Vrakas capital budget winds down major projects

Aug. 30, 2012 4:22 p.m. | Waukesha - Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas released his five-year capital plan Thursday that will, in next year's budget, see the end of funding for the county's two largest projects - the $35.2 million new health and human services building and the multiphase widening of Janesville Road that began in 2006 at a total cost of $38 million.

Vrakas' plan calls for 2013 spending of $28.9 million - $12 million less than this year. Typically, the county levies one-year taxes for 20% of project costs - and sometimes as much as 25% - and borrows the rest, paying off the debt in 10 years.

With construction well under way on the new health and human services building, Vrakas announced that another $1 million saving, in addition to the $500,000 previously announced, will occur as a result of the favorable bidding and weather-related construction climates.

The building, located along Riverview Ave. surrounded by Moor Downs Golf Course and near the current health and human services offices, is scheduled to be finished at the end of next year.

The proposed five-year building plan for all county projects, totaling about $69.5 million after nearly $20 million in offsetting revenue, devotes $42.8 million to road projects. Another $37.6 million in federal funds will help pay for the highway projects.

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New Berlin considers stronger measures to integrate housing

Aug. 29, 2012 12:29 p.m. | Due to federal Department of Justice pressure, the New Berlin Common Council reached a consensus to take stronger measures to promote integrated housing in the city.

The council will take formal action when two aldermen who could not attend Tuesday's meeting return. The measures are being considered to keep intact the city's settlement of a discrimination lawsuit the DOJ brought against the city for its attempts to block workforce multifamily housing in the New Berlin City Center.

Instead of exploring reaching out to organizations such as the Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, the Waukesha Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity, the city would definitely contact the groups.

It also would more actively seek grants for a fund the settlement required the city to set up to promote integrated housing.

New plan would close Wilbur Drive east of City Center in New Berlin

Aug. 29, 2012 11:54 a.m. | A potential compromise aimed at providing a measure of relief from traffic to a neighborhood east of the New Berlin City Center was sent to the Plan Commission Tuesday by the New Berlin Common Council.

Instead of closing Wilbur Drive, which is advocated by some but opposed by others, the compromise would close off Wilbur farther east, leaving some access to the City Center intact. Closing the direct access to the City Center via Wilbur might discourage drivers who just use Wilbur and the Glen Park neighborhood around it as a shortcut to National Avenue on the other side of the City Center, some officials and residents said.

The Plan Commission could consider the plan as early as Tuesday. If it gets a favorable recommendation, the plan will be considered by the Public Works Committee, which has a meeting is Sept. 17.

Waukesha County ends failed van pooling program

Aug. 29, 2012 11:46 a.m. | Waukesha - The Waukesha County Board on Tuesday unanimously voted to discontinue the county's failed van pooling program for commuters, a pilot program that never took hold.

In late 2010, the county spent about $186,000 on eight vans that were intended to provide a more efficient door-to-door transit service than large fixed route buses, but only one of the vans was ever put in service. Another $35,000 was spent on marketing and operating costs.

Initially, the county intended to use federal stimulus funds from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the purchase, but those funds were never drawn on.

Now the county hopes to sell the Dodge Caravans for a minimum of $15,500 to nonprofit agencies to recoup some of the costs. If not sold, the vans would then be put up for auction as other county surplus equipment is.

New Berlin's 911 switchover begins Saturday

Aug. 28, 2012 6:30 p.m. | The Waukesha County Communications Center will answer all 911 emergency calls from New Berlin as of 7 a.m. Saturday, the New Berlin police department announced today.

Since the Common Council decided in June on the controversial money-saving switch, the department has been slowly transitioning from its own dispatchers to WCC staff for such calls.

Nonemergency calls for service that still require a police response can be made by dialing (262) 782-6640.

Administrative inquiries regarding special events, citation payments, overnight parking permission, or for anything that does not require a police response, should be directed to the Police Department's administrative phone line at (262) 780-8123.

Vrakas to seek budget to study election equipment needs

Aug. 28, 2012 2:34 p.m. | Waukesha - Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas will seek $70,000 in next year's capital budget to prepare the way for new election equipment countywide.

Shawn Lundie, Vrakas' chief of staff, said Vrakas included the new proposal after talking to Republican nominee for county clerk, Kathleen Novack, who concurred with its need. Democrat Jessie Read, her opponent in the November general election, was not similarly contacted, however.

The funds, if approved by the County Board, would pay a consultant to establish system requirements, business processes and a needs analysis for new election hardware and software.

The proposal will be part of the 2013-'17 capital plan Vrakas intends to submit to the County Board on Friday.

"Waukesha County is a rapidly growing county and in recent years the number of reporting units in the county has increased," Vrakas said. "This, coupled with the collecting, tallying and reporting vote totals, has made the process cumbersome. The goal is to automate and streamline the system as much as possible to prevent human error."

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Join Pigskin Picks to test your skills against local celebrities, veteran sportswriters

Aug. 28, 2012 1:13 p.m. | How well do you know high school football?

You can find out by visiting mycommunitynow.com/pigskin to join MyCommunityNOW's Pigskin Picks football contest. You will have the chance to win prizes as you test your pigskin prognostication skills against celebrity experts and NOW's staff of award-winning sportswriters.

Reigning Miss St. Francis Colleen Mrotek (pictured) and Time Warner Cable Sports 32's JP Cadorin join the fray this season as celebrity experts picking games each week. They will be joined by Lake Country Sports Director JR Radcliffe and NOW sports reporters John Rech, Tom "Sky" Skibosh and Steven L. Tietz. 

Weekly winners will receive movie passes to Marcus Theatres. The top three finishers at the end of the season are eligible to receive a gift certificate to Bartolotta restaurants worth $100, $50 or $25.

The contest begins this week and lasts until the end of the regular season.

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New Berlin schools, unions settle pay, benefit dispute

Aug. 27, 2012 3:24 p.m. | A resolution of $7 million in pay and benefit disputes between the New Berlin School Board and three employee unions has been reached, calling for the district to pay $525,000 to employees and retirees.

The disputes spanned four years and the resolution settles all pending litigation and claims between the School District and the three unions - the New Berlin Education Association, the New Berlin Special Education Paraprofessional Association and the New Berlin Clerical Association.

The disputes included wages for school years of 2009-10 and 2010-11; eliminating the sick leave bank; payments to some co-curricular coaches amounting to $21,154; and premium payments made to the district's self-funded health plan. No money will be paid to the unions.

Under 2011 legislation commonly called Acts 10 and 32, school districts are generally no longer required to negotiate wages and benefits. The School Board has set pay since the 2011-2012 school year.

Whitnall looking to make own history

Aug. 24, 2012 11:56 p.m. | The past decade of football contests between Whitnall and New Berlin Eisenhower have primarily gone in one direction. Friday night in New Berlin, the game between the two Woodland Conference rivals took more wild turns than Christopher Columbus did before discovering America.

A history lesson would tell you that Eisenhower had defeated the Falcons seven of the last eight times dating back to 2002. This time, history was not meant to repeat itself as the Falcons completed a thrilling 36-28 comeback win over the Lions in the season opener for both schools.

Whitnall took advantage of three Eisenhower lost fumbles that proved to be the difference in a game between contrasting offensive mindsets. The Falcons and senior quarterback Zach Sutton spent the entire night peppering the air with an efficient passing attack, while the Lions opted for a running attack led by junior Nick Taylor.

Both offenses looked unstoppable at times and inept at others, but it was the passing game of Whitnall that dominated the fourth quarter. The Falcons finally took the lead with less than six minutes left in the game on a 30-yard field goal by senior Nick Stemo and sealed the win a few minutes later on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Sutton to fellow senior Patrick Wyrowski with 20 seconds left in the game.

“It was just the energy, everyone just brought the energy,” Sutton said. “We knew we had the momentum going into the half and we knew we could beat them.

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Construction slated for Sunnyslope, Cleveland intersection

Aug. 24, 2012 10:50 a.m. | Waukesha County Department of Public Works will begin road work on County Trunk Highway D (Cleveland Avenue) and Sunnyslope Road intersection in the city of New Berlin.

Construction will involve widening and resurfacing of the existing intersection and replacement of the existing traffic signals. Cleveland Avenue and Sunnyslope Road will be open to traffic at all times during construction. Residents are advised to drive carefully within the construction zone and to expect periodic delays due to construction activities.

Construction is scheduled to begin the week of Aug. 27 and is expected to be completed by Oct. 12.

Payne and Dolan will construct the project. Waukesha County will perform construction management and inspection of the project.

For more information, contact Michael F. Grulke, county project manager, at (262) 548-7740 or Jim Soehner of Waukesha County at (262) 970-4720.

Milwaukee man charged with driving into two people outside Danny's Lounge

Aug. 24, 2012 8:27 a.m. | Damon James Edward Howard, 36, of Milwaukee has been charged with two counts of felony reckless endangerment for allegedly driving an SUV into two pedestrians outside a West Allis bar Saturday.

Howard was charged with two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and three counts of striking an occupied or attended vehicle after he allegedly struck two people with a Ford Explorer outside Danny's Lounge, near 60th and Burnham streets, about 2 a.m. Saturday, West Allis Deputy Chief Charles Padgett said in a news release Thursday. Howard also is accused of striking a vehicle turning north onto 60th Street.

Two people were taken to Aurora West Allis and Froedtert hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, Padgett said.

Police arrested a second man in connection with the hit and run; however, no charges have been filed.

Shots were reportedly fired at the fleeing SUV, and one man was arrested and a firearm was confiscated. Padgett said the investigation regarding the shooting is still under way. Shots were fired from the area of the 6100 block of West Burnham Street.

New Berlin reaches settlement with unions

Aug. 22, 2012 5:33 p.m. | The School District of New Berlin has agreed to pay some of its retirees and employees a total of $525,000 to resolve pay and benefit disputes lodged by several education unions, the district announced Wednesday.

The settlement signed Aug. 13 resolves four years of disputes over the elimination of the sick leave bank, payments to some co-curricular coaches, premium payments made to the district's self-funded health plan and the settlement of wages for school years 2009-'10 and 2010-'11, according to a news release.

The New Berlin Education Association, the New Berlin Special Education Paraprofessional Association and the New Berlin Clerical Association had made claims for about $7 million in several grievances dating back to 2007, according to the district.

Superintendent Joe Garza said in the release that the settlement should help rebuild relationships that had been strained during difficult contract negotiations.

Citizens file federal complaint against New Berlin schools

Aug. 22, 2012 3:58 p.m. | A group of residents who contend the New Berlin high school sports facilities for girls’ swimming and other athletics are inferior to the resources for boys’ sports have filed a federal complaint against the school district.

The Title IX athletics complaint against the district was received by the Office of Civil Rights in Chicago last week, and a press officer there said the case is under review to see if it warrants a full investigation.

The latest complaint is signed by 42 people and follows a similar complaint lodged last fall by the same lead resident - New Berlin parent Russ Bellford, whose daughter is on the swim team.

The issue centers on the girls' swim and dive team facilities at Eisenhower Middle/High School, which Bellford contends is unequal to the facilities for the boys' swim and dive team, which practices at West Middle/High School.

Bellford said parents want a serious upgrade to the deteriorating swim facilities at Eisenhower, and that they're willing to raise the money for 50% of the costs. They contend New Berlin's administration is dragging its feet because district leaders don't want to spend the money on facilities for the girls, despite spending around $300,000 to upgrade facilities that benefited boys football in recent years.

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NOW reader thanks good Samaritans for helping with wheelchair

Aug. 21, 2012 1:11 p.m. | Louise Osborn found herself in a quandary when she visited a Muskego park with her husband and granddaughter earlier this month.

Her husband, partially paralyzed from a stroke, tipped over in his wheelchair and his family could not get him back upright.

That's when two strangers happened to drive by and did something that prompted Mrs. Osborn to send a letter to her local paper.

Read Osborn's letter to MuskegoNOW.

Man killed at Muskego retirement home identified

Aug. 20, 2012 6:18 p.m. | A resident of a retirement home in Muskego who was killed when he was struck by a vehicle at the complex was identified Monday as Henry A. Hintze, 92.

Hintze, formerly of New Berlin, was struck shortly before 10 a.m. Sunday in a smoking area adjacent to a parking lot at Tudor Oaks retirement home, police said.

According to police, a vehicle driven by a 63-year-old Hales Corners man struck Hintze and went on to strike a garage.

The driver, who was visiting another Tudor Oaks resident, was hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.

Waukesha County Board chairmanship to remain full time

Aug. 20, 2012 1:58 p.m. | Waukesha - Waukesha County Board Chairman Paul Decker and other members of the board's Executive Committee on Monday put to rest any notion that the chairman's job should be part time.

"We know it takes more to being in the chairman's position than a lot of people recognize," Decker said in explaining how his time has been occupied since taking over the chairman's job in April.

Initially, he was among those who apparently underestimated what it took to do the job.

Before assuming the role, Decker had publicly stated he would run for the chairmanship on the belief that a majority of county supervisors would vote to reduce the job to part time. He said full use of technology and County Board staff would allow him to handle the job as well as his own business, a technology innovation consulting firm.

County Executive Dan Vrakas called on the County Board to consider the move shortly after Jim Dwyer, the County Board chairman for 18 years, was defeated in his re-election bid for county supervisor. The County Board chooses its chairman from among its members.

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Vehicle strikes, kills Muskego retirement home resident

Aug. 19, 2012 4:30 p.m. | A 90-year-old resident of a retirement community in Muskego was killed shortly before 9:50 a.m. Sunday after he was struck by a vehicle, police reported.

According to Muskego police Lt. Andrew Kraus:

The man, a resident of Tudor Oaks on McShane Drive, was in a smoking area outside one of the buildings and adjacent to a parking lot.

A 63-year-old Hales Corners man who was visiting another resident struck the victim and then a garage with his vehicle. He was hospitalized for nonlife-threatening injuries.

The victim, a former New Berlin resident, was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Keith Hastings back on School Board

Aug. 14, 2012 2:02 p.m. | Keith Hastings, who resigned from the New Berlin School Board on June 1, is back on the board as of Monday.

When he resigned, he said his work commitments had come to make it impossible for him to give enough time to the job of School Board member.

In his time away from the board, he has explored other career possibilities that he could not explore as a board member. Finally, he decided he needed to make a bigger change, Hastings said. In the meantime, he said, he has time for board work.

After his resignation, the School Board decided to appoint someone to fill Hastings' term, which expires in April, 2013. Hastings followed the board's procedure to be appointed by sending in a resume with a letter of intent. The board interviewed him Monday and appointed him.

Board member Art Marquardt said, "Two weeks ago, I was thinking in favor of leaving the seat empty."

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A pictorial look at Paul Ryan in the suburbs

Aug. 11, 2012 8:17 a.m. | U.S. Rep Paul Ryan, who was named this morning as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's running mate, has made a number of recent stops in suburban Milwaukee for listening sessions.

NOW photographer Peter Zuzga was there to cover Ryan's appearances, including a stop in Franklin in 2011 and Greendale in May.

Man arrested in sexual assault at bus stop

Aug. 08, 2012 6:54 a.m. | A 23-year-old West Allis man has been charged in connection with a July 27 sexual assault in which he is accused of grabbing a woman and touching her inappropriately at a bus stop in the 400 block of Lincoln Ave., Milwaukee police said.

Police are trying to determine whether Anthony H. Kodrich is linked to seven other similar assaults in Milwaukee, South Milwaukee and Shorewood.

Kodrich was charged Sunday with second-degree sexual assault in connection with the 5:30 p.m. July 27 incident.

Police said after the woman was attacked she later saw news reports about similar incidents in Bay View and South Milwaukee and reported the attack on her to police.

Police said they had bus video of the July 27 incident and that Detective Branko Stojsavljevic and Officer Amy Stolowski on July 30 went to the Lincoln Ave. area where the attack occurred and boarded buses to look for the suspect.

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George Webb restaurant in Greenfield robbed twice in four days

Aug. 07, 2012 3:19 p.m. | Police are seeking suspects responsible for two armed robberies at a George Webb restaurant Wednesday and Sunday.

According to Greenfield police:

A masked man entered the restaurant at 4845 W. Forest Home Ave. shortly after 8 p.m. Aug. 1, held a gun to an employee's head and demanded money from the cash register. After receiving an unknown amount of cash, the suspect left the restaurant in an unknown direction. A vehicle was not seen.

The suspect is described as white, 5 feet 10 inches tall with a medium build, and wearing black running pants with stripes down the side and a short-sleeve shirt with blue and gray graphics worn over a black long-sleeve shirt. The suspect was also wearing a ski mask and dark-colored gloves. He displayed a semi-automatic handgun with chipped metal on the barrel.

Shortly after 11:30 a.m. Aug. 5, police responded to a second report of an armed robbery at the same restaurant. The masked suspect again displayed a handgun and demanded money from the cash register. The suspect then left with an unknown amount of cash. Police were unable to locate him.

» Read Full Article

Kroupa steps down at Whitnall

Aug. 07, 2012 2:10 p.m. | Whitnall boys basketball coach Kent Kroupa, whose coaching career began at the school in 1984, has decided to retire from his position.

The Falcons reached the sectional semifinal in last year's Division 2 tournament, falling to eventual state qualifier Milwaukee Pius. He coached at Whitnall over two stretches, leading teams to state in 1986, 1988 and 2004, winning the state championship in 1988.

Kroupa, who worked with learning-disabled students at Whitnall for 32 years, coached at the school from 1984 to 1994, then left to coach at Muskego from 1995 to 2002. After taking a year off, he returned to Whitnall and immediately led the 2003-04 team to the state tournament in Madison. In his 27 years of coaching, Kroupa piled up a record of 335-279.

Kroupa said the retirement gives him a chance to spend more time with his family. He and wife Linda intend to move to the Phoenix, Ariz. area to be closer to son Craig, who teaches in the area.

Pumas schedule baseball tryouts

Aug. 05, 2012 4:54 p.m. |  Tryouts for the U-14 New Berlin Pumas baseball team are from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Malone Field, 16400 W. Al Stigler Parkway.

To make an appointment, contact Craig Anderson at vikingfanatic@wi.rr.com.

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