Category Archives: South Milwaukee

South Milwaukee Firefighters Rescue Man Who Had Gone Overboard Into Lake Michigan

From the South Milwaukee Fire Department …

Earlier today, the SMFD Rescue Boat, Guardian II, was requested by the Oak Creek Fire Department to respond for a report of a pilot-less boat going in circles in Lake Michigan in the area of the WE Energies Plant.

While responding, the SMFD Rescue Boat was made aware of a private fishing boat that rescued an adult male out of the lake who was not wearing a PFD and hanging onto a floating chair. The boat was, in fact, circling without anyone on board. The pilot of the boat had fallen overboard and the boat continued to operate.

The boater estimated he was in the 48 degree water for approximately 5-10 minute before being rescued by the fisherman. To say he is a lucky man is quite the understatement.

Once contact was made with the fishing boat that rescued him, the boater was brought onboard the SMFD Rescue Boat and transported to Bender Park where he was transferred to the care of awaiting OCFD EMS personnel.

While this boat probably didn’t require one due to its age, as of April 1st, 2021, the U.S. Coast Guard implemented a new engine cut-off switch law that applies to operators of recreational boats built after January 2020 that are less than 26 feet long. Operators of these vessels must now have and use an engine cut-off switch (ECOS) and associated lanyard (ECOSL) while out on Federal waters such as Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, in this case, the new law does not apply if the boat was made before 2020 and does not have a cut-off switch.

After transferring care of the boater to OCFD, the crew from the US Coast Guard USCG Sector Lake Michigan requested the assistance of SMFD in securing the pilotless boat. Eventually, after attempting several maneuvers to control the boat, a member of the USCG had to jump into the boat and take control of it.

The SMFD has said it before and will continue to say it . . . PLEASE RESPECT THE WATERS OF LAKE MICHIGAN, WEAR YOUR PFD, AND PRACTICE SAFE BOATING !!

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COVID Updates: Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Paused; Vaccine Clinic Walk-in Opportunities; Burden Rate Rises in South Milwaukee

The South Shore COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic has paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccine until further review. Anyone with a scheduled appointment for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be substituted with either a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Please continue to watch for available vaccine appointments or walk-in clinic availability. The best way to do this is by signing up for email alerts, and you can do so here, where you can also sign up for vaccine appointments.

It’s important to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, and we are doing our part as a city. Please do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by getting the shot.

The data is not friendly.

The April 9 update from the South Milwaukee/St. Francis Health Department shows our burden rate is now back over 200, according to the Situational Briefing: http://bit.ly/0409SitBrief

New cases and hospitalizations are up in Wisconsin, and there are concerns a spike in cases is coming, given what we’re seeing in Michigan. Give the line chart in this post a good look — it’s deeply concerning.

Protect yourself and those around you by getting a vaccine and practicing safety measures like wearing a mask and social distancing.

For information on where you can get tested for COVID-19 in your community, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/community-testing.htm.

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South Milwaukee Common Council Passes Mask Resolution

The South Milwaukee Common Council voted 5-3 Wednesday in support of a resolution encouraging mask wearing as a pandemic public health measure, and publicly supporting businesses and others who choose to enact their own mask mandates.

You can read the full resolution here.

To be clear, this is not a citywide mandate, although masking will continue to be required in city buildings and with city employees. No ordinance requiring masks was considered at the meeting.

I support the resolution, which stated …

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Common Council of the City of South Milwaukee:

(1) hereby recognizes the importance of mask-wearing in limiting the transmission of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (referred to in this resolution as COVID–19);

(2) hereby recognizes that medical-grade masks should be reserved for use in health care settings and among vulnerable populations throughout the COVID–19 pandemic;

(3) hereby recognizes that mask-wearing should be coupled with other measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and State and local public health agencies, including frequent handwashing and physical distancing, to further reduce the risk of COVID–19 transmission; and

(4) hereby encourages the residents of the City of South Milwaukee to wear masks in indoor public places, in accordance with the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at times when physical distancing is not allowable to protect against unknown transmission of COVID–19.

(5) hereby encourages businesses within the City of South Milwaukee to adopt mask requirements and pledges to support the enforcement of such requirements

The council could have gone further in passing a citywide mandate, and handful of other communities in the county have one in place. But this was a reasonable approach, and farther than many communities in the state have gone. Concerns over enforcing such a local ban are among the numerous challenges with a mandate, and I recognize that. This has to be more than passing an ordinance to pass an ordinance.

Still, I am especially happy to see the language on supporting local businesses in this resolution. We need to stand behind those who choose to enact their own mask mandates, and we will, through enforcement where necessasry. South Milwaukee Police Chief William Jessup and City Attorney Chris Smith addressed what that might look like at the meeting.

In the end, slowing the spread of the virus and limiting outbreaks in many regards comes down to personal responsibility, which it always has. No resolution or ordinance changes that.

So please wear a mask not because the council resolved it so, but because, when combined with other safety measures, it’s a small but real step we can all take to see us through to a return normal, whatever that is post-COVID.

Speaking of a return to normal …

The council also discussed the prospect of large-scale public events amid the pandemic, especially the future of our July 4th celebration this summer. No decisions were made, and it will be a topic for future meetings, as we explore how to safely proceed, or not, with what at this point would be a fireworks-only event at Grant Park.

Organizers of other large community events are wrestling with the same decisions, and I am confident they will put public health guidance first in determining how to proceed this summer. We certainly will.

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2021 Spring Election: Navarro, Backes Win Second District Aldermanic Race; Shelenske, DeFord for South Milwaukee School Board

The results are in from Tuesday’s spring general election, and two challengers won seats in the two contested local races.

  • In the Second District aldermanic race, challenger Tim Backes and incumbent Ray Navarro took the top two spots, unseating incumbent Pat Stoner.
  • For South Milwaukee School Board, challenger Angie DeFord and incumbent Jon Shelenske won, defeating challenger Steven Champagne and incumbent David Maass.
  • Jill Underly (Wisconsin State Superintendent) and Katie Kegel (Milwaukee County Circuit Judge) also won their contested races in South Milwaukee.

Turnout was just over 20%.

Congratulations to all of tonight’s winners, and thank you for stepping up to serve your community during these challenging times. I look forward to working with all of you.

I offer my deep thanks to two longstanding public servants: Pat Stoner and David Maass.

Pat and Dave: You helped build the strong foundation upon which future city and school leaders will build. Your decades of public service will not be forgotten, your contributions not taken for granted.

I have deep respect for both of you personally and professionally, and you leave a legacy of dedicated public service that will be difficult to match. You made our community stronger, and better. Be proud of that.

You will be missed, and you have my deep gratitude.

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No Injuries Reported in South Milwaukee Garage Fire

From the South Milwaukee Fire Department …

At approximately 1PM this afternoon, SMFD responded to a report of a car on fire inside a garage in the 700 Blk. of Clark Avenue. While en route, a dark column of smoke could be seen in the area of the reported location and the response was upgraded to a Full Assignment, bringing in assistance from our neighboring departments.

Upon arrival, a fully involved detached garage was found with a neighboring garage and house being exposed to the high heat. Crews attacked the fire, knocking it down quickly. WE Energies – Electric was requested to the scene to assess damaged wires above the garage.

No injuries were reported and the fire is currently under investigation.

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It’s Election Day. Vote!

Poll are open for the spring 2021 general election. Please vote, if you haven’t already. (More than 1,100 already have via returned absentee ballots, I’m told.)

Polling places …

  • District 1 (Wards 1 through 4): Divine Mercy School, 695 College Avenue Avenue
  • District 2 (Wards 5 through 8): Divine Mercy Gathering Room, 800 Marquette Avenue
  • District 3 (Wards 9 through 12): City Administration Building, 2424 15th Avenue
  • District 4 (Wards 13 through 16): Grobschmidt Senior Center, 2424 15th Avenue

Election Day voting hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Photo ID is required to vote.

Here is a sample ballot, which includes locally contested races for South Milwaukee School Board and Second District alderman.

Look for election results on the blog this evening or Wednesday morning.

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Grant Park Beer Garden to Return in 2021

A popular summer attraction is returning to Grant Park.

The Milwaukee County Traveling Beer Garden is coming to the Brown Pavilion/Picnic Area 5 from June 23 through July 5, the county announced on Monday.

More details and the full schedule here. From the story …

Two simultaneous tours are set to visit different county parks from May to September. The beer gardens are recognizable by red trucks emblazoned with the Sprecher Brewing logo, which pump beer and soda.

They will operate in addition to permanent county-run beer gardens.

“After a difficult winter, I know that so many of us are looking forward to an outdoor, physically distanced summer activity,” Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said Monday.

The traveling and permanent beer gardens have generated more than $10 million in revenue for the county parks department since 2012, officials said.

New this year, Peruvian empanadas from the Milwaukee restaurant Triciclo Peru will be available on both tours. That’s in addition to soft pretzels and Klement’s sausages.

Here is the beer garden page on the county website.

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On the Mask Mandate: What’s Next?


With the Wisconsin Supreme Court striking down the statewide mask mandate, there is no longer one in place for the City of South Milwaukee.

But, as communities across the state grapple with “what’s next?” in light of the ruling, plenty of places will still require masks. That includes inside all City of South Milwaukee buildings and with all city employees, following an extension of our policy issued today and running through Wednesday, April 7, when the South Milwaukee Common Council will discuss this issue. The superintendent tells me the South Milwaukee School District will also keep its mask mandate in place, per school board policy, as will a number of local employers, I’m sure.

Good for them. Good for all us.

I disagree with the court decision, but at least welcome the clarity it brings, as the justices issued a ruling most were expecting months ago.

The timing is unfortunate. We are in the second year of the pandemic, and while there are lots of reasons for optimism, now is not the time to relax. Data shows this.

  • The state added 3,260 positive cases the week ending March 26. More than 300 new hospitalizations were reported, and 35 new deaths.
  • Milwaukee County added 753 new cases last week.
  • South Milwaukee added 16, after adding 20 the week prior, our two worst weeks in more than a month.

The Centers for Disease Control and other experts are warning of another surge. European countries are already seeing this, and variants are beginning to proliferate here, complicating the situation. 

Localized outbreaks remain a concern. Case in point: the South Milwaukee School District’s decision to return high school students to in-person learning for more than a week prior to this week’s Spring Break, as more than 100 students, staff and others were in quarantine due to nine positive cases or exposure to infected individuals (due to participation in an extracurricular activity).

Across the city, the disease burden rate is rising again, to 106.5 as of last week.

In other words, the threat is as real as ever, and we must do all we can to slow the spread and keep people safe as we continue to ramp up our vaccination program.

To me, that includes masks.

I support a local mask mandate — similar to the statewide mandate struck down on Wednesday — because a near consensus of experts say masks work.

Government institutions (CDC, etc.), health care providers, major medical organizations, local public health leaders … they say masks provide an added layer of safety, to be combined with the ones we’ve heard countless times: social distancing, avoiding crowds, practicing good hygiene, etc.

Masks should be part of the solution, as we get closer to normal. And we are getting closer to normal. I am thankful to see a light ahead, some real signs of hope.

Wisconsin is getting vaccinations in arms faster than any state in the country, and we’re doing our part locally, too, through our South Shore Vaccination Clinic at the former Cudahy K-Mart.

I offer my deepest thanks to all of the Cudahy, Oak Creek, South MIlwaukee and St. Francis health department workers, first responders, volunteers, and others who are stepping up to vaccinate hundreds of people daily. I have seen firsthand how well-run this facility is, and have heard many, many people express the same sentiment.

We can do even better, move even faster, with more doses allocated from the state. Milwaukee County lags other urban areas in vaccine distribution, and I still have concerns about shots not being adequately matched to willing providers and available arms, across the county, region and state. But that will improve, and we will get through this, together.

Now is not the time to relax. We have not beaten COVID-19. Yet. Until we do, please mask up.

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New South Milwaukee Library Card: And the Winner is … Dakotah!

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March 26, 2021 · 6:00 am

COVID-19 Update: Vaccine Clinic Update, Bucyrus Testing Center to Close, Text From March 24 Citywide Phone Call

  • Updated information on the city’s vaccination efforts can be found here … https://smwi.org/420/COVID-19-Vaccine. This includes updates on newly eligible populations.
  • Sign up for email notifications of open clinics here … https://bit.ly/COVIDVaccineCommSignup
  • The Zone E health departments have also announced they will be closing the Bucyrus testing facility on March 30, after delivering more than 18,000 tests. I want to thank everyone who played a role in making this facility happen, including all of the health department and city workers who coordinated to deliver this life-saving service. And thank you to the Reich Brothers for allowing use of the facility. Press release
  • For information on where you can get tested for COVID-19 in your community, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/community-testing.htm.

You also may have received a citywide phone call from me on Wednesday evening. Here is the text …

Mayor – COVID-19 Citywide Phone Call 

Good evening, this is South Milwaukee Mayor Erik Brooks with important news on the Health Department’s COVID-19 response.

Earlier this month, the South Milwaukee/St. Francis, Cudahy, and Oak Creek health departments launched a South Shore COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the former K-Mart store in Cudahy. To learn more, please visit the city’s website at smwi.org and click on the COVID-19 Vaccination alert at the top of the page.

From there, you can sign up for vaccine related email updates.  These email updates will provide you with an opportunity to schedule an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services establishes who is eligible for vaccines.

We prefer you sign up to receive vaccine clinic information via email. If you are unable to use the online system, you may call the Health Department at 414-768-8055 to be added to a phone list.

Also, a word about testing. The South Shore testing site at the former Bucyrus Campus will close at the end of the day on Tuesday, March 30.

Over 18,000 individuals have been tested at this site since the fall. COVID-19 testing will continue at American Family Field in Milwaukee on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Residents can call 2.1.1. for additional testing information.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to vaccinate our community … and we ask for your continued diligence with other safety measures. Wear a mask, watch your distance, cover your cough and sneeze and wash your hands.

Please join me in thanking our Health Department and all of the city employees who are coordinating these efforts.

Stay healthy, South Milwaukee. Good bye. 

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Spring 2021 Election: In-Person Absentee Voting Open Through Friday, April 2

From the City Clerk’s office …

Happening Now: In-Person Absentee Voting in the Clerk’s Office.

Hours for in-person absentee voting:

  • Tues, March 23rd – Fri, March 26th – 7:30 AM -4:00 PM
  • Mon, March 29th – Thurs, April 1st – 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Fri, April 2nd – 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM (Please ring bell at front door for assistance.)

Please bring a photo ID!

To register to vote, find your polling location, or request an absentee ballot, please visit MyVote: myvote.wi.gov

To view a sample ballot, please visit our website. http://www.smwi.org/162/Election-Information

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Mark Your Calendars: Here is the Plan for Earth Day in South Milwauke

PDF version here.

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Vote For Our New Library Card Design

Love this idea from the South Milwaukee Public Library …

The South Milwaukee Public Library wants your help to determine our new library card!

You can either vote in-person or online via https://forms.gle/DckCdEUvwkfnqRSU8. Please vote only once. The last day to vote is Wednesday, March 17th.

For more information on the library card contest, visit https://smlibrary.org/library-card-contest/.

Thank you to all of the South Milwaukee artists for your contributions!

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Stronger, Together, to Fight COVID-19: South Shore Communities Partner to Open Vaccine Clinic in Cudahy

I was excited to be a small part of the official opening of the South Shore COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at the former K-Mart store in Cudahy.

Check out coverage from Fox 6, WISN and CBS 58.

The clinic begin vaccinations on Monday, and was on pace to already serve more than 500 people in its first two days. It expects to vaccinate another 500 on Wednesday — and it has capacity for 1,000 per day.

Of course, while we now have the capacity, we need more doses — an ongoing issue I and other local leaders continue to raise with state health leaders.

In the meantime, our local health departments continue to do their best in a difficult situation, trying to match shots with arms, knowing they have too few of the former and too many of the latter.

The clinic remains open by apointment only.

To sign-up to receive COVID-19 vaccine email updates and links to register for South Shore COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic appointments, please complete this formhttp://bit.ly/SSVaccineReg.

Appointment opportunities will also be announced on Facebook, similar to the graphic you see in this post. Those not on email can also call their local health department for more information.

This is another terrific example of a public health partnership in the South Shore. Cudahy, Oak Creek, South Milwaukee and St. Francis have already come together on testing and safety guidelines, and we are now stronger, together, on vaccines.

This is truly a team effort, and to everyone who helped make this happen — from the four health departments to our first responders, volunteers and others who are staffing the facility — thank you!

From the press release …

Community partners are also volunteering their time to be greeters, assist with traffic and assist clinic operations including the Lions Club, Alverno College School of Nursing and local retired nurses.

Local businesses have been tremendous in offering their support to bring this important resource to the community. Aim Transfer & Storage donated their time and resources to clear out the shelving and other items from the former Kmart property. S&P Equipment/Papa Luigi’s donated refrigerators and other equipment. The city also received assistance from Transformco for this effort. The City of Cudahy Engineering Department has created renderings of optimal clinic flow for the spaces. The Cudahy Department of Public Works also has been instrumental in transforming the space into an operational clinic.

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Gone Way Too Soon

This weekend, Dr. Kristin Grenier-Drenzek was laid to rest, as South Milwaukee lost a dedicated community servant with a passion for healing — and much, much more.

Please join me in keeping her family and many friends in your prayers.

You can see her obituary here, but Kristin’s legacy is much more than words on a page, made evident at her memorial on Saturday. She left an indelible mark on this city. And while I came to know her first as a small business owner — as well as a member of the South Milwaukee School Board and various city committees, including our Board of Health — her legacy extends well beyond that.

She touched so many lives, and leaves us way too soon. Rest in peace, Kristin.

From her obituary …

Dr. Kristin M. Grenier-Drenzek passed away peacefully Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021 at the age of 49. Loving wife of Nicholas Drenzek, Proud Mama of Lauren and Katelyn, Cherished daughter of Duane & Bonnie Grenier, Beloved sister of Jeff (Jodi) Grenier, Susan Grenier, and the late Charles Grenier; daughter-in-law of George and Gail Drenzek, sister-in-law of Doug (Jennifer) Drenzek and Jessica (Michael) Koepcke. Dear Auntie of Benjamin, Maddie, Aaliyah, Leslie and Sophie. Further survived by aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.

Kristin was a loving, caring person whose main goal in life was to help people through her Chiropractic business in South Milwaukee. She met many wonderful people and always did her best to make them feel better. Her beautiful smile, quick wit, and sense of humor will long be remembered.

Most of all, she loved spending time with family.

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