JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Change is conspicuously underway in downtown Janesville, and the pace will quicken in the new year.
The parking deck is coming down on the Rock River, Milwaukee Street now is two way through the center of the city and new businesses are setting up shop in formerly vacant spaces.
Some of these developments are part of the city’s long-range development plans, while others are coincidental and fortuitous.
JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- A variety of people and places made for a newsworthy and noteworthy year in Janesville.
As we take our first steps into 2017, take a glance back at the events that helped shape our community and local culture in 2016.
STATELINE NEWS -- About 75 children currently are on the waiting list for Big Brothers Big Sisters, but a variety of innovative new program hopes to match those kids with mentors.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rock, Walworth and Jefferson counties is gearing up its Bigs in Blue program following a national TV rollout.
The group also has formed partnerships with the Beloit College softball team and the Janesville Boys & Girls Club.
JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Looking for a way to literally brighten up your holiday season? Look no further than Rotary Botanical Gardens, where this year’s Holiday Light Show features an additional 50,000 lights, bringing the total to more than 400,000 glowing bulbs.
The spectacle will be open 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 9 through Dec. 11, Dec. 15 through Dec. 23 and Dec. 26 through Dec. 30.
JANESVILLE -- Three days of holiday activities will be featured downtown during the third annual Janesville Jolly Jingle, set for Friday through Sunday, Dec. 2 through Dec. 4, 2016. The highlights will include the tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Lower Courthouse Park and the lighted parade at 6 p.m. Dec. 3 along Milwaukee and Main streets. Fireworks will follow the parade.
"The parade is really cool. We have the lighted floats. We have music groups. We have marching bands. We have live animals," said Shelley Slapak, Janesville recreation director.
The Rock County Historical Society will host Christmas with the Tallmans from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Lincoln-Tallman House, 440 N. Jackson St. The event will include tours of the house, decorated Christmas trees and hot cider and hot chocolate. The cost to attend is $5, and children 5 years and younger get in free.
Other activities will include the Christkindl Holiday Market, Holiday Vendor Market, "Spice on Ice" skate show, holiday film festival, live reindeer display, snowtubing, art exhibits, children’s craft projects and live music.
"There’s things for people of all ages and interests," Slapak said. "If you’re looking for more passive activities, there’s the craft sales, film festival and the sing-a-longs. If you’re into the more active activities, there’s snowtubing and ice skating.
"JPAC will present ‘The Santaland Diaries,’ which is geared more toward adults, but there’s plenty of activities for kids."
Jolly Jingle definitely attracts a crowd, but it’s tough to put a number on attendance, Slapak said.
"It’s hard to get an exact estimate because people are so spread out. There’s several thousands of people who line the downtown streets to watch the parade," she said. "It’s not only community driven, but we get people from outside of Janesville as well. The point is to get people from outside of Janesville to visit the community."
A multitude of groups work together to help make Jolly Jingle a success.
"There’s so many partners that are involved. The city hosts activities at the senior center. The Hedberg Public Library, Downtown Business Association, Janesville Farmers Market, Voigt Music Center, JPAC, Olde Towne Mall and Janesville Area Visitors and Conventions Bureau all host activities," Slapak said. "It’s a huge deal. Several community groups come together to host an event to kick off the holiday season."
For more information, go online to janesvillejollyjingle.com.
Janesville residents had a chance to take a sledgehammer and whack away at the parking structure located between Court and Milwaukee streets and over the Rock river. Residents paid to take sledgehammer in hand and break apart portions of the now obsolete parking area. All money raised goes towards beautifying downtown Janesville.
JANESVILLE -- Christopher Rabuck, 37, of Janesville, well known in local social media groups for his devotion to Riverside Park and Janesville, was killed Nov. 10, 2016 when a vehicle careened through the park and struck him.
Police have arrested Michael A. Perry, 71, on charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle and operating while intoxicated.
Police were called to Janesville’s Riverside Park at 1:07 p.m. Thursday for a report of a pickup truck that struck another vehicle, a pedestrian and a power pole.
A memorial gathering to remember Rabuck is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 at Riverside Park.
Read the invitation HERE.
"Honoring Christopher Rabuck: Community Unity- Saturday, November 12th at 10am the community is invited to meet at the Riverside Park artesian well to place flowers, share memories and honor a wonderful member of our community.
"Feel free to also stop at your own convenience if that time and date does not work for you.
Rabuck was active in the Facebook group "Growing up in Janesville," and tributes began pouring in as word of his death spread.
Read them HERE.
JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Participating in a school play or musical gives students an opportunity to showcase their talents, develop valuable life skills and escape reality for a while.
This weekend and the next several weekends are full of high school productions. Here’s what that talented teens in your neighborhood have in store:
BELOIT -- Karen Soto feels like she’s making a difference by educating her peers about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. As a member of the Rock County Youth2Youth 4 Change, Soto is on the front lines of student education.
"I’m really grateful for this program because not only have I seen the progress of us helping out the community. It had me informed, which helped me stay away from drugs and alcohol," Soto, 19, of Beloit said. "This is like my second family."
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Dave Saalsa remembers walking his dogs one evening across the wooded lawns of Whitewater’s Hillside Cemetery when the animals suddenly stopped and stood stock-still. He glanced up to see what the dogs were watching so intently, but nothing looked amiss. Then he spotted it.
“Right across from a crypt, I saw this full-bodied apparition of a woman. She was floating up the hill,” Saalsa said.
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