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1825, 17 Jan 21

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Kettle Trailblazers snowmobile club volunteers to reroute trail at Sandy Knoll


Volunteers stepped up over the weekend to work with the West Bend Kettle Trailblazers snowmobile club clearing a new path for the trail to go around, rather than through the dog park at Sandy Knoll.


Last week a story was posted at about some confusion at Sandy Knoll County Park on Wallace Lake Road in West Bend as fans of the dog park were mixing with snowmobile enthusiasts on the same turf.


Some miscommunication was to blame, but rather than dwell on it the Kettle Trailblazers snowmobile club stepped up to make it right.


“We had 20 guys show up with less than 24 hours’ notice,” said Pat Groth of West Bend Kettle Trailblazers snowmobile club.  “We worked hard to make the trail go where it needs to and that should help make dog owners happy and safe.”


Groth put out a call-to-action early Saturday morning and was more than pleased with the response. “I couldn’t be more proud of our snowmobile club because I put out a mass text on Saturday morning at 8 a.m.   It read, ‘We’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to take care of at Sandy Knoll to make this problem go away for Washington County and we’re just helping out another landowner.'”


Groth said on Sunday morning a crew showed up with wheelbarrows and trucks and saws and within four hours they cleared a path outside of the dog park fence. “The trail now goes to the west outside of the fence for the dog park. Problem solved,” said Groth.


The team of volunteers moved the path, cleared a large amount of brush to get the groomer through, and cleaned up. The snowmobile season in Washington County runs about 20 days at most during the winter season.


On a history note: The snowmobile trail has been running through Sandy Knoll Park for 45 years and the trail itself has been in place even before Sandy Knoll became a park. Sandy Paws Dog Park opened in 2020.

The Wedge 53095 Uncorked opening in 2021 in West Bend


The name and graphic for a new cheese and wine shop opening this summer in West Bend are being unveiled today at


“We just got the trademarks officially filed,” said Jessica Youso, owner of Old Fashioned Cheese in Mayville and now The Wedge Uncorked.


The corporation, according to Youso, is going to be “The Cheese Wedge ‘uncorked’”


“Each store will be identified by its zip code as the wedge. I have aspirations to either grow the company across the United States or franchise it,” she said.


The Wedge 53095 uncorked in West Bend will open in the building formerly home to Rose Marie’s Hair Designer, 408 S. Main Street. Some neighbors may remember the location on the corner of Main and Chestnut as home to the old Morning Glory Coffee & Conversation.


The property sold in December 2020 to Youso and her husband; the couple own Old Fashioned Cheese in Mayville.


“We have over 500 varieties of cheese ‘wedges’ in our store,” Youso said. “There’s cheese for everyone. The uncorked is to let people know they can enjoy wine and cheese in our store. Uncorked equals opened.”


Youso explained the circle around the uncorked in the graphic is the edge of a wine bottle.


Aside from the new store in West Bend, there will also be another The Wedge uncorked in Cedarburg, N56W6339 Center Street, formerly home to Morton’s Wisconsinn


“The West Bend store is going to be a little different because we plan to offer simple sandwiches and soup and we’re going to have the cheese,” she said. The opening date for the new store is “hopefully spring, maybe March.”


WBW senior Aaron Tennies notches 1,000-point mark                        By Jason Howarth


It was senior night for West Bend West as the Spartans played host to visiting Nicolet Knights. What was supposed to be a joyous event for the seven Spartan seniors started as a nightmare.


The Spartans were physically dominated across the board in the first half. The Knights tightly guarded West Bend in the paint and the Spartans were unable to make a three-pointer until the start of the second half.


West Bend also gave up a lot of second and even third chance opportunities to Nicolet. The halftime score told the ugly story as the Spartans trailed 35-20.


The start of the second half was not any easier for the Spartans as they were down between 15 and 20 points.


West Bend managed to find some holes in the Knights’ defensive armor, using speed to counteract Nicolet’s size advantage.


The Spartans made a run to bring the contest within six points with just over two minutes left, but that was as close the Spartans would get, ultimately falling 75-67 to the Knights.


It was not all doom and gloom for the Spartans though, as senior Aaron Tennies scored his 1,000th career point in the waning minutes of the game, much to the delight of the crowd.


Tennies becomes the first boy in West Bend West school history to achieve 1,000 career points since Ryan Wietor in the year 2000. Post game Tennies humbly said, “It was great to have four years of hard work pay off, especially on senior night.”


Knights’ senior Kobe Johnson also scored his 1,000th career point in this game and put up 31 points on the night, leading Nicolet in scoring. Tennies lead the way for the Spartans with 21 points, plus 5 assists.


A message from Washington County Sheriff Martin R. Schulteis


The second week is of April is annually recognized as National Telecommunications Officer Week.  It is a time to honor the hard working and committed individuals that have chosen emergency communications as their profession. My appreciation for their work is not reserved for just that single week, so I wanted to share a brief story that recently came to my attention.


Our communication officers have an irreplaceable responsibility to answer calls for help from our citizens during the most trying of circumstances.  This transpires around-the-clock while many of us are asleep at night or enjoying free time on weekends and holidays. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center alone handles about 100,000 total phone calls annually.


Below I have a short story that illustrates the point better than I ever could.  This is a correspondence* our open records person received after a family member requested a copy of a 911 medical call:


“I’m sending this to you because you’re the only contact I’ve had regarding the 911 emergency call placed by my sister.  She died while on the call.  One of my other sisters was very sad that Connie had died all alone.  After I listened to the call I concluded (and told my sister) that Connie didn’t die “alone”.  The 911 operator was with her every second right up till the end.  There was no way Connie would have lived no matter how fast help had arrived.  (Which by the way was VERY fast). I sent a copy of the call to my sister.  After she listened, she was just as impressed as I was over the amount of empathy and professionalism expressed by the dispatcher.  After she had found out her address she asked if “Connie” was her name.  She then called her by name more than once as she encouraged her and gave her emotional support and reassurance that help was on the way, even letting her know when the ambulance had pulled into the driveway.


Is there any way you could convey our sincere thanks to this operator for her kindness, empathy, understanding and professional behavior on behalf of my family & I?  If I were ever in the same circumstance as my sister, I would want this operator (and no other) on the other end of the 911 call.  My sister did not die alone.  We are so grateful to the operator/dispatcher.  Please tell her for us if you can…”


It is my honor to work with such a dedicated group of caring individuals.


Martin R. Schulteis, Sheriff                           *Quote used with permission of Connie’s family.


Don Pridemore’s candidacy in question for State Senate race in District 13


The State Elections Commission will meet Friday, January 15, 2021 in Madison to determine whether Don Pridemore has filed valid paperwork to run for State Senate District 13, the seat recently vacated by incoming Fifth District Congressman Scott Fitzgerald.


The challenge, received Monday, January 11, 2021 from Steven Hepp questions Pridemore’s residence listed on his nomination paperwork. The address is 459 Abbot Avenue, Hartford. That address is also the primary residence of Hartford Mayor Tim Michalak and his wife Annemarie. Michalak also works on Pridemore’s campaign.


“Yes, that’s where I’m living with my wife Tina,” said Pridemore. “The mayor is the one renting it to me.” Pridemore said he has an upstairs bedroom and bathroom. “He has enough space, (bedrooms) he had seven kids,” said Pridemore.


Pridemore still owns his own home on Hwy K in the town of Erin however, he is in the process of selling that home to his son. “The house in Erin is in a trust the problem is with redistricting coming up I have no idea where the new boundaries will go,” he said.


“I probably spend more time at my office in downtown Watertown than anywhere else; I rent that as well,” said Pridemore.


Questioned whether he is living in Hartford, Pridemore said, “for the most part.”


Apparently, there were some Covid issues that affected the housing arrangement. “The quarantine disrupted some of the issues with renting the bedroom upstairs for three weeks,” Pridemore said. “We came back to the house in Erin during the summer but when everybody is clear we we’re welcomed back into the house.”


Pridemore said he goes back and forth between the office and the Hartford residence and the home in Erin.  “I still have to maintain my house so I am there,” he said. “Between those three locations that’s where I spend my time.”


The State Elections Commission has statutes that define residency. Questioned whether he is meeting those qualifications, Pridemore said, “I believe I am.”


Questioned about running for a position of the caliber of a State Senate seat did Pridemore ever consider simply moving into the district. He reiterated, “My house is up for sale, my son is buying it, we don’t have terms or move-in, move-out dates established yet so… that’s why I set up a family trust.”


If he wins, will Pridemore remain a roomy of the mayor? “I don’t know when the redistricting will start and if I have to sell the house quickly, I can do that,” he said. “I probably will not continue renting from the mayor.”


Pridemore said he had not heard any comments from anyone while collecting signatures. “I’m sure it would lend more credibility to my campaign if I lived here and I plan on doing that,” he said. “I’ve been working on it since February 2020 when I signed the lease… and I’m still working on it.”


“It would be foolish for me to do anything because if I sold the house tomorrow and in a couple months, they redistrict I could be in a totally different environment and have to sell again,” Pridemore said.


Questioned how many nights a week he is in Hartford and how many nights he is at home in Erin he said, “Again the Covid thing messed things up all summer until Christmas; I’ll have to ask my wife,” he said.


Reid Magney is public information officer with the Wisconsin Elections Commission.  said the challenge was received Monday, January 11, 2021 by Steven Hepp.


“You don’t have to be a resident of the district in order to run,” said Magney. “If you win you have win you have to be a resident of the district 28 days before you take the oath of office.


“The question here is about the information Mr. Pridemore put on his paperwork and is it accurate. The challenger is basically saying Mr. Pridemore doesn’t actually live there and for that reason his paperwork should not be allowed because of that.”


The decision is up to the Wisconsin Elections Commission which will meet Friday, January 15 at 2 p.m. in Madison. Click HERE to watch the meeting.


“Basically, they will be considering whether he should be allowed on the ballot if he in fact does not live at that address, but there are various statues that define residence so the commission is going to have to make a decision on that,” said Magney.


In terms of Pridemore’s concern about buying a new home with redistricting on the horizon, Magney said that is not a factor.


“In this legislative session the legislature has to pass a law creating new districts based on census information. That data is not available yet. But the redistricting doesn’t affect this at all,” he said. “That has absolutely nothing to do with this.”


The Friday meeting will be carried out in this fashion, according to Magney. “On Friday at the meeting the challenger will have a chance to speak and so will Mr. Pridemore or his attorney, the commission will have a public debate and then a public vote. A decision will be made Friday because there is a narrow window for clerks to get ballots printed so a decision is needed.


“If either the complainant or Mr. Pridemore disagrees with the decision, they would have an opportunity to take that to court,” said Magney.  Pridemore currently serves on the Hartford Jt1 School Board as its vice-president; he must live within the district to be on the school board.


Don Pridemore to remain on February primary ballot for race in State Senate District 13


On a vote of 6 – 0 the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) cast a decision Friday afternoon, January 15, 2021 that Don Pridemore of Hartford would remain on the February 16, 2021 primary election ballot for State Senate District 13.


There had been a challenge made by Steven Hepp, received Monday, January 11, 2021, questioning Pridemore’s residence listed on his nomination paperwork.


The address is 459 Abbot Avenue, Hartford. That address is also the primary residence of Hartford Mayor Tim Michalak and his wife Annemarie.


Neither Hepp, who made the challenge, nor Pridemore appeared during the Zoom meeting.


After brief discussion, the WEC quickly voted to dismiss the challenge.


Reid Magney is public information officer with the Wisconsin Elections Commission. He said as far as candidate residency, “You don’t have to be a resident of the district in order to run. If you win you have to be a resident of the district 28 days before you take the oath of office.”


There are six candidates running for State Senate District 13.


Candidates include: John Jagler, state representative, Don Pridemore, former state representative current Hartford Joint 1 School Board member, Todd Menzel, businessman


Melissa Winker, teacher and candidate for Assembly District 38 in 2018 and 2020. Ben Schmitz, businessman and National Guard officer


Spencer Zimmerman, a resident of Janesville who has hopscotched across the state running for multiple open political seats.


On a side note: WISN radio talk show host Mark Belling took up the State Senate Dist. 13 topic on Thursday and indicated he spoke with candidate John Jagler about the challenge to Pridemore. Belling asked Jagler if he had anything to do with the challenge and did not get a response.


Won $10,000 playing at The Garden Lounge / Inferno.


Jacqueline McFarland of Farmington is $10,000 richer.  “We had a trip to Vegas planned because our Christmas was canceled and we went to try to win some money and on the second day I received four phone calls in a row from the same number. Finally, I got a text that said it was the Garden Lounge and I was told I won 10 grand,” she said. “It was just kind of ironic because I was in Vegas to gamble and win money and here, I gambled and won money back home.” Plans to pay to vacation and payoff some bills.  “I’ve won before but not this amount. It was surreal because you go to Vegas to play and win and you end up winning back home,” she said.


Victim in ice rescue calls to say Thanks                                     By Steve Volkert


Charles Gardner, the gentleman who was rescued from the frozen waters of Pike Lake last week reached out to the Hartford Fire and Rescue Department to say “thank you” for saving his life.


Gardner had been out on the lake roughly 100 yards from the shore wearing snowshoes when the ice gave way. He had been in the water up to 35 minutes attempting to get help when a couple walking the trails in the State Park heard his pleas for help.


“I just could not hang on any longer and I thought to myself that I have lived a good life and this is it,” Gardner said. “I was about to let go when I heard those sirens coming. I guess that just motivated me to hang on a little longer. I remember your guys yelling instructions to me but I knew I would not last much longer.”


Gardner was removed from the ice and taken to the Hartford Hospital hele-pad prior to being airlifted to Froedtert Hospital – Milwaukee.  Gardner reported in his call he is out of the hospital and on the road to recovery.


Celebrating the life of WWII veteran Frank Mrazik, 94, of West Bend


A note to relay the news of the death of WWII veteran Frank Mrazik of West Bend. In 2011 Mrazik went on the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.  Below is an article that appeared in Around the Bend detailing Mrazik’s service to his country.


Frankie Mrazik of West Bend will be among the 90 WWII veterans scheduled to fly to Washington D.C. on the May 14, 2011 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.


The Honor Flight is a volunteer effort to transport World War II veterans to the memorial that stands in their honor.


Mrazik, 84, was born on a farm in Myra, went to West Bend High School (the old Badger) and was drafted into the Army when he was 18 years old.


That was Nov. 1944 and for the next two years Mrazik served his country traveling from Fort Knox, Kentucky, went to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey and then received orders to ship out to Germany.


With the war coming to an end, Private First Class Mrazik said his orders changed and he soon found himself on a ship headed from Fort Ord, California to the Philippines.


“We hit a hell of a typhoon going over,” said Mrazik. “The hatches were closed and chains broke on the tanks and equipment in the hole and they were banging and we thought they’d come out the sides. It was scary.”


Mrazik said it was “30 days of stink” before they made it to the Philippines.


Although the fighting was dying down, Mrazik said there was still some action coming out of the bush. “You could hear the snipers up in the hills and we had tents and bullets would go whizzing through the top; couple of guys got hit but nobody got killed,” he said.


From there, Mrazik received orders to go to Hiroshima, Japan. It was two weeks after the atomic bomb had been dropped. “Everything was still smoldering,” said Mrazik. “The most important thing I saw there was a glass factory that was just melted to one mound and pile and there was a streetcar that was just blown off the tracks and all burnt to a crisp.”


Mrazik shuffled through a small book of black-and-white photos detailing images of the carnage. “The bodies were all cremated and the stench was terrible,” he said.


Other pictures showed naked Japanese soldier that were nothing but skin and bone. There was also distant shots of rubble and grey landscape. Mrazik leaves the room and returns with a heavy, three-foot-long Samurai sword.


“I pulled that off a dead Japanese soldier,” he said. After a two-month tour, Mrazik was transferred to Kyoto, Japan where he worked in the 21st Quartermaster Car Company. “There were about 15 of us in the garage and we had to take care of the equipment, the trucks and jeeps, and we’d drive the brass around with them,” he said.


In Nov. 1946, Mrazik came back to West Bend. “I pulled into Milwaukee on the train, took a taxi up to Fond du Lac Avenue and then hitchhiked to West Bend. I got by Pick Industries and my dad was working on the roof for the Hron Brothers and he walked me home,” he said.


After two years of being in the service, Mrazik and his buddy Wally Kluever, took his new car on a three-week trip to Yellowstone and out to California and back.


Upon his return, Mrazik went to work for the Gehl Company. “Hank Gehl was president and he hired me on a Friday and told me to come in Monday,” he said noting, “Hank used to like to tip the bottle a little bit.”


“He had a couple under his belt that afternoon and when he came in Monday he said, ‘What are you doing here?’”


Mrazik told Gehl he hired him. “He asked how much I was getting paid and I told him $1.10 an hour and Gehl said, ‘I start most at a $1 but I’ll give you $1.10.’”


Mrazik married, had five children and after two years at Gehl, went to work for Jerry Schloemer’s Filling Station (corner of Main and Walnut where Westbury Bank is today), and Tennies Buick, and then opened his own garage – Mrazik Wagner Mercury Edsel which was located behind the former St. Somewhere – today the parking lot behind the former Grasshopper Restaurant.


Next Saturday (2011), Mrazik will travel with Nancy Mehring on a Delta 757 to Washington D.C. as part of the 10th local Honor Flight for area World War II veterans.


“I am happy to say I will be attending as his guardian,” said Mehring. “He is my Godfather, and I’m delighted to be able to do this for him.”


Because the group is smaller, this may be the first Honor Flight tour to visit the White House; however, all plans will hinge on the day’s circumstances and national security level at the time.


Jerry Mehring submitted another story below about Frank.


Sad News!!


Just got a call that Frank Mrazik (Nancy’s Uncle & Godfather) died today.  He was 94.  A story that Frankie told us follows.


Years ago, when Dad had the Fish Market Joe Strenke had the Auto Parts store a few doors down.  Every year Joe had a Christmas Lunch for all the auto mechanics that were his customers.  He set it up in the basement of his store along with beer.  Dad Mehring and Joe were always joking around with each other.  So, Dad Mehring had Chuck Walters, who had the Lithia Brewery, bottle a case of water in beer bottles.  He gave the case to Joe Strenke who then put it in the cooler downstairs, not knowing they were filled with water.  Frank Mrazik was the first to arrive and went downstairs for lunch and a beer.  Soon Frankie came upstairs and said to Joe “You tight sun of a bi..h putting water in beer bottles.  Did you think we wouldn’t know or say anything!  Joe thought for a moment and then said “Harold Mehring” that sun of a gun.  So, their gags went on.  Frankie will be missed. Several years ago, Frankie went on The Honor Flight to Washington DC with Nancy as his sponsor.  He said it was one of the best days of his life.


Jerry Mehring


Letter to the Editor | Neighbors concerned about annexation in City of Hartford  | By Laurel Jaeke


The Washington County Supervisors voted 15-8 on Jan. 8, 2020 authorizing petition, 2019 Resolution 55 for annexation of the Washington County Family Park Golf Course and Family Park (approximately 283 acres) to the City of Hartford from the Town of Hartford. The county indicated this annexation request and ability to sell/develop the park property meant further development and revenue for the county and would increase all property values in the long run. (See below) The city meetings have been scheduled and in just two weeks a decision will be made.

  • Hartford City Plan Commission’s meeting is on Monday, Jan 11th at 5:30pm in the City Hall Council Chambers. This non-binding recommendation will be sent to the common council for their final vote.
  • Hartford City Common Council’s meeting is on Tuesday, Jan 26th at 7:00pm in the City Hall Council Chambers. Both the annexation request and the land use agreement will have public hearings.


How did we get here?


On Sept 4, 2019, the Town of Hartford Plan Commission rejected to re-zone a three-acre parcel on the western portion of Family Park to residential so several lots could be developed. At the Sept 9, 2019 Town of Hartford Board meeting, a motion was passed to refer the discussion to the City of Hartford and Town of Hartford Joint Plan Commission. This is necessary since a multi-jurisdiction agreement exists because the township is within a three-mile radius of the city.


Late Friday, Nov 8, 2019 this joint plan commission meeting set for November 11, 2019 was cancelled due to conflicts for two city members, one of which was the mayor. The following Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 Supervisor Mark McCune drafted this request, “Dear Mr. Chairman, I firmly request that an item be placed on the next Executive Meeting agenda. I would like to formally request that Washington County ask the City of Hartford to allow Washington County to annex the golf course from the Town of Harford to the City of Hartford. I believe this action is in the best interest of Washington County – both currently and for our future.”


At the Dec. 17, 2019 Executive Committee meeting, members of that committee that included Mr. McCune, the mayor of Hartford, as well as county staff discussed where the city services (water/sewer laterals) would likely connect from when future services were requested.


Could a conflict of interest exist when the mayor of the city is also a Washington County Supervisor, a member of the county’s Executive Committee, the chair on the city’s plan commission, and the chair of the City/Town Joint Plan Commission whose meeting was cancelled. This land split, instead of being addressed by the municipalities as it should have been, instead was escalated to the county board for a vote immediately following the holidays in 2020 just like this vote.


The resolution that passed on Jan. 8, 2020 states, “WHEREAS, in order to keep the Washington County Family Park Golf Course operating as a self-sustaining enterprise for the foreseeable future, it is necessary to consider options that will enable the golf course to continue to be a successful endeavor; and WHEREAS, the Washington County Board of Supervisors believes that annexation of the Washington County Family Park Golf Course into the City of Hartford will increase the value of the property and enhance development around the course which will benefit the people of Washington County.”


How does this annexation vote affect Town of Hartford residents?


Annexation requests are normally petitioned by the property owner when city services are requested. Neither sewer or water is needed at this time for the golf course/clubhouse per the County Executive, Josh Schoemann. According to the city planner, in the past ten years perhaps four or so similar requests have been received by the city. Why now? Who stands to gain from the annexation request? What benefit is the golf course receiving by being part of the city rather than the town?


For residents on Ernst Drive where over half of the properties share a boundary with the golf course, will sewer/water laterals being extended prevent us from continuing to use and/or replace our private wells and septic systems? In looking at other state municipalities, mandates exist requiring property owners to connect within one year if their parcel of land abutts any public right-of-way or easement where functioning water or sewer mains exists. Is that the intention of the county/city leaders? For the town properties in both the Hillcrest Estates and Gateway subdivisions an intermunicipal agreement signed in 1988 between the city and town protects those properties. Where is the protection for any landowner whose property borders the Washington County Family Park Golf Course from further city expansion?


There were many individuals who donated farms, land, and money to build this golf course and park. How can the county now decide to split the land and sell the park for development with no city services and pay city taxes? What will the county be selling next?


There is no doubt, that this annexation petition will have long-term consequences for everyone involved. Personally, it feels like an assault when my rights as a property owner will change if laterals are pushed into my neighborhood. What subdivision or farm will be next? Simply, this continued march into successful agricultural lands also prevents farmers from growing the crops they need to support their cows, and they may no longer be able to continue farming. If you are as concerned as I am, your voices need to be heard and the first step is calling and emailing the following individuals. This vote will change our country neighborhoods and farmlands forever.


1825, 17 January 2021


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