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Still no word on cause of Menomonee Falls fire

Jan. 18, 2010 11:43 a.m. | No, we have not forgotten about the fire at Latasha Jackson’s house. No, we are not burying the news or deliberately withholding information about the blaze that destroyed the $1 million mansion in Menomonee Falls, as some readers have wondered in emails.

We simply have nothing new to report at this point.

Bill Cosh, spokesman for state Fire Marshal Tina Virgil, says, “It’s an on-going investigation” and that he cannot comment further.

Sources tell the Journal Sentinel some remnants of the fire were sent to the crime lab and that investigators are awaiting the results.

As it stands, the fire has not been declared arson. Investigators won’t say whether they’ve determined the origin.

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U.S. appeals court overturns conviction in Falls bank robbery

2:46 p.m. | A federal appeals court has reversed the conviction of a Milwaukee man serving 25 years for robbery because Wisconsin judges denied him his right to represent himself at his trial.

In its opinion, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted that the Wisconsin Supreme Court got the law totally wrong when it upheld a Waukesha County trial judge's order that Rashaad Imani proceed with an attorney he didn't want, after he explicitly asked to act as his own attorney, four weeks before trial.

"That decision was an error. Further, it was contrary to and an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law," Judge David Williams wrote for a tha three-judge panelcix:command value="252"/>The court ordered Imani be released or granted a new trial.

In 2007, Imani, now 38, was found guilty of armed robbery and being a felon with a firearm in the holdup of a Menomonee Falls bank and was sentenced by Circuit Judge Mac Davis to 25 years in prison. Imani's cousin, Raziga Imani, was sentenced to 15 years for his role in the robbery after he agreed to be a prosecution witness in his cousin's trial.

The state Court of Appeals reversed the conviction on the same grounds at the 7th Circuit, but the Supreme Court in 2010 upheld Davis' decision not let Imani act as his own attorney. Imani then went to federal court.

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Marcus to add lounge, pizzeria at Menomonee Falls cinema

7:00 a.m. | Marcus Theatres plans to add a Take Five Lounge and a Zaffiro's Express pizzeria to its Menomonee Falls cinema.

The Village Board this week approved a liquor license for the theater, W180 N9393 Premier Lane. That's just southeast of Appleton Ave. and County Line Road 

The cinema's website says the Take Five Lounge and Zaffiro's Express, which operate at five Milwaukee-area locations, will be coming soon to Menomonee Falls. 

Oak Creek baseball team plays small ball to beat Menomonee Falls

June 21, 2016 9:12 p.m. | The storied history of the Oak Creek baseball team is filled with balls sprayed all over the park and epic home runs.

But with a dry, rock-hard infield Tuesday night at Abendschein Park against red-hot defending state champion Menomonee Falls, the Knights played a little small ball and used it to great effect.

The first three batters in both the second and fourth innings got on base without benefit of the ball leaving the infield. The Knights wound up scoring twice in each frame and then rode DJ Ellifson's complete game effort to a pivotal, 5-1 victory.

"I even thought about a safety squeeze late and I'm not a fan of squeezing," said Knights coach Scott Holler, "but I do like to bunt. I saw an opprtunity to keep pushing things and we got a couple of balls down.

"And it was a really fast track tonight (on the infield)."

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Germantown School District could ask for up to $66.5 million in building updates

June 21, 2016 12:55 p.m. | According to Germantown School Board President Bob Soderberg, "We have a lot of needs in the district, a lot of needs."

And, after the June 13 board meeting, the district is moving forward in addressing those needs.

The board finalized a community facilities survey that will be sent out to district residents this month. The survey will measure constituents' willingness to pay for needed school building upgrades.

The final draft of the survey was developed after taking into consideration community concerns about clarifying the specific costs of each item.

The resulting survey describes each of the needed updates to the district's school buildings along with the estimated cost of each.

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Menomonee Falls man accused of inappropriately touching woman with dementia

June 21, 2016 11:50 a.m. | A Menomonee Falls man has been charged with two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault after an alleged inappropriate interaction with a patient at the Menomonee Falls Health Care Center on June 10.

According to the criminal complaint, 73-year-old Earl Wright Sr. allegedly approached the victim, a woman being treated for dementia at the center, as she lay in bed and began to touch her inappropriately.

Linda Warfel, a nurse at the center conducting rounds during that time, said she saw Wright touching the woman, and said he stopped when she walked into the room.

Warfel added that the woman is unable to legally give consent for purposes of sexual contact because of her illness.

Wright Sr. previously pleaded guilty to a similar offense in 2005 in which he was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault. Wright had approached a woman with three children who was waiting for her son after school at Village Park in Menomonee Falls.

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Germantown's Keefe has fun, plays strong at WBCA All-Star game

June 21, 2016 10:06 a.m. | Germantown Now All-Suburban basketball forward Max Keefe chuckled when he said his dad "has a lot of plans" for him, meaning work around the house, etc., this summer.

So Keefe was happy to get out of the house last week and have a good time with his peers as part of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association D1 All-Star Classic South team at the Justagame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells.

The South team lost a heartbreaker, 85-84, to North on Saturday, June 18, despite 14 points (5-of-7 shooting) from Keefe. He was one of four players in double figures for the South team.

"This was a lot of fun," he said. "We got together on Tuesday (June 14) and stayed in Hartford (where South coach Ben Hoffmann is from). We had some good practices Tuesday and Wednesday, and then Thursday we went up to the Dells.

"I knew almost alll of them, either from playing against them or with them (as part of summer AAU teams). It was a nice group to be around. No one was out just for themselves; we had some real team players. We really didn't have a big all-star out there either — just a lot of good fundamental guys who really got along."

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Weber comes back to help Menomonee Falls baseball team

June 20, 2016 12:55 p.m. | College students, especially freshmen, all get homesick from time to time.

It happens to the best of us.

Not that Menomonee Falls baseball coach Pat Hansen is complaining as less than a week after he took off for summer school at the University of Illinois where he has a baseball scholarship, Indian ace Ty Weber came back home and helped Falls take down then Greater Metro Conference co-leader Marquette, 16-4, on June 17.

"He was even here on Thursday," said Hansen of the doubleheader sweep of West Allis Hale on June 16. "He told us he could be around on weekends. It certainly is a nice boost for the team."

Especially for a team that has battled inconsistency but now seems to be rounding into form.

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Initial Reaction Podcast: MLB Draft's Wisconsin flavor and WIAA's postseason model

June 15, 2016 6:15 p.m. | The MLB Draft had a distinct Wisconsin flavor this year, and JP and JR dive in with state baseball underway. Also, given the number of talent-loaded sectionals in some sports, could the WIAA find a model that spreads the best teams around a little more evenly? Plus, new Greenfield boys basketball coach Kyle Johnsen stops by to talk about his new gig and his playing days just down the road at Greendale. Each week, Lake Country/Now sports director JR Radcliffe and Time Warner Cable Sports Channel's JP Cadorin chat about the Wisconsin sports scene, with an emphasis on Milwaukee-area preps. Find the podcast on Stitcher and iTunes.

Yellow bricks at Thomas Jefferson found to contain lead paint

June 15, 2016 2:12 p.m. | Yellow bricks from the now-closed Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Menomonee Falls were found to be covered in lead paint and will not be for sale after the building is demolished in July, according to Megan Sheridan, the district's director of communications and assistant to the superintendent.

Sheridan had said in an earlier email that the bricks could possibly be sold to community members as mementos, available for purchase at the building's open house June 24.

Due to the lead paint, however, purchasing the bricks will not be possible.

Hubertus man killed in head-on car crash

June 15, 2016 10:35 a.m. | A Hubertus man was killed on Appleton Avenue in Germantown on Tuesday, June 14, after his passenger car crossed the center line and collided with a truck traveling the opposite way, according to a report from the Germantown Police Department.

The Germantown Fire Department arrived at the scene of the accident, just north of Willow Creek Road, and performed lifesaving measures on 28-year-old Joshua Michek. However, the report said Michek was later pronounced dead on the scene.

Germantown police were also assisted by members of the Wisconsin State Patrol, according to the report.

The truck driver, a 52-year-old man from Watertown, was taken to Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls and is expected to be fine, according to Lieutenant Thomas Schreihart of the Germantown Police Department.

Schreihart said there is no further information as to why Michek crossed the center line, but the incident is under investigation.

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Chemical spill at Gehl Foods plant leaves five with minor injuries

June 14, 2016 12:17 p.m. | A gas buildup inside the Gehl Foods plant in Germantown on June 7 caused a chemical spill that sent five to the hospital with minor respiratory issues.

According to a press release from the Germantown Fire Department, a contractor had accidentally mixed two materials that created chlorine and sulfur dioxide, which eventually caused a pressure breach that released product and gas inside the facility.

All employees at the plant were evacuated, with five sent to Community Memorial Hospital after complaining of respiratory distress.

Responders on the scene determined the product could be flushed and diluted to a safe point. According to the release, the Washington County Hazmat Team monitored the situation in and around the building.

The area was released back to Gehl Foods after air monitoring was completed and the pH at the scene was neutral.

Vitale named principal at Menomonee Falls High School

June 14, 2016 12:17 p.m. | The School District of Menomonee Falls has named Bob Vitale as the new principal for Menomonee Falls High School, according to a Monday press release from the district. He replaces Corey Golla who was recently named the Director of Curriculum & Learning for the district.

"I'm just really excited for Bob and the school," Golla said in the release. "He has been an incredible leader in our building and the staff respects him and loves him, the kids respect and love him. It's great to know the building is in good hands."

Vitale has been an educator for 26 years, of which he has spent close to 20 in the Menomonee Falls School District as a physical education teacher, coach and most recently, vice principal.

As vice principal for the past eight years at MFHS Vitale, affectionately known to many of his students as Vito, has helped students navigate high school with careful attention to those most at-risk.

"Vitale's dedication to service, strong relationships with students and staff and his commitment to learning and leading well with others made him a clear choice for this position," said district superintendant Dr. Pat Greco in the release.

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Menomonee Falls' Ty Weber graduates, leaves for college, gets drafted

June 14, 2016 10:22 a.m. | Even by graduating-senior-with-so-many-decisions-to-make standards, Menomonee Falls pitcher Ty Weber is a man with a lot on his plate.

He's a good kid first and a highly talented baseball player who has a lot of admirers second.

"He's the kind of player you want your other players to be around," said Oak Creek coach Scott Holler. "Let them watch how hard he works and hope it rubs off on the others.

"Just watch how he carries himself."

Ty Weber may or may not have pitched his last game for Falls on June 10 with a strictly no-drama, nine-strikeout, two-hit, 9-0 win over Greater Metro Conference rival Wauwatosa East at Trenary Park.

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Germantown's Keller gets the Big League call

June 14, 2016 10:01 a.m. | The cellphone reception wasn't the greatest in the northwoods of Rome, Wisconsin, on June 11, but it was good enough that former Germantown State Player of the Year and pitcher Brian Keller knew his life had taken a sudden turn for the better.

He was at the family cabin of his old friend and former Warhawk catcher Danny Krause when the call came in that the senior 2016 Horizon League Pitcher of the Year for the UW-Milwaukee Panthers was going to be taken in the 39th round of the MLB Amateur Draft by the New York Yankees.

"Good enough to make out all the key words," Keller said, laughing about the call. "I thought it was pretty cool that I was being considered an option (for some teams). There were actually five or six teams that talked to me (before the draft)."

Now Keller is in Tampa, Florida, at a Yankees mini-camp with other prospects.

"There will be workouts, and then I'll be assigned (to a minor league team)," he said. "This is such a dream come true. Something I've been working toward since I was a little kid."

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Menomonee Falls Public Library holds 'Food for Fines Week'

June 14, 2016 9:31 a.m. | Library-goers can eliminate overdue book fees by giving back to the community this week during the Menomonee Falls Public Library's Food for Fines event June 13-18.

Food for Fines Week, held last in 2003-'04, allows patrons to subtract a dollar from any overdue fines for each item of canned, nonperishable food they bring to the box in the library's front lobby.

Library Business Manager Ellen Rohr explained that some of the library staff had looked at the number of outstanding fines people incurred over recent months, which led them to the idea of Food for Fines.

"We wanted to do something to reduce that number of fines and allow people to come in and borrow books for the summer program," Rohr said.

At the end of the week, all donations will be brought to the Falls Area Food Pantry, which serves more than 650 households in Menomonee Falls, Colgate, Germantown, Hubertus, Lannon and Richfield. The pantry's most-needed foods include mandarin oranges, snacks and chunky soups, among other household items.

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