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Campaign to buy YMCA hits $873,500 PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 18:54

Keep the Feith fund drive climbs closer to $1 million goal as Sept. 29 auction nears

    The Keep the Feith campaign has raised $873,500 to help the Kettle Moraine YMCA purchase the Saukville Y, Kettle Moraine Executive Director Rob Johnson said Tuesday.

    That’s only $126,500 from the campaign goal of $1 million — and if the campaign raises another $30,665, it will meet Shirli Flack’s $75,000 challenge goal, bringing it to within $65,000 of the goal.

    “The community has far exceeded our expectations,” Johnson said. “It certainly is appreciated and needed.”

    Needed because the Feith Family Ozaukee YMCA in Saukville is slated to be put on the auction block on Sept. 29. The auction was ordered by a judge presiding over the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee’s bankruptcy case.

    The base bid for the auction will be the Kettle Moraine Y’s $2 million bid for the Saukville YMCA.

    Although a number of adult-oriented fitness centers are reputed to be interested in obtaining the Feith Y, the Kettle Moraine YMCA won’t learn until next week whether any other bidders will take part in the auction.

    The deadline for bidders to register with the bankruptcy court is 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22.

    “If we go to auction against someone, we have one week to do final fundraising,” said Johnson.

    That’s so the Y has some flexibility in bidding. The Kettle Moraine Y’s $2 million bid would be paid for through a $1.5 million mortgage — the Y recently secured its financing through Port Washington State Bank — and a $500,000 fundraiser.

    The $1 million goal was set to allow the Kettle Moraine Y some room to bid against someone else.Y

    If the Kettle Moraine YMCA is not successful in its bid for the Saukville facility, the donations will be returned. If it is successful but doesn’t use all the money it has raised, the excess funds will be used to pay for deferred maintenance work, Johnson said.

    None of the money will go toward the Metro Milwaukee YMCA.

    Officials from the Kettle Moraine YMCA were to meet with the staff at the Saukville facility this week to discuss how the two can come together.

    “We’re trying to figure out a game plan how we can get everything operational in a short time,” Johnson said, noting the sale is expected to close in October.
“That will be a challenge, too.”

    Donations to the Keep the Feith campaign can be sent to the Kettle Moraine YMCA, 1111 W. Washington St., West Bend 53095 or made online at www.keepthefeith.org.



 
City to study senior center options PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 18:52

Relocating facility among long-term choices being considered by Port Finance Committee

    The long-term future of the Port Washington Senior Center — everything from its location to its mission — is being debated as the city moves to renew its lease for the current center on Foster Street.

    The city’s Finance and License Committee Tuesday authorized City Administrator Mark Grams to negotiate potential leases ranging from one to five years that would give them the opportunity to consider alternatives for the facility.


    Those alternatives could include relocating the center to hiring a coordinator who would organize activities at other sites, such as churches, to running a joint center with Saukville, officials said.

    “My thinking is maybe we don’t need a senior center down the road,” said John Sigwart, a member of the senior center’s ad hoc strategic planning committee and the city’s shared services taskforce.

    “I just think it’s time to start thinking outside the box.”

    The senior center has been at its current site, the former St. John’s Church, for four years.

    Ald. Bill Driscoll, a committee member, said he does not believe the city should enter into a long-term lease, something being sought by building owners Paul and Jan Schueller.

    “It’s a nice building, but it doesn’t make the best senior center with all those floors and the parking situation,” Driscoll said.

    The rent, approximately $6,600 monthly, is also high, he said, adding that it might be better for the city to buy the building than continue to rent it at the price.

    “For what we’re paying for rent there, why wouldn’t we buy it?” he asked. “Do we need to be spending that much (rent) on a senior center? If we’re going to look at something long-term, we’d be better off owning it.”

    Ald. Dave Larson, the committee chairman, disagreed.

    “We don’t want to own more real estate,” he said.

    Larson also noted that the city has made a long-term investment in the senior center, remodeling it and installing an elevator in the building before it moved in.Daily-Press

    Committee members agreed to take a long-term look at the building, but noted that the city will need to continue renting the current building for at least a year or two.



 
Reaching out to Ozaukee’s homeless PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by MICHAEL LoCICERO   
Friday, 12 September 2014 15:02

Harsh reality of 4,100 county residents living in poverty spurs Port woman to spearhead Family Promise project 

Ozaukee County is generally thought of as an affluent county where homelessness isn’t a problem.

Tell that to Catherine.

On the night of Nov. 10, 2013, Catherine and her dog Cassie arrived at the Port Washington home of Pat Morrissey and Tom Tews with no shelter.

“I met Pat earlier while walking my dog in the park that borders her home,” Catherine, 57, said. “It was just a week later that I returned to her home to see if she was willing to help me out.”

Morrissey and Tews took Catherine and Cassie in for nine months.

During the harsh, frigid winter, Catherine fell into despair. But, through persevereance, prayer and care, Catherine ventured out into the cyber world and met her future fiance on an online dating Web site.

Catherine and her dog moved to Illinois late last month.

“Everyone will have to deal with some form of trauma or life-changing experience at some point,” Catherine said. “It was a time of humility, perseverance and endurance, both emotionally and physically.”

About 4,100 people are living below the poverty level in Ozaukee County, and the number grows ever year, said Morrissey, who in part because of her experience with Catherine and Cassie, has spearheaded Family Promise of Ozaukee County.

Family Promise is a nonprofit group that has more than 180 sectors throughout the United States. It is trying to raise awareness of the homeless problem in Ozaukee County.

Its mission is to help homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence.

Catherine doesn’t fit the stereotype of a “typical” homeless person.

She’s a high school graduate with some college education.

“I didn’t see myself as the stereotypical homeless person, unbathed and wandering the streets looking for a morsel of food,” Catherine said. “But I began to admit that I had no address to call home.”

Homelessness isn’t normally associated with Ozaukee County, one of the most affluent counties in the nation.

However, in the 2013-14 school year, the county’s five school districts reported 29 children were homeless, including at least one in each district. Free and reduced lunches, another indication of
low-income families, is as high as 30.9% of students in the Northern Ozaukee School District.

In the Port Washington-Saukville School District, 25.3% of students enrolled in the program last year.

Family Promise has branches in 41 states and unites religious communities in an interfaith hospitality network to mobilize existing community resources.

So far, 10 churches have agreed to be host churches, where 14 individuals will  stay from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. for one week, four times per year.

Morrissey said the group needs three more churches to complete the 13-week, 4-time-per-year rotation to make the shelter a reality.

The churches who have committed so far are: Community United Methodist and New Life Community Church in Cedarburg, Crossroads Presbyterian, Lumen Christi, Mequon United Methodist and Unitarian Church North in Mequon, Grace Lutheran and St. John’s Lutheran in Grafton, St. Mary’s, St. Peter’s and Immaculate Conception churches in Port Washington and Saukville and St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Saukville.

St. Francis Borgia in Cedarburg and St. Simon’s the Fisherman in Port Washington have committed as “support churches.”

The group also needs to find a hospitality day center where homeless children and families to stay during the day and is looking at potential sites in Saukville and Port Washington, Morrissey said.

It also hopes to eventually purchase a 15-passenger van with a trailer to take the beds from church to church each week.

The reason is simple: if you’re are homeless in Ozaukee County and want somewhere to stay the county, there is no place to go.

“Most people have to go to Washington or Milwaukee County to find a place to sleep,” Morrissey said. “That’s not right. These are citizens and we should be doing a better job of taking care of them.”

Morrissey is hoping to launch the program by March 2015 and the group needs $160,000 in donations to make the rotating homes for homeless guests a reality.

“We need some businesses and wealthy individuals to help out,” Morrissey said.

Catherine said Morrissey and her husband were “in a league by themselves with how they handled everything for me.

“I was educated without a job and they saw through the situation and were gracious beyond anything I could have imagined,” she said.

On Saturday, Sept. 13, Family Promise of Ozaukee County will hold an event called “Cardboard City” at Homestead High School in Mequon.Daily-Press

From 4 p.m. Saturday until 8 a.m. Sunday, the 10th, 11th and 12th grade student participants who donate $100 for their “rent” will be able to sleep in a cardboard box overnight and listen to guest speakers talk about the reality of homelessness in Ozaukee County.

To register for the event, visit www.familypromiseozaukee.org or call Cecile Duhnke at (480) 262-8782.

For more information on Family Promise of Ozaukee County, contact Morrissey at (414) 704-7640 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .




 
Would you believe a $9,000 water bill? PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 20:00

    Imagine getting a water bill that totals more than $9,000 when your typical bimonthly bill is about $80.

    That happened to a Port Washington woman after a pipe in her house apparently broke and went undetected for months.

    Water Supt. Dave Ewig told the Board of Public Works Tuesday that workers generally would discover that sort of problem when they do meter readings and find the water use has jumped significantly.

    However, because of the severe cold, workers didn’t read the meters in January or March. Instead, water use was estimated.

    The problem remained undetected until May 5, when Marguerite Sherwan received a call from the city telling her of the unusually high reading, according to Sherwan’s granddaughter Victoria.

    A small pipe broke under a mudroom at Sherwan’s house but remained undetected because water apparently flowed down the wall in a corner of the basement into a utility sink.

    There were no problems with the water pressure, Victoria Sherwan said.

    “There wasn’t anything to cause me any concern,” she said. “You were able to shower and do dishes. I feel horrible about the situation. We’ve never had this problem.”Daily-Press

    Ewig said it’s possible the water had been leaking since December. About one million gallons of water were recorded, he said, and it could have been flowing at a rate of eight gallons a minute.

    The board forgave the bill, agreeing to charge Sherwan for her average water use.

    “If we had read the meter on Jan. 1 or March 1, we probably would have caught this before May,” Ald. Kevin Rudser said. “I feel we’re partly to blame for this.”

 
Man accused of selling heroin with kids in tow PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 19:58

Belgium resident faces felony charges for dealing drugs near schools, churches

    A 36-year-old Belgium man has been charged with selling heroin from his home near a village park and in Port Washington with children in tow on several occasions.

    Robin L. Eversmann faces four felony counts of manufacturing/delivering heroin and one count of maintaining a drug trafficking place.

    Each of the delivery charges carries a maximum sentence of 7-1/2 years in prison and five years of extended supervision, but Eversmann could face an additional five years in prison on each charge because he allegedly sold drugs near schools and churches.

    Maintaining a drug house is a felony punishable by 1-1/2 years in prison and two years of extended supervision.

    According to the criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court, an undercover deputy who went to Eversmann’s  house on South Middle Road in the Village of Belgium said there were six children in the home.

    On several occasions when the deputy met Eversmann in Port Washington to buy heroin, he had at least one child in the car with him, the complaint states.

    “The fact that this defendant put children in such an environment is, quite frankly, very troubling,” said Lt. Rodney Galbraith, who heads the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department Anti-Drug Task Force.

    The six children are between the ages of 2 and 9 and have been removed from the home by Ozaukee County Child Protective Services, Galbraith said.

    “We’re working hand in hand with Child Protective Services, and when our investigation is done we’ll sit down to determine what, if any, other potential crimes were committed by this defendant,” he said.

    On Aug. 26, the undercover deputy and an informant met Eversmann, also known as Big Bob, at the George Webb restaurant in Port Washington to buy heroin. But Eversmann, who had three children in his car, said he thought police officers were in the area and invited the buyers to his house in Belgium, according to the complaint.

    At his house, which is near Heritage Park, the defendant used a razor blade to divide heroin into $20 packets called “dubs” and sold some of the packets to the deputy, the complaint states.    

    The deputy said there were six children in the house at the time.

    Eversmann told the deputy that he was a licensed security guard and carried a gun, several of which he kept in his house. He said he could “hit him up anytime” if the deputy needed more heroin.

    The next day and twice on Aug. 29, Eversmann met the deputy in the North Port Shopping Center parking lot on the north side of Port Washington near St. Peter of Alcantara Church and Port Catholic School and sold him heroin, according to the complaint.

    On one of those occasions, a child who was in the car with Eversmann handed him a backpack from which Eversmann retrieved heroin, the complaint states.

    On Sept. 3, the deputy contacted Eversmann via text message to arrange a drug purchase. Eversmann replied that he was in Milwaukee with his heroin supplier and would meet the deputy at a gas station in Mequon. That is where officers arrested Eversmann, who had a child with him at the time, according to the complaint.    

    “This is another case that shows if you’re a drug dealer who decides to set up shop in Ozaukee County, we’ll do whatever it takes to prosecute you,” Galbraith said.

    Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams set Eversmann’s bail at $50,000 and ordered him not to have contact with children if he is released. She denied a motion by Eversmann attorney to allow him to have contact with his own children.


 
Save the YMCA effort hits $500,000 with just weeks to go PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 17:41

Save the Feith campaign is halfway to its goal of raising $1 million to keep Ozaukee facility open

    The fundraising effort to save the Feith Family Ozaukee YMCA in Saukville reached the half-million-dollar mark this week, but with only three weeks until it is to be sold at a bankruptcy auction, organizers of the Keep the Feith campaign are scrambling to double that amount.

    “It was pretty amazing to see 50 checks in the mail this week,” said Rob Johnson, executive director of the Kettle Moraine YMCA in West Bend.

    The Kettle Moraine organization has negotiated an offer to purchase the Ozaukee YMCA from the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee for $2 million, but the deal — considered to be the only feasible way the Ozaukee Y can remain open — has been complicated by the Milwaukee organization’s bankruptcy filing.

    At the request of the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee and its creditors, a bankruptcy judge has cleared the way for a Sept. 29 auction.

    The Kettle Moraine YMCA’s offer of $2 million will be considered the base bid, but, with rumors of private health club operators interested in the Ozaukee facility on Northwoods Road, the West Bend YMCA needs to be prepared to bid at least $2.5 million, Johnson said.

    That means that the grassroots fundraising effort cleverly named Keep the Feith will have to raise $1 million.

    Initially, the Kettle Moraine YMCA had planned to finance $1.5 million of the purchase price and raise $500,000. The fundraising goal was increased to $1 million after it became clear the Ozaukee YMCA could be sold to the highest bidder.

    As of Tuesday, the campaign had reached $510,060, Johnson said. That total includes $105,830 of a $200,000 challenge gift from John and Elizabeth Feith and their family, who were the principle donors to the Ozaukee YMCA.

    If the Keep the Feith effort can raise enough money to match that gift, the fundraising total will reach $700,000. That would allow the Kettle Moraine YMCA to offer $2.2 million for the Ozaukee facility, which shows there is work to be done, Johnson said.

    The fundraising effort picked up steam last week when 200 people packed a Keep the Feith meeting in Saukville. The crowd cheered when the Feiths’ donation was announced and more than $12,000 was collected that night.

    If the Kettle Moraine YMCA is not able to purchase the Ozaukee Y, the donations will be returned.

    If it does acquire the facility and collects more money than needed for the purchase, excess funds will be spent on maintenance at the Ozaukee site, Johnson said.

    None of the money will go to the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, he stressed.

    The challenge now, Johnson said, is to keep the fundraising effort energized because the clock is ticking.

    The recently launched website www.keepthefeith.org has a countdown clock that on Wednesday read 25 days to the auction.

    Whether there are other interested buyers will become clear on Sept. 22, which is the deadline for bidders to register with the bankruptcy court. The Ozaukee YMCA could close shortly after that if it is not purchased by Kettle Moraine. An October closing date for the sale is expected.

    Donations to the Keep the Feith campaign can be sent to the Kettle Moraine YMCA, 1111 W. Washington St., West Bend 53095 or made online at www.keepthefeith.org.



 
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