Russian dancers hone skills at Marian Center

November 25, 2009

By Sheila Julson

Kavkaz Russian Dancers

The Kavkaz Russian Dancers. ~courtesy David Pook

The Kavkaz Russian Dancers, a dance troupe that combines traditional Russian immigrant dance-think the Nutcracker-and steps of their own choreography, has found a rehearsal home in Bay View. The group practices Wednesday evenings in the social room at the Marian Center for Nonprofits, 3195 S. Superior St.

Kavkaz’s director David Pook met his wife through the dance troupe, which his uncle Chuck started 60 years ago. Pook’s father Jerry directed the group after Chuck, and Pook, a former Bay View resident, has been the director since 1993. The group has practiced their energetic steps at the Marian Center since October 2008.  »Read more

Virus infects daily life

November 24, 2009

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

There are some phrases I never want to hear come through my cell phone. “You’ve got to take her to the emergency room” is high on the list. But that’s what I heard one recent night as I stood in our living room. Nearby were my husband and very hot daughter. My toddler’s body had heated to 105.7.

She was wearing only a shirt and diaper. The nurse on the phone instructed my husband to take off her T-shirt to help her cool down. I grabbed the diaper bag, a banana, and books before we got into the car for a tense drive to the emergency room.

On the way, dramatically heavy rain and lightning seemed as though directed by Shakespeare. I was too consumed by fear to say more than “I’m scared.” Our daughter’s backseat banter reflected a normal mood, which was some reassurance.

We checked in behind a boy who bumped his head and I showed our insurance card and provided a credit card for the $100 payment. Then we got the scary instruction: “Let us know right away if she starts convulsing.”

The waiting room was surprisingly full and included some adults in medical masks. The masks added to the eeriness, as did public address announcements about the severe weather.

The triage nurse summoned us and we talked through our daughter’s symptoms. Then we settled in for more waiting and fretting.

My mind wandered back over the past few days, looking for a culprit who passed their illness to our daughter. (Was it that sip of shared apple juice at Elegant Farmer?) I also thought about whom our daughter might have contaminated. These were new ways to evaluate our friends and family.

Despite being feverish, our daughter was playful and interested in the hospital’s toys. Germ concerns made us reluctant to let her touch them. After an hour, fatigue caused us to give in and I made a mental note to “sanitize” her afterward.

She remained happy and her fever ebbed toward a more reasonable temperature. Eventually it was our turn to see another nurse, then a doctor.

The doctor explained that she was suffering from a virus, possibly H1N1. We had already concluded the same thing. Our instructions were to offer plenty of fluids and administer over-the-counter fever reducers. That made sense but it felt unsettling to head home without a more tangible diagnosis.

The following days brought ups and downs but our daughter returned to normal health while my husband and I both got fevers and fatigue. It took over a month, but we all eventually emerged with our usual energy levels. The most lasting effect was my attitude toward germs.

I’m more cautious now about transmitting germs in both directions: to me and from me. I don’t use my own teaspoon to stir our daughter’s food because I might be carrying something contagious. The virus has annoyingly pervaded the most heartwarming traditions. Kisses between family members and blowing out birthday candles are tinged with unease. Even if I don’t feel sick, I know I could be harboring an illness and passing it along.

At checkout lanes, the credit card stylus gives me the creeps. I envision a previous customer covering their cough with a hand, then transferring the germs via the stylus.

I recognize that some of my germ avoidance tactics aren’t totally logical, and that recognition makes me sympathetic to other people’s illogical reactions. My grandparents must have dealt with similar-probably more intense-wariness during the worst U.S. polio outbreak. Decades later, my mom remembers avoiding the public pool as a precaution.

As 2009 ebbs away, my friends and I will keep buzzing about whether we’ve gotten our kids vaccinated and who is ill. We’ll compare notes on whether we are still going to playgroups or sticking closer to home. I imagine the virus will keep infecting our thoughts in the new year.

The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at

Attention readers: We are seeking Bay View’s Baby New Year. I’d like to recognize the first baby born or adopted in Bay View in 2010. If a new little life enters your home in early 2010, please send the announcement to me at the email above or via postal mail to the Compass.

Do you consciously shop or spend money locally? If so, why, where, and how much?

November 24, 2009

Interviews & Photos by Michael Timm

Tim Mueller

“I spend money at Walgreens. I spend about 50 bucks there. That’s about it.”

-Tim Mueller, Russell Avenue

David Rogman

“Sometimes I shop locally. Sometimes it’s conscious, sometimes it’s not. I like to shop at some of the local coffee places like Sven’s European Café, Alterra-Stone Creek even. I’ll hit places like Outpost or Groppi’s, for instance, in the Bay View area. That’s about it.”

-David Rogman, Russell Avenue

Maddie Huebner and Trish Husar

Trish Husar: “I definitely do because there are a lot of people that are struggling, trying to make it as a small business. And it’s easy for them to be put out of business by a big one and so it’s great to be able to support them. Even if prices are a little bit higher, it’s still worth it.” Maddie Huebner: “I try to shop locally whenever I can, although I’m in college and it’s kind of hard because usually it’s more expensive, so I do try when I can. We eat at Beans & Barley a lot.” Trish: “And definitely Outpost over Whole Foods…We just ate lunch at Palomino.”

-Trish Husar, from Chicago (right) & Maddie Huebner, Maryland Avenue (left)

Brynn Arenz

“I don’t know how much, but I shop at Outpost, Groppi’s, and some other stores down by the Boulevard Theatre because helping out local stores is really important and they have really excellent products.”

-Brynn Arenz, Nock Street

Victoria Just

[Victoria Just closed her business and now works for her former competitor, the House of Magick in Cudahy.] “…It’s kind of like I merged locally instead of moved out state, which was my plan…It’s my baby and I’ve been here 13 years. I want to say thanks for the support that I did get. Everyone’s like, ‘What is this place? What is this place? What is this place?’ Just shop locally…Really, to have a store-it’s a lot of work and I don’t think people realize it, like the sacrifice that you have to make to make everybody else happy. And then when you decide one day, ‘Oh, I think I need to be happy’-you know, that ain’t going to work. I still have people that came through, like at my rummage sale, and took pictures, and we had a party and a clown. Just the love, in general, not only does the money speak volumes-the care and comfort and the sharing that people have locally too is important.”

-Victoria Just, Russell & Clement avenues

Mystery Building—Former Delaware Ave. barn

November 24, 2009

~photo Anna Passante

~photo Anna Passante

The building at 2545 S. Delaware Ave. was once a barn and was converted to a house in 1905. In 1928, Dr. Dominic Gardetto owned the house and added the front bay and front side wing for his physician office. In 1941, the building housed a beauty parlor, and in 1982, a fishing bait shop. The building is now a residential duplex.

Information from building permits and assessment records.

Puppy mill prohibition law goes to governor

November 24, 2009

By Chris Sinicki, 20th District State Representative

On Oct. 27, the state Assembly unanimously approved Assembly Bill 250 requiring licensure of dog breeders in order to regulate those bad actors selling dogs from what are known as “puppy mills.” The state Senate unanimously agreed and sent AB 250 to Governor Doyle to sign into law.

Finally, after years of thwarted efforts, the state now has a licensing program for dog breeding and selling under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP). With certain exceptions, all dog breeders and dealers must now be licensed. Among other important provisions, the law will define a “dog breeder” as a person who sells 25 or more dogs in a year that the person has bred and raised.  »Read more

Bonus pay unmerited

November 24, 2009

By Terry Falk, 8th District School Board Director

Wall Street executives raked in millions in bonus pay while their companies went under. Coming up with objective standards for bonuses is extremely difficult in business. It is nearly impossible in education. That is why you should fear “merit pay” for teachers.

Education Week magazine recently did an analysis of the criteria being used by the federal government for states to receive the Race to the Top dollars and concluded that merit pay simply has no credible research to support it.

Denver is the latest school district to try a merit pay system. Perhaps they will succeed where others have failed, but I am skeptical.  »Read more

Fresh ideas for improving our schools

November 24, 2009

By Jon Richards, 19th District State Representative

In October, I stood with Governor Doyle, Mayor Barrett, and many other elected leaders and community members to support a compromise that would change the governance structure of the Milwaukee Public Schools. This is an important first step in what I hope is a frank and open discussion about the future of our public schools here in Milwaukee.

The challenges that face Milwaukee schools are no secret. Test scores lag behind national and state averages. The racial achievement gap between black students and white students is one of the largest in the entire United States. High school graduation rates are dismal. Drastic changes are needed to ensure that our kids have the tools they need to compete with those in other communities around Wisconsin, our nation, and the entire world.  »Read more

Milwaukee County Board adopts 2010 budget

November 24, 2009

By Marina Dimitrijevic, District 4 County Supervisor

We were handed an unrealistic and irresponsible 2010 budget from County Executive Scott Walker. His budget is based on major service cuts and a wage concession package that was never presented to the unions. The County Board hosted weeks of public hearings and testimony leading up to the budget adoption. More than 500 attended our annual public hearing to voice their opinions. The vast majority opposed Walker’s cuts. In addition, I hosted two town hall listening sessions in November.

After hours of debate, the final budget was not perfect, but was a great improvement. Many of the amendments I sponsored were approved, including the creation of a County Board Office of Sustainability to implement my Green Print legislation, step up our efforts to save money through efficiencies, and become a more sustainable county. Also, as chairwoman of the Committee on Information Technology, I authored an amendment to install a legislative workflow program to improve public access to county government. In addition, the South Shore Park Pavilion will get renovated bathrooms and a new roof in 2010. I am also pleased that a veto-proof two-thirds of my colleagues voted in favor of the creative aquatics initiative I cosponsored. Our plan keeps all pools open, addresses some deferred maintenance, and adds new water park features at our two indoor pools, Pulaski and Noyes, in hopes of generating more revenue.  »Read more

Allowing youth workers and Cudahy dev.

November 24, 2009

By Jeff Plale, 7th District State Senator

On Nov. 5, the state Senate passed several pieces of legislation I authored including Senate Bill 349 (SB 349) and Assembly Bill 174 (AB 174). While very different in scope, both bills make it easier for our communities to work together to address shared concerns.

Earlier this year, the Cudahy-St. Francis Interfaith organization informed me that certain work regulations could prevent youth from participating in essential snow removal and basic yard work programs for the elderly. Current Wisconsin law prohibits the employment of minors under the age of 14, but the success of these programs is largely due to the involvement of the 12- and 13-year-olds who do the shoveling and yard work.  »Read more

2010 budget conclusion

November 24, 2009

By Chris Larson, District 14 County Supervisor

The conclusion of the 2010 budget is that we really only succeeded in delaying the looming crisis just a little longer. By kicking the problem farther up the road, we must again commit ourselves to gaining the dedicated sales tax that voters asked for in last year’s referendum. Until we move away from funding all our county services with the property tax, we will see a continued decline in all the county’s offerings.

Despite my best efforts to stop the decline in transit service, routes were trimmed a little more; the fare will go up another $.25; and the call center will not have as many live operators to answer calls. This is on top of the reduction of service over the last seven years that has resulted in over 40,000 jobs becoming inaccessible by transit, while bus fares nearly doubled. All of this could be reversed if the state grants the dedicated funding that 95 percent of transit systems across the country already have.  »Read more

Expanding Sweet Water Organics

November 24, 2009

By Tony Zielinski, 14th District Milwaukee Alderman

I am working with James Godsil, Steve Lindner, and partners on significantly expanding Sweet Water Organics fish farm in Bay View. They are continuing the tradition of this part of the city being a leader in progressive and creative initiatives. From a marketing perspective it is good for Bay View development to promote these types of initiatives.

These pioneers raise organic fish at 2151 S. Robinson Ave. and they are on target to raise 50,000 organic fish in our urban environment. By raising fish locally they are helping the environment by reducing the need to transport fish over great distances with trucks. Similarly, they are helping the local economy with jobs. Lastly, they are helping health-conscious people by providing more options for organic fish.  »Read more

The incredible, indelible cormorant

November 24, 2009

By Jennifer Yauck


Cormorants use their webbed feet to propel themselves through water in pursuit of fish and to grasp the branches of trees, where they sometimes roost and nest. ~photo George Jameson

Along with the ducks, geese, and gulls that frequent the waters of Milwaukee is a bird that may be less familiar to most landlubbers: the cormorant.

A relative of the pelican, these large, black waterbirds can often be spotted perched on harbor breakwalls or in other places near Lake Michigan during the summer months. They are skilled fishers that use their webbed feet and streamlined bodies to dive underwater-often to depths of 25 feet, and sometimes more-in pursuit of a meal. “They’re just as agile underwater as penguins,” said Ken Stromborg, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who has studied cormorants for nearly 25 years.  »Read more

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