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Dubuque & Tri-State News

No Winner in Powerball – Prize Climbs

There was no winner in Saturday’s Powerball drawing – pushing Wednesday’s prize to an estimated $620 Million. The winning numbers were: 16-54-57-62-69, Powerball: 23. In addition, since there was no winner in the Mega Millions game, the potential prize for Tuesday’s drawing is 1.6 billion dollars. If you combine the potential winnings for both games this week, they will have a dollar total of over 2-billion dollars.

UPDATE: ATV Driver Who Died of Injuries Suffered in Crash Near Worthington Identified

The Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department has released the name of the man killed in an ATV accident late last week near Worthington. The department reports that 76-year old David Thier of Worthington died in the accident. Their was driving an ATV south on Wieferich Road, approaching the intersection with Worthington Road. The sheriff’s office says Their pulled out in front of a car going west on Worthington Road. The driver of the car tried to brake and swerve, but collided with the ATV.  The driver of the car, 37-year-old Nohemi Ortiz Vega of Worthington, was cited for not having a driver’s license or insurance.

Mega Millions Jackpot Increases Again, Could Push $1 Billion

The Mega Millions jackpot has increased again, based on advanced ticket sales for tonight’s drawing. The top prize is now an estimated $970 million. That’s up from the $868 million that was initially announced after no winning tickets were bought for Tuesday’s drawing. It’s possible that the jackpot could grow again before the winning numbers are pulled at about 9:00 tonight. Any additional increase would likely push the jackpot above the billion dollar mark. This was already going to be the biggest jackpot in Mega Millions history. The only other time that a US lottery game had a top prize of a billion dollars or more was in January of 2016, when three winners split a $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot.

Life Sentence Given to Dubuque Man Who Supplied Fatal Heroin Dose

A Dubuque man with a history of drug dealing has been given a life prison sentence for supplying the heroin that a local woman overdosed on. 47-year-old Richard Parker received that sentence this week after being found guilty of one count each of Distributing Heroin within 1,000 Feet of a Protected Area Resulting in Death and Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin. He was sentenced to life in prison on both of those counts, but will serve the two sentences at the same time. During his sentencing, prosecutors noted Parker’s long criminal history, which includes three prior convictions for distributing drugs. In fact, Parker had just been released from prison when he bought several grams of heroin in Chicago in April of 2017. He returned to Dubuque, where he met up with some friends. At one point in the evening, Parker and a woman went to a bedroom and he gave her some of the heroin. After taking it, she stopped breathing. Paramedics were called, but the woman was pronounced dead. Authorities found the rest of Parker’s heroin in the home and arrested him.

Flood Warning Issued for Mississippi River at Dubuque

The National Weather Service has once again reversed course and now says that the Mississippi River will go above flood stage in Dubuque. According to an updated statement from the Weather Service, routed flow from upstream has caused the change in its prediction. The river’s level shot up by about a half a foot in only about five hours Tuesday afternoon. A Flood Warning will go into effect for the Mississippi this evening and will be in effect until Sunday morning. The river is expected to reach the flood stage of 17 feet tonight, before topping out at 17.2 feet on Friday afternoon. After holding at that level until Saturday evening, the river level will begin to drop. It’s anticipated to fall below the flood stage either late Sunday morning or early that afternoon. It’s still unclear when the river would go below the “action stage” of 15 feet.

Manchester Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting Underage Girl

A Manchester man is facing charges after authorities say he gave an underage girl drugs and alcohol, then sexually assaulted her. 45-year-old Marlon Drain is charged with Distributing a Controlled Substance to a Person Younger than 18 and 3rd Degree Sexual Abuse. A girl told local police that she was with a group of people at Drain’s home in September. She says that’s when he gave her alcohol and marijuana. The girl says she became “extremely intoxicated” before Drain sexually assaulted her in a bedroom. Late last month, police searched Drain’s home as part of their investigation into the sexual assault. Following that search, he was arrested for Possession of Marijuana, a charge he has pleaded not guilty to.

ED Chief to Use Time Off to Fill Out Contract, Unless New Deal is Reached

East Dubuque could soon find itself in the market for a new police chief. Current chief Steve O’Connell has been on the job for nearly ten years. In that time he’s built up about six months of paid time off. O’Connell’s contract is due to expire next April. In anticipation of the end of his deal, he’s scheduled to begin using his vacation time later this month. But he says he’d be open to signing a new contract to take him through May of 2020, when he had envisioned retiring. O’Connell says he informed the East Dubuque City Council of his plan earlier this month, but did not receive much of an indication of whether they wanted to work on a new contract or not. O’Connell says his time off has to be used before his contract expires and can’t be converted into monetary value. Earlier this year, O’Connell’s assistant chief, Gerald Fluhr, resigned after being accused of professional misconduct. Just days later, East Dubuque’s city manager had his contract terminated over additional misconduct claims. O’Connell says those issues within the city have not impacted his timeline toward retirement. At this point, O’Connell says it’s up to the city council to decide what will happen next. O’Connell currently plans to begin using his time off on October 29. His contract expires at the end of April of next year. A call to East Dubuque’s Acting Mayor, Steve Robey, for comment on the situation was not returned.

Woman Accused of Shoplifting $3 Bottle of Perfume Faces Half Dozen Charges

A Dubuque woman is facing a half dozen charges, all stemming from the shoplifting of a $3 bottle of perfume. A few minutes after 10:00 Tuesday morning, police were called about a pair of shoplifters who had just left the Dollar General on West Locust Street. The suspects were seen walking east on West Locust, but turned around and headed the other direction when they saw police. Officers say one of the women, 28-year-old Rachel Reuter of Dubuque, initially gave a fake name. When questioned about her actual identity, she tried to run away. She was taken under arrest and searched. According to court documents, police found a baggie containing methamphetamine, several items used to smoke meth, and four prescription pills that she did not have a prescription for. Police determined that Reuter had taken a $3 bottle of perfume from the Dollar General. She’s been charged with Possession of Meth, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Unlawful Possession of a Prescription Drug, Interference, Providing False Identification, and 5th Degree Theft. The other woman, 31-year-old April Jaeger of Dubuque, has also been charged with 5th Degree Theft. Police say she stole about $25 worth of merchandise from the store, including a pair of pajama pants, an alarm clock, a toothbrush, and toothpaste.

Blum, Finkenauer Sharpen Attacks in Final Debate

Blum, Finkenauer

The attacks lobbed by the candidates running to represent Dubuque in Congress became a bit more pointed during the second, and final, debate between the two last night. Congressman Rod Blum and State Representative Abby Finkenauer met in a debate that aired on Cedar Rapids TV station KGAN. The debate began with discussion of the economy…a discussion that included Blum directly questioning his opponent on recent economic developments. Blum said “I don’t know what country you’ve been living in” in response to Finkenauer’s criticism of the tax bill that Blum voted for last year. Finkenauer countered that while many economic markers are improving, most residents of Iowa’s 1st Congressional District don’t feel like things are getting better for them personally. Finkenauer accused Blum of being “out of touch” for touting the economy while handing out milk to people visiting a Waterloo food bank. When Finkenauer said she hasn’t decided who she would vote for in a party leadership election, Blum said she would be in the pocket of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Blum also declined to say who he would support for Speaker if Republicans maintain control of the US House. Other topics covered during the debate included the federal farm bill, immigration, abortion, and fighting the opioid epidemic.

No Mega Millions Winner…Jackpot Climbs to $868 Million

No one won last night’s Mega Millions drawing, which means that the top prize will climb to an all-time record for that game, and the second largest lottery prize in US history. Last night’s drawing was for an estimated $667 million jackpot. Since there was no winner, the top prize will increase to $868 million for Friday’s drawing. A jackpot that large would be an all-time record for the Mega Millions game. It would also be the second-largest lottery prize in US history, falling behind only the $1.6 billion Powerball prize that was split between three winners in January of 2016. Speaking of the Powerball, its jackpot for tonight’s drawing is nothing to sneeze at: $345 million.

Loras College Considering Options Following Retaining Wall Collapse

Courtesy: Loras College

Loras College continues to assess its options after a retaining wall collapsed on campus last week. On Friday morning, a limestone wall that runs along Loras Parkway gave out, sending large rocks and soil across the street near the school’s Athletic and Wellness Center. The college has determined that the stones sitting at the base of the wall are vital to the safety and stability of the area, and will not be moved. A survey of the remaining wall will be performed this week, and a decision on possible reconstruction of the wall or any other steps will be made after the survey is complete. The campus’ main electrical transformer currently sits above the retaining wall. School officials and consultants from Alliant Energy have decided moving it will help facilitate any reconstruction work. A temporary transformer will be installed near the press box of the Rock Bowl. That will require power to be turned off to most of the campus for a couple hours. The move has been scheduled for Monday, which will coincide with the college’s “Fall Free Days,” when no classes are held.

New Flood Maps Available at Thursday Open House 

Federal authorities have released updated versions of flood plain maps, and residents of Dubuque County will get a look at the new maps starting tonight. An open house where the maps will be on display will be held at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta tonight. Assistant Dubuque City Planner Wally Wernimont says homeowners will be able to learn about proposed changes, and get information about flood insurance. Residents living in the 100-year floodplain who have a federally-backed mortgage are required to have flood insurance. Within the city of Dubuque, slightly fewer than 240 buildings now lie within the flood plain. While about fifty buildings have had their risk of flooding downgraded, several others have been added. The flood plain map open house begins at 6:00 tonight.

JFK Road Sidewalk Requirement Fails

Opposition from residents convinced enough members of the Dubuque City Council to vote against requiring sidewalks in their neighborhood. The council voted 5-2 in favor of adding sidewalks along portions of John F. Kennedy Road. But the proposal needed unanimous approval. Council members Luis Del Toro and Jake Rios voted against the measure. Those who had pushed for the sidewalks noted that not having them made it dangerous for kids walking to Eisenhower Elementary School. Several parents of school children spoke in favor of the sidewalks at the meeting. But area homeowners argued that there aren’t enough pedestrians to justify the cost of the sidewalks, which could have been as much as $6,000 per property.

KWWL, Dish Network Reach Agreement to End Blackout

Dish Network subscribers in the Tri-States will soon return to having all of their local channels. Waterloo TV station KWWL announced over the weekend that it had reached an agreement with Dish Network. Dish had removed KWWL from its channel lineup in late August. That move came after KWWL’s parent company and Dish were unable to come to an agreement on carriage issues. Cable and satellite companies, like Dish, pay TV stations and networks to carry their programming, in exchange for the opportunity to sell advertising and charge customers subscription fees. Occasionally, stations or networks will ask for higher carriage fees. It’s unclear if that was the case in the KWWL-Dish disagreement. Details of their new arrangement were not disclosed. KWWL is the local NBC affiliate for most of the counties in the Tri-State Area.

Sheriff: Wanted Man Arrested after Running from Crash

A southwest Wisconsin man was arrested over the weekend after crashing his vehicle and leaving the scene. The Grant County Sheriff’s Department says 29-year-old Michael Halverson of Highland was driving east along US Highway 18 near Monfort at around 3:00 Saturday morning when he fell asleep. His car left the road and went down a steep embankment before rolling over. It came to rest on the driver’s side in a cornfield. Halverson left the crash scene but was later found by officers at his home in Highland. He’s been charged with Operating after Revocation, Driving without Insurance, and Failure to Notify Police of a Crash. He was also arrested on an outstanding warrant out of Crawford County.

Blum, Finkenauer Preview Second and Final Debate

Congressman Rob Blum (left) and State Representative Abby Finkenauer appear on stage prior to their first debate in Cedar Falls on October 5 (Courtesy: KWWL).

On the eve of the second and final debate between the candidates seeking to represent Dubuque in Congress, the challenger won’t be changing her approach. Dubuque State Representative Abby Finkenauer and incumbent Congressman Rod Blum will meet again tonight in Cedar Rapids. Their first debate was a little more than a week ago in Cedar Falls. Finkenauer says she felt confident coming out of that first debate, and doesn’t plan to change her approach. With only about three weeks until Election Day, Finkenauer predicts that a handful of issues will tip the race. One is health care. Finkenauer says Blum has run a campaign that has been “erratic” to this point, and believes voters don’t like what they’re seeing from the two-term Republican. For his part, Blum says Finkenauer of dodged most of the questions to her in their first debate. Blum says Finkenauer would be the wrong choice to represent the 1st District. Cedar Rapids TV station KGAN is hosting tonight’s debate, which will air beginning at 6:00.

Early Voting Locations to Open Across Dubuque County

Voters in Dubuque County will have several chances to cast an early ballot throughout the county in the coming weeks. Beginning next Monday, the county elections office will host early voting sites at various locations. Among the sites are Northeast Iowa Community College, the Dodge Street Hy-Vee, and the city halls in Worthington, Holy Cross, New Vienna, and Asbury. All three of Dubuque’s colleges will also host early voting as well. In all, voting centers will be open at eleven sites over eight days in the lead-up to the election.

Full list of early voting locations:

Monday, October 22:

Northeast Iowa Community College, 9:00 – 1:30 PM

University of Dubuque Heritage Center, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Tuesday, October 23:

University of Dubuque Heritage Center, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Clarke University Wahlert Atrium, 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Wednesday, October 24:

Worthington City Hall, 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Loras College Alumni Campus Center, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Thursday, October 25:

Loras College Alumni Campus Center, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Friday, October 26:

Holy Cross City Hall, 8:30 AM – 11:00 AM

New Vienna City Hall, 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Saturday, October 27:

Dodge Street Hy-Vee, 9:00 AM – 3:30 PM

Asbury City Hall, 9:30 AM – 2:00 PM

Tuesday, October 30:

Mercy Hospital Dubuque, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Saturday, November 3:

Dyersville Social Center, 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Several Hospitalized Following Saturday Crash in Rural Galena

A chain-reaction crash in Jo Daviess County Saturday afternoon sent three people to the hospital. A release from the sheriff’s office says the crash happened shortly after 1:00 PM near the intersection of US Highway 20 and Glen Hollow Road. Several eastbound vehicles were stopped waiting for a vehicle to turn onto Glen Hollow Road. A car driven by 48-year-old Kimberly Philbrook of Rockford was unable to stop behind the line of cars and rear-ended a vehicle driven by 36-year-old Amber Franklin of Dubuque. There were three young passengers in Franklin’s vehicle. One was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. Philbrook and two of the passengers in Franklin’s car were transported to Midwest Medical Center in Galena.  Philbrook was charged with Failure to Reduce Speed to Avoid an Accident, while Franklin was cited for Failure to Secure a Young Passenger with a Seat Belt.

Ernst Confident Farm Bill Can Get Done This Year


Now more than two weeks after the federal farm bill was allowed to expire, one of Iowa’s US Senators is still confident a replacement can be passed by the end of the year. Senator Joni Ernst is one of the members of a conference committee working to find a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill. While she had hoped for more progress by this point, she says she remains confident lawmakers can pass an updated bill during their lame duck session later this year. The federal Farm Bill must be reauthorized every five years.

New Vienna Veterans Memorial Nears Completion

Courtesy: KCRG

One Dubuque County community is getting close to putting the finishing touches on its new veterans memorial. New Vienna has built a space to honor the community’s veterans. The memorial is currently only missing six stone pieces which will eventually be engraved with the names of about six hundred community members who have served their country. The work has all been done within about nine months. Gerry Westhoff of the New Vienna Veterans of Foreign Wars says that’s well ahead of the timeline they were told to expect. Those pieces are expected to be in place and finished within a couple of weeks…in time for a dedications ceremony. It’s currently scheduled for Veterans Day, November 11, at 11:00 AM.

Charlotte’s Pushes Back Re-Opening

Cleaning equipment is seen inside Charlotte’s Coffee House days after a July fire (Courtesy: KCRG).

The owners of a Dubuque coffee shop damaged by fire this summer are pushing back their anticipated re-opening. Charlotte’s Coffee House, located at the corner of 11th and White Streets, suffered significant damage when a fire began in the alley behind the business in late July. At the time, owners said they hoped to re-open sometime this fall. But even with extensive clean up, there are still signs of the fire. That’s going to force them to redesign and rebuild the interior of the business. Owner Cheryl Rusk says she’s still optimistic about the future of the business, due to the response she receives from customers. Rusk now expects Charlotte’s to re-open sometime next spring.

Lack of Fall Color Not Hurting Leaf Businesses

All of this month’s wet weather has slowed the change of the leaves in the Tri-State area. But those in the business of fall color say they haven’t seen much of an impact. These mid-month weeks of October are considered the “peak” time for leaf changes in the Tri-States. But many of the area’s trees have not yet started to change their leaf colors, largely because of how wet it’s been. One spot in the area that always draws a lot of “leaf lookers” is Breitbach’s Country Dining in Balltown. Owner Mike Breitbach says their business hasn’t seen an impact from the slower leaf change. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, last Saturday would normally have been the peak day for fall color in northeast Iowa.

Flood Warning Continues for Dubuque

Courtesy: National Weather Service

There’s still a Flood Warning in effect for the Mississippi River at Dubuque. This morning, the river sits at about 15.3 feet. That is down about seven-tenths of a foot from Friday, but still within the “action stage” for flooding. The river is expected to come back up beginning today. It’s predicted to reach the flood stage of 17 feet on Friday. It would hang there for a couple of days, before beginning a slow recede next Sunday. The National Weather Service says the Flood Warning will likely expire sometime Sunday morning.

Charges Filed In Jo Daviess Crash

A chain-reaction crash in Jo Daviess County Saturday afternoon sent several people to the hospital. A release from the sheriff’s office says the crash happened shortly after 1 p.m. near the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and Glen Hollow Road. Several eastbound vehicles were stopped in traffic waiting for a vehicle to turn north onto Glen Hollow Road. A car driven by 48 year old Kimberly Philbrook of Rockford was traveling east and was unable to stop in time. Philbrook’s car rear-ended a vehicle driven by 36 year old Amber Franklin of Dubuque. There were 3 young passengers in Franklin’s vehicle. One was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. Philbrook and two of the young female passengers in Franklin’s car were transported to Midwest Medical Center. A young male refused treatment at the scene. Philbrook was charged with failure to reduce speed to avoid a accident, while Franklin was cited for failure to secure a young passenger with a seat belt.

Retaining Wall Collapses on Loras Campus

Courtesy: Loras College

It doesn’t appear that anyone was injured when a portion of a rock retaining wall gave way at Loras College this morning. According to a tweet from the school, the wall collapsed at about 7:30 AM. The wall sits on Loras Parkway, a private street owned by the college that runs between the school’s Alumni Campus Center and Athletics and Wellness Center. The street was known as Cox Street when it was still owned by the city. Dubuque firefighters were called to the scene about an hour after the collapse, because one of the fallen rocks had struck a transformer. Fire Chief Rick Steines says a gas line was also exposed, but not damaged. He says there are no hazards in the area, and the collapse was likely caused by excessive moisture in the ground behind the wall.

Club Rise Shooter Sentenced to Federal Prison

The music promoter who fired several shots into a downtown Dubuque nightclub last year is headed to federal prison. 33-year-old Ricard Sanchez was sentenced to two and a half years behind bars on Thursday. The sentence follows his guilty plea in May to a charge of Possession of a Firearm by an Unlawful User of Controlled Substances. According to police, Sanchez got into an argument with the owner of what was then known as Club Rise following a concert last November. After retrieving a handgun from his van, Sanchez fired a total of nine shots into the nightclub. He was arrested later that morning in the parking lot of the Galena Wal-Mart. As part of his plea, Sanchez admitted to the shooting, and to using both marijuana and cocaine earlier on the night of the incident. Federal law prohibits drug users from possessing most firearms. In addition to his prison term, Sanchez must also spend three years on probation following his release.

Man Gets 50 Years For Stabbing Dubuque Woman To Death

The suspect accused in a Dubuque woman’s stabbing death has been sentenced to 50 years in prison. 54-year-old Garry James received that sentence in Dubuque County Court this week. He had been accused of killing 53-year-old Michelle Kinney in her Iowa Street apartment in July. Friends found her body two days later on the floor of her kitchen. James initially pled not guilty to a charge of 1st Degree Murder. But as part of a plea deal, he pled guilty to a reduced charge of 2nd Degree Murder. In exchange, prosecutors dropped several other charges, including 1st Degree Harassment, Public Intoxication, and Unlawful Possession of a Prescription Drug. Those charges were mostly related to an incident James was involved in at a nearby bar after the murder. James must serve at least 35 years of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

Disaster Proclamation Issued for Dubuque County

Iowa’s Governor has issued a disaster proclamation for 19 counties, including Dubuque. The declaration issued by Governor Kim Reynolds Thursday comes after severe weather hit several parts of the state over the past week. That weather has included damaging winds, heavy rains, flooding, and even tornadoes. Dubuque County Emergency Management Director Tom Berger says the proclamation allows state resources to be used to help people recover, and activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program for qualifying residents. Residents impacted by the severe weather can apply for the grant program through their local community action agency. Heavy rains and flooding forced the closure of some roads and trails around Dubuque County, but Berger says everything appears to be back to normal. In addition to the grant program, the governor’s proclamation also makes the Disaster Case Management program available to flood victims. The program addresses serious needs to overcome disaster-related issues.

UPDATE: Couple Arrested In Dubuque Restaurant Robbery

Dubuque Police say that the early morning robbery of a fast food restaurant was an inside job. The robbery was reported at the Hardee’s on Asbury Road a few minutes before 6:00 yesterday morning. Two employees told police they were getting ready to open when a masked man came in carrying a handgun. The robber reportedly assaulted one of the workers, then took money from the safe. After speaking with witnesses and reviewing traffic camera footage, police sought 40-year-old William Brown as a suspect. He was located at his home later in the day, where police say he admitted to the robbery. Police also arrested his wife, 37-year-old Mary Brown, one of the Hardee’s employees who were at the restaurant at the time of the robbery. Police say she worked with her husband to plan and carry out the robbery. The Browns have each been charged with 1st Degree Robbery and Child Endangerment. The second charge was filed when police learned their young child had been left home alone during the robbery.

Opponent’s Behavior Brings Attention to Dubuque Native Running for MN Legislature

Minnesota state legislature candidate Jamie Mahlberg reacts as her opponent, Duane Quam, rips a microphone out of her hand during a forum Monday (Courtesy: City of Rochester).

A Dubuque native running for the Minnesota legislature has found herself in the spotlight, largely due her opponent’s antics at a recent forum. Jamie Mahlberg is running as a Democrat to represent State House district 25A, which covers rural areas around Rochester. During a forum Monday night, Mahlberg and her opponent, incumbent Representative Duane Quam, were forced to share a microphone. At one point, Mahlberg had just finished answering a question about state funding for schools. Video of the forum shows Quam reach over and pull the microphone out of the hand of a shocked Mahlberg. After giving a rebuttal, Quam then tosses the microphone back towards Mahlberg, and it lands on their shared table with a thud. Video of the incident has “gone viral,” and many people have posted that they’ve donated to Mahlberg’s campaign as a result. In a tweet posted this morning, Mahlberg says the “unanticipated influx” of contributions has overwhelmed her small campaign staff. According to online profiles, Mahlberg is the former Jamie Parkin, a Dubuque native who graduated from Loras College in 2003. She moved to the Rochester area in 2007 to begin teaching psychology at Rochester Community and Technical College.

Dubuque Police Investigate Robbery at Asbury Road Hardee’s

Dubuque Police are investigating an apparent robbery at a fast food restaurant on the city’s west end. A few minutes before 6:00 this morning, police took a report of a robbery at the Hardee’s on Asbury Road. An employee told officers they had been assaulted and an undisclosed amount of cash was taken. Police describe the investigation into the robbery as “very active.” Investigators have been conducting several interviews and say the investigation is “moving very quickly.” Additional information is expected to be released this afternoon.

Reynolds, Hubbell Show Differences in First Debate

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (left) and businessman Fred Hubbell are shown in a split-screen image from their debate Wednesday night (Courtesy: KCCI TV).

The differences between the candidates running for Iowa Governor were more stark than similarities in their first debate. Republican incumbent Kim Reynolds and Democrat businessman Fred Hubbell met at the Des Moines Area Community College campus in Ankeny for a debate aired by Des Moines TV station KCCI. Even in their opening remarks, the two showed they have vastly different takes on how Iowa is doing. One topic that also brought out differing views was the state budget, which Reynolds touted, but Hubbell said was “out of control.” One of the budgetary items the candidates sparred over was funding for Reynolds’ jobs plan, called Future Ready Iowa. During the debate, Reynolds continued to voice support for the privatization of the state’s Medicaid system, a move made by her predecessor, former Governor Terry Branstad. Hubbell, meanwhile, wants to go back to having the state run the system. This was the first of three debates between Reynolds and Hubbell. The next one is Wednesday night in Sioux City. Their final meeting will be on Sunday, October 21, in Davenport. Our coverage partners at KCRG-TV are cohosting that debate and will air it on their 9.2 subchannel.

Alliant Offers Tips for Improving Furnace Efficiency

With overnight low temperatures expected to dip below the freezing point several times over the next couple days, many Tri-State area residents may be turning on their furnaces for the first time in months. One of the power companies that serves the area is offering tips on ways to make sure that furnace is running as well as possible. Alliant Energy suggests getting a furnace tune-up from a local heating and air conditioning company, for one thing. That could catch any issues before the full force of winter arrives. One way to make sure the furnace runs efficiently, according is to simply change the filter each month. Alliant also suggests checking to make sure your home is properly insulated, and buying a smart thermostat to better control temperature settings.

Delaware Supervisors Issue Disaster Declaration

The heavy rains and flooding past couple weeks have prompted the Delaware County Supervisors to issue a local disaster declaration. According to the declaration, the supervisors will provide emergency funds from any available sources, call in mutual aid agreements with other counties, and apply to the state for further help. Supervisor Board Vice-Chair Shirley Helmrichs says flooding has impacted many areas throughout the county, and emergency management officials are still assessing the damage. A large number of residents in Delaware County need financial assistance to replace some essential items after their basements flooded. Helmrichs says once all of the damaged is assessed, the total may not be enough to qualify for state or federal help. But without a declaration, she says there’s no chance of receiving any assistance.

Authorities ID Man Killed in Sunday Crash Near Maquoketa

The name of the person killed in a single-vehicle crash near Maquoketa Sunday night has now been released. The Iowa State Patrol says 27-year-old Zachary Sagers of Delmar died in the wreck at about 10:40 Sunday night. Sagers was driving a pickup truck on a rural road about three miles south of Maquoketa, when the truck went off the road and rolled over about a quarter-mile north of Iowa Highway 136. Sagers was not wearing his seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene.

UPDATE: Four Bids Received for Bernard Elementary Building

Four people or groups have expressed interested in buying a closed Dubuque County school. The deadline to submit bids for purchasing the former Bernard Elementary School building was noon yesterday. The Western Dubuque School District received four bids on the building. According to the district’s business manager, those bids will be reviewed by the school board at a special meeting, which has not yet been set. If the board chooses to move forward with any of the bids, a public hearing on the sale would be held at the next regular board meeting, which is scheduled for November 12. Bernard Elementary opened in the mid-1960s and hosted students through May of last year, when the district closed the school due to declining enrollment.

Flood Warnings in Effect for Mississippi, Maquoketa, Turkey Rivers

There are Flood Warnings out for three rivers in the Tri-State Area.

Here in Dubuque, the Mississippi River’s depth was measured at about 15.6 feet around midday today. The river is expected to reach the flood stage of 17 feet tomorrow evening. It’ll stay above flood stage through at least Tuesday, when the river will be up to 17.9 feet. The Flood Warning for Dubuque does not have an expiration, but is listed as “until further notice.” The Mississippi is also expected to go above flood stage in Guttenberg, though not until late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

The Turkey River at Elkader is under a warning through Saturday evening. The river there has been above the flood stage of 12 feet since yesterday morning. It’s now up to a depth of 14.7 feet, with a crest of 15.3 feet expected later tonight. The current forecast has the Turkey dropping back below flood stage early Saturday morning.

The shortest Flood Warning is for the Maquoketa River at Maquoketa. It is only in effect through Friday. The river there has been measured at 24.8 feet. It’s expected to cross into the “moderate” flooding range and crest at 26.2 feet early tomorrow morning. It’ll be sometime Friday afternoon that the river drops back below the 24 foot flood stage.

Dubuque Main Street Presents Annual Awards

A handful of downtown Dubuque businesses were honored as Dubuque Main Street presented its annual awards this week. A total of thirteen awards were presented, in categories from Best Farmers Market Vendor, which went to Annie’s Heirlooms, to Outstanding New Restaurant, which was presented to Hops and Rye. Among the individuals honored were Denette Kellogg, the Committee Member of the Year, and Tim McNamara, who received Main Street’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Full list of award winners:

Best Adaptive Re-Use: 7 Hills Brewery

Spirit of Main Street Award: American Trust

Best Farmers Market Vendor: Annie’s Heirlooms

Best New Retain Expansion: Board N’ Brush

Committee Member of the Year: Denette Kellogg

Best Community Outreach Program: Fountain of Youth

Outstanding New Restaurant: Hops N’ Rye

Best Public Improvement Project: Jule Operations and Training Center

Best New Special Event: Music Crawl

Best Total Building Rehabilitation: Novelty Iron Works

Game Changer Award: Preserving Preservation Tax Credits

Volunteer of the Year: Susan Price

Lifetime Achievement Award: Tim McNamara

Line of Storms Brings Heavy Rain, Flash Flood Warning to Tri-States

While the Tri-States dodged some of the heavy rains that were predicted for the area last night, this morning has been a different story. A line of strong storms moved through the area around 7:00, bringing heavy rainfall and prompting a Flash Flood Warning. That will be in effect until 12:45 this afternoon and includes Dubuque, Jo Daviess, Jackson, and a portion of Jones counties. As for the rain that fell during that storm, the KCRG PinPoint StormNet weather station at Hempstead High School picked up about four tenths of an inch of rain in about a half hour. The same was true for Dyersville, where there’s a weather station at Beckman High School. As you might have been able to tell from the counties listed in the warning, the storms did not extend very far north of Dubuque County. Elkader picked up only about four hundredths of an inch of rain during the same time period. Rain chances will continue through much of the day today, but the likelihood of precipitation falls to near zero by sundown tonight.

Mega Millions Jackpot Tops $500 Million

The top prize in one of the Iowa Lottery’s premiere games has pushed beyond the half-billion dollar mark. No one won Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing. It’s now been two full months since a jackpot has been won in that game, meaning the top prize has climbed to $548 million for Friday’s drawing. At that level, the jackpot would be the 3rd largest in the history of the Mega Millions game.

As for the Lottery’s other top game, the Powerball, its jackpot is elevated for tonight’s drawing as well. The top prize in that game currently sits at $282 million.

Bernard Elementary Bid Deadline

Bernard Elementary School

Today is the final day that bids will be accepted on a now-closed Dubuque County School. One month ago, the Western Dubuque school board voted to begin the process of selling the former Bernard Elementary School building. That school was closed in May of 2017 due to declining enrollment. Bids must be submitted to the district office noon today. If any are received, the school board would likely hold a special meeting to review them, possibly next week. A public hearing would have to be held on any bid the board would decide to pursue. The earliest that could happen is the board’s meeting on November 12. The district’s business manager tells KDTH that multiple groups have shown enough interest in the building to take a tour of it.

Former AAU Basketball Coach to Plead to Child Porn Charges

A youth basketball coach accused of recording his players while they were changing will plead guilty to several charges, including some for child pornography. Former Iowa Barnstormers AAU team director Greg Stephen of Monticello faces a total of seven charges: single counts of Transportation of Child Pornography and Possession of Child Pornography plus five counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Child. Stephens was scheduled to go to trial later this month. Last week, a judge denied his request to suppress evidence found on a flash drive in his home. There is no date set for his plea hearing. If Stephen is given the maximum sentence for each count, he would face a total of 195 years in prison.

Dubuque Banks Support Program For Homeless Women

Two local financial institutions have partnered with Opening Doors to establish a new program called “On My Own” to help homeless women and children secure permanent housing. American Trust and Savings and Dubuque Bank and Trust have both committed to 15-thousand dollars to establish a self-perpetuating rent security deposit that assist residents of Teresa Shelter and Maria House when they move into Francis Apartments or other permanent housing. Opening Doors Executive Director Carol Gebhart says there are resources available to help with first month’s rent. It’s the security deposit that’s been a problem. There are barriers that can sometimes prevent homeless women from securing permanent housing, and both shelters provide assistance to overcome those barriers. There are nearly 40 homeless women and children at Teresa Shelter and Maria House. In order to qualify for an “On My Own” security deposit, Gebhart says women must agree to follow-up services with the case managers to ensure they remain stably housed, are paying their rent on time and adhering to other individualized goals.

City: Miller-Riverview Park Won’t Re-Open This Season

Courtesy: KCRG

A riverside park and campground in Dubuque will not reopen this season due to flooding. The city announced on Tuesday that Miller-Riverview Park will remain closed through next spring. The park has been closed for about the last week because of high waters on the Mississippi River. That was the fourth closure the park saw this year. The first closure came in late April, only about three weeks after the park had opened for the season. It lasted until early June. The park was only back open for about two weeks before another rise of the Mississippi forced it to close again. It re-opened about a month later and was open for a full six weeks before the next closure, which came just after Labor Day. That closure was short-lived, and only lasted about a week. The park typically closes anytime the Mississippi River reaches a depth of 14 or 15 feet. The river’s depth moved above 15 feet at about 6:00 last night.

Hours Shift Cuts Overtime at Sheriff’s Department, Saving Money

Sheriff Kennedy

The Dubuque County Sheriff’s plan to cut down on overtime hours by eliminating some part-time positions appears to be paying off. Last year, Sheriff Joe Kennedy got approval from the county supervisors to convert ten positions from part-time to full-time, while cutting five other part-time jobs. In the past, Kennedy had said it was difficult keeping those part-time roles filled, which meant that full-time officers had to take on overtime to fill in. Even though the new full-time roles are costing the county about $185,000 more in wages, the overtime savings is starting to accumulate. Kennedy estimates they’ll have eliminated $40,000 worth of overtime hours by the end of the first quarter of the new fiscal year. Deputy Matt Goedken works in the county jail and likes the change. He says the amount of overtime that used to come with the job would wear on officers. Kennedy says the reduction in overtime hours is also helping slow employee turnover, as officers…especially new ones…aren’t being burned out so quickly.

Memorial Wall Honoring Veterans on Display in Dubuque

Courtesy: KCRG

A memorial wall is in Dubuque to honor veterans who have been killed in action during the War on Terror. The wall is at the Dubuque County Veteran’s Affairs office at on East 8th Street. Among those featured on the wall are 92 veterans from Iowa. The wall shows each person’s picture, date of birth, and the city they were from. The wall is on display through Saturday, which is when the county Veterans Affairs office is co-hosting a veteran’s event called ‘All The Way Home’ at the Five Flags Center. The event is designed to help connect veterans to needed resources and also thank them for their service.

Suspect in Eichman’s Burglary, Multiple Other Crimes, Identified

Dubuque County authorities have identified the man wanted in connection with a July burglary and are now asking for help finding him. 46-year-old Jeffrey Krieger of St. Paul, Minnesota, has been linked to the July burglary at Eichman’s Bar in Sageville where more than 14-thousand dollars were taken. But that’s just one of more than a dozen crimes Krieger is suspected of participating in. He’s also been connected to incidents in Minnesota, both Dakotas, and Wisconsin. In addition, Guttenberg Police believe Krieger is responsible for a break-in and theft at a convenience store in that community. Investigators say Krieger typically targets gas stations and golf pro shops. He’s been known to use an accomplice that distracts store clerks for him. He has also gone by the alias Anthony Hesseldenz with an Illinois driver’s license. Krieger is believed to be driving a Mercedes Benz SUV with Minnesota plates. Anyone with information on Krieger is asked to contact Dubuque County Crime Stoppers or the local law enforcement agency.

Authorities: Dubuque Man Leads 100 MPH Chase Between Galena, East Dubuque

Authorities in Jo Daviess County say a Dubuque man reached speeds above 100 miles per hour as he led officers on a chase between Galena and East Dubuque. The chase began at about 10:20 Sunday night, when officers were asked to check on a potentially suicidal person at the Galena Wal-Mart. A deputy found the vehicle the person was in, and tried to make contact with the driver. But the man behind the wheel flipped the deputy off, squealed his tires, and drove out of the parking lot and onto US Highway 20 westbound. While out on the highway, the deputy clocked the suspect car going 105 miles per hour in a 65 zone. The chase ended outside of East Dubuque, when a police officer uses stop sticks to disable the suspect’s vehicle. 23-year-old Edward Miller of Dubuque was arrested after a short foot chase. He’s been charged with Aggravated Fleeing to Elude Police, Disobeying a Traffic Control Device, Speeding, and Failure to Reduce Speed to Avoid an Accident.

UPDATE: Identities of Bellevue Crash Victims Released

We now know the names of the people involved in a fatal crash near Bellevue on Sunday. According to the Iowa State Patrol, a sport utility vehicle being driven by 20-year-old Andy Aherns of Maquoketa was headed north on US Highway 52 about four miles south of Bellevue at 12:20 Sunday afternoon. The State Patrol says the SUV left the road “for unknown reasons” and crashed into a tree. Aherns’ passenger, 20-year-old Alex Behr of Sabula, died at the scene. Aherns was taken to Mercy Hospital in Dubuque. There’s no word on his condition.
The State Patrol has not yet released the name of the person killed in a single-vehicle rollover near Maquoketa. That happened at about 10:40 Sunday night.

Flash Flood Watches Extended Following Varying Rainfall Amounts Monday

The northern portion of our listening area took the brunt of the rain that fell on Monday. While only about a quarter-inch of rain was recorded at KCRG’s Pinpoint StormNet weather station at Hempstead High School, those in Clayton and Grant counties saw much more significant rainfall. Elkader received just shy of an inch, while Fennimore, Platteville, and Boscobel all took on between three-quarters and a full inch of rain.

There are still Flash Flood Watches out for our entire listening area, which have been extended to run through tomorrow afternoon. That’s due to the threat of heavy rainfall tonight and into tomorrow morning.

As far as river flooding, a pair of area waterways are currently expected to go above flood stage later this week. The Turkey River in Elkader is already into the “action stage” after reaching a depth of a little more than 11 feet. It’s forecast to go beyond the flood stage of 12 feet during the day tomorrow. From there, it will climb to a crest of 13.9 feet early Thursday morning. The Turkey is currently expected to fall back below stage sometime late Friday. As for the Maquoketa River in Maquoketa, it was measured at about 22.5 feet this morning. It’s expected to cross beyond the flood stage of 24 feet late tomorrow night, before cresting at 24.7 feet during the day Thursday. The Mississippi River here in Dubuque is not currently forecast to go above the flood stage of 17 feet, but to hold at 16.9 feet starting early Saturday morning and running through at least Monday.

Fire Prevention Week Being Observed By Dubuque Fire Fighters

All this week, members of the Dubuque community are invited to visit one of the city’s fire departments and receive tips on how to prevent and be safe during a fire. It’s all part of National Fire Prevention Week. This year’s theme is “Look, Listen, Learn”—be aware, fire can happen anywhere. Dubuque Assistant Fire Marshall Derek Paulson says of the many fires that he’s investigated over the years, cooking fires are the most common. For the past 3 years, the fire department has partnered with the American Red Cross of the Tri-States to give away free smoke alarms to Dubuque residents. Some fires are unpreventable, but most are preventable. There are five stations located in Dubuque, including fire headquarters on West 9th Street.

Former Ethanol Plant Executive Sentenced

A former executive at a now defunct ethanol plant in Hopkinton is going to prison. Documents from federal court in Cedar Rapids say 61 year old Darrell Smith of Forest City was recently sentenced to over 14-and-a-half years in federal prison. Smith was looking at 22 years behind bars after pleading guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Smith was accused of investing his clients’ money into the plant. Court documents say on a number of occasions Smith transferred money from clients’ accounts without their knowledge into his bioenergy fund. He used either pre-signed, blank authorization forms, or forged clients signatures. In late 2016, Smith was sentenced to 13 months in prison for failing to pay employment taxes. In addition to this most recent sentence, Smith was ordered to pay over a million dollars in restitution. There is no parole in the federal system.

Iowa Early Voting Begins Today

Iowans wanting to vote early in this fall’s election can do so beginning today. The early voting period opened this morning. Here in Dubuque County, early votes can be cast at the county courthouse, or the Elections Annex on Locust Street weekdays through November 5. Those who have requested a ballot be mailed to them should see the ballot show up sometime this week. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is October 27…six days earlier than in the past. The overall early voting period was also reduced for this election cycle. It is now 29 days, rather than the previous 40.

Two Killed in Single Vehicle Crashes Sunday

The Iowa State Patrol is investigating the deaths of two people who were killed in single-vehicle crashes on Sunday. In the first crash, One person was killed and another injured in Jackson County yesterday afternoon. According to the State Patrol, the crash happened at about 12:20 PM on US Highway 52, about four miles south of Bellevue. A northbound sports utility vehicle went off the road for an unknown reason and collided with a tree. A front seat passenger in the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The driver was taken to Mercy Hospital here in Dubuque. The State Patrol hasn’t yet released the names of those involved. That’ll happen once family members are notified. Another fatal crash happened south of Maquoketa late last night. According to the State Patrol, a pickup truck was travelling on a rural road about three miles south of Maquoketa at about 10:40 last night. The truck then rolled about a quarter-mile north of Iowa Highway 136. The driver of the truck wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was killed at the scene of the crash. That person’s name hasn’t yet been released.

Possibility for Heavy Rain Increases Flooding Concerns

Overnight rains are once again creating flooding concerns across the Tri-States, as some area rivers are back on the rise. KCRG’s Pinpoint StormNet weather station at Hempstead High School reports 1.2 inches of rainfall since yesterday morning. Other locations around the area received at least a half-inch of rainfall, with more on the way today…including the possibility for heavy rain in some areas. KCRG meteorologist Kaj O’Mara says the bulk of the rain will fall this afternoon an into tonight, with the lines of storm potentially retracing their paths across the area. The National Weather Service has Flash Flood Watches in effect for Dubuque, Delaware, and Jones counties through tomorrow afternoon. Here in Dubuque, the Mississippi River is on its way up, and is expected to cross into the flooding “action stage” early Wednesday. But it is not currently predicted to reach flood stage. The only area river expected to go beyond flood stage at this point is the Turkey River in Elkader. It’s predicted to go above flood stage late tomorrow night, before cresting about a day later.

Rain Slows Progress on Road Construction Projects

All of the wet weather we’ve been having the past month is starting to have an impact on road construction projects in and around Dubuque. According to staffers from the city’s engineering office, several efforts have fallen a week or two behind schedule. That includes the Southwest Arterial, which is still scheduled for completion late next year. But with all of the work on that new roadway being above ground, engineering staff is confident they’ll be able to catch back up. Some of the work being done in downtown Dubuque is a different story. City crews are expanding storm sewers that run underneath sections of 11th and 16th streets. That work is being done underground, where the rain can have more of an impact. The city expects to have some of those downtown storm sewer projects wrapped up by the middle of next month.

Dubuque Woman, Four Teens Accused of Passing Fake Bills

A woman and four juveniles from Dubuque were arrested last week after police say they passed fake $100 bills at a convenience store in Belmont. At around 12:10 Thursday afternoon, a clerk at the First Capitol Min-Mart called county dispatchers to report that a group of young people had just left the store after passing what may have been counterfeit bills. The suspects were still outside the store, since their car had a flat tire. Police arrived a few minutes later and arrested them. 18-year-old Mikhayla Shaffer has been charged with three felony counts of Forgery and one count of Theft. The rest of the suspects are all underage and facing undisclosed charges. Investigators also believe the group passed counterfeit 100s at the Belmont Travel Center.

Driver Arrested After Threatening Other Motorists, Crashing Into Transformer

The driver involved in a vehicle fire in Dubuque on Saturday is now facing charges. 21-year-old Tyler Olmstead of East Dubuque is charged with one count of reckless driving and two counts of assault while displaying a weapon. Police say he bumped a car with his pickup in the parking lot of the Shopko on JFK Road just before 3:00 Saturday afternoon. Pictures from the couple that owns the car show the truck’s front bumper on top of the sedan’s hood. The car’s owner confronted the Olmstead. Police say Olmstead then flashed a box cutter, with a four-inch blade. Olmstead then got into his truck and crashed it into an electrical transformer, causing a fire. Emergency crews took him to the hospital to be treated for injuries before police arrested him.

Ethics Accusations Provide Most Pointed Moments in First Blum-Finkenauer Debate

Congressman Rob Blum (left) and State Representative Abby Finkenauer appear on stage prior to their Friday night debate in Cedar Falls (Courtesy: KWWL).

Accusations of ethics violations provided the most pointed moments in the first debate between the candidates seeking to represent Dubuque in Congress. Incumbent Republican Rod Blum and Democrat state representative Abby Finkenauer squared off in the first of two debates in their race for the 1st District seat last night. Both candidates have been accused ethics violations: Blum for failing to disclose his role in an internet marketing company, and Finkenauer for missing a deadline to update her employment status. Finkenauer says there’s no real comparison between the two situations. Blum has since apologized for what he’s called an “oversight.” He says he made a 700 dollar investment into the company, known as Tim Moon, which has brought out millions of dollars in attack ads against him. But Finkenauer says the lack of disclosure wasn’t most concerning. She asked Blum why one of his Congressional staffers delivered a video testimonial for Tin Moon, posing as an executive for another one of Blum’s companies. Blum responded that the time he spends on Congressional business prevents him from being directly involved in many of the companies that he owns or is invested in.  Last night’s debate was hosted by the University of Northern Iowa and KWWL-TV. Blum and Finkenauer will meet for another debate a week from Tuesday in Cedar Rapids.

Camso Cuts Ribbon on New Peosta Facility

A Canadian-based manufacturer has officially celebrated the opening of its new facility in Peosta. Company leaders from Camso joined employees and Dubuque-area economic development officials for a ribbon cutting yesterday afternoon. The company makes and distributes off-road tires, wheels, and undercarriages. Plant Director Pat Fortin says before opening the new facility a year ago, two buildings housed their operations across the street from the current facility. Camso is a global manufacturer and has customers all over the world. Fortin says the decision to expand the size of the company has proven to be significant for both their customers and employees. Fortin says they have some other projects on the backburner and will make an announcement about those in the future. Camso currently employs nearly 120 workers and plans to add 10 more next month. The total investment in the new building is around $7.5 million.

Police Investigate Attempted Abduction         

Police in Platteville are investigating an attempted abduction and sexual assault from early yesterday morning. According to a post on the police department’s Facebook page, the incident happened near a home on Roundtree Avenue at around 12:30 AM. Police received a report of a man trying to attack a woman. The man reportedly followed the woman and called out to her. He then ran up and grabbed her. The woman was able scream for help and escape. But the man grabbed her again and tried to drag her across the street. After being told by a witness that police were on the way, the suspect left the area and was seen running west on Alden Street. He is described as a black male, 6 feet-two inches tall, with a thin build. He was wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans. Authorities believe the man followed the woman from the area of Second and Main Streets. If you any information contact Platteville Police.

Premier Bank Assist Hurricane Victims

An area financial institution is lending a hand to support victims of Hurricane Florence. The three Premier Bank locations in Dubuque have team up with the American Red Cross to collect donations that will be used exclusively for Hurricane relief. Tasha Lippold VP Director of Marketing for the bank says they’ll match the first 5 thousand dollars that is donated. Donations can be dropped off or mailed to anyone of the three bank locations on JFK, West 9th Street and Northwest Arterial. Since the bank announced that it would be supporting the Hurricane Florence Relief Fund, donations have been coming in. Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas nearly two weeks ago and is now impacting the coast.

Clarke Area Boil Advisory Cancelled

Residents of the area near Clarke University can now drink their tap water without worry. A boil advisory that had been in place since Tuesday afternoon has been lifted. The advisory was issued after a water main break near the Clarke campus that afternoon. The advisory had affected those living on much of the Clarke campus, as well as about ten other homes in the area. City leaders put the advisory in place so bacteria tests could be done to make sure the neighborhood’s water was still safe after the main break. Those tests have since come back negative for bacteria, and the advisory has been cancelled.

Dubuque Chamber Announces List of “Aligned” Candidates

A slate of mostly Republican candidates for state and county offices has received a stamp of approval from the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber this week released their list of candidate “alignments.” The organization is not necessarily endorsing these candidates, but says their views are in line with the Chamber’s legislative priorities. For instance, the Chamber lists each of the four candidates seeking a spot on the Dubuque County Board of Supervisors on its list of approved candidates. Only two candidates out of incumbents Daryl Klein and Jay Wickham and challengers Curt Kiessling and Ann McDonough will win seats on the board. As for legislative races, the Chamber lists Republicans Pauline Chilton, Carrie Koelker, Shannon Lundgren and Andy McKean among its “aligned” candidates. Chilton faces Democrat Lindsay James in the 99th Iowa House district. Koelker is trying to unseat incumbent State Senator Tod Bowman. Lundgren and McKean are both incumbents seeking re-election to the Iowa House. The Chamber bases its “alignments” on the results of written surveys and interviews done with the candidates.

Monfort Man Uninjured After Fall Into Sinkhole

A Grant County man was not injured despite falling into a sinkhole earlier this week. According to the county sheriff’s office, the sinkhole opened up in the 200 block of Mineral Street in Monfort on Tuesday. The hole developed in front of the 36-year-old Brandon Post’s garage, and he fell in. Authorities say Post was stuck in the hole for about a half hour, until a neighbor heard his screams for help. The neighbor initially tried to give post a step ladder, but the hole was too deep. First responders were then called, and were able to pull Post out of the hole. He was evaluated at the scene, but did not go to the hospital.

Flood Warnings Still in Effect for Maquoketa, Darlington

While river levels in many Tri-State area communities have fallen back below flood stage, there are still a handful of Flood Warnings in effect.

The Maquoketa River at Maquoketa is still in the “minor flooding” range. It crested at about 26.3 feet Wednesday evening and has already fallen by about a foot. It’s expected to drop back below the flood stage of 24 feet later today. The Flood Warning will expire whenever that happens.

There’s also a warning out for the Pecatonica River in Darlington. It finally crested at 15.4 feet yesterday morning. That’s just a few inches below what’s considered “major flooding.” The river was still being measured at about 14.7 feet this morning. It’s expected to fall below the flood stage of 13.5 feet by about mid-morning. The Main Street Bridge in Darlington is now back open. But local authorities continue to urge caution, as flood waters are still coming on to parts of the road.

Gov. Reynolds Issues Disaster Proclamations for Dubuque, Delaware Counties

Iowa’s governor is moving quickly to make state money available for those impacted by this week’s flash flooding. Governor Kim Reynolds has issued a disaster proclamation for both Dubuque and Delaware counties. That’s the first step in the process of making state resources available for clean up and recovery. Among the funding sources being opened to those counties is the Individual Assistance Grant Program. It provides up to $5,000 per family to pay for things like home or auto repairs, clothing replacement, and temporary housing expenses.

Extended Period of Wet Weather to Begin Friday

The Tri-States are largely getting a brief break from rainfall today and tomorrow, but rain moves back into the forecast on Friday and stays there for at least a week. KCRG-TV meteorologist Kaj O’Mara tells us that an extended wet pattern is coming our way, and will likely bring several inches of total rainfall with it. The National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center suggests that our area could see anywhere between four and seven inches of rain over the coming week. O’Mara says forecast models suggest we’ll be dead-center in the middle of that range. Beginning Friday, the rain that moves into our area will be less scattered, and more in the form of large, layered systems. That pattern looks like it will stay in place for quite a while, through at least the end of next week. Combining the rainfall that already fell on Monday with what’s predicted to come in the next ten days, O’Mara says many locations could be in range of a monthly record with half of October still to come. According to O’Mara, the rain expected to fall next week would double Dubuque’s average October rainfall by itself.

Men Accused of Siphoning Gas, Stealing Batteries from Dubuque Boat Dealer

A pair of suspects are facing multiple charges each after being accused of stealing a couple hundred dollars worth of gas and supplies from a Dubuque boat dealer. Just before 9:00 Monday night, and officer on patrol noticed a truck parked at Hawkeye Boat on Kerper Boulevard. As the officer approached, the truck sped off. The two men in the truck were eventually taken into custody. According to court documents, they each admitted to siphoning gas from boats at the dealership. In addition, two boat batteries, some emergency flares, and a gas can were located in the truck. All of those items had been taken from Hawkeye Boat. The suspects – 33-year-old Jeremy Bakken of Dubuque and 29-year-old Brock Cole of Manchester – have each been charged with Trespassing, 4th Degree Theft, and Possession of Burglary Tools. Bakken was additionally charged with Interference with Official Acts and Possession of a Controlled Substance after he reportedly lied to police about having marijuana in his jacket pocket.

Homeless Stand Down In Dubuque

For the second consecutive year Dubuque will play host to the “Dubuque, Delaware and Jackson County Homeless Stand Down.” The event is a co-spoonsored by Hillcrest Family Services, Goodwill and Hawkeye Area Community Action Program. HACAP spokesperson Ginger Schoop says Homeless Stand Down was created to provide veterans and their families with a variety of services they may not otherwise have access to. In 2010, then President Barack Obama started Operation Home, Supportive Services for Veteran Families to end veteran homelessness, and according to Schoop it’s working. The SSVF program in Dubuque is administered through Hillcrest. Veterans will have a chance to sign up for Operation Home at the Dubuque event. Last year’s event was held at the Dubuque Masonic Temple and about 90 people attended. This year the event will be held Thursday at the Boys and Girls Club on Locust Street. Registration starts at 9 a.m.

Water Main Break On Clarke Drive Prompts Boil Advisory 

Some residents living along Clarke Drive have been advised to boil their water until further notice. A water main break this afternoon prompted city officials to issue a boil advisory. The advisory covers most of the Clarke University campus and around 10 residents on Clarke Drive. The break occurred in a 12 inch main and crews are working to fix it as soon as possible. When water service is restored, officials say you should boil your tap water before drinking it or using it for cooking or use any alternative source like bottled water until the advisory is lifted. After service is restored, the water will be tested for bacteria. That process could take up to 48 hours.

Dubuque League of Women Voters to Host Candidate Forums

The Dubuque chapter of the League of Women Voters has scheduled a pair of candidate forums ahead of next month’s election. The first forum will be held on Tuesday, October 16. It will feature candidates running for state office who would represent Dubuque and Dubuque County. The second of the two forums will be eight days later, on Wednesday the 24th. That one will feature those running for Dubuque County offices, including Supervisor and County Attorney. Both forums will be held in the City Council chambers at the Historic Federal Building and will begin at 6:30 PM.

Heavy Rains Cause Flash Flooding Around Tri-States

Flood waters from the North Fork Maquoketa River approach the bridge in New Vienna (Courtesy: Luke Maiers).

As many as five inches of rain drenched the Tri-States on Monday, causing flash flooding in many parts of the area. The hardest-hit locations appear to be in northern portions of Delaware and Dubuque counties, and the southern half of Clayton County.

Here in Dubuque, the official rainfall report from the airport for yesterday was just shy of 1.4 inches, which is a record for October 1st. The Mississippi River level at the Railroad Bridge has jumped into the “action stage.” The river’s depth was measured at 15.2 feet this morning. That’s up more than three feet from about the same time yesterday. The river is expected to top out at 16.1 feet sometime this afternoon.

US Highway 52 in Dubuque County is closed between its intersections with the Northwest Arterial and Sageville due to water going over the road. Many rural, and some county, roads across the area are also impassable due to water coming out of the banks of nearby streams or rivers. Delaware County authorities were advising residents not to travel last night, due to the number of roads overtaken by flooding.

In Manchester, the Delaware County seat, floodwaters completely overtook the West Delaware football field and came up from under the bridge over the Maquoketa River and into the city’s downtown area. The Maquoketa rose by about 13 feet during the day Monday. The river level was up to 19.3 feet as of this morning, with the National Weather Service expecting it to crest at about 19.9 feet today. That’s just shy of the “major flooding” level for that portion of the river.

Floodwaters were also seen rushing through the communities of Holy Cross and New Vienna in northern Dubuque County last night. Downriver in Dyersville, community leaders are bracing for flooding. Sandbags will be available at the city fire department for those who need them. The city also expects several low-lying roads to be overtaken by floodwaters.

Southwestern Wisconsin was also pounded by significant rainfall. Likely the highest rain total from the area comes from Fennimore, where more than 4.3 inches fell during the day on Monday. That’s swelled the Grant River in the town of Burton. The river level there jumped by about 15.5 feet on Monday. It was measured at an even 24 feet this morning, which is approaching the record river stage of 24.8 feet.

There are drizzle chances in our forecast today, but the area should be able to avoid much measurable rain. But that’s expected to change tomorrow night, when strong thunderstorms are possible.

Dubuque Woman Sentenced For Setting Car On Fire

A Dubuque woman arrested this summer for setting a car on fire to get back at her ex-boyfriend has been sentenced to prison. Documents from Dubuque County say 29 year old Sade Jones recently pled guilty to a felony charge of second degree arson and was sentenced to five years in federal prison. Documents allege that in mid-July, Jones set fire to her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s car in the in the area of 15th and Central Avenue. The ex-boyfriend told police that he suspected Jones as being the person who set the car on fire. Police were able to view traffic camera footage that showed Jones and her ex arguing near the crime scene. Jones is then seen going to a nearby gas station. After that she went back to her home and to the area where the car was parked. In an interview with investigators, Jones admitted to setting the car on fire.

Platteville Man Charged With Fraud

A Platteville man was arrested last week, after police say he tried to buy gas with a fraudulent gift card. A release from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office says late last Wednesday afternoon, 35 year old Justin Gallagher went to the Kieler Mall Truck Plaza in Jamestown Township and attempted pay for his gas with a fake gift card. Gallagher left the truck plaza without making the purchase. An employee contacted the sheriff’s office and reported the incident. After a brief investigation, Gallagher was located and taken into custody. He is charged with forgery-uttering, operating after revocation 4th offense and felony bail jumping. He remains in custody at the Grant County jail.

UnityPoint to Host October Flu Vaccine Clinics in Dubuque, Cascade, Peosta

The parent company of a Dubuque hospital will make flu vaccines available in three Dubuque County communities during the month of October. UnityPoint Health, which operates Finley Hospital, has announced that it will hold flu vaccination clinics on eight days in the upcoming month. Each of the clinics will be open either during evening hours or on the weekend, to make it easier for people to receive a vaccine. UnityPoint says it’s already seeing some cases of the seasonal influenza in the Dubuque area, although the “flu season” usually doesn’t reach its peak until January or February. For those who can’t make it to any of the clinics, flu vaccines will also be available at UnityPoint’s Urgent Care and Walk-In Care locations during regular business hours.

List of clinic times/locations:

October 2, 5:00-7:00 PM: UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine and Walk-in Care – Cascade

October 6, 9:00-11:00 AM: UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine and Walk-in Care – Cascade

October 10, 5:00-7:00 PM: UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine – Pennsylvania Avenue (Dubuque)

October 13, 9:00-11:00 AM: UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine – Pennsylvania Avenue (Dubuque)

October 17, 5:00-7:00 PM: UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine and Walk-in Care – Peosta

October 20, 9:00-11:00 AM: UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine and Walk-in Care – Peosta

October 24, 5:00-7:00 PM: UnityPoint Clinic Women’s Health (Dubuque)

October 27, 9:00-11:00 AM: UnityPoint Clinic Women’s Health (Dubuque)

KCRG Fact Check: Claims in Finkenauer Ethics Ad Get an “A”

Courtesy: Finkenauer for Congress

A fact-check of Democrat Abby Finkenauer’s latest campaign ad finds that it lays out legitimate claims about an ethics investigation against her opponent, incumbent Congressman Rod Blum. The commercial is the first true “attack ad” that Finkenauer’s campaign has aired in her bid to unseat Blum. The ad focuses on a Blum-connected company called Tin Moon. The first claim in the ad is that Blum is under investigation for his role in the internet marketing firm. KCRG’s Josh Scheinblum explains that is the case. The House Ethics Committee recently announced it was continuing its investigation into Blum’s association with Tin Moon. Results of that probe are expected after the election. The second claim focuses on what Tin Moon claims to offer customers. One of the company’s stated services is “reputation management,” which, according to its website, includes burying FDA warning letters from internet search results. The ad’s third and final claim is that one of Blum’s Congressional staffers appeared in a phony testimonial for Tin Moon. KCRG gave each of those claims a grade of “A,” which was also the overall grade that the ad received. It should be noted that Finkenauer was accused, but not cited for, a violation of the Iowa House’s Code of Ethics in 2016. That came after she missed a newly-enacted 30-day deadline to disclose a new employer. Legislators were previously able to wait until filing their annual disclosures to report such information.

Wet Weather Expected to Continue in October


The abnormally wet weather that the Tri-States have experienced for much of the last two months is expected to continue into October. Our weather coverage partners at KCRG-TV have rain chances in the forecast each day through at least next Sunday. Based on historical averages, KCRG meteorologist Kaj O’Mara says October will at least be wetter than average, and could approach a record amount of rainfall. O’Mara expects that we could see some heavy rains late this week or early next week, thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Rosa. He says it looks like what’s left of that storm will be pulled up into Nebraska, and eventually Iowa. According to the National Weather Service, Dubuque received nearly nine inches of rainfall in the month of September. That’s almost 5.5 inches more than normal.

Lawyer Asks for Senior Gun Suspect’s Case to Move to Juvenile Court

The Dubuque high school student accused of bringing a handgun to school last week is asking for his case to be moved to juvenile court. 17-year-old Jason Gardner is charged with Carrying Weapons on School Grounds, which is a felony. He was arrested at Dubuque Senior High School last Monday after a school resource officer reportedly found a handgun in his backpack. According to court documents, Gardner told police he found the gun at a bus stop on his way to school. Gardner is charged as an adult, but his attorney is asking for that to change. In a motion filed last week, Gardner’s attorney says the case would be better handled in juvenile court. Gardner is scheduled to make a court appearance on Thursday. If the case stays in adult court, he could be sentenced to as many as five years in prison.

Police Ask Neighbors for Help in Solving String of North End Burglaries

Dubuque Police are asking residents of a North End neighborhood for their help in solving a string of recent burglaries. Police received several reports of home break-ins last Thursday night. The incidents all happened in the area near Lincoln Avenue, Garfield Avenue, and Shiras Avenue, and all at about the same time. In the past, neighbors have been able to provide police with surveillance footage to help solve similar incidents. Police are hoping that can be the case here as well. Dubuque Police Lt. Joe Messerich adds that the incidents serve as a reminder to residents to lock their doors and report any suspicious activity to police.

Report: Alcohol a Leading Cause of Death Worldwide

A new report shows alcohol as one of the leading causes of death across the globe, though local treatment professionals say there’s little prevention that can be done. According to the World Health Organization, 3 million people died last year from what’s termed “harmful use of alcohol.” That represents about 5% of all worldwide deaths. Staff members at Mercy Hospital’s “Turning Point” clinic here in Dubuque say they’re not surprised by the report. Counselor Courtney Runde says alcohol us is often so normalized into a person’s life that they don’t realize they have a problem. Runde hopes the new report will cause people to question whether they have a problem with alcohol, and to seek help if they think they do.

Mega Millions, Powerball Prizes Increase Again

Nearly $600 million could be won in the Iowa Lottery’s top two games this week. Both the Powerball and Mega Millions games went without a jackpot winner over the weekend, and the top prizes for both games have climbed to significant levels. The Mega Millions prize is the larger of the two. It will be at least $367 million for the drawing Tuesday. It’s now been almost two full months since anyone won the Mega Millions jackpot. As for the Powerball, it’s also gone more than a month without a winner. The top prize in Wednesday’s drawing will be $229 million . A winner could take that prize as a lump sum payment of about $134 million, or receive yearly payments of $7.6 million for the next thirty years. The odds of winning either game are one in about 260 million.

Three Face Burglary Charges Following Assault

Three people have been charged with burglary, following an assault earlier this week. According to court documents from Dubuque County 21 year old Hunter Gruel of East Dubuque, 24 year old Sarah Gruel also of East Dubuque and 23 year old Mitchell Eveland Taylor of Hazel Green are charged with 1st degree burglary. The incident happened Tuesday night at a residence in the 21-hundred block of Foye Street. A man there told police that the trio came to his house earlier that day looking for his roommate to confront her about a drug issue. When the man tried to pushed the intruders out the front door, they forced their way in, dragged the man out and began hitting and kicking him. When the victim tried to get up, Sarah Gruel reportedly grabbed him by the hair and threw him back to the ground, where he was assaulted again. After a few minutes the man was able to get up and make it into his house. Police were able to confirm the incident from the next door neighbor’s home security camera and an eye witness.

Fire Destroys Shed In Dubuque County

Fire destroyed a shed in Dubuque County early Friday morning. A release from the sheriff’s office says fire crews from Holy Cross, Epworth and Sherrill responded to a structure fire in the 21-thousand block of Highway 52 North just before 1 a.m. When they arrived the 80 x 100 foot hay shed was fully engulfed in flames. The building and its’ contents are estimated at around 75 thousand dollars. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but authorities say it does not appear to be suspicious. The shed was owned by Chad Schultz. No injuries were reported.

Judge Ignores Agreement, Sentences Bernard Man to Prison for Role in Sexual Assault

A Dubuque County judge went against a deal struck between prosecutors and a Bernard man accused of sexual assault, giving the man a total of six years in prison. Last December, 21-year-old Robert Decker was accused of raping a woman and sending out a video of the assault. He was initially charged with 3rd Degree Sexual Assault. But as part of an agreement with prosecutors, he pled guilty this week to three misdemeanor charges: 1st Degree Harassment, Invasion of Privacy, and Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Abuse. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors recommended that Decker receive a suspended prison sentence. But the judge instead sentenced Decker to two years in prison on each charge. Those sentences will run at the same time. Decker will be on parole for ten years following his release. He’ll also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. According to court documents, a woman woke up to Decker sexually assaulting her in his home in Bernard last Christmas Eve. Prosecutors said at the time that Decker admitted to the assault while being questioned by investigators. He also reportedly confessed to taking a video of the assault and sending it to a friend using the SnapChat mobile phone application.

Meyer Leaves Dubuque County Attorney’s Office

Meyer (Courtesy: Dubuque County Democratic Party)

The candidate who came up short in this summer’s Democratic primary for Dubuque County Attorney has moved into private practice. Ry Meyer had worked as an Assistant County Attorney in Dubuque County for a little more than two years. He entered the race to take over for retiring County Attorney Ralph Potter back in March. But in June’s primary, Meyer narrowly lost to CJ May III, 54% to 46%. As of this week, Meyer is no longer working in the County Attorney’s office. An online profile says he is now serving as an immigration attorney for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. Prior to coming to Dubuque County, Meyer had been an Assistant County Attorney in Clayton County as well. May will face Republican Scott Nelson in November’s election.

Tip from Customer Leads to Suspected Marijuana Dealer’s Arrest

A tip from one of his buyers led to the arrest of a suspected drug dealer. 31-year-old Cordero Davis of Dubuque has been charged with Delivery of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver, and a probation violation. According to police, the investigation into Davis began with a traffic stop last week. The driver had marijuana in his pocket, and told police he’d gotten it from Davis at an apartment in the 2100block of Central Avenue. When police searched the apartment, they found marijuana and more than $3,500 in cash. Police also arrested the woman who lives in that apartment, 22-year-old Cheyenne Lembke. When police returned to the apartment a couple days after their initial search, they found marijuana in the home while two children were there. Lembke’s charged with Possession of Marijuana, Unlawful Possession of Prescription Drugs, and two counts of Child Endangerment.

Lawsuit Asks that All Animals Be Removed from Manchester Zoo

A lawsuit from an animal rights group is asking for all animals to be removed from a roadside zoo outside of Manchester. The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed the suit on behalf of four Iowa residents against the Cricket Hollow Zoo for chronic violations of animal cruelty laws. Last fall, the zoo had its exhibitor license revoked and was fined 10-thousand dollars. Cricket Hollow has appealed and is still housing more than 200 animals. Then this past April, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the zoo had inadequately cared for endangered animals, violating the Endangered Species Act. The animals, including tigers, lemurs, and lions, were then taken to other facilities. The lawsuit claims the zoo has also been in violation of state animal neglect standards. In addition to calling for the removal of all of the animals currently at the zoo, the suit also asks that the owners be barred from having any wild animals in the future.

Restaurant Owner Stung By Road Construction…Again

Courtesy: KCRG

The owner of a downtown Dubuque business is growing frustrated with continued road construction blocking access to his restaurant. Construction has forced the closure of East 17th Street, which runs right next door to the Corner Grill. Beyond that, utility work on Elm Street has blocked the other street patrons could use to get to the restaurant. Corner Grill owner Yianni Karavargoes says his once-thriving business now sits empty most of the time, simply because people can’t get to it. While the closures would be frustrating for any business owner, they’re especially so for Karavargoes. That’s because this is the second year in a row that road closures have blocked access to the restaurant. The closure on the portion of Elm Street that runs next to the Corner Grill is slated to last until early December, though city officials expect the street will open back up closer to mid-November.

Kavanaugh Hearing Could Have Impact on Local Sexual Assault Victims

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in prior to her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee (Pool photo).

Advocates for victims of sexual and domestic violence say today’s hearings into the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh could have an impact locally. Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford are both testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Blasey Ford alleges that at a high school party, Kavanaugh held her down, tried to remove her clothing, and covered her mouth when she tried to scream. In the days leading to her testimony, Blasey Ford says she’s received multiple death threats, which led her to move out of her family’s home and hire private security. Staffers at Dubuque’s Riverview Center, which offers counselling and other services to those affected by sexual assault, say Blasey Ford’s treatment may prevent other victims from coming forward. Many have questioned why Blasey Ford did not report her alleged assault until now. But Shelby Flynn, who works as a Legal Advocate at the Riverview Center, says it’s common for victims to tell someone else before going to law enforcement. Blasey Ford is one of at least three women who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, but was the only one invited to testify before the Senate committee.

O’Mara: Frost Likely Friday Night


Odds are good for a quick bout of frost here in the Tri-States on Friday night. That’s the word from our weather coverage partners at KCRG-TV. Friday’s overnight low is currently predicted at 36 degrees. While the freezing point is 32, meteorologist Kaj O’Mara explains that air temperatures – especially those measured at National Weather Service offices – can be a bit different than ground temperatures. O’Mara estimates our chances of a frost at about 70%. But he notes that lingering cloud cover on Friday evening could keep temperatures from getting to the freezing point. Friday would be earlier than usual for the first frost, but only by a couple of days. Friday is the only day in our current forecast with a low predicted to be in the 30s. O’Mara says it’s common for the first frost to be similarly isolated. While Saturday’s high temperature is expected to top out in the mid-50s, highs next week should climb back into the upper 60s and lower 70s.

Cascade Fire Department Receives FEMA Grant

The volunteer fire department in one Dubuque County town is getting new gear through a federal grant. The Cascade Fire Department was recently awarded a grant of nearly $76,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. According to city leaders, the money will be used to buy new turnout gear for the firefighters. “Turnout gear” is the term for the fire-resistant jackets and pants that firefighters wear when responding to a call. Full sets of turnout gear can cost anywhere between $1,200 and $2,000. That means the grant could cover anywhere between 35 and 60 sets of gear.

Rural Peosta Garage Fire Causes $600,000 in Damage

Damage from a fire at a home in rural Peosta is being estimated at more than a half-million dollars. A few minutes after 8:00 last night, firefighters from Epworth were called to a home on Royal Wood Drive. That’s about two miles southeast of the Peosta City Limits. When firefighters arrived, the home’s garage was fully engulfed in flames, with the fire beginning to spread to the house. Additional crews from the fire departments in Asbury, Farley, Key West, and Peosta were called in. Fire crews were able to knock out the fire, but had to stay on scene for a few hours checking on hot spots. Residents of the home were able to get out safely. They told firefighters that smoke detectors alerted them to the fire in the garage. The garage is considered a total loss, while the house sustained additional smoke and water damage. An estimate from the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office puts the total damage at about $600,000.

Savanna Castle Set to Re-Open for Tours

Havencrest Castle (Courtesy: WQAD)

A castle that overlooks the Mississippi from the Illinois side of the river is set to re-open to the public. Havencrest Castle in Savanna will resume hosting tours in October. The estate has been off limits to visitors for the past three years. Owner Alan Saint George bought the castle with his late wife, Adrianne, several years ago, when it contained about two dozen rooms. Over the years, they expanded it to more than sixty rooms, filled with symbols of the couple’s love. One enduring reminder of their time together is the clocks throughout the castle, which are all stopped at the same time. Adrianne died in 2006 of heart failure. Alan says he spent many years heart broken, which led him to closing off the castle to tours. But he tells Quad City TV station WQAD that he’s now ready for visitors to see what his enduring love created. Tours of Havencrest will be available on weekend days in October. Cost ranges from $10-15.

Refurbished Statues Replaced as Courthouse Repairs Near Completion

Courtesy: KCRG

Historic statues have returned to pedestals above the Dubuque County Courthouse. The statues had been removed earlier this year as part of renovations to the courthouse, which is approaching 130 years old. The statues had been in place for that entire time. Refurbishments of the statues were not originally part of the planned upgrades. But once crews got a look at how badly damaged the statues were, they decided to add the work to the project. A crane was used to help place the statues back on their perches around the building exterior. Additional work on the courthouse has included a new roof, painting, and masonry repairs. The entire project is expected to be finished up in the next few days.

Cause of Former Holy Ghost School Fire Still Unknown

Investigators still haven’t determined the exact cause of a fire at a vacant Dubuque school building. Firefighters were called to the old Holy Ghost Catholic School in the 2900 block of Central Avenue at about 6:30 Sunday evening. The fire was limited to the first floor of the building, but there was additional smoke damage to the other floors. Investigators initially called the fire “suspicious.” Fire Chief Rick Steines says there are several indications that the fire was the result of criminal activity. Witnesses have said they saw people inside the building in the hours leading to the fire. In addition, all the utilities to the building have been turned off, which limits the possibility of an accident. Steines says both the state Fire Marshal and Dubuque Police are assisting with the investigation. Police are working to put together a description of possible suspects. The building was mostly cleared out in the anticipation of possible renovations. Steines says that’s helping to limit the amount of damage done. Anyone with additional information about the fire is asked to contact Dubuque Police.

Student Who Brought Gun to School Faces Felony Charge, Expulsion

Jason Gardner makes an initial court appearance via video feed Tuesday (Courtesy: KCRG).

The Dubuque high school student who brought an unloaded handgun to school will likely be expelled for a year. 17-year-old Jason Gardner has been charged as an adult with Carrying Weapons on School Grounds. Gardner made his initial court appearance yesterday morning. According to court documents, he told police he found the handgun at a bus stop on his way to school. A school resource officer found the gun in Gardner’s backpack after another student reported him. In addition to his criminal charge, Gardner is facing expulsion from school. Typically, juvenile offenders can continue taking classes through one of Iowa’s area education agencies. But Gardner’s case is different. Under Iowa law, students who bring firearms to school are not allowed to attend classes for a full year. Dubuque Schools Superintendent Stan Rheingans says while he hates to see a student barred from continuing their education, effective discipline has to be imposed. Dubuque Police spokesman Lt. Joe Messerich says police also take a different approach to teenagers charged as adults. When the charges are filed through the juvenile system, he says it allows police to do more checks on the student. Carrying Weapons on School Grounds is a Class D Felony which carries a maximum penalty if five years in prison.

Medical Supply Company to Close Monticello Plant

About seventy workers will lose their jobs when a medical supply company closes a Jones County plant. Viant, which had previously been known as MedPlast, plans to close its plant in Monticello in mid-November. That’s according to documents the company recently filed with Iowa Workforce Development. Iowa employers are required to submit Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications to the agency any time they plan to cut a significant number of jobs. City leaders say they’d attempted to work with the company to keep the plant in operation, but to no avail. Viant’s facility in Monticello covers nearly 100,000 square feet near the town’s northern city limits.

Dubuque Receives $1.9 Million Federal Grant to Buy Handicap-Accessible Buses

The city of Dubuque will upgrade its fleet of city buses to include more handicap-accessible vehicles, thanks to a grant from the federal government. The Federal Transit Administration, an agency within the Department of Transportation, has awarded the city $1.9 million. The city plans to use that money, along with some local funds, to buy nine buses equipped with ramps. The buses are designed to not only be accessible, but also to ensure that the vehicles are able to keep up with their timed routes. The buses will be “remanufactured,” which means they will come at a lower cost, but will still offer a like-new vehicle built to city specifications. Beyond the federal money, about $370,000 from the city budget will be used to buy the new buses. That figure represents about 15% of the total project cost.

With Deadline Looming, Ernst Expresses Doubt for Farm Bill Compromise


Some lawmakers, including one of Iowa’s US Senators, are expressing concern that there won’t be enough time to reach a compromise on a new federal farm bill. The current legislation expires on Sunday. Both the House and Senate have passed versions of the bill, and a conference committee has been trying to hammer out the differences. But Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a member of that committee, told reporters this week that she’s becoming less optimistic about the changes for agreement. Among the sticking points is a proposed work requirement for those who received federal food assistance through the SNAP program, which his commonly known as “food stamps.” In the event that a compromise can’t be reached by Sunday’s deadline, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has said there still could be some time for additional negotiations before Congress adjourns in mid-October. If those talks still don’t lead to an agreement, it’s possible lawmakers could pass a one-year extension of the current farm bill.