From a letter sent to South Milwaukee parents on January 25 …
On Monday, January 23, 2023, an incident occurred between a teacher and a student as students were leaving South Milwaukee High School for the day. The District immediately began an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the event. The employee was placed on administrative leave.
Investigations involving student and teacher interactions are extremely serious and administration officials are following all internal protocols and applicable state laws. The District is also cooperating with our partners in the South Milwaukee Police Department.
The safety of our students and staff is the top priority for the School District of South Milwaukee. Our counselors and other staff members are available to any students who want to talk to an adult or who are upset by the news of the incident.
We respect the privacy and confidentiality of our students. There is also a need to maintain the integrity of the investigation to obtain a final determination of the circumstances and any resulting decisions. Therefore no further information will be made available regarding this matter at this time.
South Milwaukee resident Brandon Randall, 22, has reportedly been charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm after the December shooting.
Randall was arrested by South Milwaukee officers on Tuesday, Jan. 10 in the City of Milwaukee. Several firearms were recovered. The case was referred to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office. The charges were then issued Wednesday.
Police say Randall was an acquaintance of at least one of the victims. The motive remains unknown.
South Milwaukee police responded to 5th and Bay Heights on Dec. 29 after an 18-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl were found dead in a car. The victims were identified as Jaelen Yracheta and Ava Allen. They were first cousins. Allen was a senior at Franklin High School and Yracheta was a 2022 South Milwaukee High School graduate and a student at MATC. The family previously told TMJ4 News that Yracheta’s mother found them at the scene.
According to a criminal complaint released Wednesday, investigators recovered five 9mm casings from the scene. Police obtained doorbell video which allegedly showed the suspect, Randall, walking towards the car with a limp. Randall is shown reaching out to grab the passenger door handle before pausing and entering the back passenger door. The complaint says Randall was wearing a COVID-19-style mask and white/clear latex gloves. Ten seconds later, multiple gunshots are heard and flashes are seen in the car. After remaining in the car for a minute, the complaint says Randall reached over the motionless bodies of the victims before getting out of the car.
A day after the shooting, Yracheta’s iPhone was found in a sewer close to where the homicides occurred. The last messages showed Yracheta texting a number and arranging to meet the person. The complaint says the number Yracheta was texting connected to an IP address that Randall lived at.
After Randall’s arrest, the complaint says investigators conducted an interview with him over the course of eight hours. While discussing the incident, Randall allegedly said, “Well (explicit), can’t make it right, it already done.” He then told investigators he didn’t remember committing the crime, but when he closed his eyes he saw flashes and “regular Jaelen with a smile, that’s it.”
The complaint said when asked which gun was used, Randall answered “Glock 17, the police edition.” When shown the doorbell video, Randall allegedly stated, “I’m gone for the rest of my life bro.” He then called his girlfriend and said, “It’s over, they showed me everything – told me everything. And they showed me the video, I don’t remember doing it bro.” The complaint says he was having difficulty talking because he was crying.
The project’s goal is to bring the community together and attract visitors to the downtown. The design should represent new beginnings for the City of South Milwaukee. Beautification and “surprise and delight” is encouraged.
Applicants may be an individual, artist, or group of artists, submitting a concept by March 13, 2023. Upon selection, an artist will develop a final design and begin work June 2023.
Middle School Students Dedicate January to Public Service
The entire middle school student body is engaged in our January “Cold Weather, Warm Hearts” month of service. Given that January is the coldest and darkest time of the year, a dedicated group of educators at the middle school (the SM Way team) came up with this idea as a way to spread positivity, fun, and service to our community.
Some of the projects include reading to buddies at Rawson Elementary School, answering questions about the middle school via video message for 5th graders at E. W. Luther, putting together care bags for the homeless, picking up trash around the school and neighborhood, and more.
On February 2nd we’ll hold an all-school assembly to celebrate and highlight all of the great service work that’s happened (and will continue to happen) around the school and the community.
R-E-A-D-I-N-G, READING, Reading
Learning to read is one of the most important skills students learn at school. It’s the base upon which everything is built. How we learn to read and write is a subject of constant study and how we teach it changes, too. In this episode, we peek inside a classroom and see how collaboration amongst teachers from different disciplines, combined with data, is tailoring literacy education to third graders.
South Milwaukee sixth graders revived a long-standing tradition of holding an Ethnic Folk Fair in the Middle School Multipurpose Room.
Starting in November, students researched where their families or ancestors originated from.
Then they learned about Google Earth and how to create a Google Voyager report about those places.
UW A Cappella Group Visits SMHS
UW Eau Claire a cappella student group Impromptu performed for South Milwaukee High School students and staff and spent an afternoon with South Milwaukee choir students in workshops. Here’s the Livestream:
This year’s SDSM Family Night event is Picking up STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). The event will be held at the HS campus on Feb. 10th from 5-7 pm. This special night will feature a Wacky Science Show and include the following: hands-on activities, science investigations, MS STEAM expo, the MATC Mobile STEM lab, a light meal, and a variety of student work samples from math, science, and STEM classrooms! This year, the District Art Show will also be part of this event, as well as food options from nutrition services. RSVP at DanielBader, Communication Coordinator, School District of South Milwaukee, email@example.com. O: 414-766-5162
For those who don’t know, South Milwaukee is blessed to have some terrific local nature photographers, capturing images, almost daily, of the beauty in our city (and beyond).
Keith Orcholski leads the way, and he is finding some acclaim this week for his photos of a rare Mandarin duck, which has birders excited as it pays a visit to the area around the South Shore Yacht Club. Check out media coverage here.
And the photos are gorgeous … thanks, Keith, for giving me permission to share them.
South Milwaukee Alderman Tim Backes has graciously volunteered to write regular updates for the blog coming out of the South Milwaukee Common Council.
You can see his latest installment here. It has information and discussion on the Bucyrus campus redevelopment under consideration by the council.
Thanks, Tim, for bringing this idea to the blog!
I am always looking for content to further our mission of keeping South Milwaukeeans informed on key issues, while also providing important context and depth where possible. It is why I started this blog as an alderman in 2009, and why I continue it today.
Please note: All content is written by Alderman Backes, and shared verbatim through the blog. Any opinion offered is Tim’s and Tim’s alone.
Here is the Wisconsin Department of Transportation update, shared by the City of South Milwaukee …
Major structural work including new retaining walls, parapet, and railing on the Mill Road bridge over Oak Creek will be completed by late January. Due to weather and scheduling constraints, work will be temporarily suspended throughout February and March. During this winter shutdown, Mill Road will remain closed to traffic between Milwaukee Avenue and Oak Creek Parkway. Vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian detours remain in place.
The remaining work including new limestone fascia, concrete surface and crack repair, HMA pavement, storm sewer, concrete sidewalk, concrete curb and gutter, and restoration is scheduled for spring 2023.
Mill Road is anticipated to be reopened by early summer.
Just before the new year, on December 29, 2022, first cousins and best friends Ava J. Allen (17) and Jaelen Yracheta (18) were tragically taken from this world, found fatally shot in their vehicle. Their families and close friends are now bearing the weight of heavy grief, trying to understand the sudden loss of two vibrant, young lives. While we cannot begin to comprehend these senseless acts, we can find comfort in holding the memories of Ava and Jaelen in our hearts.
The two had so much more life to live.
In its first day, the fundraiser had already attracted more than 200 donations, and raised more than $14,000, as of 11 a.m. on Jan. 7.
SMPD K9 T-Shirts and Plush Toys are now available at the South Milwaukee Police Department Records window Monday-Friday 7AM to 6PM (excluding Holidays). The T-Shirts and Plush Toys are $10 each. T-Shirts are available in Adult sizes Small-3XL and Youth sizes 6-8, 10-12, and 14-16. SMPD K9 T-Shirts and Plush Toys make great gifts and all proceeds go towards the SMPD K9 Unit. Your support is appreciated!
The department also reports that new inventory is in as of Dec. 28.
A $36.7 million development to bring affordable apartments to the former Bucyrus-Erie campus in South Milwaukee won a $2.5 million grant award from Milwaukee County.
It becomes the fourth affordable housing project in suburban Milwaukee County to receive an allocation of American Rescue Plan Act money this year. The project at the Bucyrus campus would renovate two office buildings to create 92 new apartments, 82 of which would be for families with annual incomes of $50,000 or less. Nineteen of those affordable apartments will rent for $650 a month, for example.
“Our teams bring a well-defined reimagination to the former Bucyrus campus, and we’re proud to be building upon existing neighborhood assets in South Milwaukee,” said Scott Crawford Inc. president Que El-Amin.
The developers’ overall plan involves three unused office buildings at the Bucyrus campus. A third office building that includes the former company employee cafeteria is to become commercial space.
South Milwaukee School Board: Incumbents Patrick Hintz and Augie Vega will join Nathan Jurowski and Blaise Paul on the ballot for three seats, all seeking three-year terms. My wife, Sarah, has chosen not to run for another term.
A primary election will be held on Tuesday, February 21, as voters narrow the race for Wisconsin State Supreme Court from four candidates to two. Justice Patience Roggensack is retiring.