Mystery place: Dec. 7, 2008

Work with farm women honored

Rep. Ryan talks about the economy

Lake Geneva native named pastor

Downtown Whitewater chooses new board members

Delavan manufacturer closing

Better e-mail address for Dan Plutchak

Swope conviction upheld

Lake Geneva home prices drop

Delavan woman pleads not guilty to embezzlement

Oct. 2008 stories

Sept. 2008 stories

Aug. 2008 stories

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Send us your Christmas traditions, Christmas lights

In the next few weeks we'll be working on a couple of items, and we'd like input from our readers.

First, photographer Terry Mayer will begin his pilgrimage around Walworth County photographing holiday lights. If you have a house you think is worthy, let us know by e-mailing here or clicking the comments link below. You can also e-mail a photograph of your own.

Second, my family and I began dragging down Christmas decorations from the attic last weekend, which brought up stories of our Christmas traditions. I'll share mine in an upcoming column, but we'd like to know what other traditions Walworth County families hold dear.

Send us two or three paragraphs or a photograph illustrating your traditions. E-mail them to our newsroom here, or click the comment link below.

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New rules still allow homeowners to obtain permits

Don Sireci of Whitewater e-mailed with a question on our story several weeks ago about new requirements for contractors who apply for building permits.

He wanted to know if the new regulations will prohibit a homeowner from obtaining building permits if they choose too.

Ann Pienkos, executive director of the Lakeland Builders Association says the new rules apply only to contractors applying for permits.

The rules are the result of the 2005 Wisconsin Act 200, known as the Contractor Education Act, which mandates the establishment of new continuing education requirements for residential contractors


Original story from The Week

Wisconsin lawyer background on the Contractor Education Act (toward bottom)

Lakeland Builders Association classes

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lake Geneva's development debate goes public Tuesday evening

The hottest ticket in Walworth County Tuesday night will be in Lake Geneva.

Although tickets won't actually be needed, if you want a good seat, arrive early. That's because Tuesday is when the public hearing for the proposed Mirbeau-Hummel development on Lake Geneva's south side continues.

The first public hearing on Oct. 30 lasted 90 minutes, not nearly enough time to let everyone speak. This time, the hearing will be held at the Badger High School auditorium, beginning at 6 p.m. and is expected to last two hours. Residents who would like to speak must fill out a speaker card, and speakers will alternate in favor of and against the development. Speakers will be limited to three minutes.

Two hours have been allotted for public comment. The proposal has divided residents of the city, and those feelings will come to a head at the meeting. The proposal tentatively includes:

-- Residential development of 882 homes, which would be a mix of singlefamily, row houses, town houses and duplexes.

-- The Mirbeau Retreat would have 100 rooms and 12 villas, a spa, banquet and conference facilities; also 57 single-family cottages, which would be sold to private owners

-- A winery on 25 acres, with vineyard, wine production facilities, a restaurant and related retail

-- Permanent conservation of 375 acres (53 percent) of the site from development

-- Hiking and biking paths for both residents and the public This is a debate with no clear and easy outcome.

As letters to the editor in this Week's paper illustrate, there are persuasive arguments on each side and significant issues that need to be addressed.

Among this week's letters are two by former Lake Geneva city officials. They've summed up the debate this way:

Robert Flemming, who served as an alderman for 20 years, writes that the development will preserve more than half of the property, generate additional property and room taxes and will follow the city's master plan.

On the other side, former councilman Ed Yeager says don't be fooled. He writes that the development will destroy small-city atmosphere, not preserve it.

There are clearly many in the city of Lake Geneva and Linn Township who agree with one side or the other.

Robust debate is the last line of defense to prevent bad ideas from becoming public policy. That's why Tuesday's public hearing is so important. This doesn't need to be a "my-way-or-the-highway" decision either.

If the council does choose to approve the rezone, it's important that they come up with ways to address the legitimate concerns of those residents opposed to the project. How Lake Geneva decides this issue will go a long way in determining the future of the city.


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Monday, November 12, 2007

We all share the responsibilities that veterans do

Over the years, I've come to think of Veterans Day as not so much a day to honor veterans, but as a day to honor the idea of duty and service.

I belong to a generation that has turned out to be unusual, in that my fighting days came and went during peacetime.

The last draft lottery for Vietnam was in 1973, my freshman year of high school.

By the time operation Desert Storm was launched in January of 1991, I was well into my 30s and it had been nearly two decades since the United States had engaged in military action on that scale.

But despite never wearing the uniform, my life has been intertwined with those who have.

What I've learned is that for soldiers and non-soldiers alike, all bear the same responsibilities to our country and our freedom.

As Donna Lenz Wright found out in this week's cover story, sometimes people serve without carrying a weapon. Elsie Hoffman left her rural hometown in the spring of 1942 to help with the cause and experience adventure. Along the way, she found the man who would become her husband.

Each war brings its own demands on sacrifice.

When I first started working for The Week, I interviewed and photographed each of Walworth County's last remaining World War I veterans.

There were eight of them, now all gone, and one of them had actually served in both World Wars. Many saw fierce fighting but in their later years had no great desire to rekindle those memories.

Unlike those who fought face to face, my father was a sailor in World War II, suffering an injury that laid him up for months. He was stationed on an aircraft carrier and was responsible for securing the planes to the deck upon their return. One day, a chain used to secure the planes swung loose and struck him in the eye.

I don't remember him ever talking about it as a war injury. Instead, he saw it as an unfortunate accident that kept him from working side by side with his buddies.

As an adult, I've known many who have served in wartime. Abe Goldsmith, a regular contributor to The Week, served in Korea. (His review of David Halberstam's book on the Korean War is on the Entertainment page.)

And Dale Reich, an instructor at Gateway Technical College in Elkhorn who wrote for The Week for many years, has written several books on his experiences in Vietnam.

Of more recent conflicts, one of my son's coaches and Boy Scout leaders, Bob Wright, served as a Marine in the chaotic attempt to bring order to Somalia.

Thanks to the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, I meet new soldiers regularly.

What they all have in common is that they've served their country at great risk to themselves.

Never having served, I can't pretend to know what that's like. But I do know that those soldiers shouldn't be alone in the responsibilities to the future of the principles our country stands for.

Each of us can fulfill those responsibilities in many ways.

Here at The Week, we try to tell the stories of those who have gone into battle and why they do it.

But there are other things each of us can do. We can vote. We can help out the family of a soldier.

We can learn from our nation's history. We can support our leaders accountable, and hold them accountable too.

So on this Veterans Day, as we honor the sacrifices they made, remember that the future of our nation is not only in their hands, but in our own.

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