.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Walworth County declared disaster area

--- Residents can apply immediately for disaster relief

By Ted Sullivan/The Week

Walworth County residents with flooded basements, damaged roofs and clogged sewers can begin applying for relief money after the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared the county a disaster area Tuesday.

Terry Mayer/The Week
High water on Lake Wandawega has swamped most piers.
Heavy rains have caused lakes to rise, flooding basements in sporadic areas throughout the county, said Kevin Williams, the Walworth County emergency management director.

Howling winds have damaged roofs on barns throughout the county, Williams said, and a few people have reported backed-up sewer systems.

FEMA representatives declared Walworth County a disaster area Tuesday after inspecting the area last weekend, he said.

Private property owners and businesses qualify for relief, but public properties such as roads and bridges do not qualify at this time, Williams said.

The damage is not as bad as in surrounding counties, he said, but many residents may qualify for money.

"In the scheme of things, Walworth County has done quite well," Williams said. "We were lucky."

The biggest concern is the overflowing lakes in Sugar Creek Township, he said. The lakes have no outlets.

Dan Boyd, of the Sugar Creek Highway Department, said lots of homes around Lake Wandawega and North Lake have sandbags around them. He said the water is waist deep in some neighborhoods.

"The lake is rising so high," Boyd said.

Charles Papcke, a Sugar Creek Town Board member, said water is settling in several fields, possibly causing crop damage.

"There's a lot of water standing around," he said. "We had lots of rain, but I don't think we have any major catastrophes."

Twenty-eight counties have been declared disasters by FEMA. Other counties declared disasters Tuesday include Adams, Calumet, Green Lake, Jefferson and La Crosse.

People may call (800) 621-3362 or go online to www.fema.gov to see whether they qualify for relief.

Ooo

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Big dreams for Lake Geneva's newest theater company

"Private Lives" debuts July 4

By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

Area live theater fans are in for a big treat as there's a new professional theater company in town planning some big theatrical treats for locals and visitors.

Photo submitted by Laura DeMoon
Kelly Dean Cooper (left) playing Elyot Chase and Molly Glynn (right) playing Amanda Prynne in "Private Lives."
The Lake Geneva Theatre Company will present Noel Coward's classic comedy, "Private Lives," each weekend July 4-27 and Aug. 1-3 at Horticulture Hall in downtown Lake Geneva.

The Lake Geneva Theatre Company is a professional company, organized by Laura DeMoon, president and artistic director of the not-for-profit group.

DeMoon is a professional actress from New York, N.Y., and worked at Steppenwolf in Chicago, when she first came to the Midwest. She is currently with the First Stage Children's Theatre and manager of the Bunny Gumbo Theatre, both in Milwaukee.

"We chose to name it the Lake Geneva Theatre Company because it is of and for the community," she said. "This is the perfect place for regional theater."

Live theater runs through DeMoon’s veins and this has been a dream of hers for quite some time.

"I’ve been producing combat theater in Milwaukee--sort of a rave for theater goers," she says. "We write the play, practice and perform it all in one night.

But she's not content to keep her ideas on a one-or even two-dimensional theater model. Rather, she dreams of reproducing events like the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada right here in Lake Geneva as early as next year.

"That’s my model--my dream," she said. And her enthusiasm will likely make it happen. "We could be like the Woodstock of theater.

"To me it was a no-brainer. We have the infrastructure and need something like that. We have so many great visual artists in our community and we need to exploit that asset.

"This could be a jewel in our community. One day we could have several theater spaces and when family comes, you’d be proud to take them to the theater."

She’s received warm welcomes by business owners and citizens of Lake Geneva, further cementing her visions.

"Everyone has been so enthusiastic," she said. "I want to do this for the community members as much as for the tourists. We need it for our health, happiness, spirit and all of the good stuff the arts bring to a community."

Actors in the company’s debut performance come from Chicago and Milwaukee theaters.

"A lot of theaters in Milwaukee and Chicago go dark in the summer. That lets us come in and scoop them up," DeMoon said.

'Private Lives'

Coward described his play as an "intimate comedy in three acts," as it revolves around two honeymooning couples who find themselves staying in hotel rooms adjacent to their ex-spouses.

This ridiculous coincidence forces them to question fate and the nature of true love. The play is a classic example of the smart banter of the 1930s, which Coward championed with famous quotes such as, "Water is necessary for life, but the martini is necessary for a life worth living."

"One couple, who've been married, divorced and remarried to other people are honeymooning on the French Riviera and end up in adjacent hotel rooms," DeMoon describes.

"Of course, they see each other. And of course, they run off together."

In Act II the audience sees them together in their very volatile relationship.

"They fight, then they’re happy," DeMoon says. "They're a very witty, volatile and romantic couple."

In Act III, the new spouses find them for a confrontation.

"It’s a simple idea with very witty quips going back and forth. It’s classic of the movies of the 1930s."

In respect to Coward's respect of martinis, DeMoon has included a martini bar to greet guests in the courtyard during intermission.

"People can have a complimentary martini so they’ll feel like part of the whole story. It will be very glamorous."

DeMoon says she chose this play as their debut performance because Coward spent many summers at Ten Chimneys in Genesse Depot with theater-loving friends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.

For more information and tickets, call 325-4753, visit www.lakegenevatheatre.org or e-mail ldemoon@lakegenevatheatre.org.

The company

Laura Frye--New York actor who moved to the Midwest

Kelly Dean Cooper--from the stages of Steppenwolf, Royal George, Writers' Theatre, Remy Bumppo and Milwaukee Shakespeare and others

John Maclay--associate artistic director of First Stage's Children's Theatre, Milwaukee

Molly Glynn--from the stages of the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre on Navy Pier, First Stage, Steppenwolf and the Goodman

Nora Sachs--French/drama major from Wisconsin, currently studying at the University of Minnesota.

Laura DeMoon--Director

Stage manager--Diane Rector

House manager--Patrick Schley

Costumes--Kim Instenes--from the stages of the First Stage, Racine's Theatre Guild and Milwaukee Shakespeare; National Design Award-winner from the American College Theatre Festival at the Kennedy Center; professor at UW-Parkside; and is part of the team expanding the theater department at Carthage College.

Technical design--Scott Wirtz-Olsen--served as production manager for Skylight Theater and First Stage Children's Theatre in Milwaukee, and currently a professor at Carthage College.

As a professional company, Lake Geneva Theatre Company has an agreement with Actor's Equity, the actors union, to contract two Equity actors for their current production--Molly Glynn and Kelly Dean Cooper.

Ooo

To Do

What: Lake Geneva Theatre Company presents Noel Coward's "Private Lives"

Where: Horticulture Hall, Lake Geneva

When: Each weekend July 4-27 and Aug. 1-3

Info: Tickets are $25. Contact Laura DeMoon, 325-4753, visit www.lakegenevatheatre.org or e-mail ldemoon@lakegenevatheatre.org

ooo

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Week turns 30: Ten stories that got people talking

Dan Plutchak/The Week

Of the 30 years that The Week has been a part of Walworth County, I've been around for 17 of them.

The first edition was inserted into the Janesville Gazette on June 21, 1978. By the time I arrived in February of 1991, The Week was distributed by itself free to every home in Walworth County.

Linda Godfrey's illustration from the 1991 story on the Beast of Bray Road, the most talked-about story in The Week's 30-year history.
Over the years we've also added a Thursday edition, specialty publications and two Web sites.

I still remember that after my first week, I wondered how we'd do it all again. But away we went, and little did I know I wouldn't look back.

Since then, Walworth County (and The Week) has been in the middle of many fascinating stories.

Many of them have gone from local to national to international news events.

The following list are my picks for 10 most-talked-about stories that I've been around to help cover (including my favorite from the first issue, June 21, 1978, at right).

Both good stories and bad, here are 10 that got people talking:

10

It's Jake the talking dog

Published June 21, 1978

Any top 10 list should begin at the beginning, so we'll go all the way back to our first issue, June 21, 1978.

Along with covering the major news stories of the week, readers have always been able to enjoy a lighthearted look at the offbeat.

In our first issue, we told the story of Jake the talking dog, a black lab owned by Vern Ludtke of Whitewater. "What do trees have," the interviewer asked? "Bark," Jake replied.

9

Famous, and nearly forgotten

Published Sept. 27, 2007

By Chris Schultz

Of all the famous people who have spent time in Walworth County, perhaps the most famous (and certainly the most famous in his day) was Clarence H. "Ginger" Beaumont.

In 1903, Beaumont, a native of Rochester, just over the Racine County line, was the first batter in the first modern World Series.

Leading off for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he faced the legendary Cy Young, pitching for the Boston Americans.

Beaumont flew out to center field.

Once out of baseball, Beaumont moved to Honey Creek where he owned a store, did some farming and auctioneering, conducted the church choir, became a grandfather and wove himself into local legend before dying on April 10, 1956 at the age of 79.

Don Kreft, Walworth County assistant highway superintendent, who now lives on the Beaumont farm, and Frank Steele, a Rochester coffee shop owner, are among those who keep Beaumont's memory alive.

8

The disappearance of Georgia Jean Weckler

Published March 3, 1996

Story by Dale Reich

In March of 1996, Delavan Township resident Ed Lindloff happened upon a reporter for The Week and mentioned an incident that had haunted him for nearly 50 years.

He believes he knows what happened to Georgia Jean Weckler, an 8-year-old girl from Fort Atkinson, who was last seen May 1, 1947.

She was dropped off at her home after school by a neighbor. She got the mail and was walking up the driveway and was never seen again, according to newspaper accounts and charleyproject.org.

Several witnesses reported seeing a black 1936 Ford in the area that afternoon. Police once considered notorious serial killer Edward Gein as a suspect because he had a 1937 black Ford, according to the Web site.

Lindloff says he says he was working on a farm near what is now a business on the outskirts of Delavan the day Weckler was reported missing. The shop was being built at the time and Lindloff says he saw two men put an object about the size of a child in the ground and cover it with dirt.

After the story ran, authorities interviewed Lindloff and showed them where he believed Weckler was buried. Authorities eventually determined there was not enough evidence to warrant excavating the site.

7

Ted Junker's Hitler memorial

Published June 9, 2006

By Donna Lenz Wright

Residents were outraged when they learned that a retired farmer was quietly building a memorial to Adolf Hitler on his secluded Millard property.

Ted Junker, a self-described former Nazi Waffen SS soldier, planned to hold a grand opening, which drew headlines around the world.

Eventually, Junker cancelled the event after county officials threatened a lawsuit over proper zoning approval to open his property to the public.

6

Alpine Valley's Grateful Dead reunion tour

Published Aug. 11, 2002

By Steve Doman

The announcement early in the summer of 2002 that the remaining members of the band The Grateful Dead, now performing as The Other Ones, would be performing at Alpine Valley didn't sit well with local residents.

They remember years earlier when fans of the band overran the East Troy area venue causing property damage and disturbances.

Concerns over security and safety came to a head when Sheriff David Graves took on entertainment giant Clear Channel Communications-Alpine's owners-and threatened to not let the show Aug. 3-4 go on.

After two days of public meetings with county officials, Clear Channel promised to add extra security and reimburse the county for extra costs.

5

Who kidnapped Heddy Braun?

Published March 2, 2003

By Dale Reich

The first e-mail about the disappearance of Heddy Braun arrived in our office mid-morning on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2003.

We hear of missing persons cases from time to time and although not a regular occurrence here in Walworth County, it does happen.

At the time, we figured it wouldn't be long before we would receive a press release from the sheriff's department that Mrs. Braun was found safely and we would have a brief news story for Sunday's paper.

So by Saturday, when authorities announced that Mrs. Braun had been found and they were investigating her disappearance as a kidnapping, the news shocked nearly everyone.

Everyone, except those closest to the case, knew the real story of Heddy Braun's disappearance from nearly the beginning.

While most of Walworth County was going about its usual business that week, family members were frantically trying to negotiate with an unknown captor, while at the Law Enforcement Center, investigators were hunkered down in a command center searching for the clue that would lead to Heddy Braun.

In fact, she was kidnapped and held for $3 million ransom by Reinier A. Ravesteijn, a family friend.

Ravesteijn was later sentenced to 45 years in prison and 12 years supervised release.

Braun passed away in 2004.

4

Stories of courage...

Sept. 11, 2001-present

Since the United States launched its first mission in Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many Walworth County residents have answered the call to serve their country.

In our series, Stories of Courage, we've chronicled the sacrifices that many service members from Walworth County have made.

In November of 2004, we reported on the first Support the Troops rally held at the Walworth County Government Center in downtown Elkhorn.

Organized by Bob Webster of Sharon and sponsored by the Walworth County Council of the American Legion, members have gathered each Monday to remember those in the military with Walworth County connections. From that first day, they vowed to hold a rally each Monday, "for the duration of the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan."

This coming Monday's rally, which will begin at 11 a.m., will be the 178th.

They will the read the names of the roughly 175 people with county ties who have served, including about 25 who are currently overseas.

Special mention is made of the two who died during their service. The first was Justin Linden of Clinton, whose mother lives near Elkhorn, and more recently Keith Nurnberg, whose wife lives in Genoa City.

3

Tragedy in Delavan

Published June 15, 2007

Just over a year ago, Ambrosio Analco, 23, killed himself after he shot and killed his estranged girlfriend Nicole McAffee, 19; their infant twin sons, Argenis and Isaiah Analco; Nicole's sister Ashley Lynn Huerta, 21; and Nicole and Ashley's friend Vanessa Iverson, 19.

Jasmine Analco, now almost 3 years old, was shot but survived the ordeal. She has been adopted by family members, said Nicole's aunt, Karen "Dee Dee" Sittler of Elkhorn.

The rampage in the second-floor apartment in Delavan is among the deadliest in Wisconsin history.

2

The mysterious death of Billy Bates

Published March 4, 1998

At first, the death of 47-year-old Willard "Billie" Bates looked like a possible homicide. In the end, it was ruled suicide, but what led to Bates' death was never fully known.

What authorities did know was that on the afternoon of Feb. 28, 1998, Bates' car left Highway 14 just outside the village of Walworth and crashed into a 10,000-gallon propane storage tank.

The resulting fire burned for 24 hours and authorities feared that if it exploded, a good portion of the village would go with it.

After the blaze was extinguished, Bates' body was found in the trunk of his car.

1

The Beast of Bray road

Published Dec. 29, 1991

Linda Godfrey

Linda Godfrey was the first to report on rumors of "A wolfish-looking creature that ran on two legs and had been seen around the Bray Road area, stealing chickens, eating roadkills and scaring the daylights out of locals who (sometimes literally) ran into it."

In fact, the Walworth County humane officer at the time had a file on the sightings.

The story was quickly picked up by news outlets and cable television programs and became a long-standing topic of speculation in Walworth County.

Godfrey has since gone on to write authoritative books on the subject-Bray Road and Hunting the American Werewolf.

Ooo

Friday, May 09, 2008

Q&A with Rep. Paul Ryan


By Dan Plutchak, editor

For Congressman Paul Ryan, farm policy, economic policy and energy policy are all one-in-the same.

He has ideas on how to make them all work together, but he'll also be the first to tell you congress is a frustrating place to get anything done these days.

The First District congressman visited with local weekly newspaper editors a week ago to provide his perspective on how national issues are affecting folks here in Walworth County.

Tops among them is the rapidly rising cost of gasoline.

Ryan has focused on increasing the supply of oil as a way to get a handle on the rising cost of gasoline.

For years now, Ryan has pointed out the bottleneck that throws the traditional laws of supply and demand out the window. Because the United States has reached its oil refining capacity, increasing crude oil production can't increase the supply of gasoline to the pumps.

And because they're already happily profitable, oil companies have no economic incentive to build new oil refineries.

Unless Congress can find a way to make investing in new refineries financially attractive, the only option consumers have to make the laws of supply and demand work for them is to reduce demand.

It's no coincidence that his visit comes in the early stages of his campaign for re-election in November, and he staked out the positions he'll rely on over the next eight months.

Here's a sampling of what Ryan had to say:

More drilling

Ryan says one way to reduce reliance on foreign oil is to increase domestic drilling.

"We can do this without harming the environment," Ryan says. A proposal to drill in Alaska would encompass 2,000 acres out of 20 million, Ryan says, and it would reduce our dependency on foreign oil by 20 percent.

Unfortunately, Ryan says there's no interest from congressional leaders in pursuing the plan.

More refining capacity

Ryan sees the need for more refinery capacity. The last refinery was built in 1976 and refineries have been running at near capacity for years.

Ryan has offered several proposals to make it easier to build new refineries, but there's no economic incentive for oil companies to invest in more processing capacity.

Streamline gasoline blends

Ryan has long pushed for a reduction in the number of specialty blends of gasoline as a way of increasing refining capacity.

Because of environmental legislation, different parts of the county use slightly different blends of gasoline.

For example, the blend that consumers buy in Walworth County is different from what they sell in Milwaukee County.

However, Ryan says his legislation has languished under opposition from the oil industry.

Stop cutting interest rates

Ryan has been nearly alone in his opposition to rate cuts by the Federal Reserve Bank. "The Fed is stoking high prices," he says, as they continue to cut rates to fight the sluggish economy.

Interest rates should be adjusted to combat inflation, Ryan says. But the recent cuts have only fueled increases in consumer prices.

Food into fuel

Ryan's voice is among a growing chorus of those who say using food for fuel has led to disastrous unintended consequences.

Instead, he supports alternative biofuels like cornstalks and switchgrass. However, the tax subsidy for wind, solar and biomass fuels has expired and was not renewed in the recent energy bill.

Ryan is at a loss to explain why congressional leadership won't move to renew the incentives.

So can First District residents expect to see movement on any of these issues soon? Probably not.

With the general election campaign about to begin in earnest this summer, these will be the issues the candidates will spend a great deal of time debating.

Doing something about them will have to wait until after November.

ooo

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Faith Christian presents 'The Sound of Music'

Story by Donna Lenz Wright/The Week


Terry Mayer/The Week
(L-R) Kristina Haan, Katie Stearns, Rachel Myers, Madison Haltli, Emily Mack, Katie Hirte, Matthew Baughman and Grant Myers rehearse a scene from Faith Christian School's production of "The Sound of Music."
"The Sound of Music" is an American favorite, and the kids at Faith Christian have been working for months getting ready to take audiences to the Swiss Alps in the days leading up to World War II.

"It's the story of a high-spirited young lady who is dispatched to serve as governess (Kristina Haan) for the seven children of a widowed naval captain," says Lois Haan, Faith Christian School receptionist.

While Captain Von Trapp (Joe Hirte) loved his children dearly, he lacked in the nurturing department in a big way, creating seven very unfulfilled children-just how the governess, Maria, felt living in the convent.

With music and fun, Maria forms strong bonds with the children, then the captain, who learns how to show his children the affections they needed so much.

"Upon returning from their honeymoon, they discover that Austria has been invaded by the Nazis, who demand the captain's immediate service in their navy," Haan said. "The family's narrow escape over the mountains to Switzerland on the eve of World War II provides one of the most thrilling and inspirational finales ever presented in the theater."

The Sound of Music, 1965, won five Oscars and is the theatrical source of everyone's favorites like "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "Edelweiss" and many others.

"The motion picture version remains the most popular musical of all time," Haan adds.

The Faith Christian Players will perform "The Sound of Music" April 18-19, 7 p.m. at Faith Christian School. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students. For information or tickets, call 245-9404.



ooo





Cast

Captain - Joe Hirte
Maria - Kristina Haan
Liesl - Katie Hirte
Friedrich - Grant Myers
Louisa - Emily Mack
Brigitta - Madison Haltli
Kurt - Matthew Baughman
Marta - Rachel Myers
Gretl - Katie Stearns
Elsa - CaseyMack
Herr Zeller - Zach Ford
Max - Brady Hollenbeck
Frau Zeller - Brittaney Peiffer
Rolf - Andrew Mulder
Admiral von Schreiber - Ryan Murphy
Franz - Brandon Valadez
Baron Elberfeld - Nick Kubiske
Frau Schmidt - Jillian Versweyveld
Baroness Elberfeld - Melissa Siegel
Ursula - Melissa Siegel
German guards - Eli Thompson and Quinn Chody
Mother Abbess - Kristolyn Pettygrove
Sister Margareta - Nicole Ackatz
Sister Berthe - Abigail Knudtson
Sister Sophia - Ariel Kopas

Nuns/guests - Danielle
Thompson, Kasey Montsma,
Ellie Sheetz, Sarah Jongetjes,
Noelle Goodson, Kaitlyn
Asbury, Hannah Brossard,
Brittany Trent, Sarah Mack,
Laken Love, Hannah
Hatlestad, Jessica D'Silvestro,
Julie Gregornik, Emilie Carr
and Malorie Carr

Additional guests - Nick Asta,
David Ferguson, Noah Gray
and Ben Sass

Qualifier open to area women

Ever dream of golfing on the LPGA Tour? The first step could take place May 27 at the amateur qualifier at Geneva National

The Geneva National Foundation, organizers of the Aurora Health Care Championship, will host the Aurora Health Care Championship Amateur Qualifier on Tuesday, May 27, 2008, at Geneva National Golf Club - Palmer Course, the site of the LPGA's May 30-June 1 Duramed FUTURES event.

Any woman amateur living within 100 miles of Geneva National and who has a USGA handicap of 5 or less is eligible to compete in the open Qualifier.

The 18-hole Qualifier will begin at 9 a.m. and the golfers with the lowest two scores in that event will earn playing positions in the $100,000 Aurora Health Care Championship.

There is no entry fee for the qualifier, and players can apply by calling the Tournament Office at (262) 245-1398. Entries will be accepted through Tuesday, May 20.

"This is an opportunity for two area amateurs to compete in an LPGA event in front of family and friends. This is our third year of hosting the amateur qualifier, and we expect another highly-competitive event that will kick off a week of women's championship golf," said Howard Storck, Tournament Director.

For additional information on the Aurora Health Care Championship, please visit the website at www.aurorachampionship.com.

Congdon pond gets ready for fishing season

The pond in Delavan's Congdon Park has been stocked with 3,000 rainbow trout as part of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Urban Fishing Waters program.

The DNR defines Urban Fishing Waters are small lakes and ponds under 25 acres that are intensively and cooperatively managed with a municipality.

According to the Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations 2007-2008, special regulations on designated urban waters like Condgon Park's pond include a year-round season, no length limits, and a special season, March 10-April 27 for juveniles 15 years of age and younger and certain disabled anglers under age 65 only.

They also have a daily bag limit of three (3) trout.

The Delavan Parks and Recreation Department is co-sponsoring two fishing events at the pond this year to promote the fishing opportunity:

  • "Optimists Fishing Derby" on Saturday, April 26, 2008. The event is co-sponsored with the Delavan-Darien Optimists. The event will run from noon to 4 p.m. The rain date is Sunday, April 27.
  • "Take Mom Fishing" and "4-H Fishing Derby," will take place on Saturday, June 7 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (Rain Date: Sunday, June 8).
This event is co-sponsored with the Walworth County 4-H. Mom's don't need a license because the date is part of Wisconsin's Free Fishing Weekend.

Both events will include a fishing derby, bait, refreshments, lunch, contests and prizes. Fishing poles and tackle will be available for those that need them. A limited number of poles are available, and will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. The fee for both programs is $5per person.

Pre-registration is necessary, and the registration deadline has been set for one week before each event.

The Delavan Parks and Recreation Department also sponsors a Rent-A-Pole program. Fishing poles are available for rent at the main office. The poles were awarded to the department as part of a grant from the national Take Me Fishing program. Pole rental is on a first-come; first-served basis, and reservations are encouraged. The cost for rental is a $10 security deposit.

For more information, to register for one of the programs or to rent a pole, please call the Delavan Parks and Recreation Department at (262) 728-5585, extension 132 or 138 or visit our office in the lower level of the Municipal Building at 123 South Second Street, Delavan.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The difference between winning and losing

If I knew the answer, I'd really have a leg up on political consultants.

The question: What is it that puts a winner over the top in a local election?

What I do know is that conventional wisdom didn't appear to be of much help in Tuesday's election.

I suspect that when the winners and losers go back to figure out what went right or wrong, they probably won't be any more enlightened than when they began their campaigns.

For example, can money buy a win?

Not necessarily. Most local campaigns are financed by the candidate and close friends and supporters. However two groups were able to raise and spend substantially more money than their opponents.

In Lake Geneva, the Vote No On Mirbeau-Hummel Political Group spent heavily to defeat a referendum that would allow a large-scale residential development on the city's south side. The group placed full-page ads in the Lake Geneva Regional News and had advertised for a full month in The Week prior to the election.

They also waged a well-organized grass-roots effort in Lake Geneva. On Tuesday, the referendum was defeated 1,277-414.

On the other hand, the group People for Good Government, which registered as a political action committee in March, campaigned for candidates in the Walworth County Board races. (The group had to return a $5,000 contribution from an Illinois corporation. The donation violated state campaign finance laws.)

They endorsed candidates in each of the 11 county board races, but only five of their candidates were victorious.

How important is name recognition?


Both the contested mayors' races were relatively close, and both candidates were well known in their communities. In Lake Geneva, Bill Chesen defeated former mayor Spyro Condos. In Delavan, incumbent Mel Nieuwenhuis defeated alderwoman Ellen Reddy.

The race for Walworth County Board highlighted how important name recognition is. Of the six newcomers who have never been a member of the Walworth County Board, only one--Fredrick Mark Bromley--defeated an incumbent, long-time supervisor Ann Lohrmann.

Can negative campaigning sink an opponent?

Granted this is unscientific, but based on the tone of letters to the editor in The Week and comments on theweekextra.com, the three most negative campaigns were the races for Delavan Town Board, Lake Geneva mayor and the District 3 Walworth County Board race between Bromley and Lohrmann.

In most cases, the venom tended to spew from supporters, rather than the candidates themselves. In all cases, once the first negative letters appeared in print, both sides piled on, so neither side gained any advantage.

Here's a suggestion for the next campaign: If no one starts the mudslinging, voters can be spared the sideshow.

How important is news coverage?


I'd like to think very important, and hopefully it is for many voters. Nearly every local paper, including The Week, covered developments in the races as well as publishing Q&As on the top issues.

Ultimately, it's still up to the voters to do the research and decide which candidate is best for them.

Politics is made up of two often-incompatible job descriptions. First comes the job of running for office. Next comes the job of being an elected official.

Tuesday's vote cleared up who is effective in the first part of their responsibility. The weeks ahead will tell us how effective they are at the second.

ooo

Friday, March 14, 2008

Walworth County Board race letters

Following the vote to downsize the Walworth County Board to 11 districts, all 11 seats will be contested on April 1.

Click HERE to add your letter to the editor. Letters will be reviewed and those adhearing to our guidelines will be posted.

Click HERE to watch video of the March 3, 2008 Candidate forum.

Click HERE for a list of candidates.

Click HERE for an interactive district map.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

By Joe Bell: Dan Kilkenny will protect my money

Editor,

I want to hire Dan Kilkenny to protect my tax money.

I can do this simply by casting my vote for him in the primary to be held Tuesday, February 19 when he will be running for Walworth County Supervisor of District No. 8.

Dan Kilkenny is well aware that there are too many hands in the taxpayer's cookie jar.

He strongly believes that the taxpayer's money should be used only to serve the taxpayers, and that those who use the taxpayer's monies should be working for the taxpayers and not for themselves or some special interest group.

He knows that getting these sticky fingers out of the jar is just one of many ways to cut the taxes of the over-burdened citizen.

Kilkenny will protect my money. Kilkenny will protect your money. Vote Dan Kilkenny for county supervisor of District 8.

Joe Bell
Delavan

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