Do over on Pizza Ranch site proposal goes before Plan Commission on Tuesday
A revised site plan for a new 5,786-square-foot Pizza Ranch will go before the West Bend Plan Commission on Tuesday, January 3. According to the agenda the plans will include a second entrance and egress to the south of the proposed restaurant with traffic flowing into the same lot as Sendik’s.
The new Pizza Ranch is proposed on W. Washington Street just west of 18th Avenue.
During an initial appearance before the Plan Commission several months ago there were concerns about parking and the entrance and egress.
Commission member Jed Dolnick said the driveway exit onto W. Washington Street would only allow people to travel east.
Dolnick felt motorists who had to head west would either try to cross three lanes of traffic and make a U-turn at the signals or dodge over, turn left, go north on 18th Avenue and then cut through the McDonald’s lot and wind their way back to Highway 33.
The new proposal to allow an easement into the Sendik’s lot will be discussed during next week’s Plan Commission meeting starting at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.
Bart Williams will not run for another term on West Bend School Board
This week Bart Williams turned in non-candidacy papers as he made the decision to not run for another term on the West Bend School Board. “It’s time to pass the torch,” said Williams. “There’s never a great time to step back. I’d love to serve forever but you can’t.”
Williams was first elected in 2011. “I’m most proud of keeping my promise on my 24-point conservative-action plan and I led the charge to keep our two high schools,” he said.
Full and Total Disclosure of all Referendum Costs was another measure Williams accomplished during his six years on the board. “That was part of my 24-point action plan and another was letting the public speak for two minutes at any regular board meeting,” he said.
Aside from Williams, who served as the vice president on the School Board, Rick Parks, the president of the Board, will also not run for another term. Board member Ryan Gieryn is running as is newcomer Nancy Justman. Watch for another candidate to turn in papers on Tuesday.
The election will be Tuesday, April 4, 2017 to fill three at-large seats on the West Bend School Board, each with an expiration date of April 2020. A Declaration of Candidacy Form and a Campaign Registration Statement must be filed by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017.
Pier 1 Imports in West Bend is closing
Pier 1 Imports in West Bend is closing. The store, known for home decor and furniture, opened Nov. 1, 2000 in the West Bend Corporate Center. The 8,700-square-foot store is in the same area as Boston Store, Wal-Mart, Office Max, MC Sports, Great Clips, Check n’ Go and Subway.
Over the years Pier 1 Imports, which is based in Fort Worth, Texas, had over 800 stores. It recently opened its fifth Milwaukee-area store in Grafton in February, 2015. That same year there were 20 Pier 1 Import stores across the state of Wisconsin.
Calls to corporate regarding the closing of the West Bend store have yet to be returned.
When Pier 1 Imports first opened there were a variety of other stores that made their way in and out of the WB Corporate Center including Great Party!, Little Professor Book Store, and The Paper Factory. The last day for the West Bend store Pier 1 store will be at the end of February, 2017.
Pizza Hut will open Jan. 3, 2017
Doors will open on the new Pizza Hut in West Bend in 2017. According to a spokesperson from Wisconsin Hospitality Group the new Pizza Hut in the Paradise Pavilion will open Tuesday, January 3. The store, 1460 S. Main Street, is just north of Regis Hairstylists.
Pizza Hut closed its old location on W. Washington Street Feb. 1, 2016. The new store will have a couple of tables up front but it will be nothing like the sit-down service at the old restaurant in West Bend. Because of the setting in the strip mall there will also be no drive thru.
Challenge in Branch 3 of Washington Co. Circuit Court
There will be a challenge in Branch 3 of Washington Co. Circuit Court as incumbent judge Todd Martens faces Robert T. Olson. The judge’s position is a 6-year term.
Martens, 54, was appointed by Gov. Thompson as District Attorney in Washington County in 1999. Martens ran unopposed 5 times until 2010 when Judge Dave Reschke retired. Martens received the gubernatorial appointment and then ran successfully the next year.
Robert Olson was born in West Bend, attended the University of Minnesota-Carlson School of Management and received a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a major in Finance. He has been a practicing attorney for 15 years and said he wants to “restore faith in our legal system one case at a time.”
Elsewhere – signatures for the Spring election are due Tuesday, Jan. 3. In West Bend aldermen up for election include Dist. 2 Steve Hutchins, Dist. 4 Chris Jenkins, Dist. 6 Steve Hoogester, and Dist. 8 Roger Kist. As of Thursday, Dec. 29 – Kist had turned in his required signatures as had Chris Jenkins. Mayor Kraig Sadownikow also turned in his required signatures. Two others have taken out paperwork in Dist. 2 including Kevin Aubery and Elijah Jackson.
Main Street business owners weigh in on future of WB Theatre
The downtown West Bend Theatre remains a hot topic of conversation. Quite a few conversations during Christmas get-togethers honed in on plans to save the façade and marquee and convert the rest to an open-air park. Others talked about saving the theatre.
After plans were released some long-time business and building owners on downtown Main Street chimed in with their thoughts and the reaction of many will probably surprise you.
Sager’s Men’s Apparel has been on Main Street in downtown West Bend since 1932. Second generation owner Scott Sager has watched many businesses come and go on and he reacted positively to the news about the theatre.
“I think the open-air concept is pretty cool,” said Sager. “Matt Prescott is right, it’s going to take a bundle of money to get it back to a theatre and then how do you sustain it? How do you make the venue go?”
Sager said it all comes down to dollars and cents. “You can embrace the past but you have to have that forward vision,” he said.
On a similar note, Sager mentioned the Milwaukee Symphony and how it had its eye on the former Warner Grand Theatre on Wisconsin Ave. The symphony would like convert the 1930’s theatre into its new concert hall. The cost is $120 million. The building has been unoccupied since 1995 and the sticking point is how to fill the other dates in the year-long calendar to make for a viable, 1,750 seat facility.
“They’re looking at an astronomical amount they have to raise,” said Sager. “And in town we already have UW-WC, the new Silver Lining Art Center at the West Bend High Schools, the Schauer Center in Hartford, and the new amphitheatre at the Fair Park. It would be wonderful if someone had an unlimited pile of money and they could do it for fun, but there are some things unfortunately in today’s economy that are just not going to be dollar feasible.”
Kevin Schultz from Mountain Outfitters said he was indifferent. “Whatever makes for a viable situation and doesn’t cost the taxpayers or the BID any more money,” he said. “The BID shouldn’t have had to front the bridge. The BID money could have been better spent elsewhere.”
Mary Gamerdinger, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County, has worked downtown since the 1990s. “I really have mixed feelings about it,” said Gamerdinger. “I grew up here; I saw my first movie as a kid… I remember seeing Bambi and I always thought it was a neat balcony and I’d love to see it restored but I don’t know the business.”
“I don’t know if it can compete as a theatre and how much it would be used now with the new theatre at the high school,” she said. “I manage an old building here and I know it can be tough but that one is bigger, older and has been sitting empty longer and in the end I’m afraid it’s going to come down to what’s going to be financially feasible and sustainable.”
Larry Porter owns a building on N. Main Street and he’s a member of the BID Board. “My biggest fear about restoring that – well, everybody wants to go to heave but nobody wants to dies, if you know what I mean,” he said. “Everybody says we’ve got to save the theatre, which is great, but with whose money?
“It’s something you’re going to have to feed forever; the city doesn’t want to pay for it so if you’ve got some deep endowment pockets go ahead and save it but I don’t see that happening,” Porter said.
“I see people saying you have to save it, well pony up. To have the plan that Claire is talking about to leave the façade and leave the sign, basically not interrupt the storefronts but have a passageway into this neat park that oversees the river.”
Todd Tennies is a second-generation owner of Tennies Ace Hardware. The store has been on S. Main Street since 1964. “Keeping the exterior façade would be great,” said Tennies. “The building could be used as a retail department store such as J.C. Penny used to be over there; the building is there it just needs some renovation to be able to adequately represent it as a retail or service-oriented location.
“If it were to be a park, if it was a park where you could walk out and look over the river and it joined with the 2017 plan to renovate the riverwalk it would be a neat thing,” said Tennies.
As far as rehabbing the theatre, Tennies said there were too many unknowns about how to pay for it and then create revenue.
Tom O’Meara III was heavily involved in the downtown representing the district as an alderman from 1992 – 2004. O’Meara now lives in Utah but has been keeping an eye on West Bend via WashingtonCountyInsider.com. “Claire Rolfs has a great plan with an open air and performance center down near the river and seating on a grassy slope, that’s marvelous,” he said.
“As far as the history is concerned, it was a great theatre and had a beautiful chandelier inside. But saving the façade and the marquee would be really important. When you see the picture of my father and U.S. Senator Jack Kennedy that marquee was in the background. It’s a landmark in many respects with that little piece of history.”
Behind-the-scenes of the fire on Silver Lake
Mark Helmle turned 52 years old on Wednesday. He was at home with his father at 11 p.m. when he awoke coughing and unable to breath. A fire was racing through the Helmle home on Silver Lake.
Mark ran upstairs to get his 83-year-old father Julius out of the house. The pair were rescued by Washington County Sheriff’s and West Bend Police Officer Lee Goodman. Mark and his father are recovering from smoke inhalation and second-degree burns at Froedtert St. Joseph’s Hospital. “It was my birthday and our family home burned down,” said Helmle. “But I got the best gift ever because both me and my father are alive.”
Julius Helmle, 83, said he is lucky to be alive. Resting in his hospital bed on the second floor of Froedtert St. Joes, Helmle has a white gauze bandage on his right arm. His blackened toes are covered with a bed sheet. “Second-degree burns,” he said with a thick German accent.
Helmle came to the U.S. in 1945. He made his way to Madison and then with the encouragement of his brother he came to West Bend. “More work here,” he said.
At home on Wednesday night Helmle was awakened from his sleep and told to get out of the house to save his life. Helmle extended a strong “thank you” to all the firefighters and law enforcement for their help.
Neighbors in the community will recognize Janice Stauske; she was the former principal for 14 years at St. Frances Cabrini School. Stauske is also the neighbor of Julius and Mark Helmle; the father and son lost their home to a devastating fire Wednesday night on Silver Lake.
Stauske said a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy pounded on her door at 11:15 p.m. and order her and her sister to evacuate. Stauske saw her neighbor Julius on a stretcher and prayed for his recovery. While recounting the events and vision of the fire with flames as high as the treetops, Stauske took some time to thank all the firefighters and law enforcement for their quick action and dedication.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The home was a total loss.
Three to be inducted during WB Baseball Association Diamond Dinner
The 6th annual Diamond Dinner & Benefit will be held Jan. 21 and three who will be inducted into the West Bend Baseball Association Diamond of Honor Wall of Fame include Jim Hughes, Robert Pick II and Stuart Walter.
Updates & tidbits
-There was a funeral this week for Gwendolyn (nee Birkholz) Puestow, 93, of West Bend, who died Christmas Eve. Puestow taught fourth grade for 37 years at St John’s Lutheran School. Former student Jay Watzlawick wrote, “She was one of the strictest teachers I ever had. Goofing off in class and she would drag me out the room by my ears and if you ever got the hiccups she would grab your head and stare into your eyes until they went away. I also remember washing her old Buick a few times and she would give me a hand full of lemon drops.”
– The Cyclone fence is up and the heavy equipment is in place as work is set to begin on the new Starbucks on 18th Avenue in West Bend.
-Retiring West Bend Police Officer Steve Seitz was honored this week for 23 years of service.
-Neighbors in the Town of Erin will host an emergency meeting, Thursday, Jan. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Erin Town Hall as the state works to place a convicted sex offender in their community. Discussion will focus on Terry Olson, a convicted sex predator jailed in 1990 for child molestation. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is interested in placing Olson in a home at 1898 Terry Road which is less than a half mile from Erin School.
-Energy assistance is available to families in Washington County who need help with winter heating bills. Kay Lucas oversees the Energy Assistance Program with Washington County Human Services Department. For more information contact Lucas at 262-335-4677.
-A joint meeting is set for Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 7 a.m. in the Ziegler Building at the Washington County Fairgrounds where details will be presented regarding the Highway 60 Reliever Route 30 percent engineering study. The meeting will be strictly between the Executive Committee and the Public Works Committee. No public comment will be taken at that time.
Do you remember Shady Side Lane
Two weeks ago I ran a story about Delta Defense/USCCA and its new street name Freedom Way. That prompted some input on the origin of other street names in the community. Here’s a tidbit from former West Bend City Engineer Ken Pesch.
“In your recent story about the city renaming streets, Valley Avenue did indeed get its current name when The Valley Bank Corporation bought the lot along the east side of Valley Avenue immediately south of Washington Street. When they purchased that property, Valley Avenue was called Shady Side Lane. The bank requested the name change because they did not want their facility to be known as their Shady Side branch. I was the city engineer when the request for the name change was received at City Hall and I chuckled when I heard the reason for the request. The property was subdivided by Dave and Audrey Bohn so you can ask them why they chose the name Shady Side Lane when they prepared the plat for the area.” Ken Pesch