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0955, 04 Jun 16

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Pizza Ranch comes before Plan Commission

On June 7 the West Bend Plan Commission will take up a rezoning proposal for a property west of Westbury Bank on W. Washington Street that will soon be home to a Pizza Ranch.

The franchise has 180+ locations across 13 states.

On Tuesday the West Bend Plan Commission will be asked to change the zoning for a 1.7-acre parcel from B5 to B1 for development of a 5.786-square-foot Pizza Ranch.

In Wisconsin the closest Pizza Ranch to West Bend is in Fond du Lac. There’s also a Pizza Ranch in Oshkosh, Portage, Waupun, Sun Prairie, Sheboygan, Kohler and Appleton.

Three candidates for Washington Co. Clerk

There are now three candidates who have filed to run for Washington County Clerk. Prior to the April elections Clerk Brenda Jaszewski announced she would not be running for another term. Jaszewski has been the county clerk since 2005.

On May 3, Ashley Reichert from the Town of Wayne formally declared her candidacy. Since then two others have thrown their hat into the ring including long-time Barton clerk Aggie Pruner and Braedy Helmbrecht from the Town of Trenton.

Quick thinking at Riverfest

The weather was perfect Friday night for an outdoor festival at Regner Park in West Bend. There was live music, cold drinks, family entertainment and food.

The food, however, put some excitement into the night as one vendor ran out, another failed to show, and another dealt with staffing issues so a Rotarian volunteered to climb behind the register and help with sales.

This is the first time Riverfest has completely relied on outside food vendors. The thought was food trucks are a popular trend and they could take some of the weight off an event that relies totally on volunteer staff.

Rotary President Laura Buck said the huge turnout really gave their new format a good test. “We had a great crowd and we’re working to get more food options,” she said.

Food trucks included Buddha’s BBQ, The Gouda Girls Truck, and a vendor that served crepes.

By 6:30 p.m. the Gouda Girls had run out of food and families started to get restless. People stood in line for nearly an hour and some left the park looking for options elsewhere.

Rotarians realized the dilemma and suggested families take advantage of Toucan’s Custard, a family-run business located kitty-corner to Regner Park.

By 9 p.m. the Rotary brought in $400 worth of Jimmy John’s and started selling the foot-long sub sandwiches for $5.

Quite a few people asked why the Rotary couldn’t open one of the pavilions and start flipping hamburgers. The pavilions, however, are only set up with sinks and refrigeration and there is no cooking option.

Despite the concern with the food availability, hundreds of people brought chairs and sat and listened to great music by the Whiskey Belles.

On tap Saturday, more food vendors will be on hand including Truckmeister Gourmet Burgers and Meat on the Street along with Buddha’s BBQ and the Wisconsin Cheese truck.

Riverfest opens at 11 a.m. Saturday with music by the River City Blaskapelle.

On a history note: Riverfest used to be known as Seafood Fest, which featured big white tents on N. Main Street where neighbors gathered for live music and lobster.

In 2014 the Rotary revamped the 24th annual Seafood Fest and part of the change included a new name: Riverfest.

Preparing to host an American Idol

On Thursday American Idol winner Taylor Hicks will be at Schwai’s in Fredonia.

The salt-and-pepper haired Hicks was a contestant in the fifth season of Idol in 2006 and now he’s hosting a new network TV show ‘State Plate’ where he highlights iconic foods in particular states.

“They’re doing a show about Wisconsin brats and it was between us and Johnsonville,” said Tommy Schwai. “If you want the best, I told them to come out here.”

It was Wednesday morning and Tommy arrived at the meat market at 5 a.m. “I’ve been stuffing sausages,” he said untangling a handful of white, slippery casings. “We have one of the biggest parish festivals coming up at St. John Vianney on N. Calhoun Road in Brookfield.”

The Schwai’s were contacted by the show’s producer in May. A letter detailed the premise of the show, on the family-friendly INSP network.

The letter read, “This is the first season of State Plate and it is set to air this fall hosted by Taylor Hicks, (American Idol winner, foodie, and restaurant owner).

We want to feature the brats/sausages, and we would love to come to your shop.

Our shoot would include having an on-camera person, the owner/manager/or staff member (hopefully you Tom!) explaining to Taylor the history of the brats in Wisconsin, and talking about your history and your company, whatever you would like to share. Then you would show Taylor how to make your famous brats.

We want to see Taylor, dressed in the right clothes, hats, gloves, whatever, like he was really at work that day. So whatever process you would like for him to participate in the making of the brats… we are open to whatever ideas you may have.

The entire duration of the filming should not take more than 2 hours. You mentioned that you make the best and adjust the time of day to whatever works best for you.”

According to INSP, Hicks is a partner in a barbecue restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama. The food show will be different as Hicks won’t go from restaurant to restaurant but “he’ll visit farms and ranches, markets and festivals and uncover the details behind each state’s unique food tradition.”

Tommy said he said he knew Taylor Hicks from TV.

“I can remember watching him when he was doing his audition,” he said. “Simon Cowell said, ‘you’re never going to win,” the other two voted for him and he won.”

Tommy couldn’t come up with the name of a Taylor Hicks song but did say he sang country music. “He is a good looking guy – he’s got grey hair like me,” he said tipping his hat.

Kathy Schwai bustled about the shop, cleaning. “She’s doing a lot of cleaning but when you get a special guy in here like Taylor Hicks you have to clean up just a little more,” said Tommy.

Kathy stopped for a minute to talk. “How’d you find out about this,” she asked directly. “You always get the dirt.”

Kathy wound through the story of how Hollywood found them…. And it went a little something like this. “The producer contacted me and her mother’s best friend recommended they come and talk to us because in her mind we had the best brats and we thank her for that recommendation,” she said.

“I have to show him how to do everything,” said Tommy. “We’re going to do brats – he’s gonna get what he gets and that’s what he wants. We’re going to make brats and he’s going to eat brats here.”

The Schwai’s said they weren’t nervous – they had served famous people before like former Brewers managers Buck Rodgers and George Bamburger, Green Bay Packers Lionel Aldridge, and Doug Gonring from West Bend Elevator. “Once you try a Schwai’s brat you’re going to come back,” said Tommy.

After making the brats the Schwai’s will be cooking out so Hicks can sample some of what he created. “We’re going to have special Taylor Hicks brat package and people can buy the brats he helped make,” he said.  Filming of the show got underway Thursday morning.

Roots and Branches receives Founders Service Award

Some nice recognition this week for Roots and Branches as the local volunteer organization received the West Bend Community Foundation’s 2015 Founders’ Service Award. Each year the WBCF recognizes an agency with the award, presented in memory of Cliff Nelson and Doug Ziegler who were founders of the WBCF.

Peter Ziegler presented the award Wednesday night during a gathering in the new Old Settlers’ Park. The setting was appropriate because volunteers from Roots and Branches provided and planted the perennial shrubs and plants.

“Where we stand today is a testament to this year’s recipient,” said Ziegler. “With its 60-plus volunteers and limited budget, all of which is self raised, this organization truly makes West Bend a more beautiful place.”The adopt-a-plot gardens scattered throughout the city are planted and maintained by volunteers and add to the quality of life to those that live here and those that visit West Bend,” Ziegler said.

Shirley Decker accepted the award on behalf of Roots and Branches. The group, previously known as the West Bend Beautification Committee, received a plaque and a check for $2,000.

Reorganizing TIF Districts to save millions

Unanimous approval by the Joint Review Board in West Bend this week as steps were approved to reorganize TIF Districts 4 and 6, which includes the Walmart and Menards developments just south of Paradise Drive.

The reorganization, according to Mayor Kraig Sadownikow, will save the city about $1 million a year in the coming years as the successful TIFs help struggling TIF Districts 5 and 9, which are in the downtown.

“The idea behind the move is the very successful TIFs can help the financially-challenged TIFs,” said Sadownikow.  “It’ll make a significant impact on the city budget in particular 2019 – through the mid to late 2020s with up to $1 million a year coming out of TIFs 4 and 6 and helping the downtown TIFs.”

The development of Meijer in the Menard’s TIF and the new headquarters for Delta Defense/USCCA development in the Walmart TIF are working to make both those TIFs financially successful.

Did Superintendent candidates sign Walker recall?

The West Bend School District has narrowed the number of candidates in its search for a new Superintendent to three. A quick check if anyone signed the Walker Recall is posted below.

  • Dr. Dean Gorrell, current Superintendent of the Verona Area School District, Verona, Wisconsin DID NOT SIGN
  • Dr. Brenda Lewis, current Assistant Superintendent of the Rochester Public Schools, Rochester, Minnesota (only Wisconsin residents could sign, but her name is not there)
  • Mr. Erik Olson, current Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Continuous Improvement of the Sun Prairie Area School District, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin DID NOT SIGN RECALL

The West Bend School Board conducted a comprehensive search in partnership with the professional recruiting firm, School Exec Connect. Finalists toured the school district this week. That evening, they will present to various members of the focus groups that helped develop the recruitment profile, and meet with district administrators and principals. Finalists will also participate in a second interview with the Board.

Next steps for the Board will include a review of feedback from the teams that evening, followed by a background check, and contract development. The Board anticipates announcing the next superintendent in early June.

On a history note: In 2012 there was an attempt to recall Gov. Scott Walker.  Organizers collected over 900,000 signatures.  Both Gov. Scott Walker and Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch won reelection. Walker beat Democrat Tom Barrett by a bit more than he had when he beat him in the 2010 election.

A farewell to Rev. Gerald Brittain

A Rev. Jerry Farewell Celebration is set for Sunday, June 19 from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m in the Walnut Room at Holy Angels School. This past January, Rev. Brittain announced a new priest; Rev. Pat Heppe would be taking over at Holy Angels Parish.

Rev. Brittain has been at the parish on Eighth Avenue since taking over for Rev. Jerome Rinzel who served from 1983 – 1995.  “I’ve been here 21 years,” said Brittain.  A youthful 79, he said he can be appointed a temporary associate or retire. The gym at Holy Angels School in West Bend was rededicated and named the Father Jerry Britain Gymnasium.

During the Farewell Celebration light refreshments will be provided. Rev. Pat Heppe will be taking over for Rev. Brittain. He’s set to start at Holy Angels at the end of the month.

End of an era for West Bend Coin

After 19 years in business selling rare coins, jewelry and vintage collectibles, the owner of West Bend Coins and Collectibles is closing up shop. Pete Puskas posted a note on the door of the store at 130 N. Main St., “We were happy here for over 19 years. You will be too! Retiring.”

Centuries of Architecture tour

Enjoy a self-guided tour of 5 unique sites in Germantown and Richfield. Visit three restored 19th Century Homesteads. Watch a video of a joint restoration project with Amish craftsmen of a 3 story barn, and check out another with a Tiki Bar. Also on the tour, Richfield’s Messer/Mayer Mill and Mill House, and Germantown’s Christ Church.

Washington County Breakfast on the Farm 2017

This year’s Washington County Breakfast on the Farm is just around the corner as Jim and Lucille Becker and Jim Weber prepare to host close to 1,000 guests at their Level Acres Dairy on County Highway S and Level Road just southwest of Allenton.

The Washington County Dairy Promotions Committee is also excited to announce the 2017 Breakfast on the Farm will be held at the Golden E Farm in The Town of Farmington. The farm is owned by Chris Elbe and family and one of the newest dairy facilities in Washington County.

West Bend man hiking the Ice Age Trail

West Bend native Michael Maziarka braved some wet weather this week as he steps off the 1,000+ mile Ice Age Trail as a participant in Warrior Expeditions’ national “Warrior Hike” program.

This past week Maziarka and his hiking comrade Miles Vining reached Bloomer, WI, where Maziarka’s wife, Rachel (formerly Rieden, a Kewaskum native), met them at the Bloomer VFW to enjoy a little Badger State fare of Wisconsin bratwurst.

Over the past few days the soldiers endured a good bit of the recent heavy rains that passed through Wisconsin and know what it’s like to “carry on” despite the drenching downpours.

One evening was spent in a wetland area near some beaver dams. As described by Maziarka with a casual sort of candor, the men woke up to slugs that apparently cozied up to them during the night.

Updates and Tidbits

West Bend East High School junior Hannah Bensen has been named the Editor in Chief for The Current in 2016-2017. Bensen has been a strong reporter over the past few years.   She tackled a variety of meaty stories including the debut of Galileo testing.

The Great Plate, an invention by Ric Kellow and Beth Kuehl of Slinger, is scheduled to be on the Today Show June 14. The Great Plate is a plastic plate with a circular space in the middle that can securely hold a glass, bottle or can so you can hold food and a beverage in one hand.

– Cast Iron Luxury Living is actively seeking a seasonal groundskeeper to begin immediately. This full-time job runs June-September with the potential to transition into a permanent position, for the right candidate. We are offering $12-$14 per hour, based on experience. Contact

-The 39th annual Steak in the Park at Regner Park is Tuesday, June 21. It is sponsored by the West Bend Noon Kiwanis. Proceeds support 20 community projects that assist youth and citizens with disabilities.

-St. Mary’s School held its final 8th grade graduation this week. The Class of 2016 included Annmarie Costa, Olivia Koenig, Imojyn Miller, Nicholas Nass, Carolyn Stockhausen, and Matthew Stucke.

Amazing Ride for Alzheimer’s tour leaves June 21

The 2016 Amazing Ride for Alzheimer’s will shove off later this month as I fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico to visit Ship Rock and then pedal home.

This is my fourth tour designed to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s. This year I will ride in tribute to your loved one.  Simply make a $100 donation to the tour and email me a jpeg photo or send via U.S. mail and I will return the picture. (630 S. Sixth Ave., West Bend, 53095)

Donate via the secure website through Cedar Community.  Donations should be marked “Amazing Ride 2016.”

Checks made payable to “Cedar Community Foundation”

113 Cedar Ridge Dr., West Bend, WI 53095

Cedar Community is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, and donations are tax-deductible. Be sure to include the Federal Tax ID Number for the Foundation: 39-1249432SteffesWDad


0955, 04 June 2016


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