Big news from Fleet Farm has ripple effect at home
Word came today from corporate headquarters in Minnesota that the Mills family was looking to sell its chain of Fleet Farm stores.
In West Bend there had been promises since 2004 that Fleet Farm was going to build ‘the largest store in the state’ on a 30-acre parcel along Highway 33 and County Highway Z.
The Mills brothers also acquired 40 adjacent acres and plans were on track for a 274,000-square-foot store.
“Fleet Farm has been an asset to West Bend for as long as most of us can remember but their announcement may explain why they’ve been slow to expand in West Bend and elsewhere,” Mayor Kraig Sadownikow said.
“It’s a positive for their organization that they’re recognizing to grow properly they need more cash to do so and hopefully whoever purchases them will recognize the excitement in this community if they chose to expand here.”
Last summer, after 11 years of a stalled project City Administrator T.J. Justice and Mayor Kraig Sadownikow reached out to the Mills brothers. One of the owners and two corporate officials visited the site and the spark on development was relit.
Although the anticipation grew in the community, city leaders said talks with the Mills brothers again cooled off.
As far as the current Fleet Farm on 18th Avenue and Highway 33, Sadownikow and others in real estate qualify the store as a “cash cow” and “an asset to their portfolio.”
An article from the Star Tribune notes, “Chief executive Stewart Mills III, grandson of the store’s founder, told the Brainerd Dispatch that it is more than likely that his family will leave the business after the sale, though the Mills name may remain with the stores.
“We have several interested parties, but we are sorting through those interested parties to make sure they are the best fit for us organizationally and also the best fit for our employees,” he told the Dispatch. “For the long term, this is what’s right for the business. This is what is right for our employees.”
Update on green space south of MOWA
West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow admittedly got on his soap box during Monday night’s Common Council meeting as he provided an update on green space and finances in the community.
Sadownikow specifically focused on the 1.2-acre parcel of green space to the south of the Museum of Wisconsin Art.
The mayor has been working to market TIF districts, No. 5 and No. 9. The difficult challenge, as he explained, was balancing the green space with the financial aspects.
“Over the last four to five weeks I’ve been involved in literally dozens of conversations, meetings and planning sessions in an effort to balance three things,” he said.
Those three things included being true to the spirit of the TIF by generating new property tax, finding a way to keep the property green and living up to the responsibility of the Joint Review Board.
“It’s unusual and financially challenging in a TIF to knowingly pull property out and say there will never be a building on here,” he said. “I’ve been approached by folks who say ‘this is a park vs. a development issue.”
Since August that property south of the Museum of Wisconsin Art has been a hot topic. Sitting vacant and unprofitable for about 10 year the city all of a sudden found two offers in the mix.
One was from the Thomas J. Rolfs Foundation, Inc. and the other from Bob Bach, Project Manager at P2 Development Company LLC in Saukville. He proposed a $5 million housing development.
That proposal rankled some folks in the community that questioned the city’s long-term vision.
During Monday’s meeting the mayor asked, “the community to be patient for the next couple of months and within this time we’ll be able to craft a plan that really respects today’s finances and lays the groundwork for a positive and fun downtown in the future.”
Quite a few aldermen threw in their thoughts, arguing mostly to the point of dollars and cents. “Downtown TIF’s are tough to succeed,” District 2 alderman Steve Hutchins said. “They’re hard to develop the increment to make it successful and right now we’re trying to figure out this balancing act.”
District 3 alderman Ed Duquaine echoed Sadownikow’s thoughts on keeping the parcel green. “It would be nice but the financial aspect is a serious one,” he said. “To keep it green the financials will play a huge role.”
District 7 alderman Adam Williquette was all about the financials. “Right now the debt in TIF No. 5 and No. 9 is $12,621,667 and the whole point of the TIF is to pay that back,” he said. “Obviously it would be nice to see it stays green but green that pays us $125,000 a year but forever.”
Washington County Board Supervisor dies
Washington County Board Supervisor Mel Ewert of Germantown has died. Ewert, who passed away Sunday, Oct. 4, had been ill and had not been at a county board meeting for about a year.
Ewert was Supervisor for District 26 which included the Village of Germantown. County Board Chairman Herb Tennies said the county will likely leave the seat empty until the April 5, 2016 spring election. Ewert was first elected April 18, 2006.
Temporary closure for local recycler
5R Processors Ltd., a recycling company located in the former Praefke Brake & Supply Corp. on Oak Street in West Bend has closed temporarily.
“We ordered them to stop operations about two weeks ago due to some code violations,” city administrator T.J. Justice said. “We’ve met with them since that time and we’re hoping they come within compliance so they can open their doors.”
Last December, 5R Processors Ltd. received a conditional use permit to being recycling large electronic appliances at 133 Oak St. The company, headquartered in Ladysmith, Wis. planned to hire up to 50 employees. Calls to 5R Processors were not returned.
Loan approved for Delta Ventures
A unanimous vote Monday evening as the West Bend Common Council awarded a $250,000 revolving loan to Delta Ventures to help with construction of its new 65,000-square-foot corporate headquarters.
There will be 133 new full-time positions created as Delta Defense merges its Jackson and West Bend facilities into a building on the east side of Corporate Center Drive in West Bend.
Delta Defense is paying off its current loan to the city of West Bend acquired when company CEO Tim Schmidt was purchasing the former West Bend Art Museum, 300 S. Sixth Avenue.
Delta Defense is preparing to invest $15 million into a new, facility.
District 2 alderman Steve Hutchins made clear, this is not free money for the company. “This is a loan with interest over 10 years,” Hutchins said. “Their risk is very low and we’re not giving money away.”
Since Delta Defense moved into West Bend the company has been an extremely generous community servant.
“Tim Schmidt and his work family have given a nice donation to our Dirty Ninja Mud Run for Kids and Enchantment in the Park,” said Lori Yahr, with West Bend Friends of Park and Recreation. “They are always happy to help out with our great community events and I don’t see that slowing down once they move to their new home.”
Mike Nowack, President of West Bend Economic Development Corp., said the impact Delta Defense has had on West Bend has been tremendous. “In addition to the growth in employees and their remodeling of the former Art Museum, Delta Defense has made a commitment to the not-for-profit organizations that support so many individuals,” Nowack said.
“Not only are they financially supportive, their leadership roles engaging their employees in the process of serving the community has been substantial.”
On a side note, Economic Development of Washington County will also be providing a $500,000 loan to Delta Ventures. Delta Defense plans to break ground and begin construction in mid-October.
Diva asks BID for $5,000
The Diva Group is asking the Downtown West Bend Business Improvement District for funding. Ann Marie Craig, president and CEO of Century Farmhouse Soaps, addressed the BID board. “Who is actually doing advocating for bringing smaller businesses into the downtown,” asked Craig.
An example was given about a vendor in Wisconsin who was invited to open her business in Cedarburg. “The exact words were ‘we will do whatever it takes to get you into our city,’” said Craig. In a discussion with the Diva Group, the businesses brainstormed about the need for more intensive marketing with strategies including television and multimedia.
Craig put in a request for $5,000 and then laid out a plan for the use of funds which included paid appearances on WTMJ4’s The Morning Blend, marketing special Diva events, and other advertising including the Washington County Insider. “We need to saturate the airwaves throughout the year,” Craig said.
BID board member Wayne Kainz, owner of Riverside Brewery, praised the Diva and its events noting, “We always see an uptick in our traffic.” The BID seemed genuinely open to the idea and some research will be done before the next BID meeting to determine how the request for funding can be fulfilled.
Update on parks
The BID board got an update on construction at Old Settlers Park and on the Riverwalk. Parks director Craig Hoeppner said there were some minor changes to Old Settlers Park with the addition of two ADA entrances – one on Sixth Avenue by the south end of the park and another on Main Street. The plaza is going to be larger and on one level.
The park on the triangle is undergoing a major facelift. The initial cost of $500,000 has been knocked down to about $300,000 with a majority of it covered by a $200,000 grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.
While the project is coming along well, BID president Mike Husar had a question about the design. “Why did we change from the historic red brick to the ugly grey cement,” he said.
Hoeppner said colored concrete would cost more. Husar countered that the BID would have kicked in some coin if the city would have asked. The Riverwalk project was laid out in a colored concept plan that included a water level overlook, an amphitheatre, and new Rosetta Hardscape stone that could help offset some costs for the retaining wall.
The east side of the project would cost $1.5 million. Hoeppner guestimated the west side of the river would be about $2.5 million – primarily because of the backsides of the buildings and the plumbing and electrical. The project should be bid out around June 2016.
WBHS teachers nominated for Herb Kohl Award
West Bend High School teachers Jen Mesko and Band Director Leah Duckert have been nominated for a 2016 Herb Kohl Education Fellowship Award. The award recognizes teachers in Wisconsin who inspire their students. Herb Kohl award winners are announced in March. This year for the 25th anniversary of the educational foundation, Herb Kohl tripled the amount of each scholarship, fellowship and school grant to $3,000.
Bridge contract awarded
The West Bend Common Council approved a $567,946.05 contract during its Monday meeting to Janke General Contractors, Inc. of Athens, Wis. The bridge project includes construction of a pedestrian bridge over the Milwaukee River between Veterans Avenue and Service Drive, as well as removing two existing bridges in the area.
City administrator T.J. Justice said once the contract is signed “the city can negotiate the terms and conditions of the contract so the scope of the project could change.”
City engineer Max Marechal said the city entered into a State/Municipal Agreement (SMA) with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) to secure funding from a Transportation Enhancement grant to cover a portion of the cost of this project.
Updates & tidbits
–In a move that saves Washington County $250,000 by reducing overhead costs and sharing operational expenses, Washington and Ozaukee County Health Departments are merging effective January 1, 2016. In addition to reducing costs, this joint operation will maintain or enhance service levels in the communities by combining the best attributes of both organizations and leveraging these strengths across county lines.
-Record attendance anticipated at the Tuesday, Oct. 13 volleyball game between West Bend East and Oconomowoc as a fundraiser is underway for the MACC fund, in honor of the Dove sisters. The 10-year old twins from Jackson are battling cancer. West Bend East will have a 50/50 raffle and a huge basket raffle. The twins and their sister will be attending the game as VIP guests.
-The single-bay drive thru car wash at the Shell station on Paradise Drive is being put off until next spring. Owner Pat Osowski said they will rebid the project next year.
– On Monday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Silver Lining Arts Center there will be performances by the West Bend High School Concert Orchestra and Chamber Strings.
– AIMS Fitness, 3130 Newark Dr., is hosting an open house Saturday, Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Studio owner Jen Lenzendorf. offers Zumba, TDF Boot Camp, TDF Kickboxing, and is hoping to add TDF Dance and LeBarre. There will be Massage & Stretch and Acupuncture & Mediation. There will be a presentation for Exercise & Essential Oil Support and an Essential Oils & You presentation. The final presentation will be Joint Yoga. The day’s activities will be free but a donation (monetary or items from the wish list) to the WCHS would be greatly appreciated.
Positive buzz about West Bend H.S. homecoming
Buzz in the community this week about the great turnout for homecoming activities at the West Bend High Schools. Michelle Spettel submitted this letter echoing similar thoughts.
“I love that in West Bend the schools have a friendly competition, then end the week of activities with a game against each other and a dance with both schools together. It is a unique homecoming experience that we as a community can be proud of.
My daughter Lydia had a great time this year at homecoming. She said that the school spirit was amazing; from the participation on dress up days, a pep rally that was full of high energy, the increased number of floats in the parade, to the spirit activities at the game.
It was fun and it was done together. In talking to other parents I have heard the same comments many times. Attendance was up; people were having fun, and being respectful. What a great year we are having! Signed Michelle Spettel
On a side note – there were 44 entries in the West Bend homecoming parade. Awards went to: 1st West Soccer, 2nd East Volleyball, and 3rd Lunch Ladies. For the WBE vs. WBW football game there were about 4,000 people in attendance and the dance was attended by over 1,300 students – more than half of the student body.
Harvest history photo
This week’s photo, courtesy the Washington County Historical Society, is a 1945 Gehl Forage Harvester in operation. Area farmers are wrapping up the fall harvest of corn and beans as daylight beings to wane after 6 p.m. and frost settles in overnight.