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$500,000 gift to support Rock County child development

Wow!! Amazing!! Game Changer!! These were just a few of the community reactions heard by Executive Director of the Stateline Community Foundation, Tara Tinder, and Dr. Bill Flanagan, Chair of the newly named Stateline Community Foundation’s Literacy for Life Initiative when they received word that Quint and Rishy Studer were making a very generous gift of $500,000 in support of the Foundation’s Literacy for Life Initiative. This game-changing gift will significantly impact the Initiative’s goal of promoting early childhood brain development and literacy for newborn babies born in Rock County, and will make it possible to address three specific goals of the Initiative.

The first goal of the Initiative addressed by this gift will be the hiring of a fulltime Director of Early Brain Development who will lead the effort in directing and growing the Foundation’s Literacy for Life Initiative in all of Rock County.

A major goal of this position will be to register families for The Basics Program developed and designed at Harvard University by Dr. Ron Ferguson.

As one part of this program, mothers will receive two text messages each week that are calibrated to their child’s age. The first text will explain what a child’s brain development is at a particular time. The second text contains ideas and suggestions for what moms and families can do to help their baby’s brain develop from birth to age 3.

A committee comprised of professionals representing non-profits, education and healthcare, are reviewing applications for the Director of Early Brain Development position.

The Foundation’s Literacy for Life Initiative has distributed over 13,000 books to area children.

When making their gift to the Foundation, Quint and Rishy Studer stated: “Research shows us that 85% of the child’s brain is developed in a baby’s first three years of life. It is vital that we encourage and educate parents on how to develop their baby’s brain from day one.” The Studer’s believe The Basics program has been designed to implement this extensive research through its five tenets, which have been shown to be extremely effective in early childhood brain development. For those interested in more information about The Basics, this link has been provided: thebasics.org.

Quint Studer is known locally as the owner of the Beloit Sky Carp baseball team.

The second goal of the Initiative impacted by this gift will be the development of a united Rock County effort that ensures all children born in Rock County will be ready for kindergarten by age 5. Thanks to this gift, the Director of Early Brain Development will expand the number of health systems, school districts, communities, non-profits, businesses and others who believe that every child born in Rock County deserves the opportunity to be successful. The chances of a child being successful in school and life improves dramatically if brain development is enhanced from birth to age 5. Children who are ready for kindergarten have a significantly better chance of achieving their educational, personal and career goals which also translates into a better quality of life for them, their family and community. In short, it is a win-win for the child, family, schools, community, employers when resources, like this gift, are invested in early childhood brain development and literacy.

Finally, this gift will ensure that the Stateline Community Foundation’s Literacy for Life Initiative will have a permanent home with the Foundation which will provide continuity, management, vision, leadership, educational materials and support for the Rock County Pillars and Partners who support the Initiative’s early childhood brain development and literacy goals. Thanks to Quint and Rishy Studer, the vision of every child in Rock County being ready for kindergarten becomes a reality.

For more information about this gift, the Stateline’s Literacy for Life Initiative and how to get involved please contact: Tara Tinder, Executive Director of the Stateline Community Foundation (Tarar@statelinecf.com) or Dr. Bill Flanagan, Chair, Stateline Community Foundation’s Literacy for Life Initiative (flanagan@beloit.edu).


Oath Keepers convicted of conspiracy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four members of the Oath Keepers were convicted Monday of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack in the second major trial of far-right extremists accused of plotting to forcibly keep President Donald Trump in power.

The verdict against Joseph Hackett of Sarasota, Florida; Roberto Minuta of Prosper, Texas; David Moerschel of Punta Gorda, Florida; and Edward Vallejo of Phoenix comes weeks after after a different jury convicted the group’s leader, Stewart Rhodes, in the mob’s attack that halted the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

It’s another major victory for the Justice Department, which is also trying to secure sedition convictions against the former leader of the Proud Boys and four associates. The trial against Enrique Tarrio and his lieutenants opened earlier this month in Washington and is expected to last several weeks.

The Washington jury deliberated for about 12 hours over three days before delivering their guilty verdict on the rarely used charge, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

The four were also convicted of two other conspiracy charges as well as obstructing an official proceeding: Congress’ certification of the 2020 election. Minuta, Hackett and Moerschel were acquitted of lesser charges.

The judge didn’t immediately set a date for sentencing. The judge denied prosecutors’ bid to lock up the men while they await sentencing, finding them not to be a risk of flight. They were ordered to remain in home detention with electronic monitoring.

It was one of the most serious cases brought so far in the sweeping Jan. 6 investigation, which continues to grow two years after the riot. The Justice Department has charged nearly 1,000 people in the riot and the tally increases by the week.

Prosecutors told jurors that Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and his band of extremists began shortly after the 2020 election to prepare an armed rebellion to keep Trump in power. Messages show Rhodes and the Oath Keepers discussing the prospect of a “bloody” civil war and the need to keep Biden out of the White House.

“Our democracy was under attack, but for the defendants it was everything they trained for and a moment to celebrate,” prosecutor Louis Manzo told jurors in his closing argument.

Prosecutors alleged that the Oath Keepers amassed weapons and stashed them at a Virginia hotel for so-called “quick reaction force” teams that could quickly shuttle guns into Washington to support their plot if they were needed. The weapons were never used.

Rhodes and Florida chapter leader Kelly Meggs were convicted of seditious conspiracy in the previous trial that ended in November. They were the first people in decades found guilty at trial of the Civil War-era charge. Three other Oath Keepers were cleared of the charge in that case but were found guilty of other serious crimes. They are all awaiting sentencing.

Defense attorneys sought to downplay violent messages as mere bluster and said the Oath Keepers came to Washington to provide security at events before the riot. They seized on prosecutors’ lack of evidence that the Oath Keepers had an explicit plan to storm the Capitol before Jan. 6 and told jurors that the extremists who attacked the Capitol acted spontaneously like thousands of other rioters.

“They left evidence out and they picked and chose what they wanted,” said William Lee Shipley, an attorney for Minuta.

Prosecutors argued that while there is not evidence specifically spelling out a plan to attack the Capitol, the Oath Keepers saw the riot as a means to an end and sprung into action at an apparent opportunity to help keep Trump in power.

Hackett, Moerschel and other Oath Keepers approached the Capitol in a military-style stack formation before they entered the building, according to prosecutors. Minuta and his group from a second stack of Oath Keepers clashed with police after heeding Rhodes’ call to race to the Capitol, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said that Vallejo, a U.S. Army veteran and Rhodes ally, drove from Arizona to prepare with the “QRF” — the quick reaction force — at the hotel outside Washington. Jurors heard an audio recording of Vallejo talking about a “declaration of a guerilla war” on the morning of Jan. 6.

Three other Oath Keepers have pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the hopes of getting a lighter sentence. They are among about 500 people who have pleaded guilty to riot-related charges.


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