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Town Square Gran Prix bike races will close streets, and limit parking downtown


The shape of the Janesville Town Square Gran Prix bicycle race course is a different than last year’s races, but the bottom line will be the same for anybody heading into downtown Janesville on Tuesday.

All day Tuesday—from 7:30 a.m. into late evening—a slew of streets along the riverfront downtown will be closed,  and parking around downtown will be limited as the Tour of America’s Dairyland makes its second stop in Janesville.

Last year, a swath of several blocks of East and West Milwaukee Street on both sides of the Rock River were shut down and blockaded to clear the streets for the hundreds of racers competing in the closed-circuit bike races that circled blocks of the city’s downtown.

This year, the bulk of West Milwaukee Street and most cross streets west of South Jackson Street will remain open during the races. That’s because the race course this year is centered on a stretch of East and West Court Street, with blocks closest to the riverfront serving as turns in a dog bone-shaped course.

The course was reconfigured this year in large part because the Milwaukee Street Bridge over the Rock River remains closed.

Paul Murphy, a lead local organizer of the Gran Prix, said the course’s reconfigure should alleviate the impact to parking on blocks along West Milwaukee Street that are west of South Jackson Street and north of Dodge Street.

But parking will be at a premium, as side streets and designated parking lots for racers, spectators and customers and employees of downtown businesses are expected to fill up early in the day before the

Streets inside the perimeter of the race course will be closed, including:

--Streets on the east side of the river between East Wall Street and St. Lawrence Avenue and Parker Place.

--Streets on the west side of the river between McKinley, South High and Dodge Streets, and a two block stretch of South River Street from just north of the Janesville Transit System’s downtown terminal to Dodge Street.

Those streets will be fenced off to protect racers who’ll compete in the Gran Prix during a daylong set of races, and side streets will have concrete barriers that will prevent all traffic except emergency and service vehicles from entering.

Gran Prix organizers say like last year, customers downtown will notice crews begin shut down streets and block them to traffic starting at about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. Pedestrians will be allowed to access sidewalks and cross streets within the race area using six designated crosswalks located throughout the course.

Parking is scattered in several lots around the Gran Prix race area, and it will be marked to indicate what lots are being designated for race spectators and racers. Other lots will be designated as private parking. After streets are shut down Tuesday morning, people will not be allowed to drive vehicles or park inside the blocked off race area.

Similar to last year, Murphy said, race organizers inside the race area will have two golf carts: one designated to help people who need to reach businesses; another to courier small package deliveries to businesses within the race area that otherwise would be cut off from deliveries all day on Tuesday.

Murphy said organizers have worked with the U.S. Postal Service to designate a space within the race area where people can handle business at the downtown post office.

Ryan Murphy, a Battalion Chief with the Janesville Fire Department said the fire department and the police department plan a race day detail that’s similar to last year’s races. He said like last year, the city will have a race command post outside the race area. Police patrols will be monitoring the race area, and the fire department will have two paramedics on bicycle and a utility vehicle available to respond to any emergencies.

If Tuesday brings rain, races will continue, but Murphy said the Gran Prix this year has setting up four designated indoor shelters along the race where spectators can take shelter during severe weather. Three privately-owned buildings along the course are available on the west side of the river, and one location is on the east side of the river.

At last year’s Gran Prix, a mid-afternoon storm squall brought wind, heavy rains and lightning that halted the races for an hour. During the storm, bars and restaurants within the race area encouraged crowds and racers to come in out of the rain and wind.

“If it looks like the emergency shelter locations are focused on the west side of the river, that’s because it’s the area along the course that’s got the least amount of private access for people to get inside. The way the race is set up this year, the part of the (race) course west of the river is the area that lacks bars and restaurants and places where people can get in and get shelter,” Murphy said.

Angela Major 

From left, Erik Knutson, Nathan Baumeister, Kyle Warda, Ne’anni Bowman, Nick Jacobus, Cameron Welsh, secretary Nicole Barrington and Sgt. Nick Brown stand in a hallway at the Rock County Jail during a tour Thursday in Janesville.

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Knudson: Sheriff's office will not change marijuana enforcement after Illinois legalization


Rock County Sheriff Troy Knudson says marijuana legalization in Illinois will not change how his office enforces Wisconsin’s marijuana laws.

“That state line now is a significant division between legal marijuana and illegal marijuana,” Knudson said.

The Illinois Legislature in May voted to allow possession and sales of recreational marijuana. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign the bill into law this week.

Illinois, now the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana, would be the first state to do so through the Legislature. All other states approved legalizing marijuana through voter referendum.

Only medical dispensaries in Illinois would be permitted to grow marijuana once the law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020. Craft growers may apply for licenses next year, according to the Chicago Tribune, and medical dispensaries and new retail stores would be able to sell it with a license.

In an interview with The Gazette, Knudson, who is one of six Wisconsin sheriffs serving counties bordering Illinois, said he “absolutely” believes more marijuana will flow into Rock County after Jan. 1.

Knudson said he wasn’t “terribly surprised” Illinois marched forward with legalization—but he said it likely will lead to a rise in arrests and marijuana use while driving in Rock County, which will cause highway safety issues and boost the office’s enforcement load.

While already a priority, Knudson said detecting drugged driving will become a more pressing “training priority” in the wake of legalization. That could mean the office would seek to train more deputies to be able to determine if a motorist is driving under the influence of marijuana, Knudson said.

Still, the office’s approach to marijuana largely will be unchanged after Jan. 1, Knudson said.

“Until statutory changes (in Wisconsin) take place, I don’t anticipate a huge difference in the way we would investigate driving under the influence cases, whether it be marijuana or alcohol,” Knudson said. “... Just because it’s now legal on the other side of the line doesn’t change anything on this side of the line.”

Knudson said the office does not plan to set up marijuana checkpoints unless there is a change in Wisconsin statute, which prohibits police from stopping motorists without probable cause.

At the Rock County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council meeting Thursday, Beloit Police Chief David Zibolski said legal recreational marijuana in Illinois will have “a large impact.” He said the department is working with community service providers to schedule sessions next month to educate the public.

“There’s a lot of discussion in Wisconsin on similar lines. ... I think it’s also another issue that our public at large does not know very much about, does not understand,” Zibolski said at the meeting.

Walworth County Sheriff Kurt Picknell was unavailable for an interview. In a statement, he raised concerns about the new law and forwarded a study to The Gazette from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a federally-funded program accused of using incorrect and misleading data in reports.

“I am concerned about (legal marijuana) because of its proximity to the state and Walworth County,” Picknell said in the statement. “We will continue to address this issue through enforcement and education similar to other bordering states that have not adopted legalizing marijuana within the United States.”

Knudson said its unknown if legalization across the border will require more personnel at the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. He said the office will monitor the workload in early 2020 to determine if more resources are needed, such as additional staff.

“There will be certainly an increase on these types of cases. But I think we’re going to have to see how big that increase is before we can look at that sort of extreme step,” Knudson said.

Illinois’ move to legalize marijuana comes after nearly 1 million Wisconsin residents supported legalizing marijuana in some capacity on advisory referendums in 16 counties and two cities in November. In Rock County, 69% of voters supported legalizing recreational marijuana.

Obituaries and death notices for June 24, 2019

Dean W. Braun

Joan Marie Sands

Patricia E. Schaller

Donald James Truman

Timothy A. Zingshiem