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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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How farming become a tourist attraction

Jarda Sebesta bottles wine at the Apple Barn and Orchard in Sugar Creek Township. The winery will be part of a countywide farm tour Saturday (Oct. 4) as part of the Country with Character fall tourism promotion. Below, wine bottles are corked by hand. Terry Mayer/staff

Some would be surprised to learn there's more to farming than cows and corn.

Senior editor Lynn Greene explains how Walworth County's oldest enterprises has become its newest tourist attraction.

The Walworth County Farm Tour will give visitors an up-close look at what farming has to offer.

Lynn's story after the jump ...

Walworth County's latest attraction

By Lynn Greene/Senior editor

EAST TROY -- Pristine lakes, abundant natural areas and small, friendly communities have brought tourists to Walworth County for generations.

But Walworth County's newest tourist attraction, farms, have been around longer than any other.

This year's farm tour is part of the county's Country with Character tourism promotion.

In 2007, the Walworth County Visitors Bureau received $40,000 from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism to kick off the fall event.

This year, the WCVB received an additional $21,245 to promote all of the attractions, venues and activities happening in the county this time of year.

The fifth annual farm tour will be held Saturday (Oct. 4).

"Four years ago, several local farms partnered together to create the Walworth County Farm Tour," said Kathleen Seeberg, WCVD executive director. "These local farms offered activities, fresh food from the farm, demonstrations, displays and more."

Therese Philipp, registrar for Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, has been involved with the tour since it started.

"It was Michael Fields' Harvest Festival that stimulated the idea," Philipp said.

Another East Troy location, MoonStar Farm, started its Front Porch Sale at about the same time, offering tours of their farm and selling their farm products.

This year, the group of farms that has been part of the tour in the past is bringing new people in, hoping to expand the tour.

Those who go on the tours may be surprised to find the there is more to farming in Walworth County than corn and cows.

The nine locations on the tour will include everything from the fiber festival at Tall Grass Farms in Delavan to trout farming at Rushing Waters Fisheries in Palmyra.

The Apple Barn Orchard and Winery in Elkhorn and Staller Estate Vineyard and Winery in Richmond are both part of the tour.

"We have seven varieties of wine in stock now," said Judy Jacobson of the Apple Barn. "The strawberry, peach, blueberry and rhubarb are still fermenting."

The Apple Barn recently received a silver award for its pear dessert wine and bronze awards for its apple wine and plum wine at the Indy International Wine Competition.

"We were really pleased," Jacobson said.

The wines are sold at their farm store and will be available during the farm tour. Promoting the wine, which is the newest part of the Jacobson farm venture, is one reason the Jacobsons are committed to the tour.

At Michael Fields, visitors will be able to tour the farm fields, learn about goat farming, dairy farming techniques and bee-keeping. A farmers market will encourage people to buy locally. Results from last year's campaign showed increases in tourism expenditures and room night stays during the fall campaign.

Seeberg said tourists frequently ask about ag-related events. "We receive many calls about farms that offer tours, as well as farmers markets, apple picking, berry picking, corn mazes and more."

Lynn Lein, owner of Yuppie Hill Poultry Farm in Burlington, is another participant in the tour.

"We do it because it's fun and we get exposure," Lein said.

In previous farm tours, Lein opened her Burlington farm to the tour.

This year, the farm is undergoing a major renovation, so she will offer a farm-fresh breakfast and an evening barn dance at Michael Fields.

"We just put up a brand-new barn for the girls," Lein said, referring to her brown-egg laying hens. "Our new barn is very automated; the girls are in a happy environment with the correct amount of feed, light and temperature."

Lein is very indulgent with her "girls" and provides a few roosters to keep them happy. Or, maybe it's the hens that keep the roosters happy. Either way, it makes for some great-tasting eggs.

"Where the girls used to be, we have half of the space for egg processing and the other half is an on-farm store with a little cafe, where people can come for meetings and get breakfast - we're hoping to have it open for the holidays," Lein said.

Lein's chickens will provide the eggs, of course.

In the meantime, visitors to the farm tour can get a big taste of Walworth County on Oct. 4.

Tour these farms:

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, W2493 County Highway ES, East Troy, (262) 642-3303.
Featuring a farm tour, beehive walk, antique farm equipment, farmers market, children's activities, hands-on demonstrations.
Yuppie Hill Poultry of Burlington will host a farm breakfast, made with their all-natural brown eggs, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and an evening barn dance from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., featuring music by the Liberty Bluegrass Band. There is a $5 cover charge for the dance, which includes one free drink. Food will be available.

Uriel Pharmacy, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., N8464 Sterman Road, East Troy, (866) 642-2858
Featuring a tour of the gardens and the pharmacy. Uriel Pharmacy creates natural remedies in small batches, using ingredients from their biodynamic gardens. Pharmacist talks at 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Northwind Perennial Farm, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7047 Hospital Road, Burlington, (262) 248-8229.
Tour the gardens of this century-old dairy farm that specializes in hardy field-grown perennials.

Staller Estate Vineyard and Winery, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., W8896 County Road A, Delavan, (608) 883-2100.
Tour the production facility and learn about wine making. Complimentary wine and cheese tasting.

Tall Grass Farm, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., N6623 Lake Lorraine Road, Delavan, (608) 883-2025.
Featuring a fall fiber festival. Watch as master shearer David Kier shears angora goats; food by the cooks of the Richmond Methodist Church; fiber goods and crafts from local artisans.

Moonstar Farm, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., W3319 Potter Road, Elkhorn, (262) 723-4156.
Featuring goat-herding demonstrations, horse reining, garden tours, hayrides, pony rides, produce fresh from the garden and an art show featuring local artists.

Apple Barn Orchard and Winery, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., W6384 Sugar Creek Road, Elkhorn, (262) 728-3266.
Featuring apple picking, pumpkin patch, rides through the orchard in the apple barn train wagon, shop at the farm store for cider, donuts, caramel apples and gifts.

Rushing Waters Fisheries, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., N301 County Highway H, Palmyra, (262) 495-2089.
Tour the largest rainbow trout farm in Wisconsin with tours starting at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., free samples of farm products, cooking demos and samples at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., trout fishing specials and prizes for kids.

Local Industry, bakery, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., W2463 County Highway ES, East Troy, (262) 642-9665.
Featuring Nakomis bread and bakery items produced by Walworth County's newest bakery. Stop by and sample at this store, located near Michael Fields Agricultural Institute.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

ABC news coming to Racine

ABC’s “World News With Charles Gibson” will air the nightly news program from Racine Oct. 9.

Racine will be one of seven cities across the country to host ABC’s the newscast for reports on the election from key battleground states.

The initiative is being called the “Great American Battleground Bus Tour."

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Will financial bailout help Walworth County?

By Dan Plutchak/Associate editor

As Congress spent last week debating the proposed $700 billion bailout for troubled financial institutions, the effect on the average American remained unclear.

In testimony before a congressional committee Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson argued the plan was the best way to help average Americans.

But what are we getting for $700 billion?

Those in real estate and finance here at home aren't expecting any direct and dramatic help.

Their main hope is that passage of a bailout would mark the bottom of the economic downturn and give consumers some confidence in deciding how to spend their money.

A bailout should help consumer confidence and mean the economy has reached a turning point, according to Al Herbst, vice president of mortgage and real estate lending at Blackhawk Community Credit Union.

That's because even those with good credit have been squeezed in the tight credit market. Herbst says that while lending institutions are increasingly cautious with the amount of risk they're willing to take on, they're also leaning on their most credit-worthy customers to help cover that risk.

Herbst says Blackhawk Community Credit Union works hard to find ways to help borrowers get loans, even in the current market. "We're looking at each loan application individually," he said.

However, the job of helping individual borrowers in financial stress has fallen to individual lending institutions.

Herbst said the credit union also is trying to be proactive with borrowers in trouble. "We're seeing more delinquency," he said. "But we've been public about wanting to help."

The increased number of bank-owned properties on the Multiple Listing Service is just one measure of the growing rate of foreclosures, according to Michael VanderBunt, association executive with Lakes Area Realtors.

"There's no question that we're seeing the impacts of this," he said.

VanderBunt agrees that buyer uncertainty has hurt the real estate market.

Potential buyers are wary, and they have a wait-and-see attitude.

"A lot of buyers are fence riders right now," VanderBunt said. "People think if they wait, they might get a better deal."

VanderBunt said the bailout would create a bottom line, which hopefully would draw buyers into the real estate market.

There also are those who have remained relatively unaffected by the trouble in the mortgage market.

Sales to first-time home buyers and buyers looking to purchase lakefront property remain strong, VanderBunt said.

First-timers are taking advantage of price drops, and lakefront purchasers have apparently weathered the economic downturn.

Although the focus of the bailout plan is to buy bad mortgage assets from lenders, the hope is that the move also will boost the stock market.

That's of concern to those investors who have a particular need for their money right now.

"If you have college savings and your child is going to school in the next year, your money should not have been in stocks," said Robert Anderson, principal and portfolio manager with McSherry Anderson in Lake Geneva.

"Now is a reminder to reevaluate their risk tolerance," Anderson said. "The thing is, can you live with (the stock market) going down 20 percent?"

Those close to retirement have been watching the market carefully, however the impact depends on where their money is invested.

Although recent drops in the S&P 500 have been among the steepest in history, it's only a handful of stocks that brought it down, Anderson said.

For those with years in the work force ahead of them, the market has produced some bargains. "For younger people, it's a great opportunity to buy more shares at low prices, especially if you're looking at the long term," Anderson said.

There's no doubt that what investors need is confidence that their investment will pay off.

But the local economy also has been hurt as more people fall into financial trouble.

Large financial institutions that invested heavily in what turned out to be bad mortgage assets certainly will benefit from a $700 billion bailout plan.

Individuals who have suffered should be part of the plan too.

Dan Plutchak is an associate editor for CSI_Media LLC, publisher of Walworth County Sunday. Contact him at

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Beatles tribute kicks off the Irvin L. Young Auditorium season

A Beatles reunion, of sorts, will kick of the season when the Young Auditorium opens its doors for the 2008-'09 season Oct 4.

2008 season schedule:

Oct. 4 -- "Revolution: A Tribute to the Beatles" is a can't-miss tribute to the Fab Four, from their Ed Sullivan appearance to Yellow Submarine.

Oct. 8 -- The Parsons Dance Company combines sexy athleticism, exuberant personality and joyous movement in an amazing evening of modern dance.

Oct. 15 -- The Aquila Theatre Company performs Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors." The comedy is built around shipwrecked twins, mistaken identities, a twisted plot and clever dialogue.

Oct. 20 -- Chicago Chamber Musicians return with a string quintet performing famous pieces from Schubert, Mozart, and Brahms.

Oct. 23 -- Kate Clinton in Hilarity Clinton '08, a stand-up comedy act that tackles a variety of issues from stolen elections and wrong countries invaded to the presidential race and new administrations.

Nov. 1 -- The Kingston Trio bring their folk music to the stage with a mix of banjo and guitar on favorites "Greenback Dollar" and "Scotch and Soda."

Nov. 5 -- "Oliver," Broadway's classic family musical, lights up the stage with memorable songs like "Consider Yourself at Home," "Food, Glorious Food," and "Where is Love."

Nov. 9 -- Experience the magic of "Charlotte's Web," E.B. White's beloved children's tale of friendship, bravery and sacrifice at Young Auditorium.

Nov. 11 -- The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 50th anniversary and their final year under Maestro Andreas Delfs as he passes the baton to Edo de Waart, his successor.

Nov. 19 -- Sizzling hot Gypsy rhythms, fiery footwork and sensual choreography explode on stage with Compania Flamenco Jose Porcel. They are accompanied by a live, onstage ensemble.

Dec. 1 -- Author Christina Garcia is the featured speaker for the Letters and Sciences and Young Auditorium Community Reading Initiative. This is a free and non-ticketed event.

Dec. 3 -- "Leahy Celtic Christmas" is a fiddle-driven holiday event filled with seasonal and Celtic music, dance, and song.

Dec. 6 -- The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Music Department's Gala Holiday Concert is a feast of ensembles and small groups -- from gospel to jazz, with popular classical favorites mixed in.

Dec. 13 two shows -- "The Nutcracker," presented by The Dance Factory of Delavan, has become a holiday tradition and is a great way for the whole family to ring in the season.

Jan. 28 -- "Sleeping Beauty," performed by the esteemed Russian National Ballet brings this fairytale to life through the power of music and dance.

Jan. 31 -- Missoula Children's Theatre comes returns to Whitewater to cast 50 to 60 area youth in a one-week whirlwind production of "The Little Mermaid." Auditions are Monday, Jan. 26 at 4 p.m. Call (262) 472-1432 for more information.

Feb. 4 -- National Acrobats of China's 40 acrobats bring the mystery, enchantment, drama and magic of the Orient to our stage.

Feb. 11 -- Leapin' lizards! Broadway's "Annie" is coming to Whitewater, featuring the memorable songs, "It's the Hard-Knock Life," "Easy Street," "N.Y.C." and "Tomorrow."

Feb. 19 -- Let Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience take you to Louisiana for the night with music that blends zydeco roots music, New Orleans funk-reggae flavored with Afro-Cuban world music. It will be hot!

Feb. 28 -- Neil Berg's "100 Years of Broadway" is a celebration of 100 years of Broadway songs, sung by many of the performers who starred in the roles on Broadway.

March 7 -- "The Ultimate Johnny Cash Tribute," starring Terry Lee Goffee, is filled with more than 34 Johnny Cash classics like "A Boy Named Sue, " "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and "Ring of Fire. "

March 12 -- Synergy Brass Quintet, "The Rock Stars of Classical music," earned the title with superb showmanship, explosive musicality, blazing precision and amazing technique

March 14 -- Lazer Vaudeville is a combination of high-tech special effects and old-fashioned vaudeville arts like juggling, comedy and acrobatics; clean, classy fun for the whole family.

March 17 -- Tony Award Winning "Hairspray" takes place in Baltimore in the '60s.

April 3 -- "The Wonder Bread Years, " starring John McGivern, is a tribute to baby boomers everywhere. In a hilarious mix of stand-up comedy and theater, McGivern will have you laughing and savoring the past like never before.

April 28 -- The Montana Repertory Theatre brings Harper Lee's classic, "To Kill A Mockingbird" to the stage for a new generation. This program is part of The Big Read initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest.

For ticket information, call (262) 472-2222. Visit online at

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Teen accused in fatal crash arrested again

Krystal Hart, the 17-year-old charged with killing a man in a November drunken-driving crash, was jailed this week after she admitted to police she was at another drinking party.

The Walworth County Sheriff's Department was investigating a possible underage drinking party Sept. 20 when deputies discovered Hart.

She is scheduled to appear in Walworth County Circuit Court Tuesday (Sept. 30) for a status hearing.

The latest incident is the second time Hart has been arrested at a party following the fatal crash Nov. 3 that killed Chimal Lopez, a 54-year-old landscaper from Delavan.

She was arrested March 15 after officers responded to a loud-party complaint. Police said she gave a fake name and had been drinking, according to the criminal complaint

At that time, Hart was out on bond.

She also told police she had used marijuana hours before the crash, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2.

The criminal complaint indicates Hart was possibly northbound in the southbound lane of the highway.

The charge of homicide by intoxicated driving carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

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Lake Geneva comptroller out

Deb Gilbert, the city of Lake Geneva comptroller, lost her job Monday after the city council vote 7-1 not to renew her contract.

Alderman Gary Dunham, chairman of the finance committee and the lone dissenting vote, said Gilbert was taking the heat for the recent case involving misuse of library credit cards.

Former library employee Mercedes Mogensen is accused of stealing $18,500 from the library and charging $70,000 in personal purchases on the library's credit card.

Gilbert was disappointed by the decision. She said she was responsible for too much, including payroll and data entry, duties that are better suited to someone other than the comptroller.

"How do I get the comptroller job done when most of my time is spent on daily work?" she said. "It's really ridiculous."

Story is HERE.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ex-mistress testifies in homicide case

WTMJ video HERE.

It was a dramatic day of testimony Wednesday in Walworth County Circuit Court during the preliminary hearing of David Brossard, accused of killing his wife in 1997, Dawn, and dumping her body into Lake Geneva.

Gazette reporter Ted Sullivan, who works out of our Delavan newsroom, said the day started slowly as the prosecution's star witness, Carol Badoni, refused to testify.

Sullivan reported that after Judge Michael Gibbs declared Badoni a hostile witness at the request of Walworth County District Attorney Phil Koss, she began to testify about her earlier comments to police.

Badoni went on to testify that Brossard told her he planned to kill his wife for cheating on him.

Badoni also testified that Brossard might be the father of her child and might be tied to the mob.

Brossard's defense attorney said the woman has fantasies and can't be believed.

Walworth County Circuit Court Judge Michael Gibbs ruled there was enough evidence for Brossard to be bound over for trial.

Ted Sullivan's story HERE.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

How Whitewater keeps the arts in the public eye

When my kids were little, they would try to catch butterflies. They didn't call them butterflies, though; they called them flutterbys, which seemed appropriate after watching them dance around the backyard.

You can catch your own butterfly Sept. 27 when the Whitewater Arts Alliance holds its annual auction.

If you've been through Whitewater this summer, perhaps you've noticed the colorful, hand-painted butterflies hanging from the light poles. The annual public art project is one of the more visible elements of a thriving arts community in Whitewater.

The alliance supports the arts in Whitewater, but its contribution goes beyond that by showing the collective power of people coming together to create and support an important public institution.

Usually, that role falls to government or business, but in Whitewater, members of the community have stepped to the forefront.

"We can say the city should do this, or the city should do that, but people don't want to pay more taxes," said Dawn Hunter, Whitewater Arts Alliance board member and organizer of this year's public art project.

The growing role of the arts in Whitewater has given community members a venue to share their talents, Hunter said.

In addition to the public art project, the group organizes the annual Fountain Arts Festival and was instrumental in the opening of the Whitewater Cultural Arts Center.

The center, in the White Memorial Building on West Main Street, is run by the Whitewater Arts Alliance, a nonprofit organization, Hunter said.

The group gave new life to an old building when they agreed to lease it from the city a year ago, and the auction helps keep it running.

"It's the major fundraiser for the Cultural Arts Center," Hunter said, "and averages around $5,000 to $7,000." For many of the successful bidders, the auction isn't really about the art, but about supporting the community. "Many times we have people who are supportive and will bid on (the auction items) and then give them back to the artists," Hunter said.

The auction will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Cultural Arts Center, 402 W. Main St.,

Advance tickets for Whitewater Arts Alliance members are $8. Tickets for non members are $10. Tickets are available at the Commercial Bank, First Citizens Bank, GMA Printing and the Sweet Spot Coffee Shoppe.

The cost at the door the day of the event is $15.

The annual public art project began four years ago, and has become something the community looks forward to each summer.

Previous projects have been fish, chairs and birdhouses.

The theme for next year's project won't be revealed until the auction, Hunter said. She did hint that one of the issues in Whitewater over the past year has been to foster greater cooperation between the city and the university.

The public art project revolves around that idea, Hunter said. Which is just another example of how a community-based institution plays an important role in the vitality of the city.

~Dan Plutchak, associate editor

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Population tops 100,000

The population of Walworth County topped 100,000 for the first time this year, according to estimates from the Wisconsin Department of Administration.

The report estimates the population in 2008 at 101,315 an increase of about 10 percent, compared to the 2000 census of 92,013.

The report also estimates that there were 78,330 resident of legal voting age in Walworth County in 2007.

Elkhorn was the fastest growing of Walworth County's four cities, which include Whitewater, Lake Geneva and Delavan.

Elkhorn grew at a 22.6 percent rate over 2000, with a 2008 population of 8,953.

Download the county population report HERE. (pdf)

Download the city population report HERE. (pdf)

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Kikkoman is right at home

Rising from the farm fields of Walworth Township, the Kikkoman plan produces products for markets around the world.

In this week's Walworth County Sunday, Matt Dolby explains how an overseas company found a home in Walworth County.

Read the story HERE.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Former Lyons fire chief pays fine

Craig A. Amann, the former town of Lyons fire chief accused of using the fire department's credit card to buy gas for his personal vehicle paid a $728 fine Monday after pleading guilty to misdemeanor theft.

Amann, 34, was accused of making an $80 gas purchase June 12 without the fire department's approval, according to the criminal complaint.

When investigators confronted Amann, he claimed he had used the credit card because he had driven his personal vehicle on fire calls, according to the criminal complaint.

According to town policy, a firefighter can be reimbursed $8 for using a personal vehicle on a call, but the person must submit a request for reimbursement.

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Ex Lake Geneva library employee pleads not guilty

Mercedes Mogensen, the Lake Geneva Public Library employee accused of stealing from the library, pleaded not guilty in Walworth County Circuit Court a week ago.

Mogensen, 44, Elkhorn, was arraigned in Walworth County Court on two felony charges of theft and two felony charges of misconduct in public office.

She is accused of stealing $18,500 from the library and charging about $70,000 on the libraries credit car.

More HERE.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Report: Fatigue led to crash

Human fatigue was the probable cause of a 2005 crash near Osseo, Wis., when a bus carrying the Chippewa Falls High School marching band home from a competition in Whitewater slammed into an overturned semi.

Five people died in the crash and thirty-five on the bus were injured.

A National Transportation Safety Board report released Tuesday said the driver fell asleep at the wheel because he did not use his off-duty time to obtain sufficient sleep to safely operate the vehicle.

A link to the report is HERE.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Circus wagons coming to Lake Geneva

Among the many passions of Richard Driehaus, the part-time Lake Geneva area resident and local philanthropist, is the circus.

His 65th birthday party last year had a circus theme, and Driehaus is a major donor to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo.

Driehaus has his passions for the circus and Lake Geneva by arranging to bring a parade of vintage circus wagon's to Lake Geneva.

They began arriving today, and will be on display along Wrigley Drive through Sunday.

Contributing writer Margaret Plevak talked with Circus World Museum Executive Director Steve Freese for this week's Weekender story.

To read her story, click on the full post link below.

An up-close look at rare circus wagons

By Margaret Plevak

This weekend offers a rare chance to view up-close 20 dazzling and detailed circus wagons, including a 1940 steam calliope that plays music louder than a siren's song, but just as mesmerizing.

The steam calliope America is one of the historic circus wagons from the collection at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo on display along the city's downtown lakefront Sept. 19-22.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Richard Driehaus.

The calliope will be played on Saturday and Sunday, with its strains taking listeners back to a time when, holding onto mom or dad's hand, they nibbled cotton candy, watched clowns frolic, and dreamed of joining the circus.

"I think everybody, at some point in life as a child, went to the circus and saw its majestic nature," said Steve Freese, executive director of Circus World.

Seeing this collection of colorful wagons brings back memories people want to share with their own children, he said.

The wagons of Circus World have been on display around the country, at sites ranging from Arizona's Fiesta Bowl to CivicFest in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Several wagons will be in New York's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this year.

Circus World's collection features 210 original wagons and vehicles once used by American, English and Irish circuses. Two-thirds of all known circus wagons in the world are housed at the 64-acre museum, according to Freeze.

The Lake Geneva exhibit will include bandwagons, parade wagons, vintage-era horse-drawn vehicles and the steam calliope.

The calliope, America, has been owned by Circus World since 1959, making it one of the museum's earliest acquisitions, Freese said. It was built in 1903 by the Sebastian Wagon Co. of New York for Barnum and Bailey. Originally a "telescoping tableau," it had wooden figures representing North, South and Central America that were elevated out of the wagon body for display.

The figures were removed in 1940 when the wagon was converted to a calliope for its new owners, the Cole Bros. Circus, but the wagon's sides still depict colorful, hand-carved faces of Americans.

That kind of artistry, dating from the early 20th and the late 19th centuries, is part circus wagon's appeal. "It's the largest hand-carved wooden object people will ever see, and they really like to watch it roll down the street and see the colors and the vibrancy of it," Freese said.

The exhibited wagons represent "the golden age of the circus," he said. It was a period when craftsmanship ruled, as evidenced in the Gavioli Band Organ wagon. Built in Paris around 1902, the wagon is as eye-catching today with its animated dancing figures and gold-edged paintings of angels playing music.

Some wagons, like the Asia Tableau, depict exotic lands long before world travel was common or the Internet brought foreign countries into people's homes.

Others show scenes from childhood stories like Mother Goose, The Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe and Cinderella - part of a set of seven "pony floats" (small wagons drawn by ponies) created in the 1880s.

Only three of the seven still exist, all owned by Circus World. The three are included in the Lake Geneva exhibit.

The Cinderella float was restored in 2002 at Circus World to its original gleaming gold-leaf exterior.

"Wait until you see it outside in the sun," Freese said. "It's going to be unbelievable."

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Foul play not suspected in Whitewater death

Whitewater and UW-Whitewater police discovered the body of an 18-year-old male in Calvary Cemetery Monday afternoon.

After an autopsy Tuesday morning, the medical examiner ruled the cause of death to be asphyxiation.

Comments from friends and family are online HERE.

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Former Lyons fire chief pays fine for unauthorized use of credit card

Craig A. Amann, the former town of Lyons fire chief accused of using the fire department's credit card to buy gas for his personal vehicle paid a $728 fine Monday after pleading guilty to misdemeanor theft.

Full story is HERE.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Oaxacan art and cultural exchange

A print from artist Shinzaburo Takeda on display through Sept. 28 at the Whitewater Cultural Arts Center.

The central-Mexican state of Oaxaca, is known for it's diversity of culture and art.

The area has also become an American travel destination for those looking to get away from traditional Mexican tourist hot spots.

For those who haven't traveled to Oaxaca, a sampling of their art and culture is coming to Walworth County.

A series of presentations, part of "Identities and Cultures in Transformation," an art and cultural exchange between the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca, located in Oaxaca, Mexico., will provide a glimpse into the culture of Oaxaca, Mexico.

According to a Whitewater Arts Alliance news release, an exhibition of prints from Oaxaca entitled, "The Politics of Mythology: Graphic Works by Maestro Shinzaburo Takeda and His Students from the Universidad Autonoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca," will be on display through Sept, 28 at the Cultural Arts Center, 402 West Main St., Whitewater.

The CAC is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Shinzaburo Takeda and author Manuel Matus, also of the Universidad Autonoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca, will discuss "Identities and Cultures in Transformation,

at 4 p.m. Sept. 22 in the Old Main Ballroom of the University Center at UW-W as part of Latino Heritage Celebration.

A reception will follow at the Fiskum Art Gallery in the University Center at 5 p.m. followed at 7 p.m. by Takeda, who will address the topic of "Mexican Muralists."

A reception Sept. 23 at the Cultural Arts Center is planned Matus, also of the Universidad Autonoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca.

Takeda will speak at 7 p.m. on "The Muralist Tradition and Literacy." Matus will present readings at 8 p.m. from his original works and speak about the oral history tradition while encouraging others to tell their stories.

University students and faculty will translate the presentations.

Additional prints from Oaxaca will be exhibited at the Fiskum Art Gallery in the University Center of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

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WEATHER RADAR: Nice later.

NEWS: Lehman throws in the towel.

SPORTS: Z's no-hitter.

CULTURE: Weekender: "Burn After Reading".

Post continued HERE

Friday, September 12, 2008

Arrest of husband only deepens the mystery

Spectators listened in a Walworth County Circuit courtroom Sept. 3 as David Brossard was charged with killing his wife and dumping her body into Geneva Lake in 1997. Dan Plutchak/staff

When David Brossard was charged Sept. 10 with killing his wife and dumping her body in Geneva Lake more than a decade ago, the mystery surrounding the case only deepened.

The story has made headlines in local newspapers ever since Dawn Brossard failed to arrive at the Burlington bank where she worked in 1997. The latest chapter now is playing out in Walworth County Circuit Court, where Judge James Carlson ordered David Brossard held on $500,000 bond.

David Brossard is the last person known to have seen his wife alive, according to the criminal complaint filed by Walworth County District Attorney Phillip Koss.

Dawn and David Brossard were seen talking to each other shortly after 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24, 1997, in the parking lot of State Financial Bank in Burlington, where Dawn worked. David said he last saw Dawn walking toward her car before he drove home; but Dawn's car was in the parking lot the next morning, and she never arrived for work.

The search for Dawn widened quickly, and early on, authorities had suspicions that her body might be found in a lake.

Acting on an anonymous tip, authorities searched Powers Lake, on the Walworth County and Kenosha County border, but came up with nothing. With few new leads, the case eventually was put on the back burner, until Dawn's body was found July 11, 2003 off Conference Point, near Williams Bay.

What had been a missing person case quickly became a homicide investigation.

Although news reports regularly have identified the men who found Dawn's body as recreational divers, the two hardly were novices. One of the divers, Brad Friend, was an off-duty Racine County Sheriff's deputy. His partner that day, Jon Albrecht, also was in law enforcement and had significant dive training. Albrecht now is a Walworth County Sheriff's Department deputy.

Given that authorities had suspicions that Dawn might be in a lake somewhere, was it simply coincidence that her body was found by two divers who also were in law enforcement?

Walworth County Sheriff David Graves says yes, that the discovery was pure luck. The area is popular with divers because it is one of the deepest parts of the lake. But chances are Friend knew right away what he was looking at when he came across Dawn's body 117 feet below the surface.

Friend reported his discovery to Walworth County authorities, who, according to the criminal complaint, asked Albrecht and him to retrieve the body because of the duo's diving experience.

Dawn's body was bound with chains, and a later search found two cement blocks with chains attached. The chains and cement block appear to be one of the central keys to the prosecution's case.

David had been the head mechanic at a marine business once owned by his brother. When deputies searched the facility in 2005, they observed pontoon boats set on cement blocks similar to the ones found near Dawn's body. They also found a chain similar to the ones found with Dawn's body, according to the criminal complaint.

Investigators also found a hex bolt stamped with three lines and the letters "JH" on the head. The bolts attached to Dawn's body had the same markings.

To some, the arrest of David Brossard solves the case. But this isn't the type of open-and-shut case that prosecutors love to bring before a jury.

David's attorney, Charles Blumenfield, called the case against his client weak and circumstantial. There is no physical evidence, Blumenfield said, and nothing to tie his client to the crime.

David Brossard is expected back in court Sept. 24 for a preliminary hearing, where a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to send Brossard to trial.

Although David Brossard's arrest was just another surprise development in this 11-year-old case, the latest chapter has yet to be written.

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Inside the new Lakeland School

After years of hand-wringing, legal challenges and decision making, the new Lakeland School of Walworth County is open.

Walworth County staff writer Matt Dolby toured the school last week for Sunday's cover story.

Staff and students are excited about the state-of-the are facility, despite continued criticism from
Disability Rights Wisconsin, the group that last a lawsuit that would have forced Walworth County to move towards educating all students in local public schools.

Dolby's story is HERE.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Some Scarecrow Fest activities postponed until next weekend

The annual Delavan Scarecrow Fest duck race will take place as scheduled Saturday (Sept. 13) at 2:30 p.m., but weather concerns have forced organizers to move the rest of the events to next Saturday (Sept. 20).

Events will take place throughout the downtown area Sept. 20, including food tents, scarecrow building and the duck race at 2:30 p.m.

Schedule of events

Saturday, Sept. 13

2:30 p.m. Duck Race. $200 prize, Swan Creek and Walworth Ave., near the Mill Pond).

Saturday, Sept. 20:

Water Tower Park Activities:
8 a.m. to 4p.m. Craft fair and flea market, food.
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bouncing castle for kids, free.
11:30 a.m. True story of Romeo, the circus elephant, told by Mrs. Delavan.
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Free children's face painting.
noon to 2 p.m. Free horse-drawn carriage rides.
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Free pumpkin painting.

South corner of Second and Walworth activities:
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Build a scarecrow to take home for $5. Supplies and helpers will be available.

North corner of Third and Walworth activities:
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Garden tractor pull presented by Country Pullers.
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Live music by Kings Highway.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Food stands.

Other activities:
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sidewalk sales by Delavan merchants.
Scarecrows will be on parade in historic downtown Delavan through early October.
Remember to vote for your favorite scarecrow.
For information, call Lorie at 728-8670 or stop in at Remember When in downtown Delavan.

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Packers honor Hubbard

Sgt. Raymond Hubbard, of Allens, Grove, and his family were honored before Monday night's Green Pay Packers' game.

Hubbard, a Wisconsin National Guard soldier, was seriously wounded in Iraq on July 4, 2006. He since has retired from the Army and is a member of American Legion Post 95.

He was joined at the game by his mother, Bonnie Wilson, his wife Sarah and his sons, Brady and Riley.

Hubbard attended as part of Operation Fan Mail, which recognizes members of the military in pre-game ceremonies.

Here's Donna Lenz Wright's story from the Week written shortly after Hubbard was injured ... read

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NEWS: Return of Ahmadinejad.

SPORTS: Brewers take one from the Reds.

CULTURE: Overpaid in Hollywood.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Man in wheelchair struck by car dies

The man who was struck by a car while crossing a Whitewater street in his motorized wheelchair died from his injuries Tuesday.

Officials said Michael Chaloupka, 23, a recent UW-Whitewater graduate originally from Waukesha, died Tuesday at University Hospital in Madison.

He was crossing Main Street at Whiton Street in the crosswalk about 4:30 p.m. Aug. 28 when he was struck.

The driver was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian at an uncontrolled intersection. Her view may have been blocked by another car before the accident, police say.

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Finding my place among the boats of Geneva Lake

By Dan Plutchak/Assoc. Editor

Finding a place among the boats of Geneva Lake

Summer did not depart willingly from the Fontana Beach on Labor Day.

I spent the afternoon there with my family. We swam, lounged around and talked about where the days had gone.

The sun was hot, and the beach was packed. Out on the water, boats of every shape and size maneuvered in and out of Abbey Marina.

The boats were magnificent, and often drew the gaze of those on the beach.

What was unseen was the pecking order among boat owners.

A boat owner falls into one of three categories: those in the middle, who both aspire to a bigger boat and are envied by those with smaller boats.

The other two categories have only one member each. One includes the person with the largest boat; the other includes person with the smallest boat.

I'm not sure who has the largest boat on Geneva Lake.

I'm pretty sure I have the smallest.

I own a tiny sailboat, big enough for me and only me. I acquired it a few years back, after it had been abandoned by a friend's son and was wasting space in her garage.

I became interested in sailing years ago when I began covering racing on Geneva Lake. I was invited to crew for a couple of C-class scow races, where I got an up-close look at the strategy it takes to outwit the wind and the other boats.

Long before green was more than just a color, the idea that nothing more than a breeze could propel a boat fascinated me.

My sailboat is a Sunfish-type, with a single, orange, triangular sail. It's smaller than a canoe and most windsurfing boards.

I succumbed to the lure of the pecking order once last summer and rented a larger sailboat for an afternoon cruise on the east side of Geneva Lake.

In addition to realizing that it didn't quench my thirst for an even larger boat, I learned that seasoned boat owners could skillfully detect a rental.

That became clear as I approached the mooring, and the warning cry was passed along from boat to boat, "rental!" they shouted.

Granted, I'm no Buddy Melges, the America's Cup-winning skipper from Zenda, but I thought I was managing my boat pretty well.

Despite that, I could see my fellow skippers on the decks of their boats with a foot at the ready to fend off my potentially wayward craft.

As it turns out, I might not be at the bottom of the boat-owner pecking order after all.

This summer, as I was heading off in my little sailboat, a neighbor asked about it. He thought it was great that I could just haul it to the water on top of my car and go.

He said that maybe he'd get one like it someday, although I hope that if he does, he buys a nice, big boat.

I like the idea that I have a place all my own in the boat-owner pecking order on Geneva Lake.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Corn aficionados in Darien this weekend

Extra points to you if you make it to both the Wine Festival in Lake Geneva and the Darien Corn Fest.

I'm thinking there won't be many cross-overs, but maybe I'm wrong.

In any case, both events have plenty to offer.

A Corn Fest schedule is at the end of the full post, link below.

The cornfest parade is Sunday at 1 p.m. The official Web site is HERE.

The Lake Geneva Wine Festival site is HERE.

Darien Corn Fest schedule of events

Sept. 5
6 p.m.: Princess pageant, fire station.
8 p.m. to midnight: Live music by Stateline Playboys, Miller Lite Stage.
9 p.m.: Fireworks.
Carnival rides and games.

Sept. 6
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Corn cook-off.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Bingo.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Free sweet corn.
11:30 a.m.: Horseshoe tournament.
Noon to 4 p.m.: Special rates on carnival rides and games.
Noon to 4 p.m.: Live music by Sawdust Symphony, Miller Lite Stage.
12:30 p.m.: Stock and hot rod tractor pull.
4 p.m.: Corn eating contest.
4:30 p.m.: Milk chug.
5 p.m.: Walworth County Cloggers.
8 p.m. to midnight: Live music by The Freebirds, Miller Lite Stage.
Plus crafts, 32-team men’s softball tournament, volleyball, hammerschlagen game.

Sept. 7
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Bingo.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Free sweet corn.
11:30 a.m.: Horseshoe tournament.
12:15 p.m.: Liberty bike ride honoring servicemen.
12:30 p.m.: Stock and hot rod tractor pull.
1 p.m.: Parade through downtown Darien.
4 p.m.: Auction, followed by raffle drawing.
Plus carnival rides and games, crafts, 32-team men’s softball tournament, hammerschlagen game.

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WEATHER RADAR: Nice until Sunday.

NEWS: McCain claims nomination.

SPORTS: Packers v. the hated Vikes.

CULTURE: Top 10: annoying singers.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Husband in court for death of wife 10 years ago.

David Brossard appeared in Walworth County Court Thursday, where he was formally charged with killing his wife and disposing of her shackled body in Geneva Lake.

Dawn Brossard was last seen alive in October of 1997. Her whereabouts were unknown until two divers found her body in Geneva Lake in 2003.

The investigation continued until Monday, when authorities arrested David Brossard.

In court Thursday, Brossard's attorney, Charles Blumenfield, called the case against his client weak, however Judge James Carlson ordered Brossard held on $500,000 bond.

He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Sept. 24.

Ted Sullivan's story for the Janesville Gazette his HERE.

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Wine aficionados in Lake Geneva this weekend

The second Lake Geneva Wine Festival takes place this weekend, and among the events are a series of seminars Friday at the Grand Geneva.

Contributing writer Margaret Plevak tracked down Jamie Stewart, a sommelier who lives in Chicago and serves as a director with Fosters Wine Estates.

Stewart will present a seminar on tasting and cellaring wines Friday (Sept. 5), at the Lake Geneva Wine Festival, which runs from Sept. 4-7.

Plevak asked Stewart for five tips to remember at a wine-tasking.

Here's here story from Thursday's Weekender:

Patience is a virtue: 5 things to remember when tasting wine

By Margaret Plevak/For Weekender

"I think the most intimidating thing about tasting wine is there's a myth out there that it's an overtly complicated thing, and it's not," says Jamie Stewart, who has been educating people about wine for nearly two decades.

A sommelier, or wine steward, in his native Australia at the age of 17, Stewart's career has taken him through Europe, Asia, and the United States. He currently lives in Chicago and serves as a director with Fosters Wine Estates.

Stewart will present a seminar on tasting and cellaring wines Friday (Sept. 5), at the Lake Geneva Wine Festival, which runs from Sept. 4-7.

The festival, which benefits Holiday Home Camp, the Geneva YMCA and George Williams College of Aurora University, features fare from local chefs and vintners worldwide.

When tasting those wines, Stewart has a few tips:

1) Remember tasting is subjective.

Too often, he says, mainstream-media wine critics are dictatorial. "There's no such thing as a true expert in this industry. The real basis of successful wine tasting is trying to find what resonates in a particular wine that you enjoy."

2) Be willing to learn.

"You have to understand the nature of wine to enjoy it. Obviously, everything in moderation, but taste as much as you can and experience different grapes, different varietals, different regions and build a muscle tone, almost, to your palate, the way you would repetitions in a gymnasium."

Stewart recommends educating yourself through local tasting groups, wine stores that offer tastings and answer your questions, and winery Web sites that provide information on their products.

3) Be patient.

The aromatics of a wine slowly come to fruition as they react with the enzymes in your mouth and the heat from your palate.

"It's telling a story, and you just don't get that from a synopsis. I guarantee that when (you) taste a wine, it may taste astringent or bitter or too acidic at first, but when it has a chance to mingle around in your mouth and ceases to mince words and actually becomes more beguiling, that changes.

"And given a moment of more reflection, suddenly things blossom and bloom that you would have never anticipated were there - orchard peach, apricots and mandarin blossoms and narcissus - things are going to emerge."

4) Be open.

"We look for faults in things and have a tendency to jump toward the negative. One thing I'm going to urge tasters in this panel to do is to look for the grace, the beauty in a wine first."

Don't automatically assume when you don't like something that it's bad, Stewart says. Wine that's corked can taste flat, but if you don't try another bottle, you won't know it.

5) Enjoy the experience.

"True winemakers make wine in the sense that it's poetry in a liquid form. Wine tasting can be intimidating until you realize, hey, it's fun and it's about passion and poetry and romance.

"People have a tendency to drink what they're told they're going to enjoy rather than exploring the enormous community of winemakers and regions and wines that are there from every price point. And that's the key. Ultimately, it's a matter of drilling down and understanding 'What is it about this thing that I love?'"

Stewart points to the scene in the movie "Ratatoullie," where a jaded food critic tastes a dish and instantly is transported to the sights and aromas of his mother's kitchen.

"That's what wine needs to do," Stewart says. "It need to take you somewhere to a place, a moment in time."

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Time running short for 1st District Democrats

Paulette Garin, Marge Krupp and Mike Hebert are well aware there's a primary Sept. 9. That's because the three are running to be the Democrat's candidate in November for the 1st Congressional District seat.

Their biggest challenge is to get the average voter to start thinking about the primary, too.

If things aren't tough enough now, the winner's next opponent will be incumbent Republican Paul Ryan. Ryan has a loyal base of supporters, tons of money and the name recognition that comes with having served since 1999.

Throw in Libertarian Joseph Kexel and Republican write-in candidate Joe Baker, and there's a lot of noise to break through.

September primaries traditionally have meager turnouts.

Walworth County Clerk Kimberly Bushey says that in 2002, 2004 and 2006 the percentage of the estimated population of voting age to cast a ballot never topped 15 percent.

That's compared to the last presidential election, where 66 percent of the estimated population of voting age showed up at the polls.

For the three congressional candidates, face-to-face campaigning has been central to their strategy.

Their fundraising approaches vary, however. Krupp says she's over $100,000 in campaign contributions, while Herbert says he's not taking a dime from anyone.

That's in comparison to Ryan, who has gone over $1 million, according to his Web site, and plans to run television advertising in three media markets.

Garin, 46, of Kenosha, is a UW-Whitewater grad with a bachelor's degree in music.

She says she's running a grass-roots campaign. She's still raising money, but her focus is on getting out and getting seen.

"None of us are household names," Garin said of the Democratic field. "But I've worked on building relationships."

"If someone invites me, I'll go. I don't see my opponents doing that as much as me," she said.

Garin says that more than taking a position on an issue, she has a program on how to follow through.

"I've thought my platform through; I'm not just spouting platitudes," she said.

Marge Krupp, 52, of Pleasant Prairie, has a background in engineering and business, but has devoted herself full time to run for Congress.

Her focus remains reaching voters one-to-one." "I suit up and I show up," Krupp said.

Krupp says she's separated herself from her primary opponents because she's been so inspired by the issues affecting voters here, and she's looking to working families for support. "The middle class is just disappearing," she said. "Everyone is hurting."

Although the primary vote is right around the corner, Krupp is positioning herself for the general election, regularly referring to the "Bush-Ryan administration."

Mike Hebert, 51, of Kenosha, says former Sen. William Proxmire inspires him. Proxmire was known in later years for never spending any money on his campaigns.

It's Herbert's strategy too.

"I don't have a web site. I didn't want to have a web site. I wanted to meet the people," he said. "I don't want to just sit there counting hits on my site all day."

Hebert, a union man who works at Ocean Spray in Kenosha, says the economy is at the top of the list of issues.

"We have to have industry here, along with innovation. A service sector economy is unsustainable," he said.

All three candidates said they haven't ignored Walworth County, despite its reputation as a Republican stronghold.

That's because all three a fighting for every vote they can get, and they only have a little over a week left to do it.

On the ballot

Paulette Garin

Marge Krupp

Mike Hebert

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Husband arrested in 10-year-old missing-person case

The husband of a Burlington woman who was reported missing in 1997 was arrested yesterday and will make his initial appearance tomorrow at 1 p.m.

David A. Brossard, 40, was one of the last people to see his wife, Dawn, alive.

In 2003, divers found Dawn Brossard's body in Geneva Lake.

Here's today's press release from the Walworth County Sheriff's Department:

On September 2, 2008, at approximately 5:00 PM, the Walworth County Sheriff's Office arrested David A. Brossard, age 40, of Burlington Wisconsin, for 1st Degree Intentional Homicide of his wife, Dawn Brossard.

Dawn was reported missing to the Burlington Police Department on October 25, 1997.

Recreational divers located her body in Lake Geneva on July 11, 2003.

From the time Dawn's body was located, the Walworth County Sheriff's Office has been conducting an investigation into her death.

Mr. Brossard will make his initial appearance at the Walworth County Judicial Center at 1:00 PM today tomorrow, September 4.

Here's a link to a 2007 story on missing person's cases ... HERE.

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