A note of thanks to West Bend crossing guard Chucky Fellenz
A note of thanks to longtime, dedicated crossing guard Chucky Fellenz for his 10 years of service as he helped kids cross safely at the busiest corner in Washington County.
For years Fellenz has been a fixture on the corner of Decorah and Main Street in West Bend. He worked two shifts daily during the school year and crossed about 200 kids a day.
“Every day was the best,” said Fellenz. “I loved my corner; there was no sitting in the car reading papers. I had hundreds of kids a day and they come really fast. I never had a kid get hit.”
Aside from his dedication and concern for the safety of the children, Fellenz had a penchant for some unique attire. One would have thought the 79-year-old had been dreaming about wintering in Florida as he showed up to work year-round almost always wearing shorts. Even in the winter.
Below is a story from March 2016 when Washington County got socked with a late-season snowstorm and Chucky Fellenz dashed out of the house to go to work.
The robins are flitting around the late winter white saying, “What are this?” The hearty purple crocus are pushing their faces through the heavy blanket of ice and Chucky Fellenz wife shakes her head as her little boy leaves the house in a fluorescent lime green jacket, hat and shorts.
“I put my pants away three weeks ago,” said Fellenz with confidence. “I just had a lady roll down her window and yell at me. I hollered back ‘I’m not cold.’”
Fellenz has been working the corner of Decorah and Main as a crossing guard in West Bend about a dozen years and he’s not gonna let Mother Nature tell him what for.
On Wednesday afternoon school kids ducked their heads as they braced against the pelting rain. Traffic moved slowly as windshield wipers pushed away the heavy, damp snow and Fellenz knew enough to stay 2-feet back from the curb.
“These cars come along and they hit that puddle and the water carries up over in a good slosh,” he said. White chicken legs exposed to the elements, Fellenz gives a sharp blow to his whistle, lifts his stop sign and safely crosses students to the opposite side of Main Street.
He dances back up on the sidewalk, his white tennis shoes soaked. He’s a poster boy for every mother’s winter-wardrobe nightmare. “My wife bought me a pair of heated gloves,” he said. “I got them on low. Put your hand in here. “My ears may get a little cold, but the rest of me is just fine.”
Thank you Chucky Fellenz for all your years of service and keeping children safe in West Bend.
Demolition of home on River Drive in Barton
A two-story brick home that once served as the rectory to St. Mary’s Parish in Barton was razed Friday afternoon. The home, 317 River Drive, was originally constructed in 1860. Neighbors said the pink sand brick is a pretty rare commodity.
The parish, which was once located on the corner of Barton Avenue and River Road, eventually sold and a new church built in 1909 where St. Mary’s currently stands, 406 Jefferson Street.
The old rectory eventually became a private home owned by David Binney. He lived out of town and neighbors in Barton started to complain when the home fell into disrepair. There were obvious holes in the roof; plastic tarps were held down by long boards nailed to the roof.
Local real estate agents said there was extensive mold and water damage inside the home and neighbors often complained about a fence in the yard that had fallen down and there was a sense the property was vacant and unkempt.
Contractors said the building was originally very structurally sound. “Whenever you have an abutted structure you want to pull the building into the middle and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said the contractor.
The city ordered the building be razed. The cost of the demolition is now expected to be forwarded to the property owner.
Celebrating Constitution Day in West Bend
“I’m handing out copies of The Constitution so people can understand how the country was founded and the rights we have,” said Del Ellefson, a veteran from West Bend.
Ellefson was armed with two red bags filled with softcover books containing The Constitution of the United States and The Declaration of Independence. Ellefson stood on the corner of Decorah and River Road distributing the copies to students walking to school on Tuesday.
This is U.S. Constitution Day. The day commemorates the Sept. 17, 1787 signing of The Constitution of the United States.
In 2004, Public Law 108-447, Section 111 was passed requiring the following:
“Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.
“…each Federal agency or department shall provide educational and training materials concerning the United States Constitution to each employee… on September 17 of each year.”
Ellefson said he found importance in The Constitution for several reasons. “Being a military veteran, I think it’s pretty nice to be able to have a Constitution, which we fought for, and we’d like to maintain that for the rest of duration for our country,” he said.
Remember School House Rock and the song that helped grade school kids learn The Preamble to The Constitution? Many students who received a copy were unaware of U.S. Constitution Day.
Asked what they knew about The Constitution a 15-year-old responded, “That’s where they signed The Bill of Rights” and another 14-year-old said, “It’s from America.”
Ellefson was joined by several other local veterans in his distribution effort.
West Bend Park & Rec activities not affected by staffing changes
Registration for fall activities is underway at the West Bend Park & Rec Department. Courses include things like youth flag football, archery, little hitters baseball, judo, fall soccer and instructional football.
City Administrator Jay Shambeau said all program registrations are on schedule and moving forward as normal.
The City did receive notice from Park and Rec supervisor Nick Lemke that he was resigning his position. Lemke is moving to Green Bay; his last day will be Friday, September 20.
“When Nick shared with me, he was moving on from his recreation position we discussed the fall activities and quickly came to the decision we were keeping all fall programming in place as planned,” Shambeau said.
Earlier this summer in July the City received notice from Park & Rec director Craig Hoeppner that he was leaving for a similar position in Oconomowoc. Currently the department is being overseen in the interim by Shambeau.
Possible increase in water and sewer rates in the City of West Bend
There will be a meeting of the West Bend Board of Public Works on Monday, September 23, 2019 at 6:25 p.m. and discussion will center around a 2-year audit. City leaders say the findings from that audit may lead to a proposed 3-to-9 percent increase in city water and sewer service.
According to City Administrator Jay Shambeau “water is a proposed 3-percent increase and sewer service is possibly a 9-percent increase.”
Records show the City of West Bend has not had an increase in the water rate since 2011. The sewer rate has not increased in the City of West Bend since 2006.
Shambeau said the City isn’t looking at an increase “just because it hasn’t been done in a while.”
“The reason to raise the utility fees is to keep up with the infrastructure that’s needed,” he said. “We have an aging facility and we have a lot of water and sewer lines under our city streets that need to be upgraded. The audit looks at all of those scheduled capital improvement projects and then we, as staff and the mayor, have been reviewing those projects and the impact of the cost.”
The Public Works Department will make the original audit presentation and then the council will react and possibly ask for more information.
Shambeau said there are a number of steps to take before the council votes on a proposal. He said the earliest increase may possibly be by January 2020. “We’re been working on this diligently for a while,” said Shambeau.
West Bend Utility Director Ruth Mueller said she would prefer to comment on the proposed increase closer to the meeting, after more data becomes available.
The Board of Public Works meeting is held in the council chambers at City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.
On a side note: The City of West Bend water and sewer discussion has nothing to do with the recent Private On-Site Wastewater Treatment System Maintenance Program (POWTS) issue discussed by the Washington County Board.
Washington County Administrator Joshua Schoemann has asked that the proposed $11 POWTS fee be turned down. The full County Board will vote on the issue at its October 9 meeting. The POWTS issue was supposed to be discussed at the full county board meeting on Sept. 11, however it was removed from the agenda.
Zuern Building Products purchases 6-acre property in Slinger | By Adam Williquette
On Thursday, September 19, East Mequon Development Corporation sold the building located at 820 Enterprise Drive in the Village of Slinger, WI.
This is the former location of Legendary Whitetails. The industrial property is 69,063 square feet and located on six acres. The buyer, Gen3 Distribution, LLC, a holding company for the third-generation owners of Zuern Building Products, purchased the property for $3,111,870.
Zuern Building Products plans to use the building for their corporate headquarters and distribution center. They also have locations In Allenton, Watertown, Cedarburg and Franklin.
Adam Williquette, President of American Commercial Real Estate, represented the seller and worked with the buyer on the transaction.
“I had been working with Zuern Building Products for about two years to find a new location in the area and happened to list this building. It worked perfectly for their expansion needs,” said Williquette.
Winner of Classics for a Cause
Mike Pyter of Whitefish Bay was the winner of the 1968 Corvette Sting Ray during the 2nd annual Classics for a Cause fundraiser with tickets sold by the Senior Citizens Activities Center.
In 2018 tickets for the fundraiser were $25 compared to $20 a ticket this year. In 2018 there were 3,420 tickets sold and this year about 4,300 tickets were sold.
New sign posted for Morrie’s West Bend Honda
Earlier this week it was noted the Fleet Farm made progress on construction by putting up the sign on the side of the building. Just east of that location on Highway 33 the project at the new Morrie’s West Bend Honda also had signage installed on the facade.
Morrie’s West Bend Honda has a target opening this November.
In the coming week the dealership is hosting a hiring event on September 23. Morrie’s WB Honda will be holding interviews for the following positions: Sales Consultant/Client Advisor – Full-time, Service Advisor – Full-time, Parts Counter Person – Full-time, Service Technician – Full-time, Service Advisors – Full-time, Detailers – Full-time, Sales Manager – Full-time
Signs in place at new Fleet Farm on Highway 33 in West Bend
The signage is on the building at the new Fleet Farm location on Highway 33 in West Bend.
In August the U.S. flag was raised outside the 192,000-square-foot store which is scheduled to open November 22.
In April 2019 the West Bend Plan Commission reviewed a signage request from Fleet Farm as it asked for an oversized electronic message center and a reduced sign separation distance to allow the sign to be closer than 150 feet from a major intersection.
75th annual reunion for West Bend High School Class of 1944
The West Bend High School Class of 1944 held its 75th class reunion on Wednesday, September 18 in the newly remodeled Top of the Ridge Restaurant in West Bend.
There were five classmates in attendance including: Katharine Hassmer Lutzke, Hedwig Bieri Gumm, Eileen Barber Ecker, Darold Hoelz, and Ollie “Bud”Lochen.
The average age at the table was 93 years old.
The tight-knit group has grown smaller over the years but despite age and physical ability the “Badger alumni” look forward to the get together to exchange stories and recollections.
Bud Lochen and his wife drive in from Wausau, Katharine Lutzke comes in from Menomonee Falls and the rest live in West Bend or “Upper West Bend” as Darold Hoelz refers to his nest on the hill in Barton.
Some of the hot topics of discussion included everything from high school jobs, first cars, politics, Packers and updates in technology. Below are tidbits from some of the conversations….
High school jobs: “I used to work at the Rockfield Canning Company in Jackson,” said Hedwig Bieri Gumm. “We canned whatever was available including beans, peas and beets. I did whatever they assigned me to do; you didn’t have a choice.” Hedwig was paid about 30 cents an hour.
“I remember one guy in the canning business who worked daylight ‘til dark,” said Darold Hoelz. “One guy took home a check for $60 and he worked day and night. Not like it is now.”
“I worked in the farm fields,” said Hoelz. “Pulling weeds out of red beets. Got a nickel a row and I think my dad would bring me lunch and the lunch cost more than I made in a day. All the farmers would hire the kids and the farmer would come out at the end of the day with his tackle box and his pennies, nickels, and dimes and pay the kids.”
“At 14 we were able to get a work permit,” said Hoelz. “I don’t know where we got it but, in the summer, everyone worked for the canning company. Women, all the neighbors; they’d sit at those big belts and the peas would come along with those big thistles in them and they’d pick them out.”
“My first job was working for the West Bend Telephone Company,” said Katharine Hassmer Lutzke. “It was upstairs from the bank in downtown West Bend. (possibly above where Sager’s is now.) “My boss was a typical old maid. One day I was sick and I wanted to go home and she said I had to still work but I told her I didn’t feel good and I just wanted to lay down and go to bed and she went to her purse and got out a pill and she said it would help. I didn’t want to take that pill, but she said I should take it and keep working.”
Telephones: “We had a party line,” said Eileen Barber Ecker. “There were four, five or six on the line. It all changes too rapidly.”
“I built my house in 1956 and I still got the telephone on the wall; dial phone and it works,” said Hoelz. “The party line… there was always someone who would listen in and you knew who it was. You could tell them to get off the line but that didn’t mean they did it.”
“When you called it was two rings short and then long and when you were done with your conversation you would give it a real short ring and that would signal you were off the line,” Hoelz said. “It cost 35 cents for three minutes to call Milwaukee.”
“I still have a land line and it hangs on the wall by the kitchen counter,” said Eileen Ecker. “It’s a push-button phone but it doesn’t have the giant cord.”
School: “When I went to school if a note came home, I’d get it twice as bad at home but now they blame the teacher and the teachers can’t touch the kids. My daughter taught first grade and the kids need a hug and you can’t touch the kids,” said Darold Hoelz.
First car: “A 1933 Studebaker touring car,” said Hoelz. “I’m a paid author to Reminisce Magazine for that. And every girl that rode in it from high school we painted her name on the side of the car. We drove that for two years once in a while we’d drive up to school.”
“Gas rationing; the folks had an oil heater in the basement, and I took one-part fuel oil and three parts gasoline, and it would smoke a little bit, but it ran,” said Hoelz.
History and politics: “Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president when we were in high school; He served 12 years and was in for four terms.”
“The big national news at the time was World War II,” said Hoelz. “We built model airplanes in shop class for recognition. They’d take them and give them to the Air Force and Navy, and they’d hang them up from the ceiling. The models were painted black like silhouettes and they would use that for recognition for fighter pilot training. You’d go down during your free period in school and work in the shop; they’d give you plans and then they’d give you a little certificate like you were a commander in the Navy because you made so many models.”
“Remember Billy Jakels and he delivered newspapers in West Bend and on December 7 he said, ‘I never delivered so many newspapers in my life,'” said Hoelz.
“The class before us had several fatalities from those who went into the service,” said Hoelz. “I don’t think our class lost any. There were about four or five of them killed in the war. That was the time of the big pushes.”
“Henry Gumm was a year ahead of us. Our American Legion Post in Jackson is named after him; S/Sgt. Henry F. Gumm Post 486. He was a tremendous athlete,” said Hoelz.
“I enlisted in the military when I was 17,” said Hoelz. “I didn’t want to get drafted, so I went into the Navy.”
Shops and saloons: “Sam Sutherlands had ice cream and a lot of kids went there,” said Eileen Barber Ecker. “It was kind of in the middle of Main Street.” +
“The Mutual Mall used to be Larson’s Furniture,” said Hoelz.
“I miss Boston Store,” said Eileen Ecker. “Penny’s used to be downtown and they had the old cables and you’d send your money up to the second floor in that box.”
“When I was a kid it was $1 a call to see a doctor and that included medicine,” said Hoelz. “When I had my tonsils taken out on the kitchen table the doctor came to the house. The local schoolteacher always roomed with us and we’d walk a mile together to school. One day the doctor came, and I figured something was up, so I locked myself in the bathroom. This Miss Lawrence was our border the teacher and I wouldn’t open the door and she said, ‘Darold you can trust me.’ The minute I opened that door a crack she had her foot in it and then they laid me out on the table and put the mask over my face and now the doctor tells me they came within this much of cutting my vocal cords. It was surely an adventure. It was Dr. Schloemer from Menomonee Falls. A buck a call, no appointment, you went in and sat down just like at the barber shop, waited your turn and the dollar covered your medicine.”
“I lived on the third floor above The Dugout and the tavern had two doors, one right next to the other. The right-hand door went into a room with the tables that was for the women. The left-hand door was the bar room and that was for the men,” said Hoelz. “Women should learn to keep their place in a tavern just like our church men sat on one side and women on the other. We had one German service and one English service. Now it’s Our Saviors UCC in Germantown.”
“Went to the Packer games on Sunday at State Fair Park for $1 and we sat in the bleachers,” Hoelz said. “That was during the Curly Lambeau era. Sunday afternoon you’d ask the fellas what do you want to do? Let’s go down to Milwaukee and go to the Packer game. On the northeast side of Milwaukee, the Brewers played at Borchert Field.”
During the 2017 reunion Marion Otto Ward, 90, remembered teacher Mike Hildebrand who taught citizenship and social studies.
“He’d come over and tap on the desk with his long ruler and he’d say, “Mildred … why aren’t you paying attention?” And I sat there, and he tapped again and said, “Why aren’t you paying attention – what’s wrong with you?” And I said Mildred was my sister and she graduated four years ago; my name is Marion. I’m surprised he didn’t throw me out the window.”