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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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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Brookfield Central turns back Homestead for state title, 9-2

July 25, 2014 10:28 p.m. | When a team has a pitching staff made up of spit and bailing wire like Homestead baseball coach Ernie Millard admits that he had this season, don't be surprised when the spit dries or the wire frays sometimes.

Much like it did Friday night at Kapco Park in the WIAA State Summer Baseball championship game, as Brookfield Central woke its long slumbering bats and beat Homestead for its fourth state title in a 9-2 decision.

"That has been a ghost that has clung to us all season long," said Millard of his pitching, "and tonight it finally caught up with us. We competed like crazy. ....but we knew we would have to play a perfect game to beat them."

The loss denied the Highlanders a fourth  state title of their own ( to go along with crowns in 1974, 1978, and 1994) and closed out a compelling season at 26-8.

Meanwhile, the high-expectation Lancers (29-6) resurrected a season that had started out fast at 21-1, and then hit a major skid with a 1-5 run that cost them the Greater Metro Conference title and a lot of their confidence.

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Fast start leads Homestead baseball team into state finals with 7-5 win

July 25, 2014 3:16 p.m. | After his team's gritty 7-5 WIAA state semifinal victory over Oak Creek Friday afternoon at Kapco Park, Homestead baseball coach Ernie Millard pulled out his cell phone and pointed to a text message he received from senior pitcher Ben Garstecki at 10:22 p.m. the night before.

It read as follows:

"Hey coach, I want you to know that 100 percent, whatever you need me to do (at state) I'm ready for it."

Millard considered it a good omen and a bit of a prophecy, because after Highlander starter Jared Stieve gave up a three-run homer to the Knights' Matt Hargreaves in the third, cutting what had been a safe 6-1 lead down to a nail-biting 6-4, and then put two more runners on base, someone was needed to  right the Highlanders' ship.

In walked Garstecki, who promptly gave up an RBI single to Knight outfielder Matt Hamilton, but who then proceeded to toss four-and-two-thirds scoreless innings to make sure the Homestead lead would stand up.

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Brown Deer mother arrested in stabbing of 2 sons

July 25, 2014 11:41 a.m. | A Brown Deer woman has been taken into custody after stabbing two of her sons during an argument about money early Friday, police say.

When officers responded to the residence in the 8000 block of N. 67th St., they found an 18-year-old with a leg wound and a 16-year-old with cuts to his face and head. Both boys were taken to the hospital with what police say are non-life threatening injuries.

Their mother, who is in her early 40s, fled the scene on foot, police said. She was later found in Milwaukee and taken to the Milwaukee County Jail. Recommended charges of domestic violence, physical abuse of a child and reckless injury while armed have been forwarded to the district attorney's office.

According to Brown Deer Police, the department has responded to domestic dispute calls from the residence before but had not had contact with the suspect prior to Friday's incident. The two sons live in the residence with another family member, Lt. Lisa Kumbier of the Brown Deer Police Department said Friday.

"Clearly, this incident is unique and isolated," she said.

Brown Deer announces selection of a new police chief

July 24, 2014 3:10 p.m. | Brown Deer announced Thursday the selection of Sparta police chief Michael Kass as the village's new chief.

Kass has more than 25 years of law enforcement experience and served in the U.S. Air Force as an electronic warfare specialist before becoming a police officer.

He was honored with a medal of valor while working as a lieutenant for the Menominee Police Department. He has taught firearm skills courses at Chippewa Valley Technical College and emergency first responder courses throughout the state, and is active in community associations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Safe Communities Coalition.

Kass replaces Steven Rinzel, who retired in June 2014 after serving as Brown Deer police chief for almost 20 years.

Kass will start on Aug. 4.

3 arrested after shootout on northbound I-43

July 22, 2014 10:20 p.m. | A freeway shootout Tuesday between the occupants of a minivan and a car caused a crash and a huge backup on northbound I-43 near Brown Deer Road, WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) reported.

Milwaukee County sheriff's deputies arrested three people in connection with the incident, which was reported shortly before 12:30 p.m. and slowed traffic for about five hours, according to the station.

No injuries were reported.

Homestead baseball team stuns Bay, 10-4, to earn state berth

July 21, 2014 8:44 p.m. | "How the heck are we going to state?"

Homestead baseball coach Ernie Millard had his hands on hips and was wearing a smile on his face as broad as the early evening sunshine at Cahill Park in Whitefish Bay on Monday.

His team was patiently going through the awards' line after stunning North Shore Conference champion Bay, 10-4, in the WIAA sectional final and earning the Highlanders (25-7) a surprising state tournament berth, their ninth overall and the first for the team since 2009.

After all, even though Millard was smiling when he asked the rhetorical question, it was very serious in its intent. Homestead had graduated its top five pitchers, including NOW All-Suburban selection Colten Poellinger and only three full-time starters returned from a good team of a year ago.

He came up with a simple but broad-based answer: This team really, really likes each other.

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Grand opening is Friday and Saturday at the Cheel, Thiensville's new Nepalese restaurant

July 18, 2014 6:37 a.m. | Reminder: The Cheel, a restaurant serving Nepalese fare and other food from the region around the Himalayas as well as American plates, will celebrate its grand opening this weekend in Thiensville. 

It will serve free samples of its fare from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the remodeled restaurant, 105 N. Main St. 

On Saturday, the restaurant will serve from its menu, including lamb, beef or vegetable momos, the traditional dumplings; khow shew, a Burmese dish of noodles in lentil chicken soup; and pork or vegetable served on crisped rice. Prices range from $7 to $17.

Dinner hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The bar is open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and lunch service will be added later.

For more: (262) 236-9463; the Cheel is on Facebook. The restaurant is owned by Jesse and Barkha Daily, who also operate the farmers market in Thiensville. Its chef is Joe Sandretti. 

6-story apartment building wins Shorewood approval

July 08, 2014 7:00 a.m. |

A six-story apartment building proposed for Shorewood has won village zoning approval over opposition from some residents, who say it will be too tall for their neighborhood.
The Village Board, after nearly four hours of a public hearing and board discussion, voted 7-0 late Monday night to approve the building, which General Capital Group plans to develop west of Oakland Ave. and south of Olive St.
The apartment building, with about 90 units and street-level retail space, will be part of a larger project that includes a two-story Metro Market, to be built north of Kenmore Place, with a four-level parking structure between that upscale supermarket and the apartments. The existing one-story Pick 'n Save supermarket, and two smaller vacant buildings, will be demolished to make way for the new development.
General Capital, and village officials who support the project, said the apartment building needs to be six stories to make it financially feasible. While the village's master plan for Oakland Ave. calls for buildings no higher than four stories, those two extra floors bring additional apartments that create more rental income. 
Supporters say Shorewood has other buildings that are six stories or higher, including the LightHorse 4041 apartment building, which opened last year west of Oakland Ave. and south of Kenmore Place. They said the continued redevelopment of Oakland Ave. is generating more property tax revenue for the village, and its school district.
"We need this financial base to support those schools," resident Robert Dean said.
Opponents said LightHorse 4041 and the General Capital development are both too tall for an area that has mainly single-family homes, and apartments buildings no taller than four stories.
"This project does not respect my house," said John Townsend, who lives near the development site, and who presented a petition signed by over 600 people opposed to a six-story building.
"I think six stories is obscene on that street," resident Valerie Weber said.
In response to those concerns, General Capital made changes to its original design, including setbacks to the building's upper two floors, removing balconies from the building's west side that overlooks Bartlett Ave. homes, and reducing the building's height from just over 85 feet to below 74 feet. 
The Village Board in June approved a plan to help finance the project, with a $5.5 million grant to pay for the Metro Market's parking structure, and a $6.5 million loan to be repaid by General Capital. Other financing includes the firm's equity cash of $6.5 million, and a $27.2 million bank loan, according to village documents.
The grant will be repaid to the village through the development's new property taxes within an estimated 15 years. The development's property taxes then go to the village, its school district and other local governments.
Including its administrative costs, the village will borrow $13.9 million. The Metro Market and apartments will create $30.2 million in new property value, according to the village.
If the apartments were five stories, the grant would have to be increased to $7.7 million, and the pay back period on the village's funds would increase to 19 years, said Pete Petrie, chairman of the village Community Development Authority.
General Capital plans to begin construction this fall on the Metro Market and parking structure, with work beginning next spring on the apartments. The Pick 'n Save will close next April, with the Metro Market opening by September 2015 and the apartments completed by spring 2016.

Graphic: Controversial building gets approval

Germantown's Finger blanks North Shore baseball champ Bay, 2-0

July 07, 2014 9:20 p.m. | In the recent past the Germantown baseball team's pitching staff had been so deep that the Warhawks didn't need the services of Randy Finger.

But time and graduation have taken a toll on the Warhawks' resources and Finger, now in his senior year, was called back to the hill.

And is coach Jeff Wolf and the team ever happy that he did.

Showing command of all his pitches, moving corner to corner and up and down, Finger completely baffled North Shore Conference champion Whitefish Bay on the Blue Dukes' homefield Monday night.

He scattered three hits, worked out of a couple of jams deftly, walked four and struck out an impressive 10, including the last three in a row. He even scored the game's only two runs as the Warhawks stymied the potent Blue Dukes, 2-0.

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Some Shorewood residents opposed to height of new developments

July 05, 2014 1:03 p.m. | Jackie Keltner and her husband, Alan, have lived in Shorewood for nearly 40 years, and appreciate much of the new development that's occurred lately on Oakland Ave., north of Capitol Drive.

But two of those projects — a six-story apartment and retail building completed last year near their home, and a similarly sized building proposed for just a few blocks away — are simply too tall, according to the Keltners and other residents.

"I feel like four stories would be more appropriate," Jackie Keltner said. "The scale of a two-story house against a six-story building is really out of whack."

The latest project is to undergo final zoning review at a Village Board meeting on Monday. General Capital Group wants to develop the six-story apartment building, with street-level retail space, west of Oakland Ave. and south of Olive St.

The apartment building, with about 90 units, would be part of a larger project that includes a two-story Metro Market, to be built north of Kenmore Place, with a four-level parking structure between that upscale supermarket and the apartments. The existing one-story Pick 'n Save supermarket, and two smaller vacant buildings, would be demolished to make way for the new development.

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Milwaukee man accused of seeking to deliver heroin to Ozaukee County

July 02, 2014 11:14 a.m. | A Milwaukee man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of conspiracy to deliver heroin in Ozaukee County, officials said Wednesday.

Antonio C. Green, 33, was charged with three counts of conspiracy to deliver heroin after he delivered about 5.5 grams of heroin to an undercover officer on three occasions, according to a news release from the Ozaukee County sheriff's office.

The three incidents occurred between June 17 and 20 on Bayshore Drive in Glendale.

Officials arrested Green in Milwaukee on Tuesday, and he is set to make an initial appearance in Ozaukee County Circuit Court Wednesday afternoon, according to the release.

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