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Monday, 30 December 2013 13:32

A look back at 2013

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Portions of Traxler Park are under water after soggy spring weather brought heavy rains to the area in April. The July 4 fireworks in the park also had to be postponed due to high water. Portions of Traxler Park are under water after soggy spring weather brought heavy rains to the area in April. The July 4 fireworks in the park also had to be postponed due to high water. Dan Plutchak/staff

 

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Newspapers are like a snapshot. Each issue chronicles a slice of life in our communities at the time.

But just because a story has been told in the Sunday newspaper doesn’t mean the final chapter has been written.

New developments happen, situations change and unexpected twists and turns take place.

In this, our last edition of 2013, we take a look back at five stories we reported on during the year to see what’s happened since they first were published. Read the current edition here: http://www.server-jbmultimedia.net/CSI-JanesvilleMessengerSunday

Safety worries in the wings?

April 14

JANESVILLE -- Businesses that fly out of the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport dodged one bullet this year when the Federal Aviation Administration delayed the closure of the traffic control tower until June 15. But it left the question: If sequester-forced budget cuts eventually close the tower, will it be a mere inconvenience, or a serious safety threat?

On April 14, Dennis Hines reported on the $637 million spending reduction at the FAA, and the potential local repercussions.

“There’s more likely to be delays for our charter flights. Time is of the essence for us and our customers. So, efficiency is a big part of our business, however, safety is always paramount,” said Andrew Schweickert, marketing communications manager for SC Aviation. “We will adjust accordingly. It’s not an issue that will affect our marketing or sales. From an operations standpoint, we will just have to do things differently to ensure safety.”

SC Aviation offers charter flight service at the airport. Schweickert said he doesn’t feel the closing of the tower would have much effect on business.

On the other hand, Steve King of Janesville Jet Center said he believed the closing of the tower will affect customer service at the airport. He said many businesses use the airport throughout the year. Janesville Jet Center provides logistic support for aircraft that is flown into the airport.

In the end, the tower remains open at the airport, and the recent budget deal hammered out by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Janesville and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington began the process of addressing some of the sequester cuts.

Going with the flow

April 28

JANESVILLE -- Residents kept a wary eye on the weather and filled sandbags in April as heavy rains caused flooding in the city and in area communities.

Although the flooding didn’t reach the destructive levels of 2008, the city gave out about 3,500 sandbags to local homeowners and business owners.

“Most of the city workers have filled sandbags and placed them along the Rock River and near park buildings,” said acting City Manager Jay Winzenz. “The city also has maintained other locations to make sure there’s no unexpected problems.”

Sandbag filling stations also were set up in Milton, Edgerton and the town of Fulton. A sandbag distribution station was established at the Rock County Highway Department on Wisconsin Highway 59 in Edgerton.

“Some people asked for help for setting up sandbags at their home,” said Capt. Gary Groelle of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. “There were a lot of calls from people wanting to protect their residence.”

The rains returned again in early July, as the city’s fireworks had to be postponed until Labor Day weekend because of high water in Traxler Park.

Planning to SHINE in Janesville

July 7

JANESVILLE -- A document that’s some 4,000 pages long is under review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as SHINE Medical Technologies continues to work toward approval of a Janesville production plant.

SHINE officials want to build an $85 million facility that would produce molybdenum-99, a medical isotope used in more than 30 different types of diagnostic imaging procedures.

On July 7, Dennis Hines reported on informational sessions held in Janesville by SHINE officials about the proposed plant on U.S. Highway 51 across from the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.

The company plans to complete the facility in 2016 and begin production in 2017. The plant is expected to employ about 150 workers and generate about $200 million in revenue during the first year of production.

“We’re bringing in a number of well-paying jobs, and those are direct jobs in the plant. Then we anticipate that there will be a number of spin-off jobs that will arise as a result of the plant being here,” SHINE Chief Operating Officer Vann Bynum said at a July meeting in Janesville.

“(Employees) are going to need a lot of technical background, but a lot of that is already here in Janesville,” said Greg Piefer, SHINE Medical Technologies CEO. “There will be some specific training for particular needs such as radiation safety, security and for the jobs themselves, but we will be happy to provide that training.”

The NRC has determined that SHINE’s application is complete and will review the document during the upcoming year.

The Janesville City Council also recently approved purchasing two parcels, totaling eight acres, for SHINE to help it satisfy a federal buffering requirement.

Battling the borer

Sept. 1

JANESVILLE -- A city tree-planting program is set to begin in spring in an effort to battle the destructive emerald ash borer.

On Sept. 1, Dennis Hines reported about the city’s efforts to assess and treat the insect problem among ash trees.

An inventory done last summer showed about 340 ash trees in Janesville parks and public areas. About half of those trees were treated to help prevent them from being affected by the borer.

“By treating them, it’s with a chemical that kills the insect that’s inside the tree,” Parks Director Tom Presny said. “For all practical purposes, most of our ash trees in our developed park areas will be treated, which saves them from dying within one to three years.”

In addition, the city received a $50,000 grant to plant about 200 new trees. The planting is to take place in spring.

“We’re showing a good effort in the community of recognizing that a lot of trees are going to die within the next couple of years despite the fact that we’re going to treat a number of them,” Presny said. “We’re going out and planting new trees, so we’re considering the future of the parks and know that there will be enough trees in the future.”

Making connections at society

Oct. 6

JANESVILLE -- Brett Frazier was hired as the new executive director of the Rock County Humane Society in June, and he got right to work on accomplishing one of his goals -- to develop partnerships with local businesses and organizations.

On Oct. 6, Dennis Hines reported about new initiatives at the society, including an agreement with Blain’s Farm & Fleet to provide cat and dog food for the humane society.

“Blain’s Farm & Fleet is an example of what’s best about the Rock County businesses,” Frazier said. “Whenever there is a need in the community, they are willing to help out… They will be providing us with an awful lot of cat and dog food over the course of the year.”

The humane society also established a satellite location at the Petco store in Janesville to serve as an adoption site for cats and kittens.

Frazier said another future goal is to provide more space for the humane society, with the possibility of moving to a new location within the next several years.

“We realize we have some limitations with our current facility, so we will be looking for ways to make this facility work in the short term,” Frazier said.

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