Detour planned for Main Street closure
By Scott Bellile
When a Hortonville bar takes to the street from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8 to celebrate its grand opening, owners say the event will promote not the bar, but the veterans who put their lives on the line.
Anne and Jack Kuhnke opened Heroes Fire-Military-Police at 224 W. Main St. on June 5. The Kuhnkes said Heroes is designed to give veterans, police officers and firefighters a comfortable setting to share their career stories.
In the spirit of supporting veterans, the Aug. 8 community fundraiser sponsored by Heroes will benefit Old Glory Honor Flight, the Wisconsin organization that transports World War II and Korean War veterans to war monuments in Washington, D.C.
“My goal is to try and get these guys on the Old Glory Honor Flights. That’s it,” Anne said.
Open to all ages, the outdoor event will showcase local fire trucks, squad cars, military equipment and color guards. Hardtails Bar and Grill will cater the event.
Anne said she wanted a unique theme for her bar and turned to her background for inspiration.
“I’ve come from a military family,” Anne said.
Her father, Jerry Olk, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Four of her brothers were Marines and a fifth was a sailor.
On the first responder side, Jack is assistant chief for Hortonville-Hortonia Fire Department. Their son is a firefighter. Anne’s uncle Kenny Hansen was police chief for Hortonville.
“We want to get them as much publicity as they deserve,” Jack said about firefighters, veterans and police. “Anne’s favorite saying is, ‘This isn’t my bar. It’s their bar. I just do the dirty work.’”
Anyone who sets foot inside Heroes grand opening day will notice the Kuhnkes’ décor pays respects to people in those professions.
Veterans, police and firefighters are invited to autograph the bar counter. Customized mugs for frequent customers hang above the counter, sorted by their dog tags and accountability tags.
A Wall of Fame in the pool room houses a collection of donated framed photographs showing those who risked or gave up their lines in the line of duty. And on weekends the bartenders wear “respectable” military, fire or police uniforms.
The upcoming event was challenged at the July 16 Hortonville Village Board meeting when members questioned the merits of closing down Main Street for a business grand opening. The board ultimately approved it 5-1.
Hortonville Police Chief Mike Sullivan said the board and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation approved the two-hour closure of Main Street for Aug. 8 because it is a charity event, not because it is a grand opening.
“It’s really a win-win situation that may put the drivers three blocks out of the way,” Sullivan said.
The recommended detour will be North Cherry Street to West Cedar Street to North Nash Street. All neighborhood streets north of the two closed Main Street blocks will remain accessible.