The United Way Blackhawk Region met online Thursday for its Day of Caring and Campaign Kickoff event. 

United Way Day of Caring volunteers at Edgerton Community Outreach, September 25, 2020

The United Way Blackhawk Region (UWBR) nonprofit organization raises money to distribute to other local nonprofits. The organizations it works with tackle local community issues of poverty, food shortages, homelessness, family violence and addiction. 

The normal Day of Caring event is a community-oriented effort where volunteers from local businesses that donated to the United Way go and do community service activities. These can include painting, cleaning up waste, or working at local homeless shelters. 

However, due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic and, in the interest of maintaining safe social distancing practices the Day of Caring and the Campaign Kickoff events were combined into a single online gathering. 

During the event, around 150 United Way volunteers and contributors watched the live presentations given by United Way leadership and award recipients. 

The first speaker and event coordinator, Mary Fanning-Penny, executive director and president and CEO of United Way, opened by outlining the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the United Way’s efforts in 2020. It started the COVID-19 Action Fund back in March at the beginning of the lockdowns. The fund works with Blackhawk communities in the Rock County region disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This largely includes districts of Janesville and Beloit with higher than average poverty levels. The UWBR’s Day of Caring serves the purpose of organizing a response to such issues as homelessness via community service projects submitted by local nonprofits.

City of Milton administrator Al Hulick, one of three UWBR board chairs addressed the event explaining briefly the Rock County COVID-19 task force. The task force’s job entails a campaign that helps local nonprofits raise money for hardships caused by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Nonprofits were able to apply for grants which the task force used to determine the hardest hit organizations in need of immediate financial assistance. The task force set a $2.4 million goal this year.     

“When we work together, no task is too big and no job is too daunting,” said Hulick, “if we fall short, our programs will fall short, and if our programs fall short then our communities will not get the resources they need.”

Additionally, Hulick presented the Excellence in Advocacy award to Focus. Focus board member and Janesville City Manager Mark Freitag accepted the award. Focus is an informal coalition of over 35 local nonprofits, businesses, and volunteers that focuses on homelessness in Janesville.  

Beloit City Manager Lori Luther highlighted the installation of interactive learning trails in both Janesville and Beloit over the summer to encourage outdoor learning for kids. Each trail features ten signs with language activities for Spanish and English. 

The President and CEO of First National Bank and Trust Company David McCoy accepted the 2019 Live United award. First National Bank and Trust supports regular pledge campaigns and makes annual donations to the United Way and its nonprofit affiliates.

“We are so appreciative of the United Way Blackhawk Region and all that they’ve done for our community here,” said McCoy, “We look forward to many more successful years with the United Way Blackhawk Region.”

The final award for the event, the Geraldine Hedberg Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Amy Lokrantz. Lokrantz is the manager of financial analysis and forecasting for ABC Supply Co. Inc. She was selected for the award for her loyalty and years of dedicated service to United Way campaigns and projects. Lokrantz has also made significant donations to the nonprofit every year. 

“Giving is the greatest gift we can provide our community,” Lokrantz said. 

The UWBR continues its COVID-19 virus response initiatives and encourages the Blackhawk region’s involvement in strengthening local communities. Volunteers are always welcome. For more information on its current projects, or its social media platforms are the best way to keep up to date. 

Approves Grant Application for Full-Time School Officers

The Whitewater Common Council approved the police department for a grant application to hire four new School Resource Officers for the Whitewater Unified School District. 

The Whitewater Common Council meeting Tuesday was routine but not unnoteworthy. The Council unanimously voted to approve authorization for the Whitewater Police Department to submit a grant application for the COPS Hiring Program (CHP). The 2020 program, according to a memo reviewed by the Council, is a federal grant “designed to advance public safety through community policing by addressing the full-time sworn officer needs of state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies nationwide.” The city of Whitewater public schools have only one School Resource Officer (SRO) at this time. The program’s proposed grant would allow the department to hire one SRO per school (elementary, middle, high) so that there is always an officer on duty at all five schools. 

Concern was raised over the increase in calls for police services during school hours primarily by the Whitewater Middle School. Job demands of the single SRO are inefficient and ineffective since one officer cannot be in multiple locations at one time handling 1,939 total students. 

Whitewater deputy chief of police Daniel Meyer said, “there was a much greater need for our services,” responding to councilman James Allen.

Allen cited the increase in calls by 459 calls in 2019 and wanted to know what the cause of the increase was. Meyer did not have exact metrics for call or case calculations. 

Councilman Allen said, “I’m not a proponent of adding members to our police department.”

However, Allen went on to say that because the amount paid by the city and school district is minimal, there is not a better time for the department to apply for the grant. 

“We need police officers in our schools and with so many calls our SRO is tied down being reactionary,” said Allen. 

Allen pointed out that it is better to be prepared and proactive in light of recent years’ events taking place in public schools across the United States. 

Additionally, the Urban Forestry Committee presented retired streets and parks superintendent and city forester, Chuck Nass with a Lifetime Achievement Award. 

During his tenure, Nass was responsible for the management of trees in and around Whitewater. Trees are not often thought about by the average citizen, but they are a symbol of city vitality and promote beauty wherever they grow. Part of the management includes the safe maintaining of trees by trimming them and checking for parasites within the roots and bark. If such ailments are discovered, they must be dealt with in a procedural manner. 

“Chuck Nass has demonstrated true leadership. It was a very easy nomination to make. He’s leaving quite a legacy,” said Dwayne Sperber, a member of the Urban Forestry Council.

Nass’s duties also included the overseeing of Whitewater’s parks and green spaces. Nass and his colleagues have worked hard to make Whitewater a destination and a beautiful green home for its residents. 

Other Agenda Items:

  • Library Director presentation of 2019 Annual Library Report.
  • Parks and Recreation Director update on Cravath Lakefront amphitheater project, construction began early (Feb. 25), projected June completion.
  • Council approved the request for the purchase of an automatic valve turner for the Water Department.
  • Discussion of a possible return to the common council’s original agenda format. 
  • Approval of police department radio services 2020 Radicom contract. 

The United States’ 2020 Presidential election cycle is in full swing and it’s as messy as it’s ever been.

The 2020 Iowa caucuses took place Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, and after a long night of triumphant speeches candidates became aware that something had gone awry. The results were not coming in as expected and nobody seemed to know why.

As it would turn out, the culprit for the issues was an app developed by a company called Shadow and its supporters at Acronym. According to an article published on by Emily Stewart today, Feb. 5, 2020, Acronym is a Democratic organization that was formed in 2017. In 2018 it became a nonprofit political action committee (PAC) with for-profit organizations working under it. Its work is undoubtedly shady and it has kept relatively quiet so far about the technical failures that took place Monday night into Tuesday.

Shadow, the company directly responsible for the failed app used at the caucuses, was developed by former Clinton (2016) campaign personnel. In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016, the company’s projects experienced technical failures and fallout financially, nearly driving the company to bankruptcy.

The app in question also experienced these technical failures which caused glitches in the system, which in turn delayed the caucus results. Incorrect number tabulations are an unaffordable mistake for the Democratic party. The party has been clear about its intent to dethrone Donald Trump. Trump, who was acquitted of impeachment charges this afternoon by the Senate, also commented on the poor reflection cast of the Democratic party. Major changes will need to be made to prevent this from happening again.

To Offer an Editorial:

My opinion is that it is perfectly obvious why this happened. The Democratic party hired people who were responsible for a failed campaign effort. These same people have also failed numerous times technologically and financially, and the party hired them to run the number system for the Iowa caucus. How blind do you have to be to not notice such glaring red flags? Democratic officials should absolutely be worried now with New Hampshire coming up. The party looks foolish in this light and all this does is give unscrupulous outlets like Fox News more ammunition to support Trump’s re-election efforts.

Top Democratic candidates like Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg have every right to be angry about this screw-up. This episode has the potential to undermine their campaigns and ultimately allow Trump to win in November.

Additionally, the events in Iowa have sparked the debate over whether foreign governments are still attempting to interfere with the U.S. democratic process. While it is reasonable to assume that they are, it is equally reasonable to assume that this was a case of involuntary self-sabotage.

The Democratic party must make swift changes and levy punishments to prevent further mistakes such as these. If they do not, it will cost them another election and perhaps irreparably damage their political reputation.


This is a student-run blog for a senior-level course in Journalism. The opinions expressed in this writing do not necessarily reflect those held by the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, its faculty, or its affiliates.

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