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0724, 16 Jan 16

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Elevate to start program to replace D.A.R.E

Last December local school administrators received letters from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department about the suspension of the D.A.R.E. program. Sheriff Dale Schmidt notified 11 elementary school principals the program would end in the 2016 Spring semester; Schmidt said staffing D.A.R.E was difficult.

There’s was quite a push back from the community, especially as the heroin appears to be on the rise. On Monday Elevate, a community-based resource center that focuses on drug-and-alcohol prevention, stepped up with a creative solution to try and bring back D.A.R.E.

“Our community prevention educators are ready and equipped to teach Too Good For Drugs, a research-based, age-specific Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse prevention curriculum, to students in all grade schools impacted by this decision.” Elevate executive director Mary Simon said.

Too Good for Drugs is designed to, “promote social-skill development and resiliency in a fun and interactive learning environment.”

A statement on the Too Good for Drugs website reads, “Students learn and practice setting reachable goals, making responsible decisions, and refuse peer pressure and influence through independent, paired, and cooperative learning activities and games.”

Simon has created a GoFundMe page for people to make a tax deductible donation to Elevate to help sustain this effort.

The message on the page from Mary Simon is titled, Save AODA/Washington County reads:

Today, drug and alcohol prevention in our schools is more important than ever. At Elevate, we have been a community resource, providing prevention, intervention and support services for individuals and families struggling with the effects of substance abuse for more than 35 years.

With the Sheriff’s suspension of the D.A.R.E program in Washington County schools, we hope to be a resource to those schools and kids left without drug prevention and education programming.

Parents have asked for a creative solution, and we believe we can provide it– with your help!

The starting point, financially, to get the program underway is $20,000.

New general manager at Paradise Theatre 

There’s a new general manager at the Paradise Theatre in West Bend as Nick Avambato, 20, has taken over for Sanford Cohen. “I want to be involved in the community,” said Avambato.

A native of Delavan, Wisconsin Avambato grew up in the movie theatre industry as his father has owned theaters for 30 years. Avambato worked at the Showtime Cinema in Franklin and for the last two years he was with at a theatre in Indiana.

The Paradise Theatre webpage makes the ‘Under new management’ a bold statement on its front page. Avambato said that means, “We’ll listen,” he said. “I want the community to tell me what they want. I have a lot of short term goals; I want the theatre to be cleaner and we’ll be focused on getting the word out about the movie selection via social media.”

Aside from keeping $5 tickets and free popcorn on Tuesdays, Avambato said he’s going to work on the theatres answering message and improving the overall image.

“You’re coming to the theatre for the experience and we’re going to have a better offer than sitting at home – you just can’t beat a big screen experience,” he said.

Applebee’s in West Bend sold

The Applebee’s, 2510 W. Washington St., in West Bend has been sold. GE Capital Franchise Finance Corp. sold on Dec. 8, 2015 to Broadstone Net Lease which acquired a portfolio of eight Applebee’s restaurants with locations across Wisconsin.

The properties were acquired via lease assumption, and are operated by Wisconsin Hospitality Group, LLC, a multi-concept operator. BNL currently owns 22 Applebee’s restaurants in seven states. The sale price was $2,266,193.

According to city records the property had a 2015 assessed value of $1,168,400. GE Capital Franchise Finance Corp. bought the property in Aug. 1, 1998 for $1.2 million.

Sale price for Country Inn & Suites

The sale price has been recorded for the Country Inn & Suites on Gateway Court in West Bend. The three-story hotel overlooking Highway 45 sold Dec. 29, 2015 to West Bend Lodging LLC for $1,538,750.

The property had a 2015 assessed value of $2,189,900. Previous owner Jim Walker bought the property Oct. 1, 2007 for $3,350,000. Country Inn & Suites recently installed new signage.

Other interior upgrades will include updated décor, styling, and amenities. West Bend Lodging Inc. said changes are necessary to make Generation Y and Millennials feel welcome by creating communal spaces equipped with quality Wi-Fi and a variety of seating options.

Truck Outfitters expanding

A new shop will be moving into the empty storefront at 1325 S. Main St. in West Bend, formerly home to Verlo Mattress. Truck Outfitters will jump one lot to the north. Douglas Geracie owns the vehicle accessory store, 1347 S. Main St. He’s been considering the space next door ever since Verlo moved out in December 2015. “It’s a little bigger than what we have for a showroom and it’s going to put us closer to the road, because right now we’re kinda sitting back a bit,” Geracie said. “We’ll still keep our place next door for storage and installs.”

Geracie hopes to move into the space next door by Feb. 1 but said, “We’ll see how it goes.”

Truck Outfitters has been in business since 1996, it employs six people and is open six days a week. On a history note, prior to Verlo the big glass storefront was home to Juan’s Mexicali restaurant which opened in April 2008 and was owned by partners Steve and Linda Paykel and Tracy and Jeff Ketter. Juan’s was in the former showroom for Consolidated Doors, which moved to the back of the building.

Tribute to Paul Wolf at capitol in Madison

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) adjourned the State Assembly’s first floor session of the year in honor of Paul C. Wolf a life-long resident of Allenton who dedicated his career to the community. As President of Sunset Farms in Allenton, Wolf lived out his lifelong passion for farming. He also devoted nearly three decades to the Allenton Volunteer Fire Department, where he served as the deputy chief of EMS for 22 years.

The following statement was read at the capitol. “Mr. Wolf’s passion for his life’s work and dedicated volunteer service is a wonderful example of what it means to serve one’s community. His memory and service will live on in the hearts of all whose lives he touched. I extend my deepest sympathy and prayers to the Wolf family during this time.”

Bridge construction underway

Crews from Janke General Contractors took advantage of the ‘warmer’ weather Thursday and started work on the new pedestrian bridge over the Milwaukee River. The truss bridge will connect Main Street and Vest Park in downtown West Bend to the east side of the river, Veterans Avenue and the Museum of Wisconsin Art. According to plans the bridge will have a concrete deck with prefabricated steel trusses that will be painted white.

On a side note, one of the crazy things contractors found while razing the old bridge was a boulder of shells. Bill, on the crane, said it was “tougher to break apart than concrete.” He showed the size of the boulder by circling his arms in front of himself. “Haven’t ever seen anything like that before,” he said.

Assembly Rep. Kremer teams with Wash. Co. Supervisor on legislation

Local Assembly Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) and District 8 Washington County Supervisor Ron Naab have successfully worked on legislation that’s moving to the governor’s desk.

The bill is designed to ban the sale of novelty lighters to minors. It was introduced by State Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) and approved unanimously by the Senate this week. The measure is headed to the Assembly, where a companion bill has already been passed out of committee. A passing vote in that chamber would send the bill to the governor for his signature.

The bill would make it illegal to sell novelty lighters to minors and prohibits the display for retail sale of these lighters in an area of a retail establishment that is accessible to the general public. Naab is president of the Badger Firefighters Association and a member of the Dodge County Firefighters Association. He was very active in lobbying for this bill in Madison.

“We appreciate Assemblyman Jesse Kremer is co-sponsor of this legislation [AB-36],” said Naab.

MOWA to host McGivern –Around the Corner preview party

Around the Corner with John McGivern – the West Bend episode will air Feb. 11 on PBS.

There will be a preview party at the Museum of Wisconsin Art on Feb. 9. “We’ll have two showings including one at 4:30 p.m. and another at 6:30 p.m.,” said MOWA executive director Laurie Winters.

The show is free and open to the public. This past week, Around the Corner featured a tour of our neighbor to the north, Fond du Lac. Washington County Insider reporter Judy Steffes was on scene during much of the taping of Around the Corner when McGivern and his crew were in West Bend.

On an insider note:  While shooting the show open on Veterans Avenue next to the Eisenbahn Trail, a boy on his bike accidentally cracked his crotch on his crossbar and crumpled to the ground. Shooting came to a stop. Everybody turned. John Gurda asked the boy if he was OK. He said he was.

The preview party is free and open to the public.

Crowded house for Russ Feingold visit

About 120 people turned out on a chilly Tuesday night to welcome U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold to West Bend. Feingold packed them in at the Washington County Democratic Party office on S. Main Street.

Dressed in a relaxed plaid shirt and dark sport coat, the 62-year-old politician from Janesville ramped up supporters with bullet-point topics like the minimum wage, the VA, social security and student loans.

“It’s terrible what’s happening with young people with $28,000 in student loans,” said Feingold. “This isn’t just about the student, it’s about the family and you realize what terrible affect it has across the generation.”

Feingold shouted brief statements like “I believe we should have $15 an hour” and “I want to enhance social security and make sure seniors have what they deserve.”  There was rousing applause, but no details given on how he would craft those plans.

Paul and Hope Nelson had front-row seats for the speech. “We’ve supported him before he was elected in his first term,” Paul Nelson said referencing the Feingold campaign of 1982. “I’ve never seen him make a mistake. He’s probably the most prepared candidate I’ve ever seen.”

After a 20-minute speech Feingold worked the crowd, shaking hands and posing for pictures.

Former West Bend alderwoman and newly retired executive director of the Washington County Senior Center, Deb Anderson said she was impressed.

“In a time when everything is so polarized, he is a voice of reason and looking out for regular people,” she said.

Feingold is a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2016; he’s challenging Republican incumbent Ron Johnson.

Updates & tidbits

-The Albrecht Free Clinic is planning an open house for donors and the public on Wednesday, Feb. 17 from 5-8 p.m. The Albrecht Free Clinic is now located at 908 West Washington St. in West Bend. Next month the clinic will also offer dental services.

– Last Saturday, Jan. 9 one of the original owners of German’s Little Red Inn died. M. LaRae German, nee Umbs was born Sept. 26, 1930. On June 28, 1952, she was united in marriage to John “Jack” German and for many years the couple owned and operated the Little Red Inn in St. Lawrence. LaRae was 85.

-Springtime in Paris is the theme for the 21st annual St. Frances Cabrini School Auction. The event is set for March 5 at the Washington County Fair Park Ziegler Building.

-Planet Mobile is growing as owner Ross Christifulli opens a second location at the Brookfield Place Shopping Strip, one block east of Lily Road and Capitol Drive. Christifulli opened his first cellphone repair shop in October 2014 at 1108 W. Washington St., West Bend.

– Help is available to families in Washington County that need assistance with winter heating bills. Contact Kay Lucas with the Washington County Human Services Department which oversees the Energy Assistance Program. The number is 262-335-4677.

-The nonprofit group Friends of the Slinger Library will host its seventh annual Casino Night on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 6-9 p.m. Advance tickets are $8 during and tickets at the door are $10. You must be 21 years of age to attend. Admission includes a bag of funny money for playing games including Black Jack, Craps, Roulette and Texas Hold ‘Em. Proceeds benefit the Slinger Community Library programs and materials.

– The ice skating rink at Regner Park is open for the season. Park & Rec director Craig Hoeppner said the rink will be open and the lights will be on weekdays from 5 p.m. -9 p.m.  The warming house will be open Thursday through Sunday.

-This week the West Bend School Board issued a proclamation recognizing the High School Drumline for its first-place finish at the 2015 Fresh Coast Classic at UW-Milwaukee. Band director Leah Duckert praised the drumline for its “amazing work ethic and commitment.”

-There’s a reunion Saturday, Jan. 23 as popular local rock band Jack Damage gets together for one more performance. The show is 8 p.m. at Stocky’s Fast Track Bar and Grill, 6389 Stockhausen Lane, in West Bend. Jack Damage features songs from some of classic rock’s biggest acts like Cream, SRV, Jimi Hendrix and ZZ Top. An open jam session will follow.

Years ago – – Downtown West Bend

Today’s history photo is courtesy historian Terry Becker who wrote, “As you may know by now, the Hausmann Building (Candyman) was built in 1894. The Washington County Pilot ~ Echo was one of the first occupants and eventually built their own building about a block south. The Pilot was very much like the of its day. They handed out free pre-addressed post cards and encouraged locals to share information – (early cub reporters). They also loved that location near the walkway/ footbridge to the railroad depot as they could closely monitor the coming and goings in and out of downtown. The Pilot was first published in 1892. The building was later occupied by the National Tea Store and West Bend Pharmacy.

On a trivia note – can you name the building to the north of the Hausmann Building/ Pilot ~ Echo?WB Pilot-Echo


0724, 16 January 2016


  1. Mark Maley

    The Theatre is dirty and the former management was confrontational and its Ben that way for years

    Marcus MN Falls or Saulkville are a much more pleasant way to watch a movie that WB only gets our business in a snowstorm or on a day we really want to see a movie in a narrow time slot

    The young man has a huge job ahead of him but he can take hope in that anything he does to improve the experience will be noticed

  2. Steve Austin

    I really like that theater from the standpoint that you can see first run movies there without the big crowds of the Marcus locations. I hope the new owner succeeds there so people don’t have to drive longer distances to the Marcus places.

    That said I agree with Mark. The place needs a thorough cleaning and a facelift. Some cheap ideas to really improve things.

    a) Massive cleaning of everything
    b) Put in some decent lighting and signage in the hallways
    c) Put in real live paper towel dispensers in the restrooms (somewhere I thought WI had a law requiring paper towels in restrooms partly to support our paper industry but might be imagining that)
    d) Buy a new popcorn machine

    Expensive idea? Make one theater a Lazy-Boy lounger theater like Marcus has with same quality furniture. I’d pay an extra $2 a ticket for that.

  3. Mark Maley

    Amen SA

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