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Former day care owner gets jail time PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 21:22

Grafton woman given 30-day sentence for failing to report abuse allegation

    The prosecutor and defense attorney agreed on one thing Monday — a 39-year-old Grafton woman who failed to report a 2013 allegation of abuse at the day-care center she owned should not be sent to jail.

    But Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Joseph Voiland disagreed, sentencing Trista J. Ziehr, who was convicted by a jury in October of one misdemeanor count of failure to report child abuse, to 30 days in the county jail.

    When Ziehr’s attorney, John Schiro, asked Voiland to stay the sentence pending an appeal of the case, the judge refused to immediately do so. Instead, he ordered Ziehr to report to jail by 6 p.m. Friday, adding that if Schiro filed a motion to stay the sentence before then he would consider it.

    Ziehr was arrested in April 2013 after a woman told police her 4-year-old son was sexually assaulted by a 12-year-old boy at Family Tree Learning Center in Cedarburg, which was owned by Ziehr.

    When she reported the assault to Ziehr, the mother said, Ziehr told her “they were taking care of it” and that the 12-year-old boy was in therapy, according to the criminal complaint.

    The mother of the 4-year-old boy then reported the incident to police.

    When told by a detective investigating the case that because she was a licensed day-care provider Ziehr was obligated by law to report suspected abuse to authorities, Ziehr said she didn’t know she was required to do that, the complaint states.

    Ziehr argued during the course of her case that she didn’t initially believe the allegations and that before she could complete her investigation, the 4-year-old boy’s mother reported it to police. She maintained that she thought this satisfied her obligation.

    “We’re talking about hours,” Schiro said, referring to the time between when the abuse was reported to Ziehr and when police were informed. “It’s not like it was days.”

    Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol, who recommended Ziehr be placed on probation for one year and fined $1,000 instead of being sent to jail, said Ziehr’s failure to report the abuse did not result in harm to other children at the day-care center.

    Gerol also noted that Ziehr was honest and forthright while testifying during her trial.

    “Her belief was that it (the abuse) couldn’t have happened,” Gerol said. “She put her head in the sand. Despite being aware of her obligation to report, she just simply sat there and waited until people took the case to her.”

    Schiro noted that the abuse at the day-care center, which was shut down by the state in April 2013, was another terrible event in Ziehr’s life.

    In October 2009, Ziehr’s 14-year-old son Cody Reetz was strangled by his stepfather, Charles Avey, in Germantown. Prosecutors said Avey, who was Ziehr’s estranged husband, killed the boy in retaliation for Ziehr reporting him to police in connection with an earlier incident.

    “My client has had a tough decade,” Schiro said. “She started the child-care business thinking it would be something for her and her family and it really became somewhat of a nightmare.”

    Schiro argued that probation was not needed to monitor Ziehr, who can no longer be a child-care worker and is currently employed by a commercial cleaning service.Daily-Press

    But Voiland said probation would depreciate the seriousness of her crime.

    Noting that parents don’t entrust their children to day-care providers because they want to but because they have to in order to work, the judge said they are entitled to know their children are in the hands of caregivers who will follow the law.

    Voiland also ordered Ziehr to pay a $1,000 fine.   


 
Sentence for teen who fired shots, sold pot vexes court PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 21:15

Weighing Grafton boy’s age against his crimes, judge gives 17-year-old last chance to avoid prison

    A Town of Grafton teenager who, at age 16 fired a gun at a man driving away from his house, led police on a six-day manhunt and sold marijuana, pleaded guilty in Ozaukee County Circuit Court Tuesday to a litany of criminal charges.

    That left the prosecutor, defense attorney and judge with a difficult question — how to punish Joseph I. Torres, who was waived into adult court in May shortly after the shooting incident and turned 17 just three months ago?

    “He looks extremely young, but at the same time he’s done some extremely bad things,” District Attorney Adam Gerol said. “What do we do with this defendant?”

    Gerol conceded that an argument could be made that Torres should be sent to prison, but said, “What has always moved me about this case is that he was only 16.”

    Gerol recommended Torres be placed on probation and sentenced to the county jail for a period of time that would result in him spending a year behind bars. Torres has been held in jail on $10,000 bail since being arrested in April.

    Torres’ attorney, public defender Rachel Alme-Boaz, argued that prison is no place for a boy who was trying to defend his sister when he fired shots at her abusive boyfriend in April.

    “He’s 17. He’s a little kid,” she said. “How do you expect him to survive in prison?”

    But even before Gerol and Alme-Boaz made their arguments, Judge Paul Malloy warned he would be hard-pressed to give Torres another chance.

    “He’s clearly been a frequent flier in this court,” Malloy said, referring to what he described as Torres’ lengthy juvenile court record. “I’m open to listening, but my reaction is he’s done nothing to help himself while on juvenile supervision.”

    Ultimately, Malloy gave Torres one more opportunity to avoid prison, but he made it clear this is his last chance.

    Malloy sentenced Torres to nine months in jail and probation in connection with the gun incident. Then he sentenced him to prison for dealing marijuana, but stayed the sentence, meaning that if Torres violates the conditions of his probation, he will go to prison.

    “You screw up and it’s on you,” Malloy told Torres. “If you get caught, there’s no tomorrow. You’ve used up your chances.”

    Torres’ crimes date to April 21, when sheriff’s deputies were called to a home on Lakefield Road where Torres lived with his grandmother and older sister to investigate reports of gunshots.

    Torres’ sister told authorities that her boyfriend, 24-year-old Carlos Garcia of Milwaukee, came to her house, broke down the door and entered the home.

    The woman said she pushed Garcia out of the house, and in the process, Garcia took her cell phone and tried to drive away with it, the complaint states.

    The woman said she was holding onto Garcia as he began to drive slowly away from the house with his driver’s-side door open but lost her grip on him after they bit each other and he sped up.

    That’s when the woman said she heard gunshots and saw her brother standing behind Garcia’s vehicle. The woman and her younger sister, who also lived in the house, both said Torres fired the shots, according to the complaint.

    Garcia said Torres fired four or five shots at him, with bullets breaking a window and a mirror of his car and leaving a hole in the trunk.

    Torres ran away after the shooting and was on the lam until Sunday morning, April 27, when he was spotted by retired Mequon police officer Mario Valdes on Covered Bridge Road in the Town of Cedarburg.

    Valdes detained the boy until deputies arrived and arrested him.

    Torres was initially charged with felony endangering safety, but Gerol amended that charge Tuesday to three misdemeanor weapon charges.

    At the time of the shooting, Torres was the target of an undercover marijuana investigation. He was charged just before sentencing Tuesday with selling $860 of marijuana to an undercover deputy at his home on three occasions between Jan. 9 and Jan. 24.

    He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor gun and felony drug charges.

    During Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, Gerol said he believed he could have won a conviction had the case gone to trial, but conceded Torres’ lawyer could have argued he was defending his sister from a “tough guy, a convicted felon.”

    Alme-Boaz said that’s exactly what Torres was doing when he fired the shots at Garcia.

    “Joey did what he thought was right, which was to protect his sister,” Alme-Boaz said. “Joey knows that he (Garcia) is a bad guy. He’s seen Mr. Garcia hit his sister before.”

    As for dealing marijuana, Alme-Boaz said, “I would propose he was a 16-year-old who thought he was tough stuff and never thought he would get caught.”

    Having spent his birthday in jail and faced with having to spend Christmas there as well, Torres now understands the consequences of criminal behavior, she said.

    Malloy, however, was not as certain that Torres is a changed teenager, noting his series of increasingly serious juvenile offenses.Daily-Press

    “In a lot of ways, I feel the system failed despite its best efforts,” he said.

    Malloy was not swayed by the theory Torres was defending his sister.

    “I don’t think you were protecting your sister,” he said. “You could have killed your sister just as easily.”

    Malloy denied a request from Alme-Boaz to expunge the drug felonies from Torres’ record when he completes probation.

  

 
Riveredge to host deer advisory meeting Dec. 15 PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 21:11

Ozaukee County residents have an opportunity to voice their opinions about this year’s deer hunt and on proposed regulations for next year’s deer season during the County Deer Advisory Council meeting on Monday, Dec. 15.

    The meeting will start at 7 p.m. at Riveredge Nature Center, 4458 Hwy. Y in the Town of Saukville.

    Deer advisory council meetings are being held in every county this month. Regulations for the 2015-2016 season will be based on information gathered at the meetings, Department of Natural Resources officials said. County advisory councils are new this year and were instrumental in setting rules for the 2014-2015 archery and gun seasons.

    Those unable to attend the meeting can contact Chris Wegner, chairman of the Ozaukee County Deer Advisory Council, at (414) 839-9712 or any other member of the council to voice their opinions.

    The gun season ended Wednesday, Dec. 10, in most of Ozaukee County, which is in the metro-Milwaukee unit. Only metro units had the extended gun season.hunting

    The archery and crossbow season, which started Sept. 13, will continue through Jan. 31 in most of Ozaukee County and all metro units. The archery season ends Jan. 4 in other parts of the state.

    A holiday gun hunt for antlerless deer will run from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 in Ozaukee and other counties in the southern farmland zone, except in state parks.

 
Christmas on the Corner to return to Port this Saturday PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 19:53

    “A Storybook Christmas” is the theme for this year’s Christmas on the Corner celebration in Port Washington.

    The event will run from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, and include everything from special activities at merchants to the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree at the foot of St. Mary’s Hill and the holiday parade to a fireworks show over Rotary Park.

    In keeping with the theme, Port Main Street will be conducting a book drive to benefit local school libraries during the event.

    New and gently used young adult and children’s books will be collected at Blue Heron Artisans’ Gallery, Anchor Men’s Wear, the Pebble House and Holiday Inn.

    They will also be collected before and after the festival at the Niederkorn Library.

    Favorite Christmas tales will be read at stores throughout the event.

    “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” will be read at Blue Heron Artisans’ Gallery at 3:30 p.m.; “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at Beanie’s restaurant at 4 p.m.; “Frosty the Snowman” at the Chocolate Chisel at 4:30 p.m.; and “Polar Express” at La Tulipe at 5 p.m.

    Christmas on the Corner, which is sponsored by Port Main Street Inc., kicks off with sales at area shops, where many merchants will offer refreshments and host special activities.

    Youngsters will be invited to participate in the Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt. Participants will scour designated downtown shops to find the Elf on the Shelf hidden within. They will turn in sheets denoting their finds for a drawing to win a pool party for as many as 15 people at the Holiday Inn.

    Visitors may catch a horse-drawn carriage ride through the heart of the city. Pick up and drop off will be at the corner of West Grand Avenue and South Wisconsin Street.

    There will be cookie decorating at Dockside Deli.

    Children can write their holiday letters and mail them at Blue Heron Artisans Gallery during the festival and stop at Port Washington State Bank to visit and have their pictures taken with Santa.

    Live reindeer will be on Main Street near Franklin Street, where visitors may have their pictures taken with the reindeer.

    A live Nativity will also be presented by Tello’s Grille and Cafe in front of Port Abstract & Title on Grand Avenue.

    Several nonprofit groups will have booths downtown selling food and beverages, including chili and hot chocolate.

    A sleigh decorated by La Tulipe and Golden Chic Events and Consulting will be in the cul de sac at the east end of East Main Street, creating a beautiful backdrop for families who want to take a festive photograph.

    The city’s holiday tree at the foot of St. Mary’s Hill will be lit at 6 p.m.

    The festival theme will be highlighted during the Christmas parade at 6:15 p.m. The parade will kick off at the corner of Jackson and Franklin streets, head south on Franklin Street to Grand Avenue and proceed west on Grand Avenue to Milwaukee Street, where it will end.

    The parade will feature local celebrities, floats, bands, clowns and more to entertain the crowd. The highlight will be the official arrival of Santa Claus on a sleigh atop the Main Street float.

    Following the parade, the crowd will move toward Rotary Park to view holiday fireworks — the only winter fireworks show in Ozaukee County.

    In preparation for the parade, traffic will be detoured from Franklin Street beginning at 5:45 p.m.


 
Candidates begin circulating papers for city, town and School Board races PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 19:49

    Candidates for municipal elections in the city and town of Port Washington, as well as the Port Washington-Saukville School Board, can begin circulating nomination papers.

    The positions up for election in the City of Port are held by Mayor Tom Mlada and aldermen Mike Ehrlich, Bill Driscoll, Kevin Rudser and Dan Becker, who represent the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th districts, respectively.

    The mayor’s term is for three years while the aldermanic seats are for two-year terms.

    The positions held by Town Chairman Jim Melichar and supervisors Mike Didier and Jim Rychtik, as well as Treasurer Mary Sampont, are also up for election in spring.

    Town officials’ terms are for two years.

    Nomination papers must be turned in to municipal offices by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6.

    Incumbents who decide not to seek re-election must turn in non-candidacy papers by 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 26.

    If an incumbent does not submit these papers but does not seek re-election, the deadline for nomination papers will be extended.

    Seats held by five members of the Port Washington-Saukville School Board are up for election. These include the City of Port seats held by Brenda Fritsch and Michelle Shinners and the Village of Saukville seat held by Carey Gremminger. All are for three-year terms.Daily-Press

    A one-year City of Port seat held by Brian Stevens and a one-year seat representing the towns of Grafton and Saukville held by Paul Krechel will also be on the ballot.

    School Board candidates must declare their candidacy by 5 p.m. Jan. 6.

    The general election is Tuesday, April 7.

 
City says yes to Harbour Lights, phase one PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 15:33

Port commission approves start of downtown project that calls for rehabilitation of former bank building

    The Port Washington Plan Commission last week gave the green light to the first phase of Gertjan van den Broek’s proposed Harbour Lights development, which would rehabilitate the former M&I Bank building on Franklin Street in downtown.

    Commission members unanimously approved the developer’s plan to raze the former bank vault, drive-through and north vestibule.

    They also approved van den Broek’s  plan to renovate the facade of the former bank, which will house a commercial tenant on the first floor and either an office or condominium on the second floor.

    “We’re fairly certain once we approve the razing the project is going to move forward?” commission member Amanda Williams asked.

    Van den Broek said that while he was required to get permission for the razing now, he won’t tear down the structures until he’s ready to begin work on the second phase of the project.

    That second phase involves renovations to the Harry’s restaurant building and construction of the new structure behind and between the restaurant and bank buildings, necessitating removal of the vault, vestibule and drive-through, he said.

    The entire project, which would create five commercial spaces and as many as 13 residential units in the buildings, is expected to be valued at more than $6 million.

    Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, noted that van den Broek would not have needed the commission’s approval had it not been for earlier plans by another development group, Port Harbor Investments, to raze the bank building.

    Officials concerned about the idea of tearing down a historic downtown building changed the city’s ordinance to require developers to obtain a certificate of appropriateness from the Plan Commission if they want to raze a historic building or one listed in a survey of historic structures in the city, Tetzlaff said.

    “This will be the first proposal to come under the new ordinance,” he said.

    Tetzlaff also noted that the city approved the concept plan for Harbour Lights “knowing these things were going to be gone.”

    The historical character of the building and its architecture won’t be impacted by the change, he added.

    Van den Broek’s plan for the facade calls for the existing front windows and entryway to be cleaned up, Tetzlaff said. Lighting will be installed to accent the pillars and facade, he said.

    The bank alarm will be restored and an ornate sign bracket added, Tetzlaff said.

    The back windows will be bricked up, he said, because the second phase of the project will wrap around the building, blocking them from view.

    Work on the first phase of the Harbour Lights project, which deals strictly with renovations to the bank building, is expected to begin early next year, van den Broek said.

    The Common Council recently agreed to apply for a $250,000 loan from the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to help finance this portion of the project.Daily-Press

    The loan is part of a $1.75 million development incentive package the city approved earlier this year for the project.

    Van den Broek needs to pre-sell 60% of the condominium units to proceed with the second phase of the project. He only needs to sell one more unit to reach that goal, he said last week.


 
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