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BELOIT -- The day after Thanksgiving traditionally is known as the start of the holiday shopping season, but the city of Beloit has a tradition all its own -- the Grand Lighted Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony, which will be held Friday, Nov. 25, 2016.

Festivities begin at 5 p.m. with live music at the First National Bank plaza in downtown Beloit. Santa arrives at 6 p.m. for the tree lighting ceremony at the plaza followed by the parade, which begins at 6:15 p.m. along Grand Avenue, from Third Street to Horace White Park.

The parade features floats decorated by local businesses and organizations. Cash prizes are awarded to the top three decorated floats in the business and nonprofit categories.

Crystal Cribbs, program coordinator for the Downtown Beloit Association, said the parade usually is well attended.

"About 30 floats is normal for the parade. Hopefully, we will have more to make the parade last longer," Cribbs said. "It’s not only a community tradition, but also a family tradition for people throughout the area."

After the parade, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be at the Turtle Creek Bookstore, 444 E. Grand Ave., to take photos with children.

Cribbs said planning for the parade takes place throughout the year.

"Usually right after the parade ends, we have a committee that discusses how the parade went," Cribbs said. "Planning starts the day after it ends. We see what worked and what didn't work. Three months before the parade, we send our correspondence to get people to participate. We contact volunteers to man the different locations. We have a Santa crew that makes sure Santa lands safely at the First National Bank plaza. We work with the police and fire departments to make sure the event goes as smoothly as possible."

Holidazzle, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016

People can do their holiday shopping and enjoy an evening of entertainment with the annual Holidazzle in Beloit, which will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, in downtown Beloit.

Participating downtown businesses will host crafters, musicians and artisans throughout the evening while offering sales and specials to customers.

"Basically, it’s an opportunity to shop for unique holiday gifts," said Crystal Cribbs, program coordinator for the Downtown Beloit Association. "It’s an opportunity to shop local and in downtown Beloit. The businesses host artisans and crafters, and people get to meet the people who are making their holiday gift."

About 25 businesses will be participating this year. Cribbs said the DBA begins contacting businesses early in the fall to encourage them to participate in Holidazzle.

"We reach out to businesses to get them on board," Cribbs said. "We then reach out to the vendors and artisans to get them to particate."

For more information about Holidazzle, go to downtownbeloit.com.

WALWORTH COUNTY TODAY -- A pole barn fire killed more than 20 sheep and cost $125,000 in damages Friday night.

At approximately 9:54 p.m. Nov. 18, 2016, Darien and Sharon Fire departments responded to a fire at W8694 Kilkinney Road in Richmond Township. Additional assistance came from city of Delavan firefighters, according to a Darien Fire Department news release.

When units arrived on scene they found the barn engulfed in flames, according to the news release.

Strong winds caused the fire to spread quickly, but the fire fighters were quickly able to get the fire under control, according to the news release.

The fire was contained within the barn, according to the news release.

There were no human injuries in the fire, according to the news release.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to the news release.

ELKHORN -- American Transmission Company faces another lawsuit aimed at preventing the company from cutting trees in Geneva Township

An emergency motion for a temporary restraining order will be heard in Walworth County Court at 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, 2016.

In October, Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital, owned by Yvonne and Steven Blane, filed suit to stop the utility from clear cutting a row of trees that protects the property.

ATC owns a utility easement for a power line at Fellow Mortals. ATC attorneys argued the company needed to trim or remove multiple trees to increase safety and service reliability.

However, Walworth County Judge Daniel Johnson ruled Oct. 13, 2016, that ATC could trim or remove trees near the Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital.

Since then, crews have been clearing trees along along the powerline route on Palmer Road. Property owners have expressed concern to the town board about the extent of the trimming.

The township lawsuit asks that ATC stop “cutting, trimming, removing or otherwise destroying any vegetation” along the ATC power line in the town of Geneva, according to the lawsuit filed Nov. 11. The main area in question is for an ATC line that runs from the intersection of County NN and Highway 12 to Palmer Road at Highway 67.

Town of Geneva Police Chief Steven Hurley wrote in an affidavit filed with the town's lawsuit that the town has issued citations to ATC for violating a town ordinance regulating tree removal. ATC refuses to comply, according to his affidavit.

The ordinance, No. 58, says a building permit from the town of Geneva building inspector is required before removing any trees or brush and prohibits clear-cutting trees with some exceptions, which still must be submitted to the building inspector.

Jackie Olson, an ATC spokeswoman, said in an email to The Gazette that ATC told local officials “on several occasions” the company believes the local ordinance does not apply to public utilities.

A letter from an ATC attorney to the town reads: “The (recent) court ruling (affirms) that ATC has the right to trim and remove trees within the area covered by ATC's easement."

In the same letter, the attorney wrote ATC “will not be 'clear cutting' properties, but rather trimming some trees and removing incompatible ones within our easement strip to keep our lines safe and reliable.”

ATC did not end up needing to remove vegetation from the entire easement width on the Blanes' property, so some vegetation will remain intact, according to the letter.

Olson said they would have no further comment because the lawsuit is still pending. Richard Torhorst, the attorney representing the town of Geneva, could not be reached for comment.

ROCK COUNTY -- Delavan Fire Chief Timothy O’Neill recalls the first time his department called on Mercyhealth’s MD-1 emergency field team.

"We had a 10-year-old child that was pinned on a stairwell, and she needed minor surgery to remove an object that was impaled in her," O’Neill said. "Only a doctor can do that."

The MD-1 team uses specially equipped Chevy Tahoes that transport physicians to the scene of an emergency at the request of EMS teams.

They don’t replace them in the field, but instead provide additional expertise, particularly in trauma cases.

The program currently serves Rock, Walworth and Winnebago counties, as well as other areas in northern Illinois.

As local volunteer emergency medical service departments are increasingly squeezed between growing complexity and demand on one side and staffing shortages on the other, this unique private-public partnership has become a lifesaver.

Taxpayers also benefit because neither the responding agencies or patients are billed for MD-1 services.

Now about 3 years old, the service has become an integral part of local EMS responses.

"It’s been a very good service. There are some residents who went into cardiac arrest who wouldn’t be walking around today if it wasn’t for the MD-1 program," O’Neill said.

Jay MacNeal, Mercyhealth EMS medical director, said the vehicles respond to various types of emergencies.

"They could respond to car accidents. They could respond to farm equipment extrications. They could be sent to assist a patient with a unique medical condition," MacNeal said. "Sometimes we will respond to a scene, and a paramedic will have everything taken care of, but we will stay to learn how they might handle a situation, so it helps us improve our program. Not only do we teach the EMTs and paramedics, but the EMTs and paramedics teach us."

Mercyhealth started the MD-1 program in Rock County in 2013 and expanded to Walworth County the following year. The program was then started in Winnebago County and northern Illinois in October 2015.

MacNeal said he developed the idea from a similar program that he worked with when he attended Yale University.

"When I interviewed with Mercy, I brought the idea with me," MacNeal said. "We’re unique in that most of these programs are used in large urban areas, and our program is mostly in rural areas working with community hospitals."

The MD-1 program includes four vehicles. Three of the vehicles are available 24 hours a day, and a fourth vehicle is used for special events and as a backup for when additional emergencies may occur.

The vehicles are equipped with extrication equipment, a defibrillator, triage kit, glidescope video intubation unit, mechanical CPR device, ultrasound equipment and public safety radios.

"We try to carry things that a typical field unit might not have," MacNeal said. "When we load a patient on a vehicle, we try to do things that would best treat them on their way to the hospital."

MacNeal said the vehicles can access areas that other emergency vehicles may not be able to reach.

"Most paramedics or EMS services have the proper equipment to get to an emergency, but sometimes we can use our four-wheel vehicles to get to an emergency before a paramedic," MacNeal said. "Sometimes a helicopter may not be able to get to an emergency during a blizzard, but an MD-1 vehicle can. Sometimes we can get to an emergency when another vehicle can’t because of weather."

MacNeal said patients are treated and taken to the nearest hospital or medical facility.

"We may take them to the nearest trauma center or local community hospital or cath(eterization) lab," MacNeal said. "If they need to go to a specialty hospital, we may go there. We try to match the right facility for the patient. If they don’t have a severe injury, we may take them to a medical facility closest to their home. People think that just because it’s a Mercy program, we only take people to a Mercy facility, but that’s not the case. We serve the entire community."

MacNeal estimates that the vehicles respond to about 40 calls a month.

"The doctors average a call every other day," MacNeal said. "Sometimes we may not get called to a scene, but a paramedic may call us for advice to treat a patient that may have a certain condition. We tell people we’re like a coach on a football team. We’re OK with sitting on the sidelines, but don’t leave us behind when you go to an away game."

Clinton Fire Chief John Rindfleisch said the Clinton Fire Protection District has received assistance from the MD-1 program numerous times.

"We’ve had to use (the program) multiple times," Rindfleisch said. "It’s a great asset to the county."

Rindfleisch said the program has assisted the department during traffic accidents and fires and has offered rehabilitation services to the firefighters.

"We recently had a search and rescue situation, and they assisted us with that," Rindfleisch said. "Usually, if there’s advanced level of care, that’s usually what we call them for. They supplement our services."

Interim Milton Fire Chief Chris Lukas said his department also has benefited from the program.

"We’ve asked for assistance from them, and we’ve received assistance from them several times," he said.

Lukas said the department usually has enough firefighters available to respond to an emergency, but sometimes the MD-1 physicians can provide additional care to patients.

"We haven’t had to use it as a substitute for personnel," Lukas said. "Basically, we have smaller vehicles that can get back in the woods. They bring a physician to the scene, and they can give patients treatment that they wouldn’t have received until they arrived to the emergency room. It’s a great benefit to the community. I’m glad we have it available to us."

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- The universe captured on glass plates, with the earliest images dating over a century ago -- from photographs of Halley’s comet to the Andromeda galaxy -- have added layers of data to research for astronomers like Wayne Osborn. An extensive collection of these plates can be found at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, where Osborn has been making it his job to ensure their preservation.

Born in Los Angeles, Osborn and his family crisscrossed California while he was growing up. He moved across the country during his graduate studies, ending up with a doctorate degree in astronomy at Yale University.

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