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Sofia Scekic receives an over-sized $2,500 check from Carolyn Gunther during Scekic's AP government class at Walden High School Wednesday.

Beer garden coming to Franksville: Craft beers to be focus

RACINE COUNTY — Craft beer enthusiasts will have something to look forward to this summer in Racine County.

Thursday, the Franksville Craft Beer Garden received a unanimous approval from the Mount Pleasant-Caledonia Joint Park Commission to go forward with plans to establish a beer garden at Caledonia-Mount Pleasant Memorial Park.

The beer garden is planned to be open at the park, at 9416 Northwestern Ave. in the Franksville area of Caledonia, on weekends during the summer beginning in late May or early June, with the final weekend planned for some time in October.

Hop Heads Hospitality and Events plans to organize the garden and will have 12 craft beers on tap “with a regularly rotating selection, all from Wisconsin breweries.” The beer garden also plans to serve wine and non-alcoholic drinks including Sprecher Root Beer.

Organizers also plan on having food trucks available to provide food throughout the summer, but patrons are encouraged to bring their own food.

“We hope the community will embrace the opportunity to pull up a seat next to new friends and reconnect with old ones as well,” said Ken Michel Jr., co-owner of Hop Heads.

Organizers are planning special events and themed days throughout the summer, culminating with an Oktoberfest celebration, including live music and specialty beers on Sept. 28-30. Other events include bags leagues; yoga; live music; appreciation days for teachers, firefighters and police officers; and charity events.

“We want the beer garden to be a true gathering space for the community,” said Molly Michel, co-owner of Hop Heads with her husband, Ken. “It’s how we remember the park from our own childhoods.”

Local businesses will have an opportunity to sponsor picnic tables that will become part of the beer garden and park.

Revenue for the parks

John Hewitt, a commission member and Mount Pleasant Village Board member, said the Franksville beer garden is going to be similar to beer gardens in Kenosha and Milwaukee counties.

“It’s also going to have refreshments for young kids, too,” Hewitt said. “It’s not going to be Miller Lite and things like that. It’s going to be Lakefront Brewery and more upper scale (craft beer).”

Hewitt said Mount Pleasant officials are considering adding another beer garden at Smolenski Park on Stuart Road as a way to bring revenue to the village parks department.

“I’m optimistic that this is an added revenue that we can use for the parks,” Hewitt said, adding revenue from the beer garden is to be used to pay for electrical upgrades.

“We want the beer garden to be a true gathering space for the community. It’s how we remember the park from our own childhoods.” Molly Michel, co-owner of Hop Heads, which is organizing the beer garden

Academic accomplishment
Union Grove High School student to attend Harvard in the fall

UNION GROVE — Nearly two weeks before admissions decisions were official at Ivy League schools on March 28, Eva Marie Ballew received a phone call she had been hoping for, but was not expecting.

The call was from a Harvard University representative telling the Union Grove High School student that she was likely going to be chosen to attend the school.

“I cried mid-call, actually,” said Ballew, 18. “I actually was not going to answer the phone, so when she told me she was from Harvard, I froze in my seat in my car. I was so incredibly happy.”

And sure enough, Ballew got the official word — she has been accepted to attend the Ivy League school in Cambridge, Mass.

“I don’t think 10 years ago it’s something I would have dreamed I’d ever have been able to do, attending a higher-education establishment like Harvard,” Ballew said.

Ballew also applied to nine other prestigious schools, including the University of Notre Dame, Boston College, Georgetown, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, Columbia and Princeton.

Most impressively, she was accepted into each school.

“Harvard is getting a top kid,” Union Grove High School Principal Tom Hermann said. “Eva embodies the traits of an accomplished scholar. She is extremely conscientious and consistently goes above and beyond on her studies. She is living proof that if you work hard, your dreams can come true.”

Eva’s mother, Monica Brazaeu, could not be prouder of her daughter.

“If Harvard was a sporting event, Eva just won the Super Bowl,” Brazaeu said.

Committed and focused

Ballew was born and raised in Raymond. Before attending Union Grove High, she went to Raymond Elementary, where she showed academic promise right away.

“Eva has been hardworking and committed to her education from an early age,” Brazeau said. “Education should be highlighted and recognized more often, as an example and motivation to others.”

That passion has only accelerated has Ballew has grown. She currently carries a 4.3 grade-point average, is taking Advanced Placement courses and is third in her class at UGHS.

“Staff members tell me that she loves to learn,” said Union Grove High School District Administrator Al Mollerskov.

In addition to being a top-notch student, Ballew has participated in a variety of clubs and extracurricular activities.

She’s been involved throughout her high-school years in AHANA, an organization for students of African, Hispanic, Asian and Native American descent. Ballew’s heritage is in the Pokagon band of the Potawatomi tribe of Michigan.

Ballew is credited with helping create a safe space for minority students at her high school and was honored with a UW-Parkside Martin Luther King Jr. Peace award.

She’s also participated in the student council, softball, National Honor Society, and received a scholarship to study at Carnegie Mellon last summer, where she took a course on the philosophy of religion and sustainable social change; the latter class examined case studies of people who wished to bring about change.

The class prompted Ballew to consider the idea of launching a website to connect indigenous youth from across the U.S. with resources to better equip them and help them enroll in post-secondary education.

“That’s something I hopefully will get to do one day,” Ballew said. “That I will be able to launch and bring into fruition — it’s a goal of mine.”

Ballew has also plays classical piano and is an avid runner, having completed in half-marathons in Madison and Milwaukee.

At Harvard, Ballew plans to major in social studies: “It’s a flexible major, but I think it would make me a well-rounded candidate for my career aspirations,” she said.

Teachers, sister are influences

Zada Ballew, Eva’s sister, is proud of what her sister has accomplished.

“My sister is my best friend and she is absolutely brilliant,” said Zada, who attends Northwestern University. “I have had the great fortune of watching her grow up and become the intelligent, committed, sassy and strong young woman she is today.”

Brazeau, Eva’s mother, gets choked up when talking about her daughters, stating that she’s proud that Eva and Zada have been able to be successful academically and to attend college. “Eva is first generation (in the family) to attend college,” Brazaeu said. “Eva is passionate about defending against injustices and advocates for change.”

Eva said she also is grateful to her teachers for helping her accomplish her goals, particularly English teacher Emily Van Dyne and AP chemistry teacher Andrew Del Ponte, both of whom are advisers to the school’s National Honor Society chapter.

“She (Eva) stands out well above the rest,” Van Dyne said. “She is an atypical student. Her personality sets her above. She just loves to learn and is up-to-date on everything going on the world.”

Del Ponte cites Eva’s maturity as something that immediately sets her apart from other students. He said that Eva’s ability to juggle her responsibilities and her drive to excel at such a young age is “very impressive.”

“All the Union Grove High School staff, her family and her friends are very happy to celebrate with Eva on her academic success,” Hermann said.

“I don’t think 10 years ago it’s something I would have dreamed I’d ever have been able to do — attending a higher-education establishment like Harvard.” Eva Marie Ballew, Union Grove High School senior

Twin Disc celebrating 100th year; plans year-long celebration

RACINE — Twin Disc, a global leader in power transmission technology for marine and land-based applications, will be celebrating its 100th anniversary throughout this year.

Twin Disc, which has its global headquarters at 1328 Racine St. and manufacturing operations at 4600 21st St., started in 1918 with the introduction of the twin disc farm tractor clutch. Over the decades its clutches were and are built into road-building and construction equipment, oil and natural gas extraction equipment and marine transmissions.

The company, which employs 300 people in Racine and 700 total, is preparing a series of local, national and international events and promotions to celebrate its 100th anniversary year. Those include an international distributor meeting at its corporate headquarters. Twin Disc will participate in local Racine events including the Lighthouse Run, Fourth Fest Parade and the WKLH Work Force Tour.

“This anniversary is a chance for us to reflect on the inventiveness of the company’s founders and my predecessors, as well as the resilience and willingness to adapt that has allowed Twin Disc to flourish for a century,” stated John H. Batten, president and CEO of Twin Disc. “It’s also an opportunity for us to express our appreciation for our employees, customers and the communities we work and live in.”

Other North American and international Twin Disc subsidiaries in Belgium, Italy, Singapore, India, and Australia, will also celebrate the 100th anniversary with events and promotions.

“We’re looking forward to all these opportunities to celebrate our history, and more importantly, the people who helped make Twin Disc what it is today,” Batten stated. “It is my hope that these reflections encourage us to look toward our next 100 years and inspire the next generation of Twin Disc employees to imagine and develop new ways to continue to put horsepower to work.”

Twin Disc designs and manufactures marine and heavy-duty, off-highway power transmission equipment. Its products include: marine transmissions, surface drives, propellers and boat management systems; power-shift transmissions; hydraulic torque converters; power take-offs; industrial clutches; and control systems.

The company sells to customers primarily in the pleasure craft, commercial and military marine markets, as well as in the energy and natural resources, government and industrial markets.

The company’s revenues in its last fiscal year totaled $166 million. Sales for the first half of its current fiscal year totaled $101 million compared with $69 million for the same period a year earlier.

“We’re looking forward to all these opportunities to celebrate our history, and more importantly, the people who helped make Twin Disc what it is today.” John H. Batten, Twin Disc president and CEO


Ruby, a German short-haired/Pointer mix, sits up and begs for ice cream before the dogs ice cream eating contest at Bark for Life.

Palenick marks 1st-year anniversary; sees 'bright' future for city

RACINE — Racine is at a turning point and could have a “remarkably bright” future with the right attitude and priorities, said its city administrator.

Jim Palenick has now held that job for about one year. In that time, he’s worked for three mayors, helped develop a proposed event center that the City Council ultimately rejected and is now working to help Racine capitalize on a $10 billion manufacturing campus in neighboring Mount Pleasant.

Palenick was appointed by former Mayor John Dickert to succeed Tom Friedel as Racine’s administrator, a role created in 2003 to manage Racine’s day-to-day operations. The City Council approved Palenick’s hiring March 21, 2017, by a vote of 10-3, granting him a three-year contract with a starting salary of $140,000. His first day was in April last year.

He came to Racine from a position as director of economic and business development in Fayetteville, N.C.

The Journal Times talked with Palenick about his first year as Racine’s administrator. His responses below were edited for length considerations.

JT: You had an eventful first year.

Palenick: I didn’t expect that literally before I started the job, the mayor who was, in effect, responsible for hiring me would tell me that he’d be leaving shortly after the time that I started. And then, of course, having an interim mayor after that for a series of months and then having a third mayor start after that. So in this single year, I’ve already worked under three mayors.

What did you expect when you took this job?

It’s different for me to begin with because my entire career has been as a city manager in council-manager forms of government. I had never worked in a mayor-administrator form, which is far more typical in Wisconsin ... so I’m used to having a lot more authority and responsibility structurally, where as here, there is less of that, and it’s more support, advisory, consult ... that’s been different, so (I’m) adjusting to that, of course, at a time when there’s been a lot of change because of elections, because of this change over in mayors and because it’s a very dynamic community right now anyway. Let’s not forget that when we started the year, no one even heard the word or the term Foxconn.

What is your assessment of the city after one year on the job?

Racine has some of the most incredible potential of any city. So it’s really at this turning point that I see that the future can be remarkably bright, we can do some really incredible things, we’ve got this great potential, and it’s really all about how we deal with it, how we handle it. Because I think we can take what is a great city and really, really set it up for a great future, a very vibrant, very successful future. Or we can make some bad decisions and set ourselves backward in the process. I think it’s really, really critical that the policy makers who are faced with these decisions right now do the right things, focus on the right things and, more than anything, prioritize the right way to be spending time, money, effort and resources.

Where would you like to see the City of Racine in one year?

You’ll see a lot of new, in-fill development — high-quality, in-fill development — that’ll be underway. It’ll be well underway, turning the potential into reality. A lot of new private sector investment gravitating toward Racine because of the belief that it’s really the place to be.

Other than prioritization, what do you think it’s going to take to get the city where you’re trying to bring it?

Vision and foresight and hardwork. I think there’s a lot of good people here, they understand what has to be done. Just sticking to a solid vision and understanding that we can be successful and just getting it done.

What might hold the city back from reaching its potential?

It’s kind of a collective inferiority complex, like we don’t deserve better or we can’t have better. I think the outsider comes in and sees this great community and says you have all these great opportunities, there’s this great potential here. It can be something special. You just have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that this can happen, stick to that belief, work hard at it, and we’re going to get there.

Moving forward, how do you plan to avoid the roadblocks that the proposed event center faced?

One thing I heard, certainly, was this can’t be a burden on the citizen taxpayer of the City of Racine. If you’re going to come forward with some large-scale, catalytic kind of development, then find a way for that to work without asking the typical citizen or taxpayer or ratepayer to take this on as a burden. Don’t create some additional financial burden, don’t create the risk of that. Make sure that, that project can stand on its own.

I think that’s the clear message, so that’s why we’re looking at those kinds of things and saying, ‘OK, the project itself has to support itself. The funds that come from people who are outside of this community have to support it. The private sector has to support it. But don’t bring it forward if, in effect, you’re going to say it has to add to somebody’s taxes.’

Anything else you want the people of Racine to know?

They’ve got a great community. It’s a great place to live, to work, to recreate. It is an exciting destination, and I think it’s going to get much more so in the coming years. I think there’s going to be a lot of reason for people to get excited.

“I think we can take what is a great city and really, really set it up for a great future, a very vibrant, very successful future. Or we can make some bad decisions and set ourselves backward in the process. I think it’s really, really critical that the policy makers who are faced with these decisions right now do the right things, focus on the right things and, more than anything, prioritize the right way to be spending time, money, effort and resources.” Jim Palenick, Racine city administrator