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Dubuque & Tri-State News

TownePlace Suites Groundbreaking In Millwork District


A ground breaking ceremony was held today for the first extended stay hotel in Dubuque. TownePlace Suites Marriott will be located in the Millwork District on the former Spahn & Rose Lumber Warehouse property in the 11-block of Washington Street. The hotel will be managed by Kinseth Hospitality Companies based in North Liberty. Vice President Ben Kinseth says the growing Millwork District is what sealed the deal. The four-story 84 room hotel will include plenty of amenities. Kinseth says the hotel will accommodate those who stay for one night or an extended period of time. Construction on the hotel will begin next month. Funding for the 11-and-a-half million dollar hotel is being provided by local investors and Kinseth Hospitality. The project is expected to be completed sometime in the spring of 2018.

4+ Inches of Rain Falls on Parts of Clayton County

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

Bellino Fireworks Files Complaint Against Four Cities, But Not Dyersville

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

Dubuque Plans Connection from Arterial Trail to Bergfeld Rec Area

Map Courtesy: Google

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

Jo Daviess Traffic Crash 

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

Two More Dog Biting Incidents In Dubuque 

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

Mayor Denies Accusation He “Played Politics” from Council Table

Buol, Del Toro

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

Councilman Luis Del Toro’s Tuesday morning Facebook post.

Dubuque’s Opioid Crisis Likely to Continue for Several Years

Sprenger

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

Kennedy Approves Supreme Court Ruling on Courthouse Gun Bans

Kennedy

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

Former ARC Employee Accused of Stealing from Client

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

Miller-Riverview Park to Re-Open Friday

Miller Riverview Park (Courtesy: City of Dubuque)

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

Dyersville Melanoma Survivor Urges Sunscreen Use

Slattery

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

Dubuque Man Sentenced on Federal Gun Charge

Mace

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

Twenty Dubuque Locations Now Approved to Sell Fireworks

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

Semi Crash Blocks Traffic, Injures Driver

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

Maquoketa City Manager’s Salary Released

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

WD School Board President Not Seeking Re-Election

Knuth

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

Gremmel Family Questions Berry’s Release for Medical Appointments

Berry

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

Old Mill Road Closed Through Next Week

Courtesy: Google

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

Five Flags Seeking Input Through Online Survey

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

Potosi Woman Hits $300,000 Jackpot

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

Dubuque Council Passes 2nd Reading of Fireworks Update

Courtesy: KCRG

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

Human Rights Commission Calls Anti-Gay Graffiti “Unacceptable”

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

Health Department Investigating Bite at Dubuque Dog Park

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

Dubuque Man Charged After Crash 

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

UPDATE: Police ID Man Injured in Late Night Shooting

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

Finkenauer Scores Endorsement from Emily’s List

Finkenauer

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

Harrison Ford Spotted in Galena

Courtesy: Vinny Vanucchi’s Facebook Page

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

Mineral Point Man Faces 16 Criminal Damage Charges

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

Additional Fireworks Sales Licenses Approved

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

– All three of the Dollar General stores in Dubuque

– Dubuque’s Menard’s store

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

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

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

Dubuque Council to Revisit Fireworks Ordinance

Dubuque City Council

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

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

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

Jackson Co Jail Inspection

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

Ernst On Health Care Reform

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

Lafayette County Fatal

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

Another Downtown Power Outage

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

Train Derails North of Dubuque

Courtesy: KSFY

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

4th Street Elevator Temporarily Closed for Repairs

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

Mario’s Owner Dies at 73

Courtesy: KCRG

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

Platteville Man Charged With Felony 

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

Dubuque Teacher Pleads Not Guilty To Drug Charges

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

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

Marklein

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

Double Up Food Bucks Program Expanding

Dubuque Farmer’s Market

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

Iowa’s First Virtual Reality Arcade Open in Dubuque

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

Scattered Rain, Hail Showers Hit Dubuque

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

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

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

Courtesy: KCRG

Emily Dougherty

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

1,800 Without Power in Downtown Dubuque

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

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

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

Stores in Dubuque, Dyersville, Monticello Get Fireworks OK

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

Tracking Bands Placed on Courthouse Falcon

Courtesy: Associated Press

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

Tips For Staying Cool In The Heat

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

Temporary Cooling Stations Set Up In Jo Daviess County

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

Grant County Gas Theft Arrest 

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

Sunnycrest Celebrates 100th Anniversary

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

Increased Deer Activity Leads to Higher Chance for Crashes

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

Mom: Girl Injured in Backbone Park Fall “Improving”

Marta Wehrspann (Family Photo)

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

Cascade Prohibits Fireworks Use

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

Dubuque Retailers Approved for Fireworks Sales

Courtesy: KCRG

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

New Pool to Be Built at Hempstead

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

 

 

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

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

Bivins Won’t Seek Re-Election 

Bivins

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

Shooting Suspect Now Charged with Attempted Murder

Grover

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

Cleanup Work Underway at Miller-Riverview Park

Miller Riverview Park (Courtesy: City of Dubuque)

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

Ex-Delhi Clerk Pleads Guilty to Federal Theft Charge

Billings

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

Three Run Over by Tractor in Darlington Parade Lineup

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

Liquor License Suspension Schedules Explained

Courtesy: PopSugar

Brumwell

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

Changes Coming to “All That Jazz”

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

Man Injured in Sunday AM Shooting Identified

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

Tractorcade to Impact Travel in Dyersville Area

Courtesy: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

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

Monday Route Map

Tuesday Route Map

Wednesday Route Map

Dubuque Street Closings  

 

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

Lafayette UTV Fatal

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

Darlington Storm Sirens

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

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

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

Home Sales in Iowa         

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

Wisconsin’s Biennial Budget

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

Fans Still Needed By Salvation Army

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

Bryant Elementary Break In

Dubuque police are investigating a break in that took place at Bryant Elementary School early Friday morning. More than two thousand dollars worth of electronics were reportedly stolen. A police report says officers were alerted to the break in when an alarm went off at the school. The burglary happened between 12:21 a.m. and 12:47. A window leading to one of the school’s portable classrooms was broken and an amplifier and a projector were stolen. So far no arrest have been made.

Fans Still Needed By The Salvation Army

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

Two Men Arrested After Gun Fires When Dropped in Parking Lot

The accidental discharge of a handgun has led police to file weapons and drug charges against two men. Officers were called to Fashion Touch Dry Cleaners on Grandview Avenue at about 4:30 yesterday afternoon. Witnesses there said that a man had dropped a gun while getting out of a car in the parking lot. When the gun hit the ground, it fired a round into the air. The man then drove away. Investigators used traffic camera footage to track the vehicle used, and later located it near the intersection of 22nd and Washington Streets. That’s where 32-year-old Christopher Roundtree and 36-year-old Maurice Harris were arrested. Roundtree has been arrested on five charges, including possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, reckless use of a firearm, and operating while intoxicated. Harris has been charged with possession of a controlled substance.

American Customer Care to Add 180 Jobs

A Connecticut company plans to add 180 jobs after moving to a new location in Dubuque. American Customer Care is moving to a building that had previously been occupied by McGraw-Hill Higher Education. The company will occupy 22-thousand square feet at the new spot. Company officials say that will be enough space to hold their current Dubuque staff of 120 employees, as well as 180 new hires. The move is expected to be completed by Labor Day.

Debris Strikes Motorcycle Driver in Dubuque

A Sherrill man was injured after being hit by flying debris while riding his motorcycle in Dubuque Monday afternoon. According to a police report, a tow truck hauling a recreational vehicle was traveling south on Northwest Arterial near Holliday Drive at around 3:45 PM, when a metal piece fell off the RV. A car that was behind the RV drove over the object, which shot it across the median and into the foot of 48-year-old Kelly Davis. He was taken to Mercy Hospital for treated for injuries suffered in the freak incident. It’s not known if any charges will be filed.

Police Looking for Woman in GPS Incident 

The Grant County Sheriff’s Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying a woman who tried to place a GPS unit on someone else’s vehicle. A posting on the department’s Facebook page says the incident happened in the Kieler area at around 3:30 Tuesday afternoon. When confronted, the woman got into a white Dodge pickup and drove off. Police want to question the woman to find out why she was trying to put the device on the vehicle. If you have information about this incident, contact the sheriff’s office or Grant County Crime Stoppers.

Councilman Del Toro Declines Run for Mayor

Del Toro

A current member of Dubuque’s City Council has removed his name from consideration for a run at the mayor’s office this fall. Second Ward representative Luis Del Toro says he was urged to run by several community members. While humbled by that encouragement, he says that now isn’t the right time for him to make a run for mayor. Del Toro joined the council just 17 months ago. He believes he needs a little more time on the panel before he’d be comfortable jumping into a larger role. But Del Toro did leave the door open to reconsider his decision in the event that current Mayor Roy Buol would decide not to seek a fourth term. Buol has not yet said whether he intends to run for another term in office. He’s been Dubuque’s mayor since 2006.

DFD Receives Gold Recognition from American Heart Association

The Dubuque Fire Department has once again been recognized for its response to heart attack calls. The department recently received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline award. Last year, the department earned “silver” recognition in the award competition. But Fire Chief Rick Steines says this year, they moved up to the “gold” category. That’s something he wasn’t necessarily expecting. The criteria for the award was the same this year, but Steines says Dubuque was able to move up because of continued success. The award measures emergency responders’ efficiency in cases involving the most serious type of heart attack. The award is being displayed at the fire department headquarters on West 9th Street.

Army Vets Kayaking Mississippi to Raise Awareness of Veteran Suicides

Logan (left) and Jeff Hastings kayak along the Mississippi River near Dubuque (Courtesy: KCRG).

A pair of US Army veterans kayaking the length of the Mississippi River to raise awareness of veteran suicides passed through Dubuque this week. Jeff Hastings and his son Logan work with an organization called Warrior 180. They’re paddling down the Mississippi to help bring attention to the issue of veteran suicide, which Jeff says impacts nearly two dozen vets each day. Jeff’s son Logan served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the Global War on Terror. He experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder when he returned from duty, and tells our coverage partner KCRG-TV he wants to give other veterans the same help he received. The Hastingses began their trip in Minnesota on May 1. They’re hoping to finish by the end of July.

Reynolds Tours Unison Solutions

For the first time since being sworn in as Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds made a stop in Dubuque Wednesday afternoon as part of her “Building a Better Iowa” tour. She and Acting Lt. Governor Adam Gregg toured Unison Solutions in Industrial Park West to learn more about the company’s products and what it’s doing to promote the use of bioenergy. Continuing to build on Iowa’s leadership in renewable energy is one of Reynolds’ goals for her time in office. Another goal for her administration is to develop the most innovative energy policy in the country. Reynolds is scheduled to address the “Taking Care of Business” conference put on by the Iowa Association for Business and Industry in Dubuque this morning.

Dubuque YMCA Receives Grant From United Way

Three programs at the Dubuque Community YMCA are receiving a boost from the United Way of the Dubuque Area. A $140,000 grant will be used to support the Victim Services Shelter, Licensed Pre-School, and Before- and After-School Care programs. Abbey Degenhardt of the Y says the grant was very much needed, especially for their Victim Services Shelter, which had its funding cut by the state five years ago. The next closest victim services shelter is in Waverly, which is about 115 miles from Dubuque. The Licensed Pre-School and Before- and After-School Care programs at the Y work hand-in-hand. All three programs are operated year-round at the Y.

Grant County Deer vs. Motorcycle Crash Sends Two People To The Hospital

Two people were hospitalized after the motorcycle they were riding struck a deer in Boscobel Sunday night. According to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office 52 year old Russell Beatty of Boscobel was traveling west on Highway 133 at around 9 p.m. near the intersection of James Drive, when he saw a deer standing in the roadway. Beatty was unable to avoid the deer and crashed into it. Beatty and his passenger 49 year old Mary Grasz were airlifted by Med Flight to UW Hospitals and Clinics in Madison to be treated for their injuries. Their conditions were not released. The crash remains under investigation.

Semi Rollover Closes US 20 Near Galena

A semi rollover forced authorities to close US Highway 20 near Galena for more than an hour this morning. According to the Jo Daviess County Sheriff, 53-year-old James Krech of Dubuque was driving a semi west on Highway 20. A few minutes after 6:30, Krech took a corner too fast and his semi tipped over. The big rig then slid off the road and knocked over two utility poles and a tree. Krech was taken to Midwest Medical Center to be treated for minor injuries. He was also cited for Driving Too Fast for Conditions. The crash happened just to the east of Galena, between Gateway Park and Horseshoe Mound.

UPDATE: Driver in Fatal Crash Identified

A minivan rests against a utility pole after crashing in downtown Dubuque Tuesday afternoon (Courtesy: KCRG).

Authorities have announced the identity of the driver killed after losing control of their vehicle near a busy intersection in downtown Dubuque yesterday afternoon. A few minutes before 1:00 PM, a vehicle being driven by 80-year-old Gerald Milestone of Shullsburg was headed east on Dodge Street toward the intersection with Locust Street. But before reaching the intersection, Milestone lost control of his minivan. It crossed the center line, jumped a curb, and crashed into an embankment near the frontage road that runs along Locust Street. The van then went airborne and sailed over multiple lanes of traffic before rolling several times. The vehicle finally stopped when it hit a utility pole on the east side of Locust Street. Milestone was unresponsive when emergency personnel arrived at the scene of the crash, and was pronounced dead soon afterward. Two women who were parked at the intersection tell our coverage partner KCRG-TV that they saw the van coming at them while they were stuck in traffic. Megan Miller says she and a coworker felt like sitting ducks until they saw the van fly over their vehicle. The crash forced police to close the intersection for about three hours.

DOT to Discuss Changes to US 20-Swiss Valley Road Crossing

Courtesy: Google

Improvements to a treacherous intersection on US Highway 20 west of Dubuque will be discussed at a meeting next week. The Iowa Department of Transportation plans to build an interchange where Swiss Valley Road crosses Highway 20. Currently, traffic on Swiss Valley Road has to stop before entering the highway, but does not have a lot of room to make full turns in either direction. Sam Shea from the DOT says their plan had originally been to widen the median at the intersection, allowing turning traffic more room to maneuver. But that plan has changed, and a full interchange will be built to eliminate the need for cars to cross highway traffic at all. Shea says the DOT had been looking at the wider median as a stepping stone to a full intersection. But funding became available that will allow them to skip that step. The improvements to the intersection will be discussed at a meeting that DOT officials will hold next Thursday at the ECIA office, beginning at 4:00 PM. Shea says the project meetings often bring to light some local knowledge that the department was not privy to. The DOT plans to begin purchasing right-of-way properties for the interchange later this summer. Under their current plan, construction would begin in the spring of 2019.

Sears Hometown Store Coming to Dubuque This Fall

For the first time in almost four years, Dubuque shoppers will be able to buy Sears-branded products this fall. That’s because a “Sears Hometown” store will be opening in Asbury Plaza. “Sears Hometown” was spun off from Sears Holdings in 2012. There are more than one thousand such stores across all fifty US states, plus Puerto Rico and Bermuda. The Dubuque store will offer products ranging from appliances, tools, mattresses, and fitness equipment. Many of them will come from Sears-affiliated brands like Kenmore and Craftsman. The store will be owned and operated by Dubuque residents Rick and Mary Jo Jaeger. Mary Jo is currently employed as the Business Manager for Radio Dubuque, the parent company of this station.

Reynolds Making First Trip to Dubuque as Governor

Reynolds

Iowa’s new governor will make her first trip to Dubuque since taking office later today. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Governor Adam Gregg are scheduled to take a tour of Unison Solutions in Industrial Park West this afternoon. Unison is located in the 54-hundred block of Chavenelle Road, not far from the Nordstrom distribution center and the AY McDonald corporate headquarters. Reynolds and Gregg’s tour will begin at 4:00 this afternoon and is expected to last about an hour. The two will be staying in Dubuque tonight before addressing the Iowa Association of Business and Industry’s “Taking Care of Business” conference tomorrow morning. That appearance is set for 8:00 AM at the Grand River Center. Reynolds and Gregg also have appearances scheduled today in Colfax, Iowa City, and Anamosa.

Grant County Crash Sends Two To the Hospital

A one vehicle crash in Grant County Sunday morning injured two people. According to a release from the Sheriff’s Department, a car driven by 24 year old Justin Christopher of Platteville was traveling west on County Road O at around 7:15 a.m., when his car left the road. The vehicle then traveled down a steep embankment and rolled one time before coming to rest. Christopher was trapped and had to be extricated by members from the Platteville Fire Department. A passenger, 19 year old Brook Minett also of Platteville was injured as well. Both Christopher and Minett were airlifted by Med Flight to UW Hospitals and Clinics in Madison. The release says Christopher will be charged with Knowingly Operating While Suspended Causing Great Bodily Harm, Possession of Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia.

Boil Order For Parts Of East Dubuque

 

Residents living in the Flats and Shores Acres in East Dubuque have been issued a boil order by the city until further notice. This means that people living in those areas need to boil all of their water that is used for consumption.

Farley Selects Interim Police Chief

Farley Police Dept.

The city of Farley has a new police chief. The community’s City Council offered the position to Molly DuPont at its meeting last night. DuPont has accepted the job on an interim basis. Farley requires its police chief to have at least five years of law enforcement experience. DuPont began her career with the Dyersville Police Department in October of 2013. She could have the interim tag removed if she remains with the Farley Police until October of next year. DuPont currently serves as a full-time officer with the Asbury Police. She also puts in time as a part-time officer in Epworth. The council chose DuPont from a total of four finalists. The Farley chief position became vacant in April when then-chief Rick Wagner resigned abruptly following a disagreement with City Council member Joe Erion.

Dyersville Sets Moratorium on Fireworks Sales

Michel

Dyersville has taken action to update its regulations regarding fireworks. The City Council there voted in favor of a 120-day moratorium on the retail sale of fireworks at its meeting on Monday. The new state law legalizing fireworks was signed on May 9 and took effect on June 1. Dyersville City Administrator Mick Michel says the city passed the moratorium to give itself more time to study the issue. One of the things the city wants to take a look at is how fireworks sales can fit within existing zoning regulations. The new state law allows cities to prohibit the use of fireworks, but not sales. Michel says that because the moratorium is temporary, it complies with state law. The moratorium goes into effect today. It will be in place through October 3rd. Dyersville also plans to continue a city ordinance banning the use of fireworks within the city limits.

Trials Set for Mom, Uncle Who Put Weighted Chain Belt on Teenager

A Dubuque County woman and her brother who are accused of padlocking a weighted chain around her 14-year-old son’s waist are facing trials next month. Jeffrey Merfeld is set to go on trial July 18, while his sister, Cynthia Kobusch, will go before a judge exactly one week later. They’re both charged with Child Endangerment. Court documents say Kobusch told an investigator that she wanted to attach a GPS tracker to her son, who is described as a frequent runaway. Kobush reportedly also asked her brother to “make a chain” and connect it in a way that the boy couldn’t cut it off. Both Merfeld and Kobusch live in Peosta. Kobusch’s husband, Michael, has been charged as well. His trial has not yet been set.

Dubuque’s Fireworks Ban Stays in Place After Council Fails to Act on Update

Courtesy: KCRG

The city of Dubuque’s ban on using fireworks will essentially remain in place until after the 4th of July. That’s after the City Council failed to update a local fireworks ordinance last night. The sale, possession, and use of consumer fireworks was legalized by the Iowa Legislature this year. Dubuque has a pre-existing law that bans possession and use. The updated ordinance would have continued the ban on use, but allowed possession. City Councilman Ric Jones spoke in favor of the update, saying he can’t imagine why the Legislature was so hasty with their decision. But Councilman Luis Del Toro was against the ban, suggesting instead that Dubuque follow other Iowa cities and allow fireworks use only on specific days and times. State law requires that cities pass ordinances three times before they officially become law. A motion to waive that requirement for the updated fireworks ordinance failed to receive a supermajority and was defeated, with Del Toro and Jake Rios voting against. As Assistant City Attorney Maureen Quann then explained to Del Toro and the rest of the council, that means the current ban will effectively stay in place. The council did pass the first reading of the new ordinance. The meeting when a potential third reading could be passed is scheduled for July 5.

Woman Hospitalized After Apartment Complex Fire

Courtesy: KCRG

Emergency responders took a woman to the hospital following a fire at an apartment building in Dubuque last night. Firefighters were called to the complex in the 3600 block of Hillcrest Road around 6:20 PM. Witnesses called 911 after seeing smoke coming from a second floor window. Fire crews were able to put out the fire quickly after arriving on scene. The fire is believed to have started in a bathroom, but investigators have not yet nailed down a specific cause. Authorities have not released the name of the victim or the extent of her injuries. The rest of the building’s other occupants are able to return home.

Broken Water Main Impacting Asbury Road Traffic

A water main break is forcing drivers on one of Dubuque’s main east-west streets to be detoured. A water main broke this morning along Asbury Road, just to the east of where it meets Clarke Drive. The eastbound lane of Asbury has been closed in that area. Traffic has been rerouted to Clarke Drive and Bunker Hill Road. At this point, the city plans to have repairs to the water main and the street completed by the end of the day tomorrow. The westbound lane of traffic is not impacted.