Christian. “This is the next natural step for me and my dedication to the city of West Bend.”

Two UW-WC basketball players selected All Conference

Meghan MacFarlane and Marissa Kaul have been named to the Wisconsin Collegiate Conference 2nd team All-Conference team. MacFarlane averaged 12.3 points per game and made at least one 3-point shot in 10 straight games. She shot 48% from the field and 48% from behind the arc. MacFarlane led the team in blocked shots with 1.2 blocks per game, and she was tied for first on the team with 1.8 steals per game.

Kaul, the captain of the Wildcats, was voted All-Conference because of her all-around play.  She averaged 9.5 points per game and grabbed a team high 8.3 rebounds per game.  She also shot 51% from the field and 80% from the free throw line. Kaul was also tough on defense as she consistently guarded the opposing teams’ best player and often was undersized.  Kaul led the team with 33.1 minutes per game, and played in every single game this season.

Updates & tidbits

Dundee’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is tomorrow, Sunday, March 11.

-Former Washington County Clerk Arthur Degnitz has died. Degnitz was County Clerk from 1985 to 1994. He died Wednesday, March 7. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, 2018 at the Myrhum Patten Miller & Kietzer Funeral Home in West Bend.

– 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 16th year for the exhibit, according to Decorah Elementary School art teacher Mickiah Wolff. “This will be an exciting way to display the students’ work in a more public atmosphere,” said Wolff.

 – The earliest anyone in Washington County will be able to vote absentee for the upcoming general election is March 19. Election Day is Tuesday, April 3.

– The city of West Bend will spend $10,650 with a Brookfield firm to do a traffic count and signal-timing project on a stretch of Paradise Drive that runs from Seventh Avenue to 18th Avenue.

– The Washington County Fair Park will be celebrating this St. Patrick’s Day with an indoor concert featuring Irish and Scottish folk tunes and classic pub songs from bands Tallymoore and Ceol Carde. Headlining the event will be U2 Zoo.

– United Way of Washington County announced the approval of new board officers for the 2018-2019 term. Pete Rettler, dean of Moraine Park Technical College’s West Bend campus, has been selected board president. “Serving as Chair of the Community Impact Committee the last few years allowed me to learn about some incredible programs being provided in Washington County,” Rettler said. “It also showed me how our United Way dollars are tied directly to measurable outcomes that positively impact our communities. I am very humbled to lead a very influential group of community leaders and looking forward to working with Kristin and her team.” The other board officers are: vice president Josh Schoemann, Washington County; treasurer Tom Hopp, Commerce State Bank; and secretary Cory Neuy of Regal Ware.

– A nice sendoff Friday for Judy Steinert, 63, who has worked for Washington County the past 35 years. “I started in the old courthouse in Social Service and that was my first job for about eight years,” said Steinert. “Then I went to Planning and Parks Department for two years and then I worked in Economic Development with Marcia Theusch for eight years and then when they created administration I was here.”

Gordon Ellis was Steinert’s first boss and after that she worked for Doug Johnson and eventually Josh Schoemann.

Jamie Ludovic was one of several dozen county workers who came to show their appreciation for Steinert. “There’s nothing more important than the people who work for the county and who are committed and dedicated,” she said. “The most important thing we can do is recognize that.”

Steinert said in retirement she will spend more time camping and more time with her grandchildren. “Yes, I do have my Washington County Parks sticker,” she said.