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Cheap I-94 route expensive for West Allis, officials say

May 17, 2013 11:36 a.m. | West Allis officials are encouraging business owners and residents to the third set of open house public meetings on Interstate 94 options that could have a crucial affect on the city.

Officials want the on- and off-ramps at 70th/68th streets and at 60th/Hawley Road preserved as they are now partly so that businesses won't be harmed and partly because of fears that West Allis residents will be stuck in backups getting onto the freeway at rush hours.

The open houses will be held next week by the state Department of Transportation.

While most of the I-94 alternatives being considered do include restoring the existing I-94 ramps at 70th/68th and 60th/Hawley, the cheapest alternative does not include all of these ramps. City officials hope to encourage the DOT not to choose the cheapest alternative.

The first open house will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Wisconsin State Fair Park's Tommy Thompson Youth Center, gate 5, at 640 S. 84th St. The second open house will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Marquette University High School, 3401 W. Wisconsin Ave.

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More decorative bike racks could add panache to West Allis locales

7:44 a.m. | More decorative bicycle racks sporting the outline of a bicycle inside a gear that have appeared in downtown West Allis are likely to start appearing in other parts of the city as the city pursues beautification.

The common council approved exploring the cost of such racks and set aside $5,000 in grant money for purchase. The plan is for business owners who want the racks for in front of their establishments to buy the racks, so the financial impact for the city would be zero. Nearly a dozen business owners have expressed interest in having bike racks.

Anywhere from 15 to 20 decorative bike racks could be purchased. The city used similar grant money to place about 30 in the downtown area last year and earlier this year.

West Allis taps into tool to help get foreclosed properties fixed up

June 27, 2016 2:59 p.m. | West Allis has joined what could be the vanguard of communities that are fighting blight by tapping into a database of bank foreclosures to get names of those responsible for maintaining foreclosed properties.

Banks often allow such properties to get run down and the city has trouble getting the banks to respond to calls on property maintenance issues, according to a news release announcing the new program. It is estimated that the city has about 500 foreclosed properties.

However, the new program will give the city a pipeline to property managers for each foreclosure and their contacts. That is available through a new partnership with Community Champions, a Florida-based company.

The program called proCHAMPS gathers registration information from banking institutions on foreclosures. That registration data contains contact information for property managers. The partnership will cost the city nothing.

West Allis Mayor Dan Devine launched the program that is the first in Wisconsin of its kind, the release said. West Allis joins more than 100 other communities around the country in tapping into the foreclosure database.

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West Allis hears 72nd Street residents who don't want bumpouts

June 24, 2016 1:19 p.m. | There will be no bumpouts for 72nd Street, the West Allis Common Council decided after 70 residents of 72nd Street signed a petition protesting the bumpouts that cities use to help slow traffic.

Bumpouts are at intersections and they extend sidewalks into the street. Although they usually just close off parking lanes, they make the street seem narrower to drivers who then slow down. The bumpouts were planned as part of the city's resurfacing project from Cleveland Avenue to Kinnickinnic Parkway.

But the residents protested that speeding traffic is not a problem and they don't want the bumpouts.

"We heard them loud and clear," said committee chairman Alderman Gary Barczak. So, that stretch of 72nd Street will be resurfaced as a normal road, he said.

Also, no speed bumps will be contemplated, he said. West Allis doesn't install speed bumps because they are noisy, they can damage cars and they pose a problem for snow plows, he said.

West Allis helping fledgling craft brewery get started

June 24, 2016 1:00 p.m. | The West Allis Common Council has approved a $35,000 loan to help a craft brewery get on its feet.

The Westallion Brewing Company would be the only one in the city.

Erik Dorfner plans to open the brewery Nov. 10 at about 72nd and Burnham streets. The loan using federal Community Development Block Grant money will be used to buy equipment and have working capital for the first months of operation. Dorfner has additional startup funding.

Alderman Kevin Haass, chairman of the Administration and Finance Committee that recommended the project, said a craft brewery is an amenity that helps set a city apart.

"We're trying to make the community attractive to young folks who like amenities like that," he said.

Burglaries at 10-year low in West Allis, robberies hit 10-year high

June 23, 2016 10:25 a.m. | West Allis — With the West Allis Police Department publishing its 2015 annual report this month, there are some things that residents might like to know about crime in 2015.


  • Burglaries were at a 10-year low.
  • Robberies were at a 10-year high.
  • Car thefts were just short of the 10-year high.
  • Crimes against property were down 11 percent.
  • Violent crime was up 10 percent.



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Man, 21, charged in fatal accident on 76th Street in Greenfield

June 21, 2016 3:59 p.m. | A 21-year-old Greenfield man who was driving with a suspended license, according to Greenfield police, has been charged with homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle after a fatal crash in the 4900 block of 76th Street in Greenfield.

The accident happened shortly before 6:30 p.m. April 17. Charged on June 17 was Shawn Graika who faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, if convicted.

He is alleged to have been driving 73 mph two seconds before the crash, according to the criminal complaint. That information was downloaded from Graika's SUV sensing diagnostic module data recovery system.

Graika was southbound on 76th Street. He said the driver of the other car, Oscar Balli, pulled out from a parking lot and Graika hit the Balli car broadside. Balli was pronounced dead after being taken to Froedtert Hospital.

Graika is scheduled to make an initial court appearance July 12.

Greenfield couple calls police on their attacking cat

June 21, 2016 3:16 p.m. | Police responded to a residence in the 3600 block of South 53rd Street after a woman called 911 to report she and her husband were being attacked and held hostage by their cat at about 9:20 p.m. June 17. The cat was eventually caught and turned over to the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission.

Video: Greenfield going full speed to become its own internet provider

June 21, 2016 2:42 p.m. | Greenfield and the two school districts within its borders are well on their way to cutting the chord to their various internet providers.

They are building their own fiber optics network, starting at Alverno College and extending to municipal buildings and schools in the Greenfield and Whitnall school districts. The network will provide better service at a fraction of the current cost, city and school officials said.

Construction started about three weeks ago and the city is about a third of the way finished, said Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke. Under a cost-sharing agreement, the city is constructing the spine of the network.

Greenfield took out a state trust fund loan for its $700,000 share. However, officials expect system to pay for itself in 10 years from annual savings, Neitzke said. And service will be much better, he said.

"We'll have way better service and way better productivity and flexibility," Neitzke said.

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Greenfield man charged in fatal crash

June 20, 2016 6:19 p.m. | A Greenfield man has been charged with homicide by negligent use of a vehicle for a crash that killed another man in April, according to a criminal complaint.

Shawn Robert Graika, 21, is accused of driving 73 mph in a 35 mph zone when he struck a car driven by Oscar R. Balli, 64, of Milwaukee April 17 in the 4900 block of S. 76th St., according to the complaint.

Graika was driving an SUV southbound on S. 76th St. and had been swerving in and out of traffic before striking Balli's car when he pulled out of the parking lot of Barnes & Noble Booksellers, according to the complaint and Milwaukee police.

If convicted Graika could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, according to the complaint.

The complaint and a summons ordering Graika to appear before a court commissioner July 12 was filed Friday, according to state court records.

Early morning fire destroys garage in Greenfield, spreads to house

June 20, 2016 10:17 a.m. | As of 10 a.m. Monday, investigators were still on the scene of a 5 a.m. garage fire that did an estimated $100,000 damage to the garage, the attached home and its contents at 4552 W. Abbott Ave., Greenfield.

Greenfield police and fire personnel are sifting through the remains of the fire to find its cause. The fire started in the attached garage and spread to the home and into the attic. The garage is deemed to be a total loss.

A Journal Sentinel newspaper carrier spotted the fire and called 911. Greenfield police arrived, awakened the William VanBennekom family and got them to safety. Greenfield received assistance from the Greendale, Milwaukee and West Allis fire departments.

Initial Reaction Podcast: MLB Draft's Wisconsin flavor and WIAA's postseason model

June 15, 2016 6:15 p.m. | The MLB Draft had a distinct Wisconsin flavor this year, and JP and JR dive in with state baseball underway. Also, given the number of talent-loaded sectionals in some sports, could the WIAA find a model that spreads the best teams around a little more evenly? Plus, new Greenfield boys basketball coach Kyle Johnsen stops by to talk about his new gig and his playing days just down the road at Greendale. Each week, Lake Country/Now sports director JR Radcliffe and Time Warner Cable Sports Channel's JP Cadorin chat about the Wisconsin sports scene, with an emphasis on Milwaukee-area preps. Find the podcast on Stitcher and iTunes.

After facelift, Greenfield Park Golf Course re-opens to rave reviews

June 15, 2016 1:40 p.m. | West Allis — Last week, the Greenfield Park Golf Course held a grand reopening after its $3.1 million upgrade and grand it was, according to some golfers who played the course the next day.

"The fairways for those able to hit them are really nice," joked Marty Raasch of Milwaukee. "The ball sits up so you can see it. The grass is cut well."

And he has already sampled the redone sand traps.

"They're in excellent condition," Raasch said. Before, the sand was so compacted the club bounced up when it hit the sand, he said.

"Now it's nice, you slide the club under the sand and the ball pops out of the sand trap," Raasch said.

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A new Layton Avenue Baptist Church is rising in Greenfield through skill and faith

June 14, 2016 12:23 p.m. | Greenfield — Everybody's heard of the barn raisings of pioneer days, but a church raising? And a church-raising in the 21st century?

A throwback to those pioneer days is just what's happening on Layton Avenue in Greenfield at 96th Street where volunteers from throughout the country are spending a week building a new house of worship for the Layton Avenue Baptist Church congregation. The worshipers are moving because their building was in the way of a $115 million shopping, restaurant and office development.

A total of 1,100 volunteers will come to Greenfield during 14 weeks this summer through Builders for Christ. And some are skilled enough to build the wooden skeleton of the 27,000-square-foot church in 10 days. Less-skilled volunteers learn from the experts.

But can a bunch of volunteers, really build a huge, quality building?

Can they do it?

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Charcoal grill tips over, causes fire at Greenfield home

June 13, 2016 12:03 p.m. | Greenfield Fire Department officials said that a grill containing hot coals was the cause of a house fire in the 3600 block of South 33rd Street early Sunday morning.

Emergency personnel responded to the home after receiving a report that flames were seen coming out of the roof of the home at about 4 a.m. The residents were able to escape the fire when an alert neighbor repeatedly rang the doorbell, causing the resident's dog to bark and wake them up.

Fire officials believe the fire started when the grill was knocked over by a gust of wind and started the deck on fire. The fire then spread up the exterior wall of the home and into the roof.

Although the fire was contained to the deck, an exterior wall and a portion of the roof, the home sustained heavy water damage, officials said.

The Greenfield Fire Department is warning people to keep grills away from homes, garages, overhangs, and off combustible surfaces such as decks. Coals and ashes from a barbeque, fire pits and fireplaces can smolder for up to seven days, so do not assume they are out, officials said.

West Allis foundry faces possible fines of $62,370

June 13, 2016 11:00 a.m. | The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued 10 serious and three nonserious safety violations to the Motor Castings Company, 1323 S 65th St, West Allis, a metal parts manufacturer.

The inspection followed a 51-year-old worker suffering broken bones and cuts to both hands.

Investigators determined he and other employees were attempting to realign and adjust the drag mold of a closing machine at the foundry when the cope, an operating machine part, fell unexpectedly and crushed both of the employee's hands.

The proposed penalties for all the violations total $62,370.


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