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Thursday, March 14, 2013 - Page 1

Ripon Commonwealth Press


Candidates Speak Thursday Still trying to decide who would be best representing you on the School Board? Come to the forum Thursday, when all six candidates will speak. See page 3

Our Views

Welcome home They say you can’t go home again. For these boys, coming home to Ripon for the first time would have been just as impossible — if not for the Nelsens. See page 4


Issue No. No. 11 Serving the Ripon community since 1864

A gift that would make Dad proud by Ian Stepleton

“A dozen was always 14, and a pound was always a pound and a half,” Jim said of his faNothing about the dead-end ther, who passed away in 1998. stub of Wolverton Avenue east A fine heritage, and one Jim of Eureka really stands out. and sister Barb Rowan chose It’s just your average asto honor this winter through phalt byway in Ripon. another kind of gift. But it’s not always been so. Though much of the land Riponites who can think off the short street has been back to the late 1960s probdeveloped, one parcel remains ably remember it a bit differvacant. ently. The family They held on to it for may recall he pride of community 40 years, since the Stewart building in Ripon always Russ developed family Wolverton has been something [important] Avenue around out there, working 1972. in [my parents’] minds.” the land. But this Barb (Stewart) Rowan As a winter, Jim and youngster, Barb donated Jim Stewart remembers “batthat final parcel to the Fond tling countless weeds, which I du Lac chapter of Habitat for firmly believe were taking root Humanity. behind me as I moved along,” By fall, something else again he joked of helping dad Ruswill take root: a family. sell out. In September, Habitat for It was a bountiful place that Humanity will hold its first offered goodness to countbuild in Ripon in 11 years. less Riponites. The fruit and “The pride of community veggies grown there would building in Ripon always has find their way to Russ’ farm been something [important] stand, where he often snuck a in [my parents’] minds, and few extra ears of corn or a few we would like to continue that more peas into the bag. legacy,” Barb said.

What’s all the excitement about? Find out by visiting the Ripon Middle School play Friday and Saturday. See page 9


by Aaron Becker

ss ld. Ru s A E T A hi THE L t stands at hoto r p Stewa nd. submitted a t s farm

“We are so excited,” said Paul Osterholm, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Fond du Lac County. A LONG TIME COMING

The last time a Habitat home was built here was when Romelia Rodriguez received her house at 428 Scott St. June 30, 2002, after several months of building. This time, Habitat for

Humanity expects to break ground in August, formally build the structure in September and have it finished before Halloween. The project will occur on a quarter-acre plot at 120 Wolverton Ave., located just off the northeast corner of Wolverton and Eureka. “We’d like to announce a

See HABITAT/ page 16

Home build will get helping hand from East Coast church by Ian Stepleton

When construction begins in September for Ripon’s next Habitat for Humanity home, some of the hardest-working individuals won’t be from Ripon. They won’t even be from Wisconsin. Until they arrive on the job site at 120 Wolverton Ave., they probably won’t even have met the family for whom they will help build the home. As many as 35 people from Hartford, Conn., will travel this fall to Ripon as an outreach project of their church: Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford. The connection to Ripon? The Rev. Gary Miller, interim pastor at Our Saviour’s UCC in Ripon.

See CHURCH/ page 16

You might say support for a proposed tax in Ripon is ... well ... a mixed bag. That’s according to three middle schoolers who want Ripon to jump on the innovative side when it comes to reducing environmental waste. Notably, shopping bags. Paper and plastic ones. It’s a project shared by Catalyst Charter School eighthgraders Abby Grewal, Paul Thorson and Danny Jauregui. The trio is planning to make an official proposal for the city to initiate a tax on shopping bags — to be charged to customers at the checkout counter — in an effort to encourage them to bring their own reusable bags. “We lastic bags are godestroy the ing to environment and propose it to the get into our soil.” Ripon Danny Jauregui, [ComCatalyst student mon] Council,” Grewal said. Perhaps 5 cents per bag, they’re thinking. The idea is to start small, so it has a better chance of passing. Their research indicates some other cities have initiated “bag taxes” of between 5 and 20 cents per bag, they said. “We’ve been researching how it affects the environment, the economy. We’ve looked up alternatives to using plastic bags. We’ve looked up other cities that use a bag tax,” Grewal said. The three-student team split up the duties. Grewal looked at other cities that have bag taxes, and helped with data collection. Thorson looked at alternatives to using paper/plastic bags. And Jauregui investigated the environmental and economic impacts. “Plastic bags destroy the environment and get into our soil,” Jauregui said, adding it takes 500 to 1,000 years for a plastic bag to disintegrate. He acknowledges, though, a bag tax may hurt businesses in

““P P

Three injured, including a driver from Ripon, in Friday crash

photos by Aaron Becker

Not quite. When you go to a school where every freshman is called “knob,” it’s a humbling experience. Good thing his game tells a different tale. See page 17

Ripon, WI 54971

See BAG/ page 15

THREE AREA RESIDENTS were hurt in a two-vehicle crash last week Friday at the intersection of Highway 44 and Radio Road, south of Ripon near Fairwater. According to the accident report, a vehicle driven by Ardys M. Fenner, 78, Ripon, missed a stop sign at the intersection, and collided with a vehicle driven by Erica L. Loomans, 33, Waupun. Also injured was a passenger in Loomans’ vehicle — a 59-yearold woman from Waupun. Fenner was cited for failure to obey a stop sign. Both vehicles ended up slightly off the road, suffering significant front-end damage.

Big man on campus?

20 Wisc 11 on Week sin News ly pa of th per e Year

A bag tax in Ripon? Students say it’s time

Late aldermen’s garden plot will become Ripon’s first Habitat home in a decade


Say ‘Aaaagh!’

Single copy — $1 Thursday, March 14, 2013

20 Wisc 12 on Week sin News ly pa of th per e Year

Page 18 - Thursday, December 27, 2012


WINERY/First, he just wanted a vineyard — then his dream grew ately redirecting the conversation. “We have a great opportunity to draw in a lot of people ... Wineries draw more people to the area, so it’s really a potentially big draw to the area. It’s not just for me — this has the potential to do a lot of good for our community.” Even in a state known more for its amber brews than its reds and whites? “Wisconsin has a reputation as a beer-drinking state, but there are a whole lot who drink wine as well,” Prellwitz. Kind of like being a part of a Ripon family long known for its strawberry fields — but growing grapes instead. “First actually came the grapes, more than the winery,” said Prellwitz, whose parents, Chuck and Diane, own Prellwitz Produce. As a Prellwitz, there were a few things bred into their son from an early age. Agriculture and entrepreneurship. “The idea for the grapes came from an interest in wine and an interest in agriculture — where the two collided is where I ended up with the grapes,” Prellwitz said. He already had started his own IT consulting business, but the land still spoke to him. He wanted to plant grapes. “I was enjoying that much more than the IT consulting I was doing,” Prellwitz said. “Running a winery combined my interest in agriculture, grapes and small business. It combined all together into one interest for me.” It didn’t happen overnight, though. Maybe with some crops, you can get into it quickly. But not grapes. And certainly not grapes in Wisconsin. “Grapes are an interesting crop,” Prellwitz said. “... It’s three years before you actually get something out of the vines ... It’s a very patient [business].” In fact, though he bottled his first commercial wine this fall, it was more than six years ago he began to ruminate about grapes. First, he began to read books. But you can’t learn it all from a piece of paper. “You can read all the books you want but no teacher is as good as doing it hands-on,” he said. So, come spring 2007, he put his first 50 vines in. Fifty vines, by the way, is nothing when it comes to wine making. “We did a few different test varieties [to see] what works and what doesn’t,” Prellwitz said. This being Wisconsin, one has to be careful choosing a vine to grow. The key word? Hardy. Encouraged by his success, Prellwitz went a little bigger in 2008: 200 vines ... and a mentor. “I had somebody teach me,” he said of learning how to care for the plants. “He stepped me through the process.” Prellwitz learned growing grapes is a time-intensive process — definitely a labor of love. “I think everybody who grows grapes doesn’t expect how much time it takes,” he said — but not as a complaint. “I like it more now than I did then.” And that’s despite a vineyard that now is considerably bigger than those early days. Vines and Rushes Winery draws grapes from 3 1/2 acres on its property, which includes hundreds of vines and several varieties, including Marquette, St. Pepin and Petite Pearl grapes. (Though, after this year’s drought, it also brought in many grapes from elsewhere in Wisconsin, too.) Caring for that large of an operation isn’t simple. “Each vine throughout the year gets visited ... multiple times,” Prellwitz said, noting it takes five to 10 minutes to prune each and every one of those vines. Then there’s spraying, watering, harvesting ... “You’re constantly out there, basically,” he said. “On average, I’m out there probably 15 to 20 hours a week.” During the harvest, bump that up to more than 100 hours, with 60 or so not unheard of many

continued from page 1

1) Collect & crush the grapes After harvest, dump the grapes into a destemmer, which removes stems and breaks the skin of the grapes.

So, how do you make wine? Ryan Prellwitz of Ripon takes you through the steps.

2) Pump the juice* Next, the “must” is pumped into a press.

3) Press! Then, the juice is pressed out of the grapes, as Prellwitz demonstrates below.

4) Begin fermentation From the press, the juice gets pumped into a tank (stainless steel or plastic), where it will start fermentation after a day or two. From there, it might be moved to another tank, filtered, blended with another wine, etc.

5) Chill out ...

6) Prepare it for sale!

The newly created wine then is chilled to “cold stabilize the wine.”

Once the wine has chilled long enough, it’s prepped for bottling, bottled, corked, labeled and capsuled. All that is left is for someone to buy it, take it home and enjoy.

*One difference with red wines: Though the process of creating a red wine is essentially the same as other wines, red wines are different in that they get pumped from the destemmer into a bin where they get fermented “on the skins” for several days to a week before they get pressed.

photos and illustration by Ian Stepleton other weeks. “Grapes are a big-value [crop] but a big investment in time per acre,” Prellwitz said. “One thing that helps me out is a lot of people are drawn to this industry. Being out working in the vines is a hobby for them. We have a number of people who have taken a sense of ownership in the business, so it’s not just me out there ... I remember the day we planted in 2010: we had probably 20 people — some family, some friends, some who were just

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interested [in wine].” Family, in particular, has played a huge role, especially as Prellwitz has built the winery building on the property and the tasting room has come together over recent weeks. For instance, “Jeff and Don [Paulson of Ripon] have helped a lot,” Prellwitz said, referring to his father-in-law and grandfatherin-law, of the woodwork that is featured prominently in the tasting room at the front of the building.

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“We have 400 cases of wine bottled; that’s about two-thirds of what we’re hoping to have,” Prellwitz said, noting everything but the reds are ready. “We’ll have tasting available, so people can actually taste the wine before they purchase.” Don’t be intimidated by the ritual of wine tasting, either, Prellwitz said. “Some people say they are not wine drinkers: that’s fine,” he said. “They feel they can’t go in because they’re not a wine snob.

There, they’ve prepared a “lot of wood ... reclaimed from barns we found ourselves,” Prellwitz said, gushing about some historic chestnut beams they discovered that have become the top of the tasting bar. “It’s beautiful, beautiful wood.” All of it will be on display when Vines and Rushes Winery opens, most likely within a week or two (check for updates on an exact opening date and hours of operation).

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But we’d love to have them and walk them through the process of tasting. They shouldn’t be afraid to do it for the first time.” No one, though, is more thrilled about opening the winery to the public than Prellwitz, who long has waited to see his dream come together. Excited enough, in fact, that even this quiet man gushed for a few moments. “It’s great,” he said. “It’s awesome. It’s a lot of fun to see that stuff coming together.”

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Thursday, August 8, 2013 - Page 1

Ripon Commonwealth Press


Survey Petri gives results How do area residents feel about drones? The sequester? Gun legislation? Find out how they responded to a survey held by an area U.S. Congressman. See page 3

Our Views

Time to retire It isn’t easy being there for people who have just endured some sort of tragedy. But that’s exactly what this Ripon pastor has done for the past 13 years for the Sheriff’s Department. See page 4


Manhunt ends A Brandon man was sought after an alleged crime spree that began with breaking into a Green Lake restaurant. See page 7

Issue No. No. 32 Serving the Ripon community since 1864

Habitat nears choice for its next family

Single copy — $1 Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013

20 Wisc 12 on Week sin News ly pa of th per e Year

20 Wisc 11 on Week sin News ly pa of th per e Year

Ripon, WI 54971

A Hero ...

by Ian Stepleton

It appears Habitat for Humanity of Fond du Lac County may be on the verge of selecting a family to live in the home it will build this fall in Ripon. Though as recently as three weeks ago it did not have a family chosen, organizers believe they may found one now. “We are very, very close on selecting a family,” said the Rev. Gary Miller, who is one of the organizers of the planned Ripon build. “It looks like they are going to meet all the criteria.” The criteria, as Miller explained several weeks ago, are in place to ensure a family is chosen that is capable of paying for the no-interest mortgage that will come with the home. But those same criteria can sometimes make it more difficult to find an appropriate family to live in the home, which will be built near the corner of Eureka Street and Wolver Wolverton Avenue. Finances appears to be the biggest hurdle thus far for the 11 families who have applied. Families can’t have had a bankruptcy in the past few years, and must make enough — but not too much — money to qualify. A family of three to five, for instance, must make no less than $17,750 and no more than $34,340 to be considered. “We don’t want to set up a family for failure,” Miller said a few weeks ago, explaining that since a “ Habitat home is not free,” and that there “is a monthly payment to be made” for mortgage — though interest-free — it’s critical a family get selected who has the wherewithal to succeed.” Nevertheless, Miller believes they now have someone who fits that mold. The organization will have confir confirmation of such within “two to three weeks,” he said. “Of course, if something comes up, worst-case scenario is it could be longer than that.” Despite the delay in choosing a family, the project is not running behind. “We are on track to move everything ahead on schedule,” Miller said, adding the organization could use help in other ways as well. “We are still looking for people in the trades who are willing to work on the project itself or add a component to the project.” People interested in helping the build or about what is happening may call Miller at 748-2544 or Paul Osterholm in the Fond du Lac office of Habitat for Humanity at 920-9212893.

... is granted his Wish After battling lifetime of health issues, Ripon youth prepares for amazing trip by Ian Stepleton


ifteen-year-old Aaron Roehl speaks softly, seriously, as he tells about his favorite comic-book characters. “The Hulk,” he said, is tops. But it’s a long list. As he tells about them, Aaron stands in his bedroom off Hall Street. Spider Man covers the walls; Batman adorns his sheets. This one is Spider Man’s enemy, Aaron explains, pointing at a poster on his wall. It’s not hard to see comic books are on his mind. A lot. Considering what Aaron has been through in his life, he should feel free to indulge such a self-interest. After all, doctors predicted he’d spend his life in a vegetative state — certainly not someone capable of naming every superhero ever created. Fluid has been flooding Aaron’s skull since he came down with e-coli spinal meningitis as an infant. Ever since, channelling the strength of The Incredible Hulk, he’s been fighting off the effects.

See WISH/ page 15

AARON ROEHL, FRONT, stands with family members, from left, mother Brittney and sisters Trinity and Carmen. At top, Aaron gives a “Hulk” move in his bedroom. Ian Stepleton photo

Barlow Park crammed full for Cookie Daze


by Ian Stepleton

No theme? No new events? No problem. The 18th-annual Cookie Daze celebration had something better: good weather. Held last week Saturday at Barlow Park in Ripon, Cookie Daze enjoyed a temperate, dry day, possibly leading to what proved to be a strong turnout. “We couldn’t have asked for any better weather on Saturday,” said Jason Mansmith, the Ripon Area Chamber of Commerce director of marketing For more photos, see the and special events, such as Cookie photo package on page 16 Daze. “It was absolutely gorgeous. And the turnout was phenomenal. or visit The park was packed the entire timeframe.” Mansmith described turnout as being “in the thousands,” though no of official tally is taken from year-to-year, since admission is free to Cookie Daze each year. Others, though, attested to the strong turnout. Volunteers, he explained, “never really got a break; there was very little


Road trip Next summer, two RC alumni will use the World Cup as a chance to create a documentary, and help those in need, from Chicago to South America. See page 17

YOUNGSTERS SCRAMBLE FOR cookies dropped from a fire truck ladder at Ripon’s Cookie Daze 2013 at Barlow Park. Aaron Becker photo

See COOKIE/ page 14

2013 Better Newspaper Contest entry: Page Design-Feature  

This is an entry for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association's 2013 Better Newspaper Contest in "Page Design-Feature."

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