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Hundreds gather to remember Imogene Johnson

WIND POINT — The life and legacy of mother, wife and community activist Imogene “Gene” Powers Johnson was celebrated during a memorial service Sunday inside The Prairie School’s Athletic Center.

About 1,000 people filed into the school for the celebration of life ceremony, including the Johnson family, former and current Johnson employees, Prairie alumni and students, and officials including Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave, Racine Mayor Cory Mason and Racine Police Chief Art Howell.

“Mom was an incredible woman, so selfless, so giving, so strong, so courageous,” said Helen Johnson-Leipold, Johnson’s daughter. “Mom saw good in every single person and respected everyone. She was more interested in others than she was in herself.”

Johnson, who died March 3 at the age of 87, was the wife of late SC Johnson Chairman Sam Johnson and one of the Racine community’s major benefactors. Supporting education was one of her primarily passions, as well as exploring the outdoors, traveling the world and spending time with her family and friends.

Inside the memorial program was a quote by Gene: “Time is precious. We can’t stop time and we can’t go back. We live in the moment, not before it and not after. Make every moment with your family count ... make each one a moment that will last a lifetime.”

‘Substantial legacy’

Johnson founded The Prairie School in 1965 and served as the school’s chairman and director. She was extremely devoted to the school, rarely missing an event.

During the ceremony, her family said their mother bought lottery tickets, often stating that she would give all the profits to The Prairie School if she ever won.

“This school would not be here if it were it not for Mrs. Johnson,” said Nathaniel W. Coffman, president of The Prairie School. “We are truly fortunate to be a part of her substantial legacy and to have benefited from her leadership and vision over the last 54 years.”

In addition to The Prairie School, Johnson was instrumental in the development of the River Bend Nature Center in Caledonia and, together with Sam, Gene provided support for the development and launch of the 21st Century Preparatory School, Racine’s first independent charter school.

Words by family, friends

She left a profound mark on the family she left behind, as evidenced by the words of each of the Johnson children.

“If Mom were here today, I know what I’d say to her,” H. Fisk Johnson said. “I’d say ‘Mom, I want you to know you couldn’t have been a better mother. Thank you for all the things that you did for me. Thank you for always watching over me. Thank you for your unconditional and constant love.’ ”

Fisk talked about the lessons his mother enrolled him in to ensure he was a well-rounded individual, her adventurous spirit and the trips the family took together around the world. “I thank you for all the amazing adventures you took us on,” Fisk said.

S. Curtis Johnson echoed his brother’s sentiment, talking about his mother’s adventurousness, which he said rivaled his father’s. “Grateful we all are for the extraordinary life she gave us,” Curtis said. “A life which she filled naturally with her two greatest gifts, in my opinion: compassion and adventure.’”

Winifred Johnson Marquart said the last week of her mother’s life was a happy one in which she took a trip with some of her Cornell sorority sisters to the Bahamas.

“I want all of you to know that Mom lived a full and happy life and she smiled until the last week of her life,” Winifred said.

Winifred said that after her father died, she saw a vulnerable side to her mother, prompting her to get to know her in a different way than she ever had before.

“I will be forever grateful for all the precious time we spent together, times I really got to know her as a person, not just as Mom,” Winifred said. “In the last 10 years, I learned so much more about her life and what made her the amazing person that she was.”

Helen Johnson-Leipold discussed her mother’s humility and contributions to the community, including The Prairie School.

“Mom was the kindest, nicest and most passionate and inspirational person I have ever known,” Helen said. “So now, alongside my father, I have two bigger-than-life heroes that have — and will forever be — my guide to life.”

Raymond Farley, retired president and CEO of SC Johnson & Son, knew both Sam and Gene when they both attended Cornell University. Farley described Gene as an “unusually good friend.”

“To say she will be painfully missed is an understatement,” Farley said.

“Mom was an incredible woman, so selfless, so giving, so strong, so courageous ... Mom saw good in every single person and respected everyone. She was more interested in others than she was herself.” Helen Johnson-Leipold, one of Imogene Johnson’s daughters

Phelan M. Ebenhack 

Cincinnati forward Gary Clark (11) goes up for a shot between Houston guard Rob Gray (32) and forward Fabian White Jr. (35) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball championship game at the American Athletic Conference tournament Sunday, March 11, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. Cincinnati won 56-55. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Gregory Shaver, For The Journal Times 

Ray Gallo of Slaughter Party performs at the Eagles Downtown Stage during the 26th annual Thoughts for Food fundraiser for the Racine County Food Bank.

Racine County Sheriff's Office to expand alcohol offenders program

RACINE COUNTY — The Racine County Sheriff’s Office has announced that it will expand its day-reporting program to include third-time operating-while-intoxicated offenders.

The program, which began in early 2017, has successfully monitored more than 152 inmates within the community through alcohol and drug testing daily, according to Racine County Sheriff’s Office release.

“The Racine County Sheriff’s Office arrests more drunk drivers than any other law enforcement agency in Racine County,” said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling. “That said, we understand that OWI, regardless of the offense number, is a very serious and dangerous public safety concern.”

Of the 152 inmates who have taken part in the program, more than 50 possess convictions related to operating while intoxicated first and second offenses. Of those 50 inmates, 49 have completed the program successfully and have not reoffended within Racine County.

To be admitted to the program, potential participants must go through a thorough interview, background check and be free of a violent criminal history. Operating-while-intoxicated offenders are not enrolled if they have caused injury or had minors in the vehicle with them during offenses.

Because of its success so far, the program will expand to include operating-while-intoxicated third offenses, although admittance will be on a case-by-case basis.

Huber privileges granted by courts can allow an inmate to leave jail for up to 12 hours a day for verified work, childcare, medical appointments, etc. Many OWI third offenses are granted Huber privileges. While an inmate is out on Huber privileges, they are only alcohol-tested upon his or her return to jail.

“Once in court, most offenders are granted Huber privileges by the judge and are out in the community with little accountability and programs to stay sober,” Schmaling said.

Day-reporting program participants are required to perform alcohol testing using the AB Kiosk system twice a day — once in the morning, once in in the evening. If a participant fails a test, they are brought back into custody as soon as possible.

The day-reporting program — which requires participants to wear a GPS device allowing staff to monitor their movements 24 hours a day, seven days a week — offers opportunities to complete more individualized alcohol and drug treatment through multiple outlets. This encourages participants to complete the program of their choice.

Individualized attention

The program monitors a current maximum enrollment of 25 participants. This allows staff to efficiently monitor and maintain daily communication with each individual participant. With this comes a high success rate and a 1 percent recidivism rate among program completions for 2017.

The program has strict policies and procedures in place and a discipline structure that holds each participant accountable.

With the expansion of the program, the Sheriff’s Office’s goal is to more closely monitor those convicted of OWI third offenses.

At any time, staff will be able to see where the participant is. This offers an opportunity for the participant to transition back into normal day-to-day activities, stressors and possible triggers, knowing they are being monitored and are required to be tested at least twice per day. The expansion of the program brings the opportunity of reducing the amount of OWI offenses in the future.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Office states that it is committed to protecting the community while focusing on reducing the recidivism rate in OWI offenses.

“This expanded and well-thought-out program not only has proven to reduce recidivism in alcohol offenders with its programming, but holds them strictly accountable, thus providing another layer of safety for all of us,” Schmaling said.


Highway 20 resurfacing starts March 15

MOUNT PLEASANT — Starting Thursday, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will be resurfacing 2½ miles of Highway 20 to prepare the roadway for the anticipated increase in traffic volume from the Foxconn Technology Group development. The work will occur between Interstate 94 and Highway H.

Included in the scope of the project will be milling, base patching and pavement repair in addition to the resurfacing of the highway. There will also be work involving traffic signals, beam guards and pavement markings.

The work is expected to be complete in May.

Construction of a 32 million-square-foot manufacturing campus in the southwest part of Mount Pleasant is scheduled to begin this year and involve an estimated 10,000 construction jobs. Foxconn itself is expected to create about 3,000 jobs in 2020 and thousands more after that.

The Taiwanese-based company designs and manufactures liquid-crystal-display panels and other, finished technologies.

For information about the construction of the development roads go to:

For additional information about the I-94 north/south project go to:

For more information related to Foxconn, go to: