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Anthony Wahl 

A person lights a candle Tuesday night during a vigil at a roadside memorial for Brittany N. McAdory and Seairaha J. Winchester, who were shot and killed in Janesville early Monday.

BTC, Beloit schools team to offer associate degrees

BELOIT—Thanks to the School District of Beloit’s newly-launched Collegiate Academy, students will have the opportunity to graduate high school with an associate degree or technical diploma at no cost to them.

Transportation would be provided via free shuttle service to and from the Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) sites, and there will be a dedicated space for Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) students at the college when students commence their classes next fall.

With the cost of a two-year degree including textbooks being as much as $10,000, district officials said it will be great for families. Director of Career and Technical Education Mitchell Briesemeister said the program would be paid for through the Start College Now Program supported by district and state funds.

Students will be able to obtain a technical diploma or associate degree from the following career paths: automotive technician, business management, culinary arts, early childhood education, foundations of teacher education, pre-nursing and welding.

“We believe in students’ potential and understand the need for a strong and talented workforce in this region,” said School District of Beloit Interim Co-Superintendent William Beckley.

Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther said the Collegiate Academy is an amazing opportunity for high school students to gain critical skills to prepare for the workforce or post-secondary education.

“Our local businesses need more qualified employees. This will be a great benefit to our community at large,” Luther said.

School District of Beloit Board of Education Vice President John Wong thanked those who took an idea and brought it to fruition. He commended board member Megan Miller for her drive and passion in moving the project forward as well as Briesemeister, Executive Director of School Leadership and Equity Peggy Muehlenkamp, BMHS Principal Emily Pelz and the team at BTC.

“This is really a game-changing announcement for our area,” said BTC President Tracy Pierner. “We are at the precipice of how we approach secondary education in our community and state.”

During their freshman and sophomore year, students will attend class at BMHS. During their junior and senior year students will attend classes at one of BTC’s three locations and may also be required to take courses at the high school.

To prepare for the rigor of the program, students can begin taking advanced English and math courses in eighth grade. After strong performance during freshman year, students their sophomore year would need to earn qualifying scores on the ACT Aspire test, submit an application for admission to the student’s chosen Collegiate Academy and apply to BTC.

Pierner said what is known as early and middle colleges result in less student debt, better student preparedness and higher graduation rates. Middle colleges, which started in the 1990s, is where the high school resides on a college campus. In the late 1990s it was recognized there was an opportunity for another type of pathway, the early college partnership where eleventh and twelfth graders immerse themselves in college at an earlier age. Pierner said the early college model is new in the area but not new in the country.

“With college credit attainment being the best predictor of completion of college, it’s easy to see how significant this early college experience is for students,” Pierner said.

Trial team quits Roger Stone case in dispute over sentence

WASHINGTON —The four lawyers who prosecuted Roger Stone quit the case Tuesday after the Justice Department overruled them and said it would take the extraordinary step of lowering the amount of prison time it would seek for President Donald Trump’s longtime ally and confidant.

The departures raised immediate questions over whether Trump, who earlier in the day had blasted the original sentencing recommendation as “very horrible and unfair,” had at least indirectly exerted his will on a Justice Department that he often views as an arm of the White House.

The department said the decision to undo the sentencing recommendation was made Monday night—before Trump’s tweet—and prosecutors had not spoken to the White House about it. Even so, the departures of the entire trial team broke open a simmering dispute over the punishment of a Trump ally whose case has long captured the president’s attention. The episode was the latest to entangle the Justice Department, meant to operate free from White House sway in criminal investigations and prosecutions, in presidential politics.

The four attorneys, including two who were early members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia team, comprised the entire Justice Department trial team that won convictions against Stone last fall.

Each had signed onto a Monday sentencing memo that recommended between seven and nine years in prison for Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election. None lent their names to a Tuesday memo that called the original recommendation excessive.

The departures leave in limbo the resolution of a case that was one of the signature prosecutions of Mueller’s team and that cut to the heart of his mission—to determine whether the Trump team had access to nonpublic information about Democratic emails hacked by Russian operatives and provided to WikiLeaks.

Trump on Tuesday slammed the original sentencing recommendation and questioned the judge overseeing the Stone case. “A phony Mueller Witch Hunt disgrace,” he tweeted. “Caught!”

He also retweeted an online supporter’s request for full pardons for Stone and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was found guilty of lying to the FBI. “Prosecutorial Misconduct?” Trump suggested.

The Justice Department’s leader, Attorney General William Barr, has been a steady ally of the president’s since taking the position. Barr last year cleared the president of obstruction of justice even when Mueller had pointedly declined to do so, and has declared that the FBI’s Russia investigation—which resulted in charges against Stone—had been based on a “bogus narrative.”

It’s not clear what sentence the department will ultimately seek—a new sentencing memo filed Tuesday evening indicated that the original recommendation was too harsh but proposed no specific punishment of its own.

Election staff prepped for Feb. 18 vote

BELOIT—Beloit City Clerk-Treasurer Lori Stottler says the Feb. 18 primary election will be the perfect time to test out new equipment in the field with a low turnout expected.

The Feb. 18 primary will see only one race on the ballot, for Wisconsin Supreme Court justice as Dane County Circuit Court Judge Jill Karofsky and Marquette University Law School professor Ed Fallone take on incumbent justice Daniel Kelly. The two highest vote-getters will advance to the April 7 contest

No primaries are listed for Beloit City Council, School District of Beloit Board of Education or Rock County Board of Supervisors.

New voting machines, known as the ExpressVote system, are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to replace aging voting machines and offer bilingual voting options. In total, 49 new machines were purchased by Rock County municipalities at a cost of $3,445 per machine, according to Rock County Circuit Clerk Lisa Tollefson.

Twenty machines went to Beloit and Janesville, the county’s two largest communities. Beloit purchased nine machines and Janesville purchased 11 machines. The Town of Beloit purchased three, according to records provided by Tollefson.

Alongside the new voting machines at polling places will be the continued use of the electronic Badger Books poll documents, something Stottler said would increase efficiency and decrease wait times at polls. The systems, that were created in 2017 by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, provide a way for election officials to check voters in more quickly.

“They streamline the process,” Stottler said.

The new technology could also prevent past issues cropping up again following record voter turnout in 2018 ({span}77.3% of eligible voters, 11,557 ballots cast) that caused the city’s three busiest polling places to run out of ballots at {span}Central Christian Church, Gaston Elementary and Beloit Public Library before 1,500 additional ballots were printed.{/span}{/span}

Polling places are consolidated for the Feb. 18 election. Wards 1-12 will vote at the Beloit Historical Society, 845 Hackett St.; wards 13-25 will vote at Central Christian Church, 2460 Milwaukee Road. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Voters can update voter registration information at myvote.wi.gov/ or register day-of if they have proof of residency and the required photo ID.

Stottler said she expected a low turnout of 5% due to the lack of high profile races on the ballot. She stressed that voters should remember they will select presidential candidates in the April 7 spring election alongside local candidates for city council, county board and school board.

“That’s the biggest thing we see,” Stottler said. “Voters get confused about that and we want to make them aware about the fact there’s no presidential preference on the Feb. 18 ballot.”

In Illinois, voters will head to the polls on March 17 to select primary candidates for county board, county board chair, county auditor, county coroner, state’s attorney, precinct committee alongside the presidential preference primary ahead of the Nov. 3 general election.

In the run up to the busy election year, Stottler encouraged residents to consider volunteering as an election official. Information to do so is available at beloitwi.gov/.

Voters can cast absentee ballots until Friday, Feb. 14 at the clerk’s office, 100 State St., second floor.

Sanders edges Buttigieg in NH, giving Dems 2 front-runners

MANCHESTER, N.H. —Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire’s presidential primary, edging moderate rival Pete Buttigieg and scoring the first clear victory in the Democratic Party’s chaotic 2020 nomination fight.

In his Tuesday night win, the 78-year-old Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, beat back a strong challenge from the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. The dueling Democrats represent different generations, see divergent paths to the nomination and embrace conflicting visions of America’s future.

As Sanders and Buttigieg celebrated, Amy Klobuchar scored an unexpected third-place finish that gives her a road out of New Hampshire as the primary season moves on to the string of state-by-state contests that lie ahead.

Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden posted disappointing fourth and fifth place finishes respectively and were on track to finish with zero delegates from the state.

The New Hampshire vote gives new clarity to a Democratic contest shaping up to be a battle between two men separated by four decades in age and clashing political ideologies. Sanders is a leading progressive voice, having spent decades demanding substantial government intervention in health care and other sectors of the economy.

Buttigieg has pressed for more incremental change, preferring to give Americans the option of retaining their private health insurance while appealing to Republicans and independents who may be dissatisfied with Trump.

Their disparate temperaments were on display Tuesday as they spoke before cheering supporters.

“We are gonna win because we have the agenda that speaks to the needs of working people across this country,” Sanders declared. “This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump.”

Buttigieg struck an optimistic tone: “Thanks to you, a campaign that some said shouldn’t be here at all has shown that we are here to stay.”

Both men have strength heading into the next phase of the campaign, yet they face very different political challenges.

While Warren made clear she will remain in the race, Sanders, well-financed and with an ardent army of supporters, has cemented his status as the clear leader of the progressive wing of the party.

Meanwhile, Buttigieg must prove he can attract support from voters of color who are critical to winning the nomination. And unlike Sanders, he still has multiple rivals in his own ideological wing of the party to contend with. They include Klobuchar, whose standout debate performance led to a late surge in New Hampshire and a growing national following.

While deeply wounded, Biden promises strength in upcoming South Carolina. And though former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg was not on Tuesday’s ballot, he looms next month when the contest reaches states offering hundreds of delegates.

After a chaotic beginning to primary voting last week in Iowa, Democrats hoped New Hampshire would help give shape to their urgent quest to pick someone to take on Trump in November. At least two candidates dropped out in the wake of weak finishes Tuesday night: moderate Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and political newcomer Andrew Yang.