Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 20:07
Relative says Schlenvogt, 37, died in ‘freak’ accident along Upper Michigan road
A snowmobiling trip to Upper Michigan turned tragic early Sunday when a 37-year-old Town of Port Washington man was killed in an accident.
Chad Schlenvogt died about 2 a.m. March 2 in a rural area of Dickinson County, Mich., less than a mile from the Wisconsin state line, according to authorities.
He was driving on the west side of Pine Mountain Road in Breitung Township when he struck a guardrail on the west side of the road, according to the Michigan State Police.
The snowmobile overturned and Schlenvogt was ejected.
A passing motorist found him lying on the shoulder of the road, which is well traveled, probably within minutes of the accident, according to the state police. He was unresponsive, and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
The accident has stunned many people in the town and city of Port, where Schlenvogt was well known and his extended family is active in local government.
Schlenvogt’s wife Jenny is the Town of Port Washington clerk, his brother-in-law Jim Rychtik is a town supervisor, and his uncle, Lee Schlenvogt, is the Ozaukee County Board chairman and a former Town of Port chairman.
Schlenvogt was a fixture at Town Board meetings and was a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The accident has also left people shaking their heads in disbelief. Schlenvogt was an experienced snowmobiler, Rychtik said, who knew and respected his limits.
“It was just one of those freak, freak things,” he said. “Everything would have to line up perfectly for him to get hurt, and it did. If he hit an inch over, he’d probably have a big bruise right now and be joking about it.”
Schlenvogt wasn’t originally supposed to be up north, Rychtik said. He and a group of friends intended to go snow goose hunting in the southern United States, but the trip was cancelled because of weather.
Schlenvogt and two friends, Tom Didier and Jordy Schwanz, decided to go snowmobiling up north instead, Rychtik said.
“The snow up there is just amazing,” he said.
The trio left for Florence County on Thursday and planned to return Sunday night, Rychtik said.
They arrived late Thursday, then took a 180-mile snowmobile trip to Eagle River on Friday, he said.
On Saturday, they stuck around the cabin, then decided to drive to Pine Mountain Ski Resort about 10 miles from where they were staying to watch a snowmobile hill-climbing contest. They spent the day there.
The group returned to the cabin, then decided to go back to the resort, Rychtik said.
But when they headed back to the cabin, one of the snowmobiles wouldn’t start. Didier and Schwanz decided to ride together, and Schlenvogt drove on ahead, Rychtik said.
Rychtik said he believes Schlenvogt, who was familiar with the area, took a shortcut to bypass a two- to three-mile jog in the snowmobile trail around a ravine. That shortcut apparently took him along Pine Mountain Road, which is a wide road with snow along the edges of the shoulder.
"What happened next is anyone’s guess," Rychtik said.
“I think the ski possibly caught either on a big chunk of snow or the edge of the guardrail,” Rychtik said, pushing the snowmobile up the rail just enough to tip it, ejecting Schlenvogt.
When Didier and Schwanz returned to the cabin, they were surprised that Schlenvogt wasn’t waiting for them, Rychtik said. They tried calling him, but got no answer and started panicking, he said. They thought about going out to look for him, but their snowmobile was out of gas and the truck they had driven wouldn’t start.
“They didn’t have a clue where Chad was,” Rychtik said.
It was only when authorities contacted them later that they discovered what had happened.
Authorities told the family they believe Schlenvogt hit the handlebars when he was ejected, causing his death, Rychtik said.
Rychtik said he does not believe speed was a factor, noting Schlenvogt was found near the snowmobile.
The snowmobile, he added, is intact and operable.
Although the state police said alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the crash, Rychtik said Schlenvogt generally did not drink or drank minimally when driving a snowmobile.
A funeral Mass for Schlenvogt will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at St. Peter of Alcantara Catholic Church in Port Washington.
An education fund for his two young children has been set up at Kohler Credit Union.
A complete obituary for Schlenvogt can be found in this edition of Ozaukee Press.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 18:19
The controversy over the use of signboards in Port Washington ended last week when the Plan Commission adopted new guidelines to regulate their use.
“I just think this is not only cleaner but better for our downtown merchants,” Ald. Dan Becker, a member of the commission, said.
There are now seven regulations, as opposed to the previous nine, many of which were never enforced by the city, said Randy Tetzlaff, director of planning and development.
The regulations were sent to downtown merchants, and there were no objections logged, he said.
Port Washington Main Street Executive Director Lauren Richmond also reviewed them, Tetzlaff added.
The new regulations call for merchants to obtain a permit for the signboards, giving the city an idea of who owns them and who to contact if there are issues, Tetzlaff said.
They require businesses to display the signs in front of their main entrance unless a special exception permit has been granted by the commission — a step required so shops on side streets can place placards on Franklin Street directing customers to them.
The signs cannot block intersections or cause a hazard to pedestrians or motorists, and they must be removed when the businesses close each day.
The signs, which can be no larger than 24-by-48 inches, must be neatly painted and maintained. They must be professionally lettered, although chalkboards are allowed to be hand lettered.
Although ubiquitous, the sandwich board-like signs prompted controversy earlier this year when some commission members complained about the appearance and locations of some placards.
Tetzlaff said the new guidelines allow the city to take steps to avoid issues in the future.
“If we still have problems, you can take another look at this and be harder,” he said. “I think it’s better to start out with less.”
The new regulations, which are part of the city’s ordinances, will be considered by the Common Council next week.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 19:44
Port commission will review rules for appearance, location of sandwich boards in downtown Port
The Port Washington Plan Commission will tackle the topic of sandwich-board signs when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.
Commission members will consider seven proposed regulations that cover everything from the size of the signs to aesthetics and locations.
The regulations would also reflect the city’s current practices when it comes to the signs, said Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development.
For example, the city ordinances require all signboards to be approved by the Design Review Board — something that hasn’t been done, he said.
They also don’t allow for businesses on side streets to place placards on Franklin Street, although that is a common practice, he said.
“We’re trying not to be burdensome,” Tetzlaff said, saying the proposed regulations would set minimal standards for the signs.
The signs — a common sight on the sidewalks in downtown Port — have been the topic of debate recently, with some officials criticizing them for cluttering the sidewalks and others hailing them as a sign of vitality.
The discussion was kicked off by complaints from some business owners as well as a commission member.
At least one complaint was about a poorly made sign outside the downtown, and other complaints cited signboards that were placed on the sidewalk in such a way that they impeded pedestrians, he said.
Some officials also expressed concern that the sandwich boards add to the clutter on the sidewalk, especially at intersections when multiple signs are placed.
In 98% of cases, Tetzlaff said, the city has no issues with the existing placards.
“We need to have a process to review them,” he said, noting that this will give the city the authority it needs to address potential problems when they spring up.
While some people question the need for the regulations, Tetzlaff noted that the city requires businesses to meet standards for other types of signs.
“Is it really fair to allow businesses to put up these signs without any controls?” he asked.
The proposed regulations would require all signboards to be professionally lettered and neatly painted, except when the signs are blackboards. Then, hand lettering would be permitted.
The signs can be no larger than 24 inches wide and 48 inches high, according to the proposal.
One signboard would be allowed for each business, and it must be displayed in front of the main entrance of the store unless a special exception permit is approved by the Plan Commission.
This permit, Tetzlaff said, would be used to allow businesses on the side streets to display their signs where pedestrians and motorists are likely to see them on the main streets.
Signs may only be displayed when the shop is open and must be removed at the end of the business day, the proposal states, and they cannot block intersections or cause a public safety hazard.
A one-time permit must be obtained for each signboard, and those that do not comply with the requirements may be removed from the right-of-way.
The permit, which would likely cost a nominal fee, is needed so the city has some idea of the number of signs and their owners, Tetzlaff said.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 21:20
Committee will consider urban mountain-bike path
Port Washington may become a destination for mountain bikers this summer.
The Parks and Recreation Board on Wednesday was expected to approve plans for a mountain bike trail that would extend from Guenther Park north to Hales Trail just east of the Ozaukee Interurban Trail.
This trail would be in addition to a mountain bike park the city is constructing on Moore Road adjacent to the skateboard park.
“It really is neat,” Parks and Recreation Director Charlie Imig said. “I think it’s going to be kind of cool.
“This is good for Port Washington. I think it will bring people into the city, and while they’re here maybe they’ll have lunch or just explore.”
The proposed trail would be about two miles long and make use of an existing trail that’s been overgrown, Imig said.
“Kids over the years have created the trail,” he said.
Imig said he walked the trail last fall and inspected it.
“Portions of it are leaf-blower ready,” he said, noting it will take little work to clear those parts of the trail and put them into service.
Other areas, however, must be completely built, he said.
The trail would be accessible off the existing bike trail or at trailheads at Guenther Park or the bluff, Imig said.
The Ozaukee County Mountain Bike Club, which has developed a trail in the Town of Cedarburg, has offered to develop and maintain the trail at no cost to the city, Imig said.
The trail wouldn’t be limited to mountain bikes, he said, but also would be open to pedestrians.
It would likely be open year-round, he added, noting that the fat-tire bikers would probably use it in the wintertime.
Although Ozaukee County ran into a significant amount of controversy when it proposed developing a mountain bike park on 36 acres of county-owned land between Lake Drive and Dixie Road in the Town of Port, Imig said he doesn’t anticipate that happening in the city.
When the board discussed the concept at its last meeting, more than 20 people showed up to support it, he said.
“This is really a gung-ho group,” Imig said of the mountain bike club. “They’re going to watch out for their own and take care of this. It’s really neat it has this much support.
“For them, it’s a win-win.”
The trail wouldn’t be excessively challenging, Imig said, nor would the mountain bike park, which will be developed on Moore Road south of the skateboard park.
However, they would provide enough of a challenge that users are likely to come back time after time, he said.
Organizers said the trail could be used as a place where young mountain bikers could go to train, Imig noted.
That project, which was approved last year, will have nine features, including a pump track. Work on the park is expected to begin when the weather breaks, Imig said.
If approved by the board Wednesday, both the path and the park could be open by summer, he added.