The two roads that lead into the Kenosha County Veterans Memorial Park are no longer nameless.
A ceremony was held Monday (Nov. 7) to dedicate the Highway KD entrance into the park as Porter Parkway, in honor of former state Rep. Cloyd Porter.
Minutes later, around the corner, the Highway F entrance was designated Karow Court in celebration of the community-minded family that did business on the property for many years before it became an extension of the county parkland.
“It is such a pleasure to give names to these roads, creating tributes that will live on for generations to come,” Kenosha County Executive Samantha Kerkman said.
The designations were approved as part of the 2023 county budget resolution that the County Board adopted last week, and that Kerkman signed into effect during Monday’s ceremonies.
Kerkman said Porter Parkway pays tribute to her mentor, who worked in the Legislature to secure more than $300,000 in initial state grants to purchase the decommissioned gravel pit that would become the original part of the county park.
In the 1990s, Kerkman worked for Porter — first as an intern and later as his chief of staff — before she was elected to succeed him upon his retirement from the Assembly in 2000.
“Spending other people’s money was very hard for him to do,” Kerkman said of the fiscally conservative Porter, noting that he saw the value of the county’s acquisition of the land and worked to make possible its redevelopment into a beautiful public space.
Kerkman also noted that Porter, a Republican, was known for working across the aisle for the betterment of the community with Kenosha Democrats including the late Sen. Joseph Andrea and Reps. Peter Barca and John Antaramian. The latter two were invited but unable to attend Monday’s events.
Porter, who has endured health challenges since suffering a stroke several years ago, was able to be at the dedication along with his wife Joan, son Jay and daughters Ellen Barron and Joli Krismer. Another daughter, LeAnn Mann, sent her greetings from out of town.
“It’s a great honor,” Jay Porter said.
Karow Court is named to recognize the contributions and impact of the Karow family, which owned Powers Lake Construction and the land on which the Kenosha County Veterans Memorial Park’s Veterans Honor Plaza now sits. A state stewardship grant helped the county purchase that property to make a 96-acre expansion of the park in 2016.
Celebrating along with several members of the Karow family was current County Board Supervisor Aaron Karow and his uncle, former Supervisor Mark Karow.
Mark Karow noted his family’s longstanding involvement in government in the Town of Randall and countywide.
“Looking at what we have here today, it’s truly amazing,” Mark Karow said, later noting that his parents paid $200 per acre for what was farmland in 1960. “They bought as much as they could afford, and then some.”
The Kenosha County Veterans Memorial Park now encompasses 335 acres and includes the 39-acre Freedom Lake, the Veterans Honor Plaza that debuted in 2021, a 43-acre restored oak savanna, and eight miles of hiking trails.
The park is located on Highway KD (352nd Avenue) just north of Highway F (Bassett Road) in the towns of Randall and Wheatland. Access to the Veterans Honor Plaza is from a separate entrance on Highway F, west of Kaskin Park on Highway F.
More information is available at https://www.kenoshacounty.org/1658/Kenosha-County-Veterans-Memorial-Park.