June 19, 2015 – Join us for a July 4th to Remember

10526074_10204577579058515_2682263616486813172_nOur July 4th celebration at Grant Park will be bigger than ever in 2015!
Back this year: the Mayor’s Picnic and bouncy houses, as well as a local DJ that will play throughout the afternoon and early evening!
As always, the festivities start at 10 a.m. at Picnic Areas 5, 5a and 6 with bike judging, followed by games and the penny scramble. Ice cream and cracker jack will be available free for all participants.  All attendees are invited to the second annual free Mayor’s Picnic, where Steve and his team from Emerald City Catering will serve hot dogs, chips, soda and water, thanks to a generous donation by TASC Services, a local commercial cleaning company.
And that’s not all: We’re also offering bouncy houses, temporary tattoos for the kids, and more … all ending with fireworks that night.
Max A. Sass & Sons Funeral and Cremation Services is sponsoring the inflatables again this year, and Educators Credit Union is sponsoring the DJ, from noon to 7 p.m.
My goal is to find new ways to get more families to our July 4th events and keep those families at Grant Park longer. Last year, we delivered on that, and we’ll do it again in 2015.
Thanks to all of our sponsors for stepping up, and we’ll see you on Independence Day!

February 27, 2015 – South Milwaukee’s “Around the Corner” Episode

Celebrate what makes South Milwaukee a great place to live, work and play in our episode of “Around the Corner with John McGivern.” View it here.

January 29, 2015 – Driving the Debate Downtown

I’m happy to announce the formation of the Downtown Advisory Committee — the group of business and property owners and residents who will be front and center in the debate over our city center in coming years.

The goal of the committee: To advise the South Milwaukee City Council and Plan Commission on downtown issues big and small, and play a key role in the development of a downtown plan that we’ll be working on as part of our comprehensive planning update.

It’s a big job, and an important one. I know this group will deliver, bringing passion, energy, enthusiasm and experience — along with some fresh voices — to the table. I can’t wait to get started!

It is a 10-member committee. Voting members are:

Jay Benkowski: Owner of Benkowski Properties, which owns and manages a number of downtown and area residential properties. He is based out of the downtown South Milwaukee Depot.
Brett Breisemeister: Owner of Breismeister Realty & Appraisal and member of the Plan Commission.
Kristin Drenzek: Owner of Drenzek Chiropractic.
Natalie Gajewski: Owner of The Revolution Hair Studio, Natalie is serving as one of the resident members of the committee.
Chris Haslam: South Milwaukee resident and Caterpillar employee with education in civil and structural engineering.
Timothy King: South Milwaukee resident with significant experience in real estate development and community revitalization as a developer, builder, operator, consultant, advisor and executive.
Nicole Maxey: Owner of MKE City Sippers.
Donn Powers: Owner of Donn Powers Jeweler.
Rachel Sorce: South Milwaukee resident and executive director of the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center.

The non-voting city council liaison will be Ald. Frank Van Dusen III.

I expect this group will first meet in February, coinciding with the hiring of a new economic development coordinator for the city. (We had strong interest in this position.)

I want to thank everyone who applied to be on this committee. Interest was high, and we had some great candidates, making for some difficult choices. I see that as a really good sign for what we’re doing here.

I hope that those not chosen — and everyone reading this — joins the conversation. There will be plenty of opportunities to have your voices heard when it comes to revitalizing our downtown. Be heard.

Predicting a Promising 2015

What a year! With 2015 underway, I have been reflecting a lot on all we’ve accomplished so far, and it’s a lot.

We saw big gains downtown, as businesses like MKE City Sippers, Board Game Barrister and Graveyard Records opened and Wild Flour Bakery reopened. Revolution Hair Studio began its move from Bay View. The farmers’ market returned for another successful season on a reconstructed (and re-landscaped) 11th Avenue. Sorce Martial Arts and Azteca Restaurant completed major renovations. We brought back outdoor movies, thanks to Guardian Credit Union. We held our first downtown trick-or-treat scavenger hunt, with the support of I Can’t Resist Kids Resale (and soon to be B’s Boutique). And we laid the foundation for the future, forming a Downtown Advisory Committee and including funding in the 2015 budget for a downtown plan. I expect to have the committee named in January, and the plan underway this spring.

And we didn’t stop downtown, when it comes to driving business in South Milwaukee. We also welcomed Dunkin’ Donutsand Planet Fitness in 2014 and approved plans for a new Burger King restaurant. Hickory Inn reopened. Educators’ Credit Union completed its renovation and expansion. We also funded a new economic development coordinator This person, once hired in early 2015, will serve as a key point contact for business recruitment and retention and marketing our city — areas where we need to step up our game.

We also took steps toward enhancing our city services in 2014, including investing in urban forestryand moving toward automated garbage collection. We also opened up our committee selection process, and it’s already helping bring new faces and fresh perspectives to these important bodies.

We improved how we communicate, adding monthly Meet the Mayor sessions at local businesses, redesigning the city website, and increasing use of Facebook as a communication tool (likes have soared past 1,100).

We invested in community health, joining the South Suburban Mayors’ Fitness Challenge.

We built Rocketober, a series of family-friendly events that made October something special in our community.

And we did all of this while continuing to act as responsible stewards of your money, passing a budget that ensures the city lives within its means while continuing to deliver our city services and investing for the future.

Of course, here’s the fun part: We’re just getting started!

Our promising future – our best days — are still ahead of us.

Consider what’s on the horizon in South Milwaukee …

Economic development. We’re going all in on our central business district in 2015, when the work of the advisory committee and planning effort will begin to help us build for the long term on a strong foundation of best practices tailored to work for South Milwaukee. As we do this necessary heavy lifting, we’ll also continue to work on bringing new business to South Milwaukee and help our existing ones grow. We can’t, and won’t, let the momentum die.

Grant Park, Oak Creek and the Mill Pond. 2015 will be a big year for the green spaces that are such an important part of South Milwaukee’s proud past and promising future. Grant Park is seeing significant investment with an $800,000+ Oak Leaf Trail repaving project, construction of new rain gardens at the beach … and a couple additional exciting announcements in the works. (Stay tuned; these will be really cool.) Also, look for more soon on a path forward for improvements to the Oak Creek watershed and the Mill Pond. This is a passionate issue for many, me included. Soon, I hope to share information on a detailed watershed study effort I argue is the necessary road map for future action around this vital resource. County Supervisor Pat Jursik, I and others are making significant progress in building a coalition around this effort. More to come in January.

As with the work going on around the Oak Creek plan, we’ll continue to look for new and creative ways to partner with our neighbors and other governments in 2015. That includes bringing back the Fitness Challenge(if the other communities agree) and working with the county on shared solutions like police and fire radios and election equipment.

Enhanced service delivery. Automated garbage collection is just one example of our commitment to looking at new and more efficient ways to deliver our services. We’ll do the same with police and fire dispatch, leaf collection, and others. And we’ll continue to lean in to our critical urban forestry efforts, better managing our urban canopy for the long term with an increased focus on tree replanting. (How does an Arbor Day event sound in 2015?)

Special events. I am a steadfast believer in how events bring communities together, and build business. We’ll do even more in the year ahead. First, there will be the big “Around the Corner: South Milwaukee” premiere celebrationon Feb. 23 at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center. The South Milwaukee Downtown Market — bigger and better than ever — returns in early June. Guardian Credit Union has already committed to sponsoring three more outdoor movie nights next summer, and we’re moving them to Fridays to give folks another reason (and another day) to head downtown; look for dates soon. We’re also planning to bring back the Mayor’s Picnic and bouncy houses we added to the July 4th celebration last year, and we’ll consider even more enhancements. Then it’s on to Heritage Week, Community Night Out, and eventually October, where we’ll bring back Rocketober and its family fun. And, finally, it will be Christmas. I already can’t wait! In early 2015, we’ll hold a few informal meetings to discuss how we do our Christmas celebrations across the city. The goal: Similar to what we did with Rocketober, we will jointly plan, brand and market local Christmas activities, creating a full calendar of events that will stand out as a true community celebration. We’ll also look at creating a few new evens. Stay tuned for how you can help.

What a great time to be a South Milwaukeean! I hope you’re as excited about our promising future as I am.

My request: Join us in these efforts. Get involved. Be part of the conversation.

I close with this: a big thank you to our city workers, volunteer board and commission members and elected officials for their hard work, passion and dedication in the past year — and their efforts yet to come.

It should be a fun and rewarding journey.

Happy New Year, indeed.

December 1, 2014 – Shop Local: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Gift the gift of economic development this Christmas: Shop local.

There are dozens of local merchants that would be happy to earn your business this holiday season, with more on the way for 2015. Flowers, jewelry, coffee, stained glass, baked goods, collectibles, games, hardware, wellness, performance art … those are just a few of the options you have for shopping local this holiday season. And that’s not to mention the terrific collection of local bars and restaurants you can find in South Milwaukee – all of them happy to help make your holiday gatherings unique.

You can learn more about some of these opportunities on the new Shop Local South Milwaukee Facebook page. And you can get a good sampling of local merchants at the South Milwaukee Christmas Market on Saturday, Dec. 6 at South Milwaukee High School. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Or, take a few minutes on your own and explore what South Milwaukee has to offer.

Please make local merchants part of your shopping plans this December!

 November 14, 2014 – Leaf Collection Update

We ask for your patience as city crews continue to collect leaves in neighborhoods across South Milwaukee.

Three leaf crews will be working overtime this Saturday and next Saturday — in addition to normal weekday hours — to get as many leaves picked up as possible. We expect this work to be complete by Saturday, Nov. 29, weather permitting. A few additional notes:

If residents have already placed leaves in the curb, and city crews have picked them up, please do not put additional leaves out. It is unlikely crews will return for a second pickup. Once we make the final sweep, any leaves not picked up will have to be bagged and brought to the self-deposit station by the property owner.  Keep in mind that we cannot pick up leaves if cars are parked over the piles or tight up to the piles.

As crews continue to make their way through the city, we continue to ask that residents put away their rakes and mulch their leaves when and where possible. While the city will continue to do leaf collection, mulching is a better option for a number of reasons, including for the environment.

Learn more in the online letter from Mayor Brooks to residents this fall here.

Going forward, into 2015 and beyond, we will be stepping up our communication efforts around the benefits of mulching. We’ll also continue to look for ways to deliver our leaf collection service more efficiently and cost effectively. We appreciate your understanding.

November 3, 2014 – 2015 Proposed Budget: Investing In South Milwaukee’s Future

The 2015 proposed budget will be published this week, and I’m proud to be a part of it for the first time as mayor.

It continues to fund our first-class city services while delivering real savings that we’re reinvesting for the future and using to enhance our work in some key areas, especially economic development.

You can read the proposed budget here. Some highlights …

Revenues are proposed to increase 5.2% from the 2014 budget to 9.2 million. This is primarily due to an increase in state transportation aids and due to our treatment of debt service, as we reflect debt service payments our utilities make to the general fund as a revenue to offset the correlating expense.

Total expenses are proposed to decrease 0.25% to $18.6 million. Not including debt service, the decrease in expenditures is 4.3%. These savings include significant general fund savings driven by the city’s move to a deductible health plan. The decrease is also driven by the shifting of fire hydrant rental costs from the tax levy to water/sewer bills. This shift counts toward our state-imposed levy limit, so this is not “new money” we can raise through taxation.

The tax levy is proposed to decrease 5% to $10 million, due again primarily to the one-time shift in fire hydrant expenses.

The city’s net new construction growth from 2013 to 2014 was +.509%. Therefore, the city’s levy can grow by just that amount. The budget meets that limit, which applies to the city’s tax levy, excluding post-2005 debt service payments.

The proposed budget makes significant investments in our people and fills important gaps in the delivery of city services.

Included in the budget are three new part-time positions that are funded predominately by cost savings and shifting of existing funds. All of them are necessary steps to move South Milwaukee forward and better deliver our services, and I’m excited to add them.

First, the budget includes funding for someone to lead our economic development efforts. This half-time position would be funded predominantly with money previously appropriated to the Community Development Authority and contributions from our tax incremental financing districts. This will be our go-to person inside City Hall when it comes to attracting and retaining local business, marketing our city and driving our downtown redevelopment efforts.  It’s a position long overdue for South Milwaukee, and I am convinced he or she will pay immediate dividends.

We are also recommending the creation of an urban forestry position in the Street Department, to be funded primarily through changes to the self-deposit station hours. In the proposed budget, the station would remain open year-round on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday (our three busiest days).  This has been the schedule for December 1 through March 31 for the last couple of years. The change would free up 16 man-hours that we would use toward coordinating our street tree program — training a person to help us move from being focused on tree removal to creating an actual urban forestry program that includes replanting and other measures aimed at being good stewards of our city’s canopy.

The final position would enhance our human resources capability, by shifting duties inside the administration department and creating a new clerical position for engineering and the mayor.

The budget also includes $30,000 — $15,000 carrying over from 2014 and $15,000 for 2015 – for planning. These are dollars we plan to use to update our comprehensive plan … and take a deep dive into downtown planning. Stay tuned for more information on that.

Also, the budget calls for a 2% salary increase for all employees, in addition to automatic annual increases through seniority-driven steps, for eligible employees. The raise includes our public safety workers. The current fire labor agreement includes a “wage reopener” to be negotiated by the end of 2014. The police agreement — which the council approved earlier this week but still requires police union ratification — includes the 2% increase.

I would like to know what you think of the proposed budget. Post your comments here, or weigh in at one of our upcoming meetings. The budget will officially be published in the NOW newspaper on Oct. 30., with a public hearing on Nov. 24. The city council then meets Nov. 25 to consider adoption of the document.

I also want to thank City Administrator Tami Mayzik, City Clerk Jim Shelenske, and all the department heads for their work in preparing this budget. These are the people, and their teams, who bring these numbers to life, leading the way in delivering our city services. Also, thank you to Finance Committee Chairman Ald. Joe Bukowski and Vice Chairman Ald. Pat Stoner for their work in producing this document and providing strong oversight of this process.

My pledge: To continue to be a responsible steward of your money, while finding ways to invest in our city services and build a stronger South Milwaukee. This proposed budget is a good start — a real step toward South Milwaukee’s promising future.

September 22, 2014 – Happy Rocketober!

Rocketober is upon us. That is the name we’re giving to the collection of community-building events building up to Halloween that promise to make October truly something special.

The goal: Build on the fact that we’re already the only community in Milwaukee County to offer Halloween evening trick-or-treating by bringing to life a series of family-friendly activities throughout the month.

Some of these events already exist. There are some new ones too.  By jointly planning, branding and promoting them, this will make all of them better – and create a real point of pride for our fair city.

So, I give you Rocketober. Check out the full schedule here.
Print it off, hang it on your fridge, share it on your Facebook page. And here is the Rocketober Facebook page.
Here just a glimpse at some of the things happening in October in South Milwaukee.

Thursday, Oct. 2: The Homecoming Parade is back! The parade goes up 15th Avenue from Maple and is followed a community pep rally and bonfire. The Homecoming game is Friday, Oct. 3, vs. Cudahy.

Thursday, Oct. 9: The South Milwaukee Downtown Fall Family Festival returns with free pumpkins and pumpkin decorating, vendor trick-or-treating and a dusk showing of “Hocus Pocus,” the last of three Guardian Movies in the Market.

Friday, Oct. 17: Tales and Tombstones is also back after a hiatus. Learn about famous figures in local history like Rawson, Fowle and McCreedy at a candlelit tour followed by refreshments at First Congregational Church.

Saturday, Oct. 25: This is a full day of family fun, with a couple of new events. It starts with kickball, costumes and more at South Milwaukee Little League, followed by activities at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, a downtown trick-or-treating scavenger hunt and a Halloween House presented the South Milwaukee E-Lions/Friends of the Mill Pond at the Mill Pond Warming House. The Halloween House is also open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 26.

Halloween: Of course, the month ends trick-or-treating on Friday, Oct. 31. Hours are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

This list is just the start. From events at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center to a Rocktoberfest beer tasting to Justice for a Cure Day to a Human Concerns Haunted House, there is lots happening in October. And I can’t wait.

It’s been fun working with the dedicated group of community volunteers and business owners organizing these individual events. I thank them for their efforts and am excited to see what October brings. I hope you are too. Happy Rocketober!

August 19, 2014 – Getting Fit in South Milwaukee
I’m proud to join with the mayors of Oak Creek, Cudahy, St. Francis, Franklin, and Greenfield to present the South Suburban Mayors’ Fitness Challenge.
We can all stand to lose a few pounds and get more fit. Especially me.  That’s why I’m proud to join with the mayors of Oak Creek, Cudahy, St. Francis, Franklin, and Greenfield to present the South Suburban Mayors’ Fitness Challenge.

The goal: Improve the health of our local communities by partnering with wellness-focused businesses and organizations to put on a series of free fitness, educational and social events.  Stay tuned for a list of participating businesses and organizations, but it promises to be a good group — and a great community-building event.

Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi developed the concept for the Challenge in 2012 to not only get area residents on the path to wellness, but also to promote area businesses that were already committed to that mission.  The inaugural Oak Creek Challenge, which focused on weight loss, took place between November 2012 and February 2013. More than 450 residents signed up to participate, and 15 events — including workouts, nutrition workshops, and cooking demonstrations — were hosted. As a community, Oak Creek cumulatively lost nearly 1,000 pounds. The second Challenge, which focused on overall fitness, began in September 2013 and finished in January 2014. More than 700 people registered, and 34 different events were held, building on the successes of the first year.

I am proud South Milwaukee is part of the third Challenge.

More information is to come, including signup information and details on a kickoff event in September. Start by liking the Challenge Facebook page, where you can check out regular updates once we get going.

For more information, you may also contact South Milwaukee Health Administrator Jackie Ove, who is leading this effort on our end. (Thanks, Jackie for your support.)

July 31, 2014 – Coming Together as a Community
Heritage Days may be over, but there is plenty of summer left in South Milwaukee. From outdoor movies at the farmers’ market to Community Night Out, it should be a fun August!

Among the local activities …

South Milwaukee Downtown Market
Every Thursday, 3 to 7 p.m.
This terrific weekly event has returned to its original location, a new-and-improved 11th Avenue. Stop by and check out more than 50 vendors selling produce, arts, crafts, prepared foods and more. There is live music every week and outdoor movies August 14 and 21. Learn more here.

Restore the Lagoon Festival
Oak Creek Parkway in front of the Mill Pond, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Food, music, games, a silent auction, farmers’ market vendors and more are scheduled for this event to raise money toward Mill Pond restoration efforts.

Guardian Movies at the Market
Thursdays, August 14 and 21
Guardian Credit Union is sponsoring the first two of three movies following the farmers’ market. On August 14, it’s “The Lego Movie.” On August 21, it’s “Frozen.” Showtime is around 8:30 p.m. both nights. Bring your family and friends (and your blankets and lawn chairs)!

Community Night Out
Wednesday, August 20
With games, food, safety demonstrations, raffles and fireworks, this annual event held behind City Hall is always a fun family celebration. Hours 5:30 to 9 p.m. Learn more here.

Did I miss something? Let me know!

July 16, 2014 – Celebrating Heritage Week
Heritage Days are the best days of the year to be a South Milwaukeean. And with a full roster of events, there is something for everyone, including a few exciting new additions for 2014.  Here is a list …

Monday, July 21
DARE Golf Outing
The big annual fundraiser for the South Milwaukee Police Department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is held at Oakwood Golf Course, with lunch and beverages included. A raffle is also planned. Cost is $80 per person. To sign up, contact Officer Lewison at 768-8060.

Tuesday, July 22
Ice Cream Social
The event is from 4 to 8 p.m. at St. Luke’s United Church of Christ, 2200 18th Ave. There will hot dogs and brats, a raffle and band concert. And ice cream, of course.

Wednesday, July 23
Firehouse Spaghetti Dinner
Dinner is served from 4:30 to 8 p.m. for this outstanding community event held at the South Milwaukee Fire Department, 929 Marshall Court. Di Carlo Trattoria & Pizzeria cater this event.

Thursday, July 24-Saturday, July 26
Drama at the Depot
In a new Heritage Week event (and hopefully an annual one) outdoor performances are planned for 7:30 p.m. each night at the 121-year-old railroad station at 11th and Madison Avenues. Musicians, dancers and more are scheduled as part of this collaboration between the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center and The Battery Factory. Check out the press release here.  Performances are free, open to the public, and appropriate for all ages.

Thursday, July 24
Evening on the Avenue
What a great collection of downtown events! Food, music, demonstrations and much, much more are on the agenda for the big annual downtown street party, as well as Drama at the Depot and the South Milwaukee Downtown Market. Also scheduled: the grand reopening of Sorce Martial Arts, which is celebrating its terrific expansion and renovation.

Friday, July 25-Sunday, July 27
The South Milwaukee Lions’ biggest annual fundraiser features food, music, rides, games and plenty of family fun. There is a South Milwaukee High School all-class reunion and car show Friday night, and Family Day on Sunday, with lots in between. Check out a full schedule here.

Saturday, July 26
Heritage Days Parade
The city’s biggest parade runs from 8th and Milwaukee, west on Milwaukee to 16th, then north to Lionsfest, with dozens of entrants and surely lots of surprises. Look for me and my family on the fire truck.

The Great Duck Race
This is a really fun event for a great cause put on by the Friends of Mill Pond and Oak Creek Watercourse. Ducks set off in Oak Creek at 2 p.m. from 15th and Milwaukee.

Learn more about all of these events at smheritagedays.org and I’ll see you around town!

June 25, 2014    “Around the Corner” in South Milwaukee

South Milwaukee has a great story to tell, and it should be told. That’s why I’m excited to announce that John McGivern is bringing his “Around the Corner” PBS series to South Milwaukee, with filming happening in late July.

The show will spend a half hour looking at what makes South Milwaukee a great place to live, work and play, with a focus on what makes our city unique. Local historian John Gurda will also lend a historical perspective during the show and in a separate piece also airing on PBS.

I met with the show producers recently, and it sounds like they have a strong plan to bring our story to life. I can’t wait to see it – and do what I can to help.

I ask you to do the same. One way: Make sure your property is looking its best the week of July 27. Let’s put our best foot forward … and welcome McGivern and Gurda to town in style.

The air date is set for Feb. 26, 2015. Look for more information on a local premier in coming months. I promise, we will have some fun with this!

Check out season one and two episodes here, including one on our neighbors to the north.

June 10, 2014   Now Showing: Outdoor Movies!

Outdoor movies are returning to downtown South Milwaukee. I am excited to announce that Guardian Credit Union Movies at The Market have been scheduled for three Thursdays this summer and fall at the South Milwaukee Downtown Market: Aug. 14 and 21 and Oct. 9.

Showtime is approximately 8 p.m. for the August shows and 6:30 p.m. for the October movie, which concludes the market’s popular season-ending Fall Family Festival event.

I can’t thank GCU enough for stepping up with the donation for the movies – and thanks as well to the farmers’ market for hosting them. It’s great to see this family event returning to downtown South Milwaukee. These types of partnerships are exciting to see, and you will see more of them with me as mayor. And it’s great for downtown.

Learn more in this press release.

May 30, 2014  It’s Market Season!

It’s been exciting to see the South Milwaukee Downtown Market grow into one of the region’s largest – and most popular – over the last five years.  Season six promises to be its best one yet!

The market opens its summer season on Thursday, June 5, at its temporary location at 12th and Milwaukee Avenues, returning to its traditional home on 11th Avenue once road construction is complete in July. Hours are 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. each Thursday, through October 9 (no market July 3).

More than 50 vendors selling produce, organics, arts, crafts, baked goods, prepared food and more are expected. It’s a terrific (and unique) weekly lineup.

But I want to call out the market’s weekly music program. I’ve long thought that this aspect of the market is under appreciated.

Free, live music almost every Thursday during the summer is pretty unique across the region, and it’s something South Milwaukeeans should celebrate and support.

Here, for instance, is the market’s June lineup:
• June 12: Paul Kaye (blues)
• June 19: Rich Regent (jazz clarinet)
• June 26: KR Bluegrass

Most acts run 5-7 p.m., and patrons are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.  Learn more at www.smmarket.org. See you there!

May 19, 2014   A Bigger, Better July 4th

Our July 4th celebration at Grant Park is getting bigger and better in 2014, thanks to the generosity of two local businesses: TASC Services and Max A. Sass & Sons Funeral and Cremation Services.  New this year: a Mayor’s Picnic (free lunch for all attendees) and bouncy houses.

As always, the festivities start at 10 a.m. at Picnic Areas 5, 5a and 6 with bike judging, followed by games and the penny scramble. But this year all attendees are invited to the Mayor’s Picnic, where we’ll serve hot dogs, chips, ice cream, soda and water, thanks to a generous donation by TASC Services, a local commercial cleaning company. And that’s not all: We’re also offering bouncy houses, temporary tattoos for the kids, and more … all ending with fireworks that night.

My goal is to find new ways to get more families to our July 4th events and keep those families at Grant Park longer. Thanks to these donations, I think we’ll accomplish that this year.

Thanks to TASC and Max A. Sass & Sons for stepping up!  Mark your calendars, and make Grant Park part of your July 4th plans.

May 7, 2014
   Honoring Our Heroes

May 11-17 is National Peace Officers Week, and we had the chance to honor some of those everyday heroes — both police officers and citizens — at the May 6 South Milwaukee City Council meeting.

It’s one of my favorite meetings of the year … and I was proud to play a small role in calling attention to the great work of our people and residents who have stepped up to do their part.

Here are details on the awards handed out.  Check it out — and thank a police officer the next chance you get. South Milwaukee is a safe city. These people are the reason why.

April 29, 2014   Cleaning up South Milwaukee

South Milwaukee’s commitment to community volunteerism was on full display on Saturday, April 26, as nearly 200 people stepped up as part of the Earth Day Cleanup effort.

Here are some of the numbers …

• More than 130 volunteers pitched in at the city’s four pickup sites, including 30 employees of Eaton Corp. The volunteers collected 10 cubic yards of garbage.
• Our two Friends groups also stepped up. Thirty-six people volunteered through the Friends of Mill Pond and Oak Creek Watercourse, including 13 Friends another 13 through Boy Scout Troop 221. They gathered 47 bags of garbage, including a bike tire, three tires, a leaky chamber pot, a computer keyboard, an antique safe, a go kart bumper, $5, two 50-gallon trash barrels, and one dead skunk. The Friends of Grant Park also pitched in, with seven Friends joining 15 employees of FedEx to pick up hundreds of cigarette butts, fishing line, bottles, cans and other trash.
• We also handed out more than 75 trash bags at the South Milwaukee Spring Market, asking people to fill them up and leave them with their regular trash pickup.
• And our police department’s medicine collection program was a big success. After Saturday’s collection, the department delivered more than 300 pounds of unwanted prescriptions and other drugs collected over the past six months to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Thanks to all the volunteers who made this happen, especially City Council President David Bartoshevich, who organized the cleanup, and the alderpersons who staffed the cleanup sites. Also, thanks to those at our Street Department who stepped up to work a Saturday … and to the volunteers who helped prepare and serve the lunch at the Senior Center afterwards.

Of course, every day should be cleanup day in South Milwaukee. My request: Next time you’re on a walk or playing in the park or parkway – or just out and about in your neighborhood — bring a bag and pick up some trash. Let’s keep our city clean – one bag at a time!