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Dubuque & Tri-State News

Vaping Meetings Begin Tonight at Western Dubuque, Cascade High Schools

This is the week that administrators at two Dubuque County high schools will provide parents with additional information on what’s known as “vaping.” We initially told you last month that informational sessions were being scheduled at both Cascade and Western Dubuque high schools, to coincide with parent-teacher conferences. The first round of those sessions will be held this afternoon at Western Dubuque High School in Epworth, beginning at 4:30. Additional sessions will begin at 5:30 and 6:30. The first set of sessions at Cascade High School will be held on Wednesday evening, with another edition coming next week. “Vaping” is a slang term for using an electronic cigarette. Federal health officials say it’s become the second most popular form of substance use among teenagers.

Local Democrats Cite Concerns at Listening Session

Legislators and citizens watch a presentation at a “legislative listening session” at Loras College on Sunday (Courtesy: KCRG).

A trio of Democrat state lawmakers from Dubuque were among the elected officials on hand for what was called a “listening session” at Loras College on Sunday. State Representatives Lindsay James and Chuck Isenhart and State Senator Pam Jochum were each in attendance, as were several county officials. Democrats will once again be completely out of power in the upcoming Iowa legislative session, as Republicans control the House, Senate, and the Governor’s office. Isenhart says that means Democrats will have to work hard to show Republican policies aren’t working. Senator Jochum expects a combative session, with tensions from the national political climate spilling over to the Statehouse. Jochum says lawmakers on both sides of the aisle need citizens to tell them what is and isn’t working. Republican legislators Shannon Lundgren, Andy McKean, and Carrie Koelker were invited to participate in the forum, but weren’t able to make it.

Iowa Sees First Death of Flu Season as Cases Rise

Flu cases in Iowa appear to be on the rise, and the state has now seen its first death from the flu this season. The Iowa Department of Public Health hasn’t released much information about the death, but does say that the person was a middle-aged man from eastern Iowa who had an underlying medical condition. His death comes as flu cases in Iowa are now being rated as “regional,” which is the second most severe classification. Gail Gates is the Infection Preventionist at Mercy Hospital here in Dubuque. She says the two best ways to fight the flu are to get a vaccine and practice good hygiene. In Dubuque County, only about one percent of flu tests are coming back positive.

Del Toro Appears to Indicate Re-Election Bid

One of the Dubuque City Council members who will be up for re-election this fall has indicated that he’ll be running for another term. In a Facebook post on Friday evening, 2nd Ward Councilman Luis Del Toro noted that this year marks his fourth on the council. He says he’s looking forward to November, and “hopefully…another four more years serving.” Del Toro won his seat by defeating incumbent Councilwoman Carla Braig in the fall of 2015. He’ll be one of three council members up for re-election this fall, along with 4th Ward representative Jake Rios and At-Large council member David Resnick.

Finkenauer Unsure on Committee Assignments

In an image from TV network C-SPAN, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (second from right) is flanked by her parents as she is sworn in by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (far left).

The Tri-State area’s newest Congressional representative is eager to get to work, but isn’t sure exactly what she’ll be working on just yet. Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque was sworn in as the new representative of Iowa’s 1st District yesterday. She says it’s still not clear exactly which Congressional committees she’ll be assigned to. Finkenauer acknowledged that there are some committees she has her eye on, but wouldn’t say which ones. During her time in the Iowa Legislature, Finkenauer served on the Commerce, Economic Growth, Government Oversight, and Transportation committees.

Local Legislators, County Officials to Host Listening Session

A group of Dubuque County legislators want to hear from citizens before the beginning of this year’s legislative session. State Senator Pam Jochum, State Representative Chuck Isenhart, and Representative-Elect Lindsay James are among the hosts for what’s being called a “Legislative Listening Session.” James explains that the lawmakers are hoping the session provides an opportunity for citizens to lay out some of their legislative priorities. In addition to allowing public comments, the event will also feature presentations on issues expected to be significant in this year’s session. All three of Dubuque County’s supervisors are also expected to attend, as is new County Attorney CJ May. The listening session will be held at the Loras College Alumni Campus Center Sunday afternoon at 2:00.

Dubuque Man Gets 17+ Years in Prison for Sexually Abusing Child

A Dubuque man has been ordered to spend more than a decade in prison for sexually abusing a child. 48-year-old Scott Skahill was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison in Jo Daviess County Circuit Court on Thursday. The sentence was handed down after Skahill pled guilty to a felony charge of Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault. That guilty plea came as part of a plea agreement that saw seven other charges against Skahill dismissed. Those charges were all related to Skahill’s abuse of the same victim between October of 2017 and February of last year. Court documents say Skahill admitted to sexually abusing a child under 13 years old. Skahill will have to serve at least 85% of his sentence, meaning the earliest he’d be eligible for release would be late 2033.

Grassley Becomes Senate President Pro Tem

Grassley

Iowa’s senior US Senator is now third in line to the presidency. Senator Charles Grassley yesterday was sworn in as the Senate President Pro Tempore after receiving unanimous approval from his colleagues. According to the Constitution, the Senate President Pro Tem sits behind only the Vice President and the Speaker of the House in the line of presidential succession. Historically, President Pro Tem is a position given to the longest-serving member of the Senate’s majority party. Grassley has been serving in the Senate since 1981. He takes over the President Pro Tem position from former Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who did not seek re-election last year.

Wisconsin’s Kind Among Democrats Voting Against Pelosi

Kind

The Congressman who represents southwestern Wisconsin was one of a handful of Democrats who did not support Nancy Pelosi retaking the office of House Speaker. Representative Ron Kind was among the fifteen Democrats who voted for someone other than Pelosi, who was eventually elected as the Speaker of the House, a position she also held from 2011 to 2015. Kind instead voted for Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement who’s been in office for more than 30 years. Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who represents the Illinois portion of our listening area, did support Pelosi, but also won a couple of votes in the Speaker election. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Jared Golden of Maine, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia all voted for Bustos, who is chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Dubuquer Facing 20 Charges Over Credit Card Spending Spree

A Dubuque man is facing twenty separate charges after being accused of using a woman’s credit card to go on a month-long spending spree. 28-year-old Nathan Lantz was arrested on Wednesday morning. He’s been charged with two counts of Identity Theft and eighteen counts of Unauthorized Use of a Credit Card. According to court documents, police began investigating Lantz in early November, after a woman reported several unusual purchases had been made on her credit card. She suspected that Lantz was the one making the purchases. Through the month of October, Lantz reportedly used the card at thirteen different Dubuque retailers, racking up more than $460 in charges. If convicted on all of the charges against him, Lantz could face up to forty years in jail.

Dubuque’s First 2019 Baby Comes Along Just Minutes into New Year

Courtesy: UnityPoint Finley Hospital

The first baby born in Dubuque of 2019 didn’t wait very long into the new year to make his appearance. Frederick Hugo Schau IV was born just nine minutes into 2019 at Finley Hospital. Frederick weighed in at eight pounds, five ounces and had a full head of dark hair. He was welcomed by parents Frederick III and Erica Schau, as well as big sister Audrey. As for Mercy Hospital, a little girl named Lakynn Roselynne was first baby of the new year born there. She came along at 2:23 AM on New Year’s morning.

Finkenauer Set to Become One of Iowa’s First Female Congressional Representatives

Finkenauer

Today is the day that a Dubuque woman makes history, becoming one of the first females to represent Iowa in Congress. Abby Finkenauer will be sworn in today as the new representative of the state’s 1st Congressional District, which includes the entire Iowa portion of our listening area. Finkenauer tells KDTH there won’t be a lot of time for ceremony, as she and the other members of the new Democratic House majority plan to get right to work. One of the first issues the House will take up will be ending the partial government shutdown that began last month. Finkenauer says the shutdown measure being considered is the same language that has already passed the Senate. Finkenauer isn’t focusing on the fact that she and Cindy Axne of the 3rd District will be the first women to represent Iowa in the House. Finkenauer says most of her time since Election Day has been spent in orientation for new Congressional members, and hiring staff for her offices both in Washington and in the 1st District. Along with being one of Iowa’s first female Congressional representatives, Finkenauer – at 30 years of age – is also one of the youngest women ever elected to federal office.

Dubuque’s “State of the City” Moves to Quarterly Update Format

Courtesy: City of Dubuque

The city of Dubuque is changing the way it updates citizens on progress in the city. In the past, the mayor had delivered a yearly “State of the City” address. But beginning this year, Mayor Roy Buol is choosing to present quarterly updates that will cover much of the same material as they annual address had in the past. The first of the new updates was released earlier this week. In it, Buol explained the reason for the change in format. Buol’s first update then focused on the city’s budget procedure. That process will come to a head next month, when the City Council begins hosting public hearings on proposed departmental budgets. In addition to those meetings, there are several other opportunities for citizens to weigh in on the budget during the process. Buol says the city is committed to having the process be driven by citizens. The mayor’s “State of the City” updates will air periodically on City Channel Dubuque, and can also be viewed on the city’s website.

Dubuque County Jail Study Gets OK

The Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department has gotten the go-ahead to begin studying improvements at the county jail. The county Board of Supervisors approved the department’s request to begin seeking proposals for an architectural study on the jail. Sheriff Joe Kennedy says that study will detail options for future improvements. But he already knows some of the things that need to be addressed. One of the most pressing concerns is that the cells still have barred doors, which aren’t up to code anymore. Beyond that, Kennedy says they’re a danger to both jail officers and inmates. The sheriff’s office has set aside up to $50,000 to spend on the study.

Former ‘Bachelor’ Soules’ Sentencing Delayed

Soules

A former reality TV star from eastern Iowa will have to wait to find out if he’ll avoid jail time. Former ‘Bachelor’ contestant Chris Soules pled guilty last year to Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Serious Injury. He could face up to two years in prison, or be fined up to 6-thousand dollars. Soules was scheduled to be sentenced next week, but his hearing has now been pushed back. It’ll instead be held on February 12 in Buchanan County court. The delay came at the request of Soules’ attorney, who says another trial has prevented him from completing some paperwork related to Soules’ case. Soules was originally charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death after a crash in rural Buchanan County in April of 2017.

Warren Schedules Iowa Events

Warren

The first candidate in the race who’s considered a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination will visit Iowa this weekend. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has scheduled a handful of events for Saturday, mostly in the western part of the state. She will hold organizing events in Sioux City and Des Moines, and is scheduled to host a roundtable in Storm Lake. Warren announced that she was forming an exploratory committee for a possible presidential run on New Year’s Eve. The Des Moines Register reports that Warren has also hired four staffers who will be based in Iowa during the run up to the state’s presidential caucuses in February of next year. Among them is Kane Miller, who served as campaign manager for Abby Finkenauer’s successful bid for Congress last fall.

Iowa Traffic Fatalities Hit 70 Year Low

Fewer people died on Iowa’s roadways in 2018 than in any year since World War II. That’s according to data released by the state Department of Transportation. The agency’s preliminary numbers show there were 315 traffic fatalities in Iowa in 2018. That’s the lowest number of deaths since at least 1944. It’s also down by about 4% from 2017. But the number can still go even lower. The DOT says about one-third of the people who died in 2018 weren’t wearing seat belts. Local law enforcement agencies still have a few days to report fatal crashes that happened in 2018’s final days, so the number of traffic fatalities could rise slightly.

Dr. King Birthday Celebration Coming Soon

The annual celebration honoring the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King is just weeks away and this year’s keynote address will be delivered by a theology professor from a Midwestern college. Vincent Bacote is an author and theologian at Wheaton College. A released on the Dubuque Community Schools’ website credits Bacote as being the author of “The Political Disciple: A Theology of Public Life.” Some of Bacote’s articles have appeared in nationally published magazines such as Christianity Today and Books and Culture. A celebration breakfast will be held at the Grand River Center at 7 am. on January 21st. Right now the cost is 25 dollars for adults and 10 dollars for kids 12 and under until January 14th. After that the cost is 30 dollars per ticket if space allows. After breakfast Bacote will deliver his keynote address titled “An Antidote for America’s Agitation.”

Clayton Co Man Pleads Guilty To Gun Charge

A Clayton County man will most likely be spending some time behind bars after pleading guilty to a federal firearm charge. 42 year old John Kottman of Luana was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in federal court in Cedar Rapids. Court documents say Kottman was in possession of a Mossberg 500 12 gauge shotgun in November of 2017. Kottman was barred from possessing a firearm because of his conviction of possessing heroin with intent to deliver in Clayton County in 2000. A sentencing hearing date has not been set. Kottman also faces a state charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. His trial on that charge is set to begin February 13th.

Lafayette Co. Drug Arrest

A Belmont woman was arrested over the weekend on drug and other charges. A release from the Lafayette County Sheriff’s office say 23 year old Tiffany Chandler was taken into custody at around 1:45 pm. Sunday afternoon. She is charged with possession of  methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia and child neglect. Chandler was taken to the county jail. The release does not provide the details that led to Chandler’s arrest.

 

Merry Mulch Collection

Now that Christmas is over some of us may be wondering what to do with that Christmas tree. Dubuque’s public works department is again sponsoring its’ Merry Mulch Christmas tree collection and composting program. Solid waste bags, bundles and containers, as well as Green Carts with food scraps will also be collected on regular collection days for two weeks beginning January 7th and ending January 18th. Residents should set out their trees next to their garbage on their normal collection day. Trees should be no taller than 8 feet. The tree should also be free of ornaments, lights, tinsel, wire, nails, stands or plastic bags. The trees must have either one city brush tie or one yellow yard waste sticker and visible from the street or alley.

KDTH’s Top Ten Tri-State News Stories of 2018

10. Field Of Dreams Movie Site Vandalized

9. Manchester Man Convicted of Leaving Fatal Lake Delhi Ice Crash

8. Sabula Overflow Bridge Deemed Unsafe, Closed for Several Months

7. Work Continues on Southwest Arterial…Completion Expected Late Next Year

6. Consultant, Committee Recommend $64 Million Dollar Renovation, Expansion of Five Flags

5. Finkenauer Unseats Blum, Becoming First Iowa Woman Elected to US House

4. East Dubuque City Manager, Asst. Police Chief Removed From Office in Sexual Harassment Scandal

3. UD Assistant Basketball Coach Averts Disaster by Taking Wheel of Team Bus After Driver Experiences Medical Issue

2. World War II Era Ship Draws Thousands to Port of Dubuque

1. President Trump Visits NICC

Dubuque County Fatal Accident

Dubuque County authorities have released the names of those involved in a fatal crash Friday afternoon on Sundown Road. The sheriff’s department reports that 17-year old Jaycee M. Payne of Marion died in that accident. Payne was the passenger of a vehicle driven by 17-year old Oliver Clanin of Cedar Rapids. Clanin was traveling south when he lost control of his vehicle on an ice covered area on the roadway. The vehicle slid sideways across the center line and into the northbound lane of Sundown Road into the path of a vehicle driven by 46-year old Michael McArthur of Asbury. McArthur was unable to avoid the collision with the Clanin vehicle and struck the Clanin vehicle on the passenger’s side. Clanin was transported to Finley Hospital in Dubuque and was later transferred to the University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City for treatment of serious injuries. McArthur was taken to Finley Hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Sundown Road was closed for approximately 2 1/2 hours due to the collision. The accident remains under investigation.

 

Top Baby Names

Babies born at hospitals around the Tri-States were largely given more traditional names in 2018. That’s according to the lists of top baby names from Mercy Medical Center and the Unity Point health system, which operates Dubuque’s Finley Hospital. At Unity Point’s 19 hospitals across Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, Oliver was the most common boy’s name. Liam came in second, followed by William, Owen, and Theodore. As for girls, there were more Harpers born at Unity Point hospitals than any other name. Evelyn was the second-most popular name, followed by Charlotte, Emma, and Ava. At Mercy, Leo topped the list of boy names. Owen was among the most popular there, as well, coming in second. Other common names included Henry, William, and Maverick. Nora was the most popular girl’s name at Mercy, followed by Charlotte, Emma, Elizabeth, and Grace.

Former Senator John Culver, Namesake of Dubuque’s Floodwall, Dies at 86

Culver

The namesake of Dubuque’s floodwall has died. Former Senator John Culver passed away late Wednesday at the age of 86. Culver was Dubuque’s representative in Congress beginning in 1965, the same year that a devastating flood struck the city. The following year, Culver backed city officials as they made the push for a more permanent flood control system, which eventually became the floodwall that now bears Culver’s name. Culver spent a decade representing eastern Iowa in Congress before being elected to the US Senate in 1974. He served one term before being unseated by current Senator Charles Grassley in 1980. Culver is survived by five children, including his eldest son Chet, who served as Iowa’s Governor from 2007 to 2011.

Police: Man Used Stolen Info to Try to Pay Utility Bill

A Dubuque man’s been accused of trying to use another man’s financial information to pay his utility bill. 31-year-old Ryan Davis was arrested on Wednesday afternoon. According to police, they had spoken with Davis last month about an outstanding warrant for his arrest. When they searched Davis, officers reportedly found another man’s driver’s license, passport, credit cards, and personal checks. Davis claimed that he found the items in a dumpster. In reality, they had been reported stolen about two weeks earlier. During their investigation, police found that Davis had tried to use the victim’s bank information to make a payment to Black Hills Energy, but the payment was declined. Davis has been charged with 5th Degree Theft and Identity Theft.

Another Counterfeit Bill Arrest

Dubuque Police investigating counterfeit money being passed around the city have arrested a second suspect. 55-year-old Kevin Reynolds was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon and has been charged with Forgery. According to police, Reynolds was with a woman who tried to pass a fake 100 dollar bill at a local fast food restaurant last week. That woman, 37-year-old Amanda Jones, is also facing a Forgery charge. She reportedly told police that Reynolds gave her the phony bill and asked her to try to break it into smaller, legitimate bills. If convicted on the Forgery charge, Reynolds could face up to five years in prison.

Cars Parked Outside Christmas Eve Church Service Targeted by Burglars

Dubuque Police are reaching out to the public for information on who broke into cars parked outside a local church during its Christmas Eve service. Police tell KDTH they began receiving reports of the break-ins at about 7:45 that night. Several vehicles parked outside of St. Columbkille Catholic Church on Rush Street were targeted. The cars had all been parked in lots near the church. In each case, the burglars broke passenger-side windows and took a purse from inside the vehicles. No arrests have been made, though police continue to investigate. Anyone with information about who was behind the break-ins is asked to contact Dubuque Police or the local CrimeStoppers tip line.

Domestic Assault Suspect Ordered to Wear GPS Monitor

A Dubuque man accused of throwing his girlfriend down a flight of stairs will be monitored by GPS as part of his pretrial release. 27-year-old Cody Bauer has pleaded not guilty to Domestic Assault and Willful Injury Causing Serious Injury charges. A criminal complaint states officers with the Dubuque Police Department responded to Bauer’s Elm Street home on the night of November 12 after an incident between he and his girlfriend. Court documents say Bauer initially tried to block officers from entering the home.  Police were able to get in and found the victim in an upstairs bedroom with injuries to her head and face. They also noticed blood on the stairs, in the bedroom and a bathroom. The victim was taken to Mercy Hospital in Dubuque with injuries including multiple skull fractures, a lacerated liver, and broken ribs. She was later transported to Iowa City for further treatment. Bauer posted a 10-thousand dollar bond earlier this month. Documents filed last week say he will need to wear a GPS monitoring system and abide by a daily curfew.

Cascade Man Who Smoked Pot in Front of Daughter Gets Probation

A Cascade man accused of smoking marijuana while his infant daughter was in his car will spend two years on probation. According to court documents, 30-year-old Danny Mitchell, Junior was pulled over by Dyersville police in February. During the traffic stop, the officer smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle. Mitchell admitted to smoking pot just before the stop. His 9-month-old daughter was in a car seat, though it was not secured with a seat belt. Methamphetamine was also found inside the vehicle. Mitchell recently pled guilty to charges including Child Endangerment, Possession of Meth, and Operating While Intoxicated. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors dropped three other charges. If Mitchell would violate his probation, he’ll go to prison for three years.

Manchester Woman Wins $50,000 Lottery Prize

Courtesy: Iowa Lottery

A Manchester woman had some extra spending money for the holidays, thanks to a winning lottery ticket. Christianna Browning of Manchester won $50,000 in the Iowa Lottery’s “Holiday Cash” scratch game. Her jackpot is the fifth of the eight available in that game. Browning bought her winning ticket last week at the Kwik Star in Manchester.

Mega Millions, Powerball Jackpots on the Rise Again

For the fifth time this year, the top prize in one of the Iowa Lottery’s marquee games has climbed above $300 million. No one won the Christmas night Mega Millions drawing, bumping the jackpot in that game up to $348 million. The Mega Millions jackpot hasn’t been won since October, when a record $1.6 billion prize was won.
As for the Powerball, the jackpot there is just shy of the 300 million dollar mark. A winning ticket sold in tonight’s drawing would win an estimated $294 million.

Police: Use of Counterfeit Money Increasing

A phony $100 bill recently seized by Dubuque Police.

Police in Dubuque are warning anyone who handles cash to be on the lookout for fake money. The department says the use of counterfeit bills is on the rise, not only locally, but across the country. In the most recent case for the Dubuque Police Department, a fake $100 bill being circulated has foreign language characters printed on the back. They say it also doesn’t feel like real US currency. According to the department, Dubuque police have worked more than 120 cases involving counterfeit bills this year. They have collected bills ranging from 5 to 100 dollars. Police urge anyone who handles cash, whether at a retail store or for selling items on an online marketplace, to take the time to examine large bills. Be especially cautious of people using large bills to pay for inexpensive items.

Woman Accused of Using Fake Money to Pay for Food, Rent

The actions of a fast food manager helped stop a counterfeit bill from continuing to move through Dubuque. According to police, a manager at the McDonald’s on Iowa Street noticed that a customer was trying to use a fake $100 bill at the restaurant’s drive-up window last week. According to a police report, the bill was obviously phony, as it had a different look and feel than a normal bill, and had Chinese characters on the back. The manager reported the incident to police, who followed up and gathered additional information about the woman who tried to use the bill. Investigators spoke with her landlord, who said she had recently tried to pay her rent with counterfeit money similar to the bill that was used at McDonald’s. The woman, 37-year-old Amanda Jones, was arrested and is now facing a felony Forgery charge. If convicted, she’d spend up to five years in prison.

Barn Fire Causes $200,000 in Damage Near Sherrill

A Christmas Day barn fire north of Dubuque is believed to have caused several hundred dollars in damage. A little after 1:30 yesterday afternoon, firefighters from the Sherrill and Asbury departments were called to a farm on Bumpster Road, about a mile east of Sherrill. A release from the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department says the fire was contained to a barn on the property. But the barn, as well as some equipment and livestock that were inside, is considered a total loss. Investigators have estimated the damage at about $200,000. The cause of the fire is unknown, though the sheriff’s department does not consider it suspicious.

Dubuque City Offices to Close for Holidays

As you might expect, Dubuque city offices will operate on an irregular schedule during the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holidays. City offices will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. The Carnegie-Stout Public Library will be closed on each of those days, as well. The Jule transit service will not operate on any of those days. As for city garbage collection, workers will do regular Monday pickups on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Tuesday collections that would happen on Christmas and New Year’s Day are being pushed ahead to the previous Saturdays: December 22 and 29.

City, Landfill Offer Holiday Recycling Tips

The city of Dubuque and the local landfill are reminding residents that there are ways to have a more environmentally-friendly Christmas. Both the city and the Dubuque Metro Area Solid Waste Agency have sent out holiday recycling tips in recent days. Both agencies stress that wrapping paper cannot be recycled, and suggest using newspaper or another, more sustainable method of gift wrap. Old holiday lights are also not allowed in city recycle bins. But the landfill will accept them at their electronics recycling drop-off site. Landfill administrators also suggest using washable tableware for holiday meals, rather than paper or plastic items that will be thrown away. Dubuque’s landfill will be closed on both Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Landfill to Sell Natural Gas

Dubuque’s landfill has reached an agreement to sell the natural gas it produces. It’s a move expected to reduce damage to the environment and create local jobs. The Dubuque Metro Area Solid Waste Agency’s board of directors has approved selling the rights to the gas to Trillium, a natural gas company out of Texas. Landfills naturally emit methane and carbon dioxide. The gas from the Dubuque landfill is currently being burned off. But Trillium plans to capture the gas and use it to power homes and cars. Landfill administrator John Foster says the move will create additional revenue while also providing a boost in local jobs. The sale of the natural gas rights could bring in up to $700,000.

Jo Daviess Drug Bust

A Chicago man, who had two passengers from Dubuque in his car when he was stopped for speeding in Jo Daviess County late Friday night, faces numerous drug charges. At around 11:15 p.m. a deputy stopped a vehicle in the area of Main Street and Catlin Street in Elizabeth for several speeding violations. The driver, later identified as 24 year old James Gardner of Chicago, gave the deputy a fake name. Gardner had several outstanding warrants out for his arrest. The deputy smelled the odor of cannabis coming from the car. A search was conducted and the deputy found four ounces of packaged marijuana, 4 grams of cocaine and a small amount of oxycodone pills. Gardner was arrested and charged with unlawful delivery of cocaine and cannabis, unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, obstruction identification, speeding, no valid driver’s license and two outstanding arrest warrants for no valid license and burglary. 21 year old Jordon Shireman of Dubuque was cited for failure to properly secure a child in a child restraint.

State Board: Dubuque Doctor Gave Drugs to Coworker He Was Having Sex With

A Dubuque doctor provided prescription drugs to a coworker he was having sex with. That’s the finding of the Iowa Board of Medicine, which has cited and fined Dr. Barry Waack. He practices emergency medicine at Finley Hospital, according to the hospital’s website. The state board released their findings late last week. Investigators say Waack gave multiple medications, including an antidepressant, to a female coworker he was having a sexual relationship with. In doing so, the board says Waack failed to establish an appropriate patient-physician relationship, perform examinations, or maintain records. Waack’s violations happened over a five-month stretch beginning in October of 2015. Waack has been cited for violating professional boundaries, as well as for improper prescribing. He’s been placed on probation for three years and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. He’ll also have to reimburse the board for a monitoring system, something that could cost up to $2,400.

Downtown Dubuque Apartment Fire Investigated as Suspicious

A fire at a downtown Dubuque apartment complex is being investigated as ‘suspicious.’ That’s after neighbors said they heard an explosion as the fire was breaking out. Firefighters were called to the building in the 300 block of West 17th Street shortly before 6:00 Wednesday evening. Flames were already coming out of a second story window when they arrived. No one was inside at the time, and the damage was limited to one second floor apartment. But Fire Marshal Mark Burkle tells our coverage partner, KCRG-TV, that neighbor accounts of the incident have investigators taking a closer look at what happened. Burkle says Dubuque Police will be involved in the investigation, which will include reviewing evidence from inside the apartment and interviews with residents and neighbors.

With Only Days Left, Salvation Army $60,000 Short of Goal

Dubuque’s chapter of the Salvation Army is going to need a big weekend to make its goal for this year’s Christmas Campaign. The army is trying to raise $229,000 between its Red Kettle Campaign and its mail appeal. Captain Matt Phelps tells us they’re just shy of three-quarters of the way to that goal. Phelps says fundraising has slowed a bit over the past week or so. The Red Kettle campaign runs through Christmas Eve, which is Monday.

Flexsteel Hires Dittmer as New President, CEO

The search is over for a new leader of Dubuque-based Flexsteel Industries. The furniture making company has hired Jerald Dittmer as its new President and CEO. He replaces Karel Czanderna, who abruptly retired in September. Dittmer has 25 years of experience in the furniture industry. He was most recently head of HON Company, an office furniture designer and manufacturer. Dittmer is originally from the Clinton County town of Wheatland. He then graduated from Iowa State University. Flexsteel is currently putting the finishing touches on a new 25-million dollar facility in Dubuque’s Industrial Center South. That facility is expected to be complete by the end of January.

Parents Give Dubuque Schools an “F” for Equity

Courtesy: KCRG

A group of Dubuque parents gathered early yesterday morning to deliver a report card of sorts to the local school district. They say the district gets an “F” when it comes to student equity. The parents protested outside the district offices on Chaney Road. Their action came a day after a review showed ten Dubuque schools are not meeting requirements under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Derrick Clark has two kids who attend Prescott Elementary School, one of those ten. He says something has to change. Dubuque Schools Superintendent Stan Rheingans says he understands the parents’ concerns, and notes that the district has made improvements at some schools, such as Audubon Elementary. But he says the state could help by changing the way school funding is doled out. Rheingans says he’s open to exploring the possibility of redistricting, but worries that it might have the unintended consequence of pulling students away from the resources they need.

Cascade, Western Dubuque to Host Parent Meetings on Vaping

Courtesy: Lindsay Fox

As new reports highlight the dangers of what’s known as “vaping,” two Dubuque County high schools plan to share information about the issue with parents. Both Cascade and Western Dubuque high schools will host informational meetings on the topic in early January. “Vaping” is the slang term for using an electronic cigarette. A survey released this week shows vaping is now the second-most common form of substance abuse among teens, with nearly 40 percent of high school seniors having tried it. Cascade Assistant Principal Adam Kedley explains there are several reasons it has caught on among teens. They’re drawn to the various available flavors, the smokeless nature of vaping, and the significant dose of nicotine it delivers. According to Kedley, vaping is such a new trend that most parents have little to no knowledge of it. A recent poll conducted by Cascade administrators asked students about the perceived popularity of vaping. Results show Cascade students believe a quarter of their classmates use electronic cigarettes on a daily basis. The school has scheduled information meetings for parents to coincide with their next round of parent-teacher conferences. Kedley says those sessions may be the first some parents have heard of vaping. The Cascade meetings will be held on January 9th and 16th beginning at 4:30 PM. At Western Dubuque High School, similar meetings are scheduled on January 7th, also beginning at 4:30.

ACA Enrollments Climb in Dubuque, Going Against National Trend

Dubuque has bucked the nationwide trend for enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace. This year’s ACA enrollment period ended on Saturday with a decline in the number of nationwide sign-ups. But here in Dubuque, enrollment was up from last year. Administrators at the Crescent Community Health Center say they helped 260 people sign up for coverage. That’s an increase over last year of about 100. Crescent’s Angela Petsche chalks up the increase to more people being eligible, and some learning they could get a better plan through the ACA. Across the country, enrollments dropped by about 300,000 this year.

Dubuque Native Chosen to Lead Quad City School District

A Quad Cities school district has gone ahead and hired a Dubuque native to be their new superintendent. Earlier this week, we told you that Dr. Rachel Savage was one of three finalists to take the top job at the Moline-Coal Valley school district. The school board there wasn’t expected to announce their choice until next month. But board members defied those expectations and unanimously approved a three-year contract for Savage at a meeting this week. Savage is currently the principal at a middle school in Waterloo, a job she’s held since 2015. Before that, she was the superintendent at the school district in Williams, Arizona. Savage graduated from Senior High School in 1991, then earned a degree in Spanish from Loras College. She taught world languages at Western Dubuque and Hempstead High Schools until 2009, when she moved to Arizona.

Iowa Traffic Fatalities Could Hit Low Mark in 2018

2018 is shaping up to be one of the safest years on record on Iowa’s roads…at least by one measure. The state has seen at least 300 traffic fatalities in virtually every year since World War II. Over that time, the year with the lowest fatalities was 2013, when 317 people died on Iowa’s roads. The state just recorded its 300th fatality of this year on Tuesday. With less than two weeks left in the year, law enforcement leaders are hoping the fatality count can fall below than 2013 mark. Sergeant Darin Snedden of the Iowa State Patrol says there are many reasons why fatalities have been down this year. But he says one of the biggest factors is that cars are safer than ever. This year’s low fatality rate comes just two years after one of the deadliest years on Iowa’s roads. The state saw a little more than 400 traffic fatalities in 2016.

Victim of Fatal Grant County Crash Identified

Authorities have released the names of those involved in a fatal crash in Grant County last weekend. The crash happened shortly after 9:30 Saturday night south of Dickeyville. According to the Wisconsin State Patrol 32-year-old Justin Fox was driving south on US Highways 61/151 when he crossed the center line and collided nearly head-on with an oncoming car. Fox was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The driver of the other vehicle, 40-year-old Patrick Pennekamp, and a passenger, 34-year-old Hannah Pennekamp, were both taken to Mercy Hospital in Dubuque to be treated for injuries the patrol describes as “non-life threatening.”

UPDATE: Gym Teacher Had Cans of Alcohol at School, BAC Nearly Three Times Legal Limit

A Dubuque gym teacher is out of a job after being found with a blood alcohol content nearly three times the legal limit during the school day. 38-year-old Erin Ellerbach had been a physical education teacher at Jefferson Middle School until her arrest yesterday afternoon. School administrators called police at about 2:15 yesterday afternoon – a few minutes before students were dismissed – and said there was an intoxicated person on school grounds. An officer reports that Ellerbach showed several signs of intoxication, and a breath test registered her blood alcohol content at .224, almost three times the legal limit to drive. The report says school officials searched Ellerbach’s office and found one open can of what’s called “hard lemonade.” Two other unopened cans were also found. Ellerbach has been charged with Public Intoxication. A district spokesperson had initially said Ellerbach was placed on leave. They’re now saying Ellerbach is no longer employed by the district.

Report: Blum “Likely” Broke Several Ethics Rules

Blum

Soon to be former Congressman Rod Blum likely violated several ethics rules in his private business dealings, according to a report released on Monday. The Office of Congressional Ethics began reviewing Blum earlier this year after the Associated Press revealed details of an internet marketing business he owned called Tin Moon Corporation. The company boasted “reputation management” services that could help companies bury damaging information in internet searches. The report found Blum failed to list Tin Moon as an asset and his role as director of the company on a financial disclosure form. Investigators also found that Blum undervalued his stake in the company in an amendment to form that Blum submitted later. The report also found that Blum may have misused House resources by allowing the company to use his official Congressional photo on its website and by posting a fake video testimonial from one of Blum’s Congressional staffers. The report was released Monday by the House Committee on Ethics. Committee leaders aren’t expected to take any further action against Blum, who is leaving Congress after losing to Democrat Abby Finkenauer last month.

Gehrts: Chances of a White Christmas Dwindling

Gehrts

The chances of the Tri-States having a white Christmas this year are dwindling. That’s according to our weather coverage partners at KCRG-TV. They tell us that not only is there little precipitation in the forecast between now and Christmas Day, but temperatures are expected to be warm enough that anything that would fall would be rain, rather than snow. Meteorologist Justin Gehrts says the main chances of precipitation come overnight Wednesday into Thursday, and possibly on Christmas Day. Of those two systems, the one later this week brings the stronger chance of precipitation, but will likely be more of a rain event. Gehrts does not expect much to come from the system that would arrive on Christmas Day. Over the past thirty years, Dubuque has about a 50/50 chance of having a white Christmas. Dubuque averages a high temperature of 28 degrees and a low of 13 on Christmas Day. The record high is 58 degrees, set in 1936. The record low of -19 dates all the way back to 1879.

Dubuque Native Among Finalists for Moline Superintendent

Savage (Courtesy: Waterloo Schools)

A Dubuque native is in the running to become the next superintendent of a Quad Cities school district. Rachel Savage is one of three finalists for the top job at the Moline-Coal Valley school district. Savage is currently a middle school principal in the Waterloo school district, a position she’s held since 2015. Prior to that, she had been the superintendent at the unified school district in Williams, Arizona. Savage graduated from Senior High School in 1991, then earned a degree in Spanish from Loras College. She taught world languages at Western Dubuque and Hempstead High Schools until 2009, when she moved to Arizona. The Moline-Coal Valley school board is expected to announce its choice for the superintendent position in mid-January.

Card Skimmer Found on Dupaco ATM

Courtesy: Dubuque Police

Dubuque’s Dupaco Community Credit Union says it located a card skimmer on one of its ATMs on Monday, and believes its surveillance cameras caught someone placing another skimmer over the weekend. An employee at Dupaco’s Key West branch found the skimmer during routine inspection of the ATM yesterday morning. Police and Dupaco’s fraud team reviewed security video and found that the skimmer was placed on the machine on Saturday afternoon. That prompted a review of video from Dupaco’s other branches. Another suspected skimmer was seen being placed on the Hillcrest Road location on Saturday morning as well. But that skimmer was removed several hours later. Credit union administrators say skimmers may also have been placed on the same ATMs on December 9. Dupaco is now contacting members who used the compromised machines while the skimmers were in place. Anyone with information about who put the skimmers on the ATMs is asked to contact Dubuque Police or the local CrimeStoppers tipline.

Darlington Woman Seriously Injured in Car-Buggy Crash

An Amish woman from southwest Wisconsin was seriously injured after a driver crashed into her buggy on Friday. According to the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office, the crash happened a few minutes before noon on State Highway 81 between Darlington and Argyle. 19-year-old Tyler Knight of Janesville was eastbound on Highway 81, when he lost control of his car going around a curve. The vehicle crossed the center line, then collided with a horse and buggy being driven by 39-year-old Katie Ebersol of Darlington. The sheriff’s office says Ebersol was ejected from the buggy and suffered what are called “serious” injuries. She was initially taken to Memorial Hospital in Darlington, but airlifted to UW Hospital in Madison not long after arrival. Knight cited for failing to keep his vehicle under control.

Dubuque Council Asked to Consider Updated Five Flags Study

A Dubuque committee is urging the city to take a look at some updated specifications for a proposed expansion of the Five Flags Center. At a meeting on Friday, the city’s Civic Center Advisory Commission advanced the most recent study into improvements at the 40-year-old arena. Those upgrades would push the price tag for expansion to 85-million dollars. Some of that cost could come from private investors or selling naming rights to the venue. But city officials say the bulk of the cost will have to come from city funds. The City Council will take up the commission’s recommendation at its meeting tonight. The council is only being asked to receive and file the recommendation, and not take any additional action. The council meeting is scheduled for 6:00 tonight at the Historic Federal Building.

Biden, Sanders, O’Rourke Top Register Caucus Poll

The 2020 Iowa Caucuses are still nearly 14 months away, but a survey finds that Democrats across the state may have already found some of the top contenders. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke topped an Iowa Poll conducted by the Des Moines Register last week and released over the weekend. Biden was the clear leader, earning 32% support of the Democrats polled. Sanders trailed at 17%, while O’Rourke was the only other candidate in double digits at 11%. None of those three have officially said that they’ll seek their party’s nomination in 2020. Most candidate announcements are expected to come in the first quarter of next year.

Dubuque Man Arrested After Report of Gunfire

The fifth confirmed shots fired call in the city of Dubuque in 2018 has resulted in a local man’s arrest. 26-year-old Tyler Trebian was taken into custody shortly before 11:30 Friday night near his home in the 17-hundred block of Garfield Avenue. Police had been called there after a witness reported possibly hearing a gunshot in the area. When officers found Trebian, they also found evidence he had recently fired a gun, according to an arrest report. No one was injured and no property damage has been reported. Trebian’s been charged with Reckless Use of a Firearm.

One Killed, Two Hurt in Grant County Crash

One person was killed and two others were hurt in a two-vehicle crash in Grant County Saturday night. The Wisconsin State Patrol reports that the crash happened south of Dickeyville shortly after 9:30 PM. One vehicle was northbound on US Highways 61/151 when an oncoming car drifted into the northbound lane and hit the first vehicle nearly head on. The names of those involved in the crash are being withheld by authorities until family members are notified. The crash remains under investigation.

High School Students Among Academy Nominees

Five area high school seniors are among the nominees selected by Iowa Senator Joni Ernst for admission to attend one of the U.S. Service Academies. Daunte Burns of Dyersville and Aiden DeWitt of Dubuque have been nominated to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. Approved for admission to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point are Elias Brehm of Dubuque, and Jack Gehl and Grace Ries both of Asbury. DeWitt was also nominated to attend West Point.

Delaware County Jail Concerns

A Delaware County official warns that if residents don’t approve a new jail soon, the state may step in. The county’s supervisors are planning to ask voters to approve a new jail after the first of the year. This would be the third time in the past decade that a jail improvement proposal has been on the ballot. The current facility can house 13 inmates, but any more than that have to be transported to a nearby county’s jail, at a cost of 50 dollars per day. But Supervisor Jeff Madlom says many of the adjacent counties also have full jails. If the county doesn’t approve an expansion soon, Madlom fears that state inspectors could close the county jail. Madlom says supervisors are considering a 40-bed facility. It’s not known how much the expansion would cost, but the last time the issue went to the voters, the county was asking for nearly 5-million dollars.

Tranel Reappointed Tourism Chair

Wisconsin Assemblyman Travis Tranel of Cuba City has been reappointed as chair of the Assembly Committee on Tourism for the 2019-2021 legislative session. The reappointment was made by Speaker Robin Vos. This will be Tranel’s third legislative session as chair of the committee. Last year tourism had a 20.6 billion dollar impact on the state’s economy. Tranel will take the oath of office and be sworn in for his 5th term as the 49th Assembly District Representative on January 7th. That district covers all of Grant County and parts of Richland, Lafayette and Iowa Counties.

Police Explain Bomb Threat Evaluation Procedure

Dubuque Police are explaining some of the ways they assess the credibility of a bomb threat, in the wake of this week’s threat at a Dubuque school. On Wednesday, a Hempstead High School student reported finding graffiti written on a bathroom wall containing a bomb threat. Police and school officials determined that the threat was not credible, and classes continued as usual. Police Lt. Joe Messerich says those determinations typically made considering the type of threat that is received and how it is received. There are resources the department can utilize to determine if a bomb is located where the threat comes from. Bomb threats are not unique to schools. In October, police investigated a threat at Stonehill Franciscan Services. Last month there were two threats within the span of a week at Rite Hite. Messerich stresses that all bomb threats reported to the department are taken seriously. Under Iowa law, making a false bomb threat is a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Desoto House, KCRG Targeted in Nationwide Bomb Hoax

A Galena hotel appears to have been one of the targets in a scheme that used bomb threats to extort money. Across the country, dozens of institutions received emailed threats on Thursday. Authorities say the threats came from an automated message claiming that a bomb had been placed inside the recipient’s building. The only way to stop it from going off would be to pay the sender $20,000 in a cryptocurrency. None of those threats are considered credible, and police warn recipients to not respond to the email. The Desoto House Hotel in Galena received one of the threats, as did our coverage partners, KCRG-TV.

Chase Suspect Still at Large

A woman who ran from police after they tried to pull her over is still on the loose. According to the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy attempted a traffic stop on a vehicle travelling on US Highway 61 just before 3:00 yesterday afternoon. But the driver of the car sped off, leading authorities on a chase. The pursuit left the highway at Twin Valley Drive, continued onto Rockdale Road, then to Old Mill Road. The chase ended when the woman drove through a yard on Kelly Lane, ditched her vehicle, and ran into the woods. Authorities suspect the woman has a warrant out for her arrest, but are continuing to investigate the case.

Hempstead Bomb Threat Deemed “Not Credible”

Some graffiti in a bathroom sparked a bomb threat investigation at one of Dubuque’s high schools on Wednesday. According to an email sent to parents of Hempstead students, the writing was found on a bathroom wall by a student, who then reported it to school staff. Based on guidelines from the Iowa Department of Public Safety, the school and Dubuque Police have determined that the threat is not credible. Classes at Hempstead operated on their normal schedule the rest of the day yesterday, and are expected to continue as usual today.

Hair Extension Thief Arrested Nearly Two Years After Burglary

Dubuque Police have made an arrest in a nearly two-year-old burglary that saw the suspect make off with more than a thousand dollars in hair extensions. 20-year-old Destiny Wilson of Dubuque was taken into custody on Monday morning. She’s charged with 3rd Degree Burglary in connection with a break-in at a beauty store in January of 2017. That’s when the owner of Beauty by Moke on Crescent Ridge reported her business had been broken into. According to the owner, someone broke a window, causing about $300 in damage. The burglar then swiped the hair extensions, which had a total value of more than $1,000. Police say fingerprints found on the broken window match Wilson’s. She also matches the description of the suspect that police developed based on surveillance video and a witness statement. If convicted on the burglary charge, Wilson could spend up to five years in prison.

Students, Alumni React to Clarke Program Eliminations

Current students and alumni from a Dubuque college are voicing their frustration over the school’s decision to eliminate several majors. Clarke University announced this week that it would be dropping a handful of academic programs, including religious studies, Spanish, musical theater, and art history. Administrators say the cuts are due to low enrollment in those programs. But both current students and alumni of the programs question whether the school had fully backed the programs. Megan Schumacher earned drama and speech degrees from Clarke, and now works with youth performers at Washington Middle School and Senior High School. She says Clarke choked off the theater programs with a lack of funding. Anna Kluesner is a senior in Clarke’s musical theater program and also questions the school’s support. In addition to eliminating the six major programs, Clarke will also stop awarding Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees.

New Public Parking Lots Open in Millwork District

Visitors to Dubuque’s Historic Millwork District have some new parking options. The city has announced that construction on a new parking lot wrapped up earlier this month, and the lot is now open to the public. That lot, located at the intersection of 11th and Elm Streets, has room for 81 vehicles. In addition, an 82-space lot that had been permit only will open for public parking this coming Monday. That lot sits at the corner of 9th and Elm. The city is still looking at ways to turn those two lots into paid parking, though any changes aren’t expected before next spring. Vehicles can be in either lot for up to four hours on weekdays. Any vehicle occupying a spot longer than that will be subject to a ten dollar ticket. There will be no time limit on nights and weekends.

Dubuque District Sues Construction Company Over Flooding Costs

Dubuque’s school district has filed a lawsuit against the contractor that performed the renovation work at Senior High School. The suit claims Conlon Construction failed to provide adequate flood protection for the school, which later sustained hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage from a storm in July of last year. The district hired Conlon in August of 2016 to do the renovation work, which was completed a couple months ago. Court documents say the district paid about 350-thousand dollars in clean-up costs due to water damage in the school. Insurance only covered 25-thousand of that cost. An attorney representing Conlon has rejected the district’s claims, saying the damages were unrelated to Conlon’s work. The two sides will meet on January 2nd to determine a date for the issue to go to trial.

City to Host Public Meeting on New Water Tower

Courtesy: City of Dubuque

The city of Dubuque will share its plans for a new water tower at a meeting next week. Late last month, city leaders said they had begun putting together ideas for a new water tower, to be placed in the northern part of the city. The new tower would replace the one currently located at Eagle Point Park. It would also have more than double the capacity of the current tower, which can hold about 500-thousand gallons of water. The proposed tower would be able to hold 1.2-million gallons. The site of the proposed tower is along Roosevelt Street, north of its intersection with Golden Eagle Drive. An environmental review of the site is currently underway, and the city is also seeking state funding to help pay for the project. A public meeting about the new tower is scheduled for Tuesday evening at 5:30 at the Municipal Services Center on Kerper Court.

Dyersville Man Killed in Crash with Semi on Highway 20

Courtesy: KCRG

A Dyersville man was killed when his van started on fire after crashing into a semi last night. According to the Iowa State Patrol, the crash happened on US Highway 20 near its intersection with County Road X-47 a few minutes before 7:00 PM. The semi had just turned right from X-47 into the eastbound lane of Highway 20. That’s when a van being driven by 60-year-old Russell Faust rear-ended it. Faust’s van then started on fire, and he was trapped inside. Faust was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The driver of the semi was not injured.

Red Cross Accepting Nominations for Everyday Heroes

Tri-State area residents are being encouraged to nominate someone they consider a hero for recognition from the local chapter of the American Red Cross. Nominations are now being accepted for the annual Everyday Heroes of Northeast Iowa honors. Nicole Breitbach from the Red Cross says they’re looking to recognize anyone who’s gone “above and beyond” for their community. In the past, several of the heroes recognized were people that helped save a life or prevent a potentially life-threatening situation. But Breitbach says not all of the nominations have to rise to that level. Nominations will be accepted for the next six weeks. After that, a group of Red Cross staffers will narrow the nominations down to this year’s winners, a process that Breitbach says can be difficult. The Everyday Heroes will be recognized at a breakfast to be held on March 14 of next year.

Missing Delaware County Man Found Dead

A Delaware County man who had been reported missing last week has been found dead. The local sheriff’s office reports that 47-year-old William Roling’s body was found in a farm field near where his vehicle had crashed. Roling had last been seen in Delhi on Thursday night, and was reported missing the following morning. Officers from the sheriff’s department went to his home to investigate, and found his vehicle along 220th Avenue. It had left the road and gone into the ditch before crashing into a creek. Roling’s body was discovered a few hours later nearly a mile from the crash site. The State Medical Examiner’s Office has performed an autopsy on Roling, but the results are not yet complete.

Worker Killed at Dubuque Manufacturer Identified

We’ve learned the name of the man who was killed in a workplace accident at a Dubuque manufacturer last week. 46-year-old Dennis Hall of Potosi died from injuries he sustained at AY McDonald’s location on Chavenelle Road. Emergency responders were called to the site just before 8:30 last Thursday morning after Hall became trapped in a piece of equipment. He was transported to Mercy Hospital, where he later died. The Iowa Division of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is now investigating the incident.

Dubuque District Moves to End Agreement with Hills & Dales

Althoff (Courtesy: Hills & Dales)

The Dubuque school district has informed Hills and Dales that it will be terminating its “applied behavior analysis” contract with the organization. Hills and Dales has been providing ABA therapy to students with autism and behavioral problems for the past four years. Now the district wants to provide those services itself. But according to Hills and Dales CEO Marilyn Althoff, it’s illegal for the district to do so without hiring certified therapists. Althoff says the only kids that will be affected by the ending of the contract are the ones already served by Hills and Dales, but that’s left a lot of parents confused. Althoff is also concerned about what kind of information the district is sending to parents who have kids with autism or a disability. Althoff hopes the kids are not short-changed when it comes to the therapy they need. Althoff says the termination of the ABA contract will not affect the rest of their partnership with the district.

 

Holidays Bring Increased Demand at Dubuque Food Bank, Pantry

Dubuque organizations that help provide food for struggling families say they’ll have a hard time keeping shelves stocked through the holidays. Both the Dubuque Food Pantry and St. Stephen’s Food Bank are already seeing an increase in demand. At St. Stephen’s location off of Cedar Cross Road, the warehouse currently looks full. But Executive Director Kathy Hutton says food doesn’t stay on their shelves for long. According to Hutton, demand for food increases by about 20% in the month of December. At the Dubuque Food Pantry on Jackson Street, Manager Theresa Caldwell expects that 90% of their current food supply will be gone by Christmas. But Caldwell is confident that the community will step up to fill their needs if demand reaches even higher. The nonprofit organization Feeding America estimates that one in eight Iowans struggles with hunger at any point in time.

Tri-State ShopKo Stores Avoid Latest Closures

It appears that all four of the ShopKo locations in the Tri-States have been spared from the latest round of store closings. The Wisconsin-based retailer announced last week that it would be closing nearly 39 locations across 19 states. Those closings will put as many as one thousand employees out of work. Affected stores began liquidation sales on Friday and are expected to be completely closed by the end of February. ShopKo has four stores across the Dubuque area. There are full-sized stores in both Dubuque and Dyersville. Savanna and Lancaster are also home to smaller ShopKo Hometown outlets.

Dubuque Called “Can’t Miss” on ‘Saturday Night Live’

‘Saturday Night Live’ cast member Aidy Bryant appears as 7th grade travel expert Carrie Krum during a sketch on Saturday (Courtesy: NBC).

The Key City was mentioned…positively…on this weekend’s edition of a long-running sketch comedy show. Dubuque was one of the cities mentioned during the ‘Weekend Update’ segment of this weekend’s “Saturday Night Live.” The mention came during a bit where cast member Aidy Bryant was playing a 7th grade “travel expert,” whose advice largely revolved around her own family’s travels. But she did have good things to say about Dubuque during her discussion with ‘Update’ anchor Michael Che, even if she initially fumbled the pronunciation of the city’s name. This is not Dubuque’s first connection to “Saturday Night Live.” Former Hempstead student Brooks Whelan was a member of the show’s cast during the season that ran from 2013 into 2014.

Police Encourage Door-Locking After String of Burglaries

Dubuque Police are asking residents to be on the lookout for suspicious activity after a string of recent burglaries. According to a posting on the department’s Facebook page, several residential burglaries were reported late last week and over the weekend in the Central Hill and West End neighborhoods. Police say that the suspects were able to enter the home through unlocked doors in several cases. They’re reminding residents to lock all of their doors, and also asking anyone who sees any suspicious behavior to report it.

Supporters Host Send-Off Celebration for Finkenauer

Finkenauer

Eastern Iowa’s incoming Congresswoman told supporters that “hope won” this fall. Congresswoman-elect Abby Finkenauer delivered that message at a send-off celebration held for her in Cedar Rapids on Sunday. Finkenauer will be sworn in early next month as one of the first women ever elected to the US House from Iowa, along with Cindy Axne, who will represent the state’s 3rd District. Finkenauer says she’s excited to not be making history alone. Finkenauer says she’s eager to be eastern Iowa’s voice in Washington. About 100 people attended Sunday’s event. The 116th Congress convenes on January 3.

Ernst Announces Re-Election Bid, Tells Challengers “Bring It On”

Ernst

One of Iowa’s US Senators will definitely be running for re-election in 2020, and is telling potential challengers to “bring it on.” During a conference call with reporters late last week, Senator Joni Ernst put to rest any doubt about whether she’ll seek another six-year term. The Republican from Red Oak defeated Democrat Bruce Braley in 2014 to take over the seat that had long been held by Democrat Tom Harkin. This will be Ernst’s first run for re-election. In making her announcement, Ernst also said she’ll be fully supporting President Donald Trump in his bid for a second term. He’s expected to face a challenge from within the Republican party, possibly from outgoing Ohio Governor John Kasich. No one has yet announced plans to challenge Ernst for her seat.

22nd Street Scheduled to Re-Open This Week

A Dubuque street that’s been closed for more than half of 2018 so far will finally reopen this week. The city’s public works department says 22nd Street will be opening up at its intersections with White and Jackson streets. Portions of 22nd Street have been closed since late April for work on the final phase of the Bee Branch Creek Restoration project. 22nd is currently closed between Washington Street and Central Avenue. Its intersection with White Street is expected to reopen Tuesday morning. Work on the intersection with Jackson Street will finish late in the day on Thursday. Once that intersection opens back up, the entire area will be back open to traffic. The city says the work being done with week is the last of the construction on 22nd Street that will be happening in calendar year 2018.

Santa Claus Scuba Dives at River Museum

Courtesy: KCRG

Visitors to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium got to see Santa Claus in a very different way this weekend. That’s because this Santa was scuba diving. Santa dove into one of the museum’s larger water tanks and swam around with some of the fish and other creatures. Visitors were able to take photos in front of the tank, while “Scuba Santa” posed in the background. Andrew Brunner of the museum says they enjoy putting the jolly old elf in a bit of a different location than people are used to seeing him. “Scuba Santa” appeared for an hour on both Saturday and Sunday.

Dubuque Shots Fired Calls Drop to Near Zero

Dalsing

Just three years after hitting a record high, reports of gunfire in Dubuque are on pace to stay in the low single digits for calendar year 2018. So far this year, there have been just four reports of shots being fired in the city. That’s down by three-quarters from just last year, and ranks well below the 33 reports police took back in 2015. Dubuque Police Chief Mark Dalsing says his officers and investigators deserve much of the credit for bringing the number of reports down. According to Dalsing, shots fired reports present some unique challenges for law enforcement. In many cases, police will seek federal charges against those involved in gunfire incidents. Dalsing says that’s because those charges carry heavier penalties while requiring less proof. While Dalsing is pleased to see the gunfire reports down so significantly, he knows next year could bring another increase. Since hitting 33 in 2015, shots fired cases dropped to 26 in 2016, then to 20 last year, and are currently at four for this year.

BB Pistol Found in Jefferson Student’s Locker

Jefferson Middle School (Courtesy: Dubuque Community Schools)

A BB gun was found in a student’s locker at one of Dubuque’s middle schools on Tuesday. In an email to parents, Jefferson Middle School administrators said the BB pistol was confiscated once school staff learned about it. The gun was never used or displayed in a threatening way. An investigation is underway, and the school says disciplinary action against any students involved is something being considered.

Federal Gun Crime Suspect from Clayton County Pleads Innocence

A Clayton County man accused of a federal gun crime says he’s innocent. 42-year-old John Kottman of Luana has pled not guilty to a single count of Being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. Prosecutors allege that Kottman had a 12-gauge shotgun in November of last year, despite being barred from possessing guns due to his criminal history, specifically a 2000 conviction for possessing heroin with intent to deliver. Kottman is also facing a similar state-level charge. Court documents connected with that case say he sold that shotgun to another man sometime last fall. Kottman’s trial on the federal charge is scheduled to begin in mid-January.

Domestic Assault Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

A Dubuque man accused of causing multiple fractures to his girlfriend’s skull has pled not guilty to a pair of charges. 27-year-old Cody Bauer faces one count each of Willful Injury Causing Serious Injury and Domestic Assault with Intent to Inflict Serious Injury. Those charges stem from a November 12 incident that led to his girlfriend’s hospitalization. According to police, a neighbor called and said they were concerned about the woman’s well-being. When officers responded to Bauer’s apartment, he initially blocked them from entering. They eventually got into the apartment, and found the woman with what are described as “obvious” injuries to her head and face. The woman was initially taken to Mercy Hospital here in Dubuque before being transferred to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. Her injuries included multiple skull fractures, broken ribs, and a lacerated liver.

Second Arrest Made in Check Cashing Scheme

A Dubuque woman is facing a felony charge for her role in a check cashing scheme. Back in September, Dubuque Police were contacted by a Manchester man who said three of his personal checks had been forged and cashed in Dubuque. The checks had been written out for a total of $1,300 and were all deposited by 21-year-old Skylar Maanika at various financial institutions. The victim told police he did not know Maanika, and he believed his checks had been stolen while he was living at the Dubuque Rescue Mission over the summer. Surveillance images showed Maanika using an ATM to deposit one of the checks. In one case, Maanika was accompanied by 34-year-old Timothy Tuthill of Dubuque. In another instance, Tuthill used Maanika’s bank card to deposit one of the fraudulent checks. Maanika is now facing one count of Forgery. If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison. Tuthill was arrested on a Forgery charge about three weeks ago.

Committee Assignments for Lundgren, McKean Announced

Lundgren, McKean

We now know all of the committees that a couple of local state representatives will sit on when the Iowa Legislature returns to session next month. Earlier this week, we told you that State Representative Shannon Lundgren of Peosta would be chairing the House Human Resources committee. In addition, Lundgren will also be a part of the Commerce, Economic Growth, and Veterans Affairs committees. She’s also been chosen for the Health and Human Services budget subcommittee. Fellow state rep Andy McKean of Anamosa also has a chairmanship this term. He’ll lead the House Ethics Committee. Other committee assignments for McKean include Environmental Protection, Judiciary, Local Government, and State Government. Committee assignments for Senate Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature have not yet been released.

Theft Suspect Faces New Charges After Wal-Mart Shoplifting

A Dubuque woman awaiting trial on charges she helped rob a Dubuque bar is now also accused of shoplifting more than $400 in merchandise from a local retailer. 33-year-old Elizabeth Hammer is one of two women arrested after an incident at Wal-Mart over the weekend. Store employees tell police that Hammer and 26-year-old April Johnson of Dubuque went to a self check-out lane on Sunday morning. But instead of swiping the items in their cart, they scanned barcodes for pieces of felt that cost less than a quarter. In reality, the items they had held a total value of $453 and change. When confronted by store security, the two reportedly ran into the parking lot and drove off in a pickup truck that was later stopped by police. Hammer and Johnson have each been charged with 4th Degree Theft. Hammer is scheduled to go on trial early next month on additional theft charges stemming from an incident earlier this fall. She was charged with 3rd Degree Theft, 5th Degree Theft, and Possession of Burglary Tools in October. In that case, managers at the Yardarm accused Hammer of taking several shirts from their merchandise stand and trying to steal a tackle box from a nearby boat.

911 Outage Impacting Landline Phones in Delaware County

Residents of Delaware County will need to use a mobile phone to call 911 for the time being. That’s due to an outage affecting landline calls to the emergency number. Local officials say the outage is a result of a fiber optic line being cut on Monday night. Anyone in the county who tries to call 911 from a landline won’t get through. But the service does still appear to be working for those who call from a cell phone. County emergency managers do not yet know when the problem might be fixed.

Wolbers Named New UnityPoint CEO

A Dubuque native will be returning to his hometown to take over leadership at one of the city’s hospitals. UnityPoint Health has named Chad Wolbers as the new CEO of their Dubuque operation, which includes Finley Hospital. Wolbers will begin his new role in mid-January. He comes to UnityPoint from the Studer Group, a Florida-based consulting firm. Wolbers has worked at Finley in the past, serving as UnityPoint’s local Chief Operations Officer from 2008 through 2015. He also spent some of that time as Finley’s interim President and CEO. Wolbers is a graduate of Senior High School.

Sheriff Wants Evidence Storage Building

Dubuque County Sheriff Joe Kennedy wants the Board of Supervisors to sign-off on a nearly half million dollar storage building that would house evidence that is seized during investigations. Kennedy recently addressed the supervisors about his proposal, which he plans to include in his budget request for fiscal year 2020. Right now the county and the city leased multiple storage units for evidence obtained during joint investigations. Kennedy says he envisions a 60-foot-by-120-foot building. Currently the county is paying around 15-thousand-500 a year to rent evidence storage space and that cost is spilt with the city and the county attorney’s office. Kennedy will deliver his budget proposal to the board early next year.

 

Cascade Man Convicted Of Document Fraud

A jury recently found a Cascade man guilty of using someone else’s social security number to obtain a job. The federal jury in Cedar Rapids found 45 year old Luis Gonzales Esparsa guilty of unlawful use of an identification document and misuse of a social security card. Gonzales-Esparsa used another person’s social security card and a fraudulent green card when he applied for a job in Peosta in June. Gonzales-Esparsa faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced, a half million dollars fine and three years of probation.