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Milwaukee's statements on Pizza Man fire irk West Allis officials

Jan. 28, 2010 3:52 p.m. | It's safe to say West Allis fire officials didn't take kindly to suggestions their Fire Department would not be up to the task of battling blazes in Milwaukee.

In a letter to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and the city's Police and Fire Commission, the West Allis Police and Fire Commission criticized remarks the Milwaukee fire union president made on WTMJ radio.

The letter quotes union President David Seager as saying West Allis and other suburban fire departments would not have "the wherewithal to conduct urban firefighting."

Several suburban fire departments, including West Allis, were called to cover Milwaukee firehouses last week as firefighters battled the large fire at the Pizza Man restaurant on Milwaukee's east side.

"It's blatantly clear that these communities, if called upon, to respond to a working structure fire of any nature within the city of Milwaukee, they would have extreme difficulty," the letter quotes Seager as saying on Jeff Wagner's afternoon WTMJ radio show.

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Westbound I-94 near Miller Park to close for 31 hours beginning Friday night

Dec. 18, 2014 11:57 a.m. | Westbound lanes of Interstate 94 at the stadium interchange near Miller Park will be closed from 11 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Sunday for a storm sewer installation.

The state Department of Transportation expects backups during the day Saturday on westbound I-94 between the Marquette and stadium interchanges.

The DOT recommends the following detours:

  • Miller Park Way to National Avenue to Greenfield Avenue
  • US 41 to Bluemound Road to Glenview Avenue to Watertown Plank Road
  • I-894 bypass or I-43 to other regional east/west routes

More information the project, and other projects, is available on the DOT website.

Central wrestlers take control of GMC race with 29-27 win over Falls

Dec. 17, 2014 10:18 p.m. | It pays to have big guys and it pays to have guys who never quit.

The West Allis Central wrestling team had both those things going for it Wednesday night, as it overcame a 24-13 deficit with four matches to go and took a critical 29-27 Greater Metro Conference dual meet win over two-time league champion Menomonee Falls.

"It really pays to never give up and that was important tonight," said Bulldog coach Jon Nelson. "There were so many close matches at the beginning. It was three points here and three points there.

"We were down 24-13, but everybody knows that's just two pins away. We try to teach our big guys not to rely on throws but to take what's in front of them."

With the win, the Bulldogs have now taken care of two major obstacles in their race towards a GMC title. The previous week, they dominated archrival Hale. Meanwhile, Falls fell to 1-1 in league duals.

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Whitnall School Board closer to facilities referendum decision

Dec. 16, 2014 8:11 a.m. | Greenfield — Facilities projects totaling $26.5 million to $31.6 million and include a new Hales Corners Elementary School plus energy-saving and projects at other schools came closer to a referendum at Monday's Whitnall School Board meeting.

The board directed the administration to get harder cost estimates, individualizing them to each project. That way the board would have the option to hold a separate referendum on each one. The goal is to make a decision about a possible referendum at the next School Board meeting.

The upper spending estimates are deemed to be "worst case scenarios" and administrators predicted the actual costs would be closer to the lower numbers.

The biggest chunk of the proposed facilities spending would be for a new Hales Corners Elementary School. It would cost between $19 million and $21 million, officials said. Because only $4 million separated estimates for a new school and the cost of renovating the existing school, the board unanimously supported a new school.

It could be designed to be more secure than retrofitting the current building, it would have the bigger classrooms necessary for teaching methods used today and education would not be disrupted during construction, School Board members said.

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Blocked sewer leads to sewage spill into Honey Creek

Dec. 12, 2014 6:15 p.m. | An estimated 431,480 gallons of sewage overflowed Tuesday from a clogged Milwaukee sanitary sewer in the 7700 block of W. Oklahoma Ave. and into Honey Creek, city public works officials said Friday.

After the 12-inch diameter pipe became blocked by tree roots and grease Tuesday morning, sewage backed up into a bypass manhole where it was pumped to a storm sewer, City Engineer Jeff Polenske said in a report to the state Department of Natural Resources. The storm sewer discharges to a ditch that drains to the creek.

The sewer overflowed for six hours and did not end until 1:10 p.m. Tuesday when the clog was removed, according to the report.

The bypass pump operates automatically to prevent backups of sewage into basements of nearby residences and businesses, Polenske said.

A monitor in the bypass manhole was offline for winter maintenance so city sewer workers were not alerted to the overflow until a citizen reported an accumulation of grease and debris in the ditch, the report said. The ditch, northeast of the intersection of S. 77th St. and W. Oklahoma Ave., is in West Allis.

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Greenfield St. Vincent de Paul store opening soon, accepting donations

Dec. 11, 2014 11:50 a.m. | The new Greenfield St. Vincent de Paul retail store is scheduled to open in January and is now accepting donations.

The store, at 4476 S. 108th St., is in part of the former Walmart building.

Donations are being accepted at the north side drive through donation lane.

The store needs gently used clothing, furniture, household items and appliances. Donations are either resold at affordable prices or go directly to families in need via a gift certificate program.

West Allis-West Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce fundraiser does OK

Dec. 10, 2014 5:30 p.m. | Attendance was a bit down at Forks & Corks, the annual fundraiser for the West Allis-West Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce, that had a new venue, a new day of the week and a new time this year, but the event itself was one of the best, said Diane Brandt, chamber executive director.

Normally, attendance at the event where guests sample some of the best of West Allis fare and try many wines and beers, had been 500 to 700 people. That is a bit more than the more than 450 who came to this year's Forks & Corks.

It was moved indoors to the atrium of Summit Place from the outdoor West Allis Farmers Market. It also was held on a Sunday afternoon instead of on a Friday evening.

But the event itself featured more restaurants than ever and even was able to showcase a number of new ones along with perennial favorites, Brandt said. There was musical entertainment, a cozy fire and much more, she said.

Even though the fundraiser didn't raise as much as in the past, the chamber's annual golf outing fundraiser did better than before, so chamber programming and services will be unchanged. There even will be some new initiatives, Brandt said.

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West Allis man sentenced for voting twice in 2012 presidential election

Dec. 10, 2014 5:29 p.m. | A 34-year-old West Allis man who blamed depression and anxiety for voting twice in the 2012 presidential election was sentenced Wednesday to 90 days in jail as a condition of 18 months probation.

The sentence was less than a prosecutor recommended, but more than the fine recommended by Todd M. Murray's lawyer, who argued that Milwaukee County is harshly out of line with the rest of the state in resolving cases of double voting.

Circuit Judge Joseph Donald said it didn't matter that Murray's extra vote didn't affect any electoral outcomes. It's still a serious offense that affects everyone else who counts on the principle of one person, one vote. A sentence without jail time, Donald said, would depreciate the nature of the crime.

Murray, who reports to jail Jan. 5, will be allowed release privileges for work and therapy.

Murray was on his way home from his engineering job in Waukesha on Nov. 6, 2012, when he stopped in New Berlin, registered and voted. He then cast another ballot at his regular polling place in West Allis. He was charged in June and pleaded guilty Wednesday.

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Proposed Meijer's aesthetics, driveway concern Greenfield commission

Dec. 10, 2014 12:58 p.m. | Greenfield — More needs to be done to break up the visual impact of the large front wall of the proposed Meijer super store, the Greenfield Plan Commission has told store representatives.

The store, carrying general merchandise and groceries, is proposed for 60th Street and Layton Avenue. The project is the largest private commercial development in the city's history, officials said.

Besides concerns about the front of the building, the commission doubted that the planned driveway to the gas station that is part of the development would actually be allowed. State and county highway officials could well deem it to be too close to the intersection, commissioners said.

The result could be a poor traffic circulation pattern within the Meijer (pronounced like Oscar Mayer) parking lot and an underused gas station, Mayor Michael Neitzke warned last week.

Adjustments will be made before the 7 p.m. Jan. 6 public hearing before the common council. Plans will go back to the Plan Commission on Jan. 13.

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Large car show moving to State Fair Park

Dec. 10, 2014 10:19 a.m. | A large, national car show is moving to State Fair Park in July and organizers say it will attract 6,000 performance cars and 35,000 people over three days.

The Car Craft Summer Nationals show is scheduled to take place July 17-19 at State Fair Park in West Allis. The show had been held for more than a decade in St. Paul, Minn.

"Showcasing more than 6,000 performance cars and attracting upward of 35,000 enthusiasts from across the country over the course of three days, the Car Craft Summer Nationals is an annual celebration of horsepower, torque, and all things automotive," show organizers said in a statement.

Car Craft is a brand of The Enthusiast Network, which also owns Motor Trend, Automobile and Hot Rod among others. The company has more than 50 publications, 60 websites, 50 events, 1,000 branded products.

State Fair Park offers a larger venue for the event.

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Whitnall survey shows support for new school, other projects

Dec. 09, 2014 12:57 p.m. | Greenfield — A referendum and possibly a new Hales Corners Elementary School may be in the future of the Whitnall School District, based on survey results made public Monday.

A majority of responding parents and nonparents said they likely would support a referendum to improve security, accessibility and maintenance needs of the school built in 1948. Others who said they would support a referendum slightly favored starting over with a whole new school at $19 million to $21 million over renovating the current building for $15 million to $17 million.

The survey also showed strong support for a referendum to catch up on maintenance and improve energy efficiency at Whitnall High School and at Edgerton Elementary School. That cost was estimated at $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

It was a tossup as to whether a referendum would pass on $5 million to $7 million in projects involving the Whitnall High School swimming pool, weight room and locker rooms.

The Whitnall School Board will discuss a possible referendum at its Monday, Dec. 15, meeting.

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West Allis takes stronger control of pawn shops

Dec. 08, 2014 7:00 p.m. | West Allis — In an effort to better control pawn shops, West Allis will impose the kind of stronger control it already employs for taverns.

The common council approved an ordinance requiring pawn shops to set down in writing their hours of operations and other details of their operations and then stick to what they have told the city. If the businesses don't live up to their promises, the city will have leverage to get rid of them, officials said.

The ordinance was passed in response to neighborhood protests involving customers of Pawn America that has been operating at 7530 W. Lincoln Ave. for more than a year and a half.

Neighbors have complained about customers parking them in, cutting through their yards, urinating on their garages, looking into car windows, using bad language, being verbally abusive, hanging around before and after store hours, speeding down the alley lined with the garages of residents and even engaging in suspected drug deals.

Pawn America has made several changes and agreed to do more to eliminate those concerns.

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Greenfield Christmas lights contest in full swing

Dec. 08, 2014 6:43 p.m. | Residents on the east side of Greenfield should leave their Christmas lights on, as the judges in the annual holiday lights contest will be cruising around until Thursday.

The contest is sponsored by the Greenfield Beautification Committee. Each year, the committee judges half the city. This year, holiday displays east of 76th Street will be in the contest.

Previous winners are not eligible. Awards will be given Saturday, Dec. 13.

Heroin dealer convicted of 2 overdose deaths in 2012

Dec. 05, 2014 4:50 p.m. | A man police say sold the heroin that killed two people in separate overdoses — one in a Milwaukee college dorm room, one in a West Allis home — was convicted Friday of four felonies connected to the deaths.

Telly Bernardo Johnson, 40, now faces up to 65 years in prison at his sentencing in February.

Johnson, who was living in Milwaukee in 2012, was known to some customers as "Playboy" or "Memphis." He was charged with two counts each of first-degree reckless homicide, and delivery of drugs, in two fatal heroin overdoses in December 2012. A jury found him guilty of all four counts Friday.

Assistant District Attorney Patricia Daugherty, who prosecutes all the so-called Len Bias law cases in Milwaukee County, said she could not recall another in which a dealer was held responsible for two deaths.

"Sort of the sad reality is that any heroin dealer has probably killed someone," Daugherty said, but it's not always possible to trace a fatal overdose of the drug back to its seller.

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Resident input wanted for two Greenfield road projects

Dec. 04, 2014 5:37 p.m. | Public information open houses will be held next week on Greenfield plans to widen streets and install curbs where there were rural gravel shoulders in one neighborhood and narrow another street in two places to slow traffic down.

Public input is being sought on both.

The project for the Lynndale neighborhood near 35th would also flatten hills and install better storm sewers in addition to introducing curbs and wider streets.

The public information, open house, will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, at the city hall, 7325 W. Forest Home Ave. The project will take all summer.

While widening is proposed for Lynndale, narrowing is proposed for two spots on Howard Avenue.

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Mequon lawyer indicted on 33 counts related to fraud, money laundering

Dec. 03, 2014 10:52 p.m. | A Mequon lawyer whose clients sued her for fraud in civil court two years ago has been indicted by a federal grand jury on 33 counts, including bank and wire and mail fraud, money laundering and filing a false tax return.

Sarah E.K. Laux, 35, runs her own office in Greenfield and targeted older clients with estate planning and trust services, often through free luncheon seminars. She also had a related insurance company she at times claimed was a nonprofit organization, according to former clients.

In announcing the charges Wednesday, U.S. Attorney James Santelle said financial fraud by people in positions of trust is a high priority for his office, "especially so when the victims of the suspected offense are vulnerable because of age or infirmity and have relied upon their attorney to faithfully protect their financial interests and well being — only to have the trust exploited and abused."

Laux's growing troubles were first reported by the Journal Sentinel last year, when her most prominent clients, the heirs of early 20th century Milwaukee industrial leader Charles Pfister Vogel, claimed she had converted more than $1.5 million, money they claimed Laux used, in part, to purchase real estate in Mequon and pay personal expenses.

According to that civil suit and the federal indictment, that scheme involved Laux convincing the trustees of Carleen Vogel Guenther's main trust that she needed $450,000 from a trust principal as the move-in fee at Newcastle Place, a senior housing development in Mequon. That was approved, and Laux, acting with Guenther's power of attorney, moved the money into accounts she controlled at a different bank.

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