Pizza Ranch on the ropes

The development of a Pizza Ranch on W. Washington Street in West Bend failed to come to a vote Tuesday as members of the Plan Commission got hung up on safety issues. “I don’t see this as a good idea to exit right… what happens if they want to go west,” asked commission member Jed Dolnick.

The new property for a proposed Pizza Ranch is just west of First Bank Financial Centre and just east of Hankerson’s Country Oven Bakery. According to current plans there would be one entrance and exit to the restaurant off W. Washington Street. After Dolnick expressed his reservations the rest of the Plan Commission slowly chimed in.

Commission member Jim White shared Dolnick’s concerns about congestion.  “There could be a lot of accidents and those headed west would have to go to Hankersons entrance (to turn) and there’s so much congestion there already with McDonald’s and Burger King and the car wash.” Plan Commission member Ryan Peterson said, “This is a disaster waiting to happen.”

Bjorn Kaashagen is the developer for the Pizza Ranch. He said he was disappointed with the Plan Commission’s actions. “It’s pretty unusual to see this happen,” he said. “We’ll have to look at other options. We’re not sure where we’re going at this point.”

Matt Gehring, who is developing the Pizza Ranch with his wife Stacy, said, “We’ll have to get some cooperation from Sendik’s if we hope to move forward.”

The Pizza Ranch folks have reached out to the owners of Sendik’s in hopes of gaining access out the back of their lot. “They haven’t said no but they haven’t given us any terms on if they’re willing to do it, “said Kaashagen. “So far it seems it hasn’t been a high priority for them.”

Other ideas floated by the Plan Commission included a traffic-impact study and a separate entrance.  Commission member Steve Hutchins called to approve the proposal but the motion failed after no one seconded the motion. There was a lot of support for the project but the commission said it couldn’t approve it until the traffic issue was resolved. The main point of contention is the right in and right out entrance and exit and parking.

Matt Gehring said they’ll try to strike up a conversation again with Sendik’s  The Gehrings have an accepted offer on the property however they have not closed on the purchase.

WB Mayor proposes merit pay increase

The City of West Bend rolled out its 2017 preliminary operating budget this week. Mayor Kraig Sadownikow praised the efforts of City Administrator Jay Shambeau and Assistant City Administrator Amy Reuteman and said he was happy the “mill rate was holding steady and is attainable without sacrificing services and it’s certainly helping we’re seeing an uptick in development.”

“Personally I’d like to see us endeavor to bump up the merit pay increase. I’d like to see it doubled from 1 percent to 2 percent,” Sadownikow said. “My challenge to Jay and Amy and department heads is to go through the budget again; it’s about a $65,000 line item for that additional 1 percent for non-represented employees.”

The mayor made clear this would be a “merit-pay increase so it would not be a flat, across the board 2-percent bump.” There is a review process to receive the increase. “Some of these folks have been busting their tails especially this year with the challenges we’ve overcome and they’ve earned the opportunity to get a bit more,” said Sadownikow.

Shambeau acknowledge the request was a fair challenge. “I’d say that would be a welcomed directive from the mayor and staff and it would be well received by employees,” he said.

Sadownikow recognized the budget process is getting a bit easier and he credited the reduction in debt, increase in reserves and development. “We’re a lean, mean operation and as development comes back it should mean we have some breathing room in our budget moving forward,” he said. The city of West Bend is working to hold the tax rate at $8.51.

There are several outstanding items revenue items from the state of Wisconsin. “Things could change and we’re awaiting the expenditure restraint numbers, the shared revenue transportation aid, the service to state facilities numbers and manufacturing assessments have not been received,” said Reuteman. Final figures should before the council by October 17. The 2016 City of West Bend budget was $22.4 million.

Fat Boy BBQ on the move       Courtesy Ruth Marks

This week Steve Wenger shut down his Fat Boy BBQ food truck on Highway 60 in Slinger.   Wenger is actively looking for a brick-and-mortar location and is hoping to have one in place so he can open in January. Wenger is also searching for another weekend location for his food truck. Stay tuned!

Construction underway for expanded BP gas station

Construction got underway this week as Mad Max/BP gas station closed, 1200 block of S. Main St. in West Bend. Plans for the gas station / convenience store call for reconfiguring the lot, razing the building, replacing the existing canopy and pumps, building a new convenience store and drive-thru and adding a total of 29 parking stalls. The former Clothes Clinic will also be razed.

Gordie Boucher goes pink for Breast Cancer Awareness         courtesy Ruth Marks

The Gordie Boucher Ford Lincoln Dealership, 3021 W. Washington St., West Bend, has its front entrance wrapped in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month. General Manager Chris Flynn got the idea when he visited Missouri a few years ago in October and saw a car dealership wrapped in pink. Sales staff and office personnel will be wearing pink ties and scarves and more importantly $50 from the sale of every new and used car during October will be donated in the buyer’s name to Breast Cancer Research. Flynn said the pink ties and the pink scarves were purchased through Warriors in Pink, an organization sponsored by Ford.

Trick or treat in Washington County this Halloween

Downtown West Bend Fall Fest – Friday, October 14, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Dress in your Halloween best and trick or treat downtown.  Look for the pumpkin in the window for participating businesses or stop in at the DWBA office for a map.

Trick-or-Treat is: Saturday October 29: Downtown Hartford Trick-or-Treat – 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m., Richfield – 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., Newburg – 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. and no bonfire, West Bend – 4 p.m. – 6 p.m., Erin – 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., Farmington – 4 p.m. – 7 p.m., Trenton – 4 p.m. – 6 p.m., Hartford – 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., Kewaskum – 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., Slinger – 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 30 – Village of Jackson – 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., Village of Thiensville – 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., Village of Saukville – 4 p.m. – 7 p.m., Village of Merton – 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., Town of Addison – 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31 – Germantown – 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Updates & tidbits

-The West Bend Fire Department presented a Community Service Award to Peter Schemenaur for his brave action at a fire scene in April. Authorities said Schemenaur came home and within about five minutes he saw smoke coming from an area in the garage. He moved the vehicle to prevent the neighboring apartment complex from catching fire.

-Boltonville Fire Department Open House is Monday, Oct. 10 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. There will be tours, demonstrations and a scavenger hunt.

-Jackson Fire Department Open House is Wednesday, Oct. 12 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. There will be an auto extrication demonstration, guests can try on firefighter gear and children can put out a mock house fire.

-The Allenton and St. Lawrence Fire Department Fire Prevention Open House and Pancake Breakfast is Sunday, Oct. 16 from 8 a.m. – noon.

-There will be homemade pies galore at the Harvest Moon Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 29 in Barton. Enter your pie today and come for the music, food, dancing and fun!  Pie drop off is 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Judging at 6:30 p.m.

-The 4th annual Downtown Dash 5k run/walk through historic Downtown West Bend is Sunday, Oct. 16. Professionally chip-timed run and a Bloody Mary bar at the finish for participants 21 years old and over. Register a team of 4 online before Oct. 10 and 1 person’s entry is free.

-A ceremony to recognize all Veterans will be held Monday, Oct. 31 at 6 p.m. at Green Tree Elementary School in West Bend. Anyone who needs a ride can call Mayor Sadownikow’s office at 262-335-5123. There will be refreshments to follow. The event is put on by Common Sense Citizens of Washington County.

-This week Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School mourned the loss of former boys assistant soccer coach Barry Washburn, who lost his fight with ataxia on Wednesday. Ataxia is a disease which slowly shuts down brain function, ultimately leading to death. Funeral for Washburn is Sunday, Oct. 9 at 4:04 p.m. at David’s Star Ev. Lutheran Church, 2740 David’s Star Drive, Jackson. Visitation at church, Sunday from 1:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

-The Diva – West Bend Specialty Shops is hosting Harvest Around the Bend on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the downtown shopping district. There will be seasonal specials and a free pumpkin decorating for kids from noon – 3 p.m. at All in Books,

-The UW-Washington County volleyball team joined Holy Angles Girl Scouts on a community service project as Scouts worked on a volleyball sports patch.

St. Kilian students recognize Hartford Police

Students and staff at St. Kilian School surprised Hartford Police Officer Mike Cummings on Friday afternoon to show their appreciation for his service and they did it with candy. Principal Jenny Trimberger said each class presented a bag of candy that represented something about the police and what they deal with while on duty.  Smarties:  to give you wisdom for split second decisions, Life Savers: for all the times you have been one, Dum-dum’s: because you probably deal with a lot of them, Hershey’s kisses: to show our love for all you do, 3 Musketeers: all for one and one for all. Officer Cummings thanked the staff and students for the candy and said he loves his job and the Hartford community.

Riverfest/Seafood Fest is over

It’s the end of an era for Riverfest, formerly known as Seafood Fest. The West Bend Noon Rotary voted to discontinue the event. “With heavy (but strategic) hearts, our club decided to move on from the annual food and music festival/fundraiser for a number of reasons including what we believe to be an over-saturation of summer music festivals in the area.

Likewise, we believe while the event was a great way to raise money years ago, we’ve recently been struggling to duplicate that success in spite of attempts to broaden the reach. There is also a large amount of setup required and like all service clubs today we struggle to get enough volunteers to support this event. Be this as it may our club’s Fundraising Committee is working to determine another viable fundraising option so stay tuned! Signed, Will Schroeder.  Secretary – Rotary Club of West Bend

A bit of history on Seafood Fest.

The event dates to June 1991. There were 11 large white tents that would span the block on N. Main Street in front of Regner Park. Friends would exchange cash for grey-colored tokens (Barb Justman was a fixture in that tent).

Neighbors would gather to enjoy outdoor music, beer and seafood including clam chowder, fish n’ chips, shrimp, crab legs and scallops and don’t forget the lobster. Some 300 to 800 lobster would be flown in from Maine for the event.

Volunteers would gather behind a big tent and unpack crates of lobster and aim them at boiling pots of water. Some familiar faces included Ron Spears, Jerry Mehring, Jim Heiligenstein, and Rick Steiner.

Ken Pesch could always be found cleaning the grounds and John Hafeman would often be serving up cold beer.

There were white plastic bibs with a red lobster printed on the front to catch buttery drips. Sturdy paper plates would be served with russet potatoes, corn on the cob and a small paper cup with melted butter to dunk the full lobster or lobster tail. Over the years the event grew to include a show with artisans and events for kids. The Sunday Seafood Fest was also the gathering place for a beer following the Bob Cross Run.

Peter German writes, “The idea for Seafood Fest came from a Rotary Club in Marquette, Michigan. West Bend Rotary members traveled to the Marquette, MI to see how their Fest was run and were impressed.  The idea was then implemented here in West Bend and the rest is history!

The need for a fund-raiser stemmed from a decision made 7 years prior to the start of Seafood Fest to help preserve West Bend’s wetlands and natural waterways. The West Bend Rotary group emphatically decided to lend a hand to the second phase of the Riverwalk expansion project and pledged $110,000 to do so.

There was initial apprehension regarding the organization of an event this size, but outstanding turnouts for the 3 day event left organizers pleased with the results. Even with a fair amount of rain on the first night, many people dropped by Regner Park to see what all the excitement was about. By all measures, the event was deemed a success. All told, 875 lobsters were sold over the course of the event.”

In June 2014 the Noon Rotary made some changes including putting an end to the tokens and switching the name from Seafood Fest to Riverfest.  The event was also moved off N. Main Street to the pavilion in the park with the Silver Lining Stage.

This past year organizers added food trucks to the mix, although some miscommunication and rainy weather took a toll on turnout. What are your memories of Seafood Fest?

Army nurse Margaret Behlen recognized by Interfaith

On Sunday Alice Bryne, 95, and Margaret Behlen, 94, nurses during WWII will be recognized during the Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County annual fundraiser at the West Bend Mutual Prairie Center.

Behlen has been on the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight and I told her story in 2014.

A 1940 graduate of Holy Angels Academy, Behlen was 22 years old when she completed nurses training at Milwaukee County General Hospital and then enlisted in the Army. “I went up to Fort McCoy in August 1944,” she said. “All the men were overseas and all the nurses I knew were going into the Army.”

Following basic training at Fort McCoy, Behlen was transferred to a post in Illinois and was soon selected to be part of the 199th General Hospital. It was there she earned her stripes with a military nickname.

“They called me Pinky,” she said with a grin. “I think it was because I had a red face and red hair. A woman in the front office named me; she said ‘every unit needs a Pinky’ and I guess I was it.”

Transferred to Providence, Rhode Island, Behlen was then shipped to England. “We were in England for quite a long time and we were scheduled to go to France and open a hospital but the Battle of the Bulge occurred and we had to wait until that was over,” said Behlen

On Christmas day she crossed the English Channel on a ship and took a train to Rennes, France.

“On New Year’s Eve we set up the hospital – we were practically barely in there and getting patients,” she said.

On duty every day Behlen was assigned three or four patients. “You had to talk to them and keep their spirits up,” she said. Night duty was a different story.  “We’d have to go for 12 hours from 7 p.m. – 7 a.m. for two weeks without a day off,” she said. “That was the roughest part of it and you were usually on a shift yourself and in charge of about 25 patients.”

Stationed within 100 miles of the Battle of the Bulge, Behlen recalled she spent most of her time dancing. “Surrounding our hospital there were other units, specifically ones that had parties at night and women were scarce,” she said. “We were always invited to a party at night, if it wasn’t one place it was another.”

Accommodations in the service were what you might expect, according to Behlen. “We had a Quonset hut in England and there were about 20 of us in there,” she said. “It was pretty cold and we had a home stove and we took turns each week starting the fire.”

Discharged in 1946 Behlen was assigned to a hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She said it was an outfit that had a bad reputation. “Drinking was prevalent and some of the white patients were pretty prejudice to black people,” she said.  “There was a saying at the time, ‘Lucky Strike means fine tobacco,’ but we changed that to read ‘Lord save me from Tuscaloosa.’”

Returning home to Milwaukee, Behlen worked for the Veterans Hospital and later met her husband, in of all places her mother’s living room. “He was trying to date my younger sister Harriet,” said Behlen. “I talked it over with my sister and I said, ‘if Morris asks you to marry him, would you?’” Harriet said no, so Morris was on Margaret’s radar.

Married and living in Cedarburg for several years the Behlen’s had seven children.11954673_1637072389908389_7962292573153368753_n