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Dubuque & Tri-State News

Meals on Wheels Cuts

State budget cuts are limiting the number of senior citizens a Dubuque-based non-profit can serve. The Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging provides a “meals on wheels” service for people across eighteen area counties. But the number of meals they can serve each day has been slashed in recent years. The agency’s budget has been cut by about 15 percent in the past two years alone. Colleen Lawler, a Service Specialist for the agency, says that’s forced them to put a cap on the number of people they can serve. A crew of about fourteen volunteers delivers the daily meals for the agency. Lawler says additional volunteers are always needed.

Betting Bills at the Iowa Statehouse

A pair of bills subject to an anticipated Supreme Court ruling are currently being debated in the Iowa Legislature. The court is expected to rule this spring on a lawsuit filed by the state of New Jersey challenging the federal law that allows sports betting in only four states. Iowa is one of more than twenty states that have introduced sports betting bills in the event that the court rules in New Jersey’s favor. Q Casino CEO Jesus Aviles says he’s always been in favor of expanding sports betting. Iowa’s sports betting bill has passed through two legislative committees.

Cascade House Fire


One person was injured in a house fire in Cascade early Saturday morning. The Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department reports that 30-year old Anthony J. Arensdorf was taken to Finley Hospital in Dubuque for treatment of minor burns and smoke inhalation. He was the owner of a home at 704 River Bend Drive NE in Cascade. Authorities were called to that residence around 12:20 Saturday morning for a structure fire. Upon arrival, a fire was located inside the home and was extinguished by fire personnel. The home sustained about 50-thousand dollars in damage. The exact cause of the fire is unknown at this time – but does not appear suspicious in nature

 

Grassley Faces Gun Questions at Manchester Town Hall

A man asks US Senator Charles Grassley a question during a town hall meeting in Manchester Friday (Courtesy: KCRG).

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley faced numerous questions about guns and gun control at a town hall meeting in Manchester yesterday afternoon. Grassley spoke to a standing room only crowd at the Delaware County Courthouse as part of his effort to visit all 99 of Iowa’s counties each year. When asked about bringing back a federal assault weapons ban, which was in place from the mid-1990s through 2004, Grassley said studies have shown the ban wasn’t effective. Grassley did express support for upgrading the FBI’s database, as well as a ban on so-called “bump stocks,” which allow semi-automatic weapons to operate as if they were automatics.

Dubuque School Officials Explain Threat Examination Process

Rheingans

Dubuque school officials are revealing a little bit of how they determine whether a threat against a school is credible. Classes were cancelled across the Dubuque district on Friday after district leaders and police weren’t able to determine the severity of a threat against Senior High School. By mid-morning, they decided there was no danger, but that was only after the decision to call off school. Superintendent Stan Rheingans explains some of their process when a threat is received. “We contacted our “team,” our Communications Director, our behavioral folks, the principal of the building involved, as well as law enforcement. We then started to work through what the threat was, how specific was it, was there a plan, what is this student’s background, have they had other issues or concerns.” One complicating factor in Friday’s situation was how quickly misinformation was spreading on social media, according to Dubuque Police. School activities, such as substate basketball games at both Senior and Hempstead, went on as planned last night, although with some additional police presence.

School Activities To Proceed This Weekend

After determining that an apparent threat to schools was not credible, officials in the Dubuque School District will proceed with high school activities scheduled for this weekend. In an email sent to district families and staff today there will be extra security and police presence at those events as a precaution. District officials ask that anyone who believes there is a concern should report it immediately to an adult for follow-up, and refrain from posting or reposting unconfirmed information on social media. Counselors will be available at schools next week and beyond for students needing additional support. Later today, the district will post additional resources on its’ website how parents can talk to their kids about violence.

Blum Defends Himself Amid Ethics Rules Violations

Iowa Congressman Rod Blum is defending himself, amid reports that he violated House ethic rules by not disclosing his position with a company he help start in 2016. A story from the Associated Press says that the Dubuque Republican did not list his role as CEO of Tin Moon Corporation on disclosure forms when the company was launched in May of 2016. House rules say that members of Congress must list all corporate positions, even if their unpaid. After the story was reported, Blum amended his disclosure forms. Three months after the company was started, its’ online advertising “boasted” thousands of satisfied customers. Blum says he will soon disclose the experts who were interviewed in the Associated Press’ investigative report. Blum is now listed as a majority shareholder with Tin Moon, which is based in Dubuque.

Gun Violence Protest At  Washington Park

A mid-morning gathering at Washington Park brought out several teachers and students Friday (Courtesy: KCRG).

Some of the teachers and students who suddenly found themselves with the day off school yesterday used the opportunity to speak out against gun violence. A group of several dozen people, including many students and teachers, gather at downtown Dubuque’s Washington Park during the mid-morning. One of those who came out was Senior student Gabe VanderBroek, who admitted he would have been scared to go to classes, but says there are things that can be done to prevent further violence. The day of classes that were lost yesterday will be made up at the end of the school year. The same goes for Holy Family Catholic Schools, which also cancelled classes due to the purported threat at Senior.

Superintendent: School Closings Precautionary, Threats Not Credible

Rheingans

Leaders at the Dubuque Community School District say the decision to close all of their schools today was purely precautionary. Schools across the district were closed today due to the threat of a shooting at Senior High School. Superintendent Stan Rheingans tells us that there have been several threats made since the school shooting in Florida last week. In previous cases, the district was able to identify the student involved and take proper precautions. That was not the case today. The district initially only closed Senior. But the response to that move led to the eventual closure of all schools. Rheingans says the district is now confident that the threat that prompted today’s closures was not legitimate. Rheingans says that the district views social media as a useful tool for getting information out, in this case, it likely did more harm than good. After the district decided to close all of its schools, the Holy Family catholic school system followed suit. East Dubuque Schools are also operating on a “soft lockdown” today.

Hopkinton Bank Robbers Each Receive 10+ Years in Prison

The two New York men who robbed a Delaware County bank in the fall of 2016 will each be spending at least a decade in federal prison. According to prosecutors, 28-year-old Daniel Jackson and 22-year-old Jason Centeno held up the Citizens State Bank branch in Hopkinton in October of 2016 while armed with a knife and a handgun, respectively. The two were later arrested in Florida and brought back to Iowa to face charges. Last September, Centeno pled guilty to charges of Armed Bank Robbery and Using a Firearm During a Crime. The following month, a jury found Jackson guilty of four charges, including Armed Bank Robbery. Jackson has been given the tougher sentence of the two. He’s been ordered to spend 15 years in federal prison. Centeno will go to prison for just under eleven years. They will split the responsibility for paying back more than $16,000 to the bank. That’s about twice as much as what they stole during the robbery.

UPDATE: Classes Cancelled at All Dubuque Schools Due to Shooting Threat

Classes were cancelled at all Dubuque public and parochial schools today due to an apparent shooting threat at Senior High School. According to alerts from the Dubuque Community School District, several social media reports of a possible threat prompted district leaders to initially call off classes at Senior High School. The district later chose to cancel classes at all of its buildings, citing parent concerns and “significant disruption” caused by the initial closure. District officials don’t believe the Senior threat was credible, but weren’t able to completely rule it out. The district has been in contact with Dubuque Police, who are helping to investigate. In addition to Dubuque’s public schools, the Holy Family school system also decided to cancel classes in all of its buildings today. East Dubuque Schools have announced that they are operating under a “soft lockdown” today as well.

Here’s the full statement from the district:

There will be NO SCHOOL in the Dubuque Community School District TODAY, Friday, Feb. 23.

This decision comes following a threat late last evening to Dubuque Senior High School, which we have been unable to confirm the credibility of. Following the decision to close Senior for the day, the student/parental concern and significant disruption created throughout the district has led to a decision to close ALL SCHOOLS today.

This day will be made up at the end of the school year, as we believe students will benefit more from a normal school day at that time as opposed a day filled with distractions today.

Arrest Made in Apparent Student Assault

Dubuque Police have made an arrest in an apparent assault by a local high school student that’s garnered a lot of attention on social media. Video of the incident appears to show a juvenile female ambushing another young woman, knocking her to the ground, and repeatedly kicking and punching her in the head. Police issued a statement about the incident at about 9:00 last night, indicating they were aware of it and were investigating. An arrest has since been made, and one of the suspects has been charged with Willful Injury, which is a felony. The suspect’s name was not released. The severity of the victim’s injuries are not yet known either. The Dubuque Community School District confirmed this morning that the students involved go to Senior High School, but say the incident did not happen on school property. The assault is not related to the supposed threat made against Senior High last night.

Dubuque Man Pleads Guilty To Drug Charges

A Dubuque man could spend up to sixty years in prison after pleading guilty to drug possession charges. 31 year old Gregory Anderson Jr. pled guilty to possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to distribute in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids this week. At his plea hearing last November Anderson was stopped by Dubuque police as he was walking down the street. He agreed to let officers search him. During the search officers found multiple packages of heroin and cocaine on Anderson. He told police he was going to sell the drugs. The arrest was made near Orange Park. When he is sentenced, Anderson faces between one and sixty years in federal prison and a fine of four million dollars. He will also have to serve at least six years of supervised release once he is out of prison. Anderson is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshal.

Student Hit by Car at Washington Middle School

Washington Middle School (Courtesy: Dubuque Community Schools)

A Dubuque middle school student appears to have suffered only minor injuries after being hit by a car this morning. According to an email sent to parents, the student was hit in front of Washington Middle School. School staff and others in the area helped the child until emergency personnel arrived. The Dubuque Police Department has told the school that the child suffered just minor injuries. The school encourages parents to use the incident as an opportunity to reinforce pedestrian safety guidelines with students.

Proposal Would Give Districts Money to Offset Transportation Costs

Students board buses outside Drexler Middle School in Farley (Courtesy: KCRG).

A proposal in the Iowa Legislature would help balance the amounts that districts are spending on student transportation. Districts across the state currently face a wide range of per-pupil transportation costs. The Iowa House has set aside $11 million to give refunds to any district spending more than $430 per student. Western Dubuque is one of those districts. It’s currently spending about $600 per student on bussing. WD Superintendent Rick Colpitts says the offset from the state will help, but only on a short-term basis. Dubuque Schools would not qualify for the offset, as the district spends $300 per student on transportation. That’s close to the state average. But district Finance Director Kevin Kelleher says that’s still money that could be better spent. The bill that would provide that $11 million has passed the Iowa House, where it was taken up separately from the overall school spending proposal. The Iowa Senate is expected to combine the two issues into a single piece of legislation.

Jo Daviess County Roads Reopen

All of the roads and streets that were closed in Jo Daviess County due to flooding are now back open. The sheriff’s office says there may a few that are still closed, but the ones they had listed as closed Wednesday are now open. The Sheriff’s Office continues to warn people not to enter any standing water on the roadway.

AP Investigation: Blum Violated Ethics Rules

Blum

Dubuque County’s representative in Congress violated ethics rules by failing to disclose his role in a company formed after he took office. An investigation by the Associated Press finds that Republican Rod Blum did not list his role as the CEO of Tin Moon Corporation on disclosure forms. That’s despite Congressional rules dictating that members list all corporate positions, even ones that are unpaid. A website for Tin Moon had listed Blum as its CEO and displayed his official Congressional portrait. The site has since been change to show Blum as a “majority shareholder.” Tin Moon is based out of the same Dubuque office as another Blum company, Digital Canal. The Tin Moon website also showed Blum’s Chief of Staff posing as a Digital Canal executive and claiming to be a “satisfied customer” of Tin Moon. Tin Moon bills itself as able to clean up companies’ online reputations, specifically if they’ve received warning letters from the Food and Drug Administration. In a statement released after the story broke, Blum acknowledged an “administrative oversight” in not listing his association with the company. But he went on to say that the story was “making a mountain out of a molehill.” The Iowa Democratic Party has called for a full ethics investigation into the case.

Proposed Changes Could Bring More Metered Parking to Millwork District

The city-owned parking lot at 10th and Elm Streets sits mostly empty on a recent morning (Courtesy: KCRG).

The city of Dubuque is considering moving two parking lots in the Historic Millwork District away from a monthly permit system, and towards more hourly-based meters. The two lots are both on Elm Street, near the Intermodal Transportation Center. Right now, only about twenty percent of the spots in those lots are used. Transit Manager Candace Eudaley says the city is thinking of opening the unused spaces to metered parking. But instead of adding a meter for each spot, the lots would have a single kiosk where time could be purchased. If the new system works, the city would look to use it in additional areas. The city currently brings in just shy of $3 million in revenue from parking fees and fines. That money is used to pay off recently constructed parking garages.

Reynolds Brings Back “See Something, Say Something” After Florida School Shooting

Reynolds

In the wake of last week’s deadly school shooting in Florida, authorities in Iowa have reinstituted a program that encourages citizens to report suspicious activity. Governor Kim Reynolds on Monday announced a re-launch of the state’s “See Something, Say Something” campaign. As she explains, the effort is bringing together several state and federal agencies that would respond to any number of disasters. Reynolds says that as effective as Iowa’s law enforcement community is, they can’t be everywhere. So they need the public’s help. Reynolds asks that Iowans not hesitate to report anything they think is out of the ordinary. While Reynolds says that Iowa has “reasonable and responsible” gun laws already in place, she did suggest that changes to federal law could make a difference. The “See Something, Say Something” campaign will be in place through the end of the year. The state instituted a similar effort in June of 2016 in response to a mass shooting at a nightclub in Florida.

Kennedy Supports Proposed Winter Driving Changes

Kennedy

Dubuque County’s sheriff is in favor of a couple of winter driving law changes being floated in the Iowa Legislature. One of those proposals would change the requirement for when drivers have to have their lights on. Right now, drivers are required to use lights if they can’t see 500 feet in front of their vehicle. The change would require light usage anytime there’s adverse weather, like fog, snow, sleet, and rain. Dubuque County Sheriff Joe Kennedy notes that’s already the requirement in some other states. Kennedy says visibility is one of the most important factors in safe winter driving, and that’s why so many new car features include external lights. The other proposal would change the color of safety lights on snowplows from orange to blue. Kennedy believes people are already used to slowing down for blue lights, such as those on ambulances and police vehicles. Both bills were approved by the Iowa Senate this week. They have yet to be taken up by the House.

Bowman Praises Suicide Prevention Training for Teachers

Bowman

Iowa teachers would receive yearly training on how to prevent student suicides under a bill that was passed by the state senate this week. The bill calls for educators to go through an hour of mental health training as part of their yearly recertification. Senator Tod Bowman of Maquoketa, who is a high school teacher and coach when he’s not at the Statehouse, spoke in favor of the bill. He described the loss of a student as “horrific.” After a student’s suicide, Bowman says the same question keeps coming up. Everyone from teachers to fellow students to community members wonder what could have been done differently. Bowman says he’s looking forward to taking the training and hopes it will make a significant impact on both teachers and students. The bill passed the Senate on a 48-0 vote. It’s not clear when, or if, it will be taken up by the House.

Police: Drunk Driver Calls Dispatch to Turn Self In

A Dubuque man was arrested for drunken driving after calling police to turn himself in early Tuesday morning. Shortly before 1:00 AM, a police officer saw a driver run a red light at the intersection of Loras Boulevard and Grandview Avenue. The officer tried to pull the driver over, but he wouldn’t stop. Instead, the driver continued north on Grandview and increased his speed to about 50 miles per hour, which is about double the posted speed limit along Grandview. Since that’s a residential area, the officer backed off and lost track of the car. The driver apparently had a change of heart, because he called dispatch after pulling into an alley along Adair Street. According to an arrest report, he admitted to drinking and driving, hitting another car, and also said that he had “lost the cops.” Officers located the driver, 33-year-old Steven Thomas, near his home on Adair Street and took him under arrest. He’s charged with Operating While Intoxicated and felony eluding. He was also cited for nine traffic violations, including striking an unattended vehicle, speeding, and driving with a suspended license.

Mail Truck Gets Caught in Jackson County Floodwaters

Courtesy: Jackson County Sheriff’s Department

A mail truck got stuck in floodwaters in Jackson County yesterday. That county’s sheriff’s department posted photos of the situation to its Facebook page, where it warned drivers about not driving onto water-covered roads. The mail truck had tried to cross County Road Z34 where it goes over the Maquoketa River. That’s about five miles north of Preston. But the river had pushed onto the roadway due to an ice jam. The truck was leased by Ryder, and only part of it was fully submerged. The driver was not hurt, as they were able to swim up to the dry part of the road.

Student Reportedly Makes Threat At Maquoketa High School

Authorities in Maquoketa are investigating a threat reportedly made by a student at the local high school. A release from the Maquoketa Police Department says at around 7:20 last night they received information about an “inappropriate comment or threat” made by a student who attends the high school. Administrators at the school were made aware of the threat and given the name of the student who made it. No charges or arrest have been made at this time and authorities are continuing their investigation. Police say they don’t believe there was a “viable threat’ towards students or staff in the district. If you have any information about this incident contact the Maquoketa School District administrative office or Maquoketa police.

Some Roads In Jo Daviess County Are Impassable Due To Heavy Rains

Heavy rains off and on over the past several days have forced the closure of a number of roads in Jo Daviess County. They include North Holland and East Roberts Roads in Scales Mound North Carr Road at the railroad crossing and the train tunnel at North and West Culvert. in Scales Mound. South Main, South Bench Street, West Buckhill North Bowden and Claude and Field Streets in Galena are closed. Numerous roads in Hanover are also impassable. They are South Fulton, Evergreen, West Rush, South Four Corners and the 69-hundred block of West Blanding Road. In Elizabeth, South Apple, South Goose Hollow, West Steele and South Burton are closed until further notice. The sheriff’s office warns motorists to not enter any standing water on the road.

Potosi Man Accused of 7th OWI

A southwest Wisconsin man is facing his seventh drunken driving charge. According to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy stopped a car that was driving across the center line in Potosi at about 12:40 Saturday morning. An arrest report states that the driver failed field sobriety tests and was taken into custody. 46-year-old Nicholas Osterhaus of Potosi has since been arrested on a 7th offense of Operating While Intoxicated. In addition, he was cited for driving left of the center line, driving without insurance, and driving after having his license revoked. Should Osterhaus be convicted, he’ll face a jail term of about 12 and a half years and a $25,000 fine.

Police Seek Info on Parking Ramp Damage Suspects

Dubuque Police are asking the public for help identifying a handful of suspects in a vandalism case. In the early morning hours of February 11, a group of men were seen on surveillance video inside the 5th Street Parking Ramp. Damage to one of the ramp’s stop arms was later found. Police believe the men either caused that damage, or know who did. Pictures of the suspects, who all appear to be white men in their 20s, have been posted to the police department’s ID4PD website. Additional images:

Council Asks for More Info on JFK Road Sidewalks

Dubuque City Council members decided they don’t have enough current information to decide whether sidewalks should be placed along a section of John F. Kennedy Road. An updated request to install a walkway along JFK between its intersections with Asbury Road and the Northwest Arterial was received earlier this month. Jan Stoffel, one of the authors of that request and a previous one filed in late 2007, told the council that the problems associated with not having sidewalks in the area haven’t gone away. Stoffel cited such factors as access to the Northwest Arterial pedestrian walkway and the safety of students who attend Eisenhower Elementary School. But Carol Meyer, who lives on JFK, says students in the neighborhood avoid walking on JFK not because there isn’t a sidewalk, but because it isn’t the safest way to get to school. Councilman David Resnick agreed, even though admitting he usually equates sidewalks with increased safety. Councilman Ric Jones assured those attending the meeting that there was little chance the council was going to make a decision. Councilman Brett Shaw echoed Jones’ comments, noting that he’d like to see updated estimates for cost and traffic in the area. The council voted 5-2 to refer the matter back to city staff, so it can be further studied. Councilmen Luis Del Toro and Jacob Rios cast the “no” votes.

Four Arrested After Late Night Party is Broken Up

Four people were arrested after Dubuque Police broke up a party that stretched into the early morning hours Sunday. At about 12:30 AM, officers were called to a home in the 1400 block of Washington Street on a report of loud music. They told the people inside to keep it down, and that charges would be filed if they were called back to the home. Officers were later called back to the house at about 2:40 AM. They knocked several times, but those inside refused to open the door. Police then secured a warrant and forced their way into the house. One of the first people they found was Devonte Ellison, who had an active warrant for his arrest. Police say he resisted arrest and threatened to kill an officer as he was being put in a squad car. He’s been charged with two counts of Interference with Official Acts and one of Harassment. Iesha Searcy lives in the home where the party was going on. Police say she also tried to pull away from an officer while being arrested, and had to be pushed up against a wall. She’s been charged with Disorderly Conduct and Interference. Two others, William Lumpkins and Chiquita Searcy, were also charged with Interference after being found hiding from police.

Cascade to Begin Streaming City Council Meetings

Cascade will be joining the ranks of communities that broadcast their city council meetings online. The council there voted earlier this month to partner with a company called Boxcast to stream meetings over the internet. Those meetings will then be archived on the city’s website. City Administrator Deanna McCusker had been looking into streaming meetings in an effort to increase the city’s transparency and engagement with citizens. Cascade has shown council meetings on its local cable channel for years. But adding an online component will allow more people increased access to those recordings. The initial cost of the streaming is just shy of $3,500. McCusker says the city will have the option to discontinue the service in a year. According to McCusker, giving people the chance to watch meetings they may not have been able to attend is one of the best features of the service. The streaming is expected to begin with the council’s meeting on March 26.

Dubuque Council to Hear Updated Call for JFK Road Sidewalk

A citizen will bring a renewed request for a sidewalk along John F. Kennedy Road to the Dubuque City Council tonight. Bill Stoffel first brought a petition for a sidewalk on JFK from its intersection with Asbury Road to the Northwest Arterial to the council in December of 2007. During the public hearing about the issue at that meeting, thirteen area residents spoke against the idea, with only one person speaking in favor. The council unanimously voted down Stoffel’s request. Earlier this month, Stoffel sent a new request to the city. In it, he notes that population density in the area has increased in the past ten years, thanks to a new subdivision on David Drive. He adds that record enrollment at Eisenhower Elementary School has added to the increased pedestrian traffic in the area. Tonight’s council meeting will begin at 6:00 in the Historic Federal Building.

Dubuquers Rally Against Gun Violence

Courtesy: KCRG

Dozens of Dubuque area residents spoke against gun violence during a rally in the Town Clock Plaza yesterday. Organizers dubbed the event “Not One More,” in the hope that there will never be another school shooting like the one last week in Florida where 17 students were killed. Sister Margaret Mear doesn’t support an outright ban on guns, but does question the need for an AR-15, the weapon used by the Florida school shooter. Dubuque Schools superintendent Stan Rheingans was one of the speakers, and noted some of the efforts schools have taken to prevent tragedies like the one in Florida. In addition to speakers like Rheingans and State Senator Pam Jochum, the names of the 17 students killed in Florida were also read.

Clayton, Delaware Counties Included in Winter Advisory

Courtesy: KCRG

Much of the state of Iowa, including a pair of counties in our listening area, could be in for some rough travel over the next couple days due to an approaching ice storm. The National Weather Service has including Clayton and Delaware counties in a Winter Weather Advisory that runs through noon tomorrow. Freezing rain is expected to move into those areas overnight tonight. As much as two-tenths of an inch of ice is possible, which will make travel very difficult. Heavier amounts of ice are expected to our west, so anyone having to travel that direction tomorrow may need to reconsider their plans.

Dubuque Drug Bust Location Is Same Place Where Woman Was Murdered Last Year

A Dubuque residence where a woman was murdered last spring was the site of Thursday night a drug bust. Dubuque Police officers went to the home in the 800 block of Kane Street a few minutes after 10:00 Thursday night. As they were arriving, 27-year-old William Kafar, Junior, ran out through a side door. Officers could smell marijuana coming from inside the house. As they searched the home, officers found – among other things – a couple of pills that Kafar did not have a prescription for, two digital scales, a butane torch which contained marijuana residue, various packaging materials, a marijuana cigarette, a bong and other drug paraphernalia, and more than $8,000 in cash. Kafar is charged with unlawful possession of prescription medications, delivery of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a controlled substance. The home is the residence where Samantha Link was stabbed to death by her boyfriend in March of 2017. Fontae Buelow was convicted of 2nd degree murder last month and faces up to 50 years in prison.

First Funnel Week Deadline Today In Des Moines

The first funnel has arrived for the 2018 session of the Iowa Legislature, and some bills are headed for the recycling bin. The lists of bills that won’t advance this session include reinstating the death penalty, a bill to make major changes in the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System and a moratorium of large-scale hog confinements. One of the bills that is still alive is legislation that addresses the opioid crisis in Iowa. Republican State Representative Shannon Lundgren of Peosta says a comprehensive mental health bill also survived funnel week. Lundgren is a member of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee and the Human Resources Committee. A school choice bill that would enact an education savings account program and expand charter school access fell by the wayside this year. The funnel is a procedural process aimed at reducing the large number of bills introduced every year. The deadline is today.

Dubuque Police Demographics Mostly Match Community

As police departments across Iowa look to increase the diversity within their ranks, leaders of the Dubuque Police say they’ll do the same, even though their numbers closely match city demographics. According to the 2010 census, 92% of Dubuque residents were white, with 4% being African-American and about 2.5% Latino. Of the 106 officers currently working for the Dubuque Police Department, 92% are white, and African-American and Latino officers each account for 4% of the force. Police Chief Mark Dalsing says the department strives to resemble the community it serves. Dalsing says it’s important for minority populations to feel like they have a representative within law enforcement. One area where police demographics are widely different than the general population is in the balance between the genders. Only about 10% of DPD officers are female, which Dalsing admits can cause some problems. Despite closely matching city statistics, Dalsing says the department will continue to look to hire female and minority officers. But decreased interest in the profession isn’t making that easy. Nationwide, nearly 79% of police officers are white. That outpaces the percentage of whites in the general population, which is about 74%.

Counterfeit Bills Show Up In Galena

At least three counterfeit 20 dollar bills have been passed at local businesses in downtown Galena recently. A police report says one of the fake twenties was discovered by a business owner when they tried to use it at an ATM over the weekend. Another was identified in a bank deposit. Galena police have notified the Galena Downtown Business Association, Dubuque police and the Secret Service about the counterfeit bills. If you have any information, contact the Galena Police Department.

Students Return To Class In Anamosa Following Bomb Scare 

Students at Anamosa High School are back in class, after being evacuated after a student reported some writing in a bathroom stall that said “There is a Bomb”. That happened at about 11:30 this morning. Police brought in a bomb sniffing K9 and bomb technicians to search the building. An all clear signal was given at around 1:40 this afternoon, and students, teachers and faculty were allowed back inside the high school. Police continue to investigate the incident, with help from several area law enforcement agencies.

After Florida School Shooting, Iowa Senate Forwards Bill Requiring Shooter Plan

In the wake of Wednesday’s deadly school shooting in Florida, there’s a renewed emphasis on school safety across the country. Here in Iowa, lawmakers have advanced a bill that would require school districts to have a plan in place for responding to an active shooter situation. As of now, some of the state’s rural districts don’t have any such plan in place, which came as a surprise to Senator Pam Jochum of Dubuque. The bill wouldn’t mandate any particular provisions to those plans, only that schools have one in place. But Jochum acknowledges that school security is only one part of preventing similar incidents. While she supports what she calls “common sense” gun regulations, Jochum says the bills being introduced and advanced by Republicans who hold the majority in the Statehouse go the other direction. Jochum believes improving mental health care will also help to prevent mass shootings. She sits on the Senate Human Resources committee, which has advanced a bill developed working group that gives recommendations on how Iowa’s mental health system could be bettered. But Jochum is skeptical about whether those ideas will be put in place. Yesterday’s incident in Florida is the sixth deadly school shooting in the US during the current school year.

Prostitution Suspect Receives Probation

A Dubuque man accused of paying for sex has been ordered to serve probation and pay a fine. 49-year-old DeWayne Johnson received a deferred judgment after pleading guilty to one count of Prostitution this week. Johnson has been placed on two years’ probation and will have to pay a fine of $650. According to prosecutors, Johnson gave Yolanda McDougal several checks in exchange for sex last October. McDougal was arrested after trying to cash the checks at a local credit union. It was after her arrest that she revealed to police that the checks had been payment for sex. McDougal is facing three counts of Forgery and one of Prostitution. She’s scheduled to go on trial next month.

Manchester Man Charged With Sexual Abuse

A Manchester man has been charged with sexually abusing a young boy. Court documents say 19 year old Luke Murray is charged with second degree sexual abuse in Delaware County District Court. Police say Murray sexually abused a boy younger than 12 in the summer of 2017 and that the incident was reported by the boy’s parents. An arrest warrant was issued for Murray last week. He made his initial court appearance this week and his bond was set at 25-thousand dollars.

Piantieri Murder Trial Delayed Until August

Piantieri

A new trial date has been set for a Dubuque man who is accused of killing a woman he met just hours earlier. Michael Piantieri is charged with 1st Degree Murder in the death of 42-year-old Beverly Puccio of Dubuque. She was found dead inside her North End home on December 3rd. Piantieri was arrested the following day. He entered a not guilty plea when he was arraigned ten days later. At that time, the judge in the case had scheduled his trial to begin on February 20, which is next Tuesday. Piantieri has since waived his right to a speedy trial, and the proceedings have been pushed back to August 7.

Illinois Man Pleads to Using Parents’ Names to Open Credit Cards

An Illinois man is headed to prison after admitting to using his mother and late father’s name to open several credit cards. 44-year-old Jason Mercer of Springfield was sentenced to three years in state prison by a Jo Daviess County judge on Tuesday. Mercer had pled guilty to one count of Aggravated Identity Theft, which is a felony. In exchange for his plea, three other counts were thrown out. According to prosecutors, Mercer used the name of his mother, a Hanover resident, to open three credit cards from late November 2015 through the end of 2016. He then maxed out each card, racking up more than $18,000 in charges. Another card was opened in the name of his late father. Mercer will have to pay about two and a half times the amount he stole in restitution, making for a total payment back to his mother of more than $47,000.

Wait List for Dubuque Rental Assistance Re-Opens

Low-income renters in Dubuque are once again able to put themselves on the wait list for the city’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. That’s a federal initiative that provides rent assistance to applicants who meet a series of requirements. The program currently assists about 800 people, and another 1,000 are expected to go onto the wait list as it opens for the first time in three years. Teresa Bassler is the city’s Assisted Housing Supervisor, and isn’t sure just how many new applicants there will be. Those who go on the wait list are spending an average of nearly three months there before being approved for a voucher. Bassler says the process to get a voucher can be a long one, with a series of steps applicants have to work through. Even then, landlords can still reject applicants simply because they use the voucher assistance. Naomi Clark, who chairs the Dubuque Renters Union, says that on top of being unfair, that’s one of the reasons the wait time is so long. Applications for the program will be accepted through Tuesday.

Previous Offender Arrested with $2,000 Worth of Meth Near Cascade

A Dubuque man who previously spent a year in state prison for drug possession is accused of trying to sell methamphetamine after an arrest early this morning. 42-year-old Jason Harry was pulled over for speeding on US Highway 151 near Cascade at about 1:40 AM. A K9 unit at the scene indicated that there were drugs in his vehicle, and a search of the car found more than 35 grams of methamphetamine. That’s about $2,000 worth of the drug. A small amount of marijuana and some drug paraphernalia were also in the vehicle. Harry’s been charged with Possession of Meth with Intent to Deliver and Possession of Marijuana. Harry had spent parts of 2014 and 2015 in prison on a drug charge out of Allamakee County, despite initially being sentenced to five years behind bars. His probation from that charge just ended last summer. A passenger in Harry’s vehicle, 35-year-old Keith Ellis, was arrested on a charge of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Dubuque’s Champps to Become an Old Chicago Location

A Dubuque sports bar will be closing down, only to be converted into a national chain known for their pizza and beer selection. Champps Americana, currently located next to the Best Western Plus on Dodge Street, will become an Old Chicago Restaurant and Taproom. That’s according to a news release from Frontier Hospitality Group, which owns the hotel and restaurant. Dubuque-based ROC Taproom will purchase the restaurant and convert it into an Old Chicago this spring. ROC had announced last November that it would be opening an Old Chicago in Dubuque. It will be the company’s seventh Old Chicago location within the state of Iowa. ROC also owns nearly thirty Wendy’s locations.

Dubuque Residents Facing Drug Charges in Scott County

A pair of Dubuque residents are each facing several drug charges following a chase in Scott County yesterday. According to Eldridge Police 28-year-old Timothy Dress and 21-year-old Saphire Lanhart were driving on US Highway 61 when an officer tried to pull their vehicle over for a faulty tail light. Dress, who was driving, did not pull over, instead leading the officer on a mile and a half long chase. A search of the vehicle reportedly turned up about 15 grams of methamphetamine, as well as a meth pipe, several small baggies, and a digital scale. Dress and Lanhart have both been charged with a felony count of Possession of Meth with Intent to Deliver. Dress has also been charged with Driving While Barred, Eluding, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was cited for several traffic violations as well. Lanhart has additionally been charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Interference with Official Acts. Police say she gave them a fake name while being arrested.

Police: Fennimore Man Sold Drugs Out of Hotel Room

A Grant County man is accused of supplying the drugs that led to a bust at a Dubuque hotel early yesterday morning. At about 1:15 AM, police were called to the Quality Inn near the intersection of Dodge Street and North Crescent Ridge. Hotel workers told officers that there had been a lot of suspicious foot traffic in and out of one room. After making three arrests in the parking lot of the hotel, police obtained a warrant for the room. That’s where they reportedly found 27-year-old Cimaron Mann of Fennimore with 16 grams of methamphetamine, $1,200 in cash, and a loaded handgun. Several other items in the room indicated to police that Mann had been selling drugs out of the room, something that one of the suspects arrested in the parking lot told them as well. Mann’s been charged with Delivery of Methamphetamine, which is a felony, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. The others arrested at the hotel include:

– 28-year-old Stephanie Soat of Dubuque, who was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after police found syringes, empty baggies, and unidentified pills in her car;

– 42-year-old Jamie Sheridan of Dubuque, who’s facing charges of Possession of Methamphetamine and Drug Paraphernalia after reportedly being caught with more than four grams of meth, a smoking pipe, and syringes in his pockets;

– 25-year-old Michael Bonz of Dubuque is charged with Operating While Intoxicated and Unlawful Possession of a Prescription Drug. He reportedly admitted to using cocaine, marijuana, and a prescription anxiety medication before driving to the hotel. Police say they found two additional pills in his vehicle.

Army Fugitive Who’d Been Living in Dyersville Going to Prison

A former fugitive who had been living in Dyersville will spend a little more than three years in federal prison. 57-year-old Daryl Grigsby had been living in Dyersville when authorities captured him last March. Grigsby was court-martialed from the Army following his conviction for aggravated assault. While additional charges were pending, he went on the run. He was convicted of an Oregon bank robbery while using a fake name in the 1990s. But in 2001, he skipped out on his probation. He began using another fake name and Social Security number and eventually ended up in Dyersville. Last September, Grigsby pled guilty to one count each of Aggravated Identity Theft and Misuse of a Social Security Number. He was sentenced Tuesday to 40 months in federal prison.

Betwell Trial Date Set

After more than two and a half years of competency hearings, it appears that a Dubuque murder suspect will finally be going on trial this spring. A Dubuque County judge has set a trial date of May 7 for 22-year-old Helmon Betwell. He’s accused of 1st Degree Murder, 1st Degree Sexual Abuse, and 3rd Degree Burglary in the September 2015 death of Nancy Krapfl. Betwell was initially deemed incompetent to stand trial and placed in a psychiatric facility in June of 2016. Attorneys have argued his competency four other times since then, including during a hearing earlier this month. The judge in the case has apparently decided that Betwell does have the mental capacity for a trial. Betwell is next due in court on the first day of the trial, which will take place in Davenport. His attorneys successfully argued last October that Betwell wouldn’t be able to get a fair trial in Dubuque County due to media coverage of the case.

Dubuque School Leaders to Talk Funding, Vouchers with Lawmakers in Des Moines

Representatives from the Dubuque Community Schools will be in Des Moines to talk with state legislators about a range of educational topics today. Superintendent Stan Rheingans says their main message to lawmakers will be to make education a top priority this year. Lawmakers are scheduled to hold a public hearing today on a proposal that would create a school voucher program. Rheingans hopes to have an opportunity to speak during that hearing. Rheingans plans to speak not just with local legislators, but those from other parts of the state as well. Joining Rheingans in Des Moines will be school board members Mike Donohue and Tami Ryan. She’s the board president.

Grassley Plans Stop in Manchester

Grassley

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley has scheduled a handful of town hall meetings on the eastern half of the state next week, including one in Delaware County. Those appearances are a part of the Republican’s annual effort to visit each of Iowa’s 99 counties. The Delaware County stop will see Grassley host a forum at the county courthouse in Manchester next Friday afternoon beginning at 4:00. The three other stops are all in the southeast corner of the state.

Blum: Trump Infrastructure Plan to Help Rebuild Locks and Dams

Blum

Iowa Congressman Rod Blum expects President Donald Trump’s infrastructure proposal to jump start improvements to the lock and dam system along the Mississippi River. Trump unveiled his plan Monday. It includes money to repair the 27 locks and dams along the river, eleven of which sit alongside the state of Iowa. Blum says the locks were built with about a 50-year life expectancy, but have been in use for more than 80 years. According to Blum, the lengths of the dams need to be extended as well. The plan calls for using $200 billion in federal money. Additional funding would come from state and local governments, and – in some cases – private companies. Democrats say the plan would put burdens on local government.

Juveniles Accused of Causing BB Gun Damage in Manchester

Manchester Police have arrested a pair of juveniles for damaging several properties around that community with BB guns last month. The police department has not released the names the juveniles, but they have both been charged with two felonies and several misdemeanors. Among the charges are felony counts of 2nd Degree Criminal Mischief and Intimidation with a Dangerous Weapon. The misdemeanors include Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, Tampering with a Witness, and 5th Degree Theft. The two are accused of shooting at numerous buildings and properties, as well as at least two vehicles around Manchester. The BB guns used had been reported stolen from a local store. The damage caused has been estimated at as much as $10,000.

Maquoketa’s DeForest Wins National Grocery Bagging Competition

Trevor DeForest of Maquoketa (white shirt) celebrates with family after winning the Iowa State Fair Best Bagger competition (Courtesy: Fareway).

A Jackson County man has been crowned the best grocery bagger in the entire United States. Last August, we told you that Trevor DeForest of Maquoketa had won the “Best Bagger” competition at the Iowa State Fair. That earned him a spot in the national competition, held this week during the National Grocers Association convention in Las Vegas. DeForest won there as well, topping 23 competitors from across the country. Baggers have to place about three dozen commonly purchased items into three grocery bags. They’re judged on speed, item arrangement, and weight distribution. DeForest works at the Fareway store in Maquoketa, and has more than two decades of bagging experience. He receives a prize of $10,000 for winning the competition.

Dubuque School Delegation In Des Moines Tuesday 

Vouchers, the extension of the one cent sales tax and funding education are a few of the topics that a delegation from the Dubuque Community Schools will be discussing with lawmakers in Des Moines today. Dubuque Superintendent Stan Rheingans says they’ll be lobbying legislators to make education a top priority this year. Lawmakers are scheduled to hold a public hearing on the state’s voucher program at the state capitol today, and Rheingans says he hopes to have an opportunity to speak. Rheingans says they will not only be lobbying local legislators to improve education, but lawmakers from across the state as well. Accompanying Rheingans to Des Moines will be board president Tami Ryan and board member Mike Donohue.

Delaware County Father Son Sentenced On Insurance Fraud Charge 

A Delaware County father and son have been sentenced to serve probation for their roles in an insurance fraud claim. According to court documents, 69 year old Richard Hartman of Manchester and his 44 year old son Tobin Hartman of Ryan pleaded guilty recently to fraudulent practices in the third degree, an aggravated misdemeanor. Both were charged following an investigation by the Iowa Insurance Division and the Delaware County Attorney’s Office. Investigators say that Richard Hartman filed a fraudulent insurance claim seeking money to cover damages he falsely reported. Hartman claimed that he struck his son’s barn with a skid loader, which caused the building to collapse. Tobin Hartman provided false statements to the insurance company, backing his father’s version of the events. The cost to replace the damaged building exceeded 240-thousand dollars, which the Hartman’s did not receive. They were sentenced to two years of supervised probation.

Blum On President’s Infrastructure Plan

Iowa Congressman Rod Blum says President Trump’s infrastructure proposal will go a long way in repairing the country’s roads and bridges. The President unveiled his plan Monday. It includes money to repair locks and dams. A lot of cargo travels up and down the Mississippi River each year using Lock and Dam 11 in Dubuque. Blum says locks have about a 50-year life expectancy, and the locks along the Mississippi have been in use for over 80 years. According to Blum the length of the dams need to be extended as well. The plan calls for using 200 billion in federal money to leverage local and state investments and would involve private corporations. Democrats say the plan would put unsustainable burdens on local government. Blum a Republican from Dubuque represents Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. He is seeking a third term in office in the fall.

School Bus Slides Into Dubuque House

Courtesy: KCRG

No one was injured and it appears that damage was minimal after a school bus slid into a Dubuque home yesterday afternoon. Shortly after 12:30 PM, a bus from the Independence school district was dropping off some band students in the 2100 block of Farley Street. That’s in Dubuque’s North End, near the Bethany Home Retirement Center. Two adults and two children were inside the home at the time, but were not injured.

Snowmobiler Seriously Injured in Crash in Jackson County

A collision with a culvert seriously injured a snowmobiler in Jackson County on Saturday. According to that county’s sheriff’s department, paramedics were called to an area about a mile east of LaMotte around 3:30 Saturday afternoon. That’s where a snowmobiler had struck a culvert and then landed in some nearby water. The unidentified person was taken from the scene by helicopter to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. There’s no word on their condition.

Shullsburg Woman Charged with 4th OWI

Driving with hazard lights on and getting stuck in a snow bank led to a southwest Wisconsin woman’s fourth drunk driving arrest. An officer from the Wisconsin State Patrol arrested 42-year-old Julie Culbert of Shullsburg on Saturday night. According to an arrest report, the trooper initially tried to pull Culbert over at about 6:50 PM as she was driving on US Highway 151 near Platteville. But Culbert reportedly did not stop, instead continuing on with her hazard lights flashing. She eventually turned into the Oak Park Trailer Park, where her vehicle got stuck in a snow bank. The trooper reports that Culbert was slurring her words and admitted that she had been drinking.

Platteville Police Investigate Money, Metal Theft

Authorities in Platteville are hoping the public can help them find the person who stole thousands of dollars worth of cash and precious metals from a local home. Platteville Police issued an alert about the incident last week and are asking anyone with information about the theft to contact them. The alert says the burglary happened sometime between February 2nd and the 9th. The suspect broke into the home through a front door, then pried open the home’s safe. Among the items that were taken are two 100-ounce silver bars, several thousand dollars in $100 bills, about $15,000 in gold coins, and various other rare coins. The alert does not say where the burglary happened, but notes that the owner of the home is a former jewelry store owner who deals both gold and silver.

Iowa Lawmakers Aim at 1% Funding Boost for Schools

Jochum

Iowa lawmakers appear prepared to undercut the governor’s recommendation for funding for the state’s schools. Back in January, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds asked that the Legislature pass a 1.5% increase in the amount of aid the state provides for schools. But both the House and Senate last week advanced measures that would put the increase in funding closer to 1%, but with some disagreement between the two chambers. State Senator Pam Jochum of Dubuque says it’s hard to predict what the final funding amount will be, since Republicans seem to want different things. The House bill would provide schools with an additional $32 million next school year. The measure approved by the Senate would bump that number to $46 million. Since the Senate amended a House bill, leaders in the House get to decide what happens next, according to Jochum. If the House’s plan would be approved, Jochum says it would actually mean a loss for Dubuque schools. Some of the money the Senate has approved above the House recommendation would to be used for things like offsetting transportation costs. Jochum is now in her 3rd term in the Iowa Senate. She represents the entire city of Dubuque.

Kind Introduces Ed Plan

The Congressman who represents Wisconsin’s 3rd district has introduced an education action plan to expand opportunities for Wisconsinites to earn a better life. Democrat Ron Kind says there are four components to the plan to equip students for success with preparation, affordability, training, and high-demand jobs. When Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act later this year, Kind says he will work to get many of his proposals included in the bill.

Digitizing County Docs

Nearly a decade’s worth of Dubuque County documents will be transferred to digital files under a project approved by the county supervisors. The board will pay a company about 76-thousand dollars to convert several thousand cards in the County Recorder’s office to a digital format. Right now, each card contains a microfilm copy of a document, whether it’s a mortgage, a contract, or the deed to a house. Recorder John Murphy it make sense on several fronts to digitize the documents. The county’s zoning office hopes their files are the next to be converted. The department’s offices have been nearly overtaken by filing cabinets that contain records going back to 1969. Zoning Administrator Anna O’Shea says the room those cabinets take up have limited the work her department can do.

MFC Food Pantry

A grant from John Deere Dubuque Works is enabling the Multicultural Family Center to distribute free food to families in need later this month. MFC has partnered with St. Stephens Food Bank for the free food distribution on February 23rd. To receive food items, pre-registration is required before the distribution day. Recipients must show one document proving they are a resident of Iowa and complete some paperwork when they come to pick up the food. Proof of income is not required. To register, call or stop by the center. Space is limited and spots are filled on a first-come-first-served basis.

Even Odd Parking In Dubuque This Weekend 

Because of the latest snowfall, the city of Dubuque will be implementing its’ even-odd numbered parking system this weekend. On Saturday parking will not be allowed on the “even” numbered side of the streets and on Sunday parking will not be allowed on the “odd’ numbered side of the streets. The only streets affected are those with snow route signs, which include the times that parking is restricted. Vehicles in violation of the parking restrictions will be ticketed and violators will face a 30 dollar fine. In addition, the city will continue to use the CodeRED emergency notification system to phone residents who live on the odd/even snow route.

Dane County Fatality And Dtiver ID

Authorities in Dane County have release the name of a woman who was killed after being struck by a vehicle driven by a Dubuque resident early Thursday morning. A release from the Sheriff’s Office says the fatality victim is 30 year old Chelsea Oakley of Anamosa. The driver has been identified as 34 year old Jamie Winger of Dubuque. Oakley was walking across U.S. Highway 151 where it intersects with Wisconsin 18, when she was struck by Winger’s vehicle which was traveling south on 151 at around 12:20 a.m. Oakley was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities continue to investigate the crash and so far no charges or citations have been filed.

Sculptors Turning Snow into Art in Washington Park

A snow sculptor checks his work in Washington Park Thursday (Courtesy: City of Dubuque).

One way to make use of all of this snow is to turn it into a sculpture. That could mean a snowman in your front yard. But for four teams of artists, they’re working to turn the snow into public exhibitions. The City of Dubuque and the Dubuque Art Museum will host an “Art in the Park event centered around snow sculpting in Washington Park Saturday afternoon. All week, teams of sculptors have been working to turn eight foot tall blocks of snow into art pieces. This is the first time Dubuque has hosted a snow sculpture competition, and artist Hugh McCarron hopes the event continues to grow. McCarron has been sculpting for the better part of a decade. But for a team of Clarke University students, this is their first time. Kayla Winandy is one of those students, and says the task initially seemed a bit daunting. The public can view those sculptures, and vote for their favorite, tomorrow afternoon at Washington Park. Attendees will have the chance to learn how to sculpt snow as well.

Link Owners Unsure of What’s Next After Fire

Flames shoot out through the roof of Link Hydraulics Thursday morning (Courtesy: KCRG).

The owners of a Dubuque business that was destroyed by fire early yesterday morning are trying to figure out what’s next. Link Hydraulic’s building just off of US Highway 20 west of Dubuque is called a “total loss.” Owners estimate the total amount of the damage at more than a million dollars. That includes multiple clients’ vehicles that were inside the building at the time of the fire. But co-owner Anne Link says they feel fortunate no one was hurt. Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fire.

Galena Man Runs from Officers, Rams Squad Car

A Jo Daviess County man scheduled to be taken to a mental health facility ran from officers and rammed one of their vehicles yesterday afternoon. That’s according to the Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Department. A release from the office says that officers were trying to locate the 63-year-old Galena man yesterday afternoon. His vehicle was spotted going east on US Highway 20 in the Menominee area around 3:45 PM. Officers tried to pull him over, but the man sped off. Stop sticks were used on his vehicle in Galena, but didn’t completely disable the vehicle. After a deputy maneuvered in front of the man’s car, he rammed the deputy’s vehicle several times. The man was eventually taken into protective custody at his home following a brief struggle with officers. The man’s name has not been released and no charges have been filed against him to this point.

Blum On Possible Goverment Shutdown: “I’m Not Sure What’s Going To Happen” 

It appears that another government shutdown is inevitable as a midnight deadline to pass a budget resolution approaches. That’s according to Iowa Congressman Rod Blum. A budget deal was reached by Senate leaders yesterday to keep the government operating past midnight, but some conservative Republicans say they’re concerned about how much it would add to the deficit. Democrats want the budget to include a plan that addresses Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Blum says he doesn’t believe there are enough Republican votes in the House to pass the bill in its’ current form. Blum says a complete shutdown of the government is a misnomer. He says because the House has already passed all 12 spending bills, another shutdown would only affect about 25 percent of government operations. If the latest continuing resolution to the budget bill is passed before midnight, it would only be for 30 days. Blum says the country is looking at a trillion dollar deficit going into the fiscal year 2019. He says the government needs to get discretionary spending under control, which would ultimately reduce that trillion dollar deficit.

Dubuque Man Involved In Vehicle vs Pedestrian Fatality 

A Dubuque man was involved in a fatal crash with a pedestrian near Madison yesterday morning. According to the Dane County Sheriff’s Department, the man was driving south on US Highway 151 at about 12:20 AM, when he struck the woman who was walking on the highway. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators have not released the 34-year-old Dubuque man’s name, but say he is cooperating with them. No charges have been filed to this point. The crash did force the southbound lanes of Highway 151 to be closed in the area for nearly six hours. The woman’s name has not been released either.

Finkenauer’s Run for Congress Featured in “Elle”

Finkenauer

A Dubuque lawmaker’s run for Congress has been featured in a national publication. Elle magazine ran a story on their website this week about State Representative Abby Finkenauer’s bid to represent Iowa’s 1st Congressional district. The magazine showcases Finkenauer as an example of a young woman running for office this year. Elle had previously profiled Finkenauer in June of 2015, just months after she won her seat in the Iowa Legislature. Finkenauer has now spent two terms as the 99th District representative, but is giving up that seat for the chance to take on incumbent Republican Congressman Rod Blum. Finkenauer is one of four Democrats in the running for their party’s nomination in the 1st District. You can read Elle’s piece on Finkenauer here.

What Should You Do If You’re in a Snow-Related Crash?

An Iowa Dept. of Transportation camera caught the impact of a multi-car pileup on Interstate 35 near Ames.

Living in the Midwest, it’s almost a guarantee drivers will be involved in a snow-related crash at some point. But there are some things that can be done after a crash to minimize the damage. At least one of the seven people killed on Iowa’s roads during Monday’s snowstorm was struck by a vehicle after getting out of their own car. Trooper Dan Loussaert of the Iowa State Patrol says most of the time, a driver will be in less danger if they stay in their crashed vehicle. If possible, Loussaert advises drivers to move their cars as far off the road as possible after they’ve been in a crash. That will cut down on the risk of another car getting involved in the wreck.

Link Hydraulic Called “Total Loss” After Morning Fire

Flames shoot out through the roof of Link Hydraulics Thursday morning (Courtesy: KCRG).

A business on Dubuque’s West End is being called a “total loss” after an early morning fire. Firefighters were called to Link Hydraulic on Westside Court at about 4:15 this morning. That’s just off of US Highway 20, near Menards. At one time, flames could be seen shooting dozens of feet into the air through the building’s roof. As they were fighting the fire, Dubuque fire crews called out to the Asbury and Centralia/Peosta departments for help. The bulk of the fire is now reportedly under control, though firefighters will remain on scene until later this morning. It doesn’t appear that anyone was inside the building at the time of the fire. The cause is now under investigation. Fire officials are asking those driving eastbound on Highway 20 this morning to be cautious as they approach the area of the fire, as firefighters are still on scene.

UPDATE: Dubuque Relay For Life Kickoff Postponed

UPDATE: Due to the impending snowstorm, the Relay for Life kickoff has been postponed.

Previous story:

Fundraising for one of Dubuque’s largest cancer awareness events begins tonight. Organizers of the local Relay for Life are holding the event’s kickoff at the Roshek Building at 5:30 this evening. Co-Chair Kristi Hendricks says the kick-off gives Relay teams an update on this year’s event, as well as some fundraising ideas. For many years, the Relay was held at Senior High School’s Dalzell Field. It then moved to the Port of Dubuque. Last year, it was held in the Town Clock Plaza. This year, it moves again…to Washington Park in downtown Dubuque. According to Hendricks, Relay for Life is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the American Cancer Society, with all of the money supporting ACS programs. This year’s Relay is scheduled for Friday, June 1.

Supervisors Commit $300,000 to Fight Opioid Crisis

Courtesy: KCRG

The Dubuque County Supervisors this week committed $300,000 to Mercy’s Turning Point Clinic in their fight against the ongoing opioid crisis. Supervisors Dave Baker and Jay Wickham voted in favor of providing the money to the clinic, while Supervisor Daryl Klein was against the plan. Turning Point offers substance abuse treatment. Mercy’s Director of Psychiatric Services  says they asked for the money because their funds from a federal grant will end in July. That federal money allowed them to provide medication-assisted treatment to more than 100 people over the last 2.5 years. The money from the county will be used to buy the medication that’s used to treat addicts. Supervisor Dave Baker says this the money is a step in the right direction, but he hopes other public and private organizations step up to help fight the opioid epidemic.

Senior’s Speech Team is Tops in Iowa

Speech students from Dubuque Senior rehearse (Courtesy: KCRG).

Senior High School can boast having the best speech team in the state of Iowa. The school has fifteen events that have been chosen perform at the All-State Speech Festival next weekend in Ames. Add in six additional groups received All-State recognition, but won’t perform, and that’s the highest number of All-State entrants of any school in the state. The groups qualified for the festival with performances at state contests last weekend. Paige Kizer is one of the students who’ll be at the All-State Festival, and says it’s what they’ve been working toward all year. Speech participants perform in categories including Ensemble Acting, Musical Theater, and our favorite, Radio Broadcasting. Cascade’s team is sending three groups to the All-State Festival, while Bellevue has one participant.

Police Statistics: Dubuque Crime Falls in 2017

Courtesy: City of Dubuque

Crime was down in Dubuque in 2017. That’s according to figures released by the Dubuque Police Department this week. According to those statistics, crimes against people – things like homicides, robberies, and sexual assaults – dropped by more than 16% from the previous year. Police Chief Mark Dalsing is encouraged to see those headline-grabbing types of crimes fall. Property crimes – such as burglaries, car break-ins, and other thefts – fell by nearly 12%. But motor vehicle robberies were on the rise, jumping by nine percent. Dalsing says that follows an ongoing trend. Crime seemed to hit a peak in 2015, a year that saw highs in murders, assaults, and thefts. But many crime categories have dropped off sharply since then. Dalsing admits it can be difficult to determine exactly what causes those ups and downs. A recent survey found that only about 62% of Dubuque residents say they feel in the community. But Dalsing says statistics show a clear pattern that goes against some perceptions. Dubuque Police “cleared” about 89% of crimes in 2017. “Clearing” is a term used in law enforcement when officers have done everything they can to bring a resolution to the issue. The national average for clearance is only about 45%.

Lake Delhi Death Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

The suspect in a death on Lake Delhi has pleaded not guilty. 36-year-old Joshua Juengel of Manchester faces charges of Reckless Driving, Making a False Report, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, and Homicide by Vehicle. According to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, Juengel drove his SUV onto Lake Delhi on the night of January 7. After driving across the ice, the vehicle flipped and broke through the ice. Juengel was able to free himself, but reportedly did not attempt to help his passenger, 23-year-old Alex Salow of Delhi. His body was found inside the submerged SUV the following day. Juengel had told authorities that he had gotten out of the vehicle before it went through the ice. But investigators say evidence found at his home, including a pair of frozen shoes, go against Juengel’s claims.

Dubuque Man Gets Five Years for Leading Bank Robbery Chase

A Dubuque man will spend five years in prison for leading authorities on a high speed chase following a bank robbery last year. 41-year-old Dante Rhodes was sentenced on an Eluding charge in Dubuque County court this week. That’s in addition to the nine years he’ll spend in federal prison for his role in that robbery. Those sentences will be served at the same time. Rhodes held up the Fidelity Bank branch in Maquoketa last March. After taking about $6,500 from the bank, he took off in a stolen car. Authorities from several agencies tried to pull him over, but Rhodes continued into Dubuque County. The chase ended when his vehicle crashed near Key West.

Platteville Man Killed in Weekend Crash

A Platteville man died after colliding with another vehicle southeast of LaCrosse on Saturday. According to the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department, the crash happened on Wisconsin Highway 27 near Westby early Saturday evening. 22-year-old Chase Galle of Platteville was southbound when he lost control due to snow and ice that had accumulated on the road. His vehicle crossed the center line and crashed into a northbound car. Galle died while being taken to a local hospital. A passenger in the other car was treated and released. According to his Facebook profile, Galle was serving in the Wisconsin Army National Guard and was also a volunteer firefighter in Platteville.

Advisor: Bad Market Days Test Investors

Kallback

Even after an 1,100 point drop in the stock market on Monday, a local economist says many investors are still likely in good shape. Brian Kallback is a Professor of Finance at Loras College as well as a Certified Financial Planner. He says days where the market drops by six percent don’t come along very often…and those with a solid investing plan will be OK even when they do. While some are pointing to the recent tax reform bill as a cause for the drop, Kallback says there have been indications of coming inflation since before the tax cuts were proposed. Kallback suggests that technology may have caused the decline to worsen, as many firms have shifted away from using human traders and now rely on mathematical formulas. When the market has a bad day, Kallback says it’s actually investors who are tested, not the market itself. Even with the losses of the past few days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is still up more than 20% since this time last year.

Police: Charges Likely Against Suspect in Stabbing

Dubuque Police say charges are pending against the person who stabbed a woman Monday night. A few minutes before 8:00, a woman called police to report that she’d been stabbed at her apartment in the 500 block of Loras Boulevard. According to the woman, she and a man had been arguing on her porch. The disagreement then turned physical, which is when the woman was stabbed. She was taken to Finley Hospital and is expected to survive her injuries. Charges against the suspect could be filed as early as later today.

Delaware County Legislator Running for Iowa Ag Secretary

Zumbach

A state lawmaker from Delaware County plans to make a run for state agriculture secretary. State Senator Dan Zumbach, a Republican from Ryan, has announced that he’ll be a candidate for the post this fall. Iowa’s current Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, has been nominated for a post in the federal agriculture department, though that nomination has been on hold for nearly four months. In the event that Northey’s nomination hasn’t been settled by this fall and he chooses to run for another term, Zumbach says he would step aside. Zumbach is a farmer when he’s not at the Statehouse. He was first elected to the State Senate in 2012. He’s the 4th candidate – and 3rd Republican – to join the race for Agriculture Secretary.

Accused Murderer Now Facing Witness Tampering Charge

Piantieri

The suspect accused of killing a Dubuque woman last December is facing an additional charge of trying to influence his girlfriend’s testimony. 36-year-old Michael Piantieri was arrested back on December 4th on charges that he murdered 42-year-old Beverly Puccio two days earlier. In addition to the 1st Degree Murder charge he’s already facing, Piantieri had a count of Tampering with a Witness added to his docket yesterday. According to court documents, Piantieri contacted his girlfriend 18 times between his arrest and the end of January. Most of those occasions were phone calls that she hung up on. But transcripts of the phone calls and letters show Piantieri telling the woman that she shouldn’t be talking to police and that if he goes to prison, it will be her fault. If Piantieri is convicted on the Tampering charge, he’d face a two year prison sentence. He’s already looking at life in prison if convicted of Puccio’s murder.

Policies, Priorities Discussed at Midterm Caucuses

Dubuque Democrats caucused at several locations, including here at Loras College, Monday night (Courtesy: KCRG).

They didn’t draw as much attention as during a presidential election year, but Republicans and Democrats across Iowa held their annual caucuses on Monday night. Attendees say these midterm caucuses are also important, because they help the parties determine what their platforms and priorities will be for the upcoming congressional and gubernatorial elections. Among the issues discussed at the Democratic caucus at Loras College were the opioid crisis, the privatization of Iowa’s Medicaid system, and funding for the state’s public schools. That’s a topic that caucus goer Alan Huckleberry told KCRG is especially important to him. The winter storm that pushed across Iowa during the day yesterday likely kept some people away from the caucuses, but both parties report better than expected turnout.

City Approves Incentives for Heartland Financial, Cottingham & Butler

A pair of Dubuque-based companies will receive more than $400,000 in state incentives as they expand and add jobs this year. The Dubuque City Council on Monday night approved a pair of contracts regarding Iowa Economic Development Authority incentives going to Heartland Financial and Cottingham and Butler. Heartland is planning a $2 million expansion that would see the company take over an additional floor of the Roshek Building. They’ll receive just more than $200,000 in state incentives for that project, which will add about thirty jobs to the company’s workforce. As for Cottingham and Butler, they’ve continued to expand over the past three years, and will also be moving into an additional floor of the Roshek Building, as well as adding employees at their headquarters on Main Street. That company will get about $220,000 in incentives as they add a little more than one hundred employees this year.

Monday Snowfall Impacts Tri-State Roads, Schools

Yesterday’s snowfall dropped a couple of inches of new accumulation on the Tri-State Area, impacting roads, schools, and a handful of city services in Dubuque. Several area schools let out early yesterday, and a few have delayed the beginning of their classes today. The Carnegie-Stout Public Library here in Dubuque also won’t be opening at its usual time. A heating issue at the library forced it to close at about 4:00 yesterday afternoon. It’s expected to reopen at 3:00 PM today. The official snowfall report from the Dubuque Regional Airport for yesterday was 2.1 inches, though that does not include any flurries that fell overnight. Higher amounts between 3.5 and 4 inches have been reported in communities like Cascade and Maquoketa.

Snowfall Causes Deadly Day on Iowa Roads

An Iowa Dept. of Transportation camera caught the impact of a multi-car pileup on Interstate 35 near Ames.

There don’t appear to have been many significant crashes here in the Dubuque area as a result of yesterday’s snowfall, but it was a deadly day on roadways across Iowa. The Dubuque Police Department had reported about a dozen crashes through about 5:00 yesterday evening. It’s not known how much that number climbed after the evening commute. Meanwhile, a total of seven people were killed in crashes across Iowa yesterday. Likely the most notable of the crashes happened on Interstate 35 near Ames, where an estimated 70 vehicles were involved in a chain reaction crash. The Iowa State Patrol reports that its troopers responded to nearly two hundred crashes across the state. Fatal crashes also happened in Cedar Rapids, at two spots along Interstate 80, and in Winneshiek County, where two teenagers were killed.

Dubuque Snow, Ice Budget in Good Shape

Snow falls on Locust Street in downtown Dubuque Monday (Courtesy: KCRG).

Heading into yesterday’s winter storm, Dubuque still had plenty of money remaining in its budget for snow and ice removal. According to Public Works Director John Klostermann, that budget included $1.5 million at the beginning of the season. The fund was still sitting at around $900,000 heading into this week, thanks mostly to the minimal snowfall we’d seen until yesterday. If there is money left over at the end of the winter, Klostermann says the city has options for how they can transfer those funds. Last year’s left over money was used to pave about two miles worth of city streets.

Van Milligen’s Budget Recommendation: Lower Taxes, Fewer Employees

Van Milligen

Lower property taxes, fewer city employees, and the end of a hiring freeze. These are just a few of the things Dubuque City Manager Mike Van Milligen outlined as he presented his budget recommendations to the City Council during their meeting last night. According to Van Milligen, the tax rates will be decreasing for all property classifications. But due to an increase in assessed home values, residential property owners will see an increase in their effective tax rate. Based on Van Milligen’s recommendations, a citywide hiring freeze that’s been in effect for the past few years will come to an end in the budget year that begins in July. Even with the end of that hiring freeze and the reinstatement of several positions, the city will still have about a half-dozen fewer employees in the upcoming fiscal year. As far as the city’s debt, Van Milligen’s plan includes the retirement of about $19 million of debt in the coming fiscal year. That sets a trend that would see the city pay back nearly $90 million in the next five years. While property taxes will fall, fees for utilities like water, sewer, and garbage collection will be going up. The City Council will hold a total of seven budget hearings over the next three weeks. The final one of those hearings, when the council could potentially approve the entire city budget, is scheduled for February 28.

Snow To Accumulate In Tri-States

Tri-State area residents are gearing up for today’s snow event, which is expected to drop several inches of precipitation over our listening area. KCRG TV Meteorologist Justin Gherts says snow is already falling in western parts of the state and will spread eastward throughout the morning. Since it has been cold the past couple of days, Gherts says the pavement has chilled quite a bit, and once the snow starts to fall roads will become slick quickly. Gherts says expect between 3 and 6 inches of snow to fall over our listening area before all is said and done. Lower amounts are expected in the north, with heavier amounts in the southern part of the state.

Two Illinois Residents Face Drug And Other Charges 

Two people face drug and other charges in Jo Daviess County after trying to elude authorities during a traffic stop. According to the Sheriff’s Office, a deputy attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle in the area of U.S. Highway 20 and South Derinda Road in rural Elizabeth Saturday afternoon. The vehicle sped away, crossing three lanes of oncoming traffic, before stopping on the shoulder of the westbound lanes. The driver, later identified as 28 year old Rheem Muhammad of Chicago, then jumped out and fled from his vehicle and headed into a wooded area. A K-9 was brought in to track Muhammad. He was later spotted by a deputy in the area of South Becker Road in a different vehicle. Muhammad had stolen the vehicle and led deputies on a short pursuit. Muhammad then crashed the vehicle near Highway 20 and South Derinda and was taken into custody. Muhammad faces charges of fleeing to elude police, possession of a controlled substance, theft of a motor vehicle and numerous traffic violations. Another person, 24 year old Kenya McGrew of Rock Island was also taken into custody. McGrew is charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Dubuque House Fire Causes Significant Damage 

A house fire in Dubuque caused the closure of a portion of a street over the weekend. Crews responded to the fire in the 26-hundred block of Marywood Drive shortly after 10 Saturday morning. All of the occupants were able to get out of the home safely before fire fighters arrived. Heavy flames were coming from the rear of the home, extending into the attic area. The fire was quickly brought under control, but the structure sustained significant damage. So far there’s no word on the cause of the fire or how much damage it did. The 26 hundred block of Marywood Drive was closed for about an hour, while crews fought the blaze.

McCarron Will Be On Sidelines At Super Bowl


A Dubuque native will be on the sidelines of football’s biggest game on Sunday. Riley McCarron played for Wahlert Catholic High School, before moving on to play for the Iowa Hawkeyes. McCarron is now on the New England Patriot’s practice squad. He’ll be suited up and on the sidelines for the Super Bowl. Riley’s sisters Maddie McCarron and Jessica Schumacher say he’s working hard to join the active roster. In the meantime Maddie McCarron says there are plenty of people back home rooting for him. Riley’s parents and brother will be at the Super Bowl to watch the game with him. His sisters will be cheering from Iowa.

Spahn & Rose Appoints New VP

There’s a new vice-president at Spahn & Rose Lumber Company in Dubuque. John Cook has been appointed as the new VP of the company’s chain supply. In his new role, Cook will have overall responsibilities for vendor and inventory management, purchasing, assortment planning and product distribution. Cook currently serves as the general manager at Spahn & Rose’s Dubuque yard. He will begin his new duties on February 15th. Spahn & Rose is headquartered in Dubuque and operates 24 retail lumber and building material stores across Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. The company also operates a lumber distribution facility in Independence.

Holy Family Eagle Give Day Highly Successful 

Everything came up roses for Holy Family Catholic Schools during the second annual Eagle Give Day this week. Holy Family raised over 32-thousand dollars during the event which ran from 9 in the morning Tuesday until nine Wednesday morning. Kari Nickol with Holy Family says the money goes to their annual fund, which helps to support day-to-day operations within the Holy Family System. This year’s totals from Eagle Give Day surpassed last year’s by over 10-thousand dollars. There were 360 donors this year. Last count Eagle Give Day had raised nearly 33-thousand-500 dollars.

Arrests Made In SW Wisconsin Thefts

Authorities in Lafayette County have released the names of the people arrested in connection with a string of thefts from vehicles in southwestern Wisconsin. A search warrant was executed Wednesday afternoon at a residence in the 200 block of 2nd Street in Benton. Five of the 6 occupants were detained for questioning. Three of the people were arrested and are facing charges. They are 20 year old Blake Hibner of Cassville and 19 year old Aaron Coley of Benton. They are both charged with two counts each of theft of a firearm. Handguns were stolen from vehicles in Cuba City and Benton during the early morning hours of January 31st. Coley and Hibner also face one count each of burglary for their involvement in a break-in at the Benton Bible Church. That happened the night of January 13th or the early morning of the 14th. 21 year old Kethan Rood of Platteville was arrested and charged with theft for his role in the gun thefts in Cuba City. Rood and a male juvenile also face charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. An investigation began on December 21st, after thefts from vehicles were reported in Shullsburg.