November 14, 2009

Holiday season arrives in Racine

Racine's holiday season began Saturday night, with an hour-long parade that culminated in the lighting of the city's Christmas tree in Monument Square.

Thousands of families and kids lined the streets Downtown, in milder than usual weather, watching more than 50 parade entries and happily waiting for the arrival of Santa, who did not disappoint. There were floats, rescue dogs, reindeer, beauty pageant winners, dancers and kids singing carols. Postal carriers collected kids' letters to Santa -- and promised an answer to each. Here are a few of the pictures we snapped along the route.

Milwaukee's Dancing Grannies

Some new toys from Bombardier in Sturtevant

Postal carriers collected mail for Santa

Southeastern WI Harley Riders opened the parade

The traditional parade finale: Santa Claus himself

Kids of all ages happily greeted Santa

Brad and Dani Weber brought Emma, 17 months, to the lighting

Parade Chair Barb Ehrhart took her grandson on Santa's float

November 13, 2009

Gateway celebrates opening of new welding lab

Gateway Technical College held an open house celebrating its new welding lab on Thursday at the Technical Building on the Racine Campus.

The 9,000-square-foot lab features 18 booths each with four different kinds of welding equipment. The lab allows Gateway to deliver modern practical welding training – the larger space means more opportunity to work with larger fabrication projects and the additional training it provides. The lab offers improved training opportunities and experiences for welding students because of its state-of-the-art equipment.

Attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Mayor John Dickert; Gateway President Bryan Albrecht; Gateway welding instructors Mark Uttech and Ben McFarland; Gateway Board of Trustees President Fred Burkhardt; and Jim Zondlak from Mahar Tools and Bruce Jensen from Bert Jensen & Sons.

21st Century Prep swears in student peer mediators

Judge Faye Flancher shakes hands with newly sworn-in mediators

Fourteen fifth, sixth and seventh graders from the 21st Century Preparatory School were sworn in as peer mediators on Tuesday, by Judge Faye Flancher in her courtroom.

Last month, the students attended a two-day training program that provided them and their advisors with conflict management skills, problem-solving strategies, and intensive instruction in the peer mediation process. Active listening, dealing with feelings, effective questioning techniques, and building workable agreements are highlighted.

Mediation is a process for resolving disputes and conflicts in which a neutral third party acts as a moderator seeking to work out differences constructively. Mediation provides the school with an alternative to traditional disciplinary practices. Peer mediation is not about finding who is right or wrong; instead, students are encouraged to move beyond the immediate conflict and learn how to get along with each other.

The peer mediators for this school-year are: Sierra Hogard, Jackson Tracy, Makayla LaRue, Etaly Perkins, Isabella Huizar and Emma Graves, 5th grade; Brianna Smith, Jada Colbert, Fernando Huerta and Marissa Dyess, 6th grade; Ahmad Qawi, Caitlin Obernberger, DeAysa Riley and Ashley Coutts-Heaney, 7th grade.

Not every kind of problem is suitable for peer mediation. Assault or other criminal activities are usually not referred to the school’s mediation program. Common situation involving name-calling, rumors, bumping into students in the hallways and bullying can be successfully resolved through peer mediation.

The peer mediation team at 21st Century Prep School

Mason asks state-county sit-down on Wisconsin Shares

Lost in the misdirected obfuscating shots over Cory Mason's remark about the county's inadequate Wisconsin Shares oversight is this:
  • Fraud in Racine County was the centerpiece of the Journal-Sentinel's first investigative article, back on Jan. 25. Refresh your memory here and re-read how county workers continually missed warning signs and kept the checks flowing for years. Part 2 of the series raised the county's fraud ante to about $1 million in just the handful of cases the newspaper investigated.
  • And then three days later came County Executive Bill McReynold's reaction, in a Journal Times article whose headline said it all: "No county inadequacy over child care system, says McReynolds." He went on to give a more nuanced response than that -- "I don't condone fraud," for instance -- but at the same time seemed more interested in investigating how the newspaper got its facts than stopping the fraud.
Taking those two points into account, we saw nothing out of the ordinary when Mason said on the Assembly floor, that county officials "failed to take full responsibility for the child care fraud that's been going on in Racine."

But county officials -- um, mostly Republican county officials or those reporting to them -- were shocked, shocked!

So now we've had a week of potshots taken at Mason, D-Racine, for stating the obvious: dueling commentaries on the JT's editorial page, two County Board members taking sides, a JT editorial calling for everyone to make nice, accept responsibility and fix the system.

Mason today made his own effort to tone down the rhetoric and make peace. He invited county officials to sit down with him and state officials for a discussion about Wisconsin Shares. That could be more promising and less like the invitation to a hanging county officials earlier extended to Mason -- to have him come to a County Board meeting to explain his votes and defend his criticisms.

“The issues surrounding Wisconsin Shares are too important for us to discuss through the press, as has unfortunately happened in recent days,” said Mason. “Both County officials and legislators must work together to ensure the program’s success. I am interested in a productive, respectful dialogue about Shares to guarantee that we can meaningfully pair tougher state laws with effective County enforcement.”

Mason proposes a meeting with McReynolds, Board Chair Peter Hansen, and Human Services Board Chair Mike Miklasevich, Rep. Peter Barca who co-chairs the Legislature’s Joint Audit Committee, and Rep. Tamara Grigsby, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Children and Families. "Rep. Barca will bring the details and experience of the Legislative Audit Bureau’s recent and ongoing audit of the Shares program. Rep. Grigsby can bring her insight as the lead author of the bill passed last week by the Legislature cracking down on Shares fraud," Mason said.

“I hope we can convene as soon as possible," Mason said, "and meet for as long as necessary to ensure that we get to the bottom of current state-county tensions related to the Wisconsin Shares program. I am looking forward to this important and hopefully productive conversation. I hope that Racine County’s officials share my desire to work together to ensure the integrity of Shares and preserve this vital program which serves so many of the Racine-area’s working families.”

It'll be interesting to see whether this meeting takes place, and whether anything comes of it. For now, it appears that Republicans are having too much fun trying to make Mason the scapegoat and planting seeds for the next election.
Full disclosure: As most readers of this site already know, my daughter works for Cory Mason; she had nothing to do with this article. -- Pete Selkowe

November 12, 2009

A dual biography of two of our artistic native sons

Root River with D.P. Wigley, from the State Street Bridge
Watercolor, ink and pencil, 1939, by Theodore Czebotar

By John Dey
For RacinePost

Racine’s unofficial poet laureate David Kherdian has written a touching portrait of another artistic native son, Theodore Czebotar, whose paintings and sketches of Racine were featured earlier this year by the Mathis Art Gallery downtown.

Czebotar’s watercolors of local scenes and buildings do for the eye what Kherdian’s well-drawn poems do for the ear, preserving an artistic vision of the old Racine, the industrial town of hard-working immigrant families somewhere on the young side of the 20th century.

But it was a town that young men go walking from as well. Kherdian with kindred sympathy for Czebotar, who preceded him by about a half generation, gives us a compelling picture of a young artistic soul at odds with a life being drawn up for him by parents.

It is in some ways a dual biography, for those who know Kherdian, as he holds up Czebotar’s compulsion to leave Racine for artistic reasons as a lens for viewing his own story.

Finding Theodore Czebotar
by David Kherdian. Tavnon Books, 2009, $25
Cover art: Self-portrait by Czebotar

Both were young, from immigrant families – Czebotar Polish and Kherdian Armenian – ethnic identities that shared a sense of being put upon, a downtrodden quality.

Kherdian writes about Czebotar not from memory but from notes gathered from surviving relatives and from his own research in the last year or so. That he did not know the artist is amazing, given his insight in piecing together the tale of his life.

We follow Czebotar from Racine to the west coast and back, then to New York for several successful gallery exhibitions. In between he befriends a rising William Saroyan, makes a great splash in New York art circles, and finally finds a wife and settles in a small homestead in rural New York.

Peripatetic, yet always returning to Racine, Czebotar became reclusive and is a forgotten artist today. This book with its warm-hearted, engaging style will help to correct that.
John Dey is a reference librarian at the Racine Public Library

The book can be purchased from Dey at the Library, Martha Merrell's Books (online), Milaeger's and the Racine Art Museum.

For more examples of Czebotar’s work, visit
Mathis Gallery's website. Although the gallery's show ended last February, Emile Mathis still has some Czebotar paintings on hand.

More about David Kherdian, when he was awarded the Racine Public Library's Emily Lee Award, is here. And here's his website.

St. Monica's honors its 19 veterans... and all vets

Stella Supiano holds photos of herself and her deceased husband;
he was a Marine during WWII and she was a WAC

Dick Roloff, a volunteer at St. Monica's Senior Citizens Home, sent us these pictures from the Veteran's Day program held yesterday at the assisted living center, 3920 Green Bay Rd.

The program honored the 19 veterans now living at St. Monica's, as well as all veterans.

The Agerholm-Gross Detachment of the Marine Corps League performed a living reenactment of the flag-raising on Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima. Flag raisers, below, were: J. Neufeld (representing Harlon Block), D. Kramer (representing Rene Gagen), J. Maller (representing Mike Strank), J. Solberg (representing John Bradley), S. Buchaklian (representing Franklin Sousley) and J. Thompson (representing Ira Hayes).

Pat Murphy narrated the program.

November 11, 2009

Lakeview Pharmacy offers free medication alerts

Did you take your medication today?

Lakeview Pharmacy is offering a new service to help patients keep track, by providing daily reminders.

The service, aimed at improving patient safety, is called My Dose Alert. It helps patients keep track of medications by providing telephone, text or email alerts daily, at whatever time the patient specifies.

According to a report by the National Council of Patient Information and Education, 84 percent of patients say forgetfulness is the major cause of medication non-adherence. Medication therapy has become more sophisticated over the years, with people of all ages taking multiple medications. One out of two patients does not take or refill medications as instructed by the prescribing physician, according to the World Health Organization.

Lakeview Pharmacy's solution takes the worry about complicated medication schedules. People sign up for the program at the pharmacy (or it can be done by mail), and their specific medications and the times they want alerts, are entered into a database. Lakeview has a staff member available to answer questions or concerns. Patients should notify the pharmacy when there are changes in medication. Alerts are then made automatically.

“We are very pleased to be the only pharmacy in southeastern Wisconsin to offer this important service,” said Amy Schiveley, PharmD, managing pharmacist. “It is free to everyone in the community, not just our current patients. My Dose Alert is very valuable because patients taking medication incorrectly will not get the desired results. Many times physicians determine a certain medication is not working and may change the medication or dosage, possibly leading to a more expensive drug or uncomfortable side effects.”

Lakeview Pharmacy, at 516 Monument Square, is open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information stop in or visit the My Dose Alert website.

November 10, 2009

More national courtroom exposure for Racine -- oh, joy

As if Racine hasn't had enough national exposure from miserable court cases -- Gary Becker's upcoming trial and the SC Johnson trucking scam come immediately to mind, neither one of them over -- on Thursday we get another round.

Oh, joy.

This time, it involves hairless cats and rambunctious chihuahuas, the starting point of an angry dispute between two former friends. The venue: the Judge Joe Brown show, which bills itself as the No. 2 syndicated courtroom show and tells us it's been on the air for 11 years. No, we never heard of it either, but a check of local TV listings shows "It's Joe time" every weekday at 3 and 3:30 p.m. on WITI-TV, Fox 6 in Milwaukee, two episodes daily -- right before Judge Judy, who we have heard of (but never watch either.)

Judge Joe Brown's PR aparatus gives us this summary of "our" episode, which will be broadcast on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 3 p.m.:
"Dawn Talos, 31, left, is suing her ex-friend, Nicole Brainerd, 29,, right, for $350. Talos claims she loaned the defendant $300 which the defendant refuses to repay after they had a falling out regarding pet sitting. Brainerd claims she paid back most of the loan and gave the rest to her daughter after the plaintiff canceled a pet sitting job with her."
Reminds us of the famous quote by David Frost: "Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home." If this kind of "entertainment" is your cup of tea... well, enjoy. Please don't tell us how it all comes out.

Actually, minimal Goog-search reveals that Judge Joe Brown has an interesting backstory , although whether this is a positive recommendation is up for debate.To quote Wikipedia:

Brown became the first African-American prosecutor in the city of Memphis...before becoming a judge on the State Criminal Court of Shelby County, TN. Brown was thrust into the national spotlight while presiding over James Earl Ray's last appeal of Ray's conviction for the assassination of Martin Luther King. Brown was removed from the reopened investigation of King's murder due to alleged bias—former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of Georgia wrote that Brown told her and the Congressional Black Caucus unequivocally, that the so-called murder rifle was not the weapon that killed Martin Luther King, Jr....It was during this time that Judge Brown came to the attention of the producers of Judge Judy.

November 9, 2009

Ashley, a little Boxer looking for a new home

Want a new girlfriend as this holiday season approaches? One who will never criticize your party outfits, or pout if she doesn't get jewelry for Christmas?

Meet Ashley, an 8-month-old Boxer mix. She is brindle-colored, with white, and has a dark mask. She is mixed with something smaller than Boxer, so she will remain slightly smaller and lighter; she'll be a medium-sized adult with a slender, delicate build.

Our friends at Countryside Humane Society tell us Ashley is very eager to please and enjoys being with people. She also gets along well with other dogs.

Ashley is recommended for children four years old and up. She still has the activity level of a puppy.

To take a look, stop in at Countryside Humane Society's shelter 2706 Chicory Road, or call (262) 554-6699.

November 8, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Dave Novak snaps a picture as tree is lifted from his yard

It took less time to set up Racine's 25' tall Christmas tree in Monument Square than it usually takes me to set up mine in the living room.

And Racine's had to be cut down and transported from Mount Pleasant.

Crews from Klaus Cranes, Dykstra Brothers and Tree Guys began the process at 8 a.m. By 9:30, the tree was resting in place in Monument Square.

This year's tree was donated by Dave and Theresa Novak of 5115 East Prairie View Drive, who were happy to get it out of their front yard, where it blocked the view from their living room. Dave agreed the tree was "very beautiful," but he's wanted to cut it down since he moved into his home two years ago.

Crane gently lowers tree
onto Monument Square

A retired Vietnam veteran, with 20 years' service, who has Army, Marine and POW service flags flying from a tall pole in his yard -- and two of his five children, Douglas and Christopher, serving in the military -- Dave dedicated the tree to servicemen everywhere.

He estimated the age of the tree at about 32 to 36 years. "My house was built in 1968," he said, "and another tree I cut down yesterday had 32 rings."

In any case, it took less than 30 minutes for workmen to hook the tree up to a large crane and lift it from in front of Novak's house onto a flatbed trailer. It quickly followed a police car escort to Monument Square, where it was gently lifted into place without incident. The lights and decorations are scheduled to be hung over the next couple of days.