Best of The Gazette, Feb. 25: Crime, gravel and an early ATV


The Gazette publishes a lot of news in a week. Combine that with all the distractions a weekend brings, and that means there's a good chance you might have missed some important stories. Here's a look at of some of The Gazette's best content from the last week or so:


As the bottom fell out of the economy in the past five years, experts expected crime to rise. They were wrong. Crime rates fell in many areas of the country, and Janesville hit a 20-year low. Experts now believe an aging population and the highest incarceration rate in the world could be reasons for the decline.

Democrats in Wisconsin unveiled a bill in January that would immediately raise the state's minimum wage. Local officials and business owners offered varied opinions on the plan. Quaker Steak & Lube owner Scott Acker is against it. “This idea that you can just step out of high school and into a living-wage job. … I don't know. I struggle with that because I just don't think it's realistic,” he said.


Gazette Sports columnist D.S. Pledger recently came across a vintage article about the birth of the all-terrain vehicle. The story begins in 1955 with a hunting guide named Mert Marshall. Marshall needed to shorten the time it took to get his clients out to the action. His solution: A part-Model-A, part-airplane machine he called a “swamp buggy.”

Doug Welch always listened closely when the old-timers talked about the glory days of baseball in the 1950s. The Milton man's new novel,  “The Ashippun Trap,” documents those stories for fellow baseball fans. But anyone interested in history will appreciate the details of how two aging players—one with the Milwaukee Braves and the other with an amateur team in Wisconsin—consider whether the game is worth playing anymore.


It's tempting to get on board with Bill Watson's proposal to build a new industrial park in Rock County and its potential to recharge the regional economy. But The Gazette Editorial Board is urging local officials to remain cautious. The biggest reason is the specter of gravel mining in Watson's business plan.

Christin Cooper asked Bode Miller one question too many at the Winter Olympics, but that's a judgment call, Gazette Editor Scott Angus writes. Asking tough questions of people who are reeling from emotional episodes or even personal tragedy is one of the things journalists must occasionally do.


Restaurant reviewer Joan Neeno loves being surprised by the wonderful and totally unexpected. Her latest delight was stumbling onto Two Sisters Thai Restaurant, a new place that's been open about six months in Walworth.

The model train display taking up most of Mike Bubrick's basement offers a glimpse of the tracks running between Janesville and Mineral Point as they appeared in October 1968. "I enjoy re-creating the trains that I'd see coming from and going to Janesville when I was a kid,” Bubrick said. He's not alone in his love for all things train, as a recent visit with the Wisconsin-Illinois HO Modular Railroad Group shows.


Video blogger Glen Loyd gives viewers a look at juvenile bald eagles practicing courting rituals over the Rock River.

Community blogger John W. Eyster was surprised to learn that neither Abraham Lincoln's nor George Washington's birthdays are state holidays.


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