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ROCK COUNTY -- Roy and Barbara Carter are the voice for children who need someone to speak on their behalf.

The Shopiere couple are volunteers for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Rock County, or CASA. The Carters serve as advocates for children who have been neglected or abused as their cases work their way through the court system.

Friday, 23 January 2015 09:22

‘This is like Janesville's Oscars’

JANESVILLE  MESSENGER -- Growing up in Janesville, Callie Johnson-Schouten had aspirations of becoming a national performer. Now that she has accomplished that goal, she wants to help someone else follow their dreams.

The Janesville native, who now lives in Las Vegas, plans to present a $1,200 scholarship to a local youth during the Janesville Area Creativity Awards event, which will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Janesville Performing Arts Center, 408 S. Main St. The scholarship is for a Rock County resident between the ages of 10 and 16 who is studying dance.

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Trayvon Crain looks forward to receiving letters from his pen pal in South Africa.

The fourth-grader at Jefferson Elementary School in Janesville participates in the school’s pen pal program with SizaBantwana, a nonprofit organization in South Africa that works with orphaned children.

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Lydia Lobrano had an opportunity to study abroad in England last year thanks to a scholarship that she received her senior year of high school.

The Janesville Parker High School graduate and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater junior was one of several recipients of the Janesville Promise Fund Scholarship in 2012. The scholarship, established by UW-Whitewater alumni Quint and Rishy Studer about three years ago, is for Craig and Parker high school graduates who have been accepted to UW-Whitewater.

STATELINE NEWS -- You’ve seen them, but you likely don’t know who created some of the most prominent public sculptures in Beloit and Janesville.

O.V. Shaffer, 86, is regarded by many as one of the most prolific of Wisconsin’s artists, creating more than 1,200 pieces of art on public display throughout the Midwest.

MESSENGER — David Mumma’s goal of becoming a high school teacher didn’t quite pan out. But the 44 years he ended up working in the transportation industry took him on a route to career satisfaction nonetheless.
 Mumma retired from his position as Janesville transportation director on Jan. 2. He had worked  in the position for about 35 years.
Since the Janesville Transit Services Center on Black Bridge Road was completed in August, Mumma said he felt it was an appropriate time for him to retire.
“You get to a point in your career where you feel that you’ve accomplished what you wanted to accomplish,” Mumma said. “Over the past couple of years, I’ve just come to the conclusion that once (the transit services center) was completed, that was an opportunity for me to take a more relaxed pace.”
Rebecca Smith, who served as assistant transit director, has been named to the director post.
Mumma said he will miss working with the staff of the transportation department and helping to provide bus service to Janesville residents.
“Transportation has been my life for the last 40-something years, and I will miss coming in and making a contribution to the community on a daily basis,” Mumma said. “The service we provide to the community is important to me. We help people achieve their goals, whether it be employment or education or just getting to the doctor or the store.
“What we do is important, and the people who we serve are, oftentimes, folks who don’t have another alternative and they deserve the same rights as everybody else to mobility and access, and we provide that.”
Mumma has seen his share of changes in the transit system since he was was hired in 1979. Back then, Janesville had just received a new fleet of buses and additions and renovations were completed at the former transit center on North Parker Drive.
“For the first time, they had an honest-to-God maintenance shop. There were actual offices. It was a great improvement, and everyone had thought that they had died and gone to heaven,” Mumma said. “That was 35 years ago. I showed up on the scene in August 1979, so I walked into a pretty good situation — a modern fleet and a renovated and expanded facility and a sense in the community that public transit was important.”
As the years rolled along, so did many of those 1979 buses.
“The last one was not retired until 2006, 27 years after it was built and three-quarters of a million miles,” Mumma said.
Working in transportation wasn’t always a smooth ride, though.
During the early 1980s, the city reduced transit service and increased fares, which decreased ridership, Mumma said.
“When you do that in this business, that usually kills your ridership. We kind of held on through the ’80s but kept operating,” Mumma said. “One of the things that kept us going during that time was school ridership.”
Last year the transit system partnered with the Janesville School District to establish a youth token program to provide bus tokens to the schools at a reduced cost. Some students who are in need use the tokens to get to school, he said.
“The point is to get students to school,” Mumma said. “Since the inception of that program, the number of riders we have from the schools has gone up 35 percent. We had to put extra buses on to handle the load.”
Intercity bus service between Janesville and Beloit also has seen growth since its start in 1987, he said.
“For 28 years, the Beloit-Janesville Express has grown from four round trips a day to hourly service between Janesville and Beloit,” Mumma said. “It carries over 60,000 people a year back and forth between the two communities.”
In late 2011, bus service was started among Janesville, Milton and Whitewater. Mumma said offering bus service to those areas has provided more job opportunities to local residents. He said many people who use the service work at Blackhawk Technical College or Generac Power Systems in Whitewater.
“About 61 percent of the people who use the Janesville, Milton and Whitewater service are going to work,” Mumma said. “Of those people, 37 percent have said, ‘If this bus doesn’t run, I don’t have a job because I can’t get to work.’”
In the future, Mumma would like to see regional transit systems established in Wisconsin.
“Public transit is no longer constrained by the city limits of Janesville or the city limits of Beloit or Madison,” Mumma said. “People need to be mobile regionally. We need to not only be looking within our cities, we need to be looking outside, so regional transit authorities’ time has come.”
The Janesville transit system provides about half a million passenger trips a year, according to Mumma.
“Some people will see a bus go by and see six people on it, but it adds up,” he said. “You’re going to see (a bus) go by with six people sometimes, but you’re going to see it go by with 36 people on it, which means you’ve got six or seven people standing on the bus. ...
“There’s people who absolutely need it.”
Mumma said the transit system would not be a success without its employees.
“It’s definitely a team effort. Something just doesn’t happen because of one person,” Mumma said. “The success of the place is because of all 37 people who work here.
“I’ve just been blessed by doing something I enjoy, and I’ve been blessed by helping the community by doing (my job).”
Mumma started in the transportation industry by working as a part-time bus driver for a family-owned bus company in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He later began writing tour brochures and safety manuals for the company and eventually became the bus driver supervisor.
“That’s how I ended up in the transportation business,” Mumma said. “They gave me an opportunity.”
Mumma later worked as an operations supervisor and safety director for a public transit system in Jackson, Michigan, then eventually came to Janesville in 1979.
“I’ve been running like crazy ever since,” Mumma said.
Even in his retirement, Mumma will keep things rolling; he’s planning to do part-time consulting work for area transportation companies.

JANESVILLE  -- New faces and new projects dominated the defining stories of 2014 in the Janesville area. As the new year nears, we take a look back at the stories that shaped 2014:

JANESVILLE -- There’s something about the past that always has kept author Clark Kidder moving ahead to his next project.

Kidder, who spent nearly four decades in Milton and now calls Janesville home, has had a lifetime of professional experiences in a relatively short amount of living.

(Scroll to bottom of page for more photos)

JANESVILLE -- The plants aren’t in bloom this time of year, but Marsha Mood finds plenty of colorful photo opportunities at Rotary Botanical Gardens each December.

DARIEN TOWNSHIP -- Finding joy and comfort during the holiday season can be as simple as sitting down to a home-cooked meal with loved ones or decorating the tree as a family. However, for some in Rock and Walworth counties, the delight that comes with the Christmas season isn’t to be had so easily.

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