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0919, 20 Feb 21

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Plow driver saves life of 5-year-old boy in Washington County

David Gehrke of West Bend had a bit of excitement during his early morning plowing shift.

Gehrke, 61, is a part-time plow driver and Friday morning, February 12 at 4 a.m. he was headed for his route on River Road when he saw some movement off the wing of his plow blade.

“I thought it was a deer, or dog,” said Gehrke. “My wing light is a bright LED light and it was shining toward the curb and sidewalk area and as I passed Kilbourn Avenue going north I could see something.”

Gehrke said he sees his share of deer running around the City.

“Turns out it was a child in his pajamas,” he said. “No jacket or hat. If it were anybody else driving by, I don’t think you would have seen him because my lights are on the curb.”

Gehrke spun his rig around. “He watched me and looked at me as l drove by. I got out of the truck he had no shoes. His zip-up pajamas did have feet bottoms.”

Quick to react, Gehrke took off his jacket and wrapped the boy up and put him in his truck with the heat blasting.

“I called police on my radio,” said Gehrke. “They asked if l needed rescue and l thought the child appeared to be fine… he was just shivering. I asked him where he lived and he pointed down the block.”

Gehrke said the boy was 5 years old. “I asked him what he is doing out here and he said he wanted to go see grandpa.”

“It was minus 5 degrees,” said Gehrke.  “I mean the kid would have froze to death if I hadn’t seen him. I checked him out, his hands were tucked in his jammies and his feet were cold but not frostbit. He was a happy kid. He couldn’t tell me where grandpa lived but he had a lot of questions about the truck.”

While waiting for police Gehrke said the boy was chatting, inquisitive and clever. “I asked him where he lived and he pointed down the road and then said we could follow his footsteps if I wanted to see where he lived,” Gehrke said.

When police arrived, they did follow the footsteps to the boy’s home.  Gehrke said the boy was about a block away from his house. He was returned safely.

Police indicated someone was at the child’s home. Police were spotted at the residence for an extended period later that day.

Doug Newman, head of West Bend Public Works, contacted Gehrke to praise him for his quick thinking.

District 5 alderman Jed Dolnick also said Gehrke should be commended for his awareness and quick thinking. “The boy was standing in the roadway… so this could have been really tragic,” said Dolnick. “Thank God he saw him and did what he did.”

Gehrke said when three squads show up, they “took my information down and then l was on my way to do my route.”

“I am so glad l found this child. He could have froze to death. PD thanked me for what l did,” said Gehrke. “That will be a day l will never ever forget.”

It is a day that should be dubbed “David Gehrke Day” for the heroic actions by one part-time snowplow who helped save the life of a 5-year-old boy walking alone in freezing temperatures.

On Wednesday afternoon, under much better circumstances, Maddox and his mom, met the man who saved his life.

Gehrke’s actions drew rave reviews from the community who dubbed him a “hero” and the boy’s “guardian angel.”

David met with the mom and Maddox on Wednesday afternoon to exchange stories and a note of thanks. Maddox’s mom Brittany posted a note on social media.

“First off I need to say how thankful I am that Maddox is safe and nothing horrible happened to him. This kid is my whole life and I don’t know what I would do if something bad happened to him.

And David Gehrke, I will FOREVER be grateful for you! There is no way I could ever repay you for what you did for Maddox and I. If it wasn’t for you finding Maddox at that exact moment, I don’t know what would have happened! And that’s hard to think about.

I am also extremely grateful for the police officers that assisted that night in keeping Maddox safe and getting him back home!!

Friday early morning Maddox woke up and thought he was home alone (he was not) and decided to try and walk to Grandpa Andy’s house. I was at work and my sister was at my house babysitting Maddox while he slept.

I left for work at 1am and got a call about 430am from the west bend police department that they were with Maddox. I was told he was found by David, a plow truck driver. Maddox was outside in his pajamas and Maddox told him he was just trying to get to his grandpa’s house. (It was below zero and snowing!)

I have never in my life felt so terrified. I could have lost my son that night had David not found him right away or not found him at all. Thank you David for being there at just the right time. You’re our guardian angel, that’s for sure.

Maddox did say he had a good time with you and the police he met that night. He wasn’t fazed by it at all but me on the other hand, still traumatized.

I can’t stop thinking about how bad things could have been or the what if’s. I keep beating myself up about it constantly. And seeing all the bad comments people are saying about me, hurts. I’m a good mom and I wish people wouldn’t be so quick to judge and talk crap online. I pray nothing like this ever happens to them. I do everything for Maddox and I work 3rd shift so I can be home with Maddox from when he wakes up and until he goes to bed.

So, thank you, thank you and thank you to David and the officers! Ya’ll will forever be in my heart for being there for my son!!”

FB cover photo courtesy Hillary Mintz

Owners of Cedarburg restaurant opening establishment in Washington County

The owners of The Stilt House in Cedarburg are bringing their talents to West Bend and opening Dooley’s Bar and Grille in the former West Bend Tap + Tavern, 315 N. Main Street.

On Saturday, February 13, a story was posted on as Tap + Tavern owner Brian Culligan announced that after eight years in business he was stepping aside.

“After 8 amazing years of serving this community I have decided to step down as the owner of West Bend Tap + Tavern to focus on my family. Our last day of service will be Saturday 2/27.”

Culligan said the restaurant would be taken over by a new restaurateur, that happens to be Gordon Goggin and his wife Tricia Dooley, owners of The Stilt House.

The new restaurant in West Bend will be called Dooley’s Bar and Grille.

Goggin described his vision for Dooley’s below.

Dooley’s is a casual, family- friendly restaurant with great service, great food, in a relaxed space that will be open for lunch and dinner.

Located in the heart of downtown West Bend on Main Street, Dooley’s offers a full-service, casual dining experience with a full bar that offers 16 local craft beers on tap.

Combining high quality, locally sourced ingredients in every dish, the menu provides a wide selection from seafood to burgers to fresh salads and sandwiches. We also have a wonderful patio and a private party room available for guest use.

Named after Dennis Dooley, my wife’s father, who was always known to have been warm and welcoming to friends and strangers alike, he had the unique gift of being able to make everyone feel like a long-lost friend the moment they met.

We aim to carry on that legacy by creating a warm, welcoming restaurant where everyone can come and enjoy.

Our website is “” which will continue to be updated as we get closer to the opening. The opening date is slated for March 16, 2021 contingent upon licensing.

My wife, Tricia Dooley, and I own and operate The Stilt House located on Washington Avenue in Cedarburg and Toast located on Second Street in downtown Milwaukee. We are the proud parents of three children, two of which attend West Bend West HS.  We are excited about this opportunity and look forward to being a part of the downtown West Bend community!

Brian Culligan, owner of WB Tap & Tavern, and his wife Monica are good friends and they contacted us a few months ago to initiate the process of taking over the West Bend Tap & Tavern space.

Brian and I have very similar management styles and we are very happy to not only take over the space but also keep the current staff employed along with keeping many of the popular menu items on the Dooley’s menu.

Germantown beats Beaver Dam to advance in WIAA Division 1 Girls’ Sectionals Semi-Final   By Jason Howarth

Germantown’s defense suffocated Beaver Dam’s offense en route to a WIAA Sectional Final victory, 74 – 54. During the win Germantown sophomore Kamorea Arnold scored her 1,000th career point. Germantown (as a No. 2 seed) will now travel to No. 1 seeded Kimberly to face off for the Division 1 Sectional 2 championship and the right to travel to La Crosse for the Division 1 WIAA state championship on February 27.

Arnold led the charge for Germantown with 26 points and several game-breaking steals, which helped shift momentum for the Warhawks. Beaver Dam was led by senior Avery Stonewall with 16 points.

Germantown head coach Matt Stuve was proud of his team’s defensive effort. “This group has got a lot of self-belief, especially defensively. It works because they buy into what they want do (defensively) and the game plan.”

Stuve praised Arnold and her ability to wrap her arms around the team.  “It’s amazing that while we have had 1,000-point scorers before, those have all come from players in their senior year, but it’s more than that. The great thing about Keke (a nickname of Arnold’s) is she plays the game of basketball so well, not just individually, but from a team perspective she is always making the right plays consistently, from attacking the rim to finding holes in the defense for her teammates, she is an extraordinary player.”

Stuve said he is looking forward to a rare matchup against Kimberly. “Four years ago, we beat them in the regional finals and it’s the only time we have ever played them in recent history.”

Slinger St. Peter Knights of Columbus make generous donation

The Slinger St. Peter Knights of Columbus Council #12588 recently presented a check for $2,116 to the Slinger High School’s – Functional Life Skills Program. Funds are used for Adaptive Educational Equipment.

The Knights of Columbus also presented a check for $2,116 to the Addison Elementary School – Special Ed Program and a check for $270 to the Wisconsin Special Olympics.

Donations were received from the local K of C Tootsie Roll drives and local business canisters. The St. Peter Knights of Columbus want to thank all of our sponsors for their continued support of the Tootsie Roll program.

Pictured are Knights of Columbus Members Bob Kuenzi and Terry Krall with Slinger High School’s – Functional Life Skills Teacher Sara Sturgeon.

Jackson Police Officer Gerke receives Woman Officer of the Year Award    By Jen Keller

Village of Jackson Police Officer Jennifer Gerke has been named the “Woman Officer of the Year” by the 2020 Wisconsin Association of Women Police.

Chief Ryan Vossekuil submitted the nomination due to Officer Gerke’s excellent investigative work on several cases, as well as her community outreach efforts.

Criteria for the award is posted below.

The Woman Officer of the Year Award

The award is to honor a female law enforcement officer who has exceeded the duty requirements expected of her position and has demonstrated a distinct pattern of community service coupled with professional achievement.

Displays and maintains a professional demeanor and reputation

Embodies a high moral character and demonstrates exemplary performance

Outstanding service and dedication, Outstanding leadership and devotion

Dedicated service and efforts that strive to help the community grow and flourish

Exceeded the duty or requirements expected of her duties and demonstrated a distinct form of community service

The award will be formally presented to Officer Gerke at the March 9, 2021 Jackson Village Board meeting.

Successful sturgeon spearing in Fond du Lac                                    By Wisconsin DNR

Day five of the 2021 sturgeon spearing season has concluded. Today’s system-wide harvest totaled 91 fish, with 68 fish speared on Lake Winnebago and 23 fish speared on the Upriver Lakes. Stockbridge Harbor registered the most fish (17) on Lake Winnebago today as the northern registration stations continue to lead the way in the number of fish registered. Today’s Lake Winnebago harvest was the lowest of the season so far, which is likely due to a decrease in spearing effort as we move through the workweek.

We are anticipating harvest to increase throughout the remainder of the week and into the weekend. The Lake Winnebago harvest remains under 50% of the allotment for each sex-specific harvest cap. Both the Lake Winnebago and system-wide harvest caps remain distant as we move into day six.

However, the Upriver Lakes harvest caps are another story. The Upriver Lakes daily harvest included 2 juvenile females, 4 adult females and 17 males, bringing the season totals to 37 juvenile females, 70 adult females and 206 males. After today, 16 adult females and 10 males represent the number of fish remaining to trip the 90% trigger on the Upriver Lakes.

If either of the sex-specific 90% triggers are reached, the Upriver Lakes season will close at 1 p.m. of the following day. Be sure to continue checking the daily harvest reports for information on the Upriver Lakes season outlook as we approach the harvest caps. See the full day five harvest breakdown in the link below.

The biggest fish harvested on the Winnebago System today was a 134.4-pound (77.5 inches) F2 female speared by Terry Noone and registered at the Oshkosh (Leech Amphitheater) registration station. Terry’s fish was classified as a F2 female, meaning it was in the second stage of the female reproductive cycle. The Upriver Lakes largest fish of the day was speared by Cassie Stumpf on Lake Poygan. Cassie’s fish was a 95.9-pound (72.1 inches) F4 female and was registered at Boom Bay.

Slinger Snowboard team scores big win at State race at Mt. La Crosse   By Delaney Braun

The Slinger snowboard team is coming home with a huge win from the State snowboard race that took place this weekend at Mt. La Crosse. Racers endured bitter cold temperatures and some snowy weather to show the state of Wisconsin what they could do.

Racers arrived on Friday, February 12 for a day of training in the boarder cross, giant slalom, and slalom events. Training was almost exact to the courses the racers would be competing on the next day.

On Saturday, the girl’s teams went first on the boardercross course. Marisa Reyes, a senior took second out of 38 racers. Slingers freshman Mickey DeLong finished 6th.

For the boys, Joe Hefter a freshman scored high taking fourth out of 56 racers. Ethan Smith, a junior followed closely behind. Isaac DeWalt took eighth and Brady Jackson took eleventh who are both in their junior year. For giant slalom, the course was very steep with a large head wall and a very spaced out set course. Reyes took third followed by Slingers sophomore Kallie Weyer in sixth and Hartford’s Sophia Parkinson in seventh.

The boys found success as well with Smith in fourth, DeWalt in eighth, and Jackson and Hefter tied exactly for eleventh. Slalom later that day was nice for Slinger because it was a bit easier than the racers are normally used to training. Reyes took seventh, Slingers sophomore Delaney Braun took ninth and Weyer finished in tenth. Smith took fourth, Jackson took fifth, DeWalt took seventh, and Hefter finished it off with tenth.

Reyes made this state competition a memorable one as she took third overall. The girls team combined gave them enough points to finish in second behind Middleton High School. The boys defeated all the competition taking first overall.

The Slinger snowboard team in its regular season also took 5 of 6 conference titles. Smith and Jackson both finished with 54 points for the season, meaning it went to a timing tie breaker where Jackson beat Smith 357.82 seconds to 358.73. Jackson took the slalom title while Smith took the giant slalom title.

For girls, Reyes had two titles finishing with 57 points in slalom and 54 in giant slalom with Braun behind Reyes in girls’ slalom and third in girls’ giant slalom. Braun ended up taking the boarder cross girls conference title with a total of 48 points.

With two state podiums and 5 conference titles, the Slinger Snowboard team had their most successful season to date. Thanks to all the parents, coaches, and weekly readers for the support for the team this season.

After 41 years the Kleinke family is selling the Amerahn in Kewaskum

After 41 years in the tavern business the Kleinke family is ready to move along and they are selling the Amerahn in Kewaskum.

“The first time I walked in here it was Steve and Mary’s Minor Bar and my friends sat me on a chair and within 10 minutes I had 15 beers sitting in front of me,” said Amerahn owner Marie Kleinke. “I think beers were 7 bottles for $1 at that time.”

In 1974 the drinking age lowered to 18 and the hall was built.

Earl and Marie Kleinke bought the establishment in 1980. “Earl always wanted to own a bar,” said Marie. “We had a lot of rock bands perform here including Rockin’ 88 and Herman’s Hermits.”

“I remember the floors and windows shaking when I was a kid,” said Brian.

The Amerahn has been sale for the past year. “My knees are bad and I’m old enough to retire,” said Marie.

BOSS Realty is overseeing the sale of the property. A pair of couples from the Campbellsport area are the new owners. A liquor license was discussed during the Town of Kewaskum meeting regarding the new owner 7 Bridges Road, LLC.

Prior to the Kleinke’s owning the establishment the business was a hot spot known as Steve and Mary’s Minor Bar. Owners were Steve and Mary Rahn.

They later built the Amerhan Bar and Hall with their daughter and son-in-law, Jeanne and Allen Amerling. The names Rahn and Amerling were combined to form Amerhan.

Mary Rahn died in September 2013. Steve Rahn died August 22, 2014.

The hall was a popular and favorite gathering place for many.


0919, 20 February 2021


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