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53 photos showing what life has been like in Racine County throughout this infamous year: 2020

53 photos showing what life has been like in Racine County throughout this infamous year: 2020

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It's been a crazy year, from protests to a pandemic to running out of toilet paper to health care workers saving lives as they're pushed to their limits. Here's what 2020 looked like in southeastern Wisconsin.

Photos by Adam Rogan, Stephanie Jones, Gregory Shaver, Christina Lieffring, Lauren Henning, Terry Flores, Sean Krajacic, Dave Fidlin, Mark Hertzberg, Eric Johnson and Caitlin Sievers.



Caitlin Sievers covers education in Racine County with a primary focus on Racine Unified School District. Before moving to the Racine area she worked at small papers in Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska.


Christina Lieffring covers the City of Racine and the City of Burlington and is a not-bad photographer. In her spare time she tries to keep her plants and guinea pigs alive and happy.

Managing Editor

Stephanie Jones is the managing editor for The Journal Times. To stay informed about what is going on in Racine County, subscribe at It's only about 10 cents per day for a digital subscription.

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Rep. Jimmy Anderson, a Fitchburg Democrat who has only 20% to 30% lung capacity because he’s paralyzed from the chest down, told Up North News last week, "As someone with significant lung issues, a respiratory illness like COVID-19 could easily kill me." He called the lack of a mask mandate “irresponsible.”

State Rep. Ted Ohnstad, D-Kenosha, is currently suffering from COVID-19 (although his symptoms so far have been mild) and his quarantine won’t be over until at least Jan. 6, meaning — if he can’t participate virtually — he will be unable to participate in a few perfunctory votes, including the setting of the schedule and election of assembly speaker scheduled for Jan. 4.

Should his symptoms worsen or last longer than expected, he doesn't know what he'll be able to do to represent his constituents should virtual participation continue to be banned.

  • 7 min to read

“Joyce had a charm, wit, and undying love to those who were her friends and family,” the former Mrs. Wisconsin's children said in an email following her Nov. 5 passing from COVID-19. “She was simply an amazing mom, filled with a zest and zeal for life, all bundled up into one marvelous package. She was the first to compliment a person and make them feel good. This included family and friends – and even total strangers. Seeing others smile provided her great joy. She loved giving gifts to her family, and even strangers. She was just that kind of person.”

WATCH NOW: RUSD will be implementing measures the CDC recommends, like social distancing, masking and contact tracing. “We need to look at cost to children of being out of school,” said Health Services Director Kimberly Granger.

However, RUSD Chief Operating Officer Shannon Gordon reported that 24 class periods within Unified middle and high schools and three elementary school classrooms will be unable to physically distance students six feet apart, which is what the CDC recommends.

  • 7 min to read

Three teenagers caught up in local court cases have seen drastically different jail experiences. Communities cared about two of them. Few knew about the third.

Reform advocates and now even the State Public Defenders Office agree that cash bail is an unfair system. This story looks into how three different teens from poor families faced it: Two — Kyle Rittenhouse and Chrystul Kizer — got out of jail thanks to massive fundraising efforts and supporters nationwide coming to their respective causes for completely different reasons. Another, Traoun Oliver-Thomas, didn't get that help. He's been in jail for the better part of two years. And, unlike his peers, he never killed anybody. He just didn't have $120.

Those who are receiving unemployment benefits are not currently required to prove they are actively looking for employment as they normally are in Wisconsin, which some suspect adds to the hiring issues many southeast Wisconsin employers are reporting.

Republicans are moving to reinstate the requirement.

It is still being debated how much of an impact the requirement is having on employers' struggles to fill openings; the worker shortage is so new, there isn't really any data on reasons why there are so many help wanted signs and how much of an impact a single Department of Workforce Development rule has.

  • 2 min to read

Willie Liggins, 60, has been dealing with a heroin addiction since he tried it for the first time at age 15. In his late 50s, he had gotten clean after a long time in prison.

Then he received devastating news: He would not be getting the organ transplant he needed to save his life. Unable to cope with the stress of slowly dying, he said he returned to the crutch he had been using for most of his life when things got tough.

Like a lot of heroin users, he also was selling to feed his habit.

He refers to using heroin as “riding the dragon.”

Judge Timothy Boyle told the defendant, “I think the dragon’s also chasing you.”

Liggins was in Racine County Circuit Court last week to be sentenced for heroin distribution.

Boyle sentenced the defendant to five years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release for second-offense delivering heroin, two counts of second offense delivering a schedule I and II narcotic/fentanyl, and possession with the intent to deliver heroin.

  • 3 min to read

In 2018, Republicans ran for Assembly seats in 69 out of 99 Wisconsin districts, allowing Democrats to run unopposed almost one-third of the time. Two years later in 2020, Republicans ran in 92 districts, leaving a mere seven Democrats running unopposed.

That’s part of the Republicans’ plan to retain control in Wisconsin, a perennially purple state. To break Democrats’ streak of winning statewide races, the GOP wants to win locally to generate momentum on a statewide scale.

“Why are we letting people run unopposed?” U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said at a Republican rally on Juneteenth last month. “We want Republicans everywhere on the ballot."

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