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Mount Pleasant
Schmitz Ready Mix withdraws application; plans to pursue plant in different location

MOUNT PLEASANT — The people have spoken. A company listened. Schmitz Ready Mix has announced it is withdrawing its application to build a concrete plant in Mount Pleasant.

The announcement was made on Wednesday at the Village Plan Commission meeting by attorney Charles Sweeney, who represents Schmitz Ready Mix, and it was met with applause from about 50 residents who came to express their opposition to the proposal.

Fresh off the heels of a long public hearing on Tuesday night, Sweeney said he spoke with the owners of Schmitz Ready Mix after the hearing and that’s when the decision was made.

“We heard a lot of comments from the people in the audience here and we want to work with you,” Sweeney said. “We don’t want to come into Mount Pleasant and have 160 people not want to buy concrete from us, much less have a batch plant there.”

Schmitz Ready Mix was planning to build a concrete plant on 11 acres of land on Chicory Road in Mount Pleasant, but the site first needed to be rezoned. However, residents and business representatives from neighboring properties showed up at the public hearing on Tuesday to express their discontent with the proposal.

Sweeney said on Wednesday that Schmitz Ready Mix still plans to move forward with a facility in Mount Pleasant, but more work is needed to find a more appropriate location.

“When we do get here, at a different location, please consider buying concrete from us,” Sweeney said. “We’re going to try to work with Mount Pleasant, we’re going to try to work with Racine County to find another site.”

However Sweeney said many of the concerns brought up by residents can be taken care of with modern technology.

“We don’t agree with a lot of the carcinogen issues and a lot of those issues that were brought up,” Sweeney said. “We think we can run a batch plant and be a very good neighbor as we are in a lot of other communities where we’re at.”

Response to withdrawal

Commission Chairman Davis Driver thanked Sweeney and the residents who came to the meeting.

“To all of you that are here, I hope you feel like your time was well spent,” Driver said. “With your input and everything, this helped guide us and we think the right decision has been made.”

Kurt Lehrmann, president of the homeowners association at Mallard Shores in Racine, was happy with the result.

“Great news from our perspective, because we were very, very concerned about those issues,” Lehrmann said.

Although Mallard Shores is technically in Racine, it is near the proposed site and Lehrmann said he worked closely with Mary Ann Kehoe, president of the homeowners association at Providence Port in Mount Pleasant, on getting the word out about this potential development.

Kevin Poulsen, co-owner of Premier Products of Racine, which is located near the proposed site, said Schmitz Ready Mix made the right decision.

“Not only do I have a building that’s right down the street, I live right down the street, too,” Poulsen said. “It’s great to know that my kids aren’t going to be dealing with these issues, the dust, the high traffic and everything else that’s associated with this.”

Poulsen said he is “pro-business” but his main issue was with this specific type of business being in such close proximity to other residential properties.

“If it had been a warehouse or a manufacturing company, I don’t think anyone here would have said boo about that,” Poulsen said.

Lt. Governor in Racine
Lt. Gov. Barnes visits First Choice; Mason says more construction training needed

RACINE — Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes heard multiple requests for more funding of the First Choice Pre-Apprenticeship Program Tuesday morning during a visit to Racine.

Barnes sat at a table at First Choice, 1427 Marquette St., with Mayor Cory Mason, several other local public officials, YMCA Executive Director Jeff Collen and YMCA Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Amad Qawi. Barnes learned about the Racine Family YMCA Program from them and from First Choice Executive Director Ola Baiyewu before taking a tour.

The message Barnes heard, over and over, was: This is a great program, but we need the state’s help to make it much bigger.

The nonprofit First Choice Pre-Apprenticeship Program is an initiative designed to increase racial diversity in the construction trades. The program prepares under-represented, unemployed or low-income people, minorities, women, and others to take the Apprenticeship Qualifying Test. First Choice also trains people in the life skills required to get and maintain a job in the skilled building and construction trades.

Graduates become eligible for employment opportunities in areas such as: craft laborer; electrical construction; masonry/bricklaying; carpentry; manufacturing; ironworker; and plumbing.

Baiyewu said First Choice has trained about 800 people. “Six hundred of them make an average of $70,000,” he said.

Some First Choice participants are high school dropouts with a GED, some just have a high school diploma, Baiyewu said. Some come from the state corrections system.

Baiyewu said that Racine had not had a minority boilermaker in the past 50 years. But First Choice has helped train one. The same applies for a minority pipefitter. “And some of them came from the prison system,” Baiyewu added.

Mason: We need many more

“It’s a great program. We just need to scale it up quickly for all the jobs that are coming,” Mason told Barnes. “There’s at least, that we know of, 1,200 construction jobs just between Foxconn and the public-sector (projects) in ’19.

“There is a labor shortage in construction right now,” Mason continued. In the next five years there will be 11,000 construction jobs, and that figure does not include approximately $100 million in Racine development projects that have been announced in the last few months.

Mason also said that half of the workers in the building trades are expected to retire within the next 10 years.

“We need to go from training dozens per year to hundreds,” he said.

After the tour of First Choice, Barnes said it’s important for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to be aware of programs such as First Choice, its success rate and the needs of this area. And he plans to share what he saw and heard with Gov. Tony Evers.

Fueling a program such as First Choice should get bipartisan support, he said.

“The grants are there to be given out,” Barnes said. “We need to make sure that they’re given out and used in the most effective way. People have demonstrated effectiveness, we should be able to reward and try to replicate that success.”

Stulo case
UPDATE: Police sergeant's BAC was .182 after Dec. crash; charges expected soon


RACINE — Racine Police Sgt. Samuel Stulo’s blood-alcohol content was more than double the legal limit, 0.182 percent, when he allegedly crashed his truck and injured a woman on Dec. 17, according to state records.

The Journal Times received the results through an open records request filed with the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, which conducts blood-alcohol tests for the state.

Stulo’s blood sample, which was reportedly taken more than two and a half hours after the crash occurred, was reported as received by the state laboratory on Dec. 27 — 10 days after the crash. That was the same day The Journal Times first published a story about the incident after receiving an anonymous tip about the crash.

State Laboratory of Hygiene officials said that they completed the test on Jan. 2 and reported the results the following day.

A hearing for noncriminal forfeiture charges against Stulo — for inattentive driving, failure of occupant to notify police of accident and for refusing an intoxication test — is scheduled for 2 p.m. today. He is not legally required to appear in court for that hearing.

Criminal charges had not been filed against Stulo as of Wednesday. Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Margaret Drees said that she expects to file charges sometime next week.

“There’s a slight delay in reports going from one jurisdiction to another,” Drees explained in an email.

Stulo’s defense attorney, Patrick Cafferty, said Wednesday that he and his client do not have any comment at this time.

‘A few beers’

According to a Racine County Sheriff’s Office incident report, Stulo failed a field sobriety test after he reportedly crashed his truck into a parked car on State Street, injuring a woman just before 8 p.m. on Dec. 17.

The arresting deputy reported that Stulo had a “strong odor of intoxicants coming from his breath” and that he refused a blood test, meaning that a warrant had to be acquired before his blood could legally be taken. A blood sample was eventually collected at Ascension All Saints Hospital after 10:40 p.m.

Stulo, 42, said he had “a few beers with waters in between beers” at a bar before getting behind the wheel the night of the crash, according to the incident report.

Possible charges

Possible charges for causing injury while operating under the influence (OWI) and hit-and-run involving injury were listed in the incident report, since Stulo reportedly drove approximately 600 feet away from the scene of the crash before pulling over.

An eyewitness, George Gayton, told law enforcement and The Journal Times that it appeared Stulo’s truck had broken down, which is what caused him to pull over.

The Sheriff’s Office reported that Stulo admitted that he was looking at his phone when the crash occurred.

Stulo was placed on paid administrative leave after the crash, according to the Racine Police Department.

Police Chief Art Howell said in an email, “When responding to officer conduct issues where public trust could be weakened or compromised, it is procedurally appropriate to place members under investigation on administrative leave during the fact-finding process. Similar to members of the general public, however, sworn officers are entitled to due process.”

Attorneys weigh in

Jamie Pagac, an attorney with the Brookfield-based Kim & Lavoy law firm, said that the speed in which charges are filed in OWI cases varies “on a case-by-case basis.”

“I don’t see consistency across the board,” Pagac said. “The goal is to get charges out fast … but sometimes it takes longer.”

Patrick Stangl, a Madison-based attorney who specializes in OWI defense, said that “it is very common” for an OWI charge to be filed before blood results are returned.

In Racine County, it is common for charges to be filed within days of a crash occurring.

For example, William Schafer, 55, of Burlington, was charged with a felony count of operating while intoxicated causing injury on Dec. 26, one day after he allegedly crashed into a tree in Yorkville.

A 97-year-old passenger reportedly suffered a broken femur, broken hip and ruptured aorta after Schafer crashed on the afternoon of Christmas Day, according to a criminal complaint. If he’s found guilty, it would be the third time Schafer has been convicted of OWI.