December 24, 2008

Snowdance finalists announced

Over Our Head Players announced the finalists for its 2009 Snowdance 10-minute comedy festival. Here are the winning titles and authors:

Cracks In the Sand by Corrie Mund of Whitby, Ontario, Canada
A couple gets more (or less) than they bargained for when they check in to an island resort for a weekend alone.

Here to Serve You by Barbara Lindsay of Seattle, Washington
Can a lost shoe in an airport terminal really be a threat to homeland security?

Three Kings by James Venhaus of San Antonio, Texas
The Christmas spirit seems lost when a game of poker gets in the way.

Not Funny by Christopher Lockheardt of Andover, Massachusetts
A Love Story: a man, a woman, and a good steak knife.

Proverbs by Donna Latham of St. Charles, Illinois
Proverbial wisdom rings out over lost love, but it’s in an Irish pub.

Dressed up Like a Douche by Rick Park of Boston, Massachusetts
Friends argue over the real lyrics to a song. Is anyone right? Or are they all blinded by the light?

Love is a Battlefield by W. Patrick Fogarty of Racine, Wisconsin
A couple meets on a blind date, too bad they brought their relationship coaches along.

Santa Clause TASTOPHY by Heather Meyer of Bloomington, Minnesota
From holiday icon to villain to League of Justice Super Hero – in one silent night.

Idiots Abroad by Stephen Gallagher of Youngsville, North Carolina
Lost in Europe with a stressed marriage, a broken GPS and an obnoxious German DJ.

Kung–Foolery by Brett Hursey, Longwood University, Farmville, VA
Karly and Barry are married. Karly’s mother is coming for a visit. Barry has issues.

The winners were selected from 240 plays from 36 states and five countries, according to organizers. The plays will be performed at the Sixth Street Theatre in January and February. Audience members will vote on their favorites, and the top vote-getter will be named, "Best in Snow" and receive $300. The second and third place plays receive $100.

The plays will be performed by an ensemble cast led by Rich Smith. Also featured are actors John Adams, Barbara Akey, Brianna Andrews, Emily Breiwick, Diane Carlson, Sea Daniel, Rick Ditter, Cody A. Ernest, Melissa Hughes Ernest, Brad Kostreva, Jenny Kostreva, Joseph Piirto, Matt Rangel, Ron Schulz, Tom Spraker, Denise Marie Wargowsky, and Teri Rene Wilson.

For a complete list of show times, visit the Over Our Head Players online.

Boucher donates vehicles to Racine Zoo

The Racine Zoo picked up some nice rides for the new year, thanks to Frank Boucher.

The Chevrolet, Cadillac and Saab dealer donated a complimentary lease to the zoo for use of a 2008 Chevy Silverado and a 3500 Extended WB passenber van. Both vehicles, decorated with custom wildlife graphics, will be used for transporting animals and supplies and will show up in local parades.

The graphics were designed by Design Partners and applied by the Sign Shop.

The Racine Zoo is open daily. Hours between Labor Day and Memorial Day are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The admission price is $4.00 for adults, $2.00 for children 3-15, $3.00 for seniors and children under three and Zoo Members are free. The mission of the Racine Zoological Society is to foster an enlightening and affordable wildlife experience that improves the bond between people and nature. The Society will provide for the recreation and education of the people, the conservation of wildlife and wild places, and the advancement of science.

Fair looking to get back on City Council

For the third straight election, Keith Fair will run for the City Council's First District seat, which represents Downtown Racine.

In 2005, Fair was elected to the council by three votes over incumbent Jeff Coe. In 2007, Coe returned the favor by beating Fair 217-168.

Fair also tried to run against Coe in 2003, but was left off the ballot after then City Clerk Karen Norton ruled Fair did not have enough valid signatures.

Here's Fair's statement on running, once again, for elected office:
I will be running in the First District. These are very exciting times for me as well as others with the election of Barack Obama. I would like to see some enthusiasm at the local level and I am looking forward to serving on the city council once again.

Coe wasn't immediately available for comment on whether he's running for re-election. It's a safe bet he is, but we'll update when we hear from him.

December 23, 2008

Hispanic business association offering $2,000 college scholarships

Hispanic students graduating from high school this year can apply for a $2,000 scholarship from the Hispanic Business and Professionals Association.

The scholarships will be awarded Feb. 28 at the HBPA's annual banquet. If you or someone you know qualifies for the scholarship, download the form here. The deadline is Jan. 30.

Questions can be sent to Wally Rendon at:

Racine Community Foundation announces board of directors

Jackson Parker III will continues as president of the Racine Community Foundation in 2009, the nonprofit announced Tuesday.

President-elect and board treasurer is James Small; Secretary is Bryan Albrecht; Pamela Johnson is vice-president of donor relations; Michael Staeck is vice-president of marketing; vice-president of the grant committee is Robert Siegert, MD; and David Perkins is the ad hoc chair of the investment committee.

Newly elected members include Sheila Bugalecki; Darice Griffin; James Paulsen; and Steen Sanderhoff. Re-elected to the board is Ernest Styberg, Jr. Continuing board members include Nancy DeKraay; David Easley; Marlene Haigh; Jean Jacobson; Renee Sartin Kirby; Dorothy Metz; Dwayne Olsen; Elizabeth Powell; Gregory Ruidl; and Eugene Szymczak.

The Racine Community Foundation's mission is to encourage and provide opportunities for charitable giving, to manage and distribute the funds in a responsible manner and to enhance the quality of life for the people of Racine County.

Racine Symphony Orchestra exec director leaving

Keith, we hardly knew ya!

Keith Hampton, executive director of the Racine Symphony Orchestra for less than a year, is leaving to become assistant director of the School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

RSO Music Director Andrew Massey said, “We are all very proud to be able to claim Keith Hampton as one of our own. He has brought subtle and powerful advances to the smooth running of the RSO. We are very sad to see him go, but it is good to be able to reflect that he has left us in a much stronger position, administratively, to face the future.”

A committee has been created to begin the search for a replacement. Any person interested in applying should send a cover letter and resume to the Racine Symphony Orchestra, PO Box 1874, Racine, WI 53401, or via e-mail.

Hampton is a classically trained musician and songwriter who has performed locally at JavaVino and in Side by Side by Sondheim at the Racine Theatre Guild. He took the part-time RSO executive director's position in February.

Mount Pleasant getting exit signs along new I-94

Update: The initial post here wasn't correct. Mount Pleasant is getting its own signs off I-94, but Caledonia has not requested the same. Here's the email from Dennis Shook, regional communications manager for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation:
The Mount Pleasant signs are in the works already. But Caledonia has not approached WisDOT on signage. If Caledonia were to ask for such signage, it would be reviewed by WisDOT at that point. Mount Pleasant made that contact already.
I corrected the post below with the correct information.

Original post:

Drivers along I-94 soon will see more than just exits to Racine. The state has agreed to list Mount Pleasant (corrected) on exit signs along the interstate, according to Mount Pleasant Village Board member Harry Manning

The villages will get added to the signs because they're the municipalities drivers exit into when they leave I-94, Manning said. They've only listed Racine for years because Mount Pleasant was a town and not considered destination points (corrected).

The new exit signs are expected to go up sometime next year, Manning said. They will list Mount Pleasant/Racine at the Highway 20 and Highway 11 exits and Mount Pleasant at Highway KR, he said.

This may seem like a small detail, but it's a marketing coup for the villages. Thousands of people through Racine County on I-94 on a daily basis. The exit signs will reinforce Mount Pleasant's identities as communities separate from Racine.

As for the city, the big green signs are just one more thing it has to share with its surrounding communities.

December 22, 2008

RUSD boundary exemption apps period opens

The Racine Unified School District announces middle and high school boundary exemption enrollment for the 2009-2010 school year. Boundary Exemptions allow students to attend a middle or high school that is outside of their attendance area.

Those applying for boundary exemption must do so each school year and provide their own transportation. Decisions are based on need, reason and space availability in the school. Middle and high school boundary exemptions will be accepted between Jan. 5 and Feb. 13. Applications should be sent to the principal at the requested school. Parents and guardians will be notified by April 18 of approval or denial of the boundary exemption.

For questions regarding school choice, contact RUSD support services at 631-7181.

Obama's Billions: City requests $6.5 million in federal stimulus dollars

So you're a mid-sized industrial city in southeastern Wisconsin and the federal government offers to buy you anything you like. But there's a catch: You have to spend all of the money next year.

City of Racine officials were confronted with this real-life version of Brewster's Millions last month as the US Conference of Mayors began preparing urban requests for a piece of the multi-multi-billion dollar economic stimulus package the federal government is putting together.

The idea is to create jobs building infrastructure as soon as possible, said City Administrator Ben Hughes. The trick is coming up with a list of projects that don't require planning or a long approval process; government official want the stimulus spent as soon as possible. (For example, they couldn't push for expanding the police department, because it would take too long to draw up plans and get the project finalized.)

With all of these limitations, the city turned to its capital projects budget. So what did they choose to ask Santa Federal Government for this year?

1. $5.6 million in new water and wastewater projects.
2. $900,000 for repaving streets.


"The dilemma we faced was the more high-profile projects require extensive planning," Hughes said. "They wouldn't have been able to meet the needs for the federal government. ... We didn't want to bypass the money, because it may free up money for some of those more glamorous projects."

The one major project tossed around City Hall was a rooftop garden for the public library, Hughes said. While they may have gotten it built next year, it wasn't a good fit because the library is thinking about moving, he said. (The stimulus is also a one-time source of money, so projects with ongoing operating costs were also ruled out.)

So sewer and wastewater projects it is.

A few of the requests include:
  • Sanitary/sewer collection systems along Ohio Street and Michigan Boulevard.
  • A new water main on State Street from La Salle Street to Memorial Drive
  • And a water main on the northwestern edge of the city along Airline Road.
  • Resurfacing (but not rebuilding) select neighborhood streets; the new surface will last about 15 years.
While the projects lack glamour, they're effective in creating jobs, Hughes said. The general rule is city projects create one job for $100,000 in spending. If Racine gets all of its requests, it'd create about 65 construction jobs next year.

But the requests are just, well, requests. The government is expected to act on the stimulus package shortly after Barack Obama is sworn into office on Jan. 20. Racine should know if it's projects get funded by February, Hughes. That will give the city time to bid out the project in time for the start of construction season in April.

No matter what gets funded, Hughes said, taxpayers will benefit.

"It wouldn't just be make-believe work," he said. "We as a city would benefit by this. If we as a city don't do these in 2009, we still are going to need to do them 2-3 years down the road. Without federal stimulus money, we'll borrow the money and ask taxpayers to pay it off over time."