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Signs of summer: Recreation officials in Janesville, Beloit eager for return to normal

Beloit and Janesville parks and recreation staff say they are ready to welcome summer crowds seeking to enjoy all the amenities each community has to offer.

Janesville Parks and Recreation Director Shelley Slapak said recreation and outdoor time is more important than ever for families hoping to return to a normal routine as the pandemic wanes.

“We are all looking forward to it,” Slapak said. “We need to continue to do a good job of messaging safety, and hopefully we can continue to do more and keep inching back to normal.”

Beloit Director of Parks and Recreation Mark Edwards said his department had seen a major influx of people enjoying city parks, trails and amenities in 2020.

“We’re very excited to welcome people to all we have to offer in Beloit,” Edwards said. “Knowing we can engage with the residents and have that positive impact is rewarding for all the staff. It’s been a challenging time to reach our residents, but getting to a somewhat normal way of life is exciting for everyone and it’s lifted a burden off of us.

All parks in Janesville and Beloit are open, along with all trail systems in Rock County. Social distancing is recommended at all park spaces as masks are not required but are recommended in situations when social distancing is not possible.

Here is a roundup of various amenities in Janesville and Beloit:

Rockport Pool, JanesvilleThe swimming pool reopens Thursday with costs of $3 for age 3 to 17 and seniors 55 and up; or $4 for adults age 18 to 54. Age 3 and under are free. The pool will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12:30 to 7 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30 to 5 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday noon to 7 p.m.

Palmer Park wading pool, JanesvilleThe pool is open from noon to 7 p.m. daily with a daily fee of $1 for youth; adults are free. The daily fee can be paid at the concessions stand in the east pavilion. The wading pool is for children 8 and under.

Lions Beach, Janesville

The beach opened May 29 and will remain open through Sept. 6. Hours range from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. There are no lifeguards on duty at the beach and beachgoers must adhere to basic safety guidelines while enjoying fun in the sun. The Recreation Division takes weekly water samples to monitor E. coli bacteria and sends them to the state hygiene lab in Madison for testing.

Riverside Park splash pad, JanesvilleThe splash pad is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. It includes a wet deck area of 2,550 square feet and a dry deck of 2,340 square feet. The splash pad features three use zones: teen, family and toddler. The concession stand in the north end of the park is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.

Pavilion rentals, JanesvilleGroups or individuals can reserve a picnic pavilion or picnic grove for family reunions, picnics, wedding receptions and more. Picnic groves are a reserved area of the park with four picnic tables, a park grill, and trash receptacle (no shelter, drinking water, rest rooms or electricity) on a cement pad. Six groves exist in Palmer Park and three in Riverside Park. The fee for pavilion reservations varies with size, residency and location. To reserve a pavilion, stop by the Recreation Division office, 18 N. Jackson St., through the Wall Street entrance, or online at activenet.active .com/janesvilleleisure. Online reservations may be made by residents and nonresidents. The rental form lists the pavilions and picnic groves, as well as their approximate capacity and fee.

Events, JanesvilleIndependence Day on the Rock runs from 3 to 10 p.m. in Traxler Park. The Rock Aqua Jays present this festival with activities, a performance by the water ski show team and fireworks. Visit facebook .com/RockAquaJays.

Krueger-Haskell Golf Course, Beloit

The golf course has been open since spring and is on pace to eclipse record revenues seen in 2019, Edwards said. Tee times can be reserved at GolfNow .com or by calling the clubhouse at 608-362-6503. For a complete list of costs associated with hitting the links, visit kruegerhaskellgolfcourse.com/rates.

Krueger Pool, BeloitThe pool will reopen Saturday and reservations will be required due to COVID-19. Reservations will be available in two-hour time slots on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays due to staffing needs. The pool capacity will be limited to 75 people per session. Sessions will be two hours a day. The fee for pool entry is $2 per person per session. No season passes will be offered for 2021 due to the low cost of daily admission and limited hours. Families may sign up for no more than one session a day as space is available. Individuals can reserve their swim sessions by calling 608-364-2877. The pool will be open for the following sessions: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; 2 to 4 p.m.; and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. All pool guests must come dressed in swimwear.

Park rentals, BeloitShelter rentals are available and larger public events require a safety plan that is submitted prior to the event to the city for final review. To review a complete list of costs associated with shelter or pavilion rentals, visit beloitrecreation .com/reservations.

Events, BeloitIndependence Day fireworks: The event will be held at Telfer Park’s Pohlman Field in partnership with the Beloit Snappers from 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations are required and no information has yet been finalized on how residents can sign up, Edwards said.

Dirty Dash: The popular fun run event will be limited to Beloit families, Edwards said. The Dirty Dash is open to kids age 4-18 for a fun yet challenging obstacle course. Loops range from a half mile to more than a mile. To register, call 608-364-2890. Face coverings are required for the run. Time slots will be assigned to household/family (maximum 8 people) at registration. A household member over age 16 must be included in the group and run with children. The cost of $10 per person including adults includes a participation medal and goodie bag (refunds given only if the city of Beloit cancels the event). Shirts are available for an additional fee.

Grinnell Hall Senior Center: The senior center is offering limited programming in 2021 after being closed due to the pandemic. Masks will be required for entry and participants must be members of Grinnell Hall. For more information on programming, call 608-364-2875.

An in-camera multiple exposure of the annual Independence Day on the Rock free holiday display in Janesville on Thursday, July 4.

'A lot of anxiety' for Democrats as Biden agenda stalls


Hopes for a big infrastructure investment are teetering. An ambitious elections and voting bill is all but dead. Legislation on police brutality, gun control and immigration stalled out.

After six months of Democratic control in Washington, the party’s progressive wing is growing increasingly restless as campaign promises go undone—blocked not only by Republican obstruction but also by Democrats’ own inability to unite fully around priorities.

The time ahead is pivotal for President Joe Biden and his allies in Congress to seize what some view as a transformative moment to rebuild the economy and reshape the country.

“There’s a lot of anxiety,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who had been a co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid. “It’s a question really for President Biden: What kind of president does he want to be?”

The summer work period is traditionally among the busiest for Congress, but it is especially sharpened this year as Democrats strain to deliver on Biden’s agenda. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned colleagues that June will “test our resolve” as senators returned Monday with infrastructure talks dragging and the limits of bipartisanship in the 50-50 Senate increasingly clear.

The party suffered a debilitating blow over the weekend when Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced his opposition to the voting bill, titled S.1 because it is a top party priority. Many Democrats view it as crucial to protecting democracy and a direct response to restrictive new voting laws being passed in Republican-led states egged on by Donald Trump, the former president.

“Do I feel discouraged? Yes,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, warning of a failure to deliver on the promises. “We will lose voters for a generation.”

Schumer, in setting the agenda, is challenging senators to prepare to make tough choices. But he is also facing a test of his own ability to lead the big-tent party through a volatile period of shifting priorities and tactics in the aftermath of the Trump era and the Capitol insurrection.

While Democratic senators have been generating goodwill by considering bipartisan bills in the evenly split Senate, they face mounting pressure from voters who put them in office to fight harder for legislation that Republicans are determined to block with the filibuster. Democrats hold the edge in the Senate because Vice President Kamala Harris can break a voting tie.

Fed up by the delays, some senators are ready to change the rules to eliminate the filibuster, which they blame for the inaction. The long-running Senate filibuster rules require 60 votes to advance most legislation, meaning as many as 10 Republicans would need to cross party lines to help Democrats achieve their priorities. Some senators propose reducing the voting threshold to 51.

But Manchin, in announcing his opposition to the voting rights bill Sunday as the “wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together,” also restated his refusal to end the filibuster—for now, denying his party a crucial vote needed to make the rules change that could help advance its agenda.

On Tuesday, leading civil rights figures including Rev. Al Sharpton and Marc Morial are scheduled to meet with Manchin in Washington. Biden urged them to visit the senator to discuss the voting bill and the legislative agenda. He encouraged them to keep the conversation constructive and not put pressure on the senator—at least not yet, according to a person familiar with the discussion but not authorized to speak about private conversations.

While Manchin has talked about supporting another voting bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, advocates of S.1 say both pieces of legislation are needed. Biden agrees Congress should move forward with both, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

At the same time, Democratic groups supporting S.1 vowed to continue with a $30 million campaign pressing Democratic senators to rewrite filibuster rules and pass the bill—including with TV ads in Manchin’s West Virginia.

But it’s not just Manchin who opposes changing the filibuster laws. Without support from him or other filibuster defenders, such as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Democratic senators will be forced to confront the limits of their fragile majority. If Democrats decided to go it alone on the big infrastructure bill, as talks with Republican senators stall, they would need to be unified because they would have no votes to spare.

Failing to deliver on campaign promises that are popular with voters could exacerbate party divisions and expose Democrats to criticism from their own ranks as well as from Republicans eager to show that Biden’s party cannot govern.

“We need to move the ball,” said Yvette Simpson, CEO of Democracy for America, a liberal advocacy organization.

“We told everyone to come out against all odds in the pandemic and vote,” she said about the 2020 election. The promise was that with Democrats in power, ”we’re going to have all these great things happen, their lives are going to be better. And what they’re finding is that it looks like Washington as usual.”

Schumer has been laying the groundwork for this moment since he became majority leader in January, trying to build the case that bipartisanship can work in some cases—with passage of an Asian hate crimes bill or a water public works package. But he also recognizes that it has limits, according to two Democratic aides granted anonymity to discuss the private strategy.

The Democrats’ weekly closed-door policy caucus lunches have been intense, particularly during the two special sessions they have held to privately debate the path forward on the voting rights bill, one of the aides said.

Rather than force reluctant senators to fall in line, Schumer is trying to lead Democrats to their own conclusion—either bipartisan deals with Republicans are possible or they have no choice but to go it alone on infrastructure or other priorities, the aides said.

One aide suggested Schumer is no arm-twisting leader in the style of Lyndon Johnson, who before he became president was famous for his hardball cajoling as majority leader.

Khanna said the president, however, can have a big role: “This would be his LBJ moment—can he pick up the phone and work his magic to get his Democrats on board?”

Herbicide used to make offensive image on school field


Someone using weed killer created a large, offensive image on an Edgerton High School athletic field last month, and police are looking for whomever did it.

School Superintendent Dennis Pauli would not say what the image was, but he said school staff were obliged to make sure no one attending athletics events or graduation could make it out.

Police Chief Robert Kowalski described it as an offensive image of a sexual nature and said he believes it was an “end-of-the-year prank.”

But Kowalski said the vandalism could lead to a charge of criminal property damage.

“TP’ing trees and stuff like that are pretty harmless. But when you burn grass with a product, it starts getting to be expensive. It’s no longer a prank,” Kowalski said.

It appears an herbicide was used to kill the grass, creating the image, Pauli said Monday.

Pauli said the image on the main athletic field was 60 to 70 yards long, and it did not include any words.

Pauli said the image was likely created about a week before high school graduation, which was held May 23.

While school staff will repair some of the damage, the district will probably bring in a contractor to make sure the field is ready for the fall season, Pauli said.

The work will include seeding, over-seeding and lots of watering, Pauli said. He was uncertain how much the work will cost.

“Our hope is by fall you can’t tell it ever occurred,” Pauli said.

“If the person comes forward and they’re forthright, we’ll work with them and with the district attorney’s office on it,” Kowalski said, noting that in Wisconsin, the district attorney determines whether to charge an individual with a crime.

Criminal damage is a misdemeanor, but it becomes a felony if the damage or cost to repair exceeds $2,500, according to Wisconsin statutes.

The Edgerton Police Department used its Facebook page Monday to ask for the public’s assistance in finding the vandal.