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Rock County COVID-19 hospitalizations reach new high

COVID-19 cases continue to increase, particularly among the young, as the number of hospitalizations in Rock County set a record Thursday.

There were 75 people hospitalized in Rock County because of COVID-19 as of Thursday. The previous high mark was 74 hospitalizations on Nov. 18, 2020, according to Rock County Public Health Department data.

There were 4,421 active cases in the county Thursday and a case rate of 1,559 per 100,000 people.

The number of 4- to 18-year-olds who are testing positive for COVID-19 continues to grow. From Jan. 5 to 11, there were 249 cases among children age 4 to 13, and 143 new cases for those age 14 to 18, according to a Rock County Public Health Department report issued on Jan. 13.

Cases were most prevalent in Rock County among 25- to 34-year-olds, followed by 15- to 24-year-olds.

As of Thursday, there were 136 new cases of COVID-19 in Rock County after 338 new cases were reported Wednesday and 638 were reported Tuesday. The total number of cases since the pandemic began reached 28,517, and the total number of deaths reached 261, according to county health department data.

The percentage of the population fully vaccinated in Rock County was 63%.

As of Thursday, the average new cases per day in Wisconsin for the past seven days has been 9,915. The seven-day average of deaths per day in the state has been 24 and the seven-day average state positivity rate was 27.4%.

On Tuesday, there was a seven-day average of 2,166 people in hospitals, with 92.4% of the state’s hospital beds in use and 95.1% of ICU beds in use. Twenty-eight percent of the state’s ventilators in use.

As of Thursday, 58.6% of the total population of Wisconsin had completed the vaccine series.

Beloit College changes

In response to increasing COVID-19 numbers, all Beloit College students, faculty and staff will be required to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before returning to campus, according to a news release from the college. Students will resume classes Jan. 24 after winter break. All students, faculty, and staff will be required to receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine no later than Jan. 28, according to information from the college.

People affiliated with the college who have been unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and/or booster as a result of medical, religious or philosophical reasons will be required to undergo weekly testing and must quarantine if identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 in order to remain on campus.

A group of college students and recent Parker High graduates still on winter break take advantage of the Wednesday’s mild weather to get in a late afternoon game of two-hand touch football at the Janesville Youth Sports Complex. After Thursday’s high of 39 degrees it will be a little colder today with a forecasted high of 29. For more on the weather, turn to 10A.

Edgerton-area residents won't pay for new Milton fire stations

Edgerton-area residents will not be paying for two new fire stations the city of Milton hopes to build even though Milton and four surrounding towns wish to join the Edgerton Fire Protection District.

The petition to join the district spells out that the cost of build the fire stations will not be shared with Edgerton taxpayers. The city of Milton has hired a consulting firm to write and market a referendum that will ask Milton-area voters to agree to pay for the fire stations.

Conversely, Milton-area residents will not be required to foot any bills related to improvements of Edgerton’s existing facilities, such as the Edgerton Fire Station, until well after an intergovernmental agreement is established. Cost won’t be shared by the five petitioning municipalities until 2033—10 years after they are admitted into the district.

The joint petition of the city and town of Milton and the towns of Harmony Johnstown and Lima spells out the conditions under which they will share costs of EMS and fire protection once they’re part of the district. which currently includes the city of Edgerton and the towns of Fulton, Porter, Albion and Sumner.

Construction-related costs and engineering of the two new proposed fire stations, to be located in Milton East and Milton West, will be covered by Milton and the four other petitioning communities.

Upon completion of the stations, operational costs would then be paid for by the Edgerton fire district as a whole.

Furthermore, the smaller townships of Harmony, Johnstown and Lima, under the agreement, would be only required to pay a proportionate share of expenditures based on the equalized value of their property that lies within the new fire district.

Now that Edgerton’s Fire Protection District Commission board has received the petition, its members will evaluate fire and EMS services requested by the intergovernmental group. If the board determines the request is feasible, and approves the requests, a planned transitional phase will be set into motion.

This will ensure the new members “have no lapse in fire protection or EMS paramedic service coverage,” according to the petition.

In the meantime, the Janesville’s fire district will provide mutual aid, as it has since a fire protection agreement with Milton expired at the end of 2021.

Janesville Craig’s Jackson Bertagnoli is fouled as he rises up for a jump shot during the first half of their home game against Madison Eastside on Thursday, Jan. 13. Janesville Craig lost to Madison Eastside 76-68.

Obituaries and death notices for Jan. 14, 2022

Alvin C. “Mick” Anderson

Walter Elwyn Bancroft II

Dorothy Black

Leona G. (Kjernes) Busch

Carole S. (Renwick) Dornbusch

Allen James “AJ” Ehret

Jeannette G. Erkfitz

Miguel Sevilla Garcia

Sally Ann Kruse

John C. Lumsden

Robert Alan McNeely

Brian D. Moore

Logan A. Pederson

Patsy Lynn Phillips

Christopher M. Roberts

Susie Romano

Frederick James “Fred” Sage

Dale Updike

Justin J. Wagner

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City of Janesville unveils $2 million 'Pay it Forward' grant program for nonprofits


It looks as though interest—and competition—could be heavy among local nonprofit organizations in need of the $2 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding Janesville plans to disperse as grant money.

Erin Davis, an assistant to Janesville City Manager Mark Freitag and a grant-writer by trade, is at the helm administering “Pay it Forward”—a new, city grant program that leverages some of the $11 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds the federal government disbursed last year to the city.

The new program is the first of its kind in Janesville—a pass-through grant the city would use to award local, private charitable nonprofit organizations that are pursuing needed facility upgrades and other projects that typically can be difficult to qualify for grant funding.

Davis said that although the city council’s approval of the grant program was only made public at its meeting on Monday night, the city had already received by Thursday 15 calls and several emails from local nonprofits who might vie for a slice of the $2-million pie. The city plans to carve up the total into smaller chunks—$50,000 to a maximum of $1 million, based on the size and scope of the projects.

“It’s a lot of interest,” Davis said of the calls, adding that she’s not surprised.

Davis said the pandemic has hit some nonprofits doubly hard. Nonprofits that rely heavily on community fundraising have seen a shortfall in revenue while staple foods and other vital items the nonprofits deliver to those in need have also been in short supply.

At the same time, Davis said many traditional grants cannot be applied to the overhaul and improvement of facilities out of which local charitable nonprofits work.

At the city council meeting on Monday, one local nonprofit health clinic director and a resident helping with the effort to create a nonprofit children’s museum in town both urged the council to greenlight the grant program. The clinic official said that grant money could help provide aid to the 4,000 lower-income people that the clinic serves.

The grant funding is being drawn from a pot of $4 million initially set aside to help the city of Janesville itself bridge revenue losses it incurred during the COVID pandemic. The city has committed $2 million of it to a study and plan for a new, public-private ice arena and conference center being proposed at Uptown Janesville, the city’s main indoor shopping mall.

Davis said some members of an ad hoc panel—including staff from the City Attorney’s Office, City Manager’s Office, Neighborhood and Community Services, the Planning Division and the Janesville Police Department—thought that the city should try a different approach for disbursing the other half of the $4 million.

The committee members said they really were reminded of the “Pay it Forward” principle.

“We receive this award and then we pass it on; pay it forward,” Davis said. “Then in the future, these nonprofit agencies that are serving people, they’re paying it forward even further. The reach just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Davis said.

Among local nonprofit groups that have expressed interest in the grant so far, Davis said one is interested in paying for facility improvements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Others, she said, might seek new vehicles or equipment they could use routinely but can’t afford to buy on their own.

Under rules the Pay It Forward committee wrote, Davis said the grant program won’t pay for lobbying expenses, religious activities, and nonprofits can’t use the money simply to pad their finances or replace revenue losses.

Under the grant’s guidelines, private, social-service nonprofit organizations can apply now through the last day of February. The council initially was asked to approve a program that would give nonprofits until mid-February. The council asked the city to tack on two weeks to the deadline so that nonprofits which need the funding could have ample time to apply.