Walworth County Sunday | Janesville Messenger | Stateline News



Walworth County Sunday | Janesville Messenger | Stateline News


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Friday, 08 September 2017 12:14

Mr. Conservation

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- “Gratifying” and “thankful” are the words Richard Newsome uses to describe being recognized for his conservation efforts during the past 40-plus years.

The Rock County Conservationists recently dedicated the Richard Newsome Education Garden at the Welty Environmental Center, located in Big Hill Park in the town of Beloit.

“If there was going to be something that had my name on it, I can’t think of anything I appreciate more than this prairie garden,” Newsome said.

The garden features a variety of prairie plants, including black-eyed Susans, frost asters, common violets, shooting stars, spiderwort, purple coneflowers, common milkweed and meadow blazing stars.

“There are all kinds of prairie (plants),” Newsome said. “There are still some purple coneflowers. They’ve been blossoming for a couple of months. We’re getting to the typical fall conditions, so a lot of the yellows are starting to show up. There’s an evening primrose. There’s black-eyed Susans. There’s a prairie aster. There’s golden rods in tiny yellow clusters, which is typical this time of year.”

The Rock County Conservationists began planting the prairie garden in 2016. Chairman John Meland said the organization wanted to establish the garden to recognize Newsome for his involvement with the group and the Welty Environmental Center.

“We held off the dedication to allow the garden to grow and become more robust,” Meland said. “This year, it’s looking really nice.”

Newsome founded the Rock County Conservationists in 1987 and served on its board until 2015. Newsome also co-founded the Friends of the Welty Environmental Center in 1998.

“He was instrumental in advancing our programming,” Meland said. “He was involved with directing our educational programs. We felt the reason why (the Rock County Conservationists) exist is because of him. He co-founded the Welty Environmental Center. Because he was involved with both organizations, we felt it only made sense to have the garden at the center’s headquarters.”

Meland said plans are to expand the garden.

“We started on the right side of the entrance (of the Welty Environmental Center) to establish the garden,” Meland said. “We plan to expand to the other side and possibly down the hill to the parking lot.”

Center development director Brenda Plakans said many patrons have enjoyed viewing the prairie garden.

“We have a lot of visitors this time of year,” Plakans said. “A lot of people come and walk on the trails. A lot of people attend our camps. (The garden) is a great, welcoming addition.”

Newsome’s local conservation efforts began in the early 1970s when he became involved with the Newark Road prairie project, which Newsome said eventually led to the formation of the Rock County Conservationists.

“We visited other prairie areas to get a perspective of how to develop (the Newark Road Prairie),” Newsome said. “Then we thought, why just open (the project) up to volunteers? Let’s open it up to the public, so we started scheduling meetings on a more regular basis. Then in 1986, we started talking about forming a group to make it more organized, and that was the beginning of the Rock County Conservationists.”

Newsome taught botany and ecology at Beloit College for several years, retiring in 1989.

Newsome said working at the college gave him the opportunity to educate students about the importance of land conservation.

“I taught high school for three years, but I felt more comfortable teaching at the college level because I felt I could do more,” Newsome said. “I really wanted to take kids into the fields or forests, but there were no provisions at all for field trips in the high schools. After getting into graduate school, I was thinking about teaching at the college level. I wanted to do research and I wanted a place and a situation where I would be rewarded for teaching, carrying on my research and doing other professional activities, and Beloit College suited the combination of those things nicely.

“From the start, we had the obligation to teach something out of our major area and to do something outside of the classroom, and they really wanted us to involve our students in activities. I could teach the way I wanted to and teach the things that I thought were important.”

Newsome said he mostly is involved with consulting and advising other conservation groups these days.

“My legs are bad enough (that) I really can’t be out (in the prairie),” Newsome said. “I still enjoy walking out there, but the amount of time I can spend out there is much shorter.”

Newsome became interested in land conservation while working on his graduate degree at the University of Saskatchewan.

“I was aware there was a need for it as part of my graduate education,” he said. “When I did my undergraduate studies back in the 1950s, there were only a handful of universities in North America that offered anything in ecology. In the courses that I had in ecology and geology, it was just sort of right in my face. ... Locally, it took teaching a couple of years at the college to get acquainted to what wasn’t happening in Rock County, and there virtually was no environmental organization.

“There was no local Audubon group. There were no land trusts. There was nothing in the elementary or high schools for ecology or nature. There was little interest in activity and managing it. It became evident that something was needed here.”

Newsome said it is important to educate people about the importance of conserving prairie areas and how they can help with future development.

“Prairie soils are really what has created a surge in the agricultural production that has been coming in,” Newsome said. “It’s the prairie soils that have been rich enough and durable enough to do that. Soils that are primed for any type of development are from prairie acres.”



Friday, 25 August 2017 09:13

Cranking up their engines

EDGERTON — The Rock River Thresheree reunion will feature a variety of stories about antique equipment, but perhaps none more interesting than two engines that the Fairbanks-Morse Company manufactured in 1935.

The thresheree will be held Friday through Monday, Sept. 1 through Sept. 4, at Thresherman’s Park south of Edgerton.

It will feature two CV-6 gasoline engines that were aboard the Navy’s USS Enterprise during World War II. Both engines were transported from New York in time for the 61st annual celebration.

“Even the Navy will tell you that (the USS Enterprise) was the most highly decorated ship that has been in the U.S. Navy,” said Ron DeGraff, Fairbanks-Morse historian. “We have now brought (the engines) back to the Beloit area about 82 years later. They were World War II veterans 82 years ago. So for a few of us, that’s a pretty big issue. They were in pre-production. They weren’t even manufacturing them.”

DeGraff said the CV-6s are “pretty darn rare.”

“They are the only two that exist in the world,” DeGraff said. “We like to advertise it as such, because maybe there will be some Navy veterans stopping by. We would like to make one of these run. Fairbanks-Morse made them in 1935, but they weren’t put in production so we don’t have any spare parts for them.”

DeGraff said the thresheree board has been trying to get its hands on the two engines for several years and paid about $1,300 to have them transported, with some help from Fairbanks-Morse, the featured engine for the thresheree.

“Fairbanks-Morse donated some money, and that was used to help pay for this project,” DeGraff said.

A gas engine that was used at a power plant in Alaska also will be displayed. It was brought to Thresherman’s Park about six years ago to be repaired and repainted.

The thresheree will include large gas engines that were used to power area municipalities.

“It was a step up from the days when you had these hit-or-miss gasoline engines,” DeGraff said. “The cities and towns started generating power, then the next phase was the power grids. (Gasoline engines) were just an interim step, and there are still a lot of these (engines) out there. It’s amazing how many of them are still on stand-by service. If (municipalities) get off the grid or the grid goes down or something, these still get used.”

DeGraff said several exhibitors will be displaying smaller gasoline engines, and engine collectors from throughout the country attend the event.

“Most of the smaller gas engines are owned by individuals, and they bring them up and display them at the show,” DeGraff said. “The other day, a guy called me and said he and his dad are coming from Virginia. If they want to come from Virginia, we will welcome them.”

DeGraff has been manager of the gas engines since 2004. He said he enjoys working with them and being a part of the event.

“The biggest thing I have to do is lay out the display area and put in the stakes and ropes, so when everybody brings their engines in they got a place to show them,” said DeGraff, who owns several gasoline engines that he often displays at the thresheree.

“My mother said I was born with a wrench,” DeGraff said. “From lawnmowers to go-karts, I’ve always had gas engines. I think I got pretty much everything I need (in my collection). After awhile, you start running out of space.”

DeGraff mostly worked with gas engines during his 34-year career at Fairbanks-Morse, which allowed him to travel overseas.

“I’ve been to Peru and Venezuela,” he said. “I’ve been to offshore locations in the Gulf (of Mexico),” DeGraff said. “I’ve traveled around and done a lot. I still do history programs for Fairbanks-Morse. I would have to say that I have had a remarkable career in the fact that I have a hobby that became a part of my work.”

Meanwhile, Allis-Chalmers will be the featured equipment company during Labor Day weekend.

“Most of it will be tractors, but there will be other types of equipment,” said Todd Ligman, president and director of the thresheree board. “Allis-Chalmers was a major manufacturer back in the day. They manufactured several types of equipment, especially tractors.”

Board member Guy Fay co-wrote a book about Allis-Chalmers tractors called “Original Allis-Chalmers: 1933-1957” in the late 1980s.

“The book is not so much about the company itself but more about the tractors they built when the tractors were popular,” Fay said. “I mostly wrote about the tractors that the company produced from the 1930s to the 1950s.”

Fay said he wanted to do the book because of his interest in antique tractors.

“I was a farm kid, and I’ve always been interested in antique tractors,” Fay said. “I thought it was an opportunity to do research about tractors.”

Fay said most of the Allis-Chalmers equipment at the thresheree belongs to nearby collectors.

“A lot of it will be local stuff, but I’m sure we will have some stuff from out of state,” he said. “I don’t know what everyone will bring. It’s up to them.”

Fay said people are allowed to submit items throughout the event.

“People are starting to bring stuff now,” Fay said. “People can bring stuff at 8 a.m. the day of the show. Some people even come in late and drive their tractors in. We get stuff all four days of the show.”

Fay has been a board member since 1992 and usually runs the Sorghum Mill, but this year he mostly will be involved with the antique car and truck show. Fay said the thresheree helps him stay in touch with his agricultural roots.

“I’m from the area and grew up on a farm,” Fay said. “(The thresheree) helps me keep up with the history of the area. I’m not farming anymore, but it’s a way for me to keep up with the farming industry. That’s what I like about the thresheree.”

The thresheree board selects different companies each year to be featured.

“It’s on a rotating list of ‘well, we haven’t done this company in awhile,’ or we do what we call ‘orphans and oddballs,’” DeGraff said. “Orphans and oddballs are usually a mix of tractor or engine manufacturers that made equipment for a few years, but they’re no longer a company, and that’s how they become orphans. You may have an engine, but you don’t have a company. There’s a whole list of categories that we bounce around and say, ‘what have we got and what haven’t we got?’”

The thresheree will include activities such as the Parade of Power at 2 p.m. daily, flea market, craft show, antique car and truck show, live music, food vendors and train rides on the Rock River Cannonball. The event also will offer blacksmithing, carving, broom making, corn shelling, grain threshing and steam engine plowing demonstrations.

Ligman said about 2,000 people attend the thresheree each year.

“The biggest part is people come with their families,” Ligman said. “There’s a lot for families to do. We have the flea market and the train rides, live music and food. It’s nice for families to come out for the day.”



At a glance:

What: 61st annual Rock River Thresheree

When: Friday through Sunday, Sept. 1 through Sept. 4; gates open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Thresherman’s Park, 51 E. Cox Road, Edgerton; just off U.S. Highway 51 and County Highway M between Edgerton and Janesville

Admission: $8 for those age 13 and older, free for those 12 and younger; Senior Citizens Day on Sept. 1, $6

Attractions: Sawmills, shingle and sorghum mills, threshing, pile driver, blacksmith shop, steam train rides, kids’ pedal pull, Museum of Ag & Industry, steam engines, car and truck show, military displays, craftsman demonstrations, tractors and gas engines

Other highlights: daily Parade of Power at 2 p.m.; Allis-Chalmers featured equipment and Fairbanks-Morse featured engine; flea market and craft show (exhibitors welcome); free parking and shuttle service

FYI: Call 608-868-2814 for general information and 608-728-3407 about the flea market. Visit for more details.

Thursday, 27 July 2017 00:00

Ready for the 4-H spotlight

It’s good to be the queen. It's good to be the king, too, as Jack Elliott and Brooke Trustem discovered in May when they were crowned king and queen of the 2017 Rock County 4-H Fair. 

“Being fair royalty and king is a special award because it recognizes all of the efforts I have put into 4-H over these past 12 years,” Elliott, a member of River Valley 4-H, said in an email.

Elliott, 18, won his first fair ribbons at age 8 during his first year in the Rock County 4-H Fair horse and pony show. He got a little help from Mo, an Arabian, and Sassy, a Welsh pony.

“I had watched my cousin show in previous years and was very excited to be finally showing at the fair myself,” he said.

Besides the horse and pony project, Elliott’s project areas have included rabbits, shooting sports, poultry, visual arts and food and nutrition.

“My projects have involved hard work, planning, learning, trying new things, consistently working with my animals, a lot of practice, some disappointments and some really memorable successes,” he said. “But it also has involved doing many things with other 4-H members and having a lot of fun in the process, a lot of laughs.”

Elliott will be showing in six projects at this year’s fair.

He won five trophies at the horse and pony project earlier this month and is qualified for the State Horse Expo in September, which will be held at State Fair Park in West Allis.

He plans on showing next year, too -- his last year of 4-H eligibility.

Like Elliott, Trustem, 19, a 13-year member of Magnolia 4-H, started projects young.

“My first project at the fair was exhibiting a calf in the Little Britches contest on the last day of the Rock County 4-H Fair,” Trustem said in an email. “I began exhibiting in the dairy project as soon as I could; I remember being excited but nervous as a shy 5-year-old would be.”

Since then, she’s been exhibiting dairy at the county fair, area district shows, the Wisconsin State Fair and national Holstein shows.

“A part of exhibiting dairy that is personal to me is showing heifers and cows that I have bred from my own cow families,” she said. “Last year, my bred and owned heifer, Landi, was the junior champion registered Holstein at the Rock County 4-H Fair, an honor I was not expecting.”

While she concedes her passion is with the dairy project, she also has been involved in foods and nutrition, clothing, poultry, youth leadership, home environment, child development, visual arts, crops and veterinary science over the years. 

“Being a part of the foods project has been a part of my family since my great-grandma was a foods superintendent,” she said.

Trustem remains active in dairy, poultry, clothing and food projects. Currently, she’s a junior superintendent in the clothing project and has coordinated a Cloverbud farm tour and a dairy fitting and show clinic that benefits members of the county, she said. 

“To me being queen is a huge honor. For my entire 4-H and FFA careers, I have been working toward becoming a leader that other fair exhibitors can look up to. By believing in the 4-H motto, ‘To make the best better,’ I have strived to accomplish what I watched so many queens do before me: work to build the 4-H fair program to its greatest potential.”

Trustem said her main duty as queen at this year’s fair will be welcoming all fairgoers and exhibitors. But there’s much more.

“I also want to be very involved with all of the judging that will be taking place during fair week,” she said. “Coming from an agriculture background, I want to be present during all of the species judging, not just dairy, as well as being present in the Clover Corner, where fairgoers can observe demonstrations, listen to the Rock County 4-H show choir Heatwave and look at projects from visual arts to veterinary science.”

“As king, I will be handing out awards, working the meat animal and fur and feather sales, introducing the nightly acts/shows, assisting the superintendents in some of my favorite projects and generally being an ambassador for 4-H and the Rock County Fair throughout the entire week,” Elliott said.

He also plans to enjoy the fair, an event that holds plenty of happy memories.

“Oh boy, from going on the rides with my family on the midway when I was a little kid, winning goldfish, hanging out with friends in the rabbit and pony barns, to getting mini doughnuts for my pony and the crazy crowds for FGL (Florida Georgia Line),” he said.

The 2017 Craig High School graduate plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Engineering, majoring in biomedical engineering.

Trustem will be a sophomore at UW-Madison, where she’s majoring in dairy science with a certificate in agricultural business management.

At the university, she’s involved in the Badger Dairy Club, the Association of Women in Agriculture and the Collegiate Farm Bureau.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017 00:00

Learning the lingo

JANESVILLE MESSENGER--Part of the fun at the fair is watching all of the animals being judged; each rabbit and chicken held by a hopeful youngster, each bovine, equine, ovine, caprine and porcine maneuvered by their handler in the show ring. You know what a rabbit and chicken are, but do you know a bovine refers to cattle, equine to horses and ponies, ovine to sheep, caprine to goats and porcine to pigs?

Emily Harris, a fourth generation  4-H member, recalls her days in the show ring with her sheep at the Boone County, Illinois, and Rock County, Wisconsin, fairs.

“You can always tell who the city people are,” Harris said. “I remember one lady asking me if my wether was pregnant and how many are in a litter. That’s the first time I realized that I knew stuff adults didn’t know.”

Just for the record, a wether could never be pregnant because that term refers to a castrated male sheep. The term for a newborn sheep is a lamb; typically, a sheep will have one or two young -- more than that is unusual.

Angela Nelson, who has shown cavies (guinea pigs) and rabbits at the Rock County 4-H Fair as a youth and at the Walworth County Fair as an open class competitor, said 4-Hers are prepped to answer questions about their projects.

“Now, I think that is the cool thing about these fairs,” Nelson said. “It’s that opportunity to educate people on your projects and the handling of livestock.”

When Nelson was 8 or 9 years old, however, she just thought the questions were stupid.

Well, we all know there is no such thing as a stupid question, but a little information can go a long way in preparing the uninitiated when they want to understand what’s going on in the show ring. Asking pertinent questions while visiting the animal barns will garner additional information and most kids are glad to share their knowledge of animals.

Chad Howlett, who grew up around beef cattle and has judged cattle and coached teams of younger judges, said observers to the judging process will often hear some common terms.

“I’ll refer to the ‘quality’ of the animal. The term is all-encompassing and includes the balance and overall structural correctness,” Howlett said. “You know it when an animal comes in the ring and it just has that ‘it factor’ -- that’s a quality animal.”

Know your fair animals


Hen -- mature female bird

Rooster­ -- male bird

Chick -- baby bird

Comb -- Typically red, the comb is the fleshy crest on top of the head

Spur -- The horny projection on the lower back part of the leg, used for defense


Rabbits have litters of young and live in a warren. Baby rabbits, commonly called bunnies, are kits. A flock of rabbits, in some parts of the world, are called “fluffies.”

Buck -- Male rabbit

Doe -- Female rabbit


Sheep is both singular and plural – for example, you can say “I have one  sheep” or you could say “I have five sheep.” A sheep designates an animal over 1 year of age. Younger animals are called lambs. Mutton refers to the processed meat of a sheep; lamb refers both to the meat and the animal, 1  year old or less.

Ewe -- adult female sheep

Ram -- male sheep

Wether -- castrated male sheep

Flock -- a group of sheep


Goats chew their cud, which means they regurgitate a partially digested wad of food to chew it again in order to digest it. All ruminants do this and have multiple compartments, usually four, in their stomach to use in ingestion. The Boer goat is a popular meat animal, while the dairy breeds include Alpines, Saanens and Nubians. Angora goats are raised for their fiber, which is processed into mohair yarn.

Buck -- adult male

Doe -- adult female

Kid -- baby goat of either sex

Chevron -- the meat of a goat

Wattle -- an appendage of flesh that hangs from the throat/neck area


This category is divided into beef and dairy cattle. Beef cattle breeds include Angus, a black-skinned breed developed in the Angus region of Scotland. Another popular breed developed in Herefordshire, England. The Hereford is prized for its high yield of beef and its efficiency of production. The breed names of animals, as in these two cases, often are derivative of the animal’s origins.

Dairy breeds include the Holstein, known as the world’s highest production dairy animal. Their black and white markings are a familiar sight on Wisconsin farms, where they make up 90 percent of the herds. Jersey and Brown Swiss also are dairy cattle.

 Bull -- an intact (not castrated) male of any age

Steer -- castrated male

Heifer -- a young female, under 3 years old, that has not had a calf

Cow -- a female that has had a calf

Calf -- refers to the young between birth and weaning of either sex

Beef -- the processed meat of an adult animal

Veal -- the meat from a calf

You don’t need to read a newspaper to know that our business is evolving constantly.

The nation’s largest and most influential newspapers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, continually are adjusting to the quickly changing ways that readers consume news.

The same is true with our weekly newspapers here at CSI Media.

Walworth County Fair

Aug. 30-Sept. 4, 2017

Mobile guide and schedule

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Russ Hays has been busy. As co-chair of the Cars Time Forgot car show, he’s lined up vendors, recruited volunteers, answered innumerable questions from potential visitors and exhibitors and given interviews — heck, he even  built the show trophy.

He’ll see all his work come to fruition on Sunday, July 9, 2017 when more than 1,000 show cars, trucks, motorcycles and special interest vehicles are expected to cover the grounds of Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan. This is the sixth year the show has been at the resort after outgrowing its original location in downtown Delavan.

Thursday, 22 June 2017 15:36

Janesville's new superintendent is all in

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Early in January, members of the Janesville School Board had heard and seen enough about the candidates for the next superintendent to make a decision ahead of schedule.

They unanimously decided they didn’t need a second round of interviews with the finalists.

They were so impressed with Steve Pophal that they named him to succeed the retiring Karen Schulte, ending a five-month search process.

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Growing up east of Janesville’s Traxler Park, Rob Bier, 51, explored the city by bike, stopping to hike along the banks of the Rock River downtown where the foundations of a brick building stood, or trek wooded lots dotted with old bottles behind Mercy Hospital or the ice arena.

Years later, as he learned more about the city’s past, he realized his childhood adventures shared a common denominator.

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Law enforcement officers and innocent drivers survived life-threatening situations this past Dec. 31 during a police chase that started in the town of Beloit and ended after a standoff near the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.

And Rock County Sheriff’s Office squad car cameras caught all of the frantic action along U.S. Highway 51 between Beloit and Janesville.

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