July 2, 2016
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Land deal lawsuit continues

PARIS — The attorney representing town residents upset with the controversial Paris-Somers land-sharing intergovernmental agreement filed a motion for a partial summary judgment on Friday.

An initial scheduling conference in Walworth County is set for Tuesday morning.

Attorney Michael McTernan said he believes there are two possible outcomes: the judge orders a referendum vote by only the parties in the affected area, or the intergovernmental agreement is “killed.” He said the former is much more likely.

This rendering shows a renovated Heritage House, with the hotel addition at left. ( )

Heritage House project hits financing speed bump


Following financing challenges, the Gorman & Co. project aimed at turning the old Heritage House on Eighth Avenue into a boutique hotel has been stalled.

“The financing package fell through on it,” said Ted Matkom, Wisconsin market president for the development company Gorman & Co.

The building permit application and revised plans for the project at 5706 Eighth Ave. were due to the city by Friday, a deadline Matkom said they could not meet without the financing in place.

Heather McGee has installed flood lights on the lighthouse. ( SEAN KRAJACIC )

Fighting back with lighting


Vandals have frequently tagged the lighthouse on the North Pier this summer, marring a local landmark and the murals local artists are creating on its lower five feet.

Heather McGee, the owner of the structure, is understandably distressed to see the cylindrical structure’s exterior walls defaced by graffiti that includes spray-painted writing and crudely-crafted images, in some cases defacing the new murals done at McGee’s invitation. She sees the lighthouse as something that is for everyone.

“This structure is for them. It should benefit the community,” Heather McGee says after padlocking the heavy steel door of the red, former U.S. Coast Guard Pierhead Lighthouse.

Jodi Meier ( )

Jodi Meier appointed to Kenosha County bench


Salem resident Jodi Meier will become the newest Kenosha County Circuit Court judge.

Gov. Scott Walker’s office announced Friday that the governor had named Meier to succeed Judge S. Michael Wilk, who died in March. Meier, who was one of two finalists for the job, said Walker called her Thursday to tell her the news.

Meier, a Marquette University Law School graduate, has been a private attorney in the county since 1991, with experience both criminal and civil law. She has served as a court commissioner since 2015, and has worked as a guardian ad litem for 11 years, appointed to represent children and vulnerable adults in the court system.

The Festival Foods store site in Somers may soon be next to a Quick Trip gas station and convenice store, as well as two different types of car washes, under a proposal set to go before the Somers Plan Commission. ( Brian Passino )

Kwik Trip store eyes Somers


SOMERS — A gasoline station combined with a convenience store is being proposed at the site where a new Festival Foods grocery store will be opening in three weeks.

A conditional use permit application for Kwik Trip will go before the Somers Plan Commission at 5:30 p.m. on July 11.

The proposed Kwik Trip gas/store combo would be located just east of Festival Foods, 6000 31st St. Festival is set to open on July 22 with a grand opening preview at 5 p.m. July 21, with village and town officials and other dignitaries present.

Debbie Hertzberg hugs Carol Ruffolo at her retirement party Thursday evening after over 40 years with the Kenosha Visiting Nurse Association where she served as CEO. The gift at right is a "money tree." ( BILL SIEL )

Visiting nurses recognize one of their own


Debra Hertzberg’s parting advice to the women and men she’s led as CEO of Kenosha Visiting Nurse Association: Laugh, a lot.

After more than 40 years working at the local nonprofit, Hertzberg is retiring.

She was honored Thursday evening at the organization’s downtown headquarters, an event which drew dozens of supporters, colleagues and community partners.

Downtown Kenosha Inc., founded three years ago, will soon sever its ties with the Kenosha Area Business Alliance. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

KABA, Downtown Kenosha Inc. to split


Call it a friendly, but inevitable split.

This week, Downtown Kenosha Inc. was told that its relationship with the Kenosha Area Business Alliance would be severed. KABA, which had been a founding partner and large element in the financial support of the downtown redevelopment organization, told DKI it would no longer be a significant source of financial support.

KABA provided office space and other in-kind support to Downtown Kenosha Inc. That arrangement ended, as well.

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Kenosha Noodles part of data breach


A data security breach at Noodles & Company may have compromised the security of customers’ debit and credit card information used at restaurants between Jan. 31 and June 2.

The data breach has been contained, according to the company, and there is no current risk in using a credit card at Noodles locations. Among the affected locations are the Kenosha restaurant and the one in Mount Pleasant.

The company began investigating unusual activity reported to it by its credit card processor on May 17, and on June 2 discovered activity that indicated a potential compromise of customers’ debit and credit card data.

Fond du Lac County Assistant District Attorney Dennis Kreuger, center, explains to Dave and Diane Beck what a note from the jury means during deliberation in Dennis Brantner's murder trial Wednesday in Fond du Lac, Judge Gary Sharpe discharged the jury Wednesday after it was unable to reach a verdict. Brantner is accused of killing the Beck's daughter Berit Beck in 1990. ( PHOTO BY Doug Raflik/The Reporter via AP )

Trial in 1990 Wisconsin homicide case ends with no verdict


FOND DU LAC — The murder trial of a Kenosha man accused of killing an 18-year-old Wisconsin woman in 1990 has ended with no verdict.

Judge Gary Sharpe discharged the jury Wednesday after it was unable to reach a verdict.

Afterward, Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney said prosecutors are “keeping all of the options open right now” but would not elaborate.

The newly paved Kennedy Drive opens on Friday, though cyclists and others already are using it. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY DANIEL GAITAN )

Crowds pound new pavement


Although it’s not officially open until Friday, Kennedy Drive is already packed with cyclists, skateboarders and joggers of all ages.

“Everybody used to call this Rollercoaster Road because of how bumpy it was,” said 17-year-old skateboarder Nick Ramos, of Kenosha. “It’s much smoother now.”

Cyclist James Bartlett, of Racine, was said he was pleasantly surprised with the update — the most basic of five options that were considered for the scenic park road that winds through Simmons Island and Pennoyer Park. The City Council approved the resurfacing and striping last fall.

Workers take down the letters from the Mars Cheese Castle sign at I-94 and Highway 142 Wednesday. The sign is being update with LED-lighted letters and a video display board. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

Iconic sign getting a facelift


PARIS — The famous Mars Cheese Castle sign lay in pieces Wednesday at the foot of its tower as its replacement was being installed overhead.

The 1950s-era sign needed replacing, said Mars manager Tyson Wehrmeister, as it was in constant need of maintenance and terribly inefficient.

The new sign won’t deviate much from the original, as the business wanted to preserve its iconic nature.

Best Western Harborside Inn is closed indefinitely due to extensive safety code violations. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Hotel’s sudden closure leaves travelers scrambling


Donald Frost and a big group of friends and family planned to travel from around the country to Kenosha this weekend, hoping to celebrate the holiday weekend together.

The family — with people traveling Friday from Mississippi, Missouri and Pennsylvania — had booked five rooms to stay together at the Best Western Harborside downtown.

That was until they got a phone call from hotel staff at 11 a.m. Tuesday, saying the hotel had been shut down by the city.

The Kenosha Unified School District ( )

‘Brexit’ results in good interest rate for Unified bonds


The United Kingdom’s surprise vote to exit the European Union has apparently saved the Kenosha Unified School District some $2 million.

That’s the decrease in interest the district will be paying over the next 20 years on the sale of $28.5 million in general obligation bonds the School Board approved Tuesday night.

When “Brexit” put international markets in a tailspin, there was a sharp drop in interest rates, which has borrowers like Kenosha Unified flying high on the savings.

Dennis Brantner sits at the defense table while his legal team steps out duing the second day of deliberation Tuesday during his murder trial in a Fond du Lac County court room. Brantner is being tried for the death of Berit Beck whose remains were discovered in a ditch north of Waupun in 1990. (Doug Raflik/The Reporter via AP) NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT ( PHOTO BY Doug Raflik/The Reporter via AP )

Jurors to try again after deadlock in 1990 homicide case


FOND DU LAC — Jurors will try again to reach a verdict after telling the judge they were deadlocked in the trial of a Kenosha man accused of killing an 18-year-old Sturtevant woman in 1990.

Dennis Brantner, 62, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Berit Beck.

Jurors sent a message to the judge Tuesday saying they could not reach a verdict. The Reporter Media said the judge re-read his instructions to the jury, and jurors agreed to resume deliberations Wednesday.

Chris Van Etten is featured in Jockey's "Show 'Em What's Underneath" marketing campaign which kicked off Tuesday at Jockey's Downtown Factory Store. A double amputee veteran of the USMC, he'll be presenting the opening pitch at tonight's Milwaukee Brewer's game. ( BILL SIEL )

A perfect fit


Chris Van Etten is a former U.S. Marine who is not afraid to show ’em what’s underneath.

Underneath, for Van Etten, is perseverance and inner strength, the sort that helped him survive devastating injuries as a soldier.

Underneath his street clothes are a pair of prosthetic legs, as well as a pair of Jockey boxer briefs.

Deputy City Attorney Matthew Knight and Public Works Director Shelly Billingsley talk Tuesday with possible contractors about removing and replacing the faulty flooring at the Dream Playground in Petzke Park. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY DANIEL GAITAN )

Contractors check out work needed at Dream Playground


A handful of prospective contractors visited the Dream Playground Tuesday morning to examine the park’s faulty flooring and meet with city officials.

Earlier this month, the city of Kenosha announced it would begin taking bids for a complete replacement of the park’s poured, rubberized flooring.

Located inside Petzke Park, 3100 14th Ave., the playground was ordered closed on March 18 — less than six months after opening — after city officials learned of possible safety hazards with the flooring that could lead to head injuries.

Best Western Harborside Inn is closed indefinitely due to extensive safety code violations. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Code violations close lakefront hotel


Best Western Harborside Inn is closed indefinitely due to extensive safety code violations.

The city’s only lakefront inn, 5125 Sixth Ave., has a multitude of serious problems: a failing roof, multiple blocked and locked exits, holes in walls and ceilings, an entire floor left abandoned by a construction crew with open electrical equipment, and “many rooms” with improper storage that could cause sprinkler systems to fail, according to the Kenosha Fire Department, which ordered the closing.

It was closed Monday, with guests transported to nearby hotels, mostly on the city’s west side.

Tiana Russell reacts to her bond being set as she appears in court Monday with her attorney Andrea Rufo. She faces first-degree recklessly endangering safety charges. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Woman charged after shots fired into home


A 20-year-old Kenosha woman is facing felony charges after she reportedly kicked in a door, allowing a friend to fire gunshots into a house.

Tiana Russell was charged Monday with first-degree recklessly endangering safety, being party to a crime and obstructing police.

According to the criminal complaint, Kenosha Police were called to a home on the 6500 block of 23rd Avenue in March for a shots fired complaint. When officers arrived, they found a man who said “they kicked in the door and shot up the place.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker answers questions from the Kenosha News after a listening session in Somers Monday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Walker: No interest in being presidential nominee


SOMERS — Gov. Scott Walker says he has no interest in participating in the “Draft Walker” movement seeking to displace Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee.

“If I run for anything — and I haven’t made a decision yet — it’s going to be for re-election in two years,” Walker said.

Walker was in Somers Monday morning for an invite-only listening session. At the hourlong session, closed to the media, about 45 people spoke to the governor, giving their input on what they like about the state and where they would like to see it in 20 years, Walker said. He called the attendees “stakeholders from the community.”

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Bristol eyes creation of business park


BRISTOL — A tax incremental financing district near Interstate 94 is being pursued as a means to jumpstart development in Bristol, village president Mike Farrell announced Monday.

"Kenosha County is clearly one of the hottest business development areas in the entire country," Farrell said. "It is time the village of Bristol pursue development that fits a long-term strategy and helps reduce the future tax burden to the residents of Bristol."

The new TIF is part of an agreement between Bristol and a development group that purchased a large tract of land west of Highway U and north of Highway Q. The Bristol Village Board approved a financial memorandum of understanding with Janko Group LLC, a development and investment firm, related to future development of roughly 150 acres, Farrell said.

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