Written by Ozaukee Press
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 16:57
Freeport concert to highlight downtown celebration that will complement traditional Independence Day events in Port
The Fourth of July will take on a festival feeling in Port Washington this year.
In addition to the traditional 11 a.m. parade, afternoon family activities in Veterans Memorial Park and fireworks at dusk, the day will feature a festival of music in downtown.
To celebrate the Freeport Music Series’ 10th anniversary, founder Bob Mittnacht decided to hold one large concert on Franklin Street instead of the traditional monthly events.
The celebration will be set up much like the annual street festival with two blocks of Franklin Street closed off to accommodate the concert.
“We wanted to do a really big show. This will be a very impressive show, a lot bigger than the typical Freeport concert,” Mittnacht said.
“We wanted to give the community something a little bigger as a thank you for everyone who’s come out and supported us all these years.”
The event will run from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m., when the fireworks are shot off.
The day begins with the hometown parade, which will travel from South Milwaukee Street to Main Street, east to Franklin Street, north to Jackson Street and then east to Veterans Memorial Park.
Following the parade, decorated bikes, wagons and scooters will be judged at the park bandshell.
Kits for decorating bikes are available at Port Washington State Bank’s downtown Port branch.
A bounce house, watermelon seed-spitting contest, music by Will Pfrang and Mackenzie Pauly, food and beverages will be featured in the park until about 2:30 p.m., when the music festival kicks off.
In addition to headliners The Smithereens and Sam Llanas, formerly of the BoDeans, the lineup will include Pfrang, Tommy Keene and Familiar Looking Strangers.
Opening the festival will be Pfrang, a Port Washington singer-songwriter who will perform at 2:30 p.m.
Pfrang has attended the Rocky Mountain Song School and Folks Festival, and has been performing throughout the area for several years.
Keene, a guitarist, singer and songwriter, will perform at 3:30 p.m.
His 1984 extended play recording garnered a four-star review in Rolling Stone magazine and was one of the year’s top independent releases. He’s recorded 10 albums and performed with Velvet Rush and on recordings by the Goo Goo Dolls.
Familiar Looking Strangers, a band hailing from Liverpool, England, will play at 5 p.m.
The band, which has performed in the area over the past couple years, is expected to release new music this year.
Llanas, who will take the stage at 6:30 p.m., is a singer, acoustic guitarist and songwriter who is known for his distinctive voice. He founded Absinthe with Milwaukee musicians Jim Eannelli and Guy Hoffman, formerly of the Violent Femmes.
He is expected to release a new studio recording, “The Whole Night Thru,” this summer.
The Smithereens, a band that was big in the 1980s and early 1990s, will be the headliner, performing from 8 p.m. until the close of the event.
The band, one of the bigger MTV groups, released its first album, “Especially for You,” in 1986. That album included “Blood and Roses” and “Behind the Wall of Sleep.”
The band’s other hits include “Only a Memory,” “House We Used to Live In,” “Drown in My Own Tears” and “A Girl Like You.”
Food and beverages will be available for purchase at the celebration.
For more information on the concert, visit www.freeportmusic.org or call the Port Washington Parks and Recreation Department at 284-5881.
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 18:33
Robotics club offers to fix, engineer, make items for the public with high-tech tools
The Port Washington High School PiraTech robotics club has opened up shop for the summer and is standing by to fix, engineer and manufacture everything from lawn mower parts to patio furniture.
PiraTech Manufacturing is a summer school class that sounds like a business, and aside from the fact it can’t charge for its services, it will operate like a lot like one.
“If people need anything fixed or built, they can have students design it, then manufacture it,” said Taylor Last, a teacher in the Port High technology education department who is overseeing the summer program. “People may have a broken lawn mower bracket that needs welding, but how many people have welding equipment? We do.
“I know a lot of people who tinker in their garage but get stuck when they need a certain part like a flange and have no way to make it. We have a full machine shop.
“Or maybe someone wants a piece of outdoor patio furniture, like an end table. We can design and build it in our wood shop.”
The summer school class grew out of the desire to give members of the robotics club more design, engineering and manufacturing experience. By offering their services to the public, students can apply their skills to “real-world” projects while providing a service to the community, Last said.
“We’re looking for projects,” he said. At students’ disposal is all the equipment needed for most jobs — computer-aided design equipment and a 3-D printer, welders, a laser engraver and CNC (computer numerical control) machine.
“We’re trying to find more opportunities for robotics club members to design and produce actual products,” Last said.
Last will be the first contact for “customers,” but after that he wants students to take over and see the projects through from beginning to end.
PiraTech Manufacturing can’t charge for its services because it is a summer school class, Last said, “but we are more than willing to accept donations, and we may try to give people an idea of what the work would cost if we were charging for it.”
The donations will benefit the PiraTech robotics club, which plans to use proceeds to build a work pit complete with tool drawers and tables that they will use to service their robot during competitions.
The robotics club was formed last year at the urging of students who were intrigued by the idea of building robots that compete with machines from other schools in an arena setting at the FIRST Robotics Competition.
Administrators say the club, which complements the Port High science, technology, engineering and manufacturing initiative, has been a success, attracting nearly 30 students and nearly as many mentors — area residents who use their expertise in engineering and manufacturing to guide club members.
Last hopes the PiraTech Manufacturing class keeps robotics club members sharp over the summer. Fifteen students have registered for the summer class, which began Monday and will run for six weeks.
“We might continue the program beyond the six weeks if it’s successful,” he said.
To contact PiraTech Manufacturing about a project, call Last at 268-5688.
While the high school summer school program began this week, middle and elementary school students will report for the first day of the six-week session on Monday, June 23.
Thomas Jefferson Middle School Principal Arlan Galarowicz said he expects about 1,200 students to attend summer classes, which range from enrichment courses like fishing, sports and art to classes that reinforce subjects such as math and reading.
A new course that has proven to be extremely popular, Galarowicz said, is Kitchen Chemistry.
“If you think about it, there’s a lot of chemistry that goes into cooking,” he said. “I’m trying to show kids who are preparing to go to the high school that chemistry is nothing to be afraid of. It’s no big deal.”
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 18:25
City considers joining forces with other lakeshore communities in pursuit of NOAA-funded project
It’s been five years since Port Washington officials first pitched the concept that the city would be the ideal headquarters for a Lake Michigan maritime sanctuary.
Today, the sanctuary is still in the planning process. But instead of vying to become the singular headquarters for the proposed sanctuary, Port Washington and three other lakeshore communities — Sheboygan, Manitowoc and Two Rivers — are considering a regional approach and, in effect, splitting the headquarters by having offices in each, Port Mayor Tom Mlada told the Common Council Tuesday.
“Here, you could come and start in one community and work your way up or down the lakeshore. In each community, you would have something special to concentrate on,” Mlada said. “This has been a long time in coming, but it’s an opportunity for each of us.”
It could also be the first step toward other joint ventures, whether they be in educational initiatives or tourism programs, he said.
Mlada, who met with the mayors of Sheboygan and Manitowoc to discuss the sanctuary proposal last week, said he will ask the Common Council to consider a resolution approving the partnership and supporting the creation of a national marine sanctuary in the area.
That resolution probably won’t come to aldermen when they meet next week, Mlada said, noting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has not yet started the nomination process. That’s expected to occur in the next several weeks as the agency publishes the rules of the process, he said.
The proposed sanctuary would encompass an 875-square-mile area of Lake Michigan stretching from Port to Two Rivers in an attempt to protect the many shipwrecks in the area.
That area contains 33 known shipwrecks, including 14 intact wrecks, and holds the best examples of many vessels that sailed the waters off Wisconsin, officials said.
Proposed by the Wisconsin Historical Society, the sanctuary would complement the state’s Maritime Trail, officials said.
NOAA is the trustee for 14 marine protected areas encompassing more than 150,000 square miles of ocean and Great Lakes waters, including 13 national marine sanctuaries.
Among those is the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, Mich.
But the Alpena model, where one community holds a large facility for the sanctuary, isn’t going to occur here, Mlada said.
“NOAA has been blunt in saying this isn’t the best way to do things,” he said, leading to the joint effort with other lakeshore communities.
Although the mid-Lake Michigan sanctuary being proposed for the area was first considered several years ago, NOAA has been hamstrung because its site evaluation list for sanctuaries was deactivated in the mid-1990s.
“We basically had no way of nominating a sanctuary,” Ellen Brody, NOAA’s regional coordinator for the Great Lakes and northeast region, said this spring.
The rules that are expected to be published in the next week or so will re-establish the process to create a sanctuary, she said, and communities can then begin the nomination process.
There is a great deal of interest in the program, Brody said, adding she does not know how many nominations will be received.
“To make our application (for the sanctuary) as robust as possible, the best way is to work together on this,” Mlada said. “You have four communities who are very supportive and very much on board with this effort.”
Existing facilities, such as the Maritime Museum in Manitowoc and Spaceport in Sheboygan, and the Exploreum being built in Port Washington could complement the communities’ effort, he added.
The impact of a marine sanctuary could be huge for the city, Mlada said.
“There are so many upsides,” he said. “The economic impact of NOAA having a presence here would be substantial. This would be yet another reason for people to come to our community.”
In addition to being an economic draw, the sanctuary would also be an outstanding educational resource, Mlada said.
“The sky’s the limit on what we could potentially do and the impact it could have,” he said.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 18:49
Replacing houses, enforcing demonstration laws among requirements to receive block grant for repair project
It may seem silly, but the Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday agreed to replace any low or moderate-income housing demolished as part of the breakwater repairs it plans to undertake.
Aldermen also agreed to enforce any state, federal or local laws governing non-violent or civil rights demonstrations in the city “even though the chance of having these demonstrations is slim,” City Administrator Mark Grams admitted.
“Basically, what this says is we won’t violate anybody’s rights who are demonstrating legally and lawfully.”
Aldermen also approved a citizen participation plan following a public hearing on the project Tuesday.
“We’ve had plenty of public input in the past (on the breakwater project),” he said, noting not just citizens but also state and federal officials have been involved in the discussion.
It was all necessary as part of the city’s application for a community development block grant to help finance the breakwater repairs, Grams said.
“Obviously, nobody’s being relocated,” he said. “However, we still need to have a relocation plan.”
The city is seeking funding from both the Community Development Block Grant program for public facilities and the Recreations Boating Facilities grant program to help pay for improvements to the cap on the west end of the deteriorating breakwater.
Aldermen on Tuesday agreed to pay the city’s consultant, Foth Infrastructure and Environment, $13,500 for its work on the two grant applications.
“When you’re looking at getting $1 million in grant money, $13,000 is a small price,” Grams said.
The city’s chances for the recreational boating funds are good, he said.
“It sounds like we might be the only community in Wisconsin on Lake Michigan applying,” he said.
The city previously agreed to pay Foth $15,000 for its work on an application for the Department of Natural Resources stewardship grant, and $15,000 for its work researching grant programs and meeting with agencies to pave the way for funding.
“This is what we’re paying for — the expertise to shepherd these through the process,” Mayor Tom Mlada said.
Grams said the city expects to apply for at least two more grants, adding the cost to write these applications is likely to be less because staff members will do some of the work.
The city has committed to spending $1 million for improvements on the west end of the breakwater — a commitment made to ensure the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the structure, would spend the $950,000 it has allocated for the project to placing armor stone along 1,000 feet on the easternmost portion of the breakwater.
The structure is weakest on the east end, city officials said, and the armor stone will help ensure the structure will last.
City officials asked the Army Corps to use its funds for armor stone because there are virtually no grants available for this work. There are grants available to the city for other breakwater improvements.
Funds spent by the Army Corps on the breakwater will be used as matching funds for any grants received by the city, minimizing the cost to local property owners, officials said.
Grams said work on the breakwater will be done over two years, adding that the city can pay for its share of the work over three years.