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Beloit Area Community Health Center Clinic Communications Specialist Danica Keeton is rounding up the candy for the trunk-or-treat event set for 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28 in the Ellipse Center parking lot.

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Labor shortage impacts some Stateline Area municipalities

As the private sector struggles to fill positions, the countrywide labor shortage issue hasn’t spared public employers, with some Stateline Area municipalities facing challenges finding staff.

In Beloit, City Manager Lori Curtis Luther said the city was “not immune” to staffing challenges faced by private employers.

“We have managed to fill most positions, although the number of applications for each position has been lower than in the past,” Luther said.

Seasonal staffing positions also have been harder for the city to fill, Luther added.

“Seasonal staffing was extraordinarily difficult this year and we are uncertain what the labor market will look like in 2022,” Luther said.

The city, which uses online job platform GovernmentJobs.com to list openings, currently lists 13 available positions that need to be filled in the city. Positions range from public works openings to positions within city departments like community development and transit.

County governments also have dealt with staffing shortages.

In Rock County, Administrator Josh Smith said the county had struggled “historically and recently” to fill various positions, most commonly having issues with finding certified nursing assistants (CNA) for Rock Haven nursing home; 911 emergency dispatch telecommunicators and corrections officers for the Rock County jail.

“We observe that the current economic climate has increased competition for staff, and wage competition is a real issue everywhere. Job postings are located on our website, but they also get spread all over the internet to job sites,” Smith said.

Smith said the county also has started advertising available jobs through billboards and radio spots, something that’s never been done before.

“We’ve been trying to be creative in addressing this,” Smith added.

Smith said that creativity has led to a referral bonus program for current employees. The Rock County Board of Supervisors also approved a $15 an hour minimum wage for county employees.

Another step taken by the county has been increasing internships, Smith said.

“For many years now we’ve been trying to make the county a more inclusive workplace in order to attract a broader pool of applicants, as well as retain the staff we have,” Smith said. “I expect addressing workforce challenges in a more planned and comprehensive way will be a priority for the county in 2022.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report on Tuesday highlighting the fluctuations of job openings and labor turnover for August, the month which data was most recently available. As of Aug. 31, the number and rate of job openings decreased to 10.4 million, a decrease of 659,000 job openings, but job openings in federal government positions increased by 22,000.

The largest decreases in job openings were in health care and social assistance fields (224,000 positions filled) along with 178,000 jobs filled in food services and 124,000 positions filled across state and local governments, August labor data shows, a potential sign that people could be seeking more government jobs in the months ahead.

But some municipalities in the Stateline Area have been able to fill all or nearly all positions, with pending offers currently out to prospective employees.

Town of Beloit Finance Director Tim Wellnitz said the town wasn’t facing a worker shortage, noting that a conditional offer for the position of police officer was outstanding as the town’s only open position.

In Rockton, Village Development Administrator Tricia Diduch confirmed the village was not experiencing a worker shortage, but stressed the issue was plaguing the private sector.

“I do know many of our downtown businesses are experiencing staffing issues though. Particularly our restaurants,” Diduch said.

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Spin-a-thon to benefit Pedaling for Parkinson's program on Nov. 7

ROSCOE—The Pedaling for Parkinson’s program at the Stateline Family YMCA Roscoe branch has been a lifesaver for many people battling symptoms of the disease. It’s part of the reason the Y is running its annual Spin-a-Thon on Nov. 7 to raise awareness and support for its Pedaling for Parkinson program.

The Stateline Family YMCA Roscoe branch is at 9901 Main St., Roscoe.

“The goal is to raise money for our program. The money goes toward instructors and any equipment we may need for the participants and to keep the program free,” said Stateline Family YMCA Healthy Living Coordinator Cortnee McReynolds.

Last year the spin-a-thon raised almost $3,000 and organizers are hoping to improve on that amount this year. People can select one to five classes for $15 per class to participate in or can make a donation.

Class times for the spin-a-thon will run at 8, 9, 10, 11 a.m. and noon.

There will be raffle baskets from local businesses, snacks and a chat about the program during the Spin-a-thon.

The spin classes for those with Parkinson’s disease are held at 11 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“It’s a program instituted by the Cleveland Clinic. They did studies and showed 40 minutes of cycling was proven to reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease,” McReynolds said. “The Pedaling for Parkinson’s program has helped several people ward off disease symptoms for years and increase health.”

Currently, the Pedaling for Parkinson’s classes has about 15 people, which is up from prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have ones that have been here for years and a few newer ones. Most of them show up twice a week and they continue to tell us they don’t know what they would do without the program. In addition to helping the symptoms and being good physical exercise, it makes for a good community support system,” McReynolds said.

Those who would like to join need to get a physician’s release form signed.

McReynolds noted the class offers a variety of modifications for different abilities.

“We have some who ride for a few minutes and then rest for a few minutes in a chair. There are different levels of progression of the disease and we do accommodate for that,” she said.

People would need a physician’s release form. Once that is signed participants can join the class.

For more information visit: https://www.statelineymca.org/locations/roscoe-branch.

Turner’s Camden Combs has had a terrific senior season.

Complaint: South Beloit woman charged in death of infant hid body for five days

ROCKFORD—A South Beloit woman charged in connection with the death of her infant daughter hid the body of the newborn child for nearly a week, according to Winnebago County Circuit Court records obtained on Wednesday by the Beloit Daily News.

Kristin A. Larson, 35, was arrested and charged on Oct. 8 with first-degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death from the incident that occurred at a South Beloit home.

Larson allegedly killed her infant daughter on June 3, who is identified in court records as Baby Larson, and then concealed the baby’s body in a bucket for five days until authorities found the remains on June 8.

The bucket was found inside a spare bedroom of the residence searched by authorities.

Detectives from the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office and South Beloit Police Department met with Larson who allowed authorities to search the home after receiving the report of a missing infant.

The investigation of the infant’s death revealed the infant had been born alive, according to the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office.

If convicted, Larson could serve up to 60 years in prison with three years of post-release supervision.

She remains in custody in the Winnebago County Jail on a $1 million cash bond. Larson is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 2.