Menomonee Falls and Germantown top stories of 2013

Dec. 31, 2013

It's been a busy and progressive year in local government and school district offices in Germantown and Menomonee Falls. New faces grace the Falls Village Board. The Radisson Hotel controversy is starting to die down as the hotel's future has become clearer. The schools are doing more with less and Germantown took a step in the right direction to fix the old issue of aging school buildings.

Below is a look at this year's top stories out of Germantown and Menomonee Falls.

Falls coaching legend dies

Loving husband, father, and grandfather; great public citizen, legendary high school football coach and all-around good person, Jim Jeskewitz died Nov. 17.

Jeskewitz, who led the Menomonee Falls East football team to a WIAA State championship in 1976 and who went on to become a Falls village trustee, had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer in summer that had invaded several organs.

Up until then, he had been a robust and active figure well into his 70s, always willing to lend a hand to anything that would benefit the village. He served as a village trustee since April 20, 1999.

District finds new leaders

The Germantown School District found itself with new leaders at the helm in 2013.

Jeff Holmes in May was named superintendent of the district, taking over the job of Susan Borden, who resigned from her position to become the leader of the DeForest Area School District in Madison. Holmes, earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Louisiana Tech University, along with specialist degrees from Marian College and Cardinal Stritch University. He has also been a social studies teacher for 10 years in two central Wisconsin communities, as well as a principal in Homer, La., and principal in Montello and then finally superintendent of Montello for the past five years.

Shortly after Holmes was hired, the School Board started the search for a new director of teaching and learning to replace Maria Kucharski, who left for the Whitefish Bay School District. Brenda O'Brien was hired in August. She is a Germantown resident and previously served as the special education director for the Swallow School District in Hartland.

Two longtime trustees ousted

Longtime Menomonee Falls Village Board trustees Michael McDonald and Jeff Steliga were defeated in the April election.

Backed by the newly formed Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association, Jeremy Walz and Bonnie Lemmer were elected to the Village Board for three-year terms. The April 2 race was a close one as Walz and Lemmer both garnered 53 percent of the vote.

Village eyes golf course

The Germantown Village Board spent November and December mulling over a purchase agreement for 153-acres of Blackstone Creek Golf Course. Residential opinion was split on the future of the property and the board ultimately voted down the proposal.

Golf course owners Frank Schmidt and Troy Romano were hoping to sell the land to the village, which would turn the land into a public park. Subsequently, Schmidt and Romano planned to take a portion of the remaining land and develop it with retail, and single-and multifamily housing. They will go back to the drawing board as the future of the golf course remains unclear.

Radisson Hotel will be sold

Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge James Kieffer at the end of August gave court-appointed receiver Seth Dizard the ability to sell the Radisson Hotel on Main Street in Menomonee Falls. Dizard was granted permission to begin the process of interviewing commercial real estate brokers, who would then market the property.

Any bids will be brought before village officials for review and approval. Officials said they will sell the hotel to someone who will keep its doors open.

Board studies facilities

Results of a Germantown School District facilities study started to pour in at the start of the 2013-14 school year. The School Board hired PRA Architects to conduct a facilities study to ultimately create a priority list of capital improvement projects, as well as a long-range plan to fix the district's overcrowding and maintenance issues.

So far, results of a staff survey and a study of the facilities' current state have been released.

Kohl's backs out of deal

Kohl's Corp. on Nov. 21 announced it had dropped plans to build new headquarters in the Menomonee Falls Woodland Prime office park and instead plans on refurbishing two vacant buildings near its current headquarters in the Silver Spring Corporate Park.

Despite the change in plans, Kohl's is still keeping its headquarters in Menomonee Falls. The company has completed plans to buy a 300,000-square-foot building on Ridgewood Drive in the Silver Spring Corporate Park, where the company's current headquarters are located. Kohl's also has agreed to buy the 28,000-square-foot former ProHealth medical building at W165 N5595 Creekwood Crossing, across from the Silver Spring Corporate Park. The company is opting to purchase the two buildings to accommodate its growth, instead of going forward with construction of a $250 million corporate campus that was planned at Woodland Prime.

Fire chief retires

For the first time in its history, the Germantown Fire Department is tasked with finding a fire chief.

Gary Pollpeter, who started with the Germantown Volunteer Fire Company in 1971, retired in 2013. Pollpeter was named chief of the Germantown Fire Department when the village took it over on April 23, 1990 and has been chief ever since. The village is now in the recruitment phase to fill the position.

Falls girls take home title

The Menomonee Falls girls volleyball team achieved the ultimate prep sports achievement. The team won 46-of-50 matches in 2013 and capped its season with its first state title.

The team had a 25-17, 25-18, 25-16 victory over Westosha Central in the WIAA Division 1 final at the Resch Center in Green Bay. The victory marked the first volleyball title in Falls history and the first WIAA state team title of any kind for the Indians since the Falls North boys cross country team of 1982.

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