Sign Up For Vaccine Updates

From the South Milwaukee and St. Francis Health Department …

The South Shore Health Departments (Cudahy, Oak Creek, and South Milwaukee/St. Francis) want to keep our communities up-to-date on the latest vaccine information.

Sign up to receive COVID-19 Vaccine email updates: https://form.jotform.com/210244139318045

Also, bookmark these additional resources …

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State Gets Behind Bucyrus Club Project With $250,000 WEDC Grant

Work on the Bucyrus Club is moving full spead ahead — celebrated in this new video about the project and what it will mean for the city.

The project has also received a major boost from Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which on Wednesday announced the awarding of a $250,000 grant to support the project. The South Milwaukee Common Council voted 6-0 on Tuesday night to accept the funds.

From the WEDC press release

The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will support renovations to the Bucyrus Club banquet and meeting center and museum, more than 100 years after the first Bucyrus Club opened in the building.

“A vibrant downtown is key to a community’s overall economic health, and this renovation is expected to bring more visitors to downtown, which will benefit other businesses and the entire community,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “This project is another example of the many ways in which WEDC works with communities throughout Wisconsin to enhance their business districts and in doing so, add to their quality of life.”

“This is a transformational project for our downtown and city,” said South Milwaukee Mayor Erik Brooks. “I can’t thank the WEDC enough for their support. These funds will go a long way toward making this game-changing project a reality, and ensuring future generations know the heritage of Bucyrus in South Milwaukee through the Bucyrus Club.”

I am incredibly grateful to the WEDC for its support, which may be the first state economic development grant for South Milwaukee in the history of the city. Thank you, Secretary Hughes.

I also recognize these grants don’t magically happen. I also want to thank city staff for putting the detailed-oriented work in to identify the opportunity and then apply for it.

Let’s keep the good news coming!

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Trying To Answer, “When Is It My Turn?”: COVID-19 Vaccine Information Available on South Milwaukee Website

The South Milwaukee and St. Francis Health Department has launched an information page about COVID-19 vaccinations. Check it out here, and learn more about the rollout plan, and to link to a number of other resources about the COVID-19 vaccination effort. From the page …

What phase are we in right now?

We are currently in Phase 1A which means we are vaccinating health care personnel and those that live and work in long term care facilities.  There are an estimated 400,000 individuals statewide that are eligible to receive vaccine in Phase 1A. In addition to Phase 1A, the State has indicated that starting Jan. 18, 2021, law enforcement and fire personnel may also be vaccinated.

If you are an individual that is a healthcare worker or an organization that employs healthcare workers you can register at https://www.healthymke.com/register to be matched to a vaccine provider. You can also contact the South Milwaukee/St. Francis Health Department for more information at 414-768-8055.

Next up will be phase 1B, which includes front-line essential workers and people ages 75 and older, as defined by the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee.

What is the timeline for moving through the phases?

The State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services has indicated that the State will move through the phases together, which means that once Phase 1A is complete we will move to Phase 1B as defined by the SDMAC. Although vaccine is slowly becoming available, we all still need to take the necessary precautions to prevent getting or spreading COVID-19. Please stay home when you’re sick, continue to wear masks, limit indoor gatherings, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands often. The combination of a vaccine and prevention measures will help us as we slowly return to “normal.” 

Where can I go for the most up to date information about vaccines and vaccination data?

Things are changing quickly when it comes to the rollout of the vaccine, including the potential for nationalizing the effort under President-Elect Joe Biden.

I thank local public health departments like ours for navigating through these dificult times, and leading where others aren’t. With little to no federal help on a rollout plan — even a framework for who should get shots in arms when — it has been left to individual states, and each one seems to be doing this differently, with some moving much quicker than others. All of it seems disjointed.

I’m deeply disappointed with the rollout in Wisconsin — specifically about the lack of a statewide vaccination plan. This should have been developed months ago, with clear answers to the most basic questions — who gets shots in what order and when — and a plan to communicate that clearly and consistently to the public.

Instead, we don’t even have a final recommendation for who is in the next phase, while some areas move to that next phase. This is leaving people to rightfully wonder, “When is it my turn?”

Fingers are being pointed, and politics are being played (of course). Vaccines wait in storage while the virus rages in some parts of the country, with a new variant prompting dire predictions.

We deserve better. We need consistency and coordination at the state and federal levels. We need leadership. We need accountability. We need a plan. Instead, we are getting exactly what we have throughout the pandemic — a too-often piecemeal approach to an effort that demands the exact opposite.

The good news is coming locally. Public health departments stepping up as they have throughout the pandemic to lead where others aren’t. They are working together to get shots in arms in the South Shore and county, just as they did around testing and with other efforts to slow the spread the virus.

Local health departments are saving lives. As we surpass 2,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Milwaukee, they know we must be unified to confront this historic challenge, so we can return to normal with as little illness and death as possible. Others should learn from them.

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Momentum Builds Downtown: Former Bucyrus Campus Lands First Major Tenant, Steele Solutions

Our downtown redevelopment momentum continues, wih the announcement today that the former Bucyrus campus has landed it first major tenant: Steele Solutions.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story

White Plains, New York-based Reich Brothers LLC is redeveloping the 27-acre former Bucyrus property. It contains over 750,000 square feet of industrial and office space within seven buildings.

Steele Solutions makes mezzanines and catwalks and is expanding operations to South Milwaukee. It is based in Franklin and also has a Milwaukee facility.

“South Milwaukee has always been a hub for heavy manufacturing, and we look forward to helping keep that tradition alive,” said Chief Executive Officer Kevin O’Neill.

“Adding the Big Muskie building to our other two local fabrication plants will help us keep up with the rapid growth our customers are experiencing,” he said in a statement.

Here is my full statement: “This is great news for South Milwaukee. It’s exciting to see new life, and new jobs, come to the former Bucyrus campus in the heart of our city, and build on our manufacturing legacy. Steele Solutions is not alone in deciding to grow in South Milwaukee. So many good things are happening across our city these days, especially downtown, and I’m so happy to see them choose to write another chapter in that unfolding story.”

More details on Steele Solutions here.

Please join me in welcoming them to South Milwaukee!

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South Milwaukee District Makes Plans to Return to In-Person Learning

The South Milwaukee School Board on Monday voted to begin a return to in-person learning, starting with a “hybrid” approach for elementary students on Jan. 18 and middle and high school students a week later. Elementary students would fully return to school on Feb. 1, with middle and high students returning Feb. 8.

Learn more about their plans on the district website.

The decision came after student and parent rallies and protests earlier in the day.

I support the decision to return to school, as mayor, husband to a school board member, and father of two district students. I also support the people who made it, the path they took to get there, and the motivations behind their decisions.

It’s time to get kids back to school, safely, and many more are making this choice.

Yet districts across the county and state remain divided on this issue. It seems like no two are handling it in exactly the same way. Some districts have been fully open since September. Others have been fully virtual, and will seemingly remain so for some time. And then there is everyone in between, those who have mixed virtual and live schooling in recent months, often in very different ways.

That lack of a coordinated reponse to the virus is not unique to schools. Disagreements have marked every aspect of our response to COVID-19 since last spring.

Almost no part of the work to push back against the pandemic — from decisions on shutdowns and reopenings, to support for struggling families and busineses, to testing, to contract tracing, to adherence to safety measures like masking, to now vaccinations — has been consistent.

We have suffered because of it. Too many lives have been lost, as the pandemic has further divided an already divided nation and state and left local units of government, and their usually part-time elected officials, to fill this leadership vacuum and make the best of complex situations lacking clearly right or wrong answers.

Such is the situation the school board found itself in in recent weeks. Such is the situation we have all found ourselves in for the last 10 months.

You may not support the decisions made, and that is your right. Protest them, if you wish. But please draw the line at personally attacking the individuals making them.

I’d like to think we can at least agree on that, even in these times. Is that possible in 2021?

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Small Businesses Choose South Milwaukee

Times are tough for small businesses, amid a pandemic and recession, but there are signs of hope as we head into 2021. Here are a few from the last few weeks …

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Silent Sky: South Milwaukee Alumni Return for Shows Jan. 15-17

From the South Milwaukee Theatre Company …

On January 15 through 17 at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, a group of SMHS theatre alumni will be performing a production of Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson. 

The play is about Henrietta Leavitt, a Wisconsin native who went to Cambridge to work in an astronomy office at Harvard and, in her spare time, performed groundbreaking research that made her the first person to measure the distance between stars.

This was originally supposed to be part of our high school theater season with performances last June, but COVID prevented that from happening. We gathered a group of alumni together who still wanted to find a way to put on the show, and passed out scripts in August before most of them went off to college for the fall semester. We’ve been rehearsing while they’ve been home for winter break.

While this is not a high school event, we are doing it to support the high school arts. All money from ticket sales for the show will be donated to the SMHS theatre program.

We’re hopeful that this will be the first of more alumni-based productions to come in the future, so we can bring more theater to South Milwaukee and build up a community of people who care about the arts and the PAC!

Show times are January 15th and 16th at 7:30 PM and January 17th at 2 PM. Tickets are available at www.southmilwaukeepac.org. The PAC is doing a fantastic job of making its facilities safe for small productions like these; all patrons must wear masks and will be kept appropriately distanced in the theater.

Here is the team involved in the production:

  • Actors: Anna Basha (SMHS ’20) as Henrietta Leavitt, Grant Latus (SMHS ’16) as Peter Shaw, Lia Krystowiak (SMHS ’20) as Margaret Leavitt, Jessica Calteux (SMHS ’19) as Annie Cannon, Elizabeth Karnowski (SMHS ’19) as Williamina Fleming
  • Production: Tim Backes (SMHS ’06), Director; Natasha Bernovich (SMHS ’20), Stage Manager; Jack Millane (SMHS ’17), Lighting Design; Caitlyn Birmingham (SMHS ’16), Costume Design; Cara Jenquin (SMHS ’21), Sound Design; and Marina Bernovich (SMHS ’18), Deck Chief

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The Next Day

This can’t be America. We can’t let this be America.

Division and discord can’t define us, even though we know they too often do, exacerbated most recently by our president and the pandemic. They defined us again on Wednesday, one of our darkest days.

We have to reckon with that as a nation.

As we do, the work of local government gives me hope today.

It comforts me knowing that work will continue, driven by leaders who seek to unite us, and delivered by people who won’t be deterred by the riotous acts of a mob a thousand miles away.

Our Health Department will continue to lead our fight against COVID-19, as it prepares to administer our first doses of the coronavirus vaccine, while continuing to test the community, track the illness and offer guidance on a safe and responsible reopening.

Our first reponders will go about their work as they always do, keeping us safe from harm and saving lives.

Our Street Department will pick up your trash. Our Senior Center will distribute meals to seniors over the lunch hour. Our clerk and treasurer’s office will keep working behind the scenes as they always do, as will our engineering, economic development, inspection, assessment, administration and other teams. The library will open as usual. Water will flow from your tap, your toilet will flush, and our water and wastewater utilities will continue to live out their promse of clean water.

Knowing that reassures me, especially on days like this.

It doesn’t diminish what happened in Washington D.C., and the need to hold those behind it accountable. It doesn’t diminish the need for those who support the insurrection we saw to take stock and speak out against it. It doesn’t diminish the hard work ahead in healing this country as a whole, starting today.

It does make me proud to lead the team I do. Let’s get to work, together.

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2021 Spring Election: Competition for School Board, District 2 Aldermanic Seats

There will be competition for two South Milwaukee School Board seats and the South Milwaukee Common Council’s Second District this spring.

Candidate paperwork to get on the ballot was due on Tuesday.

Here are the local candidates who will be on the ballot on April 6 (no primary in these races) …

South Milwaukee School Board (two seats; three-year terms)

  • Incumbents David Maass and Jon Shelenske and challengers Steven Champagne and Angie DeFord

South Milwaukee Common Council (two seats per district; three-year terms)

  • First District: Incumbents Brett Breisemeister and Craig Maass
  • Second District: Incumbents R. Patrick Stoner and Ramon Navarro, and challenger Tim Backes
  • Third District: Incumbents Joseph Bukowski and Lisa Pieper
  • Fourth District: Incumbents David Bartoshevich and Peggy Clark

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South Shore COVID Testing Site To Continue Through Early 2021

From the South Milwaukee and St. Francis Health Department …

After conducting over 10,000 tests since it opened in late October, the South Shore Testing Site has proven to be a vital resource to bridge testing gaps in the southeastern part of Milwaukee County. We are pleased to announce the South Shore COVID-19 Testing Site will continue operations through early 2021.

For more details, see the press release here: http://bit.ly/SSTest2021Ext

The site is being offered as a collaborative effort between the South Milwaukee/St. Francis Health Department, Cudahy WI Health Department, Oak Creek Health Department, the Wisconsin National Guard, the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, and the City of Milwaukee Health Department.

Tests are free for everyone ages 5 and older. No appointment necessary. Please pre-register for testing through COVID Connect at: https://register.covidconnect.wi.gov/en-US/

I am thankful we can continue to offer this service during the pandemic, and so appreciative of the partnerships necessary to make it happen, as local governments continue to step up to fill this critical need. We are stronger, together, especially during a pandemic.

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Friends Wanted: Step Up To Support the South Milwaukee Public Library

A message from the Friends of South Milwaukee Public Library …

Are you interested in helping your local community? The Friends of the South Milwaukee Public Library, a 501(c)(3) is looking for new volunteers and a Vice President and Treasurer for its board. Our volunteers and Officers help the Friends raise awareness and funds for the public library. Give us a shout at FriendsofSMKEPL@gmail.com to learn about these volunteer opportunities. We can’t wait to meet you!

More details on the Friends web page.

And be sure to check out their Book Nook clearance sale!

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2020 Light Up South Milwaukee Awards: And The Winners Are …

Congratulations to our 2020 Light Up South Milwaukee Holiday Lights Award winners! Thank you to everyone who submitted photos and took the time to vote for your favorites.

Check them out in the images in the post, and take your own holiday lights tour in the next few days.

A special congratulations to these business/business property owners for sharing their displays:

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Downtown Public Gathering Space: A Plan to Bring the Community Together

It’s a summer Thursday evening in South Milwaukee, and you’re looking forward to a stop at the Downtown Market on the way home from work. You park along Milwaukee Avenue.

As you walk toward the vendors along 11th Avenue, you see a group of people sipping local craft beer around a firepit. “Why not?” you think, as a couple of friends motion you over to their table. You stop at the outdoor bar, share a joke with the bartender, and join your friends for a cold one.

You soon continue on your mission, walking past Da Crusher Statue and into the farmers’ market. By now, you can hear music in the distance. But first things first: It’s time to grab dinner. Should it be Mexican, Chinese, or maybe a freshly made burger? As you decide, you pick up some fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce for tomorrow night’s meal, and can’t resist the kettle corn, roasted nuts and honey either. You make your purchases, walk across a new 11th crosswalk, and look for a place to sit down.

You walk into the covered pavilion, the perfect place to enjoy dinner. You see a couple more friends and sit next to them, out of the sunlight and near the fireplace. Now enveloped by the music, you look east and see what’s in front of you: a well-manicutred grassy knoll, with picnic tables leading to a large stage, where a local jazz group has kids of all ages out of their seats dancing. You look to your left and note the restrooms; you’ll visit those before you head out. Beyond them, you take note of the alley — and artwork. Colorful murals stretch down the block, providing a beautiful boundary to one of the coolest new places in the South Shore.

This is vision for the new downtown South Milwaukee gathering place.

Last week, the South Milwaukee Common Council got a chance to weigh in on the concept plan for the space planned for the area near 11th and Milwaukee Avenues — which, if fully built out, could look and feel very similar to what I described above. Phase one is the focus for now.

I’m excited about what they saw, and I hope you are too. This will be the latest transformational deveopment for our city center, and I’m hoping to see shovels in the ground for phase one next year.

From the South Milwaukee website

In early 2020, the City of South Milwaukee, in partnership with the Bucyrus Foundation, announced plans to acquire the property at 1919 12th Avenue and to invest in a public plaza at 11th and Madison Avenue.  

The property at 1919 12th Avenue is being transformed into the Bucyrus Club, an event space and museum with Skyline Catering and the South Milwaukee Industrial Museum. Construction is underway, and it will open in the summer of 2021.  

The second portion of the project is the site at 11th and Madison Avenue, space is currently used for the Downtown Market, a beer garden, and as the home for events like Crusherfest and the Festival of Trees. In early 2020, the City, looking to make the site into a more permanent space, hired a design firm to help determine the future of the site, in partnership with the community at large and a number of stakeholders. After several stakeholder committee meetings and two public surveys, the developed design can be seen above.  

The redevelopment is likely to be phased, with the initial focus on the “event lawn” area as phase one. Plans for the first phase include construction of a stage and covered pavilion, with restrooms, and creation of an improved lawn seating area. Improvements to the adjacent areas — which could include a beer garden, heated seating area, improvements to 11th Avenue and the addition of an activated alley space with murals — are in the City’s long-term plans.  

To view the full master plan presentation from Saiki Design, click here. The Plan Commission, Common Council, and Joint Review Board will be exploring this potential project further in 2021. Check back for updates! 

Thank you to everyone who took part in the feedback process. More than 720 people offered their thoughts and opinions throughout the process, and we’ve incorporated that feedback into a design we think the entire community can be proud of.

Check out Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage here.

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Festival of Trees: Creativity On Display Downtown

The Festival of Trees is open, and the trees are ready for viewing!

Thanks to Caterpillar employees for organizing this new South Milwaukee holiday tradition, to Ace Hardware for donating the trees, and to all of the organizations and businesses who stepped up to deocrate trees.

Beautiful! See for yourself as we head into Christmas.

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100 Years Later, Rebirth Coming of a Downtown South Milwaukee Destination

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the original Bucyrus Club. About seven months from today, it will be be reborn.

Work is well underway on the project at 12th and Milwaukee Avenues, a combination banquet center and museum that will bring together our proud past and promising future to create a unique regional destination and catalyst for growth in our city center.

OnMilwaukee.com’s Bobby Tanzilo authored a terrific “Urban Spelunking” story about the project today.

Thank to you to the Bucyrus Foundation, Skyline Catering and the South Milwaukee Industrial Museum for their partnership on this project, and to Zimmerman Architectural Studios and CG Schmidt for bringing this vision to life. You can actually book the space right now here: https://bucyrusclub.com/

From the story: “You’d be hard pressed to find a South Milwaukee family that didn’t celebrate a wedding or a birthday, or attend a high school reunion or an awards ceremony, or even just eat a fish fry and play pinochle there. ‘The Club’ was a major focus of South Milwaukee social life for decades.”

It will be again. Much more to come in 2021!

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