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Dubuque & Tri-State News

Hillcrest to End Handful of Dubuque Programs

Financial woes are forcing Hillcrest Family Services to discontinue some of the organization’s programs, including several that are run out of its Dubuque office. Chief Development Officer John Bellini says four programs that serve Dubuque will end in the coming months. Among the programs slated for closure at the Dubuque facility include a permanent supportive housing program for adults and the maternal health program. Bellini says the organization has to be sure the programs it provides are financially sound. The decision to end the programs was based on the increasing costs to operate them. Hillcrest relies heavily on Medicaid for its funding. But since Medicaid was switched to private – rather than state – management, Hillcrest has had problems getting repaid for its Medicaid-affiliated programs. Hillcrest will also be ending programs at its facilities in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Mount Pleasant.

LIHEAP Ends Next Week

Low-income Iowa families that struggle to pay their heating bills will be on their own starting next week. During the winter months, Iowa offers utility payment assistance to qualifying families through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP. But that program expires on April 1. The LIHEAP program has provided nearly $1.8 million in assistance since it went into effect in October. Last year, President Trump threatened to cut funding for the program, but that was met with strong opposition…mostly from Democrats. Under Iowa law, customers who qualify for the LIHEAP program are protected having their natural gas or electric service turned off between the beginning of November and the end of March.

Mississippi Crosses ‘Moderate Flooding’ Level, Could Reach 20 Feet

The Mississippi River in Dubuque has now reached ‘moderate flooding’ and could reach a depth of 20 feet by the end of the week. While many other local rivers crested earlier this month and have returned to more normal stage, the Mississippi continues to climb, fed by melting snow in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. At Dubuque’s Railroad Bridge, the river reached 18 feet on Friday evening. That’s the level that the National Weather Service classifies as ‘moderate flooding’ for the river. The river stage is expected to rise to 18.8 feet by the end of the day today. It’ll reach 19 feet sometime on Wednesday. The 20 foot mark, which is when city officials begin more closely monitoring Dubuque’s floodwall, could be reached by next Sunday. The National Weather Service’s projections show the river continuing to rise through at least early next week.

Blanchardville Man Killed in ATV Crash

A southwest Wisconsin man was killed after losing control of an ATV near a state park. 68-year-old Patrick McDermott of Blanchardville died from injuries he suffered in the crash, which happened a few minutes after 4:30 yesterday afternoon. According to the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office, McDermott was driving the ATV on County Highway F near Yellowstone Lake State Park. Near the intersection with North Lake Road, he lost control of the ATV, which rolled over on the road. McDermott was thrown from the vehicle, landing in the roadway. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

Authorities: Anamosa Inmate Assaults Prison Employee

An inmate is accused of assaulting a prison staff member at the state penitentiary in Anamosa. According to the state Department of Corrections, the incident happened at about 11:30 Sunday morning. A corrections officer was handcuffing an inmate when the prisoner punched the officer on the left side of the face. Medical staff at the prison told the officer to get treated at the hospital in Anamosa. Authorities have not identified the inmate who was involved.

No Powerball Jackpot, But Smaller Prizes in Illinois, Wisconsin

Saturday night’s Powerball drawing again came without a winning ticket being drawn, but Tri-State area players may still want to check their tickets. That’s because tickets sold in both Illinois and Wisconsin hit on prizes worth upwards of a million dollars. Those plays matched all five of the white balls, but missed on the Powerball. The prize for that is $1 million. A Wisconsin ticket matched all five of those numbers, and also included the PowerPlay multiplier, which makes that ticket worth $3 million. The top prize for the Powerball game will climb to at least $750 million for Wednesday’s drawing. If there’s a winner, that would be the fourth-largest lottery prize in American history.

New Law Adds Harsher Penalties for Repeat Drunk Drivers

Driving while intoxicated in Iowa can already result in jail time and a hefty fine, but a new law makes the punishment even harsher for repeat offenders. On Thursday, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law that allows judges to sentence those convicted of at least three OWIs as habitual offenders. That means they could receive a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. That’s three times longer than the previous max sentence for a third offense, which was five years. A third OWI is still classified as a Class D felony under the new law. First and second OWI offenses are misdemeanors in Iowa. Reynolds was herself arrested for OWI twice prior to her time in public office. It was the second arrest that prompted her to seek treatment for alcoholism.

East 17th St. Construction Resumes

Construction work related to the Bee Branch Storm Sewer improvements will resume Monday. The sewer improvements were constructed on East 17th Street between Elm and Heeb Streets. Side walk and curb work will begin at Elm and progress west to Heeb. The city says no more than two blocks will be closed at one time. Closures will not impact north or southbound traffic on Elm, Washington, Jackson, White or Central Avenue. Motorists will need to follow posted detour routes.

Yard Waste Food Scraps Pickup

The collection of yard waste and food scraps will resume in Dubuque next month. Customers can place materials in paper yard waste bags that have a yard waste sticker, 35-gallon rigid solid waste containers with a yard waste sticker looped on the handles or in subscribed city wheeled carts. Stickers are sold at city hall and many grocery and hardware stores throughout Dubuque. Customers may either subscribe to use food scrap collection carts for a fee or place their scraps in with grass clippings, leaves or other yard debris in their yard waste cans, carts and bags. The collections resume on Monday April 1st.

Cuba City Raising Funds For K-9

The Cuba City Police Department launched a campaign through its’ Facebook page to raise money for a new K-9. This specially trained K-9 would be used for drug detection and tracking. According to the Facebook page, outside agencies that have K-9 units aren’t always able to respond to and assist with their calls. The K-9 and all expenses involved would be funded completely by donations. People can make donations in person at the Cuba City Police Department on Main Street. Checks may be made out to “Cuba City K-9 Fund.”

Weather Service: Mississippi Could Stay Above Flood Stage Into May

Courtesy: National Weather Service

Now that the Mississippi River has gone above the flood stage in Dubuque, forecasters are saying it could stay there for a month or longer. The river crossed the flood stage of 17 feet on Wednesday afternoon. The National Weather Service’s most immediate projections only extend a week out, but have the river above flood stage that entire time. However, some more in-depth data from the weather service suggests the river could stay up for weeks on end. In its “advanced predictions,” the weather service places the odds of the river staying above flood stage through most of April at about 90%. There’s also at least a 50/50 chance for the river to remain above flood stage through mid-May. According to those projections, the river won’t reach its deepest point until the middle of April. That’s when there’s about a 90 percent chance of the Mississippi reaching 21.5 feet, which is considered “major flooding.” At that point, there’s also a small chance of the river climbing beyond 27 feet, which would be one of the highest crests on record.

Dubuque Officials: Floodwall Can Handle Extended Flood

Dubuque officials say the city’s floodwall is able to handle the kind of extended flood situation that could be coming. That National Weather Service is predicting that the Mississippi River will stay above flood stage at Dubuque through at least mid-April, and possibly into mid-May. The John Culver floodwall protects downtown Dubuque from high waters. City Public Works Director John Klostermann says the floodwall is inspected on a yearly basis. If the river remains above flood stage for an extended timeframe, saturation of the soil around the floodwall would be a concern. But Klostermann says there are some built-in safeguards. But there are some warning signs that city crews will begin to look for if the river level pushes to 20 feet. Dubuque’s floodwall has been in place since 1973.

Winter 2019 Saw Record Cold, Rain in Dubuque

Thursday marked the first full day of spring, which means it’s a good time to take a look back at what was a record-breaking winter in Dubuque. While no snowfall records were set in the Key City this winter, a half dozen other historical marks did fall. January 30th was the coldest day ever recorded in Dubuque, with the high temperature only reaching -16 degrees. The daily record for low temperature was also set that day. Records for cold temperatures were also broken on January 26 and March 4. This winter also saw two new daily rainfall records set. Those came on January 7 and February 23. For the season so far, Dubuque has received just more than 50 inches of snowfall. That’s a full foot more than normal, but still falls well short of snowiest winters in Dubuque history. It would take more than 13 additional inches of snowfall to crack the Top Ten of that list.

Escapee Captured Months After Stealing from Work Release Job

An East Dubuque woman wanted by authorities since being accused of stealing from her work release job last summer is back in custody. 32-year-old Maranda Turner was apprehended on Tuesday afternoon. Last August, theft and escape charges were filed against Turner after she reportedly took several hundred dollars from her work release job at the Wendy’s on Wacker Drive. According to court documents, the drive-through cash register where Turner had been working was $365 short at the end of her shift. Security cameras later showed Turner taking various denominations of dollar bills out of the register. At the time of the incident, Turner was nearly halfway through a year-long stay at a residential correctional facility. Authorities say she never went back to the facility and has been wanted since. In addition to Theft and Escape, Turner has also been charged with two counts of violating her probation.

Q Casino President Happy with Latest Sports Betting Bill

Aviles

The head of one of Dubuque’s casinos is happy with the sports betting bill currently circulating in the Iowa Legislature. The bill would not only legalize sports betting in Iowa, but put the state’s casinos in charge of the betting operation. Q Casino President and CEO Jesus Aviles prefers that to an early bill, which proposed what he called an “unfair” tax rate on the sports bets. The latest version of the bill sets the rate at 6.75%, which Aviles can live with. Aviles says the issue of horse racing at Prairie Meadows casino near Des Moines may stand in the way of the bill’s passage. The House version of the sports betting bill was approved by the Ways and Means committee this week. It will now go before the entire House for a vote, though it’s unclear when that might happen. Dubuque Democrat Lindsay James is a member of the Ways and Means committee, and voted against the proposal.

Lancaster Man Critically Injured in Crash with Semi

A Grant County man suffered serious injuries when his vehicle crashed into a semi on Wednesday morning. The crash happened a few minutes before 8:30 at the intersection of State Highway 80 and County Highway A near the small town of Arthur. That’s about seven miles north of Platteville. According to the Grant County Sheriff’s office, 40-year-old David Line of Lancaster was westbound on County Highway A when he ran a stop sign and hit the left rear side of the semi. Line had to be pulled from his vehicle before being airlifted to UW Hospital in Madison. The sheriff’s office says he was in critical condition immediately following the crash. The driver of the semi wasn’t injured.

Mass Funeral in New Zealand…Syria Condemns Trump…Asylum Seeker Return Policy in Court

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) – New Zealanders observed the Muslim call to prayer Friday in reflecting on the moment when 50 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques were slain. The imam of one of the mosques attacked said the gunman’s acts had left the country broken-hearted but not broken. Later in the day, a mass funeral was held to bury 26 of the victims at a cemetery where several already have been laid to rest.

BEIRA, Mozambique (AP) – Even as flood waters began to recede in parts of Mozambique, fears rose that the death toll could soar as bodies are revealed. The number of deaths could be beyond the 1,000 predicted by the country’s president earlier this week, according to the secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – Syria has condemned President Donald Trump abrupt declaration that Washington will recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, calling the statement “irresponsible.” A Foreign Ministry statement on Friday said that Trump’s comments confirm “the blind bias of the United States to the Zionist entity,” referring to Israel.

BRUSSELS (AP) – Labour lawmaker Hilary Benn says Prime Minister Theresa May needs to start considering alternatives to her divorce deal with the European Union to avert the crisis a no-deal Brexit would bring. The day after EU leaders agreed to extend the deadline for Britain’s departure, Benn told the BBC “this is a crisis delayed but this is not a crisis avoided, and we need to get on with it.”

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A federal judge in San Francisco will hear arguments Friday on the Trump administration’s policy of returning some asylum seekers to Mexico instead of allowing them to wait in the United States. Civil rights groups filed suit, arguing that the administration is violating U.S. law by failing to adequately evaluate the dangers that migrants face in Mexico and by making it nearly impossible to apply for asylum. They want the policy to be put on hold while the lawsuit moves forward.

Authorities ID Crash Victims Which Includes Fatality

The Dubuque County Sheriff’s office has release the name of a woman who died following a head-on collision Tuesday morning. The victim is identified as 80 year old Mary Moss of Dubuque. Moss was a passenger in a car driven by 83 year old Kenneth Moss of Dyersville. A crash report says Kenneth Moss was driving east in the westbound lane of U.S. Highway 20 at around 9:40 when he crashed head-on into a vehicle driven by 21 year old Logan Eigenburger of Dubuque. Both Eigenburger and Kenneth Moss were transported to the ER at Mercy Hospital in Dubuque. Mary Moss was also taken to Mercy ER before being airlifted to U of I Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City where she died. The accident remains under investigation.

Police Release Name of Man Found Dead Outside Dubuque Casino

Dubuque Police have released the name of the person who was found dead outside a casino this week. The body of 76-year-old Darwin Beers of Dubuque was found outside the Diamond Jo Casino on Monday morning. Police were called just before 8:00 when the body was found in a grassy area behind the casino. It’s not known how Beers died, but authorities do not consider his death suspicious. Beers’ body has been sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy, which is expected to reveal his exact cause of death.

Maquoketa Man Who Died During Scuffle with Dentist Identified

We now know the name of the man who died following an apparent break-in at a Maquoketa dentist’s office. According to Maquoketa Police, 44-year-old Richard Purcell died Monday at the Jackson County Regional Health Center. He was taken there after police found him unresponsive when they were called to a reported burglary. According to police, a dentist from Dubuque was staying overnight at his office in Maquoketa. At around 2:00 Monday morning, the dentist heard a noise coming from the office’s garage. When he went to investigate, he reportedly spotted Purcell trying to leave the building. But the dentist tackled Purcell, and held him down until police arrived. Police say Purcell suffered a “medical episode” during the struggle. He was breathing and had a pulse, but was otherwise unresponsive. Purcell’s condition then worsened as he was being taken to the hospital. The Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation is looking into the incident, and an autopsy is scheduled to be performed to determine Purcell’s exact cause of death.

Dubuque Landlord Loses Appeal of “Priority” Designation

A Dubuque landlord’s claims that increased inspections will put him out of business fell on deaf ears Tuesday. Aiman Al-Qady was appealing the city’s decision to condemn three of his rental units. Back in January, residents in those Central Avenue apartments reported not having working heat. Al-Qady was protesting citations against three other properties as well. Due to those issues, the city had designated Al-Qady as a priority “landlord,” which meant that his properties would be inspected once a year, rather than every five years. During a meeting of the Housing Code Appeals Board, Al-Qady said that schedule would be excessive. But many of those in attendance at the hearing disagreed. City Councilman Brett Shaw said Al-Qady was failing to live up to minimum requirements. Dubuque attorney Sam Wooden said Al-Qady was essentially admitting that his properties are substandard. The board denied Al-Qady’s appeal. He declined to comment on their decision following the hearing.

Rise in Flu Cases Prompts Visitor Restrictions at Dubuque Hospitals

An increase in flu cases is causing Dubuque’s hospitals to limit who can visit the facilities. Beginning Wednesday, visitor restrictions will be in effect at MercyOne Medical Center and Finley Hospital. No one under the age of 14 will be allowed into either hospital. Anyone showing respiratory or flu-like symptoms – including coughing, fever, aches, and nausea – will also be barred. Hospital officials say an increase in Influenza A cases is prompting the restrictions. It’s not clear how long they will be in place.

One Person Injured in Dubuque Garage Fire

A fire in a detached garage caused minor injuries to one person in Dubuque yesterday afternoon. Firefighters responded to a home in the 2500 block of Jackson Street shortly after 1:00. They found a three-car garage, detached from the house, in flames. Crews were able to put the fire out within 15 minutes. One person was injured and was treated at the scene. The garage and two vehicles that were inside are considered total losses. Fire also damaged and downed electrical lines, causing a power outage in the neighborhood. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Finkenauer Infrastructure Tour Begins With Look at Dubuque Floodwall

Iowa Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (far left) speaks with Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol, Asst. City Manager Teri Goodmann, and Public Works Director John Klostermann during a tour of the city’s flood control system.

Dubuque was the first stop of Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer as she toured the systems that several eastern Iowa cities have in place to protect against flooding. Finkenauer joined city leaders on a tour of Dubuque’s flood control system, notably the Culver floodwall, this morning. The tour was a part of a two-day swing through the 1st District, which is also scheduled to include stops in Cedar Rapids, Independence, and Waterloo. Finkenauer is a member of the US House’s Transportation and Infrastructure committee. She says that while roads and bridges are often the first things that come to mind with infrastructure, it can include much more. Dubuque Public Works Director John Klostermann says Finkenauer reached out to the city to try to learn more about Dubuque’s floodwall. But Klostermann says floodwall construction methods have changed since Dubuque’s wall was built in the 1960s. Klostermann led the tour of the floodwall, which began near Lock and Dam 11 and continued down Kerper Boulevard, through Dubuque’s rail yards, and on to the Port of Dubuque.

Suspected Burglar Dies After Scuffling with Maquoketa Dentist

A would-be burglar died after scuffling with a dentist this week. Maquoketa Police officers were called to a dentist’s office a little after 2:00 Monday morning. The dentist told officers he was staying overnight in the apartment at the office. He was awoken by a noise, and found a man in the office’s garage when he checked to see where the noise had come from. The two men then scuffled, with the dentist eventually gaining control. He was still on top of the intruder when police arrived. But police say the suspect had a “medical episode” during the struggle and later died. An autopsy will be performed to determine the man’s exact cause of death.

Mississippi to Reach Flood Stage on Thursday

Courtesy: National Weather Service

The Mississippi River is expected to reach flood stage at Dubuque again this week. According to projections from the National Weather Service, the river will reach the flood stage of 17 feet at the Dubuque Railroad Bridge on Thursday morning. From there, it will climb to a depth of 17.5 feet on Saturday morning. The river level is expected to stay steady through at least Monday evening, which is as far out as the weather service’s forecast goes. No other area rivers are expected to reach flood stage at this time.

City to Detail 2019 Construction Projects

Construction work is planned on some of Dubuque’s busiest streets this summer. Central Avenue, Dodge Street, Asbury Road, the Northwest Arterial, Pennsylvania Avenue…all have construction projects in the works during the upcoming construction season. The most extensive project may be the one planned for Central Avenue. About ten blocks of that street will be repaved in downtown Dubuque beginning in June. City Civil Engineer Jon Dienst says that work being done so that Central, which is currently a federal highway, is in good shape when the Iowa Department of Transportation transfers it to the city after the Southwest Arterial is finished. Dienst says several factors play in to how that city prioritizes construction projects. Among the other major projects planned in the city this year are the addition of a turn lane at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and the Northwest Arterial, as well as resurfacing the 2.5 mile stretch of Dodge Street between Old Highway Road and Devon Drive. The city is holding a public meeting to discuss all of these projects Tuesday evening. The meeting runs from 4:00 to 6:00 at the Jule Operations Center on Kerper Boulevard.

DuRide Gives 100,000th Ride

A Dubuque non-profit that provides rides for senior citizens expects to give its 100,000th ride today. DuRide was started about ten years ago. The organization now has nearly 300 clients. They pay an annual fee of $45 dollars, plus $4 per ride. Bernice Ehlers is one of the senior citizens who use the service. She says it has helped her maintain her independence. DuRide Executive Director Greg Orwoll says many of their members have similar experiences to Ehlers’. DuRide is looking for more volunteers to help provide rides. They have a waiting list of about twenty seniors who want to join. Orwoll says adding all of them would require about a dozen additional volunteers.

ShopKo to Close Remaining Stores, Including in Dubuque, Dyersville, Lancaster

The anchor store of a Dubuque shopping area will be closing, as its failing parent company shutters all of its locations. Wisconsin-based ShopKo announced Monday that all of its remaining stores will close by this summer. That includes locations in Dubuque, Dyersville, and Lancaster. The Dubuque store was the largest retailer in the Wacker Plaza shopping area, which lies just across the street from Kennedy Mall. ShopKo’s move to close its remaining stores comes a little more than two months after the retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Last month, the company announced it would be closing about 70 percent of its locations, including the ShopKo Hometown outlet in Savanna.

No New Details in Death of Man Found Outside Dubuque Casino

Details about the death of a man found outside a Dubuque casino are still scarce a day after the man’s body was discovered. Police were called to the Diamond Jo Casino in the Port of Dubuque just before 8:00 yesterday morning. A man’s body had been found in the grassy area behind the casino. His name and cause of death have not been released. Police have said they do not suspect foul play or anything suspicious in the man’s death.

Delaware County Added to Iowa Disaster Declaration

A second Tri-State area county has been declared a disaster area in the wake of recent flooding. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on Monday added five counties, including Delaware, to a disaster declaration which now covers 41 of Iowa’s 99 counties. With the declaration, Delaware County residents can now apply for assistance grants worth up to $5,000. That money can be used to cover flood-related expenses, including home and car repairs, temporary housing, and replacement of clothing or food. Clayton County was one of the first counties including in the disaster declaration when it was issued last week.

Dubuque Men Arrested on Drug Charges in Jo Daviess County

A pair of Dubuque men are each facing charges after authorities in Illinois reportedly found marijuana in their vehicle. Just after 3:00 Sunday morning, a deputy from the Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Office pulled a car over for using the wrong lane while traveling on US Highway 20 near Elizabeth. As the officer approached the car, they could smell marijuana coming from the vehicle. A search of the car found about 49 grams of marijuana, as well as a digital scale and several items of drug paraphernalia. 24-year-old Saud Almummar and 23-year-old Anthony Underwood were in the car at the time and arrested at the scene. They’re each facing a felony count of Unlawful Delivery of Cannabis, as well as misdemeanor charges of Possession of Cannabis and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Ex-Teacher Admits to Being Drunk on the Job

A former Dubuque teacher has admitted that she was drunk on the job late last year. 38-year-old Erin Ellerbach pled guilty to a charge of Public Intoxication last week. She was ordered to pay a fine and court costs totaling just less than 200 dollars. In mid-December, Ellerbach was arrested at Jefferson Middle School, where she was working as a health and wellness teacher. According to court documents, police found three cans of a “hard lemonade” beverage in Ellerbach’s office. She showed signs of intoxication while speaking with officers, and recorded a blood alcohol content of .224 following her arrest. That’s nearly three times the legal limit to drive. Ellerbach resigned her teaching job following her arrest. In a separate case, Ellerbach was arrested for driving drunk about six weeks after her arrest at the school. Asbury Police arrested her on a charge of Operating While Intoxicated on January 30th. She was arraigned on that charge last week and is currently scheduled to go on trial in mid-May.

Man Charged After LSD Rampage

A Manchester man is looking at a number of charges after police say he damaged a home and was running around naked while under the influence of LSD. Court records from Delaware County say 18 year old Matthew Wichman is charged with second degree criminal mischief, assault while participating in a felony, interference with official acts causing injury and simulated public intoxication. On March 1st, deputies were called to a residence in Earlville to investigate a disturbance. When they arrived Wichman was outside naked running around in circles in the snow. When he saw the deputies, Wichman ran back into the house. Documents say Wichman was in an agitated state and speaking nonsense as he resisted arrest. Wchman was shot with a stun gun, but continued his tirade. Deputies finally had to strike and tackle Wichman to get him under control. He was at the home because of his association with a juvenile there. Deputies observed extensive damage inside the home and blood smears. A witness says Wichman was on LSD. He kicked and injured a deputy while being arrested.

Dubuque Police Investigating Shots Fired

Dubuque police are searching for a suspect they say fired several shots within a residence Friday night. A press release says officers responded to a residence in the 22 hundred block of Jackson Street at around 8:30 for several reports of shots fired. Police determined the shots had been fired during a confrontation inside the residence. The suspect left the area before police arrived. No injuries were reported and so far no arrests have been made. If you have any any information about this incident contact the Dubuque law enforcement center.

No Injuries Reported When Vehicle Backs Into School Bus In Grant County

Authorities in Grant County report no injuries after a vehicle backed into a school bus loaded with students Friday. According to a release, a vehicle driven by 20 year old Cole Menne of Tennyson was backing out of a driveway, when he was struck by a school bus traveling south on Crestview Drive in Tennyson. There was minor damage to Menne’s vehicle and the school bus. The bus driver and the 35 students on board were not injured. The release doesn’t say if any citations were issued.

Jo Daviess Drug Arrests

Two Dubuque residents were arrested on drug charges in Jo Daviess County over the weekend. A release from the sheriff’s office says a deputy stopped a car shortly after 3 Sunday morning on Highway 20 near Elizabeth for improperly changing lanes. As the deputy approached, he could smell the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. The deputy searched the vehicle and found approximately 49 grams of prepackaged cannabis, a scale and multiple items of drug paraphernalia. The driver, 24 year old Saud Almummar and his passenger 23 year old Anthony Underwood were placed under arrest. Both men are charged with unlawful delivery of cannabis, possession of cannabis and drug paraphernalia. Almummar was also cited for improper lane usage.

River Levels Begin to Fall in Many Areas, But Warnings Continue

River levels are now falling in many parts of the Tri-State area, but Flood Warnings are still in effect for several waterways around the region. Here in Dubuque, the Mississippi River is still on the rise, with a Flood Warning in effect. The river is expected to reach the flood stage of 17 feet tonight, before cresting at 17.8 feet tomorrow evening. The National Weather Service had initially said the Flood Warning would expire on Tuesday. But it now says the river will remain above flood stage through at least next Thursday.

In Elkader, the Turkey River topped out at 18.4 feet last night. That’s about 6.5 feet above flood stage, but still well shy of the initial crest forecasts. The Flood Warning for the Turkey will remain in effect until Sunday morning, which is when the river is expected to fall back below flood stage.

The Maquoketa River is on the way down in Manchester. It reached a depth of 17.7 feet last night, but the river level has dropped a foot already since then. It’s expected to fall below flood stage this afternoon or tonight. Meanwhile in Maquoketa, the river crest is expected yet this morning at about 32.3 feet. That’s well into what’s considered “Major Flooding” and only about three feet from the record river depth. The Flood Warning in Maquoketa will remain in effect through Sunday morning.

The Pecatonica River has also started to drop in both Blanchardville and Darlington. In Blanchardville, the river level reached just past the 16-foot level late last night. It’s not fallen much from there, but is expected to begin receding today. It’s expected to go back below flood stage tomorrow night. In Darlington, the crest happened yesterday evening at 17.6 feet. That’s about four feet above flood stage. The Pecatonica has fallen about a half a foot since, and will continue to trend downward until going below flood stage during the midday hours tomorrow.

Darlington Flooding Called Worst Since 1993

Floodwaters overtake a convenience store in Darlington. The Main Street Bridge can be seen at the top of the picture (Courtesy: NBC15).

In Darlington, they’re calling this the worst flooding the community has seen since the summer of 1993. That’s when the Pecatonica River crested at 18.2 feet, only a few inches from where the river got yesterday. Despite reaching what’s considered “Major Flooding,” Darlington Police Chief Jason King is hopeful that the damage will only be minor. That’s partly due to some of the city’s efforts since that 1993 flood. In the wake of the record flooding in 1993, businesses near the river were elevated, installed flood shields, and took other steps to avoid additional flooding. King says, for the most part, those efforts have worked. The Main Street Bridge in Darlington remains closed because of flooding. That span carries both Wisconsin Highways 23 and 81 over the Pecatonica River.

Accused Drug Dealer Reaches Plea Deal

A Dyersville man accused of selling marijuana oil appears to have reached an agreement with prosecutors to avoid jail time. But another drug possession charge against him is still pending. 41-year-old Kory Manternach was arrested last fall after being seen throwing about a dozen marijuana oil containers in the garbage at a Dyersville fast food restaurant. He was charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver, which is a felony. According to online court records, Manternach has struck a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to a lesser charge of Possession of Marijuana. He’s been sentenced to a deferred judgement that includes two years of probation. A deferred judgement means that if Manternach avoids any further legal trouble in those two years, the charge will be wiped from his record. A separate charge of Possession of Cocaine is still pending. Manternach’s trial on that charge is currently scheduled to begin in about a month.

Earlville Man Accused of Murdering Wife Pleads Not Guilty

The trial date has been set for a Delaware County man accused of stabbing his wife to death with a farm tool. 42-year-old Todd Mullis of Earlville will go on trial in mid-May in Delaware County Court. He’s charged with 1st Degree Murder in the November death of his wife, Amy. Mullis entered a not guilty plea to that charge this week. Prosecutors say Mullis stabbed his wife to death with corn rake. The state medical examiner found that her wounds came from several angles, suggesting she was stabbed multiple times. According to court documents, Todd Mullis claimed that Amy had fallen onto the rake while working on the couple’s farm outside of Earlville.

Clayton County Included in State Disaster Declaration

Clayton County will be able to access state funding to help with cleanup from this week’s flooding. The county is one of 21 included in a disaster declaration signed by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on Thursday. The Governor’s action makes individuals in those western and northern Iowa counties eligible for grants. The money can be used to pay for home or car repairs, replace clothing or food, and for temporary housing. Reynolds has also activated the state emergency operations center to coordinate the response to flooding.

US Highway 52 Closed Due to Flooding

Water from the Turkey River tops US Highway 52 near Millville (Courtesy: Clayton County Emergency Management).

A portion of a federal highway that runs through Dubuque and Clayton counties remains closed due to flooding. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, US Highway 52 is closed between Luxemburg and the southern edge of Guttenberg. That’s mainly due to water from the Turkey River coming over the highway near Millville. A detour route is in place, using Iowa Highways 3, 13, and 128. That more than quadruples the driving distance between Luxemburg and Guttenberg. It’s not yet known when US 52 might reopen.

Series of Car Break-Ins Reported at Western Dubuque High School

Three suspects believed to be involved in stealing items from cars at Western Dubuque High School are seen in this security camera image provided by the school. The suspects have been seen travelling in the maroon vehicle on the left.

Students at a Dubuque County high school are being urged to lock their doors after recent a string of car burglaries. Administrators at Western Dubuque High School in Epworth say security cameras have caught suspects going through cars in the school parking lot over the past several weeks. The burglaries typically happen between 8:00 and 10:00 at night. Suspects have mainly been targeting vehicles with unlocked doors. After getting into the cars, they take anything that appears to be valuable. Administrators are encouraging students to keep their car doors locked when parked at the school. They also advise students to not leave valuable items where they can be seen from outside the car. The suspects have been seen driving a maroon Dodge crossover or hatchback vehicle. Anyone with information about the car break-ins is asked to contact Epworth Police or the Dubuque County CrimeStoppers tipline.

Mississippi River Joins List of Flood Warnings

The Mississippi River at Dubuque has been added to the list of area waterways under a Flood Warning. That warning will be in effect until Tuesday morning. The Mississippi level has risen about two feet in the past day, and will continue to increase into the weekend. It’s currently scheduled to reach the flood stage of 17 feet sometime around the midday tomorrow. The expected crest will come on Saturday morning at 17.8 feet. The Mississippi is currently expected to drop back below flood stage on Tuesday.

In Elkader, the Turkey River reached flood stage early this morning and has continued to rise. It’s expected to crest at 22.7 feet around midday tomorrow. That forecasted crest is a bit lower than the 23 feet that had previously been expected. The Flood Warning for the Turkey is expected to stay in effect until late Sunday night.

There are also Flood Warnings out for the Maquoketa River in both Manchester and Maquoketa. In Manchester, the river is expected to crest at about 17 feet sometime this morning. That’s three feet above the flood stage. The warning there will expire tonight. In Maquoketa, the river has already reached what’s considered “major flooding.” It’s predicted to crest at 31.7 feet this evening. That’s nearly eight feet above flood stage. The warning there will be in effect until Saturday night.

In Wisconsin, the Pecatonica River is flooding in both Darlington and Blanchardville. In Darlington, the river will crest at 15.9 feet tonight. That’s almost 2.5 feet above flood stage. The Flood Warning in Darlington will be in effect until Saturday morning. In Blanchardville, the Pecatonica will remain above flood stage through Saturday evening. It’s expected to crest at 13.9 feet either late tonight or early tomorrow morning. That’s almost three feet above flood stage.

AP: Dubuque County Treasurer Involved in Possible Ethics Law Violation

The Dubuque County Treasurer is one of two Iowa county officials who may have violated state ethics laws. An investigation by the Associated Press found that Dubuque County Treasurer Eric Stierman recently vacationed with a businessman whose company supplies the website most counties use to collect taxes. Stierman and Winneshiek County Treasurer Wayne Walter are accused of staying at the man’s Florida beach property for free, which would be a violation of state ethics law. Public employees in Iowa are barred from accepting anything worth more than $3 from vendors. In November, Stierman and Walter flew to Florida and met with Marc Carr, the CEO of GovTech Services. The three spent part of their vacation at Stierman’s brother-in-law’s home, and the rest at Carr’s condo in the resort town of St. Pete Beach. Stierman has denied any wrongdoing.

Flooding Causing Road Closures Around Tri-States

High waters around the Tri-States are also forcing the closure of several area roads, including one federal highway. US Highway 52 had been closed between the Northwest Arterial and North John Deere Road. But an alert from the Iowa Department of Transportation says southbound lanes reopened in that area around 10:30 this morning. But Highway 52 is closed at Luxemburg and north through the Millville area due to flooding on the Turkey River. Rupp Hollow and Sageville Roads are also closed. In Wisconsin, Darlington Police say the Main Street Bridge has been closed due to flooding. It carries both State Highways 23 and 81 over the Pecatonica River, which is currently about a foot and a half above flood stage.

Additional Lafayette County road closures:

– State Highway 78, at County H

– County C, north of County G

– County D, at County N

– County G, west of Calamine-Calamine Bridge

– County K, just north of State Highway 11

– County K, between Red Rock Road and Ames Road

– Cisserville Road, to County MM in Green County

– Ferndale Road, south of King Road

– Oak Park Road, south of Rock Road

– Pecatonica Road

– Powell Road

– Riverside Road, between County K and Silver Springs Road

– Roller Coaster Road

– South Lake Road, at Lake Road

– Wildcat Road, west of Otter Creek Road

Jo Daviess County Closures:

– South Creek Road & East Hanover Road (Elizabeth)

– South Creek Road & South Curtiss Hill Road (Elizabeth)

– South Gamble Hill Road & South Rush Road (Hanover)

– South Rush Road & East Heer Road (Hanover)

– East Bethel Road & East Rush Creek Road (Elizabeth)

– East Townsend Road (Stockton)

– East Liebert Road & South Krug Road (Elizabeth)

– East Liebert Road & South Derinda Road (Elizabeth)

– Evergreen Street & South Fulton Road (Hanover)

– South Hanover Hill Road & South Fulton Road (Hanover)

– West Longhollow Road & South Georgetown Road (Elizabeth)

– West Buckhill Road (Galena)

– Carr Road railroad tunnel (Scales Mound)

Flood Warnings Issued for Several Tri-State Rivers

Flood Warnings have been issued for several individual rivers around the Tri-States:

Turkey River at Elkader

Warning in Effect Until Late Sunday Night

Current Level: 6.5 feet

Flood Stage: 12 feet

Will Reach Flood Stage: 4:00 AM Thursday

Expected Crest: 23 feet (midday Friday)

Pecatonica River at Darlington

Warning in Effect Until Late Friday Night

Current Level: 7.7 feet

Flood Stage: 13.5 feet

Will Reach Flood Stage: 8:00 PM Wednesday

Expected Crest: 14.9 feet (Thursday night)

Pecatonica River at Blanchardville

Warning in Effect Until Saturday Evening

Current Level: 7.2 feet

Flood Stage: 11 feet

Will Reach Flood Stage: Early Thursday morning

Expected Crest: 13.9 feet (early Friday morning)

Maquoketa River at Manchester

Warning in Effect Until Friday Morning

Current Level: 5.5 feet

Flood Stage: 14 feet

Will Reach Flood Stage: Late Wednesday night

Expected Crest: 16.4 feet (midday Thursday)

Maquoketa River at Maquoketa

Warning in Effect Until Saturday Evening

Current Level: 21 feet

Flood Stage: 24 feet

Will Reach Flood Stage: Midday Wednesday

Expected Crest: 29.9 feet (midday Thursday)

Klobuchar, O’Rourke Expected in Dubuque on Saturday

Klobuchar, O’Rourke

One declared presidential candidate and one potential candidate are both expected to be in Dubuque this weekend. According to events posted on Facebook, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke will both visit the Key City on Saturday. Klobuchar is hosting what’s described as a “meet and greet” at 7 Hills Brewing in the Historic Millwork District at 1:00 Saturday afternoon. The event is open to the public. Klobuchar is one of the dozen Democrats currently seeking the party’s nomination in 2020. She launched her campaign in mid-February. O’Rourke has not yet launched a presidential campaign, or an exploratory committee, but his trip to Iowa this weekend is fueling speculation that he will join the race. O’Rourke will be the guest of honor at a Saint Patrick’s Day house party being held by Dubuque County Recorder John Murphy Saturday evening. O’Rourke represented far western Texas in Congress for three terms. He gave up his seat to run for the Senate last fall, narrowly losing to incumbent Republican Ted Cruz.

First Flood Watch of 2019 Issued for Tri-States

It’s still a week until spring officially begins, but the first Flood Watch of the season for the Tri-States is already out. The watch will go into effect this afternoon and last until Thursday afternoon. Our entire listening area is included. According to the National Weather Service, the area included in the watch will receive between three-quarters and a full inch of rainfall. That, combined with melting snow, will cause a sharp increase in rivers and streams, especially those in low-lying areas. The risk of flooding is also elevated by the already saturated or frozen ground across much of the region.

Flooding Preparations Underway in Elkader

The Turkey River in Elkader (Courtesy: KCRG)

One of the communities under a Flood Warning has started preparing for a potential river rise. Elkader sits right along the Turkey River, which is expected to rise to a depth of 23 feet by Friday. That’s eleven feet above flood stage. But the Clayton County Engineer is hoping to make room for some of the water before it reaches Elkader. Rafe Koopman says removing snow from road ditches is one step that could give rising waters somewhere else to go. But Koopman says the county’s crews have already been overworked by a rough winter. The county’s trucks are currently equipped with snow removal equipment. Koopman isn’t sure about removing that gear from the trucks with winter not over yet. The expected river crest in Elkader will fall about five feet below the record, which was set in 2008. Business owners along the river estimate they’ve dealt with about two dozen floods since then.

Proposed Wind Power Line Would Run Under Tri-States

A proposed underground transmission line for wind-generated electricity would run through the Tri-State area. North Carolina-based Direct Connect Development Company unveiled its plans for the project this week. The line would run from Mason City to suburban Chicago. It would carry electricity generated mostly by wind turbines in northern Iowa. The line would mainly run along existing Canadian Pacific Railroad tracks. It would reach the Mississippi River at Marquette, then follow the railroad south through Dubuque, before crossing the Mississippi at Sabula. The project would cost an estimated $2.5 million, though Direct Connect says it has three major investors already lined up. If approved by regulators, the line could be operational by 2024.

Gas Leak Forces Evacuation at Darlington High School

Students at a southwest Wisconsin school were evacuated because of a gas leak in the school building yesterday. The Darlington Police Department received a report of a gas leak at the local high school just before 8:00 yesterday morning. Officers responded to the school, and helped evacuate students from the building. They were moved to the local middle school, which is right next door. Students were held in the gymnasium there while the leak was investigated. Police say it took less than an hour for the leak to be stopped. Once the building was deemed safe, students were given the OK to return to class. No students or staff reported any injuries or illness due to the gas leak.

Dubuque County Barn Fire Causes $100,000 in Damage

A Dubuque County farm sustained six figures worth of damage in a fire late Monday night. Shortly after 11:30, firefighters from Epworth were called to a fire on East Pleasant Grove Road about a mile and a half west of the Timberline Golf Course. A barn on the property had caught fire and county dispatchers were receiving numerous calls about it. A release from the Epworth Fire Department says the barn was fully engulfed in flames by the time crews arrived on scene. The barn is being called a “total loss.” Total damage is estimated at $100,000, which includes both the barn itself and everything that was inside at the time. No animals were being housed inside, and no injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined yet, but is not believed to be suspicious.

Hardee’s Robber Sentenced to Prison

The man who robbed a Dubuque fast food restaurant with the help of his wife is headed to prison. 41-year-old William Brown was sentenced Monday to between five and ten years in state custody. That follows his guilty pleas on 2nd Degree Robbery and Child Endangerment charges late last month. Brown admitted to working with his wife, Mary, to rob the Hardee’s on Asbury Road, where she worked. He went into the restaurant shortly before it opened on October 11, displayed a handgun, and demanded money from another worker. Brown will be required to serve five years of his sentence before he’s eligible for parole. Ten years is the maximum sentence. He was also given two years in prison on the Child Endangerment charge, but he’ll serve that term during the same time as the Robbery sentence. Mary Brown reached a deal with prosecutors last month to plead guilty to theft and child endangerment charges. She’s expected to receive a suspended prison term and probation when she’s sentenced next month.

Dubuque School Board Approves Use of Smart Phone Emergency App

The Dubuque school board will provide teachers and staff with a phone app they can use in case of emergencies. The board approved a three-year contract with Rave Mobile Safety at its meeting Monday night. That’s the company that supplies the “Rave Panic Button.” The phone application lets teachers and administrators send emergency alerts to the rest of the staff in their building. It also puts the person sending the alert in direct contact with emergency dispatchers. District Directors of School and Community Relations Mike Cyze says Rave is the company that supplies the 911 system used by Dubuque County. He says making schools safer is one of the district’s main priorities. Mark Murphy, the manager of Dubuque County’s 911 emergency communications center, expressed his support for the Panic Button app. The district will pay Rave about $30,000 per year.

Woman Arrested for Meth Possession Twice in Just More Than a Day

Dubuque Police arrested a woman for drug possession twice in a little more than a day over the weekend. 32-year-old Courtney Beecher now faces two counts each of Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. According to police, Beecher’s car was pulled over shortly after 5:00 Saturday evening for having a brake light out. During the traffic stop, a police K9 indicated there were drugs in the car. Court documents show police found several small bags of meth and multiple syringes. Beecher was arrested and taken to jail. Then, at about 10:00 Sunday night, Beecher’s car was pulled over again, this time near the intersection of 9th and Main Streets. Beecher again had both methamphetamine and needles on her. If convicted on the charges against her, Beecher could be sentenced to more than two years in prison.

Weather Service: Major Flooding on Mississippi “Near Certain” This Spring

The latest spring flooding outlook from the National Weather Service doesn’t hold much good news for the Tri-State area. Forecasters are saying that it’s a near certainty that the Mississippi River will go above flood stage at Dubuque, with a good chance of what they call “major flooding.” That’s when the river reaches a depth of 21.5 feet at Dubuque’s Railroad Bridge. KCRG meteorologist Kaj O’Mara says if that happens, it would be one of the highest levels the river has ever reached. The highest the Mississippi has ever gotten in Dubuque was the 26.8 feet it reached during the Flood of 1965. While the outlook does put a high level of certainty on flooding around Dubuque, O’Mara says there are still factors that could impact the situation. The Tri-States are largely at the mercy of how much precipitation falls in Minnesota. The weather service has targeted mid- to late April as the most likely time for significant flooding. That lines up with some of the worst floods in Dubuque’s history. The Mississippi is expected to rise to 15.7 feet by Saturday evening. That’s into the “action stage” for flooding.

SW Wisconsin Couple Accused of Keeping Drugs Near Children

A southwest Wisconsin couple is facing multiple charges after being accused of doing drugs near young children. 29-year-old Alvin Colson and 37-year-old Diana Colson were arrested on the final day of February at a home on Ann Street in Platteville. According to a release from the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, officers from the Richland-Iowa-Grant Drug Task Force executed a warrant at the home. Inside, they reportedly found methamphetamine, marijuana, and several pieces of drug paraphernalia. Three children, including an infant, were inside the home at the time. They were turned over to local social services agents. Alvin Colson is facing a total of six charges, ranging from possession of both meth and marijuana to Child Neglect. Diana Colson has been charged with two counts of Child Neglect and one of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Storm Spotter Trainings Begin This Week

A series of storm spotter training sessions being offered by the National Weather Service begins this week. The weather service is hosting three of the trainings across the Tri-States this month. The first session will be held Wednesday evening at 7:00 at the Edgewood fire station. Training sessions resume the final week of the month, with events in both Dubuque and Galena. The Dubuque training will be held on Tuesday, March 26, at 6:30 PM at the county emergency responder training facility. The Galena session follows that Thursday evening at 6:30. It’ll be held at the Galena Territory Owners Club. Another session is scheduled for late April in Platteville.

Former Nightclub Owner Takes Plea Deal

The former owner of a downtown Dubuque nightclub has agreed to plead guilty to charges he passed more than $10,000 dollars in bad checks. 28-year-old Patrick Person pled guilty to a total of eleven forgery, theft, and Ongoing Criminal Conduct charges last week. Prosecutors have recommended that he be given a suspended prison sentence along with between two and five years of probation. According to court documents, Person issued himself several payroll checks from Club Rise while he owned the Central Avenue business. Person then cashed the checks at the Diamond Jo Casino and several Dubuque Hy-Vee grocery stores. The club wasn’t able to cover the checks, which had been written out for a total of more than $10,000.

Dubuque Wins Big at Main Street Iowa Awards

The city of Dubuque cleaned up at an annual ceremony honoring Main Street organizations around Iowa. Iowa Main Street presented its yearly awards over the weekend, and several honors are coming back to the Key City. Dubuque Main Street was honored for two events that made their debut in 2018…the ‘Build a Better Block’ and downtown live music crawl. ‘Build a Better Block,’ which showcased what Central Avenue could look like in the future, received the Outstanding Image Activity award. The first downtown music crawl, held in January of last year, was named the Excellent Special Event. It returned for a second edition earlier this year. Among the other awards:
– Dimensional Brewing won Terrific Total Building Rehabilitation for the work done at its location on lower Main Street
– The Superior Interior Rehabilitation award was given to the Creative Adventure Lab
– Fountain of Youth was honored as the Partner of the Year
– The Signature Award was shared by several groups behind the restoration at Steeple Square, including the Friends of Saint Mary’s, Jeffery Morton Associates, and Gronen Restoration
– Smokestack owner Susan Price was named Volunteer of the Year

Weather Round-Up

The Tri-States saw a variety of weather on Saturday from rain, sleet and snow to some gusty winds topping it off overnight. Dubuque officially received .61 inches of rain Saturday at the Dubuque Regional Airport and a half an inch of snow. The weather is expected to warm up by mid-week, with day time highs in the 50’s for both Wednesday and Thursday, however rain is expected both days. With the rain and melting snow to our north, the Mississippi River at Dubuque is also expected to climb by the end of the week, going from 9.6 feet today to over 12 feet by Friday.

Governor Touts Future Ready Iowa In DC

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds met with President Trump in Washington this week. (last week) She showed him the Future Ready Iowa program, something she says is helping Iowans get into the workforce. The governor is a member of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross and presidential advisor Ivanka Trump co-chairs. The group met for the first time and shared ideas on how to improve the job market to better match people to the skills that good paying jobs require. Reynolds talked about how Future Ready Iowa is working to get 70 percent of the people in the state to have post high school job training or education by 2025. She says other governors could use this as a model to help create jobs in their states.

O’Mara: Limited Snow Melt This Weekend, But More As Temperatures Rise Next Week

O’Mara

This weekend’s rain and warmer temperatures will cause a limited amount of snow melt. But meteorologists tell us we can expect even more melting early next week. According to our weather coverage partners at KCRG-TV, high temperatures will be in the middle 30s through the weekend, with at least an inch of rain expected on Saturday. KCRG’s Kaj O’Mara says we won’t see significant melting until overnight lows stay above freezing, which could start happening in the middle of next week. Another factor that will limit the amount of melting is the density of the current snowpack. Stretching the snow melt out over a longer timeframe will help reduce the risk of flooding. That said, there are many small creeks and streams that are already swollen. There’s also a possibility for ice jams to form. O’Mara says if those happen, it will be in more shallow areas or where a river bottlenecks. The National Weather Service currently estimates Dubuque’s snow depth at seven inches.

Senior Boys Basketball Team Advances to State Championship Game

Dubuque Senior’s bench celebrates a basket during the Rams’ 57-55 overtime win over Waukee (Courtesy: IHSAA).

The Dubuque Senior boys basketball team will play for the State Championship tonight. The Rams defeated top seed Waukee 57-55 in overtime in the semifinals of the Class 4A State Tournament last night. Senior now advances to tonight’s 4A state final, where they’ll meet defending champion Cedar Falls. The Rams will be making their first championship game appearance since 1977. A win would secure the very first State title in school history. You’ll hear tonight’s game here on KDTH with coverage beginning at 8:20 PM.

Dubuque Council Adopts Fiscal Year 2020 Budget

Discussion of adding a new housing inspector dominated the Dubuque City Council’s final budget hearing last night. The meeting was the seventh the council has held over the past month, and presented the final opportunity for council members and citizens to provide input on the budget. City Manager Mike Van Milligen explained to the council that at the beginning of the process there did not appear to be enough money to add an inspector. But that changed as the process went along. Initially, the new inspector was not included in Van Milligen’s budget recommendation. But when asked by Councilman David Resnick, the city manager said he would have pushed for the addition if the funds had always been available. Resnick said he was initially skeptical about adding the inspector, but came around when he saw the level of organization outlined by the city housing department. The budget passed on a 6-1 vote. Councilman Luis Del Toro cast the only vote against, citing concerns about the city’s debt level. The Fiscal Year 2020 budget includes an overall decrease in property taxes of about 2.4%. Most of that drop will be seen in the rates for commercial, industrial, and multi-residential properties. The average homeowner will not see any change to their property tax rate.

Cascade Man Facing 30+ Charges Avoids Prison Time

A Cascade man who had faced three dozen charges isn’t expected to serve any time in prison. 36-year-old Justin Trumm was initially charged with a total of 36 counts in connection with domestic incidents in Delaware County last fall. Those included eighteen counts of Violating a No Contact Order, fifteen counts of Stalking, and two counts of Trespassing. According to online court records, Trumm has reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to a handful of charges, while the rest will be dismissed. Trumm pled guilty to four of the Stalking counts and one count of Operating a Vehicle without the Owner’s Consent. Trumm will be required to spend a year in a residential correctional facility. He also received suspended prison sentences totaling 22 years. He’ll be required to be on probation for between two and five years. Charges of Domestic Abuse Assault and Operating a Vehicle Without the Owner’s Consent were split into a separate case, and Trumm was found guilty on both of those counts. He was sentenced to a total of seven days in jail, and given credit for time already served.

Accused Drug Dealer Arrested After Running Into Fence

Dubuque Police are crediting a fence with helping them catch a suspected drug dealer. A few minutes before 11:00 Thursday morning, officers pulled a car over near the intersection of University Avenue and Alta Vista Street. A police K-9 indicated that there were drugs in the car, and the passenger, 35-year-old Curnet Brewer, was asked to step out of the vehicle. As police were searching Brewer, he broke away and ran off down University. He then turned onto Wilson Street and tried to run through a back yard. But instead, he crashed into a fence and wasn’t able to climb over it. Police say he instead threw a plastic bag over the fence before surrendering. Inside the bag, officers found a dozen individually wrapped packages of crack cocaine. Police estimate the amount of crack found in the bag would have a street value of $3,000. Brewer also reportedly had more than $400 in small bills. Brewer’s been charged with Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Deliver and Interference with Official Acts.

Mt. Carroll Sets All-Time Illinois Cold Record

A Tri-State area community now owns the state record for coldest temperature. During the so-called “Polar Vortex” at the end of January, Mt. Carroll dropped to an overnight low of -38 degrees. The National Weather Service has now confirmed that is the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state of Illinois. The record was investigated by the State Climate Extremes Committee, which is made up of analysts from several branches of the weather service. The previous record had been -36 degrees. That’s how cold it got in Congerville in central Illinois in early January of 1999. Mt. Carroll is now the second Tri-State community to hold the state cold record. Elkader owns the Iowa mark, with the -47 reading measured there in early February of 1996.

Finkenauer Named to Congressional Leadership Position

Finkenauer

Just two months into her first term in Congress, Dubuque native Abby Finkenauer has already been selected for a leadership position. Congresswoman Finkenauer has been chosen to serve as one of the House’s Assistant Whips. Her appointment was announced this week by fellow Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina. In a release, he says he chose Finkenauer because she “knows how to…get things done” and “represents the common sense Midwestern position on a number of important issues.” Assistant Whips provide a connection between party leadership and lower-ranking legislators. They also help make sure party members are on the House floor when it’s time for them to cast votes.

Dubuque Native Principal Apologizes for Using Slur

A Dubuque native who’s the principal at a private school near Washington, DC, says she regrets using a racial slur during a Black History Month assembly. Joy Morrow is the principal at the New Hope Academy in Landover Hills, Maryland, which is less than three miles outside the DC city limits. A news release from the school acknowledges that Morrow, who is white, used the “n-word” during a speech to students last week. The scheduled speaker had cancelled, so Morrow decided to deliver a speech she had first used in the early 1990s to describe her upbringing in Dubuque, which she called an “all-white, racist community.” In the release, Morrow says she regrets using the slur, since it distracted from her intended message, which was a reflection on the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior. It’s unclear if Morrow will be disciplined by the school.

Marklein, Tranel Schedule Budget Listening Sessions

A pair of southwest Wisconsin legislators are inviting local residents to discuss Governor Tony Evers’ budget proposal next week. State Senator Howard Marklein and Representative Travis Tranel will hold a listening session on the budget in Lancaster on Monday. They’ll be at the Schreiner Memorial Library beginning at 10:30 that morning. The session is one of three that Marklein has scheduled this month. He and Travel will hold another one Monday afternoon in Linden. The following Monday, March 18th, Marklein and Tranel will be joined by Representative Tony Kurtz of Wonewoc for a listening session in Richland Center.

Asbury Library Closure to Continue into Mid-April

It will be at least another six weeks before the Asbury Library reopens. The library has been closed since February 1st. That’s when a frozen pipe burst, causing water damage inside the library building. Library administrators initially hoped to re-open about a month after the accident. But they now say it will be at least mid-April before they’re able to open back up. But they note that damage wasn’t quite as significant as feared. Of the library’s 25,000 books, only about 600 were damaged. Ten computers were also destroyed. Library Director Michael Wright says while they don’t have a firm estimate on the damage, it’s not clear whether insurance will completely cover the repairs. A ‘Friends of the Library’ group plans to host a fundraiser to benefit the library. That will be held on March 29th at the Meadows golf course.

Dubuque City Crews Continue Snow Removal Efforts

Dubuque city crews use heavy machinery to break up and remove snow and ice from Loras Boulevard on Tuesday (Courtesy: KCRG).

It’s now been ten days since Dubuque received any measurable snowfall, but crews are still working to remove some of the snow that’s built up on city streets. This week, the city’s Public Works Department posted temporary ‘no parking’ notices on several streets where they’ve been using machinery to break up the snow and ice, and then clear it from the streets. But the amount of ice that’s formed beneath the snow has made that a challenge, according to Public Works Director John Klostermann. He’s hoping to get some help from Mother Nature this weekend. Among the streets that crews have been working to clear this week are West Locust Street, Loras Boulevard, and University Avenue.

DNR Investigating Dead Animals Found Near Farley

Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources has launched an investigation into possible poaching after the carcasses of several animals were found along the side of a road near Farley. According to a post on the Swiss Valley Nature Center’s Facebook page, one deer, one turkey, and four pheasant carcasses were found along Kramer Road north of Farley. Each of the animals looked to have been killed recently. The legal hunting seasons for all of the animals have been over for several weeks. Three of the pheasants were hens, which are illegal to hunt at any time in Iowa. Anyone with information about the animals is asked to contact the DNR.

Alliant Plans Rate Increases

Most Dubuque residents can expect their electric bills to go up in the coming months. Alliant Energy, which supplies electric power to most of the city, says the typical electric customer will see an eight-dollar increase to their monthly bill, starting next month. Another increase is expected later this year. That’s if the Iowa Utilities Board agrees to let the company boost rates again. If it does, the second increase would work out to about another $12 per month for the average customer. Alliant spokesperson Justin Foss says the money generated from those increases will go toward investments in renewable energy programs. In addition to their investments in wind turbines, Alliant is also putting money into solar energy. That includes the installation of Iowa’s largest solar array, which will be located just west of Dubuque.

Stray Bullet Strikes House Near Hazel Green

Authorities in southwestern Wisconsin are trying to figure out exactly how a bullet ended up lodged in the wall of a home. On Saturday evening, deputies from the Grant County Sheriff’s office were called to a home outside of Hazel Green. The person who lives there told officers that they’d found a bullet inside the house. When deputies investigated, they found the bullet in one of the walls of the house’s living room. A bullet hole was also found in the home’s front window. An adult and children were home at the time. Investigators believe the round had been fired from a significant distance away, and was not fired into the home intentionally. They’re still asking anyone with information about the incident to contact the county sheriff’s office or the Grant County CrimeStoppers tipline.

Police: Darlington Man Accidentally Shot Himself

A southwest Wisconsin man is in serious condition after accidently shooting himself last weekend. According to police in Darlington, officers and paramedics were called to a home on West Mary Street at about 9:40 Sunday night. 27-year-old Coty Lange was found inside the house, suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg. He was initially taken to Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County, but was later airlifted to UW Hospital in Madison. Police say it appears that Lange accidentally shot himself, and that alcohol was a factor in the incident. The shooting is still under investigation.

Monday Was Dubuque’s Coldest March 4

The National Weather Service has confirmed it…yesterday was the coldest March 4 in Dubuque’s history. The high temperature at the Dubuque Regional Airport only reached 5 degrees. That’s well below the previous daily record for the lowest high temperature. The old mark had been set in 1978, when Dubuque only got up to 14 degrees for a high. Yesterday’s low temperature also came close to setting a new record. The low of -10 fell just three degrees short of the all-time record, which was set in 2002. This is at least the second ‘lowest high temperature’ record set in Dubuque this winter. The other came on January 30, when the high temperature was -16 degrees. That made that day the coldest in recorded history in Dubuque. Highs are normally in the upper 30s this time of year, with lows typically in the low 20s.

Police: Dubuque Man Had Several Kinds of Drugs at Casino

Dubuque Police say a man was carrying multiple kinds of drugs during a recent trip to a local casino. 40-year-old Willie Randle was arrested at the Diamond Jo just before 7:00 Friday night. Police had been called to the casino to arrest a woman Randle was with after a package of methamphetamine fell out of a bag she was carrying. Court documents say police began to question Randle after smelling marijuana on him. Randle was searched, and police say they found cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin in an eye glass container Randle was carrying. The heroin was split into three similarly-sized containers, which police say indicates Randle was selling the drug. Randle is facing several charges, including Possession of Heroin with Intent to Deliver and possession of cocaine, marijuana, and meth. The arrest was the second in less than a week for Randle. He was also picked up on a theft charge at the Q Casino five days prior to the incident at the Diamond Jo.

Epworth Woman Accused of Sexual Abuse

Charges have been filed against a Dubuque County woman accused of sexually abusing a young girl. 35-year-old Gina Urbain was arrested at her home in Epworth on Sunday afternoon and has been charged with 2nd Degree Sexual Abuse. Investigators began looking into Urbain in November, when a woman contacted the Dubuque County Sheriff’s office to report that Urbain had abused her daughter. The girl told investigators that Urbain had sexually assaulted her earlier that month. Second Degree Sexual Abuse is a Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

Former Dubuque Factory Manager Named John Deere President

A former manager of John Deere’s Dubuque operation has been chosen as the company’s new president. The Deere and Company Board of Directors elected John May to the role of Chief Operating Officer and President during a meeting last week. May has been with John Deere for 22 years, with the last six spent as part of the company’s senior management team. He currently serves as the president of the company’s worldwide agriculture and turf division. May previously held the title of Factory Manager for the John Deere Dubuque Works. He was in that role for a little more than two years between mid-2007 and late 2009. May will begin his new role with Deere on April 1.

Dubuque County Recorder Among State Board Appointees

Murphy

The Dubuque County Recorder is one of Iowa’s governor’s latest set of nominees for state boards. John Murphy has been selected to serve on the state Commission on Community Action Agencies. Murphy is now in his second term as the County Recorder. He’s the son of former state House Speaker Pat Murphy. Joining Murphy among those being considered for a state board spot is Dubuque labor leader Tom Townsend. He’s been nominated to join the state Economic Development Authority. Townsend currently serves as both the Business Manager for the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the President of the Dubuque Federation of Labor. In addition, Dubuque doctor Theresa Hughes has been tabbed for the Board of Podiatry. Hughes is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at the Medical Associates clinic on Dubuque’s West End. Meanwhile, Dewayne Rahe, a veterinarian at Tri-Vet, has been picked to serve on the state Board of Veterinary Medicine. Finally, Jack Hasken of Dubuque has been nominated for a spot on Iowa Workforce Development’s board. Hasken is the President and CEO of Dubuque-based Jackson Manufacturing. Each of the nominations must be approved by the Iowa Senate.

Dubuque Superintendent Questions Idea of Allowing Guns in School Parking Lots

Rheingans

A bill that would allow guns to be carried in school parking lots has made its way out of an Iowa Senate subcommittee. The legislation would allow licensed gun owners to carry their weapon in a school parking lot or pickup area. Dubuque Schools superintendent Stan Rheingans questions how the bill would work in practice. But he says until a final version is adopted, he’ll reserve his opinion. Licensed gun owners are currently allowed to bring their weapons onto school parking lots, but have to stop and unload them first. Rheingans believes the law would be too difficult to enforce. Under the legislation, entering a school with a gun would still be illegal regardless of whether it’s loaded or unloaded.

Hickenlooper’s Campaign Launch Tour Includes Dubuque Stop

Hickenlooper

The latest entrant into the 2020 presidential race will visit Dubuque during his first trip to Iowa. Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper launched his presidential campaign Monday. The Democrat is expected to hold an official kickoff event in Denver on Thursday night, before launching a weekend swing through Iowa the following day. Hickenlooper is scheduled to appear at a house party in Dubuque on Saturday. The event is being held at a home near the intersection of Grandview Avenue and Dodge Street at 2:30 Saturday afternoon. Among Hickenlooper’s other Iowa stops are Des Moines, Charles City, Clinton, and Cedar Rapids. Hickenlooper served two terms as Colorado’s governor, leaving office earlier this year. Prior to that, he spent about 7.5 years as the mayor of Denver.

Flooding Concerns on the Rise in Tri-States

Concerns over possible spring flooding are on the rise in the Dubuque area. The region has received more snowfall than usual so far this winter. That follows a very wet fall. KCRG meteorologist Kaj O’Mara says those factors are combining to increase the probability for flooding on the Mississippi River. How quickly all of the snow melts will be a significant factor in the chances for flooding. O’Mara says current models extend the risk for flooding into the latter part of May. Historical data also points to not just a higher risk of flooding…but a higher chance of major flooding on the Mississippi. The National Weather Service office in La Crosse last week issued a flood outlook that includes an above-normal flood risk along the Mississippi River and its tributaries through May.

Dubuque Schools Begin Later Dismissals

Today is the day that Dubuque schools will be dismissing later in an effort to make up time lost to weather-related cancellations. Schools throughout the district will dismiss 25 minutes later than usual beginning today. The later dismissals will be in place until further notice, and possibly through the remainder of the school year. Today’s two-hour delay for Dubuque Schools will not impact the later dismissal time. The school district announced the extension of the school day about three weeks ago. The Western Dubuque district will also be adding time to the end of the school day, but that change doesn’t go into effect until next Monday.

Boil Advisory Issued in New Vienna

Residents of one Dubuque County town are being urged to boil their water before using it. The city of New Vienna initially issued a boil order yesterday, but that has been downgraded to a boil advisory. City officials say there has been a water main break due to frozen pipes in the city. Some residents were without water service for part of the day yesterday. Their service has since been restored. But city leaders are keeping the boil advisory in place through the day today.

Earlville Man Charged with Killing His Wife

A Delaware County man has been arrested in connection with the death of his wife. 42-year-old Todd Mullis is charged with 1st Degree Murder. His wife, Amy, died on their farm outside of Earlville last November. Initially, Mullis reported that she had fallen and injured herself while working on the farm. She was taken to a Manchester hospital, where she was pronounced dead. But authorities found Amy Mullis’ wounds were not consistent with a fall. The State Medical Examiner ruled her death a homicide in December. Their report found that she suffered multiple puncture wounds that were likely caused by a corn rake, which is a type of pitchfork. The wounds also came from multiple angles, suggesting that she was stabbed with the rake multiple times.

Loras Students Raise Money for New Planetarium Projector

Students at Loras College will be getting a better look at the night’s sky. The school’s planetarium now has a new projector, thanks to the fundraising efforts of a group of students. The new Emerald-Fixed projector was recently installed at the Heitkamp Planetarium. It cost $80,000, which students raised in about sixteen months. One of the students who helped bring in the money, Audrey Miller, says they plan to show the new projector off to community groups in addition to students. Among the things the projector can show are constellations, the effects of light pollution, and even the inside a cell.

O’Mara: Snowpack Limiting Tri-State Temperatures

O’Mara

The amount of snow on the ground in the Tri-States is keeping temperatures from reaching normal levels. Parts of the region have as much as ten inches of snow on the ground. KCRG meteorologist Kaj O’Mara tells us that even with days getting longer, the snow is limiting the amount of warming the sun can do. O’Mara estimates that temperatures could be at least 15 degrees warmer if there was no snow on the ground. Some minor snowfall is expected in the area on Friday night, but O’Mara says after that, we should expect to be dry through the end of next week. Normal high temperatures this time of year are in the mid-30s, with lows around 20 degrees.

 

 

Judge: “Violent History” Prompts Maximum Sentence for Dubuque Man

A Dubuque man who authorities describe as having a “violent history” will be going to federal prison after a recent conviction on a gun charge. 38-year-old Kenneth Sanders pled guilty to a charge of Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person in August. He was sentenced to ten years in prison this week. According to prosecutors, Sanders assaulted his girlfriend in February of last year. During the attack, he made a gesture that she says led her to believe he was armed. Police later found a handgun in the couch where Sanders had been sitting. The judge gave Sanders the maximum sentence for the charge against him, citing Sanders’ long criminal history. Sander has previous convictions on charges ranging from murder to assault to other gun crimes.

Finkenauer-Backed Gun Bill Passes House

Finkenauer

A bill put forward by a Dubuque lawmaker to expand background checks to most private gun sales was approved by the US House this week. The House on Wednesday passed what was known as HR-8. The bill extends the requirement that a background check be performed prior to a gun sale to purchases made outside of licensed gun dealers. Up to now, sales that happened between private citizens or at gun shows did not require a background check. Iowa Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque was a co-sponsor of the bill, which passed on a nearly party-line vote. The bill is unlikely to also pass the US Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

Jo Daviess County Business Owners Concerned About Minimum Wage Increase

Small business owners in Jo Daviess County are concerned about how a statewide increase to the minimum wage will impact them. Governor JB Pritzker recently signed a bill that will eventually boost the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 an hour up to $15 per hour in 2025. Tim Althaus, the owner of Family Beer and Liquor in East Dubuque, says his employees are understandably excited about the increase, which will happen in phases. The first boost to the wage will come next January, when it goes up to $9.25 an hour. Then in July of 2020, it rises to $10. Every January after that, it will go up another dollar until reaching $15 per hour in January of 2025. Althaus says staggering the increase will help employers, but only so much. Illinois will be the fifth state to increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour, joining California, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts.

Second Arrest Made in Timeshare Scam

Dubuque Police have arrested a second suspect connected to a timeshare scam. 43-year-old Matthew Wise of Branson, Missouri, was taken into custody on Tuesday morning and has been charged with 2nd Degree Theft. Authorities have accused Wise of being involved in a scam that took about $3,700 from a Hazel Green couple. According to court documents, Wise made contact with the couple in February of 2016 offering to help them get out of a timeshare contract. Wise asked the couple to meet another man at a Dubuque grocery store, where they signed paperwork and gave the man a check. But a few months later, the couple was contacted by the timeshare owner, asking for the yearly maintenance fees. Police in Branson investigated, and found that Wise had deposited their check into his personal bank account. He then paid the other man, 43-year-old Michael Horn, about half of what he received from the couple. Horn was arrested last week and is also charged with 2nd Degree Theft.

Illinois Chase Suspect Moved to Dubuque Custody

A Dubuque man is now in local custody after being accused of leading police on a chase in southern Illinois earlier this month. 28-year-old Joshua Begle was transferred to the Dubuque County Jail on Tuesday morning. He’s facing local charges of 2nd Degree Theft and Operating a Vehicle without the Owner’s Consent. According to court documents, Begle took a woman’s vehicle in early January, promising to get its brakes fixed. But he never came back and stopped taking the woman’s calls, so she reported the car stolen. About a week later, the sheriff’s department in Fayette County, Illinois, called Dubuque authorities to report they’d recovered the car after a chase with Begle. Earlier this month, he reached a plea deal with prosecutors there to plead to Possession of Methamphetamine, while several charges related to the chase were dropped. He’ll be sentenced on April 1. Meanwhile, a passenger in the car, 29-year-old Stacy Mootz of Dubuque, was also arrested after the chase. She’s facing charges of Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Possession of Methamphetamine and Drug Paraphernalia, and Resisting an Officer.