Leaving and Building Legacies: Honoring Four First Responders

In the past few weeks, I’ve had the honor of being a small part of the retirement ceremonies for South Milwaukee Police Capt. Jill Kallay and South Milwaukee Fire Department Capt. Brad Sibley, as well as the promotion ceremony for SMPD Capt. Dan Fournier and Lt. Dave Hoeppner.

Here are my Facebook posts from each one. Thanks for your service to our city, and all you do to keep us safe!

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School District to Move to “Hybrid” Learning Starting Oct. 12

From the email sent to families today from Superintendent Jeff Weiss, and found on the district website

I am excited to announce that we will be moving into our next learning phase on Monday, October 12! At that time we will move into hybrid instruction. Generally, this means that your student will be in person two days a week with virtual instruction the other three days per week.

More information will be coming to you from both me and your school in the coming weeks. This will include specific schedules, detailed in person safety expectations, and what will occur if a student or staff member is exposed or tests positive for COVID19.


You will be receiving your child’s specific schedule in the next few days. Please note that right now we are working to double check that all family members are attending the in person classes on the same day. Your student’s school will be sending that information to you shortly.

The elementary schedule will include two cohorts of students. One group will attend in person on Monday and Tuesday, the second group will attend in person on Wednesday and Thursday. The hours for in person instruction will be 8:30 am – 2:30 pm. Students will stay with their own classes and receive music, art, and PE instruction virtually in the classroom or outside. Students will have asynchronous learning the other three days per week.

The elementary schools have before and after school care available for the two in person days through the recreation department. Students can be dropped off as early as 7:00 am and will end no later than 5:00 pm. Please contact the recreation department child care at 766-5932 for more information. 

The middle school schedule will also include two cohorts of students attending either Monday/Tuesday or Wednesday/Thursday. The in person schedule will be 7:30 am – 2:45 pm. On the opposite days that students attend in person, they will be at home following the in person schedule and attending classes live virtually in the teachers’ classrooms. On Friday all middle school students will be learning asynchronously.

As with the elementary and middle school schedules, high school students will also attend in person two days a week either Monday/Tuesday or Wednesday/Thursday. The in person schedule will be 7:30 am – 1:30 pm. Students who are home will be attending the in person schedule virtually via a webcam in classrooms. On Fridays, high school students will attend classes virtually (live) from 7:30 am – noon. 

Timeline and Calendar

We are able to move into hybrid instruction as of Monday, October 12, due to the burden rate in South Milwaukee and Milwaukee County. As of Friday, September 18, the burden rate in South Milwaukee was 77.2 and in Milwaukee County it was 91.28. The positivity rates are 5.1% for South Milwaukee and 5.3% for Milwaukee County. This places the district in the hybrid or potentially in person learning model. We have decided to return to the hybrid model first in order to be sure that our safety and health routines are fully understood by all and we have time to make adjustments as necessary. 

We will continue to monitor the burden and positivity rates for South Milwaukee and Milwaukee County. On October 26 we will announce the next learning model for South Milwaukee. At that time, if possible, we will transition to fully in person for the elementary level as of November 2 and for the middle school and high school as of November 9.

Another update relates to parent teacher conferences. We will be moving the conference dates from October 7 and 8 to a time in November. More details will be sent soon regarding the new dates and times.

I support this decision, and credit the district for its smartly conservative approach to getting kids back to school, including my own.

This summer, district leaders announced a phased reopening plan — developed in partnership with the South Milwaukee and St. Francis Health Department — based and science and data, putting student safety first. They have stuck to that plan, and the data now supports the decision to get kids back where we all want them to be (safely): in classrooms.

Of course, the 2020-21 school year is just getting started, this pandemic is far from over, and more flexibility and adaptability will be needed in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Thank you to the kids, parents, teachers and staff who have stepped up during these challenging and unprecedented times.

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Health Department Offering Free Flu Shots for Kids

From the South Milwaukee and St. Francis Health Department …

Help the South Milwaukee- St. Francis Health Department #fighttheflu this year. We are hosting a flu vaccine clinic for children age 18 and under on October 14th. Help us fight the flu this year by getting their flu shot early!

It is by appointment only and you can schedule your appointment by going to https://tinyurl.com/y5osopkz and signing up for an appointment time. You can also call the health department at 414-768-8055 to schedule an appointment or if you have questions.

Getting an early flu shot is more important than ever amid the pandemic, health leaders are advising, so please get immunized.

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Bringing a Little Bit of Europe to Downtown South Milwaukee: Beer Garden Launches This Weekend

We are a European themed beer garden that will offer patrons a variety of entertainment options, including various European and Mid-West beverages, live music, foods, cultural sports and games, family activities, whilst supporting local charities.

That’s what is coming to downtown South Milwaukee starting this Friday and every weekend through October, and I love it.

European Beer Gardens is a partnership between James Moran with Moran’s Pub and Brittany Rosales with the Rose Mob Grill food truck, and I’m proud to count the city as a partner in the effort.

The South Milwaukee Common Council approved the lease agreement with Moran and Rosales earlier this month, and the liquor license on Tuesday.

Moran and Rosales are also giving back to the community, through the venture. Its community partner this weekend will be the South Milwaukee Lions Club, who will receive $1 from every pour of Local Lights and a portion of all non-alcoholic beverage sales all weekend. The Nightinjails play at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

After its Friday start this week, the beer garden will begin a Thursday-Sunday schedule on Sept. 24, in conjunction with the South Milwaukee Downtown Market as the market winds down its season.

Get more details on the European Gardens Facebook page — or just stop by and see for yourself the latest win for our city center, one that promises to be uniquely South Milwaukee. Prosit!

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Sneak Peek: Growing List of Safe, Local Events for This Fall and Beyond

We should all be proud of this city’s special events calendar. I hold it up against any city our size, as we always step up to celebrate our city and bring our community together in ways that are uniquely South Milwaukee.

Then, COVID hit.

Events have obviously been a challenge amid a pandemic, as this spring and summer saw the cancellation of most large-scale activities across the city, state and country. It was the right call, and remains so, as difficult as those decisions were for the city and other event organizers.

But that doesn’t mean events must stop altogether — and they are not in South Milwaukee in coming weeks and months.

Here is a sneak peek at some of the special events shaping up around town. Mark your calendars now, and look more details on all of these in the days, weeks and months ahead.

This list will continue to grow. Find details on the PAC events here.

  • Thursday, Sept. 17: South Milwaukee Downtown Market Car Show. 3-7 p.m. at Market Square, 11th and Milwaukee. From the event Facebook post: “Rev up your week and get ready for the Car Show at the Market on Thursday, Sept 17th from 5-8 PM! There will be classic cars, roasted corn, craft beers, shopping, 50/50 raffle and live music. Market will open at 3 PM, car show to start at 5PM.” More on the live music here.
  • Thursday, Sept. 24: Music at the Market — She’s Right, I’m Left.
  • Thursday, Oct. 1: Music at the Market — Bluegrass All Stars.
  • Friday, Oct. 2: Rock ‘n Roll Science Show. The first of a series of “Restart the Arts” shows at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center.
  • Thursday, Oct. 8: Music at the Market — Val Sigal.
  • Friday and Saturday, Oct. 23-24: South Milwaukee High School Theatre Co. presents “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play by Joe Landry,” South Milwaukee PAC.
  • Saturday, Oct. 24: South Milwaukee Spooktacular. The downtown trick-or-treating event, presented by DB Tax & Wealth, returns, with some socially distanced family fun. New this year: A pumpkin carving contest and illumination along Milwaukee Avenue and much more.
  • Saturday, Oct. 31: Citywide trick-or-treating, 5:30-7:30 p.m. We made this announcement last week, and we’ll be sharing some best practices on how to do it safely in the weeks ahead.
  • Thursday, Nov. 5: Piano & My Voice, South Milwaukee PAC.
  • Friday and Saturday, Nov. 13-14: South Milwaukee High School Theatre Co. presents “An Evening With Sherlock Holmes,” South Milwaukee PAC.
  • Saturday, Nov. 21: Swing Explosion, “We’ve Got a World that Swings,” South Milwaukee PAC.
  • Saturday, Dec. 5: Studio K Flamenco presents “The Flamenco Nutcracker,” South Milwaukee PAC.
  • Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11-12: South Milwaukee High School Theatre Co. presents “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play by Joe Landry,” South Milwaukee PAC.

Other holiday events are also shaping up, with the Old Fashioned Christmas Committee working to pull off safe version of that special event. I am also working with the South Milwaukee Lions to see how we can safely hold the Lighted Christmas Parade — ideas are welcome! And we are planning to bring back the Festival of Trees, in partnership with Ace Hardware and Caterpillar. More to come on all of these.

Select fall high school sports are back, too! Get schedules here.

Thank you to all of the volunteers who put work in planning events this year that were ultimately cancelled or postponed — and to those who are working to creatively and safely hold events in the weeks and months ahead. None of this would happen without you.

And we need your work now, more than ever.

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Restart the Arts! SMPAC Announces New, Safe Shows

The South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center is excited to announce “Restart the Arts,” fall programming for the 2020-2021 arts season. These new, limited capacity shows include a silly and educational family show, a one-man Prince music piano show and a Las Vegas style swing concert. Additional shows may be added as they are confirmed.

Here is the press release. From Executive Director Rachel Sorce …

I am very excited to finally announce a few shows for our “Restart the Arts” 2020-2021 fall season!!! After spending a good amount of time cancelling or postponing most of our planned shows and rentals for this arts season, it feels great to make this announcement!

While these shows are much smaller in scale than what we’d normally present, we must adjust programming due to reducing our seating capacity (aka revenue potential) from 786 seats to about 200 seats. This is to allow for physical distancing. These selections represent shows that are a good fit for our venue, audiences and budget. And, while no one knows exactly what audience attendance will look like this fall, I believe that we have an obligation to our community and to the arts industry to connect audiences with artists for inspiration and entertainment.

Live, in-person arts experiences are especially important now. With so many people dealing with isolation, loneliness and even depression, the arts can be a tonic to soothe peoples’ souls. 

Here are the shows …

Friday, October 2 at 7:00 pm

Rock ‘n’ Roll Science Show

(For families with young children)

What happens when a pair of bumbling 80’s rockers show up at the wrong venue to perform a rock ‘n’ roll concert – only to find out they are on the set of a science show performance? Well, the “show must go on,” as this goofy duo does their best to entertain the crowd with science, despite their limited experiences in the laboratory! This family-safe show is a fun look at science, especially physics, and includes fun big-stage experiments, clean humor, and of course a lot of ROCK ‘n’ ROLL music!

Approximate run-time 60 minutes. Tickets go on sale September 15 and are $10 for students and $20 for adults/seniors.

Thursday, November 5 at 7:00 pm

Piano & My Voice

(One- man show featuring Marshall Charloff from Purple xPeRIeNCE)

Performing your favorite hits: Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, Kiss, Pop Life, and many more! From fronting the greatest Prince tribute show in the world, working with the Atlanta Rhythm Section and writing and producing the Commodores, Marshall Charloff embarks on a solo journey, performing all of your favorite Prince songs in this one-man show. His solo performance delivers Prince’s catalog of hits with only a piano, his voice, and his mastery of audience engagement. The only show of its kind, and licensed directly by the Prince Estate. Approximate run-time 90 minutes. Tickets go on sale September 15 and are $29 for students and $39 for adults/seniors.

Saturday, November 21 at 7:00 pm

Swing Explosion: We’ve Got a World That Swings

(Full swing band with vocals)

Imagine being in Las Vegas and seeing a show with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. or the swinging music of Count Basie and Louis Prima. You’ll get that and more as we recreate the fun and excitement of a Vegas show from the 50’s as we pay tribute to some of the greatest entertainers of that era. Approximate run-time 90 minutes. Tickets go on sale September 15 and are $25 for students and $35 for adults/seniors.

Other Upcoming Shows & Events

  • Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24 (Shows at 7:30 pm): South Milwaukee High School Theatre Co. presents Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play by Joe Landry Spies, murder, love, and other trademarks of Alfred Hitchcock come to life in the style of a 1940s radio broadcast of the master of suspense’s earlier films. With The Lodger, Sabotage and The 39 Steps, Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play is a triple feature, complete with vintage commercials and one that recreates a daring train chase, a serial killer’s ominous presence, and a devastating explosion through the magic of live sound effects and musical underscoring.” Tickets will go on sale October 1.
  • Friday, November 13 and Saturday, November 14 (Shows at 7:30 pm): South Milwaukee High School Theatre Co. presents An Evening With Sherlock Holmes. This original live radio play features three classic Holmes and Watson short stories told in radio play format, as broadcast by CBS Radio in the 1930s and 1940s: The Musgrave Ritual, The Case of the Dead Adventuress and The Adventure of the Tolling Bell. Selected from the public domain and tied together into a single performance by SMHS theatre director Tim Backes, these stories showcase the variety and cleverness found in radio-edition Holmes tales. Tickets will go on sale October 1.
  • Saturday, December 5 (Shows at 2:00 and 7:00 pm): Studio K Flamenco presents The Flamenco Nutcracker. Studio K Flamenco presents The Flamenco Nutcracker, an exciting new twist on the beloved holiday classic. Celebrate the season with an unforgettable evening filled with the beauty and passion of Flamenco dance. Follow the Matador Prince as he charges into the enchanted forest filled with intoxicating rhythms, clicking castanets, and staccato footwork. Award winning flamenco guitarist Marija Temo will perform her amazing score live. Join us for a magical holiday celebration like no other in this family friendly performance directed by internationally acclaimed choreographer Kerensa DeMars. Tickets will go on sale October 1.
  • Friday, December 11 and Saturday, December 12 (shows at 7:30 pm): South Milwaukee High School Theatre Co. presents It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play by Joe Landry. This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of an ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.” Based on the classic Frank Capra film, this is a great way to get into the holiday spirit! Tickets will go on sale October 1.

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There Will Be a Halloween, South Milwaukee

Great news, South Milwaukee: Trick or treat is still ON for October 31st!

The South Milwaukee/St. Francis Health Department will be issuing safety guidelines soon, but has given the celebration the green light. Hours are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., as it has been for a number of years.

I am excited we can continue our Halloween tradition in South Milwaukee. Stay tuned for more information.

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Advocating for a Smooth Road to the Beach — and Investments in Our Parks

I am glad to see the Grant Park Beach road be resurfaced in the last week — and happy to help cut the ribbon on Tuesday.

The project is long overdue, and more investments in the park are needed, but it’s a good start— one that could not have happened without the advocacy of the Friends of Grant Park and Supervisor Steven Shea.

As mayor, I also pledge to continue to advocate for our local parks, and make sure we get our fair share of investment, even and especially during the pandemic. Budgets are tough — they are tough for all of us — and getting tougher. Spending on parks often takes a backseat to other priorities for Milwaukee County, but dollars must still flow to our parks.

As I wrote to Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley and Milwaukee County Board leaders in July, asking for urgent investment in the beach road, beach cleanup from winter storms and other areas …

Grant Park Beach has seen a resurgence in recent years, especially from where it was a decade ago, and it is a huge part of South Milwaukee’s identity as a city. That is in large part due to renewed investment from the county, and, as mayor, I thank you for that. 

Please take action now to ensure those gains are not lost. Please help!

That help is still needed, now more than ever.

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Better Telling Our Story: City of South Milwaukee Launches New Website

The city website has a new look and feel, new content and a new friendliness for mobile devices.

Check out the new www.smwi.org now!

The site gets you more quickly to the information you need, and makes us easier to do business with. It also better tells our story as a community and what makes South Milwaukee, South Milwaukee.

Among the changes:

  • Easier one-click access to news, resources and other key information;
  • An intuitive (and working) search function;
  • A consistent look and feel across departments;
  • Mobile friendliness; and
  • The move to a platform that makes it easier to take online payments and fill out online forms. We’ve added the ability to take payments for Street Department special pick-ups, to start. The Boards & Commissions volunteer application is example of the forms we’re digitizing.
  • We’ve also added a more robust South Milwaukee history story, authored by the South Milwaukee Historical Society, with contributions from the South Milwaukee Industrial Museum. Check it out here.

The site is an evolution, and more upgrades are coming. Please let us know what you think, and how we can improve the online experience.

We are committed to improving how we communicate with our residents, investing to better tell the unique story of South Milwaukee.

And with the launch of the new site, the introduction of our new “Bridges” magazine earlier this year, the SM Works app and reporting system, and our expanded social presence (including a city Facebook page that has blown past 5,200 likes), we are bringing that commitment to life.

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Limited, Reservation-Only Reopening for Grobschmidt Senior Center on Sept. 8

Upon consultation with the South Milwaukee/St. Francis Health Department, the Grobschmidt Senior Center will be reopening on September 8th with new policies implemented for everyone’s safety.

Read more here: http://bit.ly/SMSeniorCenterCOVID

Reservations will be required, and the following safety protocols will be in place …

  • A new traffic pattern will be implemented in September. All participants are asked to enter through the front entrance and exit through the doors located on the north and west side of the building.
  • Five hand sanitizer stations are located within the senior center. People are asked to use the hand sanitizer, or wash their hands, when entering and exiting the building.
  • Because the senior center is providing services to a high risk age group, per the recommendation of the CDC, face coverings will be required.
  • People must social distance at all times.
  • Physical contact of any kind is not permitted. This includes, hugging, shaking hands, etc.
  • Please do not come to the center if you are feeling ill. Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are:
  • Cough, shortness of breath, fever or chills, muscle or body aches, vomiting or diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell.
  • Coffee and donuts will no longer be available at the senior center. People are asked to bring in their own beverages and not to bring in anything to share with others.

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Ideas Wanted: Downtown Public Space

A highlight of the ongoing rebirth of downtown South Milwaukee is the coming creation of a permanent public space on the city-owned property near 11th and Madison.

This will be a hub for special events in our city center, from the South Milwaukee Downtown Market to Crusherfest to the Food Truck Festival to hopefully many more, and some new ones.

It will also be a spot to simply gather on any day of the week.

What will it look like? We want your help, and ideas! The city would you like your input on the project.

Take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6SJDFQD

The project is a partnership with the Bucyrus Foundation, which is contributing $500,000 toward its development. More details on the foundation grant here — and more on the public space initiative here.

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No Injuries, No Structural Damage Reported at EGS Appleton Foundry Fire

From the South Milwaukee Fire Department …

At approximately 3:20 this afternoon, an SMFD engine was in the area of 3rd & Michigan Avenue’s when they discovered smoke coming over the tree tops along the south lot line of EGS Appleton Foundry. The engine responded to the security gate on 5th & Milwaukee to determine the source of the smoke. While there, they received notice from an employee that an active fire was burning in the southeast corner of the building but the employee was not aware of what was on fire.

The response was initially upgraded to a “Limited Assignment” which brings a ladder truck from the Cudahy Fire Department and engine from the Oak Creek Fire Department and quickly upgraded to a “Full Assignment” which adds an engine from the St. Francis Fire Department, a Med Unit from the Milwaukee Fire Department (to the scene) and a Med Unit from the Greendale Fire Department (to the station). The fire was determined to be burning in a machine that is used to form poured steel castings in sand molds.

The fire was quickly extinguished but damage to the machine was significant enough to require it to be put out of service. No injuries were reported and no structural damage occurred. While standing by at our station, the Greendale Fire Department responded to an EMS call and transported a patient to St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee.

Thanks, firefighters, for a job well done in preventing a bigger incident.

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Back to School, Virtually

September 1, 2020: It’s the most unusual of back-to-school days for many children today. Including my own.

For South Milwaukee, Oak Creek, and others it was a virtual return. For others, it was a return to school buildings for in-person instruction. Still others are a combination of the two approaches.

I believe the virtual start is the right, and safe, call, knowing that some will disagree with that statement. And that’s OK.

I respect the school district’s data- and public health-driven approach to this decision, and the potential way forward to in-person learning.

I want my kids back in school as much as anyone, but I want to make sure they are safe, along with teachers and staff. That day will come. We are not there yet, and we will only get there by continuing to take the actions necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask. Socially distance where possible. Avoid large gatherings. Practice good personal hygiene.

We are making progress. There are promising signs in some key metrics, and I am hopeful that will continue, to get our kids back in classrooms.

Where they should be. When it’s safe.

Until then, we lean on our educators to do the best they can, and they are, making the most of a difficult situation, as I knew they would.

So far, I like what I’m seeing. It’s a huge upgrade from the online learning in the spring, and I thank the teachers and staff for that first and foremost. These are dedicated professionals who want to see our kids succeed — and are willing to adapt in difficult circumstances to make that happen.

I thank the Health Department, for their close partnership with school leaders as they decide next steps, together.

I thank the kids, for persevering in tough times.

I also thank South Milwaukee families. I know this is a burden, a heavier one for some. But I know we will step up for our kids, and do what it takes to get our kids back where they belong: walking the hallways and filling the desks of our local schools. Go Rockets!

More information on the city’s response to COVID-19 here.

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Kenosha Strong

Shock, disbelief, anger, sadness. But, most of all, inspired. And hopeful.

That is what I felt today as my father and I grabbed a couple paint brushes and headed to Kenosha, following the police shooting and unrest that followed in the last week.

The damage is significant, and you can see some of it in the photos that follow. But more significant is the overwhelming sense of community spirit we saw, as hundreds of people gathered Uptown and downtown for a combination street party, cleanup and mural painting event.

This is personal. My grandmother grew up in Kenosha, and in the late 1990s I lived blocks from Wednesday’s fatal shooting. I worked at the Kenosha News for several years, and remain connected with former colleagues.

My heart hurts for them and everyone impacted by the tragic events of the past week, and we need to hold accountable everyone who destroyed property and destroyed lives.

I’ll let stand the words I’ve written previously about the state of affairs in our country. In short, change must come. And it will come when we live out the words found on the plywood of boarded-up Kenosha businesses.

Matter is the minimum.

We did not give up on love today.

Hate can’t drive out hate; only love can.

Be the good.

Peace + love. Come together.

Love lives.

Be kind.

Together we stand.

Stay strong.

In love we unite.

No space for injustice.

Humanity grows.

Peace be the journey. Be the change!!!

Let love bloom.

In a world full of hate, be a light.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Love is the answer.

Change will come with people doing exactly what we saw in Kenosha on Sunday, when a community of strangers came together to stand against violence and peacefully work for a better way.

In that way, South Milwaukee is Kenosha. We are all Kenosha. We are stronger, together. And from the ashes we rise.

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Guilty Pleas in Death of South Milwaukee 4-Year-Old

From the message from South Milwaukee Police Chief William Jessup, on the department Facebook page

On February 28, 2020, SMPD officers and SM Fire Dept. paramedics responded to a home in the 400 block of Montana Ave for an unresponsive four year-old girl, who was later pronounced deceased. Through a comprehensive investigation by numerous SMPD officers, along with help from community members, suspects were quickly located and arrested.

Further investigation and interviews led to the successful prosecution of Jerome Millen and Christina Collado. Collado has subsequently pleaded guilty to Chronic Neglect of a Child – Causing Death, and Millen has pleaded guilty to 1st Degree Reckless Homicide and two counts of Child Abuse – Intentionally Causing Harm.

While this case is tragic and horrific, we’d like to acknowledge the contributions of citizens and all of our personnel who exemplified the utmost professionalism and care in working this case. We give our deepest condolences to the family as they mourn their loss, and we hope they find peace.

Thanks to everyone on the department who worked on this tragic and difficult case. Here is the original story.

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