Walworth County Sunday | Janesville Messenger | Stateline News



Walworth County Sunday | Janesville Messenger | Stateline News


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Friday, 15 September 2017 08:54

The past is always present

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- If your grandparents lived and grew up in Walworth County, it’s a good bet your ancestors would feel right at home at Old World Wisconsin, the outdoor living history museum located just south of Eagle.

 Do you have German, English, Irish, Swedish, Danish or Norwegian heritage? Old World has separate “villages” representing the traditions of these ethnic groups who settled in the state. The housing and daily life of these settlers in 19th-century Wisconsin gives today’s visitors a sense of their past.

 The buildings at Old World come from near and far, but they all represent Wisconsin’s past. Harmony Town Hall, built in 1876 in Rock County, was moved to Old World in 1976. It is part of the Yankee Village. The Sanford House, so named for the family that built it, also is located in the Yankee Village. Built in 1858 in the town of LaGrange, its original location would today be a skip and a jump away by car, yesteryear it would have been a four-hour drive with a team of horses.

 Sue (Duerst) Earle grew up in the Sanford house. A family story recounts a first date with her future husband: “You know where I live, right?” she asked.

Sure he did, but when he got there, he found it empty and uninhabited; the Duersts had built a new house with modern conveniences just down the road. The home’s uncertain fate was all too typical of outdated buildings. No longer habitable, they fell down, were razed or donated to a fire department for practice burns.

 Fortunately, members of the Sanford family saw the empty house and approached the owners to inquire if they would donate the house to what was then the very beginnings of Old World. They did and now the Sanford and Duerst families and all of their relatives can visit the house at the museum, along with anyone else interested in the history of Wisconsin.

  The museum opened with 10 buildings, including the Sanford House. Today there are more than 60 structures, representing different ethic groups. From the start, the museum enjoyed international interest. The queen of Denmark, Margrethe II, was on hand to dedicate the Danish exhibit on May 14, 1976. The museum officially opened at a time when U.S. citizens were particularly vulnerable to digressions of the past. The dedication ceremony was held June 30, 1976, just in time for the United States Bicentennial celebration.

 According to genealogist Mary Evans, the anniversary of this country’s birth sparked a renewed interest in the past and one’s ancestors. This included people interested in re-enactment groups, genealogical research and membership in groups like DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution. The group has 3,000 chapters across the United States. Along with the Sons of the American Revolution, DAR works to preserve the legacy of the Revolutionary War patriots who made it happen.

 Evans became a member of DAR after working on her family’s genealogy.

“It was like a big puzzle, with more pieces added all the time,” she said. “Fortunately, I lived out East for a time and had access to a lot of the records I needed to prove my connection to a Revolutionary soldier.”

 Applicants to DAR or SAR need to submit copies of original documents, including birth and death certificates, marriage certificates and supporting evidence such as census records and probate records. It can be challenging, but there are people, like Evans, who can help.

 “Usually this means you have to trace your ancestors back to those years (1775 to 1783),” Evans said. “Once you find an ancestor that was alive during those years, you have a good chance of finding the connection you need.”

 The research is a lot easier to do now, with more documents being digitized all the time. There are vital records and census records available online and through websites such as, a subscription-based service, or, a free service managed by the Church of Latter Day Saints.

Local genealogy groups and historical societies are available to help as well.

 The Walworth County Genealogical Society maintains a staffed library in the Mary Bray Room of Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn. Martha Hay and Christine Brooks are co-presidents of the group.

 Hay said she loves helping people discover their past.

“Most people want to know where they come from and if those family stories they heard growing up are true,” Hay said.

Today, renewed interest in genealogy is spurred on by TV shows such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Finding Your Roots.” Advertising from DNA testing sites also encourages people to discover more about themselves. Sites like 23andMe offer tests that provide health and ancestry information.

 Hay and Evans agreed there are pragmatic reasons to do family research. Evans said your history is full of records that can pinpoint health issues even before you go the route of having a DNA test done.

 “Every family has a story,” Hay said. “Death records can indicate a health history that might be important to you. If you see that your grandfather and great-grandfather and great uncle all died of a heart attack, you pretty much know that runs in your family and it’s something you should watch out for.”

 Most genealogy research, though, is based on a natural curiosity of finding out who we are in a larger scheme of things. Hay recalled a particular instance of this when she was able to help.

“We had an older gentleman come in for help,” she said. “His older sisters had all passed away and because his mother had died when he was quite young, 5 years old, he didn’t have any information about her.”

The gentleman had no idea how to go about finding anything about his mother, but the Walworth County genealogists were able to help him.

“We found his mother’s obituary and from there her family,” Hay said. “He was like ‘Wow, I have all this family I didn’t know about.’

 “It was one of the best days we’ve had around here.”


Learn more

• Walworth County Genealogical Society: Meets at 6:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month at the Community Center, 826 E. Geneva St., Delavan.

Oct. 3 meeting features a presentation about American Indian history.

• Walworth County Genealogical Society library: located in the Mary Bray Room on the upper level of Matheson Memorial Library, 101 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn.

Open to the public and staffed with volunteer researchers from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the first, second and fourth Tuesdays of the month and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. the third Tuesday. Also open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the third Saturday of the month. Call 262-723-9150 for more information.

• Burlington Genealogical Society: Meets from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month in Room 100 at  the Gateway Technical College Burlington Center, 496 McCanna Parkway, Burlington.

Sept. 20 program, “Mapping Your Ancestors,” will be held in Room H100 in the Gateway HERO Center, 380 McCanna Parkway, Burlington.

Go to for more information.

Friday, 08 September 2017 12:32

Letting go, keeping it together

WALWORTH COUNTY TODAY--Aruna Jha, the mother of two grown daughters, remembers feeling somewhat anxious when the girls -- particularly the older one -- started college.

 “It was a little bit tougher when the first one went off to school. Parents know the transition is hard the first time you experience it. The feelings, concerns and anxieties are going to be a little different,” said Jha, an assistant professor in the department of social work at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. “With my older daughter, compared to the younger one, I was more concerned, more vigilant, possibly more intrusive.”

How comfortable parents feel about the separation often depends on the situation and their own background, but the adjustment is familiar for many families this time of year.

“If, as a parent, you’ve experienced college yourself and that experience was exciting, part of you has a sense of pride knowing your child is moving on to bigger, better things,” Jha said.

 “UW-Whitewater is a school that has a large percentage of first-generation college students. I imagine if the firstborn child is also the first family member going to college, that’s more anxiety-producing than if the parents themselves are college educated, or there are other children who’ve already gone to college,” she said.

The kind of relationship parents have with their kids also determines how a family deals with this separation, said Anna Lindell, an assistant professor of psychology at UW-Whitewater.

“There has been a lot of research illustrating that having the foundation of a warm, supportive and open relationship helps children -- and their parents -- feel like they still have that supportive and loving foundation even if there is a physical distance between them,” Lindell wrote in an email. “It’s even better if parents have been able to help foster a good sense of independence and allowed their children to develop a decent amount of autonomy prior to leaving home, because then the transition isn’t as jarring.

“For parents and children who may have had a rockier relationship before a separation like going to college, especially if parents were particularly controlling before, sometimes just adding that physical distance can make a world of difference because it forces parents to take a step back and let their child have some more independence, and it can actually make parents and children appreciate one another more. That being said, it can sometimes be a difficult adjustment for parents who previously played a more controlling role in their child’s life. They may feel a greater sense of loss when their child leaves home for work or college, or they may try to continue those controlling patterns from afar -- which is becoming easier and easier with the types of technology we have.”

Other factors play a role in the transition, too, experts say, such as the age of the parents, what they’re doing at that stage of their lives and what the family dynamics are. Parents of a new college student who still have children at home might find the separation different than those who face an empty house. And single parents who don’t have a spouse to lean on could find it harder if they’re no longer focusing as much time on their child.

“Whether you are a full-time parent or not, research suggests empty nest syndrome affects women more than men,” Jha said. “Women identify more with their role as a mom, so empty nesters can experience a mid-life crisis because they don’t know how to focus their attention. It prompts anxiety in women, who may feel somewhat more depressed.”

 “Certainly it’s a time when you start to feel you’re getting older,” said Joseph Fairbanks, a psychotherapist with Aurora Health Care, who practices in Lake Geneva and Elkhorn.

Letting go of a child, even temporarily, can make a parent feel sad. To cope, Fairbanks recommended reaching out for the support of family, church and club members, neighbors and friends.

“Using that natural social support is one of the biggest assists in normal times of stress,” he said.

“Anytime the loneliness and sadness are overwhelming, the feelings start to interfere to the point where you can’t function, you need help, talk to your doctor. Talk to a psychotherapist, if necessary.”

Other avenues to pursue are taking up new hobbies or leisure activities or focusing on one’s career, Fairbanks said.

 Jha, who had been a full-time mother to her daughters, went back to graduate school for an advanced degree, ending up with a Ph.D. and a full-time job after her daughters were in college.

“More and more women are reinvesting time and energy, reviving previous careers or making an investment in brand-new career paths,” Jha said. “As a parent, having your children grown can mean a resurgence of enthusiasm and happiness for life. If you’re truly in the empty nester’s phase, take stock of your own life, re-engage yourself, follow your own pursuits -- you can now do that.”

After kids leave for college, couples may find they have more privacy and romance. Some find they have more money, too, although college tuition costs can add to expenses.

Maybe the most satisfying result is your new role in your child’s life. You’ve created an independent adult, something it took you years of parenting to achieve.

Helicopter parenting

Yet for some parents, it's still had to let go.

“People hear about helicopter parenting a lot in the news today, but it is not quite as widespread of an issue as it may seem – mainly because a lot of the things parents would like to do for their children, like choosing their children's college classes or trying to get a grade changed in one of their classes, are things that parents don't have the legal ability to do due to FERPA laws. (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.) But in other settings, you still hear about the occasional parent who is choosing their child's clothes for a job interview or making phone calls to their child's landlord about a maintenance issue--things that their child should reasonably be able to do on their own,” Lindell said.

“Parents engage in these 'hovering' behaviors for a wide variety of reasons, whether it is because they are anxious themselves, or are trying to help their children have better lives than they had at that age, or because they are worried about how they look to other parents,” Lindell said. “Helicopter parenting is also probably more prevalent today than in previous decades because parents are more worried about the economic climate and the difficulties of getting a good job after graduation, and so they may feel that they need to step in and give more assistance to their children than they might have otherwise. But helicopter parenting can also be initiated, in part, by the child as well - if they are feeling anxious or underprepared for more adult-like roles and responsibilities, they may ask their parents to take on a larger role in some of these tasks. The interesting thing about helicopter parenting is that it is usually done out of love, and parents' hearts are usually in the right place--it just begins to cross a line into helping with things that young adults should be developmentally ready to start doing on their own.”

But being a parent is a lifetime role. Today cellphones, Facetime, Skype and social media make staying connected easier, but there also can be pitfalls, warns Lindell.

 “I think that the growing availability of technology that allows parents and their children to keep in touch does make many parents feel more at ease when their children leave home for college or work, because they have the option to get in touch whenever they want to -- it feels like a sense of security to them, knowing that they can be connected,” Lindell said. “For those parents, I think the technology does help ease the transition. I think that the kids leaving home feel that sense of security as well, knowing that they can still turn to their parents when they hit the occasional bump in the road.

“But for some parents, I think that these types of technology may actually contribute to some additional problems with letting go. With more and more forms of technology, parents now actually have the ability to call or text their child multiple times a week, multiple times per day even, and that is probably not healthy for them or their children when this transition should really be about helping their children develop more independence and personal responsibility.”

Therapists say setting up ground rules ahead of time helps. Decide on an agreed upon number of times to connect. Text, perhaps, rather than call.

Also, go to the college’s orientation or other events for parents, where questions can be answered. Talk to friends or other parents who already have kids in college to use their experience as a source of information. Make a trip to the campus to see what life is like there, and lessen any fears and anxieties.

 “Plan for that empty nest while your children are still living with you,” Fairbanks said. “I think preparing for that extra time and energy when your child goes away to college will help.”

“One thing that is important to keep in mind throughout all of this is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to navigating a child’s transition out of the family home, and it does take some families longer to adjust to the changes than others,” Lindell said. “Families need to think about how they got along and functioned while everyone was still living together under the same roof to figure out what will work best for their family.

“They should communicate openly with one another prior to the transition about their hopes and expectations about how they want it to go. It is especially important for parents to listen to their children’s thoughts about moving out and to respect their growing need for independence.”

We asked readers if they had made any lifestyle changes as empty nesters, or had words of wisdom for other parents facing separation anxieties:

Patricia Koepnick: My husband and I are empty nesters who have made a lifestyle change. We held an auction, sold everything and live full time in our RV. It is a 37-foot travel trailer. We live in Southern California October to April, working as camp hosts. We live back in our hometown of Delavan April to October. We travel across USA in between. It is awesome & plan on this lifestyle as long as we are healthy.

Kelly Klingle-Jaeck: It's not what you do for your kids. It's what you teach them to do for themselves that makes them a good human being with good values and able to tackle real life events. Make them earn things and make them always respect elders. Family is always there for you. Too many times parents bail their kids out of all situations. Let them fail and make mistakes. They will LEARN from them and be able to do for themselves. Mine are now 23 and 21 and these are the lessons I share.

Sue Schlieman: Yup..teaching them to live on their own, without depending on you for anything, is the best thing you can teach them..if they move out and you don't hear from them for weeks at a time,,that is a good thing,,that means you did your job right....

Friday, 01 September 2017 13:52

Bring a chair to the square for bluegrass

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY — If you’re a fan of bluegrass, you know exactly where you’ll be come Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9 and Sept. 10: listening to the sweet blend of guitars, banjos, mandolins and fiddles at East Troy’s 24th annual Bluegrass Festival. Take a moment while you’re there to stop and thank the woman behind the festival — she’ll be mingling with bluegrass lovers on the square — award-winning composer Melissa Sherman.

In 1994, Sherman was a single mom with three young children and a business, Melissa’s Country Baskets and a Touch of Heart, located across from the village square in East Troy. She was also a bluegrass guitarist and upright bass player looking to play, but busy with life.

“I didn’t have time to go out to shows, but I enjoy jamming,” Sherman said in a phone call from her home in Toronto. “I thought the square in East Troy, which people have described as a Norman Rockwell setting, is such a perfect place to bring my music to the public.”

She turned to friends. With help from Lee and Barb Lorentz, local bluegrass musicians with connections, she rounded up bands to perform for free. She secured insurance for the event, sponsored by the Village of East Troy Parks and Recreation Department. And through a combination of fundraising and money from her own pocket, she raised cash prizes for contests.

Municipal officials were suspicious at the beginning because no one knew what kind of music bluegrass was, let alone audiences it would draw, Sherman said. She convinced them there would be no hippies smoking pot. The fest wouldn’t sell alcohol — if someone wanted a beer, there were bars on the square to go to. No security would be needed to close off a venue entryway. Instead of rowdy crowds, there would be contented bluegrass fans, watching acts.

And there were.

“Bands were performing on top of the gazebo and by the end of the day, everybody’s neck was nearly broken from looking up all the time,” Sherman laughingly recalled of the first festival.

Around 100 people showed up, and that was enough to spark an annual event that is now organized by the East Troy Area Chamber of Commerce, with donations coming from local sponsors and help from countless volunteers.

Vanessa Lenz, executive director of the chamber, sees the festival as a celebration not only of bluegrass, but of community, staying true to Sherman’s original vision of a laid-back, family-friendly event.

“Our East Troy area and extended bluegrass community support this event year after year and it has grown to where it attracts attendees from across the state and Midwest,” Lenz wrote in an email. “Bluegrass fans are truly loyal followers. Attendance has increased from less than 200 the first weekend to 1,800 attendees expected on Sept. 9 and 10.

“We get some of the best players in the state, region and nation at our festival,” Lenz said, noting this year’s lineup is headlined by national acts, including Larry Efaw and the Bluegrass Mountaineers, known for their traditional sounds, and Becky Buller, a young but well-decorated bluegrass performer.

Besides musical acts there also will be jamming and contests, food vendors and a marketplace to shop for artisan goods, specialty items, crafts and more, Lenz said.

Sherman is now living in Canada, where she not only won Central Canada Bluegrass Awards’ 2012 Composer of the Year award, but is in CCBA’s Hall of Fame. But she’s returned to East Troy for every single festival save one. She’s always booked the shows and found the musicians, seeking out new bands, booking deals with legendary performers like Ralph Stanley to provide a good mix onstage every year.

She can tally the early contestants who stay connected, like the 6-year-old fiddle player who’s grown up to become a doctor, the annoying 5-year-old struggling to carry — let alone play — a banjo, who now comes back to jam, or the musical family whose members include a concert violinist, a cello player and an opera singer.

“People call it my party,” Sherman said. “People used to ask me, ‘Why do you do this? Are you making money?’ No, it’s the hugs and greetings. It’s the old man who walks up with a cane, saying, ‘Thanks for doing what you do.’”

Sherman, 61, concedes the demographics of bluegrass fans are changing. None of her three children share her musical passion, although she said one of her 4-year-old granddaughter’s favorite songs is “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

“Hey, I lived through high school with platform heels and Alice Cooper, but there was always bluegrass. too,” Sherman said. “Bluegrass is American music, and everyone needs to know what it is.

“My main mission is keeping bluegrass alive.”


If you go

24th annual East Troy Bluegrass Festival

• When: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9-Sept. 10

• Where: East Troy village square, Wisconsin Highway 120 and County Highway ES; rain location is East Troy Middle School, 3143 Graydon Ave.

• What’s offered: Bluegrass acts, contests, jam sessions, food, marketplace

• More information: or East Troy Bluegrass Festival’s Facebook page

• How to help: Volunteers are needed for three-hour shifts both days. Setup and cleanup help also is needed from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. each day. To sign up, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Friday, 01 September 2017 13:44

Sweet! Darien fest celebrates corn, community

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY — If you’re a fan of sweet corn, you want to be at Darien’s West Park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8, Sept. 9 and Sept. 10, for the 57th annual Darien Cornfest.

The celebration includes live entertainment, a carnival, parade, fireworks, crafts sales, sports tournaments and, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, free sweet corn donated by Birds Eye, which has a plant in Darien.

The festival got its start in 1960 as a one-day event in October to raise money for a truck for the Darien Rescue Squad, said Darien resident Shirley Sisk.

The original event included a roast beef dinner, an auction, horse-drawn wagon rides, food stands and special deals from downtown Darien stores, according to newspaper accounts.

In the mid-1960s, a vegetable processing plant, then Libby Foods, was built in Darien, and eventually the festival earned its name and included its famous sweet corn giveaway.

The event is now sponsored by  American Legion Post 450, the Darien Crossed Irons Fire Fighters Association, the Darien Community Club and the Darien Cornfest Committee. 

Almost as old as Cornfest is its parade, drawing kids in costumes, marching bands, horses, fire trucks and floats.

Sisk, a former Cornfest parade marshal, remembers the year her children won a prize for their float entry depicting firemen putting out a burning house fire.

“They had an upside down cardboard box with cut-out windows as a house, paper flames and a bottle of water to spray,” Sisk remembered. 

The parade today typically draws about 100 units, said Pattie Keyzer, who has coordinated the parade for the last 12 years.

“We’ve had the Lawn Chair Dads, a group out of Woodstock, Illinois. They’re a drill team made up of a bunch of businessmen wearing boxer shorts and T-shirts, and they drill with lawn chairs. We’ve had the Wacky Wheeler, the Shriners in mini-jets and this year we have a gentleman who rides a motorcycle in a wheel,” Keyzer said. “We have thousands of people that watch the parade every year.

“There’s a lot of community involvement, a lot of community support.” 


If you go

57th annual Darien Cornfest

• When: Friday through Sunday,

Sept. 8 through Sept. 10

• Where: Darien West Park, just east of Interstate 43 (exit 15) on U.S. Highway 14, Darien

• What’s offered: Parade, free sweet corn (11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday), fireworks, carnival, sports tournaments

• More information: Go online to


Wednesday, 30 August 2017 11:46

Fair guide for Thursday, Aug. 31

AUG. 31, 2017

For tickets and deals, tap here.


62 & Older - $8



1 ticket per person, per ride

NOON — 10 PM

 8 a.m.        Jr Judging — Beef — Activity Center

 8 a.m.        Jr Judging — Sheep — Sheep Barn

 9 a.m.        Jr Judging — Cavies — Small  Animal Barn

 9 a.m.        Open Judging — Arts &  Crafts — Arts & Crafts Building

 9 a.m.        Open Judging — Canned Goods — North Hall

 9 a.m.        Open Judging — Knitting — North Hall

 9 a.m.        Open Judging — Crocheting — North Hall

10 a.m.      Open Judging — Repurpose, Recycle, Reuse — North Hall

10 a.m.      From Bee Hive to Your Kitchen by Kristine Karlson — Learning Coop

11 a.m.      Flower Gardens by Andrea Clemens from Lovelight Flowers — Learning Coop

11 a.m.      Outstanding Senior, Friends of the Fair, Vendor, Exhibitor, and Century Farm Awards —           Park Stage

12 p.m.      ANTIQUE & STOCK TRACTOR PULL - Grandstand

12 p.m.      Stamp'n Up with Laura Zaraza — Learning Coop

12 p.m.      Jack Farina Big Band — Park Stage

12:30 p.m. Nick's Kids Show — Kiddieland Stage

 1 p.m.        Chainsaw Artist, Dave Watson — Kiddieland

 1 p.m.        Kid's Pedal Tractor Pull Registration — New Location — Carnival Area

 1 p.m.        Fairy Garden Demo by Pesche's Garden Center — Learning Coop

 1:30 p.m.  Open Judging - Woodworking - Arts & Crafts Building

 1:30 p.m.  Woody's Barnyard Races — Kiddieland

 2 p.m.        Kid's Pedal Tractor Pull —   New Location — Carnival Area

 2 p.m.        Woody's Educational Wildlife Show - Kiddieland

 2 p.m.        Milk Chugging Contest- Kiddieland Stage

 3 p.m.        Nick's Kids Show — Kiddieland Stage

 3 p.m.        Story Time with the Fairest of the Fair — Learning Coop

 3:30 p.m.  Chainsaw Artist, Dave Watson — Kiddieland

 4 p.m.        Woody's Barnyard Races — Kiddieland Stage

 4:30 p.m.  Senior Idol — Park Stage

 4:30 p.m.  Woody's Educational Wildlife Show — Kiddieland

 5:30 p.m.  Nick's Kids Show — Kiddieland

 6 p.m.        Dave Watson, Chainsaw Artist - Kiddieland

 6 p.m.        Walworth County Idol Finals — Park Stage

 6:30 p.m.  Woody's Barnyard Races — Kiddieland

 7 p.m.        BADGER STATE TRACTOR & TRUCK PULLS - Grandstand

 7 p.m.        Woody's Educational Wildlife Show - Kiddieland

 7:30 p.m.  Nick's Kids Show — Kiddieland Stage

 8 p.m.        Dave Watson, Chainsaw Artist - Kiddieland

 8:30 p.m.  Woody's Barnyard Races – Kiddieland

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY — A lifelong nature and honeybee lover, Kristine Karlson remembers herself as a 3-year-old, “watching, touching and happily humming along with the honeybees in my family’s garden.”

Karlson is hoping attendees of her presentations at the Walworth County Fair will become ardent fans of the honeybee, too.

She will offer two programs at the Learning Coop during the fair’s run: Beekeeping with Kristine Karlson at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30; and From Beehive to Your Kitchen at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31.

She’s been a beekeeper for nearly a decade. She decided to keep her own hives to help support the bee population, which is facing some serious problems from mites and pesticides.

Karlson belongs to the Walworth County Beekeepers Club, and she credited experienced members there with broadening her knowledge of her hobby.

“There’s a lot to learn about honeybees,” Karlson wrote in an email. “It is great having others to share experiences with and discuss what is happening in our beehives right now.”

In her third year of teaching beekeeping classes at the fair, Karlson also teaches at schools, churches and even Gateway Technical College.

She said people might be surprised to know just how short and hardworking the life of a foraging honeybee is.

“The forager is a female worker bee that will visit up to 1,400 flowers a day, traveling up to four miles,” Karlson said. “She will communicate with her sisters at the hive using her ‘waggle dance’ to navigate the others to the best nectar and pollen areas. She transports more than half her weight in nectar and pollen, carrying it back to the hive, working every day until her wings have worn out. (S)he dies within three to six weeks. During her short lifetime, she will bring in enough nectar to fill one-tenth of a teaspoon of honey. Every drop of honey is precious gold.”

Karlson said her beehive-to-kitchen class came about because she wanted to show people how much a honeybee hive offers — not only honey, but beeswax, pollen and propolis, a compound bees make from sap, beeswax and their saliva, that some researchers believe has antioxidant and antifungal properties.

 “Visitors (to the class) ... will learn about rendering wax, and all the many ways wonderful, natural beeswax can be utilized,” she said. “I will share some honey recipes and how to incorporate honey into our daily lives and into recipes to replace table sugar. I will include the health benefits of pure, raw and natural honey.

“There is a lot of interest in beekeeping these days. Some new beekeepers are not sure how to render the wax cappings after extraction of the summer honey, and they would like to learn how to use wax for projects. In this class we will melt and clean some beeswax cappings and use them for a class project.”

 Karlson is a regular vendor at the Elkhorn farmers market every Saturday during the season, bringing to her stand not only products, but bee supplies and even new photos every week.

“I truly enjoy talking to visitors and customers, sharing beautiful pictures and stories about our wonderful honeybees,” she said. “Honeybees’ buzz is a very meditative sound. They are amazing and very relaxing to watch and learn from.”


The buzz

• Learn more at the Walworth County Fair: Beekeeping with Kristine Karlson, 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30; From Beehive to Your Kitchen, 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 31; at the Learning Coop

• Want to help honeybees and other pollinators in your area? Beekeeper Kristine Karlson has some suggestions:

 Keep your lawn and gardens chemical-free, especially pesticide-free.

Purchase chemical-free seeds, plants, trees and flowers. (Karlson will provide lists of honeybee/pollinator-friendly flowers you can plant.)

Let dandelions and clover grow on your lawn so honeybees have a healthy start in the early spring.

Offer small, shallow dishes of fresh water for bees.

Learn to recognize the different types of bees in your yard.

Friday, 25 August 2017 09:26

Small horses, big impact

ELKHORN — Just ask any member of the Walworth County 4-H Driving Club and they will explain — you don’t have to go big to make a big impact. Many of the kids in the horse and pony project work with steeds that are one-fourth the size of a quarter horse or one-tenth the size of a Belgian or Percheron.

Size doesn’t matter when it comes to the level of commitment required for this project. Dedication does, and these kids have it, practicing three or more times a week in many cases.

The goal, of course, is to demonstrate what they’ve learned at the Walworth County Fair.

The driving program started with Will Swierenga 26 years ago.

“I was always addicted to horses,” explained Swierenga, who grew up on a farm where the horses did the work.

When Swierenga married his wife, Nancy, they acquired their first pony. After graduate school for counseling, he took a $2 an hour job mucking out stables for Roy Kline, who was active in harness racing.

“I knew I wanted to do something more with bigger hitches; I already had the speed,” Swierenga said.

He started with a Welsh pony but could never have predicted where that would lead him and Nancy.

“A lady approached Nancy in church one day and asked if I would take on a student who wanted to learn how to drive, so that’s how it started — with one student,” he said.

It grew from there until one year the number of participants reached into the 50s. It’s not that big anymore, probably in part due to the recession of 2008. The driving club is open to any 4-Her in Walworth County who wants to learn how to drive. Some have their own mini horse or pony; others borrow or lease one.

Swierenga continues to work with the more experienced students like Alexandra Rullman, who just came off the Boone County Fair where she competed in the 8-horse hitch.

“He taught me everything I know about driving with finesse,” Rullman said.

Another student of Swierenga’s, Abby Gentele, also competed at the Boone County Fair.

“The eight-up is one of the tougher classes; that’s a lot of horses to control,” Gentele said. “With the multiple hitches you have to figure out how to work all those lines.”

There is a lot to consider when assembling a team of horses. For multiples, you have to decide which animal will be the leader — the horse or horses out front. They’re the ones that initiate turns. The wheelers are the horses closest to the cart or wagon. They need the most strength because they do most of the pulling and act as the brake when stopping. Those in the middle have to be patient and steady.

Gentele, who entered the single, unicorn, tandem, four abreast, six-up and eight-up at the Boone County Fair, said you want to pair up horses that have a similar style and rhythm. She couldn’t have entered all those classes without a lot of help.

“We’re all family here,” she said. “We help each other out.”

Kathleen and Jeff Markham pitched in to help with the program after their two kids, JJ and Josie, participated. They learned at Swierenga’s place in Darien.

“We had one mini that we led around, but that was it; we didn’t have any equipment,” Kathleen Markham said.

The Markhams now help beginning drivers get started. Josie, 23, still helps out with the program.

“If someone wants to get in the program, they can start with the horseless horse project to learn about horses and ponies or they can just start in the driving program,” Markham said. “If they don’t have their own horse, they can borrow one or summer lease one. We make sure the animals get here (at the Markhams’ farm) for our meetings.” 

Jeff Markham is the chairman of the horse and pony committee for Walworth County. The committee consists of adult and youth coordinators who put on educational seminars and fun shows.

To be involved in the driving program, students need to attend two mandatory meetings in the spring. 

“That’s where we find out what they have to work with,” Kathleen Markham said. “If they need a horse or pony, we match them up with an available one.” 

Walworth County competitors use the mid-August Boone County Fair — the largest county fair in Illinois — as a tuneup. There is no separate category for youth competitors so there is a lot of competition.

Swierenga served as the emcee for the Boone County event, so he had no time to worry about his young students. They were in good hands with help from fellow competitors and adult volunteers. 

“We took 80 head,” Markham said. “Plus all the carts, wagons, tack and feed.”

“With that many people and horses, my big worry is wrecks,” Markham said. “We want to keep everyone —  people, horses and ponies — safe.”

They did keep everyone safe. Most of the participants had some experience showing, but there were two new kids who had to present their horses to a judge for the first time.

“Everyone did really well,” Markham said.

And Swierenga agreed it was a good showing.

“Horses take a lot of dedication, but these kids all put in the time and it showed,”  Markham said.

Next up: the Walworth County Fair. The horse/pony/miniature horse show starts at 8 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, in the horse arena at the fairgrounds.


Driving at the next level

• Walworth County 4-H Driving Club member Abby Gentele will be competing in the Villa Louis Carriage Classic, one of the largest carriage driving events in the country. It takes place Sept. 8 through Sept. 10 at Villa Louis, a Wisconsin historical site near Prairie du Chien that once was home to the Artesian Stock Farm, a premier standardbred training center. Spectators are welcome. Go to or call 608-326-4436 for more information.

Friday, 18 August 2017 00:00

Language of opportunity

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Born in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, Lilly Barrett came to the United States as a child, so she understands firsthand the difficulties of learning a language while simultaneously navigating life in a new country.

That experience adds a compassionate dimension to her new job as coordinator of the Walworth County Literacy Council, where she assesses the needs of students and matches them to tutors.

“So often people think if somebody doesn’t speak English they’re not intelligent, that they don’t have feelings, they’re not human or equal. There are many intelligent people out there, hardworking people, compassionate people, but they’re just not able to express themselves. That’s something I hope people can see if they get to know others,” says Barrett, a Williams Bay resident who has a background in social services and industrial relations.

Peruse this slice of life from Barrett.

Momentous decision

At that time (Croatia) was Yugoslavia, a Communist country. My father was a veterinarian, my mother was a teacher. Because of the Communist government, there wasn’t an opportunity for my father to succeed in his career, and we weren’t able to have any privileges, like a telephone or a better apartment. My father refused to become a Communist and that would have been the only way he would have been able to obtain those privileges. He had a distant relative that lived in Chicago, so he obtained a visitor’s visa and came here. He waited for two years for his green card. When he received that, we were able to join him. 

Making a living

My father took on all sorts of odd jobs. He was a janitor. He worked for a veterinary clinic, where he cleaned cages just to get in that business. By happenstance, he met somebody who took a liking to him and recommended him to the director at the Biologic Resources Laboratory, which was part of the University of Illinois in Chicago. My dad was able to work as a veterinarian at a very low pay, but of course, he took it -- even if it didn’t pay anything, he would have taken the job. It was a research laboratory, so my father’s role was to ensure that the animals were taken care of and that research was ethically done. He ended up retiring from there as the director of primates.

Separation and reunion

When he left I was 6, and we didn’t see each other until I was 8 years old. Without him, that was really hard. I remember I used a sweater of his that he left behind as a pillow. We lived in an apartment in Croatia and my mom could not get a job at the time, so my dad was sending money back. My grandmother, who’d had a stroke, lived with us. And I have a sister.

I’ll never forget coming to this country, when we were reunited at O’Hare Airport. That was the best day of my life. There is a photo of us -- my father is crying. His face is red. He looks gaunt from probably being exhausted and worried about us.

A new life

My parents wanted to acclimate us to this country. Six months after coming to the south side of Chicago, we moved to Glen Ellyn, the suburbs of Chicago. We were very thankful to get a lower-interest FHA loan from the government so we could buy a house. It took a long time to buy furniture. I remember having carpet in the house and lawn furniture in the living room. But we were achieving the American Dream -- we owned a home.

The first purchase that my dad made, which doesn’t seem very logical, was from a door-to-door salesman who was selling Encyclopedia Britannica. I think it was $500, which in those days we did not have that kind of money. But it really showed who my father was and the values that he had. It was really hard letting go of that Encyclopedia Britannica. I just did that a few years ago.

Learning the language

We took some English lessons for a few months in Croatia, but didn’t know it well. My father knew a lot of Latin because of his medical field, so he picked it up quicker. My mom was strong in languages so she picked it up quickly. She carried a dictionary with her everywhere. When she watched television or read the newspaper, she referred to her dictionary. That dictionary is just tattered. It’s like somebody’s Bible that’s been leafed through numerous times.

My mother said my sister and I became fluent in six months because we were fully immersed, but it was very, very hard. I remember the first day at school. Nobody spoke my language. I was so intimidated. The teacher asked me where I live. Later, I learned she was inquiring about whether I lived north or south and I had no idea what that meant.

A little history

Judy Stone founded the literacy council 14 years ago. Judy had a 72-year-old next-door neighbor who could not read or write. His wife was concerned that when she passed away, he wouldn’t be able to manage without her. So she wanted him to learn to read and write. That’s what inspired Judy to start teaching. Word spread and people told her, “You need to start a council.” I thought that was a beautiful story. She just began with a problem next door.

Judy said the council has served more than 500 students since it started.

The council

I match volunteers to students -- geographically, availability, what the needs of the students are and the availability and even interest of the tutors. I assess and evaluate the students, where they’re at in their language ability or literacy. I also train our volunteer tutors in how to tutor the students.

We meet only at libraries, and the Lakeshores Library System is phenomenal. Somebody from the council is probably using a library in the area at least once every day.

Currently, we have 59 volunteers and 64 students. Primarily we’re teaching English as a second language. We also do citizenship preparation. We’ve prepared 10 students to become citizens. The tutors in particular enjoy learning that their students passed the test because it’s quite a rigorous preparation.

We teach GED and then adult basic education, which is literacy. We refer with Gateway Technical College, so our students will take classes at Gateway and come to us at the same time. We can give the one-on-one and Gateway does the courses.

We have a jail literacy program where adult inmates are taught a basic education -- reading, writing, math. We have, I believe, eight students there.

A hidden problem

The percentage of people in Walworth County who are illiterate is 7.6 percent. In Wisconsin, the range of illiteracy is 4 percent to 10.9 percent, so we fall on the high side.

The problems of illiteracy can be as simple as not being able to read a menu in a restaurant or limiting yourself geographically because you’re not able to go further than your community, just walking and driving. But, of course, work is a big one. Even though you may be skilled, you’re not able to express that, so you’re not going to obtain a promotion. Taking care of your health care needs -- we see that at the clinic a lot -- people who aren’t able to describe their illness. A lot of it is fear, especially with illiteracy. There’s shame in acknowledging this, so people just hide it for years and years.

Lifelong connections

One of my students invited me to his wedding at his house. I asked him why he wanted me—I was actually a witness—and he said because I was his only friend. He knew no one else here.  I think the main thing we give people is hope that they see there is a way and it is possible.

Learning to communicate

About 60 percent of students are female, 40 percent male. Their ages are in their 30s and 40s. The females primarily need or want to learn English to be able to communicate with the schools, doctors, just everyday needs. The males typically want English for their work. 

Ethnicity wise, we currently have a student from India. We have a Vietnamese student, Eastern European. And then, of course, Americans that are learning literacy.

A culture of fear

The tutors have expressed to me that they’re worried about their students who are here, working hard, taking care of their families, have one, two, three jobs, doing everything they have to do. They’re worried that their students will pulled over, or might be harassed walking down the street.

Becoming a tutor

We have a lot of retired teachers who are tutors, but we don’t require a particular skill set, necessarily. What we really look for is somebody who is willing to understand the needs of the student. Tutors need to have the desire to meet those needs, to have compassion. We provide the training for them. We have a small resource library with materials, so we have resources for tutors to use. I wouldn’t want people to ever think they’re not qualified. We actually have a student who graduated from the ESL program who’s teaching English now to another student. You don’t have to be a native English speaker. English is not my native language.

Career path

I studied psychology and worked in the social services and then went back for a master’s degree in industrial relations, which is human resources and career development. From there I worked in wellness, promoting health and education programs to businesses.  And back in Illinois, I was a substitute teacher for a couple of years.

Living in Williams Bay

I was a summer resident for many years. My husband spent all of his summers in Fontana. His parents had a house at Sylvan Glen. Three years ago when our children started college, we moved up here from Chicago. I’ve been so impressed with all the community services, the people—how pleasant everybody is—the collaboration of wanting to help, and the culture.

Quick trips

My husband’s an airline pilot, so I get to travel, but often they’re crazy trips. He’s in Paris right now and it sounds much more glamorous than it is. Because he left last night, he’ll fly all night, and then he’ll arrive in the morning and sleep till about one in the afternoon. He’ll have about seven hours to sightsee, but since he’s been there many times, he may go for a run or go for dinner. Then he goes to sleep and he leaves the next morning. I’ve done crazy trips like that with him and it’s very tiring. But then I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, which is really neat.


I have twins that are 22 years old. My son is a flight instructor—he’s following the footsteps of my husband. My daughter is very much following my footsteps. She was working in career advising and she just got hired by the American Library Association.

Keeping Croatian traditions alive

At Christmastime I make a desert called oblatne. It’s thin wafer sheets—six of them—that  I make a filling for. The filling is chocolate and butter. My children and I would lay this out on the table and we would just spread it.

Good read.

I’m reading “Hot Dogs and Hamburgers: Unlocking Life’s Potential by Inspiring Literacy.” It’s a true story and was written recently by an attorney from Chicago whose son could not learn to read—he had a learning disability. So this man decided he would volunteer to teach at Literacy Chicago. He first went in selfishly to teach his son, but now he’s getting so much back, and I think that’s the important thing is how much you get back when you’re teaching somebody. You start hearing their stories, what wonderful people they are and the struggle they had.

The book was titled “Hot Dogs and Hamburgers” because one of his students was a professional man, so well dressed when he came in that he didn’t look like the typical student. The student said that he only ate hamburgers and hot dogs whenever he traveled because he could not read any of the other words on the menu. So that was his motivation. People are motivated by lots of things—typically not a menu.

A Slice of Life ...

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• To find out more about the Walworth County Literacy Council, go online to

Friday, 11 August 2017 00:00

Working for the life of the party

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- The last Democratic presidential candidate to win Walworth County was Woodrow Wilson in 1912. From then on the county has been considered -- certainly by political analysts -- a Republican stronghold.

The closest it came to leaning blue since then was 2008, when Sen. John McCain won it by 2.6 points. And although President Donald Trump got only 34 percent of the county’s vote in the Wisconsin primary, he won it by 57 percent in the November election, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 37 percent.

Just how red -- or purple -- is Walworth County? Ask the grassroots party people.

Local Democrats are far from extinct. When Steve Doelder took over as treasurer of the Democratic Party of Walworth County in 2014, paid membership was at 80. Now they are at 196 and shooting, he said, for 500 by the end of the year. In a Democratic Party of Wisconsin listing, Walworth is in the top dozen of the state’s 72 counties with the highest party membership.

“It doesn’t surprise me because I’ve knocked on a lot of doors and there are a lot of Democrats out there, but they’re afraid to speak out. They feel alone, isolated,” Doelder said. “That’s why we keep this office open because it does give people a place to come if they’re interested, and I get calls every day from people interested in working, especially in light of what’s happening in the nation. Last year during the campaign, we had over three hundred volunteers come through this office and work.”

Since April, the Dems’ office has been headquartered in a former storefront at 15 E. Walworth St. in downtown Elkhorn. The space, complete with tables and couches for small group meetings and a staging area for larger gatherings, has been self-funded through membership contributions, Doelder said.

Beyond the office, the local Democratic party reaches out through social media.  

“I’d never heard of Periscope,” Doelder said. “Now we have Twitter, Instagram, Facebook Live. We got a bunch of new people who said, ‘You can’t keep doing what you’re doing if you want to attract young people.’”

Doelder, 68, understands how the influx of young people can fuel a party. He came of age during a trifecta of campaign-worthy issues: the civil rights movement, environmental consciousness raised by the first Earth Day and the anti-Vietnam War protests. In college, he went door to door, handing out literature for President Lyndon Johnson. He campaigned for Robert Kennedy and felt the shock of his assassination. In 1972, Doelder was a dedicated volunteer for George McGovern.

“I moved back to Sheboygan and got a teaching job there. I would teach all day and then I would go to the office and work all night -- until maybe one, two o’clock in the morning,” he said. “I’m used to living in red or purple areas, but that doesn’t prevent you from trying to keep fighting.”

Doelder, who campaigned for Christine Welcher in the 32nd Assembly District last year, said one of the problems discouraging potential candidates is partisan gerrymandering that has turned some of the five Assembly districts in the county into “just little fingers, little pieces and chunks.” 

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that Republican legislators in Wisconsin had drawn maps for Assembly districts in 2011 that were so skewed they violated the U.S. Constitution.

A former high school chemistry teacher and now an adjunct professor at Carthage College and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Doelder said Dems also are concerned about voter suppression through voter ID rules and the continued cuts to education.

“Almost 70 percent of all classes now are taught by adjuncts across the nation,” he said. “You’ve got people with PhDs who are teaching at three different universities to make ends meet and they don’t get benefits.”

Key in growing the party, Doelder believes, is meeting people one-on-one, as he did when knocking on doors while running for trustee in the village of Bloomfield.

“I never had anybody slam a door in my face and I would go to places that had Trump signs on the lawn,” he said. “A lot of times you have some things in common, especially at the local level. It would turn out that this person’s son went to school with my daughter at Badger. On a lot of issues we felt the same. People really respect that you’re trying to make a contact with them.

“It’s not what we’re against. It’s what we’re for. That has to be our focus.”

Although Chris Goebel, chairman of the Republican Party of Walworth County, said there’s a level of good feeling among the organization’s members about the county traditionally voting Republican, he doesn’t take anything for granted.

“There’s always work to be done,” he said, noting that membership in the RPWC is around 190 but fluctuates, especially during election years.

“Since I’ve been chairman, we’ve had as many as 278 members,” he said. “If memory serves me, it was right after the (Gov. Scott) Walker recall. People were really energized and ready to roll up their sleeves.”

Currently, there are no headquarters for the RPWC, but Goebel said that will change during 2018, an election year. Instead, the organization is a regular fixture at local events. And the RPWC maintains a social media presence, including its website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

He’s impressed by -- and grateful for -- the volunteers who hand out literature, shake hands and meet with people.

“At our booths, our parades, our fair tents, we’ll have 20-year-olds working alongside 80-year-olds,” he said. “We’re very pleased with the diversity in our county party.”

But Goebel, 60, brushes off a question on how many women are members in a party that in the past has been stereotyped as populated with primarily older white men.

“I don’t pay attention to that. I don’t think it’s a significant factor,” he said. “I don’t care about gender. I care about voters and getting my message across.”

That message is “Reforms. Results. Republicans.” It’s blazoned on the backs of T-shirts and drink koozies members hand out.

“We’re saying here’s what the reform is. Here’s been the result of that reform. And it was Republicans who brought it about,” he said.

In a July 23 guest opinion column he wrote for Walworth County Sunday, Goebel pointed out examples of the reforms under Republican leadership, including a law that increases Veteran Affairs’ ability to hold bad employees accountable and legislation that allows states to withhold federal funding to facilities that perform abortions, including Planned Parenthood clinics.  

County residents are engaged in politics and, he believes, are more informed -- or at least reading more.

“Unfortunately, some of the voters are relying too much upon fake news on social media. You see a title to a piece and hackles come up. It doesn’t take long for people to see something and I’ll get phone calls,” Goebel said. “I’ll ask, ‘Did you read the whole article or just the headline? Is there a date? Is there an author’s name? Are there any facts in there or is it all supposition?’ It’s much more in-your-face with social media now than it was 10 or 20 years ago.”

Goebel said former President Ronald Reagan influenced his decision to become a Republican.

“I was in the Air Force at the time and we had just come off the Jimmy Carter years,” Goebel said. “After Carter’s failed military (direction), his leadership as commander-in-chief, Ronald Reagan was a breath of fresh air.

“When I retired from the Air Force in 1997 and came home, I kind of laid in the bushes for a while. But then I knew I had to do something. I started putting up yard signs and field signs, and here I am.”

Ask Goebel if the Republican Party has changed drastically from Reagan under Trump, whose approval rating is under 40 percent, and he shakes his head slightly.

“Everything changes and evolves. There’s always going to be something about a platform or a candidate I don’t like. If I wanted everything my way, I’d be running,” he said. “Compare the two presidents, the two offices, I’d prefer to stay out of it. I don’t think it’s germane. I don’t think it’s important today.”

He leaves the decision of whether to change what’s going on in Washington to the voters.

“If there are two Republicans running, the voter has to make that choice,” he said. “Now the county party may endorse one, and I may or may not agree with that endorsement. It’s my choice when I walk into the voting booth.”



Other voices:

"The free market, the capitalist platform drew me to the Republican Party. Some of the social issues, too, like right to life, but less taxation, less regulation,--as a business owner, that really appeals to me, obviously.

"I’m very satisfied so far with what the administration is doing. There are some minor things, like the staffing changes going on right now, that I just get frustrated with because the small, minute incidences are getting in the way of pushing the platform forward. For the first seven months of what mess this president came into, I think he’s done a good job so far. He’s doing a very good job of representing the Republican platform."

--Seth Schmidt, 24, co-owner of Schmidt Auto Service, Delavan


"We know that people need healthcare and jobs. This is what our friends and family talk and worry about.  Our communities grow stronger with education, training and infrastructure. We pool our money together to support these pillars. 

"We have grown up with great legislators who have cared--Les Aspin, Dave Obey, Bob Wirch, Peter Barca, Mark Pocan and others--and modeled for us the way to bring consensus and support (to pay for) what we value: jobs, education, infrastructure, healthcare.

"Get out there in those common places, whether it’s the coffee shop or concerts in the park where we’re sitting with our neighbors and talk to them. Help other people realize that they can reach out and make connections. We’re all connected. Why we see each other as separate is all very interesting."

--Mary Jo Fesenmaier, librarian at East View Elementary School in Lake Geneva, secretary of Walworth County Democrats


"Being married to a veteran, but never serving in the military myself, I wanted an avenue to serve our country in a positive way (so I joined the Republican Party).

"I would not describe Walworth County as divided between Republicans and Democrats because when I listen to friends, neighbors and other county residents, I hear many common goals. (The Republican Party of Walworth County  is addressing issues like) lowering property taxes, voter ID, concealed carry and reducing unemployment rates, just to name a few."

--Trudy Schulz, treasurer, Republican Party of Walworth County


"I believe in building strong communities, which starts by investing in people--not trampling on their rights to marry a person of their choosing, serve in the military, or make decisions about their bodies. It also means removing obstacles in the way of civic engagement, like making it as easy as possible to vote.

"As an avid fisherwoman, I'm concerned about the state of our natural resources--specifically our waterways--and believe that the hunting and fishing community is comprised of some of the best environmentalists. Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature have been ignoring our voices by undoing shoreline protections, stripping warden rights, underfunding state parks and the Department of Natural Resources. 

  "As a small business owner, I see the decisions that are made by an all-GOP leadership in our state and am very discouraged that huge international companies are lured with tax breaks and bypassing regulations, while our small town downtowns wither and die with empty storefronts, broken sidewalks and pothole-filled streets because the locals face increasing red tape and can't compete with the tax incentives. It's frustrating--and frightening."

--Nora Brathol, 35, owner of Arka Pana Consulting, Walworth County Democrats communications committee member

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