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Boys & Girls Club planning for post-pandemic needs

BELOIT — As the Stateline Boys & Girls Clubs in Beloit and South Beloit forge ahead with a capital plan to build a new facility in Beloit, they are developing a tactical plan to best support the community in a post-pandemic world.

It’s been an unusual year for the club as it’s provided distance learning support for School District of Beloit students during the day in addition to after-school support to area youth.

“This is the first time in Stateline Boys & Girls Club’s 66-year history that we have been open for all-day programming throughout the school year,” said CEO Mark Rand. “When all is said and done, we will have been open for all-day programming for approximately 18 months. This is a true testament to the hearts of our staff. They made it possible.”

From Sept. 1, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021, the Beloit club served 129 youth with an average 49 children served per day.

It has been unable to serve 43 children due to capacity limits.

Due to the increased usage of the building, staffing was a challenge as hours increased. Extra costs included staffing, supplies, utilities and technology upgrades.

Members of the Stateline Boys and Girls Club Capital Campaign are forging ahead with the $5.5 million capital campaign aimed at building a new facility in Beloit and upgrading the South Beloit site.

“In spite of the current pandemic, we’ve been able to maintain great momentum in securing pledges and support,” said Campaign Committee Chair Jim Packard Jr. “We are appreciative of the commitments and generosity we’ve seen thus far.”

With groundbreaking planned in early April, Rand said he is confident in the Clubs’ ability to open the new Beloit facility in late 2021 or early 2022.

The Stateline Boys & Girls Club will build its new Beloit facility at 202 Maple Ave., 1500 Shore Drive and a northern portion of 1459 Sixth St. across from Beloit Memorial High School. The current Beloit building is on the far west side of town at 1851 Moore St. The focus will be for the new facility to be more centrally located along the Fourth Street corridor to be closer to community partners, in particular the Beloit Memorial High School’s student population. Not only will the new site expand its reach to teens, but will be more visible and accessible as it will be located on school bus routes.

The new facility would offer expanded STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities, increased teen programming and allow for increased capacity to reach more youth. The center would also allow for community collaborations for career exploration and cooking classes.

The new facility will be 23,780-square-feet compared to its existing space in Beloit of 16,000 square feet which was built in 1960.

The clubs currently have 1,200 total members. With the expanded Beloit facilities, Rand expects the membership could increase by 25-35%.

The Campaign can be followed on the Club’s website www.statelinebgc.org/capital-campaign for updates or to make donations. For more information, contact Rand at 608-365-8874 or mrand@statelinebgc.org.

Next round of eligible groups may have to wait for vaccine

JANESVILLE — Even as new priority groups become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, officials at the Rock County Public Health Department say newly eligible residents will still have to wait as vaccinations of those 65 and older remain ongoing.

Environmental Health Director Rick Wietersen said the new groups set to become eligible for vaccination on Monday was still “a little bit early” as ongoing vaccinations of people 65 and older, frontline health care workers and first responders continue.

“We still have over half of the 65 and older population to be vaccinated, but there are indications that supply will be increasing,” Wietersen said. “For those eligible on March 1, don’t have high expectations to get an appointment right away as there are a lot of people that we need to get through that already have priority. As supply allows, we will continue to vaccinate more people.”

Rock County Epidemiologist Nick Zupan said Thursday the county was nearly at 50% of all residents 65 and older having received at least one dose of vaccine, which tracks with the statewide inoculation total of the same group at 49%.

On March 1, the groups that will become eligible include education and child care staff, people enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers, non-frontline health care workers and residents in congregate living settings.

But Rock County’s situation is unique, Zupan said, as many school districts in Rock County already have had staff get vaccinated through various partnerships with health care providers.

Districts that have received vaccinations for staff include: Beloit, Beloit-Turner, Clinton, Edgerton, Evansville, Janesville and Parkview.

“In some ways we have a head start having educators already vaccinated, but we will continue to work with those who have not yet been vaccinated,” Zupan said. “We will continue to work our way through the priority list.”

Zupan said over 13,000 adults ages 65 and up in the county had received at least one dose of vaccine and 10% of 65 and older adults have completed vaccination.

The community-based vaccine clinic at Blackhawk Technical College saw delays in operations caused by severe weather and technical issues in data reporting, which caused appointments to be rescheduled. A statewide registration system for vaccine appointments is not yet operational, with Rock County relying on a temporary system for tracking all those eligible for a vaccine who apply.

The local vaccination site received supplemental supply for completing 900 second-dose shots earlier this week.

To date, 24,958 people (15.3%) have received at least one dose of vaccine in Rock County, along with 12,333 people (7.5%) who have completed vaccination, according to state vaccine data.

In Beloit, Beloit Health System announced three additional first-dose vaccination clinics for those 65 and older on March 2 (3—6 p.m.) March 4 (7 a.m.—5 p.m.) and March 5 (noon—5 p.m.), with additional dates to be announced soon.

If you are an established patient at Beloit Health System, you are encouraged to use the MyHealth patient portal at www.beloithealthsystem.org/myhealth. Residents may also call the dedicated vaccine phone line at 608-364-5663 to schedule an appointment.

Zupan said those eligible starting March 1 will be added to the county’s registry that is distributed to health systems and other vaccinators to schedule appointments, along with the community clinic at Blackhawk Technical College.

In a call with reporters on Thursday, Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said vaccine supply is expected to increase in Wisconsin in the coming weeks, coupled with the expected federal approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that requires only one dose.

“This increasing supply is why it’s important to continue to add people to eligible populations,” Van Dijk said.

Based on current allocations, Van Dijk said it could take over two months to complete vaccinations of those in the March 1 eligibility group.

Any county resident who is currently eligible for a vaccine can sign up by visiting www.co.rock.wi.us and selecting the COVID-19 resource tab and selecting the ‘Vaccine Information and Request Forms’ link. The county has published links to forms for people 65 and older and for those eligible as of March 1.

Simply because the state moves into a new eligibility group on Monday does not mean those previously eligible won’t be able to receive a vaccine.

Blas Guzman and his mother Maria Guzman of Coco's Tamales show off their tamales during the Downtown Beloit Association’s (DBA) Indoor Winter Beloit Farmers' Market in late November.