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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. This year's cohort has been placed with more than 160 local news organizations across 45 states and Puerto Rico, including two journalists right here at WNIJ. We are thrilled to announce the addition of JuanPablo Ramirez-Franco to our news team, and a new role for WNIJ reporter Yvonne Boose.Yvonne Boose covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This includes how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities.Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco covers substandard housing and police-community relations. An audio producer and journalist based out of Chicago, he’s also been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office.He will continue Sarah Jesmer’s award-winning work at WNIJ covering issues of social justice and identity. Jesmer earned a top award from the Illinois Associated Press for reports including: Inside DeKalb County's Unincorporated Apartments; Wigs, Lipstick & Sparkles: The Thriving Drag Scene In Northern Illinois; and Kish College: Anonymous Letters And A Controversial Investigation.These reporting positions come at a time when local journalism is already reeling from years of newsroom cuts and unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.Both positions are partially funded by a grant from Report for America. WNIJ must raise an additional $30,000 in local matching funds. Support these important voices in our community by donating to WNIJ’s portion here.Yvonne and Juanpablo’s stories on our community will be collected below.

Bicycle Wheels Set To Spin In Southern Wisconsin

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A competitive bicycle race is set to whirl through the streets and roads of southern Wisconsin.    

Paul Murphy is the co-chair of the Janesville Town Square Gran Prix. He said over the course of two days about $30,000 will be given out to participants.  

“How do you get racers to go faster? You show $500 or you show $200 or you show $2,000,” he said.

He said all participants will go home with something.  The amounts will be determined during the race.  

He said in 2019 some riders received $100 before things began.

“And you do little things like that, that the racers appreciate, but also gets the crowd engaged. And so, it's a real fun activity,” he said.

About 1,800 people attended in 2018 and about 4,000 in 2019. This year Murphy said they are expecting about 5,000 people.  

Volunteers are also needed for this event.

“The highest percentage of volunteers we need are crosswalk volunteers,” Murphy explained. “There are six crosswalks that safely get the spectators across the street, but then also allow the bicyclists to safely travel. But it's the best seat in the house.”

Roads will be closed during this time. Spectators can watch the race close-up. 

The free event also includes family activities. Presented by the Tour of America Dairyland, the race will take place June 17 and 18 at the town square. Actual times can be found on the event’s website

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.