Future of Fleet Farm in West Bend
There’s been some strong conversation about a new Fleet Farm being built in West Bend at Highway 33 and County Highway Z.
There was a meeting recently with KKR, the new owners of Mills Fleet Farm, and managers in the organization and apparently the enthusiasm for a new Fleet in West Bend got “misconstrued” with what’s really going on according to Mike Sidders, marketing director for Fleet Farm out of Appleton.
“I’ve got nothing on my end,” he said. “I’m not aware that’s even being contemplated.”
Word about a new Fleet Farm dates to 2004 when Fleet Farm announced it 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. Over the next 11 years, nothing was built.
In January 2016, the Mills family sold its business to New York-based investment firm KKR.
In the first quarter of the year, KKR met with store managers. This is the message passed along, “We anticipate investing significantly in the business adding infrastructure, stores and local jobs,” said Nate Taylor with the retail portion of KKR.
Local employees found the news encouraging and also thought it meant a new Fleet Farm in West Bend. Sidders said the desired growth for the organization may not mean exactly what West Bend was hoping for.
“For us to move more quickly as an organization that may have been misconstrued by some employees that long-rumored activities may be coming to fruition but in no way shape or form has any of that been discussed or decided to my knowledge,” Sidders said.
Banner Art Walk is Saturday
Don’t miss the sneak peek event of the 2016 Banner ArtWalk and for the first time take a piece of the ArtWalk home with you. The event is Saturday/today at the Museum of Wisconsin Art from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. Free admission to the event and galleries, cash bar, appetizers, music by the Kal Bergendahl project and silent auction of previous ArtWalk Banners.
New priest named for Holy Angels
A new priest at Holy Angels will be taking over in July as Rev. Pat Heppe will arrive to take over for Rev. Gerald Brittain. Rev. Pat comes from a farm south of Slinger and has been helping out on weekends at St. Frances Cabrini for several years. According to Brittain, “His day job is Vicar for Clergy where he supervises primarily the priests of the Archdiocese in the Archbishop’s name.
Prior to his current appointment Rev. Pat was in Fond du Lac for around 20 years and was very involved in working together with the parishes, building the new church on the east side of town, and forming the parishes into one. Rev. Pat remembers coming to Holy Angels as a little boy and marveling at the beauty of the church. He will remain a Vicar until June 30.
Rev. Gerald Brittain has been at Holy Angels for 21 years. His initial assignment was for 12 years but he said he “played the system and got an extra nine.” Rev. Brittain has been at the parish on Eighth Avenue since taking over for Rev. Jerome Rinzel who served from 1983 – 1995. Brittain was notified by the Archdiocese that his assignment would be ending and a new pastor would replace him. A youthful 79, Brittain said he can be appointed a temporary associate or retire.
WBHS freshman to be Memorial Day speakers
Finishing touches are being put on the program for West Bend’s upcoming Memorial Day Parade. The student speakers this year are all freshmen forensic students from West Bend East High School. The Preamble will be presented by Emily Frederick, the Gettysburg Address will be read by Justin Scherzer and the poem In Flanders Field will be read by Abby Godejohn.
The Memorial Day Parade steps off from S. Main and Oak Street at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, May 30. The parade will head north on Main Street, west on Hickory Street, south on Sixth Avenue and wrap up at Poplar Street. A Memorial Day program will be held in the old Courthouse Square beginning at 11 a.m. Liz Kryst of West Bend, mother of Captain Kevin Kryst, will be the guest speaker.
Lots for Tots is closing
Lots for Tots Children’s Consignment Shop is closing at the end of June. The store, owned by Kerin Schramm Gitzlaff and Lisa Rosbeck has been in business 16 years. “It’s hard; brick-and-mortar small businesses just don’t have it easy with shopping online and the buy/sell/trade sites,” said Schramm Gitzlaff.
Lots for Tots started in 2001 in Jackson. In 2005 it moved to 867 S. Main St. in West Bend and in 2011 it moved across the street to its current home at 822 S. Main St. “We are just tired and sad because this was a hard decision,” said Schramm Gitzlaff. “We need to look forward to our next chapters in life and it’s time to move on.”
Germantown Vet on today’s Honor Flight Submitted by Lauren Sorensen
Norbert Riemer was 20 years old when he was plucked from his life as a plumber and drafted into the U.S. Army to fight in the Korean Conflict in 1952. Now, 64 years later, Riemer will be traveling today with 16 other Washington County veterans of foreign wars on the Honor Flight.
Riemer will be making the trip to Washington D.C. with his oldest daughter, who convinced him to participate in the experience.
Riemer cited one simple reason for his reservations, “I do not look for any recognition, because heck I was one of what, millions? To me it never made any difference,” Riemer said. Riemer remembered his fallen friends, some that he met in the army and others he remembers as “neighborhood kids.” “I feel like I’m out without a scratch, that’s the way it is,” Riemer said.
Despite Riemer’s humble self-image, the veteran is still eagerly anticipating the journey. “I’ll tell you what, I am very excited, that I am,” Riemer said. He discussed his shock that he was selected for the Honor Flight. “I sort of can’t wait now,” Riemer said.
Riemer is the most eager to see the Korean memorial on the journey. “They have one in Plover, it’s a peninsula going out where you can walk out… I think they have six or seven statues made of bronze. It was a really sunny day and the wife and I were walking down there and there was a slight breeze. I could have sworn the statues were walking, they looked lifelike. I’ve just seen pictures of what they have in Washington, but it’s similar to that. If it’s half as good as what I’ve seen, I’d be more than happy,” Riemer said. Riemer is also looking forward to the statue of raising the flag on Iwo Jima.
“I do not remember much about that place,” Riemer said thinking about Korea. He does remember his initial impression upon entering Korea. “It stunk,” he said. The routine of waking up, doing his job, and going to bed day after day, however, is ingrained in his memory. “You can’t call it boring but you can’t call it exciting either,” Riemer said. He expected to be immediately placed in a combat zone. Although an infantry man, once in country Riemer was assigned to guard the headquarters that housed intelligence sections and generals. He remained about two miles away from the frontline.
Being oversees, Riemer remembers one main hardship. “I just missed my family, that’s all,” Riemer said. He spent a total of 16 months away from his family. Riemer left the army as a Private First Class.
Coming home, “it was a good feeling, a very good feeling,” he said. “I had my wife now, she was my girlfriend, I had my mother, and I had my sister, and I just wanted to come home to them,” Riemer said. He reminisced on never passing by an ice cream parlor or burger restaurant upon returning and was grateful to be rid of the army rations that prompted an undesired weight-loss.
Riemer never considered enlisting before he was drafted. “I really did not like the Army to be honest with you, you really did not have time to think for yourself… I really like my freedom,” Riemer said.
Riemer believes that serving changed him. “I think it made me a better person, I personally believe everyone should go into the service when they get out of high school,” he said. “You have to be a different kind of person to make a life out of it, but I don’t think a draft would hurt anybody, it will make a better person out of them,” Riemer said.
Sunrise Rotary raffle winners
A crowded house at the West Bend Mutual Prairie Center on Thursday evening as the West Bend Sunrise Rotary held its annual fundraiser. This year the beneficiary, The Threshold Inc. received $10,000. The night included a silent auction, bakery auction, and a constant stream of raffle winners. The grand prize of $10,000 was won by a group of six couples including Mike and Mary Jo Otten, Paul and Barb Wilke, Mike and Tracy Nowak, Dan and Kristi Lawrence, Mike and Kay Chevalier and Adam and Michelle Schensema.
Updates & tidbits
– The Washington County Historical Society will unveil a new name and logo on Tuesday, May 24 at 4 p.m. at the Old Courthouse Museum.
– West Bend School District students and staff will participate in Chalk the Walk on Saturday, May 21 from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. creating chalk drawings on the sidewalk between Hobby Lobby and Kohl’s parking lots.
– Pepper Burruss, trainer with the Green Bay Packers, is coming to The Columbian Banquet Hall on Tuesday, May 17 at 5:15 p.m. on behalf of an evening of entertainment put on by The Threshold Inc. For tickets call 338-1188.
– Ashley Reichert from the Town of Wayne has declared her candidacy for Washington County Clerk. “Taxpayers of Washington County deserve a County Clerk worthy of following in the footsteps of our current Clerk, Brenda Jaszewski,” said Reichert. “I’m guided by my faith and the conservative principles I was raised on, the same values and strong moral compass that I believe reflect our beautiful county.” Reichert and her husband of 5 years, live in West Bend with their three children.
-There will be a dedication of the “Soaring Eagle” sculpture Monday, May 16, at 5 p.m. outside the West Bend Police Department. The project was a collaboration between the WBPD, West Bend Friends of Sculpture, City of West Bend and sculptor Jeremy Wolf.
– Bike Friendly West Bend is hosting Bike to Work Day from 6 a.m. – 8 a.m. on May 20 at the train depot on the Eisenbahn State Trail. There will be free coffee and snacks, cycling-related raffle, fix-a-flat clinic and tech support to all participants.
A reunion with a marimba
There was a unique reunion Wednesday afternoon at the West Bend High Schools as Joanne Shirkey, a 1955 graduate, was reintroduced to her marimba from 61 years ago. “I was a sophomore and in percussion,” said Shirkey about her band experience. “I specifically played timpani, but I also played bells and piano.”
According to Shirkey it was 1951 or 1952 when the West Bend High School purchased a marimba for $1,000.
Recently during a concert at the high schools, Shirkey recognized more than her grandson on stage. “I said, ‘That’s my marimba!’”
Band director Leah Duckert organized the reunion. “My student’s father sent me an email asking if it would be OK if she comes to say hi and play her old friend again,” said Duckert. “My big thing is I love band family. I work really hard to say once you’re band family you’re always band family so to have band family from 60 years ago come back to us that’s phenomenal.”
Duckert wheeled the marimba into the band room and drew back the protective cover.
“You can hear the sound is good, except on the end the low C is cracked,” she said. “Some of the other bars are in rough shape and that’s just basic wear and tear.”
Shirkey arrived and quickly hugged her way through salutations. “There’s my baby,” she said walking towards the instrument she easily identified.
“There’s nothing else like this; they don’t make them like this anymore,” Shirkey said.
She tapped her fingers on the key, complimented the sturdy legs and traced her hand down the heavy wood bars.
Shirkey brought her own mallets and dove into her signature song, Stars and Stripes Forever.
“I pretty much have it memorized,” Shirkey said. “But I like having the music in front of me.”
Shirkey danced her way through the piece, the mallets knocking out a patriotic melody.
“I’m so glad you came home again,” praised Duckert after the song.
Shirkey, a former medical technologist, reminisced about her music memories.
“It was 1951 and there was a man from West Bend who played the marimba and he knew the band director,” she says. “They got together and donated some money and got it at a good cost and fortunately they let me play it.”
Shirkey remembers her high school band teacher as “a big Jewish man” who was “a real stinker.”
“One time I was playing and he stopped in the middle of our practice and told me, ‘You sound like a bag of potatoes,’” she said. “I guess I sounded lumpy, but he pushed me and that’s a good thing.”
As far as practice was concerned, Shirkey said she didn’t do much at home. “But instead of taking study hall I always went up to the band room and practiced,” she said.
Growing up on the corner of Tenth Avenue and Chestnut Street, Shirkey’s father worked at the West Bend Company and her mom owned Lorraine’s Beauty Shop on Elm Street, just west of the Post Office.
“She had a six-chair beauty shop,” said Shirkey. “She actually started in the Ziegler building but then rented from Dr. Franko and her shop was downstairs from his office.”
In 1955 another opportunity came calling. “When I was a senior in high school there was a man who came to our door to talk to me and my mother about having me tour the country with an all-girl marimba band,” said Shirkey.
“There was no way I was going to do that plus I was a homebody – but I often wonder what would have happened if I would have done that. I did go into medicine but I’ve always stayed with music.”
After high school Shirkey got a full scholarship to Mount Mary. “My mom had to pay my room and board and it was $400 a semester,” she said.
Muscle memory took over during Shirkey’s performance. “It’s like a typewriter, my hand knows where to go,” she said.
Shirkey’s grandson Parker, 15, a freshman at West Bend East High School joined his grandmother for a simple rendition of Mary had a Little Lamb.
“When she told me it was her marimba, I was kinda confused and didn’t know what she was talking about,” he said. “But this is so cool and I can see she’s so happy to do this. She’s always going to remember this.”
History photo of the West Bend High School band from 1955.