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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Ex-board-chair Dwyer named to regional planning commission

Aug. 29, 2012 3:20 p.m. | Waukesha - Former Waukesha County Board Chairman Jim Dwyer, defeated in his re-election bid as a county supervisor in April, was reappointed Tuesday to a six-year term on the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

The County Board unanimously confirmed his appointment.

Dwyer, of Menomonee Falls, is finishing his current six-year term as a government representative on the regional board, but he will serve as a citizen member in the next term. Filling the role as the county government representative will be Waukesha County Board Supervisor Michael Crowley, who has been serving as a citizen representative. Crowley was elected to the County Board in April.

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.

Falls rallies to win GMC girls volleyball opener against Brookfield East

Aug. 28, 2012 10:42 p.m. | Menomonee Falls' 6-1 junior middle hitter Simone Lee has won volleyball titles with US national teams and she has announced her intent to attend powerhouse and multi-time national champion Penn State.

But she also just loves doing what she did it at the end of the Indians' gritty 22-25, 25-9, 25-12, 25-23 Greater Metro Conference opening win over a solid Brookfield East squad Tuesday night.

And that's taking a perfect set from fellow junior Abby Becker, and slamming a perfect match winner down the leftside against an overmatched defense.

"That set by Abby was perfect," laughed Lee. "We never skip a beat with her anywhere on the court."

Though there were a few hiccups along the way, including a sleepy start that veteran coach J. C. Bruns didn't appreciate.

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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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Germantown school district stays with WEA Trust, offers two base plans

Aug. 28, 2012 9:29 a.m. | The Germantown school district officially selected WEA Trust last night as its health insurance carrier that will offer employees two different options with varying deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.

One option is the WEA Trust Base $1,000 deductible 80/20 option for non-AFSCME employees. This would change the preferred plan to a base plan and goes from a $500 individual deductible to a $1,000 deductible.

Family coverage would change from a $1,000 to $2,000 deductible. Once the deductible is met, employees still have to cover 20 percent, while insurance covers 80 percent. The existing plan for AFSCME employees remains the same.

The second WEA Trust Base plan is a $2,000 deductible 80/60 option.

WEA Trust came back with the lowest bid among carriers. If all employees chose the $1,000 deductible 80/20 option, the district would save 2.19 percent - $135,811 - compared with last year. Depending on how many employees choose the second plan, the district could save additional money.

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Knights defense rallies to thwart Falls

Aug. 24, 2012 11:30 p.m. | At the end of last season, there were too many bad memories for the Oak Creek football team's defense to recall, as opponents ran up and down the field on the Knights in the final three contests.

That had to change going into 2012 if the Knights were to make a run at the state playoffs.

And maybe it will on the strength of one play in the fourth quarter of Oak Creek's 21-6 season-opening triumph over nonconference opponent and host Menomonee Falls on Friday.

The Knights had dominated the Indians for much of three quarters, but after taking a 14-0 lead, they squandered a couple of opportunities to make it a three-score game.

And Falls started to put the squeeze on the Knights, as the Indians took advantage of a short punt to go 48 yards in just seven plays. Quarterback Adam Vechart's 31-yard scramble led to the Indians' only score as Justin Johnson plowed his way over from a yard out to make it 14-6 with still 9:16 left to play.

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Menomonee Falls cross country photos now online

Aug. 24, 2012 12:03 p.m. | We've just published a photo gallery of more than 15 images from yesterday's grade level cross country invite in Menomonee Falls.

Brookfield Central's Carl Hirsch won the boys junior/senior race in 15 minutes, 22.84 seconds on the 5,000-meter course. Lauren Cunningham of Nicolet won the girls competition on the 4,000-meter course in 15:14.79.

Go to Menomonee Falls grade level invite photo gallery

Falls schools hits five-year high in students taking ACT test

Aug. 23, 2012 1:30 p.m. | Menomonee Falls - Students in the Menomonee Falls High School class of 2012 who took the ACT outscored their peers around the state.

The ACT test is a national assessment that many universities in the Midwest use in the admissions process. The overall composite ACT score for the class of 2012 was 22.9, eight-tenths of a point higher than the state average of 22.1.

The composite score is lower than the past two years; however, more Menomonee Falls seniors took the ACT test than in the past five years.

"We are focused though not just on the score but on getting more students participating so they too get the feedback on their college preparation," said Superintendent Patricia Greco. "We could limit participation and focus on the score or focus on both, that is our target."

There were 291 students who took the test, which is 12 more than last year and 29 more than five years age, according to the Menomonee Falls School District. This means 73.1 percent of students in grade 12 took the ACT.

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Falls school hits five-year high in number of students taking ACT

Aug. 23, 2012 12:38 p.m. | Students in the Menomonee Falls High School class of 2012 who took the ACT outscored their peers around the state.

The ACT test is a national assessment that many universities in the Midwest use in the admissions process. The overall composite ACT score for the class of 2012 was 22.9, eight-tenths of a point higher than the state average of 22.1.

The composite score is lower than the past two years; however, more Menomonee Falls seniors took the ACT test than in the past five years.

There were 291 students who took the test, which is 12 more than last year and 29 more than five years year, according to the Menomonee Falls School District. This means 73.1 percent of students in grade 12 took the ACT.

The class of 2011 had a composite score of 23.1 and 23 the prior year.

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Bay rallies to edge GT, 2-1, in NSC soccer opener

Aug. 21, 2012 9:59 p.m. | The defending North Shore Conference champion Whitefish Bay boys soccer team had already caught the attention of area fans when it tied defending state champion Marquette last week.

And now, having done that, the Blue Dukes set out to take the first step towards defending their NSC title, which they did Tuesday night with a fine rally against a strong Germantown side.

Junior forward Paul Gwidt pounded into the net a close-in shot with an assist from senior midfielder Jack Comiskey at the 75:16 mark to give the Blue Dukes a 2-1 victory.

"This was an important win, a fact that was not lost on the players," said new Bay coach Andy Lee, "because Germantown is always a very good side and has some very good players."

With the win, Bay improved to 2-0-1 on the young season while the young Warhawks, who were also battling some injuries, fell in their season opener.

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Village Board approves medical facility in Falls

Aug. 20, 2012 9:56 p.m. | The site that was once home to the Stolper/Western Industries Inc. factory in Menomonee Falls will soon become a medical and wellness facility.

After months of environmental cleanup at the factory site located west of Pilgrim Road and south of Highway 45, the Menomonee Falls Village Board Monday approved a conditional use permit for Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. for the construction of a two-story, 91,000 square foot dual tenant medical and wellness building.

Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald said Froedtert Health Inc. and the Wisconsin Athletic Club will occupy the development. Construction of the facility is slated to begin in December and must be completed by December 2013 per the tax incremental development agreement that was also approved Monday. The facility will include doctors, nurses and support staff offering a variety of medical services and treatments. The WAC portion of the building will feature a 47,500 square foot athletic club, offering health and fitness services, an indoor and outdoor pool, large fitness areas, group exercise rooms, saunas, steam rooms, tanning and massage rooms. It will also house a 4,931 square foot retail space to be filled with related businesses.

The development will sit on the north side of Richfield Way, a roadway that the village will begin expanding in coming weeks and is meant to act as a buffer between the commercial development and future residential development.

The property is part of tax incremental finance district No. 8 in a planned development district. The village purchased the property from Western Industries for $600,000. The village is spending $4.7 million on demolishing the former factory and doing the cleanup work.

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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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Falls police send out bank robbery photos

Aug. 18, 2012 11:28 a.m. | Menomonee Falls police are sending out photos of two men they say were involved in a bank robbery in the village Friday.

The robbery took place shortly before 3:30 p.m. at the PNC Bank at N87 W16586 Appleton Ave. The two concealed their faces with handkerchiefs, "implied a weapon and demanded cash," police said.

The two robbers fled east on foot with the cash after the robbery, police said.

Van Gompel announces resignation

Aug. 15, 2012 2:18 p.m. | Brown Deer - Village Manager Russell Van Gompel turned in his letter of resignation earlier today, requesting that his tenure with the village end Nov. 9.

Van Gompel will take over as City Manger of Eau Claire shortly thereafter in early November.

The village's Personnel Committee met yesterday and will solicit hiring proposals from three consulting firms. Members of the Personnel Committee and the Village Board will discuss how to fill the Village Manger position at an Aug. 20 board meeting.

Once a consulting firm is selected in the coming weeks, said Van Gompel, the village will be able to create a timeline for his replacement.

Suspected vodka shoplifter arrested after fight with employee

Aug. 13, 2012 3:28 p.m. | Menomonee Falls police arrested a 29-year-old Milwaukee man after he wrestled with a Pick 'n Save employee who tried to detain him for shoplifting on Friday evening.

According to the police report:

The suspect was seen concealing two bottles of vodka in his book bag and walking past the last point of purchase at the supermarket, N95 W18273 County Line Road, shortly after 7:30 p.m. Aug. 10.

When an employee attempted to stop the suspect in the parking lot, he resisted, and the two men began to wrestle. The suspect then got into a boxer stance and threatened the employee, saying he had a gun in his bag.

Police responded and arrested the suspect on state charges of disorderly conduct and shoplifting. The suspect was on probation at the time of the incident and was transported to the Waukesha County Jail facility.

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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.

Lawn watering now allowed in Germantown

Aug. 07, 2012 11:16 a.m. | The Germantown Department of Public Works lifted the lawn watering ban Tuesday to alternate sides of the road as a result of conservation efforts and favorable weather conditions.

On even days, watering is allowed along the even side of the road and on odd days watering is allowed along the odd side of the road.

Pumping times have decreased, allowing one out of the six village pumps to recharge for 24 hours at a time.

"We're giving each pump one day off, so that's a good thing," said Director of Public Works Dan Ludwig.

The water levels and aquifers are beginning to rise slightly. With proper conservation continuing with the odd and even schedule and periodic rain, Ludwig said they felt a full lawn watering ban was no longer needed.

Driver seeking medical help arrested for drunken driving

Aug. 06, 2012 4:46 p.m. | A 52-year-old Milwaukee man was arrested for third offense drunken driving after he pulled up next to a police squad and asked the officer for medical assistance shortly after 3:30 a.m. July 31.

According to the police report:

A Menomonee Falls police officer was conducting radar checks in a marked squad in the parking lot of Gordie Boucher, N88 W14300 Main St., Menomonee Falls, when a man driving a white Chrysler turned into the lot and parked parallel to the squad. The driver first told the officer he was confused, and later stated he was diabetic.

The officer immediately had the suspect medically evaluated on the scene by paramedics. After EMS reported his evaluation was normal, the suspect admitted to drinking a pint of vodka.

The suspect failed field sobriety testing; his preliminary blood alcohol content was 0.28. He was arrested for drunken driving-third offense and was conveyed to the Waukesha County Sheriff's Office on a 12-hour hold.

Village Board selects new trustee

Aug. 02, 2012 12:32 p.m. | The Germantown Village Board selected Wednesday Shane Daniels to fill the district two trustee seat left open by Daniel Wing, who resigned from the board in June.

Daniels, who works as a contract management analyst at DDN in Menomonee Falls, was chosen out of three applicants.

"I appreciate every one of the applicants who took the effort to fill out an application and go through the process of an interview with the Village Board," said Village President Dean Wolter. "Overall, everyone did a really nice job."

Daniels was raised in Germantown. After living away from the village for a few years, he returned and now raises a young family.

Wolter said the board liked that Daniels can bring a fresh approach to the Village Board.

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