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Entries for January 2016


(Orfordville, WI) Jake Magee, Gazette

Orfordville residents are willing to invest in a grocery store and downtown buildings to make their village better, a survey shows.

Among the village's 1,400 residents, 98 took a survey from the newly formed Economic Development Committee seeking to gauge where residents would like to see the village grow, if at all. Most respondents indicated they favor investing to expand the village's residential, industrial and commercial areas.

“To me, it seems they're saying, 'Yeah, we want you to concentrate on drawing business in town,'” said committee member Gary Phillips.  “To me, that's encouraging that the majority of the folks do want us to work in that direction.”

Committee Chairwoman Beth Schmidt said Orfordville needs to look at how it could draw in new businesses and inspire and enhance ones already in town, she said. The idea led to the committee and subsequent survey.

The most-requested businesses from the survey is a grocery store—something almost 90 percent of respondents indicated they want, according to the survey.

Only 2 percent of respondents do more than half of their shopping in Orfordville. That's a concern but could change if a grocery store comes to the village, Phillips said.

Phillips has called a few businesses to see if a grocery story could be built in Orfordville, but businesses say the town isn't big enough, Phillips said.

Phillips is emailing Dollar General officials to see if would be possible to bring one of its stores to the village, he said.

“Wouldn't it be great to have a grocery store? You bet. I'd love to have a grocery store,” he said. “But it's probably going to have to be a mom-and-pop-style grocery store.”

Besides the idea of a grocery store, almost three-fourths of respondents said the downtown area is unattractive. That's something the committee is already working to fix, Phillips said.

“We've went back and looked at our ordinances, and we've changed quite a few ordinances in the last year because our ordinances were pretty lax,” he said.

Eliminating vagueness from the ordinances gives downtown business a clearer understanding of the town's expectations, Phillips said.

“Nobody really paid attention to it, and it was never really a focus,” Schmidt said.

He said most people focused on the town's business park.

Buildings weren't kept up before most were purchased by local businessman Jason Nehls starting about six years ago, Phillips said.

“I'm doing what I can. I do more stuff every day,” Nehls said.

“It didn't happen overnight, so we're not going to get repairs overnight, either,” Phillips said.

Almost half rated the village's Internet service poorly. The village has what Phillips called “mediocre” Internet service providers and not popular ones such as Charter.

“You're going have that when you're in a rural community. I come from a farm, so I'm just happy things work as fast as they do and you have more than one choice,” Phillips said with a laugh.

Almost one-third of respondents indicated the village's streets and sidewalks need maintenance.

“I don't think anybody could argue that we have some streets in town that need to be addressed, and we're aware of that,” Phillips said, noting street repair isn't cheap. “We only can do what we can do.”

Work to improve the village already has begun.

Renovations began last week to turn the former Burtness Chevrolet car dealership into a new Village Hall and police headquarters. The library recently relocated to an old church on the edge of town. A new gas station and Subway restaurant were built at Highways 11 and 213, Phillips said.

“I think we've made some positive improvements,” Schmidt said. “We need to focus on our downtown area, and I think we really need to bring in some (businesses) … that have a few jobs attached …”

The committee will decide where to focus next and how to address residents' concerns.

“It's been interesting to put a new committee together like this and figure out what direction we're going and all that, so I'm excited to work on this and try to do some things that the residents would like us to work on,” Phillips said.

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(Beloit, WI) Robert Crozier, Beloit Daily News

The 11th annual Beloit International Film Festival recently unveiled its full schedule of films on its website, and tickets are now on sale.

More than 100 narrative features, documentaries and short films will be screened at eight Beloit venues Feb. 19-28. Locations include Bagels & More, Bushel and Peck’s Local Market, La Casa Grande, Domenico’s, Schubert’s Luxury 10 Cinema and the Hendricks Center for the Arts.

The full lineup of places and times is available on the website. Film trailers and advance ticket sales are already online.

Adam Fogarty, the program coordinator for both the Beloit and Hollywood film festivals, said the biggest change to the Beloit festival this year comes with the its association with the Hollywood Film Festival.

“This year we are now affiliated with the Hollywood Film Festival,” he said. “That has substantially increased the quality and number of films that we have brought in.”

While everyone has their favorites, Fogarty advises audiences not to miss Hells Heart, which is showing at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at La Casa Grande and at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Luxury 10 Cinema.

“It’s a brilliantly written, engaging psychological thriller,” he said. “It’s films like that that are the reason I came to Hollywood and to the film business in general.”

While tickets are already available online, they will also become available at the BIFF Box Office at the Gallery Abba starting Feb. 8.

A new ticket is needed for each screening attended, and prices depend on how soon they are nabbed. They cost $9 each up until the festival begins Feb. 19, and the price then goes up to $10. Student pricing is available. There are also discounts with the purchase of tickets in packs of four or six.

Besides the regular screenings and venues, the event’s annual special screenings will continue for another year, including the sing-a-long, the silent film and the classic film.

This year’s sing-a-long is Hairspray showing Feb. 20 at 5 p.m. in the Luxury 10 Cinema. Tickets cost $10.

The 2007 version of this musical comedy stars John Travolta in drag as Edna Trumblad, Christopher Walken as Wilbur Trumblad and Michelle Pfeiffer as Velma Von Tussle. Fogarty said Hairspray was chosen because it attempts to make the world a better place and is, at the same time, an enjoyable film. The musical takes on racial issues such as racial integration.

“Bringing that in would be good in light of the racial issues our society has recently faced,” he said.

The Silent Film Showcase will be the 1925 version of The Wizard of Oz Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at Beloit College’s Eaton Chapel. It includes a performance by the Rock River Philharmonic symphony orchestra, and tickets cost $28.

Fogarty said The Wizard of Oz was chosen because “we thought it was wonderful and Beloit audiences would enjoy it.”

The free classic film this year will be The Maltese Falcon, but it is on the schedule for Feb. 28 at 2:30 p.m. the Luxury 10 Cinema.

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(Beloit, WI) Beloit Daily News

The new heart hospital being built on the fourth floor of Beloit Memorial Hospital will be named the Hendricks Family Heart Hospital after the Hendricks Family Foundation provided the biggest gift in Beloit Health System history to support the project.

The Hendricks Family Foundation has provided a gift of $3 million to support the state-of-the-art heart hospital, which is currently under construction at Beloit Memorial Hospital. The Hendricks Family Heart Hospital has a total cost of $13.8 million and is to be done in three phases, with the final phase to be completed in 2017.

Existing cardiac services at the hospital are continuing on the fourth floor, but work is progressing to make room for other services. For example, critical care units will be moved from the third floor to the fourth floor.

“The new Heart Hospital will be a one-of-a-kind cardiac center of excellence,” said Beloit Health System President and CEO Tim McKevett. “This is the largest gift ever given to Beloit Health System and the Hendricks family has truly demonstrated their commitment to improving the quality of life in our community. We are thrilled and humbled that the family has shown such strong dedication and faith in our health system.”

“I believe it’s essential that our Beloit community receives access to the finest healthcare options available,” said Diane Hendricks, owner and chairperson of ABC Supply Company and Hendricks Holding Company. “This will be a vital component in offering the best opportunities to our residents.

“Our family supports this new facility that will provide convenient access for time-sensitive cardiac circumstances,” Hendricks continued. “This ‘heart hospital within a hospital’ gives me great comfort in knowing that our community will have the best options during critical times of need. For this reason, we have decided to partner in this important project with Beloit Health System.”

Phase 1 of the heart hospital construction began in the last few months with a new cardiology clinic and physician offices being established on the fourth floor. Phase 2 is expected to begin by mid-2016 with the Hybrid Dual Cath Lab and Operating Suite being built. There also will be remodeling and technology updates for two of the hospital’s cardiac cath labs. Phase 3, to be completed next year, will include new critical care rooms, a private waiting area and a family sleep area.

“The Hendricks Family Heart Hospital will provide a unique patient experience where a highly skilled staff, working with the best technology, will provide a caring and healing environment,” said Dr. Leo Egbujiobi, an interventional cardiologist at Beloit Health System. “It will have the latest technology and equipment to bring all aspects of heart care together. The new Hybrid Cath Lab will be one of only three in Wisconsin and the first in the region.”

The Hybrid Dual Cath Lab and Operating Suite will be more than double the size of the hospital’s current operating room. This area will feature elements of a traditional cardiac catheterization lab, but it also will feature an operating room for more advanced procedures such as heart bypass surgery, heart valve repair or replacement and vascular surgery.

The Hendricks Family Heart Hospital also will support new procedures such as the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) and the Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair (TMVR) procedures.

“We are delighted as a family to support this heart hospital,” said Kendra Story, Hendricks family member and a Beloit Health System Board of Directors member. “Our families, our employees and our neighbors utilize this hospital and its great heart care. We should be proud in Beloit and the Stateline Area that we have the very best heart care right here.”

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(Janesville, WI) Jake Magee, Gazette

St. Mary's Janesville Hospital has received the 2016 Women's Choice Award for being one of America's best hospitals for obstetrics for the second consecutive year, according to a news release.

The award, given by market research firm WomenCertified, considers female patient satisfaction, clinical excellence and what women claim they want from a hospital, according to the release.

“Our team is inspired by our mission to provide exceptional care, so it is extremely rewarding to learn for the second year in a row that we are again being rated number one by the women who have experienced our care,” said Kerry Swanson, St. Mary's Janesville Hospital president.

“New moms have many choices when it comes to having their baby, so choosing the best birthing experience is right up there with choosing the best doctor. We've made it easy for moms to vet out the hospitals proven to deliver an outstanding experience,” said Delia Passi, CEO and founder of the Women's Choice Award.

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(Beloit, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

From looking at pictures of someone tarred and feathered in World War I to making a video of a book report, School District of Beloit students are taking advantage of new learning opportunities made available by technology.

Since the school district adopted an initiative to put an iPad in the hand of each student in the district, many classes are going paperless and adopting other innovative technologies.

At Fruzen Intermediate School, for example, the school is using Schoology, a learning management system called the “Facebook of education.” Teachers use the digital learning environment to assign quizzes and assignments, as well as launch discussions and more.

Schoology allows teachers and students to work on the same virtual documents. When a student, for example, creates an assignment, it can be sent to the teacher who will give feedback and return it to the student. Giving more immediate feedback can help engage and challenge students.

At Beloit Memorial High School, teachers like Matt Flynn use Schoology in AP history class. On Wednesday, all of his students were hooked into the same worksheet and accompanying documents that Flynn was working on via the SmartBoard. He also had accompanying historical photos such as a man who was tarred and feathered as late as World War I.

Flynn said Schoology enables students to hook into their curriculum 24-7. With students able to do their work remotely, absences also become less of a hurdle for struggling students.

Michele Kruse, a fourth grade teacher at Fruzen Elementary School and an innovation coach, also has gone to a mostly paperless classroom thanks to the iPads and Schoology. Because Schoology has made grading papers and organizing more efficient and streamlined, Kruse said it allows her to focus on developing deeper relationships with her students.

It also allows students to be more creative. For example, her students create movies instead of writing traditional book reports.

“They are expressing learning at a higher level, and they love it,” she said. “It puts learning in kids’ own hands.”

She said some students who may struggle in certain areas often discover they have a knack for technology. It gives them a boost of self esteem and motivates them to teach other students their newfound skills.

“It empowers them,” she said.

Britta Gagner, instructional technology coach, said Schoology helps teachers collaborate across the district, especially if they are teaching the same subject in different buildings.

“It's really unified all the intermediate schools,” Gagner said. “In addition to having common assessments, we have common essential learning targets.”

Schoology also allows teachers to do their grading online resulting in fewer papers getting lugged home.

Teachers and all staff members are creating their own learning goals with technology and receive regular coaching on how to use the new technology in their classrooms.

Kruse, for example, hosts mini lessons at Fruzen every week in 15-minute sessions to train other teachers in Schoology.

Gagner said students have the option to use paper if they want to. Flynn noted he still does testing with paper and pencil.

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(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

According to the California-based economic research group Milken Institute, the city of Janesville and Rock County have been riding on a skyrocket to high-tech land for the last half-decade.

Rock County companies such as Foremost media are reasons why a nationally-recognized study has ranked the Janesville-Beloit area at the top of the stack for economic performance. Other notable high-tech gains locally are attributed to such firms as AccuLynx, Comply365, Data Dimensions, FatWallet, SASid and State Collection Service.

Milkin's new study, which began circulating late last year, listed Janesville-Beloit as the fourth behind the North Dakota cities of Fargo and Bismack and the college town of Ames, Iowa. Milkin's designation of high-tech and biotechnology jobs range from specialty and precision manufacturing to pharmaceutical and specialty pharmaceutical manufacturing, aerospace metals fabrication, along with a broad spectrum of web and Internet services.

The latter includes Foremost, which is one of the few companies regionally that specializes in designing apps designed specifically for manufacturers and industry. They handle everything from inventory to sales and customer orders. The firm had six people in 2012 and now has 23, including web developers, web sales associates and programmers.

“Industrial wireless apps are not the sexiest things in the world, and our home office isn't sexy,” company CEO Jon Ballard said. “But we're marketable, we're located right in between two major markets in Madison and Chicago, and we serve a utilitarian niche. We're happy here.”

In May, the company is moving to downtown Janesville into a four-story, 24,000-square-foot former warehouse at 207 N. Academy St. Ballard is partnering with Mark Robinson, who owns the brick warehouse they're calling “The Grey Goose.”


Bill Mears, broker for Janesville-based Coldwell Banker Commercial McGuire Mears, said he and his real estate partner Tom Lasse a few times over the last year found themselves riding a wave of industrial and commercial development deals along the Interstate 90/39 corridor like nothing they'd experienced in his career.

One such wave washed over the city's east side business park when steel fabrication and distribution giant A.M. Castle Metals eschewed a large warehouse building Lasse was developing this past spring. During a courtesy ride in a charter bus Castle, instead pointed at a vacant site off of Enterprise drive as a preferred option. Less than six months later, Castle has moved into its new Janesville digs. And the $16.50 starting hourly pay is a $3 leap above the going rate of most distribution warehouses in Janesville.

Look for that average to continue to climb if a long-awaited project on the city's south side moves forward in the next calendar year. SHINE Medical Technologies, a Monona-based upstart that plans to launch a radioactive medical isotope production facility near the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.

SHINE would bring jobs with average salaries of $60,000 a year, SHINE Vice President Katrina Pitas said. It would require skilled mechanics with nuclear safety training, but a top reason why SHINE chose Janesville over two other Wisconsin cities is because SHINE believes the local job force is willing to learn new skills, Pitas said.

A very similar convergence of technology and high pay will be attributed to NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC’s Beloit facility, as well. NorthStar and SHINE will eventually represent two of the three domestic producers of molybdenum (Mo-99). With the support of the federal government and strategic private sector partners such as GE Healthcare, Rock County is positioned to eventually becoming recognized as the nation’s isotope capitol.

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(Milton, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

Walker on Monday announced that the state will offer $8.1 million in grants and a $1.01 million loan through the Wisconsin's freight railroad assistance program to fund the second phase of improvements and rail upgrades to 41 miles of track that runs between Waukesha and Milton, according to a news release from the governor's office.

The state-owned freight line, which is operated by Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, has sections of track and some infrastructure that is up to 100 years old, railroad officials have said. Using earlier state funding, the railroad focused last year on replacing track and ties on portions of rail line in Janesville.

The new wave of funding will include track rehabilitation, construction of eight public crossings, five turnouts, replacement of 12.7 miles of track with continuously welded rail that is heavier gauge than the older track, and 11,800 new ties, the release said.

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(Clinton, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

Seniors hoping to maintain their independence in a supportive environment have a new option — Willowick Assisted Living.

Construction was completed on the new assisted living community at 306 Ogden Ave., in mid-December. Willowick Assisted Living expects to open in the coming weeks after obtaining its license.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to serve people well in their community. It seems that most assisted living centers are in larger communities,” said Lori Schlosser, owner and CEO of Willowick Senior Living. “We are excited about that first group of residents who are going to be admitted and being able to serve the community and meet its needs.”

The community is invited to an open house scheduled for 1 - 4 p.m. Jan. 9. People also can stop in for tours between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“We have several people signed up but room for more,” Schlosser said.

Director Amanda Reseburg explained how Willowick is the only assisted living facility in Clinton.

“People have been stopping in and saying it’s much-needed. Residents can stay right here and still participate in their community. That’s invaluable for a lot of people who are coming to terms with the fact that they will need a little help. We are here to bridge that gap,” Reseburg said.

Reseburg noted staff will be implementing some of the 2,000 pictures the Clinton Historical Society gave it for decorating its hallways “to pay homage to our adopted hometown.”

The new facility will feature “Wednesdays at Willowick,” a lifetime learning program where local experts, guest speakers and more visit and give presentations. It will be open to residents as well as those from the community. Topics will be posted at

Willowick Senior Living received its building permit in May to build on previously vacant land. Ground broke in mid-June, with the general contractor being Advanced Building out of Madison.

The first building is 14,256-square-feet, with the possibility of another building added to the site. The community will offer up to 25 full-time and part-time jobs.

“We are still hiring for CNAs,” Schlosser added.

Ninety-five percent of the caregiving staff are certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to elevate the level of service and professionalism offered to residents.

The building consists of 26 units available, including six suites.

Services include assistance with activities of daily living, meals, medication assistance, transportation to medical appointments and scheduled outings, housekeeping, laundry and nurse services. Staff will work with local physicians, home health agencies and other healthcare professionals to meet resident needs. Willowick is home to a salon and a regularly scheduled beautician.

Community meetings were held in Clinton, Janesville and Beloit this fall so people could learn more about the facility and its services.

For more information visit or its Facebook page at “Willowick Assisted Living.”

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