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Racine Police Chief focuses on opioids, cocaine

RACINE — While violent crime has reduced significantly in Racine over the years, drugs remain a problem.

Racine Police Chief Art Howell said that his department’s main intention when it comes to drug enforcement is getting illegal opioids and cocaine-related substances off the streets.


“Heroin/opioid interdiction and human trafficking prevention remain among our top focus areas,” Howell said. “While there is more work to be done, the results to date in many areas are encouraging.”

The Racine Police Department made the identical number of drug-related arrests in 2018 as it did the year prior — 259 total arrests — according to data the RPD reported to the FBI and the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Cumulative arrests for possession rose by 9.2%, from 152 to 166, while arrests for selling drugs dipped from 105 down to 88, a 16% decrease.

Opium/cocaine possession arrests rose from 33 to 39. Also, marijuana possession arrests, which remain the most common drug arrest in the city, rose from 102 in 2017 up to 117 last year.

After making 66 arrests for the sale of opium/cocaine in 2017, 50 arrests were made last year by the RPD. Thirty-six people were arrested for selling marijuana in Racine in 2017, and 33 were arrested for the same offense in 2018.

Those numbers for marijuana possession arrests could be affected this year, after the City Council set a directive ordering the police department to issue citations, rather than criminal charge recommendations, for all first possession offenses of 25 grams or less of marijuana.

Safety and legal pot

As debate swirls around the legalization of marijuana, Howell said that his focus (and the department’s focus) remains on public safety.

“Alcohol is legal, but you can’t go to work intoxicated,” Howell said. “Even if it (marijuana) becomes legalized, we’re still going to have trouble employing people … from a public safety standpoint, (marijuana) is just another substance that can impair safety.”

Just last week, 24-year-old Nicholas Sosa, of Racine, was charged with possession of THC and operating while intoxicated after he reportedly was seen driving erratically while appearing to be under the influence of marijuana on Wednesday. He reportedly admitted to an officer that he had smoked inside his car less than 30 minutes before starting to drive.

Mugshots: Racine County criminal complaints, May 2

Finding without looking

When a suspected dealer’s home or vehicle is searched, oftentimes marijuana will be found in addition to the other illegal substances that officers were primarily searching for, according to Howell.

“When we do search warrants, we never know what we’re going to come up with,” he said. “We know if someone is dealing one drug, they might have another.”

The chief said that one of the detectives on the Racine Police Department payroll is assigned to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug Task Force, allowing that detective to work beyond the confines of Racine.

“In 2016, we had to decide if we wanted to continue to assign one of our detectives to the DEA Drug Task Force. When we do that, we lose local control over that person’s workload, but we gain federal partners in opioid crisis,” Howell said. “Doing that illustrates our commitment to … fighting the opioid crisis.”

ADALBERTO ALMEIDA, For The Journal Times 

A conga line formed during Night with the Saints: A Kentucky Derby Gala on Saturday at the Johnson Building, 555 Main St., Racine. Activities included live music, charity gambling tables and a raffle. The 17th annual event was a fundraiser for the All Saints Continuing Healthcare Education program, the Foundation said. For additional photos from the Kentucky Derby Gala, turn to Out on the Town, Page A10.

100th birthday
Celebrating a century: Racine woman has deep ties to community

CALEDONIA — A lot has changed in a century, and Violet Geranium Rose Yorgan has been there to watch it all firsthand.

Born on May 6, 1919, Yorgan celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday with family and friends at Parkview Gardens Assisted Living Apartments, 5321 Douglas Ave. A May Day celebration also was held, replete with a petting zoo, live music and food.

Despite the fact that she has a century under her belt, Yorgan said she doesn’t feel any different than she did at 99. “I am still the same person, even if I am 100,” Yorgan said. “I’m still active with people. I still love having company.”

Throughout her 100 years on the planet, Yorgan has accomplished a lot. A Racine native, Yorgan worked as a secretary at the Wheary Trunk Co. and a file clerk by Twin Disc Clutch for two years each. She retired from the Racine County Humane Society in 1987 after 20 years as a secretary.

Her hobbies throughout the years have included cribbage, volleyball, camping in Door County, sewing, and pretty much whatever she set her mind on.

Yorgan’s 100th birthday took six months to plan, daughter Sheila Anderson said. But the family wanted to do something special for someone Anderson said is always there for everyone, no matter what.

“My mother has always been very giving,” Anderson said. “She’s always available to her family and is very supportive.”

The party brought together family and friends alike, some of whom Yorgan said she had not seen in years. “It’s wonderful to see all these people,” Yorgan said. “It’s nice to know that they still love me and I still love them.”

Loved by family, friends

Violet married James Yorgan in 1942. The two were married for 65 years, until James’ death in 2007. Together, they had five children — Tim, Ken, Diana, Sheila and Jim. Violet also has five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Diana Yorgan, Violet’s daughter, said her mother has always been kind, generous and strong in her faith in God. “She’s been the perfect mom,” Diana said.

Kathy Gewalt, Violet’s niece, said her aunt has always been her role model, and is welcoming, kind and focused on God. “She is a lovely woman. I’ve never heard a harsh or mean word out of her,” Gewalt said. “She always makes everyone feel so special.”

Anderson said her mother and father taught her to follow through with their responsibilities, no matter what. She described her mother as loving, compassionate, strong, ethical and loyal.

Mark Patze, Violet and James’ godson, called her godmother “an awesome spirit” and said she was the “best mom you could ever ask for.”

“The whole Yorgan family is so diverse, loving, faithful and philanthropic,” Patze said.

Active in community

Violet and James have left their mark on the Racine community. While James acted in Racine Theatre Guild productions, Violet sewed costumes for the organization. In 1984, Violet and James portrayed Captain and Mrs. Gilbert Knapp during Racine’s sesquicentennial celebration.

Violet was also a Sunday school and catechism teacher, a Girl Scout leader, organizer and leader of volleyball at West Ridge School for 25 years and co-chair of the Stewardship Committee at Emmanuel for 14 years. She also was a volunteer teacher at the 1888 School.

Violet said the key to living more than a 100 years is staying active with activities: “It’s important to be active in life, helping other people. There’s always room for more activities and knowledge.”

“It’s important to be active in life, helping other people. There’s always room for more activities and knowledge.” Violet Yorgan, on the secret to living to be 100


Aaron Gash 

Milwaukee Brewers' Zach Davies smiles after being taken out during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Sunday, May 5, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

MPPD news
Man's body found in Mount Pleasant pond Sunday

MOUNT PLEASANT — The body of a 52-year-old man was recovered from a pond Sunday, according to a Mount Pleasant Police Department news release.

On Sunday morning, the Mount Pleasant Police Department received a request from the Fox Lake (Ill.) Police Department to check on the welfare of a man who had not been seen or heard from in more than a day.

Cell tower information indicated that the man’s cellphone was operating and in the south central area of Mount Pleasant. Information from the man’s family indicated that he might have been in the area fishing.

A Mount Pleasant officer found the man’s vehicle in the 3400 block of South Oakes Road, near a retention pond often used for fishing. After checking the area, officers found the man deceased, partially submerged in the pond. The man’s name has not been publicly disclosed.

The man’s body was removed from the water by the South Shore Fire Department and taken to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine cause of death.

An initial investigation into the man’s death did not reveal anything suspicious, Mount Pleasant Police said.