Report: Fire department consolidation would save 5 communities millions

May 30, 2012 2:46 p.m. | Five southern Milwaukee County communities could save millions of dollars over the next five years if they consolidated their fire departments, a report by the Public Policy Forum says.

Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners and Oak Creek could save $1 million annually in operating costs and about $4 million over the next five years in vehicle replacement costs if they formed one fire department, the report released Wednesday states.

The communities could save money if they stopped short of consolidation and shared some services, but the saving would not be as great, said Rob Henken, forum president.

For example, if the communities retained all five fire departments but operated under an "automatic aid agreement" in which the closest unit responds to a fire or EMS call regardless of municipal boundary, the municipalities potentially could save $3.35 million on vehicle replacement costs over five years. The report refers to this set up as an "operational consolidation."

"Essentially, all calls would be treated as if it was a consolidated department, but still you would have five independent departments that would maintain their own personnel, their own personnel policies, their own equipment," Henken said.

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Special Act 10 section now online

May 30, 2012 1:11 p.m. |

Act 10: Pass or Fail? 

We have just published our special section taking a detailed look at the landmark Act 10 legislation and the effect it has had on local school districts.

The section features a main story examining the overall effects of the law and feature stories focusing on local school districts.

You'll also find a photo gallery highlighting some of the controversy surrounding the passage of the law, a Storify of opinions collected from social networks and more.

Go to special section.

Whitnall's evolution continues in win over Vikings

May 29, 2012 8:27 p.m. | With a starting lineup of four freshmen and one sophomore, it seems logical that the Whitnall softball team would develop over the course of the 2012 season. It took one inning for the Falcons to prove it.

Facing a team that shut them down the first time around, 10-0, the Falcons scored four times in the first en route to a 7-4 upset over New Berlin West in the second round of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs. The win vaulted West into a Thursday battle with Catholic Memorial, which scored its own upset in topping New Berlin Eisenhower, 9-7.

"We're a little more seasoned now," Whitnall coach Tom Hickman said. "They don't have that 'deer in the headlights' look any more. They expect to win, and they're good players."

The team's youth had its fingerprints all over the victory, starting in that opening frame when sophomore Ann Bay and freshman Kim Robinson drew two-out walks to set up freshman Liz Thon, who belted a two-run double over the center fielder's head despite a gusting wind blowing in. Fellow freshman Renee Caron followed with an RBI single to wrap the four-run rally.

"The ball was really going outside, and they told me to get closer to the plate," Thon said. "Everybody's pumped after that."

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Parking mishap leads to fourth drunken-driving arrest

May 23, 2012 10:21 a.m. | A 60-year-old Racine man was arrested for his fourth drunken driving offense after he struck two vehicles while trying to park his car at a local restaurant Sunday.

According to the Greenfield police report:

An employee at Kopps Custard, 7631 W. Layton Ave., called police to report the driver of a black Ford F350 backed into one vehicle, then also struck the vehicle in front of him while he was trying to park his car in the parking lot.

The caller told police the man appeared intoxicated.

The suspect was taken into custody for fourth-offense drunken driving. His preliminary blood alcohol content was unavailable at the time of the report.

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Grand jury indicts former sheriff's sergeant on child porn

May 22, 2012 8:12 p.m. | A grand jury returned a nine-count indictment charging a former Milwaukee County Sheriff's sergeant who once served as spokesman for the department with producing child pornography, the U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday.

Philip H. Wentzel, 41, of West Allis, was charged with six counts of production and one count each of advertising, distributing and possessing child pornography, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.

Wentzel, who was charged with the offenses in federal court earlier this month, admitted to the FBI that he drugged and molested girls and took pornographic images of them, and that he had a difficult time controlling his urges, according to U.S. Attorney James Santelle.

Shoplifting suspect pushes elderly woman while fleeing

May 22, 2012 1:17 p.m. | A 37-year-old Milwaukee man is facing multiple charges after he pushed down an elderly woman while fleeing from a shoplifting arrest at a local supermarket last week.

According to the Greenfield police report:

Police responded to a call of an elderly customer being pushed down by a retail theft suspect at Pick 'n Save, 4279 S. 76th St., shortly after 4 p.m. May 14.

The Greenfield Fire Department then responded for the woman, who was not able to get up, and emergency personnel transported her to the hospital for treatment of her injuries.

The suspect was soon located by police in the 6800 block of West Howard Avenue, and was taken into custody for an outstanding warrant with the Department of Corrections.

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Woman run over and killed in West Allis may have been hit first by another car

May 08, 2012 5:50 p.m. | Arrests have been made and charges filed against two drivers in the deaths of a mother and her adult son in two separate crashes on the same morning in West Allis last month.

But the investigation is not over, according to WISN-TV (Channel 12).

Colleen Henry reports that a search warrant suggests why Mary Jane Moore, 45, was lying in the roadway outside a West Allis tavern before police say she was fatally run over early April 29 by a driver who didn't stop.

Patrons at Capt'n Nicks said Moore had been drinking and  arguing with her ex-boyfriend and that surveillance video shows his car passing by less than two minutes before the car police say killed Moore, Henry reports.

Police have found fibers and hair in the damaged rear area of the ex-boyfriend's car, Henry reported. He had not been arrested as of Tuesday.

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Bail reduced for driver in West Allis fatality

May 07, 2012 11:30 a.m. | A judge on Monday reduced the bail from $50,000 to $25,000 for a man charged with a drunken driving crash in West Allis that killed his close friend, hours after the friend's mother had been struck and killed by another driver.

The attorney for Xavier Hughes, 21, argued that the bail seemed excessive given the driver in the other crash fled the scene and had a far lower bail. The attorney, Paul Ksicinski, suggested Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet follow the county's new evidence-based pre-trial release program, called Praxis, that suggested a bail range of $2,500 to $10,000.

But Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams cited Hughes' prior record of robbery and possessing a short-barrelled shotgun, along with his 12-page traffic court record over repeated suspensions, and two outstanding municipal court warrants at the time of the crash.

"He's a risk to the community," Williams said.

Dallet said she doesn't often look closely at defendants' driving records, but that in Hughes'  case it was relevant.

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Milwaukee man charged with homicide in fatal West Allis crash

May 02, 2012 12:10 p.m. | Homicide charges were filed Wednesday in the death of Thomas Olson, the West Allis man killed in a crash just hours after his mother was hit and killed by a car.

Xavier Dustin Hughes, 21, of Milwaukee is charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle; homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle - prohibited alcohol concentration; injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle, great bodily harm; injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle, great bodily harm - prohibited alcohol concentration.

If convicted of all charges, he faces up to 75 years in prison.

Olson's mother, Mary Jane Moore, 45, was struck and killed by a car about 1 a.m. Sunday apparently while lying in the 1500 block of S. 81st St. The suspected driver of the car was later arrested for leaving the scene of an accident.

Olson, 22, was a passenger in a Jeep Grand Cherokee when he received a phone call informing him that his mother had been injured.

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Highway 100 widening would plow businesses under

May 01, 2012 9:50 p.m. | A state Department of Transportation plan to widen Highway 100 would result in dozens of businesses being lost in West Allis and tonight the Common Council decided to protest the plan.

Alderman Gary Barczak, chairman of the Public Works Committee, estimated the city would lose 50 businesses if the widening went through. At the very least $10 million in real estate would be gone and $500,000 in taxbase, estimated Peter Daniels, principal engineer.

"I think we're going to have a real fight," Daniels said, as the state Department of Transportation is determined to at least add 10 feet to the road for bike lanes.

The Common Council decided to send a strong protest to state transportation authorities. The city also will express its opposition to any widening to the city's state representatives and to the governor.

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