Korean Leaders Meet

We can hope.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has agreed to shut one of the country’s main missile testing and launch sites, says the South’s President Moon Jae-in.

After meeting in Pyongyang, the two leaders “agreed on a way to achieve denuclearisation,” said Mr Moon.

The agreement was described by Mr Kim as a “leap forward” towards military peace on the peninsula.

Mr Kim also said he hoped to “visit Seoul in the near future” – he would be the first North Korean leader to do so.

Betty White is OK


how unfortunate for an award show celebrating TV to fail to produce any moment of perceptible value outside of letting us know that Betty White is doing OK. And there’s no more potent catalyst for the need to know that Betty White is alive and well than watching three hours of comedy’s new regime produce that Emmy Awards telecast.

Hartford School District Plans Another Tax Decrease

What a refreshing story.

A small crowd turned out for the meeting, but they approved the school district’s proposed 2018-19 budget that calls for a small decrease in the taxes district property owners will pay per thousand. The budget, which still needs the Board of Education’s final approval after they receive more financial information from the state calls for a drop from about $5.99 per thousand in 2017-18 to about $5.98 per thousand for the 2018-19 budget year.

According to information provided by the school district, the owner of a $200,000 home paid $1,198 in taxes to the district for 2017-18 and will pay slightly less for 2018-19 of about $1,196 — a decrease of about $2.

“The district total levy for the 2018-19 school year will be $9,997,988 compared with the levy of $9,788,739 for 2017-18,” said District Director of Business Services John Stellmacher. “But we are anticipating a larger drop after a significant increase in fair market values and new construction in the city of Hartford over the past year.”

Stellmacher said the balanced budget being proposed includes a 0 percent base wage increase for teaching staff but nearly $283,000 in merit pay increases for teaching staff. These increases were approved in March.

He said the district continues to use the Act 10 Tools effectively.

“Our average health insurance renewal the past 7 years has been under 2 percent. We have a rate guarantee for an under 2 percent maximum increase for 2019-20,” Stellmacher said. “The district has been able to accomplish this through purchasing power in the Waukesha County Area Schools Health Cooperative and through competitive bidding. We also have a highly engaged staff and robust wellness program that emphasizes healthy lifestyles and consumerism. Our teaching staff has a base employee contribution rate of 21 percent toward their health insurance as we’ve worked to model benefits closer to the private sector.”

Stellmacher said stability in health insurance rates has allowed the district to invest in merit pay, small elementary class sizes, facility maintenance, and high quality professional development.

Meanwhile, in West Bend, we are looking at another levy that increases the property tax levy to the maximum allowed by law, a $900k pay increase for teachers, no merit pay, and starving facility maintenance in a run-up to a massive referendum.

More money has not, and will not, improve education for our children

Here is my full column for the Washington County Daily News that ran yesterday.

With school back in full swing, the MacIver Institute’s Ola Lisowski completed a comprehensive review of the state of education in Wisconsin. The data gives some insight into how well our education system is serving our kids and raises some questions. One is left wondering, however, why Wisconsin’s politicians insist that throwing more money into education is the only answer.

Overall, ACT achievement scores have remained flat. In 2017, the average ACT score for graduating students was 20.5. That was the exact same as in 2016. Prior to 2016, the average ACT score remained flat at 22.0 or 22.1, but there was a change in participation requirements in 2016.

Until 2016, students only took the ACT if they were intending to go to college or just wanted to take the test. Starting in 2016, Wisconsin began requiring all enrolled students to take the ACT and taxpayers pay for the exams. Although students can still opt-out, the new rules pushed the participation rate for taking the ACT from the 63.5 percent in 2015 to 92.1 percent in 2016 and 2017. The fact that a much larger number of kids are taking the ACT — including many who do not have any intention of attending college — necessarily lowers the average.

Compared to the other 16 states that require all students to take the ACT, Wisconsin’s average is third best. Only Colorado and Minnesota do better.

Another metric for which longitudinal data is available is Advanced Placement course participation and results. Average scores for AP tests have been trending slightly down since 2010. In 2011, 68 percent of students scored a 3 or better on AP exams and 65.9 percent scored that well last year. But the good news is that more and more kids are taking AP exams. Last year, 57 percent more AP exams were taken as compared to the 2010-2011 school year. Much like with the ACT, broader participation usually pushes the average down, so it is good to see so little decline with the surge in participation.

Graduation rates have increased slightly since 2011 from 87 percent to 88.6 percent in 2017. That beats the national average of 84 percent. The real news in the much better graduation rates for some minority groups. The Hispanic and Latino graduation rate jumped from 72 percent in 2011 to 79.9 percent in 2016. The graduation rate for Native American kids grew from 71.7 percent in 2011 to 77.8 percent in 2016. Asian and black graduation rates increased by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. More kids are graduating and that is good news.

Unfortunately, we must temper the good news about the graduation rate with the data about remedial education. For many years, colleges have offered remedial education classes for incoming students.

They are classes for kids who are accepted and enrolled into the college, but need to shore up their core math or English skills.

Wisconsin began requiring in 2016 that UW System schools track which students need remedial education and the high schools that graduated those kids. The results are not good. Roughly 20 percent of all incoming students in the UW System require some form of remedial classes. These students graduated from 184 high schools. That means that almost 36 percent of Wisconsin high schools are sending kids to college who are not proficient in math or English. Not only is that indictment of those high schools, but it is a tremendous added expense to those kids who have to pay for remedial education they should have already received.

There is a lot more data on school performance. I invite you to read the overview at the MacIver Institute or dig through the Department of Public Instruction data yourself. A couple of insights bubble to the top after wading through the data. First, Wisconsin’s schools are fairly decent, for the most part, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Second, the performance has remained fairly consistent for the years despite taxpayers spending more and more every year.

This makes the politicians’ response all too disappointing. Tony Evers, the Democratic candidate for governor, has one answer to every question about education: Spend more money. This is despite the fact that spending more has no measurable impact on educational outcomes. Gov. Scott Walker has had a strong record of actual education reform, but has fallen into the same spending paradigm. This election, he is hanging his hat on the fact that Wisconsin increased spending on education and is spending more than ever.

The reason that politicians conflate more government spending with improving educational outcomes is as lazy as it is stupid. It is an easy way for them to demonstrate that they are “doing something.” In fact, they are doing nothing but wasting more money. The outcomes matter — not the spending.

Senate Hearing to Proceed


Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is pressing forward with a hearing scheduled for Monday after a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault called for the FBI to investigate her claims before she testifies.

Grassley, on Monday evening, said there was “no reason” to delay the hearing. Republicans have invited both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, his accuser, to testify publicly.

“Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events. Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay,” Grassley said.
He added that Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school are “serious allegations and Dr. Ford deserves to be heard. …The invitation for Monday still stands.”
Ford has her chance to testify if she chooses to do so. If she takes a pass on the chance, then so be it. I hope, however, that this is not setting a precedent that anybody who accuses a nominee of something will get time at a Senate hearing. All of the loons will come out if we allow that.

Kavanaugh Accuser Won’t Testify

Um, no.

The woman who’s accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assaultwhen both of them were in high school will not testify before the FBI investigates the matter, one of her lawyers, Lisa Banks, said Tuesday night.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, reported first on CNN and obtained by ABC News, lawyers for professor Christine Blasey Ford, said “a full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the Committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.”

Grassley had invited both Ford and Kavanaugh to testify before the committee on Monday.

“There’s no reason to have a public hearing Monday. This is being rushed through. It’s too important. It’s not a game. This is a serious situation,” Banks said on CNN.

The tactic here is transparent. Delay, delay, delay. The Democrats want to delay the vote until after the November elections in hopes that they win a majority in the Senate and can spike any Trump nominee from serving. They will keep moving the goal posts and making new demands until November 7th.

On the merits… even if her accusation was credible, which it is not, it is not a federal crime and the statute of limitations has run out. It is an unprovable accusation after 36 years and it is impossible for the accused to prove a negative. That’s why it makes for the perfect character assassination tool.

Take the vote.

California Couple Possibly Raped Hundreds of People


A California surgeon and his girlfriend have been charged with two sexual assaults, and investigators suspect there could be “hundreds” more victims.

Grant William Robicheaux, 38, and Cerissa Laura Riley, 31, allegedly attacked two women they met at a bar and a restaurant in 2016.

Prosecutors told the BBC “thousands and thousands” of videos of potential victims were on the defendants’ phones.

Investigators are trying to identify the women in the clips.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said the pair were suspected of using their “clean-cut” looks to lure targets into a false sense of security.

Acne Positivity Is a Thing


After years of oppressive aesthetic perfection, acne positivity is a drive for people to be more open about their skin problems, from the occasional spot to full-blown cystic acne. It joins recent moves to celebrate the many and varied appearances of our skin – from vitiligo to freckles and stretch marks – but also seeks to educate those who still believe that acne is a problem for the unwashed and unhealthy.

Many trace the movement back to the British blogger Em Ford, who in 2015 posted a YouTube video called You Look Disgusting. It showed her both in full makeup and bare-faced with her acne visible, as a succession of comments people had posted about her skin sprung up around her: “WTF is wrong with her face?”, “I can’t even look at her”, “Ewww, gross, horrible, ugly …”. In the first week alone, it amassed 10 million views. Ford, whose YouTube channel My Pale Skin now has more than one million subscribers, will shortly launch You Look Disgusting 2.0.

More money has not, and will not, improve education for our children

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online now. Go pick up a paper, but here’s a snippet:

A couple of insights bubble to the top after wading through the data. First, Wisconsin’s schools are fairly decent, for the most part, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Second, the performance has remained fairly consistent for the years despite taxpayers spending more and more every year.

This makes the politicians’ response all too disappointing. Tony Evers, the Democratic candidate for governor, has one answer to every question about education: Spend more money. This is despite the fact that spending more has no measurable impact on educational outcomes. Gov. Scott Walker has had a strong record of actual education reform, but has fallen into the same spending paradigm. This election, he is hanging his hat on the fact that Wisconsin increased spending on education and is spending more than ever.

The reason that politicians conflate more government spending with improving educational outcomes is as lazy as it is stupid. It is an easy way for them to demonstrate that they are “doing something.” In fact, they are doing nothing but wasting more money. The outcomes matter — not the spending.

Trump Orders Document Dump


President Donald Trump directed the Department of Justice to release a host of documents related to the Russia probe on Monday, including texts between two former FBI officials who talked about stopping his rise to power.

Trump also directed DOJ to declassify pages from a warrant from a secret court that allowed the feds to spy on former campaign adviser Carter Page and all of the interview reports the bureau prepared to go along with it.

The president told Justice to publish reports tied to its interview with DOJ official Bruce Ohr, whose wife Nellie worked at the firm that put together the unverified dossier of dirt on the president, in the sweeping declassification of documents associated with the special counsel investigation.

Ohr is known to have been in contact with the dossier’s author, ex-British spy Christopher Steele.

And in a further request, Trump called for the release of text messages relating to the probe that were sent or received by ex-FBI director James Comey, whom the president last year fired.

Kingdom Invests in Tesla Rival


Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund invested over $1 billion Monday in American electric car manufacturer, Lucid Motors.

That’s bad news for Tesla, as it signals that the kingdom may be moving in a different direction, just weeks after CEO Elon Musk claimed the fund would help his own firm go private.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF), which invests on behalf of the Saudi government, said the infusion would go toward launching the Lucid Air electric sedan by 2020.

Baseless Accusation Against Kavanaugh Shouldn’t Delay Vote

This is nuts. Even the BBC reporter has some very valid questions:

There are plenty of reasonable, sensitive questions arising from the Kavanaugh/Ford story.

First and most important, is the alleged incident true? Do the therapists’ notes, which have some flaws, count as corroboration?

If the incident is true, to what extent does it have a relevant bearing on the judge’s character today, 36 years later?

If no other women come forward with similar accusations, should it be dismissed as the egregious but one-off failing of a teenager?

If it’s not true, why was it raised it now and what impact should it have on both the judge and his accuser?

All of these questions are open for debate in a sensible, thoughtful way. I for one don’t have clear answers on any of them.

In the end, this is just going to be a he said/she said about something that happened over 30 years ago. People who don’t want Kavanaugh confirmed are going to insist that the accusation is true. Reasonable people will wonder why this is only coming up now. None of it has anything to do with the character of the man in 2018 or his lengthy tenure as a lawyer and judge.

Take the vote.

Union Thug Cyber-Stalks Wigderson’s Kid

That’s just creepy and unstable behavior. What kind of “teacher” goes after someone’s kid just because she doesn’t like his opinions?

Just when you thought the Left couldn’t get any lower, they can. A self-described “union thug” reached out to RightWisconsin Editor James Wigderson’s minor daughter to criticize him and her school on social media.

Angela Schissler Goodwin, a Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) school teacher who also describes herself as a “MKE liberal,” tracked down Wigderson’s daughter on Facebook and sent her a unsolicited message about her father.

“We are offended by what was said about MPS. We are an MPS family and those insults are reckless generalizations,” Goodwin wrote to James Wigderson’s daughter. “I can’t imagine why he has such mean ideas about a group of people.”

The pronoun “he” makes it clear that Goodwin knew she was contacting James Wigderson’s daughter, not James Wigderson himself. Goodwin is not a Facebook friend of James Wigderson’s daughter and would have had to specifically search her out online.

James Wigderson’s contact information is also available online.

In Goodwin’s Facebook intro, she describes herself: “Wifey, mom, daughter, sister, union thug public school teacher, recovering Catholic, MKE 414 Liberal.”

West Bend Annual Meeting, Budget, and Tax Levy

This post is going to be a little long, so strap yourself in. If you live in the West Bend School District, you’ll want to read it. The rest of y’all should find a good college football game to watch.

On Monday, the voters of the West Bend School District are invited to attend the Annual Meeting of Electors. This is an annual meeting where, theoretically, the voters approve some of the big ticket items like the tax levy and budget. In reality, all of the votes are non-binding, so the School Board can still do whatever they want. Still, it is an opportunity for voters to show up and have their voices heard.

On the agenda this year is:

7. Consideration of Proposed Resolutions

a. Resolution No. 1 – Tax Levy

b. Resolution No. 2 – Disposal of District Property

c. Resolution No. 3 – Board Member Compensation

d. Resolution No. 4 – 2019-20 Annual Meeting Date

The only thing we have any information on is the proposed budget and tax levy, so the voters will be walking in blind to whatever the resolutions are about board member compensation and the disposal of district property. We’re going to take a deeper look at the budget and tax levy, but first, let’s discuss the process a little.

In years past, the West Bend School Board began its budget process in the spring. If I remember correctly (I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong), we usually got a preliminary budget in the April/May time frame. That high-level preliminary budget was posted on the district web site and the people had some time with it.

This year, the first appearance of a preliminary budget from the school district that I saw was last Tuesday morning – after the Monday night board meeting.  Perhaps it was posted Monday night. But now the Electors are being asked to vote on it a week later. One. Week. That’s all the voters get to read it and understand it. There hasn’t been any time for the media or interested parties to ask questions. There hasn’t even been another board meeting where citizens could voice their opinions on it. There is really no excuse for this kind of opaqueness from the West Bend School Board. They have had this information for months, but failed to be transparent about it. Their lack of transparency is not incompetence. It is willful.

That being said, let’s look at the budget. As we get into it, we must remember the context of this budget. The West Bend School Board just postponed action on a $85 million referendum. Budgets are where we define our priorities. There is always an unlimited list of needs/wants (the distinction between the two often being in the eye of the beholder) and a limited amount of money to pay for it. The budget is where you have to prioritize that list.


There are two versions of the West Bend School District’s Preliminary Budget. Here is the summary document that is being provided for the meeting on Monday. Here is a slightly more detailed version that was presented at the School Board meeting last week. Neither version is nearly as detailed as what other districts, like Slinger, provides. Again… transparency…

Let’s start with the revenue side of the budget. There are two primary sources of revenue for a Wisconsin school district – the local property tax levy and state aid. The West Bend School District is facing a demographic and societal shift that is causing a decline in enrollment for the foreseeable future. The estimates range between a 10% and 20% decline in enrollment in the next 10 years. This is a significant impact on the state aid that the district receives because it is based on enrollment. Also, enrollment affects the property tax levy limit for the district. In short, the West Bend School District is facing a sustained period of declining revenue. In the preliminary budget (focusing on the operating budget and not the special parts), we see this manifest in a projected $233,405 decrease in revenue.

That decrease in overall revenue is despite a property tax hike. The School District wants to increase the property tax levy by $928,249 – the maximum amount allowed by law. Most of this is offset by a decrease in the levy due to some debt service coming off the books, so the impact will be minimal. But taxpayers could be enjoying a rare tax decrease if not for the School Board’s desire to tax to the max.

In light of that fact, let’s take a closer look at the spending side of the budget. Overall, the preliminary budget proposes a $1.3 million spending increase. You’re reading that right. The preliminary budget has a structural $1.4 million deficit.

The School District must have a balanced budget, so they are raiding their reserve fund to fill the gap. Superintendent Don Kirkegard acknowledges that this is not sustainable and he will be working to bend the district’s cost into the revenue number next year. I cut him some slack because he has only been on the job since July and was handed this budget. Also, he comes from another state and it takes a little time to learn the Wisconsin Way of school budgeting. This budget is the product of the interim Superintendent, staff, and most of all, the School Board.

What is driving the spending increase? Almost all of it is due to a planned compensation increase for the teaching staff. Although salary negotiations are still underway, this budget includes a 2.1% base salary increase. That is the maximum that the School Board would have to give under Act 10. That amounts to a $929,853 compensation increase. That umber is a little misleading because the budget number includes benefits, salary, and headcount fluctuations. But based on the commentary at the school board meeting last week, that number is about right. They are planning roughly a $900k salary increase.

The other increases are scattered around the budget. It is a little hard to tease them out because the district is also reallocating a lot of expenses. According to the Superintendent, they are working on reallocating expenses to the building level so that they can have better visibility to where the expenses are actually being spent. That’s a good thing, but it makes year-to-year trending data difficult.

The story of this budget is not really what it does, but what it doesn’t do. The West Bend School Board is facing declining enrollment and, consequently, declining revenue. Next year they are planning to ask the taxpayers to dig deeper into their family budgets and pay more for bigger, newer facilities. This budget is the School Board’s statement of priorities before asking the taxpayers for more money and they chose to kick the can down the road another year. They are choosing to not make any hard decisions nor demonstrate that they will be good stewards if the taxpayers give them almost the equivalent of an entire year’s budget to spend all at once.

Here are just a couple things this budget does not do:

Maintenance. Many of the facilities needs that are driving the perceived need for a referendum are due to years of poor maintenance. Jackson Elementary is old and falling apart, they tell us. The High School building needs serious renovations and repairs, we’re told. I defy anyone to look at the preliminary budget and determine what the school district spends to maintain their facilities. There isn’t a line item for it. According to the Superintendent, the large, capital projects like roof replacements and such are covered by the Capital Projects Fund and is about $2.3 million. More routing maintenance like carpet replacements, door repairs, fixture replacements, light bulbs, etc. are kind of tucked into the “other support services” or “central services” budget items. But those line items blend a lot of “catch all” expenses.

It is safe to say, however, that despite these pressing needs that are fueling a referendum discussion, the budget makes no serious effort to spend more on maintenance.

I tried to find some good benchmarks for what schools should spend on maintenance, but they are hard to come by. This data from the Building Owners and Managers Association says that for office space (roughly equivalent), people spend about $8.07 per square foot for annual operating expenses. That number includes some things like security, administration, etc. that are not really pertinent in a school setting. If we just include repairs, maintenance, cleaning, etc., it’s about $4 per square foot per year. The West Bend School District has 1,141,656 sq. feet of building space – not including grounds, sports fields, parking lots, etc. It is reasonable to expect that the district needs to spend $4 to $4.5 million per year just to keep their facilities reasonable cleaned and maintained. I don’t see anything near that much in the budget even as I add up the line items.

This points to a trend of School Districts intentionally under-funding maintenance, allowing facilities to decline into disrepair, and then pushing for a referendum to make up for their neglect. This budget looks like it will continue that trend.

Labor Costs. Without a doubt, labor costs are the largest expense in any school district budget. If the School Board is ever going to control costs and bring them in line with revenue projections, they have to control the cost of labor. There are only a few ways to do that. They can cut overall compensation – salaries and benefits. They can reduce the number of employees. Or they can force employee churn to create a younger, cheaper workforce.

At some point, the district needs to reduce the number of employees. There are fewer and fewer kids to teach. Therefore, there will need to be fewer and fewer teachers, administrators, and support staff to serve those kids. This needs to be done intelligently and carefully, but it needs to be done.

The School Board and this budget fail to take advantage of Act 10 to control the overall compensation costs for the employees. Employees still have a sweetheart deal on benefits. The School Board is assuming a maximum base salary increase. The School Board has not implemented merit pay or other performance-driven compensation models. They haven’t done much of anything. The compensation package for West Bend School District employees looks much like it could have in 1999 or 2005.

Once again, this budget just kicks the can down the road and fails to do anything about rising labor costs in the face of declining revenue.

The preliminary budget for the West Bend School District sends a very clear message to the citizens of the district. Despite virulent protestations about needing tens of millions of dollars in a referendum to pay for critical facilities, the School Board intends to just keep doing the same thing as if there isn’t any need at all. They are not making any hard choices or shifting any additional spending to address those needs. They are also not addressing the structural funding issues that are already impacting the district’s revenue. The School Board is planning to ask the taxpayers to dig deeper into their family budgets and give up their own priorities, but the School Board is refusing to dig deeper into their own budget. Instead, they are doing what far too many school boards do: tax to the max; give employees as much of an increase as possible; starve facilities; refuse to innovate; keep doing everything the same way and wondering why you keep getting the same results.

I will believe that there is a crisis in the West Bend School District when they begin acting like it. This budget sends the message that the School Board thinks everything is fine the way it is.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

George Prescott quiets rumor about Aaron Rodgers buying Timmer’s Resort

It was going to be the scoop of the century as a tipster called in that Green Bay Packer’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers was buying property on Big Cedar Lake.

Why an NFL pro worth a gazillion dollars ( or $30 million according to The Street) would want to have neighbors and not just simply buy a private lake… was a little questionable until the rumor mill stirred the pot and the next thing you know Rodgers was buying Timmer’s Resort.

In August, a story was posted on WashingtonCountyInsider.com that George and Judi Prescott were putting Timmer’s Resort up for sale.

Prescott and his wife bought the property on the south end of Big Cedar Lake in October 2007 and now… “Yup I decided after 10 -12 years I have a nice sense of accomplishment that I brought the resort back to life and I’ll turn it over to somebody else now to let them take it on,” Prescott said.

After a month on the market the chatter started about a possible sale and we caught up with Mr. Prescott at a fundraiser for Roots & Branches and he cleared everything up. “Rodgers will have to stand behind Oprah,” said a wily Prescott.

On a side note: Grocer George (as he calls himself) is so humble, but he likes a good story and after a lifetime in Washington County he’s used to the rumor mill. Even though he knew it was not true he was agreeable to do the video. “We need more humor these days,” he said.

Prescott promised to keep us up to speed on the pending sale of Timmer’s Resort.

Living Word Lutheran grad named Miss Wisconsin USA

Danika Tramburg of Richfield has just been selected Miss Wisconsin USA 2019. A graduate of Living Word Lutheran High School in Jackson and Concordia University in Mequon.

The Miss Wisconsin USA pageant selects the representative for the state of Wisconsin to compete in the Miss USA pageant. Sunday night’s competition was held at the Fond du Lac High School Performing Arts Center.

According to the Miss Wisconsin website: The contestants will compete in three, equally scored areas of competition – Interview, Evening Gown, and Swimwear/Active Wear. The winners will spend their year forging alliances with charitable organizations around the state and will advance to compete in the nationally televised 2019 Miss USA pageant on FOX.

Moving forward with Fleet Farm in West Bend

The new Fleet Farm store in West Bend just hit the “Bids Wanted” section of The Daily Reporter.

The publication is where contractors go to find jobs that are bidding in the area.

Here are a couple of posted updates about the new Fleet Farm proposed W. Washington Street and CTH Z in West Bend.

Howard Immel Inc from Green Bay is the Construction Manager.

Bids for the site work, concrete and asphalt are due Sept. 20.

Start date is listed as Oct 1, 2018.

Completion is listed as September 9, 2019. 192,000-square-foot retail store, 7,100-square-foot convenience store, 652 parking stalls.

The information posted aligns with the concept plan reviewed by the West Bend Plan Commission on August 7.

Fleet Farm spokesman Tom Carrico said they “haven’t really finalized the scheduling details.”

He said the information in the Daily Reporter is probably coming from construction manager Howard Immel Inc.

On Aug. 13, 2018  during the Town of West Bend Board meeting there was some discussion regarding Fleet Farm and how the DOT wanted an access road off CTH Z.

Fleet Farm laid out designs with the West Bend Plan Commission last week regarding its new 190,000-square-foot store on Highway 33 and County Hwy Z. During the pitch to the city Fleet officials said they would only have access roads off Highway 33. During Monday night’s Town Board meeting Town Chairman Jim Heipp said the city, state, and county are satisfied with that plan however the DOT wants an access road off County Hwy Z. That plan is still in discussion.

When Carrico was asked about an access road off County Hwy Z he said, “The plan we submitted to the city is the plan we’re going forward with; we are waiting for DOT comment.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 11 the West Bend Plan Commission reviewed several development proposals with ties to the Fleet Farm property on W. Washington Street and CTH Z.

Details on zoning changes were released on a proposed 7,162-square-foot gas station and convenience store. The proposed gas station would include 18 fuel pumps and 9 islands.

Wis. Guard from West Bend assists with hurricane response       By Capt. Joe Trovato

The Wisconsin National Guard stands ready to assist civil authorities, if needed, with the response to Hurricane Florence.

As Florence battered the East Coast, four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters departed Wisconsin Sept. 14 en route to Maryland, where they will stage in a standby status in the event those resources are requested by civil authorities.

The West Bend, Wisconsin-based Blackhawks and approximately two dozen crew members are medevac helicopters with hoist and medical treatment capabilities.

The movement to Maryland represents a training opportunity while simultaneously pre-positioning forces in the region should authorities in affected states need additional assistance. The Wisconsin National Guard is part of a nationwide response, in which states communicate their requests for assistance and resources via Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) requests. The crews would mobilize to a state active duty status in the event of an approved EMAC request for assistance from another state.

More than 7,000 troops from the National Guard and the active component nationwide are standing by ready to assist, according to the Department of Defense. DoD is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pre-position helicopters, vehicles, and supplies in the region so the department is prepared to assist FEMA and other federal and state partners, as needed.

Sgt. Emily Cash, a flight operations specialist from Cross Plains, Wisconsin, said it’s a rewarding experience to have the opportunity to serve in times of emergency, especially given the context of the past few weeks of flooding in Wisconsin, where her own town felt the impact.

“When things hit the fan and they need help, it’s nice to know that we can go out there and help them and they can gain a greater appreciation for what our training is, what we do and that we’re not just hanging out on drill weekends and going home,” she said. “We’re training for a mission every single time we come in here to be able to go and do this stuff if we get called up.”

Warrant Officer 1 Steven Baumel, a Blackhawk pilot, from Horicon, Wisconsin, agreed.

“This is what we train for, so it’s very exciting to actually go out and do our jobs, and I’m confident that we’re going to do it well,” he said. “We train regularly in different scenarios, different weather, different everything, so this is what we’re here for in the National Guard. We’re supposed to be ready for stuff like this. It’s very exciting. Everyone is excited to get there and motivated.”

The medevac crews bring a variety of resources and capabilities that civil authorities could employ in the response ranging from search and extraction capabilities using a hoist, to medical treatment.

“I think it’s a great thing,” Sgt. Jonathan Walsh, a flight medic said. “We’re going out to help people who can’t help themselves. They’re in a pretty bad situation, so I think it’s kind of an honor to be in the position that we’re in. A lot of people would love to be in a position to do this. So it’s an honor to do it.”

Monday Night Bass Fishing League wraps up its season            By Bryan Miller

The Kettle Moraine Monday Bass League wrapped up its 2018 season with the Championship on Pike Lake. Conditions were less than favorable, strong NE winds and a significant temperature drop led to a tough bite. As always in this league, a few teams figure out a pattern and make it happen.

Taking home the championship were Bryan Miller and Tyler Lauters. This duo got hot after the fifth or sixth week and never looked back. They brought in a limit of 5 bass weighing 12.06 pounds to capture the 16th KMMBT Title since the league’s inception in 2003.

Second place went to Joe Koch and Michael Cloninger. This pair also had a limit of 5 weighing 11.22 pounds.

Third place was cleaned up by Angler of the Year Logan Kertscher and his grandfather Don Kertscher. They caught 4 bass weighing 8.88 pounds.

Fourth place went to Marv Thiesen and Roger Kutz. These guys were a top 6 qualifying team and they finished well. Taking home the BOAT DOC/ MEC Big Bass Title on this day, Caleb Niedfeldt, with a Largemouth registering 3.44 pounds.

The league will kick off its 17th season at Pike Lake in May 2019.

Kettle Moraine Symphony

Kettle Moraine Symphony 2018-19 season opens Sunday, Sept. 30 at 3 p.m. with an exciting concert for the whole family. For the kids the Star Wars Suite and then a kids-only activity while parents enjoy the wiles of Scheherazade and her tales from 1001 nights.

There will be a pre-concert talk at 2 p.m. with Dr. Peter Gibeau, UWM at Washington County music professor and KMS principal bass. Concerts will be held at Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School Auditorium, 3399 Division Road, Jackson.

Recount on Tuesday, Sept. 18 for Big Cedar Lake PRD

There’s going to be recount, Sept. 18, for commissioners elected to the Big Cedar Lake PRD.

Petitions from candidates Troy Zagel and Nicole Gonring have been filed. The pair lost in an election at the annual meeting August 29. Four candidates were vying for two seats on the Big Cedar Lake PRD. Each seat carried a 3-year term. The terms of board members Roger Walsh and Jim McGath had expired. McGath chose not to run again.

Walsh was on the ballot with David Claussen, Nicole Gonring and Troy Zagel.

Nearly an hour after ballots had been cast and votes tabulated the results were read by Walsh which showed he finished first followed by a very close second through fourth place finish.

Only five votes separated three candidates.

Dan Carroll, Operations Manager/Chief of Patrol at Big Cedar Lake PRD, said they counted the votes five times. There were about 300 people who voted Wednesday night. Gonring questioned if they counted five times, how come these were the final totals they settled on.

Changes in food service explored at UWM at Washington County    By Sue Bausch

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is working to provide food service on campus at UWM-Washington County after the previous vendor’s contract with UW Colleges ended.

A’viands contract with UW Colleges was completed at the end of the spring semester. UW Colleges transferred the Washington County campus to UWM on July 1, 2018, under a proposal put forward by UW System President Ray Cross and approved by the UW System Board of Regents.

UWM began seeking a new food service provider in June in anticipation of the upcoming transfer. No vendors responded to its request for proposals.

UWM then began exploring other options for providing food service and identified Canteen’s Smart Market as an affordable and convenient alternative to traditional food service. Canteen is the nation’s largest vending machine services company.

Its Smart Market machines are stocked with healthy sandwiches, snacks, drinks and premium coffee from vendors like Starbucks and Peet’s. Canteen said the machines will be installed in November.

Meanwhile, Gateway Catering in Kewaskum has agreed to provide catering for student events and special events held at the Washington County campus.

It is important to note most students drive to the Washington County campus and no students live on-campus. As a result, demand for on-campus food service is relatively low. Many students choose to bring food from home, and others opt to eat at the many nearby restaurants.

Over the past three years, on-campus food service has resulted in losses that average $33,000 per year. This is why the university believes an automated fresh food service like Smart Market is the best, most affordable solution for students at this time at UWM at Washington County.

The university will continue to explore additional food service options for the Washington County campus, and as always, are happy to hear from companies interested in working with all three campuses.

When working with vendors, the university strives to provide the best possible experience for our students, while being mindful of the need to keep education affordable and be wise stewards of public money. Students, staff and faculty were notified of the change.

Changes at Pilot building in downtown West Bend

On Monday contractors tore the façade off the building on S. Main Street just south of Mountain Outfitters. In West Bend the building is known as the “Pilot” building; it’s stamped PILOT above the second-story window and in the 1900s the building was home to the community newspaper “West Bend Pilot.”

Plans are to bring a new look to the building with large storefront windows and gooseneck lighting. According to “The Spirit of West Bend” by Dorothy E. Williams the building “at the foot of Hickory Street still bears the name “The Pilot” on the front.” It was once home to the community newspaper the “West Bend Pilot.” Prior to 1907 the paper was called the “Democrat.”

Laurie Wagner wrote, “The Pilot newspaper was owned by my great grandfather, Henry B. Kaempfer and later by my grandfather Henry C. Kaempfer. Jacob Kaempfer was my great uncle but didn’t own the paper. My mom has a lot more info on all of this.”

Kevin Schultz, owner of Mountain Outfitters, owns the Pilot building and the two brick buildings to the north.

Veterans from Washington Co. on the Sept. 15 Honor Flight

Eight veterans from Washington County will be on the Sept. 15 Stars & Stripes Honor Flight. Veterans include Jerry Bentfield of Hartford who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, Oscar Rathke of Jackson, and six veterans from West Bend including Ed Farrell, Vietnam War Army, Lester Hahn, WWII Army, Michael Henner, Vietnam War Army, Bob Martin, Vietnam War Army, Bob Schulz, Vietnam War Army, and Ivan Vorderbruggen, Korean War Army. This is the 47th mission of the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight since 2008.

Construction moves forward on Barton Apartments

The long-awaited project to turn the old Barton School on School Place and Fairview Drive into multi-family residential received approval from the West Bend Plan Commission on Monday.

Plans include a 22 unit multi-family adaptive reuse of the former school building and three six unit townhome residential development located at 614 School Place, by Barton School Apartments, LLC. Plans date to Oct. 6, 2015. The property is 6.8 acres and includes the former Barton Elementary School, 630 School Place, which will be remodeled into apartments.

Plan Commission member Sara Fleischman asked to see actual masonry on the lower band of the townhomes and by the doors. “We promised the neighbors we would keep an eye on the quality and aesthetics of these buildings and I feel pretty strong about that,” she said. The developer agreed to the change.

Updates & tidbits

The Kettle Moraine Ice Center will host a try hockey free weekend Sept. 14-16. Any interested family can register at www.wcyha.org

– Ethan Hollenberger has been hired as Washington County’s first Public Affairs Coordinator. Hollenberger most recently served as Communications Director for State Senator Duey Stroebel and the committee clerk for the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Consumer Protection and Technology. His salary is just under $65,000 with benefits.

– The 4th annual Faith & Family Fest is Sunday, Sept. 16 at Regner Park in West Bend. Faith and Family Fest is hosted by Holy Angels, Holy Trinity (Newburg), Saint Frances Cabrini and Saint Mary’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Parishes of West Bend.

– The Kewaskum FFA Alumni presented a check for $100,000 for a new greenhouse in memory of Brent Schultz, a student killed in an auto accident 4 years ago.

-Cars in Kewaskum, formerly the Grand Larsony Custom Classic Car Show, is Saturday, Sept. 15. Mike Beal from Top Fuel is organizing the event. This year money raise will be donated to Art Klemme and Janine Prunty. Modern Woodmen will provide matching funds.

– Kris O’Meara was the winner Friday at West Bend Lakes Golf Course of the Classics for a Cause drawing. O’Meara won a 1968 Ford Mustang. Proceeds benefitted Elevate and the Washington County Senior Center. O’Meara was not present for the drawing as she was up north celebrating her wedding anniversary.

– Hartford’s H.e.l.p. Corner at Redeemer Church is slated to open mid-September.

-St. Frances Cabrini annual Rummage Sale is Thursday, Sept. 20 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 21 from 8 a.m. to noon in Mother Cabrini Hall in the lower level of the church. Baked goods will also be available. Rummage items can be dropped off Sept. 15 through Sept. 19.

– John A. Jagodzinski, an outstanding photographer and long- time resident of West Bend, died unexpectedly on August 30, 2018. John was a brilliant photographer. He moved to West Bend and opened his business “Photography by John” on Fifth Avenue. He spent the past 40 plus years perfecting his craft and restoring old photographs for numerous clients.  He loved photography and enjoyed meeting and visiting with his customers.

– There’s a golf outing Sept. 23 at West Bend Lakes Golf Club and proceeds go to the Luke Gromowski Ironman Scholarship Fund. Gromowski was a senior at West Bend East when he died in a car accident in November 2014. Registration is 8 a.m. with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. The cost is $100 per adult and $50 for a student. Contact Ed Ihlenfeld at 262-707-5449 for more detail.

– Rally Time Sports Bar and Grill in West Bend is looking for a part-time line cook position. Rally Time has a family-friendly team atmosphere. The position is primarily day shift and coverage as needed. Call Dan at 262-389-1142 or Cindy at 262-389-0839 or stop at the bar for an application.

UW-Whitewater’s Chancellor’s Husband Banned From Campus #metoo

This is the most Clinton excuse ever.

Most recently, a female employee told an investigator last spring that Hill squeezed her knee under a table “not less than three times.” The employee sat between Hill and Kopper at the April 2018 event.

Hill told the investigator it was one time, not three, and that he had to move her leg so he could reach his own to massage a cramp in his calf.

Oh, here’s the context:

The University of Wisconsin System banned the husband of UW-Whitewater’s chancellor from campus and ended his unpaid appointment after a sexual harassment investigation found “merit” to the allegations made against him.

Chancellor Beverly Kopper announced the news in a statement Friday, saying that she “fully supported and cooperated with” the System’s investigation against her husband, Alan “Pete” Hill.

Eminem Regrets Use of Gay Slur

This is hilarious. Have you ever listened to Eminem? He uses just about every slur in the book. But this is the bridge too far?

Eminem says he was uncomfortable with homophobic lyrics he wrote and released on his recent album, Kamikaze.

He faced criticism for his language on album track Fall while speaking about Tyler, The Creator.

Eminem says he “felt like this might be too far”, in a new interview to promote the record on his own YouTube channel.

“In my quest to hurt him, I realize that I was hurting a lot of other people by saying it,” says Eminem.

“It was one of the things that I kept going back to and going ‘I don’t feel right with this’.”


Eminem has been criticised for his use of homophobic lyrics throughout his 20-year career in the mainstream.

His early albums are littered with gay slurs.

The rapper has previously defended his offensive language, saying that he believes the F-word is the same as calling someone a ‘punk’.

But he also formed a friendship with Elton John, who said in 2017 that Eminem was not homophobic and claimed he was “writing about the way things are, not how he thinks.”

“It’s OK… I have a lot of gay friends…”

Anatomy of a Smear

It’s a classic tactic, and we see it alive and well in Washington. Kavanaugh is asked if he has a gambling problem. He says “no.” Headline: “Kavanaugh denies having a gambling problem!!!!”

When asked by Whitehouse to detail poker games he’s participated in,  the Supreme Court nominee stated, “Like many Americans, I have occasionally played poker or other games with friends and colleagues. I do not document the details of those casual games.”

Whitehouse inquired whether Kavanaugh had any gambling earnings or debt reported to the IRS. He answered “No.” The senator also asked whether he gambled or owed gambling debts to the state of New Jersey.

“I recall occasionally visiting casinos in New Jersey when I was in school or in my 20s,” Kavanaugh responded. “I recall I played low-stakes blackjack. I have not accrued gambling debt.”

Walker Calls for Senate to Vote on KC Incentive

I don’t think they should pass it, but I do think they should call it for a vote. Kimberly-Clark deserves an answer either way.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants members of the state Senate to convene this month to approve a $100 million tax incentive package designed to keep hundreds of paper company jobs in Wisconsin, but it’s not clear whether the proposal has enough support to pass.

“We need support from both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to save these good-paying Wisconsin jobs,” Walker tweeted on Thursday.

He told reporters in Milwaukee he’s working to secure the 17 votes needed to approve the bill in the Senate, which would need to return in an extraordinary session in order to give it a vote.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitgerald, R-Juneau, said he’s working to find Republican votes to support the bill, which aims to prevent paper company Kimberly-Clark from closing two plants located in Neenah and Fox Crossing at a loss of 610 jobs.

DOJ Employees Sign Non-Disclosure

Here we go again with the liberal Milwaukee paper trying to make something out of nothing.

What goes on at the state Department of Justice stays in the state Department of Justice.

So says Attorney General Brad Schimel.

On Aug. 10, staffers at his agency were sent an email instructing them to sign a nondisclosure agreement barring them from revealing any confidential information about their work — not just during their time in office but even after they leave the state.

The email then included a spreadsheet with the names of 129 employees who had yet to sign the one-page statement.

“If your name is on the attached list, please print and sign the attached Agreement,” the email says.

According to a copy of the agreement, it applies not just to current full-time employees but also “limited term employees, contractors, interns, externs and law enforcement partners.”

The DOJ deals with some of the most sensitive and confidential information in government. As long as they are equally vigilant about providing public information subject to the open records law, we citizens want DOJ employees to keep the rest confidential.