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Contention and confusion over Jellystone’s proposed expansion

CALEDONIA — Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park’s proposed expansion has raised confusion and contention among some park neighbors.

Jellystone owners Theresa and Randy Isaacson and their daughter, Bridget Bender, under their company Bear Country Inc., have purchased land to the southeast of the current site at 8425 Highway 38, extending south to Seven Mile Road. They submitted plans to the Village of Caledonia to expand the park by adding more cabins, a swimming pond, a future trampoline park, a banquet hall, more walking trails and an entrance on Seven Mile Road.

To separate the campgrounds from the residences on Caddy Lane and Saratoga Drive, the owners proposed a berm, 8 feet high and 80 feet wide with vegetation on the top; or a wetland area between the campground and any bordering residences.

At the Caledonia Planning Commission meeting Monday, Bender presented the park’s expansion plans in a hearing over changing the new area’s zoning from residential to park. That would allow the owners to start on phase one of their three proposed phases of the expansion.

Phase one would include expansion of the campground’s water and sewer system before construction of more cabins in phase two.

The hearing lasted more than three hours, at which point the commission decided to approve the zoning change, with conditions.

There was a great deal of confusion and questions from the campground’s neighbors regarding the berm, a proposed fence, garbage collection and traffic patterns.

Jellystone held an informational meeting at the Caledonia Village Hall on Nov. 15 on the project. Heather Hankins, who lives on the 10,000 block of Seven Mile Road, said Monday she had been unable to attend that meeting and wanted to learn more about the project. She does know that she is opposed to the additional entrance on Seven Mile.

“If you’ve driven on Seven Mile there is a hill that, even my driveway is a blind driveway. There are no sides of the road for any accidents or any for people to move out of the way,” Hankins said. “If they opened up an entrance on Seven Mile, it would lead to more accidents in the area.”

Bender said the Seven Mile entrance would be supplementary, and the owners don’t intend on having the same amount of traffic moving along Seven Mile as they currently have on Highway 38.

Hankins countered that with additional people coming in on the weekends, the Seven Mile Road entrance will be used.

“If I see lines and people backed up and I know there’s another entrance, I’m going to go to it,” said Hankins.

Other concerns

Another Seven Mile Road resident, Katrina King, said she was concerned what the entrance and expansion would do to her home’s value and how much of the infrastructure cost is going to be shared by residents.

“I appreciate that it’s a shared cost, but for me, I don’t know that I want to pay the additional fees for the upgrade of what’s going to be a moneymaking business for somebody else,” King said.

Later in the meeting, Village Engineer Tony Bunkelman said Bear Country would be responsible for covering the cost of expanding drainage systems and for additional connections to sewer and water.

Quite a few of the neighbors publicly complained about noise coming from the campground and were concerned that the berm would not be an adequate buffer.

“What proof can you give the residents that these berms will provide noise reduction?” asked Saratoga Drive resident Dawn Fuerstenberg. “Eighty feet sounds wide, but if you sit out in your backyard in the middle of summer, you still hear the campgrounds.”

Bender said she believed the park has adequately addressed issues of noise and privacy, separating campers from the surrounding neighborhood.

“We don’t want our campers to feel like they’re in a neighborhood and vice-versa,” Bender said during her presentation to the commission.

Commission Vice President Jonathan Schattner was concerned that the family was applying for the whole area to be rezoned when the plans they submitted only included two-thirds of the grounds.

“I’m a big-picture kind of person,” said Schattner.

The rezoning was approved on the conditions that Bear Country present a traffic study, garbage disposal plan and details regarding the pond.

Gregory Shaver, for The Journal Times  

Racine firefighters carry boxes into Knapp Elementary School Wednesday afternoon to deliver new winter coats to students at the school as part of Operation Warm. Racine firefighters have been providing coats to Racine Unified School District children for the last five years and have given away just over 1,000 coats. To see more photos go to and see Local, B-1.

Area hunter nabs 12-point buck

RACINE — The 2017 hunting season had not begun well for Tiara Harrell. The 35-year-old pharmacy technician had seen a deer on opening day, but it ultimately got away.

“I was a little disappointed,” said Harrell, who grew up in Racine and now lives in Kenosha. This was her fifth year hunting deer.

But things were going to get much, much better.

On Nov. 19, Harrell was hunting with her father, Ernest Ormond, of Racine. Slightly discouraged, Harrell left her tree stand and went to visit Ormond, who was hunting within another section of the privately owned land in Iowa County, near Richland Center.

After talking with her father, Harrell decided to head back out on her own.

“She had a feeling she was going to see something,” Ormond said.

At approximately 11 a.m., Harrell was sitting in a tree stand when she saw a doe run across her field of vision. A few moments later, she saw a large buck following the doe.

“It caught my eye,” Harrell said. “I’d never seen a deer that big in person. He was running, so I kind of gathered myself together because my adrenaline was going and I breathing was so hard.”

Harrell picked up her gun and followed the buck in her sights for 25 to 30 yards, she said, before she got the opportunity to shoot. She shot the buck below the neck, downing her third deer ever.

It was a 12-point buck that weighed more than 200 pounds, Harrell said.

“I was proud of myself because I did it on my own,” Harrell said. “It takes a lot of patience, and I had waited all day for that perfect opportunity.”

Ormond was a little more than a mile from his daughter when he heard the shot. He called her over the walkie-talkie, and when she responded, he made the trek over to where his daughter was.

“I told her, ‘Girl, you done shot big boy,’” Ormond said. “I told her ‘You got a monster. You got the king of the woods.”

After arriving home with her trophy buck and a smaller doe, Harrell’s children were equally enthusiastic.

“They were all trying to come and see the buck,” Harrell said. “They went to school telling everybody about it.”

A family tradition

Hunting is a tradition in Harrell’s family. “My grandfathers, uncles and all the men in my family have always hunted,” she said.

Ormond, a 59-year-old retired press operator from Western Publishing, was raised in Mississippi. He began fishing and hunting in the woods with his own father when he was 6 or 7 years old.

“I was raised as an outdoorsman,” said Ormond, who moved to Racine in 1961.

When he and Harrell’s mother, Sylvia Adams, raised their two children, they decided to also introduce them to the outdoors. “I taught both of my kids how to survive in the woods and to prepare ourselves really well for all conditions,” Ormond said.

Harrell and her brother began small-game hunting with her father when she was 8, and Harrell hopes to carry on the same tradition with her own children. She takes her 10-year-old son squirrel hunting, but next year, plans to take him deer hunting.

Harrell’s daughters, 16 and 4, have also showed interest after seeing their mother’s success in hunting.

“I’m the only grandchild that hunts, and the only girl,” Harrell said. “ I want to make sure my son learns, and I’m trying to get my cousins more into it. I want to keep hunting in the family — I don’t want it to stop. It’s really important.”

And although Ormond finished the season without getting his own deer, he is happy his daughter was able to get a big buck.

“She out-shot the men this year,” Ormond said. “She got the biggest buck that was shot of any man up there. I’m proud of her, she filled the freezer this year.”

Winter parking rules in Racine start Dec. 1

RACINE — Drivers in Racine must comply with winter parking regulations starting Friday.

Under Racine ordinances, parking is prohibited on city streets between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., with some exceptions.

Throughout the warmer months of the year, the city limits parking overnight on its streets Monday through Friday, corresponding with the day of the month. On even-numbered days, drivers can park overnight on the side of the street with even-numbered addresses. The same concept applies to odd-numbered days.

Throughout most of the year, the city needs the alternate-side parking rule for its street-sweeping operation during the week.

During those warmer months, drivers can park overnight on either side on Saturdays and Sundays.

Between Dec. 1 and April 1, however, the rule changes. Per the city’s parking ordinance, the alternating even and odd rule applies to overnight parking throughout the week.

The rule does not apply on the city’s parking holidays, which include Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

The city institutes the rule to ensure snowplows have enough space to clear the streets during the winter, said Tom Eeg, the city’s assistant commissioner of public works for operations. Snow plowing, he said, may have to take place on weekends if the weather demands it.

“It’s a matter of accommodating snow-plowing operations in the winter months so we can better clear the streets in a prompt manner,” Eeg said.

Overnight parking violations are penalized with $20 tickets in the city.

The Journal Times is finalist for Lee Enterprise of the Year

RACINE — Lee Enterprises has named The Journal Times as a finalist for Lee’s Enterprise of the Year award, which honors superior performance in business and customer measures. The Journal Times was also a finalist in 2016.

The Journal Times, under the leadership of Publisher Mark Lewis, is one of five finalists for the company’s highest honor.

“These five finalists rose to the top of a very impressive group of enterprises,” said Kevin Mowbray, Lee Enterprise’s president and CEO. “In honoring these finalists, we also applaud the outstanding performance all across Lee in serving advertisers and readers in our communities, as well as delivering impressive results on many key business initiatives.”

The Journal Times is dedicated to reporting the news about Racine County and continues to reach 80 percent of adults in the county. The Journal Times’ coverage includes stories on Racine Unified School District, both its struggles and the plans in the works to improve; articles about the proposed Downtown arena and Machinery Row development; and stories about area events, restaurants and sports teams.

Through the use of social media, The Journal Times has continued to grow its audience, including the use of Facebook Live — — at breaking news scenes and sporting events.

The Journal Times website also has been featuring more photo galleries from community events, celebrating the great things going on in Racine County; and Monday’s paper includes a full photo page of local events and civic organization activities.

“This is a great honor for the staff and contractors of The Journal Times. It acknowledges all of the hard work they put in over the last year,” Lewis said.

Lee Enterprises, based in Davenport, Iowa, is a leading provider of local news and information, and a major platform for advertising, with daily newspapers, rapidly growing digital products and nearly 300 weekly and specialty publications serving 50 markets in 22 states.