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0510, 04 Jul 15

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

New grocery to open on North Main Street in West Bend

A new downtown grocery store is in the making in West Bend. Stefanie Ulma, owner of Grasshopper Restaurant, 241 N. Main St., is planning on opening a store in the building next door to Laurel’s Camera & Gifts at 237 N. Main St.

The store will feature house-made products from the Grasshopper including dressings, burgers, and organic grass-fed meats along with cheese, wine, beer and necessities.

“The store fits the restaurant,” said Ulma. “People keep asking us to sell our dressings or can we buy the mushroom burgers, and now they can.”

The store will also offer free delivery to neighbors in West Bend with an added plan similar to meals on wheels for the elderly. “My mom used to do that and I thought it was cool,” Ulma said. “With our delivery, we can do two checks a week on the elderly; bring a hot meal from the restaurant and groceries. This way families would know their loved one is getting food and they’re being checked on.”

Part of Ulma’s larger plan also includes a rooftop garden that will provide produce for the grocery and benefit the restaurant.

In order to get the grocery off the ground, Ulma had to make some difficult decisions. The toughest was closing the restaurant Friday nights. “To get the grocery store to the point where I needed to get it I’m changing the hours of the restaurant and Friday nights will have to go away right now. Grasshopper will be open daily and Saturday from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.”

Ulma has been working on the grocery plan the last two years, but said she wasn’t making headway because of the demanding schedule at the restaurant. “Deciding to take away Friday nights was a very difficult decision but one that was needed. This is going to make a giant difference so I can meet with contractors and get the store open,” Ulma said.

The timeline on the opening is not definite yet. The store space has been gutted and reframed; Ulma said the next part is to just put it back together. The name of the grocery has also not yet been determined.

Grasshopper opened in March 2010. It started as a cozy place to get high-quality food for breakfast and lunch in an atmosphere that was uber trendy with an old school Audrey Hepburn/Frank Sinatra flare. Since then it’s grown and morphed to a relaxed indoor library setting with a long bar yet the excellent food remains.

“I’m excited to do something else for West Bend that’s different than just this restaurant,” said Ulma. “One thing that will stay the same will be delivering to the customer the best of the best. It’s never been about the money it’s been about giving a great product to the people.”

No bathroom availability at Wash. Co Senior Center for fireworks viewing

The Washington County Senior Center would like to make people aware they will not be serving food and beverage and there will be no bathroom access available at the building Saturday for neighbors who set up chairs in the parking lot and watch the Fourth of July fireworks at Riverside Park.

“Over the years the Senior Center has provided brats, beverages and popcorn,” Deb Anderson, executive director of the Senior Center, said. “After the parade in West Bend people would bring their chairs preparing for the Fourth of July fireworks at Riverside Park. The parking lot here and across the street at the county courthouse would be full of cars.”

Last year there were so many people who needed to use the facilities the Senior Center had to open the bathrooms upstairs. Anderson said those facilities are funded by the county.

“We’ve decided, for a number of reasons, not to continue to do the food-and-drink celebration and we’d like the community to know they better plan ahead for their bathroom needs and bring their own sodas,” said Anderson. The parking lots will still be open for fireworks viewing.

U.S. flag added to downtown West Bend

A new flag made its debut this week in downtown West Bend at 215 N. Main Street, formerly the Ziegler Building. Property manager Rita Kreilkamp said one of the tenants Mike Sheehy, president of Client First Group, brought it to her attention.  “He said, you ever think of putting a flag on that pole,” Kreilkamp said. With that an effort to honor Old Glory was in motion.

Working with the local VFW, John Kleinmaus and The Flag Center in Waukesha the goal to get the flag in place before July 4 came to fruition. “I remember years ago there had been a flag on that pole and I just thought it would be a great thing to add back to the building,” said Sheehy.

A member of the National Guard, Sheehy said the quick work on getting a flag in place was impressive. “This is fantastic; it’s a great piece, a great building in the downtown and they got it done just in time for the Fourth of July,” he said. “This shows our patriotic spirit in the downtown business district.”  In order to abide by flag etiquette a light was mounted Thursday to properly illuminate the flag so it can fly 24 hours a day.

Maxwell Street Day returns to West Bend

Good news for bargain hunters in West Bend as Maxwell Street Day is making a return. “We get calls every year with people saying ‘please bring it back’ and ‘we’d love to see it again,’” Kellie Boone, event manager with Downtown West Bend Association, said. “I brought it up to the board and we agreed to try it.”

The last time Maxwell Street Day was held in West Bend was around 2008. Boone said the downtown is taking a toe-in-the-water approach. “We’re going to start a little small this year asking retailers to put something on the sidewalk outside their store,” she said. “It won’t be all of Main Street closed but we will close the section where Music on Main is held, by Old Settlers Park. We’re working on music and family-fun activities and if it becomes a big thing it will grow each year.”

In its heyday, Maxwell Street Day in West Bend had a festival-like atmosphere, included live music, shuttle buses and barricades to close off downtown Main Street to traffic.

The buses ran from Westfair Mall to the Regal Ware parking lot. Deals included books sold by the pound at Fireside Books & Gifts.  Families would circle Maxwell Street Day on their calendar, shop for bargain school supplies and in the early years skinny dudes in bellbottom jeans would pour over boxes of record albums placed on tables in the street in front of the Exclusive Company. Neighbors also remember, more often than not, it would rain; hard. Rivers of water would flow down the street but eventually the sun would emerge and neighbors would celebrate sales at Maxwell Street Day.

Pat Fehring with Laurel’s Camera & Gifts remembered shopping up and down the street.  “Winklers would set up their school supplies,” he said. “That was a big deal and we’d go down to the Candy Man and then there would be all the vendors in the street who came in from out of town. Sometimes people frowned on out of towners but it was good to have other things in the city.” Fehring said they are looking forward to this year’s Maxwell Street Day. “We’ll have our table in the street and ready to go.”

Over the last few years the event was scaled back to sidewalk sales. Carrie Schaub, owner of Serendipity Gifts, was the self-appointed organizer of the event. She said they tried to stay in step with tradition and held the sidewalk sale on the first Wednesday in August.

This year’s event will run 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. on August 5. “We are looking for vendors and they can contact me at the Downtown West Bend Association,” said Boone. 262-338-3909 or

Changing of the guard at Sunrise Rotary

Outgoing West Bend Sunrise Rotary president Lori Yahr was presented with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award on Tuesday night during the Rotary’s Changing of the Guard dinner held at Regner Park. Rotarian Steve Domres presented Yahr with the award. He said Yahr had strong organizational skills, was a good communicator, efficient and had a “Yes we can get things done” attitude.

This was Yahr’s third Paul Harris Award. “This was a big award and yes, I was very surprised,” she said. Yahr has been a member of Sunrise Rotary for seven years. “I joined because I liked to do service projects for the community,” she said.  Also during the evening Yahr passed the gavel to incoming president Bonnie Debroux.

The club also installed officers for 2015-16, some of which include President elect Adam Hertel, Vice president Joe Zaremba, Secretary Candy Sarauer, Treasurer Teri Otis, Sergeant at Arms Graeme Reid, Public Relations Chairman Mike Phillips, International Service Bev Sturgeon, Club Service Rick Vanderkin, Vocational Service Steve Stanek, and past President Lori Yahr. Two other Paul Harris awards will be handed out at a later date as the recipients were not in attendance.

Ten-year anniversary of the Labyrinth Garden in West Bend

Ten years ago the Labyrinth Garden was in the first stage of what it is today. Last Saturday, a celebration reception was held for anyone who helped with the creation and continued maintenance of this special garden which has become known as ‘a beautiful place to walk.’

“I am thrilled the Labyrinth has grown to what it is today,” Labyrinth Garden Director Barbara Robertson said. “Every time we work in the garden people stop and express their appreciation for having it in our city. A visitor this week said she has seen many gardens throughout this country and ours is one of the prettiest and best maintained. What a compliment!”

Robertson said people come to enjoy the flowers, walking in quiet solitude, family pictures, weddings, and for reading the stones in the ‘Circle of Celebration.’

“Children love to run to the center, although they are usually walking by the time they get there as it is a quarter of a mile,” said Robertson. “It has become a destination place to bring visitors and we have had many international friends too.”  The next special activity is the Gig at the Labyrinth on July 10 starting at 5:15 p.m. Neighbors are invited to bring a drink of choice, food and a folding chair to experience a fun evening of easy-listening music.

Tom O’Meara on the move

Moving day has finally arrived for former West Bend alderman Tom O’Meara III and his wife Ellen. The O’Mearas are packing up and headed to Salt Lake City, Utah.

A yellow 16-foot Penske Rental truck was backed deep into the O’Meara driveway on Wilson Avenue. “We just started loading this morning,” said O’Meara. “We’ve been getting rid of stuff for quite a while but we still have so much left.”

O’Meara has been a fixture in the community for decades. He’s been a long-time motorcycle instructor at Moraine Park Technical College and a local ski instructor. Involved in area politics O’Meara held positions on the West Bend School Board and the West Bend Common Council. He also served on the West Bend Parks Committee.

O’Meara is a walking history book on West Bend and Washington County. He bleeds green and Guinness and could be regularly found at the annual Dundee St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

O’Meara gauged the trip to Utah at a little more than 21 hours. “We’re renting for at least a year,” he said. “It’s five bedrooms – we’ll have space available if anyone wants to bicycle out.” Wing man Tom O’Meara IV is helping with the move.

Successful River Valley Ride

The folks at Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg could not have asked for a better day for their 23rd annual River Valley Ride. More than 1,100 people turned out to take a spin around scenic courses that covered some of the areas beautiful rolling hills, forests and farm fields.

Chris Beloin from Grafton completed the 27-mile loop. “I’ve done this before and it’s beautiful roads, wonderful people, excellent food and it’s a great combination of events and things to do,” he said. “It did seem like everywhere we went there was a hill but we prevailed and going down the hill is a lot of fun too.”

Mary Ellen DeLaune from Greendale has also done the ride before. “The scenery is so nice,” she said. DeLaune completed the 27-mile course.

Liz Werner of West Bend tackled the 17-mile course. “I’ve done it before but it’s my standard ride,” she said. “This is such a well-organized ride with the map and the markers; it’s definitely one of the best rides in the state.”

Organizers were extremely happy with the turnout. They praised volunteers including Mark Ramsey with Pedal Moraine Cycle & Fitness. Ramsey and his father provided maintenance at the rest stop off of County Highway M. “We’ve seen a lot of bikes but we’re really not that busy,” said Ramsey. “Which is a good thing.” Long threads of riders in bright yellow shirts could be seen threading their way down long stretches of roads in Washington County.

More information on Riveredge Nature Center is available at

Updates & tidbits

-Watch for Governor Scott Walker to officially announce he’s running for the office of President of the United States on July 13.

-The O’Meara Law office building, 622 Elm St., has sold. The stately building across from the Post Office was purchased by Robert and Donna Koenings for $125,000. The property sale was recorded June 30, 2015. The 2014 assessment value is $231,000. The building has been home to the O’Meara Law Firm for 46 years. The property dates to 1929 and had originally been designed as an eight-unit apartment building. Shorewest Realtors listed the commercial/industrial building at $175,000. The O’Meara Law Firm is now located in the Centrum Building.

-Rita Kreilkamp, the property manager at the 215 N. Main building, is passing the torch following a one-year commitment to fill the building with tenants. The Kreilkamp family took a grassroots marketing approach with the former B.C Ziegler Building in downtown West Bend. The family acquired the property at auction Aug. 31, 2011. Efforts to work with an outside marketing firm didn’t materialize so Kreilkamp stepped in and took a more pro-active approach filling the 75,000-square-foot building with tenants such as the Washington County Volunteer Center, Downtown West Bend Association, United Way of Washington County, Graymont, GrandCare Systems, Client First Group, and Bay MarketForce. “This was a good run and I learned a lot including building codes, working with the city officials and hiring contractors,” said Kreilkamp. Jodi Brandt, President of RSM Property Management in West Bend, will take over as the new property manager.

– “The Hungry Heart” is an intimate look at prescription drug and opiate addiction through Dr. Fred Holmes who works with patients struggling with this disease. On Tuesday, July 7 there will be a free showing of this documentary beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the West Bend Democratic Office.

-The West Bend School Board and West Bend Common Council will hold a breakfast July 15 at West Bend Mutual Insurance with a goal for both organizations to make a commitment to market together.

-JoAnne Busse will speak about her pilgrimage, 480 miles from Saint Jean Pier de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, on July 8 at Holy Angels Church. Busse made the trek in the summer of 2014. She will speak at 10 a.m.

Happy July 4 history photo

Today’s photo, July 4, 1924, courtesy the Washington County Historical Society looks easterly from a second-story position across North Main Street in West Bend. The building is the F.W. Westenberger building occupied by the Bryant Clothing Store.  In the street the two individuals are Henry Schoofs who plays the part of Uncle Sam in the parade and Ferdinand Nehrbass, Chief of Police.

July 4, 1924


0510, 04 July 2015


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