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Friday, 20 October 2017 08:31

Downtown Janesville transformation underway

To the editor,
It is an exciting time to live in the city of Janesville. New businesses are moving in, established businesses are thriving, home values are increasing, our schools are excelling and our downtown is transforming.

Thursday, 05 October 2017 10:11

Working Toward Transformation

JANESVILLE — The Hedberg Public Library is looking to undergo a facelift over the next couple years.

The Transformation Project will revitalize the library and position it to serve the community more efficiently, said Bryan McCormick, library director.
One aspect of the project would be to have the reference desk and the circulation desk in a centralized area.

“Patrons can come in and only have one place to have their questions answered,” McCormick said. “They won’t have to go to multiple places. We will have a centralized service point for patrons.”

The programming room would be renovated to accommodate more people and programs. McCormick said the room could be used for meetings, training sessions and community events.

Monday, 25 September 2017 15:02

Operation Kidsafe in Janesville Sept. 23


JANESVILLE--An Operation Kidsafe event will be held Saturday, Sept. 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Janesville Nissan, 2627 Morse St., Janesville.

Operation Kidsafe lets parents make a bio document of their child that they can hand to local police in case of an emergency. Safety tips to start a family safety action plan are also included.

The event is free. No special information is needed because there is no data basing. Parents take home the only record of the visit.

Friday, 01 September 2017 13:29

Clinton man masters his craft

STATELINE NEWS — Gerry Lesch has traveled to all seven continents and carved items out of native wood while visiting six of them.

The exception was his 2009 trip to Antarctica, which doesn’t allow defacing of anything. So, he made do with what he could find, notching an owl out of a bar of soap in three minutes while departing on an old icebreaking ship. Lesch gave it to a Russian couple who had just gotten engaged.

Next summer he plans to visit Iceland and Greenland. But currently his attention is concentrated on Rock County, because he will be the featured carver — for a second time — at the 12th annual Rock River Valley Carvers show, which is scheduled Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Rock County Fairgrounds.

Friday, 04 August 2017 00:00

Not a maze, but a journey

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY-- The first time Julie Dieterle walked a labyrinth, she followed the same winding stone path set into the floor of the 12th-century Chartres Cathedral in France that people had been walking on for more than 1,000 years.

At Chartres, the 42-foot diameter labyrinth was used by many medieval pilgrims unable to travel to the Holy Land as their own version of a spiritual quest. Today the circular paths of labyrinths remain a form of meditation for many.

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.

Recent surface water testing by the Rock County Public Health Department has indicated high levels of E. Coli bacteria in the Yahara River and the Rock River from Indianford to Beloit, according to a release from the Rock County Public Health Department.

The July 12 testing found high E. Coli levels in the Yahara River at Stebbinsville and Murwin Park in Fulton, and the Rock River at Traxler Park in Janesville and Preservation Park in the town of Beloit.

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Dan Peterson spent his 36-year medical career mending people’s hearts and bodies. The rural Janesville man still builds and fixes things, but now he works on horse-drawn carriages.

And he’s finally building his first carriage since talking his wife, Susan, into moving to a farm on Polzin Road in 1980.

“I have done repairs on carriages and have replaced brakes on competition carriages, but only a few people in the U.S. can survive economically making carriages,” Peterson, 71, said. “Most high-level carriages come from Poland. In fact, the brakes I am installing on my carriage I ordered from Poland. It is much cheaper to buy a finished carriage at auction or at a dealer than to make it yourself.”

But fate played a part in him tackling such a project from scratch.

“I got involved in making this carriage because two years ago I went to an estate auction in Pontiac, Illinois,” Peterson said. “This man had made and restored carriages. I had no interest in buying anything. During the auction, the auctioneer went into a room where there were about a dozen newly made, wooden wheels in classic wheelwright technique. They were stunning. Normally, these wheels would cost $500 each. I bought a big pair for $105 and a small pair for $110. So, after a few months looking at them in my shop, I decided, ‘Hey, go nuts, make something useful and beautiful.’”

“I am a somewhat ‘kinky’ woodworker,” Peterson said, explaining it this way. “I have saved saw logs from our woods for 30 years. We mill and dry them and I especially like wood with dramatic grain, knots and irregularities. The upstairs inside of our studio barn is paneled in cherry from our woods, and some is kinky.

“I am using this wood, oak and cherry, for the carriage,” he added. “It requires special attention to whether a panel will go goofy after installed. I think it will be fun, especially for me. There also are panels on both sides from zebra wood veneer that you can’t get any longer.”

It’s simply the latest pursuit for a man who seldom slows down.

“I encouraged my wife to move to a farm near Janesville … she was skeptical,” Peterson said about a property that has ranged in size from 50 to 80 acres. “We redid the whole place and raised kids, cattle, sheep and horses, keeping only the horses after our children grew.”

The Petersons have raised 56 foals, starting with draft horses.

“We went on to Percheron draft horses crossed with a thoroughbred, and in the next generation, Warmbloods, like Oldenberg, Swedish Warmblood and Hanoverian,” Peterson said. “I do my own hay harvesting and depend on helpful neighbors for everything else.”

Horses and busy country life are nothing new for Peterson, who grew up on a dairy farm near Alexandria, Minnesota.

“My grandfather came to Rockford from Sweden in about 1890,” Peterson said. “He was a teamster, which meant he had a team of horses and hauled freight. He moved with his wife and kids to Carlos, Minnesota, in 1914 and started farming there. My father eventually took over the farm, and I grew up there with horses my dad had.”

Peterson attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry. He went to Stanford Medical School, followed by two years at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

“I planned to go back to Stanford but got interested in working in a smaller community and came to Janesville in 1977,” he said, joining Riverview Clinic (which in 1991 merged with Dean Clinic of Madison), where he worked in internal medicine, cardiology and critical care, retiring in 2014.

And that’s allowed him to devote even more time to his longtime activities on the farm, where the couple started collecting carriages in 1990.

“We had these nice driving horses and needed to have a job for them,” Peterson said. “About that time we went to the Villa Louis carriage competition in Prairie du Chien … I was hooked. I was working one day and asked Susan to go to an auction south of Milwaukee. She came back with three special, expensive carriages. The best one is a Brewster panel boot Victoria built in 1905 with detailed information about orderer, address, color, upholstery, etc. They (Brewsters) were the Ferrari of 1905.”

The Petersons also have competed in horse-drawn carriage competitions several times a year.

“We do pleasure shows consisting of several classes judged on driving skill, speed and accuracy through obstacles and appearance,” he said. “We also do CDEs (combined driving events), which are similar to eventing for ridden horses. One phase is dressage, the second a cones competition and the third a marathon.”

The couple, who recently returned from a show in British Columbia, Canada, have traveled a lot, meeting some famous people along the way, including Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth of England.

“He started the sport of combined driving about 1975,” Peterson said. “Susan and I met him three years ago when we went to the Windsor horse show. We sat next to his groom at dinner. She verified that five days a week he showed up at the stable at 7 a.m., not 7:01 or 7:02, to drive his team of four ponies for an hour. He was 92 at the time.”

Peterson belongs to the Dairyland Driving Club, an organization dedicated to support horse driving enthusiasts in Wisconsin, and the couple hosts many social gatherings.

“We set up pleasure drives in state parks and private venues,” he said about the club. “We endorse and support driving competitions, we have a distance driving category, we support Old World Wisconsin and driving events like Wade House in August and Villa Louis in Prairie du Chien in September.

“Our carriage barn/studio was planned specifically to support horse-related events as well as musical events such as concerts,” he said. “Last year we had a driver proficiency event sponsored by the Carriage Association of America to certify safe carriage drivers. We have had six musical concerts, from classical piano duets to a collection of holiday treats.”

Friday, 07 July 2017 14:51

Yoga is going places

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Looking for a yoga class? One may be as close as your neighborhood park, local beach or even nearby farm.

Yoga instructors are seeing a surge of interest in the centuries-old practice for a variety of reasons, from reducing stress and building a body-mind connection to losing weight and strengthening balance.

STATELINE NEWS -- The music always comes first. Then it depends on mastering the necessary skills and subtleties of the role.

Add the fact that Elijah Miller and Bryan Trasvina are self-starters, and it’s easy to see why they were chosen as guest student conductors for the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra’s annual Independence Day pops concerts.

The Fruzen Intermediate School eighth-graders-to-be were selected from Glenn Wilfong’s band class, which participated in BJSO music director Rob Tomaro’s five-week Conducting Kids program.

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