February 25, 2017
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A view of the 458-acre parcel the Village of Pleasant Prairie will purchase from Abbott. ( Village of Pleasant Prairie )

Village eyes $37.5M land deal


Pleasant Prairie intends to spend $37.5 million to purchase 458 acres of land on the northwest corner of Interstate 94 and Highway 165, across the street from the Uline headquarters.

The land is owned by Abbott, through a subsidiary. The village plans to turn it into a new corporate park, Prairie Highlands, with a focus on manufacturing, office and commercial uses.

Village Administrator Michael Pollocoff said in a prepared statement that the village, along with Kenosha County and the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, have worked to improve quality of life in the region by creating job opportunities.

Kevin Vellekoop, 6, eats chili with his grandfather Laurens Vellekoop during the Veterans Chili Cook-off at the American Legion, 504 58th St., Saturday afternoon. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Chili cook-off warms the hearts — and stomachs — at Kenosha American Legion


What’s more comforting than a bowl of chili on a cold winter day? Ten bowls of chili.

And people could sample all 10 at Saturday afternoon’s fourth annual Veterans Chili Cook-off at American Legion Post 21, 504 58th St.

Sponsored by the Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7308, the event also included raffles and music.

Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, speaks during a patient roundtable and press conference Saturday morning in Kenosha. Left of her are Lori Hawkins, Sophia Schaut, Gina Walkington, Katie Kordsmeier and Tanya Atkinson. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

‘Ground zero’: National Planned Parenthood officials hold event in Kenosha


For some women, Planned Parenthood has been a life saver. For others, it has allowed them to become mothers.

“The story is different for every woman,” said Lori Hawkins, 48, from Bristol.

Her story, and those of others, were shared on Saturday at a patient roundtable and press briefing at Planned Parenthood’s Kenosha clinic and office.

Adam Zakroczymski steadies his son Alexander, 3, during the Try Hockey for Free event Saturday at the Kenosha Ice Arena. It was only his second time on ice skates. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Event at Kenosha Ice Arena lets kids Try Hockey for Free


Teetering on ice skates, with a helmet wobbling around his head, Marco Ziccarelli, 4, of Pleasant Prairie, made his way across the Kenosha Ice Arena rink with his sister Amelia, 6.

Despite an interest in hockey, it was his first time in the bulky hockey gear as he and other youngsters took part in the Try Hockey for Free clinic.

"He likes to dress up," said his mother Krista, watching from the bleachers. "We've seen smiles. That is a good thing."

Josh and Andrea Harris play with their son Joshua, 4, who has the rare WAGR Syndrome which affects the kidneys and eyes and results in developmental delays. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Kenosha boy’s rare disease leads to proclamation


Mayor John Antaramian has proclaimed Monday as Rare Disease Day in Kenosha in honor of a local boy facing a serious disease.

Joshua Harris was 6 weeks old when we received his diagnosis of WAGR syndrome, a rare genetic condition. The prevalence of WAGR syndrome ranges from 1 in 500,000 to 1 million, according to the National Institutes of Health.

According to the International WAGR Association, WAGR is an acronym for the most common features of the disorder:

Event briefs: Class in mindfulness begins Wednesday

SOMERS — An introductory class on mindfulness begins Wednesday at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, 900 Wood Road.

The class meets 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday through March 15 in Room 201 of Tallent Hall.

Mindfulness is seen as a way to reduce stress while helping people focus. Participants will learn techniques for integrating mindfulness into their daily routine.

The staff of the Kenosha News won a number of awards in the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation's 2016 Better Newspaper Contest, including the No. 2 ranking in the state's largest class of newspapers. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO )

Kenosha News takes honors in state contest


The Kenosha News took second place in the General Excellence category en route to 19 total awards in the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation’s 2016 Better Newspaper Contest.

The contest recognizes outstanding work from the state’s newspapers, with nearly 60 categories evaluating reporting, photography, ad and page design, and special sections. Awards were presented Friday night at the WNA Convention and Trade Show in Middleton.

The Kenosha News earned five first-place awards and four second-place awards competing in the top circulation category in the state.

Salem Consolidated Grade School Math Teacher Amy Baumhardt helps Fourth Grader Lukas Mox with a subtraction exercise during math class. At right is Chris Olson. The school is asking residents to increase the state-imposed revenue limit in a referendum April 4. ( KEVIN POIRIER )

Salem referendum still needed despite budget hike for schools


SALEM — Governor Scott Walker’s recent 2017-19 state budget proposal, while promising for rural schools, does not eliminate the need for Salem Grade School to ask residents for additional revenue by way of referendum April 4 administrator Dave Milz said.

“The need for a referendum will not be eliminated due to the negative impact of revenue limits over many, many years,” Milz said. “We still need to build back the fund balance.”

The state-imposed Revenue Cap Funding Formula has decreased revenue to Salem School by $580.23 per pupil since the 2011-12 school year, he said. The district, like most in the area, has had to dip into its reserves to meet basic educational needs.

Today’s News Briefs: Police calm man in vehicle with rifle

Kenosha and Pleasant Prairie police were called to a Burger King restaurant, 6945 75th St., at about 1 p.m. for a report of a man sitting in a car with a weapon.

According to polic,e the man was distraught and sitting in his vehicle with a rifle. Police briefly had the area closed off as they calmed the man down and secured the weapon. The restaurant locked its doors during the incident.

No shots were fired and no one was injured.

City hires operations supervisor for Kenosha Transit Department

A former United Parcel Service official has been hired as operations supervisor, the No. 2 job in the Kenosha Transit Department.

Jerrad Jones, who in 19 years worked his way to a supervisory position with the UPS warehouse in Oak Creek, will begin March 13.

City Human Resources Department Director Steve Stanczak said Jones brings a unique, multi-faceted skill set to the position.

Sheriff's deputy Terry Tifft and his dog, Riggs, are the only K-9 unit in the department at this time. ( SEAN KRAJACIC )

City, council hope to fetch new K-9s


The K-9 programs for the Kenosha Police Department and Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department are getting a boost from local tavern leagues.

Both the police department and the sheriff’s department lost dogs in their K-9 programs in 2016.

In November, K-9 Klaus, who partnered with Deputy John Lanctot, was euthanized after he became ill and veterinarians learned he was suffering from internal bleeding and had masses on his spleen and liver. Klaus was one of two dogs in the sheriff’s department program.

ADAPT members demonstrate in front of the Kenosha office of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY DANIEL GAITAN )

Activists for the disabled descend on Ryan office


Members of a disability-rights group protested outside U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Kenosha office Friday afternoon.

Roughly two dozen activists with ADAPT — mostly from Milwaukee and Chicago — expressed their concerns regarding repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and changes to Medicare.

“I would go another 1,000 miles for this,” said Scott Nance, of Chicago.

Aldermen push for body cameras for city police

Two Kenosha alderman want the city to buy body cameras for its police officers for 2018, but the mayor and police chief say the legalities of recording police interactions are still uncertain.

Alderman Kevin Mathewson and Mitchell Pedersen introduced their resolution Wednesday, asking $200,000 be included in the 2018 capital improvement plan to fund the purchase of body cameras and implementation of a program for the police department.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and I recently did a serach in the state to see which cities have them, and there are so many cities around the state and country that are doing this,” Mathewson said. “I don’t want Kenosha to be the last community to do this, especially when you see all the benefits.”

Kenosha Symphony Orchestra Music Director Dr. Robert Hasty leads conducts the performance of Peter and the Wolf in front of fifth graders at the Reuther High School Auditorium in April. ( KEVIN POIRIER )

Kenosha Symphony Orchestra a local treasure


According to the League of American Orchestras LAO, in 2014, there were 1,224 orchestras, distributed widely across all 50 states.

In the same year, the orchestra field contributed $1.8 billion to the U.S. economy in direct payments for goods and services. Two out of every three orchestras operated with annual expenses budgets of under $300,000.

I was unaware that Kenosha has its own symphony, called the Kenosha Symphony Orchestra. The KSO is one of only 244 or so orchestras nationwide that that have professional musicians (the other 980 orchestras are volunteer-based, or “staffed” by youth or collegiate orchestra members).

Today’s News Briefs: Police probe likely fatal overdose

A 37-year-old man died of a suspected heroin overdose Wednsday.

Kenosha Police were called to Meadowood Apartments, 1365 30th Ave., at about 8:15 p.m. for a medical emergency. They found the man was deceased and with evidence on the scene that he had died of a heroin overdose. Another person was at the apartment.

The death is still under investigation.

Somers to host hearing on ordinance changes to qualify village residents for flood insurance

SOMERS — The village of Somers is revising a series of ordinances that apply to zoning in floodplain areas in an effort to comply with standards for a federal flood insurance program.

To that end, a hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to collect public comment on the proposed ordinances prior to the Village Board voting on them that night.

According to village attorney Jeff Davison, none of the current maps of floodplain areas in Somers are being revised. The ordinances pertaining to flood plain zoning encompassing structures, including homes, and other buildings needed to be changed so the village could take part in the National Flood Insurance Program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Fix It update on abandoned, former gas stations at 704 75th St. ( BRIAN PASSINO )

Fix It takes another look at abandoned gas stations


Today’s problem: J.S. called to say "It's just a mess and there's no reason not to do something that I can see. It's really a disgrace." J.S. is referring to the two empty, decaying and abandonded former gas stations that are in residential neighborhoods in the City of Kenosha. These are located at the intersections of 75th Street and 7th Avenue and 80th Street and 22nd Avenue

J.S.'s points: Take them down, raze them and do something with the properties, even if it's just growing grass. “It's a blight, really, on the neighborhood,” J.S. said. Fix It has written articles about both of these properties previously on Dec. 18, 201,5 and on April 1, 2016. Fix It plans an update on the 8004 22nd Ave. property later.

Fix It called the alderman whose district the 704 75th St. property is in to ask if there had been any progress.

Patty Brown searches inside a portable toilet during a count of homeless people in Kenosha County in this photo from 2014. A similar count was taken in January and the results were released Thursday. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Counting the county’s homeless


A recent overnight count of homeless in Kenosha County found 184 people total on the streets, in shelters and transitional housing or rapid re-housing programs.

The count was part of the nationwide Point in Time campaign to count every homeless person and bring them needed resources.

Lisa Haen, with Kenosha Human Development Services Inc, said 17 volunteers canvassed the county from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. one night last month.

Sidney Cooks puts on a McDonald's All American Hometown Heroes jersey and hat during an assembly at St. Joseph Catholic Academy Thursday morning. ( BILL SIEL )

McDonald’s honors Cooks


Sidney Cooks finally put on the uniform she’s always dreamt of wearing.

The St. Joseph Catholic Academy senior was presented with an honorary McDonald’s All-American jersey by the organization’s Hometown Heroes crew during an early-morning assembly Thursday at the St. Joseph Auditorium, 2401 69th St.

Cooks was one of 24 girls nationwide chosen for the 40th annual McDonald’s All-American Game, which will take place on March 29 at the United Center in Chicago. It will be televised live on ESPN2.

Downtown Kenosha narrows candidate field for new director

The search for a new Downtown Kenosha Inc. executive director, the chief central business district economic development leader, has been narrowed to eight candidates, at least three from Kenosha.

The DKI selection committee interviewed two candidates Thursday afternoon and more are scheduled for interviews next week, according Kevin Ervin, president of the non-profit organization’s board.

The application process ended earlier this week with 50 seeking the job vetted to to 15, then further vetted to a final eight.

Tabitha M. Ruiz cries during a court appearance Tuesday. She faces charges of child neglect and intentionally abandoning animals. At right is her attorney Toni Young. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Plea deal likely for mom who kept kids, dogs in house filled with garbage


A woman is expected to take a plea deal for allegedly keeping her five children living in squalor and then abandoning three dogs inside their uninhabitable house.

Tabitha Ruiz, 34, was charged in December with five counts of child neglect, three counts of intentionally abandoning an animal, and charges of intentionally providing improper animal sanitation and failing to provide food to an animal.

In court Thursday, attorneys indicated that Ruiz planned to enter a guilty plea to the five counts of child neglect, with the state agreeing to drop the other charges. However, the prosecutor asked for the plea hearing to be rescheduled to allow more time for the victims in the case — Ruiz’s children — to reply to victim notification packet sent by the state.

Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Somers, is introducing a bill that would shift authority to appoint the sectretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources away from the governor, and to the DNR board. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

Wirch wants to get politics out of DNR


State Sen. Bob Wirch is introducing legislation designed to make the state Department of Natural Resources more independent from state politics.

The bill would remove the power of the governor to appoint the DNR secretary, who would instead be appointed by the Natural Resources Board.

“I have always supported a DNR that is accountable to the people, not politicians,” Wirch, D-Kenosha, said in a statement sent to the Kenosha News. “In order to effectively serve Wisconsin citizens and achieve its conservation goals, the DNR cannot continue to be subject to the whims of party politics.”

Quirky news: Altar used in gasoline smuggling racket

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Altars to the Virgin of Guadalupe are ubiquitous at businesses across Mexico. Now federal police said one has even been used in a gasoline smuggling racket in the central state of Puebla.

Police said Tuesday that a trail of fuel leaking into the street in the town of San Martin Texmelucan led them into a lot where they found an altar to Mexico’s patron saint with an unusual red hose protruding from it.

As they approached, a man carrying a gun got out of a vehicle and tried to flee. Police said they eventually caught him and five other people accused of filling up from the Virgin’s tap.

Paddock Lake eyes senior housing complex

PADDOCK LAKE — A 60-unit senior housing complex is the goal of a partnership forged Wednesday between the village of Paddock Lake and Bear Development.

The Village Board approved a memorandum of understand with Bear regarding the development of multi-family units within a residential development in Whitetail Ridge, located at southwest of the intersection of highways 50 and F.

Village Administrator Tim Popanda said the partnership stems from a need identified through a survey of residents.

City to refinance debt, fund infrastructure projects

The Kenosha City Council overwhelmingly approved a multi-million dollar resolution to refinance some city debt and fund infrastructure improvements Wednesday night.

The resolution from Mayor John Antaramian refinances some $5.3 million in debt at a lower interest rate. Antaramian said about $100,000 will be saved.

“In this case, the timeframe for refinancing comes up and we get a lower interest rate than what we had before,” Antaramian said. “Every year we review our bonds. We want to reduce our costs.”

Event briefs: Wine and beer social event slated

KENOSHA — The Education Foundation of Kenosha will hold its second annual Wine and Beer Social 5 to 7 p.m. March 9 at Circa on Seventh, 4907 Seventh Ave.

The event is sponsored by Carthage College and Educators Credit Union.

Proceeds will help support EFK grants and scholarships benefiting Kenosha Unified staff and students.

Jack Thomsen, owner of Transcendental Golf, is shown with his dog bookie at his buisness in this file photo from October. During a court hearing Wednesday, a judge ordered that the dog be euthanized for its attacks on its owner and two boys. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Kenosha court orders dog to be euthanized


A Kenosha County Circuit Court judge has ruled that a dog that injured his owner on multiple occasions must be put down.

After a hearing on Wednesday, Judge Chad Kerkman granted the order in favor of a petition filed by the village of Pleasant Prairie that Bookie, a 7-year-old mastiff, be humanely euthanized.

“I feel so bad that I couldn’t have done better,” said Bookie’s owner, Jack Thomsen, after Wednesday’s hearing.

Voters cast their ballots in Salem Lakes Tuesday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Didn’t vote Tuesday? You’re not alone


The extremely low voter turnout for this week’s spring primary did not surprise Kenosha County Clerk Mary Schuch-Krebs.

County electors cast 7,018 votes Tuesday in the three-way, non-partisan primary race and only statewide contest — for state school superintendent, which featured incumbent Tony Evers running against challengers, Lowell Holtz and John Humphries.

That’s just a hair more than 9 percent of the 77,010 Kenosha County votes cast Nov. 8 in the hotly contested presidential election.

Carthage College nursing students, from left, Mary Clare Barto, Emma Dresen, Kendall Santin and Laura Siecinski tend to a robotic infant after a dedication ceremony for the school's nursing program Wednesday afternoon. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Carthage unveils high-tech learning lab for nursing students


They talk, have a pulse, can groan from pain and can even present medical symptoms that mimic ailments nursing students would encounter in a real-life clinical environment.

The lifelike mannequin simulators are part of Carthage College’s new $1.4 million learning laboratory for its nursing program, which was unveiled Wednesday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The 3,000-square-foot laboratory was converted from a campus bookstore and was designed to provide students with the simulation of a myriad of ailments and medical conditions to prepare them for real-patient scenarios.

Pleasant Prairie wants railroad to fix culvert prone to flooding

PLEASANT PRAIRIE — The Village Board wants a railroad to make improvement on a culvert in order to mitigate flooding.

On Monday, the board approved a resolution requesting assistance from the Wisconsin Commissioner of Railroads to call on the Union Pacific Railroad to address the culvert near Bain Station Road.

Officials said the culvert that runs underneath the railroad has not been properly maintained and is no longer conveying water as it was designed and constructed to do.

Somers officials are hoping to get help from the Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network to make improvements at Neumiller Woods Park and a nearby property, donated by the Gitzlaff family. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Somers seeks partnership to improve parks


SOMERS — A partnership between a local watershed initiative and the village to help restore two local parks is moving forward.

At a work session Tuesday night, Village Board members discussed a resolution that would authorize the non-profit Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network to apply for grants for proposed wetland and prairie restoration for the future Gitzlaff Park and planning of recreation trails at Neumiller Woods Park.

Neumiller Woods is a seven-acre park in the 8100 block of Highway E. Gitzlaff Park is a 24.2-acre property in the 7600 block of Highway E.

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