May 25, 2017
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NOW: 53°
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Jobless rate drops below 4 percent

Economic development projects, corporate expansions and a robust economy have helped drop the local April unemployment rate below 4 percent, the lowest level since 1999.

The unemployment rate in Kenosha County dropped to 3.6 percent in April, down from 4.3 percent in March and significantly lower than the 4.7 percent rate in April 2016, according to statistics released by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

In 1999, the county’s unemployment rate was 3.0 percent. The lowest county rate on record for April was 2.7 percent.


Marissa Geissnan views teacher Amanda Campagna's pet tarantula Rosie as fourth-graders have a "creepy crawly" zoology segment in Amanda Campagna's class during May Term at St. Joseph Catholic Academy Lower Campus on Wednesday. Campagna also showed off a royal python. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

Tarantula and snake crawl into St. Joseph Academy classroom

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Seven-year-old Annie sat in the St. Joseph Academy elementary school classroom ready for her presentation.

Overlooking about 25 students in grades K-4, Annie let her owner, Bart Caldara, explain how people could tell she was a royal python by the shape of her head.

Some students stood in the back, while others leaned in close to learn about Annie and other creepy crawlers during Wednesday afternoon’s May Term program in Amanda Campagna’s classroom.

Kenosha dad gets probation for whipping daughter over candy cane

A Kenosha man will be on probation for 16 months for an incident in which he struck his 9-year-old daughter with a belt after she tried to send a candy cane to Santa Claus.

Louis Morgan, 33, pleaded guilty in March to felony child abuse. Morgan was accused of striking the girl seven to 13 times with a belt because he was angry she had taken a candy cane after her parents told her she could not have one. She put the candy cane in a letter she wrote to Santa and dropped it in a mailbox.

The girl had previously been disciplined for taking things without permission.

Community Library sets summer reading program

“Build a Better World” is the theme for the summer reading program at Community Library branches in Salem Lakes and Twin Lakes.

The program runs June 5 through Aug. 4.

Reading logs will be available beginning June 5. Those who complete five activities in a row, bingo-style, (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally) and turn in a completed log will receive prizes.

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Kenosha County tackling numerous highway projects

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Kenosha County highway projects totaling roughly $2.15 million are on the 2017 project docket, highway commissioner Clement Abongwa said.

"One project is underway and another will start next week," Abongwa said, referencing a bridge project on Highway E and a reconstruction project on Highway W.

The state will cover 80 percent of the cost of those projects, as well as the cost of constructing a roundabout at Highway H and Bain Station Road

Kenosha County Board to consider ‘dark stores’ resolution

Momentum is building locally in support of proposed legislation to close a loophole that allows national retail chains to lower their assessed values, shifting the burden onto local taxpayers.

A resolution calling for an end to the “dark stores” strategy — wherein thriving stores are assessed based on the value of abandoned stores —has been introduced by Kenosha County Board Supervisor Jill Gillmore.

Gillmore said homeowners in Wisconsin already pay approximately 70 percent of the total statewide property tax levy.

Traffic check leads to drug arrest

An Illinois man was arrested after a police drug dog discovered marijuana in his vehicle that was stopped in the 6300 block of 23rd Street late Tuesday.

Isaiah L. Williams, 20, of Beach Park, Ill., was taken into custody after the 11 p.m. incident, according to Kenosha Police Department report.

He appeared in Kenosha County Circuit Court Wednesday, where he was charged with possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana and two counts of bail jumping, where he pleaded not guilty.

The Kenosha Area Crime Stoppers purchased a new McGruff mascot costume for $2,000 in an community outreach effort. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

McGruff hopes to take a bite out of crime in Kenosha County

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Most crime dogs wear bulletproof vests; McGruff prefers dress shoes, plaid pants and a trench coat.

The Kenosha Area Crime Stoppers, which offers cash rewards for crime tips that lead to arrests and convictions, purchased a $2,000 McGruff the Crime Dog mascot to improve community relations in hopes to increase crime tips.

“You have this big draw of, ‘Oh what’s that big dog?’ instead of just handing out pamphlets,” said Mary Kubicki, secretary of Kenosha Area Crime Stoppers.

Marty Bechina of the Kenosha Kingfish watches his blast during the Home Run Derby at the Kenosha Harbor last July. The event returns to the harbor Aug. 2. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BILL SIEL )

Snyder: Splish, splash! It’s time for summer fun!

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It’s almost summer, and that means we’ve got outdoor furniture to clean, flowers to plant and lawns to mow.

But that’s not what summer is all about. It’s the season for planning fun adventures.

And we’re here to help.

Bradford High School Alumni Association honores are, from left, Bill Hart, William Serpe and Chet Woroch. ( submitted photos )

Bradford alumni group to honor three

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The Bradford High School Alumni Association will celebrate three distinguished alumni at its annual program June 17.

William Serpe, William Hart and the late Chester Woroch will be honored at the Distinguished Alumni Banquet at the Kenosha Country Club, 500 13th Ave.

In addition, scholarship recipients Mitchell McClure, Lindsey Orthmann, Cooper Scarmardo, Hannah Sellman, Hannah Sorensen, Caitlyn Vazquez, Emma Yackley, Vincent Hoff, Cooper Scarmardo, Sonja Katt, Jenna Bonofiglio, Rachel Stanley, Sasha Westphal, JC Ovitt, Brian Tilapa and Emily Burhani will be recognized.

Jobless rate drops below 4 percent

Economic development projects, corporate expansions and a robust economy have helped drop the local April unemployment rate below 4 percent, the lowest level since 1999.

The unemployment rate in Kenosha County dropped to 3.6 percent in April, down from 4.3 percent in March and significantly lower than the 4.7 percent rate in April 2016, according to statistics released by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

In 1999, the county’s unemployment rate was 3.0 percent. The lowest county rate on record for April was 2.7 percent.

Event briefs: Lifeguard review class at YMCA

KENOSHA — A three-day lifeguard review class begins Friday at Kenosha YMCA, 7101 53rd St.

The class will meet 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Participants must be certified in lifeguarding or waterfront lifeguarding through the American Red Cross.

Man charged for making bomb threat

A Kenosha man, reportedly upset because he couldn’t get pain medication for his cancer, was charged Wednesday with creating a bomb scare because he threatened to blow up a medical clinic.

Mark Steinmetz, 59, went to the Aurora Health Center, 7540 22nd Ave., on Monday and asked to see a doctor. According to the criminal complaint, Steinmetz told clinic staff his cancer doctor was on vacation and could not see him, which is why he came to the clinic.

When he was told he could not see a doctor and would have to wait until later in the week for an already scheduled appointment, he became very angry, yelled at staff and tried to get into an exam room.

Event briefs: Volunteers needed to place cemetery flags

KENOSHA — Volunteers are needed on Thursday to assist American Legion Post 552 in placing flags on the graves of veterans at Sunset Ridge Memorial Park, 6211 38th St.

Volunteers should arrive at 8 a.m.

KENOSHA — Discussion of lighting and composition will be featured at the next meeting of the Photo Kenosha Group.

Somers residents defend trustee after outburst

SOMERS — An embattled Village Board trustee received words of support Tuesday in the wake of calls for his resignation last week.

Kenosha County Board Supervisor Mike Skalitzky said Trustee Joe Cardinali should resign after Cardinali became embroiled in a public dispute with the owners of The Somers House.

But at Tuesday’s Village Board meeting, a number of residents spoke up for Cardinali, saying they trust he will learn from his mistakes.

This is a Partners in Design rendering of the beer garden in Petrifying Springs Park. It is due to open Friday. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BILL SIEL/PARTNERS IN DESIGN RENDERING )

Petrifying Springs Biergarten gets entertainment license

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SOMERS — The Village Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a probationary license for entertainment for Kenosha County’s beer garden at Petrifying Springs Park along with beer and liquor licences for other village restaurants and taverns.

The board voted 6-0 for a six-month probationary cabaret license for Petrifying Springs Biergarten, located at the south end of the park, in the 4600 block of Highway JR.

The beer garden would be open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and entertainment would be limited to Saturdays, according to the license application.

Gina Diliberti works on a chocolate sculpture at the 2015 ChocolateFest in Burlington. This year's festival kicks off Friday. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Organizers promise more chocolate at Chocolatefest this year

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BURLINGTON — This year’s Chocolatefest will be a little more chocolaty, according to organizers, with the Chocolate Experience Tent still serving as the morsel on top.

"We are hoping all 30,000 people who come to 'Chocolate Country' over the weekend will visit the chocolate tent," marketing director Linda Fellenz said. "We also have the first carnival of the season, multiple stages of entertainment for the whole family and fireworks at dusk Friday."

The four-day festival, in its 31st year, kicks off at 4 p.m. Friday. It continues from 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday and noon to 9 p.m. Monday. The festival grounds are located at 680 Maryland Ave., Burlington.

Rehana Ftacek, director and founder of Peesh Wildlife Rehabilitation in Paddock Lake, offers alternatives to a proposed Canada geese roundup in Twin Lakes. She spoke to concerned residents Tuesday afternoon at Salem Community LIbrary. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

Alternatives sought to proposed goose roundup

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SALEM LAKES — Rehana Ftacek never expected to spend time lobbying for Canada geese.

But Ftacek, director and founder of Peesh Wildlife Rehabilitation in Paddock Lake, is now leading a campaign to stop the culling of geese in Twin Lakes.

“Last Tuesday there was an article in the newspaper — the title was, ‘Their goose is cooked,’” said Ftacek, a science teacher at Central High School. “It was very upsetting.”

Kenosha man charged in drug death

A Kenosha man has been charged after he reportedly provided crack cocaine that led to another man’s death.

Johntane R. Marshall, 32, was charged with first-degree reckless homicide related to the March 18 death of Juan M. Macareno, 51.

According to the criminal complaint, Marshall supplied crack cocaine to Macareno and another woman on March 17, and the trio drank beer and smoked the crack and marijuana at a residence in the 900 block of 46th Street.

Complaint: Unruly woman kicked officer; charges filed

A Kenosha woman was charged Tuesday after she reportedly kicked an officer.

Michelle Hatfield, 50, of Kenosha, was charged with battery to law enforcement officers, resisting an officer, disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property.

According to the criminal complaint, Kenosha Police were called to the 5100 block of 25th Avenue Monday after residents complained that Hatfield was outside yelling, throwing things at people and flailing her arms. Residents described the behavior as “threatening, disruptive, aggressive and out of control.”

News briefs: Woman who flagged down cars arrested

A Kenosha woman who was reportedly flagging down cars on Green Bay Road Monday evening, screaming about a man trying to kill her children, was arrested by Kenosha Police.

Police said three people stopped to help the woman, calling 911 and staying with the two children in the home in the 6000 block of Green Bay Road until police arrived about 6:45 p.m.

When officers arrived they learned the woman had been fighting with her boyfriend, and that the boyfriend, who was inside the house, was injured. The man had multiple bruises, cuts and bite marks.

This robin's nest was enough to prevent mail delivery at a Kenosha couple's house for nearly two weeks as the mail carrier feared an attack by the bird. ( SUBMITTED PHOTO BY COURTNEY PIERCE )

Dive-bombing robins keep mail carrier away from Kenosha home

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Reaching into her family’s mailbox, Courtney Pierce waved her hand around the hollow interior.

A day went by, and then a few more. A week and half later, still no mail.

So Matt Pierce called the post office in an attempt to figure out what was going on.

A rainbow lights up the sky during the final Lincoln Park Live event of the 2016 season. The music series begins again next month. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Lincoln Park Live music series returns this summer

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The 2017 Lincoln Park Live Music Series will kick off with a performance by the Ivy Ford Band at 6:30 p.m. June 21.

The series will feature five free concerts on Wednesdays in June, July, August and September in the park’s Warren J. Taylor flower garden at 22nd Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive.

The concert venue opens at 5:30 p.m., with shows at 6:30 p.m.

Members of the Wilmot Union High School's sophomore Geography Bee team took first place at a recent competition at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. ( SUBMITTED PHOTO )

Homeroom: Wilmot, Central take top honors in Geography Bee

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Western Kenosha County is home to the top two high school sophomore teams to compete at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Geography Bowl — earning them Gold Stars in this week’s Homeroom.

Seventeen teams from seven different schools competed in the event. Wilmot Union High School sophomore teammates Jacob Brockway, Samantha Christensen, Noah Coleman and Lizzy Lucik advanced to the finals with a 14-2 record for the day. The team bested the Central High School team in the finals, earning a globe-shaped trophy.

The Central sophomore team consisted of Ben Michelson, Chris Sdralis, Colton Schultz and Elizabeth VanKammen.

John Swallow has been selected as the next president of Carthage College. ( SUBMITTED PHOTO )

Update: Carthage College names new president

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John R. Swallow has been named to become the 23rd president of Carthage College.

He succeeds Gregory S. Woodward, who is leaving to assume the presidency at the University of Hartford in his Connecticut hometown.

Swallow brings an entrepreneurial approach and highly relevant experience as a senior administrator, trustee, and faculty member at three small, private liberal arts institutions. He comes to Carthage from The University of the South, known informally as “Sewanee” for the Tennessee community in which it’s located. As chief academic and operating officer, he has overseen advancements in that university’s curriculum, fundraising, equity and inclusion, enrollment, student life, faculty and staff development, and strategic planning.

Event briefs: Maker Faire planning meeting set

PLEASANT PRAIRIE — The first Mini Maker Faire community planning meeting will be 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Pleasant Prairie Village Hall, 9915 39th Ave.

The meeting is being held to plan for this year’s event, which will be Nov. 25.

The committee is seeking help with:

New Mexican restaurant slated for Pleasant Prairie

PLEASANT PRAIRIE — A restaurant featuring upscale south-of-the-border cuisine with a tequila bar will be opening north of the border in the village.

Iguana Wana Mexican Grill and Tequila Bar is expected to open at 9080 76th St. in the Prairie Ridge Market Place in the fall.

On Monday night, the village Plan Commission approved site and operational plans for the restaurant. The owners are planning to renovate building space formerly occupied by Cardinal Stritch University northeast of Costco.

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Home sales heating up

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Sold in a day.

It's an almost unheard-of phenomenon when it comes to selling homes. Home sellers list a property in the morning, and before day’s end they have multiple offers, some higher than the asking price.

But according to local real estate agents, multiple offers are becoming the norm over the last couple of months, and the median price has gone up because of the tight supply and bidding wars, according to David Clark, an economist with the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

In this photo from 2015, Dick Sauls, far right, and other volunteers from Fellowship Baptist Church in Kenosha work the serving line at the Shalom Center as clients arrive for a meal. An anonymous donor has contributed $90,000 to fund the center's soup kitchen and wants area businesses to match it. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

Anonymous donor issues challenge to fund Shalom Center’s soup kitchen

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An anonymous donor is challenging community businesses to help fund annual operations for the Shalom Center’s soup kitchen.

The donor, who previously challenged the community to come up with building funds for the center’s new permanent site, has put up $90,000 and is calling on area businesses to match it.

Shalom Center Executive Director Lynn Biese-Carroll said Monday the cost to run the center’s soup kitchen is about $180,000 a year. The donor,

Benjamin Spasogevich-Lee appears for his initial appearance on Monday. He reportedly tried to abduct a 4-year-old girl. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

12-year-old Kenosha girl thwarts abduction attempt

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A 12-year-old girl stopped an alleged abduction of a 4-year-old neighbor last week, pulling the girl away from a man who was leading her away by the wrist.

The man, Benjamin Spasogevich-Lee, 27, of Kenosha, is being held on $15,000 bond, charged with abduction of a child and disorderly conduct.

In court Monday, a prosecutor said it is the second time Spasogevich-Lee has been charged with kidnapping. He said he was charged with kidnapping in 2010 in Illinois, but that charge was eventually reduced to disorderly conduct, the prosecutor said.

News briefs: Kenosha man claimed to be Navy SEAL

A Kenosha man was sentenced to more four years in federal prison for falsely claiming he was a Navy SEAL wounded in Vietnam, and using that claim to receive veterans benefits.

Kenneth E. Jozwiak, 68, had entered a guilty to unlawfully exhibiting a military discharge certificate, theft of government money, making false statements to federal agents and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding.

The charges stem from Jozwiak’s actions in 2014, when he used a fake military discharge certificate that showed he was a a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran and Navy SEAL, and that he was a four-time recipient of the Purple Heart.

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