For those who might want to test the waters in Janesville’s banquet and convention sector, two well-known local catering and event halls are now up for sale.
Owner KANDU Industries is selling both the Pontiac Convention Center on the city’s east side and the Armory downtown in a move the nonprofit’s top executive says would divest KANDU of a collective 30,000 square feet of real estate with an assessed value of $1.35 million, according to city tax records.
KANDU Executive Director Kathy Hansen said that Best Events, KANDU’s catering division that for most of the last decade has operated the banquet hall and convention properties, is shifting toward mostly off-site event catering.
Hansen said KANDU has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in how businesses, wedding parties and event promoters wish to put on local events. She said over the past year, KANDU’s Best Events has increasingly begun handling about 85% of its catering business off site.
Even as KANDU has started to see an uptick this spring and summer in bookings of weddings and local company banquets and gala events, the public health crisis has left the two-story Armory, at 10 S. High St., and the Pontiac, at 2809 N. Pontiac Drive, virtually unused for much of the past 18 months, Hansen said.
Hansen, who has been at the helm of KANDU since early this year, said the company has bookings at its two convention halls through the end of this year. Nevertheless, both properties are up for sale as KANDU and its board of directors eye possible expansion and consolidation of some operations at the company’s 1741 Adel St. location.
KANDU’s catering division has run events and conventions out of the Pontiac Convention Center since KANDU bought the building in 2012. KANDU has owned and operated the Armory since 2015.
Hansen said both sites are being marketed as possible event halls, although she said some buyers already have showed interest in other possible uses of the properties.
“We’re paying taxes and utilities on the buildings but we’ve not been utilizing them like we had in the past. But both are fantastic buildings and are in great locations, we think,” Hansen said. “With the market improving—things are selling and people are again starting to invest—we took a look at ‘Should we do this? Should we sell these properties?’ We decided the timing is right.”
Best Events will continue to operate a kitchen and preparation facility on Center Avenue, but KANDU has room at its Adel Street headquarters to merge all its operations “under one roof,” Hansen said.
The 12,000 square-foot, brick-and-block Armory originally was built in the 1930s for use by the U.S. Army’s 32nd Tank Division of Wisconsin. A designated historical site, the property has in the recent past hosted dinner theater groups and other events. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the local Republican Party rented out the Armory to host televised rallies by then-Presidential candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
The Pontiac Convention Center, originally built in the 1970s as a roller skating rink, was converted to a convention hall in 2007.
The Armory is located across the street from another high-profile yet recently disused property along West Milwaukee Street—the six-story, former Monterey Hotel. The Art Deco hotel is now being gutted with plans by its owner to revamp the property as market-rate apartments.
Hansen believes the revival of the Monterey might in turn boost the Armory’s prospects for resale.
Hansen said since the properties went on the market this summer, several interested parties have come forward with most indicating they would want to continue to use the properties as banquet and event halls. But she said other possible future uses include a church, brewery, winery or museum.
“We haven’t marketed them for specifically anything, other than a buyer could use them for a lot of things. It’s all over the board, little interests here and there,” Hansen said. “I will tell you that our board is committed to a good business going in both places. We want the uses to be good for Janesville, so we’re not going to just let anybody buy these properties just so we can get rid of them.”
David L. Anderson
Robert G. Bagley
Lucille R. Bartz
Marlene Rae (Fowler) Bellard
Lois Irene (Bruhn) Berg
S. Howard “Bud” Busch
Jeanne A. (Leeder) Fobes
Barbara A. Garren
Geraldine L. “Geri” Jensen
Lolita Ann Kachel
Dale Ann Kramer
Patrick Leon McCormick
Gladys L. (Karlstrand) Otterson
Barbara J. Pepper
Richard A. “Rich” Reining
Christopher Paul Schadewald
Shannon L. Schultz
Jay H. Shultz
Dolly M. Thomas
A Janesville dog has been euthanized after biting and causing serious injury to a 10-year-old girl and, in a second incident a month later, biting a friend of the owner and a police officer.
The dog’s owner told The Gazette that she decided to put the dog down, fearing it might attack again.
The woman, who asked that she not be identified, said she turned the dog over to the Janesville-based Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin requesting that the pit bull terrier- Rottweiler mix be euthanized.
She said she relinquished the dog Aug. 30, the same day it bit a passenger and friend of the owner as they were trying to transport the animal. A police officer who was called in to assist was also bitten by the dog as he attempted to put it in his vehicle, according to a police report of the incident.
The police department later indicated that on Aug. 31, the humane society confirmed the dog had been put down.
The dog owner said she was surprised the dog was returned to her after biting the girl who was rollerblading in the neighborhood in late July.
A dog who bit a 10-year-old girl in July struck again, when it bit another person and an officer who responded at the scene.
The dog’s owner said she thought that the incident warranted the dog be euthanized, especially since the girl’s leg injuries were so serious she could require surgery as well as therapy for the resulting trauma.
“What else can you find worse than that?” the dog owner said.
She expressed remorse for both incidents.
“I feel horrible about it, I really do,” she said. The attack on the girl, she said, was particularly terrible “because that could scar her for who knows how long.”
After the attacking the girl, the temperament of the dog “changed overnight,” its owner said, and she didn’t know why. “I was even scared (for) myself,” she said.
The police report indicates the owner had been attempting to rehome the dog for several weeks.
Although the dog inflicted severe injuries on the girl during the first attack, police officials said the dog was not deemed so vicious it couldn’t be returned to its owner.
On July 30, Janesville resident Anisa Sanfratello’s 10-year-old daughter was bitten by a neighborhood dog.
Deputy Police Chief Todd Kleisner, citing the city’s animal control procedures and state statute regarding biting dogs, said euthanizing the dog was not considered after the dog bit the young girl. He said the dog had no prior history indicating it was dangerous, so the department “didn’t feel there was grounds enough” to recommend action other than quarantining the dog.
Kleisner said the police department recommends that an animal be euthanized only if a bite breaks the skin on two separate occasions. If that happens, then the animal is held at the humane society until the police chief decides the animal’s fate.
Once the animal is deemed vicious and an extreme threat, the police will complete a request to have that animal euthanized. Once the humane society receives the request form, the animal is put down.
If the owner deems their dog dangerous, they can opt for putting it down without being directed to do so by authorities. The owner of this dog in this case said she was not informed of that option until after the second attack occurred.
“I considered (the dog) vicious when he attacked the 10-year-old, but they basically made me come and get him,” the owner said.
A grand jury indictment released Thursday accuses Winnebago County Coroner William Hintz of stealing funds from deceased county residents.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said a Winnebago County grand jury indicted Hintz on new charges related to alleged misconduct and the theft of government funds.
Hintz, 51, was charged with six counts of official misconduct and six counts of theft, according to a news release from Raoul’s office. The attorney general’s office previously charged Hintz in October 2020 with two counts of theft, 12 counts of forgery and 23 counts of official misconduct. If convicted, Hintz faces up to 15 years in prison. His next court date is Sept. 22.
Hintz was elected to be coroner in 2016.
“The defendant has demonstrated a clear pattern of using the office of the Winnebago County coroner to line his pockets,” Raoul said. “The defendant’s actions took advantage of grieving families and abused the trust of Winnebago County residents. I am committed to ensuring he is held fully responsible to the public he deceived.”
The Illinois State Police initially began investigating Hintz over the alleged fraudulent use of a Winnebago County gasoline card and credit card. After the 2020 indictment, investigators received additional information that Hintz had stolen around $2,500 paid by the families of people who had been cremated at the county’s expense. Raoul’s latest indictment alleges Hintz required family members to pay cash in order to recover the cremated remains of their homeless loved ones but kept the money for himself.
Raoul’s indictment also alleges that Hintz stole approximately $14,500 in cash that belonged to deceased individuals out of the coroner’s office’s evidence vault. According to the indictment, Hintz claimed he released some of the money to the county administrator; however, there is no evidence to support that claim or to show the money was deposited into coroner’s office’s accounts.
The attorney general’s office is prosecuting the case based on a referral by the Winnebago County State Attorney’s office.
Assistant Attorney General Haley Bookhout is handling the case for Raoul’s Public Integrity Bureau, and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan McKay is handling the case for Raoul’s Criminal Prosecutions and Trials Assistance Bureau.