September 4, 2010

Letter: Sheriff candidate Gonzalez thanks veterans for service

Last Saturday, an old friend invited me to attend the 5th Annual Fishing with the Vets outing, organized and run by the “Friends of Veterans” in Wind Lake. The event has become a yearly tradition that brings together veterans, living at the Union Grove Veterans Home, with volunteers who provide our vets with some well-deserved R&R. The event is based at the Wind Lake public boat launch, where canopies and tables are pitched so the vets can enjoy a wonderful spread of home cooked food, take turns fishing on pontoon boats, or simply enjoy the ride.

It was an honor to be invited, but the real privilege was being able to stand amidst the remnants of the American hero, described by Tom Brokaw as “The Greatest Generation.” Long after the din of the battle has faded, they course through the twilight of their  lives; quiet sentinels of a hard earned freedom that should never be taken for granted.

Today, our veterans continue to pay the toll required of us so we may enjoy the privilege of being called Americans. The legacy of the American serviceman lives on, epitomized by the  men and women who serve in the armed forces of the United States, at home and oversees. It is a fundamental bond that spans generations and unites us in the common cause of the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As I watched these grizzled warriors quietly move out, my mind wandered back to General Douglas McArthur’s farewell speech at West Point. It remains one of the most stirring tributes to the American Serviceman that I’ve ever read, evoking an emotional response that rises from deep within and gets lodged in my throat. General McArthur distilled that credo, that bond, into three simple words that remain just as real today as they were back then, “Duty, Honor, Country…”

I leave you with a quote from the General’s parting words and urge you to remember that freedom isn’t free. It has been bought with the sacrifice of countless men and women who believed in this good and noble cause—a rich and wondrous melting pot called America.

“The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished - tone and tints. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen then, but with thirsty ear, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.”

General Douglas McArthur
May 12, 1962

To the veterans who have come before us, are here today, and are yet to come—thank you for your service.

Semper Fi,

Gonzalo Gonzalez
Caledonia, WI

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September 3, 2010

Schmaling touts law enforcement, business experience in run for Sheriff

Early in his adult life Chris Schmaling realized he loved two careers: law enforcement and business. His choice? Both.

Schmaling, a candidate for Racine County Sheriff, opened the first of two Subway restaurants at the same time he was hired as a sworn officer with the Sheriff's Department. He was just 23 years old.

"When I went for the loan the bank asked, 'How are you going to do both?'" Schmaling said. "I wanted to prove I could do it."

Many days working 16 or more hours, Schmaling built up a law enforcement career while also building his small business. As he learned to be an undercover officer, jailer, patrolman and investigator, he also learned how to manage a staff, work the accounting books and market his business. Both paths paid off.

Schmaling worked his way up to investigator in the Sheriff's Department and helped solve a number of high-profile cases, including the Teri Jendusa-Nicolai abduction. He also opened a second Subway restaurant and built up his businesses to $500,000 a year in annual sales, and then sold the restaurants for a healthy profit when he and his wife were expecting their first child.

Schmaling is now looking to combine his law enforcement experience with his business background as Racine County's next sheriff. He said his background in both areas make him uniquely qualified for the job.

"The Sheriff's Department needs to be run like a business," he said. "If you look at the position of sheriff, they have customers who are paying for a service. Their job is make sure the business is top notch."

Schmaling, the youngest of nine siblings, said the drive to pursue two careers at once came from his father, who was a life-long factory worker at AMC, later Chrysler, in Kenosha. "He worked every day and took every hour of overtime he could get," Schmaling said of his father.

Schmaling's law enforcement career began in jail. After graduating from Bradford High School, Schmaling earned an associates degree from Gateway Technical College in criminal science and was hired on at the Lake County Correctional Facility in Illinois. He watched 20 inmates in an open room with little back up. "There was nothing between you and the inmates," Schmaling said of his first duty. "You learned how to talk to people real quick."

Former Sheriff, now County Executive, Bill McReynolds hired him as a sworn officer in 1995. During the interview, McReynolds asked Schmaling where he saw himself in 15 years. Schmaling's response? "Sitting in your chair interviewing someone like me." As Schmaling recalls, McReynolds chuckled and then offered him the job.

His first work with the Sheriff's Department was as an undercover drug buyer. "My first time out  I bought marijuana and cocaine," Schmaling said. 'I didn't have any use for drugs, have never used them in my life, but I fit into the role well."

Schmaling then transferred inside the Racine County Jail and then became a patrolman, where he responded to calls, learned how to collect evidence and investigated traffic accidents. "I wanted to be a cop who could do different things," he said.

Schmaling worked his way into an investigator's job, where he took on several difficult cases. He was the lead investigator on cases against at least three law enforcement officers, and built cases to have all of them dismissed for illegal activities. Those cases drew commendations from local police chiefs and prosecutors.

"I told the law enforcement officers I was investigating, 'I can be your best friend or your worst enemy,'" Schmaling said. "'If you're innocent, I'll work long and hard to prove you didn't do it. If you're guilty, I'll work long and hard to prove you did.'"

The Jendusa-Nicolai case earned Schmaling and his fellow investigators and officers national attention for saving the Waterford woman's life. Jendusa-Nicolai was savagely attacked by her ex-husband, stuffed in a garbage can and dumped in a storage locker in Wheeling, Ill. Schmaling and Detective Keith Dobesh worked the case for over a day straight, interrogating suspect David Larsen and following up on leads. Dobesh found a receipt in Larsen's wallet for the storage locker, and police found Jendusa-Nicholai beaten, bound and left for dead in freezing conditions.

Schmaling got to the scene where Jendusa-Nicolai was found just as she was being wheeled into an ambulance. "Her hair was charcoal, wet from blood," he said. "I'd seen a picture of her and she was this beautiful, vibrant woman. When I looked at the woman (on the stretcher), I was asking, 'Could that be her?' She looked nothing like the picture. I couldn't make the ID, so I ran up to her and said, 'What's your name?' 'Teri from Racine,' she replied."

Word of the story spread around the country. The case is remarkable because police located Jendusa-Nicolai alive more than a day after she disappeared. "He'd come to expect we wouldn't find her alive," Schmaling said.

Now, Jendusa-Nicolai is a national figure. She's appeared on several TV shows, including Oprah, and gives talks to young women about early signs of an abusive relationship. She's helped many women avoid serious injury and abuse.

"Teri is a fantastic human being," Schmaling said. "She's someone you want to listen to."

The case also got Schmaling some national TV time. He and Dobesh appeared on Oprah with Jendusa-Nicolai and recapped the investigation that led to her rescue.

Schmaling said his experience on the Jendusa-Nicolai case, and several others, prepared him for the complexities of being sheriff. While there's an administrative side to the job, he said, it's also critical to have a strong officer in the position to ensure public safety. When emergencies arise, Schmaling said, he would be prepared to respond and guide efforts to help people in need.

"You need to have top-level law enforcement," he said. "Racine County's top cop should be held to a high standard."

As sheriff Schmaling said he would use his business experience to find creative ways to save money and improve service. One example: He'd like to allow jail inmates to pay to video conference with visitors. Computers would be set up in the jail and inmates could communicate with their family, friends or lawyer. The county would make money off the service by charging, and save money by reducing visitation hours.

"It'd be a way to streamline and make money at the same time," he said.

Schmaling is also an advocate for installing the Victim Information and Notification Everyday, or VINE, system. The computer system would allow the public to sign up for email, phone or text updates whenever an inmate is released from the jail. For example, the victim of domestic abuse could sign up to be notified when their attacker is released. That would give them time to lock the doors or, if needed, move to a new location.

The state is making the system free to the county, and grants would cover annual maintenance costs, Schmaling said.

He also said he'd support joint-dispatch efforts, and work to build relationships with local, state and federal government agencies to rent out excess beds in the jail.

To get a chance to work on his ideas, Schmaling will need to win the Sept. 14 Republican primary election against Gonzalo Gonzalez, a sergeant with the Sheriff's Department, and County Board Supervisor Ron Molnar. The general election is Nov. 2.

So far it's been competitive race between three candidates who have split support three ways among local conservatives and officials. Schmaling has strong support among local law enforcement, including Sheriff Bob Carlson, and endorsements from all of Racine County's prosecutors. He's up against Gonzalez, who is backed by many local conservatives, including the Ladwig family, and Molnar, who is being supported by McReynolds and several local politicians.

The only specific Schmaling made with his opponents was to note that they're at different points in their careers. While Gonzalez and Molnar are closer to retirement, Schmaling, 38, said he's mid-career and will be held accountable by voters because he'll be looking to get re-elected and continue his career.

"I have to be successful as sheriff," Schmaling said. "I'm only halfway through my career."

Schmaling said he's been a life-long conservative and holds the same beliefs his parents instilled in him. He chose to run as a Republican based on that background. "I'm very conservative," he said.

But Schmaling added he's looking for support across parties. The Sheriff's job is about protecting the public, regardless of their political beliefs. He said one woman asked for a campaign sign for her yard, but then gave it back when she learned Schmaling was a Republican. Wait a minute, he told her, in all of the years of being an officer do you think I ever asked someone what their political beliefs were before helping them? The argument worked and the woman put a sign in her yard, Schmaling said.

Schmaling, who's on a leave of absence from his investigator's job, said he's enjoyed campaigning door-to-door and talking to community groups. This week he met with seniors at St. Monica's, a Lions Club in Union Grove and hit the streets in the Town of Waterford. Even has family has enjoyed the race, Schmaling said. His wife, Jennifer, is his campaign manager. Together they have three children ages 12, 11 and 6. They live in Mount Pleasant.

"Win or lose, I've been flattered by the support," Schmaling said. "I would run again in four years."

But he's hoping to win this year, and feels like police and business careers set him up well to succeed.

"You need more than law enforcement experience to run the Sheriff's Department," Schmaling said. "You need business experience, you have to be good with finances, and you have to be a good cop."

Here's Schmaling's appearance on Oprah:

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Police make arrest in case of newborn found dead in Perkins dumpster

Breanna Gering, 23, of Franklin, was arrested today at her home, accused of giving birth in Racine's Perkins Restaurant and then abandoning the infant in a nearby dumpster.

Charges include First Degree Reckless Homicide and Concealing the Death of a Child. Racine Police say Gering gave birth in Perkins' bathroom about 9 a.m. on Aug. 16, then placed the infant in a bag  in a garbage dumpster at the restaurant, 4915 Washington Ave.

That afternoon, Racine Police responded to the Emergency Room at Wheaton Franciscan-All Saints hospital in Racine, where Gering had come for medical treatment. She reportedly displayed signs of recent childbirth, but was evasive with medical staff, who called the police. It  later was determined that Gering had, in fact, been pregnant, and the dead infant was discovered in the dumpster.

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DeKoven Center offers swimming lessons this fall

Fall swimming lessons at The DeKoven Center begin Sept. 20 with a schedule of 21 classes for swimmers of all ages and abilities.

Classes are available for children as young as 6 months old and continue through Level 5 of the American Red Cross's "Learn to Swim" program. Skills taught include: safety, floating, gliding, underwater confidence and basic and advanced strokes.

Classes include eight lessons over an eight-week period. Classes cost $80 for one child and $70 for each additional family member. Class sizes are limited. For a complete schedule and a registration form, visit The DeKoven Center website at:

Lessons are held at The DeKoven Center Pool located on the DeKoven campus at 600 21st St. in Racine. The gym is located on the west end of the campus next to the gym.

For more information about lessons, contact Greg Peyton at (262) 633-6401.

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September 1, 2010

Op-Ed: RCPJ chair on criticizing Israel and anti-Semitism

By Wayne G. Johnson
Chair, Racine Coalition for Peace and Justice

Recent criticisms of Israel’s attack on a Gaza-bound flotilla has prompted suggestions that such criticisms are an expression of anti-Semitism. Since the Racine Coalition for Peace and Justice has also openly criticized Israel’s actions, members of the Racine community may be inclined to ask if RCPJ is anti-Semitic. The question is both significant and imprecise. It is significant because of the wretched history of anti-Semitism. It is imprecise because important distinctions can be overlooked. Anti-Semitism is defined as hostility toward or prejudice against Jews simply because they are Jews. But is criticism of the policies of the State of Israel an expression of anti-Semitism?

At least three distinct questions are involved. 1) Is any criticism of the State of Israel anti-Semitic? 2) Is opposition to the founding of the State of Israel anti-Semitic? 3) Is opposition to the continued existence of the State of Israel anti-Semitic? These distinctions are important since various voices, including Jewish scholars, claim that the “anti-Semitic card” is often played to immunize Israel against all criticism.

Are criticisms of the policies of the State of Israel a form of anti-Semitism? Since those policies have been and still are criticized by Jews both within and outside of the State of Israel, it would seem odd to accuse these Jews of being anti-Semitic. (Though some rabid defenders of Israel’s policies have written off those Jewish critics as “self-hating Jews”-- as if being Jewish requires approving all the policies of the State of Israel.) If Jews can be critical of the policies of Israel without being charged with anti-Semitism, it would seem that non-Jews who criticize those policies could also be clear of the charge. Critics of Israel may, of course, also be anti-Semitic, but such criticism alone cannot establish that charge.

Another issue is whether opposition to the establishment of the State of Israel itself is an expression of anti-Semitism. Such opposition was expressed by Richard Cohen in a Washington Post commentary on July 18, 2006. “The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake... The idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism...”

Similar doubts about the establishment of a Jewish state were expressed by many Jews, including Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt and Albert Einstein. Orthodox Jews held that Jews should not try to force God’s hand, but must wait for the coming of the Messiah. Even the influential American Jewish Committee opposed the founding of a Jewish state up to 1946. None of those listed above could reasonably be charged with anti-Semitism. It would follow that opposition to the founding of the State of Israel was not, in itself, an indication of anti-Semitism.

Finally, perhaps the denial of the right of the State of Israel to continue to exist as a Jewish state is a form of anti-Semitism. Some militant Muslim groups who speak of pushing Israel into the sea hold that the founding of Israel constituted not a mistake but a crime against the Muslim community. This view seems to be clearly anti-Semitic. However, as some have pointed out, the anger of such militant Muslims may not be an expression of anti-Semitism but, instead, is the result of the theft of Palestinian land and homes by Jewish forces and the cruel repression of the Palestinian peoples by Israeli military.

Anti-Semitism has an ugly history. Yet not all criticism of the policies of the State of Israel can be written off as anti-Semitism.  Genuine issues of peace and justice are at stake.

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County Exec touts program to help Racine County's small and medium-sized businesses

By County Executive Bill McReynolds

Next Monday is Labor Day, so this is a good time to talk about jobs.

Although Racine County's economy is no longer dominated by a relative handful of major manufacturing concerns, there are still over 400 manufacturers in the county. Manufacturing still accounts for more jobs than any other sector of our county's economy, and that sector has far and away the highest average annual wage. In short, manufacturing is vitally important to us.

But just as important--and, in terms of new jobs, perhaps more important--are small and medium-sized businesses, whether or not they engage in manufacturing. National studies show that small to medium-sized business account for the vast majority of new jobs.

For some years, Racine County has had two programs to help small and medium-sized businesses improve their capabilities and the skill levels of their employees. One is aimed at Racine County-based small to medium manufacturing firms, regardless of ownership. The other grant program is aimed at Racine County-based small to medium firms that are owned by minority group members or women, whether or not involved in manufacturing.

Each program offers grants of up to $2,500 (on a dollar-for-dollar match basis) for qualifying training or upgrade expenditures. Those two programs are featured in this issue of the newsletter. We urge busineses that think they might qualify to look into these programs.

Have a safe and happy Labor Day.

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Two Cases: The story about both of J.I. Case's companies

Two J. I. Case Companies

Most people in Racine have no clue that Jerome Increase Case owned two separate  companies bearing his name, J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. (1842) and J.I. Case Plow Works (1876). The latter was organized under the name Case-Whiting Plow Company. His partner E.G. Whiting, was the inventor of the center draft walking plow. Two years later Case bought out Whiting and renamed the business J.I. Case Plow Company. The business was reorganized in 1884 and named J.I. Case Plow Works. Jerome Case withdrew from the firm in 1890 and his son Jackson I. Case became the company president. Later Henry M. Wallis, Jerome Case's son-in-law, became president of the firm.



The J.I. Case Plow Works was located in the factory buildings at Water Street and Marquette Street. The buildings on the northeast corner were razed.

A view of the plow works building from the south. 

The Plow Works building at Sixth and Marquette Street still stands as a reminder of this early Racine industry. The painted sign was visible for many decades and traces may still be seen.

After his death in December 1891 Jerome  I. Case in his will disposed of all interests in the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co., and left the Plow Works to his family. This transaction created problems for both companies when mail came to Racine simply addressed "J.I. Case, Racine, Wisconsin." Each piece of mail had to be opened to determine which company it belonged to. This continued until 1928, then the J.I. Case Plow works was sold to the Massey-Harris Company. Later Massey-Harris sold all of the exclusive rights to the name "Case" back to the original J.I. Case Company.

This ad which appeared in  the United Commercial Travelers Convention book in 1920 shows  one of the disclaimers  added to a Case Threshing Machine Co.  advertisement  after the book was already in  print. 

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Racine County GOP endorses lieutenant governor candidates

The Racine County Republican Party has not endorsed a single candidate for Lieutenant Governor but the individual board members each have their favorite.

A recent change to the county party’s by-laws has allowed board members an opportunity to endorse state and federal candidates for office. The following is a listing of the board members that have chosen to endorse.

Dave Ross is endorsed by:
  • Derek Adams – elected board member 

Rebecca Kleefisch is endorsed by:
  • Kevin Cronin – appointed board member 
  • Mike Gabbey – appointed board member 

Brett Davis is endorsed by:
  • Bill Folk – county party chairman 
  • Scott Rausch – elected board member and past chairman 
  • Sue Ermert – elected board member 
  • Nancy Milholland – appointed board member 

The remaining five board members have opted not to publicly endorse a candidate for this office.

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August 31, 2010

United Way kicks off 2010 campaign

United Way of Racine County kicked off its 2010 campaign Tuesday at Starbuck Middle School in Racine.  The lunch-time event drew several community leaders including County Executive Bill McReynolds, Mayor John Dickert and Racine Unified Superintendent James Shaw. United Way hopes to raise $5.1 million this year to support dozens of local helping organizations. 

The chairman of this year's campaign in John Erskine of Racine Federated. It's Erskine's second time as chairman of a local United Way campaign, a feat United Way Executive Director Dave Maurer said was quite rare. Erskine asked everyone in attendance to do "one more thing" this year to help the United Way meet its goal. 

School Board President Bill Van Atta gave the keynote address. Van Atta noted the United Way helps several local nonprofits make a difference in the lives of families and children, particularly when it comes to education. He described education as "the keystone in life's quality equation" and noted most people in the room Tuesday had won "life's lottery." He encouraged everyone to help others who are less fortunate by donating both money and time to local organizations. 

United Way Board Chairman Francisco Sanchez offered a welcome to the audience, and Starbuck Middle School Principal Sandra Brand.  

Here's photos from a great event: 

More than 100 people attended the kickoff in the lunch room at Starbuck Middle School. 

Tuesday's kickoff featured a sculpture competition. Businesses participating in this year's campaign sent teams to build sculptures out of school supplies. They could use any materials they wanted, but had to leave them in usable condition. This team from Educators Credit Union built a school.

Modine Manufacturing sent a team of engineers to build an elaborate design out of pens, pencils and rulers. 
The impressive design won the audience award for best sculpture. 

A close-up of Modine's handy work.

Journal Times' employees build a horse out of pencils erasers and other supplies. (That's JT photographer Greg Shaver in the background.)

Eleven teams participated in the competition. 

Shaw addressed the audience and thanked the community for partnering with Racine's local schools.

Judges selected this as the winning sculpture. (Full disclosure: I was one of two judges, along with Tim Etes of WRJN/WEZY.)

Construction of one of the winning scupltures.

Participants in the school supply sculpture contest included: Educators Credit Union, Express Personnel, Johnson Outdoors, O&H Bakery, Modine, Focus on Community, Twin Disc, Racine County, M&I Bank, The Journal Times and Pioneer Products and Petersen Machine. 

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Say goodbye to the library's bookstacks, just for a while

         The things I want to know are in books;
         my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read.
                                                             --Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday was the Racine Public Library's last day of "open stacks" for a while. Three months, to be exact. The second floor adult department of the library will be closed until sometime in November, as carpeting is replaced, new study rooms are constructed and bookstacks are moved around.

That doesn't mean that readers have to take a vacation, of course, although they will not be able to browse through the stacks -- picking up this or that, thumbing through this novel or that picture book, looking for the perfect read. Library staff will still provide books ordered in advance -- via phone call or the online library catalog -- and runners at the circulation desk will be able, in most cases, to collect books on-demand ... well, within a few minutes. And there's always the Bookmobile. But the serendipity of discovery ... that will have to wait.

Meanwhile, the kids' department on the first floor will be open as usual, and current magazines, newspapers and computer terminals will be located on the library's first floor as well.

For more on how the library is dealing with this temporary  bookstack-shutdown, read Library Director Jessica MacPhail's explanation, HERE and HERE.

There's just no substitute for the serendipity of browsing the fiction stacks...

Library offers more than books, of course. She's making her music selections.

I expected long check-out lines today, but I guess patrons are unconcerned.

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Update: Make-a-Wish Foundation Walk & Run earns $80,000

Team Bu-Streva Co-Captains Brad Kostreva and Kristy Buus (Gabe’s brother and sister). Brad is wearing the “Goofy Hat” that Gabe wore when Make-a-Wish granted his wish and sent them to Disney World in 1987.

Editor's Note: This is a follow-up story to Brad's story, "Memories of a Wish Kid, Gabriel Wayne Kostreva," which was published Aug. 20 on RacinePost. 

By Brad Kostreva

The 2010 Walk & Run for Wishes Raises over $80,000 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation

Friday night was a quiet, low key night for me. My dog and I simply ate a quiet dinner (well, mine was quiet, she is actually a noisy eater) and then relaxed for a bit before calling it a night a little earlier than normal. In nine hours, my sister, her husband and their kids would be over for a quick pre-run breakfast, where assuredly, I would need to provide a hint of coffee for asking them to wake up so early on a Saturday.
Day of the walk

Saturday morning, the alarm went off at 6am, and I woke up after a fantastic sleep. The day had arrived for the Walk for Wishes. In reality, it’s a simple 5k walk/run in Milwaukee, one of several that occur every year near the lakefront. But this one was certainly different. In my attempt to do something active and healthy, I quite innocently chose an event off of a flyer I got at Summerfest this year that mentioned an organization I was familiar with. I honestly hadn’t known the emotions and memories that participation in this specific event would bring up. Not just within myself, but my entire family, my friends, and many readers of the different internet sites that Gabe’s story was redistributed.

At last count, I believe Gabe’s story was “shared” on Facebook several dozen times (that I know of – I found out at the event that others had shared it and I hadn’t even known! Even Vince Condella knew my sister and I by name because he had read and shared the story on his Facebook page), we received very kind comments and emails and memories of my brother, and a lot of support from many different people. This includes many people we had never met before but were touched by Gabe’s story and the work Make-a-Wish had done with our family and continues to do. Gabe’s wish in 1987 was the 58th Wish granted by the foundation. Since 1984, they have granted nearly 4000 Wishes.

Team Bu-Streva - (Left to Right and relationship to Gabe)
Brad Kostreva (Brother), Shannon Jevorutsky (Cousin), Linda Bradle (Aunt), Jim Bradle (crouching, Uncle), Andrew Buus (Step-Nephew-in-Law), Gavin Buus (Step-Nephew-in-Law), Tim Buus (Brother-in-Law), Kristy Buus (Sister), Matthew “Chuey” Rangel (Family Friend)

So we met some more family at the run (my aunt and uncle, cousin and a family friend), and took in quite a sight. I’m not sure I’ve done a 5k in Milwaukee since I was a little kid doing “Al’s Run” (well, “Al’s Walk” for me, I was 5 at the time), but the sheer number of people was quite amazing. This wasn’t like going to Summerfest and seeing gobs of people, this was seeing gobs of people nearly all there with an honest emotional purpose and investment. Participant Teams had signs decorated with pictures and messages to the Wish Kids they were walking in honor or support of, other teams had custom T-Shirts made…

(Anecdotally, there were also some people there who simply wanted to run another 5k, the cause was secondary. I met one guy who runs *all* of them and claimed he was addicted to Milwaukee 5k’s. I wonder if there’s a support group for them. Is a “12-Step Program” a pun at that point?)

So, thousands participated that day (for the record, I ran the 5k in a nothing-to-brag-about 27 minutes – though for my first 5k run ever, I’m not sad about it), and over $80,000 was raised from the event in donations!

Our team, Team Bu-Streva (sister’s last name “Buus”, my last name “Kostreva” – yeah, you get where I’m going with that one…) raised OVER $2600 in just 10 days and that’s THANKS TO YOU for supporting the foundation. It was never about us and our team, but rather the Make-a-Wish Foundation and everything they can accomplish. The organization is exceptionally highly rated in terms of non-profits, with 82.6% of every dollar raised going straight to Wish Granting.

As a final note, our team was considered a “Gold Star” team for having raised over $2500. For achieving that, we became the “sponsor” of a specific Wish Kid and were given a Gold Star with the Wish Kid’s name on it, as well as the story of his wish. Like my brother, this Wish Kid wants to go to Disney World in Florida. Later this year, a surprise limousine will pick up him and his family and drive them to the airport for their trip to Orlando. They will be staying at a special resort designed for Wish Kids called “Give Kids the World Village,” go the Disney Theme Parks, and have a special meal while down there with Mickey Mouse and friends. This Wish is able to be granted, not thanks to our team, but thanks to all of you who donated to the Make-a-Wish Foundation via our team. In a personal note to us from Patti Gorsky, President of the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin, she shared the following – which is a note to all of you who donated as much as it’s a letter to us.

“Thank you for all you have done to make wishes come true in Gabe’s memory. His legacy lives on through your efforts.”

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Gonzalez talks leadership in campaign for Sheriff

Gonzalo Gonzalez

Gonzalo Gonzalez says he's a "corny" guy.

"I believe in God and country," said the candidate for Racine County Sheriff. "It's corny, but it's what I believe."

Gonzalez has built his campaign around these types of wholesome statements. An ex-Marine, he believes in leadership, efficient use of resources and clear communication with staff and community leaders. There's not much sizzle to his talking points, but they're delivered with conviction.

Gonzalez spoke on a handful of key issues facing the next sheriff:

Joint Dispatch - Gonzalez said it's time joint dispatch is finalized. A combined system would save money and improve service. For example, all 911 cell phone calls are routed to the county, then transferred to the responsible municipality before police or fire can be alerted. A joint-dispatch system would remove a step for cell phone calls. "There's never been the will to get this done," Gonzalez said. "I'd make sure this gets pushed through."

Jail rentals - The County Jail needs to rent out its extra beds, Gonzalez said. The county lost a contract with the state Department of Corrections to house inmates, and failed to land a contract with the federal government's Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Gonzalez said rebuilding relationships with the state and federal governments would be a priority. "We have unrented jail beds that have to be rented to generate income," he said.

Communication - Gonzalez said one of the sheriff's key jobs is to clearly communicate with state and local government leaders. If elected, he said he would create a vision for the department and work through the chain of command to implement that vision. He said he also would meet with the area police chiefs to discuss local law enforcement issues, and with local government leaders to discuss how the Sheriff's Department can help their communities.

On a personal level, Gonzalez comes across as a humble, sincere candidate who seems surprised anyone is supporting his candidacy. "There is genuine support out there," he said. "That's a part I never expected."

Gonzalez has lived in Racine County for 34 years. His father worked for Case Corp. and was transferred from South America to Racine. Gonzalez attended Horlick High School, but graduated at 17 years old from Gateway Technical College and enrolled early in the Marines. He served four years in the corps and then returned to Racine County where he was hired on by the Sheriff's Department. He's worked the last 27 years in a variety of jobs. He's now a sergeant in the Racine County Jail.

Gonzalez is running for sheriff as a Republican, which is how he was raised by his parents. "I identify as a conservative," he said. "My Mom and Dad brought me up with those values. You earn what you have. Northing is free. I'm a Christian and live a life of faith."

He's one of three Republicans running for sheriff this fall. Racine County Sheriff's Department Inv. Chris Schmaling and Ron Molnar are also running in the Sept. 14 primary election. The winner will advance to face Democrat Joseph Buckley and Independent Jeffrey Gerrietts in the general election.

The sheriff's race is too close to call. Gonzalez appears to have strong support east of Interstate 94 and is running something of a historic campaign. If elected, he'd by the first Hispanic candidate elected to countywide office in Racine County. Gonzalez isn't playing up this issue.

"It occasionally comes up," he said. "I don't dwell on my cultural heritage. I've always thought of myself as an American."

Schmaling is running an aggressive campaign and has secured a number of endorsements from local law enforcement officials. He and Gonzalez mixed it up a few weeks back when Schmaling sent a letter to supporters saying Gonzalez was "tucked away" in the jail. Gonzalez wrote a lengthy response saying jail staff had frequent contact with the public, and noting the jail was the largest department within the Sheriff's Department. 

County Board Supervisor Ron Molnar is the third candidate running as a Republican. He's backed by County Executive Bill McReynolds and made news by stopping a burglary in his garage, saying he'd take a 10 percent pay cut as sheriff and that he'd expect inmates to perform community service while incarcerated

In the final weeks leading up to the primary election Gonzalez said he hopes the three candidates can run a clean campaign that's focused on issues.

"Let's stack up qualifications side-by-side," Gonzalez said "Let's step away from innuendo."

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August 30, 2010

Park 6's suspension was discussed a month ago, sources say

Park 6's 45-day suspension was worked out several weeks before the bar went to a due-process hearing, according to people close to the situation.

Earlier this month several sources said Park 6 had a deal with the city to avoid losing its liquor license. They had agreed to a suspension of up to three months in response to problems in and around the Sixth Street bar. Some city officials had pushed for a 90-day suspension, but owner Thomas Holmes negotiated the length in half.

It'll be interesting to see what Holmes does with his time off - assuming the City Council approves the 45-day suspension next week. Holmes could use the time to clean and remodel his popular bar. Or he could follow through on the legal case he's told RacinePost he's building against the city. Holmes is concerned African-American bars in Racine are being unfairly targeted by the city.

People behind the scenes said there were holdouts to the settlement. Ald. Aron Wisneski, chair of the City Council committee that brought action against Park 6, was at least initially opposed to settling with Holmes. But the city went ahead with the settlement, just as people were saying they would four weeks ago.

Why the city, which is cracking down on bars deemed unsafe, agreed to settle is unknown (or at least only rumors, at this point). But the settlement will hurt Park 6's business. The bar will be closed six weekends, which is thousands of dollars in lost revenue, plus lost customers who find new places to go on Fridays and Saturdays.