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Town of Beloit votes to keep open the option to submit another incorporation bid


The Beloit Town Board voted Monday to keep open the option to resubmit an incorporation petition with the state.

In January, Rock County Judge Barbara McCrory gave the town until March 15 to notify the court if it planned to file a new petition after the state denied the town’s first bid to incorporate into a village in December.

Board members voted unanimously Monday night to let McCrory know the town intends to file a new petition. Town officials maintained they could ultimately decide not to refile, depending on how discussions about a new application shake out.

The state’s Incorp-oration Review Board ruled the town’s initial proposal did not meet four of the six statutory requirements for incorporation. The review board is allowing the town to resubmit a petition, and the $25,000 application fee will be waived if the town files by the end of the year.

Interim Town Administrator Gene Wright said Monday the town will go back to the drawing board and and see if it can flesh out a new petition that meets all the statutory requirements. The town board will create two committees made up of board members and residents to discuss an updated petition.

“The bones of the petition are there,” Wright said of reworking the incorporation petition. “We don’t have to start over. We just have to go back and clean up and revamp.”

Before the regular board meeting Monday, officials hosted an incorporation workshop, where Wright detailed possible changes to a new bid.

Among the changes discussed were:

  • A smaller village.

The town could shrink the size of the proposed village compared to its size in the previous proposal. The new west-side boundary would be at Duggan Road; the town previously suggested incorporating everything east of County D/Afton Road.

Wright said the new proposed boundaries could change further.

  • Being more realistic about future development.

Frank McKearn, the town’s engineer, said the town’s original application was too optimistic about future development.

  • Propose that the remaining town of Beloit share assets with the new village.

Wright suggested that sharing assets with the remnant town could mean the town would own portions of the new village’s buildings.

Wright said the town’s debt services, which were problematic for the state review board, will be less of an issue in an updated petition. The town was up to 74 percent of its debt service limit when it filed last year.

The town is refinancing some of that debt, so it will be up to 54 percent of its debt service limit in a new bid, Finance Director Sara Regenauer said.

McKearn said the town could decide to scrap a new petition if the town board determines the new application wouldn’t meet statutory requirements.

Resident Dave Sterna, who has long been involved in incorporation discussions, spoke during the workshop’s public comment portion and asked if board members are seeking to incorporate to protect the town’s boundaries or secure money from a new Alliant Energy power plant. Sterna would have been living in the remnant town of Beloit had the incorporation petition been approved.

An Alliant Energy plant already exists in the town, but the utility is building a new one. The town receives about $1 million a year from the plant, and Rock County receives about $1.7 million.

If the town were to incorporate, the new village would receive about $2.9 million a year once the new plant is completed, and the county would receive $1.9 million.

“In your minds, what’s more important: Is it the borders or is it the money?” Sterna asked. “It would be interesting to know.”

Grant Blankenship 

Residents of Talbotton, Ga. pray together outside a home destroyed by a tornado the day after storms battered Alabama and Georgia, Monday, March 4, 2019. (Grant Blankenship /The Macon Telegraph via AP)

Mickey Welsh 

Hunter Lashley searches through the debris that was his home near Beauregard, Ala., on Monday, March 4, 2019. The mobile home was destroyed by the fatal tornado on Sunday afternoon. (Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

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‘Who wants to die tonight?’ Details released from Darien murder-suicide


Standing in a Darien apartment with a bullet in his chest, William W. Swift pleaded for someone to call 911.

Rebecca L. Kohs and her friend who lived in the apartment searched the living room for a phone.

But as the friend dialed 911, Steven W. Kohs—the man Rebecca was divorcing—stormed back inside and said “Who wants to die tonight?”

Then he started shooting again.

The friend told police she ran down the hallway while on the phone and grabbed two children to hide them in a bathtub behind the shower curtain.

Steven shot Swift eight times. He shot Rebecca in the head, but she survived.

Responding officers at about midnight on Dec. 2 found Steven laying near his van outside the apartment in a pool of blood, dead from two apparent gunshot wounds to his chest and head.

The details of the case come from police reports obtained by The Gazette from an open-records request. They contain more information than police had in the days after the shooting.

Delavan Police Chief Jim Hansen said Monday his department considers the murder-suicide case closed.

He said it appears Steven was also trying to kill Rebecca, who was treated and released from a hospital.

‘Stop panicking’

Rebecca, her friend and the two children had gone to the friend’s apartment Dec. 1 to watch Christmas movies. After the kids fell asleep, Swift, who was described as a friend, arrived.

The night before the shooting, Rebecca and Steven discussed a divorce, she later told police. Online court records show Rebecca had filed for divorce on Feb. 5, 2018, but the case was dismissed about five weeks later.

The friend told police the plan had been to file divorce papers the week following the shooting.

Steven, the friend said, had threatened her and Rebecca before. Steven had also said he would end his own life, she said.

A woman who said she had known Rebecca, 39, and Steven, 34, for about six years told police Steven reached out to her via Facebook Messenger the week before the shooting. He asked what it was like being a single parent.

The two agreed to meet. But when Steven asked about getting dinner Dec. 1—hours before the shooting—the woman said that night didn’t work for her.

But Steven showed up unannounced to her home that night anyway—pounding on her front door and later her patio door, ringing her doorbell and sending her more Facebook messages. The woman told police she hid in her bathroom.

The woman said Steven told her to “stop panicking and to answer the door,” according to the reports. He asked her how mad she was on a scale of 1 to 10.

Steven later called and left a message, apologizing.

Steven also called Rebecca and her friend’s home that night, first saying there was something wrong with his dad. When Rebecca answered and asked about Steven’s father, he asked why Swift was at the apartment.

After more questions from Steven, Rebecca then heard the front doorknob jiggle. Steven entered the apartment and announced he was going to kill everyone.

The friend, who had fallen asleep about 30 minutes earlier, said she heard “pop pop pop.” She walked into the living room, where Swift, bleeding from a chest wound, told her to call 911.

Moments later, Steven returned and fired several more shots.

‘Our communities’

A few days later, Rebecca told police she was being harassed about the incident through her social media pages.

Because Rebecca lived in Walworth, the village’s police agency handled that investigation.

Walworth Police Chief Ryan Milligan said Monday none of the messages showed criminal intent, so police offered Rebecca advice on how to deal with it.

Hansen said such a case was “absolutely” rare for the village of Darien, a village with a population of about 1,600.

“We hate seeing this happen in our communities,” he said.

Another killing just 4 miles away in the town of Delavan also involved a husband and wife considering divorce.

About one month after the Darien shooting, Robert J. Scott, 56, fatally stabbed his wife, Rochelle R. Scott, 58, according to a criminal complaint. Walworth County prosecutors charged Robert with first-degree intentional homicide. His case is ongoing.

A ‘generous soul’

Swift, 48, was a professional roofer who loved his nieces and nephews as if they were his own children, according to his obituary. He enjoyed being on his boat on sunny days and his snowmobile in the winter.

“William would light the room with one flash of those pearly whites,” the obituary states. “His smile could be seen across a football field.”

Swift, who was also known as Billy, learned from his parents how to be a “generous soul.”

As an organ donor, Swift “gifted life” to more than 15 others, the obituary states.

“Billy will live on.”

House Democrats launch aggressive new Trump probe


Democrats launched a sweeping new probe of President Donald Trump on Monday, an aggressive investigation that threatens to shadow the president through the 2020 election season with potentially damaging inquiries into his White House, campaign and family businesses.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said his panel was beginning the probe into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power and is sending document requests to 81 people linked to the president and his associates.

The broad investigation could be setting the stage for an impeachment effort, although Democratic leaders have pledged to investigate all avenues and review special counsel Robert Mueller’s upcoming report before trying any drastic action. Nadler said the document requests, with responses to most due by March 18, are a way to “begin building the public record.”

“Over the last several years, President Trump has evaded accountability for his near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical, and constitutional rules and norms,” Nadler said. “Investigating these threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress and a core function of the House Judiciary Committee.”

Trump dismissed the Nadler probe and others as futile efforts “in search of a crime.”

“Ridiculous!” he exclaimed on Twitter.

Separate congressional probes are already swirling around the president, including an effort announced Monday by three other House Democratic chairmen to obtain information about private conversations between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a letter to the White House and State Department, the House intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform panels sent broad requests for details about Trump and Putin’s private meetings by phone and in person. In addition to document requests, the committees are asking to interview interpreters who sat in on meetings, including a one-on-one session in Helsinki last summer.

The State Department pledged to “work cooperatively with the committees.”

The new probes signal that now that Democrats hold a majority in the House, Trump’s legal and political peril is nowhere near over, even as the special counsel’s Russia investigation reportedly winds down.

They are also an indication of the Democrats’ current strategy—to flood the administration with oversight requests, keeping Trump and his associates on trial publicly while also playing a long game when it comes to possible impeachment. While some more liberal members of the Democratic caucus would like to see Trump impeached now, Democratic leaders have been more cautious.

Trump told reporters after Nadler’s probe was announced that “I cooperate all the time with everybody.”

He added: “You know, the beautiful thing? No collusion. It’s all a hoax.”

Mueller is investigating Russian intervention in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia. But the House probes go far beyond collusion. The House intelligence panel has announced a separate probe not only into the Russian interference but also Trump’s foreign financial interests. The Oversight and Reform Committee has launched multiple investigations into all facets of the administration.

The 81 names and entities on the Judiciary Committee’s list touch all parts of Trump’s life—the White House, his businesses, his campaign and the committee that oversaw the transition from campaign to presidency. There are also people connected to Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, including participants in a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer before the election.

The committee is also asking the FBI, the Justice Department and others for documents related to possible pardons for Trump’s former personal lawyerMichael Cohen, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. All three have been charged in Mueller’s investigation.

In a request sent to the White House, the committee asks for information surrounding former FBI Director James Comey’s termination, communications with Justice Department officials, the Trump Tower meeting and multiple other matters. Trump Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the White House had received the letter and “the counsel’s office and relevant White House officials will review it and respond at the appropriate time.”

The panel’s list includes two of the president’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, and many of his current and former close advisers, including Steve Bannon, longtime spokeswoman Hope Hicks, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer and former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

The letters to Hicks and Spicer ask them to turn over any work diaries, journals or “a description of daily events related to your employment” by Trump. The committee asked McGahn for documents related to any discussion involving Trump regarding the possibility of firing Mueller around June 2017 “or any conversation in which President Trump stated, in words or substance, that he wanted the Mueller investigation shut down, restrained or otherwise limited in or around December 2017.”

The committee seeks from Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer who called Trump a “con man” and a “cheat” in congressional testimony last week, “any audio or video recordings” of conversations with Trump or conversations about his presidential campaign.

The list of document requests also includes the National Rifle Association and Trump’s embattled charitable foundation, which he is shutting down after agreeing to a court-supervised process.

Obituaries and death notices for March 5, 2019

James W. Arthur Jr.

Carol J. Behrens

Sandra June Bjerke

Mary Alice Brown

June Mary Elizabeth Dobbs

Elvia Liz Drews

Arthur G. Howe

William C. “Bill” Iverson

Theodore J. Keener Sr.

Gerald Dean Lambert

Dorothy Mahlum

Beverly Jean Mauerman

Irving “Bud” Reinke

Dorothy Genevieve (James) Scharine

Loretta J. Schmitt

Bibiane Duncan Vilona

flag of venezuela waving in the wind - clipping path included

Matt York 

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives as Phoenix Suns forward Richaun Holmes, left, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 4, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)