Waukesha County man pleads guilty in 2 heroin deaths

May 28, 2009 4:58 p.m. | Waukesha - A Genesee man was convicted Thursday in Waukesha County Circuit Court of two counts of first degree reckless homicide in two overdose deaths involving heroin.

Luke J. Bandkowski, 29, pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement. He is convicted of causing the December 2007 death of Joshua J. Carroll, 26, and the February 2008 death of Jeffrey S. Topczewski, 22, of Muskego.

He has already been convicted in federal court for the same incident, his attorney Susan Karaskiewicz said. He is awaiting sentencing in the federal case, in which he faces a minimum sentence of 20 years.

Bandkowski is one of 27 people from Milwaukee, Chicago and Waukesha County who were arrested in July as the result of an investigation dubbed Operation Lake Effect by federal, state and local authorities that began in early 2007.

Bandkowski's sentence in the Waukesha County cases, which could be 15 years prison and 10 years of extended supervision under the plea agreement, would run concurrent with the federal sentence, Karaskiewicz said.

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Public budget meetings set for Waukesha County

May 27, 2009 12:32 p.m. | Waukesha County Executive Daniel P. Vrakas is inviting the public to attend town hall meetings to discuss the county's operating and borrowing budgets for 2010. Read more in Waukesha FYI.

Crites Field ready for crowd for Target meeting

May 27, 2009 11:56 a.m. | Waukesha - The Waukesha County Airport/Crites Field is prepared to handle whatever corporate jet traffic is generated Thursday as a result of the Target Corp. annual meeting at an unfinished Waukesha store.

Airport manager Keith Markano said there is no way to know in advance how many flights might be arriving for the meeting. The local tower usually gets information on aircraft when they are 10 miles out.

"I would hope we see some activity," Markano said.

The aviation business has been hammered by the recession, he said, and the Waukesha County Airport is no exception. The airport's longest runway is 5,800 feet, which can handle a variety of corporate jets.

The annual meeting is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Thursday at an almost-complete Target store at 1250 W. Sunset Drive.

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Plant a garden row for needy

May 21, 2009 5:01 p.m. | The Food Pantry of Waukesha County is launching a campaign urging people to plant an extra row in their vegetable gardens to benefit those served by the pantry. Read more in Waukesha FYI.

State says families can't leave Waukesha schools for Elmbrook

May 21, 2009 12:14 p.m. | State officials have rejected a request by a group of 65 families who want to leave the Waukesha School District for Elmbrook, but an attorney for the group said he will explore options for a further appeal of the decision.

The state School District Boundary Appeals Board voted 2-1 last week to deny the request. The residents appealed to the state after their petition to switch districts was shot down by the Waukesha School Board in February, although Elmbrook approved the request.

Ron Stadler, the attorney representing the group, said his clients have asked him to look into a circuit court appeal. "Obviously we were disappointed in that vote," he said.

Stadler would not comment on the likelihood of an appeal, but said it would need to occur within 30 days from the May 15 denial.

The 117-property neighborhood is located in the town and city of Brookfield, near Wisconsin Hills Middle School. It is adjacent to current Elmbrook boundaries.

Vandals shatter door at locksmith

May 21, 2009 11:42 a.m. | Police were called Thursday to Dillaber’s Locksmith, 829 W College Ave., for a property damage complaint, Capt. Mark Stigler said.


The front glass door was shattered by a BB or pellet. Another glass entry door next to that door had also been hit, Stigler said. That door was not shattered, but had a small indentation from a small object. During the investigation, no suspects were named or arrested.
It was the second report in as many days of this type of damage in the area.
The city has had problems in the past with windows of cars and houses being shot out. It runs in streaks, Stigler said. These incidents are the first of this year.

U.S. Cellular to add 100 jobs in Waukesha

May 20, 2009 10:22 a.m. | Amid gloomy economic signs, U.S. Cellular flashed glimmers of hope as it built a pool of candidates Wednesday for 100 openings at its Waukesha call center.

The company attended the Waukesha County Workforce Development Spring Job Fair and directed hundreds of applicants to its online job application site.

"We're getting a lot more candidates into our pool because of the fact that so many people are out of jobs," said Bill Isaac, director of U.S. Cellular's customer care center in Waukesha. But our focus is making sure that we're getting the right candidates that can take care of our customers, meet our customers' need. So it gives us an opportunity to have a larger pool to choose from."

The Waukesha center already employs about 400 people and is one of five nationally that together handle about 2 million customer calls a month. The new jobs are full time, with hourly wages ranging from $13.33 to $15. Benefits including medical, dental and vision coverage and a company-matched 401 (k) begin with employment, Isaac said. New hires receive paid training.

Such hiring activity partly offsets further reports of job declines. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development released figures Wednesday showing that through the first 20 weeks of 2009, the state received more initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits than it received through Week 36 of 2008.

» Read Full Article

Tickets available for Literacy Council spelling bee

May 19, 2009 5:36 p.m. | Waukesha — It may not have the panache of the nationally televised Scripps Howard Spelling Bee, but the public can attend Waukesha’s own version June 11.

Tickets are on sale for the 17th annual corporate spelling bee, the largest annual fund raiser for the Literary Council of Greater Waukesha.
There also still is time to sign up to compete in the bee, dubbed “It’s Greek to Me.” It will be held at 5 p.m. June 11 at the Country Springs Hotel, 2810 Golf Road, Waukesha.
The $30 ticket includes a buffet dinner, the spelling bee and the opportunity to compete for prizes during a written spelling quiz. Raffle tickets will also be sold for prizes.
Proceeds benefit the non-profit Literary Council, which provides one-on-one tutoring in reading, writing, spelling, math and English as a second language to people who live or work in Waukesha County.
For more information on purchasing tickets or registering a spelling team, call the council at (262) 547-7323.

3 in Waukesha County charged in heroin overdoses

May 19, 2009 5:10 p.m. | Waukesha - Three people accused of being part of a heroin conspiracy that authorities say led to 11 overdoses, five of them fatal, have been charged with first-degree reckless homicide, according to criminal complaints filed Tuesday in Waukesha County Circuit Court.

The three were among 27 people from Milwaukee, Chicago and Waukesha County who were arrested in July as the result of an investigation dubbed Operation Lake Effect by federal, state and local authorities that began in early 2007.

Charged were:

• Luke J. Bandkowski, 29, of Genesee. He is accused in the Feb. 21, 2008, heroin overdose death of Jeffrey Topczewski, 22, of Muskego. Bandkowski is accused of selling heroin to a woman who supplied it to Topczewski, according to a criminal complaint.

In April 2008, Bandkowski was charged in Waukesha County with first-degree reckless homicide in connection with the December 2007 heroin overdose death of Joshua J. Carroll, 26, of the Town of Waukesha.

» Read Full Article

St. Joe's due in court for foreclosure

May 19, 2009 4:55 p.m. | Waukesha County has filed a foreclosure action against St. Joseph's Catholic Church over unpaid fines. Read more in Waukesha FYI.

Dowtown sees value increase

May 18, 2009 11:46 a.m. | The recent round of property value reassessments increased the total value of commercial properties in the downtown Business Improvement District by 14.3%. Read more in Waukesha FYI

Waukesha competitor finishes third on 'Survivor'

May 17, 2009 11:48 p.m. | In a replay of last week's big "reality" finish, Waukesha hairstylist Erinn Lobdell couldn't get past third place on the 18th edition of CBS' "Survivor."

The winner of the latest "Survivor" - which took place in the Brazilian state of Tocantins - was the favorite, James "JT" Thomas Jr., 24, a native of Samson, Ala., who lives in Mobile.

"My parents are crying, so I can't help it," Thomas said with tears in his eyes after the results were announced.

Lobdell, 27, had made it through the first cut of Sunday night's three-hour finale, when Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George, 37, of Nashville, Tenn., was sent home in a 3-1 vote.

But she followed that up by losing a competition for immunity, which would have guaranteed her a spot in the finals in the competition for $1 million.

» Read Full Article

Summit Ave. lane closures

May 15, 2009 3:23 p.m. | A stretch of Summit Ave. will be under construction through the end of June. Read more in Waukesha FYI.

Waukesha County beaches to open May 30

May 15, 2009 2:44 p.m. | Waukesha - Waukesha County's six public beaches will open for the summer on May 30.

The beaches are Fox Brook Park, 2925 N. Barker Road, Brookfield; Menomonee Park, W220-N7884 Townline Road, Menomonee Falls; Minooka Park, 1927 E. Sunset Drive, Waukesha; Muskego Park, S83-W20370 Janesville Road, Muskego; Mukwonago Park, on Highway LO, Town of Mukwonago and Naga-Waukee Park, 651 Highway 83, Delafield.

Waukesha County beach hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends, with lifeguards on duty daily. County park entrance fees are $3 on weekdays and $5 on weekends and holidays. Beaches are included in the entrance fee. Annual park entrance stickers are available for $25 for county residents, $36 for non-county residents and $12.50 for senior citizens.

For more information, visit the county Web site at www.waukeshacountyparks.com.

Waukesha OKs new water rates that penalize high users

May 15, 2009 11:06 a.m. | Waukesha - Waukesha city officials on Friday approved setting higher rates for residences with the greatest volumes of water use, a move sought by the environmental group Clean Wisconsin.

The Waukesha Water Utility has objected to Clean Wisconsin intervening in the rate case now before the state Public Service Commission but accepted the environmental agency's suggested revisions to the new water charges.

For single families that use under 10,000 gallons a quarter, the rate will be $2.05 per 1,000 gallons. For those who use between 10,000 and 30,000 gallons a quarter, the rate will be $2.65 per 1,000 gallons. The rate increases to $3.40 per 1,000 gallons for those who use more than 30,000 gallons a quarter.

The utility board agreed to provide the PSC a monthly report on water use by all residential customer classes, which include single-family, duplex and triplex. The reports should be from May 2008 until October 2011.

The stipulation must be approved by the PSC before the new rate structure is put into place.

» Read Full Article

Natural burials available at Prairie Home Cemetery

May 13, 2009 12:00 p.m. | Prairie Home Cemetery is ready to begin offering natural burials, those that involve an unembalmed body in a grave without a burial vault. Read more in Waukesha FYI.

Waukesha west side bypass to I-94 gets a big boost

May 12, 2009 10:04 p.m. | Waukesha - After decades of stops and starts, a nearly $51 million project to complete a four-lane bypass on the west side of Waukesha could move forward under a funding breakthrough announced Tuesday.

The 4 1/2 -mile project, aimed at giving motorists in southern Waukesha County easier access to I-94, would link Highway 59 in Waukesha to I-94 along the existing Highway TT. By connecting with Highway 164 south of Waukesha, the bypass would also provide a link between Interstates 43 and 94.

Waukesha County Executive Daniel Vrakas and Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson said they were optimistic that environmental and engineering difficulties would be overcome after announcing a deal to finally complete the project.

An environmental impact statement, at a cost of $2 million, must be completed before work can begin. The study is projected to be done by 2011, with road work commencing in 2012 and continuing through 2016.

Waukesha Town Board Chairman Robert Tallinger said he had been waiting since 1958 for a fully completed bypass. The state had advanced plans to construct the bypass in the early 1990s, but the project was halted because of a lack of local consensus.

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Waukesha man arrested with meth lab supplies gets 18 months

May 12, 2009 5:12 p.m. | Waukesha - A Waukesha man who was arrested in March on allegations he was attempting to start a methamphetamine lab was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison.

The plan of Derek J. Haines, 25, was thwarted because a hardware store employee saw Haines with a printout from a Web site listing the items needed to build a clandestine drug lab and called police.

Haines was caught March 4 after he went to Ace Hardware in the 100 block of W. Main St. in Waukesha and was later stopped by police who were responding to the employee's call.

Haines pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and bail jumping in April in connection with the case and was convicted by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge J. Mac Davis.

Davis on Tuesday ordered Haines to serve three years of extended supervision when he is released from prison.

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Food drive totals down in Waukesha County

May 12, 2009 3:32 p.m. | Like Milwaukee County, Waukesha County also saw a decrease in food collected in Saturday's Stamp Out Hunger food drive, officials said Tuesday.

A total of 78,470 pounds of food was collected Saturday, down 8.7% from the 85,900 pounds collected in 2008, Food Pantry of Waukesha County associate director Michael Jonas said.

He blamed the dip on the ailing economy, saying fewer people were able to participate this year. But he said the pantry, which is seeing double-digit increases in visits compared to 2008, was grateful for all donations.

"This is truly a considerable source of food that will keep our shelves stocked during the next few months," he said.

In Milwaukee County, the 446,000 pounds of food collected by U.S. Postal Service mail carriers also was down from previous years, according to the Hunger Task Force.

Former Packer joins Carroll staff

May 11, 2009 11:25 a.m. | John Anderson, who spent his entire 12-year National Football League career playing linebacker with the Green Bay Packers before retiring in 1989, has joined the Carroll University football staff as an assistant coach. Read more in the State College Athletics blog. 

Waukesha County plans voluntary unpaid leaves for its employees

May 07, 2009 3:44 p.m. | Waukesha - Waukesha County has announced plans to offer voluntary unpaid leaves to mitigate revenue shortfalls.

The county's 1,400 full- and part-time employees are eligible, Jim Richter, labor relations manager, said.

The program will begin June 1 and continue until the end of the year. Union and nonunion workers are eligible. An employee will be allowed up to 40 hours of unpaid leave.

The county does not have a targeted number of employees it wants to take leaves.

"This may be a way of achieving some savings for the long term if we have to do a mandatory program next year," Richter said.

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Paperwork snafu leads to new trial

May 07, 2009 2:48 p.m. | A Waukesha man convicted last month of striking a pedestrian and his eighth drunken driving offense was granted a new trial Thursday because jurors deliberating his fate reviewed court paper work they were not entitled to see. Read more in Proof and Hearsay.

Fox River clean up tomorrow

May 07, 2009 12:11 p.m. | Nearly 340 Waukesha Central Middle School students and more than 50 GE Healthcare volunteers will take part in the annual Fox River Clean Up along its banks from Moreland Road south to Hwy XX. Read more in Waukesha FYI.

Environmental group allowed to intervene in Waukesha water case

May 06, 2009 4:30 p.m. | Clean Wisconsin, a Madison environmental group, was allowed Wednesday to intervene in the Waukesha Water Utility's case to charge new water rates to raise about $1.3 million in revenue.

A Madison administrative law judge ruled in the group's favor, a move the utility opposed.

Melissa Malott, Clean Wisconsin water program director, said the ruling allows the group to continue its involvement in the rate case and charge the utility the costs associated with the intervention.

On Tuesday, the utility board approved a rate structure presented by Clean Wisconsin that went further in shifting water charges away from those who conserve water and onto those who are high quantity water users.

Malott said the group wants to work with the utility to reduce summer-related spikes in water use.

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New Target in Wall Street crosshairs

May 06, 2009 11:16 a.m. | Why is the new Waukesha Target store causing a stir on Wall Street. Check out Waukesha FYI.

Waukesha panel approves higher water rates

May 05, 2009 6:44 p.m. | Waukesha - The Water Utility Commission approved a revised proposal Tuesday for a new rate structure to raise about $1.3 million to pay radium remediation costs.

The proposal to be submitted to the state Public Service Commission is the result of Madison-based environmental group Clean Wisconsin wanting to intervene in setting the new rates.

Clean Wisconsin argues that the utility's initial proposed rate structure was too low for those who use large qualities of water.

Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak said the revised rates address those concerns and Clean Wisconsin should back away from intervening in the case.

The two sides will meet Wednesday with an administrative law judge in Madison to begin talks about whether the intervention should be allowed, Duchniak said.

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A candidate for police chief

May 05, 2009 2:57 p.m. | A former Waukesha police sergeant says he's interested in returning as the city's new police chief. Read more in Waukesha FYI.

$25M in new tax base, TID 15 to close

May 05, 2009 11:37 a.m. | The Common Council will act tonight on closing a special tax district that helped finance LifeCare Hospital, an acute care medical facility for seriously injured and acutely ill patients. Read more in Waukesha FYI.

Seventh probable swine flu case in Waukesha County reported

May 05, 2009 10:44 a.m. | Waukesha County's seventh probable case of swine flu was discovered in the Brookfield area Tuesday night.

The case is a child who does not attend school in Waukesha County, said Julianne Klimetz, a spokeswoman for the Waukesha County Health Department.

There are no confirmed cases in the county, she said.

Probable swine flu cases have led to closures of three Oconomowoc schools. Health officials are allowing all staff to return Tuesday to the high school and two intermediate schools that were closed last week, but students will remain out the rest of the week, Klimetz said.

Two cases were also reported last week in Waukesha.

» Read Full Article

Man accused of running over good Samaritan

May 04, 2009 4:54 p.m. | Waukesha - A 23-year-old Summit man is accused of running over and injuring a man who was on his way to help a woman the Summit man punched and kicked during an altercation outside a Waukesha tavern, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.

Michael J. Mittelstaedt was charged with first degree reckless injury-use of a dangerous weapon, substantial battery and hit-and-run causing great bodily harm in connection with the 2 a.m. incident Sunday outside Klub Kaboom, 716 Clinton St., Waukesha.

The male victim was taken to Waukesha Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for broken ribs and a back injury after he was run over by Mittelstaedt's vehicle as Mittelstaedt left a parking lot next to Klub Kaboom, according to Waukesha police and the criminal complaint. The injuries were not life-threatening, police said.

"Witnesses indicate that after an altercation with a female in which the female was allegedly punched in the face and kicked while on the ground, that he intentionally ran down a good Samaritan that had come to her aid. That he spun the tires and ran him down," Waukesha County Court Commissioner Martin Binn said during Mittelstaedt's initial court appearance Monday.

According to the criminal complaint, Mittelstaedt was followed out of the bar by the woman and the two were talking outside near his vehicle. The woman told police at one point Mittelstaedt commented to the woman, "you think you're tough" and she replied she was, the complaint says.

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Carroll names MATC official as dean of students

May 04, 2009 4:17 p.m. | Carroll University has named as its new dean of students the current Vice President for Student Services at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Read more in School Zone.

Police seek driver who caused four-car accident on I-94

May 02, 2009 2:56 p.m. | Authorities are seeking the driver of a car that spun out of control Saturday on eastbound I-94, causing four other vehicles to crash.

Two of the three eastbound lanes of I-94 near Springdale Road in Waukesha County were closed for about 45 minutes following the 11:25 a.m. crash, said State Patrol Trooper Steve Lindemann.

Officials believe the driver of a maroon car - possibly a four-door newer model Chevy Malibu - was speeding and may have made an unsafe lane change when the car lost control and slid slideways across the eastbound lanes at Springdale Road, Lindemann said.

The maroon car did not hit any other vehicles, but others crashed while trying to avoid it. The driver then drove off. Anyone with any information about it is asked to call State Patrol at 262-785-4700.

Authorities said a 79-year-old Chicago man was treated and released at Waukesha Memorial Hospital. Others were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

» Read Full Article

Waukesha Cinco de Mayo event canceled

May 01, 2009 2:34 p.m. | Waukesha - Another Cinco de Mayo celebration has been canceled because of concerns about spreading the swine flu virus.

Officials of La Casa de Esperanza in Waukesha announced Friday that they were dropping their event, which had been scheduled for next Tuesday and was expected to involve 500 area children.

Organizers of a Cinco de Mayo event in Milwaukee previously canceled their Hispanic culture celebration.

Swine flu has killed more than 170 people in Mexico, and many U.S. public health officials have called for avoiding large gatherings where the virus could spread.

Organizers in Waukesha said they canceled their event at the urging of county health officials, after the announcement of three suspected cases of swine flu in Waukesha County.

» Read Full Article

3 swine flu cases suspected in Waukesha County; large gatherings discouraged

May 01, 2009 2:29 p.m. | Waukesha - Three probable cases of swine flu in Waukesha County forced the closing Friday of three public schools in Oconomowoc and prompted the county's top health official to urge people to avoid large gatherings.

The cases involve an 18-year-old male Oconomowoc High School student, an elementary school-aged child in Waukesha and a young Waukesha adult around 20 years old.

Test results are expected by Monday to determine conclusively whether swine flu has arrived in southeastern Wisconsin.

Officials estimated that another 40 adults and children throughout Waukesha County were being tested after showing flu symptoms during doctor visits.

Peter Schuler, the county's director of health and human services, said people should stay away from large public indoor gatherings.

» Read Full Article

Meet the school superintendent

May 01, 2009 10:48 a.m. | Waukesha School District Superintendent Todd Gray has been on the job for nearly a year, but if you haven't had time to meet him yet then next week could be your chance. Find out more in School Zone.

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Community Watch

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Waukesha County Fair


The 2016 Waukesha County Fair saw rain, scorching temps and tropical humidity throughout its five-day run. Check out our stories, photos and video from the fair, including coverage of the new pig, duck and goat races, the 50th annual Fairest of the Fair contest, as well as a ranking of the top food items.

Best Summer Ever


We've made it easy for you to get out and go this summer. From hitting the trails for a bike ride or walk, to where to find beer gardens in the area, to the best places to swim in Waukesha County to the best summer drinks and summer reads, check out our 2016 summer guide.