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Racine COVID Order Challenged; Kenosha Uptown Progress; Drug Bust

Nov. 19, 2020 8:50p

From WGTD News:

A conservative legal action group is fighting the Racine Health Department's order to temporarily close all schools because of the virus. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty is working on behalf of several private schools. The law firm has gone straight to the state Supreme Court. The court has ordered the City of Racine to respond by Monday. 

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A proposed retail and residential development in Kenosha's battered uptown appears to be on the fast track. The city's Plan Commission voted unanimously Thursday evening  to back Gorman & Company's proposal for two buildings that would consist of ground floor stores and 128 upper-story apartments. Gorman Wisconsin Market President Ted Matkom said the company has been working closely with business owners that were displaced by the arson fires and vandalism stemming from the August civil unrest. Commission approval clears the way for Gorman to apply for tax credits that would enable it to keep rents low. Also at the meeting, a representative of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance said the agency is "incredibly" interested in locating a grocery store in the neighborhood. A market study has already been completed. A Pick 'n' Save in the area closed two years ago. KABA is pursuing some type of "cooperative" grocery store. 

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The state on Thursday reported about 1,500 fewer confirmed cases of coronavirus from the day before. It's not clear whether that'll turn into a trend. Locally, nine new deaths were reported in Kenosha County, bringing the total to 119. Five more occurred in Racine County for a total of 146. Walworth County had one new death, bringing the total there to 45. A new COVID testing site located in the former uptown fire station is already expanding its hours. Testing will now be offered Tuesday through Friday. Details are available on Kenosha County's COVID web pages. 

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The Kenosha 19-year-old who allegedly bought the gun used by 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse to kill two people and wound a third during the city’s unrest last August has been bound over for trial. The ruling by Court Commissioner Larry Keating Thursday occurred following a short preliminary hearing that included just one witness. Kenosha Police Det. Martin Antaramian said Dominick Black admitted that he had purchased a rifle using money Rittenhouse had given him last May. It’s illegal in Wisconsin for anyone under the age of 18 to buy a firearm. The gun was stored at Black’s stepfather’s house in Kenosha up until the day of the shootings. Black’s attorney did not contest the bind-over. Arraignment was scheduled for January 13th. Meanwhile,  Rittenhouse tells the Washington Post in a jailhouse interview that he bought the gun with a $1,200 unemployment check. He says he'd been furloughed from employment at a YMCA in Illinois. 
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A drug trafficking ring in Racine has been busted up with charges filed against 14 people, ranging in age from 21 to 59. The U.S. Attorney's office in Milwaukee says the ring had ties to Chicago, and sold heroin, fentanyl and cocaine.  10 of the 14 were arrested in raids that occurred on Wednesday. The charges are based on investigations done by both federal and local authorities.

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With a new store in Oak Creek, the home furniture and decor giant IKEA has donated nearly $950,000 to help improve racial equality in employment in southeast Wisconsin. The money--coming from the foundation that IKEA controls--represents the amount IKEA employees collected in Wisconsin unemployment benefits when the company closed stores and furloughed employees at the start of the pandemic. The state's Department of Workforce Development will administer the fund and will take grant applications. In a news release, IKEA says the pandemic has underscored racial disparities and has had disproportionate effects on communities of color. In a separate release, State Senator Bob Wirch praised the company for being a good corporate citizen. 

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A report on recommended police reforms in Racine--released this week--is expected to be fodder for numerous discussions over the next few months. The city's Affirmative Action and Human Rights Commission took it's first look Thursday at the 39-page report, and decided to continue the discussion at its December meeting. The Racine City Council is also expected to discuss the report next month. Mayor Mason says while the Racine Police Department has been recognized for being at the forefront of good policing more needs to be done.

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