Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 24 September 2014 18:10
Hundreds of sky lanterns will rise over Coal Dock Park Saturday, just weeks after city considered banning them
Just weeks after the Common Council considered banning sky lanterns, 500 of them will be lit Saturday at Port Washington’s Coal Dock Park.
The second annual lantern launch sponsored by Port Main Street Inc. will be held at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27.
If it’s windy, the event will be postponed to Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Main Street Executive Director Lauren Richmond said.
“If it’s raining, it’s not happening for sure,” she said. “But it’s really the wind that we have to be careful of.”
Main Street will have volunteers in the marina to keep an eye out for any lanterns that fall onto boats, she said.
The Port Washington Fire Department will also have a crew there, Chief Mark Mitchell said.
“Once they’re launched, they’re at the mercy of the wind,” he said, noting that the department received a complaint about errant lanterns landing on boats and parked vehicles from a marina tenant earlier this year.
That complaint led Mitchell and the Police and Fire Commission to recommend the city outlaw sky lanterns due to the risk of fire.
The Common Council tabled the recommendation earlier this month, paving the way for Saturday’s launch.
“Hopefully nothing happens,” Mitchell said. “Maybe the city will do something in the future.”
About 400 of the lanterns have already been sold, Richmond said.
The remainder will be sold for $10 each at the Port farmers market Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at the park from 4 to 7 p.m.
Richmond noted that the event, while a successful fundraiser for Main Street, is being brought back because of the community response.
“That really was the driving force for us — the community and residents requested it,” she said. “This event is supposed to represent a positive community experience, and we want to wrap our arms around things like that.”
If the sky lantern launch is postponed, a message will be left on the Main Street phone at 268-1132 and on the group’s Facebook page.
Press file photo.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 24 September 2014 18:07
Hour-long tour of city’s worst roads gives aldermen idea of what repairs should be top priorities
Port Washington aldermen took a road trip before the Common Council meeting last week — a trip engineered to alert officials to the deteriorating condition of the city’s streets.
Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven drove aldermen on an hour-long tour of the streets, arming officials with a color-coded map that listed the worst streets in the city.
“Most of these streets are getting along because we’ve done a lot of patching,” Vanden Noven said. “But some of these roads overnight give it up.”
He cited Sunrise Drive as one of these roads, saying it is “beyond patching. There’s just nothing to it.”
On Woodland Avenue, similar conditions exist, he said.
“It’s kind of hard to put a decent patch on this because there’s nothing much to attach it to,” Vanden Noven said. “It’s flat, so the water sits there. It doesn’t drain. That’s why you get these problems.”
When he rated the street conditions this year, Vanden Noven said, he was surprised by how bad some of the streets are, particularly on the north and west sides of the city.
He pointed out sunken patches and alligator cracking that extended the full length and width of some streets, saying, “I suspect there’s not a lot of road base under these because of the condition they’re in.
“It’s not really uncommon that they just laid gravel over whatever was there, especially in the older parts of the city.”
He compared Montgomery Street and the northern part of Benjamin Street to Milwaukee Street, which is being rebuilt this year.
“The curb is higher than the street, so your drainage is awful,” he said. “This is particularly bad.”
The words terrible and horrible were repeated frequently as he pointed out the condition of city streets that he recently told aldermen it would cost $20 million to repair.
“Harrison’s a disaster. We all know Dodge is terrible,” he said. Of James Drive, he said, “This is brutal.”
Ald. Kevin Rudser noted that Michael Court appeared never to have gotten a final layer of asphalt, pointing out the fact the street had sunk significantly next to the curb pan.
“These streets are pretty bad,” Vanden Noven said. “I’ve seen this before. Water probably puddles until it gets swallowed by the alligator cracks.”
Then, he said, the water is absorbed by the subsoil and eventually freezes, putting pressure on the surface and causing more alligator cracking.
That’s exacerbated by poor drainage caused when asphalt was laid over the curb pan, Mayor Tom Mlada said.
Ald. Dan Becker pointed out weeds growing around manholes, curbs and sewers.
“You’ve got a garden growing in the street,” he said.
As they headed down Larabee Street on the city’s west side, Mayor Tom Mlada said he often visits the Senior Center, and every time he’s there he hears complaints about the condition of the road.
“You could have driven down any of those streets, and they’re all bad,” Becker said.
Ald. Doug Biggs added, “It’s just a matter of degrees.”
Aldermen took up the cause during the tour, asking Vanden Noven to head down streets in their districts that are in need of work.
The road trip didn’t result in any action Tuesday, but it reiterated Vanden Noven’s message to aldermen earlier this month — the city needs to commit a signficant amount of money, perhaps $1 million annually, to fixing its streets.
Written by CAROL POMEDAY
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 18:56
Northern Ozaukee branch steps up fundraising effort in response to community needs
United Way of Northern Ozaukee County is ready to kick off its campaign to raise $285,000, which is $22,000 more than was raised last year.
The goal is greater because the needs of the community are greater, said Barbara Bates-Nelson, United Way executive director.
“I’m very concerned about what is going to happen this year with the Y and us having fundraising at the same time,” she said, referring to the Keep the Feith campaign to raise $1 million by Sept. 29 when the Feith Family Ozaukee YMCA in Saukville is scheduled to be sold at auction.
While that’s a worthy endeavor she supports, Bates-Nelson said, she hopes area residents also remember that there are many people in the community who struggle to meet day-to-day needs.
In March, United Way awarded $179,000 to 15 nonprofit agencies in the county.
Last month, it awarded another $50,000 in community impact grants to eight agencies to start new programs. The grants came from funds received between March and June, bringing the total money awarded to $227,000, Bates-Nelson said.
“We continue to see unmet needs within the community,” she said. “We want to be supportive and raise the bar on what we do for the community. Because every agency is running so lean, sometimes they can’t do some of the things they want to do.”
The grants will fund the following programs:
• Advocates Inc., which provides shelter and services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, received $14,500 to help individuals who are on the verge of losing their homes. The grant will provide up to one month’s back rent due to an unforeseen expense. The agency will provide support and case management for people at risk of being homeless.
• Balance Inc. received $4,000 to develop programs for children with disabilities to improve their social skills.
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ozaukee received $4,000 to provide college mentors in schools for at-risk children in kindergarten through eighth grade.
• Family Sharing of Ozaukee will use a $3,500 grant to provide fans, blankets and other items for migrant workers.
• The Jail Literacy Program received $1,220 to develop art workshops for inmates.
• Ozaukee Family Services received $4,000 for parent cafes, a four-part series in adult learning and family support to develop parent leadership opportunities.
• Portal Inc. received $6,465 to provide training for work incentive benefits specialists to assist people with disabilities who enter the workplace.
• Volunteer Center of Ozaukee received $5,000 to coordinate a holiday-needs program for people who are alone or depressed during the holidays.
“We’re very humbled each year when we review the applications for the grants,” Bates-Nelson said. “Although we were able to help many through this year’s grants, there is still more to be done.
“We received requests that far exceeded our budget, all a result of the financial challenges that a growing segment of our community is facing.”
A kickoff for the campaign will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, in the Port Washington State Bank’s community room, formerly the Wilson House.
Honorary chairmen for the 2014-15 campaign are Ruth Lansing and Warren Stumpe.
For more information on the campaign, visit www.unitedwayno.org or call Bates-Nelson at (248) 613-7855.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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