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Plan commission unanimously prefers Janesville Mall for sports complex

JANESVILLE

Agreeing Monday with votes by other committees, the Janesville Plan Commission decided the Janesville Mall would be the best place for the city to potentially build a new indoor sports facility.

The commission unanimously recommended that the city council should consider the mall the first choice for a sports complex. A site adjacent to the Youth Sports Complex on South Wuthering Hills Drive is the recommended second choice.

Chairwoman Kathy Voskuil said there wasn’t much for the plan commission to discuss Monday night because the panel does not review financial aspects of projects and no designs have been created.

The primary purpose of the commission’s review was to assure the proposed site can accommodate the development and that the site conforms with the city’s comprehensive plan. Commissioners unanimously agreed both were true.

State statute requires the plan commission to review and recommend to the city council a site for any public building or facility, according to a city memo.

The commission based its recommendation on information from Johnson Consulting, which indicated in its business plan that the mall site provides the best access to amenities and highest chance for success.

A project steering committee and the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee both chose the mall as its preferred site.

The plan commission’s recommendation is for anywhere in the mall, not a specific portion of the mall. Early plans have shown the complex would likely go where what remains of the former JCPenney space is on the north end of the mall.

Mall representatives have said they are willing to work with the city to make the sports complex a reality, offering to sell the space for $1 and to try to attract a family activity center to the mall.

The complex is slated to include:

  • A main ice rink.
  • A secondary rink with removable ice to transform into multipurpose sports courts or a turf field.
  • Flexible space capable of holding four additional sports courts, a turf field or an additional sheet of ice.
  • Amenities such as a pro shop, medical office, locker rooms, meeting rooms and concessions.
  • Parking.

The city council will vote whether to approve the mall site and to authorize spending on designing the potential complex when it meets Nov. 11.

If approved, the design phase would take at least a year. The earliest an indoor sports complex could open is fall 2022.

Once designs are created, the plan commission would review those plans and consider any needed conditional-use permits, Voskuil said.


Obituaries and death notices for Oct. 22, 2019

Carrie M. Barrenger

David Russell Bliss

Pauline Boldt

Jane E. Helmers

Richard “Dick” F. McCann

Mary “Muzzy” McIntyre

Virginia “Ginny” Mills

Kimberly Ann Neuenschwander

Forrest J. Outland

Mary Ann Rau

Ruth Ann Risseeuw

Randall Setterseten

Robert L. Webster


Agriculture
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Town of La Prairie hearing focuses on plans for 3 million-chicken farm

TOWN OF LA PRAIRIE

Town officials are seeking public input today on a proposal to construct a chicken farm that eventually could house 3 million birds in the town of La Prairie.

The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the town hall, 3610 S. La Prairie Town Hall Road, Janesville.

Family-owned S&R Egg Farm owns an estimated 4.3 million birds and more than 1,000 acres of farmland in Wisconsin, including farms in Whitewater and Palmyra, according to the company’s website.

A proposed third location in the town of La Prairie eventually would add 3 million chickens in 10 buildings to that total. The company plans to start with three buildings and just fewer than 1 million birds at the new site and grow over time, Town Chairman Allan Arndt said.

So far, public reaction has been mixed, and town officials want to hear more from residents.

“I think with all things that are large, there’s some concern and some thought processes,” Arndt said. “… We don’t know what we don’t know about big operations like this, so the idea is to feel it out the best we can and work our way through the process.”

S&R Egg Farm representatives approached town officials a year ago about buying 100-plus acres west of Belding Road, Arndt said. They filed an application for the farm in August, and the town had 45 days to tell the company whether the application was complete, which it was.

The town now has another 45 days to approve or deny the proposal. That deadline is Nov. 19.

Arndt said the state Livestock Facility Siting Review Board controls much of the process. The board sets standards for agricultural operations such as the proposed farm, and as long as the farm meets the standards, the board approves it.

Opponents must prove that the proposed farm violates those standards or safety, Arndt said. Unless the more than 800-page proposal contains a glaring error, he said it likely will be approved.

“We would have to come up with something very challenging in the application to justify a denial,” he said.

Arndt said today’s hearing is an opportunity to ensure people are informed and prepared.

“This is not a trial-and-error system,” Arndt said of the operation. “They’ve got a pretty good system worked out, so beyond that, it’s a matter of how do we make sure this thing functions in the town without creating other issues.”

S&R representatives attended a crowded informational meeting about their plans last fall. Arndt said that meeting helped dispel rumors, including concerns about odors.

Norm Tadt, a senior conservation specialist for the Rock County Land Conservation Department, joined town officials on a visit to one of S&R Egg Farm’s facilities. He said the smell was nonexistent.

“The way we looked at it is there’s going to be days that there probably is some odor,” Tadt said. “I think we’d all be putting our heads in the sand to think that it would be totally odor-free. But when we were out there, it was hard to believe because there really was a complete lack of odor.”

Tadt said years ago, a similar operation would have had a strong smell. He said S&R has worked hard to cut down on odors.

“They’ve done a lot of different things and have worked very diligently, it appears, to try different things to reduce that odor,” he said.

The chicken manure is stored dry, which helps reduce the smell and presence of flies, Tadt said. Once collected, the manure is moved on perforated belts, and fans cut the moisture in the manure from 90% to 10% or 15%.

“Less odor the drier things are,” he said. “If you dehydrate a banana, it doesn’t really smell like a banana.”

The manure would be stored in a building, rather than in a lagoon or buried in the ground. The operation will need county permits for stormwater and erosion control and a manure storage permit when construction plans are finalized, Tadt said.

County officials and farm representatives will meet again in early November. Tadt said he’s not sure whether the company will have construction plans ready by then.


Crime
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UPDATE: Murder suspect’s blood-speckled shoes to play key role in trial

JANESVILLE

The blood-speckled shoes a Janesville murder suspect allegedly wore while a woman was fatally stabbed in her home in 2017 look like they will be a central piece of evidence during his trial this week.

Rock County prosecutors say the bloody shoeprint left next to Christine Scaccia-Lubeck’s body belongs to Julian D. Collazo, 22, who faces a charge of first-degree intentional homicide.

They also say when police found Collazo and Nicole R. Kazar sleeping in Scaccia-Lubeck’s stolen SUV, Collazo was wearing the red and white Air Jordan shoes, which had small amounts of the victim’s blood on them.

Angela Major 

Julian Collazo looks around the courtroom during his trial Monday at the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville.

Assistant District Attorney Scott Dirks said Scaccia-Lubeck, 43, was “lonely,” “depressed,” and “vulnerable” before her mom found her dead Dec. 9, 2017. Scaccia-Lubeck’s husband had died four months prior, and she began paying Collazo for sex.

Collazo told a fellow inmate in Missouri (where police found him and Kazar) that he had killed a woman who was paying him for sex so he could show another woman he could protect her, Dirks said.

Collazo’s attorney, Jeffrey Jensen, elected to give his opening statement after the prosecution rests its case. He expects Collazo, who pleaded not guilty Feb. 8, 2018, and rejected a plea agreement Thursday, to testify during the trial.

Jensen also said he plans to call Kazar as a witness if the prosecution does not.

Angela Major 

Nicole Kazar appears briefly in the courtroom during Julian Collazo’s trial Monday at the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville. Kazar has been convicted of stealing the murder victim’s car.

The defense in court documents filed ahead of the trial argues Kazar, who was in court Monday and is scheduled to return Wednesday afternoon, is the one who really stabbed Scaccia-Lubeck.

His evidence includes a witness who claims to have heard Kazar confess to the killing, according to the defense.

Kazar was convicted of helping Collazo steal Scaccia-Lubeck’s car after the stabbing. Prosecutors say she did not know about the stabbing until later.

Dirks, who is prosecuting the case with District Attorney David O’Leary, said Collazo met Kazar about five or six days before the stabbing. She was homeless and addicted to crack cocaine, and Dirks said Collazo “became infatuated with her. He wanted to become her pimp.”

Dirks wanted the jury to keep three points in mind.

The first was the span of time Collazo and Kazar were communicating by phone call, text message and video chat—from at least 4:11 p.m. Dec. 8, 2017, until 9:52 that night. It’s a key time period in question for this case.

“In other words, they’re not together,” Dirks said, appearing to try and undercut the defense’s case that Kazar was in the home for the stabbing.

Angela Major 

Assistant District Attorney Scott Dirks gives the opening statement for the prosecution during Julian Collazo’s trial Monday at the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville.

Secondly, Dirks pointed to the different stories Collazo told police.

And finally, there’s the physical evidence, which include Collazo’s DNA being found on beer cans in Scaccia-Lubeck’s trash, her pubic area and under her fingernails.

The physical evidence also includes the shoes, which Janesville identification officer Edward Van Fossen showed the jury.

Three officers from the Janesville Police Department testified Monday about the crime scene, which included blood in the bathroom, hallway and bedroom where the victim was found.

Scaccia-Lubeck’s mother, Diane Somers, was the first witness to testify Monday. She was one of the last people to speak to Scaccia-Lubeck before she died.

She tearfully recalled finding her daughter’s body. After apparently calling 911, she remembered being told to try CPR, to which she said, “It won’t help. She’s ice cold. She’s dead.”

Deborah Scaccia, the victim’s sister, remembered that Scaccia-Lubeck told her about Collazo a week before the stabbing. He had stolen from her, and Scaccia told her not to talk to him anymore, she said.

The jury, which has two alternates, is made up of 10 women and four men. Judge Barbara McCrory is presiding over the trial, which resumes at 8:30 a.m. today.