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0853, 27 Jun 15

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Facelift in store for Ponderosa

The weary Ponderosa restaurant, 2020 W. Washington Street, in West Bend is going to get a facelift. The building, owned by Steve Kilian and his son Steve Jr., has not weathered well and neighbors in the community have noticed.

The Kilians said they too have noticed and they’re going to do some work to make it less of an eyesore in the city. “We don’t have anything in the works,” said Steve Kilian regarding any potential development. “We just took a look at it a week ago and decided we should do something to make it look better.”

Some of the improvements include a fresh coat of paint and some landscaping. Kilian said he’s received a couple of quotes and he hopes to start on the project shortly.

The former Ponderosa closed in 2008. The Kilians purchased the property in October 2011 and the past few years the building has sat empty.

The Kilians have worked to market the property but so far they’ve had little luck.

OWLT reaches 6,000 acre milestone

Ozaukee Washington Land Trust secured its 6,000-acre parcel of property on Friday afternoon as it closed on the purchase of a 155-acre site on Bonniwell Road in Mequon.

“This is a milestone as far as land protection is concerned,” said OWLT’s executive director Shawn Graff. “It’s also the 100th project Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has helped support.”

The preserve includes a state and natural area and it’s adjacent to Rotary Park in Mequon.

“This situation allows us to work in cooperation with the Mequon/Thiensville Rotary Clubs to have an active recreational park setting next to a passive park setting and we hope to make sure the two preserves work well together,” Graff said.

The acquisition of 6,000 acres for the OWLT has taken 22 years. “It feels terrific every time we hit one of these milestones,” he said. “It was 2011 when we hit 5,000 acres and ever since then we’ve been on an accelerated pace to hit 6,000.”

Graff said there are so many opportunities in the pipeline where acquisitions are actually becoming easier. “We have good landowners that are either donating conservation easements or discounting the value of their properties when we go for acquisitions,” he said.

“Just last week we closed on the Schoofs property in the Town of Erin in Washington County and then the property on Bonniwell Road today; both landowners were so pleased to be able to see their lands protected they discounted the value of the property so we’re actually purchasing it for less than the appraised value.”

Flowersmith closed

On Monday the Flowersmith, 403 S. Main Street, will be sold. Florist Suzanne Hall owns both the building and the business. “I moved in here in July 2008,” Hall said while working Thursday afternoon on a bouquet of flowers. “This used to be Boerger’s Floral and we made some cosmetic improvements and it’s a great run.”

Prior to moving, Hall was located at 112 N. Main St., in what is now home to Shooting Star Travel. “I started the floral business in 2003 and back then I always said when I turn 55 I’m out,” she said.

Hall is moving on and will become the creative director for Tom Masters, owner of Fox and Hounds restaurant and The Mineshaft in Hartford. “This is going to be a great way to move onto a challenge I’ll excel at,” she said.

The Flowersmith was open for business until last Saturday, June 20. “I’m still going to continue with the weddings and bigger events; I like that it’s fun to do,” she said. “That’s if my business doesn’t sell but if it sells I’m going to forward all that to the new owner.”

Hall confirmed she knew who was buying the building, but declined to identify them. She feels confident the business will be sold as well next week but also deferred commenting on the potential buyer. “I do know the new owner of the building will not put the flower business back in here,” she said. Jim Emmer Real Estate is handling the sale of the building.

New principal named for St. Frances Cabrini

A new school principal has been named for St. Frances Cabrini in West Bend. Rev. Nathan Reesman made the announcement this week. “Today we have officially filled our position of school principal at Saint Frances Cabrini. We are pleased to welcome Mr. Aaron Hilts who comes to us from the Grafton School District,” wrote Rev. Reesman.

“Mr. Hilts is married and has one daughter; he comes to us with 15 years of existing administrative experience, and 22 years of experience in education total, spending time in both the Catholic and the public school settings.  As he gets settled-in at our school he will share more with everyone about his own background and story.

“Mr. Hilts begins his time with us officially on July 1, but given some other current commitments, he will be free to be fully present without interruption on the campus beginning Monday, July 13.  He is also planning to join us for our Linked School committee meeting at Immaculate Conception.  Later in August he will also be introducing himself at the St. Frances Cabrini Masses, and he will of course be eager to begin greeting parents and parishioners.   Please welcome him when you see him!”  Blessings- Father Nate

St. Frances Cabrini posted the job opening in Spring after principal Richard Krainz chose not to return next year.  Krainz had been principal since July 2012.

25-year anniversary for Pleasant Valley Tennis

An anniversary celebration Sunday as owners of Pleasant Valley Tennis & Fitness Club remember 25 years since they purchased the club

The Jacci and John Gambucci bought the business in 1990.

In 1992 the Gambuccis added three outdoor courts. “The courts were bubbled between Labor Day and Memorial Day for indoor play,” Jacci said.  The added courts meant expanded membership however the average temperature inside the bubbled “was probably five degrees warmer in the winter due to the inefficient heating,” said Jacci.

“Also when it snowed John left me and our three small children to snow blow around the bubble. He’d snow blow through the night to keep the weight of the snow that slid off the roof from pulling out the anchors.”

Jacci remembers during the winter neighbor Leroy Young would clear their driveway out of kindness because he knew she was home alone.

“We had “Bubble Parties” to take the bubble up and down,” said Jacci. “Members came to help and have a good time.  Stressful times in some respects, but some of the best memories.”

In 1997 Pleasant Valley underwent a major expansion, adding a fitness center and five indoor tennis courts while expanding the bar and lounge area and doubling the size of the locker rooms and pro shop.

“We also added two outdoor courts, which helped during summer leagues which used five courts; it allowed us to have a team inside and a team outside in any given night,” said Jacci.

In 2010 the Gambuccis took over the fitness center which had been previously leased; that too underwent a complete renovation.

Over the last two decades manager Jean Sundblad has been a key player at Pleasant Valley Tennis & Fitness. “Many of our pros have been with us for years and our membership is made up of the most wonderful people that have created a community, ages 4-87 and all walks of life,” said Jacci.

On June 28 the Gambuccis will be throwing a party for members and current-and-former staff to celebrate 25 years of Pleasant Valley bliss.

New car wash to open at Paradise Mobil Mart

The owners of the Shell station on Paradise Drive are looking to add a car wash on the south side of their business. Paradise Mobil Mart is located at 815 W. Paradise Drive. Site plans call for a single bay, stand-alone car wash.

A canopy constructed at Quality Inn & Suites

A new canopy is being proposed over the entrance to Quality Inn & Suites, 2433 W. Washington St., in West Bend. The site plan would be at the motel lobby entrance to provide shelter for patrons.

Security Financial moving into former Radio Shack

Security Financial is relocating from 912 S. Main St. to the former RadioShack location, 842 S. Main St., in West Bend. RadioShack filed bankruptcy Feb. 5, 2015. The store in the West Bend Plaza closed at the end of May. There’s some remodel currently underway and Security Financial should make the move in the next couple months.

New cellular tower and Facility proposed for Stonebridge Circle

There will be a public hearing at 6 p.m. on July 7 at West Bend City Hall, 1115 S. Main Street, for a conditional use request to allow a 96-foot tall communication tower at 2185 Stonebridge Circle.  A site plan will also be reviewed for a 11’6″ x 25′ 5 1/2″ equipment shelter with an internal generator for the communication tower. The property previously belonged to Ron Albiero.

Concept Plan for Basco Development

During the July 7 Plan Commission meeting in West Bend a concept plan for a multi-family development south of the intersection of W. Progress Drive and Sylvan Way will be discussed. The property involves a 19-acre parcel. The early proposal has 13 buildings ranging in size from four units to eight units to 16 unit complexes.

Updates & tidbits

There will be no Farmers’ Market on Saturday, July 4 in West Bend. The July 4 parade will march through downtown West Bend that day.

-A new antique, craft and vintage up cycle store is opening in downtown West Bend. The Bee’s Knees will open next month at 258 N. Main St. Advertisement in the window of the shop said ‘The Bee’s Knees is now looking for vendors!’ The business is moving into Jeanne Mueller’s former store Jeanne’s Collectibles.

The Walmart in West Bend has expanded its liquor section. The liquor department relocated to the back wall at the south end of the store; the space was formerly home to Subway restaurant which closed at the end of May. The space where liquor previously was is being turned into aisles for chips.

-Congressman James Sensenbrenner will hold town hall meetings Tuesday, June 30 at Newburg Village Hall at 9 a.m., Kewaskum Village Hall at 10 a.m., Addison Town Hall at 11 a.m. and Jackson Village Hall at 1 p.m.

-With the July 4 travel holiday on the horizon folks in West Bend and Washington County are seeing a spike in gas prices. The lowest price in West Bend earlier this week was $2.89 at the Paradise Mobil Mart/ Shell South.  In Milwaukee the price was $2.86. A bump is obviously on the way as prices at the Speedway on Highway Q at $2.95 for a gallon of regular unleaded. It was $2.94 at Mad Max BP on S. Main Street in West Bend.

Regner Fest, Saturday, July 11, at Regner Park in West Bend, Noon – 11 p.m. Entertainment will include three bands, Tom Brusky (polka), Monro (variety rock) and Rebel Grace (country). Free swimming and splash pad from noon until 7 p.m.; family activities from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. that includes bounce houses, Love Bug face painting, Adventure Rock climbing wall, lacrosse, disc golf, martial arts demos, make and takes for the kids and much more. Food and drink available for purchase.

Wrapping up Italy tour with ‘Silent supper’

There’s normally one event on each tour that really has an overall impact. I can’t plan it or pay for it to happen and often the scenario could be the basis of a movie.

The silent supper and my stay at the sanctuary, Santuario S. Maria del font,  is that story.

I’m about 20 miles outside Milan and since it’s almost 5 p.m. I figure it’s best to start scouting out a place to stay. Once I get to Milan, it’s going to be a big city and an expensive zoo. Although I still have a lot of steam left in my engine, I might be running on fumes in two hours and generally the campgrounds are 30 kilometers from where I land.

I jump over to a restaurant where men have gathered outdoors. My note is not well accepted.

I move to the library where the clerk points me in the direction of the sanctuary.

You can’t miss it,’ said the librarian. She wore a somewhat dressy t-shirt from the Hard Rock Cafe.

I pedal to the end of the street, which dead ends at the sanctuary; it’s no small outfit.

A couple were standing in the arched entryway. The woman gives me a finger wag and an audible “tsk tsk.” I pull out the note about biking for Alzheimer’s and she changes her tune and points me to an open door across the garden.

That’s where I find Sister Sara Amelia. She’s in her late 80s, dressed in a white habit and robe, with those soft nun shoes.

She sends me along my way. I run into a pair of priests and the note gets another workout. Nobody has anything reasonably close to an English vocabulary, so it’s a lot of “follow me” waving.

Rev. Gabriel makes a couple unanswered phone calls, then finally leads me to a hall where I can stow my bike.

Sister Sara re-enters the picture and it looks like I’m her assignment. She shows me the bathroom, and then a small prayer room. She speaks Italian; I nod like a dope pretending to understand. She continues to lead me down the long hall and to the automated cafe machine. I think it’s sweet how she’s trying to make me so comfortable.

Sister Sara leaves and I start to unpack, but I’m quickly distracted by food. About 20 minutes later I head to the bathroom to clean up. Half finished, the door opens and Sister Sara has tracked me down.

“Camera” is what it sounds like she is saying. A quick sprint and I’m by her side. We take an elevator up one floor and she opens Room 102. Looks like I have a more comfortable place for the night; bed, bathroom and Bible – what more do I need?

“Seven o’clock,” she says, as she points to her watch and mimes eating…then she’s off.

Right now it’s 6:45 p.m., so was she inviting me to dinner or breakfast?

It was dinner. They sat me at a table by myself. The priests ate in a room by themselves, and the nuns did likewise – all behind closed doors.

A skinny guy with cigarettes on his breath served me. I was right by the kitchen. It was very “Downton Abbey.”

The Sister keeping an eye on me has her hands full.

I came downstairs after cleaning up and the priest walked by saying something obviously negative; I could sense it in his tense tone and the rigid walk. The nun took me in another room, she was fast-talking in Italian, getting exasperated, then pulls down her eye….like a spy signal.

Oh my, God. It’s the knees again. I can’t find my trusty scarf, so I get my pants.

When I walk in for dinner, the priest hangs back and gives me a look to see if I measure up.

Dinner was hot rice soup and a hard roll.

One priest, Rev. Gabriel from my earlier encounter, sat behind me. He was at a table alone, too.  I waited for Rev. Gabriel to eat first. I wasn’t going to look back, so I just listened for the clink of silverware or the murmur of a prayer – you’d think somebody would pray, right?

I said a prayer in my head. Soup was getting cold.

No conversation. It felt like I was eating in the principal’s office. He could watch me. I felt it a violation to snap a photo of my food at that moment.

After the soup, the main course was a cut up potato, a halved hard-boiled egg, and a bit of raw tuna.  Feels like a Friday menu that’s desperately close to running out of ideas – but I’m not complaining.

After dinner, Sister Sara stumbles upon me in the courtyard. She points out things of note and I take pictures. Sister indicates she should take a photo of me in front of the Blessed Virgin statue. We work through a couple mishaps, some shots of unsuspecting feet and the push of a wrong button. Finally, sister gets it right. We review. She’s clipped off 18 shots of me; the last few look like I’m telling a kid, “OK, that’s enough. Give me the camera now.”

I take a short video and play it back for Sister, and she is beyond thrilled! It’s a true reaction and I know she’s never seen cellphone technology before.

Sister takes me for a tour of the chapel and shows me some unique paintings, including a wall mural of Pope John Paul. She seems to indicate he visited the sanctuary once.

I’d better wrap up; lights out at 10 p.m.

Insights from the tour in Italy

-Did not see a Walmart or Starbucks in Italy. “You would embarrass yourselves with a Starbucks here,” said one man at a cafe. There are independent coffee shops on nearly every corner in Italy.

-Three weeks on a bicycle pedaling over lots of cobblestone streets and not one flat tire or broken spoke the entire tour. I consider that a miracle.

-The kindness of strangers has been over the top on this tour from someone lending me their camper to sleep in during a stormy night at a campground in Pisa to a person at a flea market offering me a seat in the shade and giving me a bowl of gelato. There was a fruit vendor in a dirty white t-shirt at the side of the road that filled my lap with cherries as I stopped to rest. His son then gave me a cold bottle of water and they sliced a melon open and shared it. A nun in Rome saw I was struggling with securing a scarf around my waist so I could visit St. Peter’s Basilica and she came over and helped. Such small gifts but they really make the tour special




0853, 27 June 2015

1 Comment

  1. Kevin Scheunemann

    “The Kilians have worked to market the property but so far they’ve had little luck.”

    Translation: Price is too high.

    If they would be willing to cut rate the property sale for a new restaurant….but being the good business people Killians are, I’m sure a no restaurant restriction is on the deed.

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