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STATELINE NEWS -- Following a scathing report released last week by new Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney, officials are evaluating a wide range of county operations.

After his first two months in office, Haney issued the report highlighting what he says is a culture of "pay-to-play political extortion," bullying and sexual harassment.

Read the report HERE.

The report, a 60-day review put together in partnership with the county board, aims to increase accountability, transparency and collaboration in county government.

The most troubling findings were forwarded to the U.S. attorney.

ROCKTON -- After having success over the years at Lake Geneva’s U.S. Nationals Snow Sculpting Competition, a group of popular teams have decided to strike out on their own.

The Vikings in Black, Kilted Snow Weasels and several other teams are hosting the Sculpt Like a Yeti snow-sculpting competition, which runs Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, through Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, as part of this year’s Yeti Fest, which will be held that Saturday in Rockton. The competition will be held throughout the festival at Old Settlers Park.

STATELINE NEWS -- Chuck Lewis has owned the same pair of wood skis for 40 years and wouldn’t dream of giving them, or his favorite pastime, up.

Not to mention, Lewis lives on Turtle Creek and enjoys easy access to cross-country skiing trails that snake through the flood plain in Beloit.

“All I have to do is walk out my backdoor and I’m there,” said Lewis, who also has gone downhill skiing in such places as Utah and Colorado with his wife, Julie, and/or their three children. “I also seek out trails at Rockport Park in Janesville, the ones in the Kettle Moraine or Rock Cut State Park (Loves Park). We have great groomed trails within 30 miles of home.”

STATELINE NEWS -- Ron Northrop Jr. was going to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a firefighter, but early on he decided to take his public service career in a different direction and enter law enforcement.

The town of Beloit is glad he did.

Thursday, 29 December 2016 12:24

2016: Top stories in the Stateline

STATELINE NEWS -- 2016 saw a community’s outpouring of support for a slain youngster, the official changing of the guard at the Beloit Police Department and the return of the remains of a soldier who had been missing for more than 64 years.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016 09:21

Enduring memories: Holiday in their homeland

We seem to hold Christmas memories — the nostalgic, the sweet, even the sad — dearer to our hearts. Maybe that’s because this is a time of year that pulls us closer, makes us feel connected to each other. And when we asked area residents for their favorite Christmas memories, they were happy to share:

Snow at Christmas was a novelty for Razel Germain when she came to the United States in 2009 from her home in the Philippines — where Christmas Day temperatures average around 80 degrees. Last year, Razel became a U.S. citizen through the Immigration Legal Service Ministry at Faith Community Church in Janesville, where she lives with her husband, Dave, a Filipino-American. While the Germains have made their home here, they both fondly remember Christmas in their native land:

Razel: “I grew up in the islands, the seventh of eight children in a big family. When I was growing up, my parents could not afford to buy all the (expensive) foods Dave’s family had, but on our table, we had foods like fruit, boiled eggs, spaghetti, rice. It was simple, but as long as we were together in the family, that was good.

“People make lanterns — that’s a big thing in Philippines. That’s how you feel the spirit of Christmas.

“And everyone from adults to small kids goes from house to house caroling, bringing some instrument like a guitar or even a spoon to bang against something — any instrument they can use while they are caroling. When I was a kid, I went caroling to make money and it was fun.”

Dave: “When I was growing up in the Philippines, we lived in a compound with five to seven houses in it and a lot of close relatives. Usually on midnight on Christmas Eve, everybody — probably around 15 to 20 people — would get together for good food. My favorite was a round cheddar cheese called quezo de bola.

“You miss that big family gathering on Christmas Eve. You can really feel the spirit of Christmas in your home.

“I remember from Dec. 15 to the 24th, there were usually groups of kids who caroled in front of your house. We gave them change or candy.

“Church services started the morning of Dec. 16 and there would be a Mass every day up to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Lots of people go to church. That’s a big tradition in the Philippines.

“And shortly before Christmas there were always fireworks lighting up the sky and lasting to New Year’s Eve.”

We seem to hold Christmas memories — the nostalgic, the sweet, even the sad — dearer to our hearts. Maybe that’s because this is a time of year that pulls us closer, makes us feel connected to each other. And when we asked area residents for their favorite Christmas memories, they were happy to share:

Sheri Disrud, the volunteer coordinator at Beckman Mill in Beloit, has a box full of Christmas past in the form of ornaments her now adult children crafted when they were young:

“I had four children, and while they were growing up, my husband at that time was in retail and he was at the store all the time.

“I had to make Christmas with my little kids and we had fun doing it. One day we would make cookies — you know, the decorated cutout cookies, and we’d have a big mess in the kitchen. Another time, I’d get out scraps of paper, glue, glitter and pipe cleaners. I’d tell the kids they had to make me an ornament for the tree. One of them made a Christmas tree as an ornament and decorated it with candy-type things. Another made Christmas tree light bulb ornaments. One year they even made a snowman, gluing on cotton balls to make it fluffy and gluing buttons on.

“They were young — 3, 4 years old — and they made some cute ornaments that are very special to me. My oldest child is now 54.

“I lost a bunch of those ornaments, but this year I found a box of 15 of them. I was so excited. It was so much fun to remember those times.”

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.

MACHESNEY PARK -- Manger scenes depicting Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus surrounded by the three wise men are popular decorations on people’s lawns during the holiday season.

However, that scene is now coming to life, because several area churches are conducting live Nativity scenes during the upcoming weeks.

Riverside Community Church, 6816 N. Second St. in Machesney Park, will conduct "A Night in Bethlehem" drive-thru Nativity scene from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10, 2016 and Dec. 11, 2016. The program will feature five scenes depicting the story of Jesus’ birth.

BELOIT -- While many local teens will be looking forward to getting an Xbox or iPhone for Christmas this year, others will be happy to receive just the basic needs.

Project 16:49 has become an important lifeline for unaccompanied teenagers in Rock County.

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