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Friday, 06 January 2017 10:00

The changing face of downtown Janesville

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Change is conspicuously underway in downtown Janesville, and the pace will quicken in the new year.

The parking deck is coming down on the Rock River, Milwaukee Street now is two way through the center of the city and new businesses are setting up shop in formerly vacant spaces.

Some of these developments are part of the city’s long-range development plans, while others are coincidental and fortuitous.

Friday, 30 December 2016 08:51

2016:Top stories in the Janesville area

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- A variety of people and places made for a newsworthy and noteworthy year in Janesville.

As we take our first steps into 2017, take a glance back at the events that helped shape our community and local culture in 2016.

JANESVILLE -- Manger scenes depicting Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus surrounded by the three wise men are popular decorations on people’s lawns during the holiday season.

However, that scene is now coming to life, because at least one area church is conducting a live Nativity scene during the upcoming weeks.

Cargill United Methodist Church, 2000 Wesley Ave. in Janesville, is hosting a live Nativity scene from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 17, 2016 and Dec. 18, 2016. The Nativity scene will feature re-enactors dressed up as Mary, Joseph, the wise men and shepherds in different scenes related to the story of Christmas.

BELOIT -- While many local teens will be looking forward to getting an Xbox or iPhone for Christmas this year, others will be happy to receive just the basic needs.

Project 16:49 has become an important lifeline for unaccompanied teenagers in Rock County.

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Looking for a way to literally brighten up your holiday season? Look no further than Rotary Botanical Gardens, where this year’s Holiday Light Show features an additional 50,000 lights, bringing the total to more than 400,000 glowing bulbs.

The spectacle will be open 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 9 through Dec. 11, Dec. 15 through Dec. 23 and Dec. 26 through Dec. 30.

MESSENGER -- The Milton Area Chamber of Commerce will host the 14th annual Milton Christmas Walk from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016 13:44

This just in blog: Our election hangover

Instead of a presidential honeymoon, Americans have been given a campaign hangover.

This election season was historic, more for careening off the rails of how traditional campaigns are run than any significance the candidates might bring to the office.

Trump voters seemed as surprised as Clinton voters that the disruptive New York businessman so decisively claimed the race.

And Wisconsin was the final domino to fall in the early morning hours after the polls closed.

The Scott Walker coalition not only delivered the state for Donald Trump, but returned Sen. Ron Johnson, who had trailed in the polls through the fall, to the Senate, assuring that Republicans would have control of the House and Senate.

Now, the question is can we come together as a country?

Maybe, but we have a long way to go.

Hidden in the ugly campaign was a roadmap for the new president and Congress showing what voters want from their government.

We’re frustrated by the rapidly growing income gap.

We’re worried about the influence of unaccountable money in our electoral process.

More people have health insurance than ever before, but costs continue to rise and we don’t know why.

Terrorism remains a threat.

Although the national economy rebounded from the depths of the Great Recession, a wide swath of the working class saw little change for the better.

That frustration fueled the Trump surge.

Although Trump’s transition team touched on a range of topics this past week, wage growth could solve a lot of problems.

Workers with more money feel more secure. They contribute more in taxes. Rising incomes mean people rely less on government services.

More money in people’s pockets means businesses can grow to accommodate increased demand.

Republicans surely will pitch tax cuts as a way to raise wages, but those cuts initially benefit the wealthy and businesses.

A raise in the minimum wage is unlikely, but tax reform can directly drive wage growth by giving companies incentives to raise wages or by penalizing them if they don’t.

So too with health care.

"It'll be great health care for much less money," Trump told Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes" last week.

I suspect it won’t be quite that simple or easy.

Republicans, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville, finally will be able to reveal their long-alluded to replacement to the Affordable Care Act.

Frustrated voters, on the other hand, won’t have much patience for solutions that are retreads of previous proposals.

There are lots of ways to move forward as a country.

But one way that never came up in the dozens of letters to the editor that we ran in the weeks leading up to the election was that we should do nothing.

It’s commendable that our representatives stick to their principles, but the overarching principle should be to make government work for the people.

Republicans were loath to soften their positions during the almost eight years of President Barack Obama’s term.

They may need to now in the Senate to get Democrats to play along. Republicans will need 60 votes in many cases.

Sometimes that means accepting a compromise and living to fight again in the arena of public opinion. Finding ways to work together means moving away from personality and moving toward policy.

Now that the votes have been counted, our Constitution provides a process by which government can work together to tackle the country’s most serious problems.

We don’t really have much of a choice but to let that process play out.

And maybe we’ll get something done in the two years before the next election season rolls around.

Hopefully we’ll be over our hangover by then.

Dan Plutchak is the editor of CSI Media, publisher of the Janesville Messenger, Stateline News and Walworth County Sunday. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or on Twitter @danplutchak.

Monday, 21 November 2016 16:37

2016 Janesville Jolly Jingle preview

JANESVILLE -- Three days of holiday activities will be featured downtown during the third annual Janesville Jolly Jingle, set for Friday through Sunday, Dec. 2 through Dec. 4, 2016. The highlights will include the tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Lower Courthouse Park and the lighted parade at 6 p.m. Dec. 3 along Milwaukee and Main streets. Fireworks will follow the parade.

"The parade is really cool. We have the lighted floats. We have music groups. We have marching bands. We have live animals," said Shelley Slapak, Janesville recreation director.

The Rock County Historical Society will host Christmas with the Tallmans from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Lincoln-Tallman House, 440 N. Jackson St. The event will include tours of the house, decorated Christmas trees and hot cider and hot chocolate. The cost to attend is $5, and children 5 years and younger get in free.

Other activities will include the Christkindl Holiday Market, Holiday Vendor Market, "Spice on Ice" skate show, holiday film festival, live reindeer display, snowtubing, art exhibits, children’s craft projects and live music.

"There’s things for people of all ages and interests," Slapak said. "If you’re looking for more passive activities, there’s the craft sales, film festival and the sing-a-longs. If you’re into the more active activities, there’s snowtubing and ice skating.

"JPAC will present ‘The Santaland Diaries,’ which is geared more toward adults, but there’s plenty of activities for kids."

Jolly Jingle definitely attracts a crowd, but it’s tough to put a number on attendance, Slapak said.

"It’s hard to get an exact estimate because people are so spread out. There’s several thousands of people who line the downtown streets to watch the parade," she said. "It’s not only community driven, but we get people from outside of Janesville as well. The point is to get people from outside of Janesville to visit the community."

A multitude of groups work together to help make Jolly Jingle a success.

"There’s so many partners that are involved. The city hosts activities at the senior center. The Hedberg Public Library, Downtown Business Association, Janesville Farmers Market, Voigt Music Center, JPAC, Olde Towne Mall and Janesville Area Visitors and Conventions Bureau all host activities," Slapak said. "It’s a huge deal. Several community groups come together to host an event to kick off the holiday season."

For more information, go online to

Beloit Memorial

The Purple Knights have not won a league game since December 2013, a futile string of 49 straight setbacks against their rivals.

Teshonna Bennett's first Memorial squad never tasted victory last year, something the program hasn't done since the season opener in 2014-'15.

This year's chances for improvement will depend on players such as senior Sydnee Marshall (4.4) and juniors Aniah Williams (11.1) and Nadiya Connor (5.8).

Janesville Craig

Kerry Storbakken's Cougars fell one game short of a third consecutive 20-victory season, finishing 19-7, including a 14-4 mark and third-place showing in league play.

Craig must replace one of the program's top players for a second straight year, losing conference scoring leader and first teamer Delaney Schoenenberger a season after Alison Hughes graduated.

Annie Schumacher (13.0) and Kamryn Brittingham (8.4) also are gone. However, the Cougars' lineup still features Ali Carlson, who made the third team after averaging 8.8 ppg, and fellow senior Sam Pierson (5.1).

Janesville Parker

The Vikings' 9-9 record placed them fifth in the always-tough league race. That helped them finish 14-10 overall, losing four contests by four or less points during Jennah Hartwig's first year after replacing Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Tom Klawitter.

Parker also must replace its best player in league first team choice Bree Porter, who topped the team at15.4 ppg, reaching double digits in 22 of 24 outings.

While Porter has taken her skills to NCAA Division II school Hillsdale (Mich.), the Vikings' fortunes will hinge a lot on senior Julia Hartwig. She led the Big Eight in rebounding (11.0) and averaged 15.3 ppg.

Also back are senior Kameron Blaser (5.6), sophomore Brooke Graesslin (4.0), junior Jacy Benway (3.7) and senior Sydni Brewster (3.1).

Sunday, 13 November 2016 19:46

Viewing tips for tonight’s super moon

Did you see tonight’s super moon? A super moon is when a full moon coincides with the moon’s closest point to the earth as it makes its way around its orbit.

Astronomers call it the perigee-syzygy, meaning the moon is both full and closest to Earth. Tonight’s version will be a “showstopper,” according to NASA.

It’s the nearest super moon in almost 70 years — and we won’t see another like it until 2034.

“When a full moon makes its closest pass to Earth in its orbit it appears up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter, making it a super moon,” NASA says.

Here are five things to help you enjoy this super moon this evening, from READ




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