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.

Oak Creek hotel site faces foreclosure suit

May 29, 2012 11:06 a.m. | An Oak Creek site where a Chicago-area developer proposed a Sheraton Four Points hotel is the target of a foreclosure suit.

The suit claims Trapani Family Properties LLC and Synerg Oak Creek LLC owe $3.96 million from three defaulted loans. It was filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court by Morton Community Bank, of Morton, Ill.

Developer Greg Trapani said the suit is being dismissed, although neither a response to the foreclosure claim nor a dismissal notice had been filed as of Tuesday morning. Trapani is director of project development at Trapani Construction Co., of Arlington Heights, Ill.

Trapani a year ago proposed the 107-room Sheraton Four Points for a 27-acre site at the southeast corner of S. Howell and E. College avenues.

That proposal was approved by the Common Council, but construction hasn't started.

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Drowning victim identified as Franklin man

May 29, 2012 10:28 a.m. | Fond du Lac - Authorities have identified a man who drowned last week in Lake Winnebago as Anthony Albanese, 56, of Franklin, according to the Fond du Lac Reporter.

A fisherman spotted Albanese’s body Friday afternoon on the east side of the lake.

Hales Corners to dedicate veterans memorial Sunday

May 26, 2012 12:48 p.m. | Hales Corners - The village will dedicated its new veterans memorial at 2 p.m. Sunday, and residents are invited to take the opportunity to come and pay tribute to those who have died serving the country.

The memorial, five pillars set in a 50-foot-square plaza and shaped in a five-pointed star, is in Hales Corners Park, next to the library. Each pillar represents one of the five branches of the U.S. military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

A lighted U.S. flag flies in the center.

On Sunday, the flag will be raised for the first time, and guest speakers including Major Gen. Donald Dunbar will share their thoughts.

Food, beverages and music will be served up until 8 p.m.

Bartolotta to open Mequon, Greendale restaurants

May 18, 2012 12:01 a.m. | The Bartolotta restaurant group is charging into new suburban territory: It will open supper club-style restaurants in Mequon and Greendale this summer.

The Mequon restaurant is opening in the former Riversite space, at 11120 N. Cedarburg Road; the fine-dining Riversite closed in September.

The Greendale restaurant will take the place of Harmony Inn the Village, which still is open at 5601 Broad St.

Joe Bartolotta, the group's president and co-owner, said he expects Harmony Inn to close June 1, and the group would try to honor as many commitments for private parties already scheduled as possible.

The new ventures are the first Bartolotta restaurants in the north and south suburbs. To the west, the group operates Ristorante Bartolotta and Pizzeria Piccola in Wauwatosa and Mr. B's - A Bartolotta Steakhouse is in Brookfield.

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Fire starts when woman lights cigarette near oxygen hose

May 15, 2012 5:54 p.m. | A woman attempting to light a cigarette too close to her oxygen hose started her apartment on fire at the Lake Forest Apartments about 8 a.m. May 12, police said.

According to the Oak Creek police report:

Oak Creek police and firefighters responded to a 911 call reporting a fire in a resident's apartment in the 8500 block of South Chicago Road at 7:45 a.m. May 12.

The first officer on scene reported a 65-year-old woman sitting on the floor outside her apartment door. Due to heavy smoke and heat coming from inside the apartment, the officer carried the woman to safety.

Oak Creek firefighters doused the fire at 8:05 a.m., and residents were allowed to return to the building at 8:37 a.m.

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Hales Corners library announces summer hours

May 15, 2012 4:16 p.m. | The Hales Corners Public Library, 5885 S. 116th St., will be closed May 27 and May 28 in observance of Memorial Day.

Summer hours will begin May 29. During summer, the library will be open 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

The library will be closed on Sundays.

Thomas Rosandich named Oak Creek fire chief

May 15, 2012 2:34 p.m. | The Oak Creek Police and Fire Commission has appointed Thomas Rosandich the city's fire chief.

Rosandich comes to the position with more than 33 years with the Oak Creek Fire Department. He began as a paid-on-call firefighter in 1979 and progressed in his career to the ranks of full-time firefighter, lieutenant, and assistant fire chief. Most recently, he served as acting fire chief upon the retirement of the former fire chief, Brian Satula.

Jim Ruetz named Oak Creek's District 3 alderman

May 15, 2012 1:50 p.m. | The Oak Creek Common Council has appointed Jim Ruetz alderman of District 3.

Ruetz is no stranger to public service, as he has served on the city's Community Development Authority for nine years.

He holds a Master's of Business Administration from the University of Chicago and a bachelor's in geography-urban planning from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, as well as an associate's degree in ocean engineering from the University of Florida Institute of Technology.

Ruetz is the president and general manager of All Fasteners Inc./All Tool Sales Inc. in Racine.

He has lived in Oak Creek for 26 years and within District 3 for 14 years.

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Walker signs burned in Oak Creek, Fox Point

May 15, 2012 11:18 a.m. | WTMJ-AM (620) and WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) are reporting that campaign signs supporting Gov. Scott Walker have been burned in Oak Creek and Fox Point, according to police departments in those communities.

Anyone with information on the vandalism in Oak Creek is asked to call police at (414) 762-8200. Anyone with information on the vandalism in Fox Point is asked to call police at (414) 351-8911.

Shoplifter left red-faced after intimate item revealed

May 15, 2012 7:07 a.m. | A 23-year-old Milwaukee man who was shopping with his girlfriend was arrested for retail theft after trying to steal a box of a male enhancement product in St. Francis last week.

According to the police report:

The man shoplifted a box of maximum strength climax control male genital desensitizer gel from Pick ‘n Save, 4698 S. Whitnall Ave., about 6:35 p.m. May 10.

The man tried to conceal the theft from his girlfriend.

He also had .22 grams of marijuana in his possession, and was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

St. Francis plans Layton Ave. TIF district

May 10, 2012 7:00 a.m. | St. Francis officials are considering a proposed tax incremental financing district that would help pay for retail space improvements along Layton Ave., and expansions at a business park north of that street.

The proposed 196-acre tax district would be north of E. Layton Ave. between S. Nicholson and S. Brust avenues, and also would include some former We Energies transmission lines right-of-way .

The plan calls for spending up to $7.5 million over 25 years, with an initial amount of $1 million to $2 million, said Tim Rhode, city administrator. That money would be repaid through property taxes from improvements within the district. Once that debt is repaid, the property taxes would then flow to the city, its school district and other local governments.

Some of the funds would help pay for facade improvements at Layton Ave. retail buildings, including the Layton Mart shopping center at Layton and Nicholson avenues that is anchored by Value Village, Rhode said.

Also, some smaller Layton Ave. residential rental properties could be purchased by the city and demolished, with the land redeveloped for commercial use, he said. City officials would not use eminent domain to force any land sales, Rhode said.

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Robed figure in 'Scream' mask not a welcome sight at 2 a.m.

May 09, 2012 9:17 a.m. | A caller to the Oak Creek police last week reported seeing something out of a horror movie emerge from the fog in the wee hours of the morning.

According to the police report:

The caller reported that he and a friend were talking in a parked car in the 9100 block of South Chicago Road about 2 a.m. on May 2.

A tall, muscular man dressed in a black robe and wearing a white "Scream" mask walked out of the fog and up to his car and stood outside it for a moment.

The figure slowly backed away, then turned, crouched behind some bushes for a moment and eventually walked away in a northwest direction between two houses.

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Naked man cited after calling 911 to report stolen pants, underwear

May 08, 2012 5:58 p.m. | A 54-year-old Oak Creek man was cited for lewd and lascivious behavior Sunday after calling 911 multiple times to report that his wife had stolen his underwear and pants.

According to the police report:

The officers found the man naked from the waist down after responding to his 911 call in the 2300 block of West Puetz Road at 9:50 p.m.

The man was intoxicated and called 911 multiple times, stating his wife had stolen his clothing.

He also was cited for misuse of emergency telephone numbers and was advised that his missing shorts were not a police matter.

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Oak Creek man charged with pushing porn on son

May 07, 2012 9:24 a.m. | An Oak Creek man faces criminal charges after his son told authorities that his father was graphic in sharing information about his sex life.

The 50-year-old man has been charged with 12 counts of exposing a child to harmful material.

The son is 18. He told Oak Creek police that starting at age 11 or 12, his father shared scores pornographic videos and prompted explicit conversations. The son told police he was worried he would anger his father if he didn't watch the movies or participate in the conversations, according to a criminal complaint.

The father later told police he knew it was illegal to give the videos to his son.

Oak Creek man to pay $20,000 to settle action over bogus charity

May 02, 2012 5:13 p.m. | An Oak Creek man has agreed to pay $20,000 for conducting what state officials say was naked scam to solicit donations via candy donation cannisters designed to suggest the money would help groups find missing children.

Michael Todd Messmer denies the allegations, but signed a consent judgment that calls for him to make the payment, the state Departmen of Justice announced Wednesday. According to the agreement, the $20,000 covers fines, fees and surcharges. Messmer does not admit to any liability in the consent judgment.

The same enforcment action, filed in 2010 in Waukesha County, also names Marilyn L. Broerman, of North Carolina, as a defendant. She signed a similar consent judgment in December, and will also pay $20,000. According to the state, Broerman developed the scheme, and sold hundreds of the canisters to Messmer.

Messmer wound up placing more than 700 cannisters (see sample above. Photo courtesy of Department of Justice)  at small businesses around southeast Wisconsin. They suggested a donation of $1 for five small pieces of candy. The complaint said he paid more than $30,000 for canisters, candy and other costs of the operation, in response to a newspaper ad that suggested he could earn $3,000 a week. It did not allege how much profit, if any, Messmer cleared.

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Meijer proposes large supermarket, discount store in Franklin

May 01, 2012 7:00 a.m. | Meijer, a Michigan-based chain of combined supermarket-discount stores, hopes to enter southeastern Wisconsin with a large operation in Franklin, if the company can obtain city zoning approval.

Meijer is proposing a 192,000-square-foot store for 29 acres northeast of Highway 100, between Loomis and Puetz roads. The company hopes to have the store open by 2014.

The proposal got an initial conceptual review Monday night from the Common Council. Aldermen raised concerns about the store's preliminary design; its traffic impact on homes on Puetz Road, and its proposed 24-hour operation.

But Mayor Tom Taylor and council members also said the city needs the jobs -- roughly 200 to 250 -- and property tax revenue that the store would create.

"This is a plus to the community," said Ald. Ken Skowronski. "It's a needed asset."

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Best Summer Ever


We've made it easy for you to get out and go this summer. From hitting the trails for a bike ride or walk, to where to find beer gardens in the area, to the best places to swim in Waukesha County to the best summer drinks and summer reads, check out our 2016 summer guide.