Welcome to your snowy Saturday. With spring still about 50 days out, if you're looking for some fun indoors, check out Gazette reporter Neil Johnson's story from this week on Papa Docs Axe Throwing. The new ax-throwing gallery opened this month on West Milwaukee Street in downtown Janesville.
Neil, Gazette reporter Kylie Balk-Yaatenen and Gazette photographer Anthony Wahl concluded their coverage this week of the double murder trial of Marcus Randle El, who was found guilty Tuesday by a Rock County jury. His sentencing is set for May.
Neil, Kylie and Anthony also braved snowy local roads on Friday to bring you coverage from the scene of a massive vehicle pileup on I-39/90, involving dozens of vehicles. Watch for updates this weekend as we learn more about the cause and hear more from those who got caught up in it.
Gazette reporter Ryan Spoehr, also editor of the Milton Courier, this week reported on the Rock County Board's unanimous vote to ban the use of TikTok, a social media app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, on county-owned devices. The ban will have exceptions for departments that need to use the app for investigations. The Rock County ban came the same week that the UW System announced plans to restrict use.
Ryan also brought us a story this week on the Milton School Board's decision to put a $9.5 million operating referendum on the April 4 ballot, at a time when more and more districts are coming up short on state aid and going to referendum. In 2022, 92 school districts in the state put referendums on their ballots. Milton joins Beloit and Fort Atkinson in the group of referendum hopefuls for April.
Ryan also this week previewed an international school staff development conference that’s coming to Janesville Craig High School in March, the first time it’s ever been held in the United States.
Kylie also shared the story behind the creation of a book club at Cargill United Methodist Church in Janesville, that’s reading and discussing books that have been challenged and banned at libraries across the United States.
Local law enforcement efforts were spotlighted in a story about an interstate drug bust that netted more than 7,000 grams of cocaine worth an estimated $260,000.
Neil attended Acting City Manager David Moore’s “State of the City,” address, and our Kicks cover story by contributor Tom Miller told about three men long involved in local theater, who are being inducted into the Rock County Arts Hall of Fame
Columnist Leanne Lippincott-Wuerthele lit up our Good Day Janesville page with a piece on cooking disasters. Leanne, a former Gazette staff member, has written a local column for various publications for decades, and has joined The Gazette with a weekly column. Welcome Leanne!
On the Opinion page, local columnist Steve Knox pondered whether, post-pandemic, we’ve tilted more toward a transactional rather than a relational community, and hopes we can find a way to tip it back. And The Gazette’s Editorial Board weighed in on the idea of holding an advisory referendum on the Woodman’s Center, saying there are better ways than a public vote to gauge public sentiment on the proposed $50.3 million project.
In sports this week, it was announced that Parker's 1971 boys basketball champs will be inducted to Janesville Sports Hall of Fame as a team. Other inductees include Janet Bruss, Brittini Sherrod Roberts, Ryan Callahan and Mike Liebenstein Sr.
Janesville’s boys hockey co-op kept rolling with another victory Thursday night. The Bluebirds beat Milwaukee Marquette 10-4 in a nonconference game behind eight combined goals from Tyler Steuck and Jake Schaffner.
In boys basketball, Carson McCormick scored 23 points and hit five of Janesville Craig’s 11 3-pointers in the Cougars’ 64-52 conference victory over Janesville Parker on Thursday.
THE WEEK TO COME
In the coming week, Kylie hopefully won't be too scared to bring you a story about Mitch Goth and his ghost hunting team visiting the historic -- and maybe haunted -- Lincoln Tallman House. Kylie’s also has been working on a new series of stories called Volunteer of the Week. Each week going forward, The Gazette will share the story of one volunteer from a local nonprofit and showcase what they do for the community.
Neil, meanwhile, will keep an eye on news of finalists for the Janesville city manager’s position, who could be announced in the coming week.
And Ryan will step into Black History Month, that will be on the minds of officials in the Milton school and city government, as well as representatives on the state level, as they tour the Milton House. The tour will be on Wednesday, the first day of Black History Month. Afterward, there will be a roundtable discussion on the potential use of the museum at the Milton House, once a stop on the Underground Railroad, in race-based education curricula around the state.
In sports, The Gazette will cover a Janesville Craig girls basketball game hosted by Verona. Sitting in third place in the Big Eight Conference after falling to Sun Prairie West 71-63 on Friday, Craig will look to rebound against the conference’s top team.
On Thursday, The Gazette will cover a gymnastics matchup between the Cougars and Janesville Parker. In Rock Valley Conference play, Evansville will host Beloit Turner on Friday for a boys basketball game.