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2029, 20 Mar 21

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

In-person absentee voting begins Tuesday, March 23 for April 6 election

In-person absentee voting begins Tuesday, March 23 from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. and will continue through Friday, April 2. Election Day is Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

Absentee Ballots were mailed Tuesday for the April 6 Spring Election and local clerks pretested voting machines for the election. Absentee ballots will be mailed as requested until the Thursday, April 1 deadline at 5 p.m.

Fire guts West Bend Lakes Golf Club – 15 fire departments on scene

Fifteen fire departments from Washington and Ozaukee Counties responded to a large fire at West Bend Lakes Golf Club on Sunday afternoon, March 14.

The first fire call came in around 2 p.m. The fire appeared to start in the back of the building at 1241 Highway 33.  The 18-hole course was designed by Dewey Laak, the West Bend Lakes golf course opened in 1968. Chris Merkel manages the course as the Club Manager.

Prepping for Kwik Trip No. 5 at 18th Avenue in West Bend

The big trucks are moving earth and removing a longstanding tree line on the south end of the property at 18th Avenue and Highway 33 as the development of Kwik Trip No. 5 is underway in West Bend.

On a windy Thursday, large dump trucks and excavators could be seen pulling up the blacktop at the site, formerly home to Fleet Farm. On the south side of the property trees were being removed from a nearby fence line.

Lois Biron is a neighbor whose property abuts that tree line. Biron has lived on Concord Lane for 20 years.

In March 2020 Biron was concerned with the development design that would remove a 50-foot-tall line of Evergreen trees and how the new store would be about 60-feet off the property line.

She said another concern was there would now be ongoing traffic since the store would be open seven days a week and the reports to the Plan Commission showed a 75% increase in traffic to the area and even more if a restaurant will be built.

“Kwik Trip is a 24-7 operation and we’ll no longer have holidays with no noise or quiet at night and with added development there are added concerns,” said Biron. “From 15th Avenue and 18th Avenue there are other businesses coming in and our concern is this will be another Paradise Drive. This will directly impact the enjoyment we have along with the four other neighborhoods behind us.”

Biron was primarily concerned about the noise and how they would be able to hear things in the summer when their windows would be open. “We accept Kwik Trip,” said Biron. “But still have concerns about a number of things.”

Catastrophe averted in Allenton as sidewall gives in at road construction project | By Ron Naab

Some excitement in Allenton as contractors working to put in a manhole assembly on Railroad Street just south of Highway 33 had a sidewall give way Thursday afternoon, March 11. Witnesses said a huge geyser shot up as a pipe was pulled completely out of the valve assembly.

The incident emptied the 350,000 gallons in the water tower as the hole on Railroad Street filled with water coming in a 115-pounds of pressure.

Contractors with Highway Landscapers from Little Chute stayed on scene until 2 a.m. to fix the break.

There were several issues that led up to the incident. According to the contractor the crews were attempting to make the hole safe enough to work in along with being dry. A sidewall of the opening gave way and the weight of the water and ground pushed against the water line pulling the pipe out of the valve assembly and that caused the water tower to empty.

According to Highway Landscapers the previous repair to the water line apparently did not have a thrust block installed per state code. Early word is the line may date to 1961 and state code could have been different back then.

Allenton neighbor and local volunteer firefighter Ron Naab said the ground in that area is referred to as “liver sand” because it is gray in color with a high concentration of water.

After the fix, the two well pumps started working to refill the water tower.

Contractors are working on a major road repair and upgrade on County Highway W from Highway 33 south to Highway 175. The first portion of the project from Hwy 33 to Maysteel should be completed by June 1.

Below is the notice from the Washington County Highway Department.


Reconstruction of County Trunk Highway (CTH) W, from STH 175 to STH 33 in the Town of Addison is scheduled to begin on Monday March 8th, 2021 and be substantially completed by November. The prime contractor for the project is Michels Corporation from Brownsville, Wisconsin. The construction project will be closed to through traffic from the beginning of March to November, in two stages. Stage 1 will be from Hillcrest Drive (East) to STH 33 and Stage 2 will be from STH 175 to Hillcrest Drive (East).

Improvements will include grading, asphalt, curb and gutter, sanitary sewer, water main, storm sewer, culvert pipes, acceleration/deceleration and bypass lanes, and sight line improvements.

Please follow the posted detour routes utilizing STH 33 and STH 175. Residents are asked to use extra caution when driving in the construction area and to obey all flagmen and construction signs. Alternate routes should be utilized if possible, to avoid delays. Access will remain open to local businesses.

Also note, the Canadian National train that passes through Allenton is now traveling at 5 miles per hour. Naab said the horn, which normally sounds two longs, a short and a long is now blowing one long. The assumption is that is tied to the repairs going on within 300 feet of the track.

Building supplies in high demand at East Side Lumber in Hartford

Paul Faust has been with East Side Lumber in Hartford for 42 years. He has been doing sales and purchasing since about 1987 and he has never seen anything like the current market.

“Lumber has always had patterns as far as buying and selling and this past year has been basically a year like no other,” Faust said. “Nobody could predict this and anybody who has been doing this a long time has never seen this.”

What Faust and others in the building/construction industry are seeing is unprecedented demand, unprecedented shortage in materials, not enough raw material to supply the demand, and extended lead times to get the materials.

“Lumber is still in high demand and people continue to purchase even at the high prices,” he said. The reason for the push, according to Faust, can be tied to this past year where people were not able to go to work.

“People were not being able to do normal things so they have been trapped in their homes,” he said.  “Then they do projects like building home offices, building garages, basements and money has been cheap so there is still demand to build houses. The demand for new homes is there so that’s what has created the whole supply and demand imbalance.”

With an eye to the future, Faust said his prediction critically hinges on what happens to interest rates and if people keep working. “We will still have a lot of demand because young families and the next generation is starting families so the demand will continue. I think we’re at the top end of the scale as far as pricing,” he said.

Faust said he “feels pretty confident for the future of building.”

“We are continuing to buy,” he said. “You have to be proactive and continue to buy and we have the supplies.”

It had been rumored the price of lumber may double or even triple in the coming month.

“Spring prices will be lower and as the year goes on people get busier and prices escalate,” he said. “If hurricanes come ashore this season then prices will go up. Building lumber, panels, treated lumber we are at 300% inflated number from what we saw pre-covid last year.”

Faust asked customers to “be patient with us. This is something we haven’t seen before.”

Public information meeting on CTH W extension and intersection improvements

About 50 people attended a public information meeting Tuesday night at Addison Town Hall.  The hot topic was County Highway W extension and improvements to intersections at STH 83, STH 175 and CTH S.

Washington County Director of Public Works Scott Schmidt led the information session touting “the project will create a more effective and efficient roadway system and improve the poor operating conditions of the existing intersections.”

Schmidt stressed “safety” and “efficiency” as the top two talking points.

Neighbors in attendance pushed back on the proposal saying making one change would cause a bottleneck elsewhere. There were complaints about the need for three parallel roads within a single mile and taking away more farmland to complete the project.

People in attendance were encouraged to fill out forms with their input.

The next meeting on the project is Thursday, March 18, 2021 – Town of Addison meeting.

The issue will come before the full Washington County Board on May 12, 2021.

One of the complaints filed by neighbor Elaine Gehring read:

Say NO to Hwy W Extension Again!! Washington County is once again proposing that Hwy W be extended from STH 175 to STH 83 with a new road through several existing farm fields.  This proposal was previously brought to the County Board in both January 2019 and February 2019; it was voted down both times… but here it is again!!

The issues and questions haven’t changed…

–           Is it fiscally responsible to spend at least $2.1M (initial cost estimate in 2019) on a half-mile (.55 mile) of new road?

–           At a time when Washington County continues to seek new sources of revenue, is this the best use of our tax dollars?

–           Is this new roadway necessary when two connectors between STH 175 and STH 83 already exist within one mile of each other; do we really need three parallel roads within a single mile?

–           Frequent daily congestion due to the railroad tracks in Allenton is still a problem – will more traffic from Hartford using the new Hwy W extension improve that situation?

–           What about safety concerns with slow-moving farm vehicles on the curve of the Hwy W extension?

The most important questions – Why is the Hwy W extension back on the table after just two years?

What is the purpose of all of this?  Why do they keep pushing it?  What’s going on?           

In 2018, the County explained that one goal of the Hwy W extension was to “increase mobility from Hartford” – sounds like another reliever route option!  In 2019, the County explained the need for this extension was because of safety concerns related to the STH 175/CTH S intersection; if that’s still true, then why not focus on the proposed changes to that intersection and other CTH S interchanges for an anticipated cost of $450,000 (2019 initial estimate)? 

The Highway Department wants your input, so please bring your questions and your comments.  If you are not able to attend the meeting, they ask that you communicate with the project contacts listed below to share your comments.  Please provide comments by noon on March 18. Scott Schmidt, Washington County Director of Public Works – 262-335-4435 –

Kewaskum School Superintendent Jim Smasal retiring

The Kewaskum School Board announcing today the retirement of superintendent Jim Smasal. A note was sent to parents in the district Wednesday morning.

Good Morning Kewaskum families!

After 9 years of strong leadership, James Smasal, District Administrator of the School District of Kewaskum, announced his intention to retire effective June 30, 2021.  In his tenure at Kewaskum, James has tackled many difficult challenges including top 20% in student achievement while being lowest 20% in mill rates in Wisconsin, significant renovations of the school facilities and upgraded athletic fields below budget, built a solid, talented team of effective educators, support staff and leaders.

Most recently, the challenge of keeping our schools open and our students in school during the past year when many districts around the state elected to keep their schools closed for in-person education.  We thank James for his leadership, his hard work and efforts in moving our district forward in a positive direction.

As we transition, we are extremely excited to announce that we have promoted Dr. Mark Bazata, current Curriculum Director, to the position of District Administrator.  Mark has been with the district since 2014 and has served in several leadership positions.  With the district’s support, Mark received his PhD in 2018 and his District Administrator license in 2019 from Marian University, Fond du Lac.  Mark is well qualified to lead and his passion for the School District of Kewaskum and our Community is evident.

Being able to develop talent and promote from within is a WIN-WIN for the school district.  Ultimately, it saves money for the district, is more effective and provides for good continuity of leadership.  It is also a testimony to the quality and focus of our leadership team within the district over the past 9 years. The Board of Education conducted an extensive interview and voted unanimously to promote Dr. Mark Bazata as District Administrator of the School District of Kewaskum.  Board President Jim Leister stated, “Dr. Mark Bazata is a strong match for District Administrator of the School District of Kewaskum.  I am very pleased, on behalf of the Board of Education, to welcome Mark in working together to ignite a passion for learning.”

Hiring a District Administrator is one of the most important roles placed on the Board of Education.  Please join us in thanking James Smasal as he moves on to a hard-earned retirement and embracing and congratulating Dr. Mark Bazata in his new role.


Jim Leister, President   Tim Ramthun, Vice President   Stephanie Bird, Clerk

Dennis Aupperle, Treasurer  Sue Miller  Doug Gonring   Richard Leitheiser

One person injured in motorcycle accident in neighboring Dodge County

On Friday, March 19, 2021 at approximately 11:28 a.m., the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office responded to a motorcycle crash on STH 175 near CTH HH in the Township of Leroy, Dodge County. Initial investigation shows a 2003 Honda motorcycle was traveling south on STH 175 at a high rate of speed.

The motorcycle passed over the top of a small hill and began to slide on the roadway. The motorcycle traveled off the right/west side of the roadway, struck a mailbox, and overturned in a cornfield. The motorcycle operator was wearing a helmet. He was ejected from the motorcycle as it slid and overturned in the cornfield.

The 25-year-old motorcycle operator sustained serious injuries and he was flown by Flight for Life helicopter to Froedert Hospital in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

The crash remains under investigation by the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office. The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Brownsville Fire Department, Mayville EMS, Fond du Lac Paramedics and Flight for Life.

Regal Ware appointments Ryan Reigle as President & Chief Executive Officer

Kewaskum, Wisconsin – Regal Ware, Inc. announces Jeffrey A. Reigle, has stepped down as President and Chief Executive Officer and will hand the reins to his son, Ryan Reigle. Jeff will remain active in the business as Chairman of the Board.

Jeff has been with the company since 1973. Under Jeffs’ leadership, the company has always had a reputation for integrity, growth, innovation and continually reinventing themselves.

Jeff was always willing to invest in new ideas while keeping a focus on customers, suppliers, and employee’s success. His continued commitment of building the type of company that treats Regal Ware family members, customers and communities with honor and respect are testaments of his dedication and commitment as a leader.

The Board would like to convey its appreciation to Jeffrey A. Reigle. His leadership, talent and expertise have been a great asset to Regal Ware’s success. We are pleased that Jeff will stay active in the business serving as Chairman of the Board.

The Regal Ware Board of Directors is pleased to announce Ryan Reigle will take over as President &Chief Executive Officer effective March 18, 2021. Ryan is a fourth generation descendent of Regal Ware founder J.O. Reigle.

“There are three members of the fourth generation of the Reigle family working in this business. I cannot think of any other indication of our commitment to the business and the community than to have members of the fourth generation of the family come back and want to be part of the organization and helping to build the future,” said Jeffrey Reigle.

Ryan has long been groomed for the top job. He began his career with Regal Ware in 2007 serving in a variety of sales and management positions. In January 2016 he was appointed President of Saladmaster, overseeing global sales and operations worldwide, growing the division by 20+ percent.

In October 2019 he was appointed Sr. Vice President, Sales, providing oversight of all Regal Ware sales divisions. Keys to Ryan’s success have been his extensive background in global sales and operations providing a solid base of experience that allows strategies to be developed and implemented across the organization. Ryan was elected to Regal Ware’s Board of Directors in 2018.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Ryan’s caliber and experience step up to lead Regal Ware,” said Jeff. “Ryan is a visionary with a proven track record of execution. He is a strong communicator who is customer focused with deep leadership capabilities. He is the right person to successfully implement our strategy while delivering exceptional value to our customers.”

“I am honored to step into this role and excited to lead Regal Ware,” Ryan said. “When I reflect on Regal Ware’s past, I see a history of progress, not a progress of history. Here at Regal Ware, we made things happen and made the world a better place. Reflecting upon how that happened, it only happened one way. It is around the great people that have made up this organization for the past 75 years. I am fortunate to work alongside an incredible team of global employees and sales leaders to fulfill our mission of enriching life by bringing families together across the world.”


High winds snap metal flagpole in Fredonia

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory on Wednesday night and by 3 a.m. Thursday, March 11, 2021 the gusty winds caught a metal flagpole at Big Joe’s on Highway A in Fredonia and snapped it in half.

The clerk at the gas station said nobody was in the store when the pole hit the building. The owner arrived shortly thereafter and it took him an hour to get the flag off the pole which was estimated to be about 50 – 60 feet in length.


2029, 20 March 2021


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