Reminder: Earth Day Cleanup is Saturday, Spring Planting on May 11

Two opportunities to step up and help beautify the city! Please organize your groups now, or just stop by and lend a hand.

Lunch will served on both days!

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Headlines: South Milwaukee Brothers Charged in Horrific Sibling Sex Abuse Case

Here are some local headlines …

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Suburban Soles: 10 Very Cool Guided Nature Walks Planned, Starting May 12

What a terrific way to celebrate our city and our most iconic attraction … thank you to Brian Morrison and Friends of Grant Park for bringing us these truly special events. Mark your calendars!

Check out the individual Facebook events here.

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Steady Progress: Downtown Business and Events Update

More wins than losses, over the course of years – that’s how we’re going to turn around downtown South Milwaukee, just as other communities have revitalized countless downtowns across the area, state and country.

It takes patience, dedication, hard work, creativity and a clear sense of self to make this work. And we’re delivering … one property, one activity, one event at a time.

Ready for a roundup?

Let’s start with some bittersweet news from the local dining scene: You may have heard Scrappy’s BBQ is closing this week. I say “bittersweet” because I know a key reason why Mike is doing this is because he needs to spend more time at his other successful, growing and local family business, Classic Cargo International. I wish him nothing but the best, and will sure miss his burnt ends. That property is for sale.

On to the good news, and there is a lot …

  • Borak Entertainment. Much more to come on this, but Papa Luigi’s finally has a new user five years after the flooding damage to the building: Borak Entertainmen. This Latin dance nightclub has already hosted several events in the space, such as live bands and dance; free lessons on Thursday and Saturday dance nights; painting classes; and seasonal fashion shows. I met the new owner recently and left impressed with his plans to make this building a regional hub for Latin dancing and more, building on his existing work at The Wherehouse and other locations. Check out their Facebook page for more information on who they are and what they do — and I think you’ll see how much potential this has to bring new life to this historic building and our downtown.
  • Bonnie Holly is back! Bonnie (aka Natalie Gajewski) was the co-owner of Revolution Hair Studio downtown before it closed last year, to be replaced by Black Sheep Tattoo. Well, Bonnie never left the business, and she’s opening Barbarella, a new brick-and-mortar studio at 915 Milwaukee Ave., next to Avenue Coffee. She replaces Mara’s Sewing House, which recently moved to 1233 Milwaukee Ave. Bonnie expects to open in May, and we’ll be celebrating her return as well.
  • Aurora Healthcare’s plans for 900 Milwaukee are also progressing, as they look to bring 20 back-office employees downtown to its closed Lakeshore Medical Clinic space. They expect to be open this summer.
  • There’s also a new CBD oil business planned, according to the Shepherd Express.
  • Coming soon: A new downtown community garden! Growing South Milwaukee is hosting a formal unveiling of its garden space in the 1300 block of Milwaukee Avenue on May 26. Check out the Facebook event here. I’m told all plots are booked for this season, but there are still plenty of ways to get involved in this unique effort that combines urban revitalization and urban agriculture.
  • Speaking of events … there are three big ones coming up downtown.
    • First, the Rotary Club of Mitchell Field is bringing back its Food Truck Sunday on May 19. Details here.
    • The South Milwaukee Downtown Market opens its 11th season on Thursday, May 30, bringing dozens of vendors, live music and a palpable energy to our city center each week. This is a cornerstone of our downtown revitalization efforts.
    • And, of course, Crusherfest! Progress continues on the making of Da Crusher statute, and it’s on track to be in the ground at the farmers’ market site by June. The big unveiling party, Crusherfest, is set for June 8-9, and it promises to be among the most unique celebrations in the region, to go along with one the most unique attractions. Details here.

And there is one more piece of bittersweet news downtown.

The sweet part is that the law firm of Eberhardy & Eberhardy has moved from Cudahy to South Milwaukee, to 2211 10th Ave. I want to welcome Paul, Sara and their team to the city. It’s exciting to have this respected firm now call South Milwaukee home. More details to come on their official opening.

You may recognize the address, and that’s the bitter part – it’s the former Drenzek Chiropractic office. You may have heard that Dr. Kristin sold her business last year after being diagnosed with cancer. Well, I’m happy to report that Dr. Kristin’s cancer is in remission and she is starting a new career! She will be working side by side with her husband, Nick, in their new Charles Schwab branch office in Oak Creek’s Drexel Town Square.

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South Milwaukee School Board Chooses New Superintendent

Welcome to South Milwaukee, Dr. Weiss!

From the press release, released shortly after the decision made at Wednesday’s board meeting …

School Board President Carol Dufek is pleased to announce that Dr. Jeff Weiss was selected as the new Superintendent of the School District of South Milwaukee effective July 1, 2019. The School Board approved his appointment at the School Board meeting this evening.

The search process, beginning in January 2019, included a rigorous application and several interviews. Finalists completed an extensive interview process which involved staff, parents and a student, as well as several opportunities for the School Board to meet with candidates.

Dr. Weiss has been the Superintendent of Richmond School District in Sussex, Wisconsin, since 2013. He previously worked in the Racine Unified School District as Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Park High School Principal, and Supervisor of English/Language Arts. Previous to his time in Racine, Dr. Weiss was an English/reading teacher and specialist.

We believe that his educational experiences in different leadership positions will be helpful in leading the School District of South Milwaukee in the future as we continue to serve the educational needs of our students. By the timely completion of this search, a smooth leadership transition can occur for the 2019-20 school year to insure future educational stability for the students and staff in the School District of South Milwaukee.

Dr. Weiss obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside and his Masters of Education Degree at Carthage College. He continued his professional studies by earning certifications at Cardinal Stritch University and completed his Doctorate of Education degree at Cardinal Stritch University in 2017.

I look forward to building on the partnership between the city and school district, which only grew stronger under the leadership of outgoing Superintendent Rita Olson. Good luck in retirement, Dr. Olson!

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Well-Deserved Recognition for Richard Thinnes

Honored to honor Richard Thinnes at Tuesday’s South Milwaukee Common Council. What a dedicated community volunteer, including more than 40 years in support of South Milwaukee Human Concerns.

Thanks for your service, Mr. Thinnes! You have touched many, many lives, and our city is better for your tireless work.

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Wanted: Groups and Individuals to Help us Plant!

From the South Milwaukee Beautification Committee …

Bring your green thumb, celebrate spring, and join us in planting in the downtown! We are looking for volunteers to help us on Saturday May 11th to plant in the downtown planters, get the Veterans Memorial site prepared for Memorial Day and (time permitting) work on select city welcome signs.

Free lunch and beverages will also be served. Meet us at 9:00 a.m. at Tri-City Plaza on 10th and Milwaukee and work until we’re done!

All ages are welcome. Have a group interested in helping? That would be great! Email me at brooks@smwi.org. Or just show up.

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