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Mequon asks We Energies to split cost of trail improvements

Feb. 22, 2012 11:02 a.m. | The Mequon Common Council tabled a proposal to rebuild a segment of the Ozaukee Interurban Trail near the We Energies electric substation south of Bonniwell Road on Tuesday. The total estimated cost of the relocation is $321,048, with 80 percent covered by a Wisconsin Department of Transportation Enhancement Grant and 20 percent coming from the city.

The city has asked We Energies to split that 20 percent cost and will wait for an answer before making a final decision.

Two aldermen, Dan Abendroth and Dale Mayr, appeared opposed to the project, saying it was too expensive.

The Ozaukee Interurban Advisory Council and the Mequon-Thiensville Bike and Pedestrian Committee both have identified the area for upgrades because of safety concerns. Between 175 to 325 people use the trail daily, according to a recent count.

The path crosses directly in front of gates into the substation, which is used by We Energies employees and vehicles two to five times a day. Perhaps a greater concern for those who bike on the path is the steep grade and two reverse curves that make east/south bound riding a challenge. Loose gravel at the bottom of the hill near the gate to the substation can heighten the danger for those on bikes.

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Urbashich reflects on 17 years on the Mequon-Thiensville School Board

11:31 a.m. | Mequon — Public education has gone through a lot of changes in the last 17 years. In the Mequon-Thiensville School District, Suzette Urbashich has been there to tackle them head on.

The Mequon mother of two still recalls moving to the district in 1986 and taking an early interest in school board happenings. At the time, there were not many board members with young children, and there had never been a board member from her rural west end of the village.

Urbashich's election victory in 1997 changed both of those things, marking the beginning of a long tenure that would witness drastic changes in the realms of politics, demographics and technological advancement.

It wasn't long before Urbashich would realize that these external factors were playing an important role within the school district. The school district's most pressing issue – declining enrollment – can be traced back to zoning decisions made by the Mequon Village Board in the early 2000s.

For better or worse, village officials decided to maintain the rural character by zoning land outside of the sewer district for five-acre lots. When the economic downturn hit, young families were more reluctant to make a large investment in a new lot when they could spend less money in a neighboring district, Urbashich said. Families were also deciding to have fewer children in general.

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Woman arrested after being found with her face in a plate of salad

8:20 a.m. | A Milwaukee woman was arrested for possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia after she was found slumped over in her car, her face in a plate of salad, on April 10.

According to the Glendale police report:

A 24-year-old Milwaukee woman was found slumped over in her car in the 5100 block of North Port Washington Road at 12:20 p.m. April 10.

The woman said she was pregnant and had been at a methadone clinic and became tired so she stopped driving. She also admitted smoking crack "earlier" but now "had nothing left."

Police found 3.1 grams of cocaine, 0.6 grams of marijuana, Suboxone pills and glass pipes in the woman's possession.

Resurfacing of 14 miles of I-43 to force lane closures

April 22, 2014 3:05 p.m. | Crews will begin construction work Wednesday evening on a 14-mile stretch of I-43, causing overnight lane closures until late summer.

The project extends from just south of Silver Spring Road to Highway 32. It includes resurfacing, which will start in May, as well as lengthening the southbound exit ramp at the Mequon Road Interchange.

Lane closures will take place from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The Wisconsin DOT is currently conducting a comprehensive study of the I-43 corridor, for which there's a proposal for reconstruction.

Get up-to-the-minute info on highway delays in the Milwaukee area by checking our traffic report for smartphones. Visit on your smartphone browser.

Shorewood High School's athletic upgrades have taxpayers seeing red

April 20, 2014 12:19 p.m. | When an effort launched seven years ago to renovate the football field and outdoor athletic facility at Shorewood High School, the deal was pitched as a win-win.

Parents and students would get fan-friendly, updated playing fields that also could generate revenue by being rented, and the improvements would be financed through private donations, so the district could keep its finances focused on academics.

When private money dried up and the renovation project went over budget, the work continued anyway, leaving taxpayers with the bill, Shorewood School District officials have confirmed.

A new financial review showed that taxpayers shouldered about $800,000 of the total $4.1 million in construction costs.

Separately, Shorewood has turned up another financial oddity: a surplus of about $200,000 in a fund for student fees, which should have only had between $30,000 and $40,000 in it.

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New car dealership proposed in Glendale

April 15, 2014 4:55 p.m. | Glendale — Three homes and a service station could be demolished to make room for a new Infiniti auto dealership on Green Bay Avenue, just south of the David Hobbs Honda dealership.

International Autos is asking Glendale officials to rezone the lots stretching between 6030 and 6050 Green Bay Avenue to accommodate North Shore Infiniti, which would relocate from its current location about a mile south at 1515 W. Silver Spring Drive.

Under the proposal, a David Hobbs Honda service station and three houses owned by David Hobbs Honda would be demolished to make room for an Infiniti dealership on the two-acre lot.

The old Infiniti dealership would be used as a used car lot by Jack Safro's Lexus North Shore, according to Tom Dexter of International Autos.

International Infiniti is prepared to spend $1.5 million to construct the shell building spanning 17,000 square feet on the first floor and 2,000 square feet on a partial second floor. The dealership plans to spend $400,000 on site improvements, including landscaping to shield the 127 parking stalls from the roadway.

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Bay girls win 10 events to repeat as North Shore indoor track champs

April 10, 2014 9:44 p.m. | As one of the few seniors on the immensely talented and successful Whitefish Bay girls track team, Sara Coffey realizes what a good thing she's a part of right now.

Because the Blue Dukes built off their titles in their own Lois Wolf Invitational and the WTFA State Indoor last week by claiming an impressive 10 events and repeating as North Shore Conference indoor champions at Milwaukee Lutheran Thursday night.

"It's been really fun," said Coffey, who won both the 1,600 and 3,200-meter races. "We've all been working very hard since the end of the cross country season (last fall). It's so fun to see all this hard work pay off.

"We all ran like crazy last week and we did even better this week."

The Blue Dukes scored 144 points for their title in the eight-team field as a game Homestead team won two events and took second with 115. Germantown was fourth with 59 and Nicolet sixth with 34.

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Fox Point to replace footbridge after years of debate

April 09, 2014 12:43 p.m. | After years of heated public meetings, the Fox Point Village Board has decided to build a new footbridge on Bridge Lane.

Trustees on Tuesday night accepted the lowest project bid of $876,496, with the understanding that Footbridge Friends, a non-profit group tasked with raising 50 percent of the funds, will contribute $515,000 to the effort.

The board approved the construction bid and contribution guidelines on a 6-1 vote, with Trustee William Werner casting the only vote in opposition

The contribution from Footbridge Friends would make good on a promise from two years ago, when the group offered to pay for half of the bridge construction costs. The group's contribution would also reimburse the village for the $30,000 loan it received from the village to help them launch their fundraising effort.

Footbridge Friends President Barbara Schwartz said the group has $201,313 on hand right now, but expects to have another $50,000 by late spring and another $100,000 by the end of the year. She said she has firm pledges that total $515,000.

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Modern restaurant will anchor Mequon Town Center

April 09, 2014 11:49 a.m. | A two-story restaurant building with a bold, contemporary design will be built on the northwest corner of Cedarburg and Mequon roads, serving as an iconic landmark building for the Mequon Town Center.

The restaurant building will be one of five buildings in the Town Center development, which will also feature Colectivo Coffee Roasters, a new American Legion post, 40 luxury apartments and a variety of other commercial tenants.

The Mequon Plan Commission approved the building plans for the restaurant building, as well as the other building on the south end of the lot, at its meeting Monday, April 7.

Open for Christmas

Construction will begin on the east and north buildings immediately, and construction on the other three buildings should begin within 90 days, said Blair Williams of Wired Properties. Williams said the restaurant building should begin serving around Christmastime.

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Mequon, Weickardt reach deal on River Club subdivision

April 09, 2014 10:36 a.m. | Mequon — After a nearly three-year struggle to reach a deal, city officials and River Club of Mequon owner Tom Weickardt have agreed to terms on a more modest subdivision development near the club and along the Milwaukee River.

The Common Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that opens the door for a five-home subdivision on 10 acres of the 42-acre lot, and also approved other measures to satisfy neighbors' concerns and keep the riverfront accessible.

Under one resolution approved by the council, the city, Weickardt and neighbors will try to draft easements that cement the neighbors' ability to easily access all parts of the Ville Du Parc area. Another resolution authorizes the city to come to terms on a purchase price for the remaining 148 acres of riverfront land.

Weickardt has fought with the city and neighbors over the subdivision proposal since he bought the River Club in 2011, most recently at a March meeting of the Planning Commission that ended up with a 4-4 gridlock and no recommendation for the council's meeting Tuesday.

Coming forward late last week, the new five-home subdivision plan is a significant reduction to the 19-home plan Weickardt has insisted on since 2011, and was billed by his supporters and city officials alike as a difficult, yet worthy, compromise.

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Bay and Homestead tie for North Shore boys track title

April 08, 2014 10:09 p.m. | It was a match-up of Whitefish Bay's firepower versus Homestead's depth as the two teams wound up in a dead heat tie in the North Shore Conference Indoor track meet at Cedarburg Tuesday night.

The two teams finished with 111 points apiece as Grafton was third (64-1/2), Germantown fourth (63-1/2) and Nicolet eighth with 28.

Bay was led by Rhashad Gray who won both the high jump (6-2) and the 200-meter dash (23.93 seconds).

Other firsts for the Blue Dukes included George Papajohn in the 800 (2:05.31), the four-lap relay (1:16.79), Ben Wallace in the pole vault (12-6) and Adam Strehlow in the 55 hurdles (8.05). Strehlow's teammate Colin Downing made it one-two in the hurdles when he took second in the 55-meter race in 8.34.

For Homestead, it was a matter of getting second places, as the Highlanders amassed seven runner-up slots en route to tieing for the title.

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Shorewood Metro Market work could start by September

April 08, 2014 7:00 a.m. | Demolition work tied to a new Metro Market proposed for Shorewood could begin by September, with the two-story, 80,000-square-foot store opening one year later.

That's according to a project time line provided by developer Michael Weiss at Monday's Shorewood Community Development Authority board meeting.

His firm, General Capital Group, wants to build the Metro Market; a four-story, 350-space parking structure, and a six-story apartment building, with around 90 units, its own parking structure and 15,000 square feet of street-level commercial space.

The buildings would be on Oakland Ave., between E. Kenmore Place and E. Olive St., and replace the 30,000-square-foot Pick 'n Save supermarket; the former Walgreens and Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, and parking lots totaling around 200 spaces.

The Pick 'n Save--which, like Metro Market, is operated by Roundy's Inc.--would close in April 2015 so demolition work could clear it for the apartments and part of the parking structure, Weiss said.

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Nines in Mequon switches from small plates to steaks under a new format

April 07, 2014 5:12 p.m. |

Small plates are out and steaks are in at Nines, the restaurant at the River Club in Mequon, which recently tweaked its name and changed its menu.

It’s now called Nines American Bistro, and more traditional full-size entrées have replaced the small-plates format. The new dishes include an 8-ounce filet mignon ($39), 14-ounce dry-aged Angus New York strip steak ($52), miso-glazed tuna with black rice ($32) and a half roast chicken ($19).

The dining room's decor has changed — darker walls and sconces added, tablecloths replacing the placemats — and there’s a new chef: Scott Klenke. The emphasis on wine (photo above) remains the same.

Nines is at 12400 N. Ville du Parc Drive. You can see the full menu online

Ronn Johnson's death ruled suicide

April 07, 2014 1:50 p.m. | Brown Deer — The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office has ruled former educator Ronn Johnson's death a suicide.

Johnson was found Dec. 30 in the remains of his home, which had been destroyed in a fire. According to a police news release the exact cause of the fire remains unknown, though "ignitable fluids were located in atypical areas, which could indicate the fire may have been intentional."

Johnson was an ex-charter school leader and former Milwaukee Public Schools teacher. He was charged last summer with nearly two dozen felonies in a child sex abuse case. Prior to his death, Johnson was out on bail after being accused of sexually assaulting five children over more than 20 years.

Milwaukee County Supervisor David Bowen to run for Pasch Assembly seat

April 07, 2014 10:14 a.m. | First-term Milwaukee County Supervisor David Bowen announced on Monday his Democratic candidacy for the state Assembly seat Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Shorewood) is leaving at the end of the year.

Bowen, 27, said he wanted to work to help create family supporting jobs, promote quality education and services for children.

"The state needs new leadership," Bowen said. "We are continuing to see attacks from Madison, from Republicans, on Milwaukee."

Bowen was the author of Milwaukee County's "living wage" ordinance, which was approved in February and survived a veto by County Executive Chris Abele. The measure requires a $11.32 minimum wage for county workers and employees who work for some county contractors.

Bowen, a lifelong Milwaukee resident, was elected to the County Board in 2012.

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Whitefish Bay pays $138,000 in exchange for village manager resignation

April 04, 2014 1:24 p.m. | Whitefish Bay — Village officials agreed to pay roughly $138,000 in various forms of compensation in return for Village Manager Patrick DeGrave's resignation, according to a resignation agreement acquired through records requests.

The Village Board deliberated DeGrave's resignation in a March 2 closed-session meeting for nearly three hours, according to meeting minutes, after which they went into open session and, after another hour, approved the resignation agreement unanimously.

Present at that meeting was special legal counsel Thomas Scrivner, a labor attorney at Michael Best & Friedrich. While the village usually produces audio recordings of open-session board meetings, the March 2 meeting was not recorded because it took place on a Sunday and staff were not available, assistant clerk Caren Brustmann said.

The deal and dollars

According to the agreement, dated March 4, DeGrave was required to provide a resignation letter "indicating that you have resigned to seek other opportunities effective March 3, 2014." In return, DeGrave receives a lump sum payment of $11,197 for unused vacation days, and two lump sums of $55,983, equivalent to six months of salary. The village also agreed to pay its share of DeGrave's health insurance, $1,249 per month through February 2015 or roughly $15,000.

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