July 10, 2010

Perfect day for a Dragon Boat Race: Racine's annual festival is a great success

The Lincoln Park Boat Club edged out the Racine-based Arashi to win the Great Midwest Dragon Boat Festival in Racine on Saturday. 

The Illinois-based paddlers posted a blistering time of 1 minute, 10 seconds in the finals to finish 3 seconds ahead of Arashi in the 400-meter final. Lincoln Park also posted a time of 1:10 in its second heat, giving it the two fastest times of the festival. 

Arashi, which competes around the country and in Canada, fared well at the event. They were the only other team to break 1 minute, 15 seconds, and did so in all three of its races. 

Outside of the top two teams, a number of local organizations and businesses posted fast times. Among the teams to break 1 minute, 20 seconds on the course included: 
  • InSinkorSwim
  • People Powered Propulsion
  • Spring Dental Dragon Breath
  • Pale Ale Paddlers
  • JC's Jammers
  • Flynnigan's Wake 
  • Angelfish
  • Slipper when Wet
  • Steel Dragons
  • Racine Dental SmileMakers
  • Kenosha West ROWtarians
  • Bucky's Concrete Crew
  • Calvary Clippers
  • Water Warriors

It was a near-perfect day for the races. The weather was warm and calm, creating smooth waters for the boats. Only one team tipped over during the entire day. Past years weather made it difficult for any boat to complete the course. 

One notable result from the day was the success of the team Pink Paddling Power, which is a dragon boat team made up entirely of women breast cancer survivors. The team won its Division E Finals race Saturday and got a big round of applause during the awards ceremony. 

Here are photos from a great day! 

Walking to shore after a race. 

Getting ready to race ... 

Lincoln Park Boat Club, the fastest team of the festival. 

Each boat had a drummer sit in the front, a steersman or steerswoman in the back 
to guide the boat and about 20 paddlers. 

Racers walking back up to the festival grounds after finishing. 

Pink Paddle Power won their finals race! 

Seagulls were hanging out to watch. 

Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!

Some baby ducklings along the shore. 

Walking down to the boats. 

It was an absolutely perfect day for the races. Congratulations to the Rotary Clubs of Racine for another great event!

'That's how we roll!' NBA All-Star Caron Butler holds fifth annual bike giveaway in Racine

Caron Butler talking with kids before going on a bike ride. Butler thanked Walmart and the Racine Police Department for their help in putting the event together. 

Riding down Sixth Street on a new bike, donning a new helmet, a young man yelled out, "That's how we roll!"

Both the bike and helmet were gifts from NBA All-Star Caron Butler, who returned to Racine this weekend to take part in his fifth annual bike giveaway. Butler, a Racine native and member of the Dallas Mavericks, hung out in the parking lot of City Hall Saturday while 250 kids between 6 and 16 years old received new bikes and helmets from Walmart. To receive a bike, the kids had to sign a peace pledge and get the signature of a law enforcement officer.

The event, called the 3D Bike Brigade, was part of Butler's day-long 3D Summer Explosion. Also Saturday, Butler is hosting a free concert at Memorial Hall featuring national recording artists Wacka Floca Flame and Yo Gotti, along with Washington D.C. radio DJ Big Tigger. The 3D Summer Jam is serving as a fundraiser for the Racine County Food Bank. More than 300 people lined up outside of Memorial Hall Friday night to donate canned food in exchange for tickets. The concert is Saturday at 5 p.m.

After the show Butler and other nationally recognized basketball players with Racine ties will meet at the Bray Center for a game.

Along with basketball, Butler is known for his charitable efforts in cities where he plays. He started the bike giveaways in Racine and developed a similar event in Washington D.C. Both have drawn national attention.

Here's more photos from Butler's 3D Bike Brigade in Racine on Saturday ...

Kids waiting outside of City Hall to receive their new bikes.

The Peace Pledge all children had to sign to receive a bike from Butler.

The line outside of City Hall on Saturday morning. 

Kids line up waiting to ride with Butler.

A police officer gets ready to lead Butler and the "bike brigade" down Sixth Street.

And they're off ... 

Butler riding with radio host Big Tigger.

Everyone was required to wear helmets. 

Shooting at Warning Track bar leaves 19-year-old dead

Racine has another homicide. Police reported this morning that a 19-year-old was shot and killed inside The Warning Track Bar at 1301 Washington Ave. late Friday night/early Saturday morning.

Here's their report:
On 7/10/10 at about 2:21 A.M. the Racine Police Department received a call of shots fired insideThe Warning Track Bar at 1301 Washington Ave. Officers responded and located a 19-year-old male shooting victim inside the bar.
Racine Fire Department Rescue also responded, however the 19-year-old male was pronounced deceased at the scene a short time later. A 22-year-old malearrived at Wheaton-Franciscan-All Saints at about 2:30 A.M. reporting injuries from an assault at The Warning Track Bar.
Officers learned there was an altercation inside The Warning Track Bar between severalindividuals which led to the assault of the 22-year-old and shooting of the 19-year-old. No suspects are in custody and the investigation into this incident continues. Pending family notification, the identities of the victims is not being released.

July 9, 2010

Let the races begin! Parade, ceremony kicks off Dragon Boat Festival

Let the races begin!

The Midwest Dragon Boat Festival kicked off Friday night with a raucous parade and opening ceremony featuring lion dancers. The parade featured members of the 41 dragon boat teams signed up to compete in Saturday's races. Growling Pirates, Rum Runners and Pink Ladies were among the teams that walked along Pershing Park Drive from the boat ramp to Samuel Myers Park.

Races begin Saturday at 9 a.m. and are scheduled to run through 3:30 p.m. The best vantage point for the races is along the 1500-block of Main Street overlooking Samuel Myers Park. Loudspeakers along the hill announce the teams competing in each race.

Food and children's activities are available across from Gateway Technical College off of 11th Street along the lake front.

St. Cat's was the first team in the parade, following alum Mayor John Dickert. 

The Rum Runners donned their 1920s outfits and prepared to break Prohibition.

A parade where people can throw candy? Who knew they still do that!

A nice crowd sat along Pershing Park Drive. 

The Glade-iators


That's a great hat!

A dragon dancer in the parade 

Lion dancers at the Midwest Dragon Boat Festival 

The lion dancers were summoned to wake up the dragon boats and bring good luck to the audience.

Mayor Dickert and gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett at the races' opening ceremony.

Mayor Dickert lifts up his daughter so she can paint the horns of a dragon boat head that will be on one of the boats racing tomorrow. The mayor's son looks on. 

Miss Racine at the opening ceremonies.

Sen. John Lehman shows off his temporary tattoo. 

Waving to the crowd!

Rep. Vos rips Doyle on state budget deficit

State Rep. Robin Vos, R-Caledonia, ripped the governor Friday over a report that the 2011-13 state budget is facing a $2.5 billion deficit. Here's his full statement:
Following the release of a memo by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau today showing the upcoming 2011-13 state budget is projected to be $2.5 billion in deficit, Rep. Robin Vos (R-Caledonia) released the following statement:

“When Governor Doyle took office eight years ago, he promised to fix the Wisconsin state budget. This analysis shows us that under his leadership it has only gotten much worse.

“Democrats promised us that when they passed their last budget laden with tax increases it would fix our economic woes. Instead, the deficit is worse and our unemployment rate is still more than 8%.

“It will take many years to repair the financial damage Doyle did by taking as much as he needed from the pocketbooks of Wisconsinites to support his reckless spending habit.

“Wisconsin families deserve better than this.”

A closer look at the NAACP report on Racine's Downtown

We're three days into the release of a leaked NAACP report on the "State of Racine's Downtown." Based on comments here and at the JT, it's been a disaster. But that's all surface response to a report that has a lot more to offer. Here's a closer look at what the report was saying and what it could mean for the city:

1. It was a first draft. Based on interviews with people close to the report, the report "leaked" online this week to Insider News and RacinePost was an extremely early draft of a report that will eventually include data and further research. How early was the draft? It was released weeks, if not months, early.

2. The NAACP's Executive Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday on the report. It's likely at that meeting they'll reveal it was an early draft and commission a deeper look at the allegations and concerns. The committee likely will "clean up" the report before releasing a final document.

3. Where's this all headed? The local NAACP may call for a federal investigation into the treatment of African-American-owned bars in Racine. That could be a real problem for the city.

4. City officials aren't taking the report seriously because it wasn't "sanctioned" by the NAACP, according to a source who received a call from a city official. That's somewhat good news, because the report, as it stands, is not in shape to be taken seriously.

5.  Ken Lumpkin, owner of Insider News, confirmed Friday a key underlying issue in the report is the treatment of African-American-owned bars in the city. A former bar owner himself, Lumpkin said politicians attack bars as a way to look like they're improving neighborhoods.

"Historically, white alderman in African-American districts have used closing down African-American bars to show their commitment to improving the African-American community," said Lumpkin, who sits on the County Board.

6. There's a noticeable decline in the numbers of black-owned bars in Racine over the last 30 years, Lumpkin said. He estimated the numbers have fallen from about 32 bars two decades ago to about 10 bars today. Of those that remain, some have been required by the city to implement expensive security measures that hurt business. One Racine bar owner estimates they've lost $180,000 following requirements placed on their bar by the city, Lumpkin said.

7. Park 6, which may lose its liquor license, is a flash point, Lumpkin said, because it's one of the first African-American-owned bars to open in Downtown Racine. Historically, blacks in Racine have entertained themselves at Inner City bars, Lumpkin said. Park 6, and then The Place on 6th, changed that.

8. Lumpkin said there's a general feeling among African-Americans that they're not welcome in Downtown Racine. True or not, he added, there's a sense that minority-owned bars in general are treated differently than white-owned bars. Lumpkin said he hopes the NAACP crunches data on city bars to investigate this.

9. The best way to solve problems with crowds on Sixth Street, or in any popular entertainment district, is to have police walking beats on busy nights, Lumpkin said. "It's what they do in New Orleans, Memphis, Milwaukee or any area with that many people mixing with alcohol."

11. The leaked draft of the report is fueled by concern among African-American-owned bars, restaurants and businesses, Lumpkin said. "They're afraid of what the city is going to do," he said.

12. Lumpkin said the report marked an important moment for African-Americans in the city. "This could be, and should be, a turning point in forming a direction," Lumpkin said. "African-Americans being left out of  Downtown is probably the greatest issue before the African-American community."

13. Strategically, the leaked memo was either a mistake or a brilliant, according to insiders. One said the memo was leaked way too early and left the NAACP in a difficult position. But another said the memo works because it's designed to fire up African-Americans and create an "us vs. them" mentality. 

14. Regardless, the NAACP has handled the report poorly. It could easily have distanced itself from the document, but instead held off comment and now is firmly tied to the report. One person compared it to Alderman Mike Shields community forum at City Hall. It was a great idea, but the execution was off and it didn't have much of an effect on the community. Now, the organization needs to call the report out for what it was - a very early draft - and get to work finishing up a document with some actual insights into the city. If that happens, it could be the start of change.

See Craig Oliver's interview about the leaked report at the Insider News.

Unified lures California-based educator, writer to head Gifford Elementary

An internationally recognized motivational speaker based in California has agreed to become Gifford Elementary School's new principal. 

Jeff Eben (right) will replace Steve Russo as principal at Gifford. Russo is Unified's Interim Area 1 Superintendent. 

Eben is something of a coup for Unified. An award-winning educator, author and speaker, Eben brings impressive credentials to the job (see his motivational talk here). From his website:
Paralyzed at the age of sixteen in a water-skiing accident, he built his life and career from a wheelchair. Jeff Eben’s twenty-five years in education include coaching football and basketball, teaching, and ten years as a principal, culminating in the creation of a National Blue Ribbon high school in the acclaimed Clovis Unified School District.
His story of hope and leadership philosophy of “Feel the Love” has moved audiences and inspired organizations all over the world, including Oxford University in England. In 1998, Jeff was named Fresno County’s Administrator of the Year, and in 2006 was inducted into the Clovis Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in Education. In 2007, he was honored with Fresno State University’s noted Alumni Award for the Kremen School of Education.
Jeff was appointed Deputy Mayor of Fresno in 2007 and currently serves as the CEO of Fresno’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is the proud father of two grown children and resides in the Fresno area.
Eben resigned from Fresno's Convention and Visitor's Bureau Thursday, effective July 16. Here's Unified's press release about Eben: 
Jeff Eben is New Gifford Elementary Principal
Eben has 21 years of experience in education and is internationally recognized speaker
On Aug. 2, Gifford Elementary School will welcome new Principal Jeff Eben. Eben will replace Steve Russo who has been Gifford Principal for seven years and will now serve as the Racine Unified School District’s Interim Area 1 Superintendent.
Eben plans to relocate from Fresno, Calif., where he has been an educator for 21 years and most recently spent two years as Deputy Mayor and two years as CEO of the Fresno Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
Eben is eager to return to education as a principal at RUSD.
“I am convinced that the school principalship is the best leadership opportunity in any community,” said Eben. “And feel privileged for the opportunity to join the Racine Unified family.”
In Fresno, Eben served as elementary principal for three years and high school principal for seven years in the Clovis Unified School District. He also spent 11 years in the district as teacher, learning director and deputy principal. In 2006, Eben was inducted into the Clovis Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in Education and in 2007, he was honored with Fresno State University’s noted Alumni Award for the Kremen School of Education.
“We are extremely fortunate to have Jeff Eben join our District,” said RUSD Superintendent Dr. Jim Shaw. “His history of leadership success in increasing academic performance growth of students is impressive and I’m confident he’ll be a valuable addition to the Gifford Elementary leadership team.”
In addition to his experience as an educator, Eben has developed a model of school reform called “Feel the Love.” He is an internationally known speaker and lecturer on building culture and has authored three books.  

Eben also appears to have a sense of humor. Check out this video he made while running for Mayor of Fresno:

July 7, 2010

Mayor Dickert helps Pacific Sands test oil spill cleanup product

Here's the full Pacific Sands' press release on its new product to help with the oil spill clean up:
Pacific Sands, Inc., a manufacturer of a broad range of environmentally friendly cleaning products, announced the development of the Critter Cleaner(TM) product for cleaning domestic and wildlife animals that have been contaminated with gooey oil such as generated by the recent Gulf Oil Spill or future transportation related oil spills that could occur on the nearby Great Lakes.

To garner political awareness of Critter Cleaner(TM) for state and federal emergency spill applications, Pacific Sands recruited Racine, WI Mayor John Dickert to participate in a unique Critter Cleaner(TM) product demonstration (see at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VBJVQPh8VM) that shows the product's effectiveness at removing oil using all natural ingredients rather than petrochemicals used in competing products.

Combining the Pacific Sands' proprietary water-based degreaser technology used in the company's Natural Choices "Refillables" line, with the oil spill cleanup experience of U.S. Microbics, Inc. (PINKSHEETS: BUGS) management, Critter Cleaner(TM) was created to clean off oily residue without using harsh solvents, dyes, and chemicals that may irritate the skin, require special equipment and training to apply or may harm the environment. Critter Cleaner(TM) will soon be available to consumers on the www.EcoGeeks.com website and to industrial and commercial clean up users on a BUGS website to be announced.

Pacific Sands president Michael Wynhoff commented, "Critter Cleaner(TM) was specifically developed by PFSD research chemist Dr. Jack Hagarty for use on pets and for contaminated wildlife. We are excited to provide pet owners and victims of the Gulf Oil Spill with environmentally friendly products like Critter Cleaner(TM) and our Natural Choices(TM) product line."

About Pacific Sands, Inc. Pacific Sands, Inc. is an environmental products company that develops, manufactures and sells a wide variety of eco-friendly products for cleaning and water maintenance applications. The company's broad portfolio of products are sold worldwide under numerous private label brands as well as its house brands, ecoone(R) and Natural Choices(TM). For more information about the company and its products visit www.PacificSands.biz and www.EcoGeeks.com

The statements contained in this release and statements that the company may make orally in connection with this release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements, since these forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could significantly and adversely impact the company's business. Therefore, actual outcomes and results may differ materially from those made in forward-looking statements.

Shorewest, First Weber picked to sell city-owned homes

Shorewest and First Weber were picked to sell 20 homes the city is rehabilitating.

The two real estate firms submitted proposals to the city's Loan Board of Review to sell the homes, which will be made available to income-qualified households. The city used federal and state money to purchase homes for the Neighborhood Stabilization program, which Mayor John Dickert is touting as the model for improving the city's housing stock. (See eight of the homes purchased by the city here.)

Dickert, who formerly worked for First Weber, explained a few months back that two firms would be selected to sell the homes to avoid charges of favoritism. The city laid out specific criteria real estate agencies needed to meet, including selling the homes at a 6 percent commission with a 2.4 percent selling commission.

The board approved the contracts on June 17. The City Council did not have to approve the contracts.

Here's the city's Request for Proposals to sell the homes:

DATE: April 28, 2010
TO: Racine Area Real Estate Brokers
FROM: Jean Wolfgang
RE: Request for Qualifications/Proposals to List City-Owned Residential Real Estate
Through various federal programs the City of Racine is rehabilitating about 20 homes that will need to be sold to income-qualified households. Properties include the following with more to be added:
1706 Maple, 1537 Thurston, 2026 Orchard, 1317 Albert, 1124 Irving, 630 Hagerer, 1125 Grand, 1132 Irving, 1016 Park, 1841 Villa, 944 Villa, 900 Center, 906 Walnut, 1112 Villa, 1732 Mead, 1805 Mead, 1031 Ninth, 912 Birch
The City is seeking responsible real estate brokers with designated responsible agents to list the properties at a 6% commission offering a 2.4% selling commission. The City may list with one firm or choose to list groups of properties with various firms. Firms wishing to list properties for the City of Racine must submit the following.
• Application for the broker and for each full-time agent that will be involved. (See attached)
• Proof of insurance to the satisfaction of our City Attorney, including errors and omissions.
• Copies of all applicable licenses. (Agents must be licensed and have at least 3 years of experience.)
• Examples of internet advertising that would be provided for these properties.
• List of advertising (including electronic advertising) to be used including within Racine and other markets such as Milwaukee or Kenosha. Include frequency of advertising
• Resume of each agent including years of experience and experience working with any programs such as down payment assistance or the IDA program.
• Proposal narrative including frequency of open houses, agent availability, sales strategy, and proposed listing contract.
Selection will be based on quality of marketing and services, experience, and proof of responsibility.
Submittals are due May 17, 2010 by 4:30 p.m. to City Development, Attention: Jean Wolfgang, Room 102, 730 Washington Avenue, Racine, WI 53403, or by email to jean.wolfgang@cityofracine.org, or by fax to 262-635-5347. Staff will conduct interview of top candidates before making a recommendation to the Loan Board of Review for final selection. Please contact Jean Wolfgang at 262-636-9476 with any questions.

City may automatically disqualify developers, contractors

Developers with unpaid taxes, outstanding health code violations or a record of unfinished work with the Redevelopment Authority would be automatically disqualified from RDA projects under a new proposal.

The Redevelopment Authority was scheduled to take up the proposal on Friday. The resolution would establish "minimum qualifications" for potential developers and contractors. Here's the resolution:

WHEREAS, from time to time, the Redevelopment Authority receives proposals to purchase of property owned by the Authority and proposed contracts for construction, rehabilitation, and environmental remediation; and
WHEREAS, the public interest is served by having generally applicable, minimum qualifications for such potential developers and contractors; and 
WHEREAS, fairness requires that these minimum qualifications be stated formally and in advance of consideration of specific proposals from developers or
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Redevelopment Authority adopts the following policies:
A. Proposals will be rejected from any party (as an individual or as part of an entity) who:

  • Has delinquent real or personal property taxes in the City of Racine
  • Has had property acquired by the County of Racine through tax-foreclosure within the previous five years
  • Has an outstanding judgment from the City of Racine
  • Has outstanding health or building code violations or orders from the City’s
  • Health Department or Building Inspection Department that are not actively being abated
  • Has been convicted of a felony that causes concern with respect to neighborhood stability, health, safety or welfare
  • Has uncompleted performance on a RDA or City sale agreement, outstanding offer to purchase, or contract except upon approval of the Executive Director based on history of performance, or
  • Is listed on the federal list of debarred contractors, https://www.epls.gov/epls/search.do

B. Tax and court records will be checked prior to closing on a property sale or execution of a contract. If any of these conditions are found to exist, the development proposal or proposed contract is automatically
disqualified and rejected, and the Executive Director shall not execute any option to purchase, agreement for sale, or proposed contract with such a
C. Appeal of a determination by the Executive Director that a party is disqualified and rejected shall be made to the Authority in writing, explaining why the determination is in error. The appeal shall be considered by the Authority at a regularly scheduled meeting.

Rasmussen on CAR 25 board

Somewhere along the way I missed that Jim Rasmussen, an old JT colleague, was appointed to the city's CAR 25 board. Not only was he appointed, he's now chairman of the commission. Along with being good at just about everything, Rasmussen was a pioneer in the use of video at the JT and helped work on Image Management's RacineTube. He's a good addition to the commission.

City may help construction training program buy new building

The city may help a program that trains construction workers buy a new building.

City Development Director Brian O'Connell is recommending the City Council agree to help the First Choice Pre-Apprenticeship program purchase a new building. First Choice is now located in the former Racine firehouse at 1437 Marquette St. They're looking to move to a larger facility to expand its training opportunities.

First Choice is looking for a new building that will allow them to build an entire house indoors. The space would allow them to expand programs and better train potential workers.

O'Connell sent a letter to the City Council asking for assistance for First Choice. His request was referred to the Finance and Personnel Committee, which will take up the proposal in closed session.

The location of the property and the amount of financial assistance is not being disclosed at this time, according to city records.

City meets with BMXers, skateboarders to plot future of skateboard

City parks officials met with skateboard park users Wednesday to talk about short and long-term changes to the park.

With scooters and BMX bikes flying around him, Tom Molbeck, manager of recreation and cultural services for the city, and other parks employees stood in the middle of the skate park and talked about moving ramps, tearing down fences and maintaining one of the city's most heavily used parks.

Molbeck was joined by Duncan Cortez, youth services coordinator for the city, and TJ Hearn, an intern who has been gathering input from people who use the park. They were joined by long-time volunteer Kuko Padilla and Dave Namowicz, who helped create the skateboard park 12 years.

The productive meeting is expected to lead to an annual maintenance plan and a five-year plan for the park.

(Photo-right: Tom Molbeck, middle, meets with city staff and skateboard park users about changes to the park.)

Padilla, who has done much of the work on the park over the last decade, said he was happy with the meeting and the city's involvement in making improvements.

A few changes being considered include:

  • Removing fences on the east and west sides to generally make the area more attractive and to cut down on maintenance costs 
  • Rework the southwest corner of the park to create another area for skateboarders. The ramps there now don't quite flow like the original design had hoped. 
  • This summer the city plans to fix cracks in the skating surface, and Gateway Technical College has people lined up to paint the ramps. 
  • Long-term, Padilla and others would like to look at expanding the park into open space along the west end of the park. There's grass there now, but it's unclear who owns the land.
  • Add more ramps for younger skaters to learn on. 
  • Add a soda and/or juice machine outside of the skate park. 
Molbeck said he was impressed by the kids and adults who use the skateboard park. Not only are they great athletes, but they take care of each other and the park. During the meeting, older users said they wanted to make sure younger skaters had a place to practice and develop skills. 

Molbeck said the 5-year plan was meant to bring a little more attention inside of City Hall to the skateboard park. 

"It want it to be on the map," he said. 

Quite possibly the only person in Racine wearing a winter cap on Wednesday.

For Namowicz, Wednesday's meeting was just a reaffirmation of the efforts he pulled together 12 years ago to turn old, unused tennis courts into a safe place to skate, bike and hang out. 

Standing in the park, Namowicz recalled 200 volunteers gathering on the courts to help build the ramps, which were paid for with $135,000 in grants from local foundations and businesses.

Namowicz, who is president of Warren Industries, got involved in the project because his son was an inline skater. At the time skaters didn't have anywhere to go, and some got in trouble with police. Tapping his business experience, Namowicz organized a community effort to win approval for the park and build it from the ground up. 

Seeing a new generation of kids and adults using the park and trying to make it better made, Namowicz said it was worthwhile. 

"This is a great group of kids who care about each other," he said. 

If you're looking to checkout the skateboard park, there are a couple of upcoming events:

July 24 is the city's 11th annual Lake F/X Games from noon to 4 p.m. Skateboard competitions will run from noon to 2 p.m. and BMX competition will run from 2-4 p.m. 

Participants will compete, and be judged, in four age groups: 11 and under, 12 - 14, 15 -17, and 18 & up. Awards will be presented to the top four finishers in each age group. Participants may register at the event. Minors must have a parent present to register. The registration fee is $5 and includes a competition t-shirt.

Helmets are required to participate!

The Lake F/X Games are co-sponsored by Gateway Technical College, The Friday Optimist Club, Sky High Skate Shop and Racine Cyclery.

Also, Aug. 28 will be Padilla's annual summer-end jam. The annual day-long event includes riding, food and live music.

Kim Wendt at it again...this time for $500,000!

UPDATE, July 8: Kim Wendt's wishlist/budget for Mitchell Middle School -- if it wins the $500,000 -- is below.

Original post:

Teacher Kim Wendt is at it again.

Only, this time, the stakes are bigger -- much bigger!

Wendt, you'll remember, won $50,000 from Pepsi for Racine's Mitchell Middle School to revamp its science classrooms. That project is under way, as we reported two weeks ago.

Well, now she's discovered an even bigger prize: $500,000 from Kohl's Dept. Stores. Kohl's, in celebration of Kohl's Cares' 10th anniversary, will donate $500,000 to each of 20 schools.

Wendt discovered the program this morning, soon after it went online. She writes, "I'm still processing it all, but want to jump out to an early start, as many educators take a much-deserved break." (You snooze, you lose, in other words.)

 Wendt, 29, a science teacher at Mitchell for five years, is still mulling over what she'd do to improve the school with that kind of serious cash -- she's meeting with the principal today for ideas. But she writes on the Kohl's Cares website:

"We need a new cafeteria, new concrete and basketballs courts, new band, art, choir, drama, and gym equipment. Technology such as smart boards, i-clickers, color printers, laptops would all be items that we need! Of course we could always use more items."

She hopes to to pull together a budget and plan by the end of the day, as she "hammers out all the details from Kohl's" while sifting through the tool kit they provide.

Individuals are permitted to 20 votes (with a maximum of five for any specific school's project.) So far this morning, Mitchell Middle School has 36 votes... but we're sure that number will increase as soon as Wendt fires up the cross-country team that pushed Mitchell Middle School over the top in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge.

Vote for Mitchell Middle School HERE. It's a Facebook app; if you have trouble getting in, go to the Kohl's Cares website and insert Mitchell Middle in the search box.

And after you vote for Kim's entry, take a look at former Racine teacher Pete Wilson's for a $50,000 Pepsi grant, and vote for his!

UPDATE: After spending time with Mitchell Middle School's principal and head engineer, here's the budget Kim Wendt has proposed to Kohl's -- and voters.
Mitchell Middle School Kohl’s Cares Budget Proposal- It is a work in progress

Facilities Upgrades to Our 180,000 sq. foot Building Built in 1937
  1. An electrical overhaul/upgrade to accommodate our growing technology needs-$75,000
  2. Replacement of old light fixtures/ Installation of more light fixtures-$50,000
  3. New ceiling tiles and a switch from 2’X4’ tiles to 2’ X 2’ tiles to eliminate damaged tiles-$75,000
  4. New paint-$50,000
  5. New Vinyl Composition Tiles- $92,500
  6. New curtains for 2 theaters-$2,000
  7. New divider for gymnasium- $1,000
Landscaping Revival- $50,000
  1. Appropriate shrubbery that is low maintenance and appropriate
  2. Conversion of our courtyard into a functional learning space
  3. Use of the courtyard for environment projects and community involvement
Technology Refresh
  1. Purchase of 60 LCD projectors mounted from the ceilings (one per classroom)- $15,000 (about $250 apiece)
  2. Purchase of 15 Elmo document cameras- $11,250 (about $750 apiece)
  3. Purchase of 15 scanners- $2,250 (about $150 apiece)
  4. Motorized Black Projection Screen for Theater with LCD wall mount- $3500
Furniture Overhaul
  1. Purchase of 25 oval cafeteria tables- $37,500 (about $1,500 apiece)
  2. Conversion of the cafeteria in a multi-purpose flex space when not in use
  3. Purchase of 450 tables for 60 classrooms (about 7 tables per class for 28 students on average per class)-  $45,000 (about $100 apiece)
  4. Purchase of 1,000 chairs- $40,000 (about $40 apiece) 
    TOTAL BUDGET: $500,000

Meanwhile, Kim is on the hunt for votes. By Thursday morning, the project was up to 238 votes...

Op-Ed: Downtown needs hospitality – for everyone

By Randolph D. Brandt

It’s not hard to make people feel unwelcome, and perception easily becomes reality.

Certainly I’ve noticed a certain disparity in the way downtown applications from minority business people are handled by the city’s regulatory boards.

I haven’t noticed a particularly heavy-handedness by our police force, in general. They don’t seem to be as hard-ass as cops in some other cities. I don’t know how the private security acts.

If there’s selective enforcement or overreaction at work, authorities should examine that problem and fix it. Again, perception goes a long way toward making reality. If people are too quick to call the cops in their nervousness (and perhaps their prejudice), they should think twice. Is that crowd of color some threat, or just a bunch of people having a good time? Officers responding should keep this in mind as well. Nobody wants no response to a possible call for help, but everybody certainly deserves a measured, respectful response, not a preconceived invasion in force. In those first few minutes, it takes intelligent, well-trained officers to assess a situation and act accordingly. I’d hope our local force is up to it; indeed, I believe they likely are.

The NAACP’s report on downtown, granted, may be a little short on facts and long on assertion, but one finding certainly rings true: There’s no evidence that there’s significantly more trouble from one entertainment venue or another. As I think back over the past decade, the most remarkable (and serious) incidents have occurred in and around Main Street venues. That isn’t to cast aspersion on one outlet or another, just to note that trouble’s where you find it, and it’s no respecter of preconceived notions. You can encounter bad actors anywhere, so while authorities should be vigilant everywhere, they shouldn’t seem oppressive anyplace.

The city administration and the downtown community can take some steps here as well. The city should assess applications for minority businesses in the same way they assess other applications, not treating them from the get-go as some “problem.” (Maybe they give everybody too hard a time, but minority entrepreneurs seem to get an even harder time for some reason.)

On another, perhaps more important level, let’s take some positive steps to break down the island of defacto social segregation in our downtown. Re-opening the Laurel Salton Clark Clark fountain was one. Let’s consider another: Sponsor, host and pay for the annual Juneteenth celebration as a citywide event, centered on the very Monument Square (then Haymarket Square) where Racine residents stood up to the seizure of Joshua Glover. We put up a stone monument there. Let’s make it a human monument, each year come June, a celebration where the entire city meets and celebrates these important historic steps toward freedom for all citizens.

There are steps that can break down walls and change perceptions.

And they can make a new reality.

Randolph D. Brandt is the retired editor of the Journal Times.