Boots & Sabers

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Swimming in Red Ink

The outlook is, indeed, quite bleak.

The national debt eclipsed $34 trillion several years sooner than pre-pandemic projections. The Congressional Budget Office’s January 2020 projections had gross federal debt eclipsing $34 trillion in fiscal year 2029.


But the debt grew faster than expected because of a multi-year pandemic starting in 2020 that shut down much of the U.S. economy. The government borrowed heavily under then President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden to stabilize the economy and support a recovery. But the rebound came with a surge of inflation that pushed up interest rates and made it more expensive for the government to service its debts.


“So far, Washington has been spending money as if we had unlimited resources,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at Loyola Marymount University. “But the bottom line is there is no free lunch,” he said, “and I think the outlook is pretty grim.”


The gross debt includes money that the government owes itself, so most policymakers rely on the total debt held by the public in assessing the government’s finances. This lower figure — $26.9 trillion — is roughly equal in size to the U.S. gross domestic product.


Last June, the Congressional Budget Office estimated in its 30-year outlook that publicly held debt will be equal to a record 181% of American economic activity by 2053.

History has shown that there are only three ways out of massive debt – and none of them are pleasant.

  1. Drastically reduce spending by slashing entitlements. By lowering spending below tax collections, it would free up cash flow to service the debt while stopping adding to the debt. The result will be mass riots by all of the people getting cut off and general societal instability.
  2. Print money like crazy to pay the debt. This will crash the currency and spin into hyperinflation. Again… mass riots, instability, nation falls.
  3. Default on the debt. Once again, it would crash the economy… mass riots, instability, nation falls.

#1 is the best option, but it takes political courage. That is severely lacking in America.

Evers’ Office Tries to Squash Story About Workplace Sexual Favoritism

This story is amazing. Hat tip to Wisconsin Right Now for digging this up.

In an epic 1,312-word email to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Bice, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ Communications Director Britt Cudaback demanded that the state’s largest newspaper censor information about her alleged romantic relationship with Evers’ powerful Chief of Staff Maggie Gau, arguing that publishing the information could lead to anti-LGBTQ violence.




The central argument in Cudaback’s email to Bice was that the newspaper should not write about an alleged supervisor-subordinate romantic relationship between public employees if those people are not heterosexual, as if a person’s sexual orientation renders them immune from any questions about their public roles.


“We decline to comply with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s demands that we take the extraordinary and unprecedented step of answering questions that could disclose staff members’ potential LGBTQ status and identity for publication in the state’s newspaper of largest readership,” Cudaback wrote Bice in August 2023.




Cudaback even claimed publishing the abuse of power allegations could lead to Evers’ staffers being stalked, as she fielded Bice’s questions, which he was trying to direct to Gau. The email implied there was “no journalistic value or legitimate public interest” to whether Gau and Cudaback were dating.


That’s even though Cudaback admitted, “The communications director (Britt Cudaback) has reported directly to the chief of staff (Maggie Gau), and that continues to be the case.”

It does seem that many gay folks have long since moved passed wanting equal treatment to wanting special treatment – including being immune from public scrutiny that would have any heterosexual couple facing job or legal action.

I would note that despite this story being out for weeks, neither Governor Evers nor Maggie Gau have taken any action to rectify it. Were I another employee in that office, I would be suing the state for workplace discrimination and a hostile work environment… and I’d win.

Biden’s Social Security Plan Would Further Hammer Economy

Why do all of Biden’s policies make things worse? That has to be intentional, right?

In March 2020, the research-driven Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) analyzed the fiscal impacts of Biden’s Social Security proposals and came to the conclusion that it would, ultimately, hurt economic activity. The economists behind PWBM estimate a 0.6% decline in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 and an even greater 0.8% drop in U.S. GDP by 2050.  With a separate report from PwC in 2017 estimating the U.S. will reach $34.1 trillion in GDP by 2050, the implication would be for a $273 billion future cost to America.


PWBM’s economists note two prominent issues with Joe Biden’s plan that would lead to this estimated reduction in U.S. GDP by 2050.


To begin with, switching to the CPI-E would increase COLAs across the board. Though it would offer a lift to low earners and those with little retirement savings who need it most, it would also encourage high earners and those with a lot of retirement savings to retire sooner or work fewer hours. The end result would be lower productivity for the U.S. economy.


The other problem noted by PWBM’s economists is that Biden’s plan would “distort labor supply decisions by more than the current payroll tax.”


In plainer English, there’s the perception of a contribution-benefit link when it comes to Social Security. Even though workers aren’t getting back the same dollar they’re contributing to the program via the payroll tax, there’s the belief that if you pay more into Social Security, you’ll get more out of it.


If Biden’s proposal to reinstate the payroll tax at $400,000 were to become law, high earners, who’d receive no extra benefit yet would suddenly owe a lot more in taxes, would opt to work less, defer their income, or potentially generate their income from alternative sources that aren’t taxable by Social Security.

Universities of Wisconsin finally responds to declining enrollment

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

We see the numbers in the enrollment of the Universities of Wisconsin. Between 2012 and 2022, the universities enrolled 19,568 fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) students. That is a 12.6% decline in enrollment. The decline has not been uniform across the campuses as students increasingly show affinity for the premier campuses to the detriment of the others. UW-Milwaukee, of which UWM-WC is a part, saw a 25% decline in enrollment over the same decade. UWM-WC’s enrollment, by itself, declined 35%. It was down to just 260 FTE enrollments last year.


As an aside, it is worth noting that the Universities of Wisconsin decline in enrollment has been mitigated by their aggressive recruitment of non-residents. Between 2012 and 2022, the decline in resident (Wisconsin kids) FTE enrollment was 27,375 while non-resident enrollment increased by 9,981 FTEs. Over that period, non-resident enrollment increased from 15% of total enrollment to 25% of total enrollment.


Returning to UWM-WC, the writing has been on the wall for years. Since its peak enrollment in 2010, enrollment at the UWM-WC campus has been collapsing. The reasons for the decline have nothing to do with the quality of education provided or facilities. The reasons are strictly because of demographic shifts and student preferences for larger campuses. While the campus has been of value for the students who have attended it, it is not economically viable to maintain the campus to serve so few students.


Earlier this year, local leaders rallied to find a way to save the campus. A task force created by Washington County Executive Josh Schoemann drafted a high-level plan to merge UWM-WC with Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) into a type of community college in an effort to shore up both institutions. The idea made it into the state budget that was passed by the Republican legislature with state taxpayers providing funding to facilitate the merge.


That part of the state budget was vetoed by Democrat Gov. Tony Evers as the institutions’ leaders clucked their tongues that the “right people” were not involved in manifesting the idea, ergo, the proposed merger was not a good idea. Frankly, I do not know that it was a good idea to prop up a failing institution by merging it with one that is doing better, but the local leaders and Republicans should be commended for trying to rescue the campus. The Democrats and leaders of UWM obstructed the rescue effort and simply wanted to continue to throw taxpayer money into propping up the status quo.


Ending in-person enrollment at UWM-WC, and the likelihood that it will completely close within the next couple of years, is long overdue. The Universities of Wisconsin have been slow to respond to the historic and projected decline in enrollment. Institutional inertia is a powerful force, but making small changes now helps eliminate the need for massive changes later.

Not Trump

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News earlier this week.

To Wisconsin’s conservatives, the surest path to a second term for President Joe Biden, with all of the economic and civic destruction that would occur, is to vote for Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee. And even if there was a path to victory for Donald Trump in a general election, which there is not, a second Trump term would not yield any conservative fruits.


Only halfway through his first term, President Biden has rent our great republic to the point that it will take generations to reverse the damage – if it can be reversed. Our national debt now far exceeds our country’s full annual economic output. Inflation is crushing dreams and robbing the middle class of their spending power. Our borders are wide open with terrorists and criminals intermingling with the world’s indigent. All of them are stretching and breaking our social fabric. Crime is eating out the core of our once great cities. America’s power on the international stage is at its lowest ebb since World War 1. All of this is being overseen by the increasingly senile head of what is proving to be one of the most prolific criminal family organizations our nation has ever seen, according to the investigation of the U.S. House Oversight Committee and IRS whistleblower.


Despite all of that destruction, if the Republicans choose Donald Trump as their nominee, it is more than probable that Biden will win reelection.


Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 was lightning in a bottle. He managed to speak to the large, disaffected segment of the populace who were fed up with Washington ignoring them. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party nominated a uniquely disliked political figure in Hillary Clinton after a fractious primary where the party’s schism with the socialists, led by Senator Bernie Sanders, failed to heal before the general election.


Trump’s term in office was terrific in many ways. He pushed back the regulatory state to allow the American economic engine to flourish. The Trump-Ryan tax cuts unleashed American capital and drove up real wages faster than in decades. Trump’s “America first” foreign policy was clear and sensible. Trump’s excellent choice in federal judges and fortuitous opportunity to appoint three Supreme Court justices has proven to be the only bulwark against Biden’s rapacious rule.


But let’s not kid ourselves. Trump accelerated the decadent spending of his predecessor and built the foundation from which Biden launched generational inflation. While Trump did well with Operation Warp Speed and the initial response to the pandemic, he was lethargic in letting America get back to normal and perpetuated the Rule of Fauci. Despite all of the bluster about “draining the swamp,” the swamp won.


Even with the full power of incumbency, Trump failed to win reelection. Irrespective of your thoughts on the integrity of the electoral process in 2020, Trump in 2020 was simply less popular than Trump in 2016. After all, he lost to a candidate who ran an anemic campaign from the comfort of his basement.


Trump in 2023 is in even worse shape than Trump in 2020. There is a noticeable difference in Trump’s message and priorities. Instead of talking about Making America Great Again, Trump is just a rhetorical blowtorch to anything and anyone who threatens him. Trump’s message in 2016 was about us. His message in 2023 is about him.


This is why Trump cannot win the general election. Despite what you may think of him, he has irreparably damaged his relationship with half the conservatives, three-fourths of the independents, and he never had the liberals. No matter how you work the electoral math, he cannot win a national general election again. He has let the lightning out of the bottle.


Given his record, his obvious physical and mental decline, and the weekly revelations about his alleged corruption, President Biden should not win reelection. The only reason Democrats are not seriously challenging him is because they think the Republicans are going to be stupid enough to nominate the only candidate who Biden can defeat: Donald Trump. Unlike 2016, the Democrats are united. The socialists in their party have won and they have united behind the imperfect avenging instrument of their rage: Joe Biden.


Trump’s time is past. If Republicans do not realize that fact very soon, then they will fail to arrest the coming onslaught from which our nation will never fully recover.

Chicago Wilding

It’s going to be a long, violent summer.

Hundreds of teenagers flooded into Downtown Chicago on Saturday night, smashing car windows, trying to get into Millennium Park, and prompting a major police response. At least one person in a car was attacked.




A woman whose car was smashed by people jumping on the windshield said her husband was beaten as he sat in the driver’s seat. He’s been taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.


Two teens were wounded by gunfire in the crowds in the first block of East Washington Street. A 16 and 17-year-old boy were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in fair condition with gunshot wounds.

Police were escorting tourists and others back to their cars in the Millennium Park garage.


The crowd was trying to get into Millennium Park, but there are checkpoints around the perimeter and people under 21 are not allowed without an adult.

Rule of Law on ballot this April

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News earlier this week:

Over the next six weeks, you are going to hear pundits and activists insisting that the Wisconsin Supreme Court election is a battle for the future of Wisconsin. They are right.


Judicial conservative Dan Kelly and judicial liberal Janet Protasiewicz have very, very different approaches to the law. Kelly, who previously served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, has a track record of judicial humility in which he rules according to the actual wording of the constitution and the law irrespective of the outcome or his personal convictions.


His approach to the law is one in which he respects the rights and responsibilities of the people and their representatives in the Legislative and Executive branches of government. Kelly believes in the Rule of Law, in which the law is applied as written and a judge’s role is to ensure that the law is applied correctly.


The Rule of Law is the critical foundation of a free society and underpins Western civilization. The Rule of Law is the principle that all people, from prices to paupers, are subject to the same laws. As John Locke put it in his Second Treatise on Government, “freedom of men under government is, to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the legislative power erected in it; a liberty to follow my own will in all things, where the rule prescribes not; and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man.”


It is the Rule of Law that protects people from arbitrary tyrannical rule. In a society where the Rule of Law is in force, the role of a judge is simply to enforce the law as it is written. If the judge thinks that the law is wrong, a judicial conservative is bound by duty to apply the law anyway because it is the role of the legislature to change the law – not the judge.


Janet Protasiewicz has a very different approach to the law. Protasiewicz is proudly embracing the “progressive” (read: socialist) label and is sharing her opinion on all sorts of issues that may come before the court. She has said that the state’s electoral maps are “rigged,” that a woman’s right to abort her baby is a decision that should “be made solely by her,” that Act 10 is “unconstitutional,” and she has a long record as a Milwaukee County Judge of coddling hardened violent criminals – including child sex offenders. Protasiewicz’s approach to the law is to use her position as a means to reach outcomes that align with her personal values and convictions irrespective of what the law actually says. It is the kind of judicial activism that obliterates the Rule of Law.


As if to try to assuage concerns about her vocal activism, Protasiewicz said on “Capital City Sunday,” “What I will tell you is that [for] the bulk of issues there’s no thumb on the scale, but I will also tell you that I’ll call them as I see them. and I’ll tell you what my values are in regards to [the abortion] issue, because this issue is so critically important.” In other words, Protasiewicz is telling us that when she considers the case before her to be critically important, as measured against her values, she is more than willing to put her thumb on the scales of justice.


This is the definition of judicial activism. This is not only grossly unethical, but also antithetical to the Rule of Law.


This election will decide the balance of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. If Kelly is elected, the court will have a majority of judicial conservatives who respect the Rule of Law. If Protasiewicz is elected, the court will have a majority of politically leftist judicial activists. It is that simple.


Under a politically leftist activist Supreme Court, we can expect them to put their thumb on the scales of justice when cases regarding the gun rights, victims rights, Act 10, school choice, right to work, criminal justice issues, election laws, and all of the other issues that are clearly written into the law by Wisconsin’s elected representatives. All of these issues are on the scale and are not safe under the rule of an activist court.


Is the future of Wisconsin on the ballot this April?


You bet it is.

Be informed. Vote wisely.

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week

With two weeks until the election, most people have made their choices at the top of the ballot. Unfortunately, with the big races, like for governor and senator, rightfully dominating the news and advertising space, the races and issues further down the ballot are often overlooked. For most Wisconsinites, they will also be voting on a series of binding and non-binding referenda. Some of these referenda have sweeping consequences and should be carefully considered. I highly encourage every voter to go to to see what is on their ballot as it will be different based on location.


To pick one of my favorite communities, voters in West Bend have three referenda on their ballots. Two of them are binding and will increase taxes. One of them is nonbinding. Let us take a look. The non-binding referendum is called, “Washington County Election Uniformity Referendum.” This referendum simply asks the voters whether or not the Legislature should begin the process to amend the state constitution to make the state’s election process as uniform as practicable. Under current law, each local election official has wide latitude on how to conduct elections. This results in great variability in terms of ballot access and process depending on where someone lives. I would vote “yes” on this referendum to encourage the legislature to begin the process of ensuring fair and equal ballot access throughout the state. The Legislature can ignore the results either way, but the voters of Washington County should make their wishes known.


The first binding referendum is called, “Washington County Anti-Crime Plan Referendum.” Arguing that Washington County is facing an increase in crime, and, in particular, more criminals are coming into the county from Milwaukee County, the County Board wants to increase the Sheriff Department’s budget by about 10% forevermore. To do this, the county wants to increase property taxes by $3.6 million in addition to the maximum allowable property tax increase every year hereafter.


Crime in the state — particularly violent crime — has been increasing due to a variety of factors including Gov. Tony Evers’ Parole Commission releasing violent felons early, soft-on-crime judges and district attorneys, and the defunding of police in some of Wisconsin’s largest cities. Washington County is not immune to these larger societal winds, but those winds will not be blocked by an extra $3.6 million in funding for the Sheriff’s Department.


Given that the county is not committing to better outcomes with more money (focus on outcomes, not inputs); the county is already well-funded; the county budget is fungible; and the County Board could easily prioritize law enforcement in the existing funding level, I would vote against this referendum.


The second binding referendum is entitled, “Moraine Park Technical College General Obligation Bonds Referendum.” This referendum asks the voters to allow MPTC to borrow $55 million for four projects. These projects are to add and improve an advanced manufacturing and trades facilities to the Fond du Lac campus; expand the West Bend campus for manufacturing, automation, and a robotics lab; purchase land and build a fire training facility to certify fire fighters; and add and improve facilities for a health and human services education at the Fond du Lac campus.


Hell may be getting frosty, but this is a tax increasing referendum I would seriously consider supporting. MPTC has a strong direct and local impact to the community and economy. It provides a quality, practical education that puts people directly into good paying jobs in our local businesses. Due to the increasingly questionable value of many university programs, technical colleges provide an economical path for students to pursue higher education or a skilled trade. The dollars spent at MPTC have a high rate of return for the community. While I quibble with some of the specifics of the named projects (the fire training facility seems like overkill when there are at least five such facilities in the MPTC district area), the preponderance of the spending is well-aimed at the needs of the local economy.


The question is still whether the community can afford it. At a time of high inflation, recession, and looming unemployment, sometimes we must decline even the good ideas. Families throughout the state are making those hard choices and delaying even necessary things because they just cannot afford it right now. Unfortunately, we appear to be at the beginning — not the end — of a tough time for our economy and we will face some tough choices on what to fund. This is something to consider with any request to increase taxing and spending.


Self-governance requires all of us to be informed and make good choices. Please take the time to look up what will be on your ballot and do the homework that good citizenship demands.

WILL Threatens to Sue Madison Schools Over Segregationist Policies

It’s like 1952 Mississippi in Madison except instead of drinking fountains it’s Zoom links.

MADISON (WKOW) — A conservative law firm threatened to sue the Madison Metropolitan School District over an email sent to West High School families inviting them to participate in discussion of police brutality.


The email gave two links to video conferences for families to join: one for white parents and one for parents of color.


The Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty claimed that the email amounted to “racial segregation.”


A spokesperson for the school district called the email to families “poorly worded” but also said the separate links reflected MMSD’s use of the “Affinity Group Model.”


“The Affinity Group model is a well established method to provide opportunity for people who share a common identity to connect with other people who share aspects of their identity, especially in a situation where they feel their identity is marginalized,” the district spokesperson said.


WILL sent a letter to the district’s superintendent, Dr. Carlton Jenkins, Monday laying out their complaints against the use of separate video conferences for families based on race.


“Madison West’s justifications for racial segregation are indistinguishable
from the segregationists of the 1950s,” the letter said. “These arguments are no different from those advanced by the proponents of Jim Crow.”

BTW, I’d never heard of an “Affinity Group” before, so I turned to good ol’ DuckDuckGo. It appears to be a concept that comes out of the anarchist movement.

The affinity group is not only a vehicle for changing the world—like any good anarchist practice, it is also a model for alternative worlds, and a seed from which such worlds can grow. In an anarchist economy, decisions are not made by boards of directors, nor tasks carried out by masses of worker drones: affinity groups decide and act together. Indeed, the affinity group/cluster/spokescouncil model is simply another incarnation of the communes and workers’ councils that formed the backbone of earlier successful (however short-lived) anarchist revolutions.

Thompson Pushes for Open Campuses


Thompson told reporters he is doing all he can to ensure that campuses are able to offer in-person instruction this fall, saying “we need” students in the classroom.

“I know a lot of students like me from small communities … really would like to come back to campus,” Thompson said. “I keep hearing from parents, I keep hearing from students, the importance of an in-person education.”

Thompson said he would detail his reopening plans at the Board of Regents meeting later Thursday.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Former UW-WC AD Tom Brigham speaks out about elimination of competitive athletics

The Commissioner of Athletics for the Wisconsin Collegiate Conference George J. Hayes has written a statement of support for competitive athletics at UWM at Washington County and Waukesha County.

It was April 12, 2019 when interim dean Stephen Schmid issued a statement announcing conference athletic programs would be cut at the University in Washington County in 2020-2021.

A portion of his announcement is below.

The current competitive conference athletics program will remain the same for next year. Next fall, we will start planning for the shift to club sports and wellness programs in academic year 2020-2021.

The move to sunset competitive conference athletics at the end of the 2019-20 academic year is driven by several factors. Declining enrollments have resulted in declining segregated fee revenues, leaving less funding for non-athletics student life activities and personnel. For this academic year, athletics segregated fee budgets account for approximately 50 percent of all collected segregated fee revenues at Washington County and more than 30 percent at Waukesha. Second, with the end of the UW Colleges, the Wisconsin Collegiate Conference will be unfunded and effectively terminated next year. Continuing support for this conference will incur additional costs to both campuses. Finally, you may know that our coaches have often struggled in many sports to recruit enough students to form a team. On average over the past three years, Washington County has had 60 student athletes per year, and Waukesha 68, with some sports not running this past year due to lack of interest.

Recognizing decreased revenues from segregated fees, the student governance associations at both Washington County and Waukesha voted to cut funding for athletics in 2019-20 to help address a $110,000 shortfall in student segregated fees for the two campuses. Next year, we will work with the student governance associations to create a 2020-21 plan for club sports and wellness programs that we hope will result in a healthier student population.

Following the announcement, the student council at UWM at Washington County held a meeting where students, faculty and alumni spoke out about the decision, the lack of transparency, and inaccuracy of some of the details in Schmid’s statement.  Schmid attended the meeting.

Former UWM at Washington County Athletic Director Tom Brigham spoke passionately about starting the athletic program at the local university in 1968.

“Nobody even approached me for a conference, even out of decency to ask about what my thoughts were about it,” he said.

“I think this process has gone haywire. According to university policy if a decision is going to be made about SEG fees there should be consultation by the administration with the SEG fee committee to discuss the evidence. I know there’s a deficit of $120,000 in SEG fees between the two campuses. I know you’re going to have reduced enrollment…. the graphs show it. So adjustments have to be made. I know there was no discussion with the athletic directors, Debbie Butschlick (UWM at Washington County) and Adam Ligocki (UW-Waukesha), about what are your ideas. How can you reduce your operating costs to make a viable program and continue with athletics on your campus? That did not happen. The decision was made by Courtney, Steve and Dan – this is our recommendation we are going to cut athletics.

“I don’t know what the steps were, and this was not handled right and Steve you have to agree with that, and you do too Courtney.

“I personally believe that a program can be devised on this campus and on the Waukesha campus a very modest program, but athletics will remain. Right now, sunset it’s dead; no more after next year,” said Brigham. A letter from WCC disputed the fact made by Schmid that the conference “will be terminated next year.”

Dodge Co.  Sheriff making over 100 traffic stops at construction site Hwy 33 and CTH P

Although alternate routes are posted to steer clear of construction of a new roundabout at Highway 33 and County Highway P the Dodge County Sheriff said they’ve been handing out an unbelievable amount of citations for people driving around barricades and through the construction site.

“We’re busy issuing citations,” said Sheriff Dale Schmidt. “We’ve had a lot of traffic stops in the last week and a half.” Construction to build a $1.5 million roundabout began Monday, April 15 at the intersection of Highway 33 and County P in neighboring Dodge County. The Department of Transportation (DOT) said it was needed to improve safety. The money to pay for the project is from the Highway Safety Improvement Program.

“The intersection is closed,” said Schmidt. “You can’t drive through it, period. You can’t drive through it at all …. and people are driving right through it.”

“It’s not a long stretch of road it’s just the intersection. When our signs in front say, ‘Road Closed’ you can’t just go around it,” he said. The citation for Failure to Obey Traffic Signs is $175.30 and three points on your driver’s license. “The second violation within a year is $213,” said Schmidt. The road is expected to open July 3. Schmidt said something needed to be done to improve safety at that intersection.

“We had a lot of crashes there before they put the four-way stop up,” he said. “They put the four-way stop up as a temporary measure knowing they were going to eventually put the roundabout in. The four-way stop definitely worked and I think that will continue once the roundabout is done.”

Volunteers repair fencing at Fireman’s Park in Newburg

Volunteers from D&D Fencing in West Bend worked to replace the fence at the baseball diamond at Newburg Fireman’s Park. The field sustained extensive damage during the spring thaw in March as giant pieces of ice tore through the park when the river breached the shoreline.

This is the third year the park has been damaged during the spring thaw. D&D Fencing said it would cover time and labor if the athletic department pay for the material. Mano Fencing from Racine also stepped in to help repair the fence. About half the fencing was reused. The athletic department is reviewing its options. The park experienced heavy flooding after the DNR removed the dam upstream.

Park admission waived for summer Traveling Beer Garden tour in Washington County

The Washington County Parks Department said it will waive admission to the park during its Traveling Beer Garden this summer. Earlier this month the Washington County Park and Trail System announced a new public-private partnership with Black Husky Brewing from Milwaukee.  Black Husky will host a series of traveling beer gardens throughout Washington County.

One of the questions from neighbors eager to take advantage of the beer garden asked was whether they’d have to get a park pass to attend.

“We are still working to finalize the contract, but we do plan to allow free entry to the parks for beer garden patrons during the beer garden times,” said Jamie Ludovic, Central Services Director. In December 2017 the Washington County Parks Department announced it would begin charging visitors $5 daily pass or $30 annual sticker.

Operation Avery’s Playroom | By Crystal Zurn

Justin Handrow grew up in Hartford and graduated Hartford High School.  Justin, Liz, and their children now live in Grafton. The couple have three children including a daughter Avery who is suffering cancer. Below is a story by Crystal Zurn from Slinger who is hoping to help the Handrow family with a remodeling project for their children.

“It’s cancer,” — two words that no one ever wants to hear, and if you do, one can’t imagine the painful way that it irreversibly flips your world upside down.

Those are the words the Handrow family heard on February 23, 2018 regarding their 1-1/2-year-old daughter, Avery. They later found out Avery has rhabdomyosarcoma, cancer in her face muscle. Despite several chemo and radiation treatments, in September 2018 they got more heartbreaking news that her cancer had spread to her lungs and lymph nodes.

This family has gone through an insurmountable amount of pain and heartbreak, and they need a beacon of hope in their lives. As Avery continues her treatments and care, it is imperative she stay as healthy as possible. Her immune system is very weak, so she often must be quarantined at her home and is unable to go outside. Spending this much time indoors has become a challenge for the Handrows, as they need more room for their kids to play, run, imagine, and grow (and for all of the toys that allow them to do this!)

We have spoken with the family and decided we are going to help them by finishing off their basement and creating a large playroom for Avery and her siblings! We have dubbed this project

We have volunteers and contractors who are willing to donate their time and efforts towards seeing this project through, but we need your help! We are looking for the following to be donated to successfully complete this project:

– Building materials such as lumber, drywall, etc. Monetary gift towards Operation Avery’s Playroom, which will go towards purchasing supplies, paint, decorations, and furnishings.

Our goal is to raise $7,500 for this project. Any amount, no matter how small, will go towards making a significant improvement to the lives of Avery and her family.

If you can’t give, but still want to support our cause, please share our page with your friends, family members, and coworkers. With more people aware of our cause, we will be one step closer to reaching our goal.

West Bend woman runs the U.S. to raise awareness for MS             By Tabetha Wolfe

Tabetha Wolfe of Germantown is helping bring awareness to multiple sclerosis (MS) via the MS Run the US. “The run is dedicated to raising awareness and funds to support multiple sclerosis (MS) research, while also supporting those living with disability due to MS,” said Wolfe.

The running events focus on promoting a healthy lifestyle while inspiring individuals to maximize their capabilities and become more active to help those in need.  The MS Run the US- Relay is an annual 3,260-mile relay run across America for multiple sclerosis. On Monday, April 15, Wolfe started Segment 2 of the MS Run the US relay across America. She will be running a marathon a day for eight days (204 miles) from Barstow, CA to Las Vegas, NV. Below is a story from Wolfe about her fourth day on the road.

Day 4✔ 28.06 miles with 112.6 miles covered over the last four days. Over half-way done.

Our first night camping in the desert started out with a bang as we were getting ready to turn in for the evening the generator for the RV went out. The crew tried to get it going but were unsuccessful. So, we spent the night without the generator…not a big deal. But this will propose some interesting camping tonight.

Today started out rough, I went up hill covering over 2,000 feet in elevation. The first three miles I was not mentally in the right place but kept repeating a quote from the letter my daughter wrote me… “Everything you need is already within.”

I also reflected on why I am out in the middle of the Mojave Desert. I am here from my mother-in-law Betty and my cousin Kelly Witte along with all the others that suffer with MS and to make this invisible disease VISIBLE! And that got me through.

Although it was rough, I kept plugging away. At mile 9 Peter told me it flattens out over the next three miles then it’s all down. Well the next three miles were all up, and big up. But after mile 12 I finally hit the down. It was great to open and pick the pace a bit.

I finished at an old train station that has been changed into the visitor center. This was an awesome place to end since the generator is broken, we can’t shower so I was able to use the bathroom to clean up and then sit in air conditioning. Now we are eating then enjoying the desert night sky. Until tomorrow. Which will bring another 2,000 feet in elevation…. again.

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New Compensation Plan Being Considered for West Bend Schools

From the Washington County Daily News

WEST BEND -— The school district’s teacher compensation committee met with the school board and other informative figures to discuss a recently developed teacher compensation plan, which is close to its final version and should be implemented by June.

The committee had eight meetings over the past five months, but this week marked the first time for the school board to hear recommendations. No votes were cast or decisions made; it was an informational committee meeting to share updates.


The replacement is not what he called a “step and lane” model, the commonly-used plan prior to Act 10 that correlates a teacher’s further education with increased salary.

“That model doesn’t address teacher performance, and we want to recognize our top performing teachers and those who are proactive,” Ongert said. “I truly believe this model will reward teachers based on things they’ve earned.”


Being competitive with nearby districts is important as well, he said, and West Bend is among the leaders in the area.

This model, although in its early stages, does that, Ongert said. It rewards teachers for continuing education either related to their educational emphasis or in courses related to literacy, as that is an area of emphasis within the district.

Where some members disagreed was in determining whether or not a teacher would be eligible for a pay

increase based on the district’s estimation of their professional future.

West Bend teacher Tanya Lohr disagreed with the district’s role in determining the mobility of a teacher. She said it is not their place to tell a teacher they have no future within a different area of the district and, therefore, would not pay for additional education in that area. Ongert said these type of leadership and mobility discussions happen frequently in other career fields and it is appropriate for the district to decide not to reward a teacher for a position they do not see themselves moving into in the future.


“It has to be financially viable because the school district only has so much money, and we can’t be promising teachers pay raises and bonuses if we can’t afford it,” Ongert said. “We’re using taxpayer dollars to pay our employees, so it has to be a plan that’s sustainable.”

I especially like Ongert’s last comment in the excerpt. The purpose of a compensation plan is to attract and retain talent, motivate behavior in alignment with the organization’s goals, and keep costs to the minimum level needed to accomplish that purpose. In the small window into this discussion, it appears that the district is considering a merit-based system again. That’s great – as long as the system includes sticks as well as carrots. A good comp plan should reward great employees, but also encourage bad employees to improve or move on. It should not be a system where everyone gets a trophy. Otherwise, it is just adding cost for no good purpose.

Also, I’m glad that they have a committee giving feedback to the board. Employee feedback is always good. The School Board should, however, take the committee’s feedback for what it is: input from one of several stakeholder groups in the district. The committee is made up completely by employees of the district – most of them teachers. In fact, six members of the WBEA (teachers union) leadership, including the union president, ended up on this committee (That’s actually pretty interesting considering that there are almost 500 teachers.) The committee is basically a union negotiation under another name. They will, of course, advocate for their financial interests. As would I. As would you. It is up to the School Board to weigh those interests against those of the students, taxpayers, district residents, administrators, and other stakeholders to come up with a plan that best moves the district forward in its mission of educating kids.


A Stroll Through My Ballot

Tomorrow is election day in Wisconsin. I usually vote in advance, but I didn’t get to it this time. I’ll be voting tomorrow. As I look through my ballot, here are a few closing thoughts on the contested races before I exercise my franchise:


Scott Walker does have an opponent. I won’t be voting for him. I stand with Scott Walker.

Secretary of State

I’ll be voting for Jay Schroeder, but mainly because he isn’t Spencer Zimmerman.

State Treasurer

I’ll be voting for Travis Hartwig. I’m disappointed that both Republicans want to expand this office.

U.S. Senator

Leah Vukmir – all the way. She is a proven conservative and I know that she’ll be a great, staunchly conservative Senator.

Representative in Congress District 5

Sensenbrenner for the same reason as Vukmir. Plus, Vipond is a pro-abortion gun-grabber.

Washington County Sheriff

This is a tough vote for me. Both candidates are good guys with solid records. But elections are about making a choice and I’ve made mine. I’ll be voting for Jason Guslick. I like his pronounced vision for the role of Sheriff, firm support of civil rights, and priorities.

Go vote!


Wisconsin GOP Convention Drama

The Wisconsin GOP convention is going on this weekend. The big drama is who, if anyone, the delegates will support for their U.S. Senate candidate. I just listened to Senator Leah Vukmir’s speech on Facebook. WOW. I have never heard her sound so good (no offense). I’ll post it when the video goes up somewhere.

Barrett Interfered with Police Investigation of Bucks Player?

If this was “Mayor Trump,” I suspect that the newspaper would be more interested in digging into the story instead of parroting denials.

Ald. Bob Donovan made the brazen claim Tuesday, a day after Milwaukee police announced Bucks rookie Sterling Brown would not be charged after officers arrested and used a Taser on him during an encounter that began with a parking violation.

Donovan, who represents the area where Brown was arrested, cited unnamed sources for his claims about Barrett and said the allegations, if true, are “disturbing.”


Police Chief Edward Flynn also had sharp words for Donovan.

“Although the mayor was briefed in general terms about this incident, I never had a conversation with him or took direction from him about this case,” Flynn said in a statement.

“Although I appreciate Alderman Donovan’s knee-jerk loyalty to the union’s position on everything, I would remind him that getting his information from the Milwaukee Police Association does not equate with actually knowing the facts,” he said.

In an interview, Donovan said: “I’m confident that what I was told is accurate.”

Milwaukee police command staff reviewed reports and body camera footage of the arrest and decided not to refer Brown to prosecutors for criminal charges, a police spokesman said Monday.

Barrett’s own actions belay the notion that he was a passive bystander. He was out in the media within a day saying that Brown wouldn’t be charged. And it is highly suspicious how a guy who was tased at 2 in the morning in a Walgreen’s parking lot after double parking over two handicapped spaces is released within 2 hours. And it is highly suspicious how the announcement came so quickly that he would not be charged. I suspect that if he were a regular black man in Milwaukee and not a Bucks player, the treatment would have been different. Somebody’s finger was on the scale.

Given that this was a Walgreen’s parking lot, which was surely being recorded, and there were several police officers with vehicle and body cams, we should be able to see what really happened fairly quickly.

Digging Deeper in the DOJ Report

Allow me to excerpt some of the more damning finds in the report of the investigation of the GAB and the John Doe investigation:

Moreover, DOJ is deeply concerned by what appears to have been the weaponization of GAB by partisans in furtherance of political goals, which permitted the vast collection of highly personal information from dozens of Wisconsin Republicans without even taking modest steps to secure this information.

“Weaponization” is the right word. They were acting as a weapon of the Democratic Party and liberal establishment.

The prosecution team obtained additional “wide-ranging subpoenas and search warrants for 29 organizations and individuals, seeking millions of documents that had been created over a period of several years.” Two Unnamed Petitioners, 363 Wis. 2d 1, ¶ 2. The Wisconsin Supreme Court, referring to these additional subpoenas and warrants issued in October 2013, stated that the “breadth of the documents gathered pursuant to subpoenas and seized pursuant to search warrants is amazing.” Id. ¶ 29. The items seized included “business papers, computer equipment, phones, and other devices, while [the] targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorneys.” Id. These documents included “virtually every document possessed by the [targets] relating to every aspect of their lives, both personal and professional, over a five-year span (from 2009 to 2013).”

Everything. This is truly a sweep where government officials seized everything they could for the purpose of sifting through it and using it for whatever political or legal purpose they wanted. And they forced their targets into submissive secrecy – not even allowed to engage legal counsel. 4th Amendment be damned.

The information was duplicated, placed on portable drives, and distributed to various staff members at GAB for examination. Shockingly, despite the sensitivity of the information collected and the fact that the investigation targeted Governor Walker, there was no log kept of what was received by GAB staff, how many copies were made, to whom these records were given, or where these records were stored after the John Doe II investigation was closed.

That was on purpose. These are lawyers and they knew that if they were ever busted, they could blame sloppy record keeping and there is enough reasonable doubt to avoid being convicted. They were right.

The John Doe II core prosecution team included the special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, Milwaukee ADAs David Robles and Bruce Landgraf, Milwaukee DA investigator Robert Stelter, GAB attorneys Shane Falk, Kevin Kennedy, Jonathan Becker, and Nathan Judnic, GAB contracted investigators Doug Haag and Dean Nickel, and GAB staff employee Molly Nagappala. Then-GAB Staff Counsel Mike Haas was involved with reviewing and editing court filings. GAB board members at the time were Judges David Deininger, Gordon Myse, Michael J. Brennan, Thomas Barland, Thomas Cane, and Gerald Nichol. GAB Board members and DA Chisholm were kept advised of the investigation and reviewed documents that had been filed with the court, but neither the GAB Board nor DA Chisholm had possession of or access to the majority of John Doe II documents that were leaked to The Guardian

Remember those names. These are the zealots who used their official power to terrorize citizens and hunt their political opponents. All of them have lost the right to be considered anything other than unscrupulous ideologues.

Sometime in 2013, the core prosecution team decided to communicate with each other through Gmail accounts rather than use the secure Department of Administration email system.


The core prosecution team also decided that it would exchange documents, including several of the documents later leaked to The Guardian, with all members of the prosecution team via a cloud-based “Dropbox” account.

Again… to hide their illegal and unethical activity.

In sum, the leaked court filings show a specific intent to try to influence the United States Supreme Court as it was considering the pending petition for writ of certiorari in September 2016 by responding to particular parts of the opinion of the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Two Unnamed Petitioners. These leaked documents also indicate that the leaker has a sophisticated legal knowledge of the case and was motivated to try to influence the United States Supreme Court.

In other words, the illegal leaker was not just some schlub who wandered into the unsecure office and pilfered a few documents. The leaker knew what he or she was doing. It was one (or more than one) of the names above.

On the other hand, based on the evidence collected, DOJ assesses with reasonable certainty that the hard drive of Shane Falk is the only place where all of the leaked documents—court filings as well as Relativity emails—were located. Yet despite executing a search warrant at the offices of the former GAB and conducting numerous witness interviews, no one could account for Falk’s missing hard drive, which remains missing and unaccounted for to this day.

Someone is hiding the evidence. I’m sure that the hard drive is at the bottom of Lake Mendota.

Two weeks later, on January 27, 2014, at 9:55 a.m., Judge Peterson issued an order stating, “Property seized pursuant to search warrants shall not be examined by the State.” At 1:20 p.m. that same day, Shane Falk ordered Molly Nagappala to prepare a “data compilation” of donations to and from Wisconsin Club For Growth. Nagappala completed this task by reviewing “bank statements” seized as evidence in the John Doe II. This was in direct violation of the court order received by Falk just hours earlier.

Again, on February 6, Falk directed Naggappala to go into Relativity and print off emails seized from search warrants: “Periodically, you sent us some emails. Can you print out everything that you pulled out of Relativity and previously sent us? Then give a copy to Nate and one to me. Pretty please?” Again, this was in direct violation of Judge Peterson’s order.

Schmitz did not order Falk to stand down in light of Judge Peterson’s order. Instead, Schmitz responded that same day, stating, “I called Matt and he told me that Relativity is still up until the end of the month for now. So we should be able to access the information contained therein.” Relativity contained emails seized pursuant to search warrants, exactly the type of evidence that Judge Peterson ordered the prosecution team not to review.

In response to Schmitz’s permission, and despite the January 27 order, on February 13, 2014, Shane Falk directed Molly Nagappala to log into Relativity and download emails seized pursuant to search warrants:

These hacks were so brazen that they completely ignored the judges order. They considered themselves above the law. They were pulling the information out before the court took it away from them. One can only assume that all of this personal information about individual Republicans and conservatives is hidden away somewhere to be used by liberals at some future point.

One of their targets was State Senator Leah Vukmir, who is running for the U.S. Senate. If she wins the Republican nomination and is challenging Senator Baldwin next year, I guarantee than some salacious faux scandal will find its way into the campaign that has roots in this archive.

Buerger also notified DOJ of a file on their system entitled “Badger Doe.” DCI agents copied this drive, which comprised 1.318 GB of data, including 637 separate files in 31 folders. The Badger Doe drive, like the boxes of physical files and Gmail accounts, similarly included information, evidence, documents, and data derived from the John Doe II investigation, and remained in Ethics’ possession despite the December 12, 2015, order of the Supreme Court. Again, no explanation was provided by any member of the former GAB or any attorney involved in this investigation as to how or why this evidence remained in the custody of anyone other than the Supreme Court following its December 12, 2015, order.

AFTER the court had ordered all of the John Doe documents surrendered, the DOJ found thousands of other documents, Gmail accounts, digital files, etc. that were not surrendered. It appears that the miscreants were just making copies and scattering all of this stuff around. The report goes on for pages about them finding additional caches of files that were never turned over as ordered by the court.

It appears that prosecutors believed that Wisconsin Republicans were “coordinating” expenditures or campaigning on state time during the 2010 election and the subsequent 2012 recall election, and so prosecutors and the former GAB staff simply shared whatever evidence they could obtain related to Republican campaigning and fundraising. DOJ was not able to discern any limit into this investigation.

Of course, no charges were ever filed resulting from John Doe III, but the nature and scope of this investigation was exceedingly broad and, until now, unknown to the public.

Wisconsin’s unique John Doe law is supposed to be very defined. In exchange for extraordinary investigatory powers, investigators using a John Doe process are supposed to have a pre-defined scope that is overseen by a judge. In this case, the investigators were just using the John Doe process as a free-for-all to collect information on Republicans.

In the “Falk boxes,” three hard drives in particular contained nearly 500,000 unique emails (from Yahoo and Gmail accounts, for example) and other documents (email attachments, for example) totaling millions of pages. The hard drives included transcripts of Google Chat logs between several individuals, most of which were purely personal (and sometimes very private) conversations. GAB placed a large portion of these emails into several folders entitled, “Opposition Research” or “Senate Opposition Research.” DOJ has been unable to determine who labeled these emails as “Opposition Research,” what the purpose of this label was, or how these emails were to be used in the future. However, DOJ is deeply concerned by what appears to have been the weaponizing of GAB by partisans in furtherance of political goals. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive why GAB needed any information from related to former Republican Senate Leadership Association Chairman Ed Gillespie or why staff attorneys wanted information held by Google for Leonard Leo, Executive Director of the Federalist Society.

As far as DOJ has been able to determine from reviewing the hard drives in the “Falk boxes,” John Doe III investigators obtained the complete personal email accounts (in some cases multiple accounts per person), chat and messenger logs, – 65 – contact lists, IP login information, and similar information from other cloud-based accounts (such as of the following individuals:

As you can see, there is no investigatory or evidentiary value for all of this personal data they collected. You can see their intent by the fact they they stored it in a box labeled “OPPOSITION RESEARCH!” This is information intended to make a political hit.

As would be expected in most personal email accounts, many of the conversations were private and personal. DOJ investigators were unable to determine why GAB investigators obtained, reviewed, categorized, labeled, and organized private emails of Republican political operatives, state employees, and other related individuals.

The breadth of information and communications contained in the “Falk boxes,” apparently as the result of the John Doe III investigation into Wisconsin Republicans, was breathtaking. Just to illustrate this point, the investigators obtained, categorized, and maintained over 150 personal emails between Senator Leah Vukmir and her daughter, including emails containing private medical information and other highly personal information. DOJ was unable to determine why investigators ever – 67 – obtained, let alone saved and labeled, over 150 very private and very personal emails between a Senator and her child, or why investigators placed those emails in a folder named “Opposition Research.”

The Senator’s emails are just one example of tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of very personal emails located in the “Falk boxes.”

It goes on… I highly encourage you to read the report in its entirety. This is what a fascist government looks like. It was right here in Wisconsin. And some of the people who were involved with this are still sitting in government jobs and are still allowed to practice law in our state.

Three things need to happen:

  1. The individuals involved need to be held accountable to the full extent possible including stripping law licenses, holding in contempt of court, removing them from government offices, and anything else legal and appropriate.
  2. We must dispense with the notion that any government body should be “independent.” Visibility and oversight are the best protections against tyranny – not fantasies of “non-partisanship.”
  3. Wisconsin must do away with the John Doe law. It is a process too ripe for abuse. 49 other states manage to prosecute criminals without it and this investigation shows why we must ensure that investigators and prosecutors are forced to respect our civil liberties ad Constitutional protections.






West Bend School District Heading to Referendum

The West Bend School Board is going to start the ball rolling to ask for a referendum next year. They won’t likely admit that, but that is the inevitable outcome of the process they are starting. This is the relevant item on Monday’s School Board agenda:

Topic and Background:

As part of the 17-18 Strategic Plan, the district has committed to evaluating the district’s options to address an aging Jackson Elementary School and the East/West High School facility. To that end, the district has hired Bray Architects to assist in the process.

Public engagement with the process will be crucial. The team is recommending the formation of a board appointed, citizens committee to analyze possible solutions and ultimately make a recommendation back to the board in spring of 2018.


It is extremely important to keep the Board apprised of the activities that are taking place. The formation of the citizens committee is a key component of the plan as we move forward.


$35,000 which has already been budgeted for activities related to this strategic plan item.

They have also included a handy document describing the process. You can find that here.

The process is designed to gather public input (good), assess needs (good), and make recommendations to the board (good). The process is also designed to lead to one inevitable conclusion – referendum.

What’s the tell? Look at the firm contracted for the engagement. Bray Architects is a firm that specializes in helping school districts get referendums passed to fund projects that Bray then completes. On their website, they even brag about their role in recent school referendums that passed.


They even talk about how they helped get referendums passed that had previously failed:


After an unsuccessful referendum with a previous partner, the Hudson School District collaborated with Bray Architects to identify and evaluate potential solutions for the District’s secondary (6th–12th grade) space needs.

Following the completion of the needs analysis and an extensive planning and community engagement process, the School Board placed three referendum questions on the April 2016 ballot. All three questions were approved, including $7.9 million for an addition and renovation to Hudson Middle School. The addition and renovations will focus on grade-level house organization, classroom layout, gymnasium space, educational resource areas, Small Group Instructional rooms, and Special Education learning spaces.

The addition will feature a new gymnasium with one main basketball court and four side courts, two Special Education classrooms, three general-purpose classrooms, and one science classroom. A classroom will be added to an existing “house” on the first floor, while second floor renovations will include improvements to an art classroom and the conversion of an existing space into a science classroom. New lockers will be added to existing “houses” on both floors.

The School Board has contracted with Bray for one purpose and one purpose only – to get a referendum passed. That is the expected outcome of this process. Here is how this has happened in other districts and what we can expect:

  1. Form a committee loaded with people predisposed to support more spending
  2. The committee will conduct a needs analysis that has a very wide definition of “need”
  3. Conduct a propaganda campaign through the committee (so that it appears to be coming from the community) that bemoans all of the facility “needs” (expect to hear about sewage backups in Jackson Elementary again)
  4. The committee will determine that existing district resources are inadequate to meet the facilities “needs”
  5. Conduct a community survey with slanted questions, e.g. “Would you support a referendum to prevent the children having to learn while standing in a foot of sewage?”
  6. The committee recommends that the board go to referendum based on the survey results
  7. The School Board puts the referendum(s) on the ballot

I will be gleefully pleased if I am wrong, but I plan to pull this post back up next year to show how predictable this was.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Kewaskum mourns loss of community leader Larry Ammel

Neighbors in the Village of Kewaskum are mourning the loss of former Kewaskum High School band teacher and community leader Larry Ammel.

“He was a pillar of the community,” said Jeanne Goeden. “He was the one who organized Music in the Park and people really like that.”

Ammel had retired from the Kewaskum School District years ago but while there he was active in many of the musicals including Fiddler on the Roof.  “He was a very beloved teacher,” Goeden said.

Ammel was also extremely active in Kewaskum Kiwanis, he was the choir director at Peace UCC in Kewaskum and he was involved in the upcoming memorial dedication for Andrea Haberman.

“He used to do beginning band camp at Slinger Middle School,” said West Bend High School Band Director Leah Duckert. “He taught me a lot; he taught me beginning trombone.”

Duckert recalled Ammel’s humor during Friday band camp.

“Trombones are derived from an instrument called a sackbut and Larry brought in these brown paper bags and each kid taped a paper bag to their butt and so then they were all sackbuts. It was hysterical,” she said.

Duckert described Ammel as “jolly.”  “He was the type of guy you wanted to hug every time you saw him,” she said.

Kewaskum Police Chief Tom Bishop said Ammel really gave back to the community. “He will definitely be missed,” said Bishop. “He was a heck of a good guy.”

Funeral services from Larry will be 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 29 at Peace United Church of Christ, 343 First Street, in Kewaskum, with Rev. Eric Kirkegaard officiating. Larry’s family will greet relatives and friends at the church on Friday, April 28 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Visitation will continue at the church on Saturday from 9 a.m. until the time of service. Larry Ammel was 73.

Pipe break forces delayed opening at ION Sports Pub

The owners of ION Sports Pub are asking for the community’s patience as they work through some new issues that have forced them to delay opening by a couple weeks.

Oskar Steinbauer Jr. said he came to the restaurant, 1102 Paradise Drive, this week to find water in the parking lot and some damage inside the building. The new sports pub was supposed to officially open on Monday, April 24 The new official opening will be the first week in May. Steinbauer and his business partner Nora Sanchez will keep the community informed on their progress. A new sign for the restaurant was installed Friday.

Removal of old WB Theatre bridge

The removal of the elevated bridge over the Milwaukee River is underway.  The contractor staging area is on the west side of Veterans Avenue.  The general contractor for this project is West Bend Crane, Inc. from West Bend.

Work will consist of removing the existing bridge over the Milwaukee River.  A crane will be used to move the bridge to the right of way where it will be dismantled and hauled away.

Mass of Dedication at St. Peter Parish on Saturday, April 22

St. Peter Catholic Parish in Slinger will celebrate a Mass of Dedication and Blessing with Archbishop Jerome Listecki at 5 p.m. on April 22 in the newly renovated and expanded church.

The dedication and blessing will consecrate the new newly renovated building as a permanent worship space. Archbishop Listecki will be blessing not only the physical church building and altar, but other items and areas of the church as well.

There will be a reception to follow in St. Peter Church Hall. Please note the usual 8 p.m. Mass will be cancelled Saturday, April 22, 2017. The construction project expanding the original 1892 building began a year ago on February 29, 2016.

The goal to increase church seating capacity has been met, as 740 people can now sit in the main nave, as compared to the original 450 seating capacity. New meeting rooms, an expanded gathering space, and a more spacious church hall and kitchen have also been constructed.

Parishioners are also in the midst of completing a $600,000 furnishing campaign. This campaign will pay for and install all of the church’s stained glass windows and other new furnishing items throughout the building. An open invitation to worship and celebrate Mass is extended to all.

John McGivern to film in neighboring Dodge County

Fans of John McGivern in Washington County are familiar with his PBS show “Around the Corner with John McGivern.” The Emmy award-winning show highlighted West Bend in 2016 and Hartford was featured in 2014.

Now, our neighbors to the west will be featured as McGivern will be filming in Mayville this July. Here’s a note from the Main Street Mayville, Inc.  “We are excited to announce that Milwaukee PBS “Around the Corner with John McGivern” will be filming in Mayville this July. We are seeking interested (and interesting!) parties who may be willing to be filmed and participate in the episode.

Kohlsville Fire Department celebrates gift

Volunteers from the Kohlsville Fire Department gathered under cloudy skies Tuesday afternoon to celebrate a strong donation by neighboring business Spiros Industries.

The locally-run manufacturer donated nearly $10,000 so the fire department could purchase its first jaws of life.

“We’ve always thought about getting one,” said Fire Chief Curt Martin. “Allenton has one and Kewaskum has one but if they’re 10 minutes out we can at least try to rescue a person who may be trapped in a vehicle.”

Spiros Industries recently used the back parking lot at the fire station while its building was undergoing some renovation. As a thank you the company made a generous donation.

“You don’t find a local business that too often does something like that for a volunteer fire department,” Martin said. “It’s amazing what people in the neighborhood do.”

Dennis Backhaus, president of Spiros Industries said they try to do something every year for the firefighters.  “When we’re running out these are the guys who are running in,” he said.

Jim Maronde is a partner at Spiros Industries. “These are really a dedicated bunch of guys,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate in business and we like to help out where ever we can.”

On Tuesday afternoon the Kohlsville Fire Department also showed off its new ambulance. “Our old ambulance was 26 years old and that one we got second hand from Allenton,” said Martin.

The new ambulance is a 2017 E450 Ford custom cab and built by Foster Coach in Illinois. Kohlsville FD ordered the vehicle in December and it just arrived this week.

Foerster Signs in Slinger finished up the signage. The vehicle cost just under $120,000.

Herb Kohl Education Foundation winners

Neighbors in West Bend and Jackson can be proud of Fair Park teacher Renee Wilberg and students Mackenzie Mas from West Bend and Jiexin (Jessica) Yang from Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School in Jackson.

The threesome will be recognized during an awards luncheon, Sunday, April 23 by the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation. The event begins with a reception at noon at Waupun Junior and Senior High School in Waupun. The awards program follows at 1 p.m.

Each year the foundation recognizes students, teachers and principals for their excellence in academics, leadership and high achievement.

Wilberg is one of 100 teachers being awarded $3,000 by the Herb Kohl Education Foundation.

Updates & tidbits

West Bend Friends of Park and Recreation need volunteers for the U.S. Open. “We have been invited to volunteer at the event entrances for checking bags and credentials,” said Lori Yahr. “There will be a 4 hour mandatory training session and you have to commit to working three 8-hour days.” The U.S. Open is June 12 – 18 at Erin Hills in the Town of Erin. Contact Lori Yahr by April 30 at

– The annual Kohlsville Fire Department Smoker is Saturday, April 29 in Kohlsville.

-The West Bend American Legion Post 36 will be hosting a brat fry on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 28, 29 and 30 at 1421 W. Washington Street from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Proceeds go to local projects and veterans programs.

– April 28 is the annual Grandparents for Lunch at Holy Angels School in West Bend.

– The DIVA Spring Bling is coming up Thursday, April 27 in downtown West Bend. Proceeds from umbrella and specialty ring sales benefit Chix 4 a Cause.

– On Monday, May 8 there is a free community education forum at the West Bend High School Auditorium featuring internationally recognized researcher of suicide Dr. Thomas Joiner.

– Horicon Bank has stepped up this year to sponsor the fireworks during the July 4th celebration at Riverside Park in West Bend.

-The 30th annual Washington County Breakfast on the Farm is set for Saturday, June 10 at the Golden ‘E’ Dairy Farm on 8262 Orchard Valley Road, in the Town of Farmington.

-The Exclusive Company in West Bend will celebrate Record Store Day on April 22. The day includes sales, free food and live music as the store, 144 N. Main St., celebrates its independence. The store opens for 12 hours of sales from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Celebrating the Day Ladies at McDonald’s in West  

This original story ran in 2014 in Around the Bend by Judy Steffes.  Local McDonald’s owner Steve Kilian and son Steve Jr. took the time to offer a McSurprise to four long-time employees at the Galactic McDonald’s on Main Street after receiving a letter from a customer praising the Day Ladies for their friendly service.

“They call them the Day Ladies and each has worked for Steve Kilian for 20 years or more,” said Sharon Ruplinger, a McDonald’s veteran who started in 1973 when she was a 15-year-old sophomore at West Bend East High School.

“I was there when the special sauce for the Big Mac was mixed at the store and when the Hamburgler crawl thing, bouncy fry girls and metal slides were in the outdoor play land,” Ruplinger said recalling how they had to shut down the play area when it was “real hot because kids would burn their legs.”

As a teen Ruplinger had to know all the prices and the tax table, add by hand on a piece of paper, and cook by sight – not by computer. Ruplinger now works as Steve Kilian’s assistant and local marketing manager.

She said the Day Ladies have similar stories; they’re a unique group recognized by customers for their courtesy, commitment, and familiarity.

“I think we enjoy the customers as much as they enjoy us,” said Vicki Montanez, a Day Lady and an employee since Aug. 1, 1990.

“I was 36 when I started and the menu was really basic, we made all the biscuits for breakfast by hand and we had to bake and frost the cinnamelts ourselves and now it’s all done ahead of time.”

Montanez, who previously sold real estate, gravitated to McDonald’s because of the fast-paced environment but found she loved it for the flexible schedule. “It was really good because if my kids got sick at school I was able to leave in a second and that was really important,” she said.

Customers know the Day Ladies by name, they know their families, and many times their days off.

“You have the same people that come each day, some we know by name and others we know by order,” said Karen Wentz who knows a regular customer simply as ‘large coffee, seven cream, seven sugar.’

Wentz started in January 1997, when she was 33. She worked during the era when McDonald’s would bring breakfast to the high schools serving pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and egg McMuffins.

“We’d set up in one of the cafeterias and the kids just loved it,” she said.

Day Lady Caroline Schwartz started at McDonald’s in 1988 when the uniforms were baby blue with polyester pants and a blue striped button-up top. “I started because all my friends worked here,” she said. “I’ve stayed 25 years because it fit my schedule and the Kilians treated me like family.”

Schwartz talked about working alongside Steve Jr. when he was 12 years old and the appreciation shown by the owner.

“Steve sent us to the Packer game with a chauffeur and then they took us out to lunch at the Ninja Japanese Steakhouse; just so nice,” she said about Kilian who bought his first McDonald’s in West Bend in 1990.

Jane Sterr has been with McDonald’s since May 2, 1981. “I was 18, at West Bend East High School and the restaurant was across the street where Auto Zone is now,” she said. “We had a one-window drive thru and the popular sandwich was the McLean Deluxe.”

Camaraderie and customer service are reasons Sterr has stayed for 33 years. “We have our very regular customers and we joke around; we can still work while having fun. It’s a very good atmosphere,” she said.

Customer Judy Essig brought Jane a gift for her anniversary last year. Questioned about the longevity of the Day Ladies she said, “It speaks highly for the employer and the way they’re treated.”

Sterr admitted, she never thought she’d be at McDonald’s this long. “It’s hard work but we all work well together, we get along, and it’s amazing because we’re just dedicated.”



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