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a.MKE: 180 Properties Program & Milwaukee's First Beer Garden Since Prohibition: Today's Top Stories

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The Center for Veterans Issues here in Milwaukee recently received two grants totaling in $500,000 and they will help provide job training for homeless military vets. The two grants to the local vets groups were among 64 awarded nationwide by the U.S. Labor Department. U.S. Government officials said, “This is a complicated challenge that requires an “all hands on deck” response.”

There’s a new project here in Milwaukee called the “180 Properties Program” and it creates jobs for the difficult to employ and works to clean up and service foreclosed properties. The program is part of Common Ground’s Milwaukee rising effort. Roughly $500,000 will go to finance the 180 Properties Program. The crews are paid $12 an hour plus benefits, they get training, then go to work to clean up bank-owned homes that have gone through foreclosure and are vacant, vandalized and a blight on neighborhoods. Those in the program say they’re making progress and making a difference in the community.

Two local electric bike fanatics recently launched the United States “e-Bikes Association” to promote the benefits of power-assisted bicycles and encourage the development of electric charging stations. Brian Nelson and Craig Peterson both commute to work on their electric bikes and say it’s an ideal form of transportation for people who don’t want to get sweaty riding a long distance to the office on a regular bicycle. The local duo said their first mission will be to reach out to coffee shops, shopping centers and business offices to provide charging stations for e-bike commuters.

Roughly 60 potential homebuyers recently went on a tour of homes in Milwaukee’s Burnham Park, Silver City and Layton Park neighborhoods. The tour turnout reflects the growing demands for homes in the neighborhood, particularly foreclosures. Organizers from the Layton Boulevard West Neighbors highlighted the opportunity to get pre-approved for mortgage loans along with information on the home buying process. Will Sebern is a Community Outreach Manager for LBWN and said “Regardless of how many home purchases result from the tour, it was successful because it gave people a better impression of the neighborhood.”

The Oak Leaf Trail North of the Urban Ecology Center now has a new pedestrian bridge. The new yellow-trussed arch bridge replaces an old metal railroad bridge. The bridge connects the playing fields behind Riverside University High School with the trails that are alongside the woods at Riverside Park. The new addition is roughly 96 feet long and 20 feet tall. It took crews roughly a week to assemble and lift into place, but now the bridge is up and running for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Tonight at 6 will mark the keg tapping and grand opening of the Estabrook Park Beer Garden – which happens to be the county’s first beer garden in a park since prohibition. Milwaukee residents can either bring their own beer or pay a deposit to borrow a heavy glass stein. The new beer garden sits in the wooded, 50-acre park that sits along the Milwaukee River between East Hampton Avenue and Capitol Drive. The garden seats 150 to 200 people and it will sell hot dogs, pretzels, brats, wine, soft drinks and bottled water. Once the building renovation is finished and the taps move inside around July 1st, the site will begin accepting credit cards.