Category Archives: South Milwaukee

Join Us! Beautification Committee Cleanup Set for Saturday, June 27

Tell us you’re going on Facebook. Or just show up.

The South Milwaukee Beautification Committee is proud to present a socially distanced community cleanup.

Bring your family, friends and groups to help clean up areas across the city and in our parks and parkways.

Meet at Da Crusher Statue, and we’ll give out bags and assignments.

Please practice social distancing as you beautify South Milwaukee. Masks are encouraged if working in groups.

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A Century of Making a Difference: Happy 100th Birthday, Mayor Chet!

Former South Milwaukee Mayor Chet Grobschmidt turns 100 today!

Please join me in wishing a happy birthday to this community icon, on what we’ve proclaimed Mayor Chet Day in South Milwaukee.

WHEREAS, Chester W. Grobschmidt was born June 8, 1920, one of five children of John and Ann Grobschmidt. The family moved to South Milwaukee in 1926. Chet attended St. Mary’s Grade School and graduated from South Milwaukee High School in 1938; and

WHEREAS, in 1938 Chet got his first job pedaling the Shopping News. Four years later, Chet began his 40-year career at Bucyrus Erie, retiring in 1983. Chet served in the Navy during World War II from 1942-46 in New Guinea (Admiralty Islands), and was discharged with the rank of Second Class Metalsmith. Chet was celebrated for his service by participating in an Honor Flight to Washington D.C.; and

WHEREAS, in January, 1948, during the Blizzard of ‘48, Chet married Leone Repech and they had two children, Richard and Karen. Leone passed away in 1982 after 34 years of marriage. In 1992, Chet married Lorraine Schweitzer and expanded his family with four stepchildren: Sharon, Patsy, Jim and Jon. Chet and Lorraine were married for 24 years until her death in 2016; and

WHEREAS, Chet has a long legacy of service to his community. He served as Alderperson for the Fourth District for nine years. In 1966, Chet was elected Mayor of the City of South Milwaukee and served the city in that capacity for 28 years, retiring in 1994. During his time as Mayor, Chet provided strong leadership for the city during a time of significant change.  This list of course is long, a few highlights are in 1982, City Hall moved to its current location at the former Parkway Elementary School on 15th Avenue, and the mayor led efforts to fund and open the South Milwaukee Senior Center, which was renamed the Chester W. Grobschmidt Senior Center in 1996. The new fire station was dedicated in 1981, and Chet was instrumental in the bringing the Med-10 Unit to the city which began service in 1988. He also began the recycling program and led efforts to keep local control over the South Milwaukee Sewage Treatment Plant; and

WHEREAS, Mayor Chet’s dedication to the city and it didn’t end when he left office. Chet was a strong advocate for the beautification of the downtown area.  An avid gardener, he prized his dahlias and would bring some to City Hall every year for the employees to enjoy. He was a member of multiple veterans organizations, involved with the War Memorial and served as president of the Historical Society; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that I, Mayor Erik Brooks and the Common Council of the City of South Milwaukee do hereby declare June 8, 2020, as “Mayor Chet Day” in the City of South Milwaukee in celebration of his 100th birthday, wish Chet well as we recognize this milestone, and thank him for his lifetime of dedicated service to the city. 

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Oak Creek Watershed Restoration Plan: Chapter 4 Now Ready for Review

Work continues on the Oak Creek Watershed Restoration Plan, even if the pandemic has prevented a community meeting for feedback on the second part of Chapter 4. It’s full of information that will be the foundation for the discussion of needed investments and recommended actions for this critically important body of water.

The final plan is set for delivery at the end of the year.

From the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission …

We continue to make progress on the Oak Creek Watershed Restoration Plan, and now have the second half of our “Inventory Findings” chapter (Chapter 4) ready for review. 

  • All of the work completed to date for this project can be found on the project website.
  • Here is the link to the second half of Chapter 4.
  • We have also completed  a summary presentation for the new text in the second half of Chapter 4.

Comments on the draft plan text can be submitted via the project website or to Laura Herrick at lherrick@sewrpc.org. We look forward to your input to help us continue our progress on this important plan.

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Uniting for Change

Stronger, together. I’ve said that countless times, choosing to always put the focus on unity and cooperation, not division and discord, as we seek to move past our differences and work together to solve problems.

I’ve said it as mayor, as a legislative candidate, and in countless conversations with friends, colleagues, family and my kids. 

I’ve urged it as we worked to unite South Milwaukeeans around an agenda for our promising future. I’ve urged it as we continue to address the pandemic, doing the best we can amid a generational challenge. 

Today I hope and pray for that same unity as we confront the societal realities revealed and illuminated by the death of George Floyd, and the protests that have followed. 

Stronger, together. Now, more than ever. 

In the last 10 days, I have thought a lot about what I would write on this platform, knowing that whatever I say here will not go far enough for some, and will go too far for others. 

Some will say I’m a politician exploiting issues that I have no business weighing in on because of the color of my skin. Others will say I should have a stronger voice and lead from the front. 

Some will say I’m part of the problem. Others will say I, and leaders like me, need to be more a part of the solution. 

I’ll let others judge as I speak from the heart and say and do what I think is right. This is where I stand. 

I stand with the peaceful protestors — and against those who seek to do harm to our communities. 

I stand with the police department, and the vast, vast majority of officers who are committed to keeping us safe and put their lives on the line every day to do so — and against officers who abuse that public trust and commit unjustified acts of violence. 

I stand with those who are speaking out across this city, state and country. I am inspired by the diversity of those who have taken to the streets to raise their voices in support of black Americans and against hatred and prejudice. These are Americans of all colors fighting for change, many of them are my (and your) friends, colleagues and neighbors. 

At the same time, I stand against those who are using these peaceful protests as a means to violent ends. There is no place for violence and lawlessness in the name of protesting. This drowns out the message, puts our officers and the public at risk, and makes the change sought that much harder to achieve. When residents are scared for their safety, buildings are engulfed in flames, businesses are looted, and dissenting views are shouted down, it’s hard to see beyond that, to a place where real change happens. 

But we have to see beyond it nonetheless. 

I stand with the police officers — husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, friends and neighbors — who have decided to make protecting and serving our community their jobs, and the many who do it well. They should not be shot at, assaulted, and targeted for doing those jobs. 

Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated our officers and their work before the South Milwaukee Common Council with the presentation of the department’s annual report, a summary what our officers are doing to work alongside the community to keep our city safe. That night, I celebrated that policing partnership and called our officers “everyday heroes,” as I have many times. That remains true. 

But this is not the case everywhere and in all cases, and police officers who break the law must be held accountable. Those responsible for the death of George Floyd — and the too many other black Americans who have lost their lives due to criminal actions by the police — must be brought to justice. No one can be above the law. 

Black lives must matter, and we must put in the hard and sometimes painful work to make sure that is the case. 

We face huge challenges in doing so.

There are too many black Americans dying unnecessarily at the hands of police. Institutional racism exists. Gaping inequities between white and black Americans are real. The societal problems faced by people of color in this country are undeniable. Hate and prejudice live.

All of this is true, and it’s true in South Milwaukee. We must face all of this as a nation, and as a community. The protests have brought that front and center this week, as have the words I’ve heard loudly and clearly from people across our community. 

We must hear their voices, and act, bringing to life the change we need. 

I don’t pretend to have all the answers here, or any at all. But we need to do better. Change must come. 

Let’s make these protests mean something. Let’s get to work. 

And that’s my pledge to South Milwaukee: To do my part to address the past, present and future of race in our city, starting a dialogue that I hope will lead to real and necessary change.  

Let’s start today with one small, but still significant, way to have an impact: Stepping up to be on a city board or commission. We have more than a dozen of these bodies, and each plays a role in driving thought and action in specific areas of government. See the full list and apply to join one here. We currently have a vacancy on the Board of Health, with other vacancies coming up throughout the year, across boards and commissions.

Diverse candidates are encouraged. Diversity makes us stronger, and the makeup of our boards and commissions today does not reflect our increasingly ethnically diverse city. We, I, need to do better here, and will. 

And I need your help to do it. Please apply.

Of course, this is just the start, and it’s not enough. There is more work to come and do, and you’ll hear more about it in the weeks, months and years ahead. I ask the community to join me, knowing we are, and always will be, stronger, together. 

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Testing Partnership: COVID-19 Testing Coming to the South Shore

From the City of South Milwaukee Facebook page

A free, South Shore COVID-19 testing site will be held at the Cudahy Water Utility, 5110 S. Lake Drive, June 4 – 6, 2020. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

No appointment is necessary, and individuals do not have to have symptoms to be tested. Drive through and walk-up testing is available.

For more information, please see the flyer.

This testing site is brought to you by the Oak Creek Health Department, the South Milwaukee/St. Francis Health Department, Cudahy WI Health Department and the Wisconsin National Guard.

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Monday Reopening: Visiting City Hall, or Accessing Services? Please Read This

South Milwaukee municipal buildings, including City Hall, will reopen for normal hours at 7:30 a.m. on June 1, 2020, with changes in how we serve customers due to the ongoing pandemic. These are in addition to changes already in place as we deliver other key city services.

Read more here: https://bit.ly/2ZKu4Gr

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Saying Farewell to Our City’s Last One-Way Street

Construction news: Memorial Drive and Pine Street reconstruction is set to begin Monday, June 1.

Work is projected to last until late July and is subject to change based on weather or construction conditions.

For more detailed information on the project, visit: https://bit.ly/MemorialPineConst

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SM Together in Hope, Faith and Kindness: Virtual Prayer Service on Sunday, May 31

Excited to see this event come to life, now, more than ever, led by members of South Milwaukee Methodist Church … join us!

SM Together in Hope, Faith and Kindness
Sunday, May 31, 6:00 p.m.

The community churches of South Milwaukee have joined together to present a service to unite us all as we strive for hope, faith and kindness during this uncertain time.

Join the Zoom event by clicking on the following link:

Hear local pastors, community individuals and musical selections as South Milwaukee joins as one to celebrate hope, faith and kindness!

The event will last one hour.

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It’s Market Day! (With Some Changes, To Start)

From the South Milwaukee Downtown Market Facebook page

Rain or shine, the market will be opening Thursday, May 28!

We look forward to opening and proving an enjoyable and SAFE evening for all! We recommend washing your hands as you enter and exit, wear a mask if desired, and social distance when possible.

There will be 24 vendors to kick off the 2020 market season. Come out to support your local and small businesses! Please note there will be no live music, crafters, or on-site eating allowed until June 11th.

Additional information from the market …

The market has made changes to meet guidelines that have been approved by the South Milwaukee Health Department to ensure the safety of our vendors, shoppers, and staff. The following guidelines will be enforced until further notice.

  • The first half-hour of the market, we invite seniors, health care providers, and those with underlying health concerns to shop first.
  • For now, the market will be a shopping destination, not a social gathering. Customers are invited to choose a designated shopper from their household and make a shopping list in advance. Please consider leaving children at home if possible.
  • NO PETS will be allowed at the market until further notice.
  • There will be a ONE WAY foot traffic pattern. Signs will be posted at the entrance and exit of the market. Please follow these signs to ensure we are practicing safe social distancing.
  • Booths will be spaced 6’ to provide social distancing among shoppers in line and walking about the market.
  • Public hand washing stations will be available as well as hand sanitizer at each booth. Shoppers will be encouraged to wash hands upon entering the market and before leaving (and as many times in between!)
  • To meet social distancing guidelines, there may be a limit of customers allowed in the market.
  • Any ready-to-eat items will be pre-packaged to-go. NO on-site food consumption is allowed until further notice.
  • Sampling of products will not be allowed.
  • Picnic tables will be closed and live music will be suspended until further notice. (now June 11)
  • Vendors will be responsible for increased frequency of cleaning tables, payment devices, and other surfaces. There will be increased sanitizing of restrooms and other high contact areas.

We ask for your full cooperation during these times until we can go back to normal operations. Let’s stay together while we’re apart! Stay safe!

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Heritage Week Update: Golf Outing, Spaghetti Dinner, Lionsfest, Heritage Days Parade Cancelled

Sad news, but the right call, amid the pandemic.

I will keep you posted as decisions are made on other events.

From the South Milwaukee Police Department

The COVID-19 outbreak has affected every aspect of our lives and will continue to impact decisions for the foreseeable future. Out of concern for the health of our community and in recognition of the risks that large gatherings pose, the South Milwaukee Police Department has decided to cancel the DARE golf outing that had been planned for July 20, 2020. To our sponsors & donors, we would like to thank you for your support. We truly appreciate everything you have done to help us educate the children of our community on the dangers of drugs and alcohol and we look forward to your continued support in the future. All donations received to date will be held for the 2021 golf outing.

From the South Milwaukee Fire Department

From the South Milwaukee Lions

From the Heritage Days Parade Committee

It is with sadness, we are having to cancel the 2020 Heritage Days Parade. This difficult decision was made in collaboration with the South Milwaukee Health Administration, and in accordance with the Common Councils decision to not allow events on city-owned property of 50+ people take place before August, 1, 2020. To our sponsors & donors, we would like to thank you for your support in embracing the Parade and making South Milwaukee a special place to live and call home. We look forward to your continued support of the Parade through future fund-raising efforts; City Wide Mini Golf, Holiday Raffle, 9 Pin Tap bowling tournament. All donations received to date will be held for the 2021 Parade. Please watch our page, as we will be hosting a contest during Heritage week, and will post videos & photos of past parades for your enjoyment.

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RIP, Chief Omernik

Sad to hear about the passing of Richard “Nick” Omernik last week.

Read his obituary here.

Nick joined the South Milwaukee Fire Department as a firefighter in November 1976, was promoted to lieutenant in 1989, captain in 1991, and fire chief in 1995. Chief Omernik retired in 2003.

Please join me in offering thoughts and prayers for his family, friends and firefighter colleagues.

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Never Forget

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Thanks to my daughter, Shelby, for the beautiful photos.

While we are not gathering this Memorial Day, that does not diminish the importance of remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country.

One way to remind yourself of the toll wars have taken in our city: Visit the War Memorial near 10th and Rawson Avenues.

You can’t miss the beautiful display of American flags, and I thank the Rotary Club of Mitchell Field for providing them as part of their Flags for Heroes program. (You’ll also see flags at City Hall from Flag Day through July 4th.)

Volunteers have also been working to beautify the site for the summer, and they’ll be wrapping that up in coming days. I can’t thank Patti Bergeson, John Bazan, Paul Berens, Jim Schulte and everyone else for their work on this important city landmark.

And one more ask this Memorial Day — give this presentation, by Tom Ludka, a read. It tells the story of South Milwaukee’s World War I dead, including Everheart Van Eimeren, one of the namesakes of American Legion Post #27.

These are the husbands, fathers, sons, and everyday heroes we remember today, and every day.

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Grobschmidt Pool Closed for Summer

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From the Milwaukee County Parks Facebook page

Today we announced that we have made the really tough decision to keep our deep well pools closed for the season. This was an incredibly difficult choice to make, because we know what our pools mean to the community. The physical distancing recommendations still in place, limits on group gathering sizes, shortage of available lifeguards, and the drastic toll the pandemic has had on the county budget, in addition to Parks’ significantly reduced staffing levels, have all been contributing factors.

We are hopeful that we will be able to open a good number of our wading pools & splash pads this summer as they provide critical relief from the summer heat, and we are looking at options that will offer opportunities that are equitably distributed across the system.

The extended deep-well pool closures include Cool Waters Aquatic Park in Greenfield Park, Schulz Aquatic Center in Lincoln Park, Pelican Cove in Kosciuszko Park, Noyes Indoor Pool, Pulaski Indoor Pool, and outdoor pools at Washington Park, McCarty Park, Jackson Park, Sheridan Park, Holler Park, Hales Corners Park, Wilson Park and Grobschmidt Pool. Hoyt Park Pool, which is operated by the non-profit, Friends of Hoyt Park, is still planning to open this summer.

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Choosing to Grow Local: DB Tax & Wealth Expanding in Downtown South Milwaukee

Some great news, as our downtown momentum continues …

DB Tax & Wealth is investing more than $1 million into an expansion on Milwaukee Avenue — the latest exciting project in our city center.

From their announcement message on Thursday …

We are thrilled to announce that our business is growing!  The two buildings directly to the east of us will adjoin our existing building. The spectacular plans we have in store will boost client experience which is something we always strive for!  We are proud to continue to invest in the city of South Milwaukee and the enhancement of Milwaukee Ave. Please stay tuned for more information!  Follow DB Tax & Wealth on Social Media for project highlights and updates!

Check out our video announcement …


Congratulations to Lisa, Mark and the entire firm, which is embarking on its second major expansion in the last five years. If this one is anything like its first, it will be first-class, and provide a major facelift to the entire block. 

The project also ensures the firm’s future in our city, after 31 years. From its website …

Established in 1989 by its founders Larry & Diane Burger. After many years of dedicated service with the Wisconsin Air National Guard – 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee, WI, Larry and Diane retired from the military and ventured into small business entrepreneurship. After its establishment and continued growth, new staff was hired, more office space was added, and the firm began to accomplish what most small businesses envy – that is growth, dedicated clients, quality service, and an excellent reputation in a great community. In 1994, Diane and Larry retired and their daughter Lisa Pugel, began actively managing the South Milwaukee location.

Lisa brought new services to the firm which included comprehensive financial and tax planning, payroll and small business bookkeeping, insurance services, education planning and estate planning. All of these services are still provided today by a dedicated staff with decades of experience.

DB Tax & Wealth is not alone in choosing to invest downtown in recent months. Here are some of the projects underway as we speak …

  • Bucyrus Club. There has been significant progress since the city acquired the building — across the street from DB Tax — in February. Most recently: The South Milwaukee Common Council voted Tuesday to hire Zimmerman Architectural Studios to lead the project design, the first key step in the rebirth of this historic building. It’s a great choice, with a terrific track record and a passion for this project. Much more to come on this.  
  • Moran’s Pub. James is doing major upgrades to the pub, as it prepares to open following the pandemic. Details here — beautiful! 
  • Milwaukee Avenue Streetscaping. Work on phase two is underway, as the project ramps back up into the summer. The focus now is sidewalks. Details here
  • And planning for the 11th Avenue public space — fueled by $500,000 from the Bucyrus Foundation grant announced in February — will begin soon, as we breathe new life into this important parcel in our city center. 

Promising future, indeed! Thanks, DB Tax & Wealth, for being a big part of it.

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Responsibly Reopening South Milwaukee

It’s May 22, 2020. South Milwaukee and 17 other suburban Milwaukee County communities are now reopened, amid the pandemic. 

And my message hasn’t changed from what we shared earlier in the week

I recognize the impact the health orders have had on our residents, business owners and others, and I hope lifting this order will allow for the beginning of a return to normalcy for all of us. I believe we will reopen responsibly, following proper protocols, safety measures and best practices to ensure customer and worker safety and restore confidence. The decision by the Supreme Court did not end the pandemic, nor does the end of this order. This is not over. We need to learn to live with this disease safely, and we will, together.

I want to emphasize that last word. Together.

The last few weeks have been some of the ugliest in my time in elected office, with so much hatred, anger and vitriol aimed at local leaders, public health officials and others who are doing what they they think is right, on behalf of the community, in unprecedented times.

I hope we can move beyond this, as we enter this new phase. We need unity, not division, if we are going to reopen safely. 

That is why I am proud to see so many of our local businesses going above and beyond to take measures to keep everyone safe — measures that will lead to increased customer confidence, and increased business, for those who do it right. Places like Moran’s Pub. Sorce Martial Arts. The Tap Room. Ferch’s Beachside. CM Salons. And many, many more, which you can track on my Shop Local South Milwaukee Facebook page

I spoke to another prominent local business owner less than two weeks ago — it feels like two years ago with how quickly things have changed since then — and he was asking for clarity around a reopening plan in South Milwaukee. 

He well understands the gravity of the public health crisis we find ourselves in, and why governments have taken the measures they have to keep people “Safer at Home.” He understands the need to flatten the curve, and the dangers that reopening the city, county, state and country too quickly could bring.

He knows the actions we have taken so far have made a difference — and without them the pandemic toll would have been (and could still be) catastrophic. He knows how important it is to listen to health experts and act backed by science and data. 

But it’s understandably more complicated than that for him — and countless others like him. Like many, he has seen his business significantly impacted by the pandemic, with lost revenue and layoffs. He worries about his people, and wants to get them back to work. He also recognizes the broader toll this has taken on society, the impact record unemployment and months of isolation and shutdowns could have and are having: bankruptcies, broken families, substance abuse, depression, suicide. 

In our conversation, he wanted a light at the end of the tunnel for him, his family and his employees. He wanted hope. 

He wanted to know there is a plan in place that provides a reasonable, responsible and safe approach to reopening, one that puts public health and science first, while also reflecting the impacts orders have had on businesses like his. Both can be achieved at the same time, and they are in the new guidance.

Even without an order, there is a strategy in place that provides stringent yet attainable milestones and benchmarks for a safe, phased return to some semblance of normalcy.

I ask that we follow that guidance. For the safety of all of us. 

Thankfully, there are also professionals working every day to help: the South Milwaukee and St. Francis Health Department. 

 I’m so proud of this team, and know their work in addressing the pandemic is far from over. You could argue it’s just beginning, as they continue to try and stay ahead of the virus and prevent a second spike in cases. As Health Administrator Jackie Ove said in her letter accompanying the announcement about ending the order … 

The threat of COVID-19 is still very much alive in South Milwaukee and St. Francis, and throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. The South Milwaukee/St. Francis Health Department will continue to investigate COVID-19 disease in our community, with a focus on aggressive testing, case identification, and contact tracing. We will continue to monitor the data and to communicate with you all as we work closely with business colleagues and community members to adhere to safe practices and to spot and contain any outbreaks.

It is up to each of us to play our part in protecting ourselves, our families, our customers, and our community moving forward. I am confident that we are all up to the challenge.

So am I. Stay safe and healthy, South Milwaukee. 

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