Responding to COVID-19: Providing Property Tax Relief By Waiving Interest, Penalties on Late Payments Through September

From the South Milwaukee Treasurer’s Office …

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wisconsin Legislature enacted Act 185. This law allowed Milwaukee County and the City of South Milwaukee to pass legislation providing relief to South Milwaukee property owners who are experiencing financial hardship with paying property taxes due to the impact of COVID-19.

Resolution 20-12, adopted by the City of South Milwaukee Common Council on June 30, 2020, temporarily waives interest and penalties on delinquent real property tax installment payments due and payable after April 1, 2020 for those property owners who were current with property tax installments as of April 1. Under this resolution, installment payments received after their due date, but paid by October 1, 2020, will be without interest and penalty. Any unpaid balance after October 1, 2020 will become delinquent and accrue interest and penalty from February 1, 2020 until paid in full.

The July 31 tax installment payment may be made to the City of South Milwaukee until the close of business on August 7, 2020, the end of the grace period. Please note, payment must be RECEIVED in the Treasurer’s office BY 4:00 p.m. on this date. Afterward, payment must be made directly to the Milwaukee County Treasurer, NOT the City of South Milwaukee.

All other tax installment payments may be made to the City of South Milwaukee until July 31, after which payment must be made directly to the Milwaukee County Treasurer.

I support this measure, and ended up for voting for it to break a 3-3 Common Council tie. It’s another small way we as a city can step to help those facing financial stress during the ongoing pandemic and recession.

I want to thank the state legislature and Milwaukee County Board for passing the enabling legislation, and am glad we can offer this.

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Built Tuff: Rescued Bulldog T-Shirt Sales Deliver $2,400 for K-9 Charity

From the South Milwaukee Fire Department Facebook page …

The SMFD is excited to announce the outcome of our Tuff T-shirt sales. Pictured is Michael Hintz from Classic Cargo International, Inc. presenting a check in the amount of $2,400 to Chief Knitter representing the proceeds from the Tuff T-shirt sales. A portion of these proceeds will be donated to the K9s For Warriors organization with the remaining going towards the purchase of water/ice rescue equipment for the SMFD. Stay tuned for more on the equipment purchase in the near future. Thank you to all who so generously supported this cause and the SMFD !! A limited number of t-shirts are still available and can be ordered at southmilwaukeecares.com.

More details on the effort here.

Thanks to everyone who helped out, especially Mike Hintz and Classic Cargo International; Dan Regalia, who led the IT portion of this; and JB’s Tee Shirt Factory, for the design and printing of the shirts.

I hope we can do more fun charity partnerships down the road.

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Last Call for the Grant Park Beer Garden … And Try a ParkLife Honey Lager

I’m told the Grant Park Beer Garden is doing quite well this year, and if you haven’t been there — or want to make a return trip — today is your last day.

The garden is open until 10 p.m. at the Brown Pavilion at Picnic Area 5. Details and the full Milwaukee County Parks Traveling Beer Gardens schedule here.

And while you’re there, why not try a ParkLife Honey Lager? It’s a new beer from Sprecher Brewing Co. and Beer Capitol with a charity component, with a portion of proceeds going to support the Milwaukee Parks Foundation. It’s part of the parks’ new Love Your Parks initiative.

Details on the broader initiative here.

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Coronavirus Update: City Remains in Phase C of Reopening Guidance; Market Music Returns; Limited Fitness Center Reopening

South Milwaukee and other suburban communities are staying at Phase C of reopening guidance.

What does that mean? Learn more here.

New cases continue to be reported, with 199 total cases reported in the city since the pandemic began — 36 since July 1. Seven people have died.

You can see updated city, county and state data and resources here, and they are posted three times a week on the city Facebook page. The Milwaukee County dashboard is especially informative.

Reopening continues …

  • Live music returns to the South Milwaukee Downtown Market starting on Thursday, July 23, with a performance from Rohn Larson. Details on upcoming shows here.
  • The South Milwaukee Public Library has extended its hours, and allows walk-in pickups of holds. No browsing allowed. Details here. From the library: Walk in the front door. Tell us what you need. We will take care of your needs! Exit through the side door. (If we are at capacity, you can wait outside or come back later.) Practice social distancing. Masks are strongly recommended. Masks are required for computer help (minimum of 3 minutes).
  • The South Milwaukee School District Fitness Center has reopened for up to 12 users each for the fitness center and track (no access to the gym). Restrooms are available, but changing rooms, lockers and showers are not. Masks are required upon entering and exiting the facility, and should be worn “at your comfort” in workout areas. Users are asked to call ahead to confirm availability and make an appointment, if necessary. For more information, visit here.
  • The South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center is working on a plan to reopen as well. Meanwhile, the South Milwaukee Youth Theatre Virtual Theater Academy is now underway. Details on this innovative approach here.

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Rebooting the Blog

It’s time to get back to more regular blogging, and Facebook.

In coming days, you’ll see me make more regular posts on South Milwaukee Blog, a return to a couple of old features and some new content.

I’ll be starting with a coronavirus update on Sunday, and more regular updates on COVID-19 in the days, weeks, and months ahead, as we reopen while learning to live with a virus that remains a significant threat to public health.

  • You’ll also see a return of Business Spotlight features, with a special emphasis on our growing number of women- and minority-owned businesses in the City of South Milwaukee.
  • I’ll be doing more to put the spotlight on interesting people in our community doing interesting things. More to come on that.
  • And I’ll be bringing back the “What’s for Sale?” feature from years past (taking a look at some of the gems on the local real estate market), as well as doing more regular “Headlines” posts, sharing links to coverage of our city from other news outlets.

This is in addition to the regular city government, police, fire, school and local sports news you have come to expect since the blog was launched in 2009. (We recently topped 1.5 million page views on the platform.)

And I’ll be posting on my mayoral Facebook page again. Like it here.

Thanks for reading, and for your continued support as I do my best to keep people informed on what’s happening South Milwaukee and the South Shore. This has been and will always be a priority for me.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, do so on the left-hand side of this page, so you can receive an email every time I post.

Have a suggestion for a story or feature? Send it my way.

Stronger, together, South Milwaukee.

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Play Ball: Here’s How to Check Out High School Baseball This Summer

There will be high school baseball in South Milwaukee this summer, just not affiliated with the WIAA or school district.

A group of South Milwaukee students is playing in the Bigler Summer League, and opened play on Tuesday night at Galewski Field.

The result wasn’t quite what they wanted — a 15-0 perfect game by Hamilton Black pitcher Mason DeVorse — but it’s just great to have live baseball back again in the city.

More details on the Bigler Summer League, including a schedule and game results, here. South Milwaukee has home games on July 14, 21, 22, 27 and 28, and the playoffs start July 31.

And don’t forget South Milwaukee Little League, if you’re looking for another baseball fix. Games continue through July 24.

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Four Hurt After Car Driven by Alleged Shoplifter Collides With Car, House in South Milwaukee

The incident took place the afternoon of July 7.

From the South Milwaukee Police Department …

At 4:12pm SMPD responded to shoplifter at Dollar General. The shoplifter fled the store in a vehicle. The shoplifter’s vehicle subsequently collided with a car and a house at the intersection of 15th Ave and Milwaukee Ave. The 53 year old suspect is in custody. Injured parties were conveyed for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. This case will be reviewed by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office for charges.

The South Milwaukee Fire Department responded. Here is their report …

At approximately 4:15 PM, the South Milwaukee Fire and Police Departments responded to the intersection of 15th and Milwaukee Avenues for a reported three car crash. One vehicle struck a traffic signal and then traveled on to strike the building on the north west corner causing a large hole in the foundation. One person had to be extricated from this vehicle with the Jaws of Life. In total, four patients were transported to Froedtert Hospital for their injuries and one other driver was uninjured and refused transport. The South Milwaukee Police Department is currently investigating the crash. The SMFD was assisted by the Oak Creek Fire Department and Cudahy Fire Department.

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Investing in Downtown, One Building at a Time

Two downtown South Milwaukee buildings will get facelifts with the help of the Bucyrus Downtown Revitalization Grant.

The grant review committee met last week and recommended $30,000 grants for 912 Milwaukee Ave. (James Moran/Moran’s Pub) and 1003 Milwaukee Ave., recently purchased by Kimberly Mackenzie and Troy Kinunen. The South Milwaukee Common Council approved the grant awards at its meeting on Tuesday, June 30.

The Moran’s project is a continuation of their significant interior remodel started a couple months ago. The goal of the exterior remodel is a look similar to Slainte Pub & Grub in Oakland, Calif.

Plans presented include a replacement of the first-floor facade, including windows, an entrance door and wall materials. New paint colors and signage are also included in the proposal.

One potential look for 1003 Milwaukee.

Mackenzie and Kinunen plan to restore the facade to its historic appearance, including tuckpointing, tile roof repair, new storefront windows and door, composite wall covering and trim. Interior improvements include replacement of the building’s electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems and finishes to the first-floor commercial space, for a future tenant.

I’m excited to see these continued improvements in our downtown.

For Moran, it’s the latest investment in the future for his now 25-year-old second-generation family business.

For Mackenzie and Kinunen, it’s not their first project in the city, and hopefully not their last. In addition to the amazing remodel of the former St. Mary’s Hall, they also purchased and remodeled the property at 723 Milwaukee Ave. to make way for the Military Connection collectibles store, which owner Craig Luther is now expanding even more — and are nearing completion on the renovation of a home two doors to the west, at Eighth and Milwaukee Ave. 

With these two projects, the Bucyrus grant program ends after supporting five projects with more than $100,000 in matching grants, including remodels to the 907 Milwaukee (now home to Gecko Leatherworks and Serendipitous Designs and Gifts), China Chef and Mari’s Flowers.

It was money well spent. You can see for yourself, recognizing this is just the latest example of the continued momentum in our city center.

The Business Journal wrote about progress with the former Bucyrus campus over the weekend. Here is a PDF of the article — and check out the new, full listing for the property.

  • The downtown streetscaping project is well underway, with South Milwaukee-based EK Construction continuing with phase 2 sidewalk improvements after July 4th.
  • Work on the Bucyrus Club is full speed ahead, with the building now vacant, cleaned out and ready for a complete remodel. The project team — including future tenants Skyline Catering and the South Milwaukee Industrial Museum, and Bucyrus Foundation President Tim Sullivan — and Zimmerman Architectural Studios are planning what’s next, with construction starting in coming months and an opening next summer.
  • Down the block, DB Tax & Wealth is expanding.
  • And further east on Milwaukee, an ad hoc committee is in place to begin the new-look public space on 11th and Madison with landscape architects Saiki Design and the community at large. Construction is expected to begin in 2021, backed by $500,000 from the Bucyrus Foundation.

Progress is real, and building. And we’re just getting started.

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Keeping Our City Clean

Thanks to everyone who took part in the South Milwaukee Beautification Committee Community Cleanup on Saturday!

While it was great to see people step up to remove trash, I hope this becomes a community commitment throughout the year.

My ask: Next time you’re on a walk, or visit Grant Park, especially the beach or Seven Bridges, please take a garbage bag with you, and fill it up. In that way, we can lead dozens of neighborhood cleanups, one bag at a time.

That includes me.

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Suburban Soles Nature Walks Return on Sunday: Explore the Oak Creek

From event organizer Brian Morrison …

“Wonder & Wander along the Water” – Explore the Oak Creek

Join in on all the fun of Suburban Soles, next Sunday, June 28th as we explore the Oak Creek with EPA watershed specialists Jan Marsh. Wander along the Oak Creek water course west of the lagoon as we discuss new concepts and details about the inventory findings in the draft restoration plan for the oak creek watershed being done by the Southeastern Wisconsin Planning Commission. Hot off the press info from credible sources. Discover the future of South Milwaukee’s hidden gem and the ecology of the beautiful Oak Creek ecosystem,

Please be reminded that although this event is outdoors, we ask that all participants wear a mask and keep a minimum of 6 feet distancing for the safety and piece of mind of all those attending. Masks will be available upon request at the event, for a $1 suggested donation. Participation will be limited. 

Here is the Facebook event listing.

Here is the full list of events.

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Reminder: Join us for a City Cleanup This Saturday!

Bring your family, friends, groups and organizations for a socially distanced cleanup events. See you Saturday!

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Feeding Our Kids: School District Announces Summer Lunch, Breakfast Program

Service started yesterday, at two sites, and are free and open to all students.

From the South Milwaukee School District website

We want to be sure to offer free meals to our students who depend on the schools for meals. Our School Nutrition Services Department will be providing “grab and go” lunches along with an additional breakfast offering that is shelf stable for the following morning for all of our students. 

The meals will be free of charge and be provided at the following sites at the following times on  Meals can be picked up at any location regardless of the school you attend. Our preferred method of delivery is drive up. All visitors should leave the school property once the lunch is received.

Locations & Hours

  • High School: 12 – 12:45pm (Door #29)
  • Lakeview: 11:30am – 12pm (Door #1) *changed from door 11

Monday, 6/22 – Thursday, 8/13

  • Monday (Monday’s meal only)
  • Tuesday (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday meals only)
  • Thursday (Friday, Saturday, Sunday meals only)

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Celebrating a Champion Player, Teacher and Coach

Just before the pandemic, we lost Harold Swanson, a South Milwaukee resident who captained the 1952 Rocket state championship basketball team before leaving a lasting mark on local tennis and in the classroom.

Learn more is his obituary, and in this terrific piece on his legacy from the Racine Journal Times. Rest in peace, Coach Swanson.

Here is the proclamation I shared at a small graveside service today.

WHEREAS, Harold Otto Swanson was born in South Milwaukee on April 20, 1935, to Carl and Marion Swanson. Harold went to school in South Milwaukee, graduating from South Milwaukee High School in 1953. During his time at the high school, Harold captained the basketball team which won the Wisconsin state championship in 1952; and

WHEREAS, after graduating, Harold attended the University of Minnesota, earning letters in basketball and tennis for four years. After graduation from college, Harold began his teaching career in Minnesota for two years before returning to Milwaukee. He and Kathryn Lindall married on June 9, 1962, and would raise three children, Kristen, Thor and Erik; and

WHEREAS, after his return to Milwaukee, Harold served as the first tennis pro at the Western Tennis Club in Elm Grove for 10 years. He then taught at South Milwaukee Middle School before joining the faculty at The Prairie School in Racine, where he coached boys’ and girls’ tennis for decades, leaving a strong legacy on and off the court; and

WHEREAS, Harold led Prairie tennis teams to six state championships and individual athletes to over 50 state recognitions. In 2013, Harold was recognized as the Division II Coach of the Year by the Wisconsin Tennis Coaches’ Association, a distinction conferred by his peers. In 2014, he was inducted into the Wisconsin Tennis Coaches’ Hall of Fame. Harold’s career as a coach was based on his drive to work with students and young adults, mentoring them to be the best they could be of themselves and seeking to achieve personal growth and advancement through hard work and commitment. To Harold, trophies and “wins” were secondary to the experience of doing your best; and

WHEREAS, Swanny’s love of tennis is equal to his passion for working with students. For 46 years, Harold was a social studies teacher at Prairie, demonstrating tremendous patience and commitment, individualizing his approach to learning by organizing after-school study sessions and developing games to help students prepare for exams; and

WHEREAS, Harold passed away on March 2, 2020, leaving a legacy worthy of praise.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that I, Mayor Erik Brooks and the Common Council of the City of South Milwaukee, do hereby declare June 22, 2020, as “Harold Otto Swanson Day” in the City of South Milwaukee in recognition of a life well lived and in his honor.  

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Roll out the Barrel: Grant Park Beer Garden Opens Wednesday

Details here, and here are steps Milwaukee County is taking to ensure safety during the pandemic. They include the use of single-use cups, table sanitation, and no live music.

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Celebrating Market Day

It was a beautiful Thursday at the South Milwaukee Downtown Market, which has reopened safely and with a really nice mix of vendors.

Thank you to the organizers for working with the Health Department on a reopening strategy, and thank you to the vendors who have given the market, and South Milwaukee, a chance in these difficult times.

Check it out for yourself every Thursday, 3 to 7 p.m.

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