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Carolyn Kaster 

President Donald Trump talks to media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, for the short trip to Andrews Air Force Base en route to Philadelphia to attend the Army-Navy Football Game. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


Crime
Teen driver charged in Janesville traffic death

JANESVILLE

A teenager accused of killing a woman in a traffic crash on Milton Avenue was weaving through traffic at high speed to get to a restaurant, according to a criminal complaint filed in Rock County Court on Monday.

Ty M. Matijevich, 17, of 3743 Red Stone Drive, Janesville, is charged with homicide by negligent driving.

Matijevich was speeding north on Milton Avenue shortly before 11:45 a.m. Oct. 19 when a southbound car driven by Merilyn Mitchell of Milton turned left to enter the Janesville Mall parking lot, according to the complaint.

Matijevich was speeding and braked one second before the crash, which slowed his Chevrolet Cobalt to 77 mph, according to the complaint.

Mitchell, 74, was driving a Cadillac. She was pronounced dead at Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville.

Jim Dayton 

This Oct. 19, 2018, file photo shows the two-vehicle crash on Milton Avenue at Refset Drive that killed 74-year-old Merilyn Mitchell. Ty Matijevich, 17, a Parker High School student, is charged with homicide by negligent driving in the crash.

Lt. Charles Aagaard of the Janesville Police Department said Matijevich had a green light, but according to state law, he gave up his right of way by speeding.

Witnesses, including a passenger in Matijevich’s car, said he was weaving through traffic before the crash.

The passenger, also a 17-year-old boy, told police Matijevich’s driving scared him, and he warned Matijevich he was going to get pulled over, according to the complaint, and he said Matijevich drove as if he were in a movie chase scene.

The passenger said they were coming from Parker High School and were headed to Famous Dave’s BBQ, according to the complaint. The school is about 5 miles from the restaurant.

Matijevich later told officers he was traveling 40 mph to 45 mph, and when told witnesses said different, he said he might have been going 50 to 55 mph, according to the complaint.

A State Patrol analysis of the Cobalt’s data showed that at five seconds before the crash, the throttle was at 99 percent, and the speed was 76 mph, according to the complaint.

The speed increased to 83 mph at about 1.5 seconds before the crash, according to the analysis, but the brake was applied, and the car slowed to 77 mph at one-half second before the crash.

Angela Major 

Ty Matijevich listens to his attorney, Michael Murphy, during a court appearance Monday at the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville.

In court Monday, Assistant District Attorney Cheniqua White asked that Matijevich not be allowed to drive while the case is pending. She said he has no previous criminal record.

Defense attorney Michael Murphy said Matijevich is in the construction program at Parker and is required to drive to the job site.

Court commissioner Larry Barton released Matijevich on a signature bond with conditions that he not drive without a valid driver’s license and insurance.

A preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 14.


Angela Major 

Frost covers trees on St. Lawrence Avenue in Janesville.


Government
Janesville City Council leaves door open to pay for housing infrastructure

Ryan McCue

JANESVILLE

Overriding a city staff recommendation, the Janesville City Council has left the door open for the city to pay for public infrastructure to encourage private residential development.

Deputy City Manager Ryan McCue said Monday that a public-private team had “agreed to disagree” over the city’s role in paying for improvements for private residential developments, including water and sewer lines, street improvements and streetlights.

The council decided to give the team more time to find something that works for both the city and private developers.

The city had paid for such services since at least the 1980s. It stopped in 2016 after losing money on services provided to subdivisions that were never developed.

In response to the recent push for more housing, the public-private team was formed to explore the possibility of paying for services again to spark new construction.

The seven-person group, including four people in real estate and three city staff members, met twice in November.

McCue, Finance Director Max Gagin and Clerk-Treasurer Dave Godek all believed that the city cannot take the risk of financing infrastructure for private residential construction. Previous deals caused the city to lose $2.2 million in special assessments and increase its debt service by nearly $1.5 million to recoup its losses, according to a city memorandum.

McCue said Monday the team had reached an impasse, so he didn’t see the benefit of continuing to meet. He recommended the council keep the policy as is because the city would have “no financial gain” in getting involved.

Gagin said financing this type of residential project would make it difficult to write an agreement that would give the city guaranteed value—a standard component of most tax increment financing deals.

But two private-sector team members, Scott Bever and Deb Dongarra, spoke during public comment and said they wanted more time to work with the city. They believed they could find something that would work.

McCue argued the team’s “decision-making matrix”—a ranking system of different guidelines—made it clear that a developer fronting the full cost of infrastructure was the best option because it received the best overall score.

Bever and Dongarra said the council’s arbitrary deadline—to reach an agreement with the city by the first December council meeting—had squeezed the team’s productivity. They wanted to develop a more detailed list of definitions and criteria that would minimize Janesville’s risk.

Saying there was room for more analysis and communication, the council decided to refer the item back to the team for more discussion. It set no deadline for an answer this time.


Obituaries and death notices for Dec. 11, 2018

Michael J. Bailey

Patricia Ann Engen

Deborra L. Gretschmann

Roger L. Lentz

William “Bill” Leopold Jr.

James C. McDade

Thomas Edward McGrath

Jared P. Swanson

Kenneth J. Wolnick


Local
Police say lunch time reckless driving doesn't have an easy fix

JANESVILLE

Every lunch hour, Randall and Mineral Point avenues are crowded with high school students driving to find food.

They’re new drivers, they’re hungry and they have limited time for lunch. As a result, speeding and reckless driving are common, police told The Gazette.

A Parker High School student on lunch break was driving to a Milton Avenue restaurant Oct. 19 when his vehicle collided with a Cadillac, killing a Milton woman, according to court documents. Investigators estimate the student was driving 83 mph in the moments leading up to the crash.

Janesville police acknowledged lunchtime driving is a problem, but it’s one without a simple fix.

Time, business interests, academic priorities and the nature of youth all have to be balanced in the equation.

At Craig High School, students enter the south parking lot from East Racine Street or Randall Avenue. But at lunchtime and at the end of the day, they all exit onto Randall Avenue. At Parker High School, Mineral Point Avenue is the exit and entrance point.

At both schools, students have a 40-minute break in the middle of the day—30 minutes for lunch with five minutes of passing time before and after, said Parker High School Resource Officer Todd Bailey.

Students have to get from classrooms to their cars and then out of the parking lot—at the same time as dozens of others are attempting the same thing—before lines at even the closest restaurants get too long. As a result, even a short trip can consume all 30 minutes.

Young people driving recklessly has always been an issue, but until a few decades ago, few high school students had cars, Craig Resource Officer Brian Foster said. The volume of young drivers has become part of the problem.

Solutions suggested include:

  • Ticketing speeders and reckless drivers: “We can ticket until we are blue in the face, but the next day they’ll be right back out there,” Foster said.

Positioning squad cars near problematic spots has much the same impact. Even on the first day of stepped-up traffic enforcement, students spot the cars and then text their friends to let them know what’s going on.

Time is a factor, too. Janesville Police Sgt. Aaron Ellis, who is in charge of school resource officers, said they’ve stepped up enforcement on Fremont Street near Craig High at the request of residents. The street has fewer traffic controls, and students were using the route to make up time if they were late.

In the time it takes an officer to issue a single ticket, lunch hour would be over.

  • Give students more time for lunch: “For me, personally, I’d like to see them have a little more time for lunch,” Bailey said. “I’m not going to say it’s going to be a cure-all, but it might help.”

He also acknowledged habits aren’t that easily broken, and students might simply use the extra time to go farther afield.

“It’s like that person who is always 10 minutes late for work at 9 a.m.,” Bailey said. “Move his start time up to 10 a.m. and he’ll still be late.”

Ellis said cutting into academic time for a longer lunch period didn’t seem like a great solution.

  • Close the campuses: Milton High School has a closed campus. Students are not allowed to leave for lunch.

But neither Parker nor Craig has enough cafeteria space to accommodate additional lunch shifts, Foster and Bailey each said. Both schools already have two lunch periods to maximize the use of cafeteria space.

In addition, many of the businesses near the high schools depend on student traffic, Ellis said.

Both school resource officers said they work with the tools they have. If they see speeding or reckless driving or hear reports of it, the students are warned that their lunch and parking privileges could be restricted or taken away.

For a student driving to school, that would mean parking several blocks away or taking the bus. That threat seems to work better than anything else.

Janesville School District Superintendent Steve Pophal said school officials and resource officers use the tools they have.

He said traffic crashes such as the one that killed the Milton woman could happen at any time—before school, after school, at night or on the weekends.


Ryan McCue