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Wisconsin's surplus should go to taxpayers

February 06, 2014

By now you’ve probably heard that Wisconsin’s state budget is facing a sizeable surplus.
I know it’s probably hard to believe, especially with all of the problems we’re seeing in Washington, like record deficits and partisan gridlock. However, the story is much different here in Wisconsin.

Why the difference?
Well, we’ve taken a much different approach in Madison since 2010 when both Gov. Scott Walker and I were first elected. We understand that the government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does.
That’s why we’ve done what we can to improve the job creation climate and reduce the tax burden. In fact, private sector job creation between April and December 2013 was best since 1994. Also, Wisconsin ranked as the fourth best state in the country for personal income growth from the second quarter to the third quarter in 2013.

The result?
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) just announced Wisconsin is facing a $976 million surplus. It is important to point out that the surplus is the result of taxpayers paying too much — not that the government has spent too little.
LFB said this is one of the largest mid-budget surpluses in recent memory and it means our budgeting reforms are working.
As you may know, Gov. Walker has come out with his plan for the surplus, which he is calling the Blueprint for Prosperity. The plan returns the surplus money to the taxpayers in a fiscally responsible way, which I fully support.
Simply put, I believe we need to get your money out of Madison, because there are plenty of people in Madison that want to spend it.
Specifically, the plan has two major components that will benefit taxpayers. The first is tax relief. The plan will increase the state’s share of funding the tech colleges, thereby reducing the portion that homeowners pay on their property tax bills.

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German immigrants, railroad helped LG grow

February 06, 2014

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series by Lake Geneva historian Patrick Quinn.

Despite the recession of 1873, Geneva continued to grow.
In 1882 the U.S. Post Office acknowledged that Geneva had become significant enough to be confused with Geneva, Ill., and changed Geneva’s name to Lake Geneva. And in 1886 leading citizens of Lake Geneva, also aware of Lake Geneva’s growing stature, led a successful effort to upgrade the village to the status of a city.
By this time, wealthy Chicagoans owned impressive steam yachts that traversed the lake and docked at the piers where the Riviera is today. In 1893 the development of the Columbian subdivision reflected the growth of the city.
Yerkes Observatory was completed in 1896.
The railroad had been extended from Lake Geneva to Williams Bay in 1888 and it served the needs of the Yerkes staff. It was during the last quarter of the 19th century that most of the commercial buildings that comprise Lake Geneva’s downtown business district were constructed and most of the homes in the Maple Park Historic District were built for a growing and prosperous middle class.
During and after the Franco-Prussian War and the consolidation of Germany as a nation state in 1871, there occurred a mass migration of Germans to the United States.
In southeastern Wisconsin, many German immigrants settled in Lyons and Bloomfield townships and purchased the farms of the original settlers from Vermont and upstate New York. The arrival of the German immigrants in the area would eventually significantly alter the ethnic composition of Lake Geneva’s population.
The development of Lake Geneva as a substantial community during the last three decades of the 19th century was culturally evidenced by the opening of the YMCA, the public library and the opera house (originally called Centennial Hall because it was built in 1876). The beginnings of Lake Geneva as a premiere “resort city” was foreshadowed by the opening of the Whiting House hotel on lower Broad Street, overlooking the lake’s outlet, and the opening of Kaye’s Park (an amusement park) on Geneva Lake’s south shore, both in 1873.
The first 16 years of the 20th century were essentially an extension of the last quarter of the 19th century. The end of World War I, however, marked the beginning of the second transformation of Lake Geneva. The prosperous 1920s saw the emergence of Lake Geneva as a summer resort city. Thousands of middle class and working class Chicagoans began flocking to the city, primarily on the train, during the summers.
The construction of the Riviera in 1932 marked the culmination of Lake Geneva’s first decade as a resort city.
Although there was significant unemployment in Lake Geneva during the Great Depression that had begun in 1929 and lasted until the U.S. entered World War II, Lake Geneva’s role as a summer resort city continued to expand.
The end of World War II brought the beginning of yet another transformation of the city. Summer tourists continued to arrive in Lake Geneva on the train and on buses, but more and more Chicagoans had become sufficiently prosperous to own cars and drive to Lake Geneva on the weekends. During the summers, however, many trains still arrived in Lake Geneva filled with tourists.
On Sunday evenings “white flag” special trains lined up at the railroad station waiting to take tourists back to Chicago.
The bus depot on the west side of lower Broad Street usually had five or six Greyhound buses an hour arriving or departing during the summers. Residents still served the needs of wealthy Chicagoans who lived in their lakeshore mansions. Most graduates of the high school, however, had no choice but to leave Lake Geneva following their graduation and seek employment in Chicago or elsewhere.
An important exception was that jobs were available at the Nash (later American Motors) plant in Kenosha and the GMC plant in Janesville, both of which were only 30 miles from Lake Geneva.

By the 1950s, many of the children of German-born farmers in Lyons and Bloomfield townships had moved to Lake Geneva and many of the males had become tradesmen.
During the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, another transformation in Lake Geneva occurred. A number of the large estates on the lake’s shore had been subdivided earlier and homes were built on them. This process continued. The railroad to Chicago stopped running and its tracks were torn up. Buses stopped coming to Lake Geneva. Summer tourists come to Lake Geneva, not so much from the city of Chicago as from its suburbs. More and more people from the Chicago suburbs moved to Lake Geneva, although many still worked in Illinois.
Summer tourists, who in the 1950s had been children of Italian, Polish and Jewish immigrants who had come to Chicago from Europe, were being replaced by people of South Asian (Indian) descent. Many of the children of Lake Geneva 20th-century residents were building new homes outside of the city’s limits. A considerable portion of the housing stock in Lake Geneva became rental units. The grandchildren of German immigrants were filling the pews of the two largest Lutheran churches in the city. Immigrants from Mexico were moving to Lake Geneva at an accelerated pace.
Construction of the new four-lane Highway 12, which bypassed the city on the north and east, attracted “big box” stores, which drew business away from the downtown stores. The Taggart Lumber Co. closed, marking the end of an era.
The opening of Badger High School in 1958 removed from the center of the city what had been, during the first half of the 20th century, a bee hive of activity. When most of the downtown stores that had served the residents of the city for decades, including the Schultz Brothers dime store, the Ben Franklin dime store, Montgomery Wards, the two drugstores, the bakery, several clothing stores and two hardware stores closed, the downtown business district became transformed.
The bowling alley beneath the Landmark building closed and the two leading auto dealerships moved to the city’s periphery. The YMCA moved into a former supermarket on Wells Street and the old Victorian YMCA building at Cook and Main streets was demolished.
Automobile travel had replaced walking in the city. The Geneva Theater, long a bright beacon in the downtown area, closed. The opening of Starbucks and Caribou coffee houses fortunately provided new social centers in the city.
Change, for certain, is inevitable and Lake Geneva surely has undergone change. Perhaps one indication of the change is a substantial increase in the number of Chicago Bears fans in what had once been a Green Bay Packers stronghold.
Change has made Lake Geneva a mecca for homes of airline pilots and flight attendants who value its relatively close proximity to O’Hare Airport. Change has also led to Lake Geneva becoming a retirement venue both for people who had grown up in the city but had spent their working lives elsewhere, as well as for individuals from throughout the country who had become aware of the city’s charms.
Perhaps future change will see the restoration of a rail connection with Chicago and its suburbs, which would be an enormous asset. A restored connection would probably have to parallel Highway 120 to the former Milwaukee Road tracks just north of the Illinois state line and Hebron, and it would terminate at Chicago’s Union Station rather than at the Oglesby Transportation Center where it had terminated for a century when it was part of the Chicago and Northwestern system.
Hopefully another positive change will be the reopening of the Geneva Theater as a movie theater and cultural and performing arts center.
During its 179-year-history, Lake Geneva evolved through numerous changes. The fact that it is located on one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and that it is but a short distance from one of the world’s greatest metropolises ensures that future changes will continue to be positive.

Recent Community columnists
An analysis of Lake Geneva’s early history
January 30, 2014

For the past three years, the articles that I have written on Lake Geneva’s history for the Regional News have, in the main, recounted historical facts about Lake Geneva or have been based upon my personal memories of what Lake Geneva was like in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s.
This article will attempt to analyze Lake Geneva’s history.
The first questions that need to be answered include why Lake Geneva was originally settled by whites in the 1830s and 1840s and why these initial settlers mainly came from Vermont and upstate New York.
After Lake Geneva was first “discovered” by whites in the early 1830s, its initial settlement was due to a combination of factors. The most important of these factors was the establishment in 1833 of a small settlement adjacent to the U.S. military fort — Fort Dearborn — where the Chicago River enters Lake Michigan. The tiny new village of Chicago stimulated the settlement of the “northwest.”
The area that later became known as the midwest was the northwest section of the United States before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Wisconsin had not yet become a territory, let alone a state. It would become a territory in 1836 and a state in 1848.
The area that eventually became Lake Geneva was then in Michigan Territory. The settlement of Geneva began only two decades after the end of the War of 1812 (three veterans of the War of 1812 are buried in the Pioneer Cemetery) while Andrew Jackson was president.
The U.S. Army and state militias defeated the Sac and Fox Native American leader Black Hawk in 1832.
The U.S. Army had chased Black Hawk and his band up the Rock River from where it enters the Mississippi to its northern reaches and then west to the Mississippi at Bad Axe (south of La Crosse), where it massacred many of the women and children in Black Hawk’s band. The chief of the Potawatomi in the Geneva Lake area, Big Foot, had refused to support Black Hawk.
Ironically, the U.S. government rewarded Big Foot for his refusal to support Black Hawk by exiling him and his entire tribe to eastern Kansas where his descendents now live on a reservation near St. Mary’s. Native American ownership of the land surrounding Geneva Lake was extinguished.
In 1835, three years after the defeat of Black Hawk, John Brink surveyed the land where Lake Geneva is now located for the U.S. government.

He named the beautiful lake in the area that he surveyed after his home town, Geneva, in upstate New York on the shore of Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes.
The U.S. government established a land office in Milwaukee, which sold the former Potawatomi lands to whites. In 1837 a major recession hit the United States, a recession much more severe than the Great Recession of 2008.
The recession forced many people to move from settled eastern portions of the United States, including Vermont and upstate New York, to the newly opened “northwest,” where cheap land was available upon which they could establish farms, escape the ravages of the recession and start their lives anew.
Why did so many of those who originally settled the Lake Geneva area come from Vermont and upstate New York?
The answer is two-fold. Vermont had only become a state in 1791. It was not one of the original 13 states. One of the reasons for its late settlement was that much of its soil was very rocky.
After Vermont became a state, it had quickly become “overpopulated,” given the lack of land suitable for farming. The prevailing legal concept of “primogeniture” meant that only the eldest son could inherit a farm or other property.
The second, third, fourth and other younger sons were compelled to move elsewhere if they were to make their living by farming. They had no choice, therefore, but to move to the northwest frontier where land was available, including the area surrounding Geneva Lake.
The modes of transportation extant during the 1830s and 1840s also determined where the economic refugees from Vermont and upstate New York could go.
The Erie Canal, which ran from Albany to Buffalo, N.Y., had been opened in 1825. It was the interstate highway of its time. A network of railroads did not yet exist.
People who had been living in upstate New York boarded boats on the Erie Canal, which took them to Buffalo, where they transferred to lake schooners that sailed through lakes Erie, Huron and Michigan to the new towns of Milwaukee and Southport (the original name of Kenosha).
They then walked or rode wagons southwest 45 miles or due west 30 miles to the Geneva Lake area. People from Vermont boarded boats on Lake Champlain and sailed to the southern end of the lake, where they transferred to boats on the recently dug canal that connected Lake Champlain to the Hudson River.
They took boats south on the Hudson River to Albany, where they boarded boats on the Erie Canal, which carried them to Buffalo, where they transferred to lake schooners which took them to Milwaukee or Southport.
The settlers of what would become the southern counties of Wisconsin, who came from upstate New York, brought with them the names of the towns.
A glance at today’s map of upstate New York reveals their origins. Among the towns in upstate New York, one finds not only Geneva, but also Walworth, Delavan, Darien, Sharon, Clinton, Genoa, Palmyra, Eagle, Rochester, Bristol and Silver Lake, among others.
They also brought to the Geneva area their values, which included a commitment to temperance, which eschewed the use of intoxicating liquor, and a staunch opposition to slavery.
So too did they bring their religious predilections, including those of the Congregational Church. Although the first Congregational Church in Geneva was originally a Presbyterian Church, most of its members were Congregationalists.
Upstate New York was then known as the “burned-over district” because of the fervent religiosity of its inhabitants. Among the original settlers of Geneva there were, in addition to Congregationalists and Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists, who also quickly established churches in Geneva. The “burned-over district” saw the birth of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church), the Advent Christian Church and the Seventh Day Adventists.
The Catholic church in Geneva, which eventually became St. Francis de Sales, while established in 1847, did not experience significant growth until the arrival of large numbers of Irish laborers, who built the railroad from Chicago to Geneva in 1856.
The seven founders of Geneva, Dr. Philip Maxwell, his brother, Col. James Maxwell, Robert Wells Warren and his brother, Greenleaf Warren, Andrew Ferguson and his brother-in-law, Lewis B. Goodsell, and his business partner, George Campbell, were all from Vermont or upstate New York, but they had initially come to the new, rapidly growing village of Chicago, where they had made their fortunes speculating in real estate.
It was with such funds that they purchased the land upon which Lake Geneva is now situated. Charles M. Baker, the first attorney in Geneva, also came here from Vermont, as did a young person that he trained in the law, James Simmons.
The Civil War would transform Geneva from an ordinary village on the edge of the northwest frontier into a rather special place. The impetus for this transformation came from the large city 72 miles to the southeast.
Chicago had grown substantially during the Civil War and the decade preceding it from a small village into a burgeoning metropolis of 300,000 residents.
During the Civil War, many merchants in Chicago, some of whom had initially made their fortunes in real estate speculation, made even more money providing the Union Army with salt, meat, uniforms and many other necessities.
A substantial class of very wealthy Chicagoans had emerged during the war. Over the six years that followed the end of the war, several had “discovered” the beautiful lake 72 miles northwest of the metropolis, purchased land for estates on the shores of the lake and built large homes on those estates to which they would repair during the summers to escape the oppressive heat, congestion and noise of Chicago. The beautiful lake, of course, was Geneva Lake.
It was indeed a beautiful lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in the United States, but strangely enough, it had not been the beauty of the lake that had initially attracted many of the settlers from Vermont and upstate New York to Geneva; it had been the lake’s outlet, the White River, that had drawn them. In the days before electricity and the extensive use of steam power, the lake’s outlet, by virtue of its falling water, generated power — power to grind grain and saw logs into lumber.
The grain mill erected at the lake’s outlet, where the Geneva Lake Museum is located today, ground wheat grain into flour — grain grown by farmers living within a 30-mile radius of Geneva.
Wealthy Chicagoans’ “discovery” of the beauty of Geneva Lake during the half-decade that followed the Civil War would transform the village of Geneva, as some observers have said, into a feudal, medieval village whose inhabitants served the needs of the wealthy Chicagoans who had built stately summer homes on the shores of Geneva Lake. Carpenters, masons and other tradesmen moved to Geneva to build the lakeshore summer homes of the wealthy Chicagoans. Other residents served them as cooks, nannies, maids, gardeners and coachmen.
The wealthy Chicagoans, constituting the vanguard of a post-Civil War “nouveau bourgeoisie,” were anxious to emulate their eastern counterparts who had built massive summer homes on the oceanfront in places like Newport, R.I. Geneva Lake, and especially its pristine northern and eastern shores, seemed to them to ideally replicate Newport.
An examination of the 1870 census listing the residents of Geneva and their occupations illustrates the transformation of Geneva. A very large number of carpenters, masons, laborers and servants are listed, most of whom had not been born in either Vermont or upstate New York. Geneva had indeed been transformed by the economic consequences of the Civil War.
Not only had the composition of the village’s population changed dramatically, but the village was effectively transformed into two villages, not geographically, but seasonally.
During the summers, which roughly stretched from early May until mid- to late October, there was plenty of work available for residents of Geneva, but during the late fall, winter and early spring, Geneva reverted to its status as a small, midwestern village that served as an economic center for surrounding farmers. In 1871, however, two events occurred that would even further accelerate the village’s transformation. The first was the resumption of rail service from Geneva to Chicago.
The railroad from Chicago had first reached Geneva in 1856, but had been discontinued in 1860 because of bad track. The railroad served as the umbilical cord tying Geneva to Chicago and firmly placed Geneva within Chicago’s economic, social and cultural sphere of influence for the ensuing century.
The second event occurred on Oct. 8, 1871 — the great Chicago fire, which destroyed most of Chicago’s central business district and near north side. The devastation caused by the Chicago fire induced many more wealthy Chicagoans to build summer homes on the shores of Geneva Lake.
The reopening of the railroad in 1871 allowed them to travel to Geneva quickly and easily, many of them in their luxurious personal Pullman rail cars. The stage was set for the growth of the village of Geneva that would occur during the last three decades of the 19th century — a growth that will be addressed in Part II of this article which will appear in a subsequent issue of the Regional News.

Patrick Quinn is a Lake Geneva native who is University Archivist Emeritus at Northwestern University.

Historical group 'adamantly' opposed to demolishing home
January 23, 2014

Dear Mayor Connors and council members,
The Lake Geneva Historic Preservation Commission wishes to go on record as being adamantly opposed to the city of Lake Geneva’s recent proposal to purchase four homes on the north side of the 800 block of Wisconsin Street, demolish the homes and build a parking structure on the site.
First, the four homes are contributing structures within the Maple Park National and State Historic District that was officially established on June 17, 2005. One of the houses in particular (817 Wisconsin St.) is acknowledged as being a historically significant 19th century architectural gem. To demolish these houses would constitute an egregious assault on Lake Geneva’s historic homes.
Secondly, there are a number of other more suitable sites upon which to build a parking structure. The firm that analyzed Lake Geneva’s parking needs recommended that the city build a parking structure on the present surface parking lot immediately west of the Geneva Theater. A parking structure in that location would be much closer to the city’s downtown businesses and the lakefront than the proposed site in the 800 block of Wisconsin Street and property is already owned by the city.
In addition, it would be only one block from Central-Denison School and could therefore provide parking space for the teachers. Another suitable site for a parking structure would be the present surface parking lot immediately south of Eastview School. The city and/or the school district own the land and would not have to purchase any houses or property as it would have to do with the 800 Wisconsin St. site.
One of the great attractions of Lake Geneva is that it is an historic city. The Maple Park National and State Historic District encompasses a wealth of architecturally significant homes and architectural styles that are emblematic of Lake Geneva’s 19th century history and development.
To diminish the historic significance of the Maple Park National and State Historic District by demolishing four houses in that district to build a parking structure would be a historical and architectural travesty of the first magnitude.
Accordingly, the Lake Geneva Historic Preservation Commission respectfully requests that the city of Lake Geneva remove the option of demolishing four historic homes in the 800 block of Wisconsin Street from consideration as a potential site of a new municipal parking structure.
Thank you for your consideration.


Kenneth L. Etten, AIA,
chairman Lake Geneva
Historic Preservation
Ellyn Kehoe, Patrick Quinn, Louise Rayppy, Mary Tanner, Dee Bark Fiske, Jackie Getzen,
commission members

‘Contrarian’ paints historic picture of local preservation
January 23, 2014

It’s a new year. The traditional holidays with the joy of family fellowship laced with love, laughter, storytelling and even occasional tears, is behind us.
It seems like a proper time for a contrarian report and evaluation of the past year. But first a little background information...
Our beloved and perceptive editor by recognizing and naming our group has improved our status within our community. That is appreciated.

Tax season may be less taxing this year
January 16, 2014

It’s that time of year again – tax season. Depending on the situation, people either eagerly anticipate a healthy refund, or bemoan the need to pay more taxes. For years, tax time was a headache for many, but with its on-line filing program, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) has made tax season a lot easier.
Beginning Jan. 13, Wisconsin residents can start filing their taxes online with the Wisconsin e-file system, while electronic filing for federal tax returns begins Jan. 31.
E-file is a quick, accurate, and safe way for residents to submit their state tax returns, and all information submitted is completely confidential. E-file even offers fill-in tax forms that do the math based on the information filled in each line to help users calculate their tax return and to prevent any errors. The best part is that this service is totally free!
When you e-file, the DOR will send you a message to confirm that your return has been received and is being processed. Typical processing times are about one week for e-filed returns, while paper returns may take up to twelve weeks.
If you are due a refund, you will receive it faster by e-filing, and many receive a refund in their bank accounts within a few days when they use direct deposit.
For more information on Wisconsin’s e-file system, or to access the program, visit the DOR Web site at http://www.revenue.wi.gov/.
If you wish to check the status of your refund, there’s now an app for that. The DOR free mobile app is available for both Apple and Android devices, which may be downloaded in the Apple and Google Play stores. The app allows individuals to check on their tax refund status, look up estimated payments, and obtain information on free tax assistance.
For those in need of help with their taxes, Wisconsin has two free programs – the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly/Tax-Aide (TCE) program. These programs help seniors, lower-income taxpayers, veterans and military personnel with free tax preparation services at more than 200 sites across the state.
The VITA Program provides free tax service to those earning $50,000 or less and who need assistance preparing their tax returns. The TCE Program offers free tax help for everyone, with priority assistance to people who are 60 years of age or older, and specializes in questions about pensions and retirement issues unique to seniors.
More than 60,000 people received help during the last tax season, and more information is available at http://www.revenue.wi.gov/vita/index.html.
DOR is also looking for volunteers for the VITA and TCE programs. Volunteering is a great way to make a difference in your community, and may be especially appealing to those with a background in accounting, finance, or economics.
Volunteers receive federal and state tax law training, which usually takes place in January and February. For information about volunteering with the VITA or TCE programs, call 608-266-2772.
While taxes are never enjoyable, they fund many important areas, including public education, medical assistance, corrections, local assistance, and the University of Wisconsin System. For this tax season, taxpayers should hopefully have something to smile about with the tax reductions enacted in 2013.
The state budget includes nearly $1 billion in tax relief, including an income tax cut of more than $650 million, one of the largest tax cuts in state history. As a result, most state income taxpayers will receive an income tax reduction, reflected in their tax returns for both this year and next year. That is a good start, but we can and should do more to make each and every tax season less taxing.

Senator Kedzie can be reached in Madison at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882 or by calling toll-free 1 (800) 578-1457. He may be reached in the district at (262) 742-2025 or online at www.senatorkedzie.com

An artist of life
January 16, 2014

Editor’s note: The following is a slightly edited eulogy by Sal Dimiceli presented at the funeral of Edwin Meltzer, who died the day after Christmas. I hadn’t known of Ed. But at the funeral luncheon afterward, story after story was told about this eccentric character, with a barn full of paintings and a life full of experiences.
— John Halverson, editor

Dear friends,
A good friend, Edwin C. Meltzer, recently passed away. Ed has been a cancer survivor for the last few years and his cancer was in remission.
I met Ed in the year 2000 when I was developing Trinity Mt. Estates off of Krueger Road across from Hawks View Golf Course.
While developing Trinity Mt Estate I often saw a man with long white hair in a ponytail leaning on the fence line, watching us work for hours. He looked like a pirate from an Errol Flynn movie. Several days would go by without seeing him and then he would reappear.
One day, a woman drove her car over to where we were working and introduced herself. She said she knew me from The Time Is Now To Help.
She said, “I know you help the poverty stricken elderly. How about those that are lonely?”
I asked, “What do you mean?”
She said, “Have you noticed the gentleman watching?”
I said, as I looked off into the distance, “That gentleman?”
She said, “Yes, that’s Ed Meltzer.”
I said, “I have noticed him watching us on and off for hours for the last several months.”
She replied, “He doesn’t have a lot of friends. He’s never been married and does not have any children. Would you mind visiting with him? I told him all about your charity work.”
I said, “Sure, if he would like to meet, I will take him out to lunch or dinner. I don’t want to see anybody lonely.”
She smiled, gave me a hug, and said, “Great! Thank you. I will let Ed know. What time can you come by?”
I told her I could take him to dinner at 6:30. She got in her car and happily drove off. I looked off in the distance to see if Ed was watching us talking, but he was not.
Later when I went to pick Ed up, I noticed that Ed was standing at the edge of his driveway right on Krueger Rd.
I put down the passenger window and said, “Ed?” and he said, “You must be Sal!” I said, “Yes, I guess we are going out to dinner.”
He said, “Thank you!” and jumped right in the passenger side.

I quickly found out Ed was not a very shy person. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t have a lot of friends. Later, I found out Ed was very cautious. He started to tell me how he heard all about my charity work. He was very curious about the charity work I did. It turned out that the lady who came to visit me regarding Ed had been talking to him about The Time Is Now a lot.
We went out to dinner that evening, a Thursday night. Well, the next Thursday I was driving down Krueger Rd. at about 7 p.m. I noticed Ed was standing at the end of his driveway again.
As I stopped to say hello, he opened the door and hopped in and said, “Hi.”
As I looked at him, he said “I have a special place in mind for dinner tonight.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I knew nothing of us going to dinner and we had no plans.
Ed was like a human GPS. He would direct, and I would drive. We went to some absolute great places to eat. If you knew Ed you knew he loved a good meal out. Sometimes we would drive for an hour and a half to go to a special hidden place.
This went on for several months, every Thursday, even though we didn’t make any plans the previous Thursday. I would drive by just to make sure that this charismatic, outspoken, eccentric, different … there are no words that can really characterize Ed, was not standing alone on Krueger Road. There he was every Thursday waiting to get in my car and go to dinner.
We genuinely had a great time and enjoyed each other’s company. Other than those Thursdays, between my businesses and charity, my life was consumed with work seven days a week. My wife and family, understanding and supporting my long days and long hours, knew I needed my time off with my good friend Ed Meltzer. That is the story about how I met Ed and how our friendship grew over many years.
During that time I discovered that Ed was a talented artist. He also had been a farmer, a dairy farmer, owned Mt. Fuji Ski Hill, Yosemite Sam’s restaurant, and even promoted many rock concerts on what would one day become Hawks View Golf Course.
One day Ed emptied out his dairy barn, and gathered together his paintings to display in his barn. I have to admit this was my idea because everywhere I turned Ed had his paintings stacked up.
He never really did anything with them other than his own self-satisfaction. Ed just wanted to express himself on how he felt through his art. I even did a video interview with Ed on his thoughts of his paintings. It was very interesting. I could see his passion for his art was deep and gave him great self-satisfaction of expression.
I encouraged Ed to put them together into a collection. After he cleaned out his dairy barn, he put up a display, covering all the walls and ceiling! Ed had accumulated over a thousand paintings.
I showed a friend of mine who was the master curator and director of an art museum Ed’s Art collection. He liked Ed’s abstract art in particular.
Anybody that knew Ed, knew he was hard of hearing, and no matter where he was he talked very loud. Quite often he was asking, “What?” So you have to repeat yourself even louder. Whenever Ed had a thought or something to say, just like his brush strokes on a canvas, he would let them out. He often did not filter what he said and many of his thoughts were very comical, witty and entertaining.
His parents had passed away years ago, and as time went by, his two brothers and one sister passed away, none of which ever had children. Ed was alone. A few years ago, after a long cultivating relationship, Ed asked if I would mind being his trustee/executor if something ever happened to him. I looked at him with tears in my eyes and said, “Nothing is going to happen to you. Forget about it, you will be fine.”
He persisted over the next several months.
Finally, one day while sitting in his kitchen, Ed looked at me and asked me again with tears in his eyes.
Ed said, “My good friend Charlie Moelter agrees with me. With your heart for The Time Is Now To Help, who else can I trust? Please, Sal, I need your help.” With that, he hugged me. I hugged him back.
I agreed, but told him under one condition. I told him, “God forbid something happens 20-30 years from now, and God willing if I am still alive, then it has to go to The Time Is Now and the Edwin Meltzer Art Foundation.” Ed smiled and said, “Yes!”
After that I was helping organize Ed’s art as we archived a couple hundred of his abstract paintings into books, as the old art masters did. I talked to different people about Ed’s art. They would ask me if Ed was still alive. I asked them what they meant.
Later I found out that for many famous artists it did not happen for them until after death. I did not want anything to do with after death. I am a very optimistic person and told Ed repeatedly that we were going to do this while he was alive.
Sadly, my good friend passed away prior to any real notoriety.
One day Ed handed me this little card that read: What a mason is: “A Mason is a man that is dedicated to devoting his time and effort to make a positive contribution to his family and community. He is interested in improving himself through fellowship with men of like character and beliefs. The willingness to uphold these ideals … makes a man a Mason.”
That’s where Ed’s heart was. Ed said, “You know what Sal, if you know it or not, your heart carries the same way. You put your heart into action. If in fact anything happens to me, I want to help The Time Is Now and help the poverty stricken like I have witnessed you do, and I want to give scholarships for those that are in high school and college to further their art career.”
Ed told me how there are many scholarships available for those pursuing business, etc. but those pursuing art need help.
Ed’s funeral was a little unusual, but this is how Ed lived and how his spirit will be remembered.
I love you my dear friend, Ed. I will make you proud, as together we realize the hopes and dreams for many.
Love, and God Bless you my friend,

Kids are quotable for all the wrong reasons
January 09, 2014

A year or two ago, when the University of Wisconsin returned to the Rose Bowl for a repeat performance, a news conference was held the day before the rematch with some of the team’s athletes. They were asked several questions, most of which were directed toward the fact that only the year before, UW had been beaten. Most of the members of the press were curious to know how this year’s players felt about that, especially since they now had a “second chance” to redeem themselves, as well as the reputation of the UW football program.
During the ensuing interview period, this general question was put to each of the three athletes at the press table. It should be remembered that all the players present were seniors, who had attended a Big Ten university for four years. The answer that made the deepest impression was that from the player seated to the far left of the others. When he was asked, “What is the mood of your teammates going into tomorrow’s game, knowing that you lost when you were here last year?” the aspiring young athlete smiled broadly and blurted out: “It has gave us pump and juice.”
One would have hoped for a slightly more articulate answer, but this was the only one the questioner was going to get. “Have you ever seen the inside of a classroom?” might have been a logical follow-up interrogatory.
In that same year, UW-Whitewater won its second consecutive Division III NCAA football championship. Understandably, the players were ecstatic about this achievement. One of the starters on the team was a lineman from Kenosha. And the Kenosha News was quick to interview him and get his reaction to the Warhawk’s victory. Again it is important to keep in mind that this young man was a senior, just having completed what he described as a degree program in “occupational safety.” One of the questions put to him was this: “Now that the season is over and you are scheduled to graduate in the spring, what are your plans for the future.” He answered that he did not think he was ever going to play competitive football again, but that he wanted to find some way to stay close to the game he loved so much. “Because football is very fun.” No doubt. It would seem that is was a good deal more interesting than any of his “course work.”
Dr. Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta, studied this phenomena of university students and their failure to express themselves, either verbally or in writing.
He wrote a book about his findings, entitled “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans.” He concluded that “The digital age has changed the way kids learn, but at the expense of literacy and cultural awareness.”
Dr. Don Campbell is a fellow colleague at Emory and teaches journalism. He has his own experience to offer. Each year Dr. Campbell asks his students several questions, just to get a bit of insight into who they are and what their interests might be. Most startling was the frequent admission that almost none of them read books and that “most have a knowledge of history that extends no further into the past than perhaps their years in junior high school.”
This may not be as surprising as it first appears. In an article published in the Chicago Tribune, it was reported that a Kaiser Family Foundation study had found that those in the 8- to 18-year-old age group “listen to music, play video games and use the computer for fun shopping seven hours and 38 minutes a day, on average — more if they use more than one medium at a time ...” On average!
In order to summarize this sad state of affairs, listen to one particularly telling response gleaned from a recent Pew Research survey. The answer is from a young lady who was asked this question: “Why does social networking hold such an attraction for you?”
“It sounds stupid and everything but like once you like get into it it’s really like addicting —just like everything. Like you have your song and like you write like all this stuff about yourself and like all my friends basically have it. So like we always like read each other’s pages and like call each other and like kind of, and like you put like 300 pictures up so ... people’s pictures and stuff and comments.”
When the last emperor of china, Pu Yi, questioned his English tutor about just why he had to work so hard learning language and communication, he received this answer: “If you cannot say what you mean, Majesty, you cannot mean what you say.

Last two months worst for charity
January 02, 2014

As we begin another New Year together, we have much to be thankful for. “You” our loyal supporters, the many businesses and corporations that provide support to our organization and a special thank you to our donors that provide our matching grant inspiration throughout the year.
Just this week we have been notified by Fox Charities that they would like to start out 2014 with a $25,000 Matching Grant to help inspire our donors through the lean months of winter. They are aware of the great need for our kind of hands on charity work to alleviate the pains and suffering of the poverty stricken. Fox Charities knows that the great need for this assistance is year round.
January and February are our slowest months for donations. The winter months are the hardest months for our fellow creations due to high utility expenses, car repairs, illness and the much higher risks of homelessness during the dangerously cold months.
Your utilities will not be disconnected during winter but come April 15 you had better have your bill up to date or you then risk disconnection. The need for car repairs, tires and transportation assistance is year round, but much higher in the winter months. It would be dangerous to ride your bike or walk to work in some of the extreme winter weather we often have.
Some of our recent recipients have been through some very tough times. We continue to see our fellow creations suffer with disabilities, health care crisis’s and job loss.

We will continue to bring assistance to the senior citizens, handicapped, single mothers with children and working poor families pleading for our help.
We cannot thank Fox Charities enough for their continued generous support. We will show our gratitude by working hard to alleviate the suffering of our fellow Americans. It is not an easy road. It does not always have simple solutions. It often entails hard work and tears.
But we are not afraid to take on the responsibility we feel to Fox Charities, you, our donors, and all the good people turning to us for a helping hand.
This past week saw assistance brought to a nearly homeless mother with two children. Loss of child support and a reduction in hours at work caused the financial shortfall. They are now moved into a more affordable rental and given a financial buffer to carry them through this trying time. We then helped a working poor family struggling between jobs. The mother suffered a serious illness and one of the children struggles with disabilities.
They are now caught up on rent and can manage with the father’s new job. A widowed father with young children was given some help from volunteers and some help with food and rent, along with clothing and a few toys for the children. A senior citizen was provided with a much needed car to allow her to help other seniors with their transportation needs.
As we all make our resolutions to improve something in our lives this coming New Year let’s keep in mind the many in need of the most basic daily necessities. Your resolution may be to lose weight, while a poverty stricken families may be to provide much needed food for their children. When you skip your daily coffee drink or fast food snack, consider putting that money aside for those less fortunate.
You will be amazed how quickly it adds up and how good you feel in the process of making a difference. When your goal is to get more exercise maybe consider volunteering your time at the local animal shelter walking our homeless animal friends that have so much unconditional love to share, or helping to unload food deliveries at the food pantry.
Many will benefit from your exercise goals. We receive many comments from people that the only level of involvement they can have is making a monetary donation. Every organization is in great need of monetary donations. It is what keeps our doors open and our assistance possible. We could not do our work if you were not there supporting us every step of the way. Feel proud of what we have achieved together this past year. Feel inspired to do even more good throughout our communities in the coming year. We thank God and all of you for helping us feel that motivation and energy to continue on our good works in 2014.
Together we will continue to remove the many pains of poverty including, hunger, loneliness, fear and homelessness. Together we provide hope, compassion, care, shelter, food ... all the necessities of daily life, through our caring and sharing. God bless all of you for helping. We wish all of you a very Happy New Year.

Health and happiness,
God bless everyone,

Dealing with school security fears
January 02, 2014

Last year my school district experienced two weapons threats. In one, we moved to a lock-down. Classes cease. Students assume a position of safety along an interior wall. Teachers turn off the lights, close and lock the door and wait with students. Minutes tick by. Students sit on the floor, in the dark, willing themselves not to make a sound. Fear hangs thickly in the room. It is not a pleasant experience.
Schools are experiencing violence in ways previously unforeseen. During my first year of teaching, I was asked to announce to my high school class that a school district, not far from my own, had suffered a tragic shooting. In my first three years of teaching, 1997 to 1999, there were 19 school shootings.
Education is different now. While I cannot pretend to be an authority on individual rights or on causes of school violence, I can bring forth some considerations for parents and community members.
First, be considerate. Student safety is a significant concern for school employees. There are security procedures at all schools. Be aware of what the security procedures are and follow them. Do not arrive at the school in a crisis, demanding a sudden change in policy and procedure. When using a school building, follow their procedures without question. If you have a question, bring it up in a scheduled meeting with a building representative. Consider your children’s feelings.
Perhaps someday we will have a clear picture of how this violence is affecting our children. In the meantime, know that fear is a real companion to many students. Imagine attending school each day wondering if today is the day the bomb threat is real. Allow children to express their fears and discuss with them how to handle those fears.
Finally, be involved. There is much that can be done by participating in school activities, clubs, sports and events. By enlarging the school community with caring, responsible adults, we can better watch over our students and watch for any potential dangers.
Bad things happen. School is not always a safe place to be. However, communication with the school, community involvement and consideration of creating a physically safe environment can go a long way to creating a more secure educational experience.
Call is a Big Foot High School teacher.

January 02, 2014

Mabida was the term of endearment used by the devoted followers of Nelson Mandela. It was their way of identifying more intimately with their revered leader.
Nelson Mandela was a great source of light in a world filled with darkness. His courage and humanity gave us all hope. His was the triumph of the individual spirit over and against incredible odds.
It is wise to listen to the heart and soul of the man as he struggled to free his people from apartheid and his adversaries from their entrapment by violence and retribution. He sought and achieved what Lincoln strove for at the conclusion of the Civil War. “Justice for all, malice toward none.”
In the face of everything that he was confronted by, here is Nelson Mandela’s response, and what the world will long remember about his victory over the horrors of racial enslavement.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
“A fundamental concern for others ... would go a long way in making the world a better place we so passionately dreamt of.”
“Difficulties break some men but make others.”
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
“Do not judge me by my success. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got up again.”
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
This moment is in stark contrast with an article written about President Obama in New York magazine, entitled “Who Is Barack Obama ... and why do people say such loopy, ugly things about him?”

The article was written by Philip Weiss.
Whenever it appears that we, as a nation, have gotten past some of our worst tendencies, it all seems to come back yet again. Perhaps even more virulent and troubling than before.
Take another look at Nelson Mandela’s thoughts and think once again about how the world praised his memory; recognizing his valiant fight against the desolate trinity of prejudice — fear, ignorance and hate. Compare it all with the following outrage of some Americans against their president.
The same president who could not begin his eulogy for Nelson Mandela because of the sustained acclimation of South Africans in their complete admiration for him; rising to their feet by the thousands and tens of thousands, for several minutes. Clapping, shouting, literally jumping in the joy of the moment.
Now take a good, long look at the labels and banners, T-shirts, placards and even the body markings brandished in protest by Obama’s fellow countrymen.
“Don’t blame me, I voted for the American.”
“Obama sucks.”
“F... Obama”
“Obama — Satan’s Advocate, Destroyer, Deceiver.”
“Impeach the Muslim Marxist”
“I’ll keep my guns, freedom and money. You can keep the change.”
“You lie, you lie, you lie”
“Parasite in Chief”
“Lyin’ African”
“Nazi — Hitler”
The virulent opposition of right wing extremists is medieval to say the least. Who could have guessed that the horror and evils of apartheid might be preserved in the fanaticism of some of our own citizens. How is such a thing possible?
While Nelson Mandela left us a legacy of how the human spirit can triumph over incredible terror and adversity, he also taught us how much is still left undone. And that we dare not relax our vigilance.

Literacy culled from real life
December 26, 2013

Who is Andy Gump? If you have ever been to Flatiron Park in Lake Geneva, you have seen the statue of Andy Gump. He was a celebrated comic strip character. What is a comic strip? Is this a ridiculous question?
How would you explain a comic strip to someone who had never seen one? We gain impressions of the world through the things that we see, touch, hear and experience. If you have never seen a comic strip, how can you possibly understand what it is?
Recently my school district has undertaken to improve literacy among our student body. Literacy is more than just reading words from a page. It is understanding the context in which the words are set, the purpose for which the words were written, the audience for whom the words were written and the impact the author expects the words to have. Literacy is a large concept. It cannot be taught in one class but must be approached again and again in all classes and in different ways.
Surprisingly one of the best literacy supports does not come from a text. It comes from real life experience. Children need to have knowledge that is based on learning they have had outside of the classroom. For example, a favorite children’s book is the “Polar Bear Express,” a book about a magical train. Imagine how much more “real” the book is to a child who has been on a train.
Introducing children, especially at an early age, to nature, to children’s museums, to special events helps those children create a database of knowledge that can be used later to understand written materials. The more references they have, the more they understand. The more they understand, the more successful they feel as readers. The more successful they are as readers, the stronger they are as students. Should I just say that taking your child to the circus guarantees a Harvard scholarship? Perhaps I should not.
There is a lot, though, that can be done to support literacy. What experiences do you offer for your own children? If children are not present in your home, what experiences could your employer or social group offer for children to “experience” something new? If nothing else, I now know that when I take my 2-year-old to the park, it is not all fun and games. I’m really teaching him to read.

Call is a teacher at Big Foot High School.

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