Tag Archives: South Milwaukee

Capital Plan: Putting Dollars Behind Our Priorities For A Promising Future

Our biennial capital plan is much more than numbers on a sheet of paper. It’s a chance to show real commitment to investing in priorities for future growth.

The borrowing approved by the South Milwaukee City Council Tuesday night is no different.

The council voted unanimously to borrow more than $7.9 million for a variety of projects ranging from road repairs and equipment purchases to energy efficiency and downtown revitalization. Among the items where money has been earmarked the next two years:

  • More than $2.5 million for road and other engineering projects, including $450,000 to be put toward the nearly $1 million cost to completely rebuild — roadway and utilities — the stretch of Chicago Avenue from north of the Oak Creek bridge to Pine Street. Work is expected to take place this summer.
  • Almost $2.5 million for various water, wastewater and stormwater utility projects, as we continue to upgrade our aging underground infrastructure;
  • Up to $340,000 for the purchase of LED lighting for municipal buildings, and for a pilot program in partnership with We Energies to use LEDs in select streetlights across the city — a significant investment in energy efficiency that has the potential to yield big savings over time;
  • $250,000 for Milwaukee Avenue streetscaping, allowing us to hit the ground running with a significant investment in our city center once our downtown plan in delivered in coming months;
  • $150,000 for the next round of fiber optic connectivity;
  • $75,000 for urban forestry — money that we’ll use to invest in tree replanting efforts and the start of our long-range tree planting program; and
  • $70,000 for rebranding work, as we look to partner with an outside agency to develop a new visual identity for South Milwaukee — and then look to bring that identity to life through opportunities like websites, new street signage and more.

It’s worth noting that each of the projects contemplated in the borrowing will still need council approval, but passage of this plan is significant because it funds them. Without borrowing the money now, it would be another two years before we could even think about undertaking some of this important work. And we don’t have time to wait.

Of course, we’re doing this responsibly.

At the same time we’re borrowing these funds, we’re retiring another approximately $6 million in debt. And we’re getting this money cheaply — our strong Aa2 bond rating, the result of years of sound financial management and responsible budgeting, allows us access to very low interest rates (just over 2% on a 10-year note in this case).

As always, we will spend this money wisely, and make key investments in better days ahead. That starts now.

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Filed under City Council, South Milwaukee

Saying Farewell To A Community Servant: City Attorney To Retire

South Milwaukee is blessed to have many people who have dedicated their lives to serving their community. No one fits that description more than Joseph Murphy.

SM Common Council for Website 6-9-15-10That’s why it was sad, albeit not surprising, to hear that Joe is retiring after serving more than 34 years as South Milwaukee city attorney. The Common Council accepted his retirement letter, effective May 31, on Tuesday.

Joe leaves behind a legacy of professionalism, hard work, dedication and wisdom — and a commitment to doing what’s right. He was a trusted adviser for me, and I will miss his counsel and guidance on issues big and small.

The Murphy family legacy is even greater. Joe’s mother was among the founders of Human Concerns, and I can’t think of a better example of the family’s desire to make South Milwaukee a better place for all people.

Now, we begin the search for Joe’s successor. We will start by exploring hiring a firm to perform these services, and I’ll keep you posted as we move forward.

You will recall that the city attorney position is no longer elected. The council made that job, and those of the city clerk and treasurer, appointed, effective in 2017, although we accelerated that date last year, when Joe informed us he was moving out of South Milwaukee. Then came word of his pending retirement over the weekend.

I wish Joe nothing but the best, and I can’t think of a better message than this: Thank you.

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March 19: Breakfast With The Easter Bunny & Easter Egg Hunt

Help support two great location organizations: the South Milwaukee Lions and Friends of the Mill Pond and Oak Creek Watercourse!

2016 egg hunt

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February Golf!?

Why not?

With temperatures in the 50s expected, Grant Park is open for walkers only starting on Friday. Think spring!

Learn more here.

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Investing In High-Speed Connectivity

I am always happy to get behind technology that brings communities closer together — and helps make doing our jobs easier. The most recent example: South Milwaukee’s investment in fiber optic cable.

The city council voted unanimously on Tuesday to spend more than $90,000 to install underground fiber cable connecting the City Administration building with Oak Creek, and through that connection other communities who have already made this investment.

Future installations will connect South Milwaukee City Hall with our fire department, street department, library, water and wastewater facilities and, hopefully, our local schools, as we do our part to create a web of fiber connectivity across the county that will help us all work better together in sharing information and potentially services.

The added bandwidth will also make our jobs easier today.

Fiber is able to transmit data much faster over greater distances than traditional copper lines, and it enables faster download and connection speeds for things like video conferencing and data backup.

For our police department, the fiber connection will better support the upgraded countywide radio system coming online later this year, and our records management system, which is hosted through the West Allis Police Department.

In other words, it’s money well spent.

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Wind Damages Grant Park Picnic Pavilion Roof

5A roof 15A roof 2

Significant wind damage was reported today to the roof of the historic picnic structure at Grant Park picnic area 5A.

Many of the shingles were blown away. No one was hurt.

I’ll keep you posted on a repair plan, although I’m told summer activities at the facility shouldn’t be impacted. That’s some good news in all of this.

There are also multiple power outages on the north end of South Milwaukee, according to the We Energies outage map at 3:15 p.m.

Thanks to Michael Wrench and Jacob Klingforth from the Parks Department for the info and photos.

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Long Live Da Crusher

crusher020809_fullsize_story1

The Milwaukee Admirals are celebrating perhaps South Milwaukee’s most famous son: Reginald Lisowski, better known as The Crusher.

The first 5,000 fans at next Sunday’s (Feb. 21) game against the Iowa Wild will receive a Crusher bobblehead. Buy tickets here.

Don’t know The Crusher’s story? “The Wrestler Who Made Milwaukee Famous” is one of the pioneers of professional wrestling.

From a 2009 OnMilwaukee.com article

In the early years, The Crusher wrestled several times a week around Chicago while working as a bricklayer during the day to make ends meet. He joined Vern Gagne’s AWA circuit in 1963 and went on to win three World Championships during his career and five Tag Team Championships, several of those with longtime partner Dick the Bruiser.

When the AWA started to wane in popularity, thanks to the rise of Hogan and McMahon’s WWF, the Crusher joined the circuit on a part-time basis, working a number of smaller shows throughout the Midwest. He continued wrestling until retiring in 1988.

A natural in front of the camera, he recorded hundreds of interviews. His raspy, tough-man voice intimidating his opponents as he wielded a cigar was a perfect fit for his in-the-ring personality. In addition to warning his foes of impending doom, he always managed to work in a reference to Milwaukee as well as all the “dolls” that loved him.

Crusher was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame in 1994 and occasionally worked on WWF pay-per-view shows, including a well-known 1998 event in Milwaukee, where he got into a ringside scuffle with Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon and Jerry “The King Lawler.” … 

The Crusher gained fame and won crowds over with his beer-drinking, strong man demeanor that played into blue-collar, tough-guy image that came to define postwar Milwaukee.

And that image helped make him a hero to the factory workers, machinists and other industrial, middle-class people that made up the majority of the city’s population — and his fan base.

He was a huge celebrity in his hometown, often taking part in various telethons and other charity events. In 1985, he even served as a guest conductor with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at a fundraising event. While many celebrities — then and now — made appearances for a fee, The Crusher always showed up with a check in hand.

“He really believed that it was the fans – the Milwaukee fans – that made all this happen,” says his daughter, Sherri Brozoski. “He was a bricklayer. He was proud of that background and he helped create that image of beer, brats and bars.

“And there’s nothing wrong with that image.”

It all began in South Milwaukee.

According to a Washington Post story following his death in 2005 …

“I think working people identify with me because years ago I worked when I wrestled, too,” Mr. Lisowski told the Milwaukee papers in 1985. “I worked at Ladish, Drop Forge, Cudahy Packing House. I was a bricklayer. But finally, I got away from punching the clock.”

He punched plenty of other things with his signature finishing move, the bolo, which had a windup like a fast pitch softball pitch but ended with a whomp! to a competitor’s bone and muscle. His own body was not spared the violence of the ring. Mr. Lisowski broke his right elbow seven or eight times, his son David Lisowski said, and was unable to fully straighten it. He had “thousands” of stitches in his head, countless concussions and a damaged eardrum. When he broke his right shoulder, he came home from a match, went to a pillar in the basement and yanked it back into place. He also had two hip replacements, a knee replacement and multiple heart bypass surgeries.

Yet he was so strong that he could bend a tire in half, which is harder than it sounds.

“These turkey neck bums they got wrestling, some of them couldn’t shine Crusher or Bruiser’s shoes,” he said in 1999 at a dog track appearance in Kenosha, Wis., according to amateur wrestling historian George Lentz, who tape-recorded the talk. “I come up the hard way. I had all these cage matches. I wrestled in the cage more than any other rassler in the history of rasslin’. I got all the scars to prove it. The time I wrestled Mad Dog [Vachon] in the cage, I had to go to the hospital, and he had to go to the veterinarian to get sewn up.”

His greatest legacy? His family. From the OnMilwaukee story …

Lisowski’s sons, Larry and David, wrestled at South Milwaukee High School. His opponents always wanted to beat “the Crusher’s son,” and he was a fixture at those matches, cheering his sons on from the stands. His status as one of wrestling’s all-time greats remains unchallenged, but it’s his devotion to his family, his daughters say, is the Crusher’s true legacy. Both daughters credit their mother, Faye, for keeping the family strong during their father’s many long work trips.

“He loved his family. Family was everything. He never missed a football game or a wrestling meet. He loved his grandkids. They were his world.”

There is more background here and here.

There is also some great YouTube video of Lisowski. Check out some early footage here and here, and here is a great compilation of footage later in his career.

Miwaukee-Admirals-Da-Crusher-Bobblehead-2-21-2016

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Be A Local Storm Spotter

Bucket list item for me. Unfortunately, I can’t attend. But next year …

Storm Spotter training

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More Headlines

Check out these South Shore headlines …

Also, NOW has published new police blotters here and here.

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For The Love Of Local Paczki

Paczki

Fat Tuesday is in just a few days, and there’s a way to celebrate it in South Milwaukee style — with paczki!

Wild Flour Bakery makes and sells all their Polish treats at their South Milwaukee bakery at 1205 Milwaukee Ave. Raspberry, bavarian cream, lemon and prune are available for pickup and purchase from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

Pre-orders are appreciated. Call 414-571-1298 to place your order or learn more.

Learn more about paczki here. And happy Fat Tuesday!

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Tracking Coyotes

coyote15

Coyotes are becoming an increasing part of everyday life across the county — and that includes South Milwaukee.

Take a look at the website Milwaukee County Coyote Watch, a new public database that aims to track coyote sightings across the area and learn from that data.

Here is one report from South Milwaukee from October …

We hear coyotes on a regular basis howling across the street from our house on Oak Creek Pkwy in South Milwaukee. On this date, October 12th, I watched one walk right down the middle of the street past our house at approximately 10:15pm.

Learn more about the coyote database here and here.

And here is the county’s press release on efforts it’s taking to address urban coyotes, including trapping and tagging them in Wauwatosa and West Allis.

So, what should you do if you see a coyote? First, please record the sighting on the Coyote Watch website — do not call our Health Department.

From the tracker website …

  1. Do NOT feed coyotes (directly OR indirectly – pet food left outside, fallen fruit in yard, fallen bird seed, etc.)
  2. Reinforce the fear of humans when encountering a bold or habituated coyote (chase and yell at the coyote, use projectiles – rocks/sticks, use repellents – such as a hose if it’s a backyard encounter).
  3. Keep pets on LEASH!

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources also has information on coexisting with urban wildlife. Bayside also has some great tips for dealing with coyotes.

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Made In South Milwaukee: Janet Halfmann

Halfmann

The latest in a regular series.

OK, so Janet Halfmann isn’t technically from here, but she’s lived here 25 years, and we’re proud to claim this terrific children’s book author as our own.

She has published dozens of books — including a number in the Brooks family collection — and her newest one (“Grandma is a Slowpoke”) is due out Feb. 15.

From her website

My mom says that I was always curled up reading a book. That’s probably why I majored in English at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. At some point, I also fell in love with Spanish, spent a summer in Spain, and graduated with a double major, with plans to teach.

But soon after I married, I saw an ad for a home-study course in children’s writing, enrolled, started writing, and was hooked. Becoming a published children’s author became my dream. Reading books to our kids became #1 on my list of favorite things to do. I had some success as a freelance writer, selling articles to magazines like Ranger Rick and Jack and Jill.

But I wanted to make a living as a writer, which took me on the following path:

Got another degree in journalism and moved to Wichita, Kansas, to be a reporter on a daily newspaper for three years (I loved writing feature stories, but hard news not so much).

Moved to Wisconsin to help start the national magazine, Country Kids–but the circulation didn’t grow fast enough and the job lasted less than two years.

Worked for twelve years creating coloring and activity books (Little Mermaid, Mickey Mouse, Sesame Street, Poky Little Puppy, and scores of others) for Golden Books in Racine, WI–a great job with wonderful coworkers!

In 1997, when Golden Books moved all of its operations to New York City and I lost my job, I returned to my original dream of being a children’s author.

I got my start on my dream by writing books for the Creative Company in Mankato, Minnesota. I visited the company for an informational interview before I decided to strike out on my own. Then when I made my decision, the company gave me the opportunity to write a series of insect books, and a children’s book author was born.

And we’re blessed to have her call South Milwaukee home.

Note: Janet will be at the South Milwaukee Spring Market at South Milwaukee High School Sunday, March 20, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. She’ll also be at South Milwaukee Family Literacy Night

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More Headlines

South Shore headlines include another difficult 2016 week for Caterpillar, with more plant closings and a gloomy 2016 forecast …

Also, NOW has published a new police blotter.

And there is this item from police that occurred on Jan. 20 …

On January 20, 2016, SMPD was notified that a gunshot victim at St Luke’s – Main Hospital had suffered an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound, resulting in a minor injury to the victim. A subsequent investigation at St Luke’s – Main Hospital and the victim’s residence confirmed the shooting to be accidental and self-inflicted by the victim while he was cleaning his gun. The victim was counseled regarding gun safety.

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Holy Meatballs! A Tasty Option For Friday Dinner

A previous version of this post had the wrong date. The event is this Friday, Jan. 22.

Putting a plug in for Trinity Lutheran Church’s (my church) annual Meatball Supper …

The annual event returns this Friday, Jan. 22, with some great homemade food and fellowship. Dinner is served from 4 to 7 p.m. at Trinity, 2507 5th Ave. in South Milwaukee.

On the menu are tasty Scandinavian meatballs and gravy, parsley-buttered potatoes, corn, coleslaw, lefse and rolls, and the best homemade desserts around.

Cost is $10 for those age 11 and up. It’s $4 for those 6 to 10, and those 5 and under are free.

Takeout orders are available.

Take my word for it: It’s terrific. Both the supper and Trinity.

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New Owners Secure Bright Future For South Milwaukee Ace Hardware

New Ace owners

An iconic local retailer has new owners, and they have big plans.

South Milwaukee Ace Hardware has been sold to Harry and Chris Gil, owners of Harry’s Ace Hardware & Rental at 7240 S. 76th St. in Franklin. Their son, Ben, will manage their second location.

The Gils are showing their commitment to South Milwaukee by signing a long-term lease for their space at Sunrise Plaza, 1009 10th Ave., and they are planning a significant store remodel later this spring.

Please join me in being among the first to welcome the Gils, and to wish Dave Micale, the previous owner, well.

Dave built a first-class local business that went head-to-head with big box stores and more than held its own thanks to great customer service. Here is a message from Dave …

I would like to thank all of our customers for all the kindness and support that my family and I have received over the past 20 years. I can’t express enough how we enjoyed being a part of the neighborhood. We have met a lot of good people and made many great friends. I will forever be grateful.

The Ace announcement — especially the signing of the long-term lease and the planned improvements — is great news for Sunrise Plaza as a whole, which has new owners focused on improving the center and making it more financially viable.

And what’s good for Sunrise Plaza is good for South Milwaukee, and continued small business growth in our fair city. It’s exciting to see.

Welcome to South Milwaukee, the Gil family!

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