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Angela Major 

Janesville resident Teresa Legreid walks her dog, Miley, along the Ice Age Trail on Wednesday near County D in Janesville. Puddles were forming on the trail as ice and snow began to melt.


Anthony Wahl 

A bicyclist is reflected in the large pool of water blocking a lane of Beloit Avenue near Dawson Ball Fields in Janesville on Wednesday.


Ted S. Warren 

In this photo taken Monday, March 11, 2019, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane being built for TUI Group sits parked at Boeing Co.'s Renton Assembly Plant in Renton, Wash. Britain, France and Germany on Tuesday joined a rapidly growing number of countries grounding the new Boeing plane involved in the Ethiopian Airlines disaster or turning it back from their airspace, while investigators in Ethiopia looked for parallels with a similar crash just five months ago. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)


Thawing pattern

With rain and higher temperatures in the forecast, authorities are offering sand, sandbags and warnings to local residents about flooding.

Janesville police Wednesday morning reported minor flooding at North Wright Road and Ruger Avenue, and they said water had partially covered Beloit Avenue between Palmer and Delavan drives.

Walworth County closed Highway 89, Highway 11 and County A on Wednesday afternoon because of high water.

Motorists should avoid driving on flooded roads because it’s often impossible to see how deep the water is or the condition of the road beneath it, Janesville police said in a news release.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid streets where the water is too deep to see the painted markings, the release reads.

Showers and thunderstorms, some that could be heavy, were expected overnight Wednesday and through the day today.

A 50 percent chance of rain or snow showers was predicted for tonight, with wind gusting to 40 mph.

Lesser chances of rain or snow were predicted for Friday.

Sunshine was predicted for the weekend.

For residents who may experience flooding at their homes, the Rock County Highway Division is offering sandbags and sand at these locations:

  • Rock Town Hall, 5102 S County D, Afton.
  • Newville park and ride, located off Interstate 90/39 at exit 163.

Residents must fill and transport their own sandbags at both locations.

The city of Janesville will provide sandbags at 900 N. Parker Drive. Rock County residents should call the City Services Center at 608-755-3110 for pickup instructions.

The Rock River gauge at Afton rose above 8.4 feet Wednesday afternoon. The National Weather Service projects the river gauge will hit 9 feet by Friday, when minor flooding along the river is expected.

The river is projected to continue to rise through Tuesday, cresting at 10.3 feet.

At 9 feet, erosion occurs to lowland and agricultural land next to the river in the Afton and Janesville areas.

At 9.1 feet, floodwaters begin affecting property on South Christian Road south of Janesville.

At 10.4 feet, flooding affects low spots on South River Road on the south side of Janesville.

Turtle Creek near Clinton was in minor flood stage Wednesday, with a crest around 9 feet expected Wednesday night.

The Sugar River was expected to reach 8 feet at Brodhead overnight Wednesday. At that level, floodwaters cover County T in Rock County, and there is flooding in Sugar River Park in the Avon Bottoms area, in addition to widespread agricultural and lowland flooding in the Brodhead area.

The Sugar River gauge at Brodhead is projected to crest at 9.3 feet Friday.

The sheriff’s office also issued a slow/no wake order for the Rock River between the Indianford Dam and the Beloit-Rock Townline Road Bridge.

The city of Beloit will offer sandbags for pickup at 2351 Springbrook Court. Residents should call 608-364-2929 if they have questions.

To report hazardous conditions related to flooding, call the Rock County Communications Center at 608-757-2244.


Obituaries and death notices for March 14, 2019

Darlene S. Anderson

Mary Beth Bell

Josef Braeu

Muriel K. Bumgarner

Lydia I. Easter

James W. “Jim” Fink Sr.

Donald David Herr

Stephen W. Janisch

Dolores Karleski

Jerry M. Prichett

Ronald Duane Scott

Gharld “Grampa Junior” Vance


AP
US health officials move to tighten sales of e-cigarettes

WASHINGTON

U.S. health regulators are moving ahead with a plan designed to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers by restricting sales of most flavored products in convenience stores, gas stations, pharmacies and other retail locations.

The new guidelines, first proposed by the Food and Drug Administration in November, are the latest government effort to reverse what health officials call an epidemic of underage vaping.

E-cigarettes typically heat a flavored nicotine solution into an inhalable vapor. Federal law bans their sale to those under 18, but 1 in 5 high school students report using e-cigarettes, according to the latest survey published last year.

Under proposed FDA guidelines released Wednesday, e-cigarette makers would need to restrict sales of most flavored products to stores that verify the age of customers upon entry or include a separate, age-restricted area for vaping products. Companies would also be expected to use third-party, identity-verification technology for online sales.

The FDA will also prioritize removing vaping products that clearly appeal to kids, such as those with packaging that resembles juice boxes, candy or cookies. Companies that don’t follow the new requirements risk having their products pulled from the market, the FDA said.

“The onus is now on the companies and the vaping industry to work with us to try and bring down these levels of youth use, which are simply intolerable,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in an interview. The restrictions won’t apply to three flavors that the FDA says appeal more to adults than teenagers: tobacco, menthol and mint.

The rise in teen vaping has been driven mainly by new cartridge-based products like Juul, a heavily marketed brand that has become a scourge in U.S. high schools. The rechargeable, odorless device can be used discreetly in bathrooms, hallways and even classrooms.

The Silicon Valley-based company voluntarily halted retail sales of its fruit and candy-flavored pods last year, ahead of the FDA announcement.

Anti-smoking activists have questioned whether the new FDA restrictions will be enough to stop the teen vaping surge. The FDA has little authority over how stores display and sell vaping products. Instead, critics say the agency is essentially telling companies to self-police.

“FDA continues to nibble around the edges, and that will not end the epidemic,” said Erika Sward, of the American Lung Association, which has called on the FDA to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. She said FDA’s decision to exempt menthol and mint flavors is a mistake because survey data shows those flavors are used by roughly half of teens who vape.

Health experts say nicotine is harmful to developing brains, and some researchers worry that addicted teens will eventually switch from vaping to smoking.

Under regulations developed by the Obama administration, manufacturers were supposed to submit e-cigarettes for safety and health review by August 2018. But Gottlieb delayed the deadline until 2022, saying both the agency and industry needed more time to prepare. Under the FDA’s update, the deadline will move to 2021.

Still, the American Lung Association and several other anti-smoking groups are suing the FDA to begin reviewing the safety and health effects of e-cigarettes immediately.

The new guidelines are expected to affect gas stations and convenience stores, which have lobbied against the plan since it was floated last November.

“They are picking winners and losers in the marketplace while handing a government monopoly to other channels of trade,” the National Association of Convenience Stores said in a message to members.

The restrictions are expected to have less impact on vape specialty shops because many already require an ID to enter.

A separate proposal introduced Wednesday aims to ban flavored cigars that were launched after 2007—the effective date for many of FDA’s regulatory powers. Cigars come in flavors like blueberry, cherry and chocolate, and regulators fear teens could switch to those products as flavored e-cigarettes are restricted.

The FDA will accept comments on the guidelines for 30 days before finalizing them later this year.

Wednesday’s announcement comes a week after Gottlieb revealed he would leave the FDA. His planned departure next month has raised questions about the future of several ambitious anti-tobacco initiatives that have barely progressed beyond the earliest stages. Those plans include banning menthol cigarette flavoring and cutting nicotine levels in all cigarettes to make them less addictive.

“There has never been a federal official who made bolder proposals to reduce tobacco use. The question was always going to be would he stick it out to get them done,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Gottlieb said the Trump administration is “extremely supportive” of the new restrictions on e-cigarettes.

He also said he was meeting with executives from Juul and its partner, cigarette maker Altria, on Wednesday. The meeting follows letters Gottlieb sent questioning Altria’s purchase of a 35 percent stake in Juul and plans to begin distributing the company’s products to thousands of U.S. retailers.

In a statement, Juul noted it has already taken steps to reduce youth use, including shuttering its Facebook and Instagram accounts.

“We support category-wide action including the responsible, restricted sale of flavored products and will review today’s draft guidance as we continue to work with FDA,” the company said.


Local
New police chief brings FBI, leadership experience to Edgerton

EDGERTON

Robert Kowalski has experience taking down white-collar criminals, investigating domestic terrorism and working undercover to bust organized crime rings.

Beginning March 25, he will become chief of the Edgerton Police Department, which reported fewer than 20 violent crimes from 2013 to 2017, according to the state’s uniform crime reporting database.

Kowalski told The Gazette he welcomes the relaxed environment Edgerton offers after a 38-year career in law enforcement in and around Chicago, including 20 years in the FBI.

The move from Illinois to Wisconsin brings Kowalski closer to his youngest son, who is a sophomore at UW-Stevens Point, and other friends and family members. He and his wife, Leisa, are looking at homes in Edgerton and plan to become active members of the community.

Kowalski said he has “no agenda” going into his new position and will establish detailed goals after he meets his staff and officers. He said he has corresponded with Interim Chief Randy Meehan, who has been helpful in the transition.

The city announced last week that the police commission had hired Kowalski to replace former Chief Tom Klubertanz. He was chosen from a field of four finalists and 21 applicants.

Since 2015, Kowalski has been the police chief in Sauk Village, Illinois, a community of about 10,500 just south of Chicago. He said he was “let go” from the department when the village’s new mayor wanted to take the department in another direction.

Kowalski said he left no open homicide cases when he parted ways with Sauk Village, and he was proud of community initiatives he worked on, including National Night Out and Shop with a Cop.

He hopes to introduce some of those initiatives to Edgerton.

“I truly believe I made a positive impact on the town,” Kowalski said of Sauk Village.

Sauk Village Mayor Derrick Burgess appointed a new police chief in November, according to village board minutes.

Kowalski spent much of his career as a special agent in the FBI. His experience in federal law enforcement included investigations into white-collar crime, the Oklahoma City bombing, organized crime in Chicago and terrorism.

Kowalski said his experience working at the local, county and federal levels gives him access to resources he believes will benefit Edgerton.

The chief is not a stranger to the city.

Kowalski once attended a retreat at what is now Oaklawn Academy. Reminiscing about Oaklawn, along with a positive recommendation from an old friend who lives in Edgerton, helped nudge him into applying for the police chief job.

“I want to not only be a good leader for the police department, but for the citizens of Edgerton,” he said.