Best of The Gazette, Jan. 21: JCPenney, Beloit and a critter encounter
The Gazette publishes a lot of news in a week. Combine that with all the distractions a weekend brings, and that means there's a good chance you might have missed some important stories. Here's a look at of some of The Gazette's best content from the last week or so:
In Rock County, real estate agents sold more than 1,800 existing homes in 2013, a number not surpassed since 2007. More important, the average price of those homes sold was nearly $119,000, an amount last topped in 2009.
Last month, strangers mailed 5-year-old Colin Cahill of Milton more than 500 holiday cards to support him as he fights a rare childhood cancer. The cards still are trickling in, said his mom, Kristie Briggs. “When he opens the cards, he smiles. It helps me to see him happy.”
Janesville Craig, Janesville Parker and Beloit Memorial athletes playing together? It sounds borderline preposterous. The programs are supposed to be rivals. But the idea of bringing them together in girls hockey was approved in 2008. Six years later, the Rock County Fury is starting to shine.
With the Sand County Almanac as his inspiration, D.S. Pledger ventured outdoors after the area's warm-up from subzero temperatures. The almanac tells of busy owls and slinking skunks during this time of year. Though his trip was brief, he did get up close and personal with one wild critter: a hungry opossum.
Despite the loss of jobs and local history, good news could arise from the closure of JCPenney in Janesville, The Gazette Editorial Board writes. Gale Price, the city's building and development services manager, pointed to redevelopment activity along Milton Avenue and expects interest in filling the mall vacancy to come sooner rather than later.
The Gazette is making a few adjustments, Editor Scott Angus writes. They aren't monumental, and they don't involve a huge investment, but he thinks they'll make the Sunday paper more fulfilling for many readers.
The Janesville Craig High School “Spotlighters” placed second in Saturday's Milton Show Choir Invitational competition. Ashley Johnson, 17-year-old senior and four-year member of the show choir, said she was “thrilled.” “Our show has improved a lot,” Johnson said. “It's a lot of fun. There is always something new to see and new to watch.”
The September opening of Sol's on the Square bumps the number of Korean restaurants around Madison to three and makes the city part of a national culinary trend. Most of what restaurant reviewer Bill Livick tasted from Sol's menu was spicy and fiery hot, which is ideal during Wisconsin winters but hard to imagine in July or mid-August.
Garden blogger Janice Peterson channels Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote while showing readers the lighter side of botanical Latin.
In this age of cellphones and adolescent persistence, community blogger James Martin recalls a time when bathrooms were sacrosanct.
It would be an overstatement to say Beloit is rejuvenating or revitalizing its downtown. What's happening instead is a continuing evolution that observers say is necessary to keep the downtown relevant.
Video blogger Glen Loyd captures some slow-motion footage of lunchtime at his bird-feeding station. Watch for the pecking order in this video and how a cardinal seems to be dozing off after lunch.