September 25, 2016
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Window art adds a splash of color to a block and alley party for Kenosha Creative Space Saturday in downtown Kenosha. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Creative Space fundraiser brings music, art-lined alleys and food to downtown


Although the sun danced behind clouds most of the afternoon, weather didn't keep a good-sized crowd out of the alley between Sixth and Seventh Avenues downtown for a fundraising event.

Volunteers and supporters for the Kenosha Creative Space threw a block and alley party to raise funds and awareness of their effort to convert the former Kresge store at 5722 Sixth Ave. into a gallery, office space and community asset to support arts program in Kenosha.

“We're really appreciative of the response,” said event organizer Francisco Loyola. “There's a lot of collaboration going on here today.”

Local schools to host ‘heroin summits’

Two Kenosha County high schools will host “heroin summits” in an effort to battle drug abuse.

The “Stairway to Heroin” program is being presented Tuesday at Indian Trail High School and Academy and Nov. 1 at Central High School.

Both events begin with a resource fair at 6 p.m., followed by a program at 7 p.m..

Walkers hold pinwheel flowers inscribed with the name of someone they're walking for at the 16th annual Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's at UW-Parkside Saturday. ( PHOTO BY CHRISTINE VERSTRAETE )

Battling Alzheimer’s, one step at a time


SOMERS — For Kenoshans Lisa Mueller and her daughter Morgan, Saturday was about their father and grandfather, Peter Acerbi, who died this year battling vascular dementia.

“It was kind of a way to honor him,” said Morgan. “It was a hard fight the last five years.”

“We’re hoping they find a cure before it hits the rest of us,” said Lisa.

City panel OKs annexation plan

The City Plan Commission has approved an annexation request that could spell doom for the controversial Paris-Somers intergovernmental agreement.

On Thursday, the commission unanimously approved an annexation request from Narayan and Vidya Baliga, who own nearly 40 acres at 13402 Burlington Road in the town of Paris.

Their land is contiguous to the city of Kenosha limits and cuts through a key portion of the Somers-Paris development zone, potentially forcing the Paris-Somers land swap agreement to be redrawn or scrapped.

The cleared Chrysler plant site, seen from the air. Pans to rejuvenate the site cleared another hurdle Thursday night. The City Plan Commission unanimously approved Mayor John Antaramian's proposals for continued development of the polluted site, 5555 30th Ave., with little debate. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Chrysler site cleanup, development strategy clears another hurdle


The mayor’s plans to rejuvenate the Chrysler Engine Plant site cleared another hurdle Thursday night.

The City Plan Commission unanimously approved Mayor John Antaramian’s proposals for continued development of the polluted site, 5555 30th Ave., with little debate.

The hope is that the former plant property’s “blighting influence” on the city will be contained by environmental improvements, better streets and stormwater utilities to be built and installed in the coming years, and long-term private investment.

School district files appeal in transgender case

The attorney representing the Kenosha Unified School District in a sexual discrimination case brought by transgender student Ash Whitaker filed an appeal Friday of a court order granting Whitaker injunctive relief.

In addition, attorney Ronald Stadler filed a request for permission to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Pepper’s ruling that there is sufficient evidence for Whitaker’s civil suit to proceed against Kenosha Unified.

Stadler filed the documents about 5:30 p.m. with the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Rural county schools see slight drop in students

The number of students at western Kenosha County school districts is significantly lower in three districts, driving the rural headcount down 85 students overall, from 7,063 in September 2015 to 6,968 students this year.

Wilmot Union High School recorded 62 fewer students during the annual third Friday count on Sept. 16 — though it saw an increase of 33 students last September. Riverview School counted 40 fewer students and Westosha-Central High School tallied 15 fewer students.

Administrators Thursday attributed it to natural attrition.

The Bradford football team enters Mary D. Bradford Stadium for a game against Indian Trail Thursday night. ( BILL SIEL )

Bradford Nation: Home at last


“This feels like home.”

That was the sentiment expressed by thousands of Bradford High School students, alumni, school staff and elected officials during Thursday night’s dedication of Mary D. Bradford Stadium.

“Bradford Nation” waited a long time for this moment — nearly 50 years — but those attending believes it was well worth the wait.

Cornelius Gates, left, holds his daughter Arieyah during a diaper giveaway at the Kenosha County Job Center on Thursday, September 22, 2016. ( BRIAN PASSINO )

Healthy Babies, Happy Babies


Cornelius Gates, 17, held his 1-month-old daughter Arieyah Gates with confidence and tenderness, speaking to her softly as his family waited Thursday morning for the Healthy Babies, Happy Babies event to begin in the Commons at the Kenosha County Job Center.

“I don’t know, she might start crying here,” he whispered, jiggling her gently on his shoulder.

For Arieyah’s mommy, Jenea Boston, 16, the event was an opportunity for an excursion out of the house.

( submitted photo )

Police warn of card skimming on local ATM machines


Kenosha Police are warning people to be wary of card skimmers on ATM machines after the devices were found at three banks in the city.

Card skimmers — which capture the card number and PIN numbers of customers when they use ATMs — were found at two TruStone Financial Credit Union branches, at 6715 Green Bay Road and 2707 30th Ave., and a North Shore Bank branch, 906 Green Bay Road.

According to Kenosha Police, two men were seen in surveillance photos installing the skimmers. The men, who have not yet been identified, were driving a dark-colored Mercedes SUV with Indiana plates. The suspects may also be implicated in similar crimes in Lake County, Ill.

Leroy Johnson appears in court for his sentencing hearing on Thursday. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison for kidnapping, sexual assault and other charges. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

‘Predator’ to spend rest of life in prison


Before sentencing Leroy Johnson to spend the rest of his life in prison, Judge Mary Kay Wagner praised the women whose actions led to his conviction.

Johnson, 63, was convicted in July of the kidnapping and sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl in 2013, and the attempted kidnapping in 2015 of two other women, one a 14-year-old girl, the second an adult. Both of the victims in the attempted abductions — which occurred within hours of each other on the same day — escaped.

On Thursday, Wagner sentenced Johnson to spend a minimum of 60 years in prison, a sentence that will see him die in prison. But first she praised the bravery of “the amazing women who were the victims, and the amazing women who rescued the girl.”

Kenosha City Clerk Debbie Salas instructs a training class for poll workers at the Kenosha Municipal Building on Wednesday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

City girds for big Election Day


Hundreds of people will do their best to make Election Day run smoothly.

That’s according to Kenosha City Clerk Deb Salas, who has been busy training and recruiting poll workers and volunteers. Turnout is expected to be high on Nov. 8, as Wisconsin will vote for president and a U.S. Senate seat.

“There’s 24 polling locations, and each polling place has a chairman and a number of poll workers. We also have high school volunteers and voter registrars,” Salas said.


Tremper quiet after court decision


It appeared to be school as usual Wednesday at Tremper High School after a federal judge in Milwaukee granted Ash Whitaker, a transgender male, the right to use boys-only restrooms.

According to Tanya Ruder, chief communication officer for the Kenosha Unified School District, there were no incidents reported at Tremper involving students protesting or celebrating. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper granted Whitaker’s request for a preliminary injunction to prevent the school and the district from barring his use of boys restrooms.

Nor had Tremper or district officials gotten calls from parents, other individuals or groups voicing concerns about the ruling, Ruder said.

Andrew Obregon appears in Judge Chad Kerkman's courtroom on Wednesday. The start of his trial was delayed until Jan. 30. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

Obregon trial delayed


Just a week after attorneys said they would be ready for Andrew Obregon’s jury trial next week, the trial was postponed.

Obregon’s defense attorneys asked for a postponement last week, citing the illness of one of the lawyers.

Circuit Court Judge Chad Kerkman, appearing in court Wednesday via telephone because he was away for a judicial ongoing education program, said he granted the request.

The scene Friday morning where a body was found inside a burning truck at Best Bargains, 6515 352nd Ave., in Wheatland. The man has been identified as Paul Hoffman, of Burlington. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY DENEEN SMITH )

Dental records help identify body


This article has been revised since its original posting.

The body found in a burning truck outside a Wheatland wholesale store was identified as that of a Burlington man who worked at the business.

Paul H. Hoffman, 64, of Burlington, was identified through dental records, according to the Kenosha County Medical Examiner’s Office. An autopsy found he died from burns and smoke inhalation.

Students take part in a candlelight vigil at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Tuesday night. The Black Student Union organized the event to black men, women and children who have been killed in the United States. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Deaths spark vigil at Parkside


University of Wisconsin-Parkside students honored the black men, women and children killed by police Tuesday evening.

The candlelight vigil organized by the Black Student Union was held outside the school’s student center and included a reading of the victims’ names, a walk and student performances.

The event was held less than a week after the shooting death of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, the unarmed black man shot by police on a Tulsa, Okla., road after his vehicle broke down. Video of the event went viral this week, and the incident is now being investigated by the Justice Department.

Kenosha city works prepare absentee ballots Tuesday in the Municipal Building, 625 52nd St. Deb Salas, city clerk-treasurer, said that starting today, about 4,000 total ballots will be mailed out and about 10,000 absentee ballots will be cast in person. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

Clerks preparing for early voting requests


Kenosha County municipal clerks, anticipating a high voter turnout for the Nov. 8 presidential election, expect to see more requests for absentee ballots and more in-person early voters this year.

Slight changes in voting regulations will allow voters more time to submit an absentee ballot, whether by mail or in person. The process will start two weeks earlier than in the past.

According to Kenosha County Clerk Mary Schuch-Krebs, most of the county's communities will allow voters to start casting ballots in October.

Melissa Whitaker hugs her son, Ash Whitaker, a transgender student at Tremper High School, after a demonstration last school year. Ash Whitaker has sued the school district, claiming his federal rights have been violated through continued discriminatry treatment at school. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Transgender student wins injunction against KUSD


This article has been revised since its original posting.

MILWAUKEE — Ash Whitaker can legally use the boys bathrooms at Tremper High School — at least for now.

On Tuesday, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction blocking the Kenosha Unified School District from barring the transgender teen’s use of boys bathrooms. The 17-year-old senior was born female but now identifies as male.

Wendi Hubbard of W.I. Painting, bottom, spruces up the facade of Kenosha Creative Space downtown on Tuesday. The Kenosha Creative Space Block Party and Fundraiser from 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

Kenosha Creative Space preparing for party


Painting and cleanup work around the Kenosha Creative Space this week aimed to prepare the storefront for its Saturday block and alley party.

The party — with games, music, an outdoor art gallery and silent auction — are part of the fundraising to convert the former Kresge store at 5722 Sixth Ave. into a community space to support local artists and arts organizations.

According to Francisco Loyola, project manager, the project aims to convert the building into a community center and space “for creatives, artists and entrepreneurs.” Creative Space Inc. was established in February with the aim of completing the rehabilitation of the building, and then operating the facility.

The Kenosha Unified School District ( )

Electors approved lower tax levy for Kenosha Unified


Kenosha Unified School District homeowners will see a 3.08 percent decrease in the district’s portion of their property tax bills this year under the 2016-17 levy approved Monday night by electors at the annual meeting.

Less than 100 eligible residents from Kenosha, Pleasant Prairie and Somers showed up for the meeting, with the majority primarily past or present Unified employees.

The vote followed a public hearing on the proposed 2016-17 budget by Tarik Hamdan, the district’s chief financial officer. Electors were limited in making comments and could not move to make any changes in budgetary matters.

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