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Dubuque & Tri-State News

UPDATE: Lock and Dam #11 Will Re-Open This Afternoon

Barge traffic on the Mississippi River will resume this afternoon, a little more than a day after Lock and Dam 11 was closed. Our coverage partners at KCRG-TV spoke to an engineer working on-site, who said the repairs have progressed well enough that the lock is expected to re-open later today. Lock and Dam 11 was closed on Tuesday morning after damage was found to the anchorage of a gate. Allen Marshall, a spokesperson for the US Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District tells us the Corps is pleased with how quickly repair crews were able to get on-site and perform the work needed to get lock back open. That damage was located while inspectors were looking over the lock ahead of planned repairs that are still scheduled for next week. Dubuque’s lock is more than 80 years old. Marshall says this temporary closure is an indication of how much the system needs significant repair work. The Army Corps of Engineers has predicted it would take at least a billion dollars to modernize the lock and dam system. An estimated 19 million tons of products move through Lock and Dam 11 each year, according to the Corps.



Rural Dubuque Man Accused in UTV Theft

A rural Dubuque man is accused of stealing a utility terrain vehicle from a Dubuque dealership and storing it at his home, just a quarter-mile away. 23-year-old Braxton Glaeser was arrested Tuesday afternoon at his home in the Table Mound Mobile Home Park. According to the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office, surveillance video from Roeder Implement showed the UTV being driven away on Sunday. Deputies spotted it outside Glaeser’s home on Monday while investigating a separate incident. But the vehicle hadn’t yet been reported stolen. After Roeder employees filed a report on Tuesday, deputies returned to Glaeser’s home, where they verified that the UTV was the one that had been stolen. Glaeser was then taken into custody. He’s been charged with 2nd Degree Theft and 2nd Degree Criminal Mischief.

Red Cross, Key West Fire Dept. to Install Smoke Alarms Saturday

Residents of a Key West mobile home park will receive new smoke alarms this weekend, courtesy of their local fire department and the American Red Cross. As part of the Red Cross’ “Sound the Alarm” effort to reduce home fires, members of the Key West Fire Department will install free smoke alarms at the Table Mound Mobile Home Park on Saturday morning. Nicole Breitbach, Executive Director of the Red Cross’ Northeast Iowa chapter, says they chose the Table Mound area due to an increase in recent fire calls in Key West. While the firefighters handle installation of the smoke alarms, Red Cross volunteers will offer residents fire safety tips, including developing an escape plan. Breitbach says Dubuque residents who’d like a new smoke detector can contact the Dubuque Fire Department to get one installed. Breitbach expects that the firefighters and volunteers will install between 350 and 400 smoke alarms in Key West on Saturday.

ISU Expert: Soil Temperatures Not Yet Ready for Planting

While farmers in the Tri-States may be getting anxious about their planting, an expert says they may have to hold off for a few more days. That’s because soil temperatures still aren’t where they need to be. 50 degrees is widely considered the “magic number” for soil temperatures to support germination. But Iowa State University Crop Systems Management Professor Mark Licht says farmers should wait until seeing some sustained 50 degree readings. Current soil temperature readings are between 46 and 48 degrees in the Tri-States. While they may hit 50 degrees this week, with overnight lows predicted to drop into the 30s through this weekend, Licht says it might be wise to wait to start planting. Based on Iowa State’s timetables, corn producers still have a few weeks before they would have to worry about losing significant yield potential. As for soybeans, the general rule of thumb is to have planting done by May 20. But Licht says soybeans can still flourish in cases where they aren’t planted until about a month later. Licht adds that any corn planted after June 1 will face a serious loss of yield potential. After that date, he encourages farmers to consider planting beans, rather than corn.

Director: "Don't Be Overwhelmed" by Julien Dubuque International Film Festival

Hundreds of movie fans will begin descending on downtown Dubuque today for the annual Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, which runs through Sunday. Festival Executive Director Susan Gorrell tells us that this year’s edition of the festival – now in its eighth year – received more submissions than ever before. More than 700 films were submitted, and about 115 of them will screen at the festival. Festival events run from Thursday through Sunday, though Gorrell says people shouldn’t feel like they have to get to everything. Gorrell tells us that a good way to get introduced to the festival is to take advantage of one of the days when there are free screenings. All of Thursday’s screenings are free thanks to Runde Auto Group. New this year is the “Student Free Day” on Friday. Students who show a school ID can see films without paying a fee. Even if you don’t take in any of the screenings, Gorrell says the festival provides an opportunity to interact with filmmakers from all over the world. This year’s Film Festival will also host a premiere screening of the Sony Pictures release “SuperCon,” starring Oscar nominee John Malkovich. It will be shown at the Five Flags Theater Friday evening.

Dubuque Champp's to Close May 5, Re-Open as Old Chicago on Memorial Day

We’ve learned a few more details about the upcoming transition that a Dubuque restaurant will undergo. Back in February, we told you that the Champp’s restaurant on Dodge Street had been sold and would become an Old Chicago Restaurant and Taproom. At the time of the announcement, no firm timeline was given for when Champp’s would close and Old Chicago would open. But the restaurant’s new owners, ROC Taproom, have not said that the last day for Champp’s will be next Saturday, May 5. The restaurant will close after serving lunch that afternoon. From there, the restaurant will undergo a three-week transition before re-opening as Old Chicago on Memorial Day, May 28. Owners say the will be retaining all of the current Champp’s employees. In addition, they plan to exchange any Champp’s gift cards for Old Chicago ones.

Chicago Man Accused of Stabbing Estranged Wife Pleads Not Guilty

The man accused of stabbing his estranged wife outside a Dubuque convenience store on Easter morning has pled not guilty. 51-year-old Clifford Smiley of Chicago entered that plea during his arraignment in Dubuque County Court this week. Smiley is facing a total of seven charges, including Attempted Murder. According to Dubuque Police, officers responding to a reported stabbing at the FasMart on Central Avenue arrived on scene just as bystanders were pulling Smiley off of his estranged wife, who lives in Dubuque. She’d been stabbed five times in her neck and chest. She was taken to Mercy Hospital, where doctors said she would have died had she not received immediate treatment. While Smiley was having blood drawn later that day, police say he armed himself with a need and tried to escape. Officers pepper sprayed him and he was taken back into custody.

BREAKING: Dubuque Lock and Dam Closed

Courtesy: Wikimedia

Cracks in a gate at Dubuque’s Lock and Dam 11 have shut down commercial river traffic on the Mississippi River, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers. Lock Master Gary Kilburg tells our coverage partner, KCRG-TV, that workers found the cracks in the anchorage of a mitre gate during a routine inspection Tuesday morning. Miter gates are comprised of two leaves that provide a closure at one end of a lock. The Corps of Engineers is preparing to replace the gates soon. Kilburg said it will take a couple days to make temporary repairs. During that time, no boats or barges will be able to go through the lock.

Compass To Care Benefit Breakfast

You still have time to register for the annual Compass to Care Breakfast Benefit which will be held in Dubuque next month. Compass to Care was founded by Dubuque native Michelle Ernsdorff-May in 2010 in honor of her parents Mike and Sandy Ernsdorff. When she was 14 months old, Michelle was diagnosed with cancer, and at the time there was not a certified oncologist in Dubuque to treat children with cancer, so Michelle’s parents had to take her to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. During her year-and-a-half of treatment Michelle’s parents spent large amounts of money taking her to and from the clinic. Compass to Care raises money so that other parents don’t have to worry about finances when their child has to travel out of the city for treatment. There was one occasion when Michelle was unexpectedly hospitalized and her mom had to stay with her, but her dad had to get back to Dubuque to go to work. Around 30 percent of children in the U.S. who are diagnosed with cancer have to travel outside of their communities for treatment. The funds generated by CTC pay for a variety of things. Tickets for the breakfast are on sale now and can be purchased online at SUPPORTKIDSWITHCANCER.COM. You have until Thursday to purchase a ticket. The breakfast will be held on May 1st at the Grand River Center. The featured speaker this year is 10 year old cancer survivor Jordyn Gourley.

Wisconsin State Senator Marklein to Seek Another Term


The State Senator who represents the Wisconsin counties in our listening area will be running for another term this fall. Senator Howard Marklein made that announcement on Tuesday. The Republican from Spring Green is currently in his first term representing the 17th Senate district, which includes all of Grant and Lafayette counties and a portion of Iowa County. Prior to his time in the Senate, Marklein served two terms in the State Assembly. Marklein will be opposed by Lafayette County Supervisor Kriss Marion. The Democrat from Blanchardville announced earlier this year that she’d be seeking Marklein’s seat.

UPDATE: Sabula Bridge Closure to Last Until July

Courtesy: Iowa Dept. of Transportation

A bridge closure that has reduced access to a Jackson County community will go on longer than expected. Back in late February, the “overflow” bridge on the northern edge of Sabula has been closed due to structural issues. Initially, the closure was expected to last until late May. But officials with the Iowa Department of Transportation now tell us that the closure will extend to at least mid-July. Sam Shea with the DOT says contractors have run into problems trying to drill the holes where the base of the new bridge will go. According to Shea, the sandy soil on the northern part of the island is very difficult to drill into. The DOT had originally planned to replace the bridge this summer with a 40 day closure. They were forced to move up their plans when the bridge was deemed unsafe. Now the re-opening of the bridge is being pushed back again. The entire length of the overflow bridge is about 370 feet. Shea admits that it’s caused a lot of frustration for such a short length of span. With the bridge open, the trip from Sabula to Savanna, Illinois, takes less than five minutes. But with the closure, those going between the two communities have had to take a 50-minute detour through Clinton. The DOT has set up a dedicated website where updates about the bridge closure will be posted. You can access that site here.

Accused Liquor Thief Took 11 Bottles Valued at Nearly $700

A Dubuque man is accused of stealing nearly $700 of liquor from two local retailers over a two-week period. 35-year-old Donald Brown was arrested on Friday afternoon after police say he tried to run from security at Dubuque’s Target store. Target employees had called police after Brown and another man had tried to steal two bottles of tequila from the store. The employees said that Brown had also shoplifted liquor from the store four other times over the previous two days. Included in those thefts were nine bottles of tequila and champagne valued at almost $370. Brown also had a warrant for his arrest stemming from another theft at the Dubuque Wal-Mart earlier in April. In that case, Brown and a woman were accused of taking five bottles of cognac valued at just more than $226. All told, Brown stole or tried to steal eleven bottles of liquor with a total retail value of $692. Brown is now charged with two counts of 4th Degree Theft and a single count of Aggravated Theft.

Kitchen Fight Leads to Charges Against Restaurant Employees

A kitchen disagreement led to charges against two employees of a Dubuque restaurant last week. A few minutes after 9:00 Friday night, officers were called to the Buffalo Wild Wings on the Northwest Arterial. A manager there told police that two employees had gotten into an argument in the kitchen. The two shoved each other and what’s described as a “scuffle” broke out. Both employees were then told to leave the restaurant. Their fight continued in the parking lot, where witnesses say they were pushing, punching, and tackling each other. The two men, 20-year-old Abraham Schissel and 51-year-old Shawn Webster, were both arrested and charged with Disorderly Conduct.

Late Spring Delays Morel Mushroom Hunts

Morel mushrooms (Courtesy: National Park Service)

After what seemed like a never-ending winter, spring weather has arrived in the Tri-States. For many people, that means it’s time to go hunting for morel mushrooms. But the late arrival of spring has also pushed back morel season, according to Brian Preston of the Dubuque County Conservation Board. While hunters likely won’t start finding morels until next week, Preston says that now is a good time to start scouting for where those mushrooms might start popping up. Among the trees Preston says to look for are elms and black ashes. Experts say morel season doesn’t really start until soil temperatures reach 50 degrees. As of the start of this week, Dubuque County’s soil temperatures were still in the low 40s.

Dubuque Investigator Awarded for Starting Nationwide Fraud Investigation

Investigator Ryan Scherrman works at his desk at the Dubuque Law Enforcement Center (Courtesy: KCRG).

The Dubuque Police investigator who was the first to look into what turned out to be a nationwide phone scam has been recognized for his work. Investigator Ryan Scherrman was recently given the Law Enforcement Victim Service Award from the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa. Back in 2016, Scherrman received a report of a theft from a Dubuque resident. The person said they’d sent money to help get a loved one out of jail after receiving a phone call. As it turns out, hundreds of people across the country were getting similar phone calls. In all, about 250 victims were identified, and those people paid out more than $700,000 to the culprits. The investigation that began with Scherrman has blossomed into a nationwide effort, with more than thirty arrests. The investigation into the scam is still ongoing, though some of the people involved in the scheme are beginning to serve federal prison sentences.

Grant County Man Accused in Road Rage Hit-and-Run

A Grant County man has been accused in a road rage hit-and-run. Shortly after 3:30 Sunday afternoon, county sheriff’s deputies were called by a driver who had been involved in a crash on State Highway 81 northwest of Platteville. The man said that a few minutes earlier, he had tried to legally pass a sport utility vehicle. The driver of the SUV, later identified as 31-year-old Jeremy Conley of Boscobel, sped up and refused to let the passing driver merge back over. The driver was eventually able to “edge” back into traffic. A few miles later, the driver again tried to pass a semi, but this time, his vehicle was struck from behind by Conley. The driver says Conley then pulled alongside him, flipped him off, and sped away. Platteville Police stopped Conley as he went through that community. According to officers, he admitted hitting the other vehicle. The Grant County Sheriff’s Department is recommending that Conley be charged with Hit and Run and Reckless Driving.

Former Wahlert Teacher's License Suspended

A state board has pulled the license of a former Dubuque teacher for at least three years. After several delays, the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners yesterday finally ruled in the case of former Wahlert High School social studies and religion teacher Michael Mahoney. Mahoney had been accused of soliciting inappropriate relationships with female students, which included communicating with them via social media and giving them inappropriate gifts. An administrative law judge who ruled in the case found that Mahoney “crossed appropriate professional boundaries between teacher and students.” The board has decided to suspend Mahoney’s license for a minimum of three years. Mahoney must also undergo a psychiatric evaluation before his license can be re-instated. Mahoney resigned from his teaching post last June. According to documents filed with the state board, that was after he was informed that a recommendation for his firing would be going to the Holy Family Schools board.

Blufftop Portion of Clarke Drive to Close

Courtesy: City of Dubuque

Dubuque drivers who typically use Clarke Drive to enter or leave the downtown area will have to find a different route for the next week. That’s because a portion of Clarke will be closed for a private sewer repair. The closure impacts Clarke between Madison and Paul streets. Madison Street is the road that carries traffic from Clarke Drive down the bluff, before turning into Main Street. The closure begins today and will last through next Wednesday. A detour will shift traffic around the closure using Paul Street, Lowell Street, and North Main Street.

Dogs Attack Calves In Grant County

A southwestern Wisconsin man faces charges after his dogs attacked calves on a dairy farm last week. The incident happened last Thursday morning on a farm on south of Mount Hope. A sheriff’s deputy was called to the farm a few minutes before 6:30 AM after it was reported that two dogs that were attacking calves. By the time the deputy and a veterinarian arrived, the dogs were gone. The calves were severely injured and had to be put down by the vet. A few hours later, authorities located the owner of the dogs, 34-year-old Benuel Smucker. He’s been charged with Dogs Running At Large, Untagged Dogs, and Dogs Causing Injury without Notice. Smucker has also agreed to pay for the costs of the calves.

Grassley to Visit Bellevue as Part of 99 County Tour


One of Iowa’s US Senators will be visiting the Tri-States next week. Republican Charles Grassley’s office has announced that he’ll hold a town hall meeting in Bellevue on Tuesday. The event will begin at 2:00 that afternoon at the Horizon Lanes and Hall on North Riverview Drive. The meeting is a part of Grassley’s annual effort to visit each of Iowa’s 99 counties, something he’s done since his first Senate campaign in 1980. Grassley has two town halls scheduled for next week. In addition to the Bellevue stop, he’ll also meet with votes in Chickasaw County in the north central part of the state.

Traffic Enforcement

Officers from the Dubuque police department recently teamed up with deputies from the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department to conduct a joint traffic enforcement project to prevent illegal drugs from coming through Dubuque. The enforcement project was conducted along U.S. Highways 151 and 61 south of Dubuque. K9 units were able to make three positive indications and confirmation of illegal drugs in vehicles. In addition, officers issued 15 citations for speeding. Other citations were issued for not having a valid driver’s license, no insurance and window tinting. 16 warning were also given to motorists.

John Deere And Dubuque Recognitions

Representatives from the City of Dubuque and John Deere Dubuque Works recently accepted awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 for their contributions to environmentalism and sustainability at Superfund sites. The Leading Environmentalism and Forwarding Sustainability, or L.E.A.F.S. award was established by the EPA to recognize those who have supported the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative through innovative thinking, sustainable practices and environmental stewardship. Over the years, both the city and John Deere have cleaned up sites and restored them to productive use.

New County Secondary Roads Facility

Plans to construct a new Dubuque County secondary roads building are moving forward. The current facility is located in the 13-thousand block of City View Drive and officials say because of the age of the building the safety of the employees is being compromised. Supervisor chair Jay Wickham says they have been able to secure funding for the proposed 17 million dollar facility. Grading work for the new building will start in the summer. The board of supervisors will receive bids for the grading work at its’ meeting on Monday. The new building will be built on the same property where the current structure is located.


Police: Darlington Man Assaults Officers After Being Found Asleep in Car

A southwest Wisconsin man faces more than a half dozen charges after being accused of stealing a car and assaulting two officers during his arrest. A few minutes after 11:00 Thursday night, authorities in Jo Daviess County were called about a vehicle being parked in the middle of a rural road about three miles south of Apple River. The car had been reported stolen out of Lafayette County, Wisconsin, earlier in the evening. Officers found 33-year-old John Rowley of Darlington sleeping in the car. As the officers tried to take Rowley under arrest, he resisted until they used a Taser on him. One of the officers was treated for injuries at the scene, while the other was taken to a hospital in Galena. Among the charges against Rowley are two counts of Aggravated Battery to a Peace Officer, two counts of Aggravated Resisting Arrest, and Possession of Meth.

Piantieri Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to 50 Years


A Dubuque woman’s killer will spend up to a half-century in prison. 36-year-old Michael Piantieri pled guilty this morning to 2nd Degree Murder in the death of 42-year-old Beverly Puccio last December. Piantieri had originally been charged with 1st Degree Murder, but reached an agreement with prosecutors this week. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison, and will have to serve at least 35 years of that term. Had he been found guilty of 1st Degree Murder, he would have gone to prison for life. This will be Piantieri’s second extended stay behind bars. He spent a little more than five years in prison after pleading guilty to Going Armed with Intent in May of 2012. Piantieri had originally been charged with Attempted Murder after stabbing a man outside a Clinton bar.

16,000 Patients Potentially Impacted by UnityPoint Data Breach

Patients of one of Dubuque’s hospitals could have had their personal information accessed in a recent data breach. UnityPoint, which operates the Finley Hospital, reports that about 16,000 patients are at risk of having their data compromised due to a phishing attack. The breach went through employee email accounts between November of last year and early February. UnityPoint says it worked to secure accounts, but an investigation showed that the impacted email accounts contained patient information. Among the details that may have been access are medical record numbers, surgical information, lab results, and insurance information. A letter sent to patients earlier this week says no reports of identity fraud or identity theft related to the incident have yet been reported.

Dubuque Areas Nominated for Federal Opportunity Zone Program

The areas shaded in red have been nominated for the federal Opportunity Zone program (Courtesy: State of Iowa).

Two sections of the city of Dubuque have been nominated for a federal program aimed at reducing poverty. As part of last year’s tax reform bill, the Treasury Department introduced so-called “Opportunity Zones.” Those are areas where the poverty rate is greater than 20 percent or higher. The program is meant to encourage long-term investments in the areas by providing capital gains tax breaks to investors. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has nominated two sections of Dubuque for the program. The larger area includes downtown Dubuque, the Port area, and Schmitt Island. The second area includes the Five Points neighborhood and the blocks surrounding Central Avenue between its intersections with 17th Street and Olympic Heights Road. It’s not clear when the Treasury Department will determine which areas will receive the designation.

Bellevue Mayor Resigns, Council to Appoint Replacement

The community of Bellevue will be getting a new mayor, though the town’s citizens won’t have a say in who takes over the position. Chris Roling submitted his resignation as Bellevue’s mayor a week ago after serving a little more than six years in the role. The town’s city council accepted his resignation during their meeting on Monday. It will now be up to the council to appoint a replacement for Roling. Anyone who wants to become mayor has until noon on May 4th – two weeks from today – to indicate their interest in writing to the city clerk. The council is expected to make an appointment at their meeting the following Monday. The person chosen will serve out the rest of Roling’s term, which expires in 2020.

Kennedy Mall Managers Confident in Finding Replacement for Younkers

Courtesy: KCRG

Managers at Dubuque’s Kennedy Mall are confident they’ll fill the space left vacant by Younkers, just as they did when the Sears department store shut down four years ago. Younkers’ parent company, Bon-Ton, sold off its remaining assets this week, and the new owners plan to close many stores, including the one in Dubuque. Lindsay Hottovy, the mall’s marketing director, says one option for replacing Younkers would be to expand the mall’s non-retail options, like they did by adding the Vertical Jump Park and Planet Fitness in recent years. Hottovy adds that the mall has put a renewed focus on more boutique-style stores, such as women’s clothing shop Francesca’s. Hottovy indicated that the mall’s owners have already made contact with some possible replacements for Younkers, which is expected to close sometime in early June.

New Charges Filed Against Fake Concert Ticket Suspect

New charges have been filed against a murder suspect accused of selling fake concert tickets in Dubuque. That’s after an additional person came forward to report buying some of the phony tickets. 20-year-old Natrell Jackson of Chicago was initially arrested by Dubuque Police last Thursday afternoon after trying to sell counterfeit Willie Nelson concert tickets to an undercover officer. Following Jackson’s arrest, a Dubuque woman contacted police to report that she had bought two tickets from him at a cost of $120. Police say the tickets the woman bought were similar to the ones Jackson sold the undercover officer. Additional 5th Degree Theft and Forgery charges have been filed against Jackson. That’s on top of the two counts each of 4th Degree Theft and Forgery filed against him after his arrest last week. Jackson had also been wanted on several warrants out of Cook County, Illinois, including eight for murder.

Belmont Police Seize $27,000 Worth of Marijuana

Courtesy: Belmont Police

A southwest Wisconsin police department says it’s taken about $27,000 worth of marijuana off the streets. According to a post on the Facebook page for the Belmont Police Department, officers seized nearly three pounds of marijuana following a traffic stop Tuesday night. A few minutes after 9:00, an officer stopped a car travelling on US Highway 151 for an equipment violation. Grant County’s K9 was called in, and indicated there were drugs in the car. A search of the vehicle turned up more than 1,300 grams of marijuana, which comes out to just less than three pounds of the drug. According to the post, that amount of weed has a street value of about $27,000. The driver of the car, 28-year-old Roosevelt Sanders of Milwaukee, was arrested and has been charged with Possession of THC with Intent to Deliver. THC is the chemical compound in marijuana that produces the “high.”

Another Nearly Three Inches of Snow Accompanied by Record Cold

Yesterday’s snowfall around the Tri-States was accompanied by some more record-breaking cold. The official report from the Dubuque Regional Airport says Dubuque received 2.9 inches of precipitation yesterday: a half-inch of sleet in the morning, followed by 2.4 inches of snow during the afternoon and evening hours. There were some places around Dubuque that received slightly less accumulation. The National Weather Service received a report of two and a half inches of snow from a spotter near Finnin Ford on Dodge Street. Another report of 2.3 inches came from the area near the intersection of JFK Road and the Northwest Arterial. As expected, areas to our north received even heavier snowfall, as Prairie du Chien reported 6.5 inches. The high temperature in Dubuque only reached 32 degrees, which sets a new record for the coldest high on record. The previous mark had been 40 degrees, set in 1953.

Grassley On the Passing Of Barbara Bush

The country continues to mourn the death of Barbara Bush. The former first lady died Tuesday at the age of 92 at her home in Houston. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley says Mrs. Bush was everything a country could ask for in a first lady. Senator Grassley and his wife Barbara had many interactions and conversations with Mrs. Bush while her husband George H. W. Bush was Vice-President and President in the 1980’s and early 90’s. Governor’s all across the country, including Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, ordered all state flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Mrs. Bush. In Iowa state flags will remain lowered at half-staff until sunset on Saturday.

City Plows In Dubuque Back At Work

This latest winter storm has forced Dubuque Public Works employees to switch back to their winter hours. Public Works Director John Klostermann says they started preparing for the storm yesterday by putting employees back on their 24 hour winter schedules. Public Works has a plan in place for winter storms, but that plan could change depending on the course of a storm. Primary and secondary streets in Dubuque have been treated and are in decent shape. While streets in the city are in pretty good shape, the same cannot be said for less traveled roads in rural parts of Dubuque County.

Official Filings: Finkenauer Out-Raises All Other 1st District Candidates, Including Blum

Blum, Finkenauer

Two Oscar winners, a “Real Housewife,” the namesake of a national investment firm, and a former Congressman. These are just a few of the people who have donated money to the candidates seeking to represent Dubuque in Congress. A review of official campaign filings with the Federal Elections Commission shows that Democrat Abby Finkenauer raised the most money of those running in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. The current State Representative brought in just shy of $445,000 in the January to March reporting period, significantly outpacing incumbent Republican Rod Blum. While more than half of Finkenauer’s donors are from Iowa, the vast majority of the money pledged to her campaign comes from out of state. Among those sending contributions Finkenauer’s way were:

– Dubuque City Council Members Ric Jones and Kate Larson

– Former Iowa Hawkeye football player Tim Dwight

– Actor Woody Harrelson

– Composer Hans Zimmer

– New York Giants Co-owner Jonathan Tisch

– Actor Tony Goldwyn (“Scandal”)

– “Real Housewife of Beverly Hills” Erika Girardi

– Actress Rhea Perlman (“Cheers”)

Finkenauer out-raised her most serious challenger for the Democratic nomination by more than seven times. Former Labor Department staffer Thomas Heckroth brought in just $58,000 during the filing period. Included in his donors were former 1st District Congressman Bruce Braley, who now lives in Colorado, and Greater Dubuque Development CEO Rick Dickinson. The other two Democrats in the race – George Ramsey and Courtney Rowe – combined to raise just $15,000.

As for Blum, a significant chunk – more than 40% – of his donations came from political action committees, rather than individuals. Among the organizations kicking money his way were the House Freedom Fund, the National Rifle Association, and the PAC funded by Kansas energy moguls Charles and David Koch. The majority of Blum’s donors and donations came from outside of Iowa. Blum raised a total of about $268,000 in the quarter.

Part of Downtown Dubuque Street to Close for Three Weeks

East 15th Street will be closed from the yellow diamond to the east (right). Courtesy: City of Dubuque.

A portion of a downtown Dubuque street is going to be closed for several weeks as crews repair a railroad crossing. Access to East 15th Street is blocked to the east from where it crosses the railroad tracks that sit between Elm and Maple Streets. That means that about three blocks of 15th won’t be accessible via that street. Drivers will instead have to detour to either 16th or 14th Street. The closure began today and is expected to last about three weeks.

Accused Murderer to Plead Guilty


The man accused of committing Dubuque’s most recent murder appears ready to admit guilt. According to court filings, 36-year-old Michael Piantieri intends to plead guilty to a charge of 2nd Degree Murder later this week. Piantieri had initially been charged with 1st Degree Murder in the death of 42-year-old Beverly Puccio last December. A hearing where Piantieri is expected to enter his plea has been set for Friday. Prosecutors have accused Piantieri of killing Puccio just hours after the two met for the first time. According to witnesses, the two shared drinks at the Walnut Tap before taking a taxi to Puccio’s North End home on the night of December 2nd. That’s where Puccio’s body was found two days later. Under Iowa law, 2nd Degree Murder carries a mandatory sentence of 50 years in prison. Piantieri is also expected to plead guilty to Witness Tampering. That charge was filed in February after Piantieri repeatedly tried to contact his girlfriend from jail.

Authorities ID Clayton County Man Who Died After Rear-Ending Semi

Authorities in Clayton County have released the name of the man who died when his pickup crashed into the back of a semi last week. According to the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, the crash happened last Thursday morning on US Highway 52 about a quarter mile south of its intersection with US Highway 18. That’s about seven miles west of McGregor. 82-year-old Francis Forst of McGregor was driving a pickup south on Highway 52 when he rear-ended the southbound semi. Forst was pronounced dead at the scene.

Dubuque Public Works Shifts Employee Hours Ahead of Snowstorm

Dubuque’s Public Works department has had to adjust its schedules ahead of today’s anticipated snow. According to Public Works Director John Klostermann, employees had already switched over to their summer hours, when workers are on from 7:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon. But yesterday and today, employees are back to their winter hours, which run from 4:00 in the morning to noon, or from noon to 8:00 in the evening. Klostermann plans to have about 14 plow trucks on the roads today, and will add more if needed.

New Director Of Secondary Education For Dubuque Public Schools 

There will soon be a new leader in charge of secondary education for the Dubuque School District. Mark Burns, the principal at Washington Middle School will assume that role this summer. Burns’ appointment is pending approval from the school board, which is expected to OK the hiring at its’ May meeting. Burns has been the principal at Washington for the past 14 years. Before that he was assistant principal at Hempstead and a teacher there from 1998 to 2002. Burns holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Kansas State University and a master of arts in teaching degree from the University of St. Thomas. Burns takes over for David Olson who will retire at the end of June.

BREAKING: Dubuque Younkers to Close

One of the anchor stores at Kennedy Mall will close. According to our coverage partners at KCRG-TV, Younkers has announced it will be closing eight stores in Iowa, including the one here in Dubuque. Those eight closures are expected to put nearly 700 people out of work. 90 of those employees work at the Dubuque store. Employees were notified of the closure by Iowa Workforce Development earlier this month. Under Iowa law, employers are required to give 60 days’ notice of plant closings or significant layoffs. Younkers will also be closing both of its stores in Cedar Rapids, as well as the location at the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville.

Dubuque Advances Plans for Grandview/University Roundabout

Work on the city of Dubuque’s second traffic roundabout is moving forward. At its meeting Monday night, the Dubuque City Council approved the plans for the new roundabout, which will be built at the intersection of University and North Grandview Avenues. The intersection is currently a four-way stop. It sits just to the north of the existing roundabout at the former five-way intersection between Grandview, Delhi Street, and Grace Street. Construction on the new roundabout is expected to begin in June, after Dubuque’s schools let out for the summer. Work is planned to be completed prior to the new school year beginning in August. According to the city, traffic on Grandview Avenue will remain open during the construction. Cars moving east or west on University will be detoured. The cost of the project is just less than $1.4 million, though about $965,000 are coming from state and local grants.

Dubuque Council Turns Down Proposed Apartment Complex Rezoning Request

The Dubuque City Council on Monday night rejected a proposed rezoning that would have allowed an apartment complex near a West End subdivision. The developer planned to build a complex consisting of about sixty units on a four-acre piece of land on Stone Valley Drive. The complex would have been located between Portzen Construction’s building on Stone Valley and the English Ridge subdivision. Developer Sam Murley told the council that changing the property’s zoning from commercial to a Planned Unit Development would have several benefits. But residents of the subdivision were nearly unanimous in their opposition to the proposal. Tobey Carroll noted that those who built homes in the area have to abide by a neighborhood agreement which the apartment complex would not be subject to. Ben Wilson also expressed concern about increased traffic. Councilman Ric Jones spoke in favor of the rezoning, telling neighbors there’s nothing stopping the developer from building something that falls under the current zoning. But fellow Council member David Resnick was hesitant to approve the request, saying that such changes need to have good reason to happen. Due to a quirk in city code, the rezoning needed a supermajority. A motion to approve the request while waiving additional readings did not receive enough votes. A first reading of the request was then voted down, 6-1, with Mayor Roy Buol in the minority.

Another Round of Snow Expected Wednesday

Courtesy: KCRG

Yet another round of snowfall is expected to move into the Tri-States tomorrow. KCRG meteorologist Kaj O’Mara tells us that the snow will likely begin falling mid-morning and will last through most of the evening. But he expects the bulk of the accumulations between the beginning of the storm and mid-afternoon. O’Mara is predicting between two and four inches of accumulation, though not all of that will show up in all areas. The snow likely won’t pile up as much on pavement as it does on grassy areas. The snow could be quite heavy at times. While snow is expected, the system will bring several forms of precipitation, and could transition between them several times. Most of the counties in our listening area will be included in a Winter Storm Watch tomorrow.

Dubuque Native Named "Finalist" for Pulitzer in Music


A Dubuque native has received special recognition from the board that awards Pulitzer Prizes. The awards were presented on Monday, and while composer Michael Gilbertson didn’t win in the music category, he was listed as a “finalist.” Gilbertson had been nominated for his piece titled ‘Quartet,’ which premiered in February of last year. The Pulitzer board described the composition as “a masterwork in a traditional format, the string quartet, that is unconstrained by convention or musical vogues and possesses a rare capacity to stir the heart.” Gilbertson graduated from Hempstead High School in 2006 before attending both Julliard and Yale. He’s currently teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The prize in the music category went to rapper Kendrick Lamar for his album ‘Damn.’ You can listen to some of Gilbertson’s work on his SoundCloud page.

Second Man Involved in Fraudulent Car Purchase Arrested

Dubuque Police have arrested a second man believed to have been a part on a scheme to use a false identity to buy a car from a Dubuque dealership. 30-year-old Patrick Thompson of Chicago was transferred to the Dubuque County Jail on Friday afternoon. He’s been booked on a charge of 1st Degree Theft. According to police, Thompson and 27-year-old Antawn Kinerman of Calumet City used the driver’s license and insurance information of another man to buy a 2016 Dodge Charger valued at nearly 39-thousand dollars from Bird Chevrolet. Thompson and Kinerman were arrested by federal agents after a sting involving another vehicle was set up earlier this month. Kinerman has also been charged with 1st Degree Theft.

Five Arrested After Post-Concert Fight at Dubuque Karaoke Bar

A handful of people were arrested after a fight broke out at a Dubuque karaoke bar following last weekend’s Willie Nelson concert. Dubuque Police were called to the Rainbow Lounge inside the Canfield Hotel at about 12:45 Saturday morning. Officers found what they described as a “large disturbance” in progress at the bar. The incident appears to have stemmed from an altercation between two females, 37-year-old Erin Lichtenstein of Grand Mound and 38-year-old Nicole Gregory of Dubuque. Both women were arrested on charges of Disorderly Conduct and Public Intoxication. Three men were also arrested on similar charges, including Lichtenstein’s husband, Paul, and 38-year-old Jesse Montgomery, who lives at the same address as Gregory. The third man arrested was 42-year-old Kelly Skeffington of Davenport.

Field of Dreams Repairs Draw Help from Baseball Community

Members of the Iowa Wesleyan baseball team help with repairs at the Field of Dreams Movie Site Monday (Courtesy: KCRG).

College ballplayers and grounds crew members from minor league teams were among the volunteers who helped repair the Field of Dreams near Dyersville on Monday. Back in January, the field was torn up after a truck was driven over the field. That caused about $5,000 in damage to the field. On Monday, the infield was leveled and new sod was put in. Among those who helped install that new sod was the entire baseball team from Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant. Both the Clinton Lumber Kings and Quad City River Bandits of the Midwest League brought their grounds crews to help out as well. River Bandits Head Groundskeeper Andrew Marking says they were happy to help. It’s still not known how much the field’s underground sprinkler system was damaged, since it can’t be tested until the ground completely thaws. 20-year-old Austin Pape of Dyersville was arrested on a charge of 2nd Degree Criminal Mischief about a week after the vandalism was discovered. He’s pled not guilty to that charge and is scheduled to go on trial in late June.

Fas Mart Thief Sought By Dubuque Police

Dubuque police need your help in identifying a man who stole merchandise from the Fas Mart on Central Avenue recently. The suspect reportedly stole from the convenience store on two separate occasions. The thefts happened during the early morning hours of February 11th and the 12th. The suspect is described as a black male. He was wearing dark clothing and a black cap with a gray hoodie pulled over it. If you have any information contact the Dubuque Law Enforcement Center. The department has posted an image of the suspect on its’ ID4PD website.

Weekend Burglaries Reported at Apple Canyon Lake

Authorities in Jo Daviess County are looking into a series of break-ins from over the weekend. According to a release from the county sheriff’s department, several burglaries were reported in the Apple Canyon Lake area. In each case, the suspects forced their way into homes which were unoccupied. Among the items stolen, home electronics and alcohol were the most common targets. Anyone with information about the break-ins is asked to contact the Jo Daviess County sheriff’s office or the local Crime Stoppers tip line. Information that leads to an arrest could be eligible for a two thousand dollar reward.

Illinois Women Arrested on Drug Charges in Wisconsin

A pair of Illinois women have been arrested on drug charges in southwest Wisconsin. At about 3:20 Sunday morning, a Lafayette County Sheriff’s deputy came upon a disabled vehicle along Wisconsin Highway 23 south of Darlington. Both of the women inside the vehicle have been charged with Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Deliver, Resisting an Officer, and Possession of Open Intoxicants. 23-year-olds Ashia Lamping-Freeman of Elizabeth and Kadedra Eull of Freeport were booked into the Lafayette County Jail where they are awaiting a court appearance. Lamping-Freeman was also cited for driving without a valid license.

New Record for Coldest High Temperature in Dubuque

Another weather record was set in Dubuque this weekend, and once again, it was for cold that had never been felt before. The high temperature at the Dubuque Regional Airport climbed to just 29 degrees on Sunday. That’s the lowest high temperature ever recorded on April 15 in Dubuque. The previous record of 36 degrees was set back in 1949. Some parts of Dubuque were even colder than the airport. According to KCRG’s Pinpoint StormNet weather station at Senior High School, the temperature there didn’t top 28 degrees. At Hempstead, the warmest reading only got to 27. Dubuque wasn’t the only Iowa city to set a new low record for high temperature yesterday. The mark was either tied or broken in each of eastern Iowa’s other “Big Four” cities: Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Iowa City.

Second Chicago Murder Suspect Arrested

A second man wanted in connection with a Chicago murder was arrested in Dubuque over the weekend. 18-year-old Michael Whitehead was arrested a few minutes after 4:00 Saturday afternoon. He had active warrants out of Cook County, Illinois, for eight counts of Murder, two counts of Attempted Murder, and four counts of Discharge of a Firearm. Authorities believe Whitehead was involved in the February 2016 shooting death of a Chicago woman who was killed while sitting in a taxi. Dubuque Police had already arrested 20-year-old Natrell Jackson on similar warrants after he was accused of trying to sell fake tickets to Friday’s Willie Nelson concert at Five Flags Center.

Man Wanted On Murder Charges Arrested In Dubuque For Attempting To Sell Fake Concert Tickets

An Illinois man wanted on 8 murder charges in that state was arrested by Dubuque police yesterday for trying to sell fake tickets to tonight’s Willie Nelson and Family concert at the Five Flags. Undercover officers arrested 20 year old Natrell Jackson at around 3:45 Thursday afternoon at the KFC on Central Avenue. Online court documents say Jackson is charged with two counts of 4th degree theft, two counts of forgery and two counts of interference with official acts. There is currently a warrant for Jackson’s arrest out of Cook County. He is charged with 8 counts of murder in Cook County as well as two counts of felony attempted murder and four counts of felony aggravated discharge of a firearm. In Dubuque County District Court Jackson is accused of selling fake tickets to Nelson’s concert to a Belmont, Wisconsin man online. Dubuque undercover officers arranged a meeting with Jackson to buy some fake tickets at KFC. That’s when he was taken into custody.

Prairie Du Chien Principal Charged With Abuse

Authorities have charged a Prairie Du Chien principal with physical abuse of a child. According to court documents Aaron Amundson, the principal at Bluff View Intermediate School, gave a 14 year old student a chemical burn after using a chemical cleaner on the child’s hand. Our coverage partners at KCRG TV tell us the student had two letters written on his hand with a permanent marker that were inappropriate for school on March 21st. When Amundson was made of aware of this, he took the child to a janitor’s closet and attempted to get the marker off using water and a white Scotch Brite pad but it didn’t work. He then used a “chemical gum cleaner” that he found in the closet and sprayed the child’s hand and scrubbed it with a pad until the marker came off. But it burned the child’s skin. His mother Melody Cox took her son to the emergency room and then to the police department to report it. Cox says other parents have complained about Amundson’s behavior in the past and this is the last straw. Cox says she didn’t find out about the incident until a couple days later. The school has placed Amundson on non-disciplinary paid leave until the district completes its’ investigation. Physical abuse of a child is a Class 1 felony.

Dubuque Man Arrested For False Report

A Dubuque man faces charges after police say he made up a story about a heart attack just to get a train to move. David Shealer is accused of making a false report and claiming a false emergency. According to court documents Shealer called 911 at around 9 o’clock Tuesday night claiming a neighbor had a heart attack. Shealer lives on Riverside Road and a train sitting on the tracks there can block access to and from a few homes. Police determined there was no medical emergency.

Someone Trying To Sell Fake Tickets To Willie Nelson Concert 

Dubuque police are alerting fans of Willie Nelson to be aware of someone trying to sell fake tickets online to the country super star’s concert at the Five Flags Center tonight. Police are working on the case and have identified a suspect. If you’re going to the concert police say contact the venue you used to purchase your ticket if you have any doubts about its’ legitimacy.

Pennsylvania Ave. Closure

Pennsylvania Avenue, between Radford Road and Heacock is closed until further notice so that crews can perform an emergency water main repair. Eastbound motorists are being detoured onto Heacock to Asbury Road to Radford. Westbound motorists are being detoured onto Radford to Chavenelle to Seipple Road. A map of the detours can be found on the city’s website.

Crash In Grant County Leads To OWI Arrests

A minor crash in Grant County this week led to the arrests of two people for driving drunk. The incident happened just before 11 o’clock Thursday night on Highway 18 in Prairie Du Chien. Officers were dispatched to an area along Highway 18 near County Road C on a report of a possible crash. When they arrived they found a car stuck in a ditch on the south side of the highway. All three occupants appeared to be impaired. The driver, 25 year old Rachel Millin of Prairie Du Chien told officers she had been driving the car after the original driver 31 year old Robert Stoeffler also of Prairie Du Chien told her he was too drunk to continue driving. Millin says she was pulling out of the parking lot of a motel, when she became distracted while arguing with another passenger in the car and missed the driveway out of the motel parking lot and drove into the ditch. Field sobriety tests were done on Millin and Stoeffler and it was determined that they were intoxicated. They are both charged with Operating While Under the Influence. That third person in the car was not charged.

With 100th Day Looming, Iowa Legislative Session Still Not Close to Adjournment


Even though their allowance for food and housing will end next week, Iowa legislators are still no closer to ending this year’s session. Tuesday will mark the 100th day of the session. After that, legislators will no longer receive money to cover their living expenses in Des Moines. State Senator Pam Jochum of Dubuque says the hold-up stems from disagreements between Republican leaders in the House and Senate over tax reform. That’s prevented those leaders from introducing budget bills. Jochum isn’t sure how close to an agreement the Senate and House leaders might be. Once budget bills are introduced, Jochum says it takes a few days before they are ready to come up for a vote. In addition to losing their housing and meal money, the 100th day of the session also marks the last day that legislative clerks are paid. Without them, Jochum says the entire workload falls on legislators, which can also slow the process. Jochum says the current best case scenario would have the legislative session wrapping up during the first week of May.

Sherrill Church Building Damaged in Burglary

A break-in at a Dubuque County church this week caused about $250 in damage. Dubuque County sheriff’s deputies learned of the burglary at the Saints Peter and Paul Parish Center in Sherrill on Wednesday evening. It’s suspected that the break-in happened sometime between Monday night and Wednesday afternoon. The burglar was able to enter the building by prying open a window on the back of the former school. Damage to the window has been estimated at about $250. All that was taken from inside the building was about $10 from an “honor jar,” a case of soda, and a few cans of beer.

Police: Man Reports Fake Heart Attack Because of Train Blocking Road

A rural Dubuque man is facing charges after making up a heart attack in an effort to get a train to move. 51-year-old David Shealer was arrested just before 9:00 Tuesday night at his home on Riverside Road, near the John Deere Dubuque Works. According to court documents, Shealer had called 911 several times to report that his neighbor was having a heart attack. Shealer also said that he couldn’t take the neighbor to the hospital because a train was blocking Riverside Road. Deputies from the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to Shealer’s home. They found that there was no neighbor suffering a heart attack and that Shealer had made the whole thing up because he was upset that the train was blocking the road.

Judges: Manchester Zoo Violated Endangered Species Act

Courtesy: KCRG

A roadside zoo outside of Manchester violated the Endangered Species Act with its treatment of some animals. That’s the finding of a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Their decision upholds a 2016 district court ruling that Cricket Hollow Animal Park violated the federal law. The zoo has been tangled in litigation for years over accusations that it provided poor living conditions for some animals. That led to the removal of some animals from the property. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, a national animal welfare group that has sued the zoo, says the latest ruling affirms protections for endangered animals in captivity and strengthens legal arguments in other related lawsuits.

April Start is Coldest on Record in Dubuque

Courtesy: KCRG

The numbers are in, and it’s official: this has been the coldest start to the month of April on record in Dubuque. According to our coverage partners at KCRG-TV, the Dubuque Regional Airport had an average temperature of 27 degrees between April 1st and 10th. That shatters the previous record of 29.5 degrees, set in 1975. Those first ten days of the month included three mornings where the daily record for low temperature was tied or broken. Dubuque isn’t alone in the cold start to the month. Records for ten-day averages were also broken in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Waterloo.

Former Dubuquer Who Mailed Meth Headed to Federal Prison

A former Dubuque resident who mailed at least 45 pounds of methamphetamine from Arizona to Iowa has is going to spend more than 15 years in federal prison. 38-year-old Anthony McCarron was sentenced Wednesday in US District Court in Cedar Rapids. He pleaded guilty last October to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine near a school and money laundering. Prosecutors say McCarron was living in Phoenix when he shipping packages of meth to another man in Dubuque between September 2016 and June of last year. The Dubuque man paid for the meth by shipping packages of cash to McCarron. Prosecutors say the two used aliases when shipping the drugs and money. The other man involved in the scheme, 35-year-old Derek Rath, pled guilty to two federal conspiracy charges last month. He’ll face at least twenty years in federal prison when he’s sentenced.

Dubuque County Man Wins Big In Iowa Lottery Scratch Game


A Dubuque County man is a quarter-million dollars richer after the prediction of a fortune cookie came true. 43-year-old Charles Schueller of Epworth stopped for lunch at a Chinese restaurant last week. Along with his meal came a fortune cookie that said he would soon achieve financial stability. That stability now comes in the form of a “$250,000 Riches” scratch ticket that Schueller bought at Quik ‘N Handi in Epworth. After starting to scratch the ticket, Schueller was mainly hoping to get his money back. But he says he got much more than that. As is the case in many small towns, Schueller says the news of his win travelled quickly. Schueller plans to use some of the money to expand his construction business.


Bellevue Students Earn Iowa Student Loan Scholarships

A pair of college-bound students from Bellevue will get a little bit of a break on their tuition thanks to scholarships from the company that issues many of Iowa’s student loans. Ashley Koos and Robyn Stillmunkes have each won $2,000 awards from Iowa Student Loan through the organization’s Financial Know-How Challenge. Nearly 2,000 Iowa high school students participated in the challenge, which required them to complete financial literacy assessments. Thirty scholarship winners were then chosen from the highest-performing students. Koos is a senior at Marquette High School who plans to attend St. Ambrose University next year. Stillmunkes attends Bellevue High School and will be enrolling at the University of Iowa in the fall. Both high schools will receive $500 to implement financial literacy programs.

Alliant Plans to Pass Tax Savings to Customers

One of the utility companies that serves the city of Dubuque says it will pass its tax savings on to consumers. Alliant Energy has announced that customers will begin seeing a reduction in their bills beginning this summer. The company predicts the total savings to customers will be about $75 million. According to a release from Alliant, the average residential electric customer can expect an annual savings between $50-60. Residential natural gas customers should see an average yearly discount of about $30.

Iowa Could Ban "Lunch Shaming"

Students line up for lunch at Dubuque’s Kennedy Elementary School (Courtesy: KCRG).

Iowa could soon make it illegal for schools to “lunch shame” students. That’s the term for punishments schools institute when students aren’t able to pay for their school lunches. Both the Iowa House and Senate have passed a bill that would make such practices illegal. That legislation is now awaiting Governor Kim Reynolds’ signature or veto. In some cases, kids have been forced to dump their trays because they don’t have money in their lunch accounts. But administrators in both the Dubuque and Western Dubuque school districts say they already have policies in place to prevent “lunch shaming.” Clif Cameron, Western Dubuque’s Food and Nutritional Services Director, says the only time they’d make students throw food away is if a high schooler can’t pay for an a snack. WD students are allowed to carry a negative balance before they have to take an “alternative meal,” which usually consists of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Elementary students can go up to $50 dollars in the hole, while high schoolers are allowed just a $5 negative balance. In the Dubuque schools, parents are notified when a student’s balance is getting low or goes negative. Students are switched to the alternative meal once they’re $8.85 negative. Elementary students who have to take the alternative meal are told privately. But there have been cases where high school students have gone through the lunch line, only to find out they have to take the alternative meal. In those situations, those students’ trays have been dumped.

Wisconsin Tornado Drills Set For Thursday 

A few weeks ago Dubuque County took part in a statewide tornado drill. And now it’s Grant County’s turn to participate in a similar exercise this week. County Emergency Management Director Steve Braun says schools businesses and residents will have two opportunities to test their emergency plans during the exercises on Thursday afternoon and evening. While the drill is important for businesses and residents in Grant County, it is especially important for schools. Grant County is the second most tornado prone county in Wisconsin. On June 16th 2014 a pair of tornados ripped through Grant County, damaging several buildings and the football stadium on the UW-Platteville campus. Braun says their warning sirens will sound off even if severe weather hasn’t reached the county yet. According to the National Weather Service, Wisconsin averages 23 tornados annually. While most are either EF0 or EF1 , the state did record an EF3 on May 16th last year.

Dickeyville Couple Killed In Crash In Tennessee 

A couple from southwest Wisconsin was killed in a car crash in Tennessee last weekend. 62-year-old Thomas Aird and 60-year-old Mary Lou Aird of Dickeyville died as a result of injuries they suffered in the wreck on US Highway 45 near Trenton, Tennessee. The Airds were in Tennessee visiting their son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. Their daughter-in-law, Misty Aird, is the women’s soccer coach at Bethel University, which is about 30 miles from where the crash happened. She was seriously injured in the crash, but is currently listed in ‘critical but stable’ condition at a hospital in Memphis, according to a release from the school. Misty’s daughter, Gracie, was also injured, but not seriously. An online obituary states that funeral arrangements for the Airds are pending at the Casey Funeral Home in Cuba City.

Finkenauer Surpasses Million Dollar Mark In Campaign Fundraising 

The Abby Finkenauer for Congress campaign has eclipsed the million dollar mark in campaign fundraising. In the first quarter of this year the campaign raised over 480-thousand dollars. Since Finkenauer entered the race last May her campaign has received nearly 1.1 million dollars. A release says about 80 percent of the donations were 100 dollars or less. Finkenauer’s campaign has received numerous endorsements from labor groups and progressive organizations. Finkenauer will face off against a crowded field of fellow Democrats in the June primary. The winner will challenge incumbent Republican Rod Blum in November. Blum is seeking his third term in office.

National Weather Service Opens New Quad Cities Office

Courtesy: KWQC-TV

Weather warnings issued for most of the Tri-States will be coming from a new office. The National Weather Service’s Quad Cities office moved to a new location this week. The new building is near the Davenport Municipal Airport and will be staffed around the clock by about two dozen Weather Service employees. The new office also features updated computers, radar, and satellites. The Quad Cities office creates forecasts and issues warnings for 21 counties in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri, including most of the counties in our listening area. The exceptions are Clayton County in Iowa and all of the Wisconsin counties in our area. They get their warnings from the Weather Service office in La Crosse.

Increased Property Values Boost School District's Tax Rate

Property owners in the Dubuque school district will see their taxes go up this year, but not because of budgetary issues at the district. The Dubuque School Board adopted its budget for the 2018-19 school year during its meeting last night. Earlier this year, Dubuque County officials performed updated assessments of residential properties, which raised values by 7 percent. Because of that, District Finance Director Kevin Kelleher says residential property owners will see an increase in their taxes next school year. Residential property owners will pay an increase of about $22 on a home valued at $139,000. On the other hand, those that own multi-residential, commercial, and industrial property will see a decrease in their property taxes. The general fund budget adopted by the board will sit at around $130 million dollars, while the total budget is about $174 million. About 80% of the general fund budget is spent on administrative costs. The board also set May 5th as the date to receive new bids on the Hempstead swimming pool project. All of the original bids came in too high.

Dubuque School Foundation Selects New Director

The Foundation for Dubuque Public Schools will have a new leader in a couple of months. That organization’s board of directors has chosen Amy Unmacht to replace Jennifer Klinkhammer, who will be relocating to Ankeny this summer. Unmacht recently worked as a gifted and talented teacher, and is currently a 6th grade math teacher at Roosevelt Middle School. She has also been involved in the Eisenhower Parent Teacher Organization, Hempstead Booster Club, and the Hempstead Football Parent Committee. Her sons attended Dubuque public schools. Unmacht will begin her new duties in June.

Fire At Local Coffee Company Quickly Extinguished

Thanks to the quick thinking by some employees, a fire at an area coffee company was quickly extinguished today. Dubuque fire crews were dispatched to the Verena Street Coffee Company at around 11:50 this morning. When crews arrived the fire had already been put out by some workers. A release says the fire started in one of the roasters and did not spread to other equipment used to make coffee. Fire fighters remained on scene to check for any flare ups in the machinery. No damage estimate was available and no injuries were reported.

Jochum Featured in Ad for Gubernatorial Candidate Boulton

Courtesy: Boulton for Iowa

A state lawmaker from Dubuque and her daughter are the focus of a new advertisement from one of the Democrats running to be Iowa’s governor. State Senator Nate Boulton’s campaign released the 30-second ad titled “Sarah” this week. In it, fellow Senator Pam Jochum talks about her developmentally disabled daughter, and the trouble she’s had finding proper medical care for Sarah since Iowa moved to a privatized Medicaid system. Jochum also discusses Boulton’s opposition to that change, and his work to move Iowa back to a public system. Boulton is one of six Democrats running for their party’s nomination to face incumbent Governor Kim Reynolds in this fall’s general election. Jochum is one of nearly a dozen State Senators who have endorsed Boulton’s run. Watch the ad here.

Teenager Accused of Assault Won't Be Tried as Adult

A Dubuque teenager accused of beating up another girl will be tried as a juvenile, not an adult. 16-year-old Legend Moore’s case was referred to juvenile court by a Dubuque County judge late last week. Moore is facing a charge of Willful Injury Causing Serious Injury. According to Dubuque Police, Moore beat up a 15-year-old girl near the intersection of 5th and Delhi Streets on the afternoon of February 21. Cell phone video of the attack shows Moore punching or kicking the other girl in the head about eighteen times. That video was then widely shared on social media applications. The victim suffered a broken nose and bruising to her face. Moore reportedly told police that the girl has been picking on her for several weeks.

Upgraded Charges Filed Against Dubuque Man Accused of Beating, Burning Woman

New, more serious charges have been filed against a Dubuque man accused of effectively torturing a woman in his home last month. 43-year-old Lonnie Vandamme was arrested on March 17 on charges of Willful Injury Causing Serious Injury, Assault While Participating in a Felony, and False Imprisonment. Late last week, five additional charges were filed against him, including 1st Degree Sexual Assault and 1st Degree Kidnapping. Vandamme could be sent to prison for life if found guilty on either of those counts. According to Dubuque Police, Vandamme drug the woman inside his home by her hair when she tried to leave. He’s also suspected of handcuffing the woman, punching her, hitting her with a baseball bat, wrapping her head in duct tape, and using a small torch to burn her legs and groin area. The woman reportedly suffered a broken eye socket, a broken rib, multiple burn injuries, and bruising all over her body.

Courthouse Statues Undergoing Restoration

Courtesy: KCRG

More than a half dozen statues that typically stand atop the Dubuque County Courthouse are undergoing restoration. That’s after crews found that the statues were not just in bad shape, but they were causing structural issues for the courthouse. When workers began restoration work at the building last fall, they found damage to the seven statues was causing the roof to leak into the courthouse’s fourth floor. The statues have since been taken down and are getting a $125,000 facelift. Chris Soeder, the county’s Facilities Maintenance Superintendent, says that money will not only fix the leaks in the roof, but also restore the statues to their original condition. Three Dubuque-based companies have been contracted to complete the statue restoration. One will handle repairs, a second will repaint the figures, while a third will be in charge of putting them back on top of the courthouse.

Local, National Gas Prices Trending Up

Drivers across the country are paying more to fill up their vehicles, though the increase hasn’t hit Iowa as hard as some places. According to the national auto club AAA, gas prices nationwide have increased nearly a dime per gallon over the last two weeks and now sit at thirty cents higher than this time a year ago. But Gail Weinholzer from AAA tells us prices are much closer to normal here in Iowa. Iowa’s statewide average of $2.52 per gallon is about twenty cents higher than last April, but is still fifteen cents below the national average. Prices in Iowa have hovered around the $2.50 mark for most of the year so far. Typically, prices fall off during the winter, but Weinholzer says that didn’t happen this year. Weinholzer predicts prices will continue to tick up as retailers make the switch from winter blends of gas to the cleaner-burning summer blends. But she doesn’t think prices will go up much more than another twenty cents or so between now and Memorial Day. Gas prices across Dubuque County are averaging about $2.58 per gallon, which is about a nickel higher than the Iowa average. Average prices in both Grant and Jo Daviess counties are $2.56 per gallon.

Falcons Again Nesting at Dubuque County Courthouse

Courtesy: Dubuque County YouTube Channel

Speedy peregrine falcons are again nesting on a ledge of the Dubuque County Courthouse. A female laid two eggs last week in a nest set up by Dubuque County Conservation staffers. The nest and birds can be seen on a YouTube stream. The falcons first showed up in the spring of 2016, but their eggs were blown off the ledge. Conservation staffers soon put a wooden box filled with pea gravel on the ledge. The pair returned, but no new eggs were seen. The birds returned last year, and one of their three eggs hatched. Wildlife experts say peregrine falcons are among the fastest birds and may reach 260 miles per hour as they dive on prey.

Dubuque Woman Accused of Hiding Marijuana in Diaper Box

Trying to hide more than a pound and a half of marijuana in a diaper container has netted a criminal charge for a Dubuque woman. 26-year-old Nakia Dukes was arrested last Thursday night outside the McDonald’s on Iowa Street. According to Dubuque Police, a car she was riding in was initially pulled over for a seat belt violation. A K-9 officer on scene indicated that there were drugs in the car, so officers searched the vehicle. Two vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana totaling 1.5 pounds were found in a diaper box. Police say Dukes admitted that the marijuana was hers during questioning, reportedly telling officers that she “smokes a lot and sells a little.” Dukes has been charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver.

Historic Preservation Awards

Several properties in Dubuque County have been selected to receive awards from the Dubuque County Historical Society. The properties were chosen for their historic restoration and preservation efforts. They are Bryant Elementary School, the Francis Apartments in the 15-hundred block of Jackson Street, a property in the 17-hundred block of Jackson, a Gothic row house in the 1-thousand block of Bluff Street and a restored home in the 200 block of 3rd Avenue in Farley. The awards will be presented on April 10th. as part of Main Street annual Architecture Days celebration.

Main Street Architecture Days

There are a number of historic landmarks and structures in Dubuque, and this year as part of Dubuque Main Street’s Architecture Days the spotlight will shine on historic opera houses, theaters and movie locations in the downtown area. Main Street Program Specialist Michalea Freiburger says this year’s theme is “Director’s Cut”, which features a schedule of tours and events for the public. During the week there will be free building tours at places like the Masonic Temple, the Cathedral of St. Raphael, the Grand Opera House and the Five Flags Theater. Architecture Days start April 9th and run through the 14th.

Miller Riverview Park Opening Soon

Miller Riverview Park (Courtesy: City of Dubuque)

A popular Dubuque camping area will open later this month, and reservations for various holiday weekends are currently being taken. Miller Riverview Park will open Sunday. Reservations for camp sites are now being taken for both Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend. Camp site reservations for the 4th of July can be made beginning Saturday. All reservations must be made online and a two-night minimum is required for those holidays. The reservation website is available through the City of Dubuque website. Users are encouraged to use a desktop or laptop computer to make reservations, as the website is not compatible with all mobile devices. Miller Riverview Park will be open through late October, depending on Mississippi River levels.

Deadline To Apply For Judi Chandlee Grants Approaching

The deadline to apply for a grant named after a former teacher in the Dubuque Community School District is approaching. The Foundation for Dubuque Public Schools is accepting applications for the Judi Chandlee Tribute to Teachers Grant. Chandlee taught kindergarten for more than 20 years at Eisenhower Elementary. She passed away in 2011 following a courageous battle with cancer. Her family established an endowment in Judi’s memory last year to celebrate her 70th birthday. Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Klinkhammer says a minimum of 3-thousand dollars in grants will be awarded to certified teachers in the Dubuque School District. The winning teachers can used the grant money to purchase something that will benefit the students in their classroom. The Judi Chandlee fund is an endowment that will last forever. Teachers wanting to apply for a grant can visit the foundation’s website. The deadline is April 16th.

Pit Bull Biting Incident In Dubuque

A pit bull bit a man in Dubuque’s north end this week, and the health department needs your help in locating the animal. The incident took place at around 8:45 last night (Thursday night) in an alley east of the 16-hundred block of Rhomberg Avenue. The dog is a pit bull terrier or a pit bull terrier mix, with multi-colored dark fur. The dog is short and stocky with a boxy head and was running loose at the time of the biting incident. If you have any information contact the Dubuque Health Services Department or Dubuque police. They need to verify the dog’s health and vaccination history.

Busy Month For ISP

March was another busy month for Illinois State Police who patrol District 16. During the month troopers issued nearly 690 citations to motorists and over 550 warnings. Speed violations accounted for over 330 citations. 45 were handed out for occupant restraint violations, while nearly 40 were issued for distracted driving. 17 traffic crashes were investigated, with two people being killed in those crashes. Troopers assisted over 75 motorists who had problems on the road. 19 people were also arrested for driving under the influence. District 16 covers Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Winnebago and Boone counties.

More Snow Expected Sunday Afternoon Through Monday


It appears that winter isn’t quite done with the Tri-States just yet, as another round of snowfall is expected Sunday and Monday. According to KCRG meteorologist Chris Havely, our area should begin seeing flakes fly on Sunday afternoon, with the snowfall continuing through the day on Monday. Havely says we can expect at least two inches of accumulation, with some places getting up to four inches. Havely notes that this snow will be lighter than what’s fallen in the area recently, which means it may be more likely to stick to roads. There’s also a good chance that the snow that falls on Sunday night will blow around, as winds that evening could gust up to 30 miles per hour. As far as whether this will be our last snowfall of the winter, Havely isn’t ready to make that judgment just yet.

Despite Appearance, US 61/151 Bridge Safe

Courtesy: KCRG

Despite some exterior signs of damage, engineers from the Iowa Department of Transportation say a bridge leading into downtown Dubuque is safe. The bridge in question is the one carrying US Highways 61 and 151 over the South End of Dubuque, near the Locust Street Hy-Vee. While it might look like the bridge has been damaged, DOT Construction Engineer Hugh Holak says it is structurally sound. He notes that bridge is about 25 years old, but has an expected lifespan of at least 60 years. Bridges in Iowa are inspected on a two-year basis. The 61/151 bridge was last inspected last fall.

Cascade, Dyersville Awarded $100,000 "Catalyst" Grants

A pair of Dubuque County communities will each be getting $100,000 from the state of Iowa to redevelop old buildings in their downtown areas. Both Cascade and Dyersville have been awarded Community Catalyst grants from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Those grants support projects including building rehabilitations and renovations. In Cascade, the funding will go towards restoring what’s known as the “Old Bank Building” at the corner of 1st Avenue West and Buchanan Street. Developers hope to attract a business to the first floor of the building, with the upper level being used for apartments. Dyersville’s grant will support renovations at the old Sewing Contractors building on 2nd Street Northeast. That building has been earmarked for a new microbrewery.

Chicago Area Man Accused of Using False ID to Buy Car from Dubuque Dealership

A Chicago area man is accused of using a false identity to buy a car from a Dubuque dealership. 27-year-old Antawn Kinerman of Calumet City was charged with 1st Degree Theft on Wednesday. According to court documents, Kinerman used the driver’s license and insurance information of another man to buy a 2016 Dodge Charger valued at nearly $39,000 from Bird Chevrolet. The day after delivering the vehicle, Bird Chevrolet was contacted by another dealership from the Des Moines area. Someone using the same information used to purchase the Charger had reached out to them about another vehicle, but the Des Moines dealership doubted the legitimacy of the transaction. The fraud was confirmed when Dubuque Police spoke to the real man behind the identity being used, who said he had not made any recent vehicle purchases. Kinerman was arrested by federal agents after they set up a sting involving yet another vehicle last week.

Police: Former Club Rise Owner Couldn't Cover Payroll, Forged Checks to Himself

The former owner of a downtown Dubuque nightclub was arrested after police say he issued checks that he couldn’t cover to his employees and cashed forged checks to himself. 27-year-old Patrick Person, who had owned Club Rise, was arrested Wednesday night and has been charged with eight counts of Forgery and one count of 2nd Degree Theft. Court documents say Dubuque Police were contacted by Diamond Jo Casino employees who told them several payroll checks issued by Club Rise were cashed at the casino in December and January, but the club couldn’t cover the $3,000 total of the checks. Police say Person also forged several checks to himself and cashed them at the Diamond Jo and the Hy-Vee grocery stores around Dubuque. The amount of those checks was nearly $7,000.

Walker Signs Foster Care Bills

Earlier this week Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed 11 foster care bills into law, paving the way for increased funding, streamlined processes and smoother transitions for foster children and families. Each bill was designed to identify one or more immediate needs in the state foster care system, including increased support and financial assistance for foster families. The bills were recommended for approval by the Speakers Task Force on Foster Care, which is comprised of 13 representatives from both parties. Walker says foster care issues have no boundaries. The Speakers Task Force conducted a number of public hearings with families and social agencies throughout the state last summer and fall before forwarding its’ recommendations to the Governor. Walker signed 6 of the bills in Wausau, while the other 5 were signed in La Crosse.

Ad: "Blum Is Swimming In Ethics Violations"

A group working to elect Democrats to Congress is targeting Representative Rod Blum in an ad claiming the Congressman is “swimming in his own ethics violations.” The House Majority PAC launched the ad Thursday on digital platforms such as Facebook in Iowa’s 1st District. The ad cites an investigation by the Associated Press that found Blum violated ethics rules by failing to disclose his ownership in a questionable internet marketing company. Tin Moon has promised to help companies cited by the Food and Drug Administration bury their warning letters below positive search results. Blum has called the lack of disclosure an oversight, and distanced himself from Tin Moon, which is run by his longtime business partner. The ad shows Blum saying he’s interested in “draining the swamp” but assets he’s actually “swimming in his own ethics violations.” Democrats are hoping to unseat Blum in November.

(Courtesy of KCRG TV)

2018 Southwest Arterial Work to Be More Visible, Include Bridge Construction

With a new construction season on the horizon, activity around the Southwest Arterial will once again begin in earnest. According to Dubuque Assistant City Engineer Bob Schiesl, the construction of the road that will connect US Highways 20 and 151 will enter the second of a three-year process. While much of last year’s grading work happened away from highly-traveled areas, this year’s work will be much more visible at the Arterial’s future intersections. Most of what’s scheduled to be done along Highways 20 and 61/151 involves building bridges that will eventually carry traffic over those roadways. While traffic may shift at times, as it currently does at US Highway 20’s intersection with Seippel Road. But Schiesl says contractors are required to maintain four full lanes of traffic at all times. The exception will come this fall when crews have to set bridge beams along US Highway 20. That will require the road to be closed, but Schiesl says the work will be done overnight to avoid disrupting traffic.

Flynn Agrees to Plea Deal, Will Face 30 Years in Prison

Dolores Flynn (right) sits next to her attorney in court Wednesday (Courtesy: KCRG).

A Dubuque woman accused of murdering her ex-husband is expected to spend 30 years in prison after reaching an agreement with prosecutors. 64-year-old Dolores Flynn pled guilty to three felonies on Wednesday, but avoided trial on a murder charge. Flynn had originally faced one count of 2nd Degree Murder, which carries a 50 year prison sentence. Under the agreement, Flynn pled to Voluntary Manslaughter, Willful Injury Causing Serious Injury with a Dangerous Weapon, and Assault While Participating in a Felony. She’s expected to receive a ten year prison sentence for each of those charges, bringing her total time in prison to 30 years. Flynn’s sentencing has been scheduled for May 14. Prosecutors had accused Flynn of beating her ex-husband, Gary Breckenridge, to death with a baseball bat. He was found dead in the home they shared in January of 2016.

Authorities Release Details of Crash that Killed Bellevue Man

Authorities in western Wisconsin have released some of the details about a car crash that killed a Bellevue man last weekend. According to the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office, the crash happened north of DeSoto at about 8:00 Saturday morning. 50-year-old Donald Freese of Bellevue was heading north on Wisconsin Highway 35 when he swerved across the center line, directly into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The two cars crashed head-on, and Freese was pronounced dead at the scene. The collision sent the other car down an embankment, through a grove of trees, and into a pond. The driver, 26-year-old Lukas Arenz of Guttenberg, was able to free himself from the car and swim to shore. He was taken to a hospital in LaCrosse to be treated for minor injuries.

Manchester Man Accused of Assaulting Girlfriend, Sister

A Manchester man faces more a half-dozen charges after being accused of beating up his girlfriend and sister. Last Saturday afternoon, Manchester Police officers were called to an apartment complex on the northern edge of the city. Witnesses told officers 23-year-old Zachary Jimerson had punched and chocked his girlfriend before leaving the area. Police were called back to the complex on Monday morning, when Jimerson’s sister reported that he assaulted her. Officers eventually located Jimerson at another home early Tuesday morning. As police were setting up outside the home, Jimerson reportedly jumped out of a second story window to try to get away. He was captured after a short foot chase. Jimerson is now facing a total of seven charges, including Domestic Assault, Assault Causing Bodily Injury, and two counts each of Criminal Mischief and Violating a No Contact Order.