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Dubuque & Tri-State News

Animal Bites on the Rise in Dubuque

Residents of Dubuque appear to be more likely to be bitten by an animal this year. That’s because the number of animal biting incidents has ticked up, and currently sits 15 ahead of last year’s total. But city health specialist Mary Rose Corrigan says most animal bites happen in the spring and summer. Earlier this month, two dog biting incidents were reported within just a couple hours of each other. Last year, there were eight animal bites where the health department had to ask the public for its help locating the animal or its owner. There have been seven such incidents already this year. Corrigan says that when a bite incident happens, the next 72 hours are critical for the victim. Pet owners can be fined if they are found in violation of the city’s animal control ordinance. The year with the highest number of animal bites reported in Dubuque was 2013.

Jo Daviess Phone Outage May Affect 911 Service 

A telephone network outage in Jo Daviess County may be affecting phone and 911 service in a number of communities at this hour. Authorities say the outage may prevent calls from reaching the 911 center in Galena. If you have an emergency during the outage you can attempt to use a landline, cell, or internet based phone service to contact the Sheriff’s Office, your local police or fire departments. The communities and areas being affected are Apple River, Apple Canyon Lake, East Dubuque, Elizabeth, Galena, including the Galena Territory, Hanover, Massbach, Nora, Scales Mound, Stockton and Warren.

Epworth Neighborhood Under Boil Advisory Tomorrow

Residents of a part of the town of Epworth are being encouraged to boil their tap water before using it to drink or cook tomorrow. The city will be connecting a new water main to its distribution system tomorrow morning. That will cause a loss in water pressure for the rest of the system. Due to the possibility of bacterial contamination, the city is urging a couple dozen residents living northeast of the downtown area to boil water or use bottled water. The advisory only applies to those who live on Elmwood Court, and in the first two blocks of 1st Avenue NE north of Main Street. The work will begin at 9:00 AM, and is expected to be completed by 11:30. But the city will keep the boil advisory in place until tests show that the water is safe to drink.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the area under the advisory. It only applies to the streets mentioned above.

Police Ready for New Texting Law, But Say Enforcement Will Be Difficult

Courtesy: Clemson University

Law enforcement leaders in Dubuque say they’re ready for a new law regarding texting while driving to go into effect. Beginning Saturday, texting while driving will be a primary offense in Iowa. That means that an officer doesn’t have to have another reason to pull over a driver they see texting. While he says that’s a step in the right direction, Dubuque Police Lt. Scott Baxter says it still doesn’t do enough. One problem he sees with the change is it still allows driver to make phone calls while driving. Baxter says it will be close to impossible for officers to determine whether a driver is sending a text message or simply dialing a number. If it were up to Baxter, there would be an outright ban on cell phone use while driving. Dubuque County Sheriff Joe Kennedy says his officers haven’t had any extra training ahead of the new law, since they already know the signs of distracted driving. He sees the new law as another tool for his department. Up to now, texting while driving had been a secondary offense, meaning an officer could only issue a ticket if a driver was found to be texting while committing another violation.

Gehrts: June Rain Unlikely to Reach Normal Level

Gehrts

Some soaking rains in the middle of June weren’t enough to counteract a very dry start to the month. That means many areas around Dubuque will fall below normal for June rainfall, according to meteorologist Justin Gehrts from our coverage partner, KCRG-TV. The Dubuque area saw virtually no rain for the first two weeks of June, and even when the rains did come, they were spotty in most places. So far this month, the Dubuque Regional Airport has received about 1.7 inches of rain. That’s about two inches below normal. Meanwhile at Hempstead High School, there’s been more than two inches of rain reported in June. Gehrts says the scattered nature of those rain showers is something that’s been seen across eastern Iowa. Even with this month’s rain falling below normal, given how wet the spring was, most areas aren’t in much danger of getting too dry. There are rain chances in the forecast each day through Friday. The best likelihood for heavy rain comes tomorrow or Thursday night.

Hazel Green Police Car Damaged in Crash

A Hazel Green police vehicle was heavily damaged after a crash with another car last week. On Thursday morning, Hazel Green Police Chief James Monahan was parked on Percival Street running radar checks of vehicle speed. A few minutes after 8:00 AM, he saw a vehicle travelling faster than the posted speed limit. Monahan turned on his vehicle’s lights and made a hand signal for the driver to pull over. But at the same time, 61-year-old Barbara Hammer of Cuba City was driving up behind Monahan’s vehicle. She saw the lights were on, but interpreted his hand signal as a direction for her to keep going. She then struck the driver’s side of the patrol car as Monahan went to pull into traffic. Neither driver was injured, but the squad car sustained heavy damage. No charges have been filed in the case.

Drunk Driver Who Rear-Ended Deputy Sent to Federal Prison

A Dubuque man who rear-ended a sheriff’s deputy while driving drunk is being sent to federal prison. 46-year-old Thomas Schaller was charged with Operating While Intoxicated after the crash earlier this month. According to an arrest report, the deputy was sitting in his squad car while conducting a traffic stop when Schaller collided with the vehicle. Being intoxicated is a violation of Schaller’s supervised release from prison. Back in 2005, he was sentenced on drug and gun charges. He was released in August of 2013, but ordered to serve a five-year term of supervised release. Schaller admitted to his role in the crash during a hearing on Monday. The judge in the case has now ordered Schaller to spend two additional years in federal prison.

Carnegie-Stout, County Library Reach New “Holding”Agreement

Dubuque County Library, Asbury Branch

Residents of Dubuque County will soon have an easier time accessing materials from the Carnegie-Stout Public Library. That’s because of a new agreement between the library and the county’s library district. Starting on Saturday, people who visit the Dubuque County Library in Asbury will be able to put books and DVDs housed at Carnegie-Stout on hold. County library director Michael Wright says that’s been a common request. The requested materials will then be dropped off at the county library in Asbury by a Carnegie-Stout delivery driver, which already makes daily trips to a drop box at the Asbury Plaza Hy-Vee. Users will also be able to return items to the Asbury library. Directors at Carnegie-Stout say they’ll try the new policy out for the rest of the year, then re-evaluate.

Old Mill Road Re-Opens, Two Days Ahead of Schedule

A Dubuque street that connects two heavily-traveled roads has re-opened, a couple days ahead of schedule. City work crews closed Old Mill Road last week between its intersections with Rockdale Road and Manson Road. The closure allowed crews from Black Hills Energy to make repairs to gas main owned by the company. Old Mill was expected to be closed through the middle of this week. But the work progressed quickly, and the road re-opened yesterday afternoon. Old Mill Road connects Rockdale Road with Kelly Lane, and is a common route used by Dubuque drivers looking to get from the southern part of the city to US Highway 20.

Man Faces Multiple Charges After Threatening Officers with Bat

Chapman

A Dubuque man was arrested and faces a litany of charges after police say he threatened officers with a baseball bat Friday evening. Police were called to the 1300 block of Lincoln Avenue at about 5:30 PM on a report of a man trespassing. Officers learned that 44-year-old Nathan Chapman was at a home, in violation of a court order. As they approached, Chapman picked up a baseball bat and raised it above his head as if he was going to attack police. One officer drew his gun and ordered Chapman to drop the bat. He did, but refused to obey further orders. Police pepper-sprayed Chapman three times, but he continued to resist and threaten officers as he was being handcuffed. Police now believe Chapman broke a window to get into the home, damaged some property inside, and stole beer from the house. Chapman faces a total of seven charges, including Assault on a Police Officer While Displaying a Weapon, Trespassing, and Third-Degree Burglary.

Police Seek Information About Truck Involved in Hit-and-Run

Dubuque Police are looking for the driver of a truck that was involved in a hit-and-run earlier this month. An email from the department says the truck struck a legally parked car in the 1600 block of Marjorie Circle on the night of June 17th. That’s about a block off of Pennsylvania Avenue, near Hempstead High School. The collision caused several thousand dollars in damage to the parked car. At the time of the crash the truck had a “rigid” orange tool box in the back. Damage to the truck was mostly on the passenger’s side. A Dodge hubcap fell off of the truck and was found at the scene. Dubuque police have posted an image of the truck to its ID4PD website.

Ernst Asks for Response to Healthcare Bill

Ernst

One of Iowa’s US Senators is asking her constituents to tell her what they think of the proposed healthcare bill. Joni Ernst emailed out a poll yesterday afternoon which asked recipients if they support the legislation. Regardless of whether people choose “yes” or “no,” the poll does not appear to redirect to any other information. You can access the poll by clicking here. Analysts are currently expecting Ernst to vote “yes” on the bill when it comes before the Senate.

AAA: 44+ Million to Travel Over 4th of July

Analysts expect upwards of 40 million people to travel over the 4th of July weekend, and many of them are likely being spurred by a dip in gas prices. In fact, Gail Weinholzer from the AAA auto club tells us that gas prices here in Iowa are as low as they’ve been for the 4th of July holiday in a dozen years. AAA has found that summer travel typically takes people to place where there are theme or amusement parks. She expects those areas to be busy this weekend too. AAA has predicted record travel over the past few major holidays, dating back to last Thanksgiving. Weinholzer says low gas prices are a major factor in people’s decisions on whether to take a trip. AAA expects a total of 44 million Americans to travel at least fifty miles between Friday and next Tuesday. Nearly 38 million of those travelers will be on the nation’s roadways.

Dubuque Wins Livability Award for Bee Branch Project

Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol will return to Dubuque from a meeting of the US Conference of Mayors today, and he’s bringing some hardware home with him. Dubuque was presented with an Outstanding Achievement Award in the conference’s City Livability Awards on Saturday. The award was in recognition of the Bee Branch Watershed project. Buol says the judges look projects that make a significant improvement to their communities. The Bee Branch will officially open next month. While it is primarily a flood mitigation project, Buol says it’s also adding a new park to the city. The award sparked several conversations Buol had with other mayors about how a small city like Dubuque was able to create such a project. Dubuque was one of six finalists for the overall livability award. Los Angeles and Hattiesburg, Mississippi tied for first place.

East Dubuque Couple Marries at UIHC After Daughter’s Injury

Bride Haley Birkbeck hugs her daughter Zoey after she and her husband, Gavin (right), were married Saturday. Photo Courtesy: KCRG.

An East Dubuque couple was married in a unique place on Saturday: the top floor of a hospital. Gavin and Haley Birkbeck had planned a ceremony in Galena, but tragedy struck the day before their big day. The couple’s 5-year-old daughter, Zoey, fell out of a shopping cart at a Dubuque grocery store on Friday. She was initially taken to Finley Hospital, then airlifted to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City. The couple planned to put their wedding on hold, but hospital staff allowed them to use a room at the top floor of the facility to exchange their vows. Father of the bride Jeremy Brady was glad things were able to work out. Brady says the entire family is thankful for the support they’ve received. Hospital staff even made sure little Zoey was able to watch her parents tie the knot, something that bride Haley didn’t think would be possible. Zoey suffered a skull fracture and a brain bleed as a result of her accident. She is expected to make a full recovery.

4th Street Elevator Re-Opens

A downtown Dubuque landmark is back open. The operators of the Fenelon Place Elevator – commonly known as the 4th Street Elevator – re-opened Saturday. The elevator closed earlier this month after a part broke. A replacement arrived last week and repairs have been made. The elevator runs from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM each day from April through November. The elevator was built all the way back in 1882, and is considered to be the world’s shortest and steepest railway.

Johnson Talks Health Care on ‘Meet the Press’

Johnson

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson is one of the Republicans who have said they have significant issues with the Senate health care bill, though he hasn’t go so far as to say he’d vote against it. Johnson was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to talk about his stance yesterday morning. He says his biggest issue with the proposed legislation is that it doesn’t solve many of the root problems within the health care system. Johnson also expressed disappointment at the way the Senate bill was drafted, with no committee hearings or other public disclosure before the language was revealed last week. He says senators simply don’t know enough about the bill to vote on it yet. The Senate bill would reportedly make significant cuts to Medicaid, while allowing states to drop what were deemed “essential services” under Obamacare…maternity care, emergency services, and mental health treatment. Johnson says the last thing the Senate should be doing is pushing their bill through too quickly. Johnson is one of eight Republican senators reportedly considering voting against the bill.

Darlington Man Drowns 

Authorities in Savanna, Illinois say a Darlington, Wisconsin man drowned while he was helping to dock a boat at Savanna Marina Friday night. A release from the police department says the victim has been identified as 71 year old James Burke. His body was recovered from the Mississippi River by rescue crews a few minutes after 6:30 Friday night. An autopsy is being conducted by the Carroll County Coroner’s office to determine the exact cause of death.

Suspect Charged in Robberies at Dubuque Gas Station, Bank

A Dubuque man faces charges in connection with a pair of local robberies. 24-year-old Ryan Bandy was arrested after being spotted leaving the American Trust bank branch on John F. Kennedy Road after it was robbed at about 2:20 yesterday afternoon. An officer pulled over the vehicle Bandy was riding in as it reached the 22-hundred block of JFK. Bandy was identified as the suspect who had gone into the American Trust and handed a teller a note demanding cash. The money believed to have been taken from the bank was found in the vehicle, as were clothes matching the description of the suspect. As police were investigating that robbery, they reviewed surveillance camera footage from the Big Ten Mart on JFK Road, which was robbed on Thursday night. Bandy was identified as the man seen holding up the convenience store. Bandy has been charged with 1st Degree Robbery in the American Trust case, and 2nd Degree Robbery for the Big Ten Mart hold-up. Those charges carry a combined sentence of up to 35 years in prison.

Finkenauer Endorsed by Plumbers & Pipefitters Union

One of the groups that helped a Dubuque lawmaker get elected says it’s supporting her run for Congress. Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 125 has announced its endorsement of State Representative Abby Finkenauer’s bid for the First District Congressional seat. The union represents 11-hundred members across eastern Iowa, including many here in Dubuque. Finkenauer received significant union backing during her initial campaign for the Iowa House three years ago. Finkenauer’s father has been a member of Local 125 for several years. She is one of a handful of Democrats who are running to challenge Congressman Rob Blum next fall.

Dubuque Bank Robbery 

Dubuque police are investigating a robbery that happened at American Trust and Savings Bank this afternoon. Scanner traffic says officers were dispatched to the bank on JFK a few minutes before 2:30. Scanner traffic revealed that police had pulled over a vehicle that was believed to be involved in the robbery in the Walgreens parking lot on JFK shortly after the robbery. Police were interviewing bank employees and reviewing surveillance video. No weapon was displayed during the hold up and no injuries were reported.

Assessment Reveals Need for Upgrades to Jackson Co. Jail

The results of an assessment of Jackson County’s jail point to the need for renovations to the facility…or possibly a new jail. Earlier this week, a team of consultants from the National Institute of Corrections studied as much information about the current jail as they could get their hands on. Chief Deputy Steve Schroeder of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department tells us current jail was built in 1972. Not only is the space outdated, but it also requires the county to send many inmates to other facilities. The department is now looking at creating an advisory panel that will consider what would be the best action to take. Options could include making significant renovations to the current jail, or building a new one altogether. Until the needs assessment is complete, Schroeder says it’s premature to guess how much improvements might cost. The county asked the consultants to review the current jail after two inmates broke out of the facility earlier this year. They were able to pry open a hydraulic gate near the jail’s exercise yard. Those two inmates were on the loose for about a week before being taken back into custody.

Rivers Rise After Heavy Rains in Clayton County

Heavy rains yesterday morning and sustained rainfall over night have caused rivers to swell in Clayton County. According to the National Weather Service, the Turkey River at Elkader has risen by nearly two feet just since yesterday morning. The river was steady at about a depth of about 6.7 feet until heavy rains fell across the county – more than four inches in some places – yesterday morning. At this hour, the river level is now up to 8.5 feet. That is still 3.5 feet below flood stage. Meanwhile, the Volga River has risen above flood stage in the community of Volga. That’s in the west-central part of the county, where the heaviest rains fell yesterday. The river there has risen to 5.4 feet, a few inches above the flood stage of five feet. Yesterday morning, the Volga had a depth of only about a foot, meaning it has risen more than four feet in the past day alone.

Federal Charges Filed Against Dubuque Men in Maquoketa Bank Robbery

Rhodes, Stapleton

A pair of Dubuque men are now facing federal charges for their roles in a Maquoketa bank robbery earlier this year. 41-year-old Dante Rhodes and 31-year-old Gregory Stapleton were indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday on charges of Conspiracy to Commit a Bank Robbery and Committing or Aiding and Abetting a Bank Robbery. Rhodes and Stapleton are accused of robbing the Fidelity Bank branch in Maquoketa in early March. Prosecutors say that they led officers from several law enforcement agencies on a high speed chase into Dubuque County after the robbery. If convicted, Rhodes and Stapleton would face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, as well as a half-million dollars in fines. They are currently being held without bond. The two are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.

Police Investigating Robbery at JFK Road Convenience Store

A Dubuque convenience store was robbed last night, and the suspect is still at large. Dubuque Police were called to the Big 10 Mart on John F. Kennedy Road at about 7:30 PM. According to store employees, a man had walked into the store a few minutes earlier and demanded money. He did not display a weapon, but was able to make off with an undisclosed amount of cash. No arrests have been made as of yet. According to scanner traffic, the suspect is a heavyset white male who was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt at the time of the robbery.

TownePlace Suites Breaks Ground in Millwork District

A ground breaking ceremony was held today for the first extended stay hotel in Dubuque. TownePlace Suites Marriott will be located in the Millwork District on the former Spahn & Rose Lumber Warehouse property in the 1100 block of Washington Street. The hotel will be managed by Kinseth Hospitality Companies based in North Liberty. Vice President Ben Kinseth says the growing Millwork District is what sealed the deal. The four-story 84 room hotel will include plenty of amenities. Kinseth says the hotel will accommodate those who stay for one night or an extended period of time. Construction on the hotel will begin next month. Funding for the $11.5 million hotel is being provided by local investors and Kinseth Hospitality. The project is expected to be completed sometime in the spring of 2018.

4+ Inches of Rain Falls on Parts of Clayton County

Parts of Clayton County saw significant rainfall from storms that moved through the area this morning. According to the National Weather Service, about half of the county has reported receiving at least an inch of rain through 9:00 AM. The heaviest amounts appear to have fallen in the area between Elkader and Gunder, where upwards of four inches of rain have been reported. Some of that heavy rain appears to have fallen directly onto an area where the Turkey River flows through the county, meaning the river level is likely to increase dramatically in the next day or two. The weather service reports that the Turkey has risen a couple of inches at Elkader in just the past few hours. This morning’s rain largely missed both Dubuque and Delaware counties, with only trace amounts of precipitation reported in the northern portions of those counties.

Bellino Fireworks Files Complaint Against Four Cities, But Not Dyersville

A Nebraska company that wants to sell fireworks in Dyersville has taken legal action against a handful of central Iowa communities that have placed restrictions on fireworks sales. Bellino Fireworks is headquartered in Papillion, Nebraska. After fireworks sales were legalized in Iowa last month, Bellino applied for sales licenses for more than fifty temporary fireworks stands in thirty cities around the state. Four of those communities – Ankeny, Boone, Johnston, and Pleasant Hill – have enacted restrictions on fireworks sales, allowing them only in permanent structures in industrial areas. Bellino has filed a complaint against those cities in federal court. The company says it stands to lose more than a quarter-million dollars if stands in those cities aren’t allowed. One community not named in the complaint is Dyersville. Bellino had planned to open a stand in the parking lot of the local Fareway grocery store. But Dyersville’s city council has enacted a 120-day moratorium on fireworks sales in the city. We reached out to Bellino to see if they plan to take legal action against the city, but have not heard back.

Dubuque Plans Connection from Arterial Trail to Bergfeld Rec Area

Map Courtesy: Google

Two of Dubuque’s most popular recreation trails may soon be connected, giving runners and bikers a longer path to use. The city has announced plans to extend the path that runs along the Northwest Arterial to the Bergfeld Recreation Area. That has some people who frequently use the trail excited. Tammy Kallback is a local fitness instructor who takes some of her classes to the Bergfeld area. Dubuque Leisure Services Manager Marie Ware says the city is adding the connection between Bergfeld and the Arterial trail in an effort to make both areas available to more people. The Northwest Arterial Trail currently stretches about 4.5 miles from the road’s intersection with US Highway 52 to where the Arterial meets Pennsylvania Avenue. Extending the trail out to the Bergfeld Recreation Area would increase its length by about three miles.

Jo Daviess Traffic Crash 

A Hazel Green man was injured after he crashed his car in Jo Daviess County Tuesday afternoon. A release from the sheriff’s office says the accident happened on U.S. Highway 20 just west of Industrial Park Drive west of Galena. 47 year old Douglas Blom was traveling west a few minutes after 2:35, when he fell asleep at the wheel. His car went off the right side of the road, into a bean field and crashed into a tree at the fence line of the field. Blom complained of injuries, but refused medical treatment at the scene. The release did not indicate if any charges would be filed.

Two More Dog Biting Incidents In Dubuque 

For the second time in less than a week, the Dubuque Health Department is seeking the public’s help in locating two dogs that were involved in biting incidents this week. Both incidents happened Wednesday morning. The first one occurred at around 10:20 in the Kennedy Mall Parking lot, near the Books-A-Million entrance. The animal is described as a small dog with white curly fur. The dog was in a newer red 4-door car that was unoccupied at the time. The victim was bitten through a window that was partially open. The second incident happened a little over an hour later in the alley between White and Jackson Streets, in the 12-hundred block. That dog weighed between 70 and 80 pounds with light tan fur and pointy ears. It did not have a collar and was running loose at the time. The Health Department needs to locate the dogs to find out about their health status and vaccination history. If you have information contact the Health Department or the law enforcement center.

Mayor Denies Accusation He “Played Politics” from Council Table

Buol, Del Toro

The Dubuque City Council’s most vocal critic of continuing a city ban on fireworks usage is insinuating that his request to delay the process was rejected for political or personal reasons. Councilman Luis Del Toro was absent from Monday’s council meeting. In a Facebook post published Tuesday morning, he claims he asked that the second reading of an updated fireworks ordinance be delayed until he was able to be in attendance. Del Toro goes on to write that his request was denied by Mayor Roy Buol, despite similar requests from other council members having been honored in the past. When reached for comment by KDTH, Buol had not seen Del Toro’s Facebook post, but categorically denied taking political actions from the council table. During the meeting that contained the first reading of the ordinance, Del Toro did not mention his upcoming absence or a desire to have the second reading pushed back. Buol says that had the request come during that meeting, he would have honored it. The second reading of the ordinance passed on a 6-0 vote of the council members who were present on Monday. A move to waive the requirement that it be approved three times failed to receive a supermajority, with Jake Rios voting against. With or without Del Toro’s presence, Buol did not expect final passage of the ordinance to be approved on Monday. The third and final reading of the ordinance will be on the council’s agenda for its meeting on July 5. Councilman Del Toro did not respond to a request for comment.

Councilman Luis Del Toro’s Tuesday morning Facebook post.

Dubuque’s Opioid Crisis Likely to Continue for Several Years

Sprenger

The leader of a Dubuque clinic helping opioid addicts recover says the problem won’t be going away any time soon. Malissa Sprenger runs the Turning Point Clinic at Mercy Hospital. She spoke to the Dubuque City Council this week. During their meeting on Monday, council members approved the sending of a letter urging Governor Kim Reynolds to hold a summit on state policy regarding drug addiction. A string of high-profile deaths brought Dubuque’s heroin problem into a sharp focus in the spring of last year. While progress has been made since, Sprenger says a large volume of drugs still make their way through Dubuque. Sprenger says opioid and heroin addiction are unlikely to decline for several years. According to latest national data, overdose deaths rose by nearly 20 percent last year. Drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.

Kennedy Approves Supreme Court Ruling on Courthouse Gun Bans

Kennedy

An Iowa Supreme Court ruling barring people from carrying guns at county courthouses across the state is music to the ears of Dubuque County’s sheriff. The court ruled yesterday that visitors to local courthouses will not be able to have firearms inside those facilities. The ruling runs contrary to a law passed by the Iowa Legislature this year that expanded gun rights. That law was opposed by many county sheriffs, including Joe Kennedy of Dubuque County, who says the Court has “cleaned up” the issue. The new law gave gun owners the ability to sue cities and counties over local gun bans. Kennedy says many counties were prepared to go to court to defend their policies, but won’t have to anymore. Kennedy argues that guns should not be allowed in places where people are likely to get emotional. While that includes courtrooms, he says it applies to other county offices as well. According to Kennedy, the court’s action is a perfect example of how “checks and balances” should work in state government. Dubuque is one of 72 Iowa counties that prohibit firearms from being carried in the local courthouse.

Former ARC Employee Accused of Stealing from Client

Authorities have accused a Dubuque woman of stealing from a disabled man while she worked for a service agency. 24-year-old Jatika Williams is charged with Dependent Adult Abuse by Exploitation and Theft. Court documents say investigators determined Williams stolen nearly $1,100 from the man while she was working for Area Residential Care. The agency for disabled people has declined to comment but has confirmed Williams no longer works there. The documents also say Williams admitted to using the man’s money to buy items for herself.

Miller-Riverview Park to Re-Open Friday

Miller Riverview Park (Courtesy: City of Dubuque)

A Dubuque park and campground that have been closed since mid-April will finally re-open this weekend. The city’s Leisure Services Division has announced that Miller-Riverview Park will be open starting this Friday. Some areas along the back side of the park will still be off-limits, but are expected to be open in time for the 4th of July weekend. Miller-Riverview had opened for the season in April, but was closed just days later after the Mississippi River level rose. Back-to-back flood events kept the park closed through the rest of April and the entire month of May. Once waters receded, city crews were able to begin clean-up efforts at the park. They’ve apparently made enough progress for the park to re-open.

Dyersville Melanoma Survivor Urges Sunscreen Use

Slattery

A Dyersville man who’s survived a bout with skin cancer is pushing the message that a little sunscreen can make a big difference. 26-year-old Dylan Slattery’s fight with melanoma began in 2013 with the discovery of a mole on his neck. At the time, tests did not show any cancer in the mole, so Slattery continued on as normal. But that normality was shattered when Slattery woke up one morning with a lump near where the mole had been. The lump was a golf ball-sized tumor. Slattery was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma, which had spread to his lung, liver, and spine. Slattery underwent several rounds of chemotherapy treatments, but his cancer has been in remission since last summer. He’s coached baseball throughout his illness, and says his players are constantly reminded about the need to apply sunscreen. Because he knows all too well what can happen if they don’t. Melanoma is the 5th most-common cancer diagnoses among Iowans. It’s the 3rd most common for children and teenagers.

Dubuque Man Sentenced on Federal Gun Charge

Mace

A Dubuque man has been ordered to spend nearly four years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal gun charge. 30-year-old Derrick Mace received that sentence in US District Court in Cedar Rapids this week. Mace had pled guilty to a charge of Possession of a Firearm by a Drug User in March. The charge stemmed from a shooting that happened outside Mace’s apartment in December of last year. Traffic camera footage showed someone shoot from his building. A search of Mace’s apartment turned up some marijuana and a pair of handguns. Mace had originally been charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver at the state level. But that charge was dismissed when the federal charge against him was filed.

Twenty Dubuque Locations Now Approved to Sell Fireworks

The number Dubuque locations where fireworks sales have been approved has risen to twenty. That’s after the Iowa Fire Marshal approved licenses for two temporary stands that will be operated by the same owner. A company called “Jakes Fireworks” has been approved to set up temporary locations in the downtown area and on the Northwest Arterial. The address associated with the downtown stand is the same as that of the Hy-Vee grocery store on South Locust Street. Jakes other location shares an address with the Asbury Plaza Hy-Vee. In addition, we now know the location for two temporary stands being operated by a Wisconsin company. Janesville-based Cornellier Fireworks has gotten the state’s OK to open temporary stands in the Plaza 20 shopping center and in an empty lot off in the 18-hundred block of John F. Kennedy Road. That lot is on the west side of JFK, between a Big 10 Mart convenience store and a McDonald’s.

Semi Crash Blocks Traffic, Injures Driver

A semi driver from Dubuque was hospitalized after a rollover crash that tied up traffic on US Highway 52 yesterday morning. A few minutes before 9:00 AM, 65-year-old Francis Thomas was heading north on Highway 52 near Durango. As he began to climb what’s known as Gillespie Hill, authorities say he took a curve too fast. His semi then overturned, spilling the load of asphalt he was hauling. The semi fell into the southbound lane of the highway, which was shut down for more than six hours. Traffic didn’t return to normal until after 3:00 PM. A crash report from the Iowa State Patrol says Thomas was taken to a Dubuque hospital, where he was treated and released. He was cited for failing to maintain control of his vehicle.

Maquoketa City Manager’s Salary Released

The salary for the new Maquoketa City Manager has been set. The city council this week approved an annual salary of 110-thousand dollars for newly selected City Manager Gerald Smith. He was offered the position last week and accepted it. Smith served as city manager of Junction City, Kansas before resigning six months later. In 1998 Smith was fired from an administrative position in North Chicago. He will begin his new duties on July 10th. Smith replaces Brian Wagner, who stepped down in May to take an administrative position in Tipton.

WD School Board President Not Seeking Re-Election

Knuth

The Western Dubuque school board will be getting a new leader. Current board president Mark Knuth has announced that he will not be running for re-election this fall. WD Superintendent Rick Colpitts delivered that message on Knuth’s behalf at the board’s June meeting, which Knuth could not attend. Knuth was first elected to the WD school board in 2005. He currently represents most of the southern one-third of the district, including the communities of Cascade and Bernard. He abstained from the vote on whether to close the elementary school in Bernard when the issue came before the board earlier this year. Knuth’s district is one of two up for election this fall, with the other being the district that covers the far northern portion of the district. Mark Tilson represents that district, which includes the towns of Bankston, Holy Cross, Luxemburg, New Vienna, and Rickardsville. Candidates running for school board elections can begin filing paperwork on July 10, which is less than three weeks from now. School elections across Iowa will take place on the second Tuesday of September, the 12th.

Gremmel Family Questions Berry’s Release for Medical Appointments

Berry

The mother of a teenager killed in a car crash is questioning the procedures that allow the man responsible to leave jail. 17-year-old Gavin Gremmel died as a result of a head-on collision with a semi in November 2014. The driver of the car he was in, Cody Berry, reached a plea deal with prosecutors in March. He pled to one count of Aggravated Driving Under the Influence and is currently in jail awaiting sentencing. But under an agreement signed last week, he is allowed to leave jail in street clothes while his girlfriend takes him to doctor’s appointments and physical therapy sessions in Dubuque. Gremmel’s mother, Desiree, says that should not be the case. According to the Jo Daviess County State Attorney, deputies cannot transport a prisoner across state lines. He tells our coverage partner KCRG-TV that the Gremmels agreed to let Berry visit the doctor when they reviewed the terms of his plea deal. But Desiree says what’s happening now was not what they discussed. Berry is facing up to three years in prison. His sentencing date has not been set.

Old Mill Road Closed Through Next Week

Courtesy: Google

A Dubuque street commonly used as a “cut-across” from US Highway 61 to US Highway 20 will be closed through the middle of next week. Old Mill Road is being closed due to repairs being made to a gas main owned by Black Hills Energy. Those repairs began today and will last through next Wednesday. The closure will run from Old Mill Road’s intersection with Rockdale Road, near Neighbors Tap, to where Old Mill is crossed by Manson Road, about a half-mile away. The intersection with Manson Road is also where Old Mill Road connects with Kelly Lane, which then carries traffic to Highway 20 via either Fremont Street or Cedar Cross Road. A detour around the closure will be in place. It will take traffic north along Rockdale Road to Grandview Avenue, then southwest on Fremont.

Five Flags Seeking Input Through Online Survey

Dubuque’s citizens are being asked to help steer the future of the local civic center. A feasibility study of the Five Flags Center is currently underway, and includes an opportunity for public input. An online survey is now being conducted about the current status of the center, and what its future might look like. Five Flags General Manager H.R. Cook says they’re hoping to hear not just from people who visit Five Flags, but also from people who choose not to. Once the survey is completed, the results will be included in a report from the consulting firm that will be released later this year. The survey can be accessed several ways. There are links posted not only on the City of Dubuque website, but also on Five Flags’ website and Facebook page. The survey will be available through Sunday.

Potosi Woman Hits $300,000 Jackpot

A southwest Wisconsin woman has won more than a quarter-million dollars playing a lottery scratch game. Tara Hutchcroft of Potosi claimed one of the top prizes in the Iowa Lottery’s “Ultimate Riches” game last week. Hutchcroft’s winning ticket is worth $300,000. She bought her winning ticket at the Kwik Stop in Peosta.

Dubuque Council Passes 2nd Reading of Fireworks Update

Courtesy: KCRG

The Dubuque City Council advanced the second reading of an updated ordinance that would continue to bar the use of consumer fireworks within city limits, but once again failed to waive a requirement that the ordinance be passed three times. A new state law that legalized the sales and possession of fireworks also allows cities to enact or continue bans on fireworks use. Councilman Ric Jones spoke in favor of continuing the ban, citing his service as a paramedic. Jones expressed concern for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Councilman David Resnick said he was initially opposed to the ban, but after further consideration, saw it as the better option. The council voted to pass the second reading of the ordinance 6-0, with council member Luis Del Toro absent from the meeting. But a vote to give final approval failed to receive a required supermajority, with Councilman Jake Rios voting against. Rios is still hoping to reach a compromise on when fireworks could be used. Rios says he and Del Toro may put forward a separate ordinance they believe strikes a better balance. The third reading of the ordinance will be on the agenda for the council’s next meeting, which is scheduled for July 5.

Human Rights Commission Calls Anti-Gay Graffiti “Unacceptable”

The Dubuque Human Rights Commission has issued a response to some anti-gay graffiti that was found in Dubuque last week. According to Dubuque Police, the graffiti was found on a sidewalk and a utility pole in the 1300 block of Cox Street, which is just off of the Loras College campus. The commission has called the graffiti “unacceptable,” and Vice Chair Jay Schiesl says it is “hate speech.” The graffiti was found two days after Dubuque’s Pride Picnic and just one day after the anniversary of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida. But Schiesl says the timing may have been a coincidence. Schiesl believes that the majority of residents in Dubuque embrace inclusiveness. The statement released by the commission says “the use of slurs is an open display of hostility that creates fear, disconnection, and insecurity about whether it is safe for gay people to live as their authentic selves.”

Health Department Investigating Bite at Dubuque Dog Park

Dubuque’s Public Health Department is asking for help finding a dog that bit a person at the local dog park last weekend. The bite happened at about 3:00 Saturday afternoon at the dog park on North Grandview Avenue. The dog in question is a puppy weighing between 20 and 30 pounds. Its breed is unknown. The dog was with a white woman who appeared to be about 45 years old. The health department is looking for information about the dog’s vaccination history and current health status. Anyone with information about the incident or the animal in question can contact the health department.

Dubuque Man Charged After Crash 

A Dubuque man faces charges after crashing his truck in Jo Daviess County early Friday morning. Authorities say 24 year old Mitchell Ganzer was driving east on Stagecoach Trail at around 12:30 a.m., when he lost control of the vehicle on a curve. The truck left the road to the right, went into a ditch, struck an embankment on North County Divide Road, went airborne and struck a road sign. The truck then struck another embankment just east of County Divide Road, overturned in a ditch and came to rest in the middle of the road. Ganzer was transported to Monroe Hospital, where he was treated and released.  Ganzer is charged with DUI and Driving Too Fast For Conditions.

UPDATE: Police ID Man Injured in Late Night Shooting

Dubuque Police have released the name of the man who was injured in a shooting late last night. According to a release from the department, 26-year-old Cortez Robinson suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. He was taken to Mercy Hospital, where he’s currently being treated. Police say he’s expected to survive his injuries. Police located Robinson in the one thousand block of Wilson Avenue shortly after 11:30 PM. Officers had been sent there after an officer on patrol heard multiple gunshots in the area. At the same time, dispatchers received a 911 call about a man suffering a gunshot wound in the same area. Police have not yet made any arrests.

Finkenauer Scores Endorsement from Emily’s List

Finkenauer

A Dubuque lawmaker with her eyes on a higher office has received the endorsement of a group that looks to get more women elected. Emily’s List has given its endorsement to State Representative Abby Finkenauer’s campaign for Congress. Finkenauer announced early last month that she would be challenging current Congressman, and fellow Dubuquer, Rod Blum in his bid for a third term in office. In a release announcing their endorsement, Emily’s List says “the people of Iowa deserve a leader like Abby Finkenauer” and that her record “stands in stark contrast with a Trump ‘yes man’ like Blum.” Finkenauer is one of three Democrats who have announced that they’ll be running to face Blum next year. Courtney Rowe and George Ramsey, both of Cedar Rapids, are the others. A handful of other candidates are reportedly considering entering the race as well.

Harrison Ford Spotted in Galena

Courtesy: Vinny Vanucchi’s Facebook Page

The star of some of Hollywood’s biggest film franchises was in northwest Illinois this weekend. Actor Harrison Ford and his wife, actress Calista Flockhart, were spotted in Galena. According to a post on the Facebook page of Galena restaurant Vinny Vanucchi’s, Ford and Flockhart stopped in for dinner. Ford is known to occasionally stay in the Galena area. While he’s a native of the Chicago suburbs, he attended college and performed in summer stock in southern Wisconsin. Ford’s half-century acting career has included starring roles in the “Star Wars” series, as well as his multiple turns as archaeologist Indiana Jones. Flockhart is most known for her starring role in the critically acclaimed TV show “Ally McBeal,” which aired on Fox in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Mineral Point Man Faces 16 Criminal Damage Charges

More than a dozen charges have been filed against a southwest Wisconsin man who is accused of damaging cars and railroad arms. Back in February, the Grant County Sheriff’s Department received several reports of criminal property damage in the western portion of the county. Among the reports were car tires being slashed, a severed phone line, and wires connecting railroad crossing arms being cut. A few days later, the Iowa County Sheriff’s office took a report of similar incidents near a boat landing in Governor Dodge State Park. That’s where officers arrested 50-year-old James Davee of Mineral Point. Since his arrest, those two sheriff’s departments have been working with authorities in Dubuque to build a case against Davee. He’s now facing sixteen individual charges – fourteen of them for Criminal Damage to Property, and two for Criminal Damage to a Railroad. If convicted on all of those charges, Davee could be sentence to as many as seventeen years in prison. He’s due to make a court appearance next week.

Additional Fireworks Sales Licenses Approved

Another handful of Dubuque businesses have been approved to begin selling fireworks. Late last week, the state fire marshal’s office approved the license applications of seven more businesses. They include:

– All three of the Dollar General stores in Dubuque

– Dubuque’s Menard’s store

– A temporary stand known as “Phantom Fireworks” that will be located at the Kennedy Mall

– Two temporary locations under the name “TNT Fireworks,” which will set up in the parking lots of the Wacker Plaza and the Dubuque Sam’s Club

A Janesville, Wisconsin- based company called Cornellier Fireworks has also had two applications for fireworks stands in Dubuque approved. But the locations of those stands are not listed.

Dubuque Council to Revisit Fireworks Ordinance

Dubuque City Council

The Dubuque City Council will revisit possible changes to city laws regarding fireworks at their meeting tonight. Earlier this month, the council passed the first reading of an updated ordinance that would bring the city in line with a new state law that allows for the sale, possession, and use of consumer fireworks. The proposed ordinance would allow for the sales and possession of fireworks within Dubuque, but would continue an existing ban on usage. The council passed the initial reading of that ordinance at their meeting two weeks ago, but a move to waive the requirement that it be passed three times did not receive a needed supermajority. The second reading of the ordinance is on the council’s agenda for tonight. The council could still vote to waive the third reading, which would pave the way for the ordinance to go into effect prior to the July 4th holiday.

Traffic on JFK, Derby Grange Roads Reduced for Water Main Project

The extension of a water main to serve some new housing developments north of Dubuque will impact traffic on John F. Kennedy Road for the next month. A one-mile stretch of JFK will have one of its lanes closed while that work is being performed. The area of the closure begins just past JFK’s intersection with John Wesley Drive and extends north and east to the intersection with Forest Glen Court. A pair of new subdivisions are being built in that area, and are in need of water service. While the lane is closed, temporary traffic signals will control the two-way traffic on JFK. The closure is expected to last until the end of July. In addition, one lane of Derby Grange Road will also be closed from its intersection with JFK extending about a quarter-mile to the west.

Jackson Co Jail Inspection

Inspectors are set to review the jail in Jackson County as local authorities consider security upgrades to the facility. Back in February, two inmates were able to escape by prying open a hydraulic gate located outside the jail’s exercise yard. Those inmates were captured a week later and are now being held in separate facilities. Since that escape, the county sheriff’s department has been working to improve the jail’s security. This week, inspectors from the National Institute of Corrections will conduct a Jail and Justice Systems Assessment. They’ll consider not only the physical shape of the jail, but will also talk with staff about policies and procedures that could be updated. The results of the assessment will be known on Wednesday.

Ernst On Health Care Reform

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst met with President Trump and fellow Senators this week for discussions on health care reform. Two major insurance carriers have already pulled out of the Iowa individual market, leaving only one statewide carrier. Ernst says that carrier, Medica is very concerned about its ability to continue to serve Iowans. Ernst says affordability and flexibility is very important in any new health care reform legislation. Ernst says if Medica pulls out of the Iowa individual market, 72 thousand Iowans will be left without an option to purchase health insurance next year.

Lafayette County Fatal

One person died Saturday morning as the result of a one-vehicle rollover crash on State Highway 11, in Lafayette County near the intersection with County Highway 1 in New Diggings Township. The front seat passenger, 35-year old Patricio Soto-Alarcon Darlington, Wisconsin was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle, 22- year old Mateo Fuentes Flores, faces several charges.

Another Downtown Power Outage

For the third consecutive day, a power outage impacted Alliant Energy customers in downtown Dubuque. This morning’s outage was caused by thunderstorms that rolled through the area last night. Both broken tree limbs and lightning strikes damaged Alliant equipment that served the downtown area. That had knocked several hundred people’s power out. At about 8:30 this morning, Alliant disconnected service to a total of 1,800 customers so they could repair equipment that had been damaged. That put all of the affected customers back online. Each of this week’s outages have been storm-related. With the possibility for severe weather in the forecast again tonight and tomorrow, an Alliant spokesperson says the company is prepared to respond to additional outages if they happen.

Train Derails North of Dubuque

Courtesy: KSFY

Emergency crews are currently on the scene of a train derailment north of Dubuque. Seven cars went off the track near Waupeton Road in rural Sherrill. The cars were carrying grain and plastic materials. None of them have fallen into the river. Still, the Canadian Pacific Railway has a haz-mat team headed to the derailment site to help with clean-up. Authorities plan to remove the upright cars before pulling the derailed ones back onto the track. That’s a process that could take several hours. We’ll bring you updates on the situation as they become available.

4th Street Elevator Temporarily Closed for Repairs

One of downtown Dubuque’s most notable features is closed for repairs. The Fenelon Place Elevator has been shut down while operators wait for a part to be delivered. The elevator was built in 1882 and is considered the world’s shortest and steepest railway. The company that operates the elevator says a part broke this week. They’re now waiting for a replacement to arrive. They’re hoping to be back up and running early next week.

Mario’s Owner Dies at 73

Courtesy: KCRG

The founder of one of Dubuque’s most well-known restaurants has died. Family members of Mario’s Italian Restaurant owner Mario Bertolini tell our coverage partner KCRG-TV that he passed away Wednesday night. Bertolini was born in Italy, but came to the United States in 1966. About a decade later, he and his family moved to Dubuque, where he opened his restaurant in 1977. Mario’s has been a popular eatery ever since, with photos on the walls commemorating visits from many celebrities and politicians. Mario himself was a fixture at the restaurant, known for greeting customers from the bar and visiting tables as people dined. Bertolini was 73. Funeral services are pending.

Platteville Man Charged With Felony 

A Platteville man who was seriously injured after rolling his car in Grant County earlier this month now faces a felony charge. Court documents say 24 year old Justin Christopher is charged with knowingly operating while his license was suspended, causing great bodily harm. On the morning of June 4th, Christopher was driving his car west on County Road O when the car left the road. The vehicle then went down a steep embankment and rolled before coming to rest. Christopher was trapped in the car and had to be extricated by members of the Platteville fire department. His passenger, 19 year old Brook Minett of Platteville was also injured. Both were airlifted to UW Hospital in Madison for treatment. Minett suffered six broken vertebra and broken bones in her face. Christopher also faces charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia

Dubuque Teacher Pleads Not Guilty To Drug Charges

A teacher at Dubuque’s Hempstead High School has entered not guilty pleas to drug charges. 46-year-old Douglas Spahn pled not guilty to one count each of Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia charges during his arraignment this week. During that hearing, the judge also set a trial date of August 14 for Spahn. Police were investigating a report of drugs in his home last month when he reportedly admitted to officers that he smoked marijuana to treat his back pain. Officers confiscated 5 grams of pot and a pipe. Spahn is now on leave from his job as a wellness teacher at Hempstead.

Marklein Praises Wisconsin Legislature’s Passage of “Cookie Bill”

Marklein

A Wisconsin state lawmaker says his colleagues made the right decision by passing the so-called “Cookie Bill.” Up to now, Wisconsin has been one of just two states that prohibited home-based bakers from selling their sweets at places like bed and breakfasts or farmer’s markets. An adjustment to state law to classify those foods as “non-hazardous” had passed the Wisconsin Senate twice before, and this year, also cleared the State Assembly. Senator Howard Marklein of Spring Green was a proponent of the bill and is relieved to see it finally pass both chambers. The bill’s passage came a week after a Lafayette County judge had ruled the previous state law unconstitutional.

Double Up Food Bucks Program Expanding

Dubuque Farmer’s Market

A state program already being used at Dubuque’s farmer’s market is looking to expand to more locations in Iowa. For the past two years, the market has participated in the “Double Up Food Bucks” initiative. It provides matching funds for food stamp recipients to use for healthy and locally-grown produce. Dubuque was one of the first six places where the program was put into place, and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says it’s been very successful so far. In addition to its benefit to consumers, Reynolds says farmers get something out of the program as well. Aryn McLaren is an administrator for Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative. She says they’re making the Double Up Food Bucks program available at more than twice as many locations this year. Their goal is to have five thousand Iowa families participating in the program. Dubuque’s farmer’s market is the only place in the Tri-States that the program is accepted. The nearest participating locations are in Waterloo and Iowa City.

Iowa’s First Virtual Reality Arcade Open in Dubuque

A new Dubuque business is said to be the first of its kind in Iowa. VRcade opened last week. It’s a virtual reality arcade, meaning that customers pay to play virtual reality games, rather than traditional joystick-and-button type systems. Owner Jason Kelly tells our coverage partner KCRG-TV that the types of games they offer allow players to do everything from space travel to archery to mountain climbing. VRcade sits in a strip mall just off of Dodge Street near the Best Western Plus hotel. It is open from 2:00 PM to 10:00 PM weekdays and from 10:00 to 10:00 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Scattered Rain, Hail Showers Hit Dubuque

Hailstones that fell near Hempstead High School in Dubuque are shown in comparison to a quarter.

The very definition of scattered showers fell over the Dubuque area late yesterday afternoon and into the early evening. The Dubuque Regional Airport has turned in an official report of four-hundredths of an inch of rain. But heavier amounts fell within the Dubuque city limits. Downtown Dubuque saw a sustained downpour beginning at about 6:00 that lasted for nearly fifteen minutes. Portions of the downtown area also received pea-sized hail, while there were reports of quarter-sized hailstones falling near Hempstead High School. The KCRG StormNet weather station at Hempstead received just shy of four-tenths of an inch of rain. The site at Senior High School got even more rainfall, reporting six-tenths of an inch. Regardless of how much fell in your area, it’s the first significant rainfall Dubuque County has received since the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, almost three weeks ago.

Lake Delhi Expected to Be “Back to Normal” This Summer

Courtesy: KCRG

Emily Dougherty

People who live and work around Lake Delhi are excited for the first summer that they say will be “back to normal.” The area had been a popular recreation spot until the summer of 2010, when flood waters breached a dam at the south end of the lake. A 16-million dollar project that was completed last paid for construction of a new dam. But this will be the first summer that the new dam is fully operational. Steve Leonard, the president of the lake’s governing board, hopes that means people will come back to the lake. Emily Dougherty is back. She’s been coming to Lake Delhi for more than twenty years and is excited for her kids to experience the area like she did. Among the other improvements made to the area is a brand new boat entry, which includes a ramp, dock, and public bathrooms. A combination of state and county funding, as well as donations from the local governing board, paid for the Lake Delhi improvements.

1,800 Without Power in Downtown Dubuque

A tree limb falling on a power line is being blamed for causing a power outage affecting almost two thousand Alliant Energy customers in downtown Dubuque. A few minutes before 7:30 this morning, Dubuque firefighters were called to the intersection of West Locust and Ellis Streets, where a limb had apparently fallen on a power line, causing sparks and a fire. The fire was put out quickly, but the damage caused more 18-hundred Alliant customers to lose power. Alliant has a crew on site and is working to restore service. They anticipate that process might take until 10:00 to complete.

8+ Years in Prison for Man Who Kept Meth Around Kids

A federal judge has ordered a Dubuque man to spend more than eight years in federal prison for possessing meth with children present. 34-year-old Brian Kamm had pled guilty to one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance in a Home with Minors Present in March. He admitted to having at least 35 grams of pure meth in his house in August of last year. Kamm has been sentenced to 99 months behind bars, which works out to eight years and three months. The judge said 17 months of the sentence were specifically assigned due to the presence of minors. Kamm also pled guilty to a charge of Possession of Firearms and Ammunition by a Drug User. Once he’s released from prison, he’ll have to spend five years on probation.

Stores in Dubuque, Dyersville, Monticello Get Fireworks OK

Seven more Dubuque-area retailers have been approved to begin selling consumer fireworks. That’s according to an updated list of approved sales licenses from the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office. In Dubuque, all three of the local Walgreen’s stores have had their applications approved. Dubuque’s ShopKo store has also been granted a license to sell fireworks. Two retailers in Dyersville have had their applications approved: the local Theisen’s and a store set up specifically to sell fireworks called Bellino Fireworks. That’s despite Dyersville’s city council approving a 120-day moratorium on fireworks sales within the city last week. One other Theisen’s location – the one in Monticello – also had its application approved. So far, it’s the only retailer in Jones County that is allowed to sell fireworks.

Tracking Bands Placed on Courthouse Falcon

Courtesy: Associated Press

Environmental officials plan to keep tabs on a baby peregrine falcon that was recently hatched in Dubuque. A researcher with the non-profit Raptor Resource Project recently climbed to the top of the Dubuque County Courthouse to place identification bands on the falcon chick. The bands will allow researchers to track where and how far the bird flies. Data from multiple bands are then used to examine survival rates, migration distance, and population growth. The baby falcon was born two weeks ago. It is the first successful hatching for a pair of adult falcons that have chosen to nest atop the courthouse. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the two are one of just 19 pairs of nesting peregrines in the state.

Tips For Staying Cool In The Heat

We’re due for another couple days of hot and humid weather here in the Tri-State Area. That means there’s a continued risk of heat-related illness for people. But local health officials say you can be proactive when it comes to staying cool. City of Dubuque Health Specialist Mary Rose Corrigan advises to try to stay out of the sun as much as possible. She says that in extreme heat conditions, people simply need to slow down. If you know someone who lives alone, especially if they are elderly, be sure to check on them. Corrigan says when it comes to heat stroke, there are some warning signs to look out for. Corrigan says make sure outdoor pets are in a shaded area and have plenty of water.

Temporary Cooling Stations Set Up In Jo Daviess County

Because of the continued heat, several cooling stations have been set up around Jo Daviess County. You can find them at the public libraries in several communities, including East Dubuque, Galena, Elizabeth, Stockton, Hanover, and Warren. Fresh water will be available at these locations as well.

Grant County Gas Theft Arrest 

A man was arrested in Grant County Monday morning after police say he drove off without paying for gas. The Dickeyville Police Department notified the sheriff’s office to be on the lookout for a vehicle that was involved in a gas theft from the Dickeyville BP at around 10 a.m. A few later a deputy spotted the suspect vehicle traveling south on Highway 151 near Kieler. The deputy followed the vehicle for several miles with its emergency lights and siren activated. The vehicle finally stopped near the Highway 11 off-ramp. The driver, 38 year old Robbie Hess was arrested on two warrants from Iowa and Rock County. Hess was cited for Operating after Revocation and Driving with No Insurance. His passenger, 32 year old Rebecca Pline of Dubuque was arrested on a warrant out of Lafayette County. Pline was also charged with Possession of Methamphetamine.

Sunnycrest Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of when the Sunnycrest Manor Board of Trustees authorized the purchase of the land where nursing home is now located. A celebration and open house will be held at Sunnycrest and the public is invited to attend. Board member Mike Muir says Sunnycrest was originally built as a tuberculosis sanitarium in 1917 and was later converted into a geriatric care facility called the “Dubuque County Nursing Home.” The open house and celebration will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 PM. Parking at Sunnycrest is limited and Muir encourages people without disabilities to get there early. The Dubuque County Board of Supervisors took over operation of Sunnycrest sixty years ago, in 1957.

Increased Deer Activity Leads to Higher Chance for Crashes

Believe it or not, this time of year – late spring and early summer – is the second-most common time for car crashes with deer. That’s according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The likelihood of hitting a deer with your vehicle is highest in the fall during mating and hunting seasons, but DNR Wildlife Biologist Jim Coffey says deer are on the move now as they prepare to give birth to new fawns. Coffey says deer are also being pushed out of many farm fields as hay is being cut. While deer are typically more active at dawn and dusk in the fall, this time of year they can be on the move at any time of the day. Coffey advises motorists to be on the lookout for deer through the end of the month.

Mom: Girl Injured in Backbone Park Fall “Improving”

Marta Wehrspann (Family Photo)

The mother of a young girl injured after falling off a cliff in a Delaware County park say her condition is improving. 8-year-old Marta Wehrspann of Jesup was airlifted to University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City after slipping and falling as far as sixty feet down a cliff at Backbone State Park in late May. She suffered three skull fractures and was put into a medically-induced coma to help reduce swelling on her brain. A statement released this week by Wehrspann’s mother says the girl is now out of that coma and her condition continues to improve. Becky Wehrspann also thanked those who have prayed for her daughter and praised the “excellent medical staff” who are treating the girl.

Cascade Prohibits Fireworks Use

Another area community has restricted the use of fireworks within its city limits. The Cascade City Council voted to continue a pre-existing ban on the use of consumer fireworks at its meeting last night. The updated ordinance does allow for the possession and sale of fireworks within the town. Violators of the ordinance will face a simple misdemeanor charge that carries a fine of $500. Anyone whose use of fireworks causes an injury will be charged with a serious misdemeanor. Cascade is at least the third Dubuque County community to update its fireworks regulations in light of the new state law. As we told you last week, Dubuque’s ban on fireworks usage will effectively be staying in place until after the 4th of July holiday. Dyersville has placed a 120-day moratorium on the sale of fireworks, and is also considering extending a local ordinance that prohibits the use of fireworks within the city.

Dubuque Retailers Approved for Fireworks Sales

Courtesy: KCRG

The first four Dubuque businesses that will be allowed to sell fireworks are all big box retailers. The Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office released a list of nearly 190 retailers statewide that had their applications for fireworks sales licenses approved. There are four Dubuque stores on the list…the local Target, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Theisen’s stores. Fireworks sales at those locations can begin immediately, as the new state law legalizing sales went into effect on June 1. In addition to the Dubuque retailers, both the Wal-Mart and Theisen’s stores in Maquoketa were also approved for licenses. They are the only retailers in Jackson County currently able to sell fireworks. The Wal-Mart in Manchester is the only Delaware County store that’s been approved for a license. There have been no licenses approved in either Clayton or Jones counties to this point.

New Pool to Be Built at Hempstead

The Dubuque Community School District’s new pool will be built at Hempstead High. That’s the decision the school board came to last night, going along with a recommendation from a consulting firm hired by the district. Hempstead was chosen over Washington and Roosevelt middle schools. Project architect Dave Briden says Washington wasn’t big enough and there were soil concerns at Roosevelt. The new pool will share many of the same aspects as the one it is replacing. Superintendent Stan Rheingans says the new pool will have several advantages over the old one. If the pool was built where the existing one is located, the district would lose two full swimming seasons. Construction is scheduled to start at the end of the upcoming school year. The work should be completed by the fall or winter of 2019. The total cost of the project is estimated at around $7.5 million.

 

 

3 Car Crash In Grant County Sends Two People To The Hospital

A three car crash in Grant County earlier this month sent two people to the hospital. A press release from the sheriff’s office says the accident happened on June 1st on Highway 80 near Edison Road in Hazel Green. A car driven by 18 year old Brandon Erdenberger of Benton was headed south, when he cross the centerline and struck the right front of a northbound car driven by 79 year old Shirley Dunbar of Hazel Green. Dunbar’s car spun around and left the road coming to rest in a ditch. Erdenberger’s car also spun around upon impact and was struck on the passenger side by a car that was behind Dunbar driven by 30 year old Megan Flately of Benton. Both vehicles came to rest along the east shoulder of the road. Flately and Erdenberger were both transported to hospitals in Dubuque to be treated for their injuries. Dunbar received some injuries, but refused transport by EMS. Erdenberger was cited for Operating Left of Center and Inattentive Driving.

Bivins Won’t Seek Re-Election 

Bivins

The State Senator who represents the Illinois portion of our listening area won’t be running for another term in office. Senator Tim Bivins has announced that he will not run for re-election in 2018. Bivins says he is stepping down to spend more time with his family, particularly his grandchildren. By the end of his current term, Bivins will have spent a total of ten years in office. He was appointed to the Senate in the spring of 2008 and has won re-election three times since. Prior to his time in the Senate, Bivins spent twenty years as the sheriff of Lee County. During that time, he served as the President of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association.

Shooting Suspect Now Charged with Attempted Murder

Grover

A Chicago man who was arrested in connection with a Dubuque shooting is now facing a more serious charge. 28-year-old Nathaniel Grover was arrested last Sunday on a charge of Willful Injury. The Dubuque County Attorney has now decided to increase the charge against Grover to Attempted Murder. Grover is accused of shooting another man at a home in the 1500 block of North Grandview Avenue a few minutes after 6:00 AM last Sunday. The victim suffered a minor gunshot wound and was taken to Finley Hospital. Grover was arrested later that day. Should he be found guilty of Attempted Murder, he would face as many as 25 years in prison.

Cleanup Work Underway at Miller-Riverview Park

Miller Riverview Park (Courtesy: City of Dubuque)

As the Mississippi River returns to a normal depth, there’s hope that a popular campground in Dubuque can open up before the end of the month. Miller-Riverview Park opened for the season in early April, but high river levels forced it to close just a couple of days later. It’s been closed ever since. Parks Division Manager Steve Fehsal says two back-to-back flood events prevented crews from doing any clean-up work earlier this spring. According to Fehsal, the process to clean up the park after flood waters recede typically takes between 10 and 14 days. One of the biggest problems that flood waters cause comes from the leftover silt that settles into many areas of the park. Miller-Riverview will be closed again this coming weekend, which includes the Father’s Day holiday. But the current expectation is it would be open the following weekend. Anyone who has made a reservation at the campground during the closure has had their fees refunded. Fehsal isn’t sure exactly how much money has had to be given back.

Ex-Delhi Clerk Pleads Guilty to Federal Theft Charge

Billings

A former Delhi City Clerk accused of stealing about a quarter-million dollars from the town has pled guilty to a federal charge. 42-year-old Angela Billings copped to a charge of Theft Concerning a Program Receiving Public Funds on Friday. As part of a plea deal, Billings admitted to racking up more than $93,000 in unauthorized charges between March 2007 and January 2015. She would also cancel water payments that she owed the city. Billings now faces up to ten years in prison, as well as significant fines. Her sentencing date has not been set. Billings is still expected to go on trial in Delaware County on local charges next month.

Three Run Over by Tractor in Darlington Parade Lineup

Three people were injured when a tractor was accidentally put into gear while lining up for a parade in Darlington yesterday. According to local police, the tractor was going to be a part of the Canoe Festival parade. Just before 1:45 yesterday afternoon, a man started the tractor to get it ready for the parade. But he was unaware that the tractor was in gear, and it lurched forward, running him and two other people over. 39-year-old Richard Corley suffered what are called “moderate injuries” and was taken to Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County. 69-year-old Robert Schmid was standing near the tractor at the time. He was severely injured and is now being treated at UW Hospital in Madison. 64-year-old Marion Roberts was on a float in front of the tractor and was also struck. He was hospitalized with minor injuries. Darlington Police say the incident is still under investigation. It’s not clear if any charges will be filed.

Liquor License Suspension Schedules Explained

Courtesy: PopSugar

Brumwell

Dubuque’s City Attorney has revealed some of the factors that go into scheduling the suspension of a business’ liquor license. Last year, the Yardarm committed a violation of its license and chose to serve a two-week suspension. But the business was allowed to serve that suspension in late November, after its “regular season.” This week, the City Council approved a suspension schedule for Murph’s Tap. Ten of the thirty days of its suspension will be served on Sundays, when the bar is not regularly open. City Attorney Crenna Brumwell tells us businesses are able to propose dates when they will serve their suspension. The city then approves the option that fits certain requirements. One of the parameters that need to be met is that the suspension be served over at least one weekend. Brumwell says the city strives to find a balance between punishing a business for breaking the law, and not being too harsh. The city is also careful to not unnecessarily inconvenience citizens. Brumwell cites a business that has a restaurant, but also a reception hall under the same liquor license. In the case of Murph’s, Brumwell notes that because their liquor license allows them to be open on Sundays, they can choose to count that day on their suspension. Murph’s is serving its suspension each Sunday and Monday through the beginning of August, as well as during the last full week in July and the first full week in August. A second liquor license violation also carries a $1,500 fine, in addition to the license suspension.

Changes Coming to “All That Jazz”

The first edition of “Dubuque and All That Jazz” will be coming to the Town Clock Plaza next week, and attendees can expect some changes for 2017. Organizers had been seeing declining attendance for the event in past years. To counteract that, they’ve adjusted the timeframe of the event, booked some new bands, and are adding some additional activities during the afternoon before the music begins. Michaela Freiburger from Dubuque Main Street tells us that the event still targets employees of downtown businesses, many of whom now get off work closer to mid-afternoon on Fridays. As they examined the event, Dubuque Main Street received several complaints about the music. Freiburger says that has led them to bring in several new acts. That means some of those bands will play music that doesn’t meet the most traditional definition of “jazz.” Another change is the schedule for the bands. Opening acts had previously waited until 5:00 before getting started. They’ll now take the stage at 4:00, with the headliner taking over at 5:00.

Man Injured in Sunday AM Shooting Identified

Dubuque Police have identified the person who was injured in a shooting early yesterday morning. 33-year-old Christopher Barginear suffered a gunshot wound to the lower back, according to a release from the police department. He was taken to Finley Hospital, where he was treated and released. Barginear was injured after gunfire was reported in an alley behind the 1700 block of Central Avenue just before 12:30 AM. Officers called to the scene found spent shell casings in the area. Police have not yet identified a suspect in the shooting.

Tractorcade to Impact Travel in Dyersville Area

Courtesy: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

Drivers in the Dyersville area are being warned about some possible traffic delays as an annual parade of antique tractors visits the area. The Great Eastern Iowa Tractorcade has chosen Dyersville as its base of operations this year. Participating tractors will leave from Dyersville on tours of the surrounding area beginning today and running through Wednesday. There are more than five hundred tractor owners registered for the event, which means that there could be some significant travel impacts when those tractors get rolling. Today’s trip will be into Delaware County. Roads in near the communities of New Vienna, Holy Cross, and Bankston will be impacted. With the exception of Iowa Highway 136, the Tractorcade will stick mostly to rural roads, meaning that most of the other federal and state highways in the area will not be impacted.

Monday Route Map

Tuesday Route Map

Wednesday Route Map

Dubuque Street Closings  

 

A portion of one of Dubuque’s heavily traveled streets will be closed for a few days this week for some construction work. Beginning Monday morning, Main Street, between 1st and 2nd Streets will be closed for private construction work. Motorists are urged to use an alternate route to get to their destination. In addition, Tower Drive, between Rockdale Road and Jaeger will be closed Monday through Thursday so that crews can install a public sanitary sewer connection. Motorists will need to follow a posted detour route. And Lenox Street is closed until Friday. Workers are constructing a Habitat for Humanity Home. The street is being used for staging of equipment and materials.

Lafayette UTV Fatal

A Geneseo, Illinois man was killed after he rolled his UTV in Lafayette County late Saturday afternoon. A release from the sheriff’s office says the accident happened a few minutes before 5:30 in the 9000 block of County Highway G, just east of the intersection of Highway D in Fayette Township. 27 year old James Smolenski was traveling east on Highway G, when he failed to negotiate a curve. The UTV left the road and entered the ditch and overturned ejecting Smolenski and his passenger. Smolenski was transported by Medflight to UW Hospital in Madison. He later died from injuries sustained in the crash. His passenger, 25 year old Colton Carpenter of Darlington was transported to Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County and later transferred to UW Hospital. His condition has not been released. Both men were not wearing a seat belt. Authorities say alcohol and speed appear to be the contributing factors in the crash.

Darlington Storm Sirens

Earlier this spring, the storm siren in downtown Darlington did not activate during the sighting of a funnel cloud just west of town. Police Chief Jason King says since then his office has received a number of inquiries as to why the siren did not go off. King says the sirens have their limitations because from time to time they break down. He says the best way to be safe during severe weather is to have a weather radio present.

Darlington currently has three sirens that are useful for both fire and tornado alerts, but because they are mechanical devices they sometimes malfunction. King says the storm siren goes off in Darlington when a storm spotter or someone in the community witnesses a tornado in the vicinity of the city.

Lafayette County is over 300 square miles. And when the National Weather Service issues a serve weather or tornado warning for the county, it may not affect the entire county at the time. King says their storm sirens are tested daily. He encourages citizens to report a non-working siren as soon as possible so it can be fixed.

Home Sales in Iowa         

Home sales are on an uptick in Iowa. According to the latest statistics from the Iowa Finance Authority, home sales in March showed an increase of eight-point-five percent, compared to March of 2016. Dave Jamison is the Executive Director of IFA. He says the housing market is on a comeback. Jamison says if you hope to realize your dream of home ownership, you must be prepared and educated about the housing market. According to Jamison, the home ownership rate in Iowa has always been ahead of the rest of the nation. Iowa Finance Authority is a self-funded agency which offers low interest loans to moderate to low income families through local lending institutions. It also has a number of tax credit programs to assist perspective home owners and entrepreneurs.

Wisconsin’s Biennial Budget

In early February Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker unveiled his proposed 2017-to 2019 biennial budget to a joint session of the state legislature. The 75 billion dollar budget calls for significant investments in K-12 education, the UW Systems, the expansion of broadband services to rural parts of the state and cuts to property and income taxes. One question that has yet to be answered is “how will any transportation improvements be funded?” Walker has already indicated that he will not support any new revenue increases to pay for road improvements.  State Assemblyman Travis Tranel of Cuba City says they have a big challenge ahead. Tranel would support an increase in the gas tax, if some of the money would be used to fix roads in rural counties and towns; saying it’s imperative that the roads in rural counties and towns are maintained. Tranel represents the 49th Assembly District, which includes all of Grant County and parts of Richland Lafayette and Iowa Counties.

Fans Still Needed By Salvation Army

The Salvation Army in Dubuque still needs fans to give to people who can’t afford to buy one. Fans are being accepted at the Salvation Army located at 1099 Iowa Street. New box fans are preferred and can be dropped off. The Salvation Army is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The temperatures in Dubuque and the Tri-State area are expected to reach the mid to upper nineties over the next several days.