Nickolaus won't run for re-election as Waukesha County clerk

April 28, 2012 11:00 p.m. | Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, widely criticized over the conduct of elections in her county, announced Saturday she has decided not to seek re-election in November.

But the embattled clerk said in a prepared statement that she would not relinquish "any authority or responsibility" for upcoming elections through the end of her term because "I am the Waukesha County constitutional officer charged with the responsibility of elections."

After problems in the election earlier this month, Nickolaus reportedly agreed under pressure from County Executive Dan Vrakas to cede election responsibilities to her deputy for the upcoming recall races.

Her campaign manager said Saturday she "never ever agreed to hand over the responsibility given to her constitutionally as clerk" to administer the elections. "Kathy is still in charge," said the manager, Dan Hunt, adding Nickolaus was unavailable for comment.

The deputy clerk will serve as liaison between municipal clerks and county clerks, oversee election result processes and make sure the results are reported to the Government Accountability Board, Hunt said.

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Recreation path to get another look

April 24, 2012 10:44 p.m. | A controversial recreation path planned for beside a portion of Tess Corners Drive will go back to the Public Works Committee for more review, the Muskego Common Council narrowly decided Tuesday night to the relief of about 20 residents at the meeting who oppose the path.

Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti cast the tie-breaking vote that sent the matter to committee. Because much of the path will cut through the district of newly elected Alderman Robert Wolfe who was at his first Common Council meeting Tuesday, Chiaverotti said she wanted the new alderman to become familiar with the options.

Wolfe is on the Public Works Committee that will likely hold a special meeting to give the earliest consideration possible to the path.

City officials still hope that the path and the related Tess Corners Drive road and drainage work can still be done this year, despite the delay due to 11th-hour objections to the path.

Moving the path from its planned off-road location to beside the shoulder of the road could add roughly $170,000 to the $1.4-million project, David Simpson, public works director, estimated. But Alderman Dan Soltysiak speculated that the extra cost could be brought down under some of the options that came up at the meeting.

Prosecutors, defense spar over evidence in Brookfield slaying

April 24, 2012 3:06 p.m. | Waukesha - Prosecutors say they have evidence including a notebook, letters, emails and statements that implicate Lynn M. Hajny in the June murder of Brookfield businessman John C. Aegerter and want to use it at her trial next month.

Some evidence was discovered in a search of Hajny's New Berlin home after the killing and some was found at the home of a Wauwatosa Police Department clerk who authorities say was involved in the plan to kill Aegerter. The clerk, Mark Finken, 43, shot and killed himself in his garage July 23, shortly after he was interviewed by Brookfield police.

But Hajny's attorney, Michael F. Hart, has filed a motion that seeks to prevent that evidence from being used at the trial, scheduled to begin May 3.

The motion was discussed Tuesday during a hearing before Waukesha County Circuit Judge Patrick C. Haughney, but no decisions were made to give prosecutors more time to respond to Hart's motion.

Hajny, 49, and Tommy Douyette, 42, are accused of killing Aegerter, who was found dead in the garage of his Brookfield residence on June 22.

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GAB announces plan to speed Waukesha election reports

April 24, 2012 11:16 a.m. | Waukesha - Vote results from throughout Waukesha County should be available online more quickly in the recall elections because municipal clerks will be entering unofficial results directly into a state vote canvass reporting system, rather than leaving it to the county clerk's staff.

Those results will simultaneously be available to the Waukesha County clerk's office, which is still responsible for posting results on election night.

In a statement Tuesday, Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel for the Government Accountability Board, said the agency created Wisconsin's canvass reporting system using a federal grant in 2010 so county clerks could use it to report canvass results - the official totals that are checked several days after an election - to the state electronically.

However, the Web-based system was built with a tool for municipal clerks to enter unofficial results on election night. Kennedy said all Waukesha County municipal clerks will be asked to use that tool for the May 8 primaries and the June 5 recalls.

The process means that local clerks do not have to drive voting machine tapes into the county clerk's office in Waukesha after polls close, as they did April 3, so that she and her staff can enter the data.

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Bellafini's Trattoria open in New Berlin

April 20, 2012 9:43 a.m. | Bellafini’s Trattoria has quietly begun serving dinner in New Berlin.

The Italian restaurant officially opened this week after a soft opening last week, in the City Center development at 15175 W. National Ave.

It’s owned by chef Chris Giaimo and his wife, Jennifer. The restaurant moved to New Berlin from Fond du Lac.

The menu includes arancini ($7) among the appetizers; pastas such as grilled chicken with artichoke and penne in cream sauce ($16); and main dishes including shrimp baked in garlic butter ($20) and tenderloin ($30).

Ten-inch pizzas with a sourdough crust, such as one topped with prosciutto di Parma, are $11.

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Summer hours set for Muskego library

April 18, 2012 1:58 p.m. | The same Muskego Library summer hours as the library had last year were approved Tuesday by the Muskego Library Board.

The summer closing time of 8 p.m. on weekdays will be an hour earlier than currently. Similarly, the library will close at 1 p.m. on Saturdays, rather than staying open until 5 p.m. as it does now. The library is closed on Sundays.

The summer hours will be in effect from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend. Because the library is closed the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the summer hours will effectively start the day after Memorial Day.

Old Town Hall gets donated flagpole and bench

April 18, 2012 11:52 a.m. | American Legion Post 356 has donated a 20-foot flagpole and a concrete bench to be placed at Muskego's Old Town Hall at the Old Settlement Center, S8074 Racine Ave.

The Muskego Parks and Recreation Board on Monday accepted the donation.

The flagpole and bench will be installed west of the asphalt trail through the grounds.

Muskego youth baseball club plans to raise funds for full-size field

April 18, 2012 11:30 a.m. | The Muskego Warriors select youth baseball club has stepped up to the plate and has its eye on hitting a homer in the form of finding enough sponsors to create a full-size baseball diamond at Park Arthur.

At Monday's meeting of the Muskego Parks and Recreation Board, the Muskego Warriors presented its plans for offering banners at the future ball field to potential sponsors. The board gave the group its go-ahead.

The Warriors hope to provide 100 percent of the $70,000 to $75,000 it will take to create the field, complete with bleachers. Most of the cost will be for the fencing.

The sponsorship banners would likely go behind the dugouts and in left and right fields, said Craig Anderson, director of parks and recreation.

Work is slated to start on the diamond this fall and it should be ready for play next summer, he said.

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Franklin firm buys Muskego building, will relocate

April 18, 2012 7:00 a.m. | Contract manufacturer Masteq LLC has purchased a 7,000-square-foot building in the Muskego Industrial Park for $300,000, and will move there from Franklin Industrial Park on June 1.

The new location, at W189 S8224 Mercury Drive, will double the company's capacity, said Steven Horvath, co-owner. The company, with seven employees, plans to double its workforce once the new plant is fully operational, Horvath said.

Prescription drug collections set in Waukesha County

April 16, 2012 3:10 p.m. | Waukesha - Waukesha County will hold a prescription drug collection at seven sites around the county from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 28.

A consortium called Waukesha County Drug Free Communities is sponsoring its fourth collection in order to prevent prescription drug abuse and accidental poisonings, as well as to keep unused drugs from being flushed into local waterways.

The collections will be at the Brookfield Recycling Center, Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls, the D.N. Greenwald Center in Mukwonago, the Muskego Police Department, Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital, the Waukesha County Technical College campus in Pewaukee and Waukesha State Bank's downtown Waukesha headquarters.

For more information, including directions to the collection sites, see

New Berlin ousts Wauwatosa to win Battle of the Burbs

April 13, 2012 8:37 a.m. | The voters in MyCommunityNOW's Battle of the Burbs contest have spoken and New Berlin has been tabbed the best place to live in the suburban Milwaukee area.

The second-seeded Waukesha-county suburb cruised past No. 1 Wauwatosa with 65 percent of the vote to 35 percent.

Congratulations to Mark Klug of Greendale, who was randomly chosen from all voters to receive a $100 gift card. Kudos are also in order for William Smith of Waukesha, who will receive a $50 gift card and Jennifer Phelps of New Berlin, who will receive a $25 gift card.

Thanks to all of our voters for taking part in the contest.

Website will make it easier to track Muskego city meetings

April 11, 2012 12:26 p.m. | In coming months it will be much easier to follow civic affairs using the city of Muskego's website.

Thanks for upgrades to the website, residents will be able to actually watch a meeting via computer whenever it is convenient for them. Not only that, but people will be able to click on an agenda item and hear the discussion of that item without having to sit through the entire meeting.

The streaming and archived video will be available for meetings of the Common Council, the Committee of the Whole and the Finance Committee. That list might be expanded, but additional storage space would be needed sooner.

The upgrade costing about $25,000 will offer a number of other improvements as well, officials said.

Ousted Muskego alderwoman calls for community healing

April 11, 2012 12:14 p.m. | In a farewell to the Muskego Common Council on Tuesday night, Alderwoman Tracy Snead called for healing in the community after an unprecedented amount of negativity engulfed all three aldermanic races leading up to last week's election.

That negativity came not necessarily from the candidates themselves but from groups supporting various candidates. The underlying issue was the controversial lake park proposal that brought tempers on both sides to the boiling point.

"In 16 years, I've never seen Muskego the way it is now. It's very disheartening," said Snead, who lost in her bid for re-electionn.

"I want to encourage people to play fair," she said. "We can disagree, but we can do it with integrity and civility. … This is a great place to live and I'd like to see it kind of get back to that. Please, please please, let's pull it together."

Separate law firm will deal with any Muskego recall issues

April 11, 2012 12:06 p.m. | Muskego has hired an outside law firm to provide legal advice to the city concerning any issue tied to the recall efforts against Mayor Kathy Chiaverottti and aldermen Keith Werner and Neome Schaumberg.

On Tuesday night, the Common Council selected Maistelman & Associates, which assisted Muskego several years ago when then-Mayor Charles Damaske was involved in a recall election in 2006.

The reason for outside help is that the law firm that normally provides city attorney services - Arenz, Molter, Macy, Riffle & Larson -to Muskego notified officials that it would appear to be a conflict of interest if the firm provided assistance to the city clerk on recall issues.

Maistelman & Associates will charge the same as the city's regular legal firm. City officials expect only minimal expenses.

Planned recreation path takes new turn

April 10, 2012 10:22 p.m. | With residents protesting about the loss of trees and the loss of sometimes large parts of their front yards because of a planned recreation path, the Muskego Common Council decided tonightto take another look at the path.

It is planned as an off-road path along Tess Corners Drive between Janesville and Woods roads. A petition protesting the path and signed by 34 people along that stretch was submitted to City Hall.

Although the loss of trees is their major concern, it's difficult to tell in some cases whether trees would be taken for the path or the Tess Corners Drive road and drainage project, David Simpson, DPW director has said.

To try to get a read on whether residents really are against the path or if the path has many supporters as officials suspect, the city will invite everyone who lives along the planned path to the April 24 Common Council meeting.

At that time the council also will see if there are affordable options that might keep the path further from homes and save trees. Officials are worried that the delay might mean there will not be time to do the project this year. The city had planned to go out for bids three days ago.

New Berlin, feds settle housing suit

April 10, 2012 9:22 p.m. | New Berlin - The city reached a settlement Tuesday with federal authorities in the discrimination lawsuit the U.S. Justice Department filed against New Berlin last year over an affordable housing project, agreeing to pay a $5,000 penalty to end the legal action.

The city also agreed to create and provide $75,000 for a housing trust fund that will be used to promote affordable housing in New Berlin.

The Common Council, without comment, approved the settlement by a 4-2 vote, with Aldermen Kenneth Harenda and Laura Karvala voting no, and Dave Ament absent.

A federal judge still must approve the settlement - a consent decree that will be in place four years and include monitoring of New Berlin by federal authorities. The agreement, among other things, requires the city to update its fair housing policy, place the phrase "Equal Housing Opportunity" or the fair housing logo on its website, and submit a fair housing outreach plan to federal authorities for approval.

Federal authorities sued New Berlin in June 2011, claiming racial discrimination drove the city's decisions to block the low-income housing development proposed by MSP Real Estate Inc., in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

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Under pressure, Nickolaus hands off election duties

April 05, 2012 10:18 p.m. | Waukesha - Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas said he would publicly call for County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus' resignation unless she handed off her election duties in the upcoming recalls to her deputy clerk.

Nickolaus chose the latter. She agreed to allow outside consultants and county staff to work with her deputy, Kelly Yaeger, to handle the election, Vrakas said.

"The county will move swiftly to examine the election night procedures in the county clerk's office and make changes as necessary to restore the public's confidence in our elections," Vrakas said in a statement late this afternoon.

In an interview, Vrakas said, "I appreciate the fact that she understands the importance of restoring confidence in Waukesha County election night reporting. Swift, detailed, orderly reporting that should be available on the Internet. When given the choice to step down or step aside, she made the right decision."

Nickolaus again came under scrutiny because her Tuesday night election efforts resulted in long delays in reporting results. Based on an agreement with the state Government Accountability Board - one that came about after she omitted 14,000 votes from unofficial totals on election night - Nickolaus was to post paper voting machine tape records outside her office as soon as municipal clerks delivered them in person. Then she was to electronically upload the memory cards of the municipal ballot machines and produce summary reports throughout the night.

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Wauwatosa, New Berlin to meet in Battle of the Burbs championship

April 05, 2012 1:37 p.m. | The semifinal votes have been counted and Wauwatosa and New Berlin have emerged to face off this week for the right to be named the best place to live in the suburban Milwaukee area.

Top-seeded Wauwatosa cruised into the finals of MyCommunityNOW's Battle of the Burbs bracket contest, earning 61 percent of the vote to 39 percent for fourth-seeded Waukesha.

New Berlin, a second seed, earned its spot in the finals by defeating No. 1 Brookfield, 54-46.

Voting continues until 9 a.m. Thursday at

Three lucky voters will win Visa gift cards and the winning community will receive a special proclamation from MyCommunityNOW and NOW Newspapers.

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New Berlin sets meetings on County dispatch

April 05, 2012 10:09 a.m. | New dates have been set for public information meetings on whether New Berlin should have all its police and fire emergency dispatching handled by the Waukesha Communications Center or if dispatch should stay inhouse.

The new dates are April 19, May 3 and 17. All will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in the municipal courtroom, 16300 W. National Ave.

The pros and cons of both options will be presented. Then people will be encouraged to contact their aldermen or the mayor about which option they think is better, said Police Chief Joe Rieder.

Germantown's Showalter named All-Suburban Boys Basketball Player of the Year

April 05, 2012 9:24 a.m. | Germantown senior Zak Showalter has been named the NOW All-Suburban Boys Basketball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Showalter helped the Warhawks to a 28-0 mark and the WIAA Division 1 boys basketball championship last month.

He is joined on the NOW squad by teammate Luke Fischer and Steve Showalter, Zak's father and the co-coach of the year.

West Allis Central head coach David Mlachnik shares coach of the year honors.

Photo gallery: Zak Showalter through the years

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More election night problems in Waukesha

April 04, 2012 10:12 p.m. | Waukesha - Another election, another controversy over the performance of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus.

Nickolaus may have done her re-election campaign no favors Tuesday night when her plans to post timely election results online and update them periodically for the public failed.

Citizens checking for results online were left in the dark for hours after voting ended, while reporters and data collectors for election reporting services resorted to tabulating contested races from yards of paper tapes hanging on walls around a meeting room. The process was akin to reading a long grocery receipt where, in some cases, the tape stretched down the wall and onto the floor in a heap.

Problems with Nickolaus' reporting system were evident soon after the earliest municipal clerks delivered, in person as she required, the voting machine memory packs and paper tapes showing vote totals. When Nickolaus' staff tried to upload results from the memory cards into the county clerk's reporting program, it wouldn't work.

"We were shocked," she said Wednesday, noting that she and her staff had tested the reporting program "many times."

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Lake park proposal sinks with owners' decision not to sell

April 03, 2012 4:00 p.m. | The owners of the two properties Muskego is considering buying to establish a park on Little Muskego Lake have decided not to sell, probably killing the controversial park proposal.

A letter City Hall received today from attorney Gerald Boisits representing Michael Dilworth and Ener-Con Companies Inc., states: "My clients have indicated that they are no longer interested in promoting and/or offering any land for what is known as the Little Muskego Lake Development, effective immediately."

The city also received a similar letter from the attorney representing Nan Gardetto, owner of the other property.

In response, Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti issued a statement as well.

"On behalf of the city of Muskego, I wish to thank both property owners for offering their property to the community in support of the city's Comprehensive Plan and Parks and Open Space Plan," she stated. "The city further appreciates the professional and genuine manner in which both property owners worked with the city and council throughout the process."

Muskego group reports early recall petition results

April 02, 2012 1:22 p.m. | After gathering signatures Saturday and Sunday, Muskego for Ethical Government reported varying results in its efforts to recall Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti, Alderwoman Neome Schaumberg and Alderman Keith Werner.

In terms of percentages, on the low end was drive against the mayor - the group had collected only about 16 percent of the required 3,005 signatures. The group is shooting for 3,400 to give a cushion, said Lorie Oliver who is spearheading the drive. It got about 500 signatures while manning a location on Janesville Road last weekend.

The group was about half way to recalling Werner and a third of the way to recalling Schaumberg, the group reported today. It needs 360 signatures for Werner and 430 for Schaumberg, Oliver said.

The group has 60 days from when it filed with City Hall on March 29 to gather the required number of signatures.

The recall petition drive attracted opposition in the form of counter-recall proponents from Stand Up Muskego and Muskego Proud. Some held up signs to dissuade motorists from stopping and signing the recall petitions. Some motorists waiting to sign were approached in their cars, Oliver said.

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