After five years, the wait is over.
For fans, players and coaches, playoff football is back in Fort Atkinson.
“It’s definitely exciting and you could feel the buzz at school today,” said Fort Atkinson football coach Nick Nelson. “Realistically, we’re treating it just like any other game. I talked to our captains this afternoon. Evan Dudzek said ‘there is no next week and no point in looking ahead. Let’s focus on New Berlin Eisenhower.’ We will continue to focus on getting ourselves better and prepared.”
The Blackhawks find themselves back in the postseason on Friday, having had one of their most successful seasons in the last two decades capturing their first conference title since 2003.
Now, they face their next challenge — a New Berlin Eisenhower team that likes to run the ball.
This has been a year of change for the Blackhawks. After going 1,268 days between victories that went back to the 2017 season, the program finished a shortened spring season with a winning record.
And when the regular season started in August, the stunning games included beating an undefeated Baraboo team and a game where a Hail Mary pass actually happened for a victory.
Fort Atkinson’s football team is the No. 2 seed in its WIAA Division 3 bracket and will host No. 7-seeded New Berlin Eisenhower in Level 1 on Friday at 7 p.m. at Jones Dairy Farm Stadium.
Fort, which didn’t have the opportunity to compete in the playoffs during this past spring’s alternate season because there were not any offered, last made the postseason in 2016, when the program reached Level 2 in Division 3. The Blackhawks’ four prior playoff trips (2013, 2012, 2011, 2007) resulted in first-round exits in D2. Fort made it to Level 2 in D3 in 2006.
“I’m excited mostly because we have the leadership to go far in these playoffs,” said senior running back Alec Courtier, who leads the team with 703 rushing yards, scoring nine touchdowns this season. “I know we can do it. We have the senior leadership followed by a good class behind us. The sophomores and scout team in practice train us really well. We’re excited to get to the playoffs.”
The Blackhawks (7-2 overall) won their first league title since 2003 with a 7-6 win at Monona Grove last week. This week, they face a Lions (5-4) team that favors the run game.
“New Berlin Eisenhower wants to run the ball,” Nelson said. “They don’t have a ton of stats on the year for passing. They will look to create some holes and have a couple different backs that carry it. They stay true to their foundation.”
New Berlin Eisenhower has attempted only 52 total passes this year, relying on Max Ringwall, who averages 105 rushing yards per game and has scored 13 times, to carry the offensive load. Three other tailbacks have at least 40 carries.
The Lions, who won four of their last five games to reach the playoffs and made consecutive Level 4 appearances in 2018 and 2019, are not fooled easily on defense.
“They are well-rounded on defense and have four solid defensive linemen,” Nelson said. “They have two inside backers who have played the whole season and fly around. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. On film, you look to see if you can get guys on a hard count or motion and get them out of alignment. They don’t make many mistakes and will be a tough matchup.”
There will be plenty of anticipation building at the high school as the week progresses. For those inside the program, it will be a business-as-usual mindset.
Fort has held five of its opponents under 10 points. The team’s last three games have been decided by six points or fewer and a go-ahead touchdown has been scored with under two minutes left.
“We were able to play good special teams last week,” Nelson said. “Offensively, we pulled it out at the end. We didn’t hurt ourselves with too many turnovers or penalties. That’s a good formula when you are playing good teams. If we can continue to not hurt ourselves and execute on offense, defense and special teams, we will put ourselves in a good spot to win.”
The Blackhawks had a scary moment last week when senior defensive lineman Sheldon Burnett was stretchered off the field in the second half. Burnett is out of the hospital and doing well. The team got a giant roar when Burnett, with his neck brace on, sent a photo last Friday night with a caption reading ‘conference champions.’ Burnett has produced 29 tackles this season, including a team-leading 17 tackles for loss along with four sacks.
Fort has had numerous memorable moments this season. Now, its team is out to make their mark on the playoff stage.
“I’m proud of the whole Blackhawk program,” Courtier said. “We’ve worked for this all year. Really proud of everyone and thanks to the fans who supported us since our 0-9 season two years, because we made it all the way back to here.”
WASHINGTON — Children ages 5 to 11 will soon be able to get a COVID-19 shot at their pediatrician’s office, local pharmacy and potentially even their school, the White House said Wednesday as it detailed plans for the expected authorization of the Pfizer shot for elementary school youngsters in a matter of weeks.
Federal regulators will meet over the next two weeks to weigh the safety and effectiveness of giving low-dose shots to the roughly 28 million children in that age group.
Within hours of formal approval, which is expected after the Food and Drug Administration signs off and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel meets on Nov. 2-3, millions of doses will begin going out to providers across the country, along with the smaller needles needed for injecting young children.
Within days of that, the vaccine will be ready to go into arms on a wide scale.
“We’re completing the operational planning to ensure vaccinations for kids ages 5 to 11 are available, easy and convenient,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said. “We’re going to be ready, pending the FDA and CDC decision.”
The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart and a two-week wait for full protection to kick in, meaning the first youngsters in line will be fully covered by Christmas.
Some parents can hardly wait.
Dr. Sterling Ransone said his rural Deltaville, Virginia, office is already getting calls from people asking for appointments for their children and saying, “I want my shot now.”
“Judging by the number of calls, I think we’re going to be slammed for the first several weeks,” said Ransone, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Justin Shady, a film and TV writer in Chicago, said his 6-year-old daughter, Grey, got nervous when he told her she would be getting the shots soon. But he is bribing her with a trip to Disney World, and “she’s all in.’’
The family likes to travel, “we really just want to get back in the swing of seeing the world,’’ Shady said.
As for youngsters under 5, Pfizer and Moderna are studying their vaccines in children down to 6 months old, with results expected later in the year.
The Biden administration noted that the expansion of shots to children under 12 will not look like the start of the country’s vaccine rollout 10 months ago, when limited doses and inadequate capacity meant a painstaking wait for many Americans.
The country now has ample supplies of the Pfizer shot to vaccinate the children who will soon be eligible, officials said, and they have been working for months to ensure widespread availability of shots. About 15 million doses will be shipped to providers across the U.S. in the first week after approval, the White House said.
More than 25,000 pediatricians and primary care providers have already signed on to dispense the vaccine to elementary school children, the White House said, in addition to the tens of thousands of drugstores that are already administering shots to adults.
Hundreds of school- and community-based clinics will also be funded and supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help speed the process.
In addition to doctors’ offices, schools are likely be popular spots for the shots.
In Maryland, state officials have offered to help schools set up vaccination clinics. Denver’s public schools plan to hold mass vaccination events for young children, along with smaller clinics offering shots during the school day and in the evenings. Chicago’s public health department is working closely with schools, which have already been hosting vaccination events for students age 12 and older and their families.
The White House is also preparing a stepped-up campaign to educate parents and children about the safety of the shots and the ease of getting them. As has been the case for adult vaccinations, the administration believes trusted messengers — educators, doctors and community leaders — will be vital to encouraging vaccinations.
Dr. Lisa Reed, medical director for family medicine at MAHEC, a western North Carolina safety net provider that serves patients from rural Appalachia and more urban communities such as the tourist town of Asheville, said it is going to take effort to get some families on board.
Reed said she lives “in a community that has a lot of vaccine hesitancy, unfortunately.”
“Some have lower health literacy or belong to ethnic groups that are more hesitant in general’’ because of a history of mistrust, she said. And Asheville, she said, has a sizeable population of well-educated adults who are longtime vaccine skeptics.
The Fort Atkinson City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to establish wards in the city, based on 2020 census data.
The council’s action — taken upon staff recommendation — signals approval of the ward map and allows Jefferson County to move forward on its timeline with a public hearing for the County Supervisory District map on Nov. 3.
In a related move, council members also performed a first reading of a measure to repeal and recreate a section of the City of Fort Atkinson municipal code relating to voting wards and boundaries.
City Manager Rebecca Houseman LeMire was directed to prepare the ordinance for a second reading at the council’s Nov. 2 meeting.
The city’s current wards and boundaries are outlined in the city’s code. The existing ordinance must be repealed and recreated to reflect changes in the ward map that was adopted.
The condensed time-frame for redistricting does not allow for the city’s process of offering two to three readings of the ordinance before adoption.
Michelle Ebbert, city clerk/treasurer/finance director, said that, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. census only gets once chance, every 10 years, to count every resident in the United States. The 2020 Census, she said, marked the 24th count of the U.S. population and the first time that households were invited to respond to the census online.
“Although the U.S. Census Bureau carries out hundreds of surveys every year, its most well-known duty is still to conduct the decennial census,” Ebbert informed. “Census results have high-profile applications.
“They are used to reapportion seats in the House of Representatives, to realign congressional districts, and as a factor in the formulas that distribute hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds each year,” she added. “Because of the importance of this population count, procedural changes in the decennial census often reflect larger organization shifts at the Census Bureau.”
Ebbert said Jefferson County led the redistricting efforts with the following timeline.
On Sept. 7, she said, the Executive Committee of Jefferson County discussed the tentative supervisory district plan, and provided feedback to county staff and a recommendation to the county board.
“A draft plan was developed based on the 2020 census data, local municipalities’ current wards, and municipal boundaries,” Ebbert said. “The county tried to maintain the current wards and limit the division of wards by county supervisory districts; however, there are some cases where supervisory districts intersect current ward boundaries.”
On Sept. 14, she said, the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing, and reviewed and approved the tentative supervisory district plan.
On Sept. 15, following the county board’s approval, the tentative supervisory district plan was released to local municipalities for their review and approval. This step, she said, included the review of municipal ward districts and town supervisor seats.
On Nov. 1, local municipalities will review and approve municipal ward/town supervisor areas.
On Nov. 3, the Jefferson County Board tentatively will hold a public hearing on the final supervisory district plan which includes municipal wards and town supervisor areas.
On Nov. 9, the county board tentatively will review and approve the final supervisory district plan.
The City of Fort Atkinson has a council-manager form of government, the clerk explained.
“The city council serves as the community’s legislative and policy-making board,” Ebbert said. “The five city council members are elected at large and serve the community collectively, representing all 10 current voting wards.”
The city, she said, has had nine wards in recent history with a 10th ward added in 2020 due to the annexation of a single house.
“The elector(s) in ward 10 have been included in an adjacent ward on this draft map, returning the city to 9 wards,” Ebbert said. “In the future, with the Banker Road parcel annexation, a new ward will be added.”
The clerk noted that there only are minor changes in boundaries between the city’s current ward map and the draft ward map.
“Some minor changes more evenly distributed the number of electors per ward, while remaining within the boundaries of the proposed county supervisory districts,” Ebbert said.
She emphasized that, “All electors in the City of Fort Atkinson vote at one polling place, city hall, (municipal building, 101 N. Main St.) so any changes to ward numbers will not impact voting location.”
“Further, the city utilizes Badger Books — electronic poll books — on Election Day, which eliminates the need for voters to stand in specific lines to vote in specific wards,” Ebbert pointed out. “All wards within the city are within the same school district, State Assembly District 33, State Senate District 11 and U.S. Congressional District 5.”
MADISON — The Wisconsin Senate on Wednesday approved a package of Republican-authored bills designed to discourage abortion in the state.
Republicans control the Senate and passed all four bills without any votes from a single Democrat.
The measures now go to the Assembly but they appear doomed. Republicans passed the proposals last legislative session only to see Democratic Gov. Tony Evers veto them. Evers is almost certain to veto any abortion restrictions that reach his desk this session and the GOP doesn’t have enough votes to override him.
Senate Democrats warned Republicans during debate that none of the bills would become law. They decried the proposals as nothing more than a cynical attempt to energize the conservative base heading into the 2022 elections.
“We’re just interested in making abortion as difficult, as dangerous, as onerous as possible,” said Democratic state Sen. Kelda Roys, a former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, a group that advocates for access to abortions. “Thank you for giving (Evers) the opportunity to once again show he’s on the side of the people.”
One proposal would defund abortion providers by prohibiting them from participating in Medicaid except in cases of sexual assault or incest or if the woman’s life is in danger.
Another bill would require doctors to tell any woman seeking an abortion through a regimen of drugs that she could still change her mind after ingesting the first dose and could still continue the pregnancy.
A third bill would require doctors to ensure parents of unborn children who test positive for a congenital condition to receive information about the condition. A fourth bill would prohibit abortions based on an unborn child’s sex, race or national origin.
The bills come as abortion rights supporters are concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that essentially legalized abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb. The Biden administration on Monday asked the Supreme Court to block a Texas law that bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks and before some women know they are pregnant. The law is the strictest curb on abortion in the nation.
Senate President Chris Kapenga, the chief sponsor of the drug dose bill, defended that measure as a way to give women more information. He was the only Republican who spoke about any of the bills on the floor.