A1 A1
Snappers on the cusp of major announcements as stadium construction progresses

BELOIT — The new year will bring major changes for the Beloit Snappers, as construction continues on a new stadium and an announcement of a Major League Baseball (MLB) affiliation draws near.

The ownership transfer of the team to businessman Quint Studer is expected to take place in the coming months as construction of a new stadium in downtown Beloit remains on schedule.

In an interview on Thursday with the Beloit Daily News, Studer said he expects the team will make an announcement on its new MLB affiliation next month, followed by announcements of new team executive staff and new branding for the team’s future namesake.

“This is an exciting time for us,” Studer said.

In terms of stadium construction, Hendricks Commercial Properties Vice President of Development John Gackstatter said work was on track to be complete by mid-July thanks in-part to temperate weather this fall.

“This project has served as the main catalyst for all the great things to come from the team,” Gackstatter said. “We’ve reached and completed some pretty big milestones on the site.”

Due to the temperate weather, Gackstatter said all concrete has been poured for the stadium decks and concourse areas.

“That will allow us to start exterior framing and eventually close in the building to be weather tight by January,” Gackstatter said. “We will have construction going through the winter and we have roofing up next week and starting to get everything installed shortly after.”

Construction on the stadium was delayed this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Gackstatter said the project had remained on track ahead of the team’s upcoming announcements.

“Some of these big checkmarks are falling into place,” Gackstatter said. “It’s all coming together even through the unknowns and the uncertainty.”

Rittenhouse used pandemic funds for gun (copy)

KENOSHA — An Illinois teenager who is charged with shooting three people, including two fatally, during a Wisconsin protest over police brutality said he used pandemic relief funds to pay for the assault-style rifle that a friend purchased for him.

Kyle Rittenhouse spoke to The Washington Post by phone from a juvenile detention facility on the condition that the newspaper not ask about the shooting or events immediately preceding it. He told the newspaper that he was carrying the gun that night to protect himself.

“I got my $1,200 from the coronavirus Illinois unemployment because I was on furlough from YMCA,” he told the Post. “And I got my first unemployment check so I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll use this to buy it.’”

Rittenhouse was 17 and couldn’t legally buy the gun, so his friend, Dominick Black, bought it for him. The weapon was stored at Black’s stepfather’s house in Kenosha, Wisconsin, until Black and Rittenhouse each took rifles downtown on Aug. 25, according to police records. Late that night, police said Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz.

Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, attempted homicide, reckless homicide, recklessly endangering safety and illegal possession of a firearm. His attorneys say Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense.

Rosenbaum’s fiancee, Kariann Swart, told the Post that Rosenbaum had been released from a psychiatric hospital earlier that day, and she told him to stay away from downtown.

Swart said Rosenbaum had been homeless—the couple lived in a tent for seven months before moving into a motel. In July, Rosenbaum was arrested for domestic violence and ordered to stay away from Swart. But days later, he contacted her, then overdosed and was in a hospital’s intensive care unit for five days, Swart said.

When he regained consciousness, he was jailed for three weeks for violating the no-contact order, then ultimately sent to Aurora Psychiatric Hospital outside of Milwaukee. Swart told the Post he left the hospital that morning.

“He really just wanted to um, you know, stay on his medication, stay on the right path,” she said.

Swart said Rosenbaum was dropped off in Kenosha and tried to get medication from a Walgreens, but it was closed. He then went to talk to Swart, who would not let him stay with her, but warned him not to go downtown due to ongoing protests after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, who was Black, seven times in the back.

Swart said she doesn’t believe Rittenhouse acted in self defense, but she also said Rosenbaum shouldn’t have been downtown.

“Joe, you shouldn’t have been down there,” she said, adding, “I go between being angry to just being sad—but mostly just sad.”

Black, the 19-year-old who bought the gun for Rittenhouse, is charged in Kenosha County Circuit Court with two counts of intentionally providing a dangerous weapon to a minor, resulting in death.

A court commissioner decided Thursday that there was sufficient evidence for the case to proceed and Black will stand trial.

A Kenosha detective testified that Black told him during an interview about how he purchased the assault-style rifle at a Ladysmith hardware store after getting some money from Rittenhouse.

Hononegah’s Emma Schroeder (14) decided Kent State offered everything she was looking for.

(From left): Family Promise of Greater Beloit Executive Director Devin Blay-Stahl and Beloit Memorial High School National Honor Society students Eric Funk, Jose Bayona (top), Orion Regenold, Kana Wong and Mekhi Horton gather for a picture on the playground they put together for Family Promise.

COVID-19 cases grow; Rockford to ramp up fines for violations

Northern Illinois officials are saying the time has come for everyone to take COVID-19 mitigation practices seriously and they are ready to issue fines to stress that point.

In a Thursday afternoon press conference by the Winnebago County Health Department, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara called on all mayors and village presidents in Winnebago County to enforce increased mitigation rules.

The Rockford code enforcement team will enforce the following rules: no indoor dining or social dining, requiring people to follow mask and social distance guidelines at all businesses, and adhering to occupancy limits at retail stores and other businesses.

“We are moving in the wrong direction and moving in the wrong direction quickly,” McNamara said.

The news conference came as Illinois reported 14,612 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, and Wisconsin reported 6,635 new cases as Rock County had two more reported deaths.

McNamara said Rockford officials will be issuing fines of up to $750 a day and will start looking into revoking liquor licenses. In addition to bars and restaurants, code enforcement will be looking at bowling alleys, fitness centers, retailers and offices. Violations will be passed onto state agencies and could result in a business being unable to obtain grant funds.

Local hospitals, he said, are ordering extra beds due to increased COVID-19 cases. The county has a strong supply of PPE for healthcare workers, but are going through it quickly.

He said the responsibility is not only with hospitality businesses. Retailers also need to watch occupancy limits and gyms, fitness centers and houses of worship need to help keep people healthy.

Since Nov. 6 Mercyhealth, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center and SwedishAmerican Health System have been working as one system to increase capacity. In that system, 193 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19; 41 are in intensive care units, or 21%, and 27 are on ventilators, or 14%, said Winnebago County Health Department Public Health Administrator Dr. Sandra Martell.

She said the Winnebago County coroner has requested additional assets to store members of the deceased until there can be advanced directives. Martell said families should have discussions about mechanical ventilation, life support and what funeral or other services would be preferred.

“Make a plan for and with your loved ones, for your pets and for you so your wishes can be respected,” Martell said.

On Thursday, the Rock County Health Department reported 81 new cases of COVID-19 from the previous day and two additional deaths in Rock County, bringing the countywide total to 8,173 cases and 62 deaths.

The health department estimates 55,271 people have tested negative and 5,679 people have recovered. There were 2,432 active cases as of Thursday.

The positivity rate in Rock County was 22% on Thursday and 72 were hospitalized in the county.

Dane County reported 24,519 cases and 71 deaths; Green County reported 1,502 cases and 6 deaths; and Walworth County reported 5,937 cases and 47 deaths, Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) data from Thursday shows.

Wisconsin reported 6,635 new cases and 83 additional deaths on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 338,472 cases and 2,876 deaths, DHS reports. As of Thursday, 259,953 people have recovered in the state and DHS believes there are a total of 75,580 active cases in Wisconsin.

On Thursday, Winnebago County Health Department reported 234 new cases of COVID-19 from the previous day and three additional deaths in the county, bringing the countywide total to 16,528 cases and 219 deaths. The seven-day positivity rate in the county was 18.9%.

Boone County reported total 3,365 cases and 29 deaths; DeKalb County reported 4,319 cases and 44 deaths; McHenry County reported 12,194 cases and 137 deaths; Ogle County reported 2.408 cases and 21 deaths; and Stephenson County reported 2,146 cases and 22 deaths, state data shows.

On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 14,612 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 168 additional deaths.Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 621,383 cases, including 11,178 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois.

Beloit Turner school district shifts to virtual classes but will continue with winter sports

TOWN OF BELOIT — In line with its Road to Reopening plan and COVID-19 guidance from the Rock County Health Department, the Beloit Turner School District will transition to virtual-only learning for five weeks after the Thanksgiving break.

The Board of Education met Thursday night and voted to shift all classes online from Nov. 30 until Jan. 15.

The Beloit Turner School District is proceeding with winter athletics, after the Board of Education reviewed guidelines related to sports. However, the board did not make any decision regarding student sports on Thursday.

The Clinton, Edgerton, Milton and Janesville school districts also have decided to shift to virtual learning in accordance with Rock County Health Department recommendations. The Parkview and Evansville school districts are continuing with in-person classes.

In a letter sent to families Thursday night, Superintendent Dennis McCarthy said the blended model of in-person and virtual classes is scheduled to resume on Tuesday, Jan. 19. In the meantime, limited services for some special education students will take place on school grounds.

“This was not an easy decision in many ways, but it is one we had to support,” McCarthy wrote. “Unfortunately, our district continues to see very concerning trends of case numbers and noncompliant behavior that includes incidents of students being sent to school despite positive cases and symptomatic close contacts in the house. In order for our case numbers to begin to reduce, we must all be willing to follow minimum safety expectations and guidelines.”

McCarthy wrote that as COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket and as area hospitals have fewer available beds, it is clear that urgent action is needed. He stated that students’ and community members’ safety remains a top priority.

“As a school district, we have agreed to do our part in helping slow community activity by avoiding bringing together our students on site for instruction after these holiday breaks,” McCarthy wrote. “While many are trying to do the right thing and putting challenging restrictions in place, by limiting family gatherings, it is also quite clear many are not. We hope everyone can see the urgency of this issue.”

In a follow-up letter to families Thursday night, Beloit Turner High School Principal Christopher Koeppen wrote that student athletes are taking multiple precautions in order to play winter sports.

During a prior meeting on Nov. 9, Koeppen wrote, “the Board decided to move forward with athletics programming on the condition that strong safety metrics be in place along with specific conditions under which the teams’ participation would be suspended or cancelled. These guidelines have been established.”

Koeppen wrote that all participating student athletes have indicated they are committee to reducing possible exposure to COVID-19, pledged to report any signs of illness and have agreed to pursue virtual-only classes.

“The majority of athletes were already required to switch to virtual instruction as a condition of their participation in order to limit exposure risk to the rest of our building; therefore, the decision to switch the whole district to virtual instruction has minimal impact on our athletic programming plans,” Koeppen wrote. “Our athletes, coaches, and administration all understand the responsibility we share in moving forward as purposefully and as carefully as possible.”

This undated booking photo from the Antioch (Illinois) Police Department shows Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged with fatally shooting two men and injuring a third during protest in Kenosha, Wis., in late August. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Wendy Rittenhouse said neither her son nor the protesters should have been on the street that night and put much of the blame for what happened on police and the governor. “The police should have helped the businesses out instead of having a 17-year-old kid helping him," she said. “The police should have been involved with these people that lost their businesses. They should have stepped up." (Antioch Police Department/Chicago Tribune via AP)