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Weekend Roundup: 3 months after holiday parade tragedy, community works toward ‘a Waukesha Strong family’

Fundraisers for Ukraine, Augusta School District auditorium, Kohl's expansion and more

A sign on a glass door says "Waukesha Strong" with a heart.
A sign is displayed outside of a business in downtown Waukesha on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Angela Major/WPR

It has been just over three months since an SUV plowed through the Waukesha Christmas Parade, leaving six people dead and injuring dozens of others.

Dancing Grannies members Virginia “Ginny” Sorenson, Leanna “Lee” Owen and Tamara Carlson Durand, as well as Wilhelm “Bill” Hospel, the husband of a member and a dedicated volunteer, were killed in the incident. Two other Dancing Grannies members were injured.

The Dancing Grannies have remained resilient, with dancers supporting each other in their grief and spreading compassion to new members,

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And others in the community are finding ways to do the same — including high school band and sports team members, store owners and fund organizers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“We’re creating a Waukesha family, a Waukesha Strong family out of the whole deal,” said 17-year-old Tyler Pudleiner, a junior at Waukesha South.

Wisconsin DHS: COVID-19 Weekly Recap

The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin is 392 as of Friday. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has confirmed 12,294 total deaths from the disease.

60.6 percent of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated — 82.4 percent of people age 65 and older, 57.2 percent of children age 12 to 17 and 23.6 percent of children 5 to 11 years old. As of Friday, 33.1 percent have received a booster shot.

Wisconsin sees more babies being born with syphilis

In 2021, Milwaukee reported 19 babies born with syphilis — a number nearly four times as high as it was in 2020. A few years prior to that, the number of babies born with the disease was zero.

For Curtis Marshall, a public health educator with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, a single case should justify “hitting the panic button.”

“Seeing one case of congenital syphilis in an area should be just as important as seeing one case of measles,” Marshall told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 2 in 5 babies with syphilis will be stillborn or die from the infection as a newborn — those who survive may have deformed bones, anemia, brain and nerve damage and other health problems.

Wisconsin is one of a handful of states that does not require screening for syphilis during pregnancy.

Now with the uptick in cases, public health officials are calling on doctors to be more vigilant about screening pregnant people for syphilis. They’re also looking to lawmakers to consider enacting a mandate.

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Lakefront Brewery raises more than $20K for Ukraine

Lakefront Brewing sold out of its 32-ounce take-home “Putin is a dick” crowlers in a day, raising more than $20,000 for Ukrainian refugees.

As Wisconsin Public Radio previously reported, the new label features Russian President Vladimir Putin. The words “Putin is a dick” are scrawled across his forehead and a tank is aimed at his head.

According to Chris Drosner, a Wisconsin beer expert, the brewery was expecting 5,000 more labels earlier this week. The original order was 2,000.

More on the fundraiser can be found here.

Augusta Woman donates $2.5M for new school auditorium

A small school district in western Wisconsin is getting a big helping hand to revamp its theater program with a new auditorium after receiving a donation offering of $2.5 million.

The donation toward the Augusta School District, home to about 600 students, was made by Jennifer Livermore Bethke, an alumnus of the district, according to the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.

The school currently doesn’t have an auditorium, and the district recently sent out a survey to gauge community support for a referendum that included funding for a new auditorium in addition to maintenance upgrades and classroom remodeling.

It was because of that survey that Bethke reached out to district staff about her donation.

A statement from the district said, “Jennifer wants students to have access to high-quality experiences during their time in school and feels a performing arts center will do just that,” the Leader-Telegram reported.

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Kohl’s to open 100 small-format stores, expand Sephora shops

Department store chain Kohl’s said it aims to increase sales by a low-single-digit percentage annually.

The retailer plans to open 100 new small-format stores in the next four years and expand its partnership with Sephora to be a $2 billion business, among other moves.

Kohl’s announced its long-term goals on Monday ahead of the company’s annual investor meeting.

The chain faces increasing pressure from activist investors. Kohl’s is on track to have Sephora shops in 850 of its stores by next year.

Ukrainian Paralympic athletes use platform to emphasize battle back home

While Ukraine continues to face a Russian invasion, Ukrainian Paralympic athletes have secured medal after medal in Beijing.

As of Thursday morning, Ukraine is ranked third in medal count, behind China and Canada, respectively.

These athletes are dedicating their moments of glory to Ukrainian soldiers and citizens, NPR reports.

“All my thoughts, my heart and my soul is with my family and with my child,” said Oleksandra Kononova, a Paralympic skier. “Emotionally it’s very difficult to focus and to concentrate on the race and the competition, so this is the most difficult Paralympic Games for me.”

Another skier, 19-year-old Anastasiia Laletina, has a father in the Ukrainian army. She received word he had been captured and beaten by Russian soldiers early this week, and withdrew from her race Tuesday.

Ukranian athletes have also been a force for Team USA. Oksana Masters won Team USA’s first gold medal in the women’s biathlon sitting sprint. She lived at an Ukrainian orphanage for almost a decade before being adopted by a single mother in America.

“It has been difficult to find my passion and desire to compete at these Games amid the war my home country of Ukraine is enduring,” she wrote in a social media post. “I feel selfish, helpless, and guilty for being here. However, I have always been so proud to be Ukrainian, felt so much pride at the sight of the Ukrainian flag, and now more than ever, I am the proudest to say I am Ukrainian.”

Editor’s note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.