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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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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.

Drunken driving crackdown nets four arrests in matter of hours

Aug. 28, 2012 5:58 p.m. | The city of Brookfield Police Department arrested four people for driving under the influence of intoxicants between 9:20 p.m. Friday and 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

"Obviously, this problem is not going away any time soon," Capt. Phil Horter said in a news release. "We will continue to aggressively attack this issue with on-duty personnel and utilizing additional personnel with grant funding provided to us (from state and federal government)."

The arrests:

A 42-year-old Pewaukee woman was arrested for her third offense of drunken driving at 9:21 p.m. Friday.

A 49-year-old Germantown man was arrested for drunken driving after he crashed his motorcycle on Moorland Road at 9:43 p.m. Friday.

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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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Former Brookfield Academy tennis star wins first round match at the US Open

Aug. 28, 2012 1:50 p.m. | Day 1 of the US Open featured the usual suspects like World No. 1 Roger Federer and Olympic Gold Medalist Andy Murray winning first round matches.

Scattered among the winners in the men’s draw, though, is a less recognizable name but one that is quite familiar to those who follow tennis closely in Wisconsin: Tim Smyczek.

Smyczek, a former Brookfield Academy High School tennis star, defeated fellow American Bobby Reynolds in the first round, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, on Monday setting up a second round match with 17th-ranked Kei Nishikori of Japan.

A win over Nishikori could set up a possible third-round match against 12th-ranked Marin Cilic of Croatia.

Regardless of how Smyczek does in Round 2, the Milwaukee native has already accomplished more in New York City than he ever has in his career there.

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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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Brookfield East announces its arrival

Aug. 24, 2012 11:51 p.m. |

If the Brookfield East Spartans hoped to fly under anyone’s radar this season, they can forget about it now.
 
The Spartans officially became one of the area’s top teams to watch Friday night after opening the season by going on the road and demolishing perennial powerhouse Waukesha West, 29-0.
 
“I thought it was going to be a slugfest, and in many respects, it was,” Brookfield East head coach Tom Swittel said. “We just kept pounding away and grinding, and I think we were a little bit stronger and faster and probably in a little bit better shape, and that may have had something to do with it. I’ve never seen a perfect football game, and I’ve never seen an individual play a perfect game, but we did play well tonight, that’s for certain.”
 
The Spartans impressive defensive performance was led by senior standout defensive end Alec James. James notched three sacks and was a constant presence in the backfield. When he wasn’t shutting down the Wolverines’ offense, he was the power back for Brookfield’s running game. James’ thunderous 30-yard run in the second quarter set up the Spartans’ first touchdown. The drive was completed with a 10-yard touchdown pass on a beautiful jump ball from Zach Damico, who hit Brian Smith in the back corner of the endzone on third down.
 
“I think a lot of people thought we couldn’t beat them,” James said. “Not to be arrogant, but we have confidence in ourselves and everyone on this team knew we could beat them. It’s a really good win, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the playoffs, so celebrate tonight and tomorrow it’s about moving on to the next one.”
 
James, who earlier this month committed to play at Wisconsin next fall and drew interest from Michigan State and Clemson, among others, said knowing his future plans helped put his mind at ease.
 
“I went into minicamp not committed, and I was a little worried about getting injured and where I would go,” he said. “So when I committed, it just felt like a huge weight off my shoulders, and I could focus even more.”
 
As impressive as James was, he didn’t surprise his coach, who’s grown accustomed to such performances.
 
“What I can say about Alec James is that he’s the best football player in the state of Wisconsin, bar none,” Swittel said. “He is incredible, and we’re just lucky to have him.”
 
Spartans senior running back Zach Schober also caused his fair share of headaches for West’s defense. Schober’s 16-yard run in the second quarter put the Spartans up 14-0 going into the half. Schober finished with 73 yards on eight carries.
 
Damico added a 37-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Kyle Wirtz iced the outcome with a 6-yard touchdown run in the fourth.
 
Waukesha West head coach Steve Rux said his team might have more growing pains than in years past. It was a trying night for the Wolverines, who lost two-way starter Dylan Chmura early in the first quarter to an injury. It was Chmura’s first game since his sophomore season after sitting out last year with a torn ACL.
 
“We’ve just got to make sure that we learn from it and make sure we’re better the next time we come out,” Rux said. "It’s not like some of our teams from the past; this is the 2012 team, we’ve got a lot of young players who’ve got to step up and play varsity football. I thought we were up against a very good football team. For a lot of guys it was their first experience out here on a Friday night. I think we’ve got to be in better condition, but I’ve got to hand it to Brookfield East. That’s a fine team and they’ve got some great speed.”
 
The Wolverines will try to rebound next week against visiting Classic 8 foe Mukwonago.
 
“Our guys have good character; they’ll be able to bounce back from it,” Rux said. “Mukwonago’s a tough team and we’ll have our hands full.”
 
Meanwhile, Swittel said he wasn’t worried about his group being overconfident for next week’s Greater Metro Conference opener against visiting West Allis Central.
 
“I’m harder on them after a win than I am after a loss,” he said. “I guarantee you I’m not going to let there be any overconfidence.”

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

Brookfield Central tops Mukwonago in thriller

Aug. 23, 2012 10:57 p.m. | Vantwon Melton caught an 11-yard touchdown pass in the corner with 14 seconds to go, lifting Brookfield Central's state-ranked football team to a thrilling win over Mukwonago on Thursday in a spirited prep football season opener, 19-18.

Melton's catch from junior quarterback Riley Richarz capped an 11-play drive that navigated 80 yards in 1:35. The conversion came on third down after the Mukwonago defensive back slipped on the turf at MHS , leaving Melton wide open.

Central failed on the two-point conversion, and in a last-gasp effort, Mukwonago's Ty Behling picked up the ensuing squib kick and ran it back to the Brookfield Central 27-yard-line with five seconds on the clock. But a 44-yard field goal attempt from Dan Timmers was short.

The Lancers trailed much of the night but pulled within 18-13 with 5:19 to go in the game on a 1-yard touchdown plunge from DeMario Harris. Mukwonago's drive stalled at the Central 44-yard line, leading to a punt that bounced out of bounds narrowly across the goal line for a touchback, mere inches from being down at the 1-yard line.

Timmers hit on a 35-yard field goal just before halftime to give Mukwonago an 18-7 lead at the break. The Indians, under first year coach Clay Iverson, started that drive to 3:09 to go when Tyler Wozny batted a ball into the air in single coverage and came down with an interception. That happened one play after Timmers went around left edge for a go-ahead 10-yard touchdown on 4th and 2.

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Longtime municipal leader Henschel is sole contender in Waukesha

Aug. 21, 2012 3:58 p.m. | Waukesha - Former Elm Grove and Whitefish Bay village manager Edmund Henschel is the only contender under consideration as the next Waukesha city administrator and a job offer could be in the works, Mayor Jeff Scrima said Tuesday.

The city selection committee interviewed him last week before he headed out of state for the rest of the month. Then, after the committee reviewed additional semifinalists' applications with a consultant, the committee decided to pursue Henschel without interviewing anyone else, Scrima said.

He said a job offer "may be in process" by the city's human relations department and the search firm. An announcement could be made in early September after Henschel returns, Scrima said.

Henschel, a Waukesha resident, has 27 years of municipal management experience in Elm Grove, Whitefish Bay and Clio, Mich., and 12 years of municipal consulting experience, according to his application. He is executive director of the Wisconsin City/County Management Association.

Scrima said Henschel's experience in negotiating a settlement to the 1980s "sewer wars" between the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and nine outlying suburbs called FLOW, for Fair Liquidation of Waste, would be particularly relevant to Waukesha "if he ends up joining our team."

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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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Brookfield police respond to explosive situation

Aug. 15, 2012 2:14 p.m. | City of Brookfield police responded Tuesday to information that a man had threatened to blow up his residence in the 18700 block of Anita Court, harm himself and harm his wife and family, according to a news release issued by the department. The man also allegedly had threatened to shoot any officers who arrived on the scene.

The Brookfield Police Department requested that the Lakes Area Critical Incident team respond to the scene to help bring the man into custody. Two officers were able to apprehend the man before the team responded, the release states. They took him into custody as he was trying to load items into his vehicle. The man was armed with a handgun when he was taken into custody.

A hazardous device unit responded due to the nature of the threats and a possible military-style incendiary device on the property. The unit found a military device and disposed of it, according to the release.

No one was injured during the incident.

Note: This story was edited to correct the day when the incident occurred, which was incorrect in the original version.

California man avoids citation thanks to pot prescription

Aug. 15, 2012 10:18 a.m. | A prescription for medical marijuana kept a California man out of trouble with local authorities during an incident in Brookfield on Friday.

According to the police report:

The 26-year-old Dixon, Calif., man was found in possession of marijuana, but not cited, at Motel 6, 20300 W. Bluemound Road, at 1:16 p.m. Aug. 10.

Upon further investigation, police learned the man was legally able to smoke the marijuana for medical reasons.

Police consulted the Wisconsin Attorney General and Waukesha District Attorney offices before determining not to issue a citation.

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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.

Woman robbed, tied up inside her home

Aug. 07, 2012 5:06 p.m. | A 15-year-old boy was arrested Monday evening after tying up a Brookfield woman at gunpoint inside her home on the 800 block of Auburn Drive, robbing her and driving away in her convertible Corvette, according to the Brookfield Police Department.

The 62-year-old woman told police the teen tied her to a chair with electrical cords and rope after confronting her in her bedroom with a handgun. The victim was able to free herself and went to a neighbor's house, who called police at 5:07 p.m. The woman gave a detailed description of her vehicle and the suspect, and an officer spotted it traveling eastbound on Greenfield Avenue, east of Moorland Road. According to police, there was a short pursuit, but the suspect was arrested and taken into custody without incident.

Brookfield Police Capt. Jim Adlam said police believe the victim was watering her lawn when the suspect went into her home and waited for her. That same person is also believed to have come to her door earlier in the day with a handout for a fake lawn company.

The handgun was an Airsoft gun that police believe was taken from Gander Mountain in Waukesha earlier that day, Adlam said. Airsoft guns fire plastic pellets and are often mistaken for real weapons.

The victim did not sustain serious injuries, Adlam said, however she did suffer bruises and scrapes, as well as indents in her skin where the rope was tied around her.

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Hundreds gather at Brookfield temple to honor shooting victims

Aug. 06, 2012 11:34 p.m. | Brookfield - A mourning Sikh community Monday evening opened the doors of a Brookfield temple to embrace hundreds of people who came to offer support and prayer in the aftermath of a shooting Sunday at another Sikh temple in Oak Creek.

"I told my son a bad man shot some people and we needed to come down to support their families," said a tearful Hope Bailey of Muskego, who brought her 9-year-old son Brandon to the service.

"I want to show my son everyone is equal and it's important to love everybody," Bailey told a reporter.

As Bailey and attendees of other faiths tentatively approached the entrance to the temple, unsure of how to proceed into a faith different from their own, they were warmly welcomed by temple members and given brightly-colored scarves to cover their heads.

As they walked inside the open doors of the temple, they filed into a room to the left, where they removed their shoes before entering a prayer hall to the right of the front doors. Inside the prayer hall, members of the Sikh community were seated on the floor for a regular evening service prayer called Rehras.

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Brokerage firm moving Brookfield office to downtown Milwaukee

Aug. 06, 2012 9:17 a.m. | Commercial real estate brokerage firm NAI MLG Commercial will move its Brookfield operations to downtown Milwaukee's east side, the firm announced Monday.

NAI MLG Commercial has leased the top floor at 757 N. Broadway, and will relocate its 35-person staff to the 9,000-square-foot office.
 
Most of the firm’s Milwaukee brokers and staff are currently located at the Bishop’s Woods office park in Brookfield, with a small office in downtown Milwaukee at Riverfront Plaza, 1110 N. Old World Third St. The firm plans to consolidate those operations at the Broadway building on Oct. 1.

“We determined that downtown Milwaukee is the best location for NAI MLG Commercial’s office. The energy there gives us a great springboard to all the markets we serve and enables collaboration between brokers, staff and clients in a fantastic environment. It gives us the best of all worlds,” said Bruce Westling, firm principal, in a statement. “Our new space also provides us with room to grow as we continue working with clients across Wisconsin and around the world, through our continued association with NAI Global.”
 
NAI MLG Commercial is the only MLG-branded firm that will be moving. Other firms using the MLG name are separate business entities and will remain in the Brookfield offices. They include MLG Development, MLG Management and MLG Capital.
 
“NAI MLG Commercial will be a great anchor tenant for 757 Broadway,” said Max Dermond, of Dermond Property Investments, which owns the building “They are going to add a lot to the downtown office landscape.”

Elm Grove to have Labor Day weekend fireworks, celebration

Aug. 03, 2012 12:46 p.m. | After initially considering a winter holiday firework display, Elm Grove officials have decided to reschedule the Fourth of July Fireworks for Sept. 2. The Independence Day show was canceled due to extreme heat and dry conditions.

Elm Grove officials and the Fourth of July Committee had bounced around the idea of pairing the rescheduled fireworks with Christmas in the Grove. That plan was apparently rejected by the Parks and Recreation Committee because shortly after its meeting, a news release was sent out by the village detailing the Labor Day festivities.

There will be soda, beer and other refreshment sold, as well as extended pool hours from 1 to 8 p.m.

A DJ will play and food will be sold from 6:30 until 8 p.m. with the fireworks to follow.

According to the release, if the village's burn ban remains in effect, the fireworks will again be canceled.

Theater takes no chances about suspicious 'Dark Knight' caller, alerts police

Aug. 01, 2012 10:22 a.m. | A Marcus Majestic Cinema employee called town of Brookfield police after receiving a suspicious call from a man asking about the theater's security measures.

The man apparently inquired about the theater's security systems, metal detectors and whether people were still going to theaters following the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., where 14 people were killed and more than 50 injured.

That massacre occurred during an opening night showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" Batman movie. James Holmes is accused of opening fire in the theater during the movie, killing 12 people and injuring 58.

The call in Brookfield was placed July 24, and the caller apparently planned to see the movie the following day. An extra squad was on duty in the area, but there were no incidents following the call.

No further investigation was reported by police.

Dog's alleged dip in motel pool helps police find man wanted on warrants

Aug. 01, 2012 9:07 a.m. | It started with a report of a dog in the Motel 6 swimming pool and ended with a shirtless, drugged-up man in handcuffs, according to a town of Brookfield police report.

According to the report:

Officers were called to the Motel 6 in the town of Brookfield just after 4 p.m. July 22 because a dog was swimming in the pool.

They found a 29-year-old man and a dog that was not in the water, but appeared wet. The Schofield man insisted it wasn't his dog, but his friends'. When it was determined the man did not have a valid reservation at the motel, he was asked to leave.

In the parking lot, officers noticed a woman leaving Bullwinkle's bar, which is next door, and the Schofield man identified her as the dog's owner. The 35-year-old Oconomowoc woman said the dog belonged to another man who had already left because he was wanted on outstanding warrants.

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