Call it research, fear — or just an urge to get outdoors on a sunny late-winter day.
Whatever the reason, I found myself driving around Kenosha for a couple of hours Sunday with my eyes peeled for backhoes, bulldozers and scaffolding.
I could call my visit research for The Daily Reporter’s upcoming Focus on Southeast Cities special section and a chance for this new Wisconsinite to get a bit more familiar with an area we’ll be zeroing in on in the coming weeks.
I could also fess up that the drive was driven in part by fear. After hearing so much about how the economy has brought the state’s construction industry to its knees, and how Kenosha has been especially hard hit as a manufacturing city that has lost many of its manufacturers, I was afraid that Kenosha would remind me of the place I left a few months ago: Detroit.
And one of my first stops fueled that fear. Dairyland Greyhound Park was difficult to miss. The signs along Interstate 94, and then beyond the interstate, led me right to its closed entrance gates (now more than three months after the park’s final race). The huge shuttered structure and vast empty parking area combined as the most depressing stop of my brief visit.
But some of what I saw in the area revealed signs of construction-industry life, including the expansion project under way at St. Catherine’s Medical Center Campus on 76th Street, the extensive scaffolding for the masonry work at Reuther Central High School on 57th Street and the Communication Arts remodeling and addition happening at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Yes, in just a short time, the sunny late-winter day became even brighter.
Tom Fetters, a copy editor at The Daily Reporter, can now expense his drive through Kenosha as a result of this blog.