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Entries for November 2015


(Janesville, WI) Nick Crow, Gazette

Kennedy Elementary School has received a national grant to aid its science, technology, engineering arts and mathematics curriculum.

Kennedy got the $10,000 innOVATION STEAM grant through the Ovation Foundation, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and Americans for the Arts, in accordance with the Congressional STEAM caucus, according to a news release from the Janesville School District.

The grant recognized programs that raise awareness about the importance of integrating STEAM educational curriculum, the news release said.

"The President's Committee has made increasing access to arts education a signature focus over the last five years, and we are thrilled to acknowledge these schools' inspiring STEAM programs," said Rachel Goslins, executive director of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in a statement. "It is through programs like these that we can foster the skills of innovation, creativity and problem-solving that our students need to compete in the world today."

Eight schools nationally received $80,000 in grants, according to the news release. The recipients were honored at a ceremony and reception at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., in early November.

Other schools receiving the grant were Boston Arts Academy, Boston; Dayton Regional STEM School, Kettering, Ohio; High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego; Highland Park Middle School, Beaverton, Oregon; National Inventors Hall of Fame Center for STEM Learning, Akron, Ohio; Quatama Elementary School, Hillsboro, Oregon; Renaissance Arts Academy, Los Angeles.

"We can learn a lot from these eight schools. They stand as role models for the education system in America today, honoring a well-rounded education for every student by incorporating the arts and the STEM subjects,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, in a statement. "I am impressed by their students' academic achievement, school engagement and innovative thinking. By acknowledging and rewarding these creative programs today, we aim to encourage and inspire schools across the country tomorrow."

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(Evansville, WI) Gina Duwe, Gazette

Greg DeBroux looked at several communities before picking Evansville to relocate his longtime Oregon restaurant and catering business.

“I thought it had a great downtown, a good small-community vibe, and I believe there was a niche for us to fill that would provide great homemade soups and bakery and still be able to do my catering,” he said.

On Labor Day weekend, he opened DeBroux House Café at 18 E. Main St., filling one of the last vacant spaces on the downtown's cobblestone street.

When residents gather downtown for the annual Olde Fashioned Christmas this weekend, they'll find all available storefronts occupied for the first time in years.

With the recent addition of DeBroux House Café and Blu's Froyo Shoppe, expected to open Saturday, all storefronts that were seeking tenants are full, City Administrator Ian Rigg said.

“We're actually running out of space,” he said.

City Council President Jim Brooks, who also heads the city's economic development committee, credits landlords for making building improvements and work by the Evansville Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, Women Encouraging Evansville's Entrepreneurs (WE3), Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club and the economic development committee.

“Our efforts to get people on Main Street are working,” he said. “It's been a long recovery for everybody.”

Rigg said it seems as if the city is starting to run out of places to guide people who are looking for potential storefronts or places for their businesses.

“I think we're ripe to get more new construction, hopefully pretty soon. Hopefully some investors will see the benefit,” he said.

Blu's Froyo Shoppe owners Jan Klaehn and Justin Schott knew they wanted to be on Main Street and part of “life downtown,” Klaehn said. Their renovations kept the historic charm of 11 E. Main St., where they expect to open Saturday with an array of self-serve frozen yogurt, craft soda and other treats.

For DeBroux, his renovated historic space also has an original tin ceiling and maple floors that helped make his Oregon location a destination for Dane County residents for 18 years.

He has created a fun meeting place for families in Evansville, where he landscaped the unused outdoor space. Now he can host over 50 people in the area's only outdoor seating venue with wine and beer, and he already has weddings booked for next summer.

DeBroux wanted to downsize from 40 employees in Oregon to about five, reducing stress and allowing him to settle into a place for retirement. He sold his Stoughton home and moved to Evansville.

Klaehn and Schott are both raising their young families in Evansville and talked about ideas to open something new without competing with existing restaurants. They wanted to help drive traffic downtown and add to existing businesses, she said.

Klaehn described how her family always wanted a place to go after school events with her daughters, but there was no standalone ice cream shop where people could gather for celebrations or everyday treats.

“We want to be that place,” she said.

She said they sought high-quality ingredients and clean labels, following their mantra of providing “an indulgence we can all feel good about.” The menu includes organic frozen yogurt, gelato, sorbet, craft soda and gourmet popcorn. It will be the first Wisconsin retail outlet to offer Yogurt Farmer frozen yogurt and Red Tractor Soda.

“We really put a lot of thought into creating a place that was really unique to Evansville and reflects Evansville's character,” Klaehn said, starting with the name. “Blu” is a reference to the school's Blue Devil mascot.

DeBroux knew he wanted to be near Oregon to draw from his former customer base, which has followed him to Evansville. On recent Sundays, he has had more than 100 customers in his indoor and outdoor spaces.

In his nine weeks since opening, “The hope and expectations have been exceeded, and I can only see growth from here,” DeBroux said.

The city is working with Debroux on terms for a loan through a city program, Rigg said, and the city has approved a $1,124 business improvement grant for building upgrades.

He took his best items from his menu at DeBroux's Diner in Oregon, and he prides himself on not using ingredients such as iceberg lettuce or white bread. Customer service has been a key to his success, he said, and he loves that he has enough time to talk to every customer in Evansville.

The more traffic they can get downtown to fill storefronts, the better, he said.

“I want to become a vital part of the community, involved in the community, and this is my last stop. This is the last chapter.”

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(Janesville, WI) Elliot Hughes, Gazette

Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Potbelly Sandwich Shop could be up and running by June 2016 after receiving a conditional use permit from the plan commission Monday.

The two restaurants are billed as the two tenants for an upcoming 4,812-square-foot retail space at 3330 Milton Ave., next door to Festival Foods.

Curt Mauer, of ChiFest Properties Janesville, which is behind the project, said construction should start by mid-December.

The Potbelly will have a drive-through lane, but Five Guys will not. Both will come with outdoor seating.

The permit was approved unanimously Monday. It does not require approval of the Janesville City Council.

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(Janesville, WI) Dollar General Corporation has begun construction on its new state-of-the-art distribution center in Janesville's STH 11 Business Park. At full capacity, the center is expected to employ more than 550 people and service over 1,000 stores throughout the Upper Midwest. Initial operations are slated for late 2016, with full operations expected by 2019.

“This state-of-the-art distribution center will help support our growth throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest,” said Todd Vasos, chief executive officer of Dollar General. “I want to thank the City of Janesville, Rock County and the State of Wisconsin for their support of our project. Janesville provides a great location, a strong business environment and a great workforce to draw from to fill the 550 jobs that are anticipated to be created by this new distribution Center.”

"Wisconsin's growing business environment and dedicated workforce continue to attract more business to our state," said Governor Walker. "We are excited for Dollar General's new development here in Wisconsin, and with over 500 anticipated new jobs, they are a great addition to Rock County."

“The work done to bring Dollar General to Janesville represents a true public-private partnership. We are excited to see the strong boost that this project will give to our local economy,” said Janesville City Manager Mark Freitag

For over 75 years, Dollar General (NYSE:DG) has been delivering value to its customers. Currently, the company has 122 stores and more than 900 employees in Wisconsin. With the addition of this Janesville project, the company will now have a nationwide distribution network that includes 14 locations.

Clayco Inc. is serving as the project's general contractor. Leo A Daly  provided the building design services for this project, while civil engineering services were provided by Elan Design Lab.

To facilitate this project, the following organizations stepped forward with various forms of financial and/or technical assistance: the City of Janesville, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Alliant Energy/WPL and the County of Rock.

According to James Otterstein, Rock County Economic Development Manager, "This project provides another important validation point for the area, as an increasingly diverse collection of firms are continually discovering the value-added attributes that are associated with a Janesville-Beloit MSA location."

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(Milton, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

Phase II of Blackhawk Technical College’s advanced manufacturing training center was completed this fall, giving students better laboratories, more space and updated curriculum and equipment.

“We are really excited about the opportunities we are able to offer for students, potential students and displaced workers,” said Dean of Advanced Manufacturing and Transportation Garry Krause.

In February of 2013, the college announced it had leased a building at 15 North Plumb St., Milton, to house several of its advanced manufacturing programs. The hope was that the space would bring all vocational programs closer together and allow for more collaborative projects between students.

The entire renovation cost about $12 million and the college entered into a 10-year lease at the location.

By the fall of 2014 half of the building had been renovated and new equipment was moved in. Three programs were moved to the campus including welding, computer numerical control (CNC) technician and industrial maintenance technician.

By the fall of 2015 five more programs were moved in including heating, ventilation, air conditioning/refrigeration; manufacturing information technology specialist; electromechanical technology; mechanical design and computer service


The advanced manufacturing training features modern science laboratories where students can learn practical science which can be applied to industry. In the loading dock area, for example, students can practice working with a crane to hook, rig and lift objects on uneven ground to place on even ground. In another laboratory, a beam is mounted below the ceiling where students can practice using pulleys to help lift heavy objects.

To keep up with demand, BTC has hired a new welding instructor as well as an additional computer numerical controlled machine technician instructor. There are 225 students at the advanced manufacturing training center this year.

BTC is continually upgrading its curriculum. Currently, it is seeking National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) accreditation for its CNC machine technician program.

There are also a number of embedded certificates within each program, so students can develop a niche in their respective industries.

BTC’s new partnership with the Milton School District will also help give students more opportunities. Students in the Milton school district can take gas metal arc welding, blueprint reading, and two math courses to earn a state approved certificate from BTC while attending high school.

“When they graduate they can go straight to industry or come back for more training,” Krause said.

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(Beloit, WI) Hililary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

School District of Beloit’s Farm to School program is helping to bring in locally-produced fresh fruits and vegetables to its classes and lunchrooms.

Using grant funds, the district was able to hire a nutrition educator and is forming a task force to promote fresh food and nutrition.

“The goal of Farm to School is to implement school gardens, increase local food in school lunches, provide nutrition education in school classrooms in Beloit and strengthen the local economy by supporting Beloit’s local farmers,” said Janelle Marotz, assistant superintendent for business services and Farm to School program coordinator.

Thanks to recently awarded funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the district was able to hire its third AmeriCorp member who works half time as a nutrition educator to bolster the program.

Merrill Elementary has an active school gardening program that provides hands-on activities to learn about plants and nutrition and Hackett Elementary has raised funds for a garden to be planted in the spring.

“We are working to obtain funds to provide gardening opportunities for Converse, Robinson, Todd and Gaston to offer hands-on activities in addition to our nutrition education and fresh fruit and vegetable offerings,” Marotz said.

Because October was Farm to School Month, the district participated in the Great Apple Crunch on Oct. 22, where students participated in a poster contest and enjoyed fresh apples donated by Wal-Mart and AppleHut. Twelve winning designs have been chosen to form a calendar of Farm to School for 2016 to raise funds for expansion of the program. All winners will receive a free Farm to School calendar.

Marotz explained the district held its first Farm to School task force meeting Thursday. The task force will be charged with helping to raise community awareness and helping to identify potential volunteers for community events. If people are interested in serving on the task force, they can contact Marotz for more information.

The School District of Beloit already has farm to school activities such as lemonade and salsa making activities at Merrill Elementary School. Merrill also has a longstanding garden club. Other after school events in the district include pumpkin smoothie making at Hackett, where there are plans for a garden to be planted this spring.

In addition to its farm to school program, the School District of Beloit has a Fresh Fruit and Vegetables program which provides children in participating elementary schools with a variety of free fresh fruits and vegetables using grant funds provided by the USDA.

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(Rock County, WI) 

The Blackhawk Human Resource Association (BHRA) and Rock County 5.0 are Co-Sponsoring a 2015 Greater Rock County Salary & Benefits Survey.

This survey provides an opportunity for businesses of all sizes, industry sectors and ownership structures to benchmark their pay rate information and the fringe benefit practices against other area employers.

The deadline for participating in this survey project is December 9, 2015.

Similar to past survey projects, BHRA and Rock County 5.0 have contracted with Astron Solutions, a full-service human resources consulting firm, to administer this survey. To comply with the Department of Justice Anti-Trust Guidelines, individual participant responses will remain confidential and only aggregate data will be released.

To access the survey, please visit this link -

If you experience any difficulties while entering data into the survey instrument, please direct those technical support inquires to John Sazaklis ( or 212-792-8882).   

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(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

The Janesville City Council approved a $100,000 TIF loan to help facilitate an expansion at the Southern WI Regional Airport.

SC Aviation, which is an air charter (FAA Part 135), aircraft maintenance (FAA Part 145) and an aircraft management company, plans to add a new 37,000 SF (+/-) hangar, double the size of its fleet, hire additional employees and then use its current 12,000 SF to expand its maintenance operation.

Council member Richard Gruber said the company's expansion was another sign of an improving local economy and called the deal “exceptionally reasonable.”

Established in 1999, SC Aviation's provides its services on both a domestic and an international platform.

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