Category Archives: South Milwaukee

A South Milwaukee Beach Summer

I love the energy at Grant Park Beach in recent years, and the summer of 2021 promises to be another fun one at this community treasure.

First, I want to thank Milwaukee County Parks for their work in recent weeks cleaning up a lot of the larger wood debris that marked the beach throughout the summer of 2020. If you haven’t seen the beach lately, take a drive down — and enjoy the smooth road when you do. The access road is looking great after being resurfaced last year, thanks to advocacy from the Friends of Grant Park and Supervisor Steven Shea.

And then there is what is inceasingly making the beach a destination these days: Ferch’s Beachside Grille and Volley Life beach vollyeball leagues. Both are back in 2021.

Ferch’s reopens the weekend of May 21, and beach volleyball returns in June, after a pandemic summer off.

Details on the Ferch’s and Volley Life Facebook pages. And here is a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story on the volleyball. Registration is open now.

Spread the word, and we’ll see you at the beach, South Milwaukee!

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Growth in Store for South Milwaukee Self Storage Facility

Redevelopment is happening all over South Milwaukee these days.

I am excited to see work well under way on a roughly $750,000 expansion of South Milwaukee Self Storage, 1005 Columbia Ave. Two new storage buildings are being erected to open in August, with plans for another three in 2022.

All in, it will be more than 27,000 new square feet for the facility that first opened in 2017.

I recently spoke to the owner of South Milwaukee Self Storage, Chris Hitler, and here is what he had to say …

“It has been exciting to be part of the transformation of South Milwaukee. We appreciate the assistance the City has given us to redevelop this dilapidated lot into a safe and secure location for area residents and businesses to store their personal belongings, household items, vehicles and much more.”

The expansion will add 137 units to the 290-unit facility, which includes a variety of options, from small outdoor units to large, climate-controlled indoor units with indoor vehicle loading and unloading. The facility offers 24/7 access, gated entry with key pads and security cameras. More information here.

I want to thank owner Chris for his continued investment in our city. His company has transfomed an eyesore trucking hub and vehicle storage lot into a very positive development for the Second District, and city.

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May 15: Get Outside for the SMArt Walk/Run and Little League Opening Day

In a normal year, I will put our list of South Milwaukee special events against any community.

And while this will not be an entirely normal summer event calendar due to the pandemic, there will be plenty of opportunities to step out in coming months.

Music at the South Milwaukee Downtown Market, the Grant Park Beer Garden, and guided nature walks are already on the calendar. And two events are coming up on May 15 — a new fundraiser for the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center and a longstanding community tradition.

SMArt Walk/Run

Onsite registration and t-shirt pickup from 8 a.m. to noon. The Walk/Run starts at the high school any time between 9 a.m. and noon. Learn more and sign up here. Here is the Facebook event listing.

South Milwaukee Little League Opening Day

  • 9:30 a.m. Players begin assembling at 9th & Madison Ave parking lot for parade
  • 10 a.m. Parade begins – 9th & Madison parking lot to SMLL Park
  • 11 a.m. Opening Ceremonies at SMLL Park
  • 11:15 a.m. Opening Day games begin

More details on Facebook.

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Message: Get the Shot, South Milwaukee — And Our Team Stands Ready to Help

Did you receive a phone call from a local number Monday evening? It may have been a message from me regarding COVID-19 vaccines. You can read the text of the call here and below: http://bit.ly/MayorBrooksCall05032021

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

The South Milwaukee/St. Francis, Cudahy, and Oak Creek health departments continue to staff a South Shore COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the former K-Mart store in Cudahy.

We have plenty of vaccine supply, and we are making it as easy as possible to get vaccines.

To sign up to receive the vaccine through our clinic, please visit the city’s website at smwi.org and click on the COVID-19 alert at the top. Our preference is that you sign up for your vaccine this way. If you are unable to schedule an appointment online, you may call the Health Department at 414-768-8055.

Walk-in opportunities are also now available many days, including during select times every day this week.

To see the specific times when you can walk in this week, and to see future walk-in opportunities, please visit our website and social media accounts. You also may call the Health Department for exact days and times when walk-in spots are available.

We are also offering a free COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for students, parents and the community on Wednesday, May 12, at South Milwaukee High School. You can get more details on the city website.

Please, South Milwaukee, get the shot. More than 8,500 South Milwaukeeans have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, but we can’t stop there. We need to get more shots in arms if we are going to truly beat COVID-19.

Our team stands ready to help. 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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2021 Market Music: What a Lineup!

I always smile a little bit when I hear community leaders brag about their summer concert series, usually thinking this in the back of mind: “How many communities can boast of 19 weeks of live music?”

My guess: Not many, maybe no one. South Milwaukee can.

Check out the list of music coming to the South MIlwaukee Downtown Market this summer. It’s a terrific collection of artists that will lift up the market, our city center and our city every week starting in June. Mark your calendars!

As South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center Executive Director Rachel Sorce said so well …

This is an incredible line up of outstanding musical talent for our community. THANK YOU to all of the sponsors and organizers for your coordinated effort to make these concerts possible! 

South Milwaukee Performing Arts CenterCousins SubsDB Tax & WealthMoran’s PubEberhardy & Eberhardy LLPClassic Cargo International, Inc.South Milwaukee Downtown Market, Molthen-Bell & Son Funeral Home, and Brian Morrison. Thank you for providing the financial resources to make these concerts complimentary for our community while supporting professional artists!

Here is Milwaukee Record coverage.

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No Injuries in South Milwaukee Garage Fire

From the South Milwaukee Fire Department …

At approximately 12:54PM this afternoon, SMFD responded to a report of a garage on fire in the 1600 blk. of Madison Avenue. Upon arrival, crews encountered one detached garage that was fully involved with fire extending to a garage to the west and extending across the alley to a garage to the south. Multiple power lines were also down in the area after being affected by the fire, creating additional hazards to firefighters. The fire was extinguished with the assistance of our mutual aid partners and no injuries have been reported.

The fire remains under investigation by the South Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments.

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South Milwaukee Named Tree City for Second Straight Year; Celebrate by Adopting a Tree or Visiting the Arboretum This Arbor Day

Happy Arbor Day!

Each spring, the city celebrates Arbor Day by planting a new tree at each elementary school. The students all gather around and assist in planting “their tree.” However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to modify this year’s ceremony.

To commemorate this annual springtime tradition, the South Milwaukee Street Department’s tree crew planted three trees at the Mary Nelson Arboretum, located at 8th & Drexel Avenues.

Help us celebrate Arbor Day by visiting the Mary Nelson Arboretum and taking a stroll through the park! Many of the trees in the Arboretum have plaques identifying the species of trees. Some are also planted in memory of a loved one.

Another way to celebrate is to Adopt a Tree!

Each year the City of South Milwaukee leads an Adopt-A-Tree program. This year’s effort is aimed at properties that had a street tree removed in 2020.

The Adopt-A-Tree program consists of the property owner making a one-time donation of $100 to receive a 1.5” to 2” trunk diameter tree planted at their curb line or terrace.

If interested please call the Street Department at (414) 768-8075 by Friday, May 7. We have a few limited tree slots available. Openings will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Back for 2021, and Starting Sunday, May 2: Suburban Soles Guided Nature Hikes

Thanks to organizer Brian Morrison for leading this effort against in 2021, and to the Friends of Grant Park for sponsoring these special community events.

It’s another great lineup this year — 11 reasons to get out and enjoy nature this spring, summer and fall.

From Brian …

Back by popular demand, Suburban Soles nature hike is ready for our third season. Friends of Grant Park is proud to sponsor this program, starting on Sunday, the 2nd of May, and running every 2 weeks through Sept. 19th. You can join the Sunday morning hike at 10 am. Each walk lasts about 90 minutes and may involve stairs. Consider bringing along a water bottle and/or bug spray as needed, and comfortable shoes or boots which may prove ideal when walking along muddy paths. Check the schedule for meeting location which varies from hike to hike.

These events will follow 6 ft. social distancing guidelines. Face masks are strongly encouraged. Please consider others and do not attend this event if you have any suspicion of illness or may have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

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A True Communitywide Effort: Looking Back at Earth Day 2021

Local companies, schools, churches, volunteer organizations, and many others made Earth Day 2021 a true communitywide effort. Thank you to everyone, young and old, who stepped up to help last week!

Here are a few photos, some from me, some from Facebook …

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This Saturday: It’s South Milwaukee Earth Day

Check out the Facebook event page here.

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Vaccinate, South Milwaukee: Open South Shore Clinic Appointments This Week, Walk-in Availabilty on Monday and Tuesday

From the South Shore health departments …

Moderna & Pfizer vaccine appointments are available this week. For appointments & walk-in hours visit our website http://bit.ly/SSVaccineClinic

If you are eligible for a vaccation and have not yet gotten your first shot, please take this opportunity to do so. The process is incredibly efficient and convenient, made possible by the workers and volunteers who step up each day to deliver this life-saving service. I can’t thank them enough.

South Milwaukee reported 24 new cases of COVID-19 last week, one of our worst weeks in months, as our burden rate went to more than 183. In other words, coronavirus is still a reality in South Milwaukee.

At the same time, COVID fatigue is real — I get it, and I share it. But we must continue to take this seriously — and get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

It’s a race to avoid another spike in cases. And our local health departments are doing their part to help.

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A Future in Farming: Farm Equipment Manufacturer Chooses South Milwaukee

“What’s next?” for the former Bucyrus campus is quickly being answered — and the news continues to be exciting for the future of our city.

The latest addition is Dawn Equipment, an Illinois-based maker of innovative farming equipoment that has chosen to expand operations in downtown South Milwaukee.

The manufacturer joins Steele Solutions — which recently signed a lease for more than 200,000 square feet — and Badger Industries as next-generation uses of the campus in the heart of our city.

And there is more exciting news in the pipeline for the campus — and around the city, especially downtown.

Find more details about Dawn’s expansion in Farm Equipment and in today’s Milwaukee Business Journal (subscription required). From the trade publication …

“The interesting thing about Milwaukee is there’s such a legacy of heavy equipment manufacturing,” he says. “You have all the pieces you need right here, in terms of steel, heat treating and the labor pool. It’s a really amazing ecosystem of manufacturers.

“I’m in awe of the scale of the location we’re moving into” he says. “The shovels that dug the Panama Canal were built right on that same floor. You have that legacy of American manufacturing that we can bring back to life by building something big again in these historic plants.” Bassett plans to run a research and development site on the premises as well, allowing Dawn to run tractors and validate equipment.

The facility has 75,000 square feet, with Bassett planning to have 25 employees at the plant by 2022 …

Bassett gives credit to the Milwaukee 7 Economy Development Group for helping get Dawn settled in southeast Wisconsin. “The Milwaukee 7 Economy Development Group has been super helpful, in terms of connecting us with different suppliers and people who are helping with recruiting and interfacing with Milwaukee and Wisconsin economic development groups,” he says.

And here is my quote, which didn’t make the Business Journal story, but I mean every word of it …

“We are excited Dawn Equipment has chosen to grow in South Milwaukee. With businesses large and small deciding to relocate or expand in our city, there is a really positive story being written right now across South Milwaukee, especially downtown. Dawn Equipment is the latest chapter in that. The fact that Dawn has chosen the former Bucyrus campus makes this even more special. This location has been an innovative manfacturing hub throughout our city’s history, and Dawn will help carry on that legacy.”

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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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