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0940, 02 Jun 18

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Reptiles and rats pulled out of home in West Bend

Neighbors in the area of Indiana Avenue and Linwood Terrace in West Bend watched as police hauled snakes, rats, and mice out of a home on Friday afternoon. ‘Terry the tipster’ sent photos of officers and employees from the city Building Inspector’s office carrying clear plastic totes out of a home. Neighbors said they could see reptiles and mice in the containers.

Neighbors said authorities started arriving at the side-by-side duplex around 4:30 p.m. Some said officers wore masks over their faces because of the stench. The plastic containers were reportedly loaded into the police community service vehicle. West Bend Police issued a statement below.

Animal Complaint and Building Code Violations

On May 31 the West Bend and East Troy Police Departments investigated a false imprisonment and sexual assault that occurred in both jurisdictions. During the investigation West Bend Officers located and arrested the 42-year-old male actor at 230 S. Indiana Avenue. That man is presently in the Walworth County Jail.

While officers were at the residence they noticed a foul odor coming from the basement. The officers investigated and found numerous snakes, mice, and other small reptiles in the basement.

On Friday, June 1, 2018 West Bend Police Officers, along with employees from West Bend Public Works, Building Inspection, Building Maintenance, the Milwaukee County Zoo and wardens from the Wisconsin DNR served an inspection warrant at the residence.

Workers removed 160 snakes ranging from 6 inches to 2 feet in length, in excess of 250 mice, several Dart Frogs and Gecko’s from the residence.

Several of the animals were in poor health, and several dead snakes and mice were also removed.

Building Inspectors notes several health and safety code violations. This investigation is continuing. The suspect will be charged with additional criminal and civil code violations.

The West Bend Police Department thanks all the employees from all the other departments and agencies involved in this investigation. Neighbors said police were on scene for several hours.

Nearly 100,000 bees in roof at Kettle Moraine Playhouse in Slinger

A bit of a dicey situation at Kettle Moraine Playhouse in Slinger as 100,000 honeybees have made their home inside the back wall of the theatre.

“It’s still rather cool for them inside the wall so there’s not much activity, but they’re in there,” said Playhouse Board member Ray VonGunten.

Hailed as the IT Director for the Kettle Moraine Playhouse, VonGunten has also donned another hat. “I’ve just been dubbed the man in charge of getting rid of the bees,” he said.

VonGunten walks behind the former St. Paul’s Church, 204 S. Kettle Moraine Drive, and points to a small, quarter-size hole at the roofline of the brick building. It’s about 25-feet to the roof and as we stare at the little black hole, one wonders what the buzz is all about. Someone who can easily confirm the bees are there are the contractors and project managers from Keller Inc.; that’s the locally-owned company that did a majority of work on the remodel.

A neighbor to the north of the Playhouse is also a bee expert and loaned his protective beekeeping gear, including a vented suit, gloves and mesh hat, to the project manager from Keller Inc. when he was working on the chimney.

A remodel of the old church was underway in 2017. The Playhouse staff found the bees but didn’t want to spend the money at the time to have them removed so the project manager at Keller Inc. and the HVAC sub contractor put on the bee suit to install a special vent so the bees wouldn’t get into the building.

Now that the theatre is open for business, the board has determined it’s time to deal with the bees.

“Harvesting the bees won’t be a big expense,” VonGunten said. “Where we’re really going to get hit is the cost to repair the roofline and the fascia.”

This isn’t the first time to try to rid the building of its mammoth beehive. Prior to the Playhouse purchasing the building someone was hired to poison the bees.

“The fella had been contracted to try to kill off the colony and because of that the honey will not be salvageable,” said VonGunten.  “During this effort we’re going to make sure that’s taken out of there as well.”

A special, smooth hose will be used to vacuum out the bees from between the walls. “The hive and honey will also be cleaned out and then the bees will be placed in a temporary location before they’re moved to a permanent colony,” VonGunten said.

While it’s not possible to hear the hum of the hive, either inside or outside the building, neighbor Janine Lisser said she’s seen them in mass. “I’ve lived here almost 18 years and I’ve had a couple of experiences with the bees,” she said. “At least half of the colony left the building and swarmed a bush in our backyard.”

Lisser describes the size of the swarm by holding her arms in a huge circle as if she’s trying to wrap her arms around a giant redwood.

“They’ve never really been a nuisance but there are times when they’re very active and you just have to be respectful,” she said.

The process to remove the bees is expected to happen in mid to late June. In the meantime the Kettle Moraine Playhouse is looking for assistance to help pay for the project.

Hollywood action star Vin Diesel spotted in Hartford                  By Samantha Sali

Folks in Hartford are all a twitter about a celebrity sighting on Main Street today. Carrie Stelzer from Scoop De Ville, 65 N. Main Street, said Vin Diesel, also known as Mark Sinclair, stopped at the ice cream shop around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Stelzer said the Hollywood actor, producer, director came in with some customers, who she deemed “regulars.”

“We normally see them a couple times a week,” Stelzer said.

“I was working in the back making ice cream and I heard screams and laughter. I didn’t come out because it didn’t sound like anything bad but then somebody told me Vin Diesel was in the store,” she said.

Employees at Scoop De Ville took photos. Several pictures on social media show the bald-headed, muscle-bound actor wearing a white t-shirt and white pants. Stelzer said she was told Diesel was in town visiting family. Stelzer also said Diesel may have stopped at Puebla’s Kitchen down the street.

“It’s good news,” said Stelzer. “Everybody’s talking about it and it’s kind of exciting.”

Shop owner Ray Stelzer said the experience was quite nice. “It’s just a very nice experience to have somebody like that in here,” he said.

Asked whether there have been other celebrities spotted at Scoop De Ville, Stelzer said Harford’s mayor and City Administrator Steve Volkert.

A nudge of a reminder, Stelzer confirmed John McGivern had also visited the store and so did the hosts of Discover Wisconsin.

Employees told Bob Fish has been sold

The employees at Bob Fish Buick GMC in West Bend have already been told, although management is refusing to confirm the sale of the family-owned dealership on S. Main Street.

Early word is Lynch Buick GMC out of Burlington has an offer on the table and is in talks to close on the purchase of the business and the building, 2275 S. Main Street in West Bend.

More details on the sale are expected to be available at the end of June.

Management at Lynch GMC in Burlington said they had “no comment at this time.” However they confirmed they would pass along a statement when the time was right.

Bob Fish founded the dealership in June 1981. He started as Bob Fish Pontiac, Cadillac and GMC Truck; which later became Bob Fish Pontiac, Buick, GMC and Isuzu Truck and Bob Fish Truck and Equipment in West Bend.

According to his obituary, June 20, 2008,

Bob was known as a tremendous talented businessman who took time to teach and share his knowledge with not only his employees but anyone who was in need of his talents. His passion was to build and manufacture commercial trucks of all sizes. He was an originating board member of the national commercial dealer council where he served his fellow dealers and General Motors in the advancement of the commercial truck business for the last three years. Bob was also involved with the Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers association and the Automobile Dealers of Metro Milwaukee. Bob was a very compassionate person who cared about the community and showed his compassion for children by his generous gifts to the MACC Fund, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Washington County, the Washington County Fair Park and numerous other organizations. Bob’s avocation was his everlasting fondness for racing. Bob helped start and create careers in short track racing. Most notably was his involvement with Slinger Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile. Bob was a tremendous outdoorsman who loved to pheasant and duck hunt; he also enjoyed fishing, golfing, and boating. Bob enjoyed traveling and easily made friends where ever he traveled. Bob touched the lives of many; and his kindness was never ending during people’s time of need. Bob was a proud member of the West Bend Moose Lodge 1398, West Bend VFW Post # 1393, the Vietnam Veterans of America in Newburg, the West Bend Area Chamber of Commerce and numerous other organizations.

Bob Fish died at the age of 59.

New West Bend School Superintendent confirms salary   

Media in Rapid City, South Dakota posted the salary of incoming West Bend Superintendent Don Kirkegaard. Earlier this week the West Bend School District announced the hiring of Kirkegaard, 59.

An open records request was submitted for contract details including salary, benefits, vacation and perks. Calls were also place to School Board President Joel Ongert. So far, no calls have been returned and no information received.

On May 30, 2018 posted an article about Kirkegaard by correspondent Bob Mercer. The article talks about how Kirkegaard has ended his stay “as South Dakota’s top K-12 official five months after he began.”

“This was a very difficult decision. I have been in South Dakota my entire career and have worked with so many great teachers, students, parents and administrators,” he said.

Kirkegaard praised the state department’s “great team” and said he was “extremely grateful” to the governor for the opportunity as secretary. When his state appointment was announced, Kirkegaard said he understood the position was for one year and it was uncertain whether the next governor would retain him.

So, he began looking for another job.

“I receive announcements from several different recruiting firms and the West Bend position seemed like it was a great fit for me and hopefully for the West Bend School District,” Kirkegaard said.

He wanted a district with 6,000 to 10,000 students in “an exciting and thriving community” where his skills met the local needs. He described West Bend, which is near Milwaukee, as “a great fit.”

“I took the position of secretary of education knowing that it was a short-term position,” Kirkegaard said. “We have three excellent candidates for governor. I have had no discussion with any of the candidates discussing my future within the department. I am not certain if I would have been asked to stay on or not.”

His hope, he said, was to work another five to 10 years in education and knew from experience there wouldn’t be many opportunities in December through July.

He said his wife, Lois, is excited about moving closer to their children who live in Minneapolis and Fargo.

“A new district and new state will be an exciting change. Not better or worse, just different,” he said.

In December 2017 the West Bend School District voted to release Superintendent Erik Olson.

Olson was hired June 2016 and officially resigned effective Dec. 14, 2017. When hired the School Board approved a two-year contract with Olson at a salary of $155,000. In 2017 that contract was extended another two years. Below is the resignation agreement between the West Bend Board of Education and Erik Olson.

Olson’s salary upon termination was $155,000 a year. The amount of benefits received in the agreement were not disclosed and are part of a second open records request.

The agreement also indicates Olson would receive full salary “less applicable withholdings” for the remainder of his contract. He will also receive moving expenses of $10,000 and unused vacation of $10,432.63.

In the top story at where “Kirkegaard explains why his time was so short as education secretary” he also spoke about his salary.

The article reads: “As education secretary he was paid $155,000.  The salary in West Bend will be $175,000, he said.”

There is some analysis in the blog “Dakota Free Press” by Cory Allen Heidelberger about the departure of Kirkegaard from South Dakota. One of the comments following the post had some speculation about the political future in Wisconsin.

The comment was posted by Donald Pay: Let’s make some assumptions, though, about the future. Let’s say Tony Evers wins the Democratic Party nomination for Governor and goes on to beat Scott Walker. Evers currently is the Secretary of the Department of Public Instruction, an elected head of what in South Dakota is the appointed Secretary of Education. That office would be open, and, though technically a non-partisan office, the candidates usually line up ideologically with one of the parties. The more conservative side of the aisle has had little luck fielding good, electable candidates for that office over a couple decades. So, maybe, Kierkegaard could, if not next year, then sometime in the future, be a candidate for that office.

It is likely, even if Evers doesn’t beat Walker, that this will be his last term in that office, so it will be an open seat anyway. Kirkegaard is scheduled to start in West Bend on July 1, 2018.

New salon opening in West Bend

Rhiannon Klotz and Revive Salon are on the move. Klotz and her husband recently purchased 325 Chestnut Street in West Bend. The interior of the old fire extinguisher store/Habitat ReStore/Bargain Mart has been gutted to the studs and is undergoing a severe makeover.

“I took cues from my former landlord Mike Smith who said ‘always own your own building,’” said Klotz. “This building screams my name. This is my style.” The remodel is expected to run through summer. “This is 4,000-square-feet of amazingness,” Klotz said.

The new Revive Salon will feature six open-concept stations, a coffee station, a blow-and-dry bar, makeup station and three private rooms for rent. “We’re looking at renting it out for nails or an esthetician,” said Klotz. “We’ll have a break room and totally hip waiting area with big glass doors.”

Klotz is hoping to open in September after Labor Day weekend. Not only did the Klotzs buy the building but also the empty lot to the south for parking. During the remodel Revive Salon will continue to operate out of its current location, 1747 Barton Avenue.

“That 1,200 square feet will be available October 1 so anyone interested can call or text me at 262-305-7382,” said Klotz.

Updates & tidbits

-Veterans from Washington County participating in the June 2 Stars & Stripes Honor Flight include:  Herman Ross Sr., Vietnam War Navy, of Hubertus, Ralph “Buzz” Schlass, Vietnam War Army, of Jackson, and Melvin Schultz, Korean War Air Force, of Slinger.

– The parking lot on the south end of Main Street looked like a firefighter convention Tuesday evening. That’s because Firehouse Subs hosted a VIP night and local firefighters were the guests of honor. Sharon and Bob Erickson, owners of the local Firehouse Subs franchise, were putting their employees through their paces and thanking local firefighters with a hot meal on the house. Firehouse Subs, 1733 S. Main Street, is open for business in West Bend.

– Rally Time Sports Bar and Grill in West Bend is looking for a part-time line cook position. Rally Time has a family-friendly team atmosphere. The position is primarily day shift and coverage as needed. Call Dan at 262-389-1142 or Cindy at 262-389-0839 or stop at the bar for an application.

– Hartford Union High School senior Abbie Groppe signed on to play tennis this fall for Edgewood College in Madison.

– Jake’s Free Fishing Day is Saturday, June 2 in Kewaskum at River Hill Park.  The program gets underway at 9 a.m. – noon. The event is sponsored by the Gateway Gobblers of the Nation Wild Turkey Federation.

– Robert P. Wagner, 81, of West Bend died on Wednesday, May 30, 2018. For many years, he worked at the former White House Milk Company. After their closing, he worked at the Gehl Company and later Kenro, Inc. in Fredonia. He enjoyed playing sheepshead and house painting.  One of his projects was painting the peaks at the Old Washington County Courthouse. Funeral services will be held on Monday, June 4, at 1:30 p.m. at the Schmidt Funeral Home in West Bend with Deacon Mark Jansen officiating.

– Maurice G. Bobholz, 87, passed away Sunday May 27, 2018. Maurice enlisted in the US Navy in March of 1949, and served 1 year active duty, and was in the reserves for an additional 14 years. Maurice was employed at GEHL Company for almost 40 years- first as a machinist, then later as a foreman and inspector. He also was employed part time as a deputy with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department for 25+ years.  A Funeral Service for Maurice will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday June 6 at Good Shepherd Ev. Lutheran Church (777 S. Indiana Ave. West Bend) with Pastor Robert Hein presiding

Celebrating 50th anniversary at Samaritan Campus

A celebration today of the 50th anniversary of the Samaritan Campus in West Bend.

Guest speakers included Washington County Administrator Joshua Schoemann.

“One of county’s key priorities is having different programs that provide access to basic needs for our residents and I can’t think of a better organization that does just that,” he said. “The work they do is extremely important and we’re appreciative of it.”

Schoemann stressed the great compassion the employees have for the residents at the Samaritan.

Washington County Board Chairman Donald A. Kriefall then read a proclamation that saluted the 131 residents at the Samaritan Health Center and the 50 year anniversary of the campus.

Cycling Without Age and Bike Friendly West Bend were praised for encouraging a partnership and healthy climate with senior citizens in the community.

The day’s celebration was highlighted by the opening of a time capsule that was tucked away May 14, 1993.

The 25-year-old time capsule was kept in the storeroom at the Samaritan. Mary Thiemer said it was intentional “because the one we buried before under the flag pole leaked and ruined all the contents.”

Once opened the time capsule revealed stories from the past included an active employment list from the Samaritan Health Center, a four-generation photo, a letter from May 14, 1993 about licensed social workers, 29 cents was taped to an orange piece of paper indicating how much a stamp cost in 1993. There was also a gift certificate for the beauty shop from Mary Ellen Sadownikow.

Another special moment at the celebration included rickshaw rides for folks at the Samaritan.

Gerry Kasik, 80, was treated to a spin around the parking lot. “Ohhhh this was great,” she said. “I like this weather.”

Kasik grew up in Milwaukee and remembered bicycling with her friends. “We all went together. There were about 30 kids on our block and we all took our bikes and went to the pool,” she said. “My bike was blue; nothing fancy but a nice big two wheeler.”

Carrie Jeffords was one of the bike pilots. She said all her customers really loved the ride.

“One woman said the only time she gets out is to go to the doctor and she really appreciated the ride,” said Jeffords. “They all said it was too short and they wanted to stay out longer.”

On a personal note: This summer’s Amazing Ride for Alzheimer’s will be raising funds for a second rickshaw for the Samaritan Health Center. Our goal is $10,000 and we will be selling bicycle license plates. Businesses and neighbors can sponsor a plate with their name or company logo. While on the tour my niece Audrey and I will send you a post card from the road and after the tour is over we’ll autograph the license plate and give it back to you as a memento from the adventure.

Checks can be made to “Samaritan Campus” and mailed to 531 E. Washington Street, West Bend, WI 53095. All donations are tax deductible. Be sure to mark the FEIN number on your check 396005754. 100-percent of the money raised will be donated to Samaritan Campus.  This year’s tour will take us to Whitefish Point, Michigan and the Shipwreck Museum. The 3-week tour leaves June 30.

Special ceremony Sunday, May 27 for Korean War vet Merlin Heinecke

Military Honors were held Sunday, May 27 to mark the grave of Army Veteran Merlin Heinecke of Allenton who was MIA in Korea on Dec. 2, 1950. Heinecke was in the battle of Chosin Reservoir. Merlin was born in Allenton on Aug. 7, 1929. He was baptized at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church on Sept. 1, 1929.

One of 12 adult children, Merlin had six sisters and five brothers at the time of his death. Merlin joined the U.S. Army on Jan. 6, 1949 at the age of 20. A short five months later Merlin was on his way overseas. He was assigned to the Heavy Motor Company, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. On Dec. 5, 1950, during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, SFC Merlin Heinecke went missing. He was declared dead on Dec. 31, 1953. His remains have not been recovered.

A memorial service was held for him at Zion sometime between Dec. 31, 1953 and early 1954. On Sunday, May 27, 2018 as part of the Memorial Day observation Merlin’s service and ultimate sacrifice was marked with the placement of a monument stone in the cemetery with bronze military plaque. The stone was funded by members of the Heinecke family, Lutheran Military Support Group and Zion Ev. Lutheran Church.


0940, 02 June 2018


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