Category Archives: South Milwaukee

Thank You, South Milwaukee

My time as South Milwaukee’s mayor has officially ended, and I want to thank everyone who has reached out since my announcement with well wishes and kind words. 

While I have not been able to respond to everyone, please know your messages have been cherished, humbling and much appreciated. 

I’m not naive — I know there are some who are clearly happy I’m leaving this job, and that’s how this works. I was proudly their mayor, too, while recognizing the haters often aren’t the most prolific voices in the room. They are just the loudest. 

As I walk away, my love for this city and positive feelings about where we are headed have not subsided. Our future has never been more promising. 

I leave the city in great hands. 

To our first-class city department heads and front-line workers, thank you for delivering every day, especially during the incredibly challenging times of the past 18 months. 

To Alderman David Bartoshevich, I wish you nothing but the best as you assume the role of acting mayor until April. With your experience, good heart and love of this city, you will serve South Milwaukee well.

To the rest of the council, I offer the same good feelings. We may not have agreed on everything during my tenure (and that’s a good thing), I thank you for your leadership and wish you wisdom as you wrestle with some big decisions you will be asked to make in coming months and years. 

I also offer thanks to our volunteer board and commission members for your continued service. Be proud of the difference you are making.

Here is the good news: South Milwaukee is just starting its ascendency. 

The opportunity in front of us is historic.

I firmly believe 2022 and the years ahead will be critical for this city, as public and private investment pours into South Milwaukee and leaders make difficult and defining decisions around how to best use those funds to solve longstanding problems and build for the future. 

  • The $10 million Bucyrus Foundation investment in our city and schools begins next year — funds that will touch so many people and institutions across our community.  
  • Downtown redevelopment is just beginning, with new businesses coming online, existing ones choosing to grow locally, and hundreds of new apartments planned. 
  • New life continues to come to the former Bucyrus campus — almost vacant a year ago, it is now almost fully leased, sold or planned to be, with key decisions yet to be made.
  • The $2 million Bucyrus Commons public event space should be reality by next fall, in time for Crusherfest.
  • The Oak Creek Watershed restoration plan is finally complete — giving communities across the watershed the roadmap they need to make investment decisions around this critical resource (and air cover to seek that money). 
  • Federal infrastructure and stimulus dollars coming will have an impact, too, hopefully delivering big solutions to big problems like (too many) homes with lead water lines. 

And that is just the start. My hope and ask going forward is that elected leaders of this city build on the foundation we’ve laid, thinking and acting boldly, and with urgency, to seize on the opportunities in front of us. I’ll be rooting hard for their success, as I refocus my energies on my family, my small businesses and the St. Anthony High School girls’ basketball team. 

As for what’s next for this platform and my mayoral Facebook page, both will go dormant for a time, as I determine plans for both. Until I have that final decision, I will keep the blog published, but not be updating it. I will (at least temporarily) unpublish my mayoral Facebook page.

That said, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll find other ways to give back to my community, and already am. I got into politics to help people, and I will do just that — outside of City Hall. 

Have a blessed holiday season, South Milwaukee. Forward!

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This Saturday, November 20: Christmas in South Milwaukee Kicks Off With Old Fashioned Christmas Activities, Lions Lighted Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting

We will see you Saturday!

And there is still time to sign up to join the parade. We need parade volunteers too!

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No One Injured, But Fire Causes Extensive Damage to Sherman Avenue Home, Displaces Occupants

From the South Milwaukee Fire Department …

At approximately 9:17 PM on Monday, November 15th, SMFD responded to a 9-1-1 call reporting a house on fire in the 1300 block of Sherman Avenue. Upon arrival, SMFD units encountered a fully involved garage attached by a breezeway to a single-family dwelling. Fire was extending through the breezeway into the house. The occupants reported smelling smoke, discovering the fire, and evacuating everyone out of the house. The fire was quickly knocked down and extensive overhaul operations took place. The fire caused extensive damage to the entire structure. No injuries were reported. The American Red Cross was called for the displaced occupants.

The fire is currently under investigation by the SMFD.The SMFD would like to remind everyone to install and maintain working smoke alarms. Early detection and notification of a fire could mean the difference between life and death, especially when you are asleep and would be unable to smell the smoke.

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What’s Coming up at the South Milwaukee PAC? A Lot: Student Theatre Productions of “Harvey,” Return of the South Milwaukee Municipal Band, Holiday Shows and More

Here is what’s coming up at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center …

  • Friday-Sunday, November 12-14: South Milwaukee Theatre presents “Harvey.” Get details and buy tickets here.
  • Tuesday, November 16: The South Milwaukee Municipal Band returns with a free concert. Details below.
  • Friday, November 19: “Shake and Holla — North Mississippi Allstars and Rebirth Brass Band.” Get details on this SMPAC season performance and buy tickets here.
  • Saturday, December 4: Studio K presents “The Flamenco Nutracker.” Get details and buy tickets here.
  • Sunday, December 12: The Texas Tenors — “Deep in the Heart of Christmas.” Get details on this SMPAC season performance and buy tickets here.

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Veterans Day 2021: Events Planned Thursday at American Legion Post and High School … and Support Honor Flights at the Knights of Columbus Vegas Night This Saturday!

There are several ways to celebrate our veterans this week …

Veterans Day (Thursday, November 11)

The public is welcome as the South Milwaukee Veterans Council is holding a Veterans Day event on Thursday, Nov. 11. The event is being held inside the American Legion Post #27 hall, due to weather concerns. The event will start at 111 a.m. hours, with a short ceremony followed by a luncheon served by AMVETS Post 4 AUX.  

And this, from the South Milwaukee School District, with information on a short parade on 15th Avenue …

South Milwaukee High School will host its annual Veterans Day celebration on Thursday, November 11, 2021 at the high school. This year’s event will be conducted 100% outside to maximize social distancing and to protect the safety of our honored guests. If you are a Veteran or have a Veteran family friend or relative, we would love for them to participate in this year’s event which will include a parade. We are asking our guests to arrive around 1:00 p.m. (1300). Veterans and guests should report to the east parking lot where they will be directed to go to the staging area for the parade. Fifteenth Avenue will be shut down for about an hour in order to give our honored guests the recognition they deserve as our elementary, middle, and high school students line the parade route. If you would like to attend the event (or invite a guest), please let Mr. Grassl, Mrs. Biskobing, Mr. Larson, Ms. Moll or Mr. Cleveland know at the high school (or just show up at 1300 on November 11th). Family members and friends are invited to line the parade route or ride in the car with a Veteran. Hope to see many of you then!

Saturday, November 13

Continue to celebrate and support our veterans at the Knights of Columbus’ Viva Vegas Night, to benefit Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. Get more details and purchase tickets here.

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Monday: South Milwaukee and St. Francis Health Department Partner With South Milwaukee Schools on Pediatric Vaccination Clinic

Thank you to the South Milwaukee/St. Francis Health Department for their pediatric COVID vaccine clinic at Rawson Elementary School on 11/8/21.There are still a few openings available.

Sign up at this link: https://southmilwaukeenov8pediatric.timetap.com/#/

BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

More details on the South Milwaukee School District Facebook page.

More information on Health Department vaccination efforts, including boosters, here.

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Next

I love South Milwaukee, and am as excited as ever about so many things happening in this community. 

Even in these historically challenging times, our future in many ways is beyond promising, anchored in our proud past more firmly than ever. 

Record amounts of public and private investment are pouring into South Milwaukee, with much more to come. Redevelopment is booming across the city. Our downtown is being reborn before our eyes. Our lakefront is next, and the Oak Creek watershed is about to get the attention it has long deserved, with a plan to finally support it.

Just a decade ago, our major employer — the company that defined us for generations, around which much of our city was built — was sold, its name ripped from buildings, and hearts. Today, we honor Bucyrus like never before, thanks to the game-changing support of its foundation. 

And Da Crusher … how about that?!

We are a stronger and better government, too. We are innovating in how we work with and for you — unafraid to make sometimes long overdue changes to how we deliver the services you expect from us. We are taking real steps, and forming real partnerships, to solve problems that have plagued us for generations. We are leaders in the fight against COVID-19, slowing spread and saving lives. 

Crime is down and has been for years. City services are up, driven by an incredibly strong team of functional leaders and front-line employees committed to delivering on behalf of taxpayers every day. 

Indeed, our people are making this happen. It’s always about the people.

It’s been an honor to help lead them — us — through this incredible period of change.

It’s now time for someone else to step up and drive us forward. 

After more than seven years in this job, more than 12 as an elected official, I am resigning as mayor of the City of South Milwaukee effective November 22. This is about 18 months ahead of the end of my term in April of 2023. Common Council President David Bartoshevich will likely become acting mayor upon me stepping aside, and a special election may be called at some point to fill out my unexpired term, but that is up to the South Milwaukee Common Council to decide. 

I do not make this decision lightly. It has been on my mind for months, and now is the right time for me to do this personally, professionally, and politically. 

It starts at home, and I can now refocus on my role as a husband and father in supporting my wife — who I am so thankful seeks the same positive change I do — kids — who are on that same path — and family. 

Stepping aside as mayor will allow me much more time to focus on positivity and problem solving through my business, Brooks Communications. I am proud of the future-focused clients I have partnered with and projects I have supported since I launched the firm last year. I can now redouble those efforts (and maybe boost my income a bit, too).

I am also finding new ways to drive positive outcomes through youth basketball, starting with the South Shore Crush club team I formed earlier this year. We didn’t win much, but we grew as a basketball family and learned life lessons you can’t get anywhere but on a basketball court. I’m excited to see where Crush heads in year two and beyond. 

My basketball journey now continues at the high school level. Just last week I accepted a position as the head varsity girls’ basketball coach at St. Anthony High School in Milwaukee, returning to my South Side roots to help build a WIAA Division 3 program and impact more young lives in a positive way through sports. Go Roman Legion!

I also leave amid an incredibly difficult time for local leaders, me included. The negativity and personal attacks have taken their toll, thinned my skin, and robbed me of a lot of the excitement, exuberance and energy I once had for this job. They continue. 

The anger is so real and so close to the surface right now at all levels of politics, and I need to move beyond that.  

There have always been those and will always be those who thrive on the politics of division and discord, those who delight in making this a zero-sum game of “us vs. them,” where “I must not only win, but you must lose, and I must ridicule you for it.” The voices of these people are louder than ever today, too often driven by misinformation, amplified by social media and emboldened by leaders who have their own agenda.

That doesn’t make me angry, as much as it makes me sad. 

We are stronger, together. I have written that phrase countless times, and I believe it more than ever now. We are also weaker, apart, and increasingly that is where we find ourselves today.

Thankfully, there is hope. It is all around us. I see it in so many local leaders I’ve met over the years who have made it their lives’ work to make things better in their communities. 

I see it across South Milwaukee, in our neighborhoods, at our churches, at our schools, at City Hall, in our parks, at our local events. I see it at the dinner table, on the basketball court.

I see it in the entrepreneurial spirit of our growing number of small, local businesses (and some that aren’t so small anymore). I see it in the caring faces of countless volunteers — and others who ask, “How can I help?” and then step up to do just that. I see it in the courageous compassion of those in public health — health care workers everywhere — who contiue to deliver day after day after day after day in the face of a terrible pandemic. I see it in the continued commitment of educators and coaches who give of themselves to make a real difference in our children’s lives. 

I also see it in good people saying “enough is enough.”

We can all work to make a difference, me included. It always starts locally. That is why I am not walking away from driving positive change in my community. Far from it. I am simply finding new ways to do it. 

A couple weeks ago, my stepfather (second father, really) passed away after a long and courageous battle with diabetes. He taught me a lot about perseverance, the value of hard work and the importance of helping others. He and other role models have also shown me the possibilities that exist in reinventing yourself, being unafraid to find new ways to give back to the community and make a difference in the world, even later in life. 

I will seek to make that difference, as I leave the mayor’s chair.

Am I done with politics forever? I’ll never say never. I’m certainly done for now. 

In walking away with my head held high, I believe the city is in a position of historic strength, one upon which I hope and pray my successor builds. Voters will ultimately decide, but I leave knowing our gains have been so significant, our momentum so sustained, our change so positive, that it would be incredibly difficult to return to the days where status quo was accepted as OK in South Milwaukee. Let’s not let that happen again. 

South Milwaukee turns 125 years old next year. Let’s keep moving forward. Together. 

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It’s November, so Think Christmas: Sign up Now for the Lions Lighted Christmas Parade, Festival of Trees

Halloween is behind us. The holiday season is here! And it’s coming quicker than you think.

Sign up now for two great local holiday traditions … the South Milwaukee Lions Lighted Christmas Parade and the Festival of Trees, presented by Caterpillar and South Milwaukee Ace.

Details on all the Nov. 20 festivities and Festival are below. Sign up for the Lighted Parade here, and spread the word!

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Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson Booster Shots Now Available at South Shore Health Department Clinics

The South Shore Health Departments are partnering to offer COVID-19 vaccination booster shots at three clinics in the next week — with more to come.

Details below and here … and there are plenty of open spots, even on Thursday. All are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

From the Cudahy, Oak Creek and South Milwaukee and St. Francis Health Departments …

Booster Shot Clinics

Thursday, October 28, 2021

(Must have received Moderna or Pfizer by 4/28/21 or Johnson & Johnson by 8/28/21)

Location: This clinic will be held at the Oak Creek City Hall located at 8040 S. 6th Street in Oak Creek. Please park in the lot on the south side of the building and enter through main entrance.

Click Here to Schedule Appointment

Monday, November 1, 2021

(Must have received Moderna or Pfizer by 05/01/21 or Johnson & Johnson by 9/1/21)

Location: This clinic will be held at Cudahy City Hall located at 5050 S. Lake Drive in Cudahy. Please follow signs and through City Hall middle doors.

Click Here to Schedule Appointment

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

(Must have received Moderna or Pfizer by 05/03/21 or Johnson & Johnson by 09/03/21)

Location:  This clinic will be held at the St. Francis City Hall located at 3400 E. Howard Avenue in St. Francis. Please park in back of the building and enter through the main entrance in the middle of the building, then proceed to Common Council chambers.

Click Here to Schedule Appointment

After registering, you will see a confirmation screen with your appointment information. Please do not sign up for more than one appointment per person.

We have created an online signup to schedule vaccination appointments. Appointments will be filled in the order that individuals sign up. If you are not able to schedule an appointment for these clinics, please continue to monitor your email for additional clinic email sign-up information. These clinics are for booster doses of COVID-19 only. If you are in need of your first or second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, please contact the Cudahy Health DepartmentOak Creek Health Department, or South Milwaukee/St. Francis Health Department to schedule an appointment.

If you need assistance scheduling an appointment, please contact one of the Health Departments listed below …

  • Oak Creek Health Department at 414-766-7950
  • Cudahy Health Department at 414-769-2239
  • South Milwaukee Health Department at 414-768-8055

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster doses have now been fully approved, so all three types of COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) will now be available in our booster clinics.

Groups that are recommended to receive a booster dose of Moderna or Pfizer include:

  • People aged 65 and older
  • Residents of a long-term care facility
  • People aged 50-64 with certain underlying medical conditions including:
  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Dementia or other neurological conditions
  • Diabetes (type 1 or 2)
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions
  • HIV infection
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
  • Liver disease   
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  • Smoking, current or former
  • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
  • Substance use disorders

Groups that may receive a booster dose of Moderna or Pfizer, after considering their individual risks and benefits, include:

  • People aged 18-49 with certain underlying medical conditions (listed above)
  • People aged 18-64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their job or institutional settings. Occupations at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission include frontline essential workers and health care workers, including:
  • First responders (heath care, firefighters, police, staff at congregate facilities)
  • Education staff (teachers, support staff, child care workers)
  • Food and agricultural workers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Corrections workers
  • Postal service workers
  • Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers

Please double-check the date that you received your second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. If you received your second dose of Moderna or Pfizer less than 6 months ago or your first dose of Johnson & Johnson less than 2 months ago, you are not currently eligible for a booster dose and will be turned away from your appointment.

Additionally, you may want to review the fact sheets prior to your appointment below:

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South Milwaukee Trick or Treating Is This Sunday (And Every October 31). Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!

I’m proud we’re still the only community in Milwaukee County to hold trick or treating on Halloween evening every year.

See you from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. this Sunday!

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Help Wanted: Join the Local Effort to Aid Afghan Refugee Children — One Teddy Bear at at Time

Thanks to South Milwaukee’s Deb Manske for leading this effort! From Deb … 

The refugee children at Ft. McCoy have been through terrible trauma. Many folks are helping with food, clothing, house goods, etc. And it occurred to me that a small, homemade, stuffed animal for each child could go a long way to extending our love and  kindness, and provide comfort, the way the teddy bears of our own childhoods did.

If you or your group would like to help, please email me at debra.monthei@gmail.com and I will send you patterns, directions, how to get fabric, and where to send your finished animals.

There are 4,500 children under 12 years old there and 200 on the way. That’s a lot, so I need lots of help.

If you can’t sew maybe you could pair with someone who does to help with cutting, turning and stuffing. (My great-niece helped me make 9 last Sunday afternoon during the Packer game.) Thank you for helping and spreading the word.

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Friends Needed: Support the South Milwaukee Library!

From the Friends of the South Milwaukee Library …

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Merry Christmas! Sign up Now for the South Milwaukee Lions Lighted Christmas Parade

After a year off, the South Milwaukee Lighted Christmas Parade returns in 2021, as part of a full day of holiday activities in and around City Hall.

Check out the graphic for more information … and sign up for the parade here.

Please share this information far and wide, and let’s light up South Milwaukee with this unique event!

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Honoring a Local Icon: Public Welcome at Dedication of Grobschmidt Memorial Bridge

We lost Richard Grobschmidt much too soon in 2016. His memory, however, will live on for future generations as the namesake of one of the area’s most beautiful pieces of architecture.

The public is invited to the dedication of the Richard A. Grobschmidt Memorial Bridge at 11:30 a.m. this Saturday, Oct. 16, at the bridge, located at Lakeshore State Park, 500 N. Harbor Drive.

Parking is available at Discovery World, or on the street near the north gate of Summerfest.

I hope see to you there. More information on the naming here.

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Rocketober Update: Big Weekend in South Milwaukee! (And Not Just Crusherfest)

Here is your updated schedule. Like the Facebook page for regular updates.

And thanks to everyone who plays a role in delivering these special special events!

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