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Angela Major 

Pam Kuffer carries a white pumpkin out of a field Tuesday, September 10, 2019, in Janesville. She and her husband, John Kuffer, sell pumpkins at the two Janesville farmers markets, the Whitewater farmers market and the Jefferson Farmers Market. They also sell pumpkins at their Janesville farm on West Miles Road.


Local
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Janesville School District passes tentative budget, assessments addressed

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JANESVILLE

It’s one of those riddles taxpayers are loath to consider.

If the assessed value of my home goes up 30%, will my school taxes go up 30%?

The math sees to make sense, but the reasoning is faulty, Janesville School District Finance Director Daniel McCrea told the school board Tuesday.

He made the statement during a presentation of the tentative budget for the 2019-20 school year.

The budget calls for total spending of $121.45 million, down from $121.55 million last year. Of that, $35.7 million will be covered by local property taxes. That’s down from $37.52 million last year, a decrease of 4.85%.

For taxpayers, that translates to an estimated tax of $8.10 per $1,000 of property value, down from last year’s $8.51, a decrease of 4.82%.

But the city of Janesville’s revaluation process has some people concerned.

McCrea explained it this way: Everyone is in the same pool and it’s half filled with water. When the water rises, all the boats rise. That’s the value of housing going up. But the amount of tax money needed for schools remains fixed at $35.7 million, and that amount will be spread across a deeper pool.

In the budget documents that came with the agenda, McCrea explained it this way: “... the entire community experienced a revaluation, and the district levy is spread across the entire community.”

The documents also explain that the district levy is calculated using equalized value, not individual parcel value.

School districts, counties and vocational schools often collect property taxes from several municipalities with different assessors and different assessment schedules. Equalized valuation strives to impose one consistent standard in estimating the taxable value of each municipality. Then levies from school districts, counties and other overlying districts can be fairly apportioned to each municipality.

The school district budget will not be finalized until October, when the district gets its last round of money from the state.

New items in the 2019-20 budget include:

  • The addition of a 10th-grade health class. The school district meets the state requirement for health classes, but high school staff felt the addition was needed, said Craig High School Principal Alison Bjoin.

Bjoin pointed to adverse childhood experience scores. Rock County’s score is one of the highest in the state. Adverse childhood experiences, such as having a parent in jail or witnessing domestic violence, can lead to mental health problems and other issues as kids get older.

In addition, the district’s traditional health class is taught in eighth grade, and some subjects, such as human reproduction, might be better taught at an older age, she said.

  • An estimated $133,000 for bathrooms at Rock University High School. The high school, which is housed in Blackhawk Technical College, has expanded to about 70 students. Blackhawk would like to place it in a different part of the building with more space, and is remodeling to accommodate the Rock University High School’s needs.

The school district is paying for the bathrooms. At the meeting, Superintendent Steven Pophal stressed that the district doesn’t pay Blackhawk Technical College rent, and the addition of bathrooms was a fair way to share costs.

  • The elimination of course fees and a new fund for athletic uniforms.

Fees used to be charged for courses where students needed special material or tools. Pophal said it had come to their attention that students were not taking classes because of the fees, and they wanted to change that.

A fund to pay for uniforms was a regular part of the budget until all of the cutbacks after Act 10. As a result, parents had to pick up those costs.


Obituaries and death notices for Sept. 11, 2019

Jessie “Grandma Jessie” Arnold

Carol L. Burns

Sandra Marie Carroll

Delores (Smith) Church

Brandon R. Clift

Yvonne C. Cross

Derek L. Garber

Athanas “Tony” Georgalas

Helen Gray

Melburn “Bud” J. Hammer

Nicholas A. Haviland

Gene Edwin Krug

Phillip A. Lobrano

Mildred “Milly” Probst

Shirley M. Ross

Vernice Ruth Stark


Angela Major 

John Kuffer carries a white pumpkin to a patch of grass while sorting them to be sold at farmers markets Tuesday, September 10, 2019, in Janesville.


Angela Major 

Pam Kuffer carries squash as she harvests squash and pumpkins with her husband, John, on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, in Janesville.


Business
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Janesville company to start commercial CBD oil production

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JANESVILLE

A Janesville company that shifted gears into hemp products this year aims to start commercial processing of CBD oil later this fall at a property on the city’s south side.

Simply Solutions, a manufacturer of natural personal-care products, confirmed Tuesday that it’s retooling a 30,000-square-foot building at 401 E. Conde St. to ramp up contract production of cannabidiol oil—better known as CBD oil—for the homeopathic health care market.

The company, which launched at the Janesville Innovation Center, plans to move out of about 8,000 square feet it leases at the center and into a building that once housed Diamond Assets, an electronics dealer, in October.

The company said its plans will dovetail with the fall hemp harvest. It wants to become a conduit for local hemp growers who want their crop processed into CBD oil—a nonintoxicating, legal ingredient in hemp used in numerous personal-care products and for treating certain medical conditions.

Over the last two years, Simply Solutions has branched out from its signature personal-care products, including Lip Loob lip balm. It recently has made inroads with a natural, nontoxic liquid designed for use in fog machines in military, police and fire department training.

Earlier this year, Simply Solutions officials told The Gazette about plans to pivot into CBD, a burgeoning industry, although it still is blazing new trails in health care.

CBD oil is considered legal to sell and obtain under new federal rules that allow hemp product sales. Products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, the high-inducing active ingredient in hemp’s cousin, marijuana, remain strictly controlled or illegal in many states.

Simply Solutions COO Mark Schweiger said the company hopes to use its status as a licensed, clean-room producer of personal-care products to separate itself from a mostly unregulated network of CBD oil producers.

Simply Solutions uses a proprietary process that it says is cleaner and more efficient than other CBD extraction processes, and the company already is set up to handle organic products, including organic hemp.

“We continue to be really positive about the fact that we’ve got this clean production process that really gives us an advantage in the marketplace,” Schweiger said. “It gives us the ability to have a certified organic product. So if we get certified organic hemp, we can have an organic CBD oil or distillate, or whatever we’re making.

“It’s exciting and different and differentiates us in the marketplace.”

Company CEO Mark Goepfert has said the biggest task was finding investors to provide startup capital for CBD production, which is still viewed with skepticism in some lending circles.

That’s mainly because federal lending regulations still place hemp products in the same class as marijuana products, despite the fact that federal law has removed hemp from the list of cannabis plants that remain prohibited in some states.

Schweiger declined to discuss Simply Solutions’ financing or its move to a bigger facility. But he said the company is in a financial position to move forward on its CBD plans and can begin production at the new location this year.

He said Simply Solutions will use about two-thirds of the building for production of various products, including hemp.

A recent national public health crisis has been linked to vaping—or inhaling vaporized liquid nicotine and marijuana mixtures using vape devices or e-cigarettes. More than 400 people in dozens of states have developed serious lung disease and at least six have died.

National health studies, including one that examined Wisconsin patients sickened by vaping, indicated that some patients had been vaping liquid CBD oil in addition to other liquids.

The medical community so far has not determined an exact cause or specific product linked to the lung disease. That’s in part, health experts have said, because many of the branded vaping liquids are unregulated and contain unknown chemicals.

Schweiger said the CBD oil that Simply Solutions will produce will be sold on contract to private sellers, but the company will test its products for purity at several points before they reach consumers.

“We will be tracking all the way from the field to the final customer, and we will be testing along the way on a consistent basis, both internally and through third-party testing, to verify that our products are what we say that they are,” he said.

“We actually welcome further regulation in this industry. That will force some of the people who are not offering credible products out of the market, or at least really force them to change the way they’re marketing their products.”