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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

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They prefer to describe their duties as "logistics" rather than "gophers."
They prefer to describe their duties as "logistics" rather than "gophers."
Right?!
Right?!
Painting the third floor gym.
Painting the third floor gym.
Fresh coat for the basement, too.
Fresh coat for the basement, too.
Prettying up the wall around the Gettysburg Address plaque.
Prettying up the wall around the Gettysburg Address plaque.
City Year in the house!
City Year in the house!
An old mural passes into history.
An old mural passes into history.
A color that's as much an MPS icon as the mock chicken leg.
A color that's as much an MPS icon as the mock chicken leg.

Mitchell is among area schools getting a primp from GE volunteers today

Today, more than 2,500 current and retired GE employees, plus about 150 other volunteers, are walking into 16 Milwaukee Public Schools and four Waukesha Public Schools (as well as Greenfield High School) to paint, clean, organize and landscape to help the schools plan for the first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

From 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. the volunteers will take part in the largest single-day GE volunteer event -- one that this year turns 20.

The non-GE volunteers come from groups like Milwaukee Bucks, City Year Milwaukee, Junior Achievement of Wisconsin and area PTO groups.

"GE is a true community partner. To have such a large group of employee volunteers help at our schools is proof of that commitment," MPS acting superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver said. "When children return to school and see all the work that has been done, it shows them that their community cares. We are grateful for all of the volunteers."

At Victory School on the far South Side, volunteers are building and installing library shelving and at Allen-Field on the near South Side, the library is getting a new story area. At Grantosa Drive School they're painting a giant U.S. map on the playground. In Waukesha, Les Paul Middle School is getting a new brick patio and benches.

Back in Milwaukee, there's activity nearly everywhere at Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School, a South Side K3-8 school with an enrollment around 750.

On the first floor, I found City Year employees helping to paint slogans and murals, as well as beautifying bulletin boards. A plumber was replacing a sink. The office was buzzing with activity.

Donning shirts celebrating service day, workers were the second floor and third floors painting, assembling desks and doing other jobs. Some were painting classrooms that iconic MPS seafoam green. Others were doing murals and trim in the third floor gym.

In one classroom in this gorgeous 1894 schoolhouse, eighth grade teacher Melissa Millard was marveling over …

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Waffle dogs, purple fries and a shake from Eats & Treats.
Waffle dogs, purple fries and a shake from Eats & Treats.
Owner Chris Jourdan ...
Owner Chris Jourdan ...
... and his truck.
... and his truck.

Food Truck Week: Eats & Treats

Wait up, summer's not over yet. You can tell because the streets are still lined with the ever-growing food truck culture in Milwaukee. It's Food Truck Week here at OnMilwaukee.com and all week long we're stopping at some of Brew City's best restaurants on wheels in search of the most interesting dishes on offer.

Ever since my colleague Nick Barth hipped me to the waffle dog, I've been chasing after the Eats & Treats Truck and, yesterday, I finally caught up.

According to its owner Chris Jourdan, the Eats & Treats Food Truck has a long history in Brew City. Jourdan is the fourth owner of a truck that's been working the Milwaukee streets since 1982.

Eats & Treats wraps a lot of stuff in waffles and pokes a stick through the middle: hot dogs, beer brats, spicy jalapeno cheddar brats, bacon. I tried the first two. For $4, you get two dogs but the beer brats cost more. Those are $6 a pair.

Think corn dogs but with waffles instead of cornbread, so, of course, the flavor is totally different even if the idea is the same. I loved them both but I had a dilemma. I'm a mustard on a sausage guy, but no way am I putting mustard on a waffle.

Luckily, Jourdan packs some syrup cups into the bag, too, and it's the perfect complement.

I also sampled Eats & Treats' recent menu addition: parmesan garlic fries made with purple potatoes from Treffinger Farms in Palmyra ($5). These are insanely addictive and there's an unexpected charm to noshing on purple French fries.

Perhaps ill-advisedly, from a caloric standpoint -- though definitely not from a flavor standpoint -- I washed it all down with a $6 salted caramel shake.

Check out the OnMilwaukee.com food truck finder to locate Eats & Treats to try one of the waffle dogs. The truck also does burgers, chicken and waffles and other stuff, so I'll be back to check those out.

The truck will be featured on the Travel Channel's "Food Paradise" in early 2015, so stay tuned for that, too.

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MPM Director Dennis Kois may have been the last to see the snake button.
MPM Director Dennis Kois may have been the last to see the snake button.

Snake button rattler is on the loose!

The Milwaukee Public Museum has just announced that the rattlesnake in its second floor bison hunt exhibition has fled the scene.

According to the release, the snake has gone on vacation, and has apparently been in contact with museum officials.

"I get more action than anyone here at MPM," the release quotes the snake as saying. "T-rex and the butterflies will try to tell you different, but visitors young and old are pushing my button all day long! With that much attention, it breaks down a lot. When it stopped working yesterday, I called my snake handler and said this had to stop. I can’t disappoint my public!"

Sounds like a mix of protest and vacation on the part of the snake, which clearly feels a responsibility to its fans. Apparently, the sooner the museum raises some funds to fix his button, the snake will return to the museum.

You can make a donation here to help fix the snake button and bring the snake back.

While he's away -- he's expected home on Friday, Aug. 29 -- you can follow the snake's adventures on Twitter.

I wonder if he took his downstairs colleague with him...

This was not my finest year for shopping for school supplies.
This was not my finest year for shopping for school supplies. (Photo: shutterstock.com)
Got one of these? Not me.
Got one of these? Not me. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Have standardized school supply lists simplified your shopping?

Three years ago, Milwaukee Public Schools decided -- for better or for worse -- to standardize its school supplies lists by grade level. 

It was a move made by many districts, hoping to rein in requests made to parents in high-poverty districts. After all, if nearly 90 percent of your kids are poor enough to qualify for free lunch, is it fair to ask their parents to drop $40, $50, $75 on school supplies and classroom donations?

The problem I found when I spoke to some teachers in the summer of 2011 and since is that the supply lists aren’t always appropriate, leaving teachers with stacks of a useless item and the complete absence of a necessary one (let the bartering begin!).

In those cases, parents have wasted cash and the burden of paying for some supplies has simply shifted to teachers, who typically already invest plenty in their classrooms.

All this was spinning in my brain yesterday as I stepped into an area big box store to try and tackle our school supply shopping.

I said I was "running in," naively thinking I could wrap up my two lists in 10-20 minutes. Instead, it ended up taking a fair bit of time, mostly because some items were near the front in a big, completely randomly organized display, others were toward the back with the office supplies, some were in health and beauty (we needed hand sanitizer and cotton balls), others with paper products in the opposite corner.

Clearly this store wanted to make sure parents augmented their total bill by forcing them to pass, with children, through toy aisles, big bins of DVDs and video games, etc. So much for any savings that a uniform supply list might bring.

The other challenging part is that my kids go to a specialty school that does not use the standardized supply list, which would result in many items going unused and teachers ponying up for lots of things, from those cotton balls and hand sanitizer to paper plates and napkins and more.

I’m fine with our teachers’ "wish list" -- that’s what they ha…

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