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Craig speaks out on federal home loan rules

Jan. 13, 2014 3:48 p.m. | On Jan. 10, the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) new “qualified mortgage” rules took effect, according to a press release from Rep. David Craig (R-Town of Vernon). With reports showing Wisconsin’s housing market on the rise, financial experts have expressed concerns with the impact of the CFPB’s new rules and the impact they will have on the mortgage industry.

“While our state’s housing market appears to be on the rebound, the federal government threatens to stop that progress. By imposing a one-size-fits-all standard on so-called ‘qualified mortgages,’ the CFPB fails to realize that one of the biggest assets our local financial institutions have is how well they know their communities and the character of their customers. The CFPB’s approach ignores those strong local connections and simply pins arbitrary financial markers to a person’s ability to obtain a mortgage,” said Craig.

Various industry experts have expressed concerns that this new rule could specifically make it more difficult for those who are self-employed or for those taking out larger mortgages to obtain those mortgages.

“As chairman of the Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions, I have helped push our state in the direction of opening up the access to capital that our small businesses and families need. Unfortunately, for every step our state takes forward, the federal government moves us one step back,” added Craig.

Hartland still owed $20,000 for chimney swift tower project; fundraising efforts continue

12:35 p.m. | Village of Hartland — Almost half the cost of a $42,000 tower built at the Cottonwood Wayside as a new home for migrating chimney swifts has not been repaid to the village, officials said, and the birds that were supposed use the tower as a roosting site have not done so, according to local swift activists.

But, sources said, fundraising efforts for the roost — a project partially and somewhat controversially funded by the village — are continuing and will be until the debt is erased. Whether the swifts find their way to the roost might be up to Mother Nature.

The 38-foot tall roost, a nesting site, was built in July 2014, about a month after the village agreed to loan about $24,000 to two groups who had petitioned the board for the roost's creation. Members of those groups, mostly third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students, turned up at several board meetings after they discovered that the old nesting site for the swifts, the former Hartland Florist building, was going to be demolished.

The trustees' decision to support the project with a loan was a contested one, and passed on narrow 4-3 vote. Village President Dave Lamerand defended the idea, while Trustee Mike Meyers openly opposed it. Theirs were the loudest voices, respectively, for and against the project at the June 2014 meeting when the loan was ultimately approved.

Their positions, about 18 months later, have not changed.

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Youth ambassadors bring China to Kettle Moraine High School

12:00 p.m. | Nine students from Jinan, China came to Kettle Moraine High School prepared to share their Chinese culture with American students from Feb. 1 — 5, but as they finished their week at Kettle Moraine they take back what they learned about high school and family life in Wisconsin.

It might be that American students like sports more than students in China, or common English phrases the Chinese students hadn't heard before, or the differences in schooling and student life between the countries, or the independence high school students have in America.

The students from China in exchange gave presentations on Chinese culture, demonstrated how to write in Chinese, sang Chinese nursery rhymes with a familiar, international melody, gave high school students quizzes in Chinese and enhanced the fluency of KMHS students studying the Chinese language.

"They bring a lot of Chinese things over, but they are also taking a lot back (hopefully) with them," said Principal Juan Wu who accompanied the students.

Ambassadors

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Pewaukee police chief favors proposal to stiffen penalties for school shooting threats

11:41 a.m. | A bill being proposed in Madison would stiffen the penalties for those who make school shooting threats, a change that would be welcomed by Pewaukee's police chief.

The measure would make the crime a Class I felony — the same as making a bomb threat at a school — and would carry a penalty of a fine up to $10,000 and a prison term of up to 31/2 years.

Pewaukee Village Police Chief Tim Otto favors the legislation.

"I think this is basically the law evolving from where we were during the time period of the '70s and '80s where bomb threats were prevalent, to now, since the tragedy at Columbine, with school shootings being a more prevalent type of threat to our schools," Otto said.

Otto's department responded to the Pewaukee Schools campus in October after a handwritten threat about a school shooting was found at Pewaukee High School.

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Hamilton School District names next superintendent finalists

10:32 a.m. | From 16, to seven, and now to three, the Hamilton school board has chosen its finalists for the superintendent position currently held by Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., who is retiring at the end of the school year in June, according to a news release.

Paul Mielke, Ph.D., the principal of Templeton Middle School within the Hamilton School District is one of the candidates up for the position. The second candidate is Dana Monogue, Ph.D., the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in the Elmbrook School District. The final candidate is Lisa Olson, Ph.D., the district administrator for Hartford Union High School.

The school board is currently getting feedback on each candidate from employee and community representatives and will interview the finalists Feb. 17. In early March they will make their decision.

"We were fortunate to have a strong pool of candidates for the superintendent position," said School Board President Gabe Kolesari in the release. "We are excited about the group of finalists chosen and we believe that they reflect the superintendent profile created with input from staff and the community."

James Rickabaugh, Ph.D., helped the board create a candidate profile to assist in the interviewing and selection process. A survey was conducted — both in-person and online — to get a feel for what everyone from school staff to parents and the community valued in a superintendent candidate.

Arrowhead hires financial adviser, plans community survey on referendum idea

9:40 a.m. | The Arrowhead School Board has hired a financial adviser to help plan a potential referendum and has secured the services of a firm to conduct a survey to see how the community feels about the idea.

The board on Wednesday, Feb. 10, voted to hire Baird to help the district with the financial aspects of planning a potential referendum.

The contract calls for the district to pay Baird up to $30,000, with the fee dependent on the amount of the potential referendum, said Arrowhead Superintendent Laura Myrah. If the district does not go to a referendum, or the referendum doesn't pass, no advisory fees would be owed, she said.

At a special meeting before the school board's regular meeting, Baird representative Brian Brewer shared how potential referendum debt could be structured, for the least amount of tax impact possible, for loans ranging from $5 million to $25 million.

For example, with a $5 million referendum, the impact on the owner of a $200,000 home would be $26 a year. For the owner of a $400,000 home it would be $52 a year. That's using an interest rate of 3.5 percent and assuming a nine-year amortization and zero annual equalized valuation growth.

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Rep. Joel Kleefisch, of Oconomowoc, behind multiple bipartisan bills in legislature

9:00 a.m. | The past week has been a good one for legislation proposed by Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc).

Multiple bills endorsed by Kleefisch, and with bipartisan support, are moving through the state legislature — one of them was recently signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker — and are expected to provide additional assistance and resources to adoptive families. The bill that was recently codified, known as Assembly Bill 291, allows hunters to wear fluorescent pink instead of blaze orange during deer hunting season.

Bills that still require a vote from the state Senate are Assembly Bills 39,40,41 and 42, otherwise known as the "Adoption Protection Package," which focuses on crisis prevention, pre-adoptive training requirements for prospective parents, access to post adoptive resources, and implements safeguards for children adopted from other states and countries.

Walker signed the "Blaze Pink" bill into law Feb. 4. Wisconsin is the first state to allow hunters to wear that color.

Adoption protection package

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Founders' Gallery artist reception planned

7:00 a.m. |

The Center for Life Enrichment's Founders' Gallery will host a free open house and artist chat with featured artists Gabriel Paul and Mykul Anjelo Friday, Feb. 19 from 4 to 6 p.m. at 1306 W. Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc.

The Founders Gallery is now introducing student art its local gallery space. Nature Hill Intermediate School student and beginning photography artist, Kellen Ducklow, will debut his work with Paul and Anjelo. An artist’s chat presentation is scheduled between 4:30 - 5:15 p.m.; the public is invited to stroll the art gallery hallway, support local art, learn and enjoy.                   

Light refreshments will be served.                                                                                       

The Founders’ Gallery provides a platform for artists to display and sell their work at The Center for Life Enrichment. Artists interested in displaying at the Founders’ Gallery may call (262) 244-6592. RSVP to (262) 354-1375 or e-mail jhalliburton@lho.org.

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Plan a romantic Valentine's weekend with food and music

3:00 a.m. |  Cupid will be taking aim this weekend, a perfect time to get out with your sweetie for a romantic evening.

The Oconomowoc Arts Center will heat up its stage with Hot Tango at 7 p.m.  tonight and tomorrow. Accordion sensation Stas Venglevski, pairs up with Rosa Borisova on cello, Mark Carlstein on piano, and Joe Ketchum on violin offering classical and jazz elements of the traditional tango. A dinner option is Latin inspired including chimichurri as the main dish.

The Oconomowoc Arts Center is located at 641 E. Forest St., Oconomowoc.

Show tickets only are $28 adults, $15 for ages high school and younger. Dinner tickets are $40 adults, $25 high school and younger.

For tickets and information call (262) 560-3172 or visit www.theoac.net.

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'Boxcar bridge' one of the designs proposed for Pewaukee's pedestrian bridge

Feb. 11, 2016 9:16 p.m. | Village of Pewaukee — A covered bridge, arch bridge and "boxcar" bridge are among the design options for a village pedestrian bridge proposed by Milwaukee School of Engineering students.

The village is looking to construct a pedestrian bridge over the Pewaukee River to connect the H.J. Koepp River Parkway property to the Siepmann property and is enlisting MSOE students to help with the design.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, three teams of students, working on the design as part of their senior civil engineering project, presented their ideas to a village hall filled with students, instructors, residents, village board members and judges scoring the presentations for grading purposes.

Each team presented its top two options.

Covered bridges, a wooden arch bridge and a historic wooden truss bridge were among the proposals.

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Summit man who said he's guilty of shooting, killing his father to be sentenced in April

Feb. 11, 2016 5:01 p.m. | City of Waukesha — Summit resident Shawn Witt admitted in open court Feb. 11 that he fatally shot his father inside their shared home on Jan. 21, 2014 and tried to hide the body.

Witt, 29, entered a no contest plea to second-degree intentional homicide after asserting his guilt during a hearing in Waukesha County Circuit Court before Judge Michael O. Bohren. Witt was accused more than two years ago of first-degree intentional homicide, and a host of additional offenses, after police found James Witt's body beneath a blood-soaked blanket in the basement of their home on Elm Street in the town of Summit.

When asked by Bohren why, in making his plea, he was giving up his right to a trial, Shawn Witt replied, "There's no need (for one). I'm guilty of the offense."

The maximum penalty for second-degree intentional homicide is 60 years in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Leslie Boese said the state agreed to the plea after speaking with Witt's family members "at length" and determining that a trial might be too hard on Witt's grandmother who is also the victim's mother. Witt's case had been scheduled to go to trial later this month.

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Help those who served — donate to American Legion camp

Feb. 11, 2016 3:26 p.m. | Located more than 260 miles north of Mukwonago, on the shores of Big Carr Lake, a cabin at Camp American Legion is sponsored by Mukwonago American Legion Post 375. Each year, members of the Post, Auxiliary, and Sons of American members and their families, volunteer their time and donate supplies to Camp American Legion.

When members from Post 375 head to Camp American Legion on Saturday, April 23, they will take with them donated supplies, prepare the cabin for this year's guests and assist the Camp with other tasks as needed.

Mukwonago Post 375 is collecting supplies for this year's camp.

Camp American Legion is a place where qualified Wisconsin veterans, active duty service members and their families can stay at no cost, according to Mark Herbst, Mukwonago Post 375 Camp American Legion liaison.

Donations for Camp American Legion can be dropped off in the donation bin located inside the foyer at American Legion Post 375, 627 County Road NN, Mukwonago; during bar hours. The bar is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to close; and on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to close.

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Merton Primary, Pewaukee Lake Elementary named Title I Schools of Recognition

Feb. 11, 2016 11:47 a.m. | Merton Primary School and Pewaukee Lake Elementary School are among 169 schools in Wisconsin being recognized for achieving academic success while also having high levels of poverty.

The Wisconsin Title I Schools of Recognition awards highlight schools that have demonstrated success in educating students from low-income families, according to a news release from the Department of Public Instruction.

"These awards recognize the work of students and their parents along with teachers, school administrators, and school staff members to break the link between poverty and low academic achievement," State Superintendent Tony Evers said in a statement. "Their efforts will help us ensure that every student graduates college and career ready."

Merton Primary School and Pewaukee Lake Elementary School both were accorded honors in the "high-achieving" category, which meant they met annual objectives for achievement and graduation, have achievement gaps that are less than 3 points between student groups or show evidence of reducing gaps, and demonstrate high achievement at the school level.

To be eligible for the award, schools must receive federal Title I funding to provide services to large numbers or high percentages of economically disadvantaged children.

Multiple crashes on eastbound Hwy. 16 near Hartland

Feb. 11, 2016 7:56 a.m. | There are multiple crashes on eastbound Highway 16 east of Merton Avenue in Hartland. Emergency personnel are urging motorists to slow down and move over while they tend to the crashes.

What residents in Southeast Wisconsin need to know to prevent the spread of Zika virus

Feb. 11, 2016 12:02 a.m. | Menomonee Falls —It may not be on the minds of most Wisconsinites amid the snow and frigid temperatures, but as the seasons change a major international health concern could have widespread effects right in our backyards.

Following the Feb. 1 declaration by the World Health Organization that has deemed the Zika virus an international public health emergency, local businesses and health care organizations are bracing for what the virus could mean at a local level.

Mild fever, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain and conjunctivitis are among the most common symptoms of the potentially fatal mosquito-borne illness, which has prompted several travel alerts to be issued to areas including the Caribbean as well as Central and South America.

Before the warmer temperatures make their ways back into the area, local pest control professionals are saying there are some things for those making plans for spring break to keep in mind.

While Wil-Kil Pest Control does not have the medical expertise to comment directly on the virus and symptoms, Regional Manager Randy Allen said the company is seeking to generate awareness about mosquito prevention.

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Erin's St. Patrick's Day parade could be canceled if there aren't enough entries

Feb. 10, 2016 1:30 p.m. | The town of Erin has been holding a St. Patrick's Day parade for 35 years. But this year's version could be canceled if there aren't enough entries.

So far only about five participants have committed to the March 17 event, said parade committee chairman Jeff Kraft.

That's similar to numbers the parade had a week before the 2015 event, which left Kraft scrambling to scare up participants.

"I made like 30 calls, and we ended up having enough people to have it, but I don't want to be in that same situation again this year, so I'm trying to let people know there's a problem," Kraft said. "If the parade is still important to people, if they have fun, if they want to keep it going, we need some participation."

Kraft said that means having at least 10 entries by one week before the event.

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