Exotic animal found after Mequon police respond to reports of 'unusual cat'

July 30, 2013 12:52 p.m. | Mequon police who responded to reports of an "unusual looking cat" in the 11000 block of North Kensington Drive last week discovered the creature was actually a serval, classified as an exotic animal, purchased in Kentucky.

According to the police report:

The serval, about 2 feet tall and looking somewhat like a cheetah, was owned by residents of the 10600 block of North Wauwatosa Road.

Those residents, a 42-year-old man and a 57-year-old woman, had both been cited for animal at large in the last few weeks after neighbors reported seeing the animal running around and being concerned for the safety of children and pets.

The serval was later found dead after being hit by a truck July 25.

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Mequon residents support residential development, oppose big name retailers

July 30, 2013 9:50 a.m. | Mequon — A recent city-wide survey found that residents generally support residential development and oppose big-name retailers like Target, Home Depot and Kohl's coming into the city.

Almost 4,000 residents filled out surveys since mid-April, a 45 percent response rate among almost 8,700 Mequon households — an exceptional turnout, said survey facilitators from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Urban Initiatives and Research. UWM researchers presented the findings of the survey to the Common Council last week.

In the wake of recent elections centering around the crucial question of if and how much development should occur in the city, the Common Council commissioned the survey to both poll residents and guide upcoming decisions when it comes to development issues throughout the city.

"It gives us a reference," Mayor Dan Abendroth said. "We agreed that as we proceed with the development initiatives, that we would use the results of the survey as one of the tools as we go forward."

Residential development favored

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Developer pitching luxury downtown Thiensville apartments

July 30, 2013 6:05 a.m. | Thiensville — Minnesota-based developer MSP Real Estate is pitching a 60-unit luxury apartment complex at the former M&I Bank site at Green Bay Road and Riverview Drive.

The developer held an informal informational hearing July 24, and will bring plans before a joint meeting of the Historical Preservation Committee, Plan Commission and Village Board Aug. 6 for the first round of consideration by village officials.

In an email, Village President Van Mobley said village officials will "shoot to give (MSP) a yes or no on the plan they presented, or mutually agree on some modified plan, by the time construction season will begin in earnest in 2014."

In order to accommodate MSP's plan, the village would have to rezone the property, which is currently zoned commercial.

MSP has completed a number of projects in the Milwakee area in recent years, including an assisted living facility in Elm Grove and the controversial lower-income housing which, when contested by New Berlin city officials, landed the city in court over an alleged violation of federal fair housing laws. The 2011 lawsuit between New Berlin, MSP, and the federal Department of Justice eventually compelled New Berlin to allow the construction of 102 affordable units.

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Mequon police nab alleged thief selling $3,500 Porsche on Craigslist

July 29, 2013 2:53 p.m. | Mequon police arrested a 24-year-old Milwaukee man in a Craigslist deal gone bad after the man fled from officers while trying to sell a Porsche Cayenne he allegedly stole from a Greenfield auto dealer.

According to the Mequon police report:

The Milwaukee man was arrested about 2 p.m. July 22 in the 11500 block of North Port Washington Road and charged with driving a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, driving without a valid license, unauthorized registration, five counts of recklessly endangering safety, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, bail jumping and a warrant.

The man, out on bail for theft, had taken a 2006 Porsche Cayenne, valued at more than $22,000, from a Greenfield auto dealer and advertised it for sale on Craigslist for $3,500.

The ad was answered and a meeting was set up to purchase it in Mequon. The suspect arrived in the Porsche and when he saw a police drove into and accelerated through a car wash damaging equipment and then hit a squad car.

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Your Stories glitch fixed; thanks to our NOW contributors

July 29, 2013 8:42 a.m. | The technical problem with Your Stories submissions on NOW sites has been fixed.

Thanks to everyone for letting us know about the problem.

And an even bigger shout-out to our many contributors who choose NOW sites to publicize their local and national happenings.

Submitting a story is easy. Just visit the YourStory submission page on any NOW site and follow the instructions.  Your story will be posted within a business day.

Milwaukee man charged in Shorewood man's murder

July 26, 2013 5:31 p.m. | Shorewood — Homer D. Washington, a 21-year-old Milwaukee man, has confessed to and been charged with the murder of Clarence W. Charles, who was found dead in his Shorewood apartment July 16.

The murder is the first in Shorewood in 20 years.

Washington is also charged with stealing Charles' 2002 Chevrolet Blazer. The theft charge carries a maximum fine of $10,000, six-year sentence, or both.

The first degree murder charge carries a life sentence.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the District Attorney's office Friday afternoon:

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Shorewood murder suspect in custody

July 26, 2013 9:51 a.m. | Shorewood — Police have arrested a suspect in the murder of 57-year-old Clarence W. Charles, who was found dead in his Shorewood apartment July 16.

A Shorewood police officer said the department will refer charges to the District Attorney Friday afternoon. The murder is Shorewood's first in 20 years. 

Shorewood police are asking for help locating Charles' car, which they say the suspect stole. The vehicle is described as a silver, two-door, 2002 Chevrolet Blazer Sport Utility Vehicle, with the license plate 109-UWE.

Police are requesting that anyone who sights the vehicle not approach it or contact the driver, but rather contact the Shorewood Police Department immediately at (414) 847-2610.

Suspect in custody in Shorewood homicide

July 25, 2013 9:21 p.m. | A suspect has been taken into custody in connection with the death of a man in Shorewood, police said Thursday.

The body of Clarence W. Charles, 57, was found Tuesday evening in an apartment at 4460 N. Oakland Ave., and his death was ruled a homicide the next day. Charles had been reported missing.

Shorewood police have have released no further information on the case, including how Charles died.

Brown Deer schools to examine dress code throughout fall semester

July 24, 2013 11:39 a.m. | Brown Deer — The decision to institute a stepped-up dress code at the least, and school uniforms at the most, will be put off until after the coming fall semester.

At the behest of Superintendent Deb Kerr, the School Board in recent meetings has considered district-wide school uniforms, an idea which has been met with mixed feedback from the board and district residents.

At a Tuesday meeting, the board considered a dress code policy with a list of suggested outfits which, while not a school uniform policy, was too close for comfort.

Though board members agreed among themselves to strike the suggested outfits from the policy altogether, and thereby remove any semblance of a uniform requirement, they later decided to put the whole policy on the backburner until the district can poll students and parents throughout the fall semester and administrators can come up with a way to enforce the current dress code.

"Last month we said we were going to have conversations with all the stakeholders, and we didn't," said board member Kevin Klimek. "I'm hesitant of even talking about this until we have the conversation."

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Brown Deer principal to lead Messmer Catholic Schools

July 24, 2013 11:25 a.m. | The principal of Brown Deer High School, James Piatt, will become the new leader of Messmer Catholic Schools and its more than 1,600 students, the urban Catholic school system announced Wednesday.

As president of Messmer, Piatt will replace popular former CEO Brother Bob Smith, who resigned in November 2012 after growing the Catholic high school into a K-8 program and secondary school on three campuses. Messmer participates in the Milwaukee private school voucher program, and of the 1,645 students enrolled at the three campuses in fall 2012, 83% were attending with the help of a taxpayer-funded voucher.

Piatt worked at Messmer in the 1990s as a math and computer teacher and girls basketball coach. He was an associate principal at Franklin High School and then principal of Dominican High School before joining Brown Deer High School as principal in 2004, according to a news release.

The release said Messmer's search committee liked Piatt's experience working in urban education. Brown Deer has a large black population, and the committee noted Piatt's "aggressive literacy program" had helped to boost achievement for black students in the district.

Messmer reports a 95% attendance rate at all of its schools, and reports that 85% of graduates go to college, according to a news release.

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Columbia St. Mary's sells Glendale building

July 24, 2013 7:00 a.m. | Columbia St. Mary's Inc. has sold a Glendale medical office building to a Milwaukee investors group for $1.75 million, according to state real estate records.

The 70,758-square-foot building, 575 W. River Woods Parkway, was sold to a 575 Riverwoods Partners LLC. That group is affiliated with Phoenix Investors LLC, led by David Marks and Frank P. Crivello.

The building, known as Glendale Medical Commons, is in a business park east of N. Port Washington Road and south of W. Hampton Ave. The sale was brokered by C.B. Richard Ellis Inc. 

Smalley accepted into prestigious superintendents group

July 23, 2013 4:03 p.m. | Glendale — Larry Smalley is off to do some learning of his own.

Smalley, superintendent of the Glendale-River Hills School District for the last 10 years, was recently accepted into an exclusive, invite-only organization called the Suburban School Superintendents. The 100-member group, consisting of superintendents curated from distinguished districts across the nation, meets once each year to discuss the state of education, to share ideas and the decisions that have made their districts successful.

"It's a sharing opportunity, a think tank, where we can talk," Smalley said, "and then go back and try different things."

Representing Wisconsin at the SSS are Sussex Hamilton Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Pewaukee School District Superintendent JoAnn Sternke, the 2013 Wisconsin Superintendent of the Year according to the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, and retired Whitefish Bay Superintendent Jim Rickabaugh, who was once Smalley's mentor. Cooke and Sternke were the ones who nominated Smalley for induction into the group.

District's come a long way

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Mequon voters to decide between Holtz, Strzelczyk

July 23, 2013 2:58 p.m. | Mequon — An upcoming Sept. 10 special election will decide what the Common Council could not, whether Rob Holtz or Robert Strzelczyk will fill the vacant District 1 council seat.

The seat has been vacant since April, when longtime District 1 alderman Dan Abendroth unseated incumbent Mayor Curt Gielow in a neck-and-neck contest, at the same time beating Strzelczyk for the District 1 spot. Abendroth chose the mayoral post and created the vacancy.

Since then the council has failed on numerous votes — almost resorting to a coin flip at one point — to appoint either Holtz or Strzelczyk by the required five-vote majority. Each vote has produced the same 4-3 gridlock, with aldermen Ken Zganjar, John Leszczynski, John Hawkins and Andrew Nerbun voting for Strzelczyk, and aldermen Pam Adams, Dale Mayr, and Mark Seider voting for Holtz.



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Mequon-Thiensville passes increased budget, levy

July 23, 2013 1:20 p.m. | Mequon — On a 61-3 vote, residents of the Mequon-Thiensville School District approved an increased budget and tax levy for the coming 2013-14 school year at the district's annual meeting Monday.

The district's total budget will increase by 3.2 percent, while the total local tax levy will increase by 1 percent.

Extrapolating the recent trend of decreasing home values to include another 3 percent decrease, business director Gail Grieger estimates the district tax rate to increase 60 cents from last year to $9.28 per $1,000 of assessed property value, a 6.9 percent increase. Should property values remain flat, Grieger estimates the tax rate to increase to $9 per $1,000 of assessed value, a 3.6 percent increase.

For someone with a $300,000 home, a 6.9 percent increase would mean an extra $180 on the district tax bill compared to last year, while a 3.6 percent increase would mean an extra $96.

Driving the increased budget are several strategic plan items the School Board has approved in recent months, including a human resources director, communications director, expansion of advanced placement classes at Homestead and increased staff training on data collection.

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Outpost breaks ground on new Mequon store

July 22, 2013 1:01 p.m. | Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative officially breaks ground Tuesday for its new Mequon store, at the northeast corner of Mequon and Wauwatosa roads.

The $6.3 million project, which includes $3.2 million in development costs, is expected to be completed by late spring 2014. The 16,000-square-foot store will create around 80 full- and part-time jobs, and will be the fourth grocery store for Milwaukee-based Outpost.

Mequon is providing $229,241 in assistance for the 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.

Neroli Salon and Spa opening new location in Mequon

July 19, 2013 8:00 a.m. | Neroli Salon and Spa will open its fifth Milwaukee-area location this fall in Mequon, the company has announced.

The 4,000-square-foot salon and spa will be in the Mequon Pavilions shopping center, 10930 N. Port Washington Road, just southwest of Sendik’s Food Market.

Neroli was founded in 1993 by Susan Haise in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. It has over 200 employees, with locations in the Third Ward, Milwaukee's east side, Glendale and Brookfield.


Shorewood police investigating first murder in 20 years

July 18, 2013 12:10 p.m. | Shorewood police are investigating the murder of 57-year-old Clarence W. Charles, who was found dead in his Oakland Avenue apartment Tuesday evening.

Charles had been reported missing, prompting police to check his apartment, according to a Shorewood police news release. 

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy and ruled the death a homicide, the first to happen in Shorewood in 20 years.

Shorewood police have requested assistance from the Wisconsin Crime Lab and the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigations.

"We are currently investigating the incident and several possible leads in the case," Shorewood police said in the release. "We do not believe that this was a random act and do not believe that the residents of Shorewood are in danger."

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River Hills creates ordinance to handle chronic nuisance properties

July 18, 2013 11:53 a.m. | The River Hills Police Department will now have enforcement authority over residents whose properties are deemed a chronic nuisance, village officials decided Wednesday.

Village Attorney William Dineen said though there are few issues with properties in the village, the chief of police asked him to draft an ordinance that gives the police department the authority to deal with premises that have recurring issues. Dineen drafted a similar ordinance for Shorewood.

According to the ordinance, any property that generates three or more citations by the police department, building inspector or health department for "nuisance activities" in one year authorizes the chief of police to take action. The chief of police can then issue a notice requiring the property owner to come up with a plan to curb the problems.

If they do not comply with the "nuisance abatement plan," the property owner can be issued a citation, according to the ordinance. The citation amount is based on an assessment that determines how much it cost the village to continuously visit the property.

There are 18 items listed in the ordinance that would be considered "nuisance activity." This includes an act of harassment, disorderly conduct, battery, lewd behavior, violation of village codes, and alcohol violations.

Whitefish Bay commissions study on teacher compensation

July 17, 2013 12:19 p.m. | Whitefish Bay — Administrators and elected officials of the Whitefish Bay School District are looking for a new way to compensate teachers.

Last week the School Board commissioned a study on teacher compensation to address the problems and concerns resulting from Act 10, which in 2011 took away the union's ability to bargain over anything more than a relatively small pay increase.

In the last four years, Bay teachers had their salaries frozen before receiving a 1.25 percent pay increase in the 2011-12 year and 1.35 percent in the 2012-13 year, while the administration also reduced benefits.

"(The study) stems from our experience last year, from bargaining, from staff coming in worried about salaries," said Business Manager Shawn Yde, adding that any new compensation model would have to strike a balance between "attracting and retaining quality staff while having cost-effective education."

Board can increase pay

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Shorewood officials eye plans for senior living facility

July 17, 2013 12:13 p.m. | Shorewood — The Shorewood Plan Commission on Tuesday had its first glimpse of a proposed senior living facility on the former Pig N' Whistle and Sherburn Place Apartments sites on Capitol Drive at the village's western edge.

Florida-based senior living firm Harbor Retirement Associates presented a preliminary site plan for a combined 96-unit assisted living and memory-care facility in Shorewood's third tax incremental financing district.

This was the first of three meetings at which the Plan Commission will discuss the project. At the third meeting, the Plan Commission will vote on it. Because the site lies in a planned development district, both the Plan Commission and the Village Board have to give the project a green light by approving a conditional use permit and crafting a development agreement with HRA.

Village Manager Chris Swartz said they hope to complete this process by August or September. Before that can happen, however, additional questions that came up at the first Plan Commission meeting need to be answered and details hammered out.

If all goes well, the senior living facility could be constructed as early as mid-2015, said Charles Jennings, HRA's chief development officer.

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Lack of liquor could threaten Brown Deer Walmart

July 16, 2013 10:38 a.m. | Brown Deer — Stunning village officials, Wal-Mart representatives and community members in attendance, the Village Board voted 4-3 Monday to deny liquor sales at the incoming Walmart Supercenter at the former Lowe's site at Brown Deer Road and 60th Street.

"No" votes came from trustees Andrea Weddle-Henning, a vocal opponent of the Walmart project, Tim Schilz, who voted against liquor at the Plan Commission last week, Terry Boschert and Bob Oates. Trustees Jeff Baker, Gary Springman, and Village President Carl Krueger voted for a one-aisle liquor section in the store.

Unknown at this point is whether the liquor prohibition will kill the entire project. Already Wal-Mart has made a number of concessions to conform to Brown Deer standards.

A Wal-Mart spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday morning.

"We're very focused on being succcessful for the long term," Deborah Tomczyk, an attorney representing Wal-Mart, said at the meeting Monday. "We think having a minor liquor store component is critical to that."

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West Bend West edges Nicolet for WIAA state baseball berth

July 15, 2013 9:22 p.m. | The Nicolet baseball team pulled all out all the stops on Monday in the WIAA sectional at Cedarburg.

Team ace Hunter Crass won his third game in less than week pitching on just two days rest in the 5-3 sectional semifinal victory over West Bend East, after just two days prior to that, doing the very same thing in a regional final victory over Cedarburg.

"Man, that's hard on the body," he said after putting ice on his shoulder. "That's a lot of pitching and a lot of pitches."

The Knights also had three generations of coaches on hand Dick Huxtable, Dick Sykes and current leader Jason Grodsky. Former CNI NOW Player of the Year Sam Sivilotti, who was the star of the last Knight team to maker state in 2006, was around too for awhile.

Nicolet also had guts, heart and character rallying back from deficits in both games. They had some astounding defense at times too (rightfielder Zach Pagel throwing out a runner trying to take third on a single in the East win and first baseman Brett Keiper and catcher Kyle Brahm combining to make a great play to snuff out a West Bend West squeeze play attempt in the title game).

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Kennel owner takes gamble on dog business

July 15, 2013 6:46 p.m. | Glendale — Downsized and downtrodden, Susan Taylor was in life's doghouse.

Decades ago, she had been in the prosperous business of supplying ingredients to Milwaukee's brewers. As that business began to taper off in the 80s and 90s, Taylor was one of many shown the door when her employer was snapped up by a larger company.

Suddenly outside an industry for which she had cultivated a particular skill set, Taylor went on a 15-year "journey to find out what to do with my life" — a long and difficult journey that cost her a marriage. As time wore on, she bounced between trades, at times working as a micro-lender, recruiter and eventually a fast food worker and a maid.

"I ended up going down the food chain as the years went along," Taylor said. "I did whatever it took to pay the bills."

New opportunity

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Falls' six-run first leads to 9-3 regional win over Brown Deer

July 10, 2013 10:34 p.m. | An early lead in baseball is everything, and getting a big early advantage in a state playoff game is almost worth the price of gold.

The Menomonee Falls baseball team pounced on Brown Deer starter Drew Worth's four consecutive walks to start the game Wednesday night in a WIAA regional semifinal contest and parlayed that advantage into a six-run first inning, never looking back in earning a 9-3 victory.

"You hate to see that, especially for the kid," said Falls coach Pat Hansen, "but that being said, we needed an inning like that to gain some confidence. ..Scoring runs like that early is the best thing we can do for ourselves."

Falcon coach Mike Donahue, who had to pull his senior ace after the four free passes, was flummoxed at the turn of events.

"That is so very unlike him," said Donahue of Worth, "because at times this year he has been dominating. He just couldn't find it (the plate)."

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NSFD surveying ways to reduce liability

July 10, 2013 11:56 a.m. | Administrators and board members at the North Shore Fire Department are considering ways to reduce the department's looming retirement liability.

A recent study by actuarial firm Milliman Incorporated projects the department will pay about $44 million in benefits to retirees over the next 30 years, $30.4 million of which is presently unfunded.

That sum, said Fire Chief Robert Whitaker, is in part the legacy of labor agreements struck before the department consolidated in the mid-1990s, as well as more recent agreements. NSFD's post employment benefit, paid to firefighters who are allowed to retire at 50 at the earliest, comprises a health insurance benefit that lasts until Medicare eligibility and payouts for accrued unused sick leave.

"Benefits go back to the start of the organization," Whitaker said at a board of directors meetings Tuesday. "It's a blend of how the benefit was administered."

At present the department spends about $900,000 on retirement benefits, about $400,000 of which is an amount the board decided last year to begin putting away to fund the benefit in the long term. Though the $400,000 does help to mitigate periods where more retirees are drawing benefits, Whitaker said, it's a far cry from the nearly $3 million Milliman estimates the department would need to sock away every year to fully fund the $30.4 million.

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Nicolet starts fast, ends Bay's season with regional rout

July 09, 2013 11:07 p.m. | "If you had to win only one (against Bay), it was good to win this one."

That happy shout from the Nicolet side of the throng in place at Aaron Field Tuesday night told the tale of a remarkably one-sided WIAA regional semifinal baseball battle, as Nicolet stunned its higher-seeded North Shore archrival Whitefish Bay with a fast start and never looked back in a 14-2 six-inning rout.

The Blue Dukes, who had beaten the Knights twice already this season (12-0 and 7-6), were no match for the inspired Nicolet team, which improved 14-15 and advanced to a Friday regional final at second-seeded Cedarburg (5:30 p.m.) while Bay's up-and-down season ended at 16-15

Nicolet coach Jason Grodsky pointed to sophomore second baseman Alex Braun's bullet double to the left-centerfield fence with the bases-loaded in the first. It gave the Knights a 3-0 lead and they never trailed after that.

"We talked about having a fast start," said Grodsky, "about attacking the strike zone. This was just a night where we put in place and executed everything we've been trying all season. It all came together."

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State aid estimates vary for 2013-14 school year

July 09, 2013 9:16 p.m. | Recent estimates from the state Department of Public Instruction show state aid figures varying among North Shore districts.

Brown Deer School District Finance Director Emily Koczela said Brown Deer's estimated 10 percent increase in general state aid is an unexpected windfall.

Aid estimates for other North Shore districts range from Nicolet's decrease of 10.6 percent — the biggest drop among North Shore districts — to Glendale River Hill's North Shore-leading 19.77 percent increase.

The general aid numbers are in-part products of the 2013-15 biennial budget recently signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker. Precise state aid amounts aren't approved by the DPI until October.