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0710, 25 Aug 18

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

West Bend School Board postpones referendum

During a special meeting Monday night, Aug. 20, 2018 of the West Bend School Board (WBSB) a decision was made to delay moving forward on a referendum. Board members determined time ran out to educate the public. Board president Joel Ongert began the meeting with discussion about putting a question on the ballot in November.

“We have until next Tuesday to tell the county clerk what our intentions are,” he said.  “Are we going to a referendum in November and potential questions and how do we want it to look.”

Board member Chris Zwygart spoke first and set the tone for the rest of the meeting.  “I’m not sure we’re ready to move forward. The board has number questions,” said Zwygart.

Board member Ken Schmidt said he had doubts. “I question need and want,” said Schmidt.  “Those are two questions I have. Some things I see as needs with safety and that is a big need but here again I really have some questions about right sizing. Those are the two biggies.”

Schmidt also expressed concern about the cost to taxpayers in the future. “There’s no guarantee with a phenomenal economy. I’m a realist and there are cycles. I’ve seen several in my lifetime but I have sincere reservations.”

The WBSB had been considering a $50 million referendum for Jackson Elementary School and West Bend High School. With taxes and interest that would grow to over $85 million.

The district currently has about $130 million in referendum debt that will run over the next 20 years. During the public comment portion of the meeting, former school board member Randy Marquardt spoke against moving ahead with the referendum.

The board was discussing whether to ask for one question or two on the ballot and after 40 minutes determined to not move forward with the plan at this time.

Board president Joel Ongert refused comment after the meeting. A couple of leaders from the West Bend School Board spoke after about the decision including board member Zwygart said as a person, “We have unanswered questions and limited time between now and the time of the election (Nov. 6, 2018) that just does not set us up for success as it relates to transparency with the voters and so I’m pleased with the decision.”

Board member Ken Schmidt, speaking as a person, said he was pleased with the decision to postpone the referendum. “I’m certainly in favor of delaying it. My only concern is if it’s moved to next spring or a special election in the fall the community may not be quite as attentive or interested,” he said.

Board members Nancy Justman and Tonnie Schmidt were not in attendance Monday night.

Kewaskum Classic Car Show is back on

Good news for classic car show lovers in Kewaskum as the annual September show is back on.

Two weeks ago ran a story about the Grand Larsony Custom Classic Car Show possibly being in jeopardy.

A permit for the event had been issued to Mark ‘Kurly’ Kissinger but according to posts on social media there was some thought it may not move forward.

The Village Board revisited the issue during its Monday meeting. Mark ‘Kurly’ Kissinger was in attendance. Village President Kevin Scheunemann said Mr. Kissinger addressed the board for about five minutes and then left.

“I wanted to hear it from Mark Kissinger himself whether it was true he was going to hold the car show or not because on social media there were reports he wasn’t,” said Scheunemann.  “After five minutes he said he wasn’t going to hold the show, he walked out and the board promptly pulled his permit.”

Trustee Dave Spenner commented that Scheunemann handled the situation appropriately and the board voted 7-0 to revoke the permit.

“The board thought, if you’re not going to hold the show then you don’t need the permit and so it was revoked,” said Scheunemann.

The keys for the event and the permit were then awarded to Mike Beal from Top Fuel in Kewaskum. The car show will go on as planned Sept. 16 on Main Street in Kewaskum.

“We’re changing the name of the show to Cars in Kewaskum,” said Beal. “I’m taking this over out of respect for Richard ‘Kissey’ Kissinger who started the show in 2000. I was honored that he came to me and asked me to continue his legacy.”

Beal said he will also be in charge of the show in 2019. “This is a community event,” said Beal. “The community came together and they wanted it to continue.”

The annual Grand Larsony Custom Classic Car Show started in 2000 and was organized by Grand Larsony owner Richard ‘Kissey’ Kissinger. In 2015 ‘Kissey’ announced he was stepping down from the event. The show, a popular stop for the car clubs, normally drew about 400 classic cars to Main Street in Kewaskum. Over the years Kissey used the car show as a way raise money to benefit local people in need. This year money raise will be donated to Art Klemme and Janine Prunty. Modern Woodmen will be providing matching funds for the money raised.

Local rainfall across Washington County

Washington County got a good soaking this week as the National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch Monday evening into Tuesday for Washington Co. and neighboring Dodge Co., Waukesha Co., Ozaukee Co., and Sheboygan County.

The rain started in earnest just after 6 p.m. Monday. The heavy precipitation was accompanied by some lightning.

Neighbors in Washington County chimed in with rainfall totals which ranged from a high of 6 inches by St. Paul’s Church in Slinger to 5 inches in the Town of Farmington.

Dick Geldreich Highway H – Town of Farmington – 5 inches this morning, Barbara Patzen Mull – south of West Bend 2.2 inches, Ruth Marks –  Just over 3.5 inches west of Big Cedar Lake on top of the Great Divide at 8:20 a.m., still getting a light drizzle, Margaret Pfaff – Just under 3.5 inches in Slinger. On Ellys Way, Laurie Wagner – south side of West Bend 3.1 inches, Monica Larson Lohry – 6 inches in Slinger, we are by St. Paul’s Church, Gloria Rodenkirch – Green Lake, Farmington – 3.5 inches, Aaron Weyer – 3.75 inches north side West Bend, Terry Groth – 2.5 inches in Jackson, 1 mile south of the hospital, Toni Owens – little more than 3 inches west side of Silver Lake, Debby Wolfe-Schmid – West Decorah 3.5 inches, Kathy Ingles – 3.4 inches Town of Ashford/Campbellsport

Slinger School District unveils additions and remodels

In 2016 taxpayers in the Slinger School District approved a $42 million referendum that funded district-wide projects. The referendum bonds were issued at the lowest rate in the past 30 years at 2.45 percent.

The bonds totaled $42,280,000 and with interest the payback will be $52,869,810.

“By borrowing at 2.45 percent instead of 4 percent, we shaved two years off the 20-year loan and the combination of shortening the term and the lower interest rate, we cut the interest by $8 million or 43 percent,” said Slinger Superintendent Daren Sievers.

Five buildings and the campuses of the Slinger School District saw improvements through the referendum.  One of the most impressive is the new auditorium which can seat 830.

The opening production will be Wizard of Oz on Nov. 1, 2, 3 and 4.

“We really wanted a production to celebrate the grand opening of the auditorium,” said Sievers.

A survey showed taxpayers were not in favor of spending $11.5 million on an auditorium and the Slinger School Board listened. “We saved $1.5 million by taking the balcony out,” Sievers said about the $9.8 million facility.

The fitness center is 9,100 square feet. “This was the music wing and the architects blew out the band and choir hallway walls and opened it up,” said Sievers. “The stage where the kids performed is now a double-decker fitness center with 1,800 more square feet.”

The Slinger School District paid off all its debt before moving forward with the 2016 project. History of West Bend Brewing Industry by the Barton Historical Society

The Barton Historical Society will be presenting a History of the West Bend Brewing Industry from its beginning in 1850 and beyond. Come learn how important a role the local farmers played in this business. Feel free to bring any memorabilia of the brewery to enhance the program. The presentation will be Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Barton Roller Mill located at Commerce Street and Barton Avenue. The public is welcome.

2018 Board of Review is Aug. 28, 2018

The City of West Bend sent all property owners a 2018 property assessment. The 2018 Board of Review will be held on Tuesday, August 28, 2018 at 10 a.m. in City Hall.

Keep in mind the city did explore an advisory referendum with a wheel tax or a property tax increase or asking Washington County for a share of its sales tax. A final decision is still pending to determine how to pay for more road improvements in the City of West Bend. Finally, remember your property tax bill is made up of taxes to be paid to the city, county, school district, Moraine Park Technical College and the state. The last city-wide revaluation was 2011.

Slinger H.S. grad makes Milwaukee Bucks Dance Team

A 2018 Slinger High School graduate has made the Milwaukee Bucks Dance Team. Tannor Allar, 18, is currently a freshman at Concordia University in Mequon.

She auditioned as an NBA cheerleader over the weekend, made it through three sessions of tryouts and then it was announced she was one of five rookies to make the 2018-2019 Milwaukee Bucks Dance Team.

“I was the second to last number to get called so I didn’t think I was going to make it and then when they called my name I was just overwhelmed and enthusiastic,” Allar said.

A dancer since she was 3 years old with the Hartford Energizers Dance Team, Allar has won the World Dance Competition three times. “I think the Bucks liked my dance experience and dance has been my life,” she said.

Allar said the tryout process was tough. “It was very intense and intimidating because I was one of the youngest,” she said. “It was fun and all the girls were really nice and welcoming.”

Practice for the Bucks Dance Team is three days a week from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. and on weekends. “I will be at every home game dancing on the court,” Allar said.  “We get our uniforms this week and it’ll be really fun to be dancing in the new arena.”

Veterans from Washington Co. on the Sept. 15 Honor Flight

Eight veterans from Washington County will be on the Sept. 15 Stars & Stripes Honor Flight. Veterans include Jerry Bentfield of Hartford who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, Oscar Rathke of Jackson, and six veterans from West Bend including Ed Farrell, Vietnam War Army, Lester Hahn, WWII Army, Michael Henner, Vietnam War Army, Bob Martin, Vietnam War Army, Bob Schulz, Vietnam War Army, and Ivan Vorderbruggen, Korean War Army. This is the 47th mission of the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight since 2008.

Updates & tidbits

There will be a special Mass and altar dedication Sunday, Aug. 26 at St. Mary’s Parish in Barton. It’s the culmination of the remodel and the consecration of the altar. Special guest will be Bishop Schuerman.  The Mass will be at 9:30 a.m. with a special altar dedication reception from 10:30 a.m. – noon in the school gym.

– Gehring’s Meat Market, 5618 County Road K, in St. Lawrence has a whole new look. Owners Bob and Ben Gehring are excited and happy to be in their expanded storefront.  The family-owned business is celebrating with an open house today, Saturday, Aug. 25, from 9 a.m. – noon. The Gehrings added 2,500 square feet. The larger storefront allows them to better display products, and add a few new items. The addition also made room for a meat inspector’s office and another for Gehring’s staff. The old store will become a new larger packaging room. The old packaging room will become storage. The processing room will be slightly bigger.  Courtesy Ruth Marks

-Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 777 S. Indiana Avenue, in West Bend is dedicating its $3.2 million “Building Connections” expansion project Sunday, Sept. 9. There will be a meal and banquet following the 10:30 a.m. service.

– There was a special celebration in Jackson this week as Mabel Schreiber turned 100 years old. Schreiber has been a member of the Jackson Area Senior Citizens Card Club since its inception 26 years ago. As part of the celebration Schreiber received a star that will be hung in the Jackson Community Center and a birthday certificate from Governor Scott Walker.

The annual St. Frances Cabrini Used Book Sale and Rummage Sale is Saturday, Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 9 from 8:30 a.m. – noon in Mother Cabrini Hall in the lower level of church. Used book donations will be accepted from now through Sept. 7.  

Tim Dabroski, the lead technician at Auto Safety Center in West Bend made the cover of the August issue of national automotive magazine Undercar Digest. 

Make your life more secure by shredding old documents and make your community better too. Horicon Bank, 1535 W. Paradise Drive, in West Bend will be collecting donations for the Wisconsin Honor Flight at its Shred Day event, Saturday, Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. – noon.

– The name of the man killed in Friday’s accident, Aug. 17 on I-41 just north of County Trunk K has been released. The Washington County Sheriff said 37-year-old Benjamin Hewett was killed when his northbound vehicle cross the center median and struck a southbound semi. Three dogs in Hewett’s vehicle were also killed.  The accident remains under investigation.

-St. Frances Cabrini annual Rummage Sale is Thursday, Sept. 20 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 21 from 8 a.m. to noon in Mother Cabrini Hall in the lower level of the church. Baked goods will also be available. Rummage items can be dropped off Sept. 15 through Sept. 19.

– There’s a golf outing Sept. 23 at West Bend Lakes Golf Club and proceeds will go to the Luke Gromowski Ironman Scholarship Fund. Luke Gromowski was a senior at West Bend East when he died in a car accident in November 2014. A $1,000 scholarship will be presented each year to a senior from West Bend East and West High School that participated in football from fifth grade through their senior year. Registration for the outing is 8 a.m. with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. The cost is $100 per adult and $50 for a student. Contact Ed Ihlenfeld at 262-707-5449 for more detail.

-Ron Wenta of West Bend was the big $500 winner at Thursday’s Music on Main. Record crowd, fantastic beverage and food sales and great music.

– 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.

Sign up today for the 8th Annual Swinging for Seniors Golf Outing at West Bend Lakes Golf Club. All proceeds benefit Senior Citizens Activities, Inc. Stick around after golf and take part in the Classics for a Cause Raffle and a chance to win a 1968 Ford Mustang.

Guest Editorial | West Bend Referendum Fight is Not Over | By Owen Robinson

The citizens of West Bend received a reprieve last night when the West Bend School Board decided to suspend the referendum effort. “Suspend” is the key word. At the meeting, School Board President Joel Ongert made it clear that he wants to put a referendum on the April or possibly next November ballot. It is worth noting that those elections also historically have much lower turnout. That makes it easier for the referendum to pass (if you’d like me to explain this, I will, but I think y’all get it).

Ongert also made a comment that he thought that the needs at the high schools warranted $60 million! In the current referendum proposal, they are asking for $31 million for the high schools. Ongert wants to spend so. much. more.

Over the next few months as the citizens of the West Bend School District and their School Board consider the prospect of a referendum, we should keep some hard numbers in mind.

$215 million. That is how much the taxpayers will be obligated to pay back if the referendum being considered is approved. The district already owes about $130 million due to the passage of previous referenda. If the referendum passes, it will bring that total to about $215 million in owed interest and principal.

$2,125. There are about 40,000 adults who live in the West Bend School District. If the $50 million referendum being considered passes, the share for each adult is $2,125. Each adult’s share of the total $215 million debt would be about $5,200.

$5.3 million. The taxpayers currently spend about $5.3 million per year on paying down debt. That is $5.3 million that is not spent on educating kids. It is being spent on paying off buildings. That number will increase substantially if the referendum being considered passes.

20. Under the proposal outlined by Baird for the School Board, it will take 20 years to pay off new referendum debt. On the payment schedule presented by Baird at the August 13th school board meeting, the taxpayers will pay only the interest payments for the first nine years. The taxpayers will not pay down a single dollar of the principal until the tenth year.

2.7%. Despite having the authority under Act 10 to control labor expenses, employees of the West Bend School District can still get a family health insurance plan for as little as $49 per month. That is 2.7% of the total cost of the plan. The taxpayers pay the remaining 97.3%.

307. Using the Kindergarten Trend Projection Model, which extrapolates kindergarten enrollment trends to forecast future enrollment, there will be 307 kids in Jackson Elementary in nine years. That compares to the 371 kids who were in the school last year and the 535 kids in the same building at the most recent peak in 2010. That is a 43% decline in student population in the Jackson Elementary building, but also includes the reconfiguration of grades that occurred in 2014.

5,289. Using the same projection model, the entire West Bend School District will have an enrollment of 5,289 kids in the 2027-2028 school year. That compares to the 6,634 kids in the last school year and 6,843 kids in the district in the most recent peak year of 2009. That is a 20% decline in enrollment over the next decade.

Different project models give slightly different numbers, but the declining enrollment matches the trend that the school district has seen in recent years. Due to generally lower birth rates, open enrollment, the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program, and demographic shifts, the West Bend School District is seeing the same declining enrollment as many other Wisconsin school districts.

21%. In the most recent open enrollment figures, 21% of the kids who open enrolled out of the West Bend School District left to attend a virtual school. While the West Bend School Board wants to invest in buildings, families are seeking out modern ways to get a quality education.

20. The world of education is not immune from the societal and technological transformations taking place around us. Educational delivery methods now include online and hybrid learning, collaboration with industries, augmented reality, and so much more. The West Bend School Board is asking to spend $85 million on a 20th century education model.

Zero. If the voters approve allowing the West Bend School Board to dump tens of millions of dollars into buildings, they can expect zero improvements in educational outcomes. It has been proven time and time again that once the basic safety and space needs for school buildings are met, spending more on buildings does not result in better education.

For recent evidence, look at the test scores and graduation rates in the West Bend School District since the other school building referendums were passed. According to DPI data, all of the results are flat or declining.

The new Badger and renovated Silverbrook schools look fantastic, but they did not make any kids smarter. That is why the school board has wisely not even attempted to claim that it will improve education in the district.

There are a lot of things that the West Bend School Board could do to try to improve education for the children under their care. Dumping money into fancy buildings is not one of them.

George Prescott puts Timmer’s Resort up for sale

It was early 2007 when George Prescott phoned his wife Judi and according to an article in Around the Bend dated March 14, 2009 the conversation about Timmer’s Resort went a little like this.

“I called Judi one day and said, ‘Is it OK if I buy Timmer’s?’ and she said, ‘Why would we do that?’”

The rest of the Prescott story surrounding the resort and restaurant on Big Cedar Lake… is history.

It was October 2007 when Prescott, a West Bend area investor and philanthropist, bought the historic Timmer’s Resort and restaurant, 5151 Timmer Bay Road. Over the years Prescott worked to retain the nostalgia of the property that dates to 1882 when the hotel was opened by German immigrants Mathias and Margaret Timmer.

The Prescotts, who lives on the lake, paid $1.75 million for Timmer’s Resort and restaurant, a little more than half the original $3.49 million asking price.

Fast forward 11 years, 2018, and Prescott is now putting Timmer’s Resort up for sale.

“Yup I decided after 10 -12 years I have a nice sense of accomplishment that I brought the resort back to life and I’ll turn it over to somebody else now to let them take it on,” Prescott said.

Speaking from his home, Prescott said it was a difficult decision but one that “needed to be done.”

“The cottages have been full. Every time we build another one it fills up right away. We have a deluxe one ready to go. There are a couple projects that are opportune for someone to take it away. We’ve had some tremendous interest from qualified buyers and that’s just pretty much from word of mouth. A couple weeks ago the rumor caught hold and people started calling and it’s been interesting to watch,” he said.

Questioned what sort of buyer he was looking for, Prescott said he preferred “someone local who could maintain the integrity.”

“I’m biased but I think the public will be better served with local ownership rather than remote ownership,” he said.

A snowbird, George and Judi normally spend four to five months in Arizona.  He said if he had a preference, by January he may not “need to stay in touch with what’s going on at the restaurant.”

A savvy businessman, Prescott said a strong economy was weighing in his favor. “Interest rates are reasonable and the timing is just right with a number of full cottages and the success of the restaurant,” he said.

Changes are also happening behind the scenes. Resort manager Frances LeGrand will be leaving in October. “Although she wants to keep one finger in the soup, so to speak,” said Prescott.

LeGrand was featured along with Prescott when John McGivern brought his PBS show Around the Corner to Timmer’s. That show aired in February 2016.

Questioned whether his health played a part in his decision. It was 2001 when Prescott was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Now 70 years old, he sounded strong and mighty thankful. “I’m pretty lucky,” he said.

“I get along pretty well. I don’t know how much longer that’ll last but for the time being I’ve got good doctors and we’re pretty on top of it. I get a fair amount of exercise but I could always do more,” he said.

Prescott qualified Timmer’s as “a special place.”

Looking back at when he was considering buying place, he said he felt it was good timing.  “I had sold seven Pick n’ Save grocery stores and I was feeling foot loose and fancy free,” said Prescott.

“I thought, this place is run down and it shouldn’t be left that way and I thought somebody has to step up to the plate. I just stepped up and was able to do some good and have a certain amount of fun doing it.”

Questioned whether there was an offer on the table, Prescott was coy yet confident.

“There are conversations going on beyond serious contenders who have some thoughts on what to do with it and we want to cooperate with them. So we will see.”


0710, 25 August 2018


  1. Kevin Scheunemann

    I do have to thank Judy Steffes for her excellent news gathering.   Without it, it is possible the Kewaskum car show would not have been held.

    She was the first to uncover the issue that the permit holder of event was just deciding to not hold the event…and not inform the Village.

    Another action packed recap of the week.

    I never miss it!



  2. Mark Hoefert

    Yes, Judy Steffes is citizen journalism at it’s best, considering she has a professional background in journalism.  I remember when she was a news reporter with WBKV.  She has a lot of trust in the community and a huge following on Facebook.  A lot of people rely on her as their main source. Problem is with Facebook it is easy for things to get lost in the feed, and people don’t click through to the blog articles.

    She also saved Hartford’s July 4th fireworks this year – they were cancelled due to lack of support, but thanks to her they were saved.

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