Jim Kreuser has been Kenosha County executive since 2008. He will be blogging regularly about county government issues and events. You can Jim Kreuser at 262-653-2600 or at County.Executive@kenoshacounty.org.
Experience Kenosha County Park in Solitude
With social distancing remaining the thing to do for the rest of this summer, there are plenty of ways you can get out and experience our fine Kenosha County Parks in solitude — or only in the company of those closest to you.
You can take a hike in the woods on one of our many miles of trails at Bristol Woods Park or Petrifying Springs Park, or go for a bike ride or a walk anywhere on our countywide trail system. Or, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you could mountain bike on the trails at Silver Lake Park.
These activities are always summer favorites in Kenosha County, and it’s easy to do them all while keeping your distance from others.
But, if you want to think outside the box a little bit, here are some other options on our county parks menu that might be just the thing to get you out of the house, responsibly, during this most unusual summer:
■ Try out disc golf on one of the two courses comprising 27 acres at Fox River Park, or the 18-hole course at Silver Lake Park. These courses cater to all ability levels, and it’s easy to play alone or well-spaced-out from others. (You probably should have at least one partner with you, to witness and document your holes-in-one!) More information about all three courses is at https://www.kenoshacounty.org/627/Disc-Golf.
■ Give pickleball a whirl on the courts at Fox River Park. If you haven’t played it or seen it being played, it’s sort of a hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping pong, and it’s grown greatly in popularity in recent years. We were excited to add it along with tennis when we refreshed the courts at Fox River Park a few years back.
■ Play chess in the park. At Fox River and Petrifying Springs parks, all you need to do is bring the pieces; chess tables are available in both parks.
■ Paddle your troubles away. We talked about the Fox River Water Trail in our last posting. (In case you missed it, more info is here: https://www.kenoshacounty.org/1737/Fox-River-Water-Trail.) Canoes, kayaks or any other sort of motor-less boats are also welcome in the lake within our beautiful Kenosha County Veterans Memorial Park (formerly known as KD Park). This park offers some of the most serene vistas in our county — it’s a real getaway, without having to go too far from home.
■ Drop a line in the water. Grab a pole and go fishing at the Kenosha County Veterans Memorial Park, Fox River Park, Silver Lake Park or Petrifying Springs Park.
■ Log in. Did you know that free Wi-Fi is available in many areas of all of our Kenosha County Parks? So you could move your office outside for the afternoon and take your work to the park — socially distanced from your workmates!
Jim Kreuser has been Kenosha County executive since 2008. He blogs here regularly about county government issues and events. You can contact him at 262-653-2600 or at County.Executive@kenoshacounty.org.
Summer of Social Distancing
In this summer of social distancing, it’s hard to think of a more peaceful, healthy way to spend a day than paddling a scenic riverway in a kayak or a canoe.
And, thankfully, though an ongoing partnership with some of our neighbors to the north and south, Kenosha County offers a great, convenient way for paddlers to access our largest river.
The Fox River Water Trail is an 11-mile route that runs nearly the whole length of Kenosha Kenosha County from north to south, providing launch sites and parking at several locations along the Fox.
Not to be confused with the “other” Fox River in northeastern Wisconsin, Kenosha County’s Fox is part of a watershed that covers 2,658 square miles around the river, extending from Colgate, Wis. (about 30 miles northwest of Milwaukee) to Plano, Ill. (about 60 miles west-southwest of Chicago).
Kenosha County residents know it best as the river that skirts alongside the aptly named Fox River Park and Highway W in Salem Lakes, through Wheatland and up into Burlington. To the south, it heads toward — wait for it — Fox Lake, Ill., and the Chain O’ Lakes region in Lake and McHenry counties.
Dedicated in 2016, the Kenosha County Fox River Water Trail is our part of a regional system that provides non-motorized watercraft users with convenient, marked river access throughout the watershed.
The Kenosha County access points, from north to south, following the stream of the river, include:
All you need is a canoe and a kayak and a vehicle or two, and you’ve got the makings of a beautiful day on the river, with views of our county that you probably don’t normally see.
More information about the Kenosha County portion of the Fox River Water Trail — including a detailed map — is available at https://www.kenoshacounty.org/1737/Fox-River-Water-Trail. To learn more about the entire regional system, check out https://fabulousfoxwatertrail.org/faq/.
I hope we can cross paths — or paddles — out on the tail sometime soon!
Jim Kreuser has been Kenosha County executive since 2008. He blogs here regularly about county government issues and events. You can contact him at 262-653-2600 or at County.Executive@kenoshacounty.org.
This article originally appeared in the July 30th print issue of Smart Reader.
Kenosha County’s annual household hazardous waste collection event
Those old aerosol cans, fluorescent bulbs and obsolete electronics hiding in your basement or garage — it’s time to round them up and get rid of them the right way.
Kenosha County’s annual household hazardous waste collection event will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 25, outside the County Center at highways 45 and 50 in Bristol.
Anyone who lives in Kenosha County is welcome to come and dispose of many of those things that you just can’t throw in the trash. There’s no charge to do this, and you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing that you got these potentially harmful items out of the house, and kept them out of the landfill.
Items accepted include: Household cleaners, aerosol cans, bug sprays, vehicle maintenance-related fluids, oil-based paints, paint removal products, fluorescent bulbs, pool chemicals and garden/outdoor related products.
We’ll also take electronics (like that old computer you haven’t plugged in for years) and refrigerant waste (refrigerators, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, etc.).
Lead acid batteries — including vehicle and power tool batteries — are another thing you can bring to dispose of responsibly.
There are some items that won’t be accepted at the collection event. These include: Latex paint, tires, infectious or biological waste, propane cylinders, explosives, radioactive waste, medical and pharmaceutical waste and commercial or business waste.
Latex paint isn’t considered a hazardous material. It can be disposed of with your regular garbage if the paint is completely dry in the can. (If it’s not dry, try putting some kitty litter in a box, pour the paint over the litter and let it dry; then you can throw it out with the trash.)
I’m pleased to be able to offer this event to our residents each year, through Kenosha County’s partnership with Waste Management. Usually, it’s held on or around the first Saturday in May, but this year it was delayed until July 25 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those of you who have taken advantage of the collection event in the past know that it can attract quite a crowd, with vehicles queued up for a mile or more on the side of Highway 50 east of the County Center. Organizers of the event continue to take steps to increase efficiency and reduce wait times; even if the line looks long, it does tend to move along quickly.
Those who live in the City of Kenosha are welcome to attend the county collection event, but they also have other options that they can use to dispose of their household hazardous waste year-round. More information about the city’s hazardous waste and e-disposal programs is available at www.kenosha.org/departments/water-utility/household-hazardous-waste-program.
For more details on the county event, visit http://bit.ly/3gCLObY, or contact the Extension Kenosha County office at 262-857-1945.
In the meantime, make a list of those things you need to get out of your home — this year’s collection event is coming up fast!
The State of Kenosha County is… amazing.
But, at the same time, there is work we can and should be doing to battle systemic racism in our society. That was my message this past Tuesday night, when I delivered my annual State of the County Address to the County Board, and I’d like to take this brief opportunity to share it with you.
When I talked about “amazing,” I was referring specifically to the nurses, doctors, protective services workers, jailers — all of the frontline professionals who are giving their all to help us through the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are also the many amazing people in our community who have offered their time and compassion to help those in need. Just think of all the masks that people have sewed, often without knowing who will use them but with full awareness that the need is there. Thank you.
This pandemic has tested the mettle of our community, but as I noted in my speech, Kenosha County is also resilient and strong. I know there has been fear, frustration and sadness during the recent months, but I have no doubt we will emerge from this strong, just as we always do in times of crisis. Kenosha County is resilient.
But, as I mentioned before, there is work to do.
As I said to the County Board, Kenosha County is a great place to live, work, play and raise a family — in large part because it is a place where we help and support our neighbors. But we must face the truth that we need to do better, because not everyone in our community feels supported, welcome, or safe.
The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis understandably ignited protests as a result of frustration and anger, because so little has changed for so long for people of color. As Adelene Greene, the county’s retired director of Workforce Development, so succinctly put it in a recent newspaper editorial, we must face the Pandemic of Racism in our county, our country and our world.
As such, I am calling on the County Board to adopt a resolution recognizing racism as a public health crisis, which will commit us to take actions toward addressing and remediating the health impacts of systemic racism in our community.
The Wisconsin Population Health Institute began this initiative about a year ago, and the Kenosha County Division of Health and I personally have signed on as supporters. I urge you to do the same, at https://uwphi.pophealth.wisc.edu/match/match-wisconsin-healthiest-state-initiative/racism-is-a-public-health-crisis-in-wisconsin/.
I pledge personally and I call on the County Board and the community at large to join me in a commitment to listen, empathize, ask questions, understand, and take action to address the Pandemic of Racism in our community and world.
The full State of the County address is available in print and video form at https://www.kenoshacounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/9509/2019-State-of-the-County-Address
Have you ridden a bicycle lately?
Maybe your answer to that question is, “Of course!” Or maybe it’s, “Gee, maybe a decade ago, or two, or three.”
Either way, these next few weeks are a great time to get back up on two wheels, because June 6-20 are Bike-to-Work Weeks in Kenosha County.
I know many people might not be going to work every day right now, like they normally would. But even if you’re working from home, or not at all, Bike-to-Work Weeks are a great excuse to get out of the house and get some fresh air and exercise — even if it’s just a ride around the neighborhood.
And each day that you log a ride (whether it’s to work, or not) you can submit an entry in our Bike-to-Work Weeks contest, making you eligible to win great prizes from our Bike-to-Work partners. Entries can be made at http://www.kenoshacounty.org/bikecontest.
The idea of Bike-to-Work Weeks is to celebrate bicycling in Kenosha County, and to brush up on bicycling safety. The latter is important to those of us who ride, and to those of us who drive around them.
As your county executive, I’ve made it a priority to promote safe bicycling in Kenosha County, seeking outside support to develop a network of multiuse trails, bicycle lanes and market bicycle routes. We know that this is one of many things that contribute to our great quality of life.
To that end, we’re proud to announce the latest addition to our trail system — a shared-use path that now runs alongside Highway C, from Bain Station Road to 114th Avenue, in the Village of Pleasant Prairie. The most highly visible section is a wood-deck bridge that goes over the Des Plaines River, where we’ll be cutting the ribbon on the trail this Saturday, June 6.
The new trail links Highway C and the neighborhoods around it to the Pleasant Prairie RecPlex, via the village’s Prairie Farms Trail, and it’s part of a greater plan to continue developing a comprehensive trail network.
As I said earlier, we always seek outside funding for these projects, and this one is no exception — the majority of the costs were covered by state transportation grants.
This trail, or any of our others, would be a great place to take a Bike-to-Work Weeks ride. I hope to see you out on the trails!
Where Do We Go From Here?
A lot of people are asking, “Where do we go from here?”
Kenosha County is working with the Kenosha Area Business Alliance and a broad range of business partners, large and small, to put together our own series of best-practice recommendations to help businesses and organizations reopen with minimal impact to public health.
Put simply: We want our businesses to prosper and our workers to receive paychecks. And we want our people to stay healthy.
Our plan, called the Kenosha County Kickstart, includes recommendations on the maximum numbers of people who should be in businesses as we phase out of the COVID-19pandemic. And it urges for a continuation of the healthy practices we’ve been talking about for months: Social distancing, frequent hand washing, staying home when you feel sick and wearing a mask when you’re out in public in places where distancing is difficult, to name a few.
These recommendations are just that — they’re not binding, and we’re not going to be out actively enforcing them. But our Kenosha County Division of Health stands ready to help businesses navigate the challenges they’re facing as we restart our economy.
The Kenosha County Kickstart Plan has a lot of fingerprints on it, by design. After the draft was released to the public on May 15, workgroups involving representatives of many sectors of our got to work on going through the recommendations, honing them to better meet their needs and challenges. I thank them all for their hard work.
A final draft of the plan, expected to be out by shortly after Memorial Day, will be posted on the News Flash section at https://www.kenoshacounty.org, and on our COVID-19 Information Hub website, at https://www.kenoshacounty.org/covid-19.
Sadly, it appears we have a long way to go before we’re “in the clear” with COVID-19. I very much encourage people to act responsibly and to continue to take precautions to slow the spread of the virus.
With Kenosha County being the resilient community it is, and with continued diligence from our residents and businesses, I am confident we will pull through this and emerge stronger than ever.
An old friend on Kenosha’s lakefront has a new look
This story originally appeared in the March 12th, 2020 issue of The Smart Reader
If you’ve never visited the center, now’s a better time than ever to check it out. And even if you’ve been there many times, I urge you to come back and see it again. It’s never looked better!
The Anderson home is a 9,000-square-foot, 30-room mansion that James R. Anderson and Janet Lance Anderson built in 1929.
Janet Lance Anderson was the daughter of Simmons Co. executive Andrew H. Lance and the granddaughter of the mattress manufacturer’s founder, Zalmon Simmons. James Anderson was an American Brass Co. executive who later established the Chicago Extruded Metals Co.
The couple had a prolific history of donating property to benefit the Kenosha community – in 1967, they gave the City of Kenosha the land that would become Anderson Park, and Janet Lance Anderson deeded her home to the county in 1977, with the condition that she could live there for the rest of her life.
In 1990, it officially became a part of the Kemper Center grounds, and, two years later, the Anderson Arts Center opened its doors.
Over the years, the center has hosted hundreds of art exhibitions and special events, welcoming thousands of visitors. But, as we found in recent years, age had creeped up on the beautiful, historic building, and work would be needed to protect it for future generations.
My good friend, Mayor John Antaramian, stepped up to the plate and agreed to partner with Kenosha County on the intensive restoration that was completed recently and dedicated at a Feb. 22 reception attended by numerous members of the Anderson family. I thank them for traveling far and wide to celebrate their family’s enduring legacy in Kenosha!
Under the direction of design experts at InSite Architects, crews led by Camosy Construction meticulously disassembled the home’s exterior – including its original windows and slate roof – and facilitated a refresh that now has the home’s appearance exactly like that when the Andersons first built it.
Along the way, we did add some modern amenities, too.
A state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system now provides the building with year-round climate control for the first time in its history. This will allow the Anderson Arts Center to attract a higher caliber of exhibits than it could previously. And it’s far more efficient than the old heating plant.
Perhaps best of all, new, handicap-accessible restrooms are now situated in what was the home’s attached garage. They can be accessed from inside the gallery, and from outside when special events like Twilight Jazz are happening out on the lawn.
All of these improvements spell a long, bright future for this beautiful Kenosha County landmark!
The Anderson Arts Center, located at 6603 Third Ave., is open from 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. I hope to see you out there sometime soon!
Looking back at suffrage
This story originally appeared in the February 27, 2020 issue of The Smart Reader
It’s hard to believe we’re already nearly two months into 2020 – dare I say, the winter seems to be just flying by.
But before the whole year slips away, it’s a good time to stop and acknowledge an important centennial that Kenosha County is celebrating throughout 2020.
On Aug. 26, it will be exactly 100 years since Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the long-overdue right to vote.
Imagine that – within the lifetimes of many of our parents and grandparents, roughly half of the United States population did not have the freedom to go to the ballot box and choose their local, state and federal representatives.
With the importance of this milestone in mind, last year I appointed a special steering committee to coordinate and promote suffrage celebrations throughout Kenosha County in 2020.
The committee has a website, at www.kenoshacounty.org/suffrage, and a Facebook page that you can find by searching for “Kenosha County Suffrage 100.” On these pages are profiles of notable suffragists from Kenosha County, and a calendar that now includes more than 30 celebrations scheduled throughout the year.
I hope you’ll check it out and consider attending some of these events. Or, better yet, organize an event of your own and submit the information to us so we can add it to the calendar.
Among the highlights already on the calendar:
• This year’s City of Kenosha Civic Veterans Parade, on June 28, will feature the theme “A Centennial Celebration: Women’s Right to Vote.” The city’s parade organizers are still looking for organizations and businesses to enter floats that reflect the theme. More details on how to apply are on our events calendar.
• On Aug. 11, Kenosha County will host its own suffrage celebration in the form of a blues and jazz concert as part of the Anderson Arts Center’s Twilight Jazz series. This event will include live music and fireworks at dusk. More details will be announced soon.
• Two weeks later, on Aug. 26, the Pleasant Prairie Historical Society will celebrate suffrage at the grand opening of its new museum in the historic Dublin School.
These are all events you won’t want to miss.
Another thing you won’t want to miss, if your family has deep roots in Kenosha County, is a look at the 170 women that the Kenosha Evening News listed in a Nov. 11, 1915, article about the Kenosha County Equal Suffrage League. Local historian Diane Giles, and fellow Suffrage 100 Steering Committee members Pam Drummond and Cameron Swallow, put in hours of work uncovering the first names of these women, many of whom were listed as “Mrs. John Smith,” etc.
There are many familiar last names on the list; maybe one of them is yours? Check it out on our Suffrage 100 webpage, under the link “Was Your Great-Grandmother a Suffragist?”
Please join me in making 2020 a yearlong celebration of the women’s right to vote. It’s not too late!
Giving an Ovation to Kenosha County’s hard working employees
This story originally appeared in the January 16, 2020 issue of The Smart Reader
I’m going on tour in 2020.
No, I’m not joining a rock band. Throughout the year, I’ll be making it a point to travel out to our various Kenosha County government facilities, to meet with many of our employees and share with them a symbol of our county’s success.
In late 2019, Kenosha County was fortunate to be a recipient of the Forward Award, presented as part of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance’s annual Ovation Awards program at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
The award recognizes the investments we’ve made – in money, creativity and sweat equity – to move Kenosha County forward.
There are many things that make our county a great place to live, work and raise a family. But in county government specifically, it’s the people who work for us who make the difference.
That’s why I’m taking the Ovation Award trophy on the road, so that our county employees can celebrate in the success that they’ve made possible.
Around the office, we’ve called it the Stanley Cup Plan – an homage to the National Hockey League’s championship trophy, which the winning team takes on something of a world tour each year.
County government is here to provide the services that people cannot do on their own, helping our most vulnerable residents in their greatest times of need.
We’re also here to develop and maintain the infrastructure that’s needed to attract and maintain employers in our area.
None of this would happen without the dedicated employees who pour their heart and soul into their work for Kenosha County every day. I salute them – and I look forward to continuing to work with them to keep moving Kenosha County forward!
(This story originally appeared in the January 16, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.)
Just because it’s winter in Wisconsin doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors. In fact, our Kenosha County Parks offer many reasons to get outside and enjoy the season.
And new this year, there is warm way to get some relief at Petrifying Springs Park. A year-round, heated restroom facility on the south end of the park, near the Biergarten and the Carlisle Family Dog Park, opened last summer and is now in its first winter of service to park visitors.
We’re excited to offer this new amenity, paid for in part by the county’s share of revenue generated at the Biergarten. It’s a good thing to keep in mind when you’re out at the sledding hill, cross-country skiing, or going for a wintery walk in the park.
What’s there to do during winter in Kenosha County Parks? Here are a few ideas:
• Sledding hills are available at Fox River Park (lighted), Petrifying Springs Park (lighted) and Silver Lake Park.
• Silver Lake Park offers more than 2.5 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails and over 10 miles of single-track trails. Kenosha County Parks also maintains a ski trail on UW-Parkside’s Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course, just across Highway JR from Petrifying Springs Park.
• Pringle Nature Center in Bristol Woods Park offers snowshoe rentals for use on more than four miles of trails within the park.
• Ice fishing is available at the Kenosha County Veterans Memorial Park (formerly known as KD Park), Old Settlers Park and Silver Lake Park.
Another option, new this year, is the FlightScope golf simulator in the clubhouse at Petrifying Springs Golf Course. Thanks to technology used by many professional golfers, you can “play” more than two dozen golf courses around the world – and dream of your rounds to come on our county golf courses after the spring thaw.
Find out more about the simulator at www.kenoshacounty.golf.com, and about all that our parks have to offer year-round at http://www.kenoshacounty.org/600/Parks