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Germantown, Falls schools to close Monday

Jan. 03, 2014 4:34 p.m. | Germantown and Menomonee Falls schools will close Monday because of bitterly cold temperatures and wind, according to school officials.

Milwaukee Public Schools also announced that it will close as a result of dangerously cold winds and double-digit negative temperatures predicted by the National Weather Service for early next week.

The NWS is anticipating wind chills ranging from minus 35 to minus 50 degrees between Sunday and Tuesday.

Washington County votes to implement priority based budgeting process

March 31, 2015 7:33 p.m. | Germantown — Translating a priority list into a budget will be how Washington County chooses to tackle its next budget planning process.

The County Board on March 9 approved implementing a priority-based budgeting process, becoming the first county government in the state to do so.

The county will be among the first 100 local government entities in the country to implement the budgeting plan through the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, a firm that seeks to help local governments address fiscal realities in new ways.

"Priority based budgeting is something that we believe will greatly benefit our County for the next decade," said County Administrator Joshua Schoemann. "We are an arm of the state and many of the services that we provide are mandated from other levels of government. How we achieve or exceed these mandates is a matter of policy priority and this process will allow us to have these discussions."

Priority-based budgeting will provide a comprehensive review of the county organization by identifying every program offered, Schoemann explained, as well as the costs of those programs, and the relevance of those programs on the basis of the county board's priorities. An example of how that could be applied aligns the expansion of the county jail officials deem necessary with the continued growth and development of the county park system, Schoemann explained.

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Incumbent judge faces challenge from young lawyer in Waukesha County

March 31, 2015 3:13 p.m. | In Waukesha County, a young lawyer hopes to upset a 12-year incumbent Tuesday for a seat on the circuit court.

Paul Bugenhagen Jr., 34, expects character issues will shorten his long odds to unseat Linda Van De Water.

"It's the number one thing people approached me about, her public conduct" Bugenhagen said in an interview.

"Most voters are looking for people to simply follow the law, be good role models, promote personal responsibility and show good character," he said.

In 2011, Van De Water, 52, was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct in Racine County after authorities said she confronted an ex-boyfriend outside the home of another woman and kicked and jumped on his car. The next day, according to the complaint, Van De Water confronted the couple at a Brookfield restaurant.

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What to expect on a Menomonee Falls ballot

March 31, 2015 11:33 a.m. | Menomonee Falls — There are local, regional and state elections for voters in Menomonee Falls to consider on Tuesday, April 7.

Locally, four people will compete for two available seats on the Menomonee Falls School Board, including incumbent David Noshay, Nilda Cordova, Laura Olteanu and Lowell Kellogg. Noshay is seeking re-election to a third term on the board, and incumbent Paul Tadda opted not to seek re-election to a second term.

Trustees Joe Helm and Steve Raymonds will vie for the position of village board president, a seat being vacated by Randy Newman.

State Sen. Paul Farrow and Waukesha County Board Supervisor Thomas Schellinger will go head-to-head for the Waukesha County executive seat, replacing Dan Vrakas, who is not seeking re-election after serving as county executive since 2005.

Ann Bradley and James Daley are competing for justice to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and Maria Lazar and Michael Aprahamian are running unopposed for circuit court judge branches 7 and 9, respectively. Michael Maxwell and Ron Soderhouse are competing for circuit court judge for branch 8, and Linda Van De Water and Paul Bugenhagen, Jr. are competing for circuit court judge for branch 10.

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What to expect on a Germantown ballot

March 31, 2015 11:28 a.m. | Germantown —There are local, regional and state elections for voters in Germantown to consider on Tuesday, April 7.

Locally, longtime District 3 Trustee Al Vanderheiden has opted not seek re-election to a fifth term, leaving his seat up for grabs.

David McManus will compete with Dennis Myers to fill the position.

The status quo will be maintained in Districts 1 and 4, where Trustees Terri Kaminski and Art Zabel have filed to retain their positions. The same goes for District 2, where both Trustee Shane Daniels and Rick Miller have indicated their intention to maintain their roles. Normally only Daniels' seat would be up for re-election, but Miller is running since he was appointed last year following the resignation of trustee Jeff Werderman.

On the school board, members Sarah Larson and Thomas Barney have filed for seats one and seven, respectively, and are running uncontested to retain their positions on the board.

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Germantown resumes plans for 2015 referendum for full-time fire department

March 31, 2015 9:18 a.m. | Germantown — Just because it's been a few months since it was last discussed doesn't mean Fire Chief Gary Weiss is any less fired up about getting a referendum in order for the fall election season.

"The changes I'm proposing are definitely in the best interest in the village," said Weiss, who has now been campaigning for this referendum for more than six months. "It really is as simple as that, and its something I feel we should let the people decide."

The topic was brought back into the picture at a March 30 committee of the whole meeting, where the proposed referendum was discussed formally for the first time since it was set aside in December. The committee voted to put the item up for discussion and possible action at the village board meeting on Monday, May 4.

Included in that discussion will be a vote to go to referendum to increase the tax levy above state limits, as well as one to finalize the referendum question itself.

If approved, the referendum question would be the only thing on the fall election ballot, so Village President Dean Wolter said it is up to the board to decide if they want to hold an election specifically for the Germantown Fire Department referendum question. A special election would cost an estimated $10,000 to $12,000 if the referedum proceeds for consideration in November.

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Family-owned Gehl Foods sold to Chicago-based firm, promising growth

March 30, 2015 3:43 p.m. | Germantown — As a family-owned business, four generations made it their goal for more than 100 years to ensure Gehl Foods provided only the best to its stakeholders.

Now that responsibility will fall into the hands of Wind Point Partners, a Chicago private equity firm that recently announced it acquired the Germantown-based business.

Announced by Gehl Foods on March 27, the move is in the best interest of the future growth and continued development of the business, according to former CEO Katherine Gehl.

"We made the decision based on what the best way would be to unlock the potential of the company moving forward," said Gehl, one of two fourth-generation members of the Gehl family to lead the company. "I know people fear change, but I know this change is in the best interest of the employees, the customers, the suppliers and the community."

Wind Point Partners plans to invest in a growth strategy for the business, which had nearly $250 million in annual sales in 2014 and employs more than 330 people at a total of four sites in Germantown and West Bend.

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Menomonee Falls parents charged with child neglect after son reports sharing food with dogs

March 30, 2015 11:20 a.m. | Menomonee Falls — Sharing food with dogs, urinating in soda bottles and sleeping on a bed with no sheets or blankets are among the things a 16-year-old boy recently reported to police, prompting the recent arrest of his Menomonee Falls parents.

The 50-year-old mother and father, who will not be named to protect the identity of the child, were on March 25 charged with child neglect and ordered to appear in court on April 6.

The boy, 16, approached police in fall and again in January to inform them when he went home after a school sports practice he was not given any food for dinner and there was no food available to him in the home, according to the criminal complaint. He was told to go to his room, which was extremely cold because a hole in the window had not been fixed, the complaint said.

"(The boy) stated that this is a common occurrence when he is at home and he is not allowed to leave his room once he is in it," the complaint said. According to the complaint, the boy reported his bed is an old mattress with protruding springs and no blankets or sheets, and he resorted to urinating into empty soda bottles.

"(The boy) stated that for dinner, he is given a half can of chili or chili beans and has to share the can of chili with the family's dogs," the complaint said. "The clothes he has do not fit him and he is not provided with any new clothes or the opportunity to get new clothes."

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Germantown summit seeks to 'move beyond standardization into the future of learning'

March 29, 2015 2:58 p.m. | Germantown — A good strategy starts with a solid and unified philosophy. That was the overall approach of the almost 100 students, staff, parents, teachers and administrators who recently attended the first Germantown School District Education Summit.

One of the goals of the summit, held March 20 and 21, was to incorporate some new voices into the discussion and development of the Germantown Model of Standards for Academic Achievement.

Though the group in attendance was made up of a diverse population, summit organizer Rick Grothaus said he was inspired by the commonality of thought among everyone in attendance.

"I was amazed to see how much in common, what's deep down inside everybody, what they want for our kids in Germantown," said Grothaus, who is the principal at Amy Belle Elementary School. "To see that come out in the way it did ... it was really amazing to see that happen."

Answers to the question of what business the district wants Germantown Schools to be in — articulating what it means to fulfill the district's mission to "empower and inspire every student to success" — were summarized into an agreed-upon statement.

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Falls dodgeball tourney slated for Saturday at the high school

March 27, 2015 1:21 p.m. | The 8th annual Menomonee Falls Dodgeball Classic for third through eighth graders will be held from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, March 28 in the high school main gym.  About 36 teams and 290 players will be involved

Also that same day in the high school's new gym, the Falls Optimists Club will be running its Tri-Star basketball event from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
For more information, call Jerry Mislang at 262-352-2571.

Germantown School Board reviewing options to address space issues

March 27, 2015 11:30 a.m. | Germantown — Relief may be in sight for the students and staff at Rockfield Elementary School, potentially in both the short- and long-term future.

The Germantown School Board will this month review detailed pricing options for both a permanent addition or temporary usage of four modular classrooms at the school, which district officials have called a "pressing situation."

"It's one of those things where something needs to be done," said Superintendent Jeff Holmes.

Rough estimates were discussed by the board at its March 23 meeting, where an estimated amount of $1.5 million was referenced for adding permanent space, compared to an estimated amount of $150,000 per year for portable space.

Time is of the essence

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Germantown, Washington County lifts burn ban

March 27, 2015 9:33 a.m. | Germantown — The temporary ban of open burning for the village of Germantown has been lifted.

The report from the DNR states the Fire Danger in the area is 'low' due to lower temperatures and moisture.

The ban was in effect for about a week due to dry conditions and rapidly drying soil, leaf litter and brush.

Menomonee Falls district approves preliminary layoff notices, letter to legislators

March 27, 2015 9:28 a.m. | Menomonee Falls — The School District of Menomonee Falls will likely need to function with almost seven less people next year, as the school board continues working through the budget

Final layoff notices will be issued to as many as 23 employees next month, following preliminary layoff notices approved by the board on March 23. Though that will equate to between six and seven full-time equivalent positions, it is a matter Director of Human Resources Christiane Standlee said the district is taking very seriously.

The notices do include requests by employees for a reduction in hours, Standlee explained, as well as nonrenewals for budget reductions and some for employee performance.

As part of the budget process, the district is required by the state to issue preliminary nonrenewal notices by April 30 each year.

Proposed staffing reductions make up a total of about $475,000. Combined with about $437,000 in nonstaffing reductions to district priorities, as well as about $600,000 from fund balance, the proposed adjustments to the budget should help balance the estimated $1.55 million deficit.

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Chicago private equity firm acquires Germantown-based Gehl Foods

March 27, 2015 3:00 a.m. | Germantown-based Gehl Foods, a Milwaukee-area fixture for more than a century, has been acquired by Wind Point Partners, a Chicago private equity firm.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Gehl had nearly $250 million in annual sales in 2014. The company employs more than 330 people at three sites covering more than 800,000 square feet in Germantown and West Bend.

Katherine Gehl, the fourth generation of the Gehl family to lead the company, said the food manufacturing firm had reached somewhat of an inflection point where continued rapid growth would require the capital that a private equity firm could deliver.

"We have phenomenal technology and a nationwide reputation in our industry. How do we unlock the potential of that and grow much bigger, create more opportunity and create more jobs?" she said. "The conclusion that I came to was to partner with a professional investment firm.

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Temporary burn ban lifted for Waukesha County, Menomonee Falls

March 25, 2015 11:52 a.m. | Menomonee Falls — The temporary ban of open burning for the Village of Menomonee Falls has been lifted.

The report from the DNR states the Fire Danger in our area is 'low' due to lower temperatures and moisture. The ban was in effect for about a week due to dry conditions and rapidly drying soil, leaf litter and brush.

Residents with a burn permit will be allowed to conduct open burning, although they still are required to adhere to the Menomonee Falls Burning Regulations for the Village.

For information on the Village of Menomonee Falls Burning Regulations go to:

Washington County ranks among healthier counties in Wisconsin's Health Rankings

March 25, 2015 11:37 a.m. | Germantown — Washington County ranks among the healthier counties in the state, according to the annual County Health Rankings released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"While we have taken important steps to improve the health of Washington County, there is more we can do to help our residents lead healthier lives," said Joni Whitehouse, Washington County health officer. "As a community, we should continue to focus our efforts on mental health; alcohol and other drugs; communicable and chronic disease; and reducing premature death."

The rankings compare the health of nearly every county in the nation, Whitehouse explained, adding that the local-level data allows each state to see how its counties compare on 30 factors that influence health, including education, housing, violent crime, jobs, diet and exercise.

"Changing the health of a population takes collaboration, cooperation and consistency of efforts," Whitehouse said. "We may not see the positive changes that we are working toward for five to 10 years, but every step we make to improve the health of Washington County is a step in the right direction."

Washington County ranks in the top quarter of the state for health outcomes, health behaviors, clinical care and social and economic factors.

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