Ruhama's closing its doors after 50 years on Silver Spring

May 29, 2013 1:36 p.m. | Whitefish Bay — Walking through her store, Dawn Slugg carries herself with a certain reluctance, casting lingering glances as if seeing her wares for the last time.

For 32 years now, Slugg has been the proprietor of Ruhama's Yarn and Needlepoint, a staple boutique of downtown Whitefish Bay that caters to area knitters, crocheters and needlepoint hobbyists — she calls them her "stitchers" — with materials spanning an entire spectrum of colors and textures.

Yet, after all the time, Slugg, 70, says it's time to hang up the needles and the thread and the notions, to take up a new chapter of her life in retirement, to travel and enjoy more time with her children and grandchildren on the west coast. While Slugg will continue to run her wholesale yarn importing business, she expects the Ruhama's storefront itself to close for good around June 10.

"I feel like I'm going out on top," Slugg says. "I have loved doing this, and have appreciated the support I've always had from this community. I wouldn't have been here this long if it hadn't been for them, and the staff, and family."

Takes over from 'tough cookie'

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Brown Deer Plan Commission holds off on Beaver Creek rezoning decision

May 29, 2013 12:27 p.m. | Brown Deer — The rezoning decision to allow for a Bradley Crossing-esque development at the Beaver Creek site on Brown Deer Road and 60th Street will have to wait until June 10.

After more than two hours of testimony from developer General Capital and Brown Deer residents — a large majority of whom oppose the project — Tuesday evening, the Plan Commission decided to lay over its deliberations until the June meeting to give commissioners more time to think it over and village staff more time to gather pertinent data like North Shore rental and low-income statistics.

General Capital's plans call for a 44 rental unit expansion of Beaver Creek, with 75 percent of the units for general population and 25 percent disability, with 37 of the 44 units at a low-income rental rate and seven at a market rate. Including the 10 existing condos, four of which General Capital will buy back if the expansion is approved, 17 of the total 54 units would rent at a high-end market rate. With a combination of strict background and criminal screenings, on-site management, condo-style units, community meeting room, and a "Beaver Creek Community Association," General Capital is trying to replicate a condo feel with its apartment development.

"You can have a very good building go very bad if you have bad management, and we take that very seriously," General Capital Partner Sig Strautmanis said. "This would not be, as what is commonly referred to as low-income housing and what is stigmatized as low-income housing."

General Capital is trying to make good on its 2007 investment in the Beaver Creek site, which has stalled since the developer built 10 condos before the 2008 economic downturn, four of which sold before the remaining six languished and were eventually rented. At present the village has invested $1.75 million in the site through tax incremental financing in exchange for General Capital to guarantee certain property values.

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Fox Point-Bayside eliminating technology director position

May 28, 2013 11:50 a.m. | Fox Point — Fox Point-Bayside Technology Director Jim Binney's position will be cut in the coming 2013-14 school year.

Binney was hired in 2012 to work in tandem with Menomonee Falls-based K-12 Technology Group, an outside technology support service with whom the district contracts. In the coming year K-12 Technology Group will provide all technology support for the district, as was the case before Binney was hired, Superintendent Rachel Boechler said.

As technolgy director, Binney has managed the district network, provided technical support, and been a part of the technology planning committee. He said he has also provided hands-on technology training to teachers, though "it's not technically part of my job, but it's something that needs to be done."

Boechler said the move is meant to help close the district's projected 2013-14 budget deficit, estimated in mid-May to be about $370,000 if the state legislature doesn't increase mandated district spending limits in the 2013-15 biennial budget.

"If we were flush with money, (keeping both Binney and K-12 Technology Group) would be a great model,"Boechler said, "but we're not."

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Whitefish Bay officials discuss tentative budget

May 23, 2013 3:26 p.m. | The tentative 2013-14 Whitefish Bay School District budget, presented to the Finance Committee on Wednesday, shows a 4.14 percent increase to the tax levy; however, this number is expected to change in coming months.

Because of the ongoing state legislative process, the school district budget is a fluid document and can change over the next few months as the state decides how much it will issue in aid. The levy and state aid projected in the preliminary budget will most likely change; however, the district is mandated to have a preliminary budget for publication. Whitefish Bay is hoping to have projections from the Department of Public Instruction sometime in June, which would allow a more accurate levy figure.

"State aid and tax levy are impossible to project because the state hasn't determined the biennial budget — so no one knows how much money is being allocated to schools," Director of Business Services Shawn Yde said after the meeting.

The district has to send a budget document to Whitefish Bay residents in the beginning of July. Numbers should be updated some; however, they can still change by the annual meeting in September when Whitefish Bay electors approve the budget and levy.

For the time being, a "placeholder" was used to project the amount of state aid that will come to the district, Yde said. The preliminary budget shows about the same amount of state aid as last year, with a moderate $100,000 increase.

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Two annual meetings? It's possible in Whitefish Bay

May 23, 2013 12:57 p.m. | There might be two Whitefish Bay School District annual meetings held to approve the 2013-14 budget and levy; however, it's up to residents to decide.

The Whitefish Bay School Board, meeting as the Committee of the Whole on Wednesday, debated the date of the annual meeting — it falls on Sept. 4, during Rosh Hashana. At every annual meeting, the next year's meeting is set. In Whitefish Bay, the meeting is typically the first Wednesday of September. Legal counsel advised the district that once the date is approved, it cannot be changed.

Rosh Hashana is Jewish holiday marking the start of a new year. It is considered a time for prayer, and work is not allowed on Rosh Hashana.

In an effort to accommodate the Jewish community, School Board members debated whether they should ask the public to immediately adjourn the annual meeting Sept. 4 and establish Sept. 9 as a new meeting date. It is up to electors to convene the meeting and set a new date.

Board members wanted more time to debate the issue, asking for more information on the issue so they can have a better understanding of their options. They will revisit the matter in June.

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Mandel breaks ground next week on Whitefish Bay project

May 23, 2013 7:00 a.m. | Mandel Group Inc. will break ground next Wednesday on Beaumont Place, its apartment development in Whitefish Bay.

The development will feature three buildings totaling 83 upscale units, and will be completed by summer 2014. The project site is behind the Fox Bay Cinema Building, north of E. Silver Spring Drive and east of N. Santa Monica Blvd.

The apartments, ranging from one to three bedrooms, will rent for about $1,500 to $3,200 a month and target North Shore empty nesters.

Brown Deer Village Board approves Wal-Mart financials

May 21, 2013 2:41 p.m. | Brown Deer — Trustees on Monday approved the financial dealings underlying the sale of the vacant Lowe's building on Brown Deer Road to Wal-Mart, but not before altering the agreements to grant themselves more power to regulate the retailer.

Trustee Andrea Weddle-Henning was the lone Village Board member to vote against the financial deals that allow Lowe's to settle their debt with the village and lock in a guaranteed property value for Wal-Mart to pay taxes on.

"It's just not the best fit," Weddle-Henning said after the meeting. "We're a small community here, and what happened (at a recently closed location off 76th Street and Brown Deer Road) is going to move here."

The approved agreements terminate the original 2006 development agreement between Lowe's and the village, on the condition Lowe's pay the village $1.25 million to cover a portion of the outstanding debt payments on the $2.4 million the village took out to kickstart the Lowe's development. Wal-Mart will fund the remainder of those debt payments by paying taxes on a guaranteed property value of at least $11 million, as stated in the agreements.

All of the financial agreements approved Monday only take effect if the Plan Commission and Village Board later approve site and operational plans, and if the sale goes through between Lowe's and Wal-Mart.

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Brown Deer apartments proposal set for May 28 hearing

May 21, 2013 7:00 a.m. | A Plan Commission hearing on a disputed proposal to develop apartments in Brown Deer is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 28, at Brown Deer High School's Novak Fieldhouse.

General Capital Group would build the 44-unit Beaver Creek Apartments west of N. 60th St., a few blocks north of W. Brown Deer Road.

The townhouse-style apartments would be near General Capital's Beaver Creek Condominiums. The firm developed 10 condos and had planned to develop additional condos until the housing bubble burst.

Village officials say allowing apartments instead of condos will help generate property tax revenue, and bring more residents into the community.

Opponents have turned in petitions, signed by over 1,000 residents, opposed to the project. They say Brown Deer already has enough rental units, and needs the stability of more owner-occupied housing.

Whitefish Bay names Myrah interim superintendent

May 20, 2013 2:47 p.m. | Whitefish Bay — Effective July 1, current Curriculum and Instruction Director Laura Myrah will serve as interim superintendent, according to a district news release.

Myrah will take over for outgoing superintendent Mary Gavigan, who announced last week she has accepted the position of executive director at the southeastern Wisconsin branch of the Cooperative Educational Service Agency. Myrah was very nearly chosen to become the new superintendent of the nearby Fox Point-Bayside School District, making the shortlist of three finalists.

Myrah has been the curriculum and instruction director for four years now, previously serving as an elementary school principal in the Elmbrook School District and West Bend Joint School District, and a gifted and talented coordinator and middle school teacher in the Port Washington-Saukville School District.

"Ms. Myrah's rich background in educational research and effective practice, her passion for students and learning, and her demonstrated leadership within our district will help the School District of Whitefish Bay move forward consistent with its area of focus and statewide initiatives," School Board President Pam Woodward said in the release.

"I look forward to building on my existing relationship with students, staff, parents and community members to not only continue our tradition of excellence but to enhance and expand it," Myrah said in the release. "I am enthused and proud to serve our district as Interim Superintendent."

Ryan Braun, Aaron Rodgers opening Bayshore restaurant

May 20, 2013 1:15 p.m. | 8-Twelve MVP Bar and Grill, a restaurant associated with athletes Ryan Braun and Aaron Rodgers, will open its second location at Glendale's Bayshore Town Center.

The new 8-Twelve will be located in the space now leased to COA, a locally owned Mexican restaurant which Marc and Marta Bianchini opened in 2009. COA closes June 30, and 8-Twelve is expected to open in the fourth quarter, said David Moss, Bayshore general manager.

8-Twelve opened its first location last July in Brookfield. Its name comes from the jersey numbers for Braun, leftfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, and Rodgers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. The restaurant is operated by SURG Restaurant Group, which is owned by Mike Polaski and Omar Shaikh and has a licensing agreement with Braun and Rodgers.

Much of 8-Twelve's produce, beef and pork is provided by Polaski's Hidden Creek Farm, in New London, as well as other Wisconsin farms.

8-Twelve's Bayshore location will feature private dining rooms, as well as a large dining room and spacious bar area.

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Braeger calls off Fox Point-Bayside recall

May 20, 2013 11:49 a.m. | Fox Point — Fox Point-Bayside School District parent David Braeger announced Monday that his School Board recall effort, launched just shy of two weeks ago, is at an end.

In a statement Braeger said that attention from outside arts interest groups, which he says would use the district for their own political ends, and assurances from teachers union president Mark Conforti, have led him to rescind the recalls he had filed against School Board President Debbie Friberg as well as board members Alice Lawton and Tim Melchert.

"Although I am in total agreement with (interest groups') cause, I can't let these highly organized groups use our community and school as the 'poster child' of weakened curriculum and schedule," Braeger said in the release, adding of Conforti, "he is the chief negotiator and the voice of the teachers and I must respect that."

While Braeger indicated he isn't confident in Friberg, Lawton and Melchert, he said newly elected board members Michael Weidner and Libby Wick can "bring in new ideas and leadership." He added that he hopes the district's incoming superintendent — recently announced to be Vance Dalzin from Williams Bay in Walworth County — can change the atmosphere in the district and resolve lingering schedule and curriculum concerns.

Friberg  didn’t offer any comment on the recall other than to say it hadn’t influenced her recent votes on School Board matters, and wouldn’t have factored into future votes.

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Fox Point-Bayside chooses Dalzin as new superintendent

May 20, 2013 10:11 a.m. |  

Vance Dalzin, current superintendent of the Williams Bay School District in Walworth County, was selected unanimously by the School Board to become the district’s new superintendent, according to a district news release.

He will succeed superintendent Rachel Boechler in August. In January Boechler announced her resignation to continue her work with Seattle-based nonprofit Center for Courage & Renewal, where she is currently board chair.

Working with search firm Hazard Young & Attea, the district began with a pool of 28 candidates, six of whom were interviewed. The School Board interviewed Dalzin twice and a group of district teachers, administrators, support staff and parents interviewed him once. Stakeholders in Williams Bay were interviewed as well.

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Chris Abele delivering cardiac monitors at North Shore FD

May 20, 2013 9:11 a.m. | Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is presenting 45 new cardiac monitors to firefighters and emergency responders Monday morning at the North Shore Fire Department.

The new monitors include wireless Internet capabilities to send information to hospitals in a quicker and easier manner. The cost of the monitors was included in the 2013 county budget, according to a news release.

The presentation is being made in honor of Emergency Medical Services Week.

Walmart planned for Brown Deer gets preliminary boost

May 20, 2013 7:00 a.m. | The Brown Deer Community Development Authority is recommending a new development agreement for a Walmart proposed at the former Lowe's home improvement store, reports Michael Meidenbauer at

The Village Board will consider that recommendation Monday. It would replace the development agreement the village had with Lowe's, which closed the store in 2011. That agreement guaranteed the building's assessed value was high enough to generate enough property taxes to repay village funds used to help finance the building.

The new agreement calls for Lowe's to make a payment to help reduce that debt, with Walmart agreeing to invest at least $11 million in the site in order to generate property taxes to pay off the rest of that debt.

All of this is contingent on the village approving Walmart's site plans. The property is already zoned for big box retail use. 

Mequon Outpost Natural Foods set to open by summer 2014

May 17, 2013 10:32 p.m. | A new Outpost Natural Foods supermarket planned for Mequon is scheduled to open by summer 2014, after the Common Council this week approved city financing assistance for the project.

Demolition work to prepare the development site, at the northeast corner of Mequon Road (Highway 167) and Wauwatosa Road (Highway 181), is to begin in June, said Kim Tollefson, city community development director.

The Common Council on Tuesday approved a proposal to provide $229,241 in assistance for the $4.1 million development.

That cash will be provided through the city's tax incremental financing district along Mequon Road between Wauwatosa Road and the Milwaukee River. A portion of Outpost's annual property tax bill will be rebated to the cooperative over four years.

The 16,000-square-foot store, which is the first Outpost to be developed outside Milwaukee County, will primarily serve customers from Mequon and Thiensville. It also is expected to draw shoppers from such nearby communities as Germantown, Menomonee Falls, Cedarburg and Grafton.

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Wal-Mart sale clears Brown Deer CDA

May 17, 2013 11:36 a.m. | Brown Deer — After closed session negotiations Wednesday evening, the Community Development Authority unanimously approved a termination of its original 2006 agreement with Lowe's and approved a new agreement with Wal-Mart to develop the vacant Lowe's building on Brown Deer Road.

The CDA's actions amount to recommendations to the Village Board, which will consider the matter on Monday.

When the village partnered through tax incremental financing with Lowe's in 2006, it borrowed $2.4 million to jump start the development. Under the terms of the termination, Lowe's agrees to pay the village $1.25 million to satisfy the outstanding debt payments it would have otherwise funded through property taxes.

The Wal-Mart agreement acknowledges that the retailer will invest at least $11 million in the site. However much Wal-Mart ends up investing, multiplied by the village's assessment ratio — .95 in the 2012 tax year — will determine a fair market "floor value" that Walmart and any successors, at the least, will have to guarantee and pay taxes on.

Both the Lowe's termination agreement and Wal-Mart redevelopment agreement are contingent on the village approving site, landscape, architectural and outdoor lighting, and operational plans. Both agreements have no effect unless the sale between Lowe's and Wal-Mart goes through.

Al Calderone Club set to open Friday in Shorewood

May 17, 2013 7:53 a.m. | Al Calderone Club, a pizza takeout and delivery restaurant, is due to open at 11 a.m. Friday at  4475 N. Oakland Ave. in Shorewood.

It's named for the original east side restaurant begun by Antonio and Maria Rosa Fazzari.  

The restaurant will sell some pizza by the slice, and it has a counter that will seat seven. Owner Carmelo Fazzari is awaiting permission from the village to put tables outside soon that would seat another dozen or so.

The restaurant will sell thin crust, New York and Calabrese-style pizzas, as well as appetizers, salads and sandwiches. 

Al Calderone Club will open at 11 a.m. daily. It will stay open until 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and it could stay open as late as 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Fazzari said.

Homestead's Pelisek earns honor from First Bank/ Sports Radio 1250

May 16, 2013 10:57 p.m. | Homestead senior defensive back Riley Pelisek was named the football athlete of the year by SportsRadio 1250 AM and First Bank Financial.

For his work with the WIAA State Division 2 champion Highlander squad last fall, Pelisek received a $1,500 scholarship in a ceremony at the First Bank office in Mequon Thursday morning.

1250 Radio names an athlete of the week each fall and winter for first the football and then the basketball season. They then take all the weekly winners and choose an athlete of the year for each sport.

Pelisek, who plans on attending the University of Pennsylvania with the idea of going into the school's prestigious Wharton School of Business, was grateful for the honor.

"Every little bit helps," he said. Pelisek recently helped the Highlander boys' track team win its fifth straight North Shore Conference Triple Crown with the league outdoor title on Tuesday.

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Auditors draw different conclusions on Azana spa shooter case

May 16, 2013 10:08 a.m. | Brown Deer — Two separate reports come to very different conclusions on the interactions between Brown Deer police, Zina Haughton, and her estranged husband, Radcliffe, now infamous for gunning down Zina, two of her co-workers, and injuring three others before committing suicide.

By and large, auditor Robert C. Willis, whom Brown Deer hired in the wake of public outcry over the October 2012 Azana Spa shooting, concluded that Brown Deer police acted appropriately while dealing with the Haughtons, given the circumstances.

"BDPD and its officers acted professionally, enforced all laws and acted reasonably and appropriately in any and all dealings with the Haughtons," Willis wrote. "The BDPD has adequate training and an exemplary policy on how to respond to domestic abuse calls."

Domestic violence experts Judith Munaker and Linda Besser, consulted to review Willis' findings, tell a different story. Their report, attached as an appendix to the end of Willis' audit, repeatedly takes Brown Deer police to task for a lack of follow-ups, and includes a list of mistakes ranging from witness interviewing, evidence gathering and a lack of information sharing with Brookfield police.

More training needed

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Shorewood Schools Business Manager moves on

May 15, 2013 10:26 a.m. | Shorewood School District Business Manager Mark Boehlke has accepted an assistant superintedent position in the Sheboygan Area School District and will leave in June, according to a district news release.

In his new post, Boehlke will be in charge of business and operational services. He has been with the Shorewood district since 2006.

"As hard as it is to leave, I am looking forward to the new challenges and the opportunity to work in my hometown," Boehlke said in the release.

Superintendent Martin Lexmond said in the release that the district will immediately begin search for a replacement, and may hire a search firm to held screen candidates before finalists are brought before the Finance and Facilities Committee, community members, staff, and School Board as part of the hiring process.

Fox Point-Bayside School Board finalizes three of 10 potential layoffs

May 14, 2013 5:02 p.m. | Updated to include comment from recall organizer David Braeger.

Fox Point — After two rounds of public hearings last week over potential layoffs, the Fox Point-Bayside School Board spared seven of the 10 teachers who had been in danger of losing their jobs in the coming school year.

The decision came in the wake of weeks of public outcry over proposed staffing and schedule changes which amount to reductions in the district's arts, music, technology, and physical education — known colloquially as “specials” — in the coming year. The furor came to a head last week when district parent David Braeger turned in paperwork to begin the process of recalling School Board President Debbie Friberg alongside board members Tim Melchert and Alice Lawton.

On Tuesday Braeger called the board’s decisions a “good first step.” Since he turned in the recall papers, statewide arts special interest groups have contacted him in an effort to attach themselves to his campaign, Braeger said.

Braeger has extended invitations to School Board members to meet and come to some resolution over staffing and scheduling. He said he has put the recall effort on the back burner for now, in an effort to find a solution without the limelight the interest groups would invoke, should the recall move forward.

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Brown Deer Walmart store likely

May 14, 2013 2:12 p.m. | Brown Deer — A planned Walmart at the former Lowe's site on the 6300 block of Brown Deer Road is likely, pending sale of the property between the two retailers and negotiations with the village Community Development Authority.

Walmart is planning to expand the approximately 130,000 square foot Lowe's building to about 150,000 square feet to accommodate a full grocery and pharmacy in addition to the typical layout.

Serving the North Shore

Wisconsin Regional Manager and Mequon resident Mitch Cox said the nearby location off Brown Deer Road and 76th Street, recently relocated to Silver Spring and 103rd Street, took its customer base with it. He said the Brown Deer location would stock more upscale merchandise compared to other Walmarts, in an effort to target area customers.

"We need to serve the North Shore customer," Cox said, "and we haven't."

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Eddie Bauer closing Bayshore store

May 14, 2013 8:00 a.m. | The Eddie Bauer store at Bayshore Town Center, in Glendale, is closing May 26.

A spokeswoman for the Bellevue, Wash.-based clothing retailer couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

Bayshore General Manager David Moss said he hopes to announce a replacement tenant for that space within a few weeks.

Vinamo, a wine bar with small plates, to open in Whitefish Bay in August

May 14, 2013 7:23 a.m. | When Rosemarie Niles opened a frozen yogurt shop with her husband in DeLand, Fla., last year, she soon discovered the tapas place across the street and the wine bar next door. Now she's combining the concept of both in Vinamo, a wine bar and small-plates restaurant at 402 E. Silver Spring Drive in Whitefish Bay.

Vinamo is expected to open in August.

"I love wine, I love small-plate dining, too," Niles said. "It makes the whole dining experience more enjoyable" because it encourages guests to share, linger and talk about food.  

The restaurant would serve soups, salads and sandwiches at lunch, small plates at night and brunch on the weekends. Niles said she's planning to offer dishes that would appeal to diners who are health conscious "without scaring away people who aren't." Vinamo would use ingredients such as free-range chicken and grass-fed beef, and incorporate organic ingredients such as greens when possible, she said.

Niles, whose parents owned the former Sardi's Italian restaurant in Mequon, said menu will have European dishes in general, and a number of Italian dishes.

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Indoor sports facility planned for Glendale

May 14, 2013 7:00 a.m. | A Glendale warehouse would be converted into an indoor sports facility under a plan that's seeking financing help from a nonprofit business lender.

A group that includes developer Josh Jeffers plans to buy and convert the 25,000-square-foot building, 2920 W. Vera Ave., according to a report from the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp.

MEDC's Loan and Finance Committee will consider Tuesday a request for a $440,000 loan to help finance the $1.1 million project. Cornerstone Community Bank would provide additional financing.

The development would provide space for futsal, a derivation of indoor soccer, Jeffers said, along with court space for volleyball, basketball and other sports.

The building was originally built in the 1960s as an indoor tennis club, and is next to a similar building that's used by the Paley Tennis Center.

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Whitefish Bay superintendent resigns

May 13, 2013 1:11 p.m. | Whitefish Bay — Superintendent Mary Gavigan has announced she will be leaving the district in favor of an executive director post at the Cooperative Educational Service Agency.

She will be taking over CESA #1, one of 12 regional service providers in Wisconsin. According to the CESA #1 web page, the provider's southeastern Wisconsin coverage area spans 45 schools districts across six counties, containing more than 29,000 educators and more than 300,000 students. Oftentimes districts contract with CESA for services like special education, staffing, consultations, professional development services, student learning programs, and student support and intervention services.

On a broader level, CESA is advancing what Gavigan calls a "three-pronged approach" consisting of regional collaboration between area superintendents, college and career readiness for students, and a "transformational initiative" aimed at individually customized lesson plans.

"The future is very much about personalizing student education," Gavigan said. "It's a dynamic time, so it's an exciting time to work regionally, and across the state."

Gavigan was chosen in 2010 to succeed Whitefish Bay School District Superintendent James Rickabaugh. Coincidentally, she will again succeed Rickabaugh when she takes over as executive director of CESA #1. The School Board will meet in closed session Tuesday evening to begin hashing out a transitional plan for the superintendent position; the agenda indicates the board may select an interim superintendent.

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Elmbrook recommends Stormonth's Westfahl as new Brookfield Elementary principal

May 13, 2013 7:02 a.m. | Daniel Westfahl, currently principal at Stormonth Elementary School in the Fox Point-Bayside School District, has been chosen to take the reins at Brookfield Elementary School.

The Elmbrook School Board is set to vote on a two-year contract for Westfahl on Monday. It stipulates a salary of $99,000.

Westfahl has been principal at Stormonth for three years. He began his career in education as a first-grade teacher at Marcy Elementary School in the Hamilton School District in 1993.

Brookfield Elementary Principal Lynn Raines announced her retirement in March. She has been with the district since 2004, starting as a first-grade teacher at Burleigh Elementary, and began her position as principal at Brookfield Elementary in 2009.

Elmbrook received 68 applications in response to the posting for the position, according to School Board documents posted today. Eight candidates were initially screened, and three finalists were selected by an interview team.

Elmbrook recommends new Brookfield Elementary principal

May 10, 2013 5:02 p.m. | Daniel Westfahl, currently principal at Stormonth Elementary School in the Fox Point-Bayside School District, has been chosen to take the reins at Brookfield Elementary School.

The Elmbrook School Board is set to vote on a two-year contract for Westfahl on Monday. It stipulates a salary of $99,000.

Westfahl has been principal at Stormonth for three years. He began his career in education as a first-grade teacher at Marcy Elementary School in the Hamilton School District in 1993.

Brookfield Elementary Principal Lynn Raines announced her retirement in March. She has been with the district since 2004, starting as a first-grade teacher at Burleigh Elementary, and began her position as principal at Brookfield Elementary in 2009.

Elmbrook received 68 applications in response to the posting for the position, according to School Board documents posted today. Eight candidates were initially screened, and three finalists were selected by an interview team.

Mequon seeks residents' opinions on development issues

May 09, 2013 7:00 a.m. | The City of Mequon is seeking opinions on development issues through a survey of its residents.

The city has traditionally done a survey every five to 10 years, according to a letter posted on the city's website.

This survey, on the nature and extent of future development, is designed to help city officials make decisions that better reflect the views of Mequon residents, said the letter, which urges them to fill out the survey.

The letter is signed by newly elected Mayor Dan Abendroth; his predecessor, Curt Gielow, and two other former mayors, Christine Nuernberg and Connie Pukaite.

Abendroth, who defeated Gielow in the April election, doesn't have the same level of enthusiasm for urban-style developments as Gielow, something I noted in this recent article.

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Germantown softball team edges Bay, 1-0, to improve to 11-0 in NSC

May 08, 2013 11:50 p.m. | As if it needed to be told to Germantown softball pitcher Felicia Kons, nothing about defending a North Shore Conference championship is ever going to be easy.

Take the day the Warhawks had on Wednesday, where due to numerous rainouts and cancellations, they found themselves in the situation of having to play an unusual doubleheader.

Earlier in the day, Germantown edged Grafton, 2-1, in a road game behind the pitching of Amanda Witzlib.

Then before the Warhawks had a chance to breath, they hopped back on the bus and made their way back to their Kennedy Middle School home fields for a night game with Whitefish Bay.

And as noted, nothing would be easy. The Warhawks needed an unearned run in the first, and the steady pitching of Kons to pull out the 1-0 win, a victory that helped them improve to 11-0 in North Shore play.

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Stein's Gardens and Gifts again takes root in Shorewood

May 08, 2013 3:05 p.m. | Shorewood - Almost 70 years after Stein's Gardens and Gifts made its beginning in Shorewood, the retailer has finally come home.

Last week Stein's opened a 2,500-square-foot seasonal satellite at the site of the former Pig N' Whistle on the western edge of the village on Capitol Drive, where a variety of pots, planters, baskets and gardening supplies mark the retailer's first foray into Shorewood in almost 50 years.

Maurice and Mary Stein opened Maurice Stein Flower and Garden Center in 1946 on the corner of Capitol and Wilson drives. Back then the store was a florist shop, where Mary ran the books and Maurice plied his trade for patrons around the North Shore, recalls their daughter-in-law Joan Stein.

"(Maurice) was the flower man," Joan says. "He had been the head of the flower department (at a local department store)."

Joan married their son Jack, who had struck out on his own in 1957 to go into business on Milwaukee's south side. She describes Jack as a deft businessman whose entrepreneurship was the fertilizer for what would eventually become a staple of southeastern Wisconsin: Stein's Gardens and Gifts.

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NSFD board trying to take funding formula discussion behind closed doors

May 08, 2013 2:58 p.m. | Members of the North Shore Fire Department board of directors say deliberations over a revised funding formula should take place in closed session, away from the public.

At a special meeting Tuesday morning, facilitator Rob Henken - president of the southeastern Wisconsin-based Public Policy Forum - presented a summary of his meetings with individual NSFD board members, the issues facing the board as it begins to revise the funding formula, and a list of preliminary options the board can consider as the debate continues. The board hired Henken in March to help mediate negotiations between board members as they work to define a funding formula that will replace the current formula in 2016 and determine how much each of the seven member communities contribute to NSFD's budget.

Henken reported that most NSFD board members find the current formula to be fair and were unanimous that the current components of the formula, population, equalized values and usage, were the right community measurements to include in the formula. Most board members are open to changing the weighting of different property types in the formula; in the current formula residential properties are taken at face value, industrial property value is counted twice and manufacturing property value is counted three times. Henken reported mixed feelings among board members on whether non-levy revenues, like ambulance fees, should be subtracted from the share of the community in which they are generated - currently those revenues are pooled together regardless of where they come from - through "revenue offsets" and whether community contributions should be the product of negotiations between board members or the result of an analytical formula.

At the end of his report Henken brought forward a series of potential formula changes for the board to consider, all of which would weight all types of property equally and increase the emphasis on usage to 40 or 50 percent of the formula, which is currently split equally three ways between usage, population and equalized property value. Some would add revenue offsets as well. At the request of board members he will also bring forward models that would keep the three-way split but include tweaks to property weighting and revenue offsets.

Yet, when Henken asked board members to weigh in on the potential changes - in effect to begin the heavy lifting of negotiating the particulars of the new formula - they balked, saying the negotiations should take place in closed session rather than in an open meeting. Bayside Village President Sam Dickman said he was "blindsided" by the meeting, after which Brown Deer Village President Carl Krueger and Glendale Mayor Jerome Tepper piped up to support the idea of closed session negotiations.

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Thiensville Village Park beer garden gains backing

May 08, 2013 12:21 p.m. | Thiensville - After a lengthy debate, a proposed beer garden at Village Park won conceptual approval from the Village Board, which met on Monday as a Committee of the Whole.

Trustees Rob Holyoke, David Lange, John Treffert, and Village President Van Mobley voted for the approval, while trustees Ron Heinritz and Ken Kucharski voted against. Heinritz said he couldn't vote for it without more information. Kucharski voiced concerns that Thiensville businesses, including his own Skippy's Sports Pub & Grub, would lose business to the beer garden, and that drinking in the park could harm public safety.

"I think it's a sad disregard to the established businesses and the younger families that expressed concern," Kucharski said of the vote. "I don't think it's a good fit for our park and our community."

Under a proposal assembled by Lange and Sprecher Brewing Company President Jeff Hamilton, the Glendale-based brewer would supply infrastructure like tables, chairs and umbrellas, along with management and bartenders. Sprecher would serve eight to 10 types of beer alongside soft drinks and light snack food, and would plan to host beer tasting events and seminars. The proposal says the beer garden would operate seven days a week, from 5-9 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends, from mid-June to early fall. Sprecher would rent the Village Park "kitchen" building from the fire department, and contribute 15 percent of food and beverage profits to the Thiensville Business Renaissance Committee and fire department. According to the proposal, Sprecher would allocate roughly half of its southeastern Wisconsin radio advertising to the Thiensville beer garden.

Lange emphasized that Sprecher intends to work with local businesses with promotions meant to encourage beer garden patrons to eat at local restaurants and pubs. An important component of the proposal, said Lange, would be a fall review meant to measure the beer garden's impact on area businesses. The hope would be for beer garden traffic to boost sales in nearby businesses, he said, but a negative impact would end the experiment.

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Fox Point-Bayside School Board recall set in motion

May 08, 2013 11:04 a.m. | Fox Point - District parent David Braeger, alongside his attorney, turned in documents Wednesday morning to begin the process of recalling three Fox Point-Bayside School Board members.

The three recall petitions will target School Board President Debbie Friberg along with board members Tim Melchert and Alice Lawton. Braeger himself has filed as a recall candidate against all three.

According to recall guidelines from the state Government Accountability Board, after registering a recall, petitioners have 60 days to gather signatures. A recall petition must have 25 percent of the number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.

According to Braeger's attorney, separate petitions will need to be circulated to initiate a recall for each board member. Braeger estimates he will need approximately 1,400 signatures for each petition.

Braeger decided to begin the recall after attending public layoff hearings Tuesday night, where parents, teachers, and staff testified on behalf of four district teachers in danger of being laid off. The recalls are the culmination of a controversy stretching back over several recent board meetings at which crowds of angry teachers, parents, and students have protested staffing and scheduling changes which amount to reductions in "specials" - arts, music, technology, and physical education classes - in the coming school year.

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University School of Milwaukee sues charter group for trademark infringement

May 08, 2013 8:15 a.m. | University School of Milwaukee, a private K-12 college preparatory school in River Hills, has sued one of its own board members and a nonprofit company that plans a charter school in the area with a similar-sounding name.

The suit, filed Tuesday in federal court, claims The Universal Companies and one of its agents, Ronn Johnson, are infringing on University School's trademarked names, including USM. Johnson is executive vice president of education for the Mid-West Region for defendant Universal Companies, according to the complaint. The Pennsylvania-based operation certainly knew the local school's reputation, and use of USM, the suit points out, because Johnson is a member of the USM board of trustees.

The defendant has been planning to open a charter school called Universal School of Milwaukee, and uses a common shorthand for University School, USM, on its logo. The complaint includes a photo of an ad for the new school on a Milwaukee County bus.

University School notes that all six of the Universal's other schools use the word charter in their names.

"Instead of continuing the pattern of using the term 'charter' in the name of the school, the Defendants purposefully attempt to trade off the goodwill and reputation of Plaintiff by naming the school Universal School of Milwaukee and making repeated use of the USM mark," the suit claims.

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Azana audit raises questions

May 07, 2013 10:22 p.m. | After seeking input from domestic violence experts, consultant Robert C. Willis disregarded their scathing conclusions and released an analysis Tuesday saying Brown Deer police responded appropriately to incidents involving gunman Radcliffe Haughton and his wife in the months and years before the Azana Salon & Spa shootings.

Experts Judith Munaker and Linda Besser said Brown Deer police failed to follow their own policy - and state guidelines - and made more than 20 mistakes in their interactions with the Haughtons, including problems with investigation, evidence collection, interviewing and sharing information with other departments.

Their report was attached to the analysis by Willis, who was hired by the Brown Deer Police Department to review its dealings with the family leading up to the October shootings at the Brookfield spa. Radcliffe Haughton killed his estranged wife Zina and two of her co-workers, and wounded four others before committing suicide.

A Journal Sentinel investigation found police had been called to their Brown Deer home two dozen times in 11 years, never making an arrest. At least seven calls were to investigate domestic violence, records show. The one time Brown Deer police arrested Haughton, they did so at the request of Brookfield police after he slashed his wife's tires outside the spa.

Willis concluded Brown Deer officers "acted professionally, enforced all laws and acted reasonably and appropriately in any and all dealings with the Haughtons."

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Walmart to submit plans for former Lowe's in Brown Deer

May 07, 2013 4:24 p.m. | Walmart will submit plans to the village of Brown Deer to convert the former Lowe's home improvement store into a new supermarket and discount store, the company announced Tuesday.

The retailer will host a neighborhood meeting to present the project and seek community comment at 6 p.m. Monday at Brown Deer Middle School, 5757 W. Dean Road.

The former Lowe's building is 140,000 square feet, which is about the size of other combined supermarket and discount stores Walmart has been developing lately in the Milwaukee area.

"We're excited to present a proposal that will expand shopping opportunities for North Shore customers," said Lisa B. Nelson, senior manager, public affairs and government relations for Walmart in Wisconsin, in a statement. "We look forward to working with the village to enhance the business corridor, create jobs, grow the tax base, and repurpose an existing vacant building into a vibrant shopping destination."

The new store is expected to create about 300 full- and part-time jobs, the company statement said.

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Bay trustee announces resignation

May 06, 2013 12:52 p.m. | Whitefish Bay Village Board trustee Lauri Rollings has announced she will resign effective June 1 to focus on working and the imminent birth of her first child in mid-June.

"I have been doing a lot of soul searching over the last few weeks and I just don't feel confident that I will be able to balance the demands of my full-time job, new parenthood and my responsibilities to the village," Rollings wrote in an email to Village President Julie Siegel, Village Manager Patrick DeGrave, and assistant manager Kayla Chadwick. "The village deserves someone who will be able to devote his or her full attention to village business."

Rollings was elected in 2011 to a three-year term ending in 2014, and has also served on the Community Development Authority and an ad hoc subcommittee which deals with Private Property Infiltration and Inflow, the amount of rainwater getting into the village's sanitary sewer system.

The Village Board tonight will begin to choose whether to appoint someone or hold a special election to fill Rollings' seat for the remainder of her term, or simply allow the seat to remain vacant until the next regular election in April 2014.

Fox Point-Bayside announces superintendent finalists

May 02, 2013 11:36 a.m. | Fox Point - The search for a new Fox-Point Bayside superintendent has narrowed to three finalists, the district announced Wednesday.

Laura Myrah, Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Whitefish Bay School District; Vance Dalzin, Superintendent of the Williams Bay School District in Williams Bay, WI; and Rick Burchell, Director of the Fox Valley Career Center, part of the Kaneland Community School District in Maple Park, IL, are still in the running.

An interview team composed of district staff, parents, and administrators will interview the three finalists alongside the school board between May 2 and May 4. The district expects to announce its choice on May 15.

Whoever is chosen will in August succeed current Superintendent Rachel Boechler, who was hired by the school board in 2010 and in January announced her resignation to continue her work with Seattle-based nonprofit Center for Courage & Renewal, where she is currently board chair.

New Nicolet superintendent brings broad background

May 01, 2013 11:36 a.m. | Glendale - Robert Kobylski has been a lot of things. A grocery store night manager. A pit runner at the Chicago Board of Trade. A Bears fan (let's try to forgive him). A futures trader. A teacher, and later an administrator in the Chicago Public Schools system. A school board president. An amateur woodworker and hobbyist pig farmer. A principal and superintendent of several Wisconsin school districts.

And if you live within the boundaries of the Nicolet School District, he'll be your superintendent come July.

Kobylski, a married father of six in his mid-50s, grew up in Chicago's North Shore, in Skokie, Ill. He was an academic, he says, with a focus on working with his hands - and, he adds, a bit of a jock.

"Any sport," he says. "You name it, I played it."

He describes his alma mater, Niles East High School, as similar to many North Shore Districts whose emphasis is on fine arts, high achievement and athletics.

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Questions remain on Brown Deer School District budget

May 01, 2013 10:26 a.m. | Brown Deer - Several key, current unknown pieces of information will affect the Brown Deer School District budget in the coming 2013-14 school year, though Business Manager Emily Koczela is confident the books will balance.

On Tuesday evening, Koczela presented a preliminary budget summary to a modest crowd of School Board members, staff and district parents who weighed in on several critical budgeting factors like spending priorities and increases to the local tax levy.

According to Koczela's presentation, revenue projections are difficult to make at present, since the amount of general state aid coming to the district won't be known until July 1, and the community hasn't come to a consensus on how much, if any, the tax levy should increase; on the flip side, expenditures are hazy at this point as well. Administrators are planning to give modest raises to staff, and total staffing remains unknown while the district consolidates from three buildings to two. Benefit costs are projected to be flat since administrators are working with the district insurance provider to keep premiums flat from year to year, but Koczela noted the Affordable Care Act - known commonly as Obamacare - may be expensive as a result of more employees becoming eligible for greater coverage.

More employees covered

If the district is compelled to provide more coverage to more employees, Koczela said, she would try to strike a balance between lowering the overall cost and providing acceptable coverage.

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Community Watch

» Ruhama's closing its doors after 50 years on Silver Spring 5/29

» Brown Deer Plan Commission holds off on Beaver Creek rezoning decision 5/29

» Fox Point-Bayside eliminating technology director position 5/28

» Whitefish Bay officials discuss tentative budget 5/23

» Two annual meetings? It's possible in Whitefish Bay 5/23

» Mandel breaks ground next week on Whitefish Bay project 5/23

» Brown Deer Village Board approves Wal-Mart financials 5/21

» Brown Deer apartments proposal set for May 28 hearing 5/21

» Whitefish Bay names Myrah interim superintendent 5/20

» Ryan Braun, Aaron Rodgers opening Bayshore restaurant 5/20

» Braeger calls off Fox Point-Bayside recall 5/20

» Fox Point-Bayside chooses Dalzin as new superintendent 5/20

» Chris Abele delivering cardiac monitors at North Shore FD 5/20

» Walmart planned for Brown Deer gets preliminary boost 5/20

» Mequon Outpost Natural Foods set to open by summer 2014 5/17

» Wal-Mart sale clears Brown Deer CDA 5/17

» Al Calderone Club set to open Friday in Shorewood 5/17

» Homestead's Pelisek earns honor from First Bank/ Sports Radio 1250 5/16

» Auditors draw different conclusions on Azana spa shooter case 5/16

» Shorewood Schools Business Manager moves on 5/15

» Fox Point-Bayside School Board finalizes three of 10 potential layoffs Updated:  5/14

» Brown Deer Walmart store likely 5/14

» Eddie Bauer closing Bayshore store 5/14

» Vinamo, a wine bar with small plates, to open in Whitefish Bay in August 5/14

» Indoor sports facility planned for Glendale 5/14

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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.