July 26, 2016
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The Dream Playground, photographed in May, remains shuttered, several months after it was closed when a consultant found that its flooring does not meet safety standards. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

One step closer to re-opening


The Dream Playground is one step closer to re-opening.

The Parks Commission unanimously voted to approve $650,000 to Greenfield-based Bluemel’s Maintenance Service Inc. for removal of the playground’s faulty flooring and installation of new flooring. The City Council must still vote on the project.

“The (new contract) does require testing at the completion of the project,” said deputy city attorney Matthew Knight. “The new contract calls for standards above and beyond the ASTM (Association for Testing and Materials) criteria. So, the floor as it’s completed will be tested and it will meet not only ASTM, but it’s going to go beyond those specifications.”

The Dream Playground, photographed in May, remains shuttered, several months after it was closed when a consultant found that its flooring does not meet safety standards. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

One step closer to re-opening


The Dream Playground is one step closer to re-opening.

The Parks Commission unanimously voted to approve $650,000 to Greenfield-based Bluemel’s Maintenance Service Inc. for removal of the playground’s faulty flooring and installation of new flooring. The City Council must still vote on the project.

“The (new contract) does require testing at the completion of the project,” said deputy city attorney Matthew Knight. “The new contract calls for standards above and beyond the ASTM (Association for Testing and Materials) criteria. So, the floor as it’s completed will be tested and it will meet not only ASTM, but it’s going to go beyond those specifications.”

Event briefs: Wirch sets office hours for Thursday

KENOSHA — State Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Somers, will have office hours Thursday in Kenosha to hear from the public on state issues.

The session is 2:30 to 4 p.m. at Northside Library, 1500 27th Ave.

All members of the public are encouraged to attend and share their thoughts and concerns with Wirch.

Teen suspect charged with armed robbery at Southport Beach house

A Kenosha teen was charged with armed robbery on Monday after he allegedly brandished a gun and then used the weapon to strike a 16-year-old boy in the head before taking his belongings.

Derrick M. Jackson, 17, was also charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery with threat of force in the incident that occurred shortly before midnight on Friday at the Southport Beach House, 7825 Third Ave., according to a criminal court complaint.

Jackson was arrested early Saturday, after police developed suspect information based on social media posts and witness descriptions.

News briefs: Milwaukee man arrested after crash

PLEASANT PRAIRIE — A 35-year-old Milwaukee man was charged Monday with hit-and-run causing great bodily harm and knowingly operating a motor vehicle without a valid license causing great bodily harm, both felonies.

According to court documents, Robert Stokes drove a U-Haul pickup truck into a motorcyclist the morning of July 16 in the 7100 block of I-94 northbound.

An officer reportedly heard a loud crash around 8:30 a.m.

News briefs: Volunteers needed to drive elderly

Volunteers are being sought for the Volunteer Transportation Service.

Sponsored by Kenosha Area Family and Aging Services Inc., the service helps Kenosha County seniors and those with disabilities attend local and regional medical appointments and go grocery shopping.

Volunteers, especially bilingual (English/Spanish) speakers, are needed to drive for the service. Times are flexible, and drivers are reimbursed 42 cents per mile.

Woman charged with child neglect

A 33-year-old Kenosha woman was charged Monday after reportedly leaving five young children home alone on multiple occasions.

The woman, who is not being named to protect the children’s identities, faces five counts of child neglect, one count of felony physical abuse to a child and one count of felony child neglect resulting in bodily harm on Monday.

According to court documents, police searched the home in the 1300 block of 69th Street after the woman’s 11-year-old son was caught shoplifting at Pick N’ Save, 1901 63rd St., last month.

Kit Stilwell, of Greenfield, appears Monday before Kenosha County Circuit Court Commissioner David Berman in response to a restraining order filed against him by the Kenosha Unified School District. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

Unified files restraining order against photographer


The Kenosha Unified School District has filed a temporary restraining order against a Greenfield man, who allegedly continues to harass Superintendent Sue Savaglio-Jarvis and other district employees.

The order bars Kit Stilwell, a freelance sports photographer, from any contact with Savaglio-Jarvis, Tremper High School Principal Steve Knecht and School Board secretary Stacy Schroeder Busby.

Stilwell has clashed for several years with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association over its policies restricting photographers not issued credentials from shooting — and selling — pictures of students taken at WIAA-sponsored events.

Vietnam ceremony moves location

Because of a large response, the ceremony and reception honoring veterans from the Vietnam War era set for 9 a.m. Friday has been moved to the Kenosha County Job Center, 8600 Sheridan Road.

The event is part of the U.S. Defense Department’s program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, and commemorations of the landmark event have begun to roll across the nation, giving citizens an opportunity to honor and thank Vietnam veterans for their service and sacrifice.

“Events like this are happening all around the county right now,” said Christa Barriga, a social worker with the Evanston Veterans’ Center, assigned to the federal Community Based Outpatient Clinic at 8207 22nd Ave. in Kenosha.

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Archival Revival: Fireball of 1910 remains a mystery


Was it an astral body or a weather anomaly that a Kenosha neighborhood witnessed on a summer’s morning more than 100 years ago?

The incident was recorded on the front page of the Kenosha Evening News of Aug. 25, 1910.

Witnesses said a great ball of fire came through the sky in the area of Grand Avenue (52nd Street) and Ashland Avenue (Sheridan Road) just before 8 a.m.

Bill Price inside Westosha Legacy Athletic Club in Spring Grove, IL ( BILL SIEL )

Still flipping for gymnastics


Messages from hundreds of gymnasts lie beneath the foam spring floor at Westosha Legacy Athletic Club in Spring Grove, Ill.

Their inscriptions helped inspire former coach Bill Price, 64, to continue his dream of introducing children to the sport by opening the 10,800-square-foot facility.

“My goal has always been to make it accessible to families with limited income who have children with a desire to learn and be competitive,” Price said. “I still have the energy to help. I love seeing the kids having fun and seeing their smiles when they improve.”

Kayl Emery, 9, of New Lisbon, spins in the mud during Terri Clark's set on the last day of Country Thunder Sunday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Thundered out


RANDALL — By Sunday evening, the crowd at Country Thunder was tired, battered by the elements and many nursing hangovers, but not beaten.

“It takes a certain individual to make it this far,” said Bo Jakubiak of Fox Lake, Ill.

In four days, concertgoers at Country Thunder contended with a heatwave, thunderstorms, showers of rain and knee deep mud, all in the name of country music.

Chris Janson, left, performed Saturday at Country Thunder where he was surprised by one of his original fans -- Jean Rizzo of Kenosha, right. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTOS BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Singer’s ‘original’ fan surprises him at Country Thunder


Jean Rizzo sat under the shade of a tree near the backstage area Saturday at Country Thunder, as she was getting ready to surprise breakout country music star Chris Janson.

Rizzo, of Kenosha, said she and her husband Lenny are his oldest fans.

They first saw him perform when he was 18 years old, playing in Nashville at a bar called Tootsies.

Outages linger into Sunday morning

A powerful line of storms left some customers in Kenosha County without power until the early morning hours Sunday.

About 3,000 customers were without electricity at some point Saturday night, but most in the city was restored by 11 p.m., according to We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey.

The largest outage in the city began around 5 p.m. and involved about 1,100 customers affected in the area from 43rd Avenue to 51st Avenue and 63rd Street to 69th Street. Another 70 customers were without power starting at 10:30 p.m. Saturday and were restored by 4:30 a.m., he said.

High-speed chase ends in crash in Zion

Authorities arrested a man who led Kenosha County and Pleasant Prairie law enforcement officers on a chase that ended with a crash in Zion, Ill., Sunday.

The driver, whose name was not available, was northbound shortly before 7 a.m. on Interstate 94 when authorities discovered he was driving a car reportedly stolen from Chicago, according to Lt. Tom Puidokas of the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department.

The man pulled over at Highway 50 and let out a passenger and then proceeded to speed away, going west under the interstate onto Highway 50 on the wrong side of the road and onto the frontage road while breaking through construction barricades, he said.

Jack Kleihauer, right, joined by other congregation children, gets ready with scissors as the Rev. Karen Pahl, back left, her husband Jeff, middle, and Byron Stevens, bless the new playground at St Paul's Lutheran Church Sunday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

St. Paul’s dedicates new playground


The rain held off for a special blessing of a new playground at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church after services on Sunday.

The 900-square-foot playground at 8760 37th Ave., with its green slide, climbing wall and platform will include a swing set and tire swing when it’s fully built, said the Rev. Karen Pahl, who led the blessing.

About 70 people attended the neighborhood event, which also featured an ice cream sundae social, including 15 to 20 children who played on the new structure. The playground was built with children at church and in the neighborhood in mind.

Kelli Nelso, a Safe Harbor Humane Society employee, plays with Nala, a 4-week old calico kitten. Safe Harbor has about 200 animals available for adoption, including about 150 cats. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

Local shelters overflowing with cats, kittens


There are way too many kittens and cats in local animal shelters.

With summer vacation season in full swing, dozens of pet owners are surrendering their feline friends to Safe Harbor Humane Society and Kindred Kitties to avoid paying for caretakers or finding temporary homes for them.

“We’ve have had a huge influx of cats over the last two months, and in June we took in over 150 cats,” said Megan Gonterman, executive director of Safe Harbor.

Event briefs: Aquanuts set cancer benefit show

TWIN LAKES — The Junior Aquanut water ski team will host a benefit show to support breast cancer research at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Lance Park, 55 Lance Drive, Twin Lakes.

“Passionately Pink for the Cure” is an awareness and fundraising program benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

There will be donated baskets and a 50/50 raffle. Those attending are asked to wear pink.

Police arrest teen in birthday party robbery

A Kenosha teen was arrested in connection with a robbery Friday at the Southport Beach House in which a 16-year-old was injured.

Derrick M. Jackson, 17, was arrested early Saturday on a charge of being party to the crime of robbery in the incident that occurred sometime between 11:30 and 11:45 p.m. at the beach house, 7825 Third Ave., according to a Kenosha Police Department report.

Police said two teens, ages 16 and 18, attending a birthday party at the beach house were approached by two suspects who pointed guns at them.

John Rasch with wife Kim and son Andrew at Lambeau Field. ( submitted photo )

A Life Remembered: Utility worker, handyman, got things done


Each Monday, the Kenosha News takes a look at the life of a Kenosha County resident who recently died. We share with you, through the memories of family and friends, a life remembered.

Get ’er done.

Whether it was teaching his son to fish, rallying his hockey team to a win or helping fix a water main break, John Rasch “got ’er done.”

Event to highlight business-school partnerships

“Dueling for Community Involvement” is the theme for Harborfest ’16, a business/education event set for Thursday at Simmons Field.

Leeward Business Advisors, a business strategy planner and information technology operational support company, is hosting the event to introduce businesses to ways they can give real-world experiences to middle school students.

The event, 3:30 to 8 p.m. will feature awards, food, beverages and entertainment by Howl at the Moon, a dueling pianos group.

Lauren McDonnell, 17, of Traverse City, Mich., gets a selfie with Joe Diffie after holding a sign saying she bet her dad money to do so at Country Thunder Saturday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

It’s still all about the music for many at Country Thunder


RANDALL — While the camping and partying can sometimes take the spotlight at Country Thunder, for many, it’s still all about the music.

For Kevin Jacob, his day was made on Saturday when Joe Diffie played.

“I grew up on his music,” Jacob said. “‘John Deere Green’ is pretty much my favorite song.”

The owners of the Nine Flags campground made a sign out of mesh and rope lights. The campsite, which has been going for 19 years, has attracted some of the acts after the official show. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Legendary campsite calling it quits


RANDALL — Every year, equipment is brought in to dig holes 6 feet deep for the flag posts, four-by-fours are pounded into the ground and a wooden fence is put up at a campsite in Country Thunder.

The aptly named Nine Flags campsite, for the nine flags that hang from its three flag poles, has become a Country Thunder tradition for many.

But it may be flying its flags for the last time this year.

Cool Cooley, of Madison, at Country Thunder for the first time, buys 50/50 raffle tickets from Whitney Stoner, middle, of Kenosha, and Morgan Hyatt, of Kenosha, who are both working for the Kenosha Achievement Center. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

KAC raising funds with Country Thunder raffle


RANDALL — For the first time, the Kenosha Achievement Center was at Country Thunder raising funds for its mission.

Volunteers and center employees were canvassing the festival grounds selling tickets for a 50/50 raffle.

“The pot's growing; the money's growing,” said Morgan Hyatt, marketing and special projects coordinator for the center.

Stephanie Karls, left, Kenosha County drug court coordinator, chats with Frankie Holmes, right, of the Florida-based F**k Heroin Foundation, during Saturday's picnic on Simmons Island sponsored by Stop Heroin in Kenosha. Holmes, a recovering addict, runs the foundation with his mother, Alesha Cuttaia, who co-founded it after years of helping her son and others fight addiction. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

‘Stop Heroin’ event inspires with stories of recovery


Speakers told harrowing stories Saturday about heroin addiction, the destruction wreaked on them, their families, friends and other loved ones.

One after another recovering addicts took to the microphone during the “Stop Heroin in Kenosha Cookout and Fellowship,” describing personal battles fought, lost and fought again until finally, often after decades, finding their way — or supporting a family member’s heartbreaking journey — on the road to recovery.

They described life-changing events, near-death overdoses, waking in emergency rooms, burying friends, abandoning families in favor of heroin or being turned aside — often repeatedly — by those in the throes of addiction.

Paul Ryan speaks at the Republican Party of Kenosha County Summer Picnic at the Starlite club in Pleasant Prairie on Saturday, July 23, 2016. ( BRIAN PASSINO )

Ryan helps rally Republicans at picnic


PLEASANT PRAIRIE — Rep. Paul Ryan has often spoken at Republican Party of Kenosha County picnics, but the congressman’s visit this year was the first as the Speaker of the House.

Flanked by casually dressed Secret Service men, Ryan, in a polo shirt and khakis, greeted his admirers with a “Hey, guys!” upon his arrival.

More than 140 people attended the annual picnic Saturday at the Starlite Club, 8936 24th Ave.

Ron Montemurro, left, and Tina Schmitz ( )

News briefs: News parent company names new CFO


Tina M. Schmitz of Kenosha has been named chief financial officer for United Communications Corp., parent company of the Kenosha News.

She will start Aug. 16, succeeding Ron Montemurro, who will be retiring from UCC after 31 years.

Schmitz will be leaving her role as vice president of finance/CFO of YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee to return to work in Kenosha where she had previously served as CFO of Kenosha Area Business Alliance and prior to that as CFO of Kenosha Unified School District.

Longtime west-end teacher Sue Kaminski is retiring after 46 years on the job. ( PHOTO BY CHRISTINE VERSTRAETE )

Longtime west-end teacher to retire


After nearly a half-century, All Saints Catholic School West in Paris is losing one of its legends with the retirement of teacher Sue Kaminski.

She will be honored at a celebration beginning with a 10: 30 a.m. Mass Sunday at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Brighton.

The 44-year Bristol resident opted to make her retirement formal after 46 years of teaching not because she had to, but simply because she felt it was time.

Man charged for sexual assault of 13-year-old

A Waukegan man faces charges of sexual assault of a child for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Jose D.Mora-Lopez, 22, was charged Thursday with four counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child under 16.

According to the criminal complaint, police were called after the parents of the girl told their pastor their daughter was being molested by someone she met through the church.

Lt. Thomas Puidokas is retiring from the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department after 42 years on the job. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Four decades a deputy


When Lt. Thomas Puidokas started on the job, deputies doubled as ambulance drivers, and police communications were so rudimentary that if he stopped for lunch, he had to crack a window in the restaurant to keep an ear on his squad car radio.

But while the technology has changed, the fundamentals of law enforcement have remained essentially the same, said Puidokas, who will retire this month after more than 40 years with the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department.

“Police work has pretty much been the same for years before I started and will be the same for years after I’m gone,” Puidokas said. “It’s a lot of footwork, a lot of asking questions, a lot about noticing little changes. You get to be able to read people pretty good.”

Event briefs: Fundraising event slated for Monday

BRISTOL — A fundraiser for Children’s Heart Project, a division of Samaritan’s Purse, will be 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at Crossway Community Church, 13905 75th St., Bristol.

There will be a short informational presentation about the project, which provides children with life-saving heart surgeries. The event includes desserts, popcorn, face painting, a photo booth and a silent auction.

All proceeds will go directly to Children’s Heart Project.

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