Headlines: Auto Body Shop Fire, Caterpillar Earnings and More

Also, the South Milwaukee Police Department has started providing weekly crime summaries on their new Facebook page. They just posted one for April 12-19. Please like their page, if you haven’t already — it’s full of useful information.

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Helping Make Your Home (and Neighborhood) More Beautiful

As the weather finally warms and you make planting plans for your home, use these special discounts offered to South Milwaukee residents!

Thanks to Patti Bergeson and the South Milwaukee Beautification Committee for pulling this together and doing their part to encourage a more beautiful city.

2018 discounts

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Futsal, Basketball, Tennis, Pickleball: Exciting Upgrades Coming to Hickory Park

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I’m excited about this …

From the South Milwaukee School District …

The Recreation Department is moving forward with a renovation of Hickory Park.  The project will include removing the two “tennis courts” and replacing one with a dual use Futsal / Basketball court and the other with a dual use Tennis /Pickle ball court.  The work will take place over the summer and should be completed by the end of July.  The entire area will be fenced in and we are adding ADA access to the court.  The courts can be used by the public and reserved through the Recreation Department once the work is completed.

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Investing in Clean Water: Improvements Coming to Our Water, Wastewater Facilities

We continue to make necessary investments in our infrastructure, and that includes more than $8.8 million in improvements to our water and wastewater plants starting this spring.

On Tuesday, the South Milwaukee Common Council heard an update on the proposed $2.3 construction of a new lift station, and in March, the council approved building new finished water pumping station and clearwells at a cost of $6.5 million at our water utility.

Here are details on both projects …

  • Water: This project, mandated by the state, calls for building two new above-ground clearwells at the plant. A clearwell is a tank that holds treated water. Previously, these wells were underground, but state regulations now require them to be built above ground to prevent groundwater from leaching into the treated water. The project is being funded with a low-interest loan through the federal government’s Safe Drinking Water Act Fund.
  • Wastewater: We are also replacing the lift station on North Chicago Avenue, near Rawson Avenue. Lift stations are important because they pump the sewage to the treatment facility.  This station, one of five in the city, was built in the 1950s, and its wetwell, drywell, station pumping equipment and buildings are in poor condition, and the size and layout of the station make maintaining the pumping equipment difficult and hazardous. The station is also undersized for our existing pumping capacities, and future needs. The project, which is also expected to be funded using a Clean water Fund loan, is expected to head to the council for final approval in May.

I’m proud to stand behind this work, as we continue to do what it takes to deliver the best services we can for years to come. Infrastructure investments are a big part of that.

We should be able to share more information on anticipated water/wastewater rate increases tied to these improvements in coming weeks. I will keep you posted.

 

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Serving South Milwaukee: Library Issues Annual Report

South Milwaukee Library Director Nan Champe and board member Dan Reszel presented the 2017 library annual report to the South Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday. From it …

With more than 78,000 visits in 2017, the South Milwaukee Library (SML) is the city’s most-used non-school public facility. Your SML is an engaging learning, information and idea center that enhances the community’s quality of life.

I couldn’t say it better myself. It’s great to see so many good things happening at this important local institution.

2017 Library Report 1

Check out a PDF of the report here, including a page detailing the library budget.

Don’t forget the library remains closed as they install new carpet and paint. Follow progress and see pictures on their Facebook page.

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Adding Another Tool in the Fight Against Bullying

I’m proud of our ongoing partnership with the South Milwaukee School District, especially when it helps with the safety and welfare of our students.

The latest example: an anti-bullying ordinance which gained initial passage by the South Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday, which includes penalties for children and their parents involved in persistent bullying, hazing or harassment.

It’s an innovative approach to a complex problem without easy solutions. And while this ordinance in and of itself won’t solve the problem, we, after conversations with the school district, think it will help.

You can see the ordinance here. It includes fines of up to $439 for children or parents who “engage in bullying, hazing or harassment of a person; induce another person to engage in bullying, hazing or harassment; or retaliate against any person who reports any conduct prohibited by this section.”

As for bullying, it is defined (by both us and the schools) as …

A form of harassment defined as an intentional course of conduct which, through verbal acts, physical acts, messages or any other form of communication, is reasonably likely to intimidate, emotionally abuse, slander or threaten another person and serves no legitimate purpose.   Bullying also means systematically or persistently inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students. It is intentional written, spoken, nonverbal or physical behavior, including but not limited to any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture or communication, including the spreading of rumors, that has the effect of doing any of the following: substantially interfering with any student’s education, creating a threatening or fearful environment in a school setting for any student or group of students, or substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.  Bullying also includes the use of digital technologies, including but not limited to email, cell phones, text messages, instant messages, chat rooms and social websites. 

 

And the preamble includes more details as to why this is so important …

WHEREAS,  the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than one fifth of students in the United States grades 6-12 experience bullying;

WHEREAS,  the Common Council of the City of South Milwaukee has determined that bullying and harassment disrupt the safe environment in the City; interfere with one’s ability to succeed or excel in a safe environment in the City; and interfere with one’s ability to participate in or benefit from the programs, activities, worksites and opportunities offered in this community;

WHEREAS, the Common Council of the City of South Milwaukee further finds that it is in the interest of the People of the City of South Milwaukee to take steps to encourage the idea that every person is valued and respected regardless of perceived or actual differences and that every person should enjoy life free from bullying, harassment and intimidation.

WHEREAS, The City has collaborated with the South Milwaukee School District to draft this ordinance and believes that it is necessary to protect the health and safety and general welfare of the Citizens of this community, and it is necessary that the regulations herein provided be enacted …

The idea for the ordinance came from School Resource Officer JJ McLean. Thanks, officer, for bringing this forward, and for Chief Jessup, City Attorney Smith and school leaders for being part of the solution.

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Redevelopment Tool: Treasury Department Designates Downtown South Milwaukee as Opportunity Zone

Census tract 1706

We are bringing another tool to the table in the redevelopment of South Milwaukee’s city center.

You may recall that state officials recently recommended to the federal government that a South Milwaukee census tract be included as one of 120 in the state eligible for “Economic Opportunity Zone” status, as part of a new program under the tax reform bill. Last week, we were informed the U.S. Treasury Department had indeed chosen our tract (all of of the 120 submitted, in fact) for this designation.

More details here, and a map of the tract is in this blog post. You will see it includes all of our downtown and much of the former Bucyrus campus.

What does this mean? A lot remains to be seen, as it seems details on the program are still being worked out. At the very least, it will put another pool of money in play as we continue the work of our reinvigorating our city and downtown.

Thanks to state and federal officials for their support of our application, and thanks to Stephanie Hacker, our economic development director, for working quickly to make our application a reality once we heard about the opportunity.

More to come!

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