Monthly Archives: April 2010

More Discussion in Franklin About the Drexel Interchange

The Franklin Common Council is meeting Saturday morning to discuss the proposed Drexel interchange.

So reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Here’s hoping a funding solution is found for this worthwhile project.

And while they’re meeting, I’ll be marching in the Little League parade. Be sure to wave!

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Interchange Proposal Stalls Again … Should We Help Restart It? Or Is It a Dead End?

So, the Interstate 94 interchange at Drexel is in doubt again … and plans may not accelerate unless the state or other local governments step up with increased funding.

At first glance, that seems like a dead-end proposal.

From the story in Thursday’s Daily Reporter:

Franklin officials are seeking help from the state or other cities as they face a Saturday deadline to get $500,000 for the Drexel Avenue interchange.

Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor and members of the city’s Common Council said they want the Interstate 94 interchange built but refuse to spend local taxes on the project, which is east of the city’s border with Oak Creek. The state is requiring local governments to pay half of the project’s $12.9 million budget.

In an effort to keep negotiations between Franklin and Oak Creek open, Taylor is offering to spend $350,000 on the project if Oak Creek agrees to widen Drexel Avenue from two to four lanes. Franklin’s Common Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to keep the offer on the table and continue negotiating with Oak Creek.

Taylor called on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to pay for the project itself, or for other local communities to help pay the remaining $500,000.

“If the city of South Milwaukee or others are going to benefit from this,” Taylor said, “there is room for them to contribute.”

But should we? I’d be interested to know what my readers think on this.

The benefits to South Milwaukee would be real, as a Drexel interchange at I-94 provides another freeway access point for existing residents and businesses … and, more importantly, residents and businesses looking to move here.

How much is that worth? It’s hard to tell for certain, but there is a value there.

I campaigned for alderman on a simple slogan: “Let’s invest in our city, not just spend.”

Is this an investment worthy of consideration for South Milwaukee? Post your comments below.


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Other Headlines of Interest …

Here are a few headlines from the area you may be interested in …

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Celebrate Little League Baseball in South Milwaukee Saturday

The South Milwaukee Little League program is a point of pride for our community, a real treasure.

See why this Saturday with the league’s annual opening day festivities.

The day begins at noon with a parade through downtown to the Little League complex at 700 Mackinac Ave. Once you’re there, enjoy a brief ceremony, concessions, souvenirs, giveaways, raffles and, oh yeah, baseball. Games start at 1:30 p.m.

Learn more in this story at South Milwaukee NOW.

Also check out the eteamz South Milwaukee Little League page here and the Little League’s Facebook page.


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One Step Closer to a Drexel Interchange at I-94 … and That’s a Good Thing for Everybody

So, Milwaukee Ald. Bob Bauman is upset that Northwestern Mutual would dare pledge money towards construction of a freeway interchange that would benefit hundreds of workers at its expansive Franklin facility.

“Outraged” is how the headline on put it. Here’s his quote:

“So here you have a Milwaukee-based company, Northwestern Mutual Life, investing in an interchange in the suburbs which will harm their home city. If they have an extra $1.6 million laying around that they can use to fund an interchange on I-94 at Drexel Avenue, we have projects in downtown Milwaukee which could use a similar investment of $1.6 million and we’d be very, very happy to have it.”

Wow — so much for regionalism. When did this become a turf war, anyway? And how in the world does investing in this interchange “harm” Milwaukee? It doesn’t.

I argue that the proposed interchange at Drexel — which got a major boost with a funding commitment from the Oak Creek City Council Monday night — is a good project for not only Northwestern Mutual, but the whole area.

We hear all the time about the importance of improving our transportation infrastructure, especially our roads. This does it, while also making it a bit easier to live, work and play in the South Shore.

Oak Creek Mayor Dick Bolender put it best: “I feel very badly that this alderman feels that way in regards to the suburbs. I feel bad Milwaukee’s not getting things we are. But I also feel that interchange will not only benefit Oak Creek but also South Milwaukee because they use Drexel Avenue to come to the west. It’ll also benefit Franklin.”

In other words, this is a win-win. No matter what one Milwaukee alderman says.

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Scary Incident as Oak Creek Police Shoot, Kill Man After Chase

One of the crazier police chases you’ll ever see ended with Oak Creek police shooting and killing a man suspected in several burglaries.

The Journal Sentinel has the full story. From the story:

Oak Creek police officers shot and killed a 48-year-old man Monday morning after the man crashed his car into a building while leading police on a chase, then jumped into the driver’s seat of an unoccupied police SUV and struck an officer with the vehicle, police officials said.

Police identified the man Monday night as Johnny Harris of Racine.

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Preliminary Hearing Set for Man Charged in Alleged South Milwaukee Homicide

Joshua Wollinger, the man charged in the stabbing death of a South Milwaukee man on Sunday evening, had his initial court appearance on Friday.

Here are a few details that emerged courtesy of CCAP, the state’s online court access system:

  • The court found probable cause to hold Wollinger, 1011 Milwaukee Avenue #3, over for further proceedings.
  • Cash bond was set at $100,000.
  • The case was assigned to Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Kevin Martens.
  • A preliminary hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. on May 3.
  • Wollinger is indigent and will be represented by a public defender.

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Bucyrus CEO: More Than 500 New Jobs May Come to (South?) Milwaukee

Bucyrus International CEO Tim Sullivan had some great news during an earnings call on Friday: The company could bring more than 500 new jobs to the Milwaukee area thanks to the recent acquisition of the underground mining division of Terex Corporation.

And it sounds like most, if not all, of those jobs will be in South Milwaukee.

Don’t forget that several years ago Bucyrus, needing additional space for its welding operations, began leasing more than 300,000 of plant, warehouse and yard space on the near south side of Milwaukee. How many jobs will end up there? We’ll see.

We’re already seeing the 66-acre South Milwaukee complex is the biggest beneficiary of Bucyrus’ hiring. A quick search of the company’s website revealed 93 current domestic job openings … with 61 of those listing the location as South Milwaukee.

As for the new jobs, a story on WISN-TV this evening broke down the 500 new workers this way: 150 engineers, 150 South Milwaukee office personnel and 200 plant workers. Sullivan told WISN: “We’re still one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States, but to create that level of job opportunity here in this particular economy, I think it’s great for the city. It’s great for us.”

Amen to that. What a wonderful company to have based in South Milwaukee.

Learn more about Bucyrus’ plans in the Journal Sentinel story here. Click here for the WISN-TV story.

From the Journal Sentinel story:

In February, Bucyrus acquired the mining division of Terex Corp., based in Westport, Conn.

The acquisition was expected to create between 300 and 500 jobs in Milwaukee, including several hundred manufacturing positions and Terex employees transferred from Connecticut.

The new jobs are expected over the next two to three years.

“I think it’s safe to say those numbers will go up rather than down,” Sullivan said.

The WISN story has the following quote from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett: “We have worked with Bucyrus to develop worker skills that meet the company’s needs and that has helped set the stage for their expansion. We look forward to working with Bucyrus and other companies to make sure their growth plans include expansion in our region.”


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Sex Offender Bill Dies: Some Good News for Local Control

A bill that would probhit communities like South Milwaukee from deciding where sex offenders can live never made it to a vote before the legislative session ended Friday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

This is good news. Why? Click here to see my previous post on this.

Click here for the full Journal Sentinel story.

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That Drexel Interchange Isn’t Dead After All …

The Oak Creek City Council has scheduled a meeting to discuss funding for a potential Drexel Avenue interchange at Interstate 94.

The Journal Sentinel has the story. From the story …

The council has already adopted a resolution pledging $3.75 million in city money. At time, that was equal to 25% of the $15 million that the state Department of Transportation estimated the interchange would cost.

The DOT, however, requires 50% in local money to build an interchange.

Recently, however, the DOT reduced its cost estimate to $12.9 million and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, which has a large office complex in Franklin, has pledged $1.6 million toward the interchange cost.

The City of Franklin has not pledged any money to the proposed interchange, although it has said it would cover $500,000 in lighting on the Franklin side of S. 27th St. That would normally be the responsibility of the DOT.

A new resolution to be considered at Monday’s special meeting would commit Oak Creek to the same $3.75 million it previously pledged for the interchange, plus $650,000 in lighting for Drexel Ave. and S. 27th St. and related utility costs.

I hope interchange becomes a reality some day. See my previous post for why …

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Man Charged with First-Degree Murder in South Milwaukee Stabbing Death

A 28-year-old man has been charged with first degree intentional homicide in connection with Sunday’s stabbing death in downtown South Milwaukee.

Click here for the Journal Sentinel story, which says bail was set at $250,000 for 28-year-old Joshua David Wollinger.

According to the brief story:

Wollinger told South Milwaukee police that he and Ostrowski were drinking beer and smoking crack and marijuana prior to the stabbing, according to the complaint. Wollinger first denied stabbing Ostrowski but later said he did so because Ostrowski tried to stab him, according to the complaint.

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Earnings Down: Not Great News for Bucyrus

A decline in underground mining equipment sales helped drive Bucyrus International’s first-quarter earnings down 38 percent, South Milwaukee’s largest employer reported on Thursday.

Click here to see a Journal Sentinel story. From the story …

The South Milwaukee company said it earned $35 million, or 45 cents a share, down from $56.9 million, or 76 cents, a year ago. Revenue rose 0.3% to $607.5 million from $605.7 million.

The company had a 16% increase in its surface mining equipment sales, which included $35.4 million in revenue from a company acquired in February. Sales of underground mining equipment were down 46% from a year ago, to $97.8 million, as the 2009 results included a large sale in the Czech Republic.

Bucyrus also announced Thursday it was raising its dividend.

Click here to access the press release at

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Stay Informed: Get South Milwaukee News in Your Inbox by Signing up for my Email Service

In my ongoing efforts to keep people updated on 4th District and South Milwaukee news and issues, I’m starting an email update service.

To sign up, simply email me at

What you’ll get are regular emails from me calling attention to important “new news” on the blog. The key word there is “important.” I promise not to bombard your inboxes with emails.

In fact, some weeks you may not see an email from me. On others you may see a couple, or more.

Major city government, school or crime news. Public  works project updates. Event previews. Other information you need to know about South Milwaukee, its people, places and institutions. That’s what you can expect from these email updates, and my blog.

I hope you consider signing up … and telling your friends. I am committed to keeping residents informed, and this email service will help.

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Sounds Like You Can Forget About That Drexel Interchange … at Least for Now

That Drexel Interchange at Interstate 94 remains a longshot at best. Too bad.

Learn more in this Journal Sentinel story.

From the story:

The chances of a new I-94 interchange being built at Drexel Ave. in Oak Creek remain in question after the common councils in Oak Creek and Franklin took no action on related proposals Tuesday.

The state Department of Transportation requires that 50% of the cost of new interchanges be covered by local money. And it has set a deadline of May 1 for a local money commitment in order for an interchange at Drexel to be considered.

A resolution presented to the Oak Creek Common Council on Tuesday would commit the city to contributing $3.75 million toward the cost of the interchange itself, plus $650,000 for lighting on Drexel Ave. and on S. 27th St. as well as making changes in city utilities.

The council took no action on the resolution, but could schedule a special meeting for as soon as Monday to discuss it.

Let’s hope this proposal doesn’t die. I think a Drexel interchange is a great idea and a good thing for South Milwaukee.

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Other Headlines From Around the South Shore …

Here are a few additional area headlines you may be interested in …

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