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New Berlin schools, unions settle pay, benefit dispute

Aug. 27, 2012 3:24 p.m. | A resolution of $7 million in pay and benefit disputes between the New Berlin School Board and three employee unions has been reached, calling for the district to pay $525,000 to employees and retirees.

The disputes spanned four years and the resolution settles all pending litigation and claims between the School District and the three unions - the New Berlin Education Association, the New Berlin Special Education Paraprofessional Association and the New Berlin Clerical Association.

The disputes included wages for school years of 2009-10 and 2010-11; eliminating the sick leave bank; payments to some co-curricular coaches amounting to $21,154; and premium payments made to the district's self-funded health plan. No money will be paid to the unions.

Under 2011 legislation commonly called Acts 10 and 32, school districts are generally no longer required to negotiate wages and benefits. The School Board has set pay since the 2011-2012 school year.

Muskego explores a request for finance help to redevelop the former Parkland Mall

July 31, 2015 10:50 a.m. | Muskego — Even though residents and aldermen expressed reservations about a proposal to redevelop the long vacant Parkland Mall property, the common council voted to explore establishing a finance district that would be key to the redevelopment plan.

"It would be a disservice to our community not to explore this," said Alderman Kevin Kubacki.

The exploration, that usually takes three months, will cost the city nothing and will not obligate it to approve the project.

The proposed $33.2 million development, only in its conceptual stage, involves building three four-story condominium buildings, each with 33 units, a 30,000-square-foot grocery store and two smaller retail buildings of 14,000 and 10,000 square feet. The 10.8-acre former Parkland Mall is at Janesville Road and Lannon Drive, viewed by some as the heart of downtown Muskego.

A public park would be in the center of the proposed development, with the condos along Lannon Drive and the retail buildings along Janesville Road. The development to be called Parkland Towne Center would have a central drive coming off Janesville Road that lines up with the Pick 'n Save entrance, a city staff report says. It has long stood vacant.

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New Berlin woman charged with embezzling from neurosurgery practice

July 30, 2015 3:48 p.m. | A New Berlin woman has been charged with embezzling more than $200,000 while working for a Brookfield neurosurgery practice from 2012 to 2014.

Debbie A. Benson, 53, faces 13 counts of theft in a business setting, over $10,000, and five counts of unauthorized use of an entity's identifying information.

According to the criminal complaint:

Benson began working as a billing specialist at Wisconsin Neurosurgery in March 2012. In 2014, the business owner, surgeon Kimball Fuiks, hired an auditor and asked her to sit down with Benson and teach her some better financial management because the business wasn't doing well.

The auditor noted resistance from Benson, and then began reviewing books and immediately noticed red flags; clients who had not been billed. After the auditor confronted Benson, she promptly resigned.

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Muskego Common Council reopens one boat launch, keeps two more open

July 30, 2015 1:49 p.m. | The Hillview boat launch where the invasive algae starry stonewort has been found will reopen and two more boat launches on the lake will remain open, the Muskego Common Council has decided.

Temporarily keeping the Hillview launch closed and closing the other two was recommended by the Little Muskego Lake District to try to contain the algae. Starry stonewort is new to the lake and to Wisconsin, having been confirmed in only four Wisconsin lakes. The algae is spread by boats that pick it up in one lake and then are launched in another. Speeding boats also can chop up the plants and each fragment can sprout a new plant.

Hillview will still be closed, however, whenever there are divers in Hillview bay pulling the algae up by hand and during larger diver-assisted suction harvesting operations.

'Milwaukee lion' spotted in Glendale

July 28, 2015 11:45 a.m. | Glendale — After a week on the northwest side of Milwaukee, the much-talked-about 'Milwaukee lion' may have made an appearance in Glendale Sunday night.

The 'lion-like' creature described by more than a dozen eyewitnesses over the last week was most recently spotted on 30th Street and Fairmount Avenue on Saturday night. Milwaukee police officers have been searching the area around Lincoln Creek in search of the big cat.

The lion may be traveling northeast, if a call from Glendale police is accurate.

Glendale police received a report of a lion sighting at 11:26 p.m. Sunday in the 5700 block of Crestwood Boulevard, about a mile north of Lincoln Creek. The caller said he saw a tan muscular animal with a long tail walking in the area, and then it took off running north toward Marne Avenue.

Glendale police responded to the call, but officers were unable to locate the animal.

Eisenhower baseball team had 'successful' year, Vahovick says

July 27, 2015 1:08 p.m. | Look out for the New Berlin Eisenhower baseball team next season.

Coach Mike Vahovick's Lions finished the year with a 9-7 Woodland West record and 16-15 overall.

The reason for the excitement? The Lions return 11 players from this season's team, including four all-conference players.

The Lions will lose three seniors, though: third baseman Nick Vasic, designated hitter Nick Dryer and pitcher Ryan Macho. All played key roles this year, with Vasic earning first-team all-conference honors.

The seven juniors on this season's team were Dallas Espegard, an all-conference honorable-mention outfielder, Gavin Beacom, Trent Kelly, John Manley, Ryan Potts, Drew Spadaro and Austin Stuckart.

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Area baseball teams eschewing hand signals for quarterback-style numbers game

July 27, 2015 11:15 a.m. | What do the baseball teams from Waukesha West of the Classic Eight, New Berlin Eisenhower of the Woodland West and Wauwatosa East of the Greater Metro Conference have in common?

They 'Own The Zone.'

If you are a fan of these three teams or have seen your team play against them, you may have noticed when these teams are batting that the third base coach — who is usually the head coach — is yelling out verbal signals.

Recently, I spoke with coaches Brian Karas of Tosa East, Mike Vahovick of Eisenhower and Chad Montez of Waukesha West to discus the verbal signal program, how it works and if it successful.

Own The Zone Sports software was developed with both the coach and the player in mind. It works by using an advanced computer algorithm to randomly assign each offensive or defensive play a unique 3-digit code.

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New Berlin West's Radtke commits to Lake Superior State

July 27, 2015 10:13 a.m. | Claire Radtke, a 5-foot-7-inch guard from New Berlin West, has verbally committed to accept a basketball scholarship and play for coach Kristin Rogers at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Radtke was a key member of a New Berlin West team that went 19-8 with signature wins over Pewaukee and New Berlin Eisenhower (twice). New Berlin West lost to Pius XI by five points in the sectional final, which was by far the closest game for Pius XI in their run to the state championship.

She averaged 8.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, earning second-team all-conference in the Woodland.

"Claire provides on-court leadership from the lead guard position and defensive toughness," New Berlin West coach Jef Radtke said. "She is willing to be the glue player and doesn't shy away from tough moments. She just makes a team better."

Radtke also plays club basketball for Wisconsin Impact and coach Mike Szydlowski.

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Big Muskego Lake officials may request grant for stonewort fight

July 24, 2015 1:58 p.m. | The Big Muskego Lake Board of Commissioners will meet Monday, July 27, to consider applying for an aquatic invasive species grant from the state.

Lake officials have said they hope to get a state grant to pay for an attendant at one or both the publicly owned boat launches. The attendant would make sure boaters thoroughly clean their boats so the aggressive starry stonewort algae is not spread to other lakes.

The algae was found all over Big Muskego Lake earlier this month.

Residents say dam on creek in Muskego is 'jewel' and to leave it alone

July 23, 2015 3:00 p.m. | Muskego — About a dozen Muskego residents left last week's Jewel Crest dam information meeting still wondering why state officials want to spend $50,000 for something they say isn't broken and in the process take away a fishing hole prized by every fisherman in the area.

The residents also fear that if the dam is removed, as the state Department of Natural Resources plans, silt backed up behind the 1929 dam would flow downstream and could make it too shallow for them to take their boats out to Little Muskego Lake. That could drastically reduce their property values, they said.

The DNR held last week's meeting to explain that the Jewel Crest dam that is on the creek connecting Linnie Lac lake with Little Muskego Lake needs repairs. The dam doesn't have an owner, so there is no one to make those repairs, so the state plans to take the dam out. One Muskego official also said fishing off the dam isn't safe.

The DNR won't remove the dam if a group or the city steps forward to take responsibility for the dam and make the repairs and other changes the DNR requires. The city has declined.

Fixing not a fix

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The Suburban 16 Power Rankings: Watt, Niebrugge, and others on the next level

July 22, 2015 11:30 a.m. | (Editor's note: After a late addition putting Anthony Pettis in the top 15, the "Suburban 15" was expanded to the "Suburban 16")

The meteoric rise just continues.

Pewaukee graduate J.J. Watt, once a scholarship tight end at Central Michigan and then a walk-on at the University of Wisconsin, was voted the No. 1 player in the National Football League by the league's players in a poll conducted by the NFL Network.

Higher than Aaron Rodgers (No. 2) and Tom Brady (No. 3). Higher than anyone could have imagined even when he became the 11th overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. Even with his second career NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award last year, it's still staggering to think that when the players in the NFL consider who the league's best player is, they turn to Watt.

Sure, all rankings have to be taken with a grain of salt, but especially with the accomplishments of Watt and Jordan Niebrugge, a Homestead graduate who shot an amateur-record round of 67 at the British Open and then tied for sixth in the tourney, there have been some exciting accomplishments racked up by local products. Considering athletes who competed in high school in the Now Newspapers or Lake Country Publications coverage area (and remain active), here's my Suburban 16, where I attempt to rank players based on exposure, impact and post-prep accomplishments.

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Initial Reaction Podcast: A dumb-sports-fan's guide to the Bucks arena financing situation

July 21, 2015 2:05 p.m. | JP tries his best to explain the machinations behind the state senate voting in favor of a Bucks arena financing plan, plus a lot more from a big week of Wisconsin sports (Favre! Niebrugge!). Also, JP shares his impressions from the WFCA All-Star football game.

New Berlin West's Fritz tosses 3-hitter but drops 2-1 decision to West Allis Hale

July 20, 2015 1:33 p.m. | It was the type of ball game that neither pitcher deserved to lose, but someone had to.

Mials McMurray outdueled Adam Fritz en route to a 2-1 victory for ninth-seeded West Allis Hale over New Berlin West in the first round of the WIAA regional playoffs on July 14 at West.

The Huskies (14-16) defeated the Vikings (11-13), despite being outhit 7-3, but they bunched their hits better as West left eight men on base while Hale only left four runners on.

"It was a very, very good high school baseball game," West coach Tom Farina said. "Both pitchers threw well. We had seven hits and only one run so we could not come up with stringing them together, two or three in a row to get something going. They maybe had only three hits, but they made everyone of them count."

With the score tied at 1-1 in the fifth, JoeJo Breznik dribbled a single up the middle, and after Derrick Oleson flew out to left, he stole second base. Mason Ross grounded to shortstop Allen Peil for the second out, moving Breznik to third.

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Whitnall walks away with 8-7 win over Eisenhower in extra innings

July 20, 2015 8:48 a.m. | There are a lot of lousy ways to lose a baseball game, and New Berlin Eisenhower experienced one of them on July 14 at Whitnall in a WIAA first-round regional baseball game.

The Lions dropped an 9-8 decision to the Falcons, as they helplessly watched Whitnall tie the game in the bottom of the seventh and then win it in the bottom of the ninth on two-out, bases-loaded walks.

"It definitely was not the way we wanted to go down," coach Mike Vahovick said.

It seems any time these two Woodland Conference rivals get together, anything can happen.

Earlier this season, the Falcons overcame an 8-1 deficit and tallied 12 runs in one inning in a 13-10 triumph.

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DNR to hold information meetings on starry stonewort

July 20, 2015 8:03 a.m. | The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will hold a series of public meetings to share information about starry stonewort and answer questions.

The first meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, at the DNR Waukesha Service Center, 141 NW Barstow St., Room 151. Additional meetings will be scheduled around the region.

The series of meetings will present information on the biology of starry stonewort, its current status and monitoring and management efforts. Information on how people can help prevent its spread and what lake residents can do to help monitor and control it will be presented.

More information about starry stonewort is available at dnr.wi.gov, and search for "aquatic invasive species."

Whitnall baseball team uses big fifth inning to stun Muskego in regional title contest

July 17, 2015 10:58 p.m. | Nearly 20 minutes after the final out was recorded, members of the Muskego baseball team were spread out throughout the diamond.

Some were down the line, a few more were in the dugout and a couple of others were pacing near the warning track. All of them were in disbelief.

Meanwhile, Whitnall had already doused coach Ben Krey with a Gatorade bath and was on the bus celebrating its upset victory. The Falcons used a seven-run fifth inning to knock out a Warriors team thought of as a state championship contender with a 9-6 victory in a WIAA regional final on July 17 at Muskego High School.

"It has been the theme all season," Whitnall first baseman James Menden said. "We keep battling to try and find a way to get wins. That's what we did today."

Muskego jumps ahead

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