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Beloit firefighters to help keep kids warm

Beloit firefighters to help keep kids warm

Beloit firefighters partnered with a national group to provide more than 200 winter coats to area children.

Scott Smith, president of the Beloit Firefighters Union Local 583, said firefighters raised nearly $5,000 as part of its partnership with Operation Warm to supply low-income students at Merrill Elementary School with brand-new coats Friday.

Smith said the families of the students to receive coats were informed by phone this week of the Friday night jacket event to take place at Merrill before a movie night at the school.

The Beloit firefighters group purchased about 135 new coats with the funds they raised, and the company matched that number in additional coats, bringing the total of coats to be given to the students to about 270, Smith said Thursday. He said the program is a rewarding experience.

Beloit College plans to turn old power plant into rec space

Beloit College plans to turn old power plant into rec space

Beloit College plans to overhaul a defunct power plant into a recreational space for students over the next four years.

Beloit College said Wednesday in a news release that it's working with Studio Gang Architects to reimagine the former Blackhawk Generating Station between the college campus and the Rock River.

Plans for the future Powerhouse include a coffee shop, lounges, a conference center, lecture hall, fitness center and theater. An eight-lane competition pool will have space for 250 spectators. There will also be a 10,000-square-foot fitness center and a 17,000-square-foot recreational gym.

The design will keep the building's original architectural features and incorporate  new sustainable practices, such as using the river to help maintain the ambient temperature in the building.

A three-lane suspended running track will weave throughout the building, according to the release.

Sheriff’s office adds patrols for homecoming weekend

The Rock County Sheriff’s Office will be adding additional patrol deputies to the roads during Homecoming this weekend, according to a release.

Deputies will be dedicated to patrolling roadways and areas that can be hazardous for young and inexperienced drivers, officials said. They will also be enforcing traffic and alcohol violations.

The leading cause of violent traffic deaths for teenagers is motor vehicle crashes, according to the release.

“It is our intent to be proactive in hopes of preventing any unfortunate events and to see that their homecoming night is safe and enjoyable,” the release said.

Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden said he wants to encourage parents and guardians to talk with their teenagers about the importance of using seat belts, adhering to traffic laws and to reinforce safe driving habits.

Report cards grade Rock County districts on state expectations

State education officials say the majority of Wisconsin public schools and school districts meet or exceed expectations for student achievement.

The Janesville, Edgerton and Milton school districts were rated as meeting expectations. The Evansville School District was rated as exceeding expectations. The Beloit School District was rated as meeting few expectations.

The state report cards for about 2,100 public schools show approximately 88 percent met or exceeded expectations. About 98 percent of the state's 424 districts also achieved that mark.

It's the second year the state Department of Public Instruction has issued district report cards and the third year for schools.

Both are evaluated in four main areas; student achievement in reading and math on statewide assessments, student growth in those assessments, closing achievement and graduation gaps and readiness for college or careers.

$1M DOT grant will fund riverwalk project in Beloit

$1M DOT grant will fund riverwalk project in Beloit

The city of Beloit and Beloit College have been awarded a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to fund a Rock River riverwalk project, according to a release.

The $1,009,158 grant, provided as part of the Federal Transportation Alternatives Program, will extend riverside access to the outer walls of the planned redevelopment of the Alliant Energy's Blackhawk Generating Station, officials said. Beloit College plans to turn it into a waterfront activity and recreation center.

"We are thrilled to get this key piece of funding in place, which will further cement this facility's role as a city and college resource," Beloit College President Scott Bierman said in the release. "This will, in essence, help extend Riverside Park south and offer our community easier access to the river, the park and downtown Beloit."

Janesville schools see increase in graduation rates

The Janesville School District has seen an increase in high school graduation rates for the past three years. Data released by the Department of Public Instruction this month shows the district is continuing to make improvements, specifically with minority and economically disadvantaged students.

"We believe that when you set goals, when you set a small number of goals and really target those goals, typically you're going to see an increase and that's what we have done," Superintendent Karen Schulte said.

Craig and Parker high schools in Janesville surpassed the state?s 88 percent graduation average. In the 2012-13 school year Parker High School graduated 91.8 percent of students, while Craig High School graduated 95.1 percent, with minorities showing the biggest improvements.