Category Archives: South Milwaukee

Light Up South Milwaukee: Holiday Lights Awards Entries Are Open!

Let’s “Light Up South Milwaukee” again this year!

Visiting again this year, Santa’s Elves will be back looking to honor the South Milwaukee homes and businesses with the best outdoor holiday lights displays.  Winners will receive a small cash prize, a yard sign, and recognition on the city website and Facebook pages – and be the envy of your block, and city.   You can enter more than one address.  The more, the merrier!

All entries must be submitted by December 10th.  Judging will occur on December 14th. The Beautification Committee will be sending out a “scouting elf” during the week of December 10th – so make sure you are ready!

Entries can be submitted via:

  • Pinned post on the City’s Facebook page.
  • Via our Google Form
  • Using our SM Work app – Look for the Light Up South Milwaukee category

And check out the 2017 winners in this post!

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December 6: Drug Awareness is Topic for Citywide Block Watch Meeting


From the South Milwaukee Police Department …

Join the South Milwaukee Police Department, Health Department and South Milwaukee Unite Against Drug Abuse Coalition for a presentation on drug awareness.

SMPD Investigator Jon Rivamonte will be speaking.

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South Milwaukee Students to Release Professional a Cappella Album

Image from iOS (2) (1)

I love this! From Lee Stovall, vocal music director …

Delta V and The PopRockets, two a cappella groups at South Milwaukee High School, are thrilled to announce the release of Keep Myself. Officially dropping on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and Google Play on November 20th, it will be the first professionally produced high school a cappella album from the state of Wisconsin. Students recorded the album at the school, and had it edited, mixed, and mastered by professionals. Grammy award-winner Ed Boyer, who mixed this album and has mixed Pentatonix, Glee, and Pitch Perfect  says, “It is fun to mix something so expressive.” The album is also mastered by Dave Sperandio, who has mastered thousands of a cappella albums over the past 20 years.  “I can truly feel the message and emotion coming through!” Sperandio says.

Exploring topics of high school life, hope, regret, and identity, Keep Myself earns its title from the introductory song, based off a line of Nine Inch Nails’s “Hurt.” The 8 song album embeds the idea and emotion of “I would keep myself, I would find a way” through covers of popular songs, sometimes imagined in different ways. The process of making the album began by students suggesting lyrics that fit the theme, choosing songs, and then arranging them in the studio one singer at a time. “It was an amazing experience to record music with my friends that we could all relate to” says current senior Alexa Wilhelm, who plans on going into music production as a career. This process was part of her inspiration to continue with music. Students also developed the album art and shot and edited a music video to accompany the album prior to its release.

In 2013-2014, The PopRockets and Delta V began as extra curricular a cappella groups at South Milwaukee High School. Inspired by established groups from Port Washington, and GET High School in western Wisconsin, they have competed and performed at the regional and national level. Wisconsin a cappella has now grown to local districts such as Oak Creek, Grafton, and Brookfield, and there is even an a cappella summer camp at UW-Parkside called “A Cappella University.” This release marks itself as a foray into the recorded realm, as it is the first full length album available on all major digital platforms from its region.

Keep Myself would not be possible without up-and-coming a cappella professionals Luke Dutelle and Justin Crichfield, who helped with recording and editing, respectively. A student edit crew also worked extensively on the project, and the hardware and software was provided by SM Legacy and the School District of South Milwaukee. Administrators Blaise Paul, Beth Kaminski, and Ante Udovicic, as well as secretary Denise Roszak made the finances and paperwork for this album happen.

Check out the promo video.


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A Lasting Legacy from a Terrific Artist, Gone Much Too Soon

Ruddy Cancel Ramirez recently passed away at the age of 50, much too soon. His legacy in this city will live on for many years — through his art.

It’s only a small solace. 

This fall, Ruddy completed the mural at Tony G’s Grant Park Garage, and other designs and detail work at the South Milwaukee business. If you haven’t seen it yet, please check it out; it’s a beautiful painting that honors the legacy of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, just feet from the South Milwaukee veterans memorial.

Ruddy had plans for other projects, too, and we discussed those after a recent service at Trinity Lutheran Church in South Milwaukee, where we are both members. 

I just wish he could be with us longer to share his gift, and other passions.

From his obituary

Ruddy had a passion for painting. He also loved to bird watch, and he combined his two favorite hobbies to create extraordinary art. His paintings of various birds & flowers were much admired not only by friends and family, but also by all who frequented the locations where his paintings were displayed. He was known for his quick wit, his infectious smile, and his kind and compassionate spirit.

We mourn the loss of that spirit at Trinity Lutheran and across the city, and we offer our heartfelt prayers to his entire family, including his mother, three children, two grandchildren, three brothers, three sisters, nieces and nephews.

Many joined me in paying tribute at his funeral on Thursday, sharing memories of the talent that I saw come to life in the years I knew him.

It came to life in big ways, like the mural.

And it came to life in small ways, like in the cross drawing you can see in this post, shared with our pastor. Or in the pencil drawing he did in my 10-year-old daughter’s sketch book in church just recently.

“Always dream,” Ruddy wrote to my daughter. “A journey of wonderful things will come your way. Keep smiling and praying. Never give up hope.”

We won’t, Ruddy. We won’t.

Look for more information soon on how you can help the family. 


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Proposed 2019 Budget Delivers 3.5% Property Tax Decrease​

The proposed 2019 city budget includes a 3.5% decrease in the property tax levy, driven in large part by a reduction in city debt.

And while I’m happy to potentially deliver a tax cut, the budget does not change the economic realities we continue to face — marked by restrictive state levy limits and other mandates that make it more and more difficult to fund our first-class city services.

You can see a draft summary of the proposed budget here.

A public hearing on the budget is set for 6 p.m. this Monday, Nov. 20, with the South Milwaukee City Council expected to vote on it the following night, with that meeting set for 7 p.m. Of note …

  • The version of the budget being discussed on Monday differs slightly from the budget published last month. As if often the case, we were able to refine some of the numbers to get more clarity on certain revenues and expenditures.
  • It includes a 2.4% reduction in expenditures, to just shy of $20 million, and a 1.05% decrease in revenues.
  • The decrease in the levy stems from a reduction in our debt. Our 2018 debt payments were just over $4 million; in 2019, they are projected to be just over $3.6 million, with our levy being reduced by the $462,871 difference.
  • Levy limits continue to hamstring us, and hundreds of communities across the state. For the 11th straight year, our “net new construction” figure measured less than 1%; this year it was 0.3%, meaning we were only able to increase our levy by approximately $22,000. This is obviously not sustainable.
  • The budget reflects the referendum passed in 2017, and segregated the extra $616,641 in revenue to support the sustained funding of our paramedic program and the hiring of two new police officers. We feel it’s important to segregate the funds this way to ensure taxpayers can see the additional revenue is being spent in exactly the way we said it would. We will continue to deliver this transparency.
  • The proposed budget also includes 2% pay raises for employees.
  • Health insurance costs continue to rise at a high rate. Our initial renewal came back at +9%, but we have negotiated that down to a more manageable increase of 3.9% — still an additional $223,000 in costs to the city.
  • The budget includes no expenditure restraint payment for 2019, typically more than $300,000 for us. This is due to increased expenditures following the referendum result. We expect to once again receive that payment in 2020.
  • We are also anticipating state transportation aids to decrease by $24,000.

We remain committed to being good stewards of your money — it’s our most important job. And I welcome your thoughts on the 2019 budget.


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Headlines: Well-Deserved Love for Barbiere’s, School Report Cards and More

Check out these South Shore headlines …

Also, the South Milwaukee Police Department has put out its weekly crime summary on its Facebook page.

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Signs of Rebirth: Newly Branded City Welcome Signs Being Installed

You may see something new welcoming you to the City of South Milwaukee.

Two new metal and wood signs have been installed, reflecting our new logo: one at Lake Drive and another on Forest Hill Avenue. Signs on Drexel Boulevard and Rawson and College Avenues will be placed in coming weeks, as we continue our work to bring our new city brand to life. This is indeed just the beginning.

The signs were made locally by Brandon Chodkowski, a South Milwaukee High School graduate who runs a small machining shop on the southeast side of town.

And a big thank you goes out to City Clerk Jim Shelenske, custodian Jason Boswell, and our Street Department crews for working together to bring these signs to life.

I hope you agree their work was worth it. I love these. So unique.


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