Paul Raymond Adkins
David “Dave” Bliss
Mary Jane Broedelet
Blake S. Bufalo
Kayla F. “Sis” Crews
Olive M. Frisbee
Richard “Dick” McCann
Beth Agnes Miller-Stoll
Forrest J. Outland
Mary Ann (Robejsik) Rau
Joanna M. Rhodes
Winonna A. “Winnie” Reed
Richard C. “Dick” Schutt
TOWN OF LA PRAIRIE
Residents here filled the town hall Tuesday night to discuss concerns over the possibility of a large-scale chicken farm coming to town.
The meeting was designed to let people voice their concerns and for S&R Egg Farm to share information.
“We want to listen to your concerns and comments, and hopefully then we can address those as necessary,” said Todd Watermolen, environmental engineer for S&R.
Farm representatives approached town officials a year ago about buying more than 100 acres west of Belding Road. They filed an application for the farm in August.
The proposed farm would begin with 900,000 chickens in three buildings before eventually holding 3 million birds in 10 buildings, Town Chairman Allan Arndt told The Gazette on Monday. Initial construction would begin in 2020 before building construction in 2021, Watermolen said.
The town has until Nov. 19 to approve or deny the proposal.
Michelle Carlson lives near the proposed site and said she will be able to see the farm from her front yard. Her concerns were water usage, manure disposal and truck traffic.
“I will actually be able to stand in my front yard and see your facility,” Carlson said.
“I’m not for it because of that,” she said. “I’m going to be looking at the facility and looking at all the trucks. … I don’t approve it. I know I don’t have authority, but no, I don’t stand behind it.”
Watermolen said 25 to 30 trucks would travel to and from the site between 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. More trucks might be present during busier times of year, such as corn harvest time in the fall.
Kimberly Hayward doesn’t live on the truck route, but she was concerned about the trucks and odor, too.
“I can tell you that I did not move out onto County Road J to have trucks move past my house every 21.6 minutes,” Hayward said.
“These are my neighbors,” she said, adding that she doesn’t feel like people have enough say in the matter.
“My elected officials are making decisions for me that doesn’t impact them directly, but it will me because I’ll still hear that noise. Somebody sitting in this room is going to hear that noise,” she said.
The farm would control the smell by drying chicken manure with fans on perforated belts, and the amount of manure spread on fields at the proposed location would be minimal, Watermolen said.
Not everybody was opposed to the idea.
John Lader thinks the project will help keep the area focused on agriculture instead of filling it with housing projects and businesses.
“We’re an agricultural community, and I’d like it to stay that way. ... I think we certainly want to maintain our rural, agricultural community that we fought for for many years. ... I think this is a project we support,” Lader said.
Taxpayers might not notice an increase in their tax bills come December, but the Janesville School District’s tax levy will climb a few notches from last year based on the budget the school board unanimously approved Tuesday.
The board approved a $40.76 million tax levy for 2019-20, an 8.6% increase over last year’s $37.52 million levy.
The main driver in the $3.2 million increase over last year, Chief Financial Officer Dan McCrea said, is that the district opted late last week to include about $4.4 million in additional debt service payments.
That’s a new plan to pay down debt that McCrea said will save the district about $500,000 in interest payments on bonds.
Eight board members in attendance approved the district’s budget—a $152.8 package that’s up about 3.2% over last year’s $148 million budget.
Meanwhile, the district held the line on its tax rate, which determines the school taxes residents pay. The board approved a tax rate of $8.48 per $1,000 of equalized property value, a nominal decrease from last year’s tax rate of $8.51 per $1,000 of equalized property value.
The budget approved Tuesday didn’t mesh with numbers published in a Gazette story Sunday, which included the district’s “preliminary” estimated tax rate of $8.10 per $1,000 of equalized valuation and a tentative tax levy of $35.7 million.
McCrea, who has been the district’s finance director for about a month, said The Gazette’s Sunday story accurately reflected the tentative levy and tax rate as of midweek last week. He said in the interim, the finance team opted to tack on more than $4 million in additional debt service payments.
McCrea said the district had been “most likely not considering” extra debt payments, but that changed late last week. The move complies with a state requirement for school districts to retire debt, he said.
The effect of those payments on the budget was outlined in an overview included in documents dated Oct. 22 and released Friday, McCrea said.
He said the new debt payment plan and other factors, including state aid totals released last week, factored into the “last-minute adjustments” to the budget.
District enrollment affects state aid, and the district’s enrollment decreased by about 170 students compared to last year, according to district records.
Property assessments in the city of Janesville are increasing an average of about 31 percent this fall, but the formula for calculating how much a given resident will pay in school district taxes next year is based on an amalgam of tax rates in various communities that are part of the district.
Higher assessments on homes won’t necessarily mean the average taxpayer will pay more school taxes, McCrea said.
Janesville residents won’t know the full impact of the city’s revaluation until the end of November or early December. McCrea said he doubts residents will see increases in school taxes.
Prosecutors on Tuesday attacked the idea they have accused the wrong person in the Janesville stabbing death of Christine Scaccia-Lubeck, 43.
Julian D. Collazo, 22, is on trial on a charge of first-degree intentional homicide in the death, but the defense has suggested in court documents that a Collazo acquaintance, Nicole R. Kazar, 25, was the one who stabbed Scaccia-Lubeck 33 times at her Janesville home Dec. 8, 2017.
Evidence presented Tuesday indicates Kazar and Collazo were involved in crack cocaine and prostitution, and they were together for part of the night of the stabbing.
Police have characterized Collazo as a homeless man from Texas who had lived in Janesville a short while, and Collazo told police Kazar was working as a prostitute, according to testimony Tuesday.
A Beloit acquaintance of Kazar told the court that early on Dec. 9, 2017—hours after the murder—Kazar and Collazo smoked crack cocaine and drank Bud Light with him before they left town.
Kazar and Collazo were arrested the next night in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, with an SUV that belonged to Scaccia-Lubeck.
An inmate in the Cape Girardeau Police Department jail told police he and others talked to Collazo in the jail, and Collazo told them he stabbed and killed a woman in Janesville.
The inmate, Derek Renshaw, said Collazo yelled Kazar’s name from his jail cell for 30 minutes, asking where she was.
Kazar has been convicted of driving a vehicle without owner consent for driving Scaccia-Lubeck’s SUV after the stabbing.
The jury was shown a video from the Super 8 motel in Janesville that shows for at least part of the night when the stabbing occurred Kazar was at the motel.
Renshaw testified Collazo said he stabbed his Janesville victim multiple times in the abdomen while she was in the bathroom of her home and that she managed to get to the bedroom in an attempt to get a gun before she collapsed.
Collazo said he killed Scaccia-Lubeck to show Kazar that he was loyal to her, Renshaw testified.
Collazo told them Kazar had been prostituting herself, and he was upset that he had not been there to protect her, Renshaw said.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Jensen asked Renshaw if Collazo indicated he would do anything to show Kazar that he was loyal and if Kazar was upset that Collazo had gone to Scaccia-Lubeck’s house, and Renshaw agreed.
The jury also was told about the blood spatter found on Collazo’s white sneakers and a pair of tan pants found in the SUV.
A penny-sized apparent blood stain also was found on Kazar’s leggings.
Kazar told Cape Girardeau police Cpl. Brett Hellmann the blood was from cutting her finger when she was cutting material to make a filter for her crack cocaine pipe, Hellmann testified.
Hellman also testified Kazar told him Collazo had told her that he had killed the woman who owned the SUV.
Witnesses Tuesday also included the Rock County medical examiner, Dr. Vincent Tranchida, who described the wounds and showed autopsy photos of Scaccia-Lubeck’s body.
One juror abruptly got up and asked for a recess during the testimony, when Tranchida was pointing to wounds in a photo of the victim’s heart. The juror said later the photos unexpectedly brought up a memory that caused him to nearly lose consciousness, but he said he could continue as an impartial juror.
Tranchida described wounds from a knife that cut through the sternum and some ribs, hitting the heart several times, collapsing the lungs and hitting a kidney, among other internal injuries.
Assistant District Attorney Scott Dirks wanted to ask Tranchida for an estimate of the time of death, but Jensen objected, saying that estimate was not in Tranchida’s death report and so bringing it up at trial would violate the rule that evidence must be disclosed in advance.
Judge Barbara McCrory sustained the objection. Dirks was able to ask the temperature of the body the morning after the stabbing. Tranchida said it was 68 degrees, the same as the air temperature in the house.
Janesville police Detective Thomas Bechen testified Collazo eventually admitted he had a sexual relationship with Scaccia-Lubeck and said she had paid him for sex.
Collazo told the detective Kazar didn’t know Scaccia-Lubeck and had not been at her house, Bechen testified.
Jensen asked Bechen if Collazo’s answers might have been intended to cover up for someone. Dirks objected, saying the question asked for speculation, and McCrory agreed.
Bechen showed the shoes he believed Kazar was wearing the night of the stabbing and said their tread pattern did not match the bloody footprint found at the murder scene.
An officer testified Monday the bloody footprint matches the tread of the shoes Collazo was wearing.
Jurors on Tuesday morning watched video from a liquor store showing Scaccia-Lubeck and Collazo as they bought beer the night she died.
The security camera recording showed the two entering the Grain & Grape on East Racine Street and buying two cartons of Bud Light.
A portion of a Bud Light carton was found in Scaccia-Lubeck’s SUV.
The prosecution is expected to rest its case late Wednesday morning. The defense witness list includes Kazar and a woman who was with Kazar in jail and says Kazar admitted she killed Scaccia-Lubeck, according to a defense document.