Get Involved in Shaping South Milwaukee’s Future: Apply to Join a Board or Commission

The first thing I did when I was elected in 2014 was to create a new system for recruiting members to our boards and commissions.

It is a simple application process designed to introduce people to the opportunities we have available and to introduce me and city staff to a broader network of people who may have a passion or skill that we never knew.

It’s working. We’ve had dozens of applications in the past two years, and we’ve placed some of those applicants in key positions. Some of these people I had never met before they applied.

My continued ask: Apply. We regularly have openings to fill and, when we don’t, we want to keep a good list of interested candidates at the ready.

We currently have an opening on the Library Board.

Interested? Learn more and apply here.

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Wanted: Help Leading South Milwaukee’s Economic (re)Development Efforts

South Milwaukee is a crossroads when it comes to economic development.

We have built a strong foundation for growth, are witnessing some real successes and have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape who we are and where we’re headed. At the same time, we are facing some of the biggest economic (re)development challenges we’ve ever faced as a city,

We need help — the right person to help guide us through this critical time.

With that in mind, we are creating a new Economic Development Director position, a limited term employee who will spend the next two to three years, maybe longer, leading our work to bring key elements of our comprehensive plan to life.

The council voted earlier this month to create the position, and we posted the job last week. From the position advertisement

The City of South Milwaukee is accepting applications for the position of full-time Economic Development Director. This is a contract employment opportunity, with an expected minimum duration of two to three years. This position is responsible for providing professional-level leadership work in planning and implementing programmatic activities to develop and support economic development in the City of South Milwaukee. This position will provide professional-level economic development services, including management and execution of economic development projects, outreach, advertising and promotion, and other economic development-related tasks to achieve City goals and objectives. This position will serve as an advocate for economic development in the community, and as a liaison between business owners and the municipality to reach mutual economic development goals. This position is being advertised at a time where significant leadership is needed in the redevelopment of South Milwaukee’s historic downtown; one million square feet of available manufacturing, office and warehouse buildings in the city center, and other significant redevelopment “opportunity sites” across the city. The ideal candidate will have a passion for economic development and will work to capture and add to the recent positive momentum of the city and strive to encourage and maintain a vibrant local economy.

In other words, we need someone who is just as comfortable in meeting with a potential developer as he or she is in diving into the financials of a potential development, someone who can go from a discussing expansion options with a small business owner to discussing high-level policy at a council meeting, someone who is just as comfortable with the chamber president as the council president.

We’ll consider a wide range of candidates, but I am hoping to find someone who has already lived this work in their community, or someone who is living this work now. Perhaps he or she has a leadership role in economic development, or worked in the administration of a community that is overcoming its own development challenges, and is looking for a new challenge. Maybe he or she was a political leader in such a city, or a consultant that was part of that work.

Whatever their background, we need someone to come in and hit the ground running, get right to work on some of the big projects in front of us, projects like …

  • The potential redevelopment of more than 1 million square feet of industrial, warehouse and office space downtown. This includes the Caterpillar campus, where 750,000 square feet of buildings were recently put up for sale or lease, and the Johnson Health Tech property along 12th Avenue, where more than 250,000 square feet is coming available as the company plans a move to a new location in Racine County later this year. That news broke last week.
  • Our ongoing work in revitalizing Milwaukee Avenue and the rest of our city center, where the focus remains on working against the downtown plan. This includes a great start to our Downtown Revitalization Grant program, early work in forming a business improvement district, and a soon-to-be-announced designation as a Connect Communities (Main Street program) city, in addition to our continued work in business recruitment and retention efforts.
  • The planned redevelopment of the property at 11th and Madison Avenues into a mixed-used development. The more than $6 million project is still very much alive, and developers Vetter Denk told me recently they remain committed to their plans to bring forward a development plan that will be a game-changer for our city center. Expect a plan soon.
  • Redevelopment of other key “opportunity” sites across the city as identified in the comprehensive plan, including the former AMF property, areas along Oak Creek north of downtown, and key parcels near South Chicago Avenue.

So there is no shortage of work to do, and I’m excited to do it.

We are up for the challenge, and we will do this right. We have momentum, and we can’t lose it. Our new economic development director will help make sure of that.

Know someone who may be interested? Have them apply online.

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Wednesday is Community Night Out!

Night Out flyer 2017

I can’t think of a better time to bring a community together, and support law enforcement at the same time.

Join us this Wednesday, August 16, for South Milwaukee Community Night Out!

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Back to Blogging: Catching up

Back from vacation and back to blogging …

  • First, a tragedy. Two South Milwaukee residents were killed in an ATV crash in northern Wisconsin. Please keep the families impacted by this terrible accident in your thoughts and prayers.
  • I wanted to thank all of the city workers who worked long hours to fix the major water main break last weekend, and thank everyone for their patience. North Chicago Avenue has now reopened.  Pictures are included in this post.
  • Thankfully, the Silver Alert issued for Richard Roidt earlier in the week was cancelled, as he was found safe.

Be sure to like mayoral Facebook page for more regular updates. I often share information there you can’t find on the blog.

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South Milwaukee Police Chief Ann Wellens to Retire

WellensSouth Milwaukee Police Chief Ann Wellens is retiring effective Jan. 19, 2018 — 30 years after she started in law enforcement and more than 28 years after she began at the South Milwaukee Police Department.

Ann has served admirably as South Milwaukee’s chief for more than 12 years.

Please join me in wishing Chief Wellens well as she begins the next chapter of her life, and in thanking her for her hard work in leading a department that has rightfully earned the respect of many others across the state. She leaves a legacy of dedication, integrity and professionalism that will be hard to match.

The Police & Fire Commission is meeting next week to accept her letter of retirement, and to begin the process of searching for a new chief. I will keep you posted.

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Headlines!

Check out these South Shore headlines …

And in case you missed coverage of the Gary Wetzel homecoming from a couple weeks ago, here are some links from that special day …

Also, NOW has published a new police blotter.

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Growing (in) Our Downtown

Community garden renderingIMG_5125

There are a lot of reasons to believe in the future of our city center. The biggest? The people stepping up to deliver game-changing ideas.

People like those you see in the above photo (and others) working to deliver a community garden in downtown South Milwaukee.

The group is called Growing South Milwaukee, and they are poised to start turning dirt on garden plots this fall, with planting starting next spring. It will be the culmination of an effort that started in the spring of 2015, with the committee considering several sites before choosing land south of the historic train station on 11th Avenue.

Thirty-three plots are available, measuring around 8×8 feet. Most plots are $30.

More details on Facebook and here … https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2qLEsKj8HyzWHZXOWpaakxtclpjWVV5VkFSNGRKSkVYTHdn/view

The group can also use your financial support. It has established a GoFundMe page, with a goal of raising $6,000. Other significant gifts have come from Caterpillar and Cousin’s.

I encourage you to get behind Growing South Milwaukee, and its mission …

Growing South Milwaukee has a deep rooted mission to create and maintain community gardens that inspire people of all ages to grow together. Our gardeners strengthen the community by planting the seeds of change, sharing knowledge and bringing nutrient rich food back to South Milwaukee.

It’s an ambitious mission, one embodied by its board members …

  • President: Leah Manthey
  • Vice President: Brooke Gilley
  • Secretary: Patricia Heim
  • Treasurer: James Davies

Thanks to everyone who is volunteering their time to make this happen!

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