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State politics
Weatherston not seeking re-election to the state Assembly

CALEDONIA — State Rep. Tom Weatherston announced Tuesday morning that he will not seek re-election this fall.

In a statement posted on his legislative Facebook page, Weatherston said, “I have decided not to seek re-election this fall, as it is time to take life a little easier.

“There are many reasons for the decision, most of them personal. That includes the death of my wife in April 2016 after a battle with a rare type of blood cancer, the birth of a grandson, currently in the process of building a new home and getting engaged.”

“I’ve always done my personal best to represent all of the people in my district,” he said.

Weatherston, 68, represents the 62nd Assembly District, which includes the Town of Norway, Raymond, Caledonia, Wind Point, North Bay, a portion of Racine and a small part of Mount Pleasant. He previously served on the Caledonia Village Board from 2010-2013 and on the Caledonia Utility District Commission from 2011-2013.

He was elected to the Assembly in 2012, beating Melissa Lemke with 53 percent of votes cast. Lemke, now a Racine alderman, beat Randy Bryce in the 2012 Democratic primary for the 62nd Assembly seat. Bryce is currently running an aggressive campaign for the Democratic nomination for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Paul Ryan.

Weatherston was re-elected to the Assembly in 2014 and 2016, running unopposed both times.

Weatherston’s office said Tuesday that he might consider running for the Caledonia Village Board in the future.

Service to country and village

A former director of facilities management at Modine Manufacturing, Weatherston served in the Air Force from 1968 to 1972 and is a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 767 and VFW Post 10301.

“I have served my country, my village and now my state, it is time for another to take up the task,” Weatherston wrote.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, released the following statement regarding Weatherston’s announcement:

“I would like to thank my friend and colleague for his service to the Wisconsin State Assembly. It has been a privilege working with him and advancing our shared priorities for Racine County and the state,” Vos said.

“As an Air Force veteran, he has been a strong advocate for Wisconsin veterans throughout his three terms in office. I’m also grateful for his work to bring more career opportunities to our state and Racine County,” Vos continued. “Tom has been a public servant for the last decade. I’m happy that he can now spend more time with his fianceé, Theresa, enjoy his hobbies and travel more often, especially to see his son and his family in Colorado. I want to wish him and his family the very best in their future.”

State Senator Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, also released a statement on Weatherston’s decision:

“Public service is often a thankless endeavor. I would like to thank Tom for his lifetime of service to Racine County, Wisconsin and our country. I am glad he will continue to be a fixture in our area, and wish Tom the best in a well-earned retirement.”

Southern eats
Mrs. Betty’s Kitchen opens in Downtown

RACINE — Betty Bonner must be beaming with pride about her grandson’s brand-new Downtown restaurant named in her honor, Mrs. Betty’s Kitchen.

Kimyron Bonner, 38, opened his new breakfast-lunch restaurant Tuesday at 327 Main St. Although he is the sole owner-operator and head chef, Mrs. Betty’s Kitchen is a family affair including Bonner’s cousin, Dionte Dyess, who is manager/chef.

Bonner said about naming his restaurant after his grandmother, “She taught us to cook.”

So did Gateway Technical College; Bonner is a graduate of its culinary program. For the past several years, he worked in the foundry at Premier Aluminum, did a little catering on the side from his home kitchen, and then started building his Downtown restaurant.

“This has been my dream. I’ve been working on this since I was, like, 15 in my head,” Bonner said, and chuckled.

The build-out at 327 Main St., cost a significant amount; the interior is all new, with realigned kitchen walls that roughly doubled the size of the formerly tiny kitchen, and all brand-new kitchen equipment including a new hood.

Bonner chose to be open the grueling hours of 4:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. most days. “I felt that it’d work here,” he said. “There’s not a lot of breakfast places around here — not one with my menu, that serves the type of food that I serve.”

By opening so early, he hopes to catch third-shift workers before they head home, truckers and people who work early at the Downtown YMCA. “I come down here and this place is like a ghost town (that early),” Bonner said. “I want to bring some life around here.”

‘A little southern’

Bonner describes his food category as “a little southern, a little New Orleans.”

“It’s a basic breakfast menu,” he said. “And I just added my specialties that I picked, and created and put my little spin to.”

The Southern Breakfast skillet dish, for example, includes hash browns or home fries, two eggs any style, and atop those, “I put a big, juicy pork chop, then I put gravy over that,” with toast, for $9.

Shrimp and grits for $8.69; catfish and grits for $6.65; chicken and waffles for $8.39; biscuit and gravy for $5.59; and fried green tomatoes, in season, also fit the southern food category.

In keeping with Bonner’s honor-thy-family theme, he has a dish named for his late uncle Rickey Bonner that promises to pack a punch: Rickey’s Ridiculous Chicken Sandwich, with spicy mayonnaise, spicy chicken, pickles, slaw and jalapenos.

“He loved spicy sandwiches and chicken. So I decided to make a signature sandwich after him,” Bonner said.

He is using as many natural food ingredients and local sources as he can. Bonner said, as examples, he gets his seafood from Houmann’s Fish & Seafood in Racine, his meats from an Elkhorn-area farm and cage-free eggs from the same area. Neither farmer uses antibiotics or other unnatural additives in the animal feed, Bonner said.

Mrs. Betty’s serves Ridgeline coffees.

“Downtown Racine has become a foodie destination in the last year; the diversity of restaurants is incredible,” said Kelly Kruse, executive director of Downtown Racine Corp. “Mrs. Betty’s Kitchen is a great addition to that synergy.”

Mrs. Betty’s Kitchen is open 4:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information call 262-800-3020 (must dial the area code).


Summer music
Lineup set for Monument Square summer concert series

RACINE — On Saturdays this summer, Monument Square is set to become a free, public music venue.

The concert series, Saturday Sounds on the Square, is presented by the Downtown Racine Corp., the same organization that puts on Party on the Pavement.

Saturday Sounds on the Square is set to start on June 23, with the final performance scheduled for Sept. 1, with a break on Aug. 4. Every concert is scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m.

Most of the lineup will be composed of local acts spanning several genres, including acoustic rock from Folkswagon on July 21, family-friendly hip-hop with local MC Nick Ramsey on July 14, jazz by Lake Effect on July 28, the Dave Braun Trio on Aug. 18 and Kal Bergendahl on June 30.

The debut artist for Saturday Sounds on the Square will be the blues/R&B group High Stakes Band on June 23.

“We recognized the need to bring more activity to Downtown Racine on Saturdays in the summer,” said Downtown Racine Corporation Executive Director Kelly Kruse in a release about the series. “It gives the influx of boaters yet another reason to choose Downtown Racine to spend their day rather than in another community.”

Along with the concerts, there are plans for pop-up shops, galleries, food vendors and free lawn games. Seating will be provided.

Editor's Note: The original version of this story stated that Downtown Racine Corp. is the group that puts on First Fridays. First Fridays is actually a merchant-run organization that works closely with the Downtown Racine Corp. works.