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0619, 22 Jun 19

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Independent Task Force to examine facilities in West Bend School District

There was a presentation Monday, June 17 at the West Bend School Board meeting as a community group stepped up to complete a facilities study in the West Bend School District. The Task Force is led by West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow, West Bend Mutual Insurance CEO Kevin Steiner and Tim Schmidt of Delta Defense.

Topic and Background from WBSD Superintendent Don Kirkegaard: In May I had a discussion with three individuals from the community: Mayor Kraig Sadownikow, Kevin Steiner/West Bend Mutual Insurance, and Tim Schmidt/Delta Defense that are forming a committee to look at our facilities. They have asked to have access to our facilities and have an opportunity to visit with Mr. Ross to discuss projects that have been completed, as well as projects that are being planned.

There is no district involvement with the committee.

They will submit a report to the Board in September and/or October. The Board can use all of or part of the information as the Board determines future facilities’ improvements.

The committee is not authorized by the Board or the Superintendent. The report will be informational only with the Board being responsible to make any and all decisions.

Board member Joel Ongert: “Are you off and running with this Task Force? Do you have a group of individuals in mind?”

Kevin Steiner: “The committee has been chosen so it’s construction experts, facility management, communication experts and so it’s really a diverse group of people and we have met and they’re on board and anxious to get going.”

Tim Schmidt: “In terms of messaging it’s very important to us and all the folks on this team that we want people to understand we’re supporting you; we’re working to support the school board.”

Board member Nancy Justman: “I heard you spoke of Jackson and the high school… but I wonder if there’s any opportunity to take a look and include in your time and study the other elementary schools. We’re looking at everything on a whole and the community is coming together on this one and can you look at those schools as well.” ((West Bend also has Decorah Elementary, McLane Elementary and Green Tree Elementary))

Steiner: “This group is very willing and perhaps it’s a conversation we could have with the group as we go forward. We’d like to demonstrate this is helpful and still allow you to do your job and so certainly we thought Jackson and the high school is a good way to start but there are opportunities to move beyond that.”

Schmidt: “It’s critical that we address this from a clean-slate mentality. We don’t like to use the April referendum as some starting point but rather wipe the slate clean and figure out from our perspective what we think.”

Steiner: “There are actual committee members that have worked with Mr. Ross (WBSD facilities director) in the past on the long-range plans so there is some knowledge from this group who perhaps also bring some expertise to see how far we’ve come.”

Board member Kurt Rebholz: “It’s eye opening to go through some of these facilities; we have equipment from 1940s and ’50s.”

Board member Paul Fischer: “I’m interested in the scope of the findings. Is it more infrastructure and plant related or will you get into areas like library modifications and without making recommendations will you include potentially include findings such as, this is outdated in terms of instructional type situation or is the focus on more of the physical plan itself.”

Tim Schmidt: “It’s my understanding we won’t look into instructional anything.”

Board member Chris Zwygart: “It’s important this board maximize this group’s independence.  If you can confirm none of the board members are participating on the committee and no district employees.”

Schmidt and Steiner confirm.

Ongert: “We’re not paying you to do this. What are our resources, Dave Ross, access to buildings….  ”

Superintendent Kirkegaard: “We’ll provide any information you need, we’ll give you access to the buildings. One of the things in the referendum people talked about was that when you had the architects telling you to do X and for all the dollars you spend the architects get additional money because they get a percentage. Or you had the builders tell you to do X and they become the contractor. This really does provide an opportunity, not for an outside recommendation, but they have no vested interest other than they want to do what’s best for our community and our school.”

After the meeting Task Force Chairman Kraig Sadownikow submitted the following comment.

CEO’s Kevin Steiner of West Bend Mutual and Tim Schmidt of Delta Defense are pleased to announce their organizations’ financial support for a private task force that will provide independent findings relative to the long-term sustainability and capital improvements at Jackson Elementary and the West Bend High Schools.   A referendum failed to gain taxpayer support in April of 2019.  The referendum targeted enhancements at the West Bend High Schools as well as the construction of a new K-4 elementary school in Jackson.  “The referendum showed that our community is divided on whether these investments are necessary.  The Task Force will take a fresh, independent look at the needs of the district and will share findings with the school board.  I applaud all the members of the Task Force for stepping up and taking action to help bring our community together around this issue,” said Steiner.

The West Bend School District Private Task Force is not a publicly created committee. Rather, it is a private collection of concerned taxpayers.  Schmidt noted, “The voters in the District spoke loud and clear. They were uncomfortable with the April referendum question.  Delta Defense works hard at attracting more and more families to join our team and move to West Bend. Having strong, competitive schools is critical in this effort. I’m excited to dig in and find an efficient and responsible solution for West Bend schools.”

“We live in a very intelligent and generous community whose citizens rally around causes while being careful to thoroughly analyze efforts and projects prior to supporting them,” stated City of West Bend Mayor and businessman Kraig Sadownikow.  “The purpose behind this independent task force is to offer the School Board and district taxpayers an unbiased, educated opinion regarding the potential needs in Jackson and at the High Schools.”  Sadownikow is also Chairman of the Task Force.

Task Force members were chosen based on their construction, facilities management, and communication expertise.  They will tour schools, investigate alternative solutions to current challenges, validate current needs, and report findings to the West Bend School Board in October of 2019.  According to Sadownikow, Task Force members are committed to asking questions that have never been asked before and to communicate openly, consistently, and independently.  Zimmerman Architectural Studios has been retained by the Task Force and will offer consultation pertaining to facility best practices in the education environment.

“We do not expect to make recommendations to the School Board. Instead, we will present findings within the context of the District’s long-range improvement plan,” Sadownikow said.  He added, “the School Board was elected to make decisions.  With that in mind, we will offer our independent thoughts and findings, allowing the School Board to draw their own conclusions and take action accordingly.”

For additional information on the West Bend School District Private Task Force contact Kraig Sadownikow at

Historic West Bend Theatre sign primed and painted

A hat tip to the wonderful staff at Poblocki Sign Company in Milwaukee for opening its doors so we can give you a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stage of refurbishing for the Historic West Bend Theatre sign.

On Dec. 27, 2018 the landmark was removed from the side of the theatre in Downtown West Bend; it was loaded onto a semi and brought to the shop to give the 90-year-old iconic sign a face lift.

On Wednesday after the letters and decorative edges had been tightly taped off with fine precision the final spray-painting process got underway.

Poblocki’s Paul Kaminski tried to give an update over the din of the ventilation in the room. “The yellow is a primer color,” said Kaminski. “The reason it’s taped off in the letter troughs is because it’s going to be a lighter color than the teal blue of the sign.”

“We took a chip of the original paint and put it under the spectrophotometer which gave us a computer analysis and spectrum of the color,” Kaminski said. “The computer generated an exact match.”

Kaminski said we were standing in a “heated booth” and the final coat would be “baked on like painting a car.” After watching the start of the painting process the fumes from the spray paint forced us out of the area and we watched through a window in the door. Poblocki’s Cindy Wendland said the staff knew we were coming so they cleaned off the window for a clear view.

Up next, after the paint dries the tunnels in the letters will be painted and electronics will be installed.

The sign is expected to be returned later this summer as the Historic West Bend Theatre undergoes a major renovation.

Building home to Walmart in West Bend has been sold

In March 2019 a story was posted at about the property at 1515 W. Paradise Drive being for sale. Many people know it as the building that’s home to Walmart.

According to state records the property has been sold. An article in Biz Times reads:

A 21-acre property that includes a Walmart store in West Bend was sold to a San Diego-based real estate investment firm for $17 million, according to state records.

The commercial property located at 1515 W. Paradise Drive was purchased by an affiliate of Realty Income Corp. from Continental 76 Fund LLC, an affiliate of Menomonee Falls-based Continental Properties.

According to city records, the property includes the single 205,600-square-foot Walmart building, which was constructed in 1998 and underwent a roughly $1.4 million remodel in 2016. The property is assessed at nearly $12.59 million.

Dedication of Civil War Monument in West Bend

There was an intimate ceremony Monday, June 17, 2019, as veterans, friends and family members gathered at Pilgrim Rest Cemetery on Chestnut Street to pay respect to Civil War veterans from the community.

Jen Fechter is with a group called “Remembering Our Civil War Veterans.”

“Our mission is to put monuments, like the one we’re dedicating today, in all the cemeteries in Washington County where Civil War veterans are buried,” she said. “Our mission is to honor those that served in the Civil War and make sure their legacy is always remembered through these monuments. It goes a long way to preserving the history in the community.”

The monument is sponsored by VFW Post 1393 Auxiliary. The memorial honors veterans that served in the Civil War 1861-1865 and who are buried at Pilgrim Rest Cemetery. Names on the grey, granite monument include Henry Bannenberg, John Huebner, John Kahnt, Martin Lampert, John H.W. Peters, Friederich Roennbeck, Rudolph Roennbeck, Moritz Tschoepe, and Gottlieb Zeiher.

Tom Brown, commander of Alonzo H. Cushing Camp No. 5 in Saukville, provided some history on the monument.

“To VFW Post Auxiliary and the City of West Bend in the name of the Sons of Union veterans of the Civil War, representing as we do all the soldiers and sailors who defended the integrity and authority of the nation, thank you and those whom you represent, for this monument.

This monument assures us that dead are held in remembrance – those who served for the security of the citizen and union of states. It is significant of brave and loyal obedience to the command of the nation always and everywhere, since the obligations of citizenship are not restricted to time or place, or to the conflict of arms. It gives encouragement for the future, since the recognition and approval it gives of patriotic fidelity and heroism, will be an incentive for display of public valor and virtue in all coming time.

There can be no doubt that the honor we pay to these patriotic dead, and to their memorable deeds will serve not only to make American citizenship in these days more reputable, but also to maintain and perpetuate, through all future generations, the union and authority of the United States of America.”

The family of John H. W. Peters was well represented at the ceremony. Glenn Peters spoke extensively about his great grandfather. “He never talked much about the war,” said Peters.

Private William Peters served in the 34th Regiment; he was on the Union side in Company K.  The 34th Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry organized in Madison, WI in December 1862. It moved to Columbus, Ky., Jan. 31- Feb. 2, 1863. Attached to District of Columbus, Ky., 6th Division, 16th Army Corps, Dept. of the Tennessee, to August 1863. (Six companies attached to 4th Brigade, District of Memphis, Tenn., 5th Division, 16th Army Corps, May to August).

Signs up for new Shopko Optical in West Bend

It was January 2019 when neighbors in West Bend learned about the fate of Shopko. The retail chain filed bankruptcy, however Shopko noted “All Optical locations below will remain open to serve you during store closing. Your Optical center will be relocated very soon to a new location with the same patient care you have come to expect from your Shopko Optical center.”

A freestanding Shopko Optical will open soon in the strip center to the south of Pick ‘n Save, just to the south of SportClips in the 1700 block of S. Main Street.

The store clerk said the move across the street will occur at the end of June 2019; the exact date has not yet been determined.

More details were posted in a press release from Shopko. In order to position the Company for future success, Shopko has announced that it will be closing an additional 38 stores, relocating over 20 Optical centers to freestanding locations, and conducting an auction process for its pharmacy business. Throughout this process, all Shopko Optical centers and pharmacies remain open and continue to deliver the high-quality products and services to which its customers are accustomed. All other stores remain open as the Company continues to optimize its store footprint. Parties interested in receiving additional information about the Company’s pharmacy auction process should send inquiries to

Additionally, encouraged by the performance of the four freestanding Optical centers that were opened in 2018, Shopko plans to continue to grow its optical business by opening additional freestanding Optical locations during 2019.

The future of Fund 46 in the West Bend School District

During a portion of the Monday, June 10, West Bend School Board meeting a discussion came up about Fund 46.

Andy Sarnow, WBSD finance director, said Fund 46 was established in July 2014.

“We established our Fund 46 five years ago, probably to the day. We do have the ability to spend the money as of July 1, 2019. At this point in time we’re not planning to spend it.”

Superintendent Don Kirkegaard said “some of the money in Fund 10 was spent last year, 2018.”

“With the proposed referendum we were talking about using a couple million dollars in Fund 46,” said Kirkegaard.  “We were talking about using some of that for offsetting some of the referendum dollars. The Jackson fund, we did spend some of that last year when we bought additional land. We used Fund 10; we couldn’t spend anything out of Fund 46 until July 1, 2019.”

Board member Joel Ongert questioned how much money was in Fund 46 and how was it being used by the district.

Sarnow did not know the number off the top of his head and Kirkegaard said it was “In the $2.1 million range.”

Ongert said: “And we’re able to start spending that July 1; I guess just a thought is we outlined all kinds of needs around our facilities and the referendum failed and if those needs are urgent needs and we’ve got $2 million sitting in a fund to tackle security, safety, whatever then I think it’s time to start thinking about whether we use it because if we’re waiting for referendums to pass we could be waiting forever and we’ve got $2 million sitting there that could be renovating the entire library, or could be tackling all of our safety and security issues right now. So that’s something we’ve always talked about the Jackson savings account and the community didn’t think it was time for Jackson right now and we’re sitting on $2 million and we could put in to Jackson with that new blacktop on in Jackson so it’s just something to think about that Fund 46.”

Board member Paul Fischer: “In light of the facilities tour and what we’ve seen and what Dave (Ross) and his team are doing with $1.5 million a year is it reasonable to think we’d have a maintenance driver in the budget? Something that gives us a little more meat to be able to take care of the 1.2 million square feet that we’ve got in the district. I’ve done a little homework and we’re woefully under…. credit to Dave and his team for doing what they’re doing but I believe we’ve optimized the experience in the classroom at the expense of some of the buildings. How do we invest in these facilities so they don’t end up costing us too much down the road.”

According to the Department of Public Instruction money used in Fund 46 has more restrictions and must coincide with an established long-term capital improvement plan.

Long Term Capital Improvement Trust Fund (Fund 46)

A school board with an approved long-term capital improvement plan (minimum of 10 years) may establish a “trust” that is funded with a transfer from the general fund. The contribution from Fund 10 to Fund 46 (Long-term Capital Improvement Trust Fund) is recorded as the expenditure for shared cost and equalization aid purposes. Future expenditures from Fund 46 are not part of shared costs. A school board is prohibited from removing money deposited into Fund 46 for a period of five years after the fund is created. After the initial five year wait period is over, funds may only be used for the purposes identified in the approved long-term capital improvement plan. Fund 46 assets may not be transferred to any other school district fund.

On a history note:

-The School Board regularly set aside $250,000 for the Jackson Elementary Fund, also known as Fund 46. During a meeting in May 2018 it was noted Fund 46 carried $2.5 million and was designated for Jackson Elementary.

-Fund 46 would have been used to offset the cost of a future referendum involving Jackson Elementary. In 2018, for the first time since the fund started in 2014, 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 Monday’s meeting, June 10, 2019 district finance director Andy Sarnow said no money is being designated toward the Jackson Elementary Fund/Fund 46 in the upcoming budget.

-In a follow-up email Kirkegaard outlined the funds.

There are actually three different areas or funds coming into play with this topic.   The Jackson Fund were monies set aside and earmarked for a future Jackson project and it is currently held in our General Fund (Fund 10) as a “committed” fund balance.  As of July 1, 2018, there was $2,224,981 in the Jackson account.  The board spent $750,000 from the Jackson account for the purchase of land in the Village of Jackson from the Village of Jackson next to the property the district owned.  The current balance of the Jackson Account in Fund 10 is $1,474,981, again in a committed fund balance in the District’s General Fund.

Fund 46 (Long Term Capital Improvement Trust Fund) was established in July of 2014.   No money can be spent from Fund 46 until July of 2019 per state statute.  It is anticipated that there will be a balance of $1,740,000 at fiscal year-end, 6/30/2019.  There are no specific spending requirements for Fund 46 as long as it is for capital improvements.  It has been generally understood that Fund 46 would also be used for Jackson.

There is a second facilities fund, Fund 41 (Long Term Capital Expansion Fund) dating back to the 2008-09 school year.  Fund 41 is anticipated to have a balance of approximately $740,000 at fiscal year-end.  These two funds, Fund 41 and Fund 46, have historically been talked about as one fund but they are two different accounts.  Going forward we will correctly refer to each fund separately.

A discussion about the mill rate was initiated toward the end of Monday night’s budget discussion.

Board member Ongert: “So are you suggesting the mill rate could go down even more during the 2019-2020 budget?”

Andy Sarnow: “I don’t know yet, so I don’t want to say because I haven’t made that calculation.”

Board member Nancy Justman: “Well considering some of the criticism we endured during the referendum that we need to ‘live within our means’ I would say dropping the levy or not taxing to the max would be detrimental to us. I’m not sure why we would even think about doing that personally.”

Ongert: “Plus I heard loud and clear people think we have too much debt in the West Bend School District and if that’s what’s preventing people from voting ‘yes’ on the referendum then let’s maintain the mill rate and pay down even more debt, if that’s what our community wants. Dropping the mill rate just to see how low we can go, um… I think is detrimental to our facilities to our staff, to our students. I don’t want to tax the crap out of the community, but we need to be able to pay down the debt.”

Justman: “Obviously we have a lot of capital things we have put off. The fact we have carpeting in that building we can assume is at least 40 years old* (statement not confirmed) is frightening. Correction, 48 years*(statement not confirmed).. even more frightening. The idea we have put off items but we also need to make sure we have this balance with our students, we still want to be a destination district. I’m just not in favor at all or decreasing the mill rate at all. I guess you’d have to really come up with some amazing plan to sell me on a plan to do that. I think we should look at increasing it and look at some of these projects that we haven’t been able to get done. I see Dave Ross is happy dancing in the background… as I go on with my rant here. But we really need to prioritize some of these things. We can’t have carpeting that’s 48 years old*(statement not confirmed) and we can’t have projects that Dave is holding together with binder twine to try and get things done. I mean we really need to look at some of these things and if that requires us to raise the mill rate than so be it.”

Ongert: “And our taxpayers are telling us we can’t have any debt.”

Justman: “Well the word was ‘live within your means’ but we don’t sell anything, so we have no means but apparently some people don’t understand, so I just want to point out I’m not in favor of decreasing the mill rate.”

Sarnow said a preliminary budget will be presented Monday, June 17. The annual meeting is set for Monday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.

*Note of clarification – During the meeting board members Nancy Justman and Tonnie Schmidt said the carpet in the WBW library was “40” and then “48 years old.” Two former staffers confirmed the carpet in the WBW library was replaced in the late 1980s. Emails were sent on Thursday, June 6, 2019, to both Justman and Schmidt asking where they received their information. So far, as of June 17, 2019, neither has responded.

Also note, the school board toured the schools in the district on May 24, 2019. According to facilities manager Dave Ross, neither Justman nor Schmidt were on the tour.

On Monday, June 17 a community group will address the School Board about conducting its own review of facilities in the WBSD.

How many were served at 32nd annual Washington County Breakfast on the Farm?

A note of thanks to all volunteers who helped at the 32nd annual Washington County Breakfast. Highland Dairy and the Enright Family Farm in Kewaskum were fantastic hosts this year. According to Mike Strupp with the Washington County Dairy Promotion Committee volunteers served 3,702 people.

That included: 12,000 Pancakes, 5,200  Half Pints of Milk, 440 dozen eggs, 380 lbs. Cheese Curds, 640 lbs. Sausages and 120 Gals. of Ice Cream

The Dairy Promotions Committee was very happy with the turnout. “I would like to thank the Enright family for hosting this year’s breakfast,” said Strupp. “We had 238 volunteers help and the Diary Promotions Committee handed out three $1,000 scholarships to Teagen Herman , Leah Weninger , Leann Gehring.”

Updates & Tidbits

– The Jack Russell Memorial Library will extend its hours beginning July 1. The public library will open 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday.  In celebration there will be cookies all day July 1 and July 2.

– Hannah Mrozak of Richfield returned to Wisconsin on Tuesday, June 18 as her girl group Citizen Queen opened for Pentatonix at the Fiserv Forum. Mrozak posted a note on social media, “I’m gonna cry. I hope to see as many of your lovely faces as possible. Show starts at 7:30 pm. So so excited!!!! Ahhhh!!!!!! 💕” It was May 1, 2019 when Mrozak and her Citizen Queen announced it “has been SIGNED to RCA Records AND we are the first opening act for select dates on #PTXTheWorldTour !!!” Citizen Queen opened its tour in Oakland on May 11, 2019.


0619, 22 June 2019


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