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Winter Storm Bruce
Weather Service reports up to 7.2 inches of snow in Racine County

RACINE COUNTY — Some schools closed, tree limbs and wires were reported down and power outages were reported as the area dug out Monday from the season’s first major snowstorm.

Dozens of schools in Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties canceled classes Monday because of the dangerous travel conditions, including the Burlington Area School District.

The highest snowfall total reported in the county from Winter Storm Bruce was 7.2 inches, according to the National Weather Service at Sullivan. That reading was reported on Durand Avenue and Crossway Road in the Town of Burlington, NWS officials said.

Snowall totaling 6 inches was reported near Bohners Lake in the southwest corner of Racine County, 5.5 inches were reported south of Browns Lake in the Town of Burlington, 5 inches were reported in Rochester, south of Case Eagle Park. In Racine, 5 inches were reported near Kinzie and Blaine avenues.

Less snow was reported near Elmwood Park, with totals between 1.5 and 3.6 inches. Union Grove, Wind Lake and Waterford all reported about 3.5 inches of accumulation, weather officials said.

The snowstorm also left about 5,000 We Energies customers without power, mostly in Pleasant Prairie in southeast Kenosha County, but power was nearly totally restored by late Monday afternoon.

While the far southeastern corner of the state was dealing with blowing and drifting snow, counties just to the north had no snow. But south of Wisconsin, up to a foot of snow buried the Chicago area and whiteout conditions stalled commuter traffic. Hundreds of air travelers trying to make it home after Thanksgiving were dealing with canceled flights.

Racine Unified open

While Burlington and Kenosha schools closed Monday, at 5:13 a.m. Racine Unified School District officials announced that the district’s schools would remain open.

“RUSD schools are open today. Our bus drivers will be taking extra safety precautions, so they may run a bit behind schedule. Thank you for your patience,” the district posted online.

Other districts called off school or put in place delays.

Raymond Elementary, St. John’s Lutheran School in Burlington, St. Mary’s School and Preschool in Burlington, Union Grove High School, Union Grove Elementary School, and Yorkville Elementary School each had 2-hour delays Monday, according to television reports.

Road conditions

Following Sunday night’s wet and heavy snow, roads were in substandard shape and there had been several issues with fallen trees and power poles/power lines, the Caledonia Police Department warned on its Facebook page.

In photos: Winter Storm Bruce

Five Mile Road was closed in both from Short Road to East River Road due to a downed tree blocking most of the road, resting on power lines. Highway G was also closed for a time in both directions from Highway H to Highway V. There were multiple wires down, and several power poles on the verge of falling into traffic.

As of 4 p.m., Caledonia police said that all the roads had reopened. They reported three vehicles in ditches and one accident by that time on Monday.

Among the damage caused by Sunday’s wind-gust conditions was the popular Jamestown Lights holiday display on Taurus Drive off Highway 38 near Highway K in Caledonia.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Office reported Monday morning that since the snowfall started, fewer than a dozen cars had ended up in ditches were reported and several minor property damage crashes, but nothing major.

“It is with great sadness that I say the following: If you were planning to make your annual visit to see the light show this week, I would suggest you postpone it until next week as the storm last night did extensive damage to the display,” Mike Pikula, the display’s creator, wrote on the Jamestown Lights Facebook page.

“The new snowflake ladder is laying in pieces in my neighbor’s yard after the winds ripped a guy anchor out of the ground. We will be attempting to make repairs to the display, but the weather once again is going to make this very difficult to accomplish.

“The show will also be interrupted to do electrical testing as we assess the total extent of the storm’s destruction and try to get everything working again. With a lot of lights being anchored into soggy unfrozen ground, the extremely high winds coming off the pond had nothing to block them,” Pikula wrote. “This was an extremely difficult year to get everything set up (due to weather extremes), and now it happens again.”

Outages reported

As of 5:45 a.m. Monday, We Energies’ online power map showed that 475 customers in Racine County were without power. At 8:55 a.m., We Energies provided an update showing that 575 customers were without power. Nearly 300 of those experiencing outages were in the Yorkville area, with a handful of outages reported in Mount Pleasant, Racine and Sturtevant.

As of 3 p.m., only a handful of residents remained without power.

Caitlin Sievers / CAITLIN SIEVERS 

Jay'Kob Briggs, 3, helps with shoveling on Taylor Avenue in south Racine early Monday afternoon after winter storm Bruce brought several inches of snow to the area.

Local business
Reconstruction of Rosie’s restaurant behind schedule

RACINE — Last New Year’s Day was calamitous for Alfonso Arroyo, whose business, Rosie’s restaurant, was destroyed by fire. Arroyo expects another New Year’s Day to roll around with no new Rosie’s to reopen in its place.

The small south-side restaurant that Arroyo had owned and operated for 15 years caught fire. Firefighters responded at about 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 1 to the diner at 1804 Taylor Ave. and battled the blaze for 3 hours until the building could be inspected. Multiple firefighting vehicles were involved, including one rig that used its ladder with a firefighter aloft to douse the flames from above.

Firefighters tread carefully as standing water around the building turned quickly to ice in single-digit temperatures.

No one was injured, but the restaurant that Arroyo had named for his eldest daughter, Rosie Trevino, was a total loss with damage estimated at $150,000.

“Rosie’s was more than just a restaurant,” Trevino said in a family statement following the fire. “We were a family. From our hardworking employees to our loyal patrons is what made Rosie’s so special.”

Rosie's restaurant fire caused by unattended heater

RACINE — The New Year’s Day structure fire that caused an estimated $150,000 damage to Rosie’s restaurant was reportedly caused by an unattended heater, according to a Racine Fire Department news release issued Monday morning.

Two weeks after the fire, the Racine Fire Department said the blaze was caused by an unattended heater. Exceptionally cold weather had caused water lines to freeze in the restaurant, fire officials said, and Arroyo left an unattended LP gas-fueled, torpedo-style industrial heater running to thaw the frozen lines. The fire was ruled an accident.

Rosie's diner announces return after January fire

RACINE — Proprietors of a beloved restaurant that was destroyed by a New Year’s Day fire plans to rebuild “bigger and better” after five months of being closed. Rosie’s on Taylor, 1804 Taylor Ave., was declared “a total loss” and has been closed since December.

In April on Facebook, Arroyo and his family announced their intention to rebuild Rosie’s. Arroyo had already been through this once before: In September 2009, Rosie’s nearly faced its end after another fire caused more than $80,000 in damage. However, it survived and reopened the following December.

Behind schedule

Demolition of the old, burned structure from the New Year’s Day fire began in May. Arroyo said the new restaurant will cost an estimated $190,000 and that insurance will largely cover that.

Today, the new building has walls, roof trusses, a few windows and not much else. On Monday, after the snowstorm, the work site was silent.

“I wanted to be open now,” Arroyo said last week. He blames his previous contractor for causing the delays that leave him facing a winter of uncertainty about when he can reopen Rosie’s.

Meanwhile, Arroyo is working in a factory, and his employees have found other jobs — although he said they keep in contact, and he expects them to return whenever he can reopen his restaurant.

“Pretty much everyone’s coming back,” he said.


Charitable support
Non-profits ask for helping hands on Giving Tuesday

RACINE — After the ramped-up consumerism of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, nonprofit organizations locally and globally hope that consumers will open their pockets for others on Giving Tuesday.

Tuesday, Nov. 27, is the seventh year for Giving Tuesday, an online movement that aims to kick off end-of-year charity.

Many Racine nonprofit organizations are promoting the campaign through social media posts ending in #GivingTuesday.

United Way of Racine County is asking its supporters to snap pictures of themselves giving and to share them on social media, using #givingtuesday.

“United Way is built on the simple philosophy, that our communities are better when we support something bigger than ourselves,” stated Alexa Haigh, United Way of Racine County’s vice president of investor relations. “#GivingTuesday is the perfect opportunity to harness the collective power of our community and transform how people think about, talk about, and participate in social movements bigger than themselves.”

United Way is set to send emails and make social media posts on Tuesday, Nov. 27, encouraging the community to visit its website and to get involved in local volunteering. It boasts one-day volunteering opportunities that fit all schedules and interests. Haigh added that Giving Tuesday inspires people to take collective action to improve their communities.

“#GivingTuesday demonstrates how every act of generosity counts, especially when we give together,” Haigh stated. “That is United Way’s goal for #GivingTuesday.”

Online campaign

The Junior League of Racine is focusing on an online donation campaign for Giving Tuesday, with a goal of raising $2,500, but its president, Andrea Bukacek, thinks the nonprofit can do better than that.

The league is a training and volunteer organization for women, and the Racine chapter, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016, is the 18th oldest Junior League chapter in the world.

The local league is working to overcome the stigma of being a “white gloves and pearls” organization.

“That’s not at all what Junior League is today,” Bukacek said.

Nearly 100 percent of the league’s funding is local, according to Bukacek. This funding includes donations from individuals and businesses as well as what the organization calls “sustainer memberships” from those who contribute money to the league but are no longer active members.

“It means everything,” Bukacek said of support from the local community. “Organizations like ours struggle financially.”

The league has a legacy of helping to create local programs, typically passing on responsibility after the program are off the ground. The league helped to start programming at the Women’s Resource Center, a domestic violence shelter in Racine and to create a story hour for preschool children at the Racine Public Library.

The group’s focus at present and in the coming year will be mentoring local youths. The league is in the process of finding a community partner to work with or a mentoring-related project to complete.

Challenges for non-profits

Michelle Ortwein, executive director of the Volunteer Center of Racine County, said that securing funding and support from local businesses was becoming more challenging. She hopes locals will consider giving on Tuesday to whatever organization they find worthy.

“I encourage individuals to find something they can get behind,” she said.

Even donating to organizations through Amazon Smile will help, she said. When shopping through Amazon Smile, the online retailer donates 0.5 percent of eligible purchases to the charitable organization of the shopper’s choice.

Another challenge facing nonprofits, Ortwein said, is enticing millennials to volunteer.

“I encourage the younger generations to let people know how you want to serve,” she said.