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Kringle tradition continues
Larsen's celebrating 50 years

RACINE — Donald Hutchinson and Debbie Hutchinson Jerdee have a lot of memories — 50 years’ worth — at Larsen’s Bakery, 3311 Washington Ave.

Debbie was 15 years old and Don was 5 when their father, Ernie Hutchinson, who had worked there as an assistant for a year, bought the business from Einer Larsen in 1969.

“Hard to believe 50 years goes by that fast,” said Don.

On Friday and Saturday, the bakery is celebrating its 50-year anniversary by giving away coffee and cake slices. Guests can also spin a wheel for a chance to win kringle, donuts, sheet cake and more.

Family memories

For better or for worse, the Hutchinsons have a lot of memories in that bakery.

Fifteen-year-old Debbie was recruited to help out after getting out at Case High School pretty soon after her father bought the business. She bribed bus drivers with donuts to drop her off outside the bakery doors in West Racine.

Don rode his bike about 3 miles one-way from their house at Indiana Street and Allen Street to the bakery, though he wasn’t always a help. He remembered sneaking off with the cinnamon hearts they kept in a jar in the back for Valentine’s Day doughnuts and that one time he threw a piece of dough up so high it stuck to the ceiling.

The night before Debbie’s wedding in 1974, a big snowstorm hit and knocked the power out right when Ernie had her wedding cake in the oven. At 2 a.m., Ernie got a call saying the power was back on, so he went back in, started all over and had the cake baked and decorated in time.

It hasn’t all been cake and kringle. The year 2004 was a tough one, when the family lost the middle child, Daniel Hutchinson, in February when he was hit by an SUV while riding his bike. Danny had been a master baker, kringle maker and decorator. That December, Ernie Hutchinson died after battling leukemia.

Friends and fried donuts

The family has met an assortment of characters over the years. TV personality Al Roker stopped by and learned how to make kringle in 2004 for a Food Network show “Roker on the Road.”

Debbie remembered one customer who’d drive in from Milwaukee after she’d dropped off her kids at school to pick up a few kringle. Debbie learned she’d take the kringle home, cut them up into servings, label them “liver,” put them in the freezer and then put them in her kids’ lunches for school.

They’ve also seen some changes over the years. They’ve been pleasantly surprised with how popular their vegan baked goods are and recently invested in new signs outside the front and back doors.

So after decades of donuts, cakes and kringle, have Debbie and Don had enough of baked goods?

“Never got tired of it,” said Debbie. “The worst is the almond horns. When they come out of the oven, I just melt.”

Don said he still loves pecan kringle, fresh donuts out of the fryer and even a simple slice of bread with butter, right out of the oven.

Racine County
Pritchard Park sports complex to break ground later this year, open by fall 2020

RACINE — During the 2018 State of the County address, County Executive Jonathan Delagrave surprised many by announcing a major partnership with the Racine Unified School District to fund a sports complex at Pritchard Park.

A year since the announcement, the county now plans to break ground later this year and to have some sports fields ready by the fall 2020 season.

During his State of the County address on Tuesday, Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave said the county hopes to begin work on a multipurpose turf stadium for football, soccer and lacrosse.

“Early this summer, we expect to bring forward several measures that will allow construction on the stadium, plaza, concession stand, and various park improvements to begin in late summer or fall,” Delagrave said. “We anticipate completion by next August so that local sports and community teams can utilize the field for the fall 2020 sports season.”

Delagrave said he hopes to have construction contracts finalized, potentially, in June with the groundbreaking to follow.

The county and Unified have committed $3 million each to build the facility and the county is hoping to bring in significant private funding.

So far, according to county officials, the county has raised $250,000 in private funds that will go toward the facility and there will be another “targeted fundraising” that will soon be launched.

The county is planning to use the private funds to build varsity softball and baseball fields.

The county is using what they learned in 2017 to bring the S.C. Johnson Community Aquatic Center, also located in Pritchard Park, to fruition as a road map to complete this project.

Although this complex will be an asset for Unified schools, Delagrave has said the facility will also be accessible for non-Unified schools such as Burlington High School, Racine Lutheran, St. Catherine’s, The Prairie School and the community at large.

This story has been corrected to reflect that the softball and baseball fields plan to be built with private funding. 


submitted photo 

An architectural rendering of the proposed Racine community sports complex. The county is partnering with the Racine Unified School District to build the facility at Pritchard Park. 

Racine sergeant soon able to go back to active duty after 30-month paid leave

RACINE — Sgt. Terrence Jones of the Racine Police Department appears to be headed back to active duty after 2½ years on paid leave, Police Chief Art Howell said Thursday.

Jones had been placed on paid administrative leave after being accused of inaccurately recording overtime hours, Howell said.

After an “intense” investigation, Howell said it was found that Jones’ recorded hours were largely accurate and that he had not been paid any more money than deserved.

Howell said that once Jones completes training he missed out on during his 30 months of leave, he will be able to return to the force.

“It took longer than normal, but we got to where we needed to be,” Howell said. “(Sgt. Jones) is dedicated to the community and loves the work that he does … Every indication I have is he wants to come back.”

During his paid leave, Jones collected over $150,000 in wages, according to an open records request.

Why has this gone on so long?

Howell said a number of extenuating circumstances contributed to the extraordinary length of Jones’ leave, which started in November 2016.

According to Howell, Jones would somewhat inconsistently clock in and out at the end of his shift. Jones was known to hang around at the police station after his normal shift was over, before heading to his second job. He was usually clocked out during that time, but would occasionally sign back in if an officer needed a supervisor (like Jones) to review an incident report.

“Not only was Sgt. Jones found to have not misappropriated his time records, on the contrary, the extended review process revealed that he actually donated time while not being paid,” Howell said.

Jones, who joined the Racine Police Department in 1998, was placed on leave when the investigation began, per department policy. An unrelated medical issue further delayed the investigation, Howell said.

“There was a significant delay with a matter that is protected. That’s as much as I can say,” Howell said.

And then there were four officer-involved shootings in 2018, an unprecedented amount for the Racine Police Department, which led to re-allocations of police resources that set the investigation back further.

The four 2018 officer-involved shootings were:

  • Jan. 17, Donte Shannon killed while reportedly fleeing police near the intersection of 14th Street and Park Avenue
  • March 24, Jeremiah Golden shot and suffers a non-life threatening injury while wielding a gun at Tropical Paradise bar
  • June 13, Joseph Washington exchanges fire with officers on the 500 block of 11th Street
  • Dec. 21, Hunter Hanson fired upon by officer as Hanson allegedly drove his vehicle in the direction of an officer on Boyd Avenue

State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, said that the investigations related to the officer-involved shootings shouldn’t be an excuse for such a long extension of Jones’ suspension, especially since it’s possible to get help from surrounding departments to conduct a third-party investigation.

“If you don’t have enough guys to do the investigation, then you need to assign more guys,” Wanggaard told The Journal Times.

There is now only one officer who is currently suspended within the department: Sgt. Samuel Stulo, who has been charged with felony hit-and-run involving injury after he allegedly crashed into a parked car after drinking at a bar on Dec. 17.

Sticking to his guns, despite criticism

Howell stands by his decision to place Jones on administrative leave, rather than allowing him to continue working in an administrative capacity while the investigation was ongoing. If misconduct is alleged while an officer is simultaneously under investigation and placed on active duty, the department could be even more liable for allowing an officer being investigated to keep working.

Officer Brinelle Nabors received similar treatment. Nabors was suspended in December 2015 for allegedly using excessive force while working as an off-duty police officer at Park High School, but was found not guilty during a January 2019 jury trial. He has since been reinstated.

In part spurred on by Racine’s cases, Wanggaard said that he is “still going to pursue making changes” to state law that would institute a fast-tracked timeline for internal police investigations. In February 2018, the state Assembly approved a bill that would have enforced a timeline for police and fire commissions to hold hearings of officers/firefighters being investigated in certain departments, but the bill was never voted on by the Senate.

The bill also could have made it so that, after 150 days of paid leave, officers have to either be reinstated, fired or placed on unpaid leave.

Wanggaard pointed out that if suspects facing felony charges are required to have a preliminary hearing within 10 days of being charged, then it would be fair for officers accused of wrongdoing to be held to a similar timetable.

Howell stresses there were extenuating circumstances with these cases and added, “I would be happy to engage in meaningful and productive dialogue with Senator Wanggaard if he is interested in gaining greater insight into and appreciation for the administrative process.”

A Kenosha police sergeant, Gregory Munnelly, returned to active duty after a November 2017 crash in Oak Creek, despite having been charged with OWI causing injury and causing injury while operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration of greater than 0.15.

Thirteen months after the crash, Munnelly pleaded guilty, after which Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Kiskinis said he would start the process of terminating the sergeant’s employment from the Kenosha Police Department.

Preventative measure

Howell said that the department has instituted a new time reporting system that can help prevent situations like this one, or at least expedite investigations.

Before he became chief, Howell said that time sheets were more-or-less based on the “honor system.” Police officers were responsible for clocking out. And ensuring those times were accurate was difficult on an administrative level.

The new system is more rigorous, the chief said. The department was already in the process of instituting the new system in fall 2016, but it wasn’t fully up and running at that time, posing a time-consuming challenge for investigators to confirm the hours Sgt. Jones had and hadn’t worked.

Howell said he is not recommending any disciplinary action for Jones; however, his decision is subject to review by the Police and Fire Commission.

“It took longer than normal, but we got to where we needed to be ... (Sgt. Jones) is dedicated to the community and loves the work that he does … Every indication I have is he wants to come back.” Police Chief Art Howell