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My Prayer

Thank you to everyone who attended Thursday’s National Day of Prayer event at City Hall, to all of those who offered prayers and to Pastor Robert Kieck, who organized the event. Here are the remarks I delivered …

“Just two days ago, in the conference room on the other side of this wall, sat an imam, along with leaders from the Catholic, ELCA Lutheran, United Methodist and Episcopal churches, as well as the United Church of Christ, Pastor Kieck and myself.

It was the second breakfast meeting of this wonderfully diverse group of faith leaders, focused on a common goal: Bringing together our congregations to make them stronger, and uniting their members around common problems, to deliver joint solutions.

This idea for a regular meeting of religious leaders got its start with a conversation I had with Ann Fooks years ago at a National Day of Prayer event years ago. She suggested this would be good for South Milwaukee, and that much has become clear after our first two meetings.

Of course, there is power in simply jointly promoting community events like the Earth Day Cleanup and church-sponsored events like today’s event, Barks at St. Mark’s, festivals and more. But we’re going beyond that.

Already, pastoral leaders are talking about expanding the number of community meals in the city … and adding a “Speak Out Against Hate” interfaith event in South Milwaukee later this summer.

And we’re just getting started.

South Milwaukee’s incredible religious diversity is a strength, and we celebrate that tonight and every night. We cherish that.

And it starts in simply talking to each other, demystifying what is happening in that church down the block or the mosque across town. In doing so, we realize we are more alike than different, and stronger together than apart.

The seemingly never-ending violent attacks on religious institutions brings this home to me. We need less hate and senseless violence everywhere, and that includes South Milwaukee. We need more positive relationships and unity. We need more love, to align with tonight’s theme.

With that in mind, I offer this prayer tonight (from the Christian Citizen).

To the creator of humanity, the sculptor of beauty, and the artist of diversity, your people are before you.

When you reached down from the heavens to mold us from the earth, you created within us a uniqueness and beauty that knows no bounds.

When you knelt down to breath life into our lungs, you passed on your love for us that we might share it with others.

With hate too great a burden to bear, let us learn to embrace each other with love, welcome the stranger with benevolent kindness, and turn an enemy into a friend.

As the creator and artist of diversity, let us not shun your ways. Instead, let us reach out to those who are different than us, demonstrating the love you have instilled in your people.

For indeed we are your people: black, brown, and white; Jew, Muslim, and Christian; Republican, Democrat, and Independent; Gay, Straight, and Transgender.

And with so many others, may we never forget that each of us carry your breath within our lungs. We are your people; your beautiful, conflicted, wonderful, broken, and diverse people.

Only you can make us one, only you can take this large diverse world and bend the arc of the moral universe to justice.

Therefore, we submit ourselves to your will. We fall down at your feet asking forgiveness from our intolerance and hate. Today, may we celebrate the diversity you created in order to practice the love you have shown us.

In your sacred, beautiful, and diverse name, we pray, Amen.”

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May 11: Middle School Hosting Annual Plant Sale

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May 3, 2019 · 7:00 am

For the Love of South Milwaukee: Good Luck in Retirement, Jim Shelenske

Jim, John McGivern and me at the farmers’ market in 2014.

I remember the conversation well.

It was in 2009, and I had barely announced I was running for alderman, when this guy I hardly knew came up to me at an event.

“Hey — do you want to start a farmers’ market?” he asked.

And that was my introduction to Jim Shelenske.

Of course, with Jim’s leadership and other committed volunteers, that idea came to life in the summer of 2009, and the rest is history (still being written in the market’s 11th season this year).

We say farewell to Jim on Friday, as he retires as city clerk and comptroller, a role he has had since 2010, after serving five years as a Third District alderman and 12 years on the Plan Commission.

He leaves an incredibly strong legacy of hard work, dedication, passion, creativity, innovation and commitment to community. His love for South Milwaukee in unmatched, and shows in all he does.

Jim wants to make this city a better place, and he acts on that in countless ways. From his official roles with the city to his work with the South Milwaukee Lions to just being a great man and selfless person, I have never seen a more involved community servant.

As an alderman, he took his responsibility as a representative seriously and was devoted to serving his constituents, and the city.

As clerk and comptroller, he has taken that role to new places, driving varied initiatives ranging from building new and improved communication platforms to leading the charge on a best-practice LED lighting rollout to improving how we vote to presenting a more user-friendly budget to expanding our Earth Day Cleanup — and countless other ways, big and small, in which he made the job uniquely his own. We are all better for it, and he will be missed.

But Jim is not going far. In many ways, he’s not going anywhere at all.

Knowing him as a colleague and friend, Jim will not rest (much) in his work to make South Milwaukee a better place. It’s not in his DNA.

In 2009, it was a farmers’ market. In 2010, it was Fresh Water Days, a crazy idea of his to turn the bursting of a water main and a citywide emergency into a way to help out local restaurants — an idea that worked.

There have been countless other examples since then.

But that’s Jim — someone always willing to try something new to improve the lives of South Milwaukeeans.

Good luck, Jim. Enjoy your retirement. Our city government, our city, is better for having you be a part of it. Today, we celebrate your contributions — and can’t wait to see what’s next.


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Play Ball! Saturday is South Milwaukee Little League Opening Day

From the South Milwaukee Little League …

One of the best traditions in South Milwaukee …

2019 Opening Day of South Milwaukee Little Leagues 65th Season!

Come early for Team pictures, enjoy the Parade starting at noon, then enjoy our Opening Ceremonies. Make sure you stay for a full slate of games on all (3) Diamonds.

This is a full day of fun for the whole family, don’t forget to tell your friends! Don’t worry about being there all day, we have a great Concession Stand for all your lunch, dinner, and in-game snack needs.

Don’t miss this great event in South Milwaukee!

One of my favorite parts of this tradition is the parade. This year, it starts at noon in the Zion Lutheran parking lot on Ninth and Michigan and makes it way south toward Little League Park, 700 Mackinac Ave., a shorter route than in years past.


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Another Successful Earth Day Cleanup, in Pictures

Thanks to all of the individuals and community organizations who stepped up to make our 2019 Earth Cleanup a success!

Our Street Department reports we collected about 10 cubic yards of trash, including 90 TVs at the self-deposit station. While these numbers were down — not surprisingly, due to the inclement weather — this event continues to make a real difference for our community. Well done!

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A Belated Happy Arbor Day! Much to Celebrate When it Comes to Tree Planting

Arbor Day was Friday, and there is a lot to celebrate when it comes tree planting in South Milwaukee. We’ve come a long way since 2014.

The headline: More than 800 trees have been planted in the city in approximately the past five years. That includes more than 550 Milwaukee County forestry officials say they have planted in and around Grant Park, and more than 250 the City of South Milwaukee has planted along our streets, with more to come this year. Add it up …

  • It starts with Our Adopt a Tree program. We planted 100 trees through this program in 2017 and 2018, and we have about 15 of the 50 allotted trees for 2019 still available. Learn more and reserve your tree here, but you must act by this Tuesday, April 30.
  • We’ve planted dozens more along major streets like 10th Avenue and Nicholson Avenue in the last few years, and dozens more are coming with the Milwaukee Avenue streetscaping upgrades.
  • And we’ve partnered with South Milwaukee elementary schools to plant about 20 trees as part of our annual Arbor Day celebration, where our Street Department teams educate fourth-graders about trees and their impact, plant a tree outside of our local schools and send home kids with saplings. We’re bringing the program to E.W. Luther, Lakeview and Blakewood this week.

Of course, these plantings come as our work continues to remove hundreds of dead and dying ash trees — with more work to do. The county also continues in their work to combat EAB.

But we’re on the right path when it comes to replanting, and I pledge to continue to make this a priority for years to come. We have to.

We do this because trees have real value, and this is money well spent. We will continue to invest in this work … one tree at a time.

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