May 24, 2016
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Danica Steinseifer nails in rafter braces on her Habitat for Humanity house under construction at 4428 53rd St. Monday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Walls going up on fifth Habitat home

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Danica Steinseifer will soon have a home to raise her family.

Thanks in part to the efforts of Habitat for Humanity of Kenosha, the mother of two young children will have a one-story, three-bedroom home to call her own.

Construction crews, volunteers and other Habitat families are busy building walls and installing concrete slabs at the corner of Pershing Boulevard and 53rd Street. The home, made mostly out of donated materials, should be ready by fall.


Law enforcement personnel, Kenosha Unified School District and Pleasant Prairie Elementary School officials meet Monday outside the school after its evacuation due to a bomb threat, which later proved unfounded. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

Bomb threat clears Pleasant Prairie Elementary School

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PLEASANT PRAIRIE — A pre-recorded bomb threat led to the evacuation of Pleasant Prairie Elementary School, 9208 Wilmot Road, Monday morning.

The threat was left on the school voicemail and reported to the Pleasant Prairie Police Department about 11:30 a.m., according to Lt. Dan Reilly.

Upon evacuation, pupils initially were assembled at nearby St. Anne’s Catholic Church, 9091 Prairie Ridge Blvd., before being bussed to Mahone Middle School, 6800 60th St., to await pick up from parents or other authorized adults.

Alleged victim’s no-show leads to man’s release from prison

The trial for a man accused of attempting to kidnap a woman from a bus stop was postponed — and the man released on bail — because the victim was unavailable to testify.

Eric Ward, 52, of Somers, was charged with attempted kidnapping and disorderly conduct after he allegedly attempted to get a woman into his car last November.

The woman told police Ward popped his trunk, rushed toward her and said, “If you don’t want to get in this car, I’ll put you in this (expletive) car. Little girls like you get out of school and don’t make it home.”

Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas is shown in Milwaukee in this photo from September 1932. In 1938, Thomas was the keynote speaker at the National Socialist Convention in Kenosha. ( THE ASSOCIATED PRESS )

Archival Revival: Socialist Party’s national convention took place here in 1938

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Socialism is a topic of discussion that has come full circle in our culture.

During the 1950s, socialism was tied to communism in the public mind, with Sen. Joe McCarthy and his Senate hearings tying the big red bow.

Today, the S-word, which was once a death blow to a presidential candidacy, has been used in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign. Sanders has identified as a democratic socialist.

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Moves set Pack up for future

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Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson created a mini-stir around the state in late March when he actually signed a free agent — former Rams tight end Jared Cook.

It was a good move, as it gives Aaron Rodgers another target to throw to whom the Packers hope can stretch the middle of the field.

Anyone who watched Green Bay’s receivers struggle to get open for most of last season, including slow-as-a-snail TE Richard Rodgers, knows that was an area in need of a big upgrade.

House Speaker Paul Ryan addresses the graduating class during commencement ceremonies at Carthage College Sunday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

Ryan: ‘Don’t worry too much about the plan’

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Carthage College’s class of 2016 heard words of advice from a man whose grand plan for his life took a decidedly different turn.

U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told the 656 students at the college’s commencement there was a path to fulfillment by way of serendipity and faith rather than strictly adhering to a plan.

“The biggest piece of advice that I would give to all of you is this: Don’t worry too much about the plan,” he said. during the ceremony in the Tarble Center at the college.

Dudley and Mary Ellen Riggle ( )

The Rev. Dudley Riggle receives Carthage Flame award

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Carthage College honored the Rev. Dudley V. Riggle with the institution’s highest honor at commencement ceremonies on Sunday.

Riggle, 83, who now lives in Brookfield, was bestowed with Carthage’s Flame award, which recognizes outstanding service to the college and the community.

He was joined on stage by his wife Mary Ellen, 83, a beloved kindergarten teacher at the former St. Mary’s Catholic School.

St. George Academy in Utah will open this fall, due in part to the efforts of Kenosha native Steve Wattles. ( submitted photo )

Kenosha native seeks to open college prep school in Utah

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A new college preparatory high school will open this fall in St. George, Utah. And while it will be located in the arid desert area of southwest Utah, its roots are in Kenosha.

A driving force behind the school is Kenosha native and Bradford High School graduate Steve Wattles. Like many people from Wisconsin, Wattles grew tired of the cold and snow and relocated his family to the growing St. George area.

But he soon learned that the educational environment was different.

Kyle Sonday stands in front of an A-10 Warthog ground attack aircraft at the Russell Military Museum in Russell, Ill., This museum, which used to be in Pleasant Prairie, is just off of Russell Road and I-94 about a quarter mile south of the state line. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

Snapshot: Military museum has the hardware

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Kyle Sonday does a lot of horse trading to get interesting items for the Russell Military Museum's collection.

Sonday is vice president of the museum, located at I-94 and Russell Road, just over the border in Illinois.

The museum opened April 1 for the summer season and is open until Dec. 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

Dennis Wyhte, left, and Hans Schneider clear brush as community volunteers and congregation members help clean up the St. Matthew's Lakefront ElderGarten, an accessible senior community garden, on Saturday, May 21, 2016. ( BRIAN PASSINO )

ElderGarten project growing

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More than a dozen volunteers spent time Saturday morning cleaning out an empty lot between Third and Fourth avenues near downtown to prepare for a unique vegetable garden.

The St. Matthew’s Lakefront ElderGarten will be a raised bed community garden for residents age 55 and over.

Janice Eisenhauer, chairperson the ElderGarten subcommittee, said the garden is a project of the outreach and service committee at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church.

From left, Nathan McMahon, Dominik Celeste and Myles Carpenter run away from a zombie (Caden Boresch, 16, a Bradford High School sophomore), Saturday night during Outdoor Zombie Survival Camp at Bong State Recreation Area.The kids were told zombies can't run. Turns out this zombie had a mind of his own or can't listen either. ( BILL SIEL )

Teens compete to survive outdoor camp

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No human flesh nor brains were eaten Saturday night during the first ever Outdoor Zombie Survival Camp final challenge at Bong State Recreation Area.

But the delighted — delighted? — screams, shouts and laughter of running “zombie hunters” bursting from wooded trails just ahead of predatory, undead pursuers was testament to the fun teams were having navigating among eight “challenge” stations and trying to outscore the competition.

Some 34 participants, primarily seventh- and eighth-graders from Racine and Kenosha county schools, signed up for three weekly training sessions leading up to Saturday’s culminating event, with two dozen grouped in teams of 2, 3 or 4 members each competing in the finale.

Sasha Reuther talks with past United Auto Workers Local 72 president John Drew during the Wisconsin Labor History Society annual conference Saturday at Local 72 headquarters. The event included a screening of Reuther's documentary "Brothers on the Line," about the founding of the UAW. ( PHOTO BY CHRISTINE VERSTRAETE )

A story of how the middle class was built

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New Yorker Sasha Reuther proved that the words “labor history” are far from boring at the screening of his award-winning 2012 documentary, “Brothers on the Line” Saturday at the United Auto Workers Local 72 hall on Washington Road.

The documentary — which explores the lives of brothers and labor/civil rights leaders Walter, Roy and Victor Reuther — was shown as part of the Wisconsin Labor Historical Society’s annual conference.

As A grandson of Victor, 39-year-old Reuther said making the film was more than a labor of love.

John Antaramian, mayor of the City of Kenosha, speaks on Wednesday, May 18, in Kenosha. ( BRIAN PASSINO )

Fix the playground? Worker transits?

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In office about a month, Mayor John Antaramian is already facing a number of hot-button issues.

He spent time recently fielding questions from Kenosha News reporters on a variety of issues including the temporary closing of the Dream Playground, an increased need for public transit to businesses on the interstate, and his plans to revitalize Uptown. Some questions were sent in via Twitter and Facebook from readers.

Q. The closing of the Dream Playground months after it opened is seen as a catastrophe by many people. Why not just pay to fix the issues now and then worry about figuring out what the contractor is or isn’t liable for?

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Paris denies referendum petitions

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PARIS — A petition calling for a referendum to dissolve the controversial intergovernmental agreement between the town of Paris and village of Somers was deemed insufficient by the town clerk on Friday.

On April 29, Joseph Kolnik and Donis Taylor — spearheading the cause as two affected Paris residents and property owners whose land and homes would transfer into the village — delivered a 13-page petition signed by 87 affected residents to clerk Beverly McCumber.

Affected residents, including Kolnik and Taylor, said the pact does not give them the option to annex into the city of Kenosha, which would guarantee potential future developers water and sewer connections. That could double, triple or even quadruple sale values for their properties, they said.

Norm Mattson at Berryville Farm, 424 13th Ave. in Somers on Friday, May 20, 2016. ( BRIAN PASSINO )

Late frost spells trouble for fruit crops

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Kenosha County’s strawberry and apple crop is still blooming, but did not emerge from a late spring freeze unscathed.

“It’s been a rough spring,” Norm Mattson, owner of Berryville farm in Somers, said. “We did have some blossom loss due to the freeze on May 14 and 15.”

Mattson said the earlier varieties were the worst hit and estimates 50 percent of this variety is a complete loss.

Malik Peden, 7, enjoys taking the wheel of Kenosha Fire Department's Engine 5 as firefighter Will Swanson watches during the Touch a Truck celebration Friday at Wilson Elementary School, which won the event in a competition for most improved attendance. ( Brian Passino )

Wilson students rewarded with Touch a Truck event

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Wilson Elementary School pupils had something to toot horns about Friday morning as they celebrated outpacing three other Kenosha Unified School District elementary schools competing to achieve the most improved attendance compared to a year ago.

They blew the much louder horns mounted on Kenosha Fire Department engine No. 5 and the Kenosha Sheriff’s Department S.W.A.T. team’s olive green tactical vehicle, while alerting the whole neighborhood to their win by sounding off with sirens on the engine and a Kenosha police squad car. Those vehicles, plus a trash compactor/hauler truck, flatbed truck from Riley Construction, and two 2016 Ford vehicles from Kenosha dealer Gordie Boucher, spent the morning at the school, 4520 33rd Ave.

As winners of the “Touch A Truck” competition, they got to bark out playful commands via the squad car PA system and run gleefully among seven vehicles parked on the playground, where they took turns behind the steering wheels, jumped into front and rear compartments, climbed through the tactical vehicle’s rooftop hatch, and checked out the view from high up in the fire engine cab.

Drug sting nets 17

A sting operation this week by the Kenosha Drug Operations Group will lead to felony drug charges for 17 people.

The drug unit executed search warrants and arrest warrants on Thursday, targeting properties around Kenosha County. More than a dozen people arrested in the sting appeared in court Friday, with high cash bonds set for many of the defendants.

A number of the people arrested were targeted with warrants after law enforcement set up controlled drug buys over the last several months.

Dulonden Ratliff ( SUBMITTED PHOTO )

Jury convicts accused killer of Kenosha man

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Jurors in the Racine trial over a Kenosha man’s shooting death finally agreed on a verdict, but convicted Christopher Brown of a lesser offense than the one with which he was charged.

Brown, 25, of Racine, was charged with first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree recklessly endangering safety in the March 2014 shooting death of Dulonden Ratliff. Jurors convicted him Thursday of second-degree reckless homicide and second-degree recklessly endangering safety, following more than 8 hours of deliberation.

According to investigative reports, Ratliff had gone to Racine with his sister and a friend, and as they walked back to their car in the early morning hours, were approached by a group that included Brown. After a request for a cigarette, the two groups got into an argument, and then a physical altercation.

This rendering shows a renovated Heritage House, with the hotel addition at left. ( )

Heritage House project clears parking hurdle

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The historic Heritage House is one step closer to getting its much-needed face-lift.

The company hoping to turn the dilapidated downtown complex, 5706 Eighth Ave., into a boutique hotel and conference center secured 75 downtown parking spaces for guests Thursday evening during the City Plan Commission Meeting. Developer Gorman & Co. will lease three downtown public parking lots in the 5700 block of Eighth Avenue and 5800 block of Eighth Avenue for $3,000 per year.

The project includes a renovation of the existing building, plus building a 68-room hotel on the south side of the site, and creating dining and banquet facilities.

Ash Whitaker ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Fight over transgender bathroom access continues

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Are Tremper and the Kenosha Unified School District morally obligated — or required by law — to permit transgender students to use restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities according to their “gender identity” or only by their “birth-assigned, biological sex?”

For the Transgender Law Center, Tremper High School junior Ashton Whitaker and his supporters, the answer appears to be “yes.”

Others say “no.”

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