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Thursday, 10 August 2017 00:00

Black Point hosts plein air art event

LAKE GENEVA--Black Point Estate and Gardens is hosting its inaugural Plein Air Art invitational on Friday, Sept. 1. Visitors may choose one of two sessions, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. or from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A trolley will depart from Reek School, W4094 South Lakeshore Drive, Lake Geneva.

This event will feature live painting by Mary Beth Bellon, Bethann Handzlik, Martha Hayden, Frankie Johnson, Gary Kincaid, Nancy Newcomb, Cora Rafe, and Thomas Trausch.

TOWN OF LYONS — It’s a dueling exercise of labor and love. Kayaking creates a physically challenging activity but offers a soothing mental break from work and life’s daily grind.

Several Walworth County residents said that combination is what keeps them searching for any excuse to hit area waterways.

Lyons Township resident Jack Hawkins turns 80 in July and isn’t about to quit paddling.

“I started kayaking in the early 1990s before it really became a popular sport in the Midwest,” Hawkins said.He has been active all of his life, whether downhill skiing, sailboating, hiking, fly fishing or working as a ski patroller, a role he played for 15 years at the American Birkebeiner and at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The Illinois native moved to Walworth County nearly 20 years ago and owns a place in Door County, a frequent destination to quench his kayaking thirst.

However, much of his time is spent on Geneva Lake.

“ClearWater Outdoor does a social paddle Monday mornings … we usually hit the water by 8 and are off the lake by 10,” Hawkins said of beating the heavy boat traffic of the county’s largest and busiest lake. “Sometimes I’ll start at Big Foot Beach and go to the north shore and back, about a 7-mile roundtrip. You get quite a workout.”

But that’s nothing new for Hawkins.

“I’ve always been a ‘quiet’ sports kind of guy,” Hawkins said of his many outdoor recreational pursuits. “I was trying to decide which kind of watercraft that I would get more use out of.”

Kayaking it was. And now Hawkins proudly talks about the three wooden kayaks — 12-, 14- and 18-footers — he has built himself.

“I like the idea of using something that’s self-propelled but light enough that, unlike a canoe, I can maneuver myself,” he said. “Although, it feels at least 5 pounds heavier every time.

“It’s fun zipping around to all the different places, maybe stopping somewhere for lunch,” he said of his many Geneva Lake excursions.

“It gives you different looks and perspectives. They’re all challenging, but yet they’re refreshing. It’s nice to have something close by like this.”

Picking up the paddles

Polly Marzahl and her husband, Jim, took up kayaking about three years ago thanks to CSI Media co-worker Katie Busateri.

“Katie posted a picture on Facebook with her feet sticking up with lily pads and everything in the background … it was such a pretty picture, and the next day I said, ‘I can do that. I want to do that,’” Marzahl said.

“We went out with them and floated around Lake Comus and loved it … then we bought our own kayaks, a cheaper set,” she said. “But we quickly realized we wanted something better and bought new ones the next year.”

And Marzahl can be found paddling somewhere every chance she gets from spring through fall.

“I try to get out every weekend, sometimes twice, and sometimes even during the week,” she said. “So that’s probably at least 30 times a summer.”

Busateri got her first taste of kayaking during a trip to Maine in 2002, enjoying a sea kayaking adventure in the Atlantic Ocean.

“I fell in love with it on that first trip,” said Busateri, who tools around in her 12-foot Wilderness Systems kayak, nicknamed “The Hulkster” because it’s big and green.

She used to kayak on a lot of lakes and has enjoyed the waters of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with relatives and her late husband, Jason Chase, including a short jaunt on Lake Superior.

“Polly really got me into doing the creeks and rivers around here,” Busateri said. “I still do Geneva Lake, but you have to get out early to avoid all of the boats. We have seen more and more people, but it’s still not as busy on the creeks.”

She enjoys Turtle Creek and the Yahara River and has traveled sections of the Sugar and Kickapoo rivers.

The Marzahls, Sugar Creek Township residents, own 13-1/2-foot Jackson Journeys.

“They could be overkill … they’re like a sea kayak, which start at about 14 feet long,” she said. “So ours are on the edge of being too long for creeks.”

But as far as she’s concerned, there is no going back.

“A lot of people think about the little hole (cockpit) and if they capsize they’ll not get out and drown, but gravity usually sucks you right out,” Marzahl said. “If you take the proper precautions and are all geared up you’ll be completely safe. But it’s always safety in numbers — I never go alone because crazy things can happen.”

Turtle Creek and the Yahara River are Marzahl’s favorite destinations, although she has navigated the Sugar River near Brodhead and has tackled the Fox River in Waukesha County, the Kickapoo River and even a section of the Wisconsin River.

“Turtle Creek is a favorite because it has a lot of different sections you can do,” she said of its great scenic and natural variety. “You can do the School Road section, the Oriley Road section, the Highway 140 section to Sweet Allyn Park. Each part offers something a little different.

“Sometimes we go from County C to Oriley Road, what some people call the Fairfield section. We always see a lot of wildlife, birds and turtles.”

They also typically run into one of their special acquaintances, a customer they’ve nicknamed Larry the Heron.

An important thing for novices to know is that kayaking can be time consuming because of loading, unloading, transferring to vehicles, etc.

Many of the Marzahls’ escapades cover about four hours, but they’ve done six-hour adventures.

“I just love it,” said Marzahl, who when properly fitted for inclement weather has paddled in the rain.

She also enjoys the Yahara, often doing a stretch north of Janesville from Stebbinsville Road to Fulton.

“The Yahara is our favorite,” Marzahl said. “It’s so beautiful and more secluded, and it’s wider, faster and the water is clearer. We often see multiple eagles along that stretch.”

Marzahl recommends that veteran and novice kayakers alike check out Timothy Bauer’s website or for detailed information about whatever waterway you’ll be using.

She keeps a diary of her outings, jotting down such information as where they went, what they encountered as far as downed trees, what they saw, water levels, etc., to use as reference the next time.

But the main thing is getting away and communing with nature.

“It’s like an emotional de-fragmenting of your hard drive,” Marzahl said. “Your mind needs to get out where you can listen to everything going on around you … like the sound of your paddle going through the water. It’s so peaceful and soothing. It’s therapy.”

Busateri couldn’t agree more.

“I would recommend the Kickapoo because it’s the most scenic with all of the rock formations,” Busateri said. “But regardless of where you go, you see all kinds of birds … like the time we went on Cravath Lake in Whitewater. I didn’t even know what it was at first, but it was a huge crane. You see duck hunters, who stir up different birds and things. But you see different kinds of nature every time. All of the places we go have their own little attractions.

“And it’s so relaxing and takes away all of the stress,” she added. “We’ve seen more and more people on the various streams, but it’s still a pretty peaceful experience.”

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- More than 3,500 miles separate Ireland and Wisconsin, but Irish history is a lot closer than you might think.

As part of America’s great melting pot, 19th-century Irish immigrants flocked to our state, including Walworth and Rock counties, where they helped settle the land as farmers and workers, added their names and skills to local communities and built schools, churches and businesses -- some of which are still thriving today.

Thursday, 19 January 2017 12:30

Dog rescued from car fire in Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva firefighters rescued a dog trapped in a burning van as they battled a fire in a Wal-Mart parking lot Wednesday afternoon. The fire caused damage to at least five vehicles, according to news releases from the Lake Geneva police and fire departments.

According to a release, emergency responders were dispatched at 12:56 p.m. Jan. 18, to a car fire in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart at 201 N. Edwards Blvd. in Lake Geneva.

Crews found a fire engulfing two vehicles and used foam and dry chemicals to battle the blaze, which spread to three adjoining cars.

Firefighters entered a burning van to rescue a trapped dog. Crew members resuscitated the animal and transported it to the Lake Geneva Animal Hospital for treatment.

No other injuries were reported.  

“This was a serious and stubborn fire. Our crews worked hard to prevent further loss.  We’re glad the dog was rescued and that no one was injured,” Lake Geneva Fire Chief John Peter said.

The fire’s cause and origin remain under investigation. Criminal activity is not suspected at this time, according to a release.    

Two vehicles were total losses and one sustained minor damage.

A woman was seriously injured and a man arrested Monday after a methamphetamine cook ignited at a Lake Geneva hotel, according to a news release from the Lake Geneva Police Department.

Friday, 06 January 2017 10:14

Living in the time of Shakespeare

Literature Lady Chris Brookes will portray Lady Anne Bacon in her program “An Elizabethan Experience” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Lake Geneva Public Library.

During her costumed performance, Brookes will capture the essence of what it was like to be a Renaissance courtier and will bring to life the times of William Shakespeare and his queen, 400 years after his death.

The program is sponsored by the Friends of the Lake Geneva Public Library. Brookes will sell her DVD “Introduction to the Elizabethan Age” after her program, donating part of the proceeds to the Friends.

From the royal schoolroom to the formal presence chamber, Lady Bacon educated her son, Francis Bacon, and traveled with Queen Elizabeth.

In her portrayal of Lady Bacon, Brookes will take her audience back in time to the 12-day Yuletide celebrations at Greenwich Palace, which have just concluded.

The courtiers are flushed with the spirit of masking and mumming, feasting and frivolity. The debut of Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night” drew the festivities to a close.

Lady Bacon will share some of the lines destined to become known the world over: “If music be the food of love, play on!”

As the Literature Lady, Brookes owns more costumes than clothes in order to bring history and literature to life for her re-creations of figures from a variety of time periods, including the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, Victorian times and the 1860s to the 1960s.

Her love of performing started in kindergarten when she played the Troll in “Three Billy Goats Gruff.” Since then, she has performed as Lady Bacon at the Bristol Renaissance Faire and has played a variety of characters with several community theater companies.

After retiring from classroom teaching, Brookes, a Lake Geneva native, added performing, presenting and traveling to her repertoire. Currently she offers adult travel classes for graduate credit through Tools for Learning and regularly teaches for Road Scholar, a division of Elderhostel Inc. Brookes is a member of the Wisconsin Humanities Council.

Everyone is welcome to attend this free program.

For information, call 262-249-5299 or visit online at

Tuesday, 29 November 2016 10:11

Lake Geneva man dies in early Saturday crash

LAKE GENEVA -- A Lake Geneva man died early Saturday after the car he was driving lost control and crashed into a tree.

Joseph Ahlgren, 22, of Lake Geneva was driving south in the 800 block of South Lakeshore Drive in his 2008 Nissan shortly after 2 a.m. Nov. 26, 2016, when he crashed, according to a news release from Lake Geneva Police Chief Michael S. Rasmussen.

LAKE GENEVA -- The resident of a Lake Geneva home escaped injury Saturday night after noticing smoke coming from the walls around their fire place.

Lake Geneva firefighters responded to the call at 11:11 p.m. Nov. 19, 2016 and found fire in the area of the fireplace chimney and ceiling of the single family home at 1113 Madison St.

The resident, who had exited the home, called 911 after noticing light smoke and the wall above the fireplace turning brown, according to a fire department news release.

Fire crews quickly knocked down the fire and conducted a primary search. Truck crews ventilated the roof and assisted with overhaul and salvage.

The living room and fireplace received extensive damage.

The cause and origin are under investigation.

Crews cleared the scene at 1:10 am.

"Our crews worked hard and did a great job, containing the fire and preventing further loss. We are grateful there were no injuries, since nighttime fires can be very dangerous for sleeping residents. We encourage everyone to have fireplace chimneys cleaned and inspected regularly, as well as having working smoke detectors," Lake Geneva Fire Chief Chief John Peters was quoted as saying in the news release.

WALWORTH COUNTY TODAY -- Black Point Estate is partnering with Horticultural Hall once again on their popular winter lecture series, Veranda Views from the Hall. Kicking off the series this year is a program by Wisconsin author and storyteller Rochelle Pennington on the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald .

No other Great Lakes shipwreck is more well-known than the Edmund Fitzgerald, which disappeared into a stormy Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975, when wind gusts peaked at nearly 100 miles per hour and waves reached the height of three-story buildings. The Edmund Fitzgerald remains the largest shipwreck on the Great Lakes.

Pennington delves into the various theories and opposing views of dive detectives who are still trying to solve the mystery of what led to the demise of the 29-man crew.

Audience members will be led from the launch of the ship to its final radio broadcasts, and from the Fitz's discovery on Superior's bottom to the raising of artifacts from its watery grave.

This program also includes a complete circle tour of Lake Superior's extraordinary shorelines.

Pennington is an award-winning newspaper columnist and bestselling author of ten books including "Highlighted in Yellow" co-authored with H. Jackson Brown, "The Historic Christmas Tree Ship," "An Old-Fashioned Christmas," and more. Her work has been included in multiple bestselling series over the past two decades.

“Rochelle is both a lively storyteller and an entertaining lecturer so we are thrilled to bring her back to the Lake Geneva area,” Black Point Director David Desimone was quoted as saying in a news release.. “Last year’s program on maritime archeology drew over 150 people and we expect a similar turn out for this program on the fascinating story of the Fitzgerald."

Additional programs in this year’s series include Doll Play, A History of Doll Houses with Wisconsin Historical Society curator Leslie Bellais; Wisconsin Supper Clubs with author Mary Bergin and filmmaker Holly Deruter; Pabst: The Man and The Mansion with Pabst Mansion executive director John C. Eastberg and The Impact of World War One on Milwaukee with Milwaukee County Historical Society archivist, Kevin Abing. More information about each event will be released as the program date approaches.

If you go

When: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016
Cost: $5. Reservations can be made by calling Black Point Estate at 262-248-1888.
Where: Horticultural Hall, 330 Broad Street, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin 53147
For more information on any of these programs, please visit Black Point Estate at To purchase tickets please call 262-248-1888.

Friday, 28 October 2016 09:21

Local teens star in high school productions

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- The plays taking center stage on Walworth County high schools next month showcase some wonderful theater, with several presenting familiar stories given a new twist.

Big Foot High School

Audience members will see a familiar fairy tale turned on its head with “The Cinderella Complex” at the newly remodeled auditorium at Big Foot High School, said director Rachel Wenndt.  

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