MOUNT PLEASANT — Slowly but surely, the emergency medical services station planned for the village’s north side is progressing toward becoming a reality.
With the rezoning of the property on Emmertsen Road complete, South Shore Fire Chief Robert Stedman said an architect is working on renderings of what the EMS station will look like, and that soon contractors will be able to bid on the project.
“We expect the bids to go out sometime around May 1,” Stedman said.
Stedman said there is not a timetable on when the EMS station will be operating because of the delays in rezoning the property.
“We’re talking late fall for sure,” Stedman said. “I’m hopeful that we may be able to break ground in June.”
The Village Board will have to approve the design and the contractor before any shovels go in the dirt.
Stedman said the idea for the ambulance station, which came from his department, is to help residents on the north side of the village.
“We think we’re going to have a good building once it all gets built and we’re going to tackle the issue of response times, at least for EMS, in that area,” Stedman said.
The South Shore Fire Department also is evaluating its current ambulance fees.
Stedman said department officials consulted with an ambulance billing service that suggested the department take another look at what it charges.
“We’re lower than many neighboring departments,” Stedman said. “We’re going to put together some ideas and take it to the Fire/EMS committee at the next meeting May 3.”
An increase, Stedman said, could be used to update equipment. For example, the chief said the department needs new heart monitors, which cost about $30,000 each.
“Costs go up all the time,” Stedman said. “(The heart monitors are) not cheap but they do a lot of really great things. You got to be able to pay for those things.”
In addition to Mount Pleasant, South Shore Fire and Rescue serves Sturtevant and Elmwood Park.
RACINE — Organizers of the Racine Tri-Course Amateur Championship are upending the order of things for the 57th annual golf tournament.
But the tournament committee is betting that golfers will like the change.
For the first time in its illustrious history, the Tri-Course will break with tradition and play the first round of the tournament at Racine Country Club, 2801 Northwestern Ave.
The tournament is scheduled for July 6-8.
Since the tournament began in 1962, the first round has been played at H.F. Johnson Park Golf Course, 6200 Northwestern Ave.; the second round has been at Meadowbrook Country Club, 2149 N. Green Bay Road, Mount Pleasant; and the final round has been at Racine Country Club.
The idea of switching things up has been bounced around for the past couple years by the Tri-Course Board of Directors, tournament director Jim Nord said, but it finally worked out for it to happen this year.
The change was going to go into effect last year, but Johnson Park’s former management group, Public Golf Associates, didn’t want the order to change in its final year of running the course, Nord said.
With a new management group running the course, Nord said it was time to make the change. It means that players who never get to play Racine Country Club — you have to make the cut the first day of the tournament to advance to the final two rounds — are guaranteed to play at least one round there.
“It’s exciting to put Racine Country Club first for the people who don’t want to pay (the entry fee of) $85 and just play Johnson Park and (be out of the tourney if they miss the cut),” Nord said. “I think it’s (the Tri-Course entry fee) cheaper than the guest fee at Racine Country Club.
“Now that’s going to change. Everybody on the committee was in favor of it. It’s going to help the tournament, if it works the way we think it will. It might be harder on public players, who are not used to playing there, but this way is the best way to get the most participation.
“I will be surprised if we don’t go over 100 players.”
Justin Kratochvil of Wind Lake, the Regional Safety & Human Resource Manager at Ozinga, a concrete contractor in Mokena, Ill., is a regular participant in the Tri-Course. He has made the cut the last two years and has also made the cut in other years, but he has also been on the outside looking in plenty of times.
“I don’t play that much golf and I’m lucky if I play Racine Country Club once a year,” Kratochvil said. “It’s a pretty special thing. It’s a very good course and it’s well-manicured.
“It’s an awesome venue. I personally love Racine Country Club — I play better there on average than the other two courses.”
In addition to hopefully getting more players to enter this year’s tournament — the starting field has averaged 81 players over the past four years, with a high of 85 in 2015 — the change will help the tournament financially.
Because they are private courses, Meadowbrook and Racine country clubs donate their courses for the tournament without cost to the Tri-Course committee.
Johnson Park, on the other hand, being a public course, charged for each entry. With Johnson Park being played the second day, there will be fewer players and therefore, less money coming out of the Tri-Course coffers.
“It will all be different, but I don’t think it will hurt the tournament,” Nord said. “Financially, we will be a little better.”
Nord was especially appreciative of Racine Country Club General Manager John Schneider and head pro Matt Booker, who helped make the change happen.
“For years, Racine Country Club said they would only do Sunday (for the final round),” Nord said. “All of a sudden, they were amenable to playing the course a different day and they were a big key.
“John Schneider and Matt Booker are two good guys to work with. Those two were very supportive.”
Like Nord, Kratochvil believes there could be a large field teeing off on July 6.
“To make an educated guess, I think it will surpass the best year in history,” Kratochvil said. “There’s a lot to be excited about.”
RACINE — Wild Root Market Cooperative, which hopes to open a community-owned grocery store on the city’s north side, may get a shot in the arm of up to $390,000 from the City of Racine.
The Redevelopment Authority of Racine on Thursday unanimously recommended giving Wild Root a grant of up to $390,000, including a challenge grant of up to $100,000, to help the co-op open a grocery store in a former medical building at 500 Walton Ave. The cooperative, formed in 2011, is trying to open a full-service grocery store with 7,700 square feet of retail space, at an estimated cost of about $5.2 million. Plans include a delicatessen and café, local and organic meat, eggs and produce, bulk foods, bakery, wine and beer, supplements and more.
The city grant, if approved by the City Council, would come from the intergovernmental revenue (IGR) fund in two phases, City Development Director Amy Connolly explained to the RDA. The first would be about $290,000 disbursed to the co-op when its private financing is in place.
The second phase would be a dollar-for-dollar challenge grant matching whatever Wild Root could raise from the community, up to $100,000. All of the money would be disbursed under the terms of a development agreement that has yet to be written.
The grant would be used to help offset the cost of construction and equipment, to total about $2.8 million, Connolly said. It also would serve as a requested match to the $250,000 grant that city staff are helping the co-op apply for from Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
The city receives about $1.5 million per year in IGR funding and that account currently stands at $1.9 million to $2 million, City Administrator Jim Palenick said.
The bulk of Wild Root’s funding will come in the form of a loan from the National Cooperative Bank in Washington, D.C., Connolly said.
Connolly said the city’s goal is to see Wild Root break ground this spring and open in fall or winter.
Wild Root says the grocery store will create about 50 jobs, all of which will pay above minimum wage. “The co-op is committed to paying a fair wage, and I think that would be part of our (development) agreement,” said Margie Michicich, Wild Root board secretary.
Local hiring goals may also be written into the agreement, Connolly said.
Although the store will be member-owned, returning its profits to its members, it will be a for-profit operation that will increase the amount of property taxes paid to the city by several fold.
“You hear people in the community talking all the time about, ‘Boy, it’d really be nice to have a grocery store closer to the Downtown and closer to the middle of the city,’ ” Mayor Cory Mason said. “We hear it repeatedly. So this would certainly serve that need.”
“They’re actually alleviating food desert issues,” Connolly added. “They’re contributing to a neighborhood that needs reinvestment.”
Wild Root, which predicts it will do $5 million to $6 million in annual sales, says more than $1 million of that will be sales of foods and items produced within 100 miles by up to 50 farmers and producers whose items the store will carry.
RDA member Doug Nicholson abstained from the vote on the grant because he is a Wild Root member who has also made a loan to the co-op.