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Janesville City Council's carbon-neutrality goal raises questions about feasibility


The Janesville City Council set a goal Monday to reach carbon neutral emissions by 2050, but city staff questions if that goal is attainable.

The council approved the goal, 6-1, with an amendment to include it and a feasibility study in the 2022 five-year strategic plan. Doug Marklein cast the sole opposing vote.

A municipality, business or organization reaches carbon neutrality when it removes the same amount of carbon dioxide that it emits into the atmosphere.

A municipality or business can remove carbon dioxide by changing processes or infrastructure to become more sustainable. Some do that through carbon offsets or credits that support other sustainability projects designed to improve air quality, sometimes in locations far from the municipality, business or organization.

City staff members have identified two obstacles that raise questions about whether carbon neutrality is possible by 2050: cost and the city’s landfill.

Regarding cost, city officials don’t know how expensive it would be to reach carbon neutrality. A feasibility study could clear that up, but it is possible the cost could be out of reach for the city, according to a staff memo.

Marklein said the city has explored energy-efficient options in the past, but those options have been too expensive.

Council members Susan Johnson and Jim Farrell argue the long-term cost of climate change could be worse than the cost of carbon neutrality.

“I appreciate the concern of the city concerning cost; however ... we have to realize what savings we’re going to incur” from carbon neutrality, Farrell said.

The other obstacle is the landfill, which generates the city’s most significant levels of biogas with an average of 331,792,585 cubic feet of biogas per year, according to the staff memo.

The city captures about 85% of that biogas and sends it to a gas-to-energy treatment plant, according to the memo.

Paul Woodard, city public works director, said there will always be a significant amount of landfill biogas that the city cannot capture. That gas is produced by decomposing waste and emissions from equipment and vehicles traversing the landfill, according to the memo.

The city reports methane surface emissions to the federal Environmental Protection Agency on a quarterly basis, and it has not exceeded the federal standard since 2010, according to the memo.

In the memo, staffers determined baseline data on the city’s energy consumption and energy production from 2018 through 2020. They concluded that only about 8% of the city’s total carbon equivalents are offset by current sources of energy production, mainly from gas-to-energy conversion.

Staff suggested exempting the landfill from the carbon-neutral goal, but Johnson and Farrell—with the support of the Sustainable Janesville Committee—kept it in.

In the memo, staff points out that the committee recommended bringing a carbon neutrality resolution to the council before pursuing a feasibility study and without laying out a plan for one.

The resolution proposed by Farrell and Johnson alone would have just set the goal for carbon neutrality. An amendment by Tom Wolfe called for adding that goal to the upcoming strategic plan and an action item in the strategic plan requesting that the city hire a consultant to conduct a feasibility study in coming years.

City staff recommend that the feasibility study be done in 2023. Farrell argued it should be done in 2022 because the matter of climate change and environmental protection is urgent.

“I think this is one of the most critical issues facing our country,” Farrell said. “Those people that deny it are really burying their heads in the sand if they think it doesn’t exist.”

He said the city of Racine got a $70,000 grant to hire a sustainability consultant.

The city would have to make funding available in the 2022 budget if it chooses to hire a consultant for the feasibility study next year. Planning for the 2022 budget will begin this summer after a new city council is elected.

The council will see at least three new council members after the April election because Sue Conley, Wolfe and Farrell are not seeking reelection.

Marklein said he has concerns about committing future councils to a goal that might not be achievable.

In the memo, city officials said the goal is not binding on future councils.

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Rock County Board approves new Rock Haven administrator, health officer


The same week that Rock Haven staff publicly raised concerns about current leadership and layoffs for workers who declined the COVID-19 vaccine, the county-run nursing home has learned of its new leader.

The Rock County Board on Thursday named new leaders for both Rock Haven and the Rock County Public Health Department.

The board approved the hiring of Natalie Rolling-Edlebeck as the new Rock Haven administrator and Katrina Harwood as the county’s new health officer. Rolling-Edlebeck’s annual salary will be $127,096, and Harwood’s will be $90,640.

Administrator’s strengths

Rolling-Edlebeck comes to Rock Haven after working as a veterans nursing home administrator in both Wisconsin and Texas. She served in the U.S. Army before retiring with the rank of major.

County Administrator Josh Smith said county staff who participated in virtual forums with the three finalists were impressed by her communication, leadership and organizational skills.

Rolling-Edlebeck will take over a staff that has expressed frustration with the facility’s vaccine rules and leadership. Smith said he believes Rolling-Edlebeck will handle the situation well.

“She’s aware of the attention right now that the facility is receiving, and she understands that,” he said. “I think she would approach this really like any opportunity to come in and prioritize establishing trusting relationships with staff right off the bat.

“You know, I see it as an opportunity for a fresh start, and hopefully staff see it that way, as well. And based on their feedback during the interview process, I think we’re in a good position to have a new leader come in and kind of reset a little bit out there.”

Eight people applied for the Rock Haven job, and four applicants were granted interviews. That pool was narrowed to three finalists before Rolling-Edlebeck was selected.

Rolling-Edlebeck starts March 22. She takes over for Interim Administrator Sara Beran, who has held the job since early December.

Smith said he thinks the nursing home is getting an “established” leader who will help boost morale and best practices. He specifically pointed to Rolling-Edlebeck’s master’s degree in human relations and bachelor’s degree in speech communications.

“I think she has strengths in communications that will serve her well at Rock Haven. Communication is often brought up as an issue at the nursing home, and so I think that she’s skilled in that area,” Smith said.

“We did a session with the (Rock Haven) employees as part of the interview process, and from feedback I got from staff, they were impressed with her and thought she would bring needed skills to the facility and seems like somebody who will prioritize engagement with staff, which is another area that obviously people are interested in,” he said. “She has some good skills for what we need right now.”

Health officer’s experience

Harwood, the county’s new health officer, knows Wisconsin well as a public health supervisor for Public Health Madison & Dane County, where she oversaw the nutritional program for women, infants and children. She previously worked in public health departments in Ohio and Iowa.

She replaces retiring Health Officer Marie Noel-Sandoval. Her last day on the job was Jan. 4, but she will be paid for vacation time through Monday.

Harwood has master’s degrees in public health and nutrition/health science and a bachelor’s degree in dietetics. Her first day of a one-year contract will be March 8.

“Really, what attracted us to Katrina was her focus on the future of public health as she really has an understanding of where public health is headed, and that was something that staff were really looking for in their new leader,” Smith said.

He said staff collaboration, openness with the public and a focus on health equity and diversity were some of the positives the hiring committee listed about Harwood.

The county received 21 applications for the position before interviewing four candidates. The list was narrowed to two finalists, including Harwood, but the other candidate withdrew.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to join Rock County as your new health officer. We all know that this past year has been so challenging in a variety of ways that we could have never expected,” Harwood told the board Thursday.

She added that it has been good to see people take an interest in public health during the pandemic.

“I’m very much looking forward to strengthening the partnerships that are currently in place to address the pandemic while working to build strategic partnerships to be more impactful addressing social determinants of health and health inequities,” Harwood said.

Obituaries and death notices for Feb. 12, 2021

Dorothy Jane Berg

Timothy Betz

Lee A. Clough

Mary Ellen Farley

Bernice B. Laita

Richard Ray McDaniel

Tammy Jane Morton-Larson

Mark A. Mowbray

Agnes Frances Neal

Sandra L. Peters

Marjorie L. Pody

Kathleen M. “Kay” (Penkert) Stacey

Alan L. Wimer

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Janesville native’s portrait of Biden featured in The Washington Post

As Catherine Moore carefully finished President Joe Biden’s portrait, she perfected the subtle shadows around his eyes and the lines flowing from his lips.

Then she sent the original color drawing of America’s 46th president to The Washington Post.

On Jan. 20, the newspaper printed the portrait on a full page in its special inaugural edition.

For Moore, the presidential portrait, which she drew from photos, was a milestone.

Submitted photo 

This pastel and colored pencil drawing of Joe Biden was used in a special inaugural edition in The Washington Post on Jan. 20. Artist Catherine Moore is a 2003 Craig High School graduate now living in Atlanta.

The former Janesville resident is a 2003 graduate of Craig High School and teaches art full time at a college outside Atlanta.

She also is a nationally recognized freelance illustrator whose clients include The Washington Post, Ralph Lauren and Men’s Health Magazine.

In 2016, she sketched a graphite drawing of the Statue of Liberty with a clenched fist in protest. She made postcards of the image and mailed them to art directors at newspapers, magazines and design agencies.

The piece made a lasting impression.

Chris Rukan, art director at The Washington Post, contacted Moore two years later when Justice Anthony Kennedy retired. He asked Moore to complete a graphite portrait of him, which the newspaper used on a full page.

“After that, other art directors from The Post started reaching out to me,” Moore said.

Eventually, she also created a portrait of Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski for publication in the newspaper, which has a large national audience.

In late October, The Washington Post contacted Moore to ask if she would create a portrait of Biden. She agreed.

Days earlier, the newspaper had asked if she would draw a portrait of former President Donald Trump. She declined.

“I didn’t do Trump because it sounded awful,” Moore said. “I thought it would be very inconsistent to my past work and probably damaging to what I wanted to build in a portfolio.”

The newspaper wanted portraits of both men because editors did not know which one would win the November election.

A lot of Moore’s art depends on finding good photos from which to work.

In Biden’s case, The Post supplied her with a series of photos taken by Post photographers and photos the newspaper owns.

“Any portrait ends up being a combination of numerous references,” Moore said. “It is a lot easier when I have art directors who own the rights to lots of photos of high quality, and they are easy to draw from.”

In the Biden portrait, Moore drew his navy blue suit first. Then she worked on his face.

“There are subtle micro- expressions that will make it work or not work,” she said. “A portrait needs to be more than a likeness. It needs to capture something about the person.”

Moore slept on it before submitting the final version to the newspaper.

“When I finished, I felt good about it,” she said. “I knew I had done my best work for the job. I was able to get to a higher level of detail than in some of my portraits.”

In Biden’s portrait, “he shows a look of determination and humbleness, which is something I think everyone needs to see in a leader now,” Moore said. “The gaze to his side is looking forward to something. All rolled together, this is more than a portrait. It is a metaphor for future leadership.”

The presidential portrait is important to Moore.

But another great moment in her career involved her portrait of former President Jimmy Carter.

A friend of hers who is a professional photographer took a photo of Carter. Moore got permission to use the photo as a reference while creating a portrait of Carter.

When Moore finished the drawing, a friend presented it to the former president.

Today, the portrait is on display at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta.

Moore also has finished life-like portraits of late Georgia Rep. John Lewis and Stacey Abrams, who served in the Georgia House of Representatives for a decade.

She is proud of her portfolio, which includes both graphite and pastel-and- colored pencil drawings.

Moore is interested in turning her talent to books.

“Book illustrations have more staying power,” Moore said. “I want to make work that is still meaningful and is published more than once.”

Teaching allows her to be choosy about assignments.

“I have the ability to turn down requests I don’t want to do, so I can keep my integrity as an illustrator,” Moore said. “I make less work, but I make better work. That is really important to me.”

Anna Marie Lux is a human interest columnist for The Gazette. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264, or email amarielux@gazettextra.com.

Janesville Parker’s Brendan Weis pulls up for a shot at the end of the first half during their non-conference crosstown matchup with Janesville Craig on Thursday, Feb. 11.