Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Finance Director explains nearly $106 million in total referendum debt and interest for West Bend School District

There were experts available at the open house in Jackson to tour the Elementary School and ask questions about the upcoming April 2 referendum.

Andy Sarnow is the newest finance director in the West Bend School District. He explained the facts regarding the remaining referendum debt and interest from Badger and Silverbrook and then calculated the grand total should the total $74 million referendum pass in April.

-“We still have debt existing,” said Sarnow. “The existing debt we have to pay off over the next 10 years (2028) is approximately $28 million. The additional interest over the next 10 years is approximately $3.5 million.”

-“So about $32 million to $33 million left to pay for Badger and Silverbrook referendum.”

-Regarding the April 2 referendum. “So as we look at the authority that the referendum is to issue $47 million in bonds the projection at this point in time, and it’s conservatively high… we’re using 4.25 percent, recent issues are lower than that, but at 4.25 percent it’s $27 million in interest that will be paid over the life of the bond over the next 19 years (2038) and that total is $74 million,” said Sarnow.

-“Badger and Silverbrook are about $28 million to $29 million plus the interest we said was about $4.5 million,” said Sarnow.

-$32 million (Badger and Silverbrook) + $74 million (April 2 referendum) is about $106 million total to be paid off should the April 2 referendum pass.

-“$74 million and $32 million…. do you have a calculator? I know you have one on your phone,” said Sarnow.

– “That’s not how it’s commonly referred to,” said Sarnow regarding the word ‘debt.’

– “You go to a bank and you take out a mortgage for $200,000 to buy a home and you are $200,000 in debt. Does that mean you’re not paying any interest? No, you’re paying interest…. so I don’t want to say we’re ‘in debt $106 million’ that is the amount we will be repaying to be debt free.”

History on current referendums in West Bend School District

Taking a look at the current referendums the West Bend School District is 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.

According to Baird “As of January 14, 2019 the District has principal debt outstanding” including $29,420,000 from Fund 39 referendum and Fund 38 non-referendum approved debt of $5,011,000.

The target date to completely pay off the debt and interest on current referendums is 2028.

The April 2 referendum would extend over 19 years to be paid off in 2038.

April 2 referendum question

Shall the West Bend Joint School District Number 1, Washington County, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $47,000,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and improvement program consisting of: construction of a new Jackson Elementary School; safety, security, building infrastructure, technical education and engineering lab improvements, remodeling and capital improvements at the High School; and acquisition of related furnishings, fixtures and equipment?

On a history note: Below is a list of some of the heads of the finance department in the West Bend School District over the past three years. Brittany Altendorf held the position for six years until 2017 and after that four people in the post including two three-month spans where Tim Stellmacher filled in before the next person was hired.

July 2011 – July 2017​​​ Brittany Altendorf

August 2017 – March 2018 ​​CESA 5 (Dave Van Spankeren)

April 2018 – July 2018 ​​​Tim Stellmacher

April 2018 – December 2018​​ Karen Herman

January 2019 – mid March 2019​​ Tim Stellmacher

February 18, 2019 – current​​ Andy Sarnow  March 8, 2019

Silver Alert driver stopped for going wrong way on I41

Some great work Wednesday night by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department after they safely stopped a vehicle going the wrong way on I41.

“The driver was part of a Silver Alert notification out of Manitowoc,” said Sheriff Martin Schulteis.

Manitowoc Police issued the Silver Alert at 7 a.m. on March 13 for 75-year-old Dennis Ullman who left a wellness center and did not return. Around 10:44 p.m. the dispatch center at the Washington County Sheriff’s Department received multiple calls about a driver going the wrong way on I41.

“Menomonee Falls Police actually got a call that he was northbound in the southbound lanes,” said Schulteis.

Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies managed to stop the vehicle at the 41/45 split. ”That’s a good 7 to 8 miles he was going northbound in the southbound lanes,” Schulteis said. “The deputies said he was extremely confused and unaware of what road he was on.”

The man was brought to the Sheriff’s Department where his family came to pick him up.

Schulteis said the department has a policy not to chase a person in the opposite direction on the Interstate. This is the second such wrong-way incident in Washington County in about a week. On March 8 a wrong-way driver on Highway 33 was involved in a fatal accident after the driver was headed east in the westbound lanes.

“In this case it was an elderly driver with a medical issue and in the earlier accident it looks like alcohol was involved,” said Schulteis. “Overall, it’s just an important lesson about not driving in the left-hand lane when on divided highways because when people are confused or intoxicated, they think they’re in the right-hand lane. It’s an important aspect and I have a young son who I teach not to drive in the left lane at night and it’s just for that reason.”

Why so much foam in Hartford                                         By Steve Volkert

 A large amount of foam closed a portion of Rural Street in Hartford on Thursday morning as the large white mass moved across streets and bridges.

Hartford Sewer Utility Director David Piquett said the foam, which was between the Rural Street Bridge, is a seasonal anomaly.  “There is NO toxicity in the foam or causing the foam. The Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) is high which happens especially during this time of year.

DOC elevates when naturally produced surfactants (organic pollutants) released from algae blooms and aquatic plants dissolve in water. The combination of DOC that is already in the river along with the amount that comes from our storm sewers and soils that border the river will cause foam.

The reason for the Rural Street build-up is due the high DOC which is agitated by the high flow coming through the dam. The water level is up to the top of the bridge and is acting as a skimmer, because of the short distance between the dam and the bridge. Dissolved Organic carbon is in the water year-round, but this level will drop pretty quickly along with the height of the river. I know it is unsightly, but it is a natural occurrence. Hope this helps explain a little.

Building home to Walmart in West Bend for sale

There’s quite a bit of property changing hands in West Bend and Washington County. One of the latest big box buildings posted for sale is the property at 1515 W. Paradise Drive. Many people know it as the building that’s home to Walmart.

Asking price for the 205,000-square-foot building is $18,829,629. The real estate listing said the building was constructed in 1998. According to the city assessor the current 2018 assessed value is $12,585,800.

The listing reads, “Walmart has been at this location for 20 years and recently exercised its first renewal option.”

Calls have been placed to the city assessor’s office to find out the last time the building was sold and the current assessment.  Other property changes include a new owner for the building at 105 N. Main Street.  Tracey Serwatt bought the property that’s home to Portrait’s Today for about $315,000.

Also watch for Woody’s Flooring to move from its shop on Stockhausen Lane to 830 S. Main Street in the West Bend Plaza strip center where George Webb’s is on the end cap.

There will also be a new CrossFit business moving into the north end cap of the same West Bend Plaza strip center, across from Kwik Trip.

A ‘rookery’ of penguins stepped out in downtown West Bend

A bit like ‘March of the Penguins’ on Thursday as ‘a colony, a rookery or a Waddle’ of colorful penguins stepped up N. Main Street in downtown West Bend. The appearance was part of a promotion to draw attention to the upcoming performance of Madagascar by the West Bend Children’s Theatre. Shows are April 10, 11, and 12.

Updates & tidbits

– In-person absentee voting for neighbors in the City of West Bend starts Monday, March 18, 2019. Voting at the City Clerk’s office is from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.  In-person absentee voting ends Friday, March 29, 2019 at 5 p.m.  Remember to bring a valid I.D.

-There will be a public information meeting for improvements to North Wacker Drive in the City of Hartford on Thursday, April 11, 2019.  The meeting will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Hartford City Hall, in Scherger Hall Community Room (Room 101), 109 N. Main Street. There will be a brief presentation at 6 p.m. The City of Hartford is proposing to replace the bridge carrying North Wacker Drive over the Rubicon River.  The project is located approximately 0.2 miles north of the junction with WIS 60.  The project is currently scheduled for 2020. The roadway will be closed to through traffic during construction.

– Common Sense Citizens of Washington County will meet Thursday, March 28 at the West Bend Moose Lodge at 7 p.m. Any person running for office in Washington County on the April 2 ballot is invited to introduce themselves. Tentatively, each candidate will be given five minutes to speak about themselves, not their opponent. There may be time for questions from the audience depending on the number of candidates present. The meeting is open to the public.

– Get your tickets today for the Saturday, April 13 Brunch with the Easter Bunny brought to you by the West Bend Kiwanis. The event is from 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. at The Columbian, 3245 Lighthouse Lane in West Bend.

-The 2019 ArtWalk Sneak Peek Party at the Museum of Wisconsin Art. Get an up-close look at the 2019 hand painted banners by local artists before they are displayed on light poles in downtown West Bend. These banners turn Main Street in West Bend into an outdoor gallery May through October. Take a piece of the ArtWalk home with you as a silent auction of banners from 2017 will take place during this event. Come prepared to bid for your favorite banners. Enjoy music, food and a cash bar. Admission to the event and galleries is free.

– Hartford Union High School’s (HUHS) Board of Education announced it has four semi-finalists for the Superintendent position. Stephen T. Plank, Principal, Middleton High School, Middleton-Cross Plains School District Ronald D. Russ, Superintendent, Merton Community School District Ralph Schlass, Principal, West Bend West High School and Jeffrey A. Walters, Principal, Kettle Moraine High School, Kettle Moraine School District. A record check shows Walters, Schlass and Plank all signed the Walker Recall.

-Numerous stretches of roadways experienced high water levels on Thursday as temps in the 50s combined with torrential downpours to create some hazardous in Washington County. Some of the road closures included State Highway 144 from Highway 33 to I41 and County Highway DW from County Highway W to State Highway 175

– Hartford Union High School senior Miranda Parker will once again tour the state of Wisconsin this summer with Kids from Wisconsin. Joining her this year as an understudy is freshman Connor Martin. This is Parker’s second year as a Kid.

Honor Flight veterans from Washington County

There will be 15 veterans from Washington County on the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight on April 6. This will be the 50th mission as two planes leave Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport with 172 veterans on board.  Interviews with some of the veterans are below.

Vietnam veteran Judith Pierce of Hartford on April Honor Flight            By Samantha Sali

Vietnam War veteran Judith Pierce, 73, of Hartford is heading to Washington D.C. on the April 6 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Born in Hartford on March 25, 1945, Pierce was raised in Rubicon with her seven siblings, attending school St. John Catholic Church. The school closed in the late 60’s.

After graduating high school, Pierce attended nursing school in St. Agnes in Fond Du Lac.

“I didn’t even know a nurse, I chose the profession because I just wanted to help people,” said Pierce.  “I’ve always been a people person and I always felt the need to do something and help people and I figured I could accomplish that with a nursing education.”

Around 1966, military recruiters came to St. Agnes, giving a talk to the nursing students about how they needed nurses for the war in Vietnam.

“When I asked my dad to help me pay my tuition, he said I had to pay him back because it would be unfair to give me money for college and not my other siblings,” said Pierce. “When the recruiters came to St. Agnes, they told us they’d start paying us our senior year, as if we were a private already in the service. Of course, you have to pay them back time, but the little calculator in my mind was just buzzing. I thought if I went in then, I could start paying my dad back, so I raced up there and was the first one to get the paperwork.”

Despite being 20 years old, Pierce had to take a permission slip to her parents over the weekend in order to be allowed to serve as a nurse in the military.

”Both of them said no,” said Pierce. “They weren’t narrow minded, but for that era, you didn’t really hear about women serving. By Sunday, I told them I was already living outside of the home, told them they did a great job raising me, and said I already am what I am, that I will be what I will be. My mom looked at my dad and they said I was right and signed the permission slip.”

After Pierce graduated and became board certified, she entered active military duty in 1966. She received Basic Training in Texas and then to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

From there, she was assigned to Korea. “They had what they called hardship tours, one in Korea and one in Vietnam. I actually wanted to go to Vietnam at first, but when given the choice, I chose Korea. I was so idealistic, comparing myself to Florence Nightingale, thought I was going to save the world. I grew up so sheltered, in such a small area, I was so naive. I thought everyone was white, German, and Catholic. Going into the military was one of the best moves of my life.”

Last year, Pierce was able to take her family to South Korea to watch the 2018 Winter Olympics and show where she served 50 years ago.

“I was stationed at the 43rd Surgical Hospital in Uijongbu, which is mentioned in the TV show MASH. They even show across the street a Rosie’s Bar and that’s where I had my farewell party when I left,” Pierce said.

While in South Korea, Pierce lived in a Quonset hut. “It was so cold in the winter, just like Wisconsin, so I used to sleep in my military-issued coat because the huts weren’t insulated,” she said. “During monsoon season, frogs would jump in the bathrooms and there was a light in the closet that had to stay on all of the time or our shoes and clothes would mold from the rain.”

After Pierce retired as a Lieutenant in 1969, she went back to college in Oshkosh and received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

After graduating, she worked at the VA in Milwaukee until around 1971, “I had served the VA for about a year when my roommate asked me to join her on Project Hope,” said Pierce. “It was a hospital ship, traveling to foreign countries and give medical care to people in need. I donated a whole year, working in Kingston, Jamaica on the SS Hope.”

“I’ve always been an opportunist. When opportunities came along, I just went. When I worked at the VA, a group of friends invited me to a 3-week ski trip in Europe. I’d never went skiing before, but said yes, ran over to Little Switzerland to learn how to ski, and had a blast.”

Despite being almost 74, Pierce has never let go of her love of sports and you can still find her on hills at Little Switzerland in Slinger with her grandchildren.

”When they called me to let me know it was my turn for the flight, they asked me if I needed a wheelchair or cane. I was skiing at Little Switzerland,” Pierce said.

“My daughter, Tiffany Lucas, is my guardian for the flight. I’ve been to the memorials before, but I’m looking forward to the comradery with the other veterans on the flight. It’s great to be finally recognized for our service in Vietnam. When the war ended, no one really thanked us for our service or even recognized military members for serving. They really didn’t start thanking Vietnam veterans until 10 or 15 years ago.”

After the Honor Flight, you’ll be able to find Pierce at Little Switzerland or ice skating with her grandchildren. Once summer arrives, she plans on taking up water skiing.

Veteran, Gerald Gramins Sr., of Hartford to fly on Honor Flight | By Samantha Sali

Vietnam War veteran Gerald Gramins Sr., 80, of Hartford is heading to Washington D.C. on April 6 as part of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Born March 7, 1939 in Milwaukee, Gramins attended Custer High School and Boys Tech, now known as Bradley Tech. He then enlisted in the Navy on Aug. 22, 1956 at age 17. “I remember it like it was yesterday,” Gramins said.

Once enlisted, Gramins was sent to Great Lakes, Illinois Naval Station for Basic Training. After graduating from basic training, he was transferred to Norman, Oklahoma. “I went for what they called AMP School. With that, I held an aviation rating for the Navy.”

From there, Gramins served aboard the USS Shangri-la, “It’s a CVA 38 Aircraft Carrier and I was an Aviation Guided Missile Technician,” said Gramins.

In 1961, Gramins went into the Navy Reserves until 1974 when he retired from the Navy as a 3rd Class Petty Officer.

He then decided to join the Army. “I was a machinist, served with the 961st Combat Engineers in Milwaukee. After a couple of years, I joined the 84th Division Army, stationed in Milwaukee as well,” said Gramins.

In 1992, Gramins retired from the military at the age of 53, as an E8 First Sergeant.

He and his wife, Dolores, moved to Hartford a few years ago, “We’ve been married almost 43 years, met at a country western bar. Dolores is somewhat disabled, and we moved here when a condo opened up by happenstance,” said Gramins.

Gramins and his wife were blessed with five sons, one of which is his guardian for the flight. ”I picked Gary to be my guardian because some time ago I took his twin brother to Norfolk, Virginia and now I figured it was Gary’ turn to go,” said Gramins.

Gramins shared that while he looks forward to seeing the memorials, he is most excited about spending time with the other veterans on the flight. “I’m looking forward to the comradeship. A lot of them are a lot more deserving than I am.”

Vietnam veteran Edward Patoka of Hartford on April Honor Flight | By Samantha Sali 

Vietnam War veteran Edward Patoka, 80, of Hartford is heading to Washington D.C. on the April 6 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Born in Milwaukee on February 8, 1939, Patoka was drafted in 1962 at the age of 22.

Once drafted, Patoka was sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for Basic Training. From there, he was sent to Heavy Equipment Operator School and was shipped to Vassimcourt, France in June 1962.

“I was with the P Company, 97 Engineers and when I got to my outfit, they said us heavy equipment operators were a dime a dozen,” Patoka said. “They asked me what I did as a civilian and I told them I worked in an office. They asked if I could type and when I told them I learned to type in high school, they told me I was their new company clerk.”

One of the most memorable days in service for Patoka was Nov. 22, 1963. “It was the day President Kennedy was shot and a French man is the one who told me,” he said.

Patoka served in France until December 31, 1963 and came home on inactive duty for four years. “When I got home, I went right back to work and got in trouble because they thought I was on vacation. Everyone only ever asked me how my vacation was and the only people who ever told me, “Welcome Home,” were my family.”

Patoka switched careers and became a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service until he retired in 1992. He moved to Hartford in 1995 with his wife, Patricia, whom he married two years before being drafted. The couple had two adopted children, Elizabeth and John.

Their son John passed away in 2012. “He had medical issues and it was very sad and difficult. You never think as a parent you’d have to bury a child,” said Patoka.

“I’m still very busy. I work at Lincoln School three days a week, working with kindergarteners to 3rd grade. I love it and I have no intentions of giving it up. They read to me and I help them learn how to tell time or about money, whatever the teachers ask of me. The kids at the school call me Mr. Ed and come up to me, thanking me. They are proud of what I did and ask me things about the service. One kid asked me if I ever shot someone. I said no, and that’s never something that you’d want to do.”

Patoka said he’s looking forward to seeing the memorials and sharing the moments with the other veterans on the flight.

His son-in-law, Paul, will be his guardian on the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, “He’s served in the Marines and he’s never been to Washington D.C. I thought this was a good guy to go with because I like him as a son-in-law, he’s a great guy, and he served four years. It will do him good to get away and see everything,” Patoka said.

Patoka admitted he waited quite a few years to sign up for the Honor Flight because he wanted to give other veterans a chance to go first, “I was an in-betweener, I served during the Vietnam War, but wasn’t actually there. My buddy told me I did what I had to do, so yeah, I guess I’m proud to have served. I might have not done much, but I did what I had to do.”

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