Category Archives: City Services

On Crossing Guards

You may have seen that the South Milwaukee City Council voted last week to enter into a contract with a firm to handle school crossing guard duties.

I agree with that decision.

In working with Twin City Security Inc., we are joining communities like Cudahy, West Allis, Wauwatosa, Waukesha and Shorewood who have decided that the best way to deliver this service is by partnering with a third-party firm to do it.

For South Milwaukee, it was a difficult choice, but the right one as we continue to look for more efficient ways to deliver our services.

There are seven school crossing guards in all, and, until the new contract, all were hired and managed by the South Milwaukee Police Department. The city funds four of them. The school pays the city back for the services of the other three. Going forward, Twin City will supply the guards, removing the burden of managing the program from the police department.

The SMPD has long managed to do more with less. The numbers don’t lie — on a per-resident basis, we have the smallest department in the area. And we must manage those resources closely, ensuring the department is delivering on its core responsibilities in every way possible. Managing the crossing guard program took away from that.

Day-to-day oversight of the program — from hiring to firing to payroll to dealing with absences and the like — has proven more and more time-consuming. The program literally has taken patrol officers of the street; at times, officers have had to man crossing guard stations to fill in for guards away from work. That is not acceptable to me.

No one is saying crossing guards are unimportant. However, when balanced with the other duties our police department performs, we feel this is the right move, especially with contracted program costs being similar to our internal costs.

I want to thank all of our guards for their service.

I know some have become local institutions, and we are honoring one of them — Helga Allen, stationed near E.W. Luther for many years — during our police awards ceremony at our May 17 council meeting.

All have also been offered a chance to apply at Twin City, and I hope they do.


Filed under City Council, City Services, Police, Schools, South Milwaukee

Investing In High-Speed Connectivity

I am always happy to get behind technology that brings communities closer together — and helps make doing our jobs easier. The most recent example: South Milwaukee’s investment in fiber optic cable.

The city council voted unanimously on Tuesday to spend more than $90,000 to install underground fiber cable connecting the City Administration building with Oak Creek, and through that connection other communities who have already made this investment.

Future installations will connect South Milwaukee City Hall with our fire department, street department, library, water and wastewater facilities and, hopefully, our local schools, as we do our part to create a web of fiber connectivity across the county that will help us all work better together in sharing information and potentially services.

The added bandwidth will also make our jobs easier today.

Fiber is able to transmit data much faster over greater distances than traditional copper lines, and it enables faster download and connection speeds for things like video conferencing and data backup.

For our police department, the fiber connection will better support the upgraded countywide radio system coming online later this year, and our records management system, which is hosted through the West Allis Police Department.

In other words, it’s money well spent.


Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee

Cleaning Up Our Roadways, One Tree Stump At A Time

The city continues to invest in urban forestry.

This time, it’s in stump grinding and removal.

The South Milwaukee City Council last Tuesday approved spending around $20,000 for the grinding of 196 tree stumps in street right of way and restoration of those areas. That includes 116 stumps from trees removed by property owners prior to 2014 — when ordinance changes stepping up the city’s ownership of street trees went into effect — and another 80 from trees removed by the Street Department in 2014 and 2015.

Removing dead and diseased trees like this is part of our ongoing commitment to this service, and we have a long ways to go, both in tree removal and replanting. But we’re making progress.

Removal will continue for years. A quick drive around town shows just how many dead or dying trees we have in the right of way in South Milwaukee.

And we’re making progress toward replanting.

Year one of the Arbor Day program was a big success, and we’ll bring it back in 2016.

We have to do more. The Beautification Committee will help.

One of its top duties will be to assist in tree planting efforts, including advising on a community tree management program (per Tree City USA requirements), coordinating an Adopt a Tree program for area residents, leading the Arbor Day celebration, and helping secure private funding for city tree planting efforts.

Want to join the committee? There is still time to apply. Please do so this week here.


Filed under City Council, City Services, South Milwaukee, Urban Forestry

For A More Beautiful South Milwaukee

Beauty shot

Its mission is simple: Promote, encourage, and work to enhance the beauty of the City of South Milwaukee.

It’s also critical to our promising future.

Welcome to the new South Milwaukee Beautification Committee, which the city council unanimously endorsed at its meeting Tuesday night. The committee replaces the Streetscaping Committee, providing a broader approach to beautifying our city.

Its duties …

“Explore and help implement a variety of beautification efforts, working with applicable city departments, community organizations, and others to:

Promote and enhance natural, private and public areas in the city, including:

  • Central Business District plantings and other streetscaping efforts;
    • City welcome signs (in partnership with Garden Club);
    • Street medians;
    • City parks (Heritage Place, etc.); and
    • Other non-city public spaces as appropriate.
  • Assist in tree planting efforts, including advising on a community tree management program (per Tree City USA requirements), coordinating an Adopt a Tree program for area residents, leading on the city’s annual Arbor Day celebration, and helping secure private funding for city tree planting efforts;
  • Partner with existing groups, organizations, and events (Friends, Lions, Earth Day, etc.) to drive organized clean-up activities in South Milwaukee;
  • Develop and implement a landscape (resident and business) award program and other efforts to encourage residents and businesses to beautify their properties;
  • Educate and engage residents in other beautification projects as developed; and
  • Other programs that align with the mission (i.e., recommend locations for and requirements for community gardens; etc.).

Want to join this nine-member committee, and get your hands dirty when it comes to making our city a more beautiful place?  Learn more here. Apply for it, or any of volunteer boards and commissions, now here.

I have met so many people since I’ve been mayor who have a real passion for making South Milwaukee a more beautiful place. I join you in that passion. Here is your chance to help make that a reality.


Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee

Getting CPR Instructions When You Need Them Most

We’ve enhanced our dispatch service to save lives.

In an effort to increase cardiac arrest survival rates, South Milwaukee went live this week with dispatcher-assisted CPR instructions. We join several other area dispatch operations in offering this, in which certain callers to our 911 system will now be transferred to the Milwaukee County EMS Communications Center to deliver CPR instructions.

Learn more here, and here is an investigative report on how well the program has worked in Oregon.

I thank and congratulate our police and fire departments and dispatch crew for stepping up to be part of this program — and consider it another example of how we’re partnering to invest in our city services.

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Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee

Read All About It! Summer Reading In South Milwaukee

Summer reading

Update: One more opportunity for summer reading is the Bookmobile, a partnership between the South Milwaukee Library and School District. See a schedule here. The first stop is June 16 at South Milwaukee Little League.

There are some great things happening at the South Milwaukee Library these days, and their summer reading program is the latest example.

Check out the flyer above … and more details on the kids program, teen program and an events and activities calendar.

Keep our kids reading this summer!

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Filed under City Services, Library, South Milwaukee

Their Job: Saving Lives



It was an honor honoring our local firefighters and emergency medical services personnel on Tuesday night, as part of National Emergency Medical Services Week.

Making the city council meeting extra special: We welcomed back two of the people saved by our personnel as we honored them with letters of commendation. Really, really cool.

See their stories and the proclamation here … and congratulations to all of the award winners. Well done.

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Filed under City Services, Fire, South Milwaukee