News & Notes: Sept. 18

Sept. 18, 2012

Dental office collecting for Cell Phones for Soldiers

West Allis - West Allis dentist Dr. Janes Fakler has made his office, at 6033 W. National Ave., a collection point for the program Cell Phones for Soldiers, providing troops with free calls home.

Siblings Robbie and Brittany Bergquist founded Cell Phones for Soldiers at the ages of 12 and 13. The charity has since provided more than 114 million minutes of free talk time to service men and women stationed around the world.

Funds raised from the recycling of cellular phones are used to purchase pre-paid international calling cards. On average, Cell Phones for Soldiers distributes 12,000 calling cards each week to bases around the world, care package programs, deployment ceremonies and VA hospitals.

More information is available

Hearings on restaurant, martial arts school

West Allis - Public hearings will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 regarding a proposed coffee shop/restaurant in downtown West Allis and a martial arts academy.

The hearings on granting special-use permits will be at the City Hall, 7525 W. Greenfield Ave.

Joe's Café would have outdoor dining at 7028 W. Greenfield Ave.

The Wings Academy Taekwondo martial arts school would be inside a multi-tenant commercial building at 1520 S. 84th St.

Those who cannot attend the hearings can express their opinions in writing to the city clerk beforehand.

Resident blasts city on lack of shopping

West Allis - The city has come under fire from a resident critical of the demise of one of West Allis' commercial districts.

Carol Graham told the Common Council on Sept. 4 that the area of Burnham Avenue and 60th Street used to be a vibrant commercial district - including a bakery, a dime store, a jeweler and other retail businesses - but is now filled with empty storefronts that the city should do something about.

"Everything you needed was there, and you've let it go to waste," said Graham, who has lived in the area for 67 years.

The east end of town is badly neglected, she said.

Reacting after the meeting, Alderman Tom Lajsic said, "We've spent a tremendous amount of money on the east end."

The city has created special tax incremental financing districts there and is working on redeveloping the former Pressed Steel Tank and Teledyn sites, he said.

But those small businesses that Graham was talking about will never come back, he said.

"We had all kinds of neighborhood shopping districts," he said. "Supermarkets and big boxes put them out of business."

John Stibal agreed. "We've been very aggressive with redevelopment," he said. "There can't be what there used to be because the marketplace has changed."

Assessments to rise along with construction cost

West Allis - Business and residential property owners who have to help pay for street paving, sidewalk and alley work, as well as a whole range of other work, near their land may find some of those costs a bit higher next year.

Though the consumer price index shows only a small increase in the cost of living, construction costs appear to be on the rise, said Michael Lewis, West Allis director of public works.

The special assessments the city charges will go up 5 percent, based on actual bids the city received, Lewis said. The Common Council last week approved the 5 percent increase for next year.

That increase would mean a property owner would pay $136.35, about $6.50 more, for a 5-foot sidewalk slab next year.

Department forced to cut back on immunizations

Greenfield - Due to the elimination of federal funding effective Oct. 1, the Greenfield Health Department will no longer be able to vaccinate those who have insurance that covers vaccines.

However, the department will continue to provide vaccinations for those without insurance, those on BadgerCare or other state health insurance, and those whose insurance doesn't cover vaccines. Staff will assess insurance status at the time parents make an appointment.

The department estimates that the loss of federal funds will impact more than 26 percent of all the people the department served during the past year.

The only other exceptions to this policy will be flu vaccine for school-age children, as well as all pertussis vaccines, due to the current statewide outbreak.

Assuring the full vaccination of Greenfield children is an important department goal, a health official said. School-age population is almost 97 percent fully vaccinated.

The cut in federal funding coincides with a recent change required by the Affordable Care Act that provides coverage of preventive services - including vaccination without impacting insurance deductibles. Though the vaccine cost is not applicable to the insurance deductibles, doctors' office visit fees and administration fees may apply.

West Allis official leads consortium to national honor

West Allis - The city's Health department director, Darren Rausch, is chairman of a 13-community consortium that was recognized for exceptional emergency preparedness by the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

The organization honored the consortium for being ready to handle large-scale public health emergencies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took part in the selection process.

The consortium demonstrated that member agencies can work collaboratively to handle bioterrorism events, new epidemics, natural disasters and other public health related emergencies.

Since 2006, only 270 local public health agencies out of about 2,800 health departments across the nation have received the recognition.

Podium donated as Eagle Scout project

Greenfield - An Eagle Scout has donated an awards podium to Greenfield High School that is large enough to honor six winning athletes.

Shaun Fleischhacker built the podium with the help of other members of Scout Troop 600 for his Eagle Scout project. He and the troop officially donated the podium to the school at a recent the July 23 Greenfield School Board meeting.

He told the board that, as a member of the school's swim team, he noticed that other schools have such podiums and he wanted Greenfield to have one too, to enhance its image.

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