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Retired teacher receives nearly $37,000 in severance package

July 15, 2011 5:32 p.m. | Whitefish Bay - The School Board likely signaled its intention to continue to offer severance packages to eligible employees when it approved the retirement of Richards School second-grade teacher Susan Rymer on July 13.

Rymer, who has taught in the schools since 1992 and in the Whitnall district for 10 years prior to that, retired with the severance package allowed under the now defunct teachers' contract for the last school year.

The district is developing an employee handbook that will spell out working conditions and employee benefits but does not expect that to be finished for several months. Some portions of it, including a grievance procedure, will be in place for the start of the school year, according to discussion at the recent School Board meeting.

"For other employee groups we still have a retiree severance package," Director of Human Resources Mark Kapocius said after the meeting. "This can be seen as a signal that we will continue some sort of a severance package, although the board will have to look at exactly what it wants to provide."

Teachers were required to submit notice of their intent to retire by Feb. 1, but the Personnel and Policy Committee, chaired by Member Pam Woodard, accepted Rymer's later notice. The request was submitted within the last few weeks.

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Dominican to break ground on $4.5 million renovation

12:43 p.m. | Whitefish Bay — Dominican High School broke ground Monday on a $4.5 million renovation on a project that will transform the front entrance of the 59-year-old building.

The most noticeable renovation includes a rethinking of the building's main entrance, which will be the doors at the northwest corner of the parking lot. Although the new entrance will be tucked further back from Silver Spring Drive, the new glass, two-story atrium - accented by the school's logo - will be more noticable than the school's current entrance. The Dominican logo will be lit at night.

The doors at the new corner entrance will shift from the west side of the corner to a new building addition on the north side of the corner. A double-door entrance will create a secure vestibule where visitors will need to be buzzed in to the second set of doors. The main administrative offices will also be relocated to the new entrance area.

The new two-story atrium will not only bring more light into the school, but it will also create a connection between the two levels of the building, said Greg Uhen, president of Eppstein Uhen Architects, which has designed the project.

"As you are walking through the center portion, students will be able to look up, and students on the second level will be able to look down," he said. "It will connect the two floors, and really makes it more of a main space."

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Brown Deer approves conversion of American TV property for light industrial use

11:54 a.m. | Brown Deer's plan to sell the former American TV & Appliance property, and provide financing help to redevelop the building into a light industrial facility, has been approved by village officials.

The 80,000-square-foot American TV building, 6700 W. Brown Deer Road, was sold in March to the Brown Deer Community Development Authority for $2.6 million. American TV went out of business in 2014.

Under the proposal unanimously approved Monday night by the Village Board, Pak Technologies Inc. is buying the former American building and 6.6 acres of the lot for $2.1 million, said Nate Piotrowski, the village's community development director.

Pak produces, packages and distributes chemical products,

The village is providing $750,000 through 2019 to help Pak finance the building's renovations, he said. Those funds will be repaid through new property taxes on the improved portions of the former American property, including a new grocery store.

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Chocolate Factory has closed at Bay Shore

11:38 a.m. | The Chocolate Factory at Bay Shore Mall in Glendale, a food court fixture for 41 years, has closed, co-founder and general manager Mike Toffler reports. The last day of business was April 28.

The restaurant, known for its sub sandwiches and premium Wisconsin ice creams and sundaes, still has seven locations in the area, including the original shop in Cedarburg (opened in 1972) and the newest, opened last year in Shorewood.

"It was kind of a bittersweet thing," Toffler said of closing the doors at Bay Shore, "but you have to move on. We don't really do food courts anymore, we're mostly in small communities."

Toffler also cited disagreement over the terms of the lease and said that sales at that location had been down a bit.

The Chocolate Factory, meanwhile, is looking to open new stores at Drexel Town Square in Oak Creek and someplace in Mequon, Toffler said.

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MMSD, Milwaukee council pressed to weigh in on Estabrook dam removal

May 04, 2015 4:18 p.m. | The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District's commission and Milwaukee Common Council will be asked this month to support removing the dam on the Milwaukee River at Estabrook Park.

Both the MMSD commission's policy committee and the council's judiciary committee on Monday unanimously approved separate advisory resolutions asking Milwaukee County officials to demolish the crumbling 1930s-era dam instead of repairing it.

Removing the dam is the least costly option for taxpayers at an estimated price of $1.7 million, compared with $4.3 million for renovation with 20 years' worth of operating and maintenance cost, MMSD Executive Director Kevin Shafer said. The cost of repair and maintenance jumps to an estimated $5.1 million if state environmental officials require installation of a fish passage.

But the district's primary concern with keeping the dam in place is the risk of flood damage, he said.

Removing the dam would reduce the risk of flood damage to upstream properties even with its gates fully open, according to Shafer. For that reason, removal is consistent with the district's goal of reducing flood risks to buildings within its regional service area, he said.

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Aldi may come to Brown Deer

May 01, 2015 12:53 p.m. | Brown Deer — A new Aldi grocery store is expected to be built on a vacant lot near the former American TV and Appliance building.

When American TV and Appliance closed last year, the Brown Deer Community Development Authority purchased the 10-acre lot at 6700 W. Brown Deer Road for $2.6 million. That lot has been divided into three parcels, including a 2.2 acre lot on the southeast corner that will be sold to Aldi for a new grocery store building. The Village Board will meet in closed session Monday to determine a final sale price.

The former American TV and Appliance building is part of a 6.6 acre lot on the north side of the property that will be purchased by Pak Technologies, a blending, packing and distribution company based in Milwaukee. The final sale price of that property will also be discussed by the Village Board on Monday.

The remaining 1.2 acres of land on the southwestern portion of the property will be used for storm water management.

For Brown Deer, the two new purchase offers from Aldi and Pak Technologies are the culmination of more than a year's worth of work. Nate Piotrowski, the village's director of community development, said he believes the village will be pleased to see not only a new grocery store, but also the purchase of a large vacant building.

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Investigation: Family behind collapsed Falls building has a history of neglecting properties

May 01, 2015 11:34 a.m. | Menomonee Falls — Executives of the companies that own and manage the partially collapsed North Hills Plaza in Menomonee Falls have a long history of legal troubles and neglecting properties, a Menomonee Falls Now investigation has found.

North Hills Plaza is owned by 1340 East 9th Street Realty Corp. in Brooklyn, New York, whose CEO is Samuel Pinter, according to Waukesha County tax records and information from the New York Department of State. His son, Charles Pinter, is the CEO of Royale Property Management, which oversees North Hills Plaza. Together the Pinters and their affiliated companies have left a wake of rundown properties, according to court records and officials in Texas.

In 2013, unlivable conditions rife with cockroaches, toilets overflowing, spoiled food and a pool so filthy the water was black were reported in inspection reports for a Texas retirement community owned by Samuel Pinter.

A 2004 federal court lawsuit over an alleged $44 million Ponzi scheme names Samuel Pinter as a defendant, and Charles Pinter was ultimately brought into the suit, as well.

In addition, news sources have reported other incidents in which properties owned by Charles or Samuel, or both, were found to be dilapidated and unlivable.

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Whitefish Bay schools superintendent resigns to take Arrowhead job

April 30, 2015 3:48 p.m. | Whitefish Bay —Whitefish Bay School District Superintendent Laura Myrah will leave the district at the end of the school year to serve as superintendent of the Arrowhead Union High School District.

Myrah, whose resignation request was approved by the school board Thursday afternoon, has served as superintendent of Whitefish Bay schools for the past two years. She was appointed to that post after serving four years as the district's director of curriculum and instruction.

Myrah said she was not seeking another job outside of Whitefish Bay, but as she said in her resignation letter, "when the Arrowhead Union High School District came calling, it was the only alternate job opportunity I felt I needed to explore." Myrah's new position at Arrowhead begins July 1.

"It has been a very difficult decision to leave Whitefish Bay, where we have wonderful, dedicated employees, engaged families and community members, and impressive students," she said. "I look forward to moving to Arrowhead where there is a focus solely on the high school level, and doing it really well, while also serving in a school district with amazing employees, supportive families and community members, and 2,300 equally terrific students."

Grafton lumberyard may be converted to apartments, commercial space

April 29, 2015 12:08 p.m. | A proposal to develop apartments and commercial space at a former downtown Grafton lumberyard is winning community support, with a likely construction start this fall.

The project, known as Lumberyard 1505, is proposed for 4.7 acres on the west side of Wisconsin Ave., south of Beech St.

Mequon-based Shaffer Development LLC in February disclosed plans for the project, which could eventually have around 130 apartments and 15,000 square feet of commercial space.

Lumberyard 1505 received positive comments from Plan Commission members at a Tuesday night conceptual review, said Darrell Hofland, village administrator.

The commission is to vote on the proposal at its June 23 meeting, with the Village Board to consider the plan in July, he said Wednesday.

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Homestead girls soccer team holds on, 2-1, over Nicolet

April 28, 2015 11:28 p.m. | In a game where at times it took on the look of a MASH unit because so many players were going down and being helped off the field, the Homestead girls soccer team had just enough people and made just enough stops to beat host Nicolet, 2-1 Tuesday night.

"This was a very physical gamne," said Homestead coach Rich Dorn. "...The attrition rate was something. We had to put different bodies out there because we losing some key ones to injury."

Dorn had special praise for freshman keeper Hannah Malicky who got hurt with about seven minutes to go in a collision with a Nicolet player who was going for the ball in the box. A long delay ensued, but Malicky stayed in the game, getting treatment for a leg injury afterward.

"She really gutted it out," said Dorn.

The gritty win improved the Highlanders to 2-0 in North Shore play and 5-1-1 overall while Nicolet fell to 2-1 in league contests and also 5-1-1 overall.

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Estabrook Beer Garden gets an early start

April 28, 2015 7:43 p.m. | Shorewood — The weather was so nice Tuesday afternoon that the operators of the Estabrook Beer Garden decided to get a head start on their unseasonably early grand opening.

The Estabrook Beer Garden was originally planned to open Thursday during a grand opening event called Maifest. Maifest, which runs Thursday, April 30 through Sunday, May 3, marks a grand opening that is two months earlier than previous beer garden seasons. The festival will be open rain or shine with a heated tent.

Maifest will include traditional German dancing, food, live music, and Hofbräu Maibock beer. There's even a stein holding contest with a chance to win a trip for two to NYC if the winning time stands throughout the season. The live music lineup includes the Ferd Buchel Band, The Love Monkeys, Thomas Dietrich, Talisman, Sigmund Snopek, The Polka Kings, Austrian Express, The Squeezettes, and The Milwaukee Blaskapelle.

Glendale tennis courts to be transformed into futsal courts

April 28, 2015 2:15 p.m. | Glendale — Keith Tozer can't help but notice the empty tennis courts in Lincoln Park as he drives down Green Bay Avenue every day.

Tozer, a Glendale resident who coached the Milwaukee Wave for 21 seasons, tends to pay special attention to these types of things, as he is always looking for new ways to grow soccer in Milwaukee. He is most passionate about growing futsal — a soccer variant with five-player teams, hard-surfaced courts and a weightier, low-bounce ball.

So where some people might see deteriorating tennis courts, Tozer saw future futsal courts. He had created a daily log of the inactivity at Lincoln Park, which he presented to the Milwaukee County Parks Department along with his proposal to turn the four tennis courts into two, 70-by-85-foot futsal courts.

Milwaukee County Parks had also noticed the vacancy on the tennis courts, and bought Tozer's vision for new futsal courts. Other cities — such as New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Orlando — have all recently renovated tennis courts for futsal use.

"We're very excited about this partnership we've had with Keith Tozer and his Wisconsin Sports Group to bring futsal to Milwaukee County," Milwaukee County Parks Director John Dargle said. "We're joining just a small number of cities and counties across the country introducing this sport of futsal — taking a space that was unused and reusing it for all to enjoy."

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Aurora gets naming rights to Homestead's strength and conditioning center

April 28, 2015 10:03 a.m. | Mequon — The Homestead High School Strength and Conditioning Center will be named after Aurora Health Care, in recognition of the organization's $50,000 donation to an athletic facilities fundraising campaign.

Aurora has offered to commit $50,000 to the Highlander Strong campaign in exchange for a five-year naming rights agreement for the school's strength and conditioning center. The Mequon-Thiensville School District is working with Aurora to design signage for the existing athletic facility.

Since October, the Highlander Strong fundraising campaign has raised $970,000 for the first phase of its project, which is estimated to cost $1.3 million. The first phase would construct a community pavilion, install artificial turf on the football field and regrade and irrigate the soccer field.

This is the school district's second naming rights agreement for the Highlander Strong campaign. The school board in February decided to name a future athletic pavilion after Sommer's Subaru in recognition of the car dealership's $250,000 contribution to the $500,000 building, which would include restrooms, concessions and two team rooms.

Crave Cafe plans to offer takeout food in former Runaway Meatball building

April 27, 2015 1:28 p.m. | Shorewood — A new takeout restaurant has plans to take over a building previously occupied by Runaway Meatball, which closed last year.

The new restaurant, called Crave Cafe, plans to open on May 1 in the building at 3592 N. Oakland Ave. The restaurant is owned by Unique Foods, which is listed as being located at 3600 N. Oakland Ave., which is where East Garden Chinese restaurant is located.

Crave Cafe plans to offer a variety of burgers and fries, including unique offerings such as a tonkatsu burger, Korean BBQ burger and a soft shell crab BLT sandwich. The 1,450-square-foot space has seating for 12 people, in addition to a minimal amount of patio seating.

Crave Cafe plans to operate from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., according to an application for a conditional use permit. The restaurant owners anticipate most of the business will be takeout orders.

River Hills wants sex offender removed from village facility

April 27, 2015 11:23 a.m. | River Hills officials want a say in the fate of a sex offender they say has been living in the village illegally.

A court hearing on that request Monday marked the latest dust-up between municipal authorities, state agencies and judges over the increasingly difficult task of finding places where sex offenders can serve supervised release.

Earlier this month, another Milwaukee County judge said the county's patchwork collection of local residency restrictions amounts to a virtual ban on sex offenders, which frustrates the intent of a state law that allows indefinite civil commitment for the worst sex offenders but requires they have a chance to return to their communities after treatment.

River Hills has such an ordinance, adopted last fall, that prohibits sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of schools, day cares, parks, nature preserves, libraries or places where golf, tennis or swimming facilities are used by children.

Lawyers for the village want to be heard in the case of Edward Fink. Fink was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in the 2003 sexual assault of a 67-year-old woman in Oak Creek. He was ordered to treatment at a state mental hospital.

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Dance group to perform at Whitefish Bay library

April 24, 2015 12:38 p.m. | On Wednesday, April 29, in the Whitefish Bay Public Library Room, the Whitefish Bay Public

Library story time and the Ceci Broussard Dancers will unite for a dance book story time and a dance performance.

Dance story books will be read by the library's children's librarian at 6:30 p.m.

From 6:45 to 7:15 p.m., the Ceci Broussard Dancers will perform ballet, tap and jazz numbers in honor of National Dance Week.

Broussard is the Wisconsin State Representative for the National Dance Week Foundation.

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