Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Hartford shocked by death of community leader

Hartford is mourning the loss of a community leader as word spreads about the sudden death of Brian Wendorff.

Wendorff was president of Hartford Finishing. He reportedly died unexpectedly this morning, Nov. 27, of a massive heart attack.

Brother Gary Wendorff said the family is “doing as good as we can under the circumstances.”

“Brian took over for me as president of Hartford Finishing and I will now have to retake those responsibilities until we find another person,” said Gary Wendorff.

Hartford City Administrator Steve Volkert said the entire Wendorff family is truly like family to the city of Hartford. “Not only because of their businesses and the amount of people they employ but how much they do beyond the business world in their sponsorship of different things and their true passion for Hartford so we wish the Wendorff family our sincere condolences,” he said.

“I’m greatly surprised and saddened by the passing of Brian,” said Hartford mayor, Timothy Michalak. “The Wendorff family has been very generous to the Hartford community and it is an incredible loss. Our prayers truly go out to their family in this time of mourning.”

Hartford Area Development Corp.’s Executive Director,Tom Hostad, shared his condolences, “The Wendorff family has made significant contributions to the Hartford community over the years both as key employers through their SteelCraft, Hartford Finishing and Sno-way businesses and as exemplary corporate citizens providing significant financial support to numerous community improvement projects. As president of Hartford Finishing, Brian was a key member of the Wendorff team and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Wendorff family.”

Family will greet relatives and friends Sunday, December 2, 2018 from 2:00p.m. -6:00 p.m. St. Matthew Lutheran Church (308 Herman Street Iron Ridge, WI 53035) concluding with a Prayer Service and Reflections.

Additional visitation will be held Monday, December 3, 2018 from 10:00 a.m.-10:45 a.m. at St. Matthew Lutheran Church with Funeral Services at 11:00a.m. with Rev. Larry Mose officiating.

Immediately following services, Brian’s interment will take place in St. Matthew’s Lutheran Cemetery, Iron Ridge. Brian Wendorff was 52.

Kewaskum H.S. football coach resigns

Kewaskum High School varsity football coach Jason Piittmann, 48, announced to his team this week he was stepping down. “I have a lot on my plate,” said Piittmann. “Between teaching, being Athletic Director and coaching…”

Piittmann has been coaching 20 years at KHS.  The Indians finished the 2018 season with an overall record of 4-5 and 2-5 in conference. “I’m very proud of what we’ve done,” Piittmann said. “I know I’m going to miss it a lot.”

Piittmann has three children and said he knows he’ll be coaching again in his future. “It’s in my blood,” he said. “My 8-year-old son was most upset about missing his high school friends because he’s enjoyed coming to practice the last few years,” he said.

JV Football – 1999-2000 Varsity Assistant Football – 2001-2002 Head Football – 2003-2018.

Blessing this week for new Habitat ReStore in Germantown

Staff, volunteers and members of the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity Washington/Dodge Counties gave thanks Tuesday morning, Nov. 27 for the many gifts and support to make its new store happen in Germantown.

Habitat Executive Director Russ Wanta offered praise for help on the closing on the purchase of the store. “We had a very generous man from the Minneapolis area who generously donated the down payment so we could ultimately make this our Germantown ReStore,” said Wanta.

Habitat for Humanity purchased the former Gander Mountain building, W190 N10768 Commerce Circle in Germantown.

“I truly believe that it was simply by the Lord Almighty that this thing came about,” said Wanta. “This will be similar to Goodwill with a drive thru and if you really want to know what a God thing this is – Germantown Iron and Steel and I met structural Roger Enters who volunteered to engineer and then Keller Inc. out of Germantown called and they agreed to build another section on the back of the building and do it pro bono.”

“In a very, very short amount of time the pieces came together for our drive thru,” said Wanta. “And that really is how the Lord works. You lift up something in prayer and you can hear from Him.” Pastor Mike Moran from Kettlebrook Church in West Bend offered a prayer of thanks.

“Jesus identifies with the downtrodden,” said Moran. “He identifies with people in need and that’s our calling as well. The new Habitat ReStore is hoping to open Jan. 2, 2019 in Germantown.

It was March 2017 when Gander Mountain Company announced it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the store in Germantown would be one of four in southeastern Wisconsin to close by May 2017. Habitat for Humanity currently owns about 7,000-square feet within a stone’s throw of the building on Commerce Circle. That ReStore is located at W188 N10707 Maple Road in Germantown.

The old Gander Mountain building had been initially listed for $3.9 million. Wanta said he worked on negotiating the sale directly with building owner Bill Lloyd. “We worked on the deal a long time and settled on a price of $1.8 million,” said Wanta.

West Bend School District to purchase property in Jackson

There was an 84-14 vote of the electorate (residents 18 years old and older and living in the West Bend School District) on Monday, Nov. 26, during a special meeting in the West Bend School District.

The vote encouraged the board to move forward with the purchase of a 7.3-acre parcel in Jackson.

During the regular board meeting on a vote of 4-1 the board approved moving forward with the purchase of property in Jackson. Chris Zwygart, Tonnie Schmidt, Joel Ongert, and Tiffany Larson voted in favor of purchase. Board member Ken Schmidt was the only dissenting vote. Board members Kurt Rebholz and Nancy Justman were absent.

The board said the purchase would not be more than $750,000.

A couple of notes:

-Taking a look at the current referendums the West Bend School District is currently paying off….

In April 2009, voters in West Bend approved a $29.3 million plan to renovate, as well as build an addition to Badger Middle School.

In November 2012 the West Bend School District passed a $22.8 million referendum to close Barton Elementary School, expand Silverbrook School and add classrooms and a gym at Green Tree Elementary School. The actual total cost of the referendum with taxes and interest was $31.975 million with a 15-year payback on borrowing.

After the Nov. 2012 referendum passed the $31.9 million total was added on top of the $29.3 million payment for the 2009 Badger referendum. The target date to completely pay off the debt on both referendums is 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. The proposal for a current April 2019 referendum have not yet been released.

-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.

-WBSD for 2018-19 school year has mill rate $7.97 cents.

-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.

-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.

Hit-and-run driver damages fence at St. Peter Parish

Rev. Richard Stoffel of St. Peter Church in Slinger is offering thanks that nobody was hurt, that’s after Slinger police contacted him Sunday afternoon with news a hit-and-run driver damaged property at the church on Hwy 175 and Beine Street.

“Police said the driver damaged a portion of fence in the parking lot by church office,” said Stoffel. “The sad thing is volunteers just finished putting up the fence and gate as part of play space for children.”

Stoffel said a witness, who is also a parishioner, saw someone ram into the fence, get tangled it in and then ran off.

“What’s kinda sad is we just spent $3,000 on it and bam boom it gets wiped out,” said Stoffel. “This is a fence that protects our children during playtime and it segregates our groups using the church. It’s kind of disappointing.”

The parish has turned in paperwork to Catholic Mutual. Police were also given a description of the vehicle and a partial license plate was left behind along with other parts.

Slinger police issued the post below:

On 11-25-18 around 3:35 PM, Slinger officers were requested to respond to a Hit and Run single-vehicle crash near Hwy 175 and Beine Street.

The suspect vehicle is described by a witness as a dark-colored pickup truck with a hitch cargo carrier. The truck caused a significant amount of property damage to a local church, and left the scene without stopping.

The suspect vehicle will be missing a headlight and part of its chrome bumper trim. The suspect vehicle is believed to be a 2003-2007 Chevrolet Silverado or Avalanche based on vehicle parts left at the scene.

If anyone has any information regarding this incident or knows the identity of the driver, we ask that you please contact the Slinger Police Department at (262)-644-6441.

Oh deer…. In downtown West Bend shopping district

The downtown West Bend Business Improvement District is teeming with deer as a herd of 30 decorative figures have been set up strategically in the shopping district. The BID paid for the deer and Chris and Larry Porter along with Anna Jensen from the Downtown West Bend Association assembled the figures. Some of the deer are lit with white lights. The wire figures include majestic bucks, does nestling on the ground and young, smaller figures. The BID has been working to brighten up the downtown for the Christmas shopping season.

The deer join decorative wreaths and boughs and the swags on the light poles.

Students at Holy Angels celebrate 175th anniversary of Milwaukee Archdiocese

More than 300 students at Holy Angles School in West Bend gathered on the playground Wednesday morning to ring in the 175th anniversary of the Milwaukee Archdiocese.

“I liked it a lot because it was really fun,” said second grader Gianna Reisweber.

Students stood in a sun puddle on the blacktop as the clock struck 10 a.m. and the mighty toll of the church bell kicked off the celebration.

Bundled in winter coats and knit hats the students’ clenched bells on a string.

“Bell ringing was really fun because we got to do it with whole school,” said 7-year-old Addison Schrauth.

Principal Mike Sternig took a moment to explain the history of the start of the Milwaukee Archdiocese and how Bishop John Martin Henni and four priests help serve the areas known as the Midwest territory.

Seconds after Sternig’s 101 primer on the Archdiocese anniversary the bells of Holy Angels tolled and students energetically joined in.

Below is the homily from Archbishop Jerome Listecki regarding the establishment of the Diocese of Milwaukee 175 years ago.

In my homily, I mentioned the appointment of Bishop John Martin Henni. He was given the task of leading a diocese that covered the entire territory of the state of Wisconsin, plus additional Midwest areas. He was assigned only four priests to cover this vast responsibility. He had no financial resources. Is it any wonder that Bishop Henni was reported to have gone down to the shores of Lake Michigan to cry?

Bishop Robert William Muench, a native son who preached the 100th anniversary celebration, claimed that Bishop Henni’s valiant apostolic soul broke for a moment in grief, and gushed forth its flood of tears. At that moment, he turned to the Lord for help. The community of his brothers and sisters of the faith all placed their trust in God, and they began the work given to them.

175 years later, we stand on the shoulders of the men and women who have used their tears, the sweat of their brows and their personal sacrifices to carry out the mission. They plowed the fields, planted the seeds and harvested the bounty of God’s graces to produce parishes, hospitals, schools, orphanages, and the charitable and devotional organizations that define us.

Relax U opens in Downtown West Bend

Just in time to help relieve the stress of the holiday season a new store, Relax U, has opened, 155 N. Main Street in Downtown West Bend. Relax U is owned and operated by Evan Mills.

“We provide a unique, relaxing massage experience, in fully-automated massage chairs that cater to your every need,” said Mills.  “In addition to providing a relaxing experience, we also sell massage chairs so you can enjoy a perfect massage every day in the comfort of your home.”

Appointments can be booked online, or walk in and make an appointment for a 30-minute massage. That is available for $15 if you buy a 10 pack. One-hour massages are also available.

“The chairs will recline and put you in a zero-gravity position,” said Mills. “The chairs are pre-programmed; there are eight settings and the chairs heat up.”

Relax U opens daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.  You must be 18 years old to participate.

Call to make an appointment at 262-346-8448. Gift certificates are also available – a perfect gift for the person who has everything. One size fits all.

Updates & Tidbits

– Don Muth and the University Ambassadors will host a breakfast for students on campus on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. as part of week-long events before final exams start. “Keep Calm and Study On” includes ‘Nerf Wars’ in the gym, Therapy Dogs, Coffee/Games/Puzzles on 3rd, Origami in the Library and some free snacks throughout the week.

– Pat Groth is teaching snowmobile safety class Dec. 4, 5 and 6 at Riverside Park in West Bend.

-Rick Takacs at Meadowbrook Farm in West Bend has fresh balsam and Fraser fir Christmas trees for the upcoming holiday. Takacs gets his trees from the same vendor in Oconto County who once supplied the tree to the White House in Washington D.C. Tackas said he really liked the trees from the Vander Velden’s farm because they’re “tall and have super color.” Meadowbrook Farm is located at 1270 Meadowbrook Road.

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

– Santa is flying in from the North Pole on Saturday, Dec. 8 and he’s landing at the West Bend Airport. Come out and have breakfast and give Santa a warm Washington County welcome! Santa lands around 8:30 a.m.

– Judges have turned in their final decision regarding entrants during Sunday night’s West Bend Christmas Parade.

Adult:    1st place – West Bend Children’s Theatre

2nd place – West Bend Moose Lodge

3rd place – Shepherd of the Hills

Youth:    1st place – Faith United Church of Christ

2nd place –  US Snowboard

3rd place – West Bend Catholic Schools

Business:    1st place – City of West Bend Public Works

2nd place – Hawk Construction

3rd place – All Above Dance Company

Tradition of staking wooden geese for Christmas 

While growing up in Whitefish Bay my father had a workshop in the basement. There were nearly 10 table saws, a drill press, a lathe, screwdrivers and wrenches for any emergency and an assortment of worldly glues and fassen-alls.

My dad had quite the reputation for being able to repair anything. One Halloween someone smashed my 4-year-old cousin’s pumpkin. She said, “I’m not worried… Uncle Al can fix it.”

Evenings were spent in the basement roller skating around his sawdust. He’d encourage our creativity and say, “You draw it and we’ll make it together.”

One year my mom found a pattern for holiday geese in a Good Housekeeping magazine. She received the same instructions, “You draw it and we’ll make it.”

So she gave it to me – the one who could draw.

Together my dad and I made four wooden geese. Cut them out on the jigsaw and painted them.

Together, during the cover of night, we placed them in the front yard to surprise my mother the next morn.

During the day, from the living-room window the geese looked like they just landed; red bows around their necks, taking a break from their holiday flight.

That tradition of placing the geese in the yard continues.

My father is almost 93 now, he is strong like bull but Alzheimer’s has robbed him of his memory. We take it in stride.

He doesn’t remember making the geese, so I remind him.

Then we slip outside.

He asks, more than once, “Do you have a hammer? Do you have a stake to get these started?”

I do. I’m prepared, I had a good teacher.

Then he’ll say, “This isn’t a good hammer.”

It’s his hammer from his workshop that I now have in my basement.  I remind him it has sufficed in the past.

We set up the geese together.

They’ve become weather worn over the years … a little like my dad. He is slow to get to the ground and take a knee, but his hammer strikes are strong and steady.

I know wielding a hammer makes him feel worthy. He has a gruff, German determination.

The ground is wet and his nose drips from the cold.

He finishes the setup in about five minutes and steps back to quietly review his work. Somewhere in there I know he still feels it’s a nice holiday surprise for his wife, who will look out their second-story window and see the geese have landed again for the season.

Find local news for free 7 days a week at WashingtonCountyInsider.com

One Response to Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

  1. dad29 says:

    A parish member was a homebuilding contractor.  He, too, suffered from Alzheimer’s.  His boys, who took up the business, would stop by every couple of weeks to see Mom and Dad, and he’d not remember them.

    But they’d give him the drawings for a new home and he’d estimate it, usually coming in within $500.00 or so of the actual finished price.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.