Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 18:59
Season debut of Port’s Main Street attraction June 4 will help usher in another year of area outdoor sales
The Port Washington farmers market — likely the longest running in Ozaukee County — will open for the season on Saturday, June 4.
About 30 vendors, many of them returning from previous seasons, are expected to set up shop on Main Street between Wisconsin and Franklin streets from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
They will offer everything from eggs to honey, produce to breads, soaps to flowers and much more, said Ross Leinweber, who is managing the market for Port Main Street Inc.
The Port Soccer Club will again offer brats and burgers, he said, with meat from Bernie’s Fine Meats.
During its 21-week run — it is open every Saturday through the end of October except for July 16, Fish Day — the market will offer something for everyone.
For 13 weeks, beginning July 2, there will be music to entertain the crowds that gather on the street to shop and socialize.
That week, the market will also begin circulating cards that will promote healthy eating by providing information and recipes about some of the foods available at the market, Leinweber said. The cards are part of the county’s INVEST Obesity Action Team’s program to educate children about healthy eating.
The market has come a long way in its three-decades-long run.
Scott Schweizer of Anchor Men’s Wear said he suggested a market for Port after seeing the success of the West Bend farmers market.
That first year — he’s not sure exactly when it was — there were only a few vendors on Main Street, but it proved successful by bringing people to downtown for food and shopping, Schweizer said.
“It really creates a lot of traffic,” he said. “And as long as people are downtown, they shop at the downtown stores.”
Organizers slowly added amenities to the market, such as music and prepared food.
“It’s really worked out nice,” Schweizer said. “It’s really perfect. We’ve got a little of everything and not too much of anything.
“That was really the idea, to keep it small and intimate.”
That’s not to say the market’s appeal is limited to Port residents. Schweizer said people staying at the Holiday Inn Harborview also enjoy the market
“They think it’s really unique,” he said. “It’s small town at its best.”
As the market has grown, it has tapped into several food trends that have virtually ensured its success.
Today, people want to know where their food comes from, and the market is ideal for that, Leinweber said. There is an emphasis on fresh foods, not processed ones, and a shop local movement.
“The trends in society are making healthy eating, organic eating, very popular,” he said.
It’s not just Port Washington that has tapped into these movements. Today, shoppers can get fresh produce six days a week:
In Thiensville, there’s a market at Village Park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays beginning June 14.
Fredonia will hold a farmers market from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays beginning June 15 in the parking lot at the Fredonia Government Center.
In Grafton, a market will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays beginning July 7 in the Grafton High School parking lot.
In Cedarburg, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays beginning June 3 in the Cedarburg Cultural Center parking lot.
Saukville’s market is held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays at Veterans Park beginning June 19.
But as delicious and tempting as the food items offered at the markets may be, there’s yet one more reason the farmers markets flourish.
“It’s a little like a community get-together,” Leinweber said. “It draws people. It’s a place where you can meet up with other people. And Port has such an inviting setting.”
Leinweber said he’s implementing several behind-the-scenes initiatives to help determine how things can be done better and what offerings might be needed in the future.
“The whole idea is to raise the bar a little bit,” he said. “We’ve definitely broadened the categories of products we have, and we continue to try and grow the market.”
Someday soon, he added, they hope to expand the market across Wisconsin Street.
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV
Wednesday, 25 May 2016 18:52
Students moved to nearby churches after TJ receives same call that cleared schools around the country Monday
Thomas Jefferson Middle School students and most staff members were evacuated Monday after the Port Washington school received a bomb threat — the same computer-generated hoax that forced school evacuations around the country and in Great Britain, authorities said.
A school secretary answered a call at 11:40 a.m. and reported that a computer-generated voice indicated there was a bomb in the school and children would be hurt, according to the Port Washington Police Department.
“There was an indication that students were targeted, so that certainly added to the seriousness of the threat,” Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said.
Five officers responded to the school and searched outside areas.
“We didn’t want kids walking into an ambush,” Principal Arlan Galarowicz said. “We had to make sure there weren’t people hiding in the trees and bushes waiting to hurt our students as they came out.”
Once officers determined the school grounds were safe, the school initiated an evacuation procedure it practiced in fall. Fifth and sixth-graders and their teachers walked about a block to St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, while seventh and eighth-graders and their teachers walked about three blocks to Christ the King Lutheran Church.
It was the first time the school, which has an enrollment of 775 students, was forced to evacuate because of a threat of violence, Galarowicz said.
“We practiced this in fall hoping we’d never have to use it,” he said. “You wish you wouldn’t have to worry about this sort of thing happening, but in this day and age, you have to be prepared. We were very prepared, and I’m extremely proud of our students and staff.”
Officers and custodians then conducted a room-to-room search of the school.
“Staff members accompany officers because they know the school and can recognize if something is out of place,” Hingiss said.
Students returned to the building at 1:15 p.m.
“This is the first time in my 42-year career that I had to do this,” Galarowicz said.
The school notified parents of the evacuation via email at about 2:10 p.m. Galarowicz said he received one complaint because parents weren’t notified as soon as the threat was received.
“When we first got the call, we really didn’t know what we were dealing with, and we didn’t want to panic kids or parents,” he said. “The last thing we needed was to have hundreds of parents trying get to school at the same time police were searching the building. We can handle making sure all our kids are safe, but I don’t think we could have handled that. It would have been a disaster.
“We sent out an email to parents as fast as we could put one together as soon as the kids were back in the building.”
Authorities reported that on Monday similar calls were made to schools elsewhere in Wisconsin and in Iowa, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont, as well as in Great Britain.
Experts call these hoaxes “swatting,” and say they are often sophisticated schemes that target schools and police departments and are difficult to track down.
“The really sad thing is that because this was an automated call, we could receive another one tomorrow and would have to do the same thing,” Galarowicz said. “It is kind of a sad comment on our society.”
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 17:51
Port’s application to acquire landmark backed by National Park Service panel but final approval still pending
Port Washington’s quest to own the lighthouse that is a symbol of the city took a step forward Monday when officials learned their application for the structure was approved by a National Park Service committee.
“That’s the good news,” Mayor Tom Mlada told the Common Council Tuesday.
The bad news, he said, is that the recommendation now has to go through three layers of the federal government.
“They’re saying the process now could take one to two years,” Mlada said, adding that officials with the Park Service have told him they have never seen a recommendation on ownership overturned as it goes through the process.
Although he conceded the additional time is discouraging, Mlada said it also gives the city time to develop a preservation and maintenance plan it can implement when it receives ownership of the lighthouse.
“This is a really important historic asset for the city,” he said. “We want to showcase it.”
The city is continuing to work on improvements to the breakwater leading to the lighthouse, Mlada added.
The Army Corps of Engineers’ work on the steel cell section of the breakwater is on schedule, he said, and is expected to be completed by June 30 — just in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
“It’s really going to transform the face of that structure,” Mlada said.
Work on the entrance to the breakwater will then begin in August, Mlada said, noting the city is currently seeking bids for that portion of the project.
The Common Council on Tuesday approved a $49,000 contract with Foth Infrastructure and Environment to prepare an application for a recreational boating fund grant from the Wisconsin Waterways Commission for repairs to the far east end of the breakwater.
Ron French of Foth told aldermen that the application, which is due June 1, will seek $400,000 to $600,000 from the agency, roughly 20% of the estimated $3.1 million cost for the gateway project.
As part of the submission, he said, divers on Monday will inspect the underwater portions of the east end of the breakwater.
When Ald. Doug Biggs questioned how likely the city is to receive a grant, French estimated it is 85% to 100% certain the city will get something, even if it’s not the full amount.
The city will also be submitting an application for an emergency Harbor Assistance Program grant for that portion of the breakwater, French said.
That application will seek roughly $2.6 million for the project, he said.
Mlada said the city is seeking an emergency grant because that portion of the breakwater was considered in “failed” condition when the Army Corps of Engineers inspected it in 2013.
The goal, Mlada said, is for the city to receive enough funding that it can complete the entire breakwater project by the end of 2017.
Ald. Bill Driscoll said that it’s important for the city to continue pushing forward, noting that this final phase will also include some work on the south breakwater, which he said was in the worst shape when the Corps of Engineers inspected it.
“I think we’re pushing it with that,” he said. “It’s the only part that’s been ignored.”
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 18:35
Brainstorming session marks start of studies into possible lakefront amenities, programs
Three years after Coal Dock Park opened, Port Washington officials are beginning to take a new look at the park with an eye toward future improvements.
About 35 people gathered at City Hall last week to begin the process, brainstorming about amenities and programs that could build on what is already there.
Their ideas ranged from the practical — bathrooms and increased parking — to the more whimsical — docking a retired coal dock boat there.
Mayor Tom Mlada said the meeting was intended to start a renewed planning process for the park.
“We need to take the initial vision for the park and build on that,” he said. “There’s so much potential there. Let’s start dreaming.”
After all, dreaming is how the park got started.
The city converted the 13-acre northern portion of the former coal dock, which many considered an eyesore, into a gem of a park and the 7-acre south dock into a bird sanctuary.
That first vision for the park, approved in 2009, was a 10-year plan that included everything from walking trails to a community center, themed interactive garden area, performance space, observation tower, deep-water docks and a floating pier.
When the park opened in 2013, the city had placed much of the basic infrastructure there, Mlada said.
“I think the thought back then was, let’s live with it for a couple years and then see what’s needed,” he said. “We wanted to try and get a sense of how it would be used.
“Now we have to look at it and decide, where do we go from here.”
There is still some infrastructure that needs to be completed, Mlada said, including the railing along the promenade and electrical systems to support festivals and events.
But now, he said, is the time to look forward and plan again for the future.
“That was a 2020 plan. We’re halfway there,” Mlada said.
“Do you have unique family gathering areas? Do you have a bandshell? Do you have a floating pier? How do you connect the park to downtown?
“This is the time to start going down the path.”
The city needs to consider such things as whether a building will be constructed at the park, Mlada said, noting that could be done in partnership with entities such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is considering creation of a shipwreck sanctuary between Port Washington and Two Rivers, Discovery World or Concordia University.
“The hope had been the park would become a four-season destination,” Mlada noted. “The reality is, then you would need a building.”
A bridge connecting Coal Dock Park with downtown was a consideration when the park opened, and it remained so for the group assembled last week.
But that’s an expensive project, one the city may not be able to afford for the time being, Mlada said.
“The bridge is obviously a nice idea,” he said. “From a cost standpoint, it might not be practical.
“I understand it feels like a little bit of a walk-around (to get from the park to downtown). But I do think there are cost effective ways to get the message across with signage.”
Mlada said he plans to take ideas proposed by the group last week to the Coal Dock Committee in the next month or so.
“I think it could bring some new energy to the group,” he said, noting the committee has not met in a year or more.