Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Casey’s General Store buys 7 Tri-Par locations  

 A family-owned business for 88 years has been sold. Watch as the Tri-Par gas stations in Washington, Ozaukee, Dodge and Sheboygan Counties take on a new look as the stations have been sold to Casey’s General Store.

“It’s bittersweet,” said owner Steve Gall, 56. “We think it’s a good fit for our 95 employees. They’re taking all seven stores and keeping all seven stores open until they’re remodeled.  I think we did the best we could.”

Steve Gall of Cedarburg owns the business with his brother Mark. Their grandfather Herbert was one of the founders. “The store has been in my family for 88 years,” Steve Gall said. “He started it 1930 and had a door-to-door route with a delivery truck.”

The Gall stores that sold to Casey’s General Store include the Tri Par on Highway P and Mile View Road in West Bend, Highway 60 in Slinger, Highway 33 in Newburg, Hustisford, Cedarburg, Highway 33 in Saukville and Random Lake.

“Casey’s approached us and some other people approached us,” Gall said.  “It wasn’t ideal timing because my brother and I are fairly young yet but it just seemed like it was time.”

Casey’s General Store has a signature look with a red shingle top and yellow-and-black signage. “I’m sure some of the stores they’ll remodel and others they will rebuild,” said Gall.

Gall, 56, said customer reaction has been mixed. “People don’t like change,” he said.

Casey’s is making a wave of acquisitions quickly across the state.

In January 2018 reporter Samantha Sali broke the story about Casey’s General Store a development in Hartford. That store on the corner of Highway 60 and Liberty Avenue received approval from the Hartford Plan Commission.

Currently Casey’s General Store has over 2,000 locations. The company has made a name for itself with “clean stores and friendly employees who pride themselves in customer service.”

Gall said the sale of the seven Tri-Par locations will close at the end of November.

On a history note: The family-owned Tri-Par stores have an interesting story. The post below is courtesy Steve Gall.

Tri Par was founded in 1930 by Herbert Gall, Clarence Gueller, and Jack Klein. The name Tri-Par was bestowed upon the business by a depot agent, as the men could not come to consensus and did not want any of their names on the bill of lading for a train car of gasoline. The German depot agent used the German word for Three, which is Drei , the English equivalent Tri, and Par as the shortened version of partner.

Mr. Gall, Mr. Gueller and Mr. Klein decided to go their separate ways after a year of working together. Herbert Gall continued to use the Tri-Par name as he went door to door selling fuel to farmers in Ozaukee and Washington counties. His business steadily grew and he opened an automobile repair shop in the 1945 in downtown Cedarburg. He installed a pump out in front of the shop to fuel automobiles. Herbert bought the northwest corner of the Washington Avenue and Western Avenue and built his first stand-alone gas station in the early in 1950’s. A second location was added in downtown Sheboygan a few years later.

The expansion continued. Tri-Par had eight delivery trucks on the road in the 1960’s.

Herbert had two – 200,000 gallon fuel tanks built to store fuel oil and gasoline. He bought motor oil direct from manufacturers in Pennsylvania. Retail locations were added in West Bend, Hartford, Manitowoc, Port Washington and Saukville.

Herbert sold his company to his sons in 1970’s and they started to add convenience stores and convert the retail locations to self-serve. They developed the reputation for having competitive prices and quality merchandise. They began selling gallon milk and had a stamp program that allowed customers to earn stamps for each purchase, with a full stamp book redeemable for a cash rebate.

Herbert’s son Robert bought Tri-Par from his brothers in 1986. Robert built the Newburg site in 1988, followed by Slinger and Hustisford. Each of these sites filled the need for a gasoline and convenience store in a small town located on a state highway. Most recently, the Random Lake store was constructed in 2004, the store on Hwy P in West Bend was rebuilt shortly thereafter, and the most recent reconstruction was Saukville in 2012.

Historic Downtown West Bend Theatre receives lead donation

Historic West Bend Theatre Inc. (HWBT) thanked the National Exchange Bank Foundation and the Barbara & Peter Stone Family Foundation for making a lead donation of $250,000 for the restoration of the iconic 1929 theatre in downtown West Bend.

“These lead gifts are essential for getting big projects off the ground, and these two foundations did just that with commitments of $125,000 from each foundation to our $3 million project,” said Nic Novaczyk, HWBT president. “We have lift-off and are now on a flight path to begin the restoration work in early 2019.”

The first visible sign of the restoration will happen shortly when Poblocki Sign Company takes down the perimeter-lit “West Bend” sign (the blade) and parts of the marquee so its refurbishment can begin. It is expected to go back up in mid-2019.

Adam Stone, a director for both foundations, said, “The National Exchange Bank Foundation contributes to strategic initiatives that improve the communities we serve in Wisconsin. We believe in ‘paying it forward.’”

He added, “The renovation of the theatre as a multi-purpose venue for the performing arts and community gatherings will make the downtown jump with new life. It is an excellent piece of economic development.”

Dolf De Ceuster, Vice President of Commercial Lending at the National Exchange Bank & Trust West Bend location, said the community enthusiasm for the theatre project has been heartwarming and played a role in his decision to refer the Theatre to the foundations to request a lead gift. “There has been an out-pouring of support for bringing the old theatre alive again. Many people have fond memories of going there for movies as children.”

Rev. Rick Stoffel receives Vatican II Award for Service in the Priesthood

Congratulations to Rev. Richard Stoffel of St. Peter Catholic Church – Slinger, WI and Resurrection Catholic Parish – Allenton, WI, who received the Vatican II Award for Service in the Priesthood. The celebration was held at The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee on Nov. 6. Looking back on his nearly 40 years of priesthood, Rev. Stoffel said the best part about his vocation has been “the people I get to serve.”

Rev. Stoffel is currently the pastor of St. Peter in Slinger and Resurrection in Allenton. He has previously served as the pastor of St. Joseph in Racine and associate pastor at St. Mary in Kenosha and St. Matthew in Oak Creek. “I didn’t want in any form or fashion to be fussy about where I went,” said Rev. Stoffel. “I always thought, if they sent me there, they must have a good reason, and I’ll do my best while I’m there. It’s about simply doing humbly whatever is put in front of you to do.”

Six people apply for Washington County Dist. 11 Supervisor’s seat

Six people have applied to the fill the Washington County Supervisor’s seat in District 11. In no particular order: Gary Kawczynski, Gerard Behlen, Christopher Elbe, James Merkel, Douglas Neumann, and Keith Stephan.  The opening in District 11 follows the resignation of Supervisor William Blanchard. The candidates will now interview with the Executive Committee and then a recommendation will be made to the full County Board. The seat, which carries a term that runs until April 2020, should be filled before the end of the year.

Pearl of Canton expected to open soon

Neighbors in West Bend have been anxiously awaiting the official opening of the new Pearl of Canton. The restaurant, 515 Hickory Street, is located in the old Sears and former Generations Christian Fellowship building in downtown West Bend.

Owner BeBay Luu purchased the 2-story building in 2017 and had hoped to be open in early January however, flipping an old retail outlet into a restaurant proved to be a challenge. Now, almost two years later, the new Vietnamese, sushi and Chinese restaurant is on the cusp of opening. This week lead contractor Ron Dibble opened the door for a quick sneak peek. Dibble said work is nearly complete in the kitchen. That project was a bit daunting considering the installation of plumbing and updating the electrical.

The new look resembles a luxurious Asian restaurant with high recessed ceilings and 6,000-square-feet of space on the first floor. The color scheme is rich burnt reds and browns. There are arched entryways and black string curtains to separate rooms. Some of the art features Buddha statues and paintings along with decorative wood dividers that set off table spaces closer to the walls.

Burial held for Bob Pick II

At noon on a cold, rainy, windy Sunday, Nov. 4, a burial service was held for Bob Pick II who died this past Feb. 16, 2018 at the age of 76.

Mother Mindy Valentine Davis from St. James Episcopal Church on Eighth Avenue in West Bend presided over the ceremony. There were about a dozen people in attendance including friends and family and members of the West Bend Baseball Association; former high school coach Doug Gonring and Craig Larsen.

Pick II had been an avid statistician for years for local high school sports. Pick’s ashes were placed in the ground in the columbarium outside the church.

As. Mother Mindy knelt at the base of the marked stone. “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ we commend to Almighty God our brother Bob and we commit his body to the ground. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Lord bless him and keep him. The Lord make his face to shine upon him and be gracious unto to him. The Lord lift up his countenance upon him and give him peace. Amen.”

Funeral Sunday, Nov. 11 for 21-year-old West Bend man

The community of West Bend is mourning the loss of a young man who died in a tragic accident Saturday afternoon, Nov. 3. According to West Bend Police the white vehicle crashed at 12:15 p.m. into Good Shepherd School, 600 S. Pennsylvania Avenue. West Bend Police and Fire Departments responded to the scene and found the vehicle crashed into the school causing excessive damage to the vehicle and school building.

Officers found the driver, Aaron Backhaus, 21, slumped over and unresponsive. Officers and Fire Department personnel attempted life saving measures at the scene. Backhaus suffered serious injuries to his legs and head, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Backhaus lived just down the street in West Bend. He was a 2015 graduate of the West Bend East High School. The driver was the only occupant in the vehicle. There were no other vehicles involved in this crash, and there were no injuries to any pedestrians. Good Shepherd Lutheran Pastor Robert Hein said the accident “was a shock.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” Hein said. “No children were at the school when the accident occurred. We did have a man in the kitchen and a couple construction guys who were at the school; they heard the accident and were first on scene to administer CPR.”

“There was glass and concrete all the way down the hallway. You’ll have to ask police but it appears there was a lot of speed involved,” said Hein.

Hein said insurance adjusters are coming to view the damage and because the vehicle hit a pillar that holds up the roof the school relocated its preschool students and eighth grade classes until contractors can reassure them the area is safe. The vehicle, according to Hein, came directly off Pennsylvania Avenue. He said it appeared Backhaus failed to make the turn onto Indiana Avenue.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation. The funeral will be Sunday, Nov. 11 with visitation from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Phillip Funeral Home in West Bend.  A service will follow at 4 p.m.

West Bend School District considers property purchase in Jackson

During Monday’s meeting, Nov. 12, of the West Bend School Board a discussion will be held on the “Potential land purchase in Jackson.” According to the district website:

Topic and Background:

In approximately 2009 the West Bend School District purchased a 6.38 acre parcel of land on Jackson Dr. in the Village of Jackson in anticipation of reconstructing the existing Jackson Elementary. Since the purchased property was small for an elementary school, discussions occurred at the time between the district and village about securing additional land to the north that was owned by the Village of Jackson.

In recognition that the district was moving toward the building a new Jackson Elementary on the new site, the Jackson DPW moved to a new site and the Village began searching for a property on which to construct a new safety building to house the police and fire departments.

In early 2017, the district and the village agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to have appraisals done on the existing Jackson Elementary, Fire Department and DPW properties. Each party paid for the appraisal of their individual properties and agreed to exchange the documents. Each party recognized the importance of securing the additional property for any potential new school.

 Within the last several weeks the Village has put in an offer on the site for the new safety building. The offer has been accepted and closing is set for mid – December. The village offer to purchase is contingent upon the sale of the existing DPW and Fire Department parcels.

 Since a new safety building would not be complete prior to the sale of the property, the district would lease the fire department back to the village for a minimal sum. The village would be responsible for all maintenance and utilities associated with the building.

 Rationale:

 Regardless of whether the board decides to have a referendum in spring of 2019, the property to the north of our vacant land would make our property a much better site for an elementary building. Furthermore, the purchase of this property would enable the Village of Jackson to move ahead with their plans.

 Budget: Total purchase price $750,000.

A couple of notes:

-The West Bend School District owes about $130 million on current referendum debt. That debt is slated to be paid off in 2028.

-The referendum costs in August 2018 for a new Jackson Elementary and renovations to the high schools was estimated at about $50 million with an additional $35 million in interest for a total estimated at $85 million.

-Board member Ken Schmidt has talked about the interest costs being posted on the ballot to give a clear picture of how much the referendum would total. Board President Joel Ongert said in a meeting in August the interest would not be on the ballot.

-The West Bend School District last reported a drop in enrollment of 85 students.

-The School Board has regularly set aside $250,000 for the Jackson Elementary Fund, also known as Fund 46. During a meeting in May it was noted there was $4 million in Fund 46 however $2.5 million was designated for Jackson Elementary.

-Fund 46 would have been used to offset the cost of a future referendum involving Jackson Elementary. This year, for the first time since the fund started, the board approved setting aside $20,000 for the Jackson Fund. Superintendent Don Kirkegaard said they would see “how our budget is performing.” He said the district would look at whether to contribute to the Jackson Fund in spring 2019.

-During a meeting in August, Bray Architects recommended the Jackson Fund not be saved to reduce the referendum but instead to pay down debt.

-The West Bend School Board has held nine meetings since Sept. 10, 2018 but has not posted meeting minutes.

-In August the board discussed a new two-story Jackson Elementary.

-Over the summer the district spent $16,500 on a survey regarding the future of Jackson Elementary and the West Bend High Schools.  Only some, not all, of the survey results were shared with the community.

The West Bend School Board’s next meeting is Monday, Nov. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the lower level of the District Office, 735 S. Main Street.

Updates & Tidbits

The funeral is Saturday, Nov. 10 for Assistant Waubeka Fire Chief Bruce Koehler, 53, who passed away unexpectedly following a motorcycle accident Friday night, Nov. 2. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 824 Fredonia Ave., Fredonia. Visitation will take place at the church from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. The Fire Department walk-through will follow.  

On Sunday Nov. 11, St Luke’s Church in Slinger will install Joy Faith as its new pastor.

-During the month of October, Bob’s Main Street Auto & Towing completed 31 brake jobs over and donated $1,765.11 to the Cleveland Clinic Breast Cancer Vaccine Research Fund.

-Holy Angels Students of the Month for September include Jeremy Dorow, Cade Kohnen, and Amber Georgenson.

-A special promotion is running at St. Vincent De Paul in Washington County. From Nov. 1 – Dec. 31 spend $25 at St. Vincent De Paul in Slinger, West Bend or Hartford and get a $5 gift card. SVDP is also having a 50% off sale on Nov. 17 at all three stores from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mattresses, box springs and bed frames are excluded from the sale.

-The Kettle Moraine Symphony will honor veterans during its concert Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 at 3 p.m. Free admission for veterans. The community celebrates its veterans when KMS collaborates with local organizations to honor Americans who have served in the military.

– Tickets go on sale Nov. 11 for the amazing Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops Concert on Dec. 11 at the West Bend High Schools Silver Lining Arts Center.

– St. Mary’s Immaculate Conception, 406 Jefferson Street, and St. Frances Cabrini in West Bend are holding a Women’s Morning of Reflection on Saturday, Nov. 17 following 8 a.m. Mass. The event is free however a goodwill offering is appreciated.

– Grab your family and bundle up because the 32nd Annual Hartford Christmas Parade is Nov. 10. The theme is “Christmas Lights.” Start time is 3 p.m.

– On Nov. 12, 2018, at 3:30 p.m. Fleet Farm will break ground for its new 190,000 square-foot store in West Bend.  The new West Bend Fleet Farm is expected to open in the Fall of 2019 at the southeast corner of Highway 33 and County Road Z and employ more than 200 people when it opens. This store will replace the existing store located at 1637 W. Washington Street.

Bloomin’ Art Best in Show

The 6th annual Bloomin’ Holidays event kicked off at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend with the Bloomin’ Best of Show Awards handed out Thursday night.

The event featured 25 floral arrangements. “We were looking for creativity and this was a hard decision,” said Eve with Roots and Branches. Event sponsor Allan Kieckhafer had a front-row seat at the awards.

The Best in Show was awarded to Michael Alt from Alt’s in Milwaukee.

“The inspiration for my floral design is a tradition of foraging botanicals that my father and I do every year during the fall and winter season. Our favorite treat is finding abandoned bird nests while we look for certain species of flowers. Each one tells a story and reminds me of how lucky we are that we can escape the cold weather inside a heated home while other animals have to migrate to survive.”

Second place went to Krista Roskopf from Bank of Flowers in Menomonee Falls.

Third place went to Jess Hartman and Cindy Kopecky from The Flower Source in Germantown.

Remembering the hand-painted mural at Timmer’s Restort

In October 2014 a hand-painted mural by Beryl Timmer was rehung at Timmer’s Resort. The mural depicts some of the common items around the property on Big Cedar Lake that Beryl treasured. Below is the original article that ran in Around the Bend on Oct. 6, 2014.

This hand-painted mural was created over a series of months in 1953 by Beryl Timmer. A city girl, she married her husband John and took over operation of the 12-room Timmer’s Hotel in 1940.

The mural, originally 36-feet long, was designed to hang over the bar at Timmer’s. “She wanted to put the painting along the longest wall, in the back of the bar up near the ceiling,” said daughter Barbara Timmer Jaeger.

In her late 30s, when she began painting, Beryl normally worked on the mural in winter when the hotel was not open to guests and people rarely held parties.

“She had pieces of the mural spread out on the dining room floor of Timmer’s Big Cedar Lake Resort,” Jaeger said. “She needed the space. It was easier than having it on an easel but she always warned my brother Jack and me to be careful we did not step on any of it.”

A hobby painter, the inspiration behind Beryl’s folk art was captured from old black-and-white post cards of the resort.

A palate of dark greens and browns was used to follow the progression of construction at the lake starting in 1864 with a little log cabin farm house and a walkway to a small red barn. “The property was located closer to the creek on Big Cedar Lake,” Jaeger said.

A simple split-rail fence is a common theme in Beryl’s painting along with mature trees of cedar, maple and oak surrounded by waves of thick, green grass.

Jaeger noted the “little things” her mother wove between the color pictures. “There was a gold outline of a pitcher and bowl used in the hotel and annex; that was back before running water,” she said. Other items include an old clock, a content owl, and a Blanding’s turtle.

Midway through the mural, Beryl notes the development of cottages with chimneys that soon expand to a grand three-story home with covered porch. Comfortable details include black ivy creeping up a door frame and the barrel of a water tower overlooking the red-roofed cottage. Items outlined in gold include a surrey with a canopy top, a bi-level cast iron stove, water pump, four-legged stool, and a vintage farm mailbox.

Daily items that made up Beryl’s life at the resort were also featured including a chicken and egg, high-heeled buttoned boots, a hand-crank coffee grinder, and a glass lantern.

The 1901 vignette highlights the Pebbly Beach house with canoes and a pier in the waters of Big Cedar Lake. The cozy lakeside setting also includes long underwear flapping on the wash line, a happy frog on a lily pad, small animals that could be seen from the kitchen window, and three fish arching out of the water.

Age and the elements have started to take a toll on the painting. The warm, rich colors have started to craze and crack. The original colors can still be seen on the top and bottom sections as those pieces were covered by molding when the painting hung above the back bar.

Beryl’s painting was rescued prior to the 2008–2009 remodel of Timmer’s by George and Judi Prescott. The mural has now returned home with the beer barrel chandeliers and large stone fireplaces, helping preserve the flavor of the 150-year-old lake resort.

To read more about the history of Timmer’s and Big Cedar Lake pick up a copy of Barbara Johnson’s book “Timmer’s Resort at Big Cedar Lake… a journey through time.”

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