Dubuque & Tri-State News
Another change of venue request has been approved for one of the people involved in the shooting death of a Key West man last year. Iowa District Court Judge Thomas Bitter granted a defense motion for a change of venue this week for 31 year old Eric Campbell of Dubuque. Campbell will now be tried in Black Hawk County District Court in Waterloo for his role in the murder of 21 year old Collin Brown last April. Campbell is charged with first degree murder and first degree robbery. Police say he was one of three people who broke into Brown’s trailer on April 2nd 2016 and tried to rob him. Brown was shot while trying to escape to a neighboring trailer. Campbell’s attorneys requested a change of venue because of the extensive media coverage in the case. Seven others have been charged in connection with Brown’s murder. 20 year old Tacari Minifee had a change of venue request granted. His murder and robbery trial will take place in Scott County. Earlier this month 19 year old Imere Hall was convicted of first degree murder and first degree robbery and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his part in Brown’s death.
A Dubuque pocketed 30 thousand dollars, after winning the money playing the Iowa Lottery’s “Bonus Crossword” scratch game. Randy Bettcher bought his winning ticket at the Hy Vee on Dodge Street and claimed his prize at the lottery’s regional office on Friday. Bettcher’s prize was the 24th of the 91 top prizes available in the Bonus Crossword scratch game which cost three dollars to play.
It’s still not known when Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will move out of his current role and begin confirmation proceedings for his appointment as US Ambassador to China. But the Iowa Legislature has set aside some money for that transition, despite objections from minority Democrats. In the closing days of the legislative session, lawmakers approved 150-thousand dollars for the transition from Branstad to current Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. State Senator Tod Bowman, who represents Jackson and parts of Dubuque and Jones counties, questioned devoting that money to an office change. But Governor Branstad says Democrats have no room to talk on the issue. At his weekly news conference, he said that the money being devoted to the transition is less that the amount Democrats approved when former Governor Chet Culver took office ten years ago. Branstad says the overall budget for the governor’s office is also less than it was when he returned to office six years ago.
A highly-rated TV morning show will put Dubuque in its spotlight next week. Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” will broadcast live from The West Dubuque Tap next Thursday morning. That’s according to a post on the bar/restaurant’s Facebook page. The posting indicates that “Fox and Friends” will broadcast live from 5:00 to 8:00 that morning, which means the Tap will have to open an hour early. According to the business, the show is hoping to hear from average Dubuquers during their visit. We’ve reached out to Fox News, and expect to talk with one of their producers tomorrow.
The star of a reality TV show that was partially filmed in Dubuque has been accused of leaving the scene of a deadly crash. Former “Bachelor” contestant Chris Soules was booked into the Buchanan County Jail early this morning. He’s expected to face at least one criminal charge for his role in a crash that happened near the small town of Aurora last night. At around 8:30 PM, authorities were called after a pickup truck rear-ended a tractor. The collision sent both vehicles into opposite roadside ditches. The driver of the truck then continued on. Buchanan County authorities have not released the name of the driver that was killed, citing the need to contact family members. Soules appeared as “The Bachelor” in the 19th season of the ABC dating show. Scenes for the program were shot at a couple of downtown Dubuque locations, including the Hotel Julien. This is not the first time Soules has been arrested for leaving the scene of a crash. He was charged in a non-fatal incident in Cedar Falls in February of 2002. He’s also been arrested for Operating While Intoxicated. Soules pled guilty to that charge in Fayette County Court in early 2006.
With about a week left in April, this has already been a very wet month here in Dubuque. That trend is expected to continue as the month closes. Meteorologist Kaj O’Mara from our coverage partner, KCRG-TV, tells us that we’ve already received above normal rainfall this month, even though the past few days have provided a break from the wet weather. O’Mara says cooler temperatures at the end of April often go hand-in-hand with additional rainfall. This is the second straight year that Dubuque has seen a fairly mild winter followed by a spring season that was a bit slow to develop. O’Mara expects us to see cooler temperatures from this week through the first week of May.
A Dubuque man is one of more than a dozen people facing federal gun possession charges. Acting US Attorney Sean Berry announced the arrests during a news conference on Monday. Among those arrested is 26-year-old Gerraud Bruns of Dubuque. He’s been charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Drug User. Prosecutors say Bruns was in possession of both a .40 caliber pistol and ammunition in May of last year. That’s despite a previous conviction for Unlawful Possession of a Prescription Drug. Bruns made an initial appearance in federal court in Minnesota last November. He was set to make another appearance the following week, but didn’t show. He was eventually arrested in the Twin Cities about three weeks ago, and made a court appearance in Iowa last week.
Dubuque Police have identified the two men injured in an accidental shooting on Saturday night. 28-year-old Kyle Chase and 29-year-old Travis Lemonovich each suffered leg injuries after Chase inadvertently fired his handgun while showing it to Lemonovich. The incident happened at about 10:30 Saturday night at Chase’s home in the 2100 block of Garfield Avenue. Both men were taken to Finley Hospital to be treated for their injuries. The investigation into the incident is still ongoing. It’s unclear whether any charges will be filed.
Don’t expect to see much change in gas prices as we head into the summer traveling season. Gail Weinholzer with Triple A Iowa says they expect gas prices to peak out right around the 4th of July holiday at no more than two-dollars-70 cents nationwide and Iowa’s price will be in that range, give or take five or ten cents. As summer approaches there will be a switch-over from the winter to summer grade fuel at refineries, which means gas prices will increase a bit over the summer. According to Weinholzer gas prices in Iowa have been relatively stable with little fluctuation over the past few years. The average price for a gallon of self-serve unleaded in Dubuque is two-dollars-27 cents.
A Grant County man is accused of pointing a gun at another driver during a road rage incident over the weekend. According to the Iowa County Sheriff’s Department, deputies were called to an area along Wisconsin Highways 80 and 133 between Avoca and Muscoda Sunday afternoon. That’s where two vehicles were stopped along the side of the road. After interviewing the drivers of both cars, deputies recovered a firearm from the scene. 51-year-old Derrick Schuman of Blue River was later arrested and is now facing a charge of Endangering Safety by Use of a Dangerous Weapon.
A popular Dubuque restaurant suffered nearly $2,000 in damage and losses following a burglary last week. The owner of Ichiban Steakhouse and Sushi Bar reported the break-in on Friday morning. Investigators believe the business was robbed either late the previous night or early that morning. According to police, robbers made off with cash, cigarettes, and food with a total value of about $1,500. In addition, damage to the business is estimated at $250. Police are investigating the robbery, but have not yet made any arrests or filed any charges.
A Dubuque woman was killed and three of her passengers were injured in a crash near the Illinois-Wisconsin border on Saturday evening. According to the Wisconsin State Patrol, 39-year-old Hollie Kelley was driving north on Wisconsin Highway 80 near Hazel Green at about 5:45 PM. Her car veered off the road and went into the ditch on the passenger’s side, eventually striking a culvert. Kelley was killed, while two of her passengers suffered serious injuries. 42-year-old Tracie Anderson and 22-year-old Justice Anderson, both of Kansas, were transported to a Dubuque hospital for treatment. Their conditions are not known. A third passenger, 22-year-old Martika Spore of Dubuque, was also injured, but less seriously. A release from the State Patrol says a lack of seat belt usage was a factor in the crash.
The State Senator who represents Dubuque is calling the 2017 legislative session the most partisan in her career. Lawmakers adjourned for the year early Saturday morning, following fifteen weeks of Republicans taking full advantage of being the party in control of the House, Senate, and Governor’s office. Senator Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, says Republicans focused on bills that suited their ideological stance, rather than ones that helped most Iowans. Among the changes implemented by this year’s session are cuts to public employees’ bargaining rights, funding decreases for family planning organizations, and a photo ID requirement for Iowa voters. Those are among the Republican “wish list,” according to Jochum. This session marked Jochum’s 25th as member of either the Iowa House or Senate. She says she’s never seen such a lack of cooperation between the two parties before. Even if Democrats would take back control of the Legislature in next year’s elections, Jochum admits it would be awhile before they could roll back some of the changes adopted by Republicans this session. Jochum began her Statehouse career in 1993, serving sixteen years in the Iowa House before moving to the Senate in 2009.
One of the leading figures in the American Catholic Church is hopeful for the future of his faith, but knows there are challenges ahead. Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan spoke at a fundraiser for Divine Word College last week. Prior to the event, he spoke with KDTH about the state of the church. He hopes American Catholics are not getting bogged down by negative news. He says what they deal with is trivial compared to what Divine Word’s international students have to go through. As bright as the future may be, Dolan says the negativity of present can often lead to a loss of faith. But Dolan says Catholics cannot forget the major problems the church has faced, specifically the sex abuse scandals of the past twenty years. If they do, he says they run the risk of repeating the same mistakes. Dolan’s connection to Divine Word stems from the early 80s, when lived at a college-owned house in Washington, DC, while he was studying for his doctorate.
A man who sold the heroin that killed one person and put two others in the hospital is headed to federal prison. 23-year-old Antrell Lewis of Chicago has been convicted of one count each of Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin and Fentanyl Resulting in Death and Serious Bodily Injury and Distributing Heroin and Fentanyl Resulting in Death and Serious Bodily Injury. Lewis faces a mandatory sentence of between 20 years and life in prison. Prosecutors say Lewis sold the heroin laced with fentanyl to four men in Dubuque in 2016. Two of those men overdosed in a car but emergency responders were able to revive them. A third man used the same heroin and was found dead in an apartment 18 hours later. Investigators seized the heroin from the car and apartment and found it laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is sometimes added to heroin to make it more potent. The combination often leads to more overdoses and deaths.
It appears that the “Gary’s Graffiti Nights” car shows are closer to moving out of their longtime home in downtown East Dubuque. Last week, we told you that organizer Gary Duster had asked for additional space along Sinsinawa Avenue for the car shows. But the East Dubuque City Council countered by offering to close a block of Wall Street instead. Duster said at the time that if the council didn’t meet his demands, he would look for a new location. And it seems that one has been found. According to a post on the “Gary’s Graffiti Nights” Facebook page, Duster has secured a location in Dubuque to host the event. The posting says that permits and other paperwork are still being finalized, and the announcement of the location will be made when those processes are complete. The first car show of this year is scheduled for May 18.
A street that runs behind the former Nativity School will be closed this week as the old school is demolished. Nevada Street will close at 8:00 this morning between its intersections with University Avenue and Martha Street. The closure is expected to last all week. That section of Nevada had previous been closed when a part of a brick wall gave way at the old school. That collapse was a main reason for the Nativity parish council voted to go ahead with demolition of the former school.
In addition to the closure on Nevada Street, North Booth Street will also be closed at its intersection with Martha Street today. The closure will run from there to the intersection with Loras Boulevard. That section of road is being closed for street repairs, which should be completed during the day today.
A jury has found a Durango woman guilty of stealing more than $400,000 from an aunt who suffered from dementia. The jury took less than two hours to find 45-year-old Molly Bodish guilty of ongoing criminal conduct Friday. Dubuque police say they began investigating the possible abuse of an 80-year-old woman in May 2015, following her death. A search of the woman’s bank records show Bodish wrote checks to herself or for her personal use from her aunt’s account. Those checks totaled more than $365,000 over several years. Bodish is set to be sentenced on July 31.
Dubuque Police are investigating a shooting that sent two people to the hospital Saturday night, but is believed to have been an accident. Officers were called to a home in the 2100 block of Garfield Avenue a few minutes after 10:30 that night. Police say that a man was showing his handgun to a friend when the weapon discharged. The bullet struck both men in the leg. They were both taken to Finley Hospital with injuries described as being “non-life-threatening.” The names of the two individuals have not been released.
The 25th annual LIFE Dinner is coming up next Friday at the Grand River Center in Dubuque. The event is fundraiser for Dubuque County Right To Life. Executive Director Hanna Brehm says proceeds go towards furthering their mission of educating people about the dangers of abortion. This year’s keynote speaker is Dan Kulp, who has a wide variety of experience in the pro-life movement. The event is underwritten and the dinner is free, but there are a limited number of seats available. To reserve a seat call the Dubuque County Right To Life Office. Last year’s event attracted nearly 800 pro-life supporters.
The Dubuque Engineering Department will conduct a controlled burn for the West 32nd Street Detention Basin Monday. Civil Engineer Deron Muehring says the burn is done annually to maintain and monitor the wetland area, manage species invasion and stimulate native plants for the growing season. First a test fire will be lit to confirm that smoke dispersion will not limit visibility on any nearby roadways. If the wind shifts to an unfavorable direction or weather conditions change, the fire will be extinguished. If the smoke is to too thick at the time of the test fire, the burn will be cancelled. All throughout the test fire and controlled burn, crews from the fire department will be on stand-by. The West 32nd Basin has been providing flood protection by reducing peak runoff flows since 2009 and prevents sediment from flowing into the Bee Branch storm sewer, the Bee Branch Creek and the Mississippi River.
His Eminence Timothy Dolan, Cardinal Archbishop of New York was in Dubuque last night to raise money for scholarships for students at Divine Word Missionary College. Prior to the event the media had a chance to meet with Cardinal Dolan. He says Divine Word College is a snapshot of the future of the Catholic Church. Earlier in the day Cardinal Dolan had mass with the students at Divine Word and it was an experience he says he’ll not soon forget. Cardinal Dolan is hopeful for the future of Catholicism.Before being named Archbishop of New York, Dolan was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009. About 600 people attended the fundraiser which as held at the grand River Center.
The Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Department is seeking the public’s assistance in a burglary that took place at a home in rural Galena Thursday. A release from the department says someone broke into the house and stole a large amount of jewelry. Anyone with information about the crime is urged to contact the sheriff’s office or Dubuque/Jo Daviess Crime Stoppers. All leads and tips will be followed up on and anyone providing information that leads to an arrest may be eligible for a one thousand dollar reward. Callers may remain anonymous.
In a move that could save Dubuque County as much as a quarter-million dollars this year, several staff positions at the county jail will be shifted from part-time to full-time. The change was recently approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors. Ten jobs currently classified as part-time will be converted into full-time staff. Supervisor Board Chairman Jay Wickham says many of those part-time jobs go unfilled, which leads to full-time workers racking up overtime hours. So far this year, deputies working in the jail have accumulated about $74,000 in overtime pay. That’s already more than they had in all of calendar year 2016. Wickham says they’ve also seen quite a bit of turnover in the part-time jail staff. That turnover led to the county paying to train new staffers almost constantly. Wickham says that’s another issue that with change will resolve. Wickham believes that the current staffing level at the jail is sufficient for now, but could have to change if the number of inmates being housed goes up. The part-time to full-time switch was proposed by Sheriff Joe Kennedy. He had initially asked the supervisors to convert nine part-time positions into six full-time jobs.
The parents and uncle of a 13-year-old Dubuque County boy have been accused of having the repeat runaway wear a chain belt attached to a weight. Court records say Peosta residents Cynthia Kobusch, her husband, Michael, and her brother, Jeffrey Merfeld, have each been charged with child endangerment. The records say the boy was known for running away. He told investigators his parents were out of town last November when Merfeld padlocked a chain around the boy’s waist and attached a weight. When the boy ran away again in December he showed investigators blood blisters he’d gotten from the chain. The court documents also cite two witnesses who back up the boy’s claims. All three defendants made their initial court appearances last week. It’s not yet know when they’re due back in court.
A Dubuque man is accused of stealing a DVD from a local pawn shop and punching a store employee who tried to stop him. Police were called to Allied Pawn on Central Avenue at about 4:30 Wednesday afternoon. An employee at the store told officers that a man had shoplifted a DVD. The clerk chased after the thief and caught up with him about a block from the store. That’s when the thief turned and punched the worker in the nose. Later that afternoon, police arrested 31-year-old Dwayne Brandel on a charge of aggravated theft. Police say traffic camera footage backs up the store employee’s version of events. The DVD that Brandel is accused of stealing is valued at just $1.49.
A Dubuque man was likely cut with a large edged weapon during a disturbance at an apartment in Dubuque this week. A police report says 31 year old Joshua Carter sought treatment for a facial laceration at Finley Hospital Tuesday morning. When police arrived to talk to Carter about what happened he was uncooperative and combative, providing officers with little information. The case is ongoing.
A Dubuque man accused of raping and killing a woman in the fall of 2015 will be going on trial this summer. 21-year-old Helmon Betwell had his competency to stand trial affirmed by a Dubuque County judge earlier this week. Betwell is facing First-Degree Murder, First-Degree Sexual Abuse, and two burglary charges in connection with the killing of 66-year-old Nancy Krapfl. Betwell had initially been ruled mentally unfit for trial, but had his competency re-evaluated earlier this year. Judge Monica Ackley now says he can go on trial. She’s basing her ruling on what she calls “inconsistencies” in how Betwell interacted with physicians. The judge says that suggests Betwell is faking or exaggerating a mental illness. Betwell’s trial has been scheduled for July 25 in Dubuque County District Court.
If you’re interested in knowing who shaped American history along our country’s rivers, you’re just a podcast away. The National Rivers Hall of Fame debuted a new weekly podcast today that highlights those stories. Each week, the Hall of Fame podcast will share stories of fascinating people that lived remarkable lives and shaped history along the banks of the nation’s rivers. The podcast can be streamed on rivermusem.com/podcast riverhistory.com and all other podcast platforms. A new episode will debut every Thursday. The National Rivers Hall of Fame was established in 1985.
A Dubuque campground is closing due to flooding. The city says Miller-Riverview Park and the park’s campground are being closed until further notice because of high waters on the Mississippi River. According to the National Weather Service, the Mississippi River level at Lock and Dam 11 has risen to 11.4 feet as of this morning. The waters are expected to rise to 13.2 feet by Saturday night before beginning a slow recede. It’s not yet known when the river would fall below its current level. The campground at Miller-Riverview just opened for the season last Saturday. Campers who had made reservations at the park will have their fees refunded.
Dubuque Police are seeking information about a man they believe is connected to fraudulent activity at the county courthouse. A photo of the man was released yesterday and posted to the department’s ID4PD website. The photo shows the man leaving the courthouse at about 10:50 AM on March 22. The suspect is an African-American male dressed in black suit and gray shirt, carrying a bag or briefcase. Police believe the man has information about – and may be involved in – some fraud that happened at the courthouse that day and led to the loss of two thousand dollars for an unidentified victim. Police have not released any other information about the activity out of worry it may hinder their investigation.
Dubuquers will have a chance to support the local public school district simply by going out to eat today during the first ever “Dine Out for Public Schools” event. Jennifer Klinkhammer, Executive Director for the Foundation for Dubuque Public Schools, says the idea came from a similar event in Iowa City. According to Klinkhammer, the event is probably the easiest way for the community to participate in a fundraiser. All of the money raised will go towards different projects and programs within the schools. Proceeds from Dine Out will count toward the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce’s “Dancing with Stars-Dubuque Style.” Foundation for Public Schools board member Pauline Chilton is fundraising on the foundation’s behalf. Participating restaurants include:
The Vatican has selected the rector of St. Piux X Seminary in Dubuque as the next bishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport. Monsignor Thomas Zinkula will be replacing Bishop Martin Amos, who is retiring. Zinkula received a law degree from the University of Iowa in 1983 and worked for several years as a civil lawyer. He then entered the Theological College of the Catholic University of America in Washington and later earned a degree in canon law from St. Paul University in Canada. Zinkula was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Dubuque in 1990. The diocese covers 22 counties in southeast Iowa and has 78 parishes.
A home invasion and stabbing…a fight in an alley behind a downtown bar…a teenager making suicidal threats at one of Dubuque’s schools…and an ambush attack. These are situations that Dubuque Police officers could encounter every day, and need to decide in a fraction of a second how they’ll approach each situation. Last night, KDTH was one of a handful of local media outlets invited to participate in “use of force” training sessions offered by the Dubuque Police Department. Police Chief Mark Dalsing says he was hoping to give reporters a glimpse at what officers could have to deal with each time they go on patrol. Dalsing held a similar training with members of the “Chief’s Forum” group earlier this year. He says all the participants seem to come away with a changed outlook. Dalsing says most people are surprised by how quickly situations can escalate, sometimes beyond their control. According to department statistics, 93 percent of arrests do not require officers to make a “use of force” decision.
Dubuque firefighters spent about two hours on the Loras College campus yesterday after a gas line was ruptured. Crews were called to the parking lot between Binz and Beckmann Halls at around 10:40 yesterday morning. Captain Jim Abitz says the gas leak was accidently caused by an Alliant Energy employee. Binz Hall was evacuated as crews from Black Hills Energy capped off the gas line. Four units from the fire department remained on scene securing the location and checking gas level readings. No injuries were reported.
A spat between the organizer of “Gary’s Graffiti Nights” and the City of East Dubuque could mean those car cruises will move. Gary Duster went before East Dubuque’s city council Monday and requested an additional block of space to operate this year’s events. That would give him three blocks of Sinsinawa Avenue, or essentially the entirety of where the street is not US Highway 20. The city countered by offering Duster the same two blocks he’s used in the past, plus one block of Wall Street, which runs along Sinsinawa. Duster is worried that won’t be enough room for the cruises. According to Duster, the “Graffiti Nights” attract as many as 300 cars. East Dubuque City Manager Geoff Barklow says they’ve offered Duster the same space he’s had for the past seven years, plus more. Duster says he’s hoping members of the city council change their minds before the first cruise next month. If not, he says he’ll be forced to pull out of downtown East Dubuque. The first “Graffiti Night” is scheduled for May 18.
Administrators at Prescott Elementary School took a realistic-looking BB gun away from a student after the weapon was found in their backpack yesterday. According to an email sent to families, Principal Vicki Sullivan says the Airsoft gun was immediately confiscated after it was discovered. She says the student never took the gun out of the backpack and did not display it in a threatening manner. She reminds parents to remind their kids that possession of dangerous items are not allowed on school grounds.
Crews from the Dubuque Fire Department are currently on the scene at Loras College investigating a possible gas leak. A few minutes after 10:30 this morning, a worker from Alliant Energy was working in a parking lot near Beckmann when he struck a gas line. Black Hills Energy has been notified of the incident and is sending a crew to the scene. No college buildings have been evacuated and it’s not yet clear if any gas is leaking. Stay tuned to KDTH this afternoon, as we’ll have updates on the situation as they become available.
Drivers in Dubuque are maintaining their high percentage of seat belt usage. Local police conducted a seat belt survey during the month of March, and found that better than 95% of drivers were properly buckled in. Officers surveyed a random sampling of one hundred vehicles at four locations across the city. The highest usage was found at the intersection of John F. Kennedy Road and Pennsylvania Avenue, where 97% of drivers were wearing their seat belt. The low end of the range was on US Highway 20 where it meets Wacker Drive. But even there, 94% of the drivers observed had their seat belts on. The totals of the survey are listed below.
The survey results are as follows:
Commercial Area: JFK Road and Pennsylvania Avenue 97%
Residential Area: Key Way Drive and Hillcrest Road 95%
Highway Area: US Highway 20 and Wacker Drive 94%
Industrial Area: 16th Street and Kerper Boulevard 96%
Overall Compliance: 95.5%
Dubuque’s Fire Chief isn’t sure just what to expect from the possibility of commercial fireworks being legalized in Iowa. Lawmakers have approved a bill that would allow both the sale and use of some kinds of fireworks in Iowa on days around the 4th of July and New Year’s Day holidays. That bill is now awaiting Governor Terry Branstad’s approval or veto. Dubuque Fire Chief Rick Steines says his department is still reviewing the legislation, and isn’t sure what to make of it just yet. Fireworks are legal in Wisconsin, and many Iowans purchase the explosives there and light them off illegally in the Hawkeye State. The fire department typically receives a handful of fireworks-related calls each summer, most for injuries or potential fire hazards. Steines assumes the volume of those calls would go up. According to Steines, many people watch professional fireworks demonstrations and assume they can do something similar in their backyard. If Branstad signs the bill, it would likely take effect just before the 4th of July holiday. Steines says the upcoming summer could be something of a “trial run” to study the impact of legalization. The state estimates that legalizing fireworks would net Iowa about 1.5 million dollars in sales tax revenue.
Dubuque’s City Manager hasn’t yet decided what will happen when one of his assistants leaves later this year. Late last month, Assistant City Manager Cindy Steinhauser announced that she’d be leaving her current post to become the City Manager in Frankfort, Kentucky. That will create an opening in the office, but City Manager Mike Van Milligen says he’ll decide what to do with Steinhauser’s job later this year. The city currently employs two Assistant City Managers: Steinhauser and Teri Goodman. Van Milligen says their roles in the office are very different. According to Van Milligen, there are several options being considered, including restructuring the City Manager’s office altogether. Steinhauser has been an Assistant City Manager since 2001. She’ll wrap up her time in Dubuque late next month.
Dubuque’s City Council has approved the purchase of a downtown parking lot. The city will pay $135,000 to take control of a currently unused lot adjacent to the Historic Federal Building. The lot had been slated for a government auction later this month. But as a government entity, the city had a purchase priority. City councilman David Resnick says that will mean that the owner of the Red Stone Inn will not be able to bid on the lot, as he had planned. Resnick says the hotel owner was upset about the situation. Resnick adds that the situation is not ideal, but it’s not really anyone’s fault. The city has not specified whether it intends to keep the space as a parking lot, or do some additional development. If it continues to be a parking lot, it will provide about two dozen parking spaces.
Three of Dubuque’s institutes of higher learning will team up to fight domestic and sexual violence tonight. Students from Clarke University, Loras College, and the University of Dubuque have combined their efforts to host a “Take Back the Night” event. UD volleyball coach April Elsbernd serves as a staff advisor for the event. She says it became a tri-college effort three years ago, and this will be the first time UD will serve as the host. In addition to bringing sexual violence to people’s attention, the event provides a chance for survivors to tell the stories of what happened to them. That’s a part of the event that Elsbernd says can become very emotional, but also very powerful. According to Elsbernd, there are few places where survivors might feel comfortable sharing their experience. The event will wrap up with a candlelight vigil that will also provide a symbolic show of support for survivors. The “Take Back the Night” event begins tonight at 6:00 at Blades Chapel on the UD campus. It is open to the public.
Legal fantasy sports wagering in Iowa will have to wait until at least next year. Legislation that would have legalized fantasy sports betting cleared the Iowa House earlier this year, but has not been taking up by the Senate as this year’s legislative session winds down. Q Casino President and CEO Jesus Aviles says fantasy sports wagering would hurt the entire gaming industry in Iowa. Aviles says they are already facing too much competition and allowing people to bet on sporting events would just add the problem. Aviles is almost certain that the fantasy sports bill will come up again next year, and if it does he will be in Des Moines to lobby against it.
A Benton, Wisconsin man was injured after rolling his utility vehicle late Monday night. According to the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department, 26 year old Dusty Weber was traveling south on County Highway O in Shullsburg Township, when he lost control while trying to make a turn. The UTV rolled several times. Weber was airlifted to a hospital suffering from what appeared to be pelvic injuries. Weber was cited with failure to keep his vehicle under control, expired registration, excessive speed and no display of registration. The accident happened at around 10:30.
Some residents in northwest Illinois are experiencing a telephone network outage that may affect phone and 911 service. A release from the Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Department says the outage is currently affecting phone service in Galena and the Galena Territory, but that could change without notice. Network outages of this nature may prevent calls from reaching the 911 center in Galena. If you have an emergency the department urges you to use your landline, cell or internet base phone service to contact the Sheriff’s Office or your local police or fire department. It should be noted that not all facilities may be staffed during outages.
Dubuque police are looking for a person who stole more than four hundred dollars in merchandise from the Younkers store at Kennedy Mall. The theft happened at around 8:00 PM on March 31st. The suspect may be driving a newer sedan with Wisconsin license plates. Investigators are confident they know the woman’s identity, but they are hoping a member of the public can confirm their suspicions. The above image of the suspect has been posted to the department’s ID4PD website.
Iowa’s law against texting while driving got tougher this week, but one area sheriff says it still doesn’t go far enough. Under current law, texting while driving is a secondary offense, meaning that law enforcement officers can’t pull a driver over just for texting. But a measure signed by Governor Terry Branstad on Monday will remove that barrier, making the act a primary offense. But drivers are still able to make calls while behind the wheel, which Jones County Sheriff Greg Graver says will make the new law hard to enforce. Graver says even if they’re pulled over, drivers will be able to claim that they were dialing a phone number, rather than sending a text. He would prefer lawmakers require drivers to use a hands-free device. The new texting while driving law takes effect in July.
Dubuque’s Jule bus service will be reducing service on several lightly-used routes so that it can offer additional rides on weeknights and Saturdays. The Dubuque City Council approved the proposed route changes at its meeting last night. Currently, most Jule routes end service at 6:00 PM. But among the proposed changes is an extension of those routes to run until 9:00 PM each weeknight. According to Transit Manager Candice Eudaley, most riders have said they would prefer the longer hours. Two routes will be completely eliminated from the Jule system. Eudaley says the routes serving the Key West and Fremont Avenue areas have the lowest ridership and are costing the city more than double the average of all other routes. Among the additions to the system will be service on weeknights, Saturdays, and hourly rides to increasingly popular areas such as Plaza 20. When looking at which routes to eliminate or expand, Eudaley says he staff tried to strike a balance between serving those who depend on public transit and trying to attract new riders. The route changes will take effect in August.
A deceased bicyclist from Dubuque is being remembered for his work with the Special Olympics. 64-year-old Paul Gorrell was found dead on North Cascade Road just outside the Dubuque city limits Sunday morning. His family says he had heart problems and likely suffered a heart attack while riding his bicycle. Gorrell first became involved with Special Olympics thirty years ago. He then began directing the annual Iowa Winter Games here in Dubuque and eventually became the president of the Special Olympics Iowa Board of Directors. Gorrell’s friend and Dubuque City Councilman Ric Jones tells our coverage partner KCRG-TV that Gorrell was the driving force behind the games. Gorrell had initially been diagnosed with heart disease in 2010, but lost 160 pounds in an effort to combat the illness. His funeral will be held Thursday morning at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Key West.
A Scales Mound man has been accused of trying to run down a street preacher with his truck. According to Galena Police, officers responded to a disturbance at the intersection of North Main and Diagonal Streets at about 2:40 Saturday afternoon. Police learned that an argument had taken place between the preacher and 44-year-old Andrew Steil. The preacher, Tony Miano of Davenport, showed officers a video recorded from his cell phone. The video, which has since been uploaded to YouTube, shows a man identified as Steil honking his horn, driving across the center line, and pulling up to Miano, who he questions about needing a permit. Steil then drives away, but returns on foot to confront Miano and begin shouting religious remarks of his own. Steil is charged with Aggravated Assault, Obstructing an Officer, and Driving on a Sidewalk. Miano is a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy. Earlier this month, we told you that he often travels to police departments around the area holding a sign that reads “Law Enforcement Lives Matter” as well as a Bible verse.
We now know the identity of the bicyclist found dead just outside Dubuque yesterday morning. According to the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department, 64-year-old Paul Gorrell of Dubuque suffered a medical issue and died while riding his bicycle. Gorrell’s body was found shortly after 9:00 AM yesterday by a passerby, who called the sheriff’s office. Deputies and the county medical examiner responded to the location of Gorrell’s body, which was along North Cascade Road near its intersection with Miners Lane. After a short investigation, it was determined that Gorrell had died of natural causes and that there was nothing suspicious about the death.
An argument between a Dubuque couple spilled into traffic and nearly caused several accidents yesterday afternoon. According to Dubuque Police, 31-year-old Takayla Cowens and 29-year-old Correnthis Neal were headed west on US Highway 20 when they began arguing. Neal pulled the car over and Cowens got out of the vehicle. The two continued to argue, walking at times into the lanes of the highway. Drivers had to quickly change lanes to avoid the two, which led to several near-miss crashes. Traffic eventually came to a standstill until officers arrived. Both Cowens and Neal were arrested for Disorderly Conduct. Cowens has additionally been charged with Public Intoxication.
A Chicago man has been arrested more than a year after being accused of harassing a Dubuque parking meter attendant. 35-year-old Raymond Edwards was taken into custody a few minutes before 3:00 Sunday morning at the intersection of 2nd and Locust Streets. Edwards had been wanted on a charge of Harassment of a City Employee since March of last year. That’s when a parking attendant had called for a tow of Edwards’ car due to unpaid parking tickets. Before the tow truck arrived, Edwards ignored the attendant’s orders and drove the vehicle away from the area. At the time, Edwards has four outstanding tickets for a total of $65 in fines. The charge against him is a serious misdemeanor which could carry a one-year prison term or a fine up to $1,900. Edwards was arrested after a friend who had been stopped by police called him for a ride home. When Edwards arrived, police checked his driver’s license and discovered the outstanding warrant.
A southwestern Wisconsin man is facing charges after being accused of sending a woman Facebook messages offering her money for sex. Police in Boscobel were contacted by the woman last Monday. She told officers that she had been receiving Facebook messages from a local man asking her to perform sexual favors for him. Police used the woman’s phone to reply to the messages. The man eventually set up a meeting with the woman, where he promised he would pay her for sex. Police provided the woman with a recording device and arrested the man after their meeting. 31-year-old Darren Wilson is now charged with two counts of Solicitation. He made an initial court appearance in Grant County Circuit Court last Thursday.
Dubuque County authorities have determined that a man found dead yesterday morning died of natural causes. Shortly after 9:00 yesterday morning, a witness contacted the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office after finding a body along North Cascade Road, near its intersection with Miners Lane, just outside the Dubuque city limits. Sheriff’s deputies responded, along with the county medical examiner. After a short investigation, it was determined that the 64-year-old man died of natural causes while riding his bicycle. A report from the sheriff’s department says there is nothing suspicious about the death. The man’s name is expected to be released later this morning.
Despite falling for fewer than four hours, enough rain came down in Dubuque on Saturday to set a new daily record. The Dubuque Regional Airport recorded a rainfall total of 2.25 inches on Saturday, setting a new high mark for April 15. The previous record – 2.08 inches – had been set back in 1930. Most of that rainfall didn’t come until some nearly-severe storms made their way across Dubuque County after 8:00 PM. Saturday’s rain has only added to what’s already been an unusually wet month here in Dubuque. Since April 1, the airport has received a total of 3.65 inches of rain. That’s nearly two full inches more than normal.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will make a stop in the southwestern part of the state tomorrow. The Republican Governor will speak with students, teachers and administrators at Fennimore Elementary School about K-12 investments and his budget proposal. The scheduled time for the event is 8:45 tomorrow morning inside the school’s gymnasium. State Assemblyman Travis Tranel of Cuba City will accompany the Governor during his visit.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says with the investments that have been made in the state’s Reform Dividend, now is not the time to raise taxes. The Governor says the state ended the 2016 fiscal year with a positive general fund balance of 331 million dollars and that surplus is expected to grow to nearly a half billion dollars by the end of the current fiscal year. According to Walker, more jobs, higher wages and historically high employment are spurring increased revenues.
The Republican Governor says his budget calls for investing more than 24 billion dollars into the state’s transportation system over the next eight years. Walker adds that the state has invested more money in the technical college system than ever before and has added more than 100 million dollars to the University of Wisconsin system.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has signed a bill that requires some health insurance policies to cover the costs of Applied Behavior Analysis for kids and young adults with autism. Hills and Dales provides ABA services in school districts in Dubuque, Western Dubuque, Maquoketa and Waterloo. Marilyn Althoff, CEO at Hills and Dales, says they have board certified therapists who provide ABA services at Hills and Dales. Althoff says they continue to expand services for children and adults with autism and the new law will assist them in their efforts. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 96-to-zero, while the Senate gave its’ stamp of approval with a 48-to-nothing vote.
The Dubuque Health Services Department needs your help in locating a dog that bit someone late Thursday afternoon near Loras College. The incident happened at around 5:30 in the intersection of Pickett and Henion Streets. The dog was running loose when it bit its’ victim. After biting the person, the animal ran up Henion towards the Loras College campus. The dog is described as a black and tan Rottweiler and was dragging a black nylon leash. The Health Department needs to locate the animal to check on its’ vaccination history and verify its’ health status.
Police in Dubuque are seeing an increase in reports of stolen guns. According to the Police Department, 42 people reported having their gun stolen last year. But upon further investigation, police found that most of those guns were never actually taken. Investigator Nick Schlosser tells our coverage partner, KCRG-TV, that most false reports come after a legal gun owner sells their weapon to someone they shouldn’t have. In many cases, the recipient of an illegal gun sale is someone who wouldn’t otherwise be able to buy a weapon. Schlosser says that should be a red flag. Among legitimate stolen gun reports, they most often happen when a gun is taken from a car. Schlosser says that’s a bad place to store a firearm. Nationwide, the number of gun thefts climbed by about 80% last year. But here in Iowa, data showed the opposite trend. Gun thefts dropped by about 55% in the Hawkeye State from 2015 to 2016.
The graduation rate for Iowa high school students has reached a record high, though several area schools are out-pacing the state average. According to the Iowa Department of Education, the high school graduation rate for the Class of 2016 was 91.3%. And while state officials are excited about that number, administrators in seven Dubuque-area districts have to be pleased that their rate is even higher. Maquoketa Valley tops the area for graduation rate, with a full 100%. The Western Dubuque district, which operates high schools in Epworth and Cascade, is just behind at 99.1%. Dubuque Schools had an 89.7%graduation rate in 2016, just a point and a half lower than the state average. A full list of graduation rates for area schools is below:
- Bellevue: 98.04%
- Central: 94.74%
- Dubuque: 89.76%
- Edgewood-Colesburg: 97.67%
- Clayton Ridge: 83.87%
- Maquoketa: 89.92%
- Maquoketa Valley: 100%
- Monticello: 91.86%
- Western Dubuque: 99.1%
- West Delaware: 98.37%
Iowa lawmakers this week released revised budget guidelines for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st, and cuts to several state agencies appear to be in the works. The state’s judicial branch may be in line for some of the most severe cuts. The state court administrator estimates that between the current fiscal year and the upcoming one, the judicial system has been underfunded by about $14 million. Dubuque County Clerk of Court Clay Gavin says that could mean his office will be forced to cut services. The effect of those cuts may not be immediately clear, but Gavin says that won’t decrease their impact. By the state’s formula, Dubuque County’s clerk’s office should be staffed by 21 employees. But currently, there are just sixteen. Gavin says continued funding shortfalls will make it tougher to provide adequate and competent staffing. If the judicial system’s budget gets reduced to a critical level, Gavin says it will take time to get services back to where they should be. The Legislature approved a $3 million cut to the judicial branch’s budget in January. The current funding proposal would leaving a $5.5 million shortfall in Fiscal Year 2018. In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that Clerk of Court Clay Gavin is the uncle of KDTH News Director Jesse Gavin.
A Wisconsin man wanted by authorities after robbing a gun store and threatening attacks on schools and churches has been captured. Joseph Jakubowski was taken into custody this morning near Readstown, Wisconsin. Jakubowski had been the subject of a statewide manhunt since early last week, when he stole more than a dozen guns from a Janesville store. Days later, it was discovered that Jakubowski had sent a 161-page manifesto to the White House. Authorities received several hundred tips over the course of the manhunt. An unconfirmed sighting of Jakubowski was reported to police in Darlington last weekend. That prompted several area schools to increase security earlier this week. Authorities plan to release additional details about Jakubowski’s capture and the charges he will face during a news conference this afternoon.
Dubuque firefighters are using an old school building that’s slated for demolition as a training ground this week. Fire crews have been running training exercises at the old Nativity school the past couple days. Assistant Fire Chief Greg Harris tells us the building’s size allows them to work through scenarios they typically aren’t able to train for. A building as large as Nativity forces firefighters to use much longer sections of hose than usual. Firefighters are also using the training to work on keeping their bearings in what could be a large-scale fire. Harris says it can be pretty easy to lose track of where you are in a big building that’s quickly filling with fire and smoke. Harris told us the department will continue to use Nativity for training as long as the parish allows them to. The old school is scheduled to be torn down on April 24th.
An East Dubuque man admitted to a sex crime and was sent to prison in one fell swoop Thursday. 26-year-old Christopher Rhodes pled guilty to Criminal Sexual Abuse in Jo Daviess Circuit Court. After his plea was submitted, the judge in the case decided to sentence Rhodes on the spot, sending him to prison for three years. After his time behind bars, Rhodes will have register as a sex offender and spend three years on supervised release. According to court documents, Rhodes sexually abused an underage girl last fall. The abuse is said to have taken place between October 1st and November 10th, and included Rhodes forcing himself on the girl.
A Dubuque woman has been accused of pointing a gun at her soon-to-be ex-wife. According to police, the incident happened following an argument between the two in the parking lot of the place where they both work. 29-year-old Myia Long has been charged with Assault While Displaying a Weapon and Carrying Weapons. Police say she and her wife drove separately to their shifts at Georgia Pacific back on April 4th. Long’s wife had recently filed for divorce, which sparked the argument between the two. During the incident, Long reportedly pointed a 9 millimeter handgun at her wife, who ran into the office. Officers responded and found the gun in Long’s vehicle. Police say Long does not have a permit to carry the weapon.
Earlier this month the Iowa House passed a measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Current law prohibits abortions after the end of the second trimester. The bill also requires women to undergo a three-day waiting period before obtaining an abortion. The House also voted to include a provision that would require women to submit to an ultrasound before an abortion takes place. Hanna Brehm, Executive Director of Dubuque County Right To Life says it’s a baby step, but it will save lives and that’s what their movement is all about. Like most states that have adopted similar abortion bans, a woman in Iowa would still be able to access a pregnancy-ending procedure if her life or health were in danger. The measure does not allow a woman to end a pregnancy if the fetus shows signs of genetic problems. Iowa Republicans did however scrap an amendment to the bill that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The heartbeat language would have prohibited most abortions six weeks into pregnancy. The Senate must reconsider some of the new amendments to the 20 week pregnancy bill before it can be sent to the Governor.
One year after a cross was burnt in a Dubuque neighborhood, police say they are still actively investigating the incident, but there have been no recent developments. On the morning of April 13th last year, police discovered what have been described as two crudely-constructed crosses that had been set on fire during the overnight hours. Police immediately began investigating the incident, and Lt. Scott Baxter says there is still an investigator assigned to the case. But there have been few recent developments. Despite no arrests or charges being filed in the case, police believe they have a good idea of who is responsible. But Baxter says they’re still working to build a case against those perpetrators. Baxter admits that the more time passes from the incident, the odds of the case being solved decrease. In the wake of the cross burning, police brought together representatives from many community groups to form a sort of council that has ongoing conversations with Chief Mark Dalsing. One positive of the incident, according to Baxter, is it served to strengthen those bonds. Police continue to urge anyone with information that might lead to an arrest related to that cross burning to come forward.
Iowa’s governor is expected to sign a bill that will toughen the state’s ban on texting while driving, a move that has the support of the state’s top law enforcement agency. Both chambers of the Iowa Legislature have passed the measure, and Governor Terry Branstad has expressed support for it in the past. The Iowa State Patrol is also in favor of the change, which they hope will cut down on the amount of fatal crashes caused by distracted driving. Sergeant Scott Bright estimates that those crashes make up at least half of all the fatalities on Iowa’s roads. The bill makes texting while driving a primary offense, rather than a secondary one. That means an officer can pull a driver over specifically for texting. As it stands now, drivers have to commit another offense to be cited, something that has frustrated Patrol officers. While you might assume that younger drivers are more likely to be texting while behind the wheel, Bright says that’s not the case. Bright predicts it will be a tough habit for some people to break. The current law establishing texting while driving as a secondary offense was passed in 2010. If signed by the governor, the new law would take effect on July 1.
Dubuque County Attorney Ralph Potter will not be seeking another term. Potter was scheduled to be up for re-election again next year. The Democrat has been Dubuque’s County Attorney since 2006. He says he knew he would retire after he was elected to a third term in 2014. With more than forty years as an attorney, Potter has prosecuted hundreds of cases, and a few stand out in his memory. Those include the Sean Rhomberg case in 1991. Rhomberg was sentenced to life in prison. Potter says he doesn’t plan to make any other runs for public office. Ry Meyer, one of Potter’s assistants, has already indicated that’s he’ll be running for Potter’s position.
A Wednesday afternoon house fire in Dubuque’s downtown area was likely started by kids playing with matches. That’s according to Dubuque Police. The fire in the 14-hundred block of Washington Street was initially deemed “suspicious,” but police now say it was more likely an accident. Fire crews were called to the house at about 4:40 PM after flames were seen coming from a back porch. All four of the people inside the home at the time were able to get out safely. It’s believed that the fire was contained to the porch.
Iowa Congressman Rod Blum has scheduled a handful of town hall meetings across his district, including one here in Dubuque. The meetings will be held during the second week of May, when Congress is in recess. In addition to Dubuque, meetings will be held in Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown, and one of the communities in the so-called “Cedar Valley,” which includes Cedar Falls, Waterloo, and Waverly. Exact times and locations for the events have not yet been set. Blum has been widely criticized for not holding any public events in the district this year. Several groups have demonstrated outside his offices in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, and Cedar Falls, urging him to hold town hall meetings.
The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium will demonstrate that monster fish are anything but a myth this summer. The museum yesterday announced its marquee exhibit for this year, called “Monster Fish: In Search of the Lost River Giants.” Erin Dragotto, Vice President of Development at the museum, says the exhibit highlights the depletion of fresh water mega fish over hundreds of years. The exhibit features life-sized sculptures of monster fish, hands-on interactive exhibits, and videos depicting more than twenty species. The exhibit is a product of National Geographic, which made it a lot easier for the museum to bring it to Dubuque. The Monster Fish exhibit runs from May 13th through October 9th.
Volunteers are still needed to help with projects for a few dozen Dubuque-area non-profit organizations later this month. The annual Dubuque Days of Caring are coming up on Friday, April 28, and organizers are still looking for volunteers. According to Event Chair Jessica Ehrlich, this year’s edition of the Days of Caring is expected to benefit more than forty agencies. Projects that volunteers will help with range from garden work to interacting with senior citizens. Those that will be working outdoors don’t need to worry about supplying tools…those will be provided. Erhlich stresses that volunteers don’t have to put in a full day’s work, but whatever hours they’re able to contribute. Volunteer opportunities are listed on the Days of Caring website.
The star of one of the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival’s more anticipated features will be coming to Dubuque for a special screening. Maggie Grace, who has previously appeared in the “Taken” movies and the TV show “Lost,” will be on hand for both the festival’s awards ceremony and an screening of her latest movie “The Scent of Rain and Lightning.” Festival Executive Director Susan Gorrell made that announcement during the festival’s kickoff party last night. In the past, actors and actresses with some name value the chance to be an honorary chair of the festival. As the event is grown, they’ve moved away from that. According to Gorrell, the number of films submitted to the festival has climbed to nearly seven hundred. The schedule of screenings is now available on the festival’s website, which is also where tickets can be purchased. Each screening costs $10, or an all-access pass is available for $250. Gorrell says that pass also allows festival-goes to watch films they missed online. The festival aims to have something for all audiences, from animated shorts to full-length features. The festival opens next Thursday and runs through the following Sunday.
Fans of barbeque food can get a free meal for a good cause tomorrow. Officers from Dubuque’s law enforcement community are teaming up with the local Texas Roadhouse restaurant to offer a free lunch that serves as a benefit for the Special Olympics of Iowa. Police officers and sheriff’s deputies will be staffing the restaurant during the lunch, serving up food and bussing tables. Captain Dale Snyder of the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department says the law enforcement community continues to be one of the biggest supporters of the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics Winter Games are held in Dubuque each January. But Snyder says the money raised will go beyond that event alone. Officers will be serving food from 11:00 tomorrow morning through 2:00 in the afternoon. The meal includes a pulled pork sandwich, a side dish, Texas Roadhouse’s famous honey cinnamon rolls, and a drink.
A Dubuque woman has been ruled mentally unfit to stand trial for the murder of her ex-husband. That’s the ruling handed down by a judge in the case of 53-year-old Delores Flynn. She had initially been deemed competent for trial last December, but her attorney asked for a second evaluation. The results of that test prompted her attorney to request another competency hearing. Flynn has pled not guilty to a charge of Second-Degree Murder in the January 2016 death of her ex-husband, 72-year-old Gary Breckenridge. Police found his body in the home the two shared. Investigators determined that Flynn had beaten Breckenridge with a baseball bat, causing his death. She has now been committed to a psychiatric center in Coralville for further treatment.
Dubuque grocery shoppers will have one less option by the end of next month. That’s because the local Save-A-Lot store will be closing in mid-May. The closure was announced yesterday by the store’s parent company, Coborn’s, Incorporated. The closing date has been set for May 20, though the company says they could shutter the store earlier if inventory sells out. Coborn’s operates Save-A-Lots in three other states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. In a statement, the company says the Dubuque store is closing because the lease on its building is coming to an end. The store has four full-time employees and eight part-time workers. They will be offered opportunities within the company, or severance packages if they aren’t able to relocate. The Dubuque Save-A-Lot is located in Plaza 20, near the former home of K-Mart, which also closed earlier this month.
A Peosta man accused of offering to pay a teenage boy for sex has pleaded not guilty. 34-year-old Adam Turnis is charged with prostitution and third degree harassment. He’s accused of propositioning the underage boy at the Dubuque’s Best Buy store in February. The boy told police he had been looking at stereos when a man started talking to him. The man, later identified as Turnis, said the boy was cute and offered to pay the teen for sexual favors. Turnis has been scheduled to go on trial for the charges in July.
An Apple River man has been sentenced to a half dozen years behind bars after pleading guilty to a felony criminal sexual assault charge. A release from the Jo Daviess County State’s Attorney’s Office says 48 year old Steven Havens molested a girl who was younger than 13 in March of 2016. He was originally charged with soliciting the girl for a sex act. Havens must serve at least three years of mandatory probation once he is released from jail and register as a sex offender.
A Dubuque woman was injured after crashing her vehicle on a city street this morning. According to a police report, 53 year Kim Loeffelholz was northbound on North Grandview Avenue a few minutes after 11 o’clock, when she lost control and struck a parked car at the intersection with Audobon Street. The impact forced the parked vehicle into another legally parked car on Audobon. Loeffelholz then overcorrected, flipping her SUV on its’ side. The SUV then slid across the road and struck another parked car. Loeffelholz was removed from the SUV by Dubuque fire fighters and placed in an ambulance where she was transported to a local hospital for treatment. She was cited for failure to maintain control.
While some members of Congress are calling into question the effectiveness of a US air strike in Syria last week, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst says she supports President Donald Trump’s action. But she believes he needs to get Congress’ OK before any additional action. Initial reports about the strike said it hit the Syrian airstrip where bombers that delivered chemical weapons took off from. But Ernst says the airstrip itself was not the main target…the surrounding infrastructure was. According to Ernst, using Tomahawk missiles to hit that area sends a clear message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In the aftermath of the strike, Ernst is hopeful that the rest of the international community will step up pressure on Assad. But Ernst stresses that President Trump needs to get Congressional approval before he launches any additional attacks. Ernst made her comments following a stop at Cartegraph in Dubuque this morning.
Things are expected to be back to normal at a handful of southwest Wisconsin and northwest Illinois schools today, as local law enforcement agencies have determined that the subject of a manhunt is not in the area. Schools in Darlington, Mineral Point, Hazel Green, and East Dubuque implemented increased security measures yesterday. That was after an unconfirmed sighting of manhunt subject Joseph Jakubowski was reported in Darlington on Sunday morning. Darlington Schools now say local law enforcement have been in contact with the FBI and no longer believe Jakubowski is in the area. Our coverage partner, KCRG-TV, spoke with John Costello, the superintendent of the Southwestern school district in Hazel Green yesterday. He explained they took extra precautions due to the uncertainty of the situation. Most of the area schools that instituted lock downs lifted them by the end of the school day.
The Dubuque School Board approved the estimated budget for the 2017-18 school year at its meeting last night. District Finance Director Kevin Kelleher says the $209.5 million budget includes all the funds that the district is required to budget. The budget includes a tax levy rate of $14.95 per $1,000 of valuation on a residential property. That’s about two cents lower than last year. But Kelleher says homeowners will still see their tax bills go up by an average of about $24. That’s because the state of Iowa increased what’s called “the rollback,” which is a figure added to assessed property values to determine their taxable value. Commercial, industrial, and multi-residential properties will see a small decrease in property taxes. Kelleher says the Dubuque district has the lowest property tax rate among the largest school districts in Iowa. In other business, the board approved several contracts, including those for building improvements at Hoover Elementary, Eisenhower Elementary, and Alta Vista Campus.
A Dubuque man has been charged with OWI and child endangerment after police say he was driving under the influence of marijuana with his seven year old daughter in his vehicle. According to court documents, a deputy with the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department stopped a truck that was speeding on the Northwest Arterial a few minutes before midnight Saturday. The driver, 32 year old Kevin Pline appeared to be impaired by marijuana and admitted to smoking pot a couple hours earlier. The deputy conducted a search of the truck and found marijuana and a pipe. Pline is also charged with possession of marijuana third offense, possession of drug paraphernalia and speeding.
One of the men who escaped from the Jackson County Jail earlier this year will be staying behind bars. 20-year-old Brian Willey pled guilty last week to charges of Escape and Second-Degree Theft, as well as one count of Third-Degree Burglary in a separate case. Authorities say Willey had broken into a Preston home and stole $450 in order to pay a drug debt. That incident is what landed him in the Jackson County Jail. He and 19-year-old Andrew Combs escaped from the facility in late February after prying open a hydraulic gate. The two then stole a pickup truck and were eventually located in Clinton about a week later. Willey has been sentenced to a total of ten years in prison in exchange for his pleas in those cases. Combs has pled not guilty to the escape and theft charges.
Another Tri-State area school district has stepped up security today after unconfirmed sightings of a wanted man have been reported in the area. East Dubuque has joined Darlington and Mineral Point in instituting a lock down. The lock down in the Southwestern School District has been lifted, that according to an email sent to parents from District Superintendent John Costello. According to a posting on the East Dubuque Schools’ Twitter page, schools there are now under a “soft lockdown.” The message indicates that the district chose to take that step after talking with local law enforcement. Schools in Darlington are also on a limited lock down, while police in Mineral Point have been stationed at the two school buildings in that community. All of this is because statewide manhunt suspect Joseph Jakubowski was reportedly seen in Darlington yesterday morning. Darlington Police say they received a report of a man matching Jakubowski’s description outside the local Catholic church. Jakubowski has been wanted by authorities since early last week when he broke into a Janesville gun store and stole several handguns and rifles. Jakubowski has also apparently sent a 161-page manifesto to the White House and has discussed attacking a school or church. Police in the Janesville area have received more than three hundred tips and leads since the manhunt began.
A fourth Tri-State area school district has stepped up security today after unconfirmed sightings of a wanted man have been reported in the area. East Dubuque has joined Darlington, Mineral Point, and Southwestern schools in instituting a lock down. According to a posting on the East Dubuque Schools’ Twitter page, schools there are now under a “soft lockdown.” The message indicates that the district chose to take that step after talking with local law enforcement. Schools in Darlington and at Southwestern in Hazel Green are also on limited lock downs, while police in Mineral Point have been stationed at the two school buildings in that community. All of this is because statewide manhunt suspect Joseph Jakubowski was reportedly seen in Darlington yesterday morning. Darlington Police say they received a report of a man matching Jakubowski’s description outside the local Catholic church. Jakubowski has been wanted by authorities since early last week when he broke into a Janesville gun store and stole several handguns and rifles. Jakubowski has also apparently sent a 161-page manifesto to the White House and has discussed attacking a school or church. Police in the Janesville area have received more than three hundred tips and leads since the manhunt began.
The first candidate for one of two openings on the Dubuque City Council has made her campaign official. Kate Larson announced her intention to run for the Council on Friday afternoon. Larson will seek the 3rd Ward seat currently held by Joyce Connors, who has said she will not seek re-election. Much of the ward is made up of the city’s North End. Larson says that’s an area where the city can step up its efforts regarding inclusiveness and removing the area’s stigma. Larson says that as a member of the council, she would look to be a voice for what she calls “the little guy.” Larson grew up in a small town in central Iowa before attending Iowa State University and moving to Dubuque following her graduation nine years ago. As one of younger members of the council, she says she would bring a perspective that isn’t currently represented. Connors and 1st Ward councilman Kevin Lynch have both said they will not seek another term. With those two seats coming open and two others on the ballot, Larson says the makeup of the council could see a major shift this fall. Larson works at Boyd Gaming’s corporate headquarters in the Port of Dubuque. She’s currently a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, which she was appointed to in 2013.
The principal of one of Dubuque County’s largest high schools is leaving to become superintendent at a central Iowa school district. Western Dubuque High School Principal Dave Hoeger has been hired as the new superintendent of Montezuma Schools. Montezuma is located in Poweshiek County, about halfway between Des Moines and Iowa City. The district serves just fewer than 500 students in grades 1-12, making it about half the size of Western Dubuque High School. Hoeger has been the principal there since 2010. Two years ago, he was a finalist for the Western Dubuque superintendent position. But the school board instead hired Rick Colpitts, who at the time was the Human Resources Director for Dubuque Community Schools. Earlier this year, Hoeger was also named as one of the finalists for the superintendent position in Oelwein, but an internal candidate was chosen.
A state lawmaker from Dubuque is one step closer to running for Congress. State Representative Abby Finkenauer filed paperwork to become a candidate in next year’s election on Friday. The filing is an indication that Finkenauer is at least considering, if not planning, to run for Iowa’s First District seat, currently held by Republican Rod Blum. Back in February, Finkenauer announced that she had begun considering challenging Blum, who is currently in his second term in Congress. In addition to the filing, Finkenauer has also launched a revamped version of her campaign website. It now includes language about a potential run for Congress, as well as the opportunity for people to make a donation to her campaign. Finkenauer is currently in her second term representing Iowa’s 99th legislative district. She was unopposed in her re-election bid last fall.
Iowa’s Governor-in-waiting official has an opponent, should she decided to run for a term of her own next year. Former Iowa Democratic Party chairperson Andy McGuire announced her candidacy for governor this morning. Should she win her party’s nomination, McGuire would likely face current Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds in next fall’s general election. Reynolds will be elevated to the role of Governor when current Governor Terry Branstad is confirmed as the US Ambassador to China. As for McGuire, she released a campaign video in which she accuses the Branstad-Reynolds administration of favoring special interests and campaign donors over Iowa’s middle class. McGuire says she’ll repair some of what she calls Branstad’s “broken promises.” In addition to her time as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, McGuire spent many years as a doctor before moving into healthcare administration. She has never held elected office.
A southwest Wisconsin man was killed after crashing his motorcycle near Hazel Green yesterday morning. The Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department was notified of the crash at about 9:20 AM. According to the department, 59-year-old Richard Barry of Shullsburg had been riding his motorcycle eastbound on County Highway W. Just past the intersection with Dump Road, he lost control of the bike going around a curve in the road. The motorcycle crossed the center line and rolled over into the ditch, ejecting Barry. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Dubuque County’s Sheriff says he’ll review courthouse security procedures before the trial of a Des Moines man accused of murdering two police officers, but he doesn’t expect to make many changes. Late last month, a judge granted a change of venue requests in the double-murder trial of Scott Greene. His trial will now be held here in Dubuque County in September. With such a high-profile case coming to the county, Sheriff Joe Kennedy says it’s only natural to take a fresh look at courthouse security. Kennedy says he has the utmost confidence in current courthouse security personnel, most of whom are retired sheriff’s deputies. According to Kennedy, the department could take steps to increase security at the courthouse’s non-primary entrances, which are typically only used by staff and law enforcement. Greene will be housed in the Dubuque County Jail during the trial, though Kennedy says he likely won’t be out among the general population. Kennedy says it’s likely that a couple of officers from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office will accompany Greene to the trial and serve as a sort of personal security detail for him.
Dubuque residents in their late teens and early 20s are being invited to sign up for a newly formed program called “The Fountain of Youth.” Founder Caprice Jones says the program’s goal is to give young people an opportunity to develop professional skills. The program will initially consist of twelve people, six males and six females. Participants will also have the chance to be mentored by local volunteer professionals. Sign-ups will be taken at NICC’s Town Clock Business Center starting at 9:00 this morning, through 3:00 this afternoon.
After a seven-month long investigation, charges have been filed against three suspects wanted in connection with a break-in at a cell phone store. Back in September, two men smashed the glass doors of the Darlington US Cellular store and made off with nearly $30,000 worth of iPhones. Police had received a report of a rape just before the break-in, and it’s believed that call was made to divert police resources. Darlington Police on Wednesday issued arrest reports for 27-year-old Robby Patton, 31-year-old Melvin Whetstone, and 25-year-old Vanity Garcia. They’re being south on charges of being a party to burglary, theft, or criminal damage to property. Authorities believe Garcia called in the fake rape report so that Patton and Whitestone could break in to and rob the phone store. If convicted, the suspects would face a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison.
A jury in Jackson County has found a Dubuque man guilty of robbery, but not attempted murder. The verdict was handed down yesterday in the case of 21-year-old Desmond Reeves. Police say Reeves and 19-year-old Charles Potter of Dubuque forced their way into the Maquoketa home of Brian Filloon last January with the intent of rob him. Reeves shot Filloon, causing him a serious injury. In addition to the robbery charge, the jury also found Reeves guilty of Assault with Intent to Inflict Serious Injury. Potter has pleaded not guilty to Attempted Murder, First Degree Robbery, and First Degree Burglary charges. Two other men have also been charged in the case.
Alliant Energy is alerting customers in the Dyersville area to a scam that uses the utility company’s name. Several customers have received phone calls from someone claiming to be from Alliant. The caller threatens to shut off the customer’s service unless they pay their bill immediately. Alliant spokesman Justin Foss says they never call customers and demand money on the spot. Foss says scammers are coming up with different strategies to obtain personal information, including Social Security and bank account numbers. Foss says utility scams become more common this time of year. That’s because April 1st marks the date that utility companies can resume disconnections to low-income accounts that are behind on their payments. At least four Dyersville businesses have been targeted so far.