February 27, 2017
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Spring shows signs of growth and change for area businesses

The warm weather of the past week convinced more than a few trees, flowers and shrubs to poke through the ground, or pop out a few buds. History tells us that this foolish enthusiasm will be met with more days of real winter, in all probability.

If you have hung your parka in the back of the closet, or rolled your snow-blower into its summer niche in your garage, you might want to rethink those moves. But the warm weather did get many of us moving about, seeing more of Kenosha than we might have observed during the icy, gray days of December and January.

For example, the new O’Reilly Auto Parts store on 22nd Avenue, just south of 80th Street, should be open in time for shade tree mechanics to buy parts for their repairs under shade trees this summer.


Work continues at the site of the former Chrylser Engine Plant. The city is hoping for a transformative development to come into the site. ( Brian Passino )

The Agenda: What’s down the road for the Chrysler site?

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The slow process of rehabilitating the former Chrysler factory site is both exciting and frustrating.

It took literally years for the buildings to be razed. But it is encouraging to see blocks and blocks of flat land, and to imagine how our city might be transformed by its future use.

I have been vocal about my concern over what will probably be the first steps to developing the acres of land. Before the first building rises from the remediated dirt, streets will crisscross at least part of the site. As I complained previously, this would seem to limit the possible uses of the land itself. What if one big-thinking developer envisions the land encircled or bisected by a grand boulevard? Laying down streets that conform to our existing street grid may be good for installing water and sewer lines, but why do we have to follow a 19th century street grid for a 21st century Kenosha?

Randy Musaitef, owner, and operations manager Mary Perez have opened a mattress and furniture store at 5718 52nd St., in the former LPI building. ( SEAN KRAJACIC )

Ventures: Furniture store expands to Kenosha

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A family owned furniture store, with Kenosha roots, opens this weekend. Mattress Express Fine Furniture, 5718 52nd St., is owned and operated by Randy Musaitef and family. It is the second furniture store for Musaitef, who operates a store under the same banner in Racine.

Grand opening activities Saturday and Sunday include numerous drawings for furniture prizes.

“All of the (manufacturers) we deal with have donated pieces of furniture for the drawings,” said operations manager Mary Perez.

Becky Cornell, bottom left, in business services with Goodwill Industries, speaks Shirley Karschnik, right, during a job fair at Gateway Technical College last fall. Companies in the Midwest continue to experience labor shortages, according to the latest report from QPS Employment Group. The difference here, however, is that a slightly better wage outlook continues to attract workers to the area. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

Midwest labor shortfall felt locally

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In many ways, a labor shortage that continues to have an impact on the Midwest is being felt in Kenosha as well.

The difference here, however, is that a slightly better wage outlook continues to attract workers to the area.

Companies in the Midwest continue to experience labor shortages, according to the latest report from QPS Employment Group.

Too-smart TVs?

We are all accustomed to the use of video surveillance cameras in almost every public place we visit. Long ago we stopped paying attention (or caring) that someone was digitally capturing our choice of yogurt, or tracking if we stopped for a red light on 52nd Street.

Cameras dot the landscape, and their relative low cost means that most of us can buy one — or a dozen — to protect our homes. If you fear your lawn gnome is not safe, just buy a $49 Wi-Fi enabled camera to send images to your computer, phone or other devices around the clock.

Most of us have willingly given retailers and data collectors free and easy access to our buying habits. All we had to do to get 20 cents off red grapes, or buy one/get one free shampoo this week was to sign up for a a shopper loyalty program at our favorite supermarket or drug store.

YLink opens nominations for Future 5 Young Professional Awards

Nominations are now open for the Future 5 Young Professional Awards, sponsored and prsented by Young Leaders in Kenosha, a Kenosha County young professional organization.

The Future 5 Young Professional Awards will be presented to five individuals who live or work in the Kenosha area and are positively influencing the quality of life in the community, through professional accomplishments, civic leadership, community engagement or volunteerism.

“This event is one of the most unique in our area,” says YLink Advisory Board President Annette Stich. “We are proud to rally the community around recognizing the next generation of talented people who are actively helping to make Kenosha a great place to live and work.”

Thalia Mendez ( )

Mendez named to WBIA board

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Gateway Technical College Launch Box Director Thalia Mendez has been selected to serve on the Wisconsin Business Innovation Association board of directors. Mendez, based at Gateway’s Racine Campus, will serve as secretary for the WBIA 2017 board. The WBIA supports the professional development of entrepreneurial program managers.

WIBA is a non-profit corporation founded in 1998. The association meets quarterly at incubators and co-working spaces throughout Wisconsin and Illinois. The WBIA provides entrepreneurial programs and economic development professionals with information, education, policy recommendations, advocacy and networking resources that assist start-up companies.

The Ladder is a weekly column that features workplace news about area residents. New hires, promotions, awards, personal or company recognitions, and any news about individuals relating to their profession or place of employment are welcomed. For publication, please send items to Rex Davenport, rdavenport@kenoshanews.com or call 262-656-6269.

Palmen Motors owner Andy Palmen shows a photo of his father Ron who ran the dealership from the 1970s to the 1990s. The dealership is celebrating its 80th anniversary. ( KEVIN POIRIER )

Palmen Auto: Still rolling after 80 years

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A little more than 80 years ago, Howard Palmen sat in a third floor classroom at Kenosha High School and daydreamed of the auto repair business and gas station he planned to own.

“He was a mechanical guy, and he wanted to fix cars,” said Andy Palmen, his grandson and head of the business started by his grandfather. The Palmen family of auto stores is wrapping up a celebration of 80 years in business.

Although Howard started on Sheridan Road, just across from what is today Reuther High School, it was a gas station at 2714 Roosevelt Road that is considered the original home of Palmen Motors.

Snap-on announces quarter and full 2016 results

Kenosha-based Snap-on Inc. has reported an encouraging finish to 2016, with an 11.3 percent increase in diluted earnings per share and a 3.6 percent organic sales growth.

Snap-on Chairman and CEO Nick Pinchuk unveiled the fourth quarter and full 2016 data on Thursday.

The fourth quarter also saw the company acquire Car-O-Liner and Sturtevant Richmont, companies which Pinchuk said will enhance and expand the company’s capabilities to serve professionals in the industry.

Entrance to the Coffee Pot Inn above the popular restaurant. ( BILL SIEL )

Coffee Pot adds beds to the menu

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Downtown Kenosha is home to a new inn, and it’s right above a local hot spot.

The owners of the Coffee Pot have crafted a spacious, “kind of happy” space for tourists and visiting families above their bustling diner, 4914 Seventh Ave.

Co-owners Julie Zorn and Janis Barnhill are charging $249 per night for two, and an additional four people can be added for $33 each. The three-bedroom space has been freshly painted, re-decorated and furnished with all the comforts of home.

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said the city is moving at a deliberate pace on improvements. ( kenosha news file photo by brian passino )

How patient will we be on changes in Kenosha?

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Patience is a virtue.

If you want to waste an hour or so, research the origin and many variations of this expression. There are tens of thousands of references to patience in English language printed works. For example, I became totally distracted reading the dozens of references to patience in the Bible.

When it comes to the continuing development and redevelopment of Kenosha, Mayor John Antaramian is practicing his own definition of patience. At Wednesday’s Chamber Legislative Breakfast, the mayor said he would not move any faster than is appropriate to attack the challenges facing the city — whether it’s improving the city’s infrastructure or tackling the issue of empty or underused buildings downtown or in other neighborhoods.

Matt Glaman on Thursday. Glaman is a Drupal developer who works from home. ( Brian Passino )

The Agenda: Working at home not the same as working alone

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Those of us who get up five days a week and head to an office, warehouse, lumberyard, manufacturing plant or nursery are carrying on a long tradition of how work is accomplished. Even if we are second-shift food service workers, UPS drivers or concession stand employees at Tinseltown, we all go somewhere to work.

But there is an ever growing class of home-based knowledge workers, both around the world and right here in Kenosha. Many of them work the same kind of hours as the rest of us, but many don’t. They work from basements, second bedrooms, converted garages or the kitchen table. And those men and women toiling at home aren’t just stuffing envelopes or doing medical transcriptions, the work-at-home jobs that existed a generation ago.

Matt Glaman is a developer who works in the field of open source software. Many times a week he is busy all around the world. Most of the time, however, he hasn’t left his basement.

Jenfry Martinez prepares a pina colada at Waves, a Caribbean-themed bar and grill that he and his wife, Heather, are opening at 2232 Roosevelt Road, where Bindelli's Safari was located. Jenfry is originally from the Dominican Republic. ( KEVIN POIRIER )

New bar, The Waves, features Caribbean theme

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The Waves Bar and Grill, a tavern and eatery with a decidedly Caribbean theme, will open its doors Saturday. Located at 2232 Roosevelt Road, the bar takes over the space most recently known as Bindelli's Safari.

“We've been working on remodeling since Thanksgiving,” said Heather Martinez, who owns the bar with her husband, Jenfry Martinez . “It will have a fresh new look and a different atmosphere than it had before.”

She said they had been busy remodeling and obtaining all the required licenses and permits. “My husband and I have been looking for a place for a while,” Martinez said. “We tried to open at a different place in June, but our permit was denied.”

Brad Kovachik ( )

Kovachik joins CMG Financial

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Kenosha native Bradford Kovachik has joined the Waukesha office of CMG Financial, a privately held mortgage banking firm. Headquartered in San Ramon, Calif., CMG Financial is expanding its Midwestern and Eastern efforts.

Kovachik is entering his 19th year in the mortgage industry. Previously he has held other mortgage banking leadership positions including senior loan originator at GSF Mortgage, branch manager at Team USA Mortgage and vice president of the Koscinski Mortgage Group.

He has also owned and operated his own business.

InSinkErator will expand in Racine County. ( )

InSinkErator plans new headquarters in Mount Pleasant

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InSinkErator has submitted plans to build a new headquarters and lab facility in Mount Pleasant.

InSinkErator, a business of Emerson, has a headquarters and manufacturing facility in Racine, as well as a facility in the Business Park of Kenosha.

The new 85,000-square-foot facility in Mount Pleasant will cost $24 million.

High performance racing car bodies, as well as the windshields in those race cars, are produced by Five Star Race Car Bodies in Silver Lake. The company is among manufacturers competing for Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year recognition. ( SUBMITTED PHOTO )

The Agenda: Kenosha County manufacturing is not a thing of the past

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There is a notion that the glory days of manufacturing in Kenosha County are disappearing into the distance. Especially when viewed in the rearview mirror of a Jeep Cherokee.

And while it’s true the large belching smokestacks are gone, people still make things here. Some of the products created in our county are, in fact, highly innovative.

Five Star Fabricating Inc. is among the companies competing for Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year.

This photo from July shows the facade for the new Fresh Thyme Farmers Market grocery store in Southport Plaza. The store is expected to open Jan. 25. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market will open its doors on Jan. 25

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Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, an emerging Midwest specialty retailer focused on healthy and organic products and groceries, will open its Kenosha store on Jan. 25.

The store at 7100 Green Bay Road will offer the first 250 shoppers in line that morning a bag of healthy groceries.

“We’re thrilled to be opening our second store in Wisconsin. We love this city and look forward to serving the community,” said Fresh Thyme CEO Chris Sherrell. “The Fresh Thyme mission is to service our customers like family and to offer healthy good food at really good prices.”

Pleasant Prairie approves new Doheny headquarters facility

PLEASANT PRAIRIE — A site plan for a new company headquarters and distribution center for Doheny Enterprises Inc. was approved Monday by the Pleasant Prairie Plan Commission.

The locally based swimming pool equipment and supplies retailer and distributor intends to construct a 212,489-square-foot building on approximately 16.67 acres at the southeast corner of state Highway 165 and 80th Avenue.

The new building will consolidate warehousing space from three buildings currently occupied by Doheny in Kenosha.

The Agenda: Are GPS devices sending over-the-road trucks down city streets?

A photo in the Kenosha News this week showed the end result of a property damage accident Tuesday afternoon. A semi from Wal-Mart’s massive fleet took out a street light at the corner of Washington Road and 22nd Avenue.

There was nothing all that different about the accident scene that was captured by our photographer, Sean Krajacic. We publish similar photos all the time.

What got my attention was the fact that this large semi should not have even been at that intersection to begin with. If the driver was headed to the Somers Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club complex from I-94, he missed it by a few miles. If the truck was traveling from the nearest Wal-Mart to stores in Sturtevant or Zion, it still should not have been at this intersection.

Buildings such as the former Elks Club/Hertitage House may have been considered abandoned at some point, but the city is working with developers in an attempt to save the structure. ( BRIAN PASSINO )

Curious Kenosha: Why do buildings stay empty so long?

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As development and redevelopment proceed at a steady pace, questions often arise about how existing buildings in Kenosha can remain vacant or abandoned for long periods of time.

Kenosha News reader Lorrie Marzini asked: “Why do we allow so many empty store fronts and buildings to sit for such long periods of time? Can’t restrictions be put in place to stop this?”

An answer to the first part of that question can be difficult to nail down. There are differences between something that is vacant and something that’s abandoned.

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