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0810, 01 Aug 15

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Habitat for Humanity to take over Germanfest in West Bend

There’s new life for Germanfest as Habitat for Humanity has stepped up to take over the annual celebration of the community’s German heritage.

For 30 years neighbors would gravitate to the Tennies Hardware parking lot on Fifth Avenue and Walnut Street to kick up their heels to polka music and raise a stein and toast Gemütlichkeit.

In May the Germanfest board of directors tried encouraging other organizations to take the event over. They were unsuccessful and an announcement was made that this would be the final year for the local German celebration.

Enter Habitat for Humanity.

“I heard the story reported by Judy Steffes that this was potentially the last year for Germanfest and that sparked my interest,” said Russ Wanta, executive director Habitat for Humanity of Washington and Dodge Counties Wisconsin.

As Wanta’s wheels turned, conversations started. “We were looking for a signature event that a very large number of people attend where we can provide the service to the community and at the same time promote all the great things with Habitat,” he said.

Craig Walker, board president with Habitat for Humanity, said taking up the torch for Germanfest was a no-brainer.

“Germanfest is an institution in West Bend,” said Walker. “We were kinda bummed when we heard it might have been going away and we were looking for additional events.”

Walker said it was a natural fit since Habitat for Humanity is filled with talented volunteers that can help in a variety of areas, specifically construction.

“We have the background to set up and take down the stage, we have trade people and access to electricians and builders and that will help us reduce costs,” he said.

Habitat has already purchased the assets of Germanfest. It has also secured a three-year commitment with the Tennies family to use the space next to their hardware store and Walker said there’s always room to grow downtown. “There maybe new opportunities to expand down the street or across the street to the church parking lot,” he said referencing Immanuel United Church of Christ.

Germanfest committee member Peggy Fischer said the board was elated when they found Habitat was seriously committed to taking the reins. “They have the people, they have the knowledge, it’s going to be a great event for them,” Fischer said. “We also wanted to make sure they understood what it took and we wanted to make sure they actually accepted the torch and another new generation of Germanfest would begin.”

Herb and Suzanne Tennies were an integral part of Germanfest. “I think it’s wonderful,” Suzanne Tennies said. “I hope they run for 30 years too.”

Herb Tennies said the news made him feel good. “I’m glad somebody in the community wanted to take it over; there’s going to be a lot of new energy,” he said.

Habitat for Humanity will take over some of the planning and operation of this year’s Germanfest. “We’re also going to retain one of the board member for the 2016 festival, just so don’t drop the ball,” said Walker.

After two months of hammering out details the initial proposal passed the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity. A final vote on the takeover is expected in two weeks.

Tochi to open in WB in coming months

Chef Gregg DesRosier announcing this week via Around the Bend/ Washington County Insider that he is closing his ramen restaurant on Capitol Drive in Milwaukee and opening in a couple of months in West Bend.  That lease, secured by Adam Williquette with Anderson Commercial Group, is for River Shores. Tochi will open in the former Imagine Coffee location.

Tochi is ‘A modern Asian fusion restaurant with a focus on Japanese ramen. Tochi offers classic and creative ramen and other Asian-inspired dishes with an emphasis on regionally-sourced ingredients. Chef Gregg uses his visits to China and studies in Vietnam in creating ramen and rice dishes that present unexpected combined flavors.’

If DesRosier’s name sounds familiar that’s because he opened one of his first restaurants years ago (2002-2007) in West Bend.  Muddy’s on Main, 111 S. Main St., was a Cajun restaurant that was located in what is currently Cafe Soeurette.  DesRosier has already applied for a regular liquor license with the city. DesRosier and his family live in West Bend.

Silver Lake boat launch to remain closed

Silver Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District chairman Jim Ketter received word this week that Washington County intends to keep the boat launch closed until cleanup is complete.

Cleanup is expected to begin in a couple of weeks. Ketter said Eco Waterway is getting special pumps sent from South Carolina for this project. “They are special pumps that if they quit will not allow any backwash to bring sucked matter back into the lake which is part of the process required by the DNR,” said Ketter.  Cleanup includes two large pumps and dumpsters lined with large collection bags.

Earlier this week an online petition was posted asking for the boat launch to remain closed until the algae cleanup was complete.

“We need your help in supporting the temporary close of Silver Lake to prevent it from spreading to other lakes, specifically Big Cedar and Little Cedar since many boaters share the same lake. Sign the petition to influence the DNR to take control of the situation!”

Washington County Insider was the only local media outlet to post the petition and within two hours over 110 signatures were collected.

Kiwanis Early Risers celebrate 100 years

Kiwanis Centennial Celebration West Bend Early Risers Club, West Bend Noon Club, Kewaskum Club, Kewaskum Key Club, West Bend Key Club, Badger Builders Club and Silverbrook K-kids will all join together on Tuesday, August 4 in Regner Park for an evening of fellowship and celebration of 100 years of great Kiwanis community service. Food and drink cost will be $15 a person, but guests and Service Leadership advisors will be free if wearing their SLP club t-shirt.

Hometown Dry Cleaners

Hometown Dry Cleaners is opening a second location in West Bend.  Owner Drita Lala has purchased the building at 910 S. Main Street. It was formerly home to All in Books and Security Finance.

“One side I will lease and the other side I will have another dry cleaners,” she said. That north end of the building on S. Main Street had previously been home to Ol Tyme Cleaners. It was a family operation run by Robert and then Jeff Seidensticker.

Lala is expecting to open the new store in mid-August. “I’m going to do a little remodeling and then it will be another location for drop off and pickup,” she said.

Hometown Dry Cleaners has been in Richfield for eight years. The location at 2372 W. Washington St., in the same strip mall as the Threshold, has been open for three years.

The two other stores previously at 910 S. Main St. have also moved. Security Finance is now open at 842 S. Main St., in the former Radio Shack location in the West Bend Plaza. All in Books is moving downtown to the former location of Ruth Anne’s Gourmet Market,

Sister city from Japan coming to visit

Neighbors in West Bend are sprucing up their guest rooms as a contingency from our sister city, Aisho-cho Japan, will be visiting next week. “We’ll have 18 students including 10 girls and eight boys along with a handful of adults,” organizer Roger Sacia said.


For the past 21 years Sacia and his wife Nobie have been coordinating the sister city program with Japan since its inception in 1994. “The whole purpose of the exchange is to give students a piece of American life by having them stay with a host family for six days,” he said.

The visit includes a welcome ceremony at City Hall on August 5, followed by a welcome party at Lac Lawrann. There will be activities including a visit to a dairy farm, horseback riding, community service at Cedar Lake, a tour of the West Bend Fire Department and classes at the Boys and Girls Club where “hopefully we’ll help them improve their English,” said Roger Sacia.

Clothes Clinic to open in new location

Clothes Clinic building sold and dry cleaners moving: The Clothes Clinic, 1221 S. Main St., is moving. J&K Butz LLC sold the building to M Six International Properties and will be moving to 1017 S. Main St. into the former location of Milwaukee PC. Steve Magestro and Janiece Maxwell, owners of M Six International Properties, also purchased the BP gas station at 1229 S. Main St. The couple plan to raze the Clothes Clinic building and expand and remodel the neighboring gas station. Karen Butz said the sale will be finalized August 10 and they will open that day in their new location, 1017 S. Main St.

Updates & tidbits

Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County is looking for a new home: The local American Red Cross office closed last October and now the Red Cross building, 819 Schoenhaar Drive is listed for sale. Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County, also located in the building on Schoenhaar Drive, is scouting out a new location.

The West Bend High School Drumline will perform August 7 at the Wisconsin State Fair.

– Bald eagle sighting this week over by Highway P and NN,  just as you’re driving east on NN into all that fun roundabout construction. It was over that pond, to the south.

-State assembly Rep. Bob Gannon (R-West Bend) will hold a listening session Saturday, August 1 at the West Bend Farmers’ Market. Gannon will be available from 7:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. He will be located in front of the former Ruth Anne’s Gourmet Market, 136 N. Main St.

-A resolution will be read during the West Bend Common Council meeting on Monday honoring Lt. Robert Lloyd with the West Bend Police Department for his 25 years of dedicated service. Lloyd stared with the department in July 1990. He was promoted in 2006 to detective and then onto lieutenant. Lloyd has served as a Special Response Team member for 11 years and is currently an instructor in Defense-and-Arrest Tactics, Firearms, Taser, and Law Enforcement Training and Standards.

– The fifth annual Supermoto Charity Race, benefiting Chix4aCause, is set for Saturday, Aug. 29 at the Washington County Fair Park. The two-hour race is held on a 1-mile plus course of paved roads and dirt. Races include Supermoto, Dual Sport and Off Road Racers. Gates open at 10 a.m., practice from noon – 1:30 p.m. and racing is 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Single or multi-rider teams are $95 with a $10 pit pass for extra riders. Spectators are $5, age 12 and under are free.

Gearing up for Barton Day

Today’s c.1910 photo is courtesy Jeff and Debbie Slais. The location of the photo ties into next Saturday’s third annual Barton Business Association’s Barton Day. The event will feature vendors and food and activities on N. Main Street, Barton Avenue, Commerce Street, Schmidt Road and in the parking lot at the Gadow Mill.

St. Mary’s Immaculate Conception Parish will have a Polka Mass with the Ray Konkol Band on Saturday, August 8 at 4:30 p.m. St. Mary’s Parish will hold its annual church raffle and silent auction with all raffle proceeds going to the parish.

Can you guess the location of today’s history photo? Do you know what business is there now? Send answers to Judy Steffes at or call 334-4526. The answer next week.

Barton c 1910


0810, 01 August 2015


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