Monthly Archives: September 2011

VISIT (South) Milwaukee: City To Join Convention And Visitors Bureau

One thing our city doesn’t do well is marketing.

We have lots to promote. Affordable housing. Clean, safe streets. First-class schools. Great community events. An abundance of parkland. Unique attractions and retailers. A downtown ready for rebirth.

We have a good story to tell. I just wish more people knew it.

So when I heard more about VISIT Milwaukee, it became pretty clear to me that we need to join this organization, which is the area’s convention and visitors bureau. Especially when it costs just $495 each year.

And we are. The City Council unanimously supported my motion in September to join VISIT Milwaukee.

For the annual fee (which will be half funded by the South Milwaukee Downtown Market), we get to include city-sponsored events and attractions in VISIT Milwaukee’s print publications and on its website. We also get access to marketing best practices through networking and education events sponsored by the organization, among other benefits.

In other words, this effort will help us better tell the South Milwaukee story to literally tens of thousands of new people each month. It’s a good one to tell.

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Grant Will Help Light Up Fire Scenes

In this era of tight budgets, grant money is becomingly ever more important for city departments to fund technology and other upgrades.

Case in point: the South Milwaukee Fire Department.

The department has benefited from a number of grants over the years, including 75 percent funding a new rescue boat in 2010.

You can add another one to that list. Capt. Joe Knitter detailed the department’s latest grant in an email he sent to me today:

Frank Morelli, Consultant Engineer for FM Global, presented a check in the amount of $1,500 to the fire department this morning at the firehouse in response to a grant I applied for several months ago. FM Global provides insurance solutions and property loss prevention engineering for corporations, such as Caterpillar here in South Milwaukee, and supports local fire departments through their grant program. This funding is earmarked to improve the scene lighting capabilities for fire investigations and other operations for the South Milwaukee Fire Department.

Congratulations to Capt. Knitter!

(And learn more about that rescue boat on page 10 of the department’s 2010 annual report here.)

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Reminder: Walmart Hearings Monday Night

The first two of several public hearings about the proposed Walmart development are scheduled for Monday night.

These are before the Community Development Authority, and both start at 6:30 at City Hall.

Learn more about the upcoming public hearings in this previous post. And check out this post for more details that have emerged on the project, including renderings.

See you Monday!

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Help Fight Breast Cancer: South Milwaukee Going Pink On Oct. 18

South Milwaukee is going pink again in 2011.

From City Hall to the schools to local businesses, South Milwaukeeans will be wearing pink on Oct. 18 to help raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Learn more from this flyer, including how and where to purchase t-shirts specially designed by South Milwaukee High School marketing and advertising students.

Last year’s event was a huge success. Let’s top it!

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The Future Of Jazz: Workshop Welcomes Local Students At SMPAC

The South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center certainly has a strong lineup of performers, one that separates it from other community arts centers. It also has a strong educational component — giving local students chances to get an inside look at the musicians that perform there.

That was the case again this week, as more than 100 local students attended a jazz workshop by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which performed to rave reviews at the SMPAC on Sunday night.

Check out the Fox 6 story here.

And here is my posting about the visit by Alpin Hong in the spring.

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South Milwaukeean Injured In Oak Creek Car Chase And Other Local Headlines Of Interest

Check out these headlines of note from around the South Shore:

Also, State Sen. Chris Larson has published a new Larson Report. Check it out on his website.

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More Details Emerge: Plan Commission Sees Walmart Site Plan, Backs Zoning Change

Update: Here is the preliminary site plan for the development. And here is a look at the front of the store, which may change somewhat based on feedback from the Plan Commission.

The South Milwaukee Walmart is one step closer to approval after the Plan Commission voted unanimously Monday to recommend approval of necessary rezoning.

The commission also saw for the first time detailed site and architectural drawings of the store, its parking lot and surroundings.

The meeting lasted approximately one hour and included a number representatives from Walmart presenting and answering questions about building architecture, traffic flow, environmental and other issues. Only a couple of citizens attended, as well as four aldermen.

Some of the “new news” from the meeting:

  • Walmart will ask the city for the ability to stay open 24 hours.
  • The store would truly be unique in the region. At 115,000 square feet, it would be about 2/3 devoted to general merchandise sales and 1/3 devoted to grocery and pharmacy. A similar store is under construction in Sturgeon Bay.
  • The design will be similar to others being built in the area, as Walmart seeks to unify the look and feel of its new developments across the country. However, plan commissioners recommended that Walmart do more to make the front-facing portion of the building more visually appealing. Revised plans will be submitted at the next Plan Commission meeting on Oct. 24.
  • The store, like other Walmarts, is likely to include smaller businesses inside it, perhaps a fast food-style restaurant (think: Subway), a bank and vision center.
  • The project is expected to generate an average of 6,745 new trips per day — half of those coming and half of those going, according to a traffic study presented at the meeting. Truck traffic would include primarily “local” non-Walmart delivery trucks. Just one or two trucks from the Walmart distribution center would arrive daily and enter off of Davis Avenue.
  • The study also showed the need for a traffic signal to be added (at Walmart’s expense) at North Chicago and Badger Avenues. It would be less than 1,000 feet south of the signal at College, but timed to allow for a free flow of traffic.
  • Left-turn only lanes would also be striped north and southbound on Chicago, and southbound Chicago would be widened to include a right-turn lane into the Walmart parking lot.
  • The outlot planned for the southeast corner of the site will be developed later. A Walmart representative said it could be any number of businesses, but at this point, given the struggles of some restaurant chains in the down economy, it would likely be a strip mall-style development rather than an establishment like Applebee’s or Chili’s.
  • Stormwater would be handled through an underground detention system vs. above ground. This is in part due to the tight nature of the site.

The City Council will have to approve the zoning change from its current mix of M-2 manufacturing and C-2 commercial to a Commercial Planned Development District — a designation that gives the city more power to set requirements for the development.

I will post the Walmart renderings when I get them.

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Get Educated: Plan Commission Considers Walmart, State Superintendent Speaks At Monday Meetings

There’s a couple of interesting and sure-to-be-thought-provoking meetings plan for Monday night in South Milwaukee.

Unfortunately, they begin at 6 p.m., so attending both will be difficult.

  • First, the South Milwaukee Plan Commission is considering the site plan and zoning for the proposed Walmart development on north Chicago Avenue. Check out the agenda here.
  • Also, the Wisconsin Education Association Council is sponsoring an education forum — one of seven being held across the state into October — at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center. State Superintendent Tony Evers is attending. Topics of discussion will include: school quality and accountability, community/parent involvement in schools, student progress, teaching quality and how programs and resources are distributed and used in the school system. Learn more in this New Kid’s View blog post.
I’m planning to (and kind of have to) attend the Plan Commission meeting. Please post comments below on how the school forum goes.

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Happy Homecoming: South Milwaukee Beats Tosa West And Other Local Headlines

The South Milwaukee football team snapped a two-game losing streak with a decisive 42-7 victory over Wauwatosa West on Friday night.

Check out the Patch story here.

And check out these headlines from around the South Shore:

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Seeing White: Homecoming TP Follow-Up

Update: I just added a poll question on this topic. Vote!

The area around South Milwaukee High School was again transformed into a sea of toilet paper overnight as students prepared for Friday’s Homecoming game. 

I have mixed feelings about it.

First of all, I think the school district’s response for the most part worked, and I thank the district for being proactive about the issue this year. Working with students and the police, school officials attempted to keep the TP confined to school property, west of the railroad tracks on the parkway and not north of the street. A drive through the area this morning confirmed that students pretty much stayed within those limits, and I appreciate that.

That said, I know some neighbors still aren’t happy with the mangitude of the TP. And I can’t disagree. It’s a lot. And I noticed rolls of toilet paper on city sidewalks and yards along 15th Avenue south of the school. That can’t happen.

Now, I am all for having fun during Homecoming week, and TP’ing is part of that tradition. I don’t want to be a fuddy-duddy on this issue. I’m only 35 after all, not that far removed from some of these same traditions myself.

However, as alderman, I must speak for constituents who do have issues with this. And I will.

Of course, the real test will be in the cleanup. I am anxious to see what the trees look like a week from now.

Hopefully, they’re green again. Not white.


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Local Arts: Preservation Hall Jazz Band Kicks Off SMPAC Season On Sunday

The South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center is something for the city to cherish — a point of difference that few communities our size can boast.

From its annual performance series to its jazz concerts at the farmers’ market, the SMPAC is terrific attraction that is only getting bigger and better as its offerings improve.

See for yourself Sunday, as the center’s 2011-12 season kicks off with a performance by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a popular group and “good get” for the SMPAC out of New Orleans. Tickets are still available for the show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at the high school.

Learn more at the new SMPAC website.

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Postal Facility Update: Agreement Extended Into 2013

The Oak Creek City Council has given a developer two more years to move ahead with a project at the corners of Pennsylvania and College Avenues.

It just may not be a postal facility.

That’s according to Oak Creek Patch, which has an update on the project. From it:

“The memorandum of understanding passed Tuesday night by the Common Council also allows for the possibility of a different development altogether for those empty 64 acres on the city’s northeast side.

And at this point, that scenario seems far more likely than the original plan for an 800,000-square-foot mail distribution center, proposed in 2008 shortly before the economy faltered. Though the Oak Creek facility was designed to increase efficiency and ultimately save the USPS money – the building would replace the downtown Milwaukee distribution center – the finances simply aren’t there for the postal service to invest in a large construction project.

“The postal service is projected to lose $10 billion this year. They’re closing facilities,” said Scott Yauck of Cobalt Partners, a Milwaukee development firm working on the project, at Tuesday’s council meeting. “There’s benefit of getting out of downtown regardless, (for) operating efficiency, but they don’t have the capital to do those things right now.

“This is really intended to allow for the exploration of other possibilities.”

So, what does this all mean for South Milwaukee and the 4th District, which borders this parcel? Right now, the future of that land (the former Van Beck’s) is uncertain, but this much is clear: The plan to widen Nicholson/Pennsylvania between College and Rawson remains on for 2012 … with no roundabout. And that’s a good thing.

I’ll keep you posted when I learn more.

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A Big Loss For South Milwaukee: Jim Nelson Passes Away

Jim Nelson, well-known throughout South Milwaukee for his civic and community involvement, died Monday at the age of 87.

You can view the obituary at the Molthen-Bell & Son Funeral Home website here.

Visitation is from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, at Divine Mercy, 800 Marquette Ave. A memorial service follows.

Please keep the Nelson family in your thoughts and prayers. And if you have any memories of Jim, please post them below.

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South Milwaukee Sports Update: Big Game For Former Rocket Soccer Star

It didn’t take long for former South Milwaukee High School soccer star Kelmend Islami to make his presence felt at the NCAA Division I level.

Islami scored the game-winning goal in double overtime to give Marquette a 2-1 victory over Michigan over the weekend.

Check out the Marquette Tribune story here. From it:

After not playing the first period of extra time, Islami came on at the start of the second period.

“He didn’t play every minute of this game, but he played invaluable minutes,” coach Louis Bennett said. “I had a funny feeling if we could get him one-on-one in a foot race, he was calm enough (to finish).”

And check out YouTube video of the goal here. The play starts at the 1:38 mark.

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Celebrating Bucyrus: Plaque Unveiling Set For Saturday, Sept. 24

I’ve definitely lamented the loss of the Bucyrus name from South Milwaukee on this blog … which is why I’m glad to see the efforts of former Mayor Chet Grobschmidt and others to memorialize the mining manufacturer pay off.

A brass historic plaque commemorating Bucyrus as an icon in the world mining industry will be unveiled and dedicated at a ceremony at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Heritage Park on 10th and Milwaukee Avenues.

The plaque depicts the history of Bucyrus since its founding in 1880, its relocation to South Milwaukee in 1892 and its “retirement” in 2011 as Bucyrus International. Check it out here.

All are encouraged to attend the ceremony. I hope to see you there!

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