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West Allis hospital stands tall in magazine's rankings

July 18, 2012 4:32 p.m. | Aurora West Allis Medical Center ranked third in the Milwaukee metro area and sixth in Wisconsin in the U.S. News & World Report magazine rankings of hospitals nationwide.

This is the 23rd year the magazine has done the ranking.

Covering 94 metro areas in the U.S., the regional hospital rankings complement the national rankings by including hospitals with solid performance nearly at the level of nationally ranked institutions.

The regional rankings are aimed primarily at people who don't need the special expertise found only at a nationally ranked Best Hospitals or who may not want to travel long distances for medical care. The U.S. News metro rankings give many such patients and their families more options of hospitals within their communities and in their health insurance networks.

The rankings were published by U.S. News in collaboration with RTI International, a research organization based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Highlights of the 2012-13 rankings will appear in the U.S. News Best Hospitals 2013 guidebook, to go on sale in August.

West Allis putting foot down on snakes and rat breeding to feed them

3:30 p.m. | West Allis — A ban on keeping venomous snakes or large constricting snakes has already passed the West Allis Common Council, which is now poised to ban breeding rodents, as well, as food for snakes.

Health concerns are the reasons for the proposed breeding ban, said Alderwoman Cathleen Probst, a co-author of the ban.

The only known business that could be affected is Swords & Dreams Reptile Rescue, 7213 W. Greenfield Ave., in downtown West Allis.

Owner Tom McNeil said he once had 200 snakes in his store. But now he plans to retire and is whittling the stock down. He now has only about 25 snakes, he said. He has operated the reptile rescue for more than 10 years, approximately three of them in downtown West Allis.

As a rescue organization, McNeil said he has accepted venomous snakes from owners who wanted to get rid of them. And he has found homes for the snakes where they will not menace society, he said.

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Greenfield School Board might use sale proceeds to possibly improve middle school

1:30 p.m. | With as much as $3.1 million potentially coming to the Greenfield School District from the sale of the former Chapman Elementary School, the school board is exploring how best to use the money.

The board's finance and facilities committee this week inspected the middle school, which school board President Cathy Walsh said had not received major attention as the elementary and the high school have.

The district might have to use the sale proceeds relatively immediately to keep the windfall from causing a drop in state aid. That was the case some time ago, and school officials are checking to see if the district still would have to use the money in the same year to avoid an aid penalty.

That is one of the reasons why the board is inspecting not only the middle school but other schools to assess their needs.

Only last month, the board approved selling the former Chapman School at 8500 W. Chapman Ave. for $2.5 million to $3.1 million, depending on when the sale actually closes. The sale would be contingent on city approval of rezoning to allow redevelopment and the buyer's ability to acquire other nearby properties.

West Allis approves moratorium on non-charitable secondhand stores

8:00 a.m. | West Allis — West Allis is trying to help its image by putting the brakes on new secondhand stores moving in.

"I don't want West Allis to be the haven of secondhand dealers," said Alderwoman Cathleen Probst, a sponsor of a measure imposing a moratorium on second-hand stores in West Allis.

The trigger for her was city approval of a secondhand store on 81st Street in her district when another secondhand store was only a block away, Probst said.

The cumulative effect is like having four bars at one corner, she said.

"It changes the perception of a neighborhood," Probst said.

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Prosecutors announce charges in large south side cocaine, heroin ring

Feb. 26, 2015 12:40 p.m. | Prosecutors announced Thursday they have charged seven people with running a major drug distribution operation led by a Green Bay man out of a house on Milwaukee's south side and sourced from Chicago.

Investigators seized cocaine, heroin, four guns and more than $100,000 during searches in Milwaukee and Green Bay related to the case. One defendant claims to have sold more than 150 pounds of cocaine from February to November last year.

Francisco Chavez-Reynoso, 35, is charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine.

A separate complaint charges six Milwaukee residents with a variety of offenses related to the operation, which was based out of a rented house at 1800 S. Layton Blvd. A woman who lived there told investigators the main supplier paid the rent, car costs and other bills for her in exchange for using the location as a stash house for drugs and money.

Police raided the location in November, but only arrested Chavez-Reynoso in Green Bay this month. According to the criminal complaint, he told investigators he first expected they would come looking for him but began to think he'd gotten away with the crimes after so much time went by.

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West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board president condemns assignment

Feb. 24, 2015 2:50 p.m. | West Allis — A policy aimed at trying to head off high school assignments, such as the one characterizing Republicans as opposing programs for the poor because they are a waste of money, received its first reading Monday before the West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board.

The board was shocked at the assignment that was given in a Nathan Hale High School government class, said school board President Pat Kerhin.

"When we saw it, we found it to be totally inappropriate," she said after Monday's meeting. The assignment that resulted in the public outcry was dropped.

But it had been used in government classes for at least a decade, spokesman Brian Vissers said earlier this month when a parent brought the assignment containing the statement to light. The assignment was given to help students understand which beliefs are espoused by which political ideologies and to help them locate where they are on the continuum of beliefs.

The proposed policy would require activities such as this and certain student surveys to be reviewed by principals and curriculum staff before they are used in the classroom. Parents also would be notified in case they want their children to opt out.

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Lottery won't be used to pick Nathan Hale High School freshmen

Feb. 24, 2015 8:05 a.m. | West Allis — A lottery will not be used to decide which students will attend Nathan Hale High School as freshmen this fall, the West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board decided Monday.

A lottery was one of the options considered to deal with the problem of far more eighth-graders asking to attend Hale than the school can hold. At 1,690 students, Hale is already over its 1,650 capacity, school officials said, while West Allis Central has plenty of room.

For the last 20 years or so, eighth-graders have been able to choose which high school they want to attend.

Instead of a lottery to determine which of them will actually attend Hale, the board wanted to review high school boundaries that were drawn years ago to see if they might still be viable enough to use as a guide.

Old boundaries

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West Allis superintendent finalists hail from Shorewood, Greendale, MPS

Feb. 23, 2015 11:27 a.m. | The finalists for West Allis-West Milwaukee superintendent include the superintendents at Shorewood and Greendale and a regional superintendent at Milwaukee Public Schools.

Shorewood Superintendent Marty Lexmond, Greendale Superintendent John Tharp and MPS Regional Superintendent Jesse Rodriguez met with parents and community members at the district Saturday, in a forum broadcast on Time Warner Cable Channel 13.

The West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board is scheduled to discuss the finalists tonight during a closed session meeting.

The board plans to name a new superintendent on or before April 1. That person will take over the district starting July 1. Former West Allis superintendent Kurt Wachholz abruptly retired at the end of July 2014 after several years of rapid -- and in some cases controversial -- changes in the district.

Sandra's on the Park to take Mia Famiglia's place in Hales Corners

Feb. 20, 2015 8:01 a.m. | With steaks, ribs, pasta and pizza at dinner, Sandra's on the Park will take over the former Mia Famiglia space at 10049 W. Forest Home Ave. in Hales Corners.

The restaurant would serve fish fry on Fridays and eventually will open for breakfast, said Sandra Van Remmen Prosser. During happy hour, guests will find complimentary cheese fondue at the bar.

Prosser, who said she long has wanted to open a place for dinner, also manages the Traditional Pancake House at 5121 S. 76th St. in Greendale; her father, Gene Van Remmen, is the owner of both restaurants.

Her father has been in the restaurant business 60 years, Prosser said, starting with the former Dutchland Dairy chain before moving on to Marc’s Big Boy, where he ultimately became vice president of operations. He owned Van Remmen’s restaurant in South Milwaukee and was a regional director for International House of Pancakes, taking over the Greendale restaurant himself in 1992 when IHOP left.

Mia Famiglia closed in January, with chef Tom White Jr. working to open a new restaurant in downtown Waukesha in the coming months.

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Greenfield Plan Commission mixed on idea of Goodwill opening on S. 76th St.

Feb. 19, 2015 1:10 p.m. | Greenfield — Despite getting a mixed official reaction to the idea of a possible Goodwill store being located on 76th Street in Greenfield, Goodwill officials will try to move forward with the proposal.

The mixed reaction came last week from the Greenfield Plan Commission.

Mayor Michael Neitzke was dismayed, saying that 76th Street from Interstate 43/894 south to Southridge is the city's prime commercial corridor. The building Goodwill is considering is old. If a vacancy develops, it would be a good time for the city to apply pressure to the landlord to rejuvenate it and perhaps the surrounding area, he said.

Alderman Karl Kastner who also sits on the commission said no matter how the store would be dressed up, it's still a second-hand store.

Those more in favor pointed out that even if a major retailer wanted to move in, it would still need to deal with the owner as far as renovating the exterior.

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Naked Furniture in Greenfield to close

Feb. 19, 2015 11:07 a.m. | Naked Furniture, a retail operation that dates back more than 30 years in Milwaukee, is closing.

The store, 4450 S. 108th St., Greenfield, remains profitable but has seen declining sales and is one of a dwindling number of outlets selling unfinished, solid wood furniture, owner Eric Lois said Thursday.

"We're the last store left like this in the entire Midwest," he said.

The shop sells chairs, tables and such that customers can finish themselves, or have it done to their taste at the store.

Lois and his wife, Tina, bought their business in October 2003. The shop once was part of a Chicago-based chain launched in 1972.

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West Allis man arrested on seventh drunken driving charge

Feb. 18, 2015 3:29 p.m. | A 43-year-old West Allis man was arrested for his alleged seventh drunken driving offense.

According to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office:

Just after midnight, a deputy stopped his vehicle after seeing it enter westbound Interstate 894 at Beloit Road at a very high rate of speed and change lanes between vehicles in what the deputy deemed to be a reckless manner.

The deputy stopped the vehicle at 98th Street and National Avenue in West Allis. He arrested the driver for drunken driving seventh offense, driving with a prohibited alcohol level and for driving after revocation. If convicted, the maximum sentence is 21 years in prison.

His six prior drunken driving convictions were in September 1989; May 1995; March 1998; May 2003; April 2007; and October 2010.

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Two suburban superintendents in top 3 for West Allis-West Milwaukee

Feb. 18, 2015 2:51 p.m. | The West Allis-West Milwaukee School District has announced the three top candidates for superintendent.

They are John Tharp, superintendent of the Greendale Schools; Jesse Rodriguez, regional superintendent of the Milwaukee Public Schools; and Marty Lexmond, superintendent of the Shorewood schools.

The public is invited to meet the candidates and ask questions of them in an open forum setting from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 21. Each candidate will have one hour to interact with visitors. So, the first candidate will be available from 9 to 10 a.m., the second from 10 to 11 a.m. and the third from 11 a.m. to noon.

The interview opportunity will be at the District Offices, 1205 S. 70th St., on the sixth floor. Parking is available in the lot south of the building at 70th and Madison. Additional parking is available in the MATC lot #2 on the southwest corner of 70th and Washington streets.

The meetings also will be streamed live on Time Warner Cable, channel 13 in West Allis & West Milwaukee and over the Internet at

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Greenfield's Naked Furniture to close April 30

Feb. 17, 2015 3:30 p.m. | Greenfield — Naked Furniture, 4450 S. 108th St., Greenfield, a fixture of Highway 100 for 20 years, will close April 30.

The store is still profitable, but demand for quality wood furniture has been dwindling for several years, said Eric Lois, who has owned Naked Furniture with his wife, Tina, for the last dozen years.

With more and more furniture being made of particle board and even plastic, "Where's our industry going to be in 10 years?" he asked. But he said he knows the answer.

"Our industry is shrinking," he said.

Only 10 or 12 years ago, he dealt with 19 furniture manufacturers, he said. Now that's down the biggest six, he said.

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Greenfield Plan Commission clears Chapman project, Meijer for hearings

Feb. 17, 2015 12:33 p.m. | A hotel/store/restaurant development and a Meijer superstore both proposed for Greenfield are now on their way to public hearings, following approvals by the Plan Commission.

The $90 million to $95 million hotel/store/restaurant development would be on the site of the former Chapman School and would raze an entire neighborhood along Layton Avenue between 84th and 92nd streets.

The residents who are now dealing with their fourth development proposal have been open to selling, said Scott Yauck, president of Cobalt Partners. As of this week, he had sales agreements with 36 or 37 of the homeowners, leaving only about three to go.

The Plan Commission also liked the planned improvements to break up the long facade on the Meijer's store proposed for 60th Street and Layton Avenue.

Public hearings are likely to be set for both for March or April.

With Butch's Old Casino downtown to close in March, Butch's Pub opens in West Allis

Feb. 13, 2015 11:32 a.m. | With a sale of the property in the works, Butch's Old Casino Steak House at 555 N. James Lovell St. is expected to close after service March 28.

Owner Butch Schettle said the pending sale is through Mid-America Real Estate, a commercial real estate brokerage, and the building is to be razed.

He speculated that the purchase is connected to the Marquette University-Milwaukee Bucks sports medicine and athletic center planned one block away, in the 700 and 800 blocks of W. Michigan Ave., perhaps for parking. The steakhouse, decorated with vintage slot machines and other antiques, is at the southwest corner of W. Michigan and N. James Lovell streets.

A Marquette spokesman declined to confirm or deny plans for the parcel.

"We will not disclose details of any specific property or partnership unless an agreement is finalized," Brian Dorrington said in an email.

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