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President Donald Trump pauses as he speaks during a news conference at the White House, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


Another city school going virtual

JANESVILLE

Adams Elementary School will pivot to online instruction because of a large number of staff being under quarantine, according to a Janesville School District release sent Monday.

Students at the school will learn online beginning Wednesday, and the pivot will last until at least Friday, Oct. 9, when the district will re-examine the situation.

“Due to the number of staff being quarantined after being identified as a close contact of other individuals who have a COVID-19 positive test result, we are unable to fully staff Adams Elementary School for face-to-face instruction,” the release reads.

Superintendent Steven Pophal told The Gazette on Monday afternoon positive cases were not the driver for the closure. There is currently one active positive case of COVID-19 among district elementary school staff, and 12 elementary staff are in quarantine.

Pophal couldn’t say how many of the quarantined staff are from Adams Elementary, citing health and privacy rights.

The school district’s COVID-19 dashboard Monday indicated no elementary school students were positive, in quarantine or monitoring for symptoms.

“We had to pivot to virtual not because we have that much positivity in terms of COVID, but because we just have too many staff quarantined, and we can’t staff the school,” Pophal said.

Replacing staff is especially difficult this year because there are fewer substitute teachers, who often are retired educators in the most at-risk category for the virus.

“Like almost every school district, I think, right now we’re struggling to fill vacancies for substitutes. So when we have staff out, our ability to get a sub in is not going very well right now,” Pophal said.

Adams Elementary is the third building in the district to pivot to virtual learning after Craig High School and Roosevelt Elementary suspended in-person learning Sept. 16. The district recently extended online learning for these schools until Friday, Oct. 2.

The Craig and Roosevelt decisions were made to prevent an outbreak and were related to positive cases.

Pophal said Wednesday’s pivot at Adams Elementary allows quarantined staff to continue teaching and working with students while quarantined, which will help ensure learning continues.

“They will teach virtually from home and keep school going, and it will just look a little different for a couple weeks,” he said.

During the closure, lunch and breakfast will be available for curbside pick-up at the school between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

More information on the switch will be sent to families today, a non-instructional day for the school.

“The School District of Janesville is grateful for and appreciates the partnership that exists with our parents and families,” the release reads.

“The SDJ thanks the community for their flexibility, patience, and understanding as we work together to keep our students engaged and learning throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency.”


Jim Richter roughs out the shape of a cloud while working on a new mural on the backside of a three-story building along Janesville’s West Milwaukee Street.


Obituaries and death notices for Sept. 29, 2020

Rosalie M. Anderson

Rosemary A. “Rosebud” Phillips

Leon W. Waite

Charlene A. Welch


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SHINE could get another $1 million in city tax incentives

JANESVILLE

SHINE Medical Technologies could land another $1 million city tax incentive package to help the medical radioisotope company build a new headquarters and second production facility designed for production of cancer medicines.

The decision could happen any day now, and it might have happened Monday night except the Janesville City Council meeting was scrubbed because of what the city called “technological” problems.

City officials and SHINE said a $10 million headquarters and lutetium-177 production facility could be built by next year on a 17-acre city parcel just northeast of where SHINE’s 45,000-square-foot molybdenum-99 production facility is being built along Highway 51 on the city’s south side.

The city council had been scheduled to consider Monday night transferring the parcel at no cost to a developer, Janesville Investors and T5 Real Estate Solutions. The deal comes under a requirement that the developer would hold the land, the new facility and all risk incurred from the development.

The deal, which the city says is worth $1 million in tax-increment financing, also assumes SHINE would be the tenant at the new facility unless it is at some point sold to SHINE or another party. And it allows the developer to be repaid up to $725,000 for water, sewer and street expansions the developer plans at the site, plus reimbursement of up to $310,000 for “tenant improvements” for the project.

That means part of the tax incentive would be paid out to offset the developer’s cost to tailor the new facility for nuclear medicine production.

SHINE still has a target date of 2022 to begin commercial operation at its moly-99 factory, a facility that remains under construction. The additional facilities now proposed—a SHINE headquarters and Lu-177 cancer medicine manufacturing facility—would leverage SHINE’s accelerator-based nuclear production capability in its moly-99 factory.

The move comes as SHINE awaits federal approval for an operating license in Janesville, but it’s evidence of SHINE’s growing ambition as a nuclear medicine producer. The new facility suggests that even as SHINE plans expansions and ancillary nuclear medicine production facilities in Europe, the company intends to operate a flagship office in Janesville.

SHINE last year launched a new division that would produce and market nuclear cancer treatment medicines alongside the company’s moly-99 business. The company earlier this month landed $80 million in investment in its moly-99 business and to expand into cancer treatment medicines, SHINE announced.

The city on Monday night did not say exactly why the council meeting got scrubbed, but a bulletin the city sent a few minutes after 6 p.m. announced the cancellation was “due to technological problems.”

Council meetings are being streamed online because some members attend by computer. As of 6 p.m. Monday, the city’s website did not have a live feed available for the meeting.

The city plans to reschedule the meeting “sometime in the near future,” according to the bulletin.

If the city approves the proposed SHINE TIF deal, it would be the third time the city has given the company development incentives since 2012. All told, the city has already committed about $11 million to SHINE’s project—the biggest single TIF deal in the city’s history.

Most of that commitment came in 2012, when the council OK’d a $9 million dollar package for land and other tax incentives.

The council on Monday night was set to hear a quarterly update from SHINE on the status of its moly-99 project and other company news.

SHINE has been pursuing a federal license to operate its moly-99 facility, which it would use to produce and ship bone and tissue-illuminating radioisotopes for use in medical imaging tests. SHINE says it looks to capture at least one-third of the domestic global market for medical moly-99.

Earlier this year, SHINE announced it had worked with Czech researchers on a new line of lu-177 cancer treatment drugs that SHINE officials said met third-party purity tests for “patient doses.”

Lu-177 is a radioactive isotope that for years has been used to treat stomach and lung cancers. SHINE said the drug shows “promise” in treating certain cancers that have spread.

SHINE over the last year has quietly worked on establishing a medical radioisotope manufacturing presence in Europe. Earlier this year, a SHINE spokesperson told The Gazette it was likely SHINE at some point will produce cancer drugs in Janesville alongside moly-99.

At the time, the spokesperson could not give details, but the announcement of the city TIF proposal makes it clear SHINE intends to broaden its production in Janesville to include cancer medicines.

It’s not clear what, if any, additional federal review SHINE would face to produce Lu-177 drugs in Janesville.

SHINE has not said if and when it plans to vacate corporate headquarters space it leases at Prospect 101 in downtown Janesville. SHINE’s corporate office workforce has more than doubled since the company relocated its offices to Janesville in late 2016.

Since 2017, SHINE has indicated it planned eventually to build a corporate headquarters near SHINE’s moly-99 factory.

This story has been altered from a previous version to indicate that a private investment earlier this month in commercialization of SHINE's molybdenum-99 and cancer medicine business totaled $80 million.


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Local police are against ending qualified immunity, say ‘no-knock’ warrants are rare

JANESVILLE

Rock County law enforcement leaders said during a virtual meeting Monday night that they are against eliminating qualified immunity and that “no-knock” search warrants are allowed locally but very rare.

“Justice in Policing” was the topic Monday for the latest round of “Courageous Conversations,” a monthly discussion series put on by Community Action of Rock & Walworth Counties, the Diversity Action Team of Rock County and YWCA Rock County.

The groups surveyed police departments in Janesville, Beloit and Milton and the Rock County Sheriff’s Office with a series of questions inspired by police reform efforts sparked by recent, widely seen killings at the hands of police officers.

Clinton’s police chief was present during the meeting Monday, but that department was not listed in the survey responses.

Qualified immunity

One of the 11 questions was if qualified immunity should be eliminated.

Qualified immunity is a Supreme Court doctrine that shields officers from liability—even if an officer violates someone’s rights—unless there is “clearly established” law from a prior case with the same circumstances.

The topic has come up in a lawsuit that was filed after a Walworth County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a passenger in a car during a botched drug bust in East Troy in 2016. A decision has not yet come on that matter.

Activists and some politicians—on both sides of the political spectrum—have called for an end to qualified immunity because they say it largely protects police from accountability even when the acts in question are unconstitutional.

But leaders from local police departments on Monday echoed arguments others in law enforcement have made in support of qualified immunity.

They say eliminating the doctrine would open officers up to too much liability and lead some to second-guess complicated and split-second decisions.

Beloit Police Department Capt. Andre Sayles said if an officer doesn’t have “malice intent behind what they’re doing” and they’re trying to protect themselves or others, they should be covered.

“I think if we eliminate this, we’re going to lose a lot of great officers in our rank and file,” he said.

Still, he said “discussion needs to be had.”

All four surveyed agencies were against eliminating qualified immunity, but Milton Police Chief Scott Marquardt differentiated himself in how he said the idea deserves scrutiny.

He said there have been some “egregious” examples that he has read about that he “can’t believe” fit under qualified immunity.

“I do think it needs to be looked at,” he said. “The pendulum has swung a little bit too far.”

Marquardt later said because qualified immunity is a legal doctrine, it needs to be addressed at legislative and judicial levels, not through departments’ policies.

‘No-knock’ warrants

Another one of the several topics that came up both in the survey (the responses of which can be found on the Community Action website) and during Monday’s meeting was “no-knock” warrants.

The topic came to national prominence after the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor in March in Louisville, Kentucky. Plainclothes police, who had such a warrant, shot her in her apartment.

Her boyfriend has said he did not know the people who entered the home just after midnight were police and fired one shot that hit an officer’s leg. Officers fired and shot Taylor at least eight times.

Louisville eventually banned “no-knock” warrants.

Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said to get a “no-knock” warrant, a judge needs to be convinced. He said he doesn’t remember an instance in which Janesville police used such a warrant.

Moore said he sees a possible situation, such as a kidnapping, where the safety need “is so high” that they need such a warrant. But he said they are in the process of changing their policy to require a deputy chief to sign off on the warrant and not just a judge.

“The time we decide that we would never need them and say we’ll never use them is about the time we’re going to need one,” Moore said, later adding that he would not anticipate seeing them called for in a drug case.

Michael Schultz, chief of the Clinton Police Department, said he spent 30 years working in Rockford, Illinois, and has been involved in executing more than 100 search warrants. He didn’t recall any being of the “no-knock” variety.

The sheriff’s office reported in the survey that a captain of detectives “could only remember about two of these warrants being written in the past 10 years.” But neither of them were actually served without announcing beforehand, the survey response states.

Kelly Mattingly, a local defense attorney, said he remembers such warrants being used in his 35 years on the job, but he agreed that they haven’t been used lately.

Marquardt, the Milton chief, said a warrant would come if there was a demonstrable safety issue to someone inside a location or the possibility of evidence being destroyed.

But the no-knock element can create a dangerous situation for police, the subjects of the warrant and even uninvolved bystanders, like what happened in Louisville.

“Are we setting ourselves up for the use of force by us or by the person who is frankly scared to death and is reacting to that?” Marquardt asked. “Avoiding those situations as a whole when we can, I think, is appropriate.”