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0934, 30 Apr 16

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Liz Kryst tabbed as speaker at WB Memorial Day ceremony

West Bend’s Memorial Day ceremony will have a huge impact on neighbors in the community as Elizabeth (Liz) Kryst has stepped forward as the guest speaker.

Liz is the mother of Kevin Kryst, a 1997 West Bend West High School graduate who was a Captain in the Marines when he was killed in Iraq on Dec. 18, 2006.

“I’ve done speeches before at the Veterans Administration,” Liz said. “I thought certainly I’ll bring a different perspective.”

Sitting at her kitchen table at the family home on Seventh Avenue, Liz did not mince words when she said the focus of her presentation will be on “Memorial Day for a parent.”

“It sucks,” she said. “If he had died or been hit by a bus, any other place other than the military it would have drifted off into the sunset, but every year I have this reminder.”

A gold star banner hangs in the front window of the Kryst home. Photos of the family’s six children are scattered throughout the first floor.

Liz, 64, is blunt in her conversation. “It’s almost been 10 years and I still can’t listen to Taps,” she said.

“After a couple years it got too hard to be sad. You just have to turn everything around and you just have to keep moving forward because I’ve seen other people fall back and dig deep holes.”

Living in West Bend since 1993, Kevin Kryst was first deployed to Iraq in 2004.

Just a couple weeks into his second deployment as a Marine helicopter pilot was when Kevin Kryst died from injuries due to being hit by a fragment of a mortar.

“He died while protecting his Marines,” said Liz. “Kevin was totally dedicated to the Marines.”

A crucifix hangs on the wall behind Liz. She said she leaned heavy into her faith while dealing with the death of her oldest son and well after.

“If I didn’t have the kind of faith I have I probably wouldn’t have gotten this far,” she said. “Some people cope differently but the ones that cope the best are the ones with faith.”

Captain Kryst was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery in July 2007.

The U.S. flag, presented to the family, rests on a shelf behind a glass case in a cabinet in the living room.

Three of six of the Kryst children are or were Marines. ‘That’s a very unique perspective from every point of view,” said Liz. “I don’t expect people to really understand but I want to get across that people should not just remember those who have died but also have respect for the families left behind to pick up the pieces.”

An American Gold Star mother, Liz will make her presentation on Memorial Day dressed in a white uniform.

Part of her speech, she said, will include history on the organization that was started after World War I by a woman in Washington who was grieving the loss of her son.

There are 27 women in Wisconsin that are officially American Gold Star mothers including Virginia ‘Belle’ Wichlacz of West Bend; she’s the stepmother of Marine Lance Cpl. Travis Wichlacz, 22, who was killed in action Feb. 5, 2005 while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Liz Kryst said as a rule, she will not ride in the Memorial Day parade.

W.B. Memorial Day details

The Memorial Day parade in West Bend will step off at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, May 30 and head north from South Main Street and Oak Street to Hickory Street and back down Sixth Avenue to Poplar Street. A ceremony will follow in the old Courthouse Square. That program begins at 11 a.m. and will feature World War II veteran Allan Kieckhafer as master of ceremonies. Other tributes will include a tribute to the American flag, Preamble of the Constitution, Gettysburg Address, a reading of the poem “In Flanders Field” and performances by the West Bend High School Band and the River City Irregulars. In case of inclement weather the ceremony will move into the second floor chambers at the Old County Courthouse.

Mobil station on E. Washington St. sold

The Mobil station, 1610 E. Washington Street in West Bend, has been sold. Owners Curtis Yahr and his son Steven have sold the property to Bob Yahr. “Steve bought another gas station on Highway 83 in Hartland,” said his brother Bob. “My dad and I bought the one on E. Washington Street and Schoenhaar Drive.” The Yahr’s closed on the property April 22, 2016 for $1.2 million.

Mark Piotrowicz to be appointed acting Director of Development

The city of West Bend is appointing Assistant Director of Development Mark Piotrowicz as acting Director of Development. A vote to approve will be at Monday’s council meeting.

The appointment comes as the city regroups following the resignation of former city administrator T.J. Justice who is facing felony charges after allegedly “sending provocative text messages to a teenage girl for nearly a year — including offering her money for sex” according to a criminal complaint.

Piotrowicz is no stranger to the interim position. He held it from 2011 – 2012 prior to Justice being hired. West Bend assistant city administrator Amy Reuteman has already been tabbed as the new interim city administrator.

Rezoning property at Highway 33 and Valley Dr.

There’s going to be a public hearing at Tuesday’s West Bend Plan Commission meeting involving a request to rezone approximately 11.2 acres located west and east of Valley Avenue on the south side of W. Washington St. The property is currently zoned B-3 Neighborhood Business, B-6 Office Park, RM-4 Multi-Family Residential, and temporary Districts to B-4 General Business & Warehousing District. The rezoning request is being made by property owner Steve Kearns and Audrey Bohn.

There’s also going to be a request for a site plan to build a new 3,840-square-foot commercial multi-tenant building on Wildwood Road, just south of Stein’s Garden & Home. State Farm agent Mike Sacotte is the one behind the project and there’s going to be a site plan for the placement of an art sculpture near the Police Department entrance, 350 Vine Street.

Two delegates from Washington Co. headed to RNC

Washington County Republican Party chairman Jim Geldreich and Kathy Kiernan were recently elected as delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.  There are only 24 district delegates from Wisconsin and Washington County has two of them.  The other 18 at-large delegates were just chosen by the governor and state Senator Duey Stroebel got one of those spots, for a total of 42 delegates.

“By rule of the state constitution, we have to vote for Cruz unless he unbinds us, or gets less than a third of the total delegate vote on any subsequent ballots,” said Geldreich. “If that happens, we are technically free to vote for whoever we want.”  Geldreich and Kiernan will leave July 16; the convention is July 18-21. This is Geldreich’s second national convention; he was at the 2012 as an alternate.

St. Mary’s athletic items for sale

St. Mary’s Athletics is selling all remaining basketball, volleyball and cheerleading uniforms on Saturday April 30 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s gym, 406 Jefferson St., West Bend. Basketball and volleyball jerseys are $5, gym shorts are $2, and full cheerleading uniforms are $15.  All proceeds will go to a charity, organization or group determined by the St. Mary’s Athletic board. No equipment or trophies will be sold.

Rep. Bob Gannon circulating papers

Local Assembly Rep. Bob Gannon (R-Slinger) is circulating election papers for the Nov. 8, 2016 General Election. Gannon represents District 58. He was first elected to the Assembly in 2014. Gannon has until June 1, 2016 to collect 200 signatures. Gannon defeated Tiffany Koehler and Sandy Voss in the Republican primary in 2014. He was uncontested in the last General Election.

Coffeeville Co. prepping to open in Jackson

After 20 months of dedication and hard work to preserve Jackson’s history, Coffeeville Company is nearing completion at N168W20101 Main Street. It’s a coffee house with bakery and all the goodness you might expect to find in a log cabin turned homey hangout.

The osprey hath returneth

It looks like the mighty osprey will have the best seat in the house this season for the unveiling of the new Silver Lining Amphitheater at the Washington County Fair. A heap of sticks in the form of a nest can be seen atop the U.S. Cellular tower overlooking the Fair Park.

Osprey have been making a nest there since 2011.  A neighbor called in an eagle sighting about a week ago. There was a bald eagle spotted in March on the side of Highway 45 just a stone’s throw from the Eisenbahn State Trail about 2 miles north of County Highway D.

Linda Olson retires after 35 years with Wash. Co. Aging

After working 35 years in Washington County, Aging and Disability Resource Director Linda Olson is retiring. “My first title with the county was Senior Citizens Program Director,” said Olson. “We had four people in our office including two clerical, a benefits specialist, and the elderly nutrition director and myself.”  Over the years that Office on Aging has grown to 22 people.

Olson remembers county board members Reuben Schmahl and Ken Mueller. “I learned a lot from them as well as supervisor George Frank who was the chairman of the Aging Committee,” she said.

Olson was recognized during this week’s 2016 Senior Conference at the Washington County Fair Park. “When we first started we had 12 vendors and held it at Cedar Ridge,” said Olson. “Today we had 81 vendors and about 340 people in attendance. Olson’s last day will be June 8. She said she’s going to “enjoy the summer” in retirement and then figure out what to do.

Updates & tidbits

There’s a free Shred Fest today, April 30, from 9 a.m. – noon at Thrivent Financial, 810 E. Paradise Drive in West Bend. Items are being collected for Support the Troops Wisconsin.

-Get bargain tickets for The Well Pennies concert Friday, May 6 at the West Bend Silver Lining Arts Center. Mention this post and get two adult tickets or four student tickets for $15.

The West Bend Water Utility will be performing bi-annual city-wide flushing of the water system the week of May 1 – May 6. If neighbors experience discolored water, flush the cold water line for about 10 minutes.

-Historic Barton Business Association is hosting a Brat Fry at The Sign Shop on May 7. Live music will be provided by Mike Sipin and the gang.

– The West Bend High School’s Synchronized Swim Team’s annual show “Dancing with the Dolphins” is Saturday April 30 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

– The West Bend Judo Club will host its 44th annual tournament Saturday, May 7 at UW-Washington County. Judo instructor, Jon Sanfilippo will make a special presentation to Lynn Roethke, two-time Olympian and 1988 Silver medalist. Roethke was recently promoted to 8th degree Black Belt by USA Judo. At 55 years old, she will be the youngest Judoka promoted to that rank and also becomes the highest woman Judoka currently alive in the U.S. The West Bend Judo Club present a set of 3 real Samurai Swords to show a direct connection of Judo to its martial warrior roots of Japan.

– During Monday’s West Bend Common Council meeting watch for the appointment of Ald. Williquette, Ald. Chris Jenkins and a citizen to the Long Range Transportation Planning Committee in addition to existing members Ald. Hutchins and Ald. Kasten.

-Approve the Creation of the Human Resources Director Screening Committee and Appointment of Members.

– Open Book in West Bend at the city Assessor’s Office runs through May 11. It is the informal review process for assessment values.

– Senator Duey Stroebel is holding 10 town hall stops around the district: Monday, May 2 at 6 p.m. – Slinger Community Library and 7:30 p.m. at Hartford City Hall. Monday, May 16 at 5:30 p.m. at Campbellsport Public Library and 7:30 p.m. at West Bend Community Memorial Library

Janalee Bach has opened a new business, Wood N’ Art, at 111 N. Sixth Street in West Bend above Slesar Glass. Wood N’ Art is an instructor-led art studio that helps create custom-wood signs. An open house is being held April 30.

Honor Flight vet Kenneth Steiner: I Have No Regrets           Article courtesy Hope Sanders

Eighty-year-old Kenneth Steiner served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, married, raised a family, retired at age 75 and says he has ‘no regrets.’ On May 14 he will be on a plane to Washington D.C. as an Honor Flight recipient with his oldest daughter, Kimberly, by his side.

Steiner enlisted in the Air Force at age 17 because “I knew I’d have to sign up for the draft for the Army and being given an enemy rifle and throw me in the freezing cold didn’t sound like a good idea to me, so I thought I’d learn something in the technical skills in the Air Force.” Steiner felt the Air Force “had more options.”

A 17-year-old cousin was also influential in Steiner’s enlistment having joined the Air Force just over a month prior to Steiner. The cousin wrote to Steiner and told him the Air Force “wasn’t too bad” and encouraged Steiner to consider it.

Steiner served in the U.S. Air Force Military Air Transport (MAT) from 1953 to 1957; he was based out of Dover, Delaware and assigned Commissioning Chief then Crew Chief for the last year.

Steiner was also a part of the flight crew that “flew for the UN, England, Canada” because at that time we had a “C124-B which was the only large cargo plan that was available. We could carry like 200 people plus all their machine guns and everything. Or we could take a fire engine and drive it right in front and load it up. We could carry like 48 tons.”

Steiner has seen his share of the world having flown to “Greenland twice, then Brazil, every state in the Union, Canada, Europe, France, England, Azores, North Africa, India, Ascension Islands, Trinidad. So basically, everything but the Pacific.”

“Everybody needed our aircraft, “said Steiner. “Because I was single and I really didn’t care where I went most of the time, you know, some of the missions I didn’t know where I was going. They’d give you a passport when you got on board your plane because you couldn’t call home.”

“It was quite an adventure for a 17-year-old kid,” Steiner concluded.

Steiner attained the rank of Staff Sergeant one year before he ended his term of service in 1957.

Asked if there was any specific memory he would like to share, Steiner offered, “I got to see the Taj Mahal before it was opened up to the public. It was rather outstanding. I saw a lot of things people will never see… I was in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the Sudan. You can’t even go there anymore. We were constantly on the move.”

“I didn’t think much about it [time in service] until this opportunity [Honor Flight] came up; then the memories started flowing back, “said Steiner. “For my part, it was all positive.”

Steiner encourages young men to talk to local recruiters to “find out what the possibilities are because “I had no regrets” citing two cousins that made a career out of their military service, one who was a head pilot for the Thunderbirds.

Steiner met his wife just after he got out of the Air Force in the fall of 1957; together they raised a family of two daughters and one son. The opportunity to participate in the Honor Flight program “brings back memories,” said Steiner, “It’s bringing everything back to me. You know, you just kind of go through that military service and go on with your life.”IMG_6717


0934, 30 April 2016


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