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Wisconsin's Johnny Davis (1) goes to the basket against Purdue's Jaden Ivey (23) and Isaiah Thompson (11) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind.

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Janesville Plan Commission grants conditional-use requests to heart attack/stroke rehab facility


Nothing emerged in a Tuesday meeting of the Janesville Plan Commission that would prevent a developer from building a 40-bed stroke and heart attack rehabilitation hospital at one of the busiest traffic intersections on Janesville’s northeast end.

The commission unanimously OK’d a conditional-use request Monday for a planned inpatient rehab center at Kettering Street and Milton Avenue, just north of the busy diverging diamond interchange at Highway 26 and Interstate 90/39.

There, landowner Ryan Brothers Co. intends to sell about 5 acres of a 20-acre farm field to Encompass Health Corp., a private health care company that would build the rehab hospital.

The conditional-use approval does not require action by the city council. It came through Monday along with the plan commission approving an exception to allow Encompass to build about 45 feet from the east side of Highway 26—about twice as close to a major controlled state highway as would typically be allowed.

The changes came despite some concerns from commission members that the project doesn’t have fully fleshed-out plans for where multiple entries and exits could be placed.

An official from Encompass said Monday company could break ground in the spring and that the facility could open its doors sometime in 2024.

Traffic concerns

The diverging diamond interchange near which Encompass hopes to build at Milton Avenue and Kettering Street handles a flow of about 30,000 vehicles a day, according to state traffic counts.

Kettering Street itself, where the rehab facility would be built, averages about 11,300 vehicles a day, according to state data. That's about twice as busy as Deerfield Drive, the divided four-lane road that Kettering Street turns into at Rotamer Road and winds from Sam's Club and Walmart to Pine Tree Plaza and Highway 14.

One neighbor in a residential subdivision across the road urged the city not to allow the new development to funnel traffic onto Rotamer Road, an already-busy thoroughfare that carries traffic to and from residential areas and nearby, big-box retail centers.

Future plans

City of Janesville senior planner Brian Schweigl said Ryan Brothers proposes to sell 5 acres on the southeast corner of the property to Encompass but will hold onto an adjacent 15 acres for possible future development. The city’s traffic study suggests a second phase of development might bring a 50-unit “assisted living” facility and “190 units” of multifamily housing.

A lawyer for Ryan Brothers did not elaborate Monday on possible future developments near the facility.

An Encompass official said the company would serve up to 40 patients who are recovering from heart attacks and strokes. The facility would run rehab services 12 hours a day and offer inpatient services for an average of about 13 days per patient, the official said.

About 75 people would work there initially, but it would eventually employ more than 100 workers. Encompass said employees at the center will help patients recover speech, movement, swallowing and other motor skills that can be affected by strokes or heart attacks.

Encompass runs 144 similar facilities around the country.

Ryan Brothers had asked the city to shift slightly to the southeast a buffer area on the property that is intended to separate the developed parcel. The land, surrounded by residential subdivisions to the north, south and east, has been zoned for business since 1998.

The development would generate 120 more vehicle trips per day, according to a traffic study conducted by a consultant to the city of Janesville. That volume would include non-emergency ambulance transport of patients from local hospitals to the rehab facility.

If the remaining 15 acres were developed for business or commercial use, the same study showed a larger increase in traffic—an extra 1,000 vehicle trips a day or more.

Plan commission member and city council president Douglas Marklein said the immediate development of a 40-bed hospital doesn’t seem to presage immediate traffic problems. He said the development might make future use of adjacent parcels tricky for another developer.

“I’d hate to be the next one who comes in at that (remaining) out lot.” He said “traffic needs” for a future developer could make further zoning for continued development a challenge.

Marklein also sought, and the commission approved, to waive a requirement that the developer plant trees on a 200-foot-long berm planned along Kettering Street as a buffer between the rehab center and existing neighborhoods along to the east and north.

He said he thinks it would be better to seed trees on about half the span adjacent to the clinic but hold off planting on the rest of it until the landowner decides how to develop the surrounding property. The city also intends to wait for further possible development at the 20-acre spot before installation of sidewalks.

Plan commission member Kathy Voskuil said she was concerned a possible access road to the rehab facility off Rotamer Road is shown on designs to have no street lights.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation plans to upgrade Humes Road next year but plans to give the city local control of timing on the stoplights at the Highway 26 and I-90/39 interchange.

Plan commission officials said that would help the city properly time the lights, which would have an effect on how traffic flows near the planned Encompass facility.

President Joe Biden exits Air Force One during a winter snowstorm at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Monday. A winter storm packing heavy snow blew into the nation’s capital, closing government offices and schools and grounding the president’s helicopter. As much as 10 inches of snow was forecast for the District of Columbia, northern Virginia and central Maryland.

Janesville School District previews new secondary education programs


Two new secondary education programs in the Janesville School District should help prepare students for college and future careers.

Chris Medenwaldt, director of secondary education at Janesville schools, will present information about Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) and High School Pathways to the PPC Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

Medenwaldt said AVID is a program for students who are just trying to get through high school and less likely to be thinking about what they will do after they graduate.

“It’s really taking some students as early as ninth grade, and giving them skills, opportunities and pushing them toward some rigor that maybe they wouldn’t have taken otherwise,” Medenwaldt said.

Starting next fall, an elective AVID class will be available to students at both Janesville Craig and Parker high schools. The course will teach specific note-taking and problem-solving strategies.

Ninth graders in the program will continue with it into 10th grade if they find success. The district's goal is to start with as few as 25 Craig and Parker students, increasing to 100 students in a few years.

Medenwaldt said he's is looking to add AVID to the curriculum at the much smaller Rock University High School as well.

The district will start identifying eighth grade students for AVID this month and let the prospective students' families know what to expect from the program.

High School Pathways

Another new program in development, High School Pathways, is all about narrowing down what career path a student would like follow after high school.

“Traditionally at the secondary level, there’s been career clusters. There were 16 career clusters," Medenwaldt said. "Say you want to go into communications or finance. What Pathways does is refine that even further. So one cluster is health science. What exactly does that look like? There’s a lot of things in health sciences, everything from how do you manage people, to therapies, to diagnoses, to support services.”

The High School Pathways program can help students get a head start on their careers by taking courses though Blackhawk Technical College and identify the steps needed to pursue their chosen careers.

Medenwaldt said there is data indicating that Wisconsin has a need for more people going into architecture, construction, patient care, digital technology and advanced manufacturing.

“That doesn’t obviously mean we don’t have other needs, but those are the first needs for our area,” he said.

Obituaries and death notices for Jan. 4, 2022

Marie L. Albanese

Linda F. (Pounds) Allston

Margaret Beeman

Betty J. Brown

Billy Gene Chism

Douglas Allen Goodger

Jerome Samuel “Jerry” Green

Mark E. Jacob

Rita M. (Carpenter) Jay

Kathlen D. (Trewyn) Larson

Timothy M. Phetteplace

Micheal Eugene Sands

Patricia A. “Tricia” Steckelmann

Patricia Ann (Carle) Wellhoefer

Sarah “Jane” Wolf

Shelter medical fund helps dog who ate sock, cat who needed a leg and tail amputation


Is your dog becoming a little too relaxed? Perhaps he, too, ate a sock.

Everyone thought Sosa the dog was a very chill dog. But when he became more sluggish it was discovered he needed emergency surgery due to an intestinal blockage.

He and a cat named Triman are among many pets who have benefited from the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin’s Help Me Heal Me Fund. It provides funds to animal foster families to pay extraordinary medical bills for pets soon to be up for adoption.

People are invited to consider making donations at the Facebook fundraiser page titled “Medical Care for Sosa & Triman.”

Any pet that comes to the shelter who is injured or sustains injuries at the shelter is eligible for medical care through the fund.

“Any dollar amount makes a difference and adds up” said Kaitie Swedlund, business development director for the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin.

Submitted photo 

Triman the cat benefited from the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin’s Help Me Heal Me fund when he needed an emergency surgery to get a leg amputated. He is recovered and is with a loving family.

Sosa’s surgery, even at a significant discount, cost around $3,000, which taxed the fund, Swedlund said.

“We have to build that fund back up,” she said.

Swedlund said Sosa, a very sweet 2-year-old golden doodle, arrived at the shelter in mid December. He had been found wandering in a Beloit neighborhood. The society was able to track down his owners who ultimately decided to surrender him so he could find a new home.

“He was super relaxed and had laid back energy. We placed him up for adoption and found a loving home quickly,” Swedlund said.

A Rockford family was fostering him until he could get neuter surgery prior to adoption. Sosa was becoming even more laid back, to a concerning degree. Soon the chilled out and relaxed dog began throwing up.

His family brought him back to the shelter for monitoring. An x-ray identified a blockage in his intestines requiring emergency surgery. It was during the procedure that it was discovered he had eaten a sock.

“We think he ate the sock before he came to the shelter, and as he tried to digest it he became ill. It may have contributed to his relaxed nature,” Swedlund said.

He has recovered and will be fully adopted after being neutered in mid-January. Sosa has regained some of his previous energy and playfulness

Swedlund urges pet owners to keep anything tempting to chew on away from their dogs as best they can.

“Prevention is key,” she said.

Another animal’s medical needs also dipped into the fund. Triman the cat arrived as a stray with significant injuries.

“One of his back legs had an open fracture and the bone was sticking out. We stabilized him and scheduled his amputation,” Swedlund said.

The Janesville residents who found him decided to adopt him. They already had another tripod—a cat with three legs. Swedlund said cats with three legs learn to get around well.

Triman, however, was still suffering from additional injuries and eventually had to get his tail amputated as well. Swedlund said he is down a leg and a tail but is doing well in his wonderful, loving and special needs cat home.

“He went home on Christmas Eve,” Swedlund said.