Boots & Sabers

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0915, 23 Dec 17

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Details on why 4 West Bend teachers resigned last May (warning adult content)

Details are coming out today on a story from May of 2017 when four teachers in the West Bend School District resigned.

At that time, then-Superintendent Erik Olson issued a press release; a portion of which reads:

We wanted to advise you about a change in District staffing at the high schools which may have a short-term impact on the remaining few days of your child’s school year.

Effective today, four of our teachers elected to resign from their positions at West Bend East and West High Schools.

While we understand that the timing of these resignations is not ideal, the District accepted them due to the specific circumstances leading up to the resignations.

Please know that while we wish to be as transparent as possible, due to confidentiality laws and out of respect for the privacy of the educators involved, we are unable to provide further details about the specifics of their resignations.

Local blogger Owen Robinson posted more details on verbatim comments from Google chats sent by the four teachers which were retrieved through an open records request from the West Bend School District. The comments were posted on the district’s Google chats platform. Some of the comments have been posted below.

Calls have been placed to the West Bend Teachers Union and a response will be posted upon receipt. Calls have also been placed to Tiffany Larson, president of the West Bend School Board.

Board member Monte Schmiege responded to questions about the notes between former teachers and how the district addressed the situation.  “The matter was handled fairly,” said Schmiege. “I don’t think they represent the wide body of teachers.”

Laura Jackson, superintendent of teaching and learning in the West Bend School District, was not on staff when the resignation of the teachers occurred. However, she said she believed the situation was handled appropriately.

“In general practice when a situation occurs you gather all the information you need so you can address it properly,” Jackson said. Jackson did not know the timeline when the Google chats by teachers were first discovered by district administration and the time when the teachers resigned.

“Ninety-nine percent of our teachers don’t engage in that,” Jackson said. “We have new staff in place and I would hope this is an oddity and we can make sure it doesn’t happen again because we have really solid hiring practices.”

The teacher resignations were approved by the West Bend School Board on June 12, 2017.

In an attempt to cover how a government body would handle such a situation state Senator Duey Stroebel said “it is now clear former Superintendent Olson handled these inappropriate correspondence correctly.”

“No student, parent or community member should be mocked with explicit language – especially since those using bullying tactics are teachers,” wrote Stroebel.

“Earlier this week, the West Bend Educator’s Association suggested this clear violation of public trust was not handled appropriately. Union teachers need to answer if bullying is OK and how they would have handled the situation.”

Stroebel went on to comment on Thursday’s story about the Privilege Test given to students at Badger Middle School. He called it “a politically-charged survey offered to students.”

“Political agendas must stay out of the classroom,” wrote Stroebel.  “Children must always come first. It is unfortunate the many past achievements made by former board members, administrators and teachers are being shadowed by the lapse of judgment of some teachers.”

A portion of the post from is below.

Here are some examples of how these four teachers discussed their students, parents, and peers. I do have the source documents for these quotes. They are public records. But I’ll leave them off this post in order to not circulate the teachers’ names any more than necessary.

It discussing some petty crime in the parking lot: “It’s all the {expletive] ghetto [expletive] moving up her from Milwaukee to sell their drugs to the idiot kids that live in this town.”

In a discussion over a sexually-explicit book that one of the teachers had their kids read: “[Expletive] it, there are other things parents can complain about. It would just make them look stupid.”

“I hope you’re right! I can’t even blame it on the curriculum!”

In promoting dating techniques to students: “I told them I knew people who internet dated and it worked for them, but high schools promoting it felt weird. It reminded me of how they did a bachelor/bachelorette auction at Brown Deer. That was especially weird because most of the kids were black and it was juuuuust a bit too similar to a slave auction.”

Note the opinion included in the blog posting at is solely that of author Owen Robinson.

West Bend Nativity vandalized – baby Jesus destroyed

West Bend police have found the body and an arm of the baby Jesus figurine after the Amity Rolfs nativity was vandalized sometime between Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

Police found portions of the figurine in the pocket park, Vest Park, across the street from the Old Settler’s Park on N. Main Street in downtown West Bend. Police said the head was missing from the body of the figurine and has not been located.

That nativity setup was handmade in Germany and originally brought to the community in the late 1960’s on special order by brothers Tom and Bob Rolfs.

Anna Jensen, executive director of the Downtown West Bend Association, said she was notified about the missing piece when police knocked at her door at 8 a.m. Sunday.

“That piece was wired to the crib because of concerns it may go missing,” said Jensen. “We didn’t think it would go missing or be tampered with because the park is in the central part of the downtown.”

Questioned whether the rest of the nativity would remain in place through the Christmas holiday, Jensen said that had yet to be discussed. Jensen picked up the remaining sections of the baby Jesus on Monday from West Bend police.

If anyone has information they’re encouraged to call West Bend Police at 262-335-5005 or the Downtown West Bend Association at 262-338-3909.

This is not the first time the nativity has been vandalized but it is the most severe. On a history note in Dec. 3, 2013 the donkey was stolen from the nativity, however it was recovered. The baby Jesus was also stolen sometime in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s however it was found and returned.  There used to be 18 in the set. However a ram was stolen on Nov. 22, 2009; it has never been found nor replaced.

Deer Management Plan moving forward in West Bend

The West Bend Common Council voted 6-1 on Monday night to move forward with its deer management plan. Dist. 8 alderman Roger Kist was the only dissenting vote and Dist. 2 alderman Steve Hutchins absent.

Dist. 1 alderman John Butschlick, who headed the Deer Management Committee, led the discussion about how bow hunters would be tested and then selected in a lottery to participate in a four-day hunt at Lac Lawrann Conservancy and Ridge Run Park.

Butschlick said the committee that organized the details around the local attempt to trim the deer population was extremely thorough, especially when it came to safety.

“There was a lot of discussion about safety and there was a concern if the hunt would occur when the park would be open,” said Butschlick. “It was unanimous to do it when the park would be closed Jan 10 – 14.”

There will be a cost of $30 to local bow hunters who want to participate. A training session will be held Saturday; there will also be a proficiency test and a written test. Those who pass will be entered into a lottery and 40 permits will be distributed.

Only nine people will be selected to participate in the hunt.

Jim White is a member of the Park and Rec Committee and his property is just to the west of Ridge Run Park. White addressed the council to see if they could switch the dates of the hunt.

“My one big concern is how you picked date Jan. 10 – 14 because it’s a Wednesday through Sunday,” he said. “There is a weekend in January and it’s one of the biggest winter activity weekends most notably at Lac Lawrann with a free snowshoe clinic.”

White said Mountain Outfitters owner Kevin Schultz normally donates 150 snowshoes and that’s a free activity. White also noted Ridge Run Park hosts the only premier tobogganing or sledding hill in the community.

“This is when families can enjoy activities. I’m wondering if you can use an alternate date and put it at end of February or the beginning of March,” he asked.

Butschlick noted the DNR won’t cover the cost of processing the meat if the hunt is held after January 31, 2018. Butschlick indicated next year, if the process to trim the herd is needed, the committee would meet with the Park and Rec Department to find open days and make sure there aren’t any conflicts.

Dist. 8 alderman Roger Kist made a motion to deny any hunting in any parks. That motion died after failing to secure a second. Dist. 6 alderman Steve Hoogester questioned why organizers were allowed warm-up shots during the proficiency test. “In my previous life (as a police officer) I never got any warm-up shots,” he said.

Mike Jentsch, with the Parks Department, acknowledged Hoogester had a good question, but…. “This test is not laid out to have people falter or fail. It’s like in hunter’s education, you train to become educated and accelerate and pass the test,” he said. The proposed deer management hunt was approved with one amendment to change the number of permits from 20 to 40.

Monte Schmiege files to run for another term on West Bend School Board

West Bend School Board Treasurer Monte Schmiege filled candidacy papers on Friday, Dec. 22 to run for another term on the West Bend School Board.  Incumbents were required to file notification by Dec. 22.

If elected this would be Schmiege’s second 3-year term. “I’ve started working on things and I need to continue,” he said. “I hate to just throw away things I’ve worked for.”

Schmiege mentioned he put forward a change in policy about a year ago which gives the board the responsibility to adopt curriculum. “Prior to that the board did not adopt curriculum,” said Schmiege. “Looking forward we have to look for a new superintendent, fix the compensation plan, handle the capital improvement projects and those are big things coming up.

“I also think it’s important to have some stability, especially at this time when there’s so much turmoil,” he said.

The deadline to file candidacy is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 at the Education Service Center.

There are two seats up in the April 2018 election. Tim Stellmacher was the other candidate up for election and he already filed non-candidacy papers to announce he will not be running. Stellmacher was appointed to the post in May to fill the seat left vacant following the resignation of Therese Seizer.

West Bend School District searching for new superintendent

The West Bend School Board met in closed session Wednesday evening and emerged to take action on accepting the resignation of Superintendent Erik Olson.

Olson was hired in June 2016 and started his position July 1, 2016. Olson replaced Ted Neitzke, who served as the superintendent since 2011.  In 2016 the Board approved a two-year contract for Olson with a salary of $155,000. In 2017 that contract was extended another two years.

There were a couple remaining questions the press release did not address including how the board would handle the remainder of Olson’s contract if it extended to 2019.

Board member Monte Schmiege said that was something he “couldn’t answer right now” and “that agreement hasn’t been finalized.”

If Olson’s contract would be paid out – that would be taxpayer money. Hiring another superintendent will also be done with taxpayer money. The search for the new superintendent is expected to begin after Christmas.

Parents upset about Privilege Test at Badger Middle School

A parent with a child in the West Bend School District contacted police today after a survey was given to 8th graders questioning their sexuality.

“If I walked up to a 13 year old on the street and started asking these questions I’d be put in the back of a squad,” said the parent, who prefers to remain anonymous to protect his child.

The parent noted he called police because “that teacher and that school subjected all these kids to child abuse today. I was told this was a segue into a new lesson plan about civil rights. The part that concerns me is a whole lot of questions have nothing to do with education whatsoever, especially the ones about parent finances.”

The “Privilege Test” was marked “optional” however the parent said the “kids get scored on participation and that goes on their report card.” Plus he noted, “What’s a child to do when the teacher hands it to you during class… if you’re a good kid you’re doing what you’re told.”

The parent said he felt bad because he’s been telling his kids to “listen to the teacher…. but I never thought they’d be asking them this.”

The parent said a couple weeks ago the kids were asked gun questions and if they had guns in the house. “They’re milking our kids for information and to not tell the parents. Even the principal and vice principal had no idea this was being circulated,” he said.

Another parent who saw the survey posted on West Bend Area Buy, Sell, Trade sent this note:

“Today, a class at Badger Middle School in West Bend (unsure of grade level) was given a survey to take (not the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) in class. It’s hard to read, but I blew it up and could read enough of it that it’s understandable why parents are very upset.

I learned about this survey when it was posted on West Bend Area Buy/Sell/Trade to which I belong. This is a screen shot of the survey. Note: The WBSD said they were not going to consider giving out the YRBS until early next year, and then only to the high school students. Again, this is NOT the YRBS. It is titled, “Privilege Survey.”  That’s why parents are going off the rails on this one. They shut the comments off under the post, then removed the post all together. Too late. I have the screen shot now. Talked to a middle school parent who was unaware of any such survey. .

Some of the questions are:

I have never tried to hide my sexuality.

I have never been called a derogatory term for a homosexual.

I never doubted my parents’ acceptance of my sexuality.

I have never been told that I “sound white”

I am always comfortable demonstrating PDA with people I like.

Nobody has tried to “save me” from my religious beliefs.

Lots of sexual, religious, health and parental finances questions.

About 3:30 p.m. a police squad was seen at the school. Principal Dave Uelmen indicated he had no comment and directed all questions to Nancy Kunkler with the West Bend School District.

West Bend police confirmed receiving a call from a parent and said this was a school district issue. School board members refused to comment on the situation; most said they had no idea this occurred.

Below is a letter Uelmen sent to parents at Badger Middle School.

Dear Families,

Badger Middle School English Language Arts students in 8th grade are currently in the module entitled “Working with Evidence: Taking a Stand.” These units utilize Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The learning target of the lesson was, “I can understand the literal and figurative meaning of Atticus’s word choice in the closing speech. I can analyze how Atticus’s closing speech relates to the themes of taking a stand and the Golden Rule.” During the lesson, some classrooms deployed an optional, anonymous survey that was not derived from district curriculum. The survey was part of a follow up activity to discuss privilege as a lead-in to the “Civil Rights and A Mighty Long Way” module. The survey did not, in any way, count as a grade, nor was it viewed by other students or staff.

I am sharing this information because we understand that as parents or guardians, you may have concerns about today’s survey and discussion. Allow me to assure you that the only intent behind this topic of conversation was to connect students’ prior learning with future topics that may arise in the next learning module. Please feel free to contact the Badger Middle School office at 262-335-5455 with any questions. Thank you for supporting our mission of preparing our students for college readiness and career success. Happy holidays. Dave Uelmen Principal Badger Middle School

Rick Gundrum advances in 58th Assembly District Election

The numbers from Tuesday’s Republican primary came in rather quickly after polls closed at 8 p.m. Candidate Rick Gundrum was briefed on a solid win in the Village of Richfield and Village of Slinger and then he received a phone call from fellow candidate Steve Stanek who made an early congratulations to Gundrum on a successful campaign. Gundrum won the primary and will advance to the Jan. 16, 2018 special election to fill the seat left empty following the death of Representative Bob Gannon.

Washington Co. Parks stickers on sale

Beginning January 1, 2018 visitors to Washington County parks listed below will need to purchase a $5 daily pass or $30 annual sticker. Parks include Ackerman’s Grove County Park,

Glacier Hills County Park, Heritage Trails County Park, Homestead Hollow Park, Leonard J. Yahr County Park, and Sandy Knoll County Park.  Each of the parks listed above will have an entrance station where park visitors will be required to take a pass form unless they already have an annual sticker, have pre-paid, have an event code, or are attending a soccer game.  For more information and a complete list of pricing call the Washington County Planning & Parks Office at 262-335-4445 or visit

Former Walgreens on Decorah and Main sold in West Bend

The building at 806 S. Main Street has been sold. Last Friday, Dec. 15 Kwik Trip closed on the purchase of the former Walgreens for $1.34 million. Coming up this spring Kwik Trip will demolish the building and construct its own store on the southwest corner of Decorah and Main.

Updates & tidbits

– Cast Iron Luxury Living has a unique short-term leasing special. The remodeled West Bend Aluminum Company located on the scenic Milwaukee River is offering a month of free rent if you move-in before the end of the year, 2017. There are one and two-bedroom apartments available. For more information 262.334.7943 or

– Hartford’s Elisha Jaeke, sophomore biology major at St. Norbert College, will be studying at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. Jaeke received a $1,000 study-abroad grant given nationally by the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

-The 2018 Washington County Fair will feature four straight days of live music from July 25-28 featuring Saving Savannah, The Now, Bella Cain, and Cherry Pie. The fair is looking to rename its Entertainment Tent. Post your creative suggestions on the Washington County Fair Park Facebook page for a chance to win a 4 pack of tickets to the Fair!

-Help is available to families in Washington County that need assistance with winter heating bills. Contact Kay Lucas with the Washington County Human Services Department which oversees the Energy Assistance Program. The number is 262-335-4677.

Happy 107th birthday to Clara Moll

How often can you say that you sang the “Happy Birthday song” to someone who turned 107 years old.

This week in a cozy farmhouse in Barton, Clara Moll celebrated her 107th birthday. She was born in 1910, right after the coffee filter and paper cups were invented.

“Exercise is what keeps you young,” said Clara. She was making a couple laps in the dining room area. Thick white shoes, long strides and an aluminum walker for balance.

Clara bragged that at 107 she didn’t need glasses but she admitted her hearing was going…. or gone, but it didn’t seem to matter.

At 107 she was still loving life. “I’ve lost my taste buds….,” she said. Her daughter Mary, her primary caretaker, said that had been going on the past few months.

A big wicker basket full of birthday cards sat on the kitchen table. It was surrounded by sweet rolls wrapped in clear plastic bags, daily prayer books, and the latest edition of the Wall Street Journal.

“I’m going to live until 110,” said Clara confidently as she clumped with her walker into the kitchen.

Mary said that declaration can change.  “Most often… we’re just taking it one day at a time.”

Below are some of the articles I’ve written about Clara over the years.

Dec. 18, 2015 – Clara Moll turns 105 and Happy 105th birthday Clara Moll.

“The biggest thing that’s changed on this block is the makeup of the family,” Moll said. “My husband died when he was 74 and he said, ‘Clara you watch, when women all go to work there will be nobody home to cook and there will be nobody home for the kids; you’re going to have hard times.’” Animated, Moll points out the window from house to house to house announcing she has dubbed the block “Divorce Street.”

Clara Moll is a pip! On Sunday, Dec. 18 the life-long Barton gal turned 106 years old. She celebrated with family and friends. Pizza, her favorite, was the supper of choice. We prayed and passed a plate.

Clara reminisced. She was prompted by her daughter Mary. “Remember in 1976 when you took advantage of the Greyhound Bus offer… 99 days for $99?”

Clara remembered. She traveled the U.S. and saw all her relatives. “Don’t get married,” she advised. “Travel.”

Meantime the group at the party tried to recollect where the Greyhound stops were in West Bend; the consensus was on S. Main Street in front of the Centrum building and outside George Webbs in the West Bend Plaza.

Clara touted “exercise” as the secret to longevity.  She wore out roller skates and proclaimed she would “rather dance than eat.” “Wiggle your feet when you’re sitting in a chair,” she said.

At 106 she said she feels fine. “I can read without glasses if it has to be,” she said. “But my hearing is going.”

A single-layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting is placed on the table. Three separate candles that count out 1 – 0 – 6 stand mighty on top of the chocolate frosting. “Believe it or not that number 6 was a 5 last year,” said Mary. A little wax melting helped morph it.

A rendition of Happy Birthday …. “and many more” filled the warm kitchen of the old farmhouse on Salisbury Road in Barton.


0915, 23 December 2017


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