May 30, 2009

Party kicks off the Sunny & Chair Summer '09 Tour

The evening was called Wingstock -- a conflation of Wingspread and Woodstock -- and it was billed as a preview of Racine's Sunny & Chair Summer '09 Tour. And indeed, the 53 colorfully painted Adirondack chairs were artfully displayed throughout Wingspread's grounds, where they could be, and were, admired by the party guests.

But in reality Saturday night turned into a back-to-1969 party, with danceable music familiar to the over, 50 set, many of whom arrived decked out in their best '60s finery: tie-dye shirts, bandannas, peace signs in various colors.

By Tuesday, all the chairs will be displayed downtown, where they will remain through Labor Day, until they are auctioned off at the Chair Today; Gone Tomorrow public auction at Memorial Hall on Saturday, Sept. 12, to benefit the Downtown Racine Corporation, which has staged the public art event since 2002, bringing dogs, cats, bears, fish, otters, birds, lighthouses and spheres Downtown in previous years.

Lois Solberg, as colorful as the chair she sat in

Craig and Helen Johnson Leipold,
and their son, Connor, 17, tried out the big chair

Gary and Rebecca Alvarado (note her matching earrings, too)

Artist Crystal Johnson needs to grow into her sunglasses

Alderman Q.A. Shakoor insists every part of this outfit is original

Flower power motivated Terry Leopold,
DRC's special events
and party planner extraordinaire

Sean Hirsch, Deadhead

Meet Sean Hirsch, 27, the party's most ardent Grateful Dead fan. He says he attended his first Dead concert at nine months of age ... but his mother attended a Jerry Garcia Band concert when she was pregnant with him. But so what, you say; where's the proof? Well scroll down to the next picture and view just a few of the tattoos on Sean's back. Case closed!

The band 1969 enthusiastically played all the best '60s music;
hear them sing Somebody to Love, Woodstock and more HERE

Sonny and Cher wannabees Patty Aude and Mike Pilger

Wingspread's lawn turned into a 1960s dance floor

Our mayor, the celebrity bartender (for a good cause)

Who knew the mayor would have to bartend as well?

Racine's new mayor had a busy day Saturday -- ceremonial activities far removed from that actual running-the-city stuff he signed on for.

Saturday morning was John Dickert's first ribbon-cutting as mayor, as he officially marked the grand re-opening of Old Dutch Custard on Spring Street.

And on Saturday night he took the first bartender shift at McAuliffe's on the Square, leading off a line of city "celebrities" raising funds for the Red Cross.

We haven't heard how successful the fund-raiser was (Yes, we have... See below!), but Dickert held his own in the bartending department, filling drink orders with aplomb (under the watchful eye of the newly shorn and clean-shaven JJ). Turns out he isn't totally unfamiliar with the working side of a bar: while in college in LaCrosse he worked as a DJ ... and sometimes filled in behind the bar as well.

During the few minutes we spent at McAuliffe's Saturday night getting these pictures, Dickert proved quite successful as a fund-raiser, garnering "tips" for the Red Cross collection bucket that in many cases exceeded the cost of the drinks he served.

Update, 6:11 a.m. Sunday morning: Ah, here's the word straight from JJ McAuliffe's mouth to my inbox:
Many thanks to all the people who came out to McAuliffe's On The Square's first annual fundraiser for the Racine Red Cross. The proceeds went to support the Racine chapter of the Red Cross. Those proceeds go to support disaster services here. This event was a part of the Red Cross' month-long "Heroes" campaign, where the Red Cross relies on "grassroots" fundraising to support its mission.

And many heroes there where. First of all, and the most important one is Katie Pedicone for approaching McAuliffe's On The Square with the idea. Katie is the Red Cross' community office director and her husband, Dominic (of the band 89 Mojo), did a great job bartending.

Speaking of bartending! There are not enough words to thank our great list of guest bartenders! Thank you so much to Mayor John Dickert and City Clerk Janice Johnson-Martin for taking the first shift. In the time they worked together behind the bar, they raised $205 in tips for the RRC. They were also very witty and put a smile on everyone's face with their "tip war." I just want to say that John Dickert and Janice Johnson-Martin are two very wonderful class acts. Thank you so much for what you did.

Next up was Joey Legath from all the Joeys locations. Joey brought his customers in to support a great cause and rallied to try to beat the Mayor and City Clerk. With a little help from guest bartender Tony Cortez he did it, bringing in $216.25.

Other guest bartenders included Jason Pratt (Milwaukee fire dept), Nick Contreras (Racine Police Dept), Dominic Pedicone ( 89 Mojo, Thoughts for Food, Jammin For The Arts contributor), Emily Breiwick (Over Our Head Players / 6th St. Theater), and Jay Evinic (all around good guy, aka J Styles). Their combined efforts helped raise $488 dollars.

Between the Mayor, city clerk, all our guest bartenders, 25% of all of McAuliffe's On The Square's ring for the evening, and $405 in raffles, we managed to raise over $1,700.

A big thank you also goes out to all the wonderful businesses who supported us and donated their time and donations to us. Those businesses are:

Asiana, Arts Metals Studio, Badger Liquor, Beechwood Distribution, Casablanca De Mexico, Cheesecake By Jewels, CJW, Common Sence, Copecetic, Dimples, DJ Discovery, Dover Flag, Henry & Wanda's, Millers Flowers, Olde Madrid, Racine Raiders, Salute, Shogun, Sixth Street Theatre, Sticky Rice, UnCorkt, Waves, and The Yardarm. These are the people who donated to our raffles. In these tough times they helped out a good cause. Please return the favor and support their businesses.

For more information on the Racine Red Cross, or if you are interested in volunteering for disaster services, health and safety programs such as CPR, first aid classes, babysitting, or donating to the Red Cross please contact Katie Pedicone, Community Office Director 4521 Taylor Ave., 53405 (262)554-9997.

May 29, 2009

Festival Park concert lacks only an audience

What if they gave a concert and nobody came?

Well, it would be pretty discouraging -- as it was Friday night at Festival Park, for the Racine Civic Center's Music for the Halibut Fish Frydays concert.

The music rocked: Chris Crush, lead singer of the band Permacrush, performed solo, left, singing covers of Led Zeppelin and others and putting on a fine show. All he needed was an audience.

Granted, this was just the second outing of the Civic Center's new concert series; but for a community that supposedly mourns the loss of HarborFest ... well, a little support would be nice. Crush deserved far more than the audience of a few dozen who came for the fish fry ($9.95) or just for the concert ($3).

Civic Center director Rik Edgar took it all in stride, realizing that it takes time to build an audience for anything new. He promises more excitement in weeks to come. There will be no Music for the Halibut next Friday -- to avoid any conflict with Downtown's First Friday -- but the concert series / fish fry will resume on June 12, with a concert by Stereo Deluxe. You can get a preview of their music on the Civic Center's Facebook page.

Edgar also has something special up his sleeve ... a new mascot for the concert series. Look for public appearances around town by Hal the Halibut. The full schedule of Friday concerts can be found here.

There's also a free concert next week. VenuWorks, the company hired by the city to manage the Civic Center, is presenting a free admission concert next Sunday to complement the Hot Rod Power Tour that will bring close to 4,000 hod rods Downtown. Harley Davidson show bikes will be on display, there'll be food on sale and the band Last Call Trio will play. And did we mention there's no admission charge? Yes, we did, but it always bears repeating.

Racine mentioned in low-budget movie starring Isabella Rosellini

Looking for a movie to rent this weekend? We received this note from Gina:
I was just watching a low budget science fiction film and was surprised to discover that they mentioned Racine. They even acknowledge that we are known for our Danish bakeries! Just thought I'd pass it along.

The movie is called "Infected". It does have a few better known actors, including Isabella Rosellini and Judd Nelson. The scene occurs just before the movie ends.

Learn all about "Infected" here.

Thanks, Gina!

Shaw sees 'data warehouse' as key to Unified improvement

Racine Unified Superintendent James Shaw met with the Racine Unified School Board on May 28 to review his first nine months as head of the school district. The far-reaching conversation touched on several issues facing our public schools. We're breaking down the meeting by topic and will post stories over the next few days reporting on the meeting.

Near the top of Superintendent James Shaw's wish list for Racine Unified is a warehouse.

OK, that's a little misleading. What Shaw really wants is a "data warehouse," which is an important distinction. Instead of storing inventory and equipment, Shaw wants to store numbers. Lots and lots of numbers.

Like every Racine Unified student's grades, test scores, attendance records, extracurricular activities, GPA, credits and anything else administrators, teachers, parents - even the public (student confidentiality would be maintained) - needs to evaluate and improve student, school and district-wide performance.

“The idea is to get data in the hands of everybody,” Shaw said.

Listening to Shaw talk, it's easy to see why he covets data. Many of his sentences begin with the phrase, "The research says ..." and Shaw often talks about using numbers to uncover problems and work out solutions.

Data warehouses are a growing trend in schools, and according to Shaw, Racine is falling behind other districts. Milwaukee and Kenosha both have data warehouses in place and are training staff to use them. For example, one database search can pinpoint freshman with high test scores but low GPAs, giving schools the opportunity to create study skill sessions for them.

Case High School is testing out a pilot version of what's possible. Parents of some classes can log into a website and check on test scores, assignments and other numbers.

Shaw has more ambitious plans for a more comprehensive system in every Unified school. The system would cost millions of dollars, but $10 million in federal stimulus money over the next two years is arriving just in time to create the data warehouse Shaw hopes to see. (The stimulus bill, which restricts how the federal can be used, actually recommends districts create data warehouses as a way to help the economy.)

“If we don’t have the bottom drop out, we should have enough money,” he said.

School Board member Dennis Wiser, a former math teacher, said math teachers have long requested a system to track students’ math history through grades and test scores. That’s the type of thing that can be included in the data warehouse, Shaw said.

Board member Julie McKenna said she's hearing demand for the system. “Parents want this,” she said.

As far as a timetable, Shaw offered a hint of frustration with the pace of change in Unified. One technician told him he could get a data system running by fall, but Shaw was skeptical.

“That’s not been my experience so far in Racine, that we can do those things so quickly,” he said.

But principals are creating data teams for the summer to figure out what should be included in the data warehouse, and at least the beginning of a system could be in place by next school year, Shaw said.

That said, Shaw said advice he’s receiving on the system is to “go slow and do it the right way.”

That means involving teachers and principals in the setup process and then making sure everyone in the district gets trained on how to use the system.

“It’s not that they have it,” Shaw said, “it’s that it’s used.”

One sticky question: When will teachers have time to crunch the data to gain insights on their students? Shaw said the district needs to figure out a way to give teachers time to do that work within the school day.

He’s hopeful the district can hire “coaches” to work with principals and teachers on how to use the system. The district had three such coaches – ex-teachers with years of experience and training - this year, and it helped principals learn how to use data to identify and solve problems, Shaw said.

Old Dutch Custard sets grand re-opening

Sarah Shelby serves up a cone of custard

Old Dutch Custard is having another grand opening this weekend.

Old Dutch first opened in 1985, and after new owners took over two years ago there was another opening. But the custard shop at 3505 Spring St. that advertises itself as "custard for the gourmet taste" has been closed for more than a year. Now it has new owners with long experience in the restaurant business.

"It's a family affair," says Hassan Musaitif, 26, who will run the restaurant that was bought out of foreclosure by his father, Nimer Musaitif, owner of Chubbies Pizzeria on High Street. Hassan has 11 years of experience, doing everything at Chubbies, but this is the first business he's run on his own.

Hassan graduated from UW-Whitewater with an MBA and concedes "it's tough to find a job these days... but I like having my own business." Technically, he's been open for two and one-half months -- a soft-opening, it's called -- giving him time to paint the building, repave the parking lot, put down new tile inside and a new kitchen, landscape the patio and hire and train his seven employees.

He's also added some new touches: free WiFi is one; a menu of salads and Panini sandwiches -- the Racine, the Roma and Cheesy Delight are just three, each for $5.95 -- is another.

But, of course, the main attraction is Old Dutch's famous custard, once voted Southeastern Wisconsin's best. What about that?

"The recipes came with the purchase," Hassan assures, and he's been making the old favorites since he's been open; all custard is made on site. Old Dutch promises to have at least 24 flavors for sale at all times, although not always the same ones. He also plans to "tweak" some of the recipes; next week, for example, he will offer customers a "taste test" of custards made with four different vanillas to see which they prefer. "From this vanilla to that vanilla, there's a big difference," Hassan says.

A single-scoop sugar cone is $1.95, double is $2.95 and triple scoop is $3.95. Add 50 cents for a waffle cone.

The grand opening Saturday at 11 a.m. will be special for another reason: Mayor John Dickert will cut the official ribbon. Unless I'm mistaken, this is the first ribbon-cutting for our new mayor -- hopefully the first of many.

Postscript: Thanks to Hassan's generosity, I can personally attest to the quality of the new Old Dutch's mint chocolate chip. Hey, it's a tough job and somebody has to do it!

Horlick teacher found not guilty of obstruction for questioning police officer

A Horlick High School teacher who questioned if a police officer had a warrant to remove a student from his class was found not guilty this week of obstruction.

Al Levie, a social studies teacher at Horlick, was given a $455 citation for asking about the warrant. Inv. Kevin Klinkhammer issued the citation. Officer John Hetland was also involved with the case.

Levie said the officer, who works at Horlick, came to his classroom on Nov. 17 to interview a student who, along with four or five friends, had surrounded and attempted to intimidate a police officer in a school hallway. Levie asked about the warrant and was told he'd be arrested if he refused to allow the student to be interviewed. Levie then stepped aside and the student left with the officer.

The student wasn't charged for his incident with police, but Klinkhammer returned the next day with the obstruction citation.

Levie challenged the citation in court on Wednesday and was found not guilty.

Judge Mark Nielsen dismissed the charges because Levie's question did not constitute obstruction. But Nielsen also made it clear officers are allowed to take students out of classrooms for investigations, and in a wider sense, are allowed to do their job without interference anywhere in the community.

"The lesson to take from this case is the police are always the police," Nielsen said Friday. "They have a duty to enforce the law in schools on the streets or in a theater. If they see a violation of the law, they're obligated to respond."

"If police say something, you have an obligation to comply," Nielsen said Friday.

Levie said the incident was the first time in his eight and half years as a teacher that an officer had taken a student out of class. If an officer shows up at his classroom again, Levie said he'd allow the officer to take a student without question.

But Levie, who is president of the teacher's union at Horlick, said he would start a discussion within Unified about the role of police in schools.

"This is an issue between the union and the administration," Levie said. "I'll have input into that issue."

He added teachers often take on roles of counselor, social worker and even parent while working with students. "We want to make sure students' rights are protected," he said.

"We as a district have to decide how we'll use police in the schools," Levie said.

Committee approves $350,000 for LED street lights; Stimulus money could help city balance budget

It was a good night for Family Services of Racine Executive Director Katie Oatsvall.
She secured $50,000 in stimulus money to make her organization's building handicap accessible.

The city hopes to turn $350,000 in federal stimulus money into $700,000 in savings by replacing street lights with LED fixtures.

The seemingly mundane approval could have a big effect on the city’s bottom line. LED street lights are 45-49 percent more efficient than the We Energies fixtures throughout the city. The $350,000, plus another $300,000 in stimulus money from another source, is expected to replace about 1,300 street lights throughout the city.

The energy savings will come at a critical time. Racine is facing massive cuts in state shared revenue and unexpected bills from the state, according to city officials. In all, the city could be looking at a $1.5 million budget gap next year – a huge amount to overcome.

LED lights should help. The Community Development Committee voted to spend the $350,000 on the new lights Thursday night. The amount was actually cut by $50,000 to give Family Services of Racine money to create a handicap accessible entrance to their building.

In both cases, committee members were swayed by the direct impact the spending would have on the local economy. The LED lights would employ local electricians for several months and help the city’s bottom line in the end. The Family Services project would employ local contractors for two months and help the nonprofit serve its clients better in the future.
Claudius Adebayo, executive director of OIC of Racine County, couldn't convince the committee to give his organization $10,000 to study moving into a new building.

The committee also approved spending $72,500 to join the county’s Green Summer Jobs grant and $7,500 to the Urban League of Racine and Kenosha to help local residents seeking jobs to brush up on math skills to pass employment tests.

The green jobs programs will train 200 14- to 24-year-olds for jobs like community gardening, distributing high-energy light bulbs and replacing windows in homes. The Workforce Development Center put up $450,000 for the program, which will run June 22 to Aug. 14.

The committee’s votes Thursday came after lengthy consideration of eight proposals for use of $534,800 in stimulus money given to the city. The city’s two requests – for LED lights and the green jobs program - took up the bulk of the money. Committee members actually amended the city’s request to include the Urban League and Family Services requests.

Alderman Sandy Weidner also made a motion to give $4,000 to the Racine Literacy Council to work with people at the Workforce Development Center. Her proposal was voted down 8-3.

Weidner's proposal to give $7,500 to the Urban League passed 8-3. Yolanda Adams, president and CEO of the organization, said dozens of potential workers need a math refresher course to pass employment tests. "So many people can do the work, they just need to pass this test," she said.

Alderman David Maack proposed giving the $50,000 to Family Services. It was slightly less than the $55,000 requested by the organization, but Family Services Executive Director Katie Oatsvall said the small gap wouldn't be a problem.

In summary, the committee recommended spending $350,000 on LED streetlights, $72,500 on the green jobs program, $50,000 on Family Services handicap accessibility project and $7,500 on the Urban League's math refresher program. The CDBG money also allows for 10 percent of the funds ($53,480) to go toward program administration such as making copies, filling out paperwork.

Other proposals by Project New Life, the YMCA, Southgate Lodge No. 6 and OIC of Racine County were not given money.

The YMCA’s proposal was hurt because the written plan never made it to city staff. CEO Jeff Collen laid out a $30,500 plan to conserve energy at the building, but the proposal didn’t get much reaction from the committee. (Right: Joe Heck and Jeff Collen talk about what happened to the YMCA's request for the money.)

Collen did share the YMCA is hoping to sell its Racine building, move into another Downtown space and build a new building west of the city. When asked when the Y would like to sell its building, Collen replied: “Now, if we could.”

Debate on the CDBG stimulus money got a little heated. Alderman Aron Wisneski questioned why the city’s two proposals happened to exactly total the amount of the grant. He wanted community organizations to have a chance at the money.

Alderman Greg Helding spoke against the Family Services proposal, noting that giving $50,000 to the group cost the city $100,000 in energy savings. But when it came time to vote, Helding supported the Family Services request, which passed 8-3.

The final proposal passed the committee unanimously. It now goes to the full City Council on Tuesday. Joe Heck, assistant director of development for the city, has to get the proposal sent to the federal government by June 5.

Vos filiubusters with the Yellow Pages

“There are two things you don’t want to see being made—sausage and legislation.”
-- German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck

We don't know anything about sausages, but last night's / this morning's legislative doings prove once again that von Bismarck hit the nail on the head about lawmaking.

The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, where the budget was finally locked down at 5:30 a.m. this morning, on the usual party-line 12-4 vote, had some interesting exchanges. Here's how reported part of the debate:
Rep. Robin Vos, R-Caledonia, made an attempt at a filibuster speech by reading the Yellow Page list of attorneys, claiming that lawyers are "the biggest beneficiaries of this budget."

When the chair ruled he was out of order, Vos decided to read the bill out loud verbatim.

"You guys might think it's a joke the way you're screwing business, but I'm going to finish," he said.

Vos’ tactics drew an angry response from Dem Rep. Jen Shilling of La Crosse.

"We need to take a deep breath. We are grown ups," she said. "We do not need to go down the road you are preparing to go down."

May 28, 2009

RCEDC honors Neubauer; Ryan offers his tax plan

Jeff Neubauer, president of Kranz, Inc., was presented the Sam Johnson Volunteer of the Year Award at the 26th anniversary celebration of the Racine County Economic Development Corporation.

The award, recently named in honor of Sam Johnson, was presented by Helen Johnson-Leipold, Sam's daughter and chairman and CEO of Johnson Outdoors and the Johnson Financial Group. "Dad would have been so pleased," she said. "Dad felt volunteerism represents that part of the human spirit that represents selflessness...and civic responsibility."

She cited Neubauer's involvement with Green Racine, which "sets a green example for other businesses," and his efforts "tackling the cycle of poverty" through service on the Racine County Workforce Development and Next Generation Now boards, as well as chairing the United Way steering committee overseeing the Advancing Family Assets initiative.

Neubauer returned the compliment, noting that there was nobody "more connected to sustainability" than Sam Johnson, who removed CFC's from SCJ products "because it was the right thing to do -- and it turned out to be good for business as well." He said he is proud to follow in the footsteps of Sam Johnson and his own father, Ralph Neubauer. The Advancing Family Assets program aims to bring at least 500 families out of poverty within the next ten years.

Others honored at the meeting included:
  • Michael Aimone, president of the Village of Union Grove, who received the Leonard W. Ziolkowski Public Sector Award.
  • James C. Small, a partner in Clifton Gunderson, receiving the Anthony J. DiCastri Private Sector Award.
  • Fred Goettl, vice president of Jackson County Bank, the Lender of the Year Award.
Speaker for the evening was Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, 1st District, who started out by saying, "These are tough times; let's get that out right away." Ryan discussed what he said are the two paths, or two futures, the country can travel in the years ahead. One path restores prosperity, he said; the other "erects further hurdles with a gusher of government spending and a mountain of debt. This is the preferred path in Washington" -- but clearly not Ryan's choice.

"We can't tell which of those futures is ours ... but we can restore prosperity," he said, insisting he is "cautiously optimistic," despite the country "quickly reaching a tipping point with so many getting government benefits it will be impossible to reverse course."

Ryan called the round of government bailouts "crony capitalism, not market capitalism," adding that "free market enterprise is the most moral system there is."

But he said, "I don't want to be gloomy and doomy. I'm optimistic."

Ryan outlined some of the things he'd do differently:

He rejects the Administration's budget, and its $1.5 trillion tax increase: "I don't think that's helpful." Instead, he would "clean up loopholes and lower taxes on small businesses." He would reduce entitlements that he says will more than double tax rates by the time his young children are grown -- to 88% on the highest income, 66% on middle-income earners and 25% on the lowest.

The country also needs a plan to protect citizens' health and retirement "without bankrupting our children," he said. Health care in the U.S. now costs 2 1/2 times that in the rest of the world -- "and is not 2 1/2 times better. There's a lot of room to improve this."

Ryan's strongest prescription would change the way taxes are levied. Noting, "We've got to face up to the fact that globalization is here," he said the country must make products like CNH's tractors -- of which "5 of 10 go overseas" -- more saleable to the "97% of the world's consumers who do not live in this country." Ryan said the U.S. taxes corporations "much higher than our competitors do." Later, he added, "we've got to have tax laws that keep jobs in America."

"Let's take the tax off our exports, and tax imports," he said. That would level the playing field "and make our products more competitive. Our tax laws must jibe with international norms." The audience of 400 business leaders was with Ryan all the way, but this was his first applause line.

Ryan also criticized current fiscal policy, noting that the U.S. is now borrowing $2 trillion "and there's going to come a day when people stop buying our bonds." Without changes, he said, interest will become the largest item in the federal budget ... which will further raise interest rates. "The Federal Reserve is literally printing money to buy Treasury notes."

Still, Ryan tried to end on an upbeat note: "America has been down on its luck before, but Americans come back. That's why I am cautiously optimistic. Americans say, 'I'm going to do whatever it takes.' We are not going to let America die on our watch."

Jessica Simpson shops Downtown -- we have proof!

Jane Key with earrings we may see on Jessica Simpson

Singer, actress, TV personality, tabloid staple Jessica Simpson almost went unrecognized while shopping in Racine last Saturday. Almost.

Jane Key, owner of Inside Out, tells the story this way: "I was running around town Saturday afternoon when I called the store about 2 p.m. and asked, 'How are things going?'

"Kathryn Austin, who was running the store at the time, said, 'The weirdest thing just happened...' "

It turns out that Simpson had been in the store, bought some earrings, but went unrecognized -- until some shop girls from another store called and asked whether she had been there. They described Simpson to Austin -- "...little tiny thing, long blonde hair, wearing a sweatshirt, baseball cap and 4" heels..."


Then everything fell into place and Austin pulled out Simpson's charge slip, with her name and signature on it. She remembered that Simpson had used a Titanium American Express Card, "almost too thick to go through the machine."

(For those of you unfamiliar with the black Titanium American Express card -- and I would suspect that's all of you -- it carries a $2,500 annual fee and the requirement that you charge $250,000 per year. Oh, yes, and it's also by invitation only; estimates are that no more than 5,000 have been issued.)

Jane Key, who has run her store of eclectic gifts from all over the world for 13 years -- ten years at the other end of Main Street near State, and three years at its present location at 406 Main -- said Simpson bought two pairs of earrings: one pair, from India, has large gold discs; the other was made of tribal horn from Africa. Total cost: $19.71.

What was Jessica Simpson doing in Racine last weekend? Sorry, we don't know for sure -- but we can guess it had something to do with Dallas Quarterback Tony Romo, who hails from Burlington. Who knows: Maybe they were here for Chocolate Fest.

Surely, someone managed to take at least a cellphone picture of them...

Postscript, 10:15 p.m.: WTMJ4 just did a story about this, interviewing Jane at Inside Out. Their story sure sounded like it came from RacinePost (but you heard it here first!)

May 27, 2009

No one shows up for city committee meeting

What happens if you call a city meeting and no one shows up? You get stuck talking to RacinePost for a half hour.

Joe Heck, assistant director of development for the city, called a meeting of the 16-member Community Development Committee Wednesday night and not a single committee member attended. (See the members here.)

Heck had hoped to review guidelines for awarding CDBG stimulus money before the committee meets Thursday to make some decisions on how to spend about $534,384 in federal money.

The extra money, which came through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, can only be used for specific purposes, Heck explained.

At least 70 percent of the money needs to benefit low-income and moderate-income persons, households and areas. Up to 15 percent can be used for public services, and 10 percent can go for administration and planning.

Heck said the city has two proposals to spend the money. One calls for spending $400,000 to convert about 800 city street lights to energy-efficient LED lights and the other would set aside $80,000 to train 14- to 24-year-olds for green jobs in the community (like retrofitting homes for energy savings). The remaining money would go for grant administration, Heck said.

Other proposals from the community are expected to be submitted Thursday to the committee, Heck said. The committee will need to make a quick decision on the money. The grant application is due a week from Friday and the submitted projects need City Council approval on Tuesday.

Heck said the federal government gave cities around the country a month to submit their CDBG applications.

The CDBG committee is holding an unusual Thursday night meeting - it starts at 7 p.m. to accommodate RCEDC's annual meeting, which is also Thursday - to make some decisions on the money and several other items on the agenda.

Heck had hoped to help the meeting along by giving an information briefing to committee members on Wednesday.

Instead, it looks like the commission will be working Thursday night on the fly.

City Notes: Plan Commission gives Lincoln Lutheran plan another year

The Plan Commission voted Wednesday to give Lincoln Lutheran of Racine another year to build high-end condos at 3720 North Main St.

Carolyn Seeger, senior vice president at Lincoln Lutheran, said in a letter to the commission that the economy hurt the project. She wrote:
At this point, we have many people interested in the concept of Woodland Pointe Condominiums, however, many are not willing to take a risk that they can sell their home timely in this economy. Not to mention the hits their investments have taken as we all know.
The starting price for a condo in the new building is $347,000, Seeger wrote. Lincoln Lutheran needs eight confirmed reservations to proceed with construction; so far there are two. The city approved the development on June 17, 2008, with the stipulation that work begins within the year.

The Plan Commission voted Wednesday to give Lincoln Lutheran another year.

Alderman Greg Helding, who sits on the Plan Commission, said Wednesday the commission supports the project and understands the effect the economy is having on new construction. "It's a good project," he said, "it's just not the right time."

High Rollers Motorcycle Club

The Higher Rollers Motorcycle Club will need the approval of another city board before it gets the blessing of the Plan Commission.

Commission members deferred action on the High Rollers' (not to be confused with the High Riders Motorcycle Club) request until their proposal passes the city's Access Corridor Development Review Board.

The High Rollers are seeking a conditional-use permit to for a meeting hall at 1333 Douglas Ave. between Barker and Hubbard streets. The club is not seeking an alcohol license for the hall.

Olympia Brown

The commission deferred action on re-designating Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church, 625 College Ave., a historic landmark. The move is largely procedural given that the church was named a landmark in 1976. But the building technically doesn't fall under a preservation ordinance passed in 2005. The re-designation would align the building with the most recent ordinance.

Helding said the commission delayed action on the vote over confusion on what, exactly, the new designation would mean. Once the questions are worked out by city staff, the proposal will head back to the commission for review.

Olympia Brown has a long history in Racine. From the church's website:
Our congregation was one of the earliest churches in Racine, being founded in 1842, and called "The Universalist Society of Racine." In 1878 the Rev. Olympia Brown came to our church and served as its minister until 1887. Olympia Brown, ordained in 1863, was the first woman in the United States to be ordained by a regularly established denomination.

New July 4th music festival planned at Festival Hall

Organizers at Festival Hall are working to turn the city-owned venue into a vibrant spot for live music this summer.

The Racine Civic Centre has three major events planned for the site this summer beyond the regular festival line-up.

The Music for the Halibut series on Fridays is under way, a June 7th concert in conjunction with the Hot Rod Power Tower is a go and a new Fourth of July festival is planned to bridge the gap between the Fourth Fest Parade and the fireworks.

Here's a breakdown of the events:

Music for the Halibut

This is a series of concerts designed to appeal to families as well as music fans. The show will happen rain or shine and kid activities are planned each week. Backyard Bouncers will have a “bouncy house” on site to give the kids a fun diversion. For adults, Indy 500 recording artist Chris Crush from the band Permacrush will perform. Chris has nearly 25,000 My Space fans. His single “Bottlerocket” was a college radio hit.

Doors Open at 4 p.m. but music is planned to go until 8 p.m. In addition to great music – we will also have some awesome Wisconsin Famous Fish Fry from Danny’s Meats out of Caledonia. The idea is to build a series that will become part of the culture of Racine. Tickets are a family friendly $3 for adults, $2 for kids (ages 6-12), and children 5 and under are free.

Jam for Uncle Sam

The Civic Centre is co-promoting this new event with the Racine HOG (Harley Operators Group). The idea behind the event is to fill the gap between Racine's Fourth Fest Parade and the Fourth of July fireworks.

Bands for the event include: OCD, Bedlam and Supernaut.

For $20, attendees get motorcycle parking, admission, a meal, and VIP Seating. $10 gets you general admission seating (no meal, parking, or VIP seating). Miller Lite is a sponsor of the event, and beer and Mike's Hard Lemonade will be sold at the festival.

Harley Rocks

On June 7, Festival Park is hosting a concert to complement the Hot Rod Power Tour. A handful of Harley Davidson show bikes will be on display, and food and music will be sold. The band Last Call Trio is booked to play. The event is free to the public as a gift from VenuWorks (the company that runs Festival Hall) to the community.

The music is secondary ... but still beautiful

"Character first, ability second."
--Dr. Shinichi Suzuki
The creator of the Suzuki method of teaching music, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, would have been proud Wednesday afternoon, as some 90 violin and viola students presented a three-school concert.

The youngsters -- just the tiniest portion of the estimated 250,000 Suzuki students worldwide -- entertained parents and each other in the theatre of the 21st Century Preparatory School. The budding violinists and cellists were from 21st Century Prep, Jefferson Lighthouse and Bull Fine Arts, directed by Teresa Hill of 21st Century and Charlene Melzer from Jefferson and Fine Arts.

May 26, 2009

City Notes: Committee approves crypt sale; City receives grant for farmer's markets

Odds and ends from Tuesday night's Personnel and Finance Committee, which included the return of Alderman Tom Friedel to the committee he once chaired:

Senior Center

As mayor, Friedel asked the city to track attendance at the Belle City Senior Center, which is located at the former Lakeview Community Center. From January to March attendance was split 50-50 between Racine residents and people from outside of the city, according to Finance Director Dave Brown.

The numbers roughly broke down as 50 percent from Racine, 20 percent from Caledonia, 20 percent from Mount Pleasant and 10 percent from other communities.

Farmer's Markets

The city received $2,298 from the State Department of Health to give out vouchers to low-income residents so they can shop at local farmer's markets. The city also received an additional $25,581 for the city's Women, Infants and Children program.

Crypt Sales

The city is hoping a sale will jump start the sale of crypts in Mound Cemetery later this year. Parks and Recreation Director Donnie Snow sought permission from the committee to waive fees for people buying new crypts in the cemetery. The final resting places are now under construction. The committee agreed to waive fees on the crypts, which include $760 for residents and $990 for nonresidents, until the end of the year. Snow said the crypts will go on sale later this summer.

Water fees

The city is likely to pull $365,214 out of its savings account to pay for a surprise fee increase from the state Public Service Commission on March 25. The 30 percent increase will help pay to maintain water pressure to fire hydrants throughout the city.

"It's non-negotiable and we have to pay it," Brown said.

Friedel, who sits on the board that manages the water utility, called the increase "unprecedented."

The city has plenty of money to cover the budget hit. Brown said the city's reserve balance is around $22 million, which is roughly 29 percent of the city's budget. The city must keep at least a reserve fund equal to 20 percent of the budget, Brown said.

"This is why we have that fund," he said.

The budget amendment passed the committee unanimously.

You can read the JT's story on this here.

Committee rejects alderman's plan to require physicals for city employees

Alderman Bob Mozol’s proposal to require physicals for all city employees who drive vehicles failed to pass committee Tuesday.

Mozol wanted to require the physicals to minimize the risk of an accident in a city vehicle and to cut down on the city’s health insurance costs. He said the idea came to him after realizing the city’s fire department spends less than other departments for health care. All firefighters are required to take an annual physical.

Mozol said extending that requirement to all city employees could catch health problems early. It could also reduce the risk of health problems leading to an accident.

"I don’t think it’s unreasonable given the amount of money the city spends on health care," Mozol told the Personnel and Finance Committee.

The proposal would cost about $30,000 per year.

Committee members were skeptical of the proposal. Alderman Mike Shields said Mozol’s idea sounded like a “waste of money.”

"There are plenty of rules out there to protect the city," Shields said, dismissing Mozol’s contention that the physicals would prevent accidents.

Numbers provided by city staff didn’t support Mozol’s concern about accidents. Interim City Administrator Scott Letteney said he didn’t find a single accident involving a city employee caused by a health concern.

Alderman Tom Friedel questioned if Mozol had thought through the proposal. The plan would require the city to renegotiate its contract with its unions to require the physicals. It could also, if taken to extreme, cost a city employee their job, he said.

Letteney added there may be privacy issues with requiring the results of a physical being reported to the city.

The committee voted unanimously to receive-and-file the proposal, which means they rejected it.

San Juan Diego Middle School to close

San Juan Diego Middle School made this announcement Tuesday:
San Juan Diego Middle School will finish its sixth school year, graduate its fourth class of eighth-graders, then prepare to close in June.

A public gathering to close the school is planned for 5 p.m., June 14 at 1101 Douglas Ave. All past and present students, staff, families, mentors, volunteers, supporters and friends of the school are invited. Details will be announced at a later date.

The school, which opened in 2003 to offer a Catholic and unique education to children living in poverty, has depended upon charitable dollars for its existence. In the present economic situation, it is not possible to continue, the Board of Directors has decided.

“This is a very sad time for us. We tried everything we could to make San Juan Diego Middle School a lasting educational institution in this community,” said John Raymond, Board President.

“We are thankful for all of the people who have made this school possible in our short history, and we hope that they will continue to support us as we must still raise enough money to pay our staff and meet our financial obligations for this year. This is our first priority,” he said.

The school had been planning for one of its biggest fundraisers at Festival Hall on June 5. That event has been canceled, due to this decision. But school officials urge all San Juan Diego supporters to continue their pledges and commitments of financial support to help the school close in a responsible manner.

“We have a marvelous group of teachers, administrators and support staff who have made this mission possible and we want to make certain we can complete our year able to reward them for the work they have achieved and performed according to their contracts,” he said. “To do that, we will continue to raise money to pay our staff, our vendors and our creditors to meet our obligations. We hope the community will support us in that effort.”

The school has roughly 70 students in fifth through eighth grades. San Juan Diego staff will assist parents in placing their students in new schools for next year.

There is a way for the public to help in this endeavor, too. San Juan Diego was created to offer children from low-income households an opportunity to attend a Catholic school they could not otherwise afford. Some families will wish to place their child in a local faith-based school but will need tuition assistance. San Juan Diego Middle School officials urge local churches to help provide assistance for families who wish to continue their children’s faith-based education and will help coordinate a match among donors who wish to sponsor a student at another faith-based school.

The school also supports 55 graduates who attend all of Racine’s high schools. San Juan Diego will be working to connect those students with all possible resources to ensure their success.

School officials want to thank all of the community volunteer mentors who have been helping the middle and high school students to succeed. Officials encourage mentors to continue their support of their students as best they can during this difficult transition.

San Juan Diego Middle School has been a community school from the start and a public witness that Racine people desire educational change. Over six years, more than 1,600 individuals, funding organizations, businesses and civic groups have contributed roughly $4.5 million to support the school.

About half of the school’s funding has come from granting organizations and nearly half from individual contributions. Everyone has been hard hit by the recent economic situation. Granting organizations around the country have lost substantial investments, which has curtailed their ability to fund nonprofit organizations. Many nonprofit contributors are older donors who have relied on their savings and investments to make charitable contributions. They, too, have lost significant money in this economy. With this reality and the lack of a solid monetary foundation on which to rely, school officials felt the most prudent decision is to close after this year.

Laura Sumner Coon, executive director, said the school closing should act as an alarm for the Racine community. “To have garnered so much support in such little time for an alternative mode of faith-based education and then to have to close should wake us up. For too long, children in poverty have been sliding into educational duress and hopelessness while we have not acted quickly enough to reorganize our public schools into successful learning institutions and opened the door of private, faith-based schools for people without the means to pay for such education.”

“It is my hope Racine learns from this experience and that people demand better education for the poor, push our legislators to expand the parental choice voucher program throughout the state and begin opening doors to educational opportunity for the most vulnerable children among us.”

The eighth grade class will graduate on June 9. The last day of school will be June 10. A public gathering to celebrate San Juan Diego accomplishments, thank all of the school’s donors and volunteers, and properly send students into the future will be at 5 p.m., June 14 at the school.

Racine's summer art project is sitting pretty

All day long, the artists came, bringing their colorful cargo in pick-up trucks, rental vans, stuffed into the back of SUV's with the rear seat lowered.

Their destination was a warehouse on Mound Avenue, where DRC was collecng this year's summer art project: colorfully painted Adirondack chairs that make up Sunny and Chair... Summer '09 Tour.

By the end of the day, almost all 56 chairs had arrived: chairs, benches, rockers, even a high chair or two. Each a work of art as well as a practical best seat in the house for summer.
Kelly Witte,
with her Cheerfully Charming Chair

This is the eighth year the Downtown Racine Corporation will place public art all over Downtown. To be honest, after dogs in 2002, followed annually by cats, bears, fish and otters, birds and birdbaths in 2006 we thought the project had played itself out. But DRC followed those with lighthouses, then imaginative spheres in 2008 and ... now for something completely different, Adirondack chairs. The chairs were built by Racine's Cedar World Furniture Corporation out of red cedar. There's also an oversized, 7 1/2-foot tall Adirondack chair called Big Boy that will be displayed at Monument Square all summer. It made its debut during the city's St. Patrick's Day parade.

Terry Leopold, DRC's special events coordinator, who was checking in the chairs today, said the project changed from what was originally envisioned. At first, it was just going to be another art event... but DRC quickly realized that the chairs, as artistic as they are, are also ... well, chairs. And so, when you're walking around Downtown this summer, and your feet are killing you -- feel free to sit a spell. That's what they're for, too.

Megan Hunt unloads Sitting Pretty from her SUV

Artists received a $100 stipend to help with the expenses of decorating a chair. For most, however, the work is a labor of love; Joyce Medina, for example, told us her chair -- Ant Arondack, a lovely chair with ants moving in on a painted lunch while a sculpted cat attached to the chairback watches intently -- cost far more than that to create; the material for the cat alone cost $90; the clear-coating at an auto body shop another $100. No matter; "I do it for the love of it," Medina said.

Other chairs were equally original: a pirate chair with a moving ship's wheel and a palm tree; an intricately carved chair with tiny squirrels in the back and two birds' nests / drink holders in the arm rests; chairs in stripes, the Stars and Stripes, flowers, trees, leaping fish, Racine landmarks, picnic table cloths, upholstered arm rests... you name it.

They'll all go on display Downtown starting Monday, and will sit outside all summer, only to be auctioned off at the end of the season.

Their first public display, however, will be at a special preview Saturday night at Wingspread called "Wingstock" (well, this is the 40th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock concert), that will feature the chairs as well as an Alice's Restaurant Buffet (for all you Arlo Guthrie fans), 'cool' psychedelic cocktails, 'far out' '60s music, a 'hang loose' silent auction and 'trips' through Wingspread. Tickets are an un-hippie-like $125 per person, from DRC.

Erica Meredith helped paint mom Connie's Adirondack chair,
Everything's Coming Up Roses

Tech company proposes wireless for North Beach and Festival Hall

The company that brought wireless Internet to Monument Square is looking to expand the service along Racine's waterfront.

TC3 Telecom, 3701 Durand Ave., wants permission from the city to add wireless access points at North Beach, Reef Point Harbor, the Root River near Pugh Marina and the area around Festival Hall.

Dan Byers, president of TC3 Telecom, is scheduled to appear before the Civic Centre Commission on Wednesday to present his plan.

In a letter to the city, Byers said the proposal will not cost the city money. He plans to pay for the service with donations and advertising on the service's web page, which will pop up when people log on. Byers added he'd even pay the city for the electricity needed to run the wireless service.

Byers needs city permission to mount wireless routers on North Beach's beach house, Festival Hall and a light post at the end of Pershing Drive.

RAMAC's Racine Technology Organization would manage the system.

May 25, 2009

Loyal Pontiac owner advises GM: Don't do it!

Racinian Jeff Warg bought his first new car in 1988 -- a Pontiac Fiero GT. That was the same year General Motors killed off the four-year-old Fiero and hauled its production tooling to Spring Hill, Tennessee, to build the Saturn. (Admittedly, the early Fieros had serious engine problems and issues with fires; but by '88 they'd been overcome...)

Warg, right, still has his Fiero -- it has 107,000 miles on the odometer -- and he still hasn't forgiven GM. Worst yet, the giant automaker, struggling to avoid bankruptcy, is now killing off the entire Pontiac brand. Warg doesn't like that either -- and gives GM a piece of his mind in the current issue of BusinessWeek magazine.

Writing the My Take column, Warg says General Motors mishandled Pontiac, its third-best-selling brand, and ignored Pontiac's styling and owner loyalty. He mocks GM Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz for building the iconic GTO overseas, and points out that Pontiac's Solstice roadster would have been even more successful as a Fiero coupe, marketed to the 370,000 Fiero owners wanting a new sports car.

Warg, a Horlick High School grad with a marketing degree from UW-Parkside, has spent 13 years working locally in the auto industry; before that he worked for a market research firm. He offers GM advice from the heart: "GM should eliminate Saturn while keeping Pontiac alive." Failing that, GM should put the Pontiac brand up for sale -- maybe use the proceeds to help repay all those government loans.

If you look carefully, you might see Jeff Warg driving around Racine in his red Fiero, a mid-engine sports car that some enthusiasts, during its short production lifespan, 1984-1988, called "the poor man's Ferrari." Did its styling live up to that? Well, check out the picture at left: it's not a Ferarri, it's an '88 Fiero GT... on eBay right now. Be quick!

As Warg points out, "The Fiero is a unique car, it was the first production car built on a space frame chassis. Ironically, GM’s flagship sports car, the Corvette, is still built on a chassis similar in design to that of my twenty-one-year-old Fiero. The Fiero is popular with kit car companies, as almost all of the body panels bolt on and off quickly. Many people may know that the current Corvette Zo6 has an aluminum chassis; who ever heard about Fiero prototypes that had an aluminum chassis in 1986? A lot of the engineering for the Fiero was done by an outside company (Entech), which was very unusual for Detroit. This car was ahead of its time."

Today's Corvette, by the way, costs anywhere between $48,565 and $103,970. Warg's new Fiero cost $16,500. Who knows, he might be interested in a new one, if GM changes its mind and does the right thing with Pontiac...

Racinian for $200, Alex

What school did today's Jeopardy contestant graduate from?

Ah, yes, it's a trick question: he graduated from more than one school! Harvard would be a correct answer. So would Case High School. Also Jefferson Elementary.

Charles Swanson of Racine is one of the Jeopardy contestants you'll see on today's episode, broadcast at 3:30 p.m. on WLS, Chicago, Time-Warner channel 7, and 6 p.m. on WDJT, Milwaukee, Time-Warner channel 8.

Swanson graduated from Harvard with a degree in government, and from Case High School in 2004 with an International Baccalaureate diploma. His parents are Charles and Anne Swanson; dad's an attorney and mom is principal at Giese Elementary.

As we all know, Jeopardy contestants are sworn to secrecy, so neither Anne nor Charles would tell me how well he did. "He's fooled everyone," said his mom. Still, I didn't get the impression from either of them that he's now independently wealthy, or ready to move from home ... like the guy who won $2.5 million a few years ago. ("Who is Ken Jennings?")

Since graduating from Harvard in January, Swanson has been substitute teaching in Racine Schools. Right now, he's mostly at Jefferson, where he went to school. Which is fine, he said; "I know the teachers."

Swanson, who just turned 23, said his appearance on the show took place exactly three months ago. "It was a really great time. I was out there in L.A. for three days; two days of taping. The first day was spent practicing, getting ready to be on the show. I had to sit through five tapings before doing my own show. The people there were incredible."

The biggest surprise, he said, was that "we weren't allowed to talk to Alex at all; not permitted to chat with him. It's all part of their rules to prevent favoritism." ("What is Jeopardy host Alex Trebek's first name?")

"I really enjoyed the taping; they made it so casual and fun, that after it's over you don't realize you were on TV," he said.

Jeopardy contestants have to pay their own airfare to Los Angeles and their own hotel bills -- although the hotel is subsidized by the show, Swanson says. His mother explained to me that only the winner gets the money the players accumulate during the game; the second-place contestant receives $2,000 and the third-place gets $1,000.

Given all that, how did he do? "I definitely broke even," was all Charles would reveal. Guess we'll have to watch.

May 24, 2009

We remember

Cemeteries always are somber places, but none more so than those where veterans are buried.

And so it was Sunday afternoon at the Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Union Grove, where thousands of uniform headstones are laid out in ever-expanding rows, marking the final resting place of soldiers, sailors, fliers and Marines who fought in U.S. wars.

World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq is chiseled onto stone, sometimes more than one theater of operations as on Harvey J. Bulgrin's headstone: PFC, USA AF, World War II: Naples, Foggio, Rome, Arno, North Appenines. Many list rank: Sgt., PFC, Capt., WAC... Commendations: Air Medal, Bronze Star, Purple Heart... POW. And a final tribute: Beloved father, husband, grandfather.... Sweetie Pie. Loving mother. Peanut. Together again, Now and Forever. Love you, Mom. Thanks for all you have done. My beloved husband.

"You can just feel it, can't you?" said one mother, slowly limping back to her car after placing flowers on a grave. "Everybody should come here..." She choked up, then resumed. "When I buried my husband here, there were eight funerals that day."

The Wisconsin Dept. of Veterans Affairs held its Memorial Day ceremony at the cemetery Sunday morning. All grave sites were decorated with small flags; many with small bouquets of flowers. A widow brought a lawn chair, and sat in silence for a long while at her husband's grave.

About 2 p.m., a lone bugler walked among the graves and played Taps. The dozen or so visitors stopped what they were doing and listened respectfully to the familiar, mournful notes, the first verse running through our heads:
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh...
All is not well, of course, as long as we must dig fresh graves for soldiers who fought all over the world, reserving 105 acres in little Union Grove for the purpose. The allied death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to CNN today, is 5,679. Does that include Brian Naseman, 36, of Racine, a member of the Wisconsin National Guard, killed Friday in Iraq? Who knows? Don't even ask about the number of casualties on the other side, military and civilian. Seven and one-half years after 9/11 there still isn't agreement on the final number who died in the World Trade Center attack; 2,974 is just one of the figures you can find on the 'net.

When he was finished playing Taps, John Neufeld gave a sharp salute to all the brave men and women buried around him, but especially his grandson, Evan Bixler of Racine, who died in Iraq, Dec. 24, 2006.

And the rest of the mourners at the cemetery resumed pulling weeds from a loved-one's burial spot, or adjusting the flowers they'd brought, or saying one more prayer, one more thank you, one more goodbye.

Neufeld asked me, "Do you have someone buried here?"

"Yes," I replied. "All of them."

Racine's Memorial Day parade begins Monday at 10 a.m. at West Boulevard and Washington Avenue; there will be a ceremony at Graceland Cemetery’s Veterans Memorial at 11 a.m. Other services are listed here.