A group of downtown Janesville stakeholders is asking local residents to ante up in ongoing private efforts to revive the riverfront.
ARISEnow, a group that’s spurring a privately-funded revival of downtown alongside the city’s ARISE revitalization strategy, unveiled a $1.5 million “community” funding campaign at a private business lunch Thursday at the Pontiac Convention Center.
The campaign will pay for specialty lighting for three bridges over the Rock River downtown and upgrades to technology and educational spaces at the Janesville Performing Arts Center.
ARISEnow has raised $4.8 million so far for revitalization projects downtown along the Rock River.
The group, which is composed of local business stakeholders, announced a year ago it had a “multiyear” plan to reach $10 million in pledges. Fundraising so far has been “quiet,” but it has tapped some local business leaders and philanthropists with deep pockets, local banker Larry Squire said.
The group has collected at least two separate donations of $1 million earmarked for private projects in the riverfront corridor adjacent to the new town square and festival street, which the city is completing along South River and South Water streets.
Some of those donor dollars so far have helped galvanize several projects, including an interactive, fountain-like water feature, a gateway entrance to the new festival street and a future pedestrian bridge that ARISEnow said will span the Rock River between the bridges at Milwaukee and Court streets.
Meanwhile, the city has committed to a more than $40 million infusion of public spending on infrastructure and streetscaping projects downtown, some through the ARISE strategy.
The new fundraising push announced Thursday has a more general target: It’s aimed at the city’s 63,000 populace.
Squire, who leads ARISEnow’s fundraising committee, made the campaign announcement Thursday as he hoisted a T-shirt that posed the question “Are you in?” to the 380 or so members of the local business community.
Squire told them that downtown Janesville’s nascent revival is “ready to rock and roll.”
He said people should consider a hotel development, apartment development proposals and a recently announced multimillion-dollar Blackhawk Community Credit Union development—plus new events such as this summer’s downtown bicycle race—as signs that the city’s core has reached a turning point.
Those signs of activity occur even as major infrastructure work rolls out, including a months-long bridge replacement on Milwaukee Street and a complete reworking of West Milwaukee Street in 2021.
“We are at a spot that I’ve never seen in the years I’ve been here. We are so fortunate to be at this spot—and ready to rock and roll,” he said.
ARISEnow leaders said Thursday that the $1.5 million goal would fuel two major projects:
The first is a $1 million project involving installation of interactive LED lighting along the Milwaukee and Court street bridges and on the future pedestrian bridge.
Under conceptual plans shown in a short video, each bridge would have up to 500 high-efficiency LED lights along its base that could be programmed with different colors and actions. The group says the lighting project, called “Light up the Rock,” would help make the Rock River a nighttime focal point.
Other work linked to that project could include an interactive electronic kiosk and a donor wall that ARISEnow officials said would have a scrolling screen naming everyone who helped fund the effort.
The second project is a $500,000 plan to add an educational outreach center to the west end of the Janesville Performing Arts Center and to replace technology used in JPAC’s main auditorium and stage.
Some of the operating systems for lighting and other technical equipment are 15 to 20 years old and use computerized systems that have been obsolete for years, JPAC Executive Director Nathan Burkart said.
Burkart said JPAC last year saw almost double the number of users compared to a few years ago, including more children and teens who attend theater classes. He said the arts center could begin some upgrades in coming months, depending on how donors respond to the campaign.
JPAC is on the south end of downtown, but city officials and business leaders consider it a linchpin in the ARISE strategy, which ties together the downtown riverfront with a network of walking paths.
Under plans unveiled Thursday, the new fundraising effort will tap residents for smaller donations, as opposed to the large ARISEnow donations administered through the Forward Foundation, a nonprofit funding arm of Forward Janesville.
JoLynn Burden, ARISEnow director of development and community engagement, said the campaign is geared toward anyone who might make a five-year commitment or even a one-time donation of $50 or $100 to see upgrades to the downtown.
“This is a chance for 63,000 people that live in this community to all be a part of building a center of downtown for our families in decades to come,” she said.
Nancy Jane Baptist
Frank J. Bender Jr.
Terrence Michael Brown
Sharon Ruth Golz
Robert “Bob” Knutson, Sr.
Dorothy “Polly” Lund
Joseph “Joe” Meehan
Anthony Tre’Shaun Payton
Joan M. Stone
Clementine H. Turnmire
TOWN OF JANESVILLE
A handcuffed suspect who jumped out a window at the Rock County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday afternoon caused a school lockdown before being taken into custody hours later.
The handcuffs were gone when Quantrell Dylan Schwartzlow, 17, of 408 W. Beloit St., Orfordville, was taken into custody at his friend’s house on Yuba Street in Janesville, police said.
Police are not sure how he got out of the handcuffs.
Rock County sheriff’s detectives arrested Schwartzlow earlier Thursday on suspicion of second-degree sexual assault, strangulation, suffocation and battery, Sheriff Robert Spoden said.
A detective left Schwartzlow alone in an unsecured interrogation room to retrieve items for the interrogation, Spoden said.
After the detective left, Schwartzlow jumped out a second-story window and fled on foot while handcuffed in front of his body at 12:18 p.m., Spoden said.
Police two hours later found Schwartzlow at a friend’s house at the 700 block of Yuba Street in Janesville and took him into custody without incident at about 3:45 p.m., Spoden said.
Adults at the residence allowed police to search the home, where police found wet, muddy shoes, said Janesville police Lt. Michael Blaser.
The residents told police the shoes belonged to “Q” who was out with their adult child, Blaser said. Schwartzlow was taken into custody when he returned to the house a short time later with his friend.
The jail is about two and a half miles from the residence where Schwartzlow was found.
The sheriff’s office had asked police to station officers at Schwartzlow’s friend’s house, Schwartzlow’s house in Orfordville and the victim’s house, Spoden said.
Schwartzlow was arrested on charges of escape after he was found, according to a news release.
Consolidated Elementary School was placed on non-emergency lockdown at 12:55 p.m. Thursday after reports of Schwartzlow’s escape, according to an alert on the Milton School District’s website.
The school district was notified by the Rock County Sheriff’s Office that an inmate had escaped from the Rock County Jail and recommended the school be put into a non-emergency lockdown as a precaution, according to the alert.
The school is a mile and a half northwest of the jail.
The district followed the sheriff’s office’s recommendation and put the school on non-emergency lockdown for the remainder of the school day, according to the alert.
A non-emergency lockdown means no outdoor recess and classroom doors staying closed. Bathroom breaks and hallway transports are supervised, according to the alert.
The school day continued as normal, according to the alert.
The sheriff’s office sent deputies to the school during dismissal time, and children who are bused were delivered directly to their homes, according to the alert.
Spoden said the sheriff’s office will examine what happened to determine if any operational issues led to Schwartzlow’s escape.
Schwartzlow was being held at the Rock County Jail.
A fourth former Cabinet secretary in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is slamming the Republican incumbent, releasing a letter Thursday signed by two others calling for the election of Democrat Tony Evers.
Paul Jadin is a former mayor of Green Bay and was the first secretary of Walker’s economic development agency. He co-signed an open letter with former Corrections Secretary Ed Wall and former Financial Institutions Secretary Peter Bildsten sharply criticizing Walker and calling for Evers’ election.
“Governor Walker has consistently eschewed sound management practices in favor of schemes or coverup and has routinely put his future ahead of the state,” Jadin, Wall and Bildsten wrote. “The result is micromanagement, manipulation and mischief. We have all been witness to more than our share of this.”
Walker’s campaign issued a statement praising the work of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. since Jadin left in November 2012, without addressing criticisms of the governor laid out in the letter.
Walker and Evers are locked in a tight battle for governor with the election just 19 days away. They were to meet Friday night for the first of a pair of debates.
Jadin, Wall and Bildsten say in the letter they will not vote for Walker because of how he handled education, transportation and safety issues.
Wall and Bildsten both have spoken out against Walker before and have recorded videos for Evers’ campaign. Former Transportation Department Secretary Mark Gottlieb has also been critical of Walker but did not sign the letter and has not publicly endorsed Evers.
Evers’ campaign spokeswoman Britt Cudaback said the criticism from Walker’s former secretaries speaks for itself.
Jaden, Wall and Bildsten say they began their service in Walker’s administration believing in his agenda, but became disillusioned over time. They say during his run for president in 2015, Walker put Wisconsin interests behind being in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the presidential race.
The Wisconsin State Journal was the first to report on the letter and Jadin’s criticism of the governor. Jadin told the State Journal that he quit his $208,000-a-year job at the Madison Regional Economic Partnership on Wednesday so he could speak freely.
Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature created the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., a public-private hybrid agency, in 2011. It was plagued with problems under Jadin’s leadership, including the loss of several top staff, not following policies and mishandling of loans. It has since been instrumental in negotiating several economic development projects, most notably the Foxconn Technology Group campus that could result in a $10 billion investment.
Bildsten left Walker’s Cabinet in February 2015. Wall was corrections secretary from 2012 until 2016 when he returned to work for the Department of Justice before being fired after encouraging Walker’s chief of staff to shred a letter in violation of the state’s open records law.
Gottlieb was a Republican leader in the state Assembly before joining Walker’s administration in 2011. He left in 2015 and recently said Walker was “not truthful” and “increasingly inaccurate” in comments about transportation funding.