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2131, 22 Nov 15

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Sorry I’m a bit late getting this up. I was in the woods for the opening of the gun deer season. I shot a full 33% of the deer I saw… so, 1. In any case, here you go:

New location for West Bend’s Amity nativity

The Amity nativity has a new home. The nativity had been displayed since 2007 on the grassy knoll outside Westbury Bank on S. Main Street. This year the display will be moved across the street and a bit further south. The Downtown West Bend Association took donation of the nativity in 2007. The DWBA board of directors had a meeting this week to hash over a new location.

“We wanted to keep it downtown and keep it on the route of the annual Christmas parade,” event manager Kellie Boone said.

A number of locations were batted about; some were nixed because of conflicts between church and state and then the perfect location became apparent. “Bits ‘n’ Pieces is on the parade route and it’s very visible,” said Boone about the location, 319 S. Main St.

Pat and Deb Bohn, owners of Bits ‘n’ Pieces, have been great community servants and work is underway to get the nativity set up in its new home before the Nov. 29 parade.

Officials at Westbury indicated the manger was unsafe. They said if it would be repaired they’d consider taking the manger back in the future.

On a history note: The nativity was special ordered in the late 1960s by Tom and Bob Rolfs. The nativity used to be displayed in front of the Amity Outlet on Highway 33 and prior to that sat in front of the Amity building at 735 S. Main St., what is now the West Bend School District office.

Could demolition of bridge jeopardize theatre project

There’s an effort underway to breathe new life into the downtown West Bend Theatre. A critical part of its success, according to investors, is the bridge over the Milwaukee River.

“Saving the bridge is number one,” said Mark Pfaller of Pfaller Architectural Associates. “There’s not enough parking to facilitate the theatre anywhere downtown. If the bridge does not stay and get renovated it could be a deal breaker.”

Pfaller has renovated and restored more than 40 theatres in his career including the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee, the Rialto Theatre in Joliet, Illinois, and the 850 seat Grand Opera House in Oshkosh.  He’s been hired along with Gene Eggert from Architectural Designs Inc in Delafield to complete a study on what is needed to resurrect the downtown West Bend Theatre.

A brainstorming session was held this month at Dublin’s to get the ball rolling on the project. The one problematic issue is the city of West Bend has already signed a contract that involves the removal of the bridge behind the theatre.

The city of West Bend currently has a $567,946.05 bridge contract with Janke General Contractors, Inc. The Common Council approved the contract Oct. 5, 2015.

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 “the city can negotiate the terms and conditions of the contract so the scope of the project could change.”

That change is connected to the request being made by Rep. Bob Gannon and state Senator Duey Stroebel to delay spending DOT grant money without losing the funding. There’s an effort underway to see whether the DOT can reallocate some of the money meant to demolish the bridge and have it go towards renovating the bridge instead.

A note from Justice dated Sept. 22, 2015 indicated talks were underway on whether the state DOT “can be flexible with us on the use (and timing) of a portion of the TE grant that’s been awarded to the city.”

Mike Husar, president of the downtown Business Improvement District, owns the property on the north side of the bridge. “That bridge needs to stay. They need to come up with a way to use it and keep it,” Husar said. “We have a theatre that could potentially use the bridge.”

Mayor Kraig Sadownikow said he is pleased a local group is interested in remodeling and, in some way, saving the theater. “If they’re motivated to doing something positive in downtown and they think we need to save the bridge, I’m happy and I’m sure the council is happy to explore that,” Sadownikow said.

This week contractors started removing the windows in the bridge behind the theatre in downtown West Bend.

Sadownikow said removal of asbestos and windows on the bridge will have to be done whether it comes down now or whether it’s refurbished. “I’ve been told they’re not going to take the bridge down until they get authorization from City Hall to do so,” he said.

Matt Prescott with Ascendant Holdings in Madison currently owns the building along with business partner Eric Nordeen. The pair purchased the theatre, 125 N. Main St., on May 19, 2012 for $100,000. Prescott demolished the newer additions inside and return the configuration of the old theatre. He said the next step would be left to an outside party to determine the best use of the building.

On a history note, the West Bend Theatre was built in 1927; it opened in 1929 as a single-screen theater.

Staffing changes in the works at West Bend City Hall

Some employees at West Bend city hall are moving on. Lauren Oliveri, recreation supervisor with the West Bend Parks, Recreation and Forestry department, has taken a job at Waterstone Bank. Oliveri recently received the Young Professional of the Year award presented by Wisconsin Parks & Recreation Association. Oliveri organized the extremely popular Dirty Ninja Mud Run for Kids.

Gwenn Soldner, superintendent of the city of West Bend Building Inspection, is leaving at the end of the year for a job in the public sector. Soldner has been with the city 10 years. He took over as superintendent in Building Inspection in 2012. The city has posted an opening for his position.

Sewer Utility Superintendent Scott Tutas is leaving and this time it’s for real. In 2013 Tutas turned in his resignation but was later convinced to stay.  Tutas has been with the city since February 1979 where he started in the Sanitation Department, moved to vehicle maintenance, and eventually took over as Sewer Utility Superintendent in Dec. 2010 after Jim Hron retired.

Some of Tutas’s notable accomplishments include the city’s mercury-reduction program, the infiltration-and-inflow system and the installation of four 65 kilowatt microturbines at the West Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant. “The microturbines run off methane gas and produce electricity,” said Tutas. “Part of the electricity is used to operate the plant and additional electricity generated is sold to WE Energies.”

Earlier this week the city of West Bend revamped the organizational structure of the Department of Public Works. Ruth Mueller is the new utility director and Doug Neumann is the new Department of Public Works Director.

The new organizational structure eliminates the need to fill the Public Works Director position that has been open since Aug. 31 when Larry Retayczak left for a similar position in the city of Germantown. “The new structure will save us $90,000 a year,” said Dist. 7 alderman Adam Williquette. After six months the organizational structure will be reviewed by administration.

New assistant city engineer in West Bend

Emily Roen is the new assistant city engineer in West Bend. Roen replaces Fred Schaejbe who retired in September after 24 years with the city. Roen, 27, has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

“She has a lot of municipal experience,” city engineer Max Marechal said. “She was the village engineer in Roscoe, Illinois and she was exposed to running a department and doing contract administration and she touched a lot of fields including pavement maintenance, storm water management, construction of utilities and roads.” Roen was one of two people who applied for the position. “I was just looking to relocate to a bigger city and take on more responsibility,” she said. Roen’s first responsibility will be updating the city’s five-year plan.

Election papers available

Election papers are available for pickup in West Bend and other communities across Washington County in preparation for the Spring Election.

In West Bend the odd-numbered aldermanic districts are up for election. Dist. 7 incumbent Adam Williquette already turned in his papers. Candidates have to wait until Dec. 1 to begin circulating nomination papers and collecting signatures. Aldermen need to collect between 20 – 40 signatures. Those can be filed no later than Jan. 5, 2016.

Others up for reelection in West Bend include Dist. 1 John Butschlick, Dist. 3 Ed Duquaine, and Dist. 5 Rich Kasten.  The West Bend School Board has two seats up for election in spring including President Randy Marquardt and Karen Betz.

WB COLUMNS Holiday Pops Concert

Save the date for the WB COLUMNS Holiday Pops Concert on Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Silver Lining Arts Center. The annual scholarship concert benefits graduating seniors of West Bend East and West High Schools. Last year, WB COLUMNS awarded $612,050 in scholarships for graduates to continue their education. More information

New signage for Albrecht Clinic

New signs going in at Albrecht Clinic: The Albrecht Free Clinic in West Bend is moving to Highway 33 to the former Verre Young Eye Clinic, 908 W. Washington Street. New signage will be added shortly. The building has been undergoing a significant interior remodel as the location will have three full medical rooms and three full dental rooms. Jim Strachota, executive director of the Albrecht Free Clinic said the location “will really be ideal” because W. Washington Street has a high-visibility factor. “It just really feels good and the size fits the community need,” he said of the 3,000-square-foot building.

Homicide update

The October Monthly Report to the Community from the West Bend Police Department ruffled a few feathers as one homicide was reported. Neighbors who pay attention to what’s going on in the community did not recall a homicide in October.

Chief of Police Ken Meuler said a 54-year-old West Bend man who lived on Deerfield Drive died Oct. 15. Police were only recently able to verify he died from an overdose of heroin. Meuler said the case remains under investigation and police have no one in custody.

Lt. Mike Hartwell retiring from WBPD

Lt. Mike Hartwell is retiring after 28 years with the West Bend Police Department. “It’s time for a change,” said Hartwell. “I had mixed emotions on retiring but it’s time for a change of pace.”

Hartwell was 24 when he started as a patrolman. Jim Skidmore was chief of police at the time. In 2004 Hartwell was promoted to detective and in May 2011 he was promoted to lieutenant.

Over the years Hartwell, 52, has been involved in a number of memorable cases including the July 1, 2005 robbery of U.S. Bank.

“Van Beek and I were going out to pick up a forgery suspect and a call came across from a citizen inside the bank that it was being robbed,” he said.  “When the guy came out of the bank he jumped on a bike and tried riding east and we were parked right there and the guy hit the curb, went head over heels, money flying all over and he dropped the gun.”

Hartwell said they eventually took him into custody.

During his years with the department Hartwell has also been an integral part of the Police Explorer program. “I’ve been an adviser for 18 years,” he said. “Over the last 14 years the West Bend P.D. has hired six Explorers to our post and over the four years Explorers from our program have been hired by McFarland Police Department, Madison Capitol Police, Town of Brookfield, UW-Oshkosh Police and Hartford Police Department.”

Hartwell will begin work for Shorewest Realty in January. His last day with WBPD will be December 18.

Updates & tidbits

Property sale: 8.0485 acres on Corporate Center Drive. Fortune Development LLC sold to Delta Ventures LLC for $403,650. This will be the  new headquarters for Delta Defense.

The annual West Bend Christmas Parade steps off from Regner Park at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 29. The theme is ‘Christmas Dreams.’ Pease note the judges have been moved from the Husar’s building to the front of the West Bend Area Chamber of Commerce, 304 S. Main St.

-A new sign went up this week at Bits ‘n’ Pieces Floral, 319 S. Main St.

-The Kewaskum Christmas Parade is Sunday, Dec. 6 starting at 5 p.m.

A generous donation by the North Washington Charter of Thrivent Financial group as it delivered 148 turkeys to food pantries in Kewaskum, West Bend, and Jackson. Folks involved include Brian Justman, the meat manager at Geidel’s Piggly Wiggly in Kewaskum, Judy Koenig, Barb Knorr and Dan Fischer.

The Silverbrook 5th and 6th grade Robotics Club will be competing Sunday, Nov. 22 at Marquette FLL Regional 2.  Local sponsors that help promote science, technology, engineering and math include John Deere, Delta Defense, Salberg Law, Dunn Bros, Spiros and MPTC.

– An intimate celebration this week as volunteers with Interfaith Caregivers toured the organizations new home at 2374A W. Washington St. It’s in the same strip mall as the Lawrence & Vivian Stockhausen Center. Interfaith Caregivers used to be on Schoenhaar Drive, in the same building as the Red Cross. That building was sold and Interfaith moved.

-Next Saturday, Nov. 28 the West Bend High School drumline will compete in the 2015 Fresh Coast Classic at UWM’s Klotsche Center. Tickets are $8 for adults or $5 for students with ID. Bring a new toy for charitable donation and get $2 off your ticket price.

-Winter street parking rules go into effect Dec. 1 in West Bend.

 – The West Bend High School Student Council’s Blood Drive is Wednesday, Dec. 9 from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the south gym at the high school. Last year 413 units of blood were donated and this year the goal is 600 units. The blood drive is open to the community.  The link for online sign-up is  The theme this year is ‘The holidays and giving the gift of life.’

– West Bend High School choral director Karen Wysocky is retiring at the end of the year and a huge alumni turnout is being organized for the Hallelujah Chorus at the Christmas concert Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. at the West Bend H.S. Silver Lining Arts Center.

Moose the chocolate Labrador diabetic alert dog is being delivered today to 17-year-old William Springer of Slinger. Neighbors can meet Moose and William at the Texas Roadhouse, 800 W. Paradise Drive from 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 23. The West Bend Lioness Lions Club helped raise money to pay for Moose.

Neighbors in Washington County can support community programs by buying All-Day Breakfast during “McDonald’s Day for United Way” on Saturday, Nov. 21.  McDonald’s will donate the proceeds from all breakfast items sold between 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. at four participating locations including Hartford, Jackson and two stores in West Bend. All funds raised will be invested in community programs including education, income stability, and health.

-Shop Small Saturday is Nov. 28. It’s a nationwide attempt to drive shoppers to local businesses.

New shipment of St. John’s cookbook next week

The St. John’s Guild cookbook, “Our Favorite Recipes” returned as a conversation piece and fond memory this week following the death of one of its committee members June Spielman.

The funeral for Spielman, 98, was held Friday at St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church. Spielman was an active member of St. John’s Guild for 64 years and Guild president for 20 years, choir member for 50 years, “Our Favorite Recipe’s Cookbook” chairman for 20 years.

The St. John’s cookbook was established in 1949 by a committee of nine women. Under the direction of Esther Klein and Frieda Lange, the group planned to collect the best recipes into a cookbook and sell it at a low price with proceeds going to build a new kitchen at St. John’s Lutheran Church in West Bend.

A history book on “Our Favorite Recipes” by committee member June Spielman details the “enthusiasm” behind “Esther’s amateur plan.” The ladies’ goodwill effort to share their recipes to benefit the church soon met with the reality check of printing costs, editing, deadlines and taste-testing 300 recipes.

“A majority of recipes were all tried and true,” said Carol Gerner, a member of the cookbook committee since the 1980s.  Gerner, author of the recipe for cottage cheese rolls. “It was a good project and we got our kitchen.”

Over the years the cookbook took on a life of its own as hundreds of thousands of copies have been sold worldwide. Proceeds helped purchase a pipe organ for the church, finance scholarships and support charitable institutions through the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

“Not many community cookbooks are successful, but this one is an exception,” wrote the Farm Journal Food Editor of Philadelphia and “A cookbook that refuses to die,” from the Sheboygan Press.

Lisa Achterberg-Schroeder, a sales associate at the former Fireside Books in West Bend said she received a St. John’s cookbook when she was 23 as a wedding shower gift from her mom. “That was in 1988 and she was cleaning out her cookbooks and she still had her copy of it and that was the actual paper spiral binding.

“It’s unbelievable to have such a following. It doesn’t matter what denomination you are, you know about the St. John’s cookbook,” said Achterberg-Schroeder.

The St. John’s cookbook is also on sale at Hankerson’s Bakery in West Bend and in the church office at St. John’s Lutheran. Many dedicated cooks and bakers in the community have a personal tie with their St. John’s cookbook. “I love this cookbook for its unique hand-written style,” Amy Leitheiser said, “and because my Mom used it while I grew up, so I learned to bake using the recipes. The sour cream cookies are a traditional Christmas cut-out.”

Other reliable recipes in the Leitheiser household include the Mile High Strawberry torte, pumpkin bread, banana bread and peanut butter cookies. “Granny Leitheiser was famous for using the butter horns recipe and we still make them from time to time so we can remember her,” Leitheiser said. “But otherwise, nowadays, things like butter horns are a lost art.”

Ann Marie Craig, owner of Century Farmhouse Soaps, also knows her way around the kitchen.

“The perfect recipe for any fruit kuchen comes from true Americana, the local church cookbook — ‘Our Favorite Recipes,’” Craig said. “It’s been our favorite cookbook for generations. My grandmother had the 1949 edition, my mother has the 1959 edition, and my battered copy was published in 1976; our older daughters each have a copy of a more modern edition.”

Craig touts Esther Klein’s fruit kuchen recipes on page 35 of the 1976 edition. “By the way, if you ever find a copy of this book, all of Esther Klein’s recipes are winners,” Craig said.

Peg Ziegler also gave props to Esther Klein’s German potato salad. “It’s the best,” Ziegler said.

St. John’s is expecting a shipment of the next printing of the cookbook next week.

Kennedy anniversary

November 22 is the 52nd anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy.  The 35th President of the United States was assassinated in 1963 while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas.

From a history standpoint, Kennedy campaigned in West Bend while he was seeking the democratic nomination for President of the United States. A photo provided by the Washington County Historical Society shows Kennedy walking downtown Main Street during a visit Feb. 17, 1960, when he was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.

Kennedy is walking north on Main Street with Thomas F. O’Meara Jr. on his right.

Former West Bend alderman Tom O’Meara III said his father was head of the Washington County Democratic Party in the 1960s and he was the one responsible for bringing Kennedy to town.  “He put out an invitation for Kennedy to come to ‘this mostly republican-bound territory,’” said O’Meara III.

Kennedy spoke at the VFW and stopped at the O’Meara’s house on 9th and Walnut St. “My mother made him lunch,” said O’Meara III. “I don’t know what they had for lunch I was in school,” he said. “But my father enjoyed Kennedy very much; he was a fellow Irishman and they spent most of their time talking about Irish heritage,” said O’Meara III.

A story printed in the West Bend News reported mayor Walter Schmidt presented the senator and his wife with gifts from the city of West Bend.

Kennedy then addressed the crowd at the VFW and spoke of the recession of 1958, noting “we must keep employment at a high level to prevent loss in tax dollars so essential for the economic welfare of the country.” The senator was scheduled to have dinner at the Mermac hotel. Enroute to the hotel on foot Kennedy stopped cars and people, shook hands and introduced himself.

The photo was taken as the Senator walked downtown and met with business owners. “I don’t think there are a lot of people in town that knew Kennedy, as a junior senator, was ever in West Bend,” said O’Meara III.

019,946 President Kennedy


2131, 22 November 2015


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