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South Lake Shore work wrapping up

June 30, 2016


Motorists using South Lake Shore Drive will have to be patient for just a while longer.
The two and a half month project to replace the century-old water main along South Lake Shore wrapped up last week,
But starting this past Monday, the road is being resurfaced from Sue Ann Drive to South Street as part of the city’s regular street maintenance program, said Public Works Director Dan Winkler.
That work should be done by the end of the week, he said.
Also wrapping up is the installation of the riprap along the shore of Big Foot Beach State Park by Humphrey’s Contracting, Lake Geneva.
Winkler said the road maintenance work is being done by Payne & Dolan, Franklin, for about $100,000.
Maintenance work calls for milling the edges and resurfacing the entire road width.
The road remains open, but flagmen will be directing traffic as work closes one lane at a time.
The water main replacement was done under the Lake Geneva Utility Commission. Willkomm Excavating, Union Grove, did the work at a cost of about $450,000, said Winkler, who is also the city utility director.
The new water main replaces an old main that was about 100 years old, Winkler said. In a memo, Winkler said the contractor had difficulty switching over water services and hydrants from the old 100-year-old water main to the new water main.
The new main is larger and will provide better water volume and more consistent pressure for general use and fighting fires, Winkler said.
Because water mains last as much as 100 years, residents along South Lake Shore shouldn’t have to worry about another main replacement project in their lifetimes, Winkler said.
The riprap, large boulders and stones, that Humphrey’s is installing along the Geneva Lake side of South Lake Shore is intended to halt erosion of the South Lake Shore Road through wave action off the lake. Humphrey’s submitted the low bid of $242,834 for the project.

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Agape House wins Restaurant Week charity check

June 30, 2016
Restaurant Week, June 3 to 12, was a big event for 25 Lake Geneva restaurants. And it turned out to be an exceptionally good week for Agape House in Walworth. Diners during Restaurant Week were given ballots to vote for one of five area charities and nonprofits to receive a $5,000 donation from Lake Geneva Country Meats. Agape House, a ministry that works with girls, young women and families to overcome the effects of abuse, addiction and the pains of their past, took the most votes. The check presentation by Nick Vorpagel of Country Meats was made June 23 during the Restaurant Week Wrap Up at The Ridge Hotel, W4249 State Highway 50, town of Geneva. "The coolest thing I did this year was visit each of (the) charities," Vorpagel said. And he said the experience was humbling. Agape House cares for young women, he recounted. Open Arms provides free health care, The Time Is Now helps people get through financial crises, SMILES uses horses to help people with special needs and the Geneva Lake Museum preserves history. "I just give people bratwurst," said Vorpagel. Vorpagel said the top three vote-getters were SMILES with 511 votes; Open Arms came in second with 634 votes. Agape House won with 691 votes. Pam Patterson, Agape House founder and executive director, could not be at the event. Her daughter, Sophia Erzumiah was there to accept the donation. Erzumiah said later that the money will go to pay the salaries of the six or seven staff members at the house. This time of year, donations are at a low point, she said. "This donation will certainly help," she said. The wrap up party was sponsored by VISIT Lake Geneva, which is also the Geneva Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau. The wrap up was for restaurants and others that participated in Restaurant Week and sponsors of the event. The Lake Geneva Regional News was one of the sponsors. Darien Schaefer, president and chief executive officer of VISIT Lake Geneva, said the purpose of the Restaurant Week is simple. "It's to bring people into the area," he said. This was the second year for Restaurant Week. Schaefer credited Nan Elder, VISIT's special events coordinator, for making this year's event happen. Elder said restaurants have an important role in making the Geneva Lake area a tourist destination. "You're about making special moments for people," Elder said Elder said nearly 2,500 restaurant customers filled out ballots to select the winning charity. The five leading restaurants in ballot collection were: " Hunt Club Steakhouse, 555 Hunt Club Court, Lake Geneva. " Ristorante Brissago at the Grand Geneva Resort. " Next Door Pub, 411 Interchange North, Lake Geneva. " Frontier Restaurant, Lake Lawn Resort. " The Original Chicago Pizza, 150 Center St., Lake Geneva. The ballots also acted as a mini-survey that allowed VISIT Lake Geneva to get a profile of the guests who visited during Restaurant Week. " Diners came from 29 different states. Wisconsin residents made up 56 percent of the visitors. Illinois contributed another 36 percent. " Of the Wisconsin guests, 45 percent were from the Geneva Lake area and 55 percent were visitors. " Of the visitors, 37 percent stayed over night. Of all respondents, 81 percent said they would come to Restaurant Week 2017. Among those receiving special recognition was Beth Tumas, owner of The Bottle Shop, 617 W. Main St., Lake Geneva, for creating a server incentive program for Restaurant Week. Tumas said the servers are the ambassadors for the restaurants and the program got them engaged in the Restaurant Week activities. Tumas said 54 prizes and rewards were donated by area businesses to reward servers and waiters at the 25 Restaurant Week locations. The waiters and servers signed the ballots that were turned in for the charity donation, Tumas said. Ballots were then selected at random and the selected servers received prizes and gifts that ranged from Summer Fest tickets, to bottles of wine to horseshoe sets and Jose Cuervo beach umbrellas. Almost every restaurant had at least one server who won something, Tumas said. This year VISIT Lake Geneva received a $35,000 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant from the state Department of Tourism to help market Restaurant Week. Schaefer said the event has one more year of JEM grant eligibility.

Lifeguard pulls man from lake

June 30, 2016
A 28-year-old Illinois man was saved from drowning by a life guard at the Riviera Beach, Lake Geneva, on Saturday. Ted Pankau, director of the Geneva Lake Water Safety Patrol, said Jimmy Corpus, 19, a Safety Patrol lifeguard assigned to Riviera Beach saw the man go under in seven feet of water at the end of the swimming pier at about 12:55 p.m. Corpus swam out to the victim and had to dive to bring him back up, Pankau said. The victim was unconscious when he was first brought to the surface, but regained some of his senses as he was pulled to shore. He was treated on land by EMTs, Pankau said. Pankau commended Corpus for his quick thinking and actions. Corpus is a three year veteran with the Water Safety Patrol. He also works part-time on the Water Safety Patrol Boat, Pankau said. A Badger High School graduate, he was on the Badger swim team. Pankau said that without Corpus' quick actions, the swimmer likely would have drowned. Due to the warm and humid weather, Riviera Beach was extremely busy that Saturday. "Saturday was a zoo," Pankau said. Pankau commended Corpus for his quick thinking and actions. Corpus is a three year veteran with the Water Safety Patrol. He also works part-time on the Water Safety Patrol Boat, Pankau said. A Badger High School graduate, he was on the Badger swim team. Pankau said that without Corpus' quick actions, the swimmer likely would have drowned. Due to the warm and humid weather, Riviera Beach was extremely busy that Saturday. "Saturday was a zoo," Pankau said.
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Crew tears down home on Broad

June 30, 2016
The small carriage house behind 726 Wisconsin St. is now gone. The building, a converted garage that once housed an office and two one-bedroom apartments, was taken down this week to create a clean site at 323 Broad St., the site of the former Traver Hotel. The work was done by Geneva Earth Works, Lake Geneva. In March, the plan commission recommended and the city council approved separating a 60-by-94-foot section of the property at 726 Wisconsin St. and reattaching it to 323 Broad St. to make the Broad Street property more attractive to buyers. The move doubled the depth of the former hotel property from 60 to 120 feet. In a second move, the city council approved rezoning the new section of 323 Broad from general business to downtown business to match that of the section of the lot that faces Broad. The Lake Geneva Economic Development Corp., a quasi private and government organization, owns the properties at 323 Broad and 726 Wisconsin. The house at 726 Wisconsin, which houses an office and two upstairs apartments, will be spared and sold separately from the lot at 323 Broad, according to past statements by Andy Dammeir, LGEDC director. Dammeir could not be reached for comment before the Regional News deadline The development corporation also owns the city's two industrial parks....subscribers>>
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Local lake groups join state shoreland initiative

June 30, 2016
The Geneva Lake Association and the Geneva Lake Environmental Agency are supporting a new group that wants to rollback recent state legislation governing shoreland zoning. The changes came about through an amendment to the state budget act for 2016-17. In it, legislators essentially ended most local controls over shoreland development. In fall 2015, the Wisconsin Shoreland Initiative was created. The initiative now has 70 lake associations as members. Jack Goggins, president of the GLA, said the association board voted to join the initiative in early 2016. He said that before the association decided to join, board members met with WSI founder A. John Richter and the initiative's attorney and lobbyists. One of the lobbyists, Mary Panzer, served in the state Assembly and was the Republican majority leader in the state Senate. Richter, now retired, is a former mortgage banker, owner of Richter-Schroeder Co. and later a vice president and president of the former M&I Bank. He retired in 2009. In an email to the Regional News, Richter said he was also involved in environmental work and issues. He lives in Sayner. "We do everything we can to protect the lake and quality of lake living," Goggin said of the GLA. He said the association joined the WSI to "let the Legislature know that we support bringing back what was there before." The GLA also awarded the WSI a $4,000 grant, Goggin said. He said the GLA awards grants to Kishwauketoe, the Water Safety Patrol and the Geneva Lake Education Association as well. He said $4,000 is the largest grant amount the association makes. Goggin said the GLA decided to join the WSI "because of the worries we have on the quality of lake frontage." He said association members are concerned about construction now allowed within what was once setback from the lake. He noted that since the new legislation was enacted, a three-story house went up on the lakefront and a concrete boathouse was built right on shore. "In the past, that would not be allowed," Goggin said. In the past, local shoreland zoning along Geneva Lake was controlled by the county zoning agency outside the municipalities. The new laws now put the state DNR in control of zoning. Goggin questioned whether the department has the staffing necessary to carry out that task. The DNR has been eviscerated over the past eight years, losing manpower and research scientists, he said. "Now they're in charge of zoning." Goggin said the new shoreland regulations were a last-minute addition to the state budget bill, and were included in the bill without hearings and with little notice. Budget bills in the past were intended to set state spending plans, Goggin said. "Now they're social engineering packages," he said. During its June 16 meeting, Ted Peters, director of the Geneva Lake Environmental Agency brought the WSI up to the GLEA board. "Because there have been so many changes, there is concern about the impact (the legislation is having) on our lakes," Peters said. "We have no local zoning anymore. During the 10 years previous, the state and counties had been cooperating in categorizing Wisconsin's lakes and developing zoning specifically for each body of water. Peters said some standards set by local shoreland controls were wiped away by the new legislation. For example, lighting along the shoreline can no longer be controlled, and nonconforming structures no longer have to be brought up to code when they are repaired, restored or rebuilt. The GLEA board voted 4-0 to have the agency support the WSI with information. The board decided to hold off on financial support for now. According to its website, the Wisconsin Shoreland Initiative was formed by lake associations in the fall of 2015. The initiative's goal is to build a coalition to support repeal of the shoreland legislation passed in the last session or to offer remedial legislation that returns control of state shorelands to local and county governments and to renew and expand the state lake classification system as the foundation of shoreland zoning....subscribers>>
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City Council OKs new face for Geneva Theater

June 30, 2016
Draper said Branen brought a sample bulb to the plan commission meeting. Although it looks like an old-fashioned Edison bulb, the lights are actually modern LED lights, Draper said. He said they can be adjusted to meet city lighting requirements. No neon lighting is proposed for the theater. In March, the city council approved a developer's agreement with Branen for the renovation of the Geneva Theater. Under the agreement, $895,000 in city Tax Increment Finance district funds were set aside to assist in the renovation. That money is now in an escrow account and is being drawn down as the project proceeds. Branen's proposal calls for the renovated four-plex to have seating for about 500. Under the developer's agreement, Branen must complete renovating the theater by Dec. 31, or face fines of $100 per day, to come out of the TIF grant. Branen, who was at the meeting, said work is progressing well. When asked whether the project will meet its deadline, Branen would only say that the work appears to be ahead of schedule. Also under the developer's agreement: • Branen must own the property for at least 10 years and operate the theater as a for-profit entertainment center open to the general public. Forgiveness of the grant phases in during those 10 years. • If the theater closes or ceases operation during those 10 years, Branen would owe the unforgiven portion of the grant to the city. • Branen is committed to spending no less than $1.36 million on renovating the building, which does not include the sale price of the property. If at least $1.36 million isn't spent on the renovations, a dollar for dollar reduction will be made in the TIF grant. • Landscaping and exterior improvements to the property must be completed by no later than six months after the theater receives its occupancy permit. Branen has already renovated one old, historic showhouse, the Plaza Theater in downtown Burlington. Over the past five years, Branen has renovated and restored the theater, turning it into as much of a conference, community and special events center as a movie house. The theater now shows free movies during holidays and school breaks, hosts performances by high school choirs and local bands, shows free Green Bay Packer games and the Super Bowl on the big screen. Branen said a revitalized Geneva Theater could tailor special events to Lake Geneva....subscribers>>

Recent Lake Geneva News
Less was more to museum than she'll say
June 23, 2016

A long-time friend to the Geneva Lake Museum and its mannequins is retiring.

Restaurants are coming soon to LG
June 23, 2016
Qdoba and Noodles & Co. restaurants are coming to Lake Geneva. It’s just taking a little longer than expected. The two eateries will occupy the Shops on 50 building, 351 Pellar Road, site of the former Lake Geneva Hometown Sears store. The old building was razed and a new one is going up on the site. Qdoba is already advertising for cooks for its Lake Geneva location on snagajob.com. The company website claims that it plans to have the Mexican-American restaurant open by August. Ken Robers, Lake Geneva building and zoning administrator, said it appears that the restaurant will open in August, but it might take Noodles & Co. a little longer. Robers said work is continuing on the building, with the exterior contractor working on the outside structure and façade while interior contractors finish the restaurant spaces. The windows are in and the sprinkler system is almost completed, Robers said. A third space, for nonfood retail, is also being completed, he said. When it was first approved by the Lake Geneva Plan Commission in October 2015, the plan called for a four-unit commercial building with 7,600 square feet. Estimated cost of the building was $2.4 million. Robers said that construction was scaled back for the initial structure to just three retail spaces. The owners of the building will have two years to decide whether they want to add that fourth space, he said. The Sears Hometown store business formerly at that location has since moved to 1757 West Milwaukee Ave., Burlington. ...subscribers>>
City council rejects B&B proposal for Maple Park
June 23, 2016

The house at 920 Geneva St. will not be seeing guests any time soon.
The Lake Geneva City Council, meeting in special session on Monday, voted unanimously to deny a conditional use permit that would have turned the vacant house into a bed and breakfast called the Maple Park Inn.
Council members cited opposition by Maple Park neighborhood residents as the primary reason for their opposition. Another factor is an unwritten policy of the city council to resist the expansion of businesses into the Maple Park neighborhood west of Cook Street.
City Planner Michael Slavney of Vandewalle & Associates, Madison, said there are few businesses west of Cook in the neighborhood, but they are the reason the council has opposed the infiltration of any other businesses there.

The conditional use request was made by Steve and Sue Johansen of New London.
In May, in the face of residential opposition, the Lake Geneva Plan Commission voted to recommend against the B&B
At the May 23 city council meeting, however, a number of local and area B&B owners showed up to ask the council to reject the plan commission recommendation and approve the conditional use.
The B&B owners’ testimony caused the council to reject the plan commission recommendation and schedule Monday’s special council meeting for another public hearing on the conditional use application.

Both sides
This time both sides came out.
The council meeting was scheduled to run from 5:15 p.m. to the scheduled start of the plan commission meeting at 6:30 p.m. It ran a half hour longer than expected.
Slavney said that B&Bs, along with home day care, are treated as a hybrid kind of residential business.
They are allowed in residential areas with a conditional use permit, he said. The requirement for a B&B is that the building must be owner-occupied, and it cannot have guests if the owner is not on-site. While acknowledging that B&Bs are allowed in residential areas, the residents argued that the B&B proposed by the Johansens was more business than residence.
They had engaged Randy Bangs, who operates the Allyn House B&B in Delavan, to act as their agent, and Sue Johansen conceded that the Johansens may not be the only owner of the property.
Johansen told the council she and her husband were considering taking on a partner for joint ownership of the house.
The conditional use request also had some problems.
And Slavney pointed out that no site plan was filed with the application, as required by ordinance.
A site plan would have shown where the new owners planned to put the required seven parking spaces on the property, he said. Sue Johansen said she and her husband, Steve, planned to keep their New London home and use it as a vacation home. She said if it were required, the B&B would not be open when she was gone.

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Paint In encourages creativity for all ages
June 16, 2016

Though the threat of rain kept many at bay, those who did brave the Lake Geneva Paint In on June 10 and 11 used the opportunity to show off their artistic accomplishments and to continue growing.
The Paint In, which is put on each year by the Lake Geneva Arts Foundation, gives people a chance to see and buy art from local artists. The artists are stationed at booths throughout the downtown area of Lake Geneva.
Though this was only her second year doing the Paint In, Sarah McConnell, who mainly presented mixed media pieces, already recognizes the community that can be formed by participating.
“People are very supportive even if they don’t buy something,” she said. “They are very supportive of the arts. It’s surprising how many people have artists in their families. I think that sometimes draws them in.”
Along with providing support, the people who view the art can also help the artists grow.
“I try to listen to what people are saying when they look at my work,” said Rodger Mobeck.
Mobeck says this type of listening while people are viewing his drawings on slate helps him get constructive criticism about his work that can help him with future pieces.
But for Mobeck, the best part of the entire process is the creativity.
“It was fun,” he said. “I was trying different things and seeing different ways I could create something new.”
This creativity can often take the form of self-expression, making the pieces more personal in the process.
“I call this my art therapy,” said McConnell. “You can almost reflect a mood in your art. It makes you feel good when you accomplish something, and you can express a lot with art.”
Selling the pieces adds an extra bonus to the whole process, and McConnell says she sometimes runs into her work after she sells it.
“It’s great to be at someone’s home and go, ‘oh my goodness, that’s mine!’ It’s an awesome feeling,” she said.
The Lake Geneva Arts Foundation not only encourages current artists, but also reaches out to the next generation of artists.
Every year, the Paint In runs a children’s table where children can create their own art. 

“We like getting kids involved because art starts young,” said Barb Olson, a volunteer at the Paint In. “ We want to help people think that they have art within them and that they can get it out.”
Getting the children to be artistic involves letting them take the reigns of the project they’re working on and Olson, a former teacher, makes sure that the children are able to truly express their own creativity while at the table.
“We try to give them an idea (of what to make), but if you do too much then they want to copy it exactly,” she said.
And according to Olson, the children do a great job with the independence.
“If you just do a little bit (to show them) then they go off and create things that are often much more creative than what we come up with,” she said.

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Peters given 3-month try-out as fire chief
June 16, 2016
Fire Capt. John Peters, Lake Geneva’s interim fire chief, will be given a three-month window to carry out the duties of running the Lake Geneva Fire Department, the Lake Geneva Police and Fire Commission decided.And at the end of three months, the commission will decide whether it has “the answer” to finding a new fire chief, said Tom Hartz, commission president.The decision was made at the commission’s June 9 meeting.Hartz said that he started out as a supporter of a full-time chief for the department, but, after consulting with Peters, he’s considering it possible that the department can continue with a part-time chief.Peters was appointed interim chief during a special commission meeting on May 24 after former fire chief Brent Connelly abruptly resigned on May 13.Since then, Peters has apparently impressed commissioners with his administrative abilities.“John is very organized,” said Commissioner Dennis Jordan during the May 24 meeting.“After three months we should be able to determine if John is the man and if a part-time chief still works.”Commissioner Rick Bittner said he didn’t like the idea of taking the need to find a new chief and “kicking this can down the road.”But he added that in this case, it made sense to give Peters a chance at the job.City Administrator Blaine Oborn told the commissioners that the Lake Geneva City Council’s Personnel Committee is letting the commission take the lead on finding a new chief.“We want the best practices and what’s good for the fire department,” Oborn said.Peters was asked his impression on how the department has been doing the past two weeks.“I see participation increasing,” Peters replied. “Schedules are being filled properly.“We’re moving down the road to better processes.”Hartz noted that he had met with Peters about bills that needed to be paid. Peters indicated “I think we found a majority of them.”Peters also commented that changes in administrative organization were going to be implemented.Later, in an email to the Regional News, Hartz said there was no dissatisfaction on the part of the police and fire commission with Connelly’s leadership of the fire department.“I have found that when someone abruptly leaves a job, there are a number of things that surface that on the face of it don’t make sense,” wrote Hartz. “The bills were one of those things.“The PFC concurs with Interim Chief Peters that we would like to have bills paid promptly. We are very encouraged by the energy, care and attention to the details that Interim Chief Peters has exhibited in his two weeks on the job.”A 1990 graduate of Badger High School, Peters joined the Lake Geneva Fire Department in 1992.He also serves as a full-time firefighter and paramedic in Mundelein, Illinois.Peters is in the department’s fire prevention bureau.He has also conducted public-private partnership seminars with local business people, dealing with situations such as weather emergencies, emergency planning for businesses and dealing with active shooters in the workplace.Peters was presented with the Walworth County Firefighters Association Fire Officer of the Year award in 2009.
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