World Snowmobiling Champ is 10-year-old girl from Big Cedar Lake
If you happened to be up in Eagle River for the World Championship Snowmobile Derby earlier this month you would have seen a little sprite of a girl in the winner’s circle. Ellie Zagel is 10 years old, a fifth grader at St. Peter’s School in Slinger and a fierce competitor on the track.
She repeated the trip to the winner’s circle last weekend during the Wausau 525 at the Badger State Games. Ellie is almost 5-feet tall, she likes math and describes herself as athletic, coordinated, flexible and caring. “I like to do gymnastics, dancing, singing and I like to play piano,” she said.
‘Dork Diaries’ by Rachel Renee Russell is currently atop her reading list.
Put Ellie on a snowmobile and this sweet little girl who talks in a sing-song fashion morphs into a tough-as-nails racer who hangs off the side of her sled as she digs into the turn and races into the straightaway at 40 miles an hour.
It’s become habit to take the checkered flag. “When I was 4 my dad put me on a snowmobile and I guess I liked it,” said Ellie. “I’ve been racing for seven years and I just kept racing and getting into bigger classes.”
The Wisconsin Kid Snowmobile Racing Association has categories like Amateur Kitty Cat and Beginner F1. Ellie started in the 120 amateur class and kept advancing; quickly.
Now she races in the Champion F1 Modified Class. “It’s extremely unique that she’s a girl and she’s winning,” said dad Troy Zagel. “You have to be fearless. They’re on glare ice and some lap times are 8 to 10 seconds. I’d be scared to death.”
Mom, Penny Zagel, is a fixture on the sideline; confidently cheering on her daughter, posting pictures of her daughter’s race victories and medals on social media.
The snowmobiling schedule is demanding for the Zagel family as most weekends find them traveling far north, to colder temperatures and more snow. Road trips this season have been to Ironwood, Michigan, Eagle River and Gleason, Wisconsin.
There’s a renewed comfort to the busy travel as at the end of last season, Ellie officially retired.
“I didn’t want to race anymore so I kinda gave up in the middle of the year at the World Championships,” she said. The last race, she celebrated with cake. “It had ‘Ellie has retired’ printed on the cake and I smashed it in my face,” she said.
Her dad sold the equipment, the gear, and the sleds. Ellie focused on other things, relaxed and then started thinking about her friends. “I just thought I’d lose a lot of friends because we wouldn’t go anymore,” she said.
The race was back on…. especially for dad who had to borrow a couple sleds to get his daughter back onto the track for the 2016 season. And with a whole new outlook, she’s stepping on the gas and bringing home the hardware.
Celebrating 11 years in business at Maricio’s in Barton
Folks on Barton Avenue have reason to celebrate as a little mom-and-pop business rings in its 11-year anniversary.
“I remember opening day,” said Mary Waters, owner of Maricio’s Pizza in Barton. “It was Monday lunch and it was me, Rick and Michael and we lost power.”
Waters remembers a black-and-white photo where she and a couple other staffers were looking in the oven like, ‘what’s going on?’ “Our customers were saying it was an omen and that now we were going to be successful because we got that out of the way on our first day,” she said.
It was 11 years ago when Waters and her husband Rick moved into the old Fast Eddie’s Tavern, 1726 Barton Ave. A huge remodel got underway. “We found beer cans in the walls,” laughed Mary. “We didn’t think we were going to have to gut it out but the fellas really loved coming to work because they got to demo everything.”
The stories of the past 11 years fly by as photo albums detail the change from 80s tavern to Italian eatery. The Water’s restaurant originally opened as Tomaso’s in Barton; it was a franchise out of Cedarburg that focused on pizza.
In September 2012 the Waters made a business decision and changed the name and the focus of the restaurant. “We changed the name to Maricio’s, which is a combination of our names, Mary and Rick,” she said.
The solid staff stayed the same, but the menu was kicked up a notch. “We added a couple new things including lowering the price of the thin-crust pizza,” she said. “We realized our entire menu had just taken off, between our sandwiches and calzones and everything Rick does with the soups and appetizers, it’s amazing.”
Mary has a bubbly enthusiasm that never needs winding up. She has a genuine, caring demeanor, and welcomes you in like she’s been waiting specifically to spoil you with good food.
“We’ve been so lucky to have Dave come in every single day,” said Mary, teasing a regular customer at the counter. “If we don’t see him we hunt him down.”
The atmosphere at Maricio’s is a bit like the 1980s TV show ‘Cheers,’ where ‘everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.’
“We do have a lot of great customers that are family; diehards,” she said. “There are 10 to 15 couples that come in weekly and about five that come in each day; we really are very lucky.”
Mary said she gets “goosepimply” when she talks about her customers and she ratchets her enthusiasm up a notch when she hears praise about how much people love their food.
“Just last night alone I had two fellas come in for takeout and they were trying our pizza for the first time,” she said. “The one guy called back and he was like ‘Oh my GOSH – I’ll be back!’
“I just love that; that’s what makes it for me.”
Over the years Maricio’s and the Waters have established themselves as strong community servants paying back to the community with support for Habitat for Humanity, Holy Angels, Little League teams, and the West Bend High Schools.
Maricio’s is prepping for two more major events as the Super Bowl is around the corner and Valentine’s Day. “We do a heart-shaped pizza for Valentine’s and we have special appetizers as well,” she said.
Maricio’s is open Tuesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – close.
Holy Angels will be getting a new pastor in June
Rev. Gerald Brittain made clear he did not say the word, ‘retirement.’ “What I said was there would be a new pastor for the parish and that will happen June 21,” he said. “I intend to continue to do something because if I sat and did nothing I’d go crazy.”
During Mass last Sunday Rev. Brittain shared the news with parishioners. He has been at the parish on Eighth Avenue since taking over for Rev. Jerome Rinzel who served from 1983 – 1995.
Others who have served with Rev. Brittain include Rev. Jerry Repenshek and Rev. Rick Wendell. “I’ve been here 21 years,” said Brittain. “The assignment I had was for 12 years but since I played the system I got an extra nine.”
Brittain was notified by the Archdiocese that his assignment would be ending and a new pastor would replace him. “I can’t be appointed a permanent pastor or associate because I’m beyond the age,” said Brittain.
A youthful 79, he said he can be appointed a temporary associate or retire. Using a sports analogy, Brittain said he could become a free agent. “That’s not really clear at this point but I know I’m still here for five months and I intend to enjoy the five months.”
Retirement age in the Archdioceses is 68. At 75 a priest can’t be assigned because the diocese can’t give a term of office. “I asked each year for a temporary assignment and that was given the last nine years,” Brittain said.
Reflecting on his career at Holy Angels, Rev. Brittain said he was focused on pastoral work. “Developing a staff and working with people to develop relationships,” he said.
As far as the school is concerned, Rev. Brittain said it is on solid footing despite some of the changes going on in the community. “We have no debt,” he said. “We right-sized the school and it’s stable now. The incoming pastor, I’m sure will be aware of what’s going on and he will continue to do the work of the parish.”
Members of the parish council have solid praise for Rev. Brittain. “The stability he’s provided for both the church and the school has been very good,” said Brian Glaszcz, a member of the parish council. “He’s done a good job positioning Holy Angels and we’re in a good place going forward.”
John Butschlick is a trustee with the parish. “Rev. Jerry has the option to retire but he said he hasn’t made a decision yet,” said Butschlick. “On June 21, that will be his last day according to the Archdiocese.” Rev. Brittain has been much loved at Holy Angels. He has an easy-going demeanor and he’s kept parishioners up to speed with his popular weekly column in the church bulletin, ‘From the Desk of Father Jerry.’ The updates have a very homey feel as Rev. Brittain uses a conversational style to write about current notices, reflection and sometimes there’s a tidbit on basketball.
Rev. Brittain can regularly be found shooting hoops in the school gym or lacing up his sneakers around noon at the Kettle Moraine YMCA.
Negotiations will begin and next month, there will be a hearing with staff and the parish council and the first week in May announcements of various appointments will be released.
River Bend Senior Village building has been sold
The River Bend Senior Apartments in West Bend have been sold. A note in the lobby of the complex, 151 Wisconsin St., reads: “Please be advised that effective Dec. 31, 2015 the owners of the property you occupy have hired and retained Premier Real Estate Management, LLC to provide property management services for the building. Effective immediately the new operators and managers of the building are Premier Real Estate Management, LLC 19105 W. Capitol Drive, Suite 200 Brookfield, Wis. 53045. Sincerely Casey C. Duffey, CPM President”
The deed of sale shows West Bend Senior Housing, LLC sold the property to Premier West Bend Senior, LLC. The sale price was $2,688,000. The assessed value was $2,399,900. The name of the person on the deed connected with Premier Real Estate Management is Calvin Akin.
On a history note: The River Bend Senior Village is located in the old Enger-Kress building. It dates to 1911 and was once a leather factory.
In-person absentee voting starts Monday, Feb. 1
Poll workers in the town of Jackson, Village of Slinger and across the rest of Washington County received primers this week as they prep for the Feb. 16 spring primary election. At City Hall in West Bend clerk Amy Reuteman said people were coming to the counter to register to vote as in-person absentee voting kicks off Monday, Feb. 1.
There’s a school board race on the ballot in West Bend. Slinger has a pair of referendum questions on the Feb. 16 ballot and there’s a state Supreme Court primary. One other item of note is anyone who wants to vote this spring must have photo identification with them. The law was official last year, but wasn’t in place for the spring 2015 elections because of the short time between when the law passed and Election Day.
According to the Government Accountability Board there is NO separate “Voter ID” card. Anyone with a valid Wisconsin driver license or Wisconsin state ID card, or any of the documents listed below already has the photo ID they need for voting purposes. More information is at gab.wi.gov. In-person absentee voting ends Friday, Feb. 12 at 5 p.m.
New study at Spaulding Clinical
Spaulding Clinical is conducting a study where volunteers can earn up to $7,000. The Minion study is looking for healthy male and female volunteers between the ages of 18 and 45, who weigh at least 110 pounds and no more than 220 pounds and have a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18 and 28 to participate in a research study consisting of 2 or 3 periods of in-house stay, each lasting 14 days/13 nights at our state-of-the-art facility in West Bend, as well as up to 6 outpatient visits. More information is at 800.597.4507 or spauldingclinical.com
Renovations ahead for grandstand at Carl M. Kuss Field at Regner
Fundraising is underway to repair and renovate Carl M. Kuss Field at Regner Park. The stands are originally from the old Washington County Fairgrounds – currently the location of Fair Park School. In 1937 the grandstand was moved to City Park, now Regner Park. Craig Larsen is on the board of the West Bend Baseball Association which is trying to raise more than $2 million for the project.
Early plans call for extending the bleachers in both directions. To the north, the tennis courts at Regner Park would have to be moved. On the south side, the bleachers would extend into the road on Silverbrook Drive. Larsen said the new facility would have better seating, be ADA equipped, and have a high-end press box. The city still has to sign off on the project.
New look for Grasshopper Restaurant
If you haven’t been to The Grasshopper lately you’ve missed the latest inspiration by owner Stefanie Ulma. “I have booths,” Ulma said with classic ‘Stefanie’ excitement. “It’s so cozy and gives people a little privacy.”
The high-backed booths are made of blonde wood and recycled church pews for seating. The booths are blocked off with a decorative top rail that offers a bit of a canopy affect. The high-top tables that used to be along the walls in the ‘library’ section of the restaurant have been moved to the bar area. The Grasshopper is located at 241 N. Main Street in downtown West Bend. Ulma will celebrate five years in business in April. She opened her corner restaurant in 2010 combining the old St. Somewhere Café and Ruth Anne’s Gourmet Market at 241 and 243 N. Main St.
Over the years The Grasshopper has morphed through interior and menu changes (remember the homemade gelato?) while maintaining its classy Audrey Hepburn-Frank Sinatra atmosphere. This summer watch for Ulma to open a downtown grocery store that will carry necessities along with her signature sandwiches, dressings, and bakery. “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.” More information at eatatgrasshopper.com
Property tax payment update
Neighbors in West Bend who pay their property taxes in installments have until Monday, Feb. 1 to make the first installment, that’s because the payments due date falls on Sunday, Jan. 31. There will be no interest or penalty. The second and final installment for 2016 is due July 31, which is also a Sunday. That payment can be made Aug. 1 with no penalty or interest. Remember the second payment this year will be at the Washington County Treasurer.
KML to accept School Choice applications Monday by reporter Tyler Kemnitz
Starting Feb. 1, Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School will begin accepting School Choice applications for the 2016-2017 school year. The Wisconsin Parental Choice Program allows families to receive a voucher from the state in order to pay for their child’s high school education.
The qualifications of this program are based on financial need and residency in Wisconsin. Jamie Luehring, principal at KML, explained the reasoning behind the school becoming involved in the program. “We believe every child and family who desires a strong Christian education should be able to choose KML as their school,” he said. “Their income should not disqualify them from having that chance.”
Updates & tidbits
– There is a Washington County Heroin Task Force Community Forum on Sunday, Jan. 31 at Still Waters Church in Jackson at 6 p.m. Speakers include the Washington County Sheriff Drug Force, AODA counselors and a recovering drug addict.
– Sunday kicks off Catholic Schools Week. Holy Angels will host an open house, Pancake Breakfast and 2016-17 Registration on Sunday, Jan. 31.
– Holy Angels School in West Bend will be holding its Kindergarten RoundUp on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 10:45 a.m., in the Walnut Room of the school. Holy Angels offer a 3-year-old, 4-year-old, and 5-year-old program.
-Construction is underway for the new gazebo at Old Settlers Park in West Bend. Contractors are taking advantage of the nice weather and working to complete the structure before spring.
-On Feb. 6 the Kathy Hospice celebrates its 10th Anniversary in West Bend. The hospice was built in honor of Ron Komas’s wife Kathy who passed away in 2002 of breast cancer. Komas wrote, “The hospice has served over 2,000 people in 10 years and provided peace and comfort to the family and friends.”
– An interior remodel is ahead this summer for the West Bend Walmart on Paradise. Also, Friday, Jan. 29 was the last day for Regal Nails Salon & Spa as the franchise left Walmart.
– Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) and local superintendents will meet at Badger Middle School at 11 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 1 to address flexibility in the classroom. One topic will include discussion of hours of pupil instruction in Wisconsin schools.
-There is a Community Blood Drive, Feb. 10 from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. at City Hall in West Bend.
-This week the United Way of Washington County celebrated $1,400,747 raised during this year’s fundraising campaign chaired by Tom and Pat Strachota. During the banquet James Butzlaff, 53, walked away the winner of a new Toyota Corolla, courtesy Legendary Whitetails and the Russ Darrow Group.
-The former director on the board of The Threshold, Douglas A. Wills, died this week. He was 81. A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3 at St. Frances Cabrini.
-Friends of the Slinger Library will host its seventh annual Casino Night on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 6 p.m.- 9 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $8. Tickets at the door are $10 per person. You must be 21 years of age to attend. Admission includes a bag of funny money for playing games. Proceeds benefit the Slinger Community Library programs and materials.
-Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County will host an open house Feb. 18 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at 2374A W. Washington St. The event will include an unveiling of “heartwork” artwork which is a display of the community’s connection to Interfaith.
County Annex II used to be insane asylum
As word came down last week regarding plans to raze the County Annex II, there’s been some conversation about the history of that building at 515 E. Washington St. in West Bend. The Annex II is part of the county campus and years ago it was “an asylum for the chronic insane.” According to the Story of Washington County by Carl Quickert the “asylum” was built in 1898 near the eastern city limits of West Bend.
“Its wings received two additions in 1911, the material of the entire building being brick and stone. A large farm is being worked in connection with the institution. The county farm originally was located in the northern part of the town of Jackson, and on it was the Poor Home. In 1912 this county property was sold and a new Home erected on the Asylum grounds.”
West Bend historian Terry Becker said the original Poor House was “established in 1844 at the Highway NN location which was sold and operations were consolidated in West Bend in 1912.”
Today’s history photo is courtesy Joan Lochen. The picture is Poor House director Peter Lochen and his wife (center) Susan Schwinn. The woman in the last row with the black tie has been identified as Bernadine Berend Steilen.