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4 chickens escape coop, flock to Subway in Greenfield

Sept. 18, 2013 10:11 a.m. | The last place you'd expect to find chickens roaming freely is outside a sandwich shop that serves chicken sandwiches.

According to the Greenfield police report:

That was the case Sept. 10, when a caller reported three chickens were running through the parking lot at Subway on 60th Street and Layton Avenue at about 4:30 a.m.

Police found four chickens there, apparent escapees from a yard in the 4700 block of South 60th Street.

The owner was contacted but wasn't too interested in re-cooping his chickens at that hour. But police were able to corral the chickens with the assistance of Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission.

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Greendale School Board OKs schools as polling places for general election

Aug. 18, 2014 8:50 p.m. | Greendale — The Greendale School District will permit the village to keep its traditional polling places in schools for the upcoming general election.

The district formally asked the village's board of trustees in May to move the polling places from the schools by the general election on November 4 after concerns arose about the safety of students during election days.

After months of discussion between the school district and village administration, the board of trustees approved a referendum question for the general election on July 15. The referendum question will ask residents: "Should the polling places for the Village of Greendale be located in buildings other than in schools owned by the Greendale School District?"

Currently, all three of the district's elementary schools and the high school are used as polling places.

With the village's efforts to find alternative locations in mind, school board members unanimously approved Monday use of its facilities for the general election.

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West Allis-West Milwaukee district at center of rapid changes in education

Aug. 16, 2014 5:58 p.m. | This summer, an English teacher sat down to type a four-page letter, single-spaced, explaining to the West Allis-West Milwaukee administration and School Board why he was resigning from a job he loved after 18 years.

In any other year, the concerns of former Nathan Hale High School teacher Eric Zentner might have carried less weight.

But the letter that reached School Board members in June was the first public indication of what might have spurred an uptick in staff departures from West Allis-West Milwaukee's schools this past year.

His concerns — the micromanaging of teachers, pressure to adapt too quickly to new technology, increasing workloads, pressure to make discipline and academic data look favorable, and low staff morale — were soon echoed by dozens of other teacher letters that reached board members.

The next month, Superintendent Kurt Wachholz suddenly retired.

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West Allis industrial construction project starts this fall

Aug. 14, 2014 10:20 a.m. |

The $14 million proposal to redevelop the former Yellow Freight truck terminal site is proceeding, with construction to begin soon after winning approvals from West Allis officials.
Wangard Partners Inc. is to begin construction work this fall on two new buildings that will replace the former terminal, at 11406-11528 W. Rogers St., said Steve Schaer, city planning and zoning manager.  
Wangard expects to complete a 50,000-square-foot light industrial building by March, and a 73,000-square-foot light industrial building by June, Schaer said Thursday.
The Plan Commission approved the development plans at its Wednesday night meeting. Wangard hasn't yet disclosed the name of an anchor tenant it has secured for one of the buildings.
The firm is buying the 9.3-acre site from the city for $845,000, with that transaction to close on Aug. 28, Schaer said.
That price includes funds to cover the city's costs of demolishing the former Yellow Freight buildings earlier this year, and doing an environmental cleanup.
Wangard's financing includes $14 million in federal New Market Tax Credits, which will be sold to generate $3 million in equity cash, and a $500,000 city loan funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The city in 2009 purchased the property for $1.4 million through a tax incremental financing district, with that debt to be repaid over 23 years through new property taxes from Wangard's buildings. The project also received a $127,000 Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. grant.
Wangard first proposed a light industrial development at the former truck terminal in 2013. It is among several industrial redevelopment sites in West Allis.

West Allis gunman didn't target anyone before suicide, police say

Aug. 14, 2014 9:47 a.m. | A West Allis man fired four gunshots into the ceiling of his apartment, prompting a neighbor to call police, before the man turned the gun on himself, officials said Thursday.

West Allis police officers were called about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to an apartment complex in the 10400 block of W. Lincoln Ave. Officers secured the building and ordered the 31-year-old shooter to leave his apartment. When officers entered the apartment, they found the man was dead.

The man was not targeting anyone, and he lived in an upper unit with no other apartments above him, West Allis Deputy Chief Robert J. Fletcher said Thursday.

No one else was injured in the incident, and the investigation was ongoing Thursday morning.

Police have not publicly identified the man.

Meijer goes forward with Mount Carmel site in Greenfield

Aug. 06, 2014 10:47 a.m. | Plans for a Meijer super store offering both groceries and department store merchandise will go to the Greenfield Plan Commission for a conceptual project review Tuesday, Aug. 12.

The store plus an attached garden center and a separate gas/concenience building would be on the site of the former Mount Carmel nursing home, 5700 W. Layton Ave.

The store would be about 190,000 square feet with a 20,000-square-foot garden center plus the gas station/convience building.

Earlier this year, the Meijer CEO Hank Meijer said the retailer was considering other sites in Greenfield. But the 25-acre site, right off Interstate 894/US 45 is particularly prime and big enough for the store, he said.

Mayor Michael Neitzke said if the store is approved, it would fit into Greenfield's efforts to make Layton Avenue its main street.

Complaint: 2 women in suitcases died during 'breath play'

Aug. 05, 2014 10:44 p.m. | Kenosha — The two women whose bodies were found in suitcases in June died during "breath play,'' the suspect in their slayings told police.

That's how former police officer Steven Zelich described the sexual bondage activity he inflicted on Jenny Gamez and Laura Simonson, who apparently met him voluntarily at hotels in Kenosha and Rochester, Minn., according to a first-degree intentional homicide charge filed Tuesday in the death of one of the two women.

While "breath play" may sound benign, its technical name is erotic asphyxiation, or asphyxiophilia, and it is extremely dangerous.

On the last of three days with Gamez, Zelich told investigators, he handcuffed her behind her back, blindfolded her, and put a ball gag in her mouth and a rope around her neck to restrict her breathing — until he lost control and she choked to death.

"He may call that accidental. I call that murder," said Kenosha County District Attorney Robert Zapf, speaking to reporters after Zelich's initial court appearance Tuesday. A judge set bail at $2 million.

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New charges expected Tuesday against ex-officer in suitcase bodies case

Aug. 04, 2014 12:58 p.m. | Steven Zelich, the former West Allis police officer charged with hiding the bodies of two women found in suitcases by a road crew in Walworth County, expects to face new charges in Kenosha County on Tuesday, his new attorney said.

Jonathan Smith said Monday he had not been told what the charges will be, but that Zelich is scheduled for an initial appearance Tuesday afternoon in Kenosha County Circuit Court.

According to the complaint in the current case, Zelich, 52, told investigators that one of the women, Jenny Gamez, died during a sexual encounter in a Kenosha hotel in 2012.

In the Walworth County case, Zelich had been represented by the public defender's office, despite the fact he had been steadily employed as a security guard with the national firm Securitas since 2007.

Records show Smith and his partner, Steven Kohn, visited Zelich at the Walworth County Jail on July 17. By July 31, Zelich had moved to substitute his attorney, and a judge granted the order on Friday.

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West Allis-West Milwaukee superintendent suddenly retires

Aug. 01, 2014 8:15 a.m. | Kurt Wachholz, superintendent of the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District for the past 10 years, served his last day as district leader Thursday, according to a district spokesperson.

The West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board met in closed session Wednesday night to consider the superintendent's retirement request and related issues. It's unclear if Wachholz had been planning the retirement, or if was hastened for other reasons.

He had earned recognition in recent years as a district leader embracing the trend toward "next generation learning" and digital initiatives in education.

Wachholz was named superintendent in January 2004, after serving as interim district leader and holding a variety of other administrator roles.

Brian Vissers, district spokesman, said an interim superintendent would be named in the near future.

Wachholz retires as superintendent of West Allis-West Milwaukee schools

July 31, 2014 3:49 p.m. | After 10 years in the top spot in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, Superintendent Kurt Wachholz retired Thursday, July 31.

The School Board accepted his retirement in a special meeting Wednesday night.

Wachholz served the district for 35 years. He was a teacher, a coach, district gifted and talented coordinator and principal of Jefferson Elementary School before becoming superintendent.

He also was a graduate of the West Allis-West Milwaukee schools.

The School Board hopes to begin interviewing candidates for interim superintendent on Monday, Aug. 4. The interim superintendent is expected to serve a year while the School Board finds a permanent superintendent.

2 westbound I-94 lanes reopen near State Fair Park after crash

July 31, 2014 8:54 a.m. | Crews have cleared a crash that closed two lanes of westbound Interstate 94 at 84th St. for about 35 minutes. The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office responded.

Video: How to navigate construction surrounding the 2014 Wisconsin State Fair

July 30, 2014 1:40 p.m. | West Allis — The Interstate 94 freeway ramps and streets around the fair are open to handle the surge of traffic starting Thursday with the opening of the 11-day Wisconsin State Fair.

That's a relief to West Allis Mayor Dan Devine who said, "They told us several times that it all would be open."

Freeway ramps at 84th Street have been closed for the massive Zoo Interchange rehabilitation project, as has the crucial Kearney Avenue that takes traffic coming from the west and exiting at 84th Street into the north end of the fair. The fair extends from 84th to 76th streets.

What will not be open is the 76th Street bridge over Interstate 94, a major route from the north to the fair's 76th Street entrance and to the fair entrance on Greenfield Avenue.

Instead, fair officials recommend taking 70th Street south to Greenfield Avenue and entering at 78th Street.

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National Night Out to be celebrated in Greenfield on Aug. 5

July 29, 2014 3:31 p.m. | Greenfield — For another year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison marching band will top off Greenfield's National Night Out with a performance of its famed Fifth Quarter show.

National Night Out will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5 at Konkel Park, 5151 W. Layton Ave., and the Fifth Quarter show will be at 7:30 p.m.

Police and fire personnel will be on hand with equipment and this year firefighters will demonstrate a rescue from a car by cutting it open and rescuing a dummy inside. That will be at 6 p.m.

Always a favorite is a police dog demonstration at 6:45 p.m.

A child safety seat inspection also will be offered at a drive-in area away from traffic. Firefighters also will show how to install child safety seats.

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No more waiting lists for child care at Greenfield schools

July 29, 2014 3:26 p.m. | Waiting lists to get into the before- and after-school child care program at the Greenfield elementary schools will be wiped out with the School Board approving a contract with the YMCA to provide the service.

On Monday, the board approved a one-year contract with the YMCA after the previous contract with another day care provider expired. The YMCA has enough staff to provide child care for all who want it, said Superintendent Lisa Elliott.

Also, parents will pay as much or less than they had been paying for the service and the YMCA will be able to offer more, Elliott said.

Top 10 things to see and do at the Wisconsin State Fair

July 29, 2014 9:06 a.m. | This year's Wisconsin State Fair is the can't miss summer event of the season. With more than 30 free stages of entertainment, 100 different foods on a stick, and a cornucopia of cream puffs, what more could a Wisconsinite want?

The fair runs Tursday, July 31, through Sunday, Aug. 10, at 640 S. 84th Street, West Allis. Hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 8 a.m. through midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the final Sunday of the fair.

Check out the top 10 things to see and do before you plan your trip to the fair and follow my blog Fair E-tales for the latest and greatest in fair happenings. On Wisconsin!

1. The Wisconsin State Fair History Exhibit

For all the history buffs out there, the Wisconsin State Fair History Exhibit at the south end of the Exposition Center is the place to be. The exhibit includes pieces from iconic fair favorites, such as the original cream puff, Mille's Sausages, the Giant Slide and more. Test your knowledge after checking out the retro displays and take a fair quiz for a chance to win some fairy cool prizes.

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Zelich's statements contradicted physical evidence, recordings show

July 22, 2014 9:02 p.m. | A former West Allis police officer who authorities say killed two women and hid their bodies in suitcases made statements that didn't match the physical evidence during an internal investigation after a woman ran from his apartment in her underwear in May 2001, according to audio recordings released Tuesday.

Steven Zelich and the woman told completely different stories, but at least one piece of evidence — a condom — backed up her version, according to a recording of his interview with internal investigators.

"I didn't see or have contact with any type of condom," Zelich said on the recording.

Asked to explain the fact that one had been found in his kitchen garbage can, under some Taco Bell wrappers from the day before, silences and stuttering ensued.

"I don't know — first of all, it had to be her condom. It wasn't my condom. I don't know how — the location — basically, it wasn't my condom," Zelich said.

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