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Dubuque & Tri-State News

Dubuque Being Asked to Pay for Part-time EB Lyons Center Staffer

Courtesy: KCRG

The City of Dubuque is being asked to provide money to help staff the EB Lyons Interpretive Center at the Mines of Spain. The center is owned by the city, but managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. But city Leisure Services Manager Marie Ware tells our coverage partner, KCRG-TV, that state budget cuts have meant the DNR can’t staff the center all the time. The DNR doesn’t staff the center at all during the winter. It is open for a few hours each afternoon between Friday and Monday thanks to volunteers from the Friends of the Mines of Spain group. In her budget request for the upcoming fiscal year, Ware has asked that the city provide $50,000 to pay for a part-time center employee. A portion of the money would also cover utility costs that come from having the center open additional hours. The Leisure Services Division is a part of Dubuque’s Parks Department. They’ll make their budget proposal to the City Council tonight.


Dubuque Jail Inmates Accused of Damaging Police Computer Equipment

A pair of Dubuque County Jail inmates poured water down a vent, damaging computer equipment in the Dubuque Police Department. That’s according to court documents charging the two men – 31-year-old Jay Martin and 34-year-old Jonathan Mueller – with one count each of 2nd Degree Criminal Mischief. Prosecutors say security camera footage from the jail shows the two pouring water down an air vent located in the jail’s housing unit, which sits directly above a Dubuque Police Department work space. On both January 14th and 18th, police officers found water leaking from the ceiling onto their work space. A laptop computer and several computer accessories worth a total of 18-hundred dollars were destroyed.


Iowa DOT Delays Lighting Work on Julien Dubuque Bridge

Construction work that will close one lane of the Julien Dubuque Bridge has been delayed. The Iowa Department of Transportation initially said it would be doing the work over a six-week period that would stretch from April into May. But the DOT now says work won’t begin until May 28, the day after Memorial Day. The change is the result of public input that the DOT received about the planned closures. The project includes repairing and upgrading the bridge’s lighting system. Eastbound lanes of the bridge will be closed and traffic will be detoured through Wisconsin. The closures will be in effect from roughly 7:00 each morning until 3:00 in the afternoon. The project is now expected to take between four and six weeks to complete.


Western Dubuque District Adding Time to School Day

A second Dubuque County school district will be extending the length of its school day in order to make up time lost to weather-related cancellations. The Western Dubuque district announced this morning that it will add 25 minutes on to the end of the school day beginning March 11. That’s the beginning of the district’s 3rd trimester. Following the snow day on Wednesday, Western Dubuque’s final day of classes had moved to Monday, June 10. But administrators there told us earlier this month they were committed to keeping the end of the school year within the first week of June. Adding 25 minutes to the school day will move the last day of school up to June 4. That also gives the district some leeway if there are any additional snow days. In addition to adding time to the end of each day, Western Dubuque has also made several other adjustments to its schedule, mostly in regard to teacher training days. The Dubuque Community School District had previously announced it would be adding time to the end of the school day as well. Their extended school days begin March 4.

Additional Western Dubuque Schedule Changes:

February 28th – This was the last day of Trimester 2 and a 2 hour early dismissal, but it will now be a full day of school. Trimester 2 will now end on March 8th and we will run a 2 hour early dismissal on that date.

March 1st – This was a teacher comp day and will now be a student attendance day. The teacher comp day will be moved to the end of the year.

March 4th – This was a Professional Development Day and it will now be a student attendance day. We will move this PD to the end of the year.

March 8th – This is now the last day of Trimester 2. We will have a 2 hour early release on this date.

March 11th – This will now be the first day of Trimester 3.

April 18th – This was part of spring break but was also a built in snow day. This will now be a full student attendance day.

April 22nd – This was part of spring break. This will now become a PD Day.

April 23rd – This was a PD Day and it will now be a student attendance day. This PD day will be moved to April 22nd.

June 3-4 – These days are additional make-up days.  June 4 is currently the last day of school with a 2 hour early release.


Morning Snowfall Makes for Difficult Travel Across Tri-States

Snow falling over the Tri-State area is expected to come to an end this afternoon, though travel may still be difficult for many in the region. Snowfall between 1.5 and 5.4 inches has been reported across the area. The Dubuque Regional Airport’s official report was 3.1 inches of snow, though that was filed shortly after 6:00 AM. The highest snow amounts fell in the northern portions of Clayton and Grant Counties. Emergency managers in both of those counties are now advising against travel. In parts of Grant County, the snow has transitioned to freezing rain. Snowplows and salt trucks are out, but the local sheriff’s office is asking that any unnecessary travel be avoided. In Clayton County, emergency managers are putting it simply, saying “stay home if you can.” They report already responding to many calls for cars that had gone into road ditches.

Snowfall reports, as of 10:30 AM:

5.4 inches – Volga

5.2 – Prairie du Chien

4.1 – Lancaster

3.8 – Strawberry Point

3.2 – Manchester

3.1 – Dubuque Regional Airport

3 – Monticello

3 – Platteville

2.8 – Cuba City

2.7 – Cascade

2.1 – Elizabeth

2 – Galena

1.5 – Lock and Dam 12, Bellevue

1.5 – Stockton

 


Closing Date for Kennedy Mall Payless Store Unknown

A shoe store in Dubuque’s Kennedy Mall will be closing, though it’s unclear exactly when. The mall houses one of the locations of Payless ShoeSource, which has filed for bankruptcy. As part of that process, the company will close more than 23-hundred stores as it liquidates most of its North American operation. The store closures involve all Payless locations across the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Payless says it will honor gift cards and store credit through March 11. Returns and exchanges on products bought before this week will also be accepted through the end of February. Kennedy Mall officials tell KDTH that Payless has not set a specific closing date for the store at the mall. Payless also has outlets in the ShopKo stores located in Dubuque, Dyersville, and Lancaster.


Dubuque Police Issue Arrest Warrant for Mother Nature

Courtesy: Dubuque Police

The Dubuque Police Department appears to be keeping its sense of humor through this extended streak of winter weather. A post to the department’s Facebook page indicates that an arrest warrant has been filed for Mother Nature. Exact charges against her are not specified, though a wanted poster attached to the post accuses her of “general nastiness.” The poster also promises a million dollar reward for Mother Nature’s capture. That’s despite the department’s own admission that bringing her to justice will be difficult. It says “no law enforcement agency has yet been able to apprehend or slow down Mother Nature, or the equally elusive Father Time.” The post went on to remind residents to drive carefully, if at all, during today’s snow. It also included a reminder to dig out cars that have been snowbound since the last snowfall over the weekend.


Courtside to Close March 3

A Dubuque sports venue has finalized the date for its closure. Courtside Sports Bar and Grill announced back in October that it would be closing sometime after the beginning of the new year. Owners have now announced that they will officially close the doors at the end of business on the night of March 3rd. The property will then be converted to the newest location for Stuff, Etc., a franchise consignment store. Courtside opened in 2004. In addition to housing one of Dubuque’s largest sports bars, the location also had gymnasium space for basketball, volleyball, and various other sports. It served as the home of everything from roller derby to mixed martial arts fighting to a football tryout space.


Lundgren Disappointed, But Understanding, of Governor's Decision

Lundgren

The Dubuque County legislator who managed Iowa’s fetal heartbeat bill is disappointed but understanding of the governor’s decision not to appeal a ruling overturning the law. Governor Kim Reynolds on Monday announced she would not pursue an appeal of a judge’s decision last month to declare the law unconstitutional. The law would have banned abortions after a fetal heartbeat was detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. State Representative Shannon Lundgren of Peosta was the floor manager of the house version of the bill. Abortion opponents had hoped that the legal challenge to the fetal heartbeat bill would reach the US Supreme Court, where it could have helped overturn the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision. With the fetal heartbeat bill now dead, Lundgren says the next step will be to pursue an amendment to the state constitution that declares Iowans have no right to an abortion. But that requires a lengthy process. Lundgren represents House District 57, which includes nearly all of Dubuque County outside of the Dubuque city limits.


Dubuque Council Asks for Meeting Postponement Guidelines

Buol, Del Toro

The Dubuque City Council this week went against objections from the mayor and directed city staff to come up with guidelines for postponing meetings in the event of bad weather or an emergency. The city currently has no procedure for delaying or postponing a meeting under any circumstance. Councilman Luis Del Toro had initially pushed for a policy after the January 22nd council meeting was held despite a Winter Storm Warning being in effect for Dubuque. He says instituting a policy would at least give the city an option. Several other council members expressed support for Del Toro’s suggestion, including David Resnick, who noted that the policy could apply to situations beyond weather. But Mayor Roy Buol and Councilman Ric Jones were vocal in their opposition. Jones pointed out that a large number of citizens still made it to the January 22nd meeting despite the weather. Mayor Buol didn’t envision many scenarios that would require a meeting to be postponed. The council voted 5-2 to have city staff develop postponement guidelines, which will come back before the council at a future meeting. Buol and Jones cast the votes against the proposal.


Plea Deal Reached in Attempted Truck Rundown Case

A Jackson County man who police say tried to run over another man before crashing into the steps of a downtown Dubuque church has reached a deal with prosecutors. 35-year-old Eric Schmidt of Bellevue pled guilty this week to 1st Degree Criminal Mischief and Going Armed with Intent. In exchange, an Attempted Murder charge was dropped. Schmidt now faces up to 10 years in prison. Court documents say Schmidt tried to run a Dubuque man over with his truck in the 11-hundred block of Main Street last May. The man was able to get out of the way, while Schmidt’s vehicle crashed into the concrete steps in front of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. That caused about $10,000 in damage to the church. Schmidt said at the time there was an ongoing feud between the he and the other man.


"Lucky for Life" Winning Ticket Sold in Cascade

McDermott Oil

A Dubuque County lottery player appears to be set pretty well for life. A winning ticket in the Iowa Lottery’s “Lucky for Life” game was sold prior to Monday’s drawing. The winner will receive $25,000 each year for the rest of their life. That’s the game’s second-largest prize. The winning ticket was sold at the McDermott Oil gas station in Cascade. This is the second significant winning lottery ticket sold in Cascade in the past seven months. Last July, a Powerball ticket sold at the Casey’s in that community won 200-thousand dollars. That prize was claimed by Gene Herrig of Bellevue.


Fourteen Dubuque Firefighters Receive Commendations for Dangerous Rescue

More than a dozen Dubuque firefighters received official commendations from the department this week, in recognition of their efforts at a unique rescue scene in early December. The commendations were presented at Monday’s Dubuque City Council meeting. Fire Chief Rick Steines says crews reported to what initially sounded like a routine call, but soon took a turn. A construction worker had been pinned when the foundation of the building he was working at unexpectedly shifted. At one point, the building shifted again, and crews were ordered to leave the building. When allowed back in Steines, says the crews on scene worked quickly and professionally, despite the danger to themselves. A total of fourteen firefighters from six different fire department units received the commendations.


Another Round of Snow Expected in Tri-States Overnight

Here we go again…the Tri-States appear due for another round of snowfall tonight and into the day tomorrow. According to our weather coverage partners at KCRG-TV, the snow is expected to arrive late tonight and last through the midday hours tomorrow. In fact, meteorologist Kaj O’Mara says there are some parts of the Dubuque area that won’t begin to see snowfall until after midnight. KCRG is predicting between three and six inches of accumulation from the system, while the National Weather Service has forecast a four inch snow for Dubuque. Heavier snowfall amounts are expected to our west. In fact, the counties just beyond our listening area in that direction will be under a Winter Storm Warning.


Reynolds Won't Appeal Fetal Heartbeat Decision

Reynolds

Iowa’s governor has decided not to appeal a judge’s ruling that struck down Iowa’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion law, which would have been the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the nation. The law banned an abortion once a fetal heartbeat was detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Governor Kim Reynolds says it was “an extremely difficult decision,” but the right one for the state. Abortion opponents hoped the legal challenge could get to the US Supreme Court and overturn the longstanding case that legalized abortion nationwide. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa challenged the law. Judge Michael Huppert in his ruling last month said the bill violated due process and equal protection provisions of the Iowa Constitution based on previous Iowa Supreme Court rulings.


Dubuque Among Cities Becoming Concerned About Snow Budgets

The city of Dubuque has already used up more than 70 percent of the money it set aside for dealing with winter weather. The city began this winter with $1.5 million to spend on snow and ice removal. That includes paying city crews and the money the city uses for salt and de-icing solution. But only about $400,000 of that budget is now left. Public Works Director John Klostermann says the ice storm that struck Dubuque earlier this month was an especially costly event. Klostermann estimates that crews put down about 700 tons of salt during that ice storm. That’s about an eighth of the total amount of ice the city budgets for an entire year. If the city exceeds its winter budget, the money will likely be taken out of the street maintenance fund. That means there could be fewer roads that are repaved this summer. Dubuque is not alone in being concerned about the remaining winter budgets. Iowa City has already spent most of the money it reserves for yearly winter operations. In Waterloo, the city has used 4,000 of the 4,800 tons of salt it bought for this winter.


Iowa Governor, Education Director Can't Forgive Snow Days

Iowa state officials don’t have the legal authority to follow through on a petition asking for some of this winter’s snow days to be forgiven. The online petition asks Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to forgive or pardon the three days during last month’s “polar vortex,” which brought dangerously cold temperatures to much of Iowa. Most of the state’s schools cancelled classes for several days that week, including both the Dubuque and Western Dubuque districts. The petition has received more than 11-thousand digital signatures. But a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Education tells KDTH that neither Governor Kim Reynolds nor department director Ryan Wise have any legal authority to forgive or pardon snow days. Dubuque’s schools will add time to the end of each school day beginning next month to make up for the lost time.


Finkenauer Visits Veterans Freedom Center

Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (top left) chats with veterans at Dubuque’s Veterans Freedom Center Monday morning (Courtesy: Congresswoman Finkenauer).

Dubuque’s representative in Congress heard the concerns of area veterans Monday morning. Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer stopped by the Veterans Freedom Center and spoke with local veterans for close to an hour. Congress is currently on a week-long break, and Finkenauer says it was a welcome change to be back in the district and talking with local people. Finkenauer says she and her staff are available to help veterans with all types of issues, from problems with the Veterans Administration to retrieving lost medals. While Finkenauer is not a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, she says that won’t stop her from being a champion for veterans’ issues. Finkenauer just took office as the representative for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District last month.


Reynolds On Late Term Abortion Policies

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says she will never stop fighting for the unborn. During a taping last week of the IPTV Program Iowa Press, which aired Sunday, the Republican Governor said she fully supports lawmakers who want to add an abortion amendment to the Iowa constitution. The amendment would say the constitution does not protect the right to abortion or require funding of abortion. Reynolds went on to say she is disappointed in states that are allowing late-term abortions. Last month a Polk County judge struck down an Iowa law that would ban a woman from getting an abortion once a doctor detected a fetal heartbeat.


Board Waives Diamond Jo Fine

The Diamond Jo Casino won’t have to pay a fine for making a late property tax payment. The Dubuque County Supervisors recently voted to waive a more than 14-thousand dollar fine. The board’s decision came after Diamond Jo mangers met with board members to explain why the payment was late. They indicated that a mistake was made in the corporate office of Boyd Gaming, the Diamond Jo’s parent company. The original check that was issued to pay the casino’s taxes was written out for more than the taxes that were owed. A new check had to be issued, and it did not arrive in Dubuque until two days after the payment deadline. That triggered a 1.5 percent fine, as dictated by state law.


Grand Harbor Property Tax Appeal

A request to have the property tax valuation of a Dubuque riverfront attraction cut by more than half has been denied. On January 1, Platinum Holdings, owners of the Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark were informed that the assessed value of the property was being set at 13.5-million dollars. The company claimed that the facility’s value was closer to 7.4-million, less than half of the original accessed value. They protested the valuation to the local Board of Review, who rejected the company’s claim. Platinum then appeal to Dubuque County District Court, but has since withdrawn that appeal. At the 13.5-million dollar valuation, Platinum will be charged about 441-thousand dollars in property taxes this year.


Authorities Seek Suspect Who Left Blood in Lancaster Back Yard

Authorities in southwest Wisconsin are looking for a person who left a trail of blood outside a Lancaster home this week. Just before 12:30 Thursday afternoon, officers from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office and Lancaster Police Department were called to a home on South Wilson Street. The resident had returned home and saw a person running from the back yard to a nearby vehicle. The person was holding a rifle with a scope. Officers found what’s described as a “large amount of blood” in the back yard and along the track of footprints the suspect left. It’s not known if the blood came from a human or an animal. Police say the suspect was seen getting into a black Chevrolet Impala. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Grant County Sheriff’s Office or the local CrimeStoppers tipline.


Snow Showers to Linger Through Much of Sunday

O’Mara

The next round of snowfall headed for the Tri-States will sit on top of the area for most…if not all…of the day on Sunday. Meteorologist Kaj O’Mara from our weather coverage partner, KCRG-TV, says the snowfall is likely to begin late Saturday night or early Sunday morning and linger for nearly a full 24 hours. Despite that duration, O’Mara is only forecasting three to five inches of snowfall to come from the system. That’s because the drier air over the Tri-States will hold down the snowfall rate. Up to half of that accumulation could come in the first few hours of the day on Sunday, with nuisance flurries continuing the rest of the day. There’s general agreement among all the forecast models that the snowfall total will fall between three and five inches. While the snowflakes that fall will be light, winds will be fairly weak. That means there won’t be the same blowing snow that came with the snowstorm earlier this week.


Dubuque's JoAnn Store to Move from Mall to Former K-Mart

A popular fabric and craft store will be moving out of Dubuque’s Kennedy Mall and into the city’s former K-Mart building. Joann Fabrics and Crafts will take over a portion of the former retailer’s space in Plaza 20. Joann’s space will include about 20,000 square feet on the west side of the former K-Mart. Plans for the new store include a community space that will be available for customers to take classes, attend events, and rent machines. The new store is expected to open this fall. When it does, Joann’s location in the mall will close. The Dubuque store is one about 850 that Joann operates across forty-nine of the fifty US states.


Supervisors Forgive Diamond Jo Tax Late Fee

The Diamond Jo Casino won’t have to pay a fine for making a late property tax payment. The Dubuque County Supervisors recently voted to waive a more than $14,000 fine. The board’s decision came after Diamond Jo mangers met with board members to explain why the payment was late. They indicated that a mistake was made in the corporate office of Boyd Gaming, the Diamond Jo’s parent company. The original check that was issued to pay the casino’s taxes was written out for more than the taxes that were owed. A new check had to be issued, and it did not arrive in Dubuque until two days after the payment deadline. That triggered a 1.5% fine, as dictated by state law.


Two East Dubuque Neighborhoods Placed Under Boil Order

A pair of neighborhoods in East Dubuque will be under a boil order for the time being. An email from the city indicates that the order will be in effect for the Flats and Shore Acres areas until further notice. The message does not include any details about what caused the boil order to be issued. Under a boil order, residents are advised to bring water to a boil for at least one minute before using it to drink, cook with, or brush teeth. Bottled water can be used as a substitute for boiled water.


Evers Asks for Extension of SW Wisconsin Water Study

Evers

Wisconsin’s governor is asking the state’s legislature to approve funding for a continued look at water contamination in southwestern Wisconsin. Democrat Tony Evers’ budget proposal includes $75,000 to extend the Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology Study for an additional two years. That study has been evaluating the water supply in Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette Counties. Last November, the study found that more than 40 percent of water wells in those three counties had bacteria levels that exceeded federal standards. The proposed funding is a part of a nearly $70 million package that would address water quality across the state. Additional money would be used to repair polluted private wells and replace lead pipes.


Jury Finds Mangler Guilty of Killing Bellevue Man

A Dubuque man has been found guilty of killing a Bellevue man on Christmas Day 2016. A Jackson County jury returned a guilty verdict on a 2nd Degree Murder charge during the trial of 24-year-old Drew Mangler yesterday. Prosecutors say Mangler stabbed 59-year-old James Remakel more than thirty times in Remakel’s Bellevue home. Remakel’s body wasn’t discovered for several days. Investigators tied Mangler to the murder after finding a shoe with the victim’s blood on it during a search of Mangler’s home. Mangler will be sentenced late next month.


Highway 20/Southwest Arterial Construction Delayed by Snow

A closure on US Highway 20 west of Dubuque that was supposed to begin on Monday has been pushed back because of weather. The Iowa Department of Transportation says the work on the Southwest Arterial bridge over Highway 20 is one of many projects around the state that have been impacted by recent snowfall. The detour instead began last night. Eastbound lanes of Highway 20 are being closed and re-routed around the area during the overnight hours when the work is being done. Traffic is being sent to North Cascade and Cedar Cross roads during the closures, which last from 10:00 PM until 5:00 AM.


Dubuque Schools to Add Time to Each School Day

Dubuque school administrators have come up with a way to make up for the missed school days caused by winter weather. Superintendent Stan Rheingans says beginning in early March, 25 minutes will be added to the end of each school day. The district considered wiping out the Spring Break that’s built into the school calendar. But Rheingans says they chose not to pursue that option because of the burden it would place on families and staff. Another possibility would have been eliminating Friday-morning late arrivals. But that would not have provided enough hours to meet the state requirement. Students are required by state law to have 1,080 hours of instruction time each school year.


Dubuque on Pace for Above Normal Snow, But Far from Records

Dubuque’s winter is shaping up to be snowier than usual, but still has a ways to go to be one of the snowiest on record. Adding in the snow that fell on Monday and Tuesday, Dubuque has now officially received 38.5 inches of snow this season. That’s just shy of the 41 inches that are the average for a full Dubuque winter. But it’s almost ten inches more than what’s normal at the midpoint of February. The snow total is also nearly double the 21 inches of snow Dubuque had received to this point a year ago. But Dubuque would need to see another two feet of snow for this winter to make the list of the 10 snowiest the city has ever seen. The current record for the most snowfall Dubuque has received in a winter is 78.7 inches, set in the winter that began in 2007 and stretched into 2008.


Blowing Snow Creates Hazardous Travel

Blowing snow overnight is causing difficult travel in many parts of the Tri-States this morning. Winds here in Dubuque have been steady between 15 and 20 miles per hour through the overnight hours. Those winds have whipped around some of yesterday’s snowfall, creating slick spots on many area roads. A tow ban is currently in effect for both Dubuque and Delaware counties. In Grant County, local emergency management officials are advising against travel. Snowplows there were pulled off the roads between midnight and 4:00 this morning. The department says US Highway 61 between Lancaster and Potosi is drifted over and unpassable. The same goes for State Highway 80 between Hazel Green and Platteville.


Dubuque Schools Racking Up Snow Days

Prochaska

With snow days on both Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, there have now been four consecutive weeks that Dubuque Schools have had at least one day off of classes because of weather. With makeup days built into the school calendar already eaten up, district officials are now beginning to look at more creative ways to make up the missed time. School board vice president Jim Prochaska says several options could be considered, including extending the school day. Iowa law currently dictates that students spend 1,080 hours in the classroom each year. But Prochaska says there has been talk of changing that requirement. In the Dubuque district, classes have either been delayed or called off for 14 of the last 17 scheduled school days.


Loras Receives $5 Million Donation, the School's Largest Cash Gift

Loras College has received the largest cash gift in the institution’s history. The college this morning announced a $5 million donation from Loras Academy graduate Bill Miller. Miller is originally from Cuba City, but currently lives in southern California. The gift is in honor of both Miller and his wife, JoAnne, who died in December. According to a release from the college, the money will be used to help complete campus facility and infrastructure projects. That includes updates to Keane Hall and the Rock Bowl. The Millers will also have a portion of Loras’ Academic Resource Center named in their honor. Mr. Miller graduated from Loras Academy in 1952. After some time in the Army, he graduated from Marquette University and embarked on a successful career in electronics. He remains the CEO of an LED lighting company he helped found.


Members of US Army Golden Knights Parachute Team Injured During Training

Three members of the US Army parachute team that’s a fixture at Dubuque’s July 3rd airshow and fireworks have been injured during training in Florida. NBC6 in Miami is reporting that three members of the Army Golden Knights were taken to a local hospital early this morning. The accident happened as the parachute team was conducting its winter training at the Homestead Air Force Base about 25 miles south of Miami. The three people injured were taken from the base to a trauma center in Miami. At least one of them was listed in critical condition. Sources told NBC6 that the incident happened while the Golden Knights were practicing what’s known as a “halo jump.” In that maneuver, the parachutists jump from a plane about 14,000 feet in the air, but don’t open their parachutes until shortly before reaching the ground.

 


Iowa House Passes School Funding Package

A bill setting the level of funding for Iowa’s schools has advanced out of one chamber of the state legislature. The Iowa House on Monday passed a package that includes about $90 million in new funding for schools. That works out to an increase of just more than two percent. Governor Kim Reynolds earlier this year had proposed a 2.3% boost to school budgets. But Western Dubuque superintendent Rick Colpitts says he expected the number to fall closer to 2%. But the actual change in funding will be different for every district in the state, since many of the dollars are tied to enrollment. Colpitts says WD will be looking at a budget increase of closer to a half of a percent. Most of WD’s expenses come from employee salaries and benefits. Those costs rise by between three and four percent each year, which makes it difficult to keep up. The school funding measure does make permanent the additional transportation funds that lawmakers passed last year. As the largest district by land area in the state, Colpitts says WD will benefit greatly from having those dollars available. Western Dubuque is also among the thirty largest districts in the state by enrollment. But Colpitts has concerns about what keeping funding increases around two percent might mean for smaller districts. The school funding bill passed the Iowa House largely on a party line vote. Local Republicans Shannon Lundgren and Andy McKean were in favor, while Democrats Chuck Isenhart and Lindsay James voted against.


Heaviest Snow of Season Hits Tri-States

The Tri-State area has been blanketed by the heaviest snowfall of the winter so far. As of about 8:40 this morning, the Dubuque Regional Airport had received 7.5 inches of snow. That beats out the 5.6 inches of snow that fell on January 19 as the heaviest snow total of the season. Many areas around the area have also received upwards of six inches of accumulation. Among snowfall totals reported to the National Weather Service:

East Dubuque: 6.3

Elkader: 8

Guttenberg: 7

Hopkinton: 7

Platteville: 7

Lancaster: 6

Meteorologists say the Tri-States can expect an increase in wind speeds this afternoon. Winds will be sustained at 20-30 miles per hour, with gusts up to 40 miles per hour. Expect blowing snow this afternoon and tonight, especially in more open rural areas. A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until midnight tonight.


Airsoft Gun Found in Fulton Student's Backpack

A Dubuque elementary school student was found with a fake gun on school grounds Monday. According to an email sent to parents of Fulton Elementary students, the Airsoft gun was found in the student’s backpack. Administrators say the gun was never displayed, and was taken from the student as soon as it was found. Airsoft guns are often spring or electric powered and shoot either small BBs or paintballs. But they can look very similar to actual firearms. The city of Dubuque has an ordinance prohibiting public possession of the guns, due to their resemblance to real handguns. It’s not clear what kind of discipline the student will face.


Winter Storm to Bring 5-8 Inches of Snow Tonight, Tomorrow

After a light snowfall on Sunday, another round of heavier accumulations is expected in the Tri-States beginning today. A Winter Storm Warning will go into effect for our entire listening area at 3:00 this afternoon for what the National Weather Service is calling a “significant winter storm.” Snow is expected to begin falling in the mid to late afternoon and continue through the night. Between five and eight inches of snow are forecast. Areas on the southern edge of our listening area could see sleet and freezing rain at the beginning of the storm. After the snow tapers off tomorrow, winds will pick up, gusting to around 40 miles per hour. That is expected to cause some blowing and drifting of the snow that’s already fallen by that point.


Highway 20 Overnight Closures Begin This Week

A portion of one of the federal highways that serve Dubuque will be closed tonight, though it has nothing to do with the weather. As we first told you last week, the eastbound lanes of US Highway 20 will be closed during the overnight hours this week. The closure will begin near the western edge of Dubuque’s city limits. Crews from the Iowa Department of Transportation will be setting bridge girders over the highway as a part of the Southwest Arterial project. Eastbound traffic will be detoured around the area using North Cascade and Cedar Cross roads. The closure will be in place from 10:00 PM until 5:00 AM each of the nights through at least Friday morning. An additional closure could happen Friday night into Saturday if the work isn’t finished.


Meth Ring Money Collector Gets 13 Years in Prison

A California man who admitted to being a money collector for a large-scale meth ring that operated in Dubuque will spend more than a decade in federal prison. 25-year-old Jose Ceja was sentenced to 13 years in prison last week. In June, Ceja pled guilty to one count of Conspiring to Distribute Meth. Prosecutors say he worked as a money collector for a Mexican drug cartel responsible for distributing more than 3 kilograms of meth in Dubuque in 2017. Documents say that Ceja intimidated buyers by showing them videos of cartel members cutting off peoples’ hands and heads. Ceja must serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence and 5 years of probation once he is released.


Man Accused in Birthday Bank Robbery Sentenced to Prison

A Jones County man accused of robbing a bank on his birthday will spend his next five birthdays in prison. 46-year-old Joseph Kripner of Monticello was sentenced to five years in federal prison last week. According to prosecutors, Kripner held up the Security State Bank in Springville last June. He reportedly displayed what appeared to be a gun to a teller before handing her a plastic grocery bag and telling her to put money into it. He made off with about $4,000. From the bank, Kripner headed to Colorado. He was arrested in Rocky Mountain National Park after being spotted near the vehicle he had used to leave the bank. Police say he had about $600 in cash on him at the time of his arrest, as well as marijuana and the pellet gun he had shown to the teller.


Iowa Dems to Announce Caucus Process Changes

Big changes are apparently coming to the way Iowa Democrats run their portion of the state’s presidential caucuses. State party officials plan to announce the changes this afternoon. The new rules come after the caucuses were heavily criticized in 2016. Among the complaints were that the current process makes it difficult for people to participate and there was confusion over how the party tabulated the results. A release from the Iowa Democratic Party says party leaders have been studying was to “increase accessibility, transparency, and participation” for the past three years. They say the new rules will be the most significant change to the caucus process since the caucuses began in 1972. The 2020 Iowa caucuses are currently scheduled for February 3.


Stewart Opposes Increase In Minimum Wage

The Senator who represents northwest Illinois says he’s opposed to a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage. Democrat senate majority leader Kimberly Lightford has introduced legislation that would raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour by 2026. Republican Senator Brian Stewart voted against the measure, saying the economic harm it will do to the state would be far reaching. Stewart says in the long run, working families will foot the bill for any increase to the minimum wage. The minimum wage legislation passed out of the Democratic controlled senate is now in the house, where Democrats also have the majority.


Request For Smart Meter Charge Rejected

An Iowa regulatory board won’t let Alliant Energy’s charge customers who decline to have smart meters used to track how much electricity they use. The Iowa Utility Board recently voted to reject Alliant’s request to charge 15 dollars a month to customers who opt out of the smart meter program. The board told Alliant to file a revised rate request that allows customers to opt out without facing a fee. The board says Alliant already charges customers for meter readings in its’ current rates. The board didn’t bar Alliant from seeking a future charge in a broader rate case. Alliant says its’ smart meter system uses two-way wireless communication to retrieve meter data and funnel it through a secure network.


Dubuque Named "Outstanding"

Dubuque has been rated as “outstanding” by an Iowa tourism group. The city received the Outstanding Community award at the recent Iowa Tourism Conference in Des Moines. Iowa Tourism presents awards in more than two dozen categories each year, ranging from Outstanding Attraction to Outstanding Website. There are two divisions: rural and metro. Metro competitors come from cities with populations greater than 10-thousand, while rural communities fall below that level. Council Bluffs was last year’s winner of the Outstanding Community in the metro division.

 


Police: Dubuque Man Inappropriately Touched Two Girls

A Dubuque man has been accused of inappropriately touching two girls nearly two years ago. According to court documents, the incidents happened between May and August of 2017. 31-year-old Michael Woodruff is accused of touching the girls, ages 11 and 13, on separate occasions. The incidents were reported to police in mid-December. Police say that during an interview last month, Woodruff denied anything inappropriate, instead saying he had tickled one of the girls. Woodruff has been charged with two counts of Indecent Contact with a Child. If convicted on both counts, Woodruff could face up to four years in prison.


State Patrol Clocks Driver Going 96 MPH in Ice Storm

Courtesy: Trooper Jon Stickney

A driver passing through the Tri-States during Thursday’s ice storm didn’t just ignore law enforcement warnings to stay off of the roads…they ignored the speed limit by a long shot too. Iowa State Patrol trooper Jon Stickney posted to Twitter Thursday afternoon that he had pulled a driver over for going 96 miles per hour on US Highway 20 near Manchester. That’s more than 30 miles over the posted speed limit. Stickney says the highway was completely covered with snow and ice at the time, making the driver’s actions especially dangerous. The name of the driver was not included in the post, though Stickney did include one additional piece of information…the fine the driver will face, which is nearly $250.


Administrators May Have to Get Creative to Make Up Missed School

Colpitts

Despite the hopes of administrators, this was another week where classes were shortened or cancelled for students in the Tri-States. In both the Dubuque and Western Dubuque districts, this week has included one day when classes were dismissed early, one day that school wasn’t held at all, and one day when the start of the school day was delayed. This marks the third consecutive week that the weather has forced the cancellation of at least one day of classes. The earlier days off largely ate up any makeup days districts had built into their calendars, meaning administrators may have to start getting creative. At Western Dubuque, superintendent Rick Colpitts says they’re considering holding classes on some days that had been scheduled for teacher training. Colpitts is scheduled to meet with the district’s executive team today to discuss ways to make up missed class. He says another option would be adding minutes to each school day. Western Dubuque’s last day of school is currently scheduled for Friday, June 7. Colpitts says he’s committed to keeping it within that first week of June.


Sheriff: Semi Driver Flipped Off School Bus During Illegal Pass

Authorities in southwestern Wisconsin say a semi driver from Pennsylvania made an obscene gesture as he drove past a stopped school bus. According to the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, a Fennimore school bus was dropping children off at their home along US Highway 61 at about 3:15 Wednesday afternoon. The bus was stopped in the southbound lane of the highway with its stop arm extended and red lights flashing, when a northbound semi drove by without stopping. According to the sheriff’s report, the semi driver held up his middle finger as he went by. The semi is owned by the Kingdom Livestock Transport company of Mohnton, Pennsylvania. Grant County officials worked with police there to issue a citation to the driver, who is not identified in the sheriff’s report.


Galena Students Linked to Bomb Threat Kicked Out of School

Two Galena High school students accused of making bomb threats over social media have been expelled. The local school board decided to kick the students out of school at a special meeting late last month. Galena Superintendent Greg Herbst would not identify the students, or say how long they are barred from attending Galena schools.  On Sunday January 12, social media posts were sent out saying there would be a bomb would be at Galena High School the following day. School officials delayed classes because of the threat. No bomb was found, though there was an increased police presence at the high school that entire week. On the same day, Dubuque Police investigated similar messages which threatened violence at Jefferson Middle School and the Alta Vista campus. Those threats were also determined to be not credible. The investigation into the Dubuque threats is ongoing.


Travel Not Advised on Dubuque, Jackson Counties

Authorities in multiple Tri-State area counties are warning against travel today, due to the winter storm impacting the area. Both the Dubuque and Jackson County sheriff’s departments have issued travel advisories. They ask that residents not travel unless absolutely necessary. The Dubuque note said that as additional precipitation continues to fall this afternoon and tonight, it’s unlikely that county road crews will be able to keep roads clear. Each of the federal highways that serve Dubuque are rated somewhere between partially and completely covered in ice or a snow/ice mixture. Wisconsin travel administrators are not advising travel on US Highway 18 east of Dodgeville.


Reynolds Won't Weigh In on Potential Sports Gambling Legalization

Reynolds

Iowa’s governor isn’t revealing where she stands on the legalization of sports gambling in the state. The Supreme Court last summer struck down the federal law banning betting on professional and college sports in most areas. The Court instead ruled that individual states should have the power to decide if they want to allow sports gaming. Iowa is one of several states currently considering legalization. Several proposals for how a sports betting system could be managed have been put forward, but Governor Kim Reynolds says she won’t weigh in on them. Legislative subcommittees began holding hearings on the potential legalization of sports betting this week.


Under Threat of Another Shutdown, Taxpayers Advised to File Early

Takes

Financial advisors across the country are advising tax filers to get their return filed in the coming week. That way, they can avoid any potential issues that might come from another federal government shutdown. The continuing resolution that re-opened the federal government last month is set to expire next Friday, leaving the possibility for another shutdown. Accountant Regan Takes from Dubuque firm Heacock and Jones says another shutdown would mean Internal Revenue Service employees wouldn’t be paid to process returns or answer taxpayer questions. The Trump administration has said that tax refunds will be paid out regardless of whether there’s another shutdown. But Takes says the process to get those refunds might be significantly impacted. Takes typically recommends filing early, but says it will be especially important to do so this year. It typically takes three weeks for the IRS to process a tax return.


Police: Man Rang Up $450 on Stolen Debit Card in Just Three Hours

Dubuque Police have accused a Chicago man of racking up more than $450 in fraudulent purchases in less than three hours. At about 12:30 Tuesday afternoon, police were called by a college student who reported several fraudulent charges had been made to his debit card. The student had checked his balance after noticing that he dropped his wallet sometime between leaving his apartment and getting to class. In the meantime, someone had used his debit card to make five purchases totaling more than $450 at downtown Dubuque retailers. Police used store surveillance and traffic cameras to identify the suspect, 46-year-old Dietrich Turner. He was arrested a few minutes after 5:00 Tuesday evening. Police say Turner admitted to finding the wallet and using one of the cards to make the purchases. He’s been charged with four counts of Unauthorized Use of a Credit Card and single counts of 4th Degree Theft and Providing False Identification.


Dubuque Teen Given Probation Over Sex Video with Underage Girl

A Dubuque teenager accused of sending around a video of himself having sex with an underage girl has avoided jail time thanks to a plea deal. According to prosecutors, in January of last year, Dubuque Police learned of a video 19-year-old Thomas Hilkin recorded of himself and the girl engaged in a sex act. Hilkin is accused of then sending the video to several people using the Snapchat mobile phone application. He was arrested last March and had originally been charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison, and 1st Degree Harassment, an aggravated misdemeanor. Hilkin reached a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to the harassment charge in exchange for the more serious count being dropped.  A judge this week gave him a deferred judgement of one year of probation. If Hilkin goes the entire year without any additional legal trouble, the charge would be dropped from his criminal record.


Emmaus Bible College Student Killed in Highway 20 Crash

A student at one of Dubuque’s colleges was killed in a crash along US Highway 20 near Independence. According to the Iowa State Patrol, 22-year-old Bailey DeVries died after losing control of her vehicle and crossing into oncoming traffic. The crash report says she was driving east on Highway 20 at about 6:15 Tuesday night when her car slid across the median and into the path of a semi. She was pronounced dead at the scene. DeVries was a student at Emmaus Bible College in Dubuque. An online posting from the school indicates that DeVries was returning to campus from her hometown in western Iowa at the time of the crash. In addition to being a student, it says she was also a member of the National Guard and had recently been assigned as a chaplain’s assistant.


Ice, Wind Could Cause Power Outages

Power outages could be a possibility during the ice storm headed the Tri-State area’s way. According to the National Weather Service, Dubuque can expect to receive three-tenths of an inch of ice accumulation through noon tomorrow. That will be followed by an increase in wind speeds. Winds will reach sustained speeds of 15-20 miles per hour on Thursday night, with gusts as high as 30 miles per hour. Under those conditions, power lines could become heavy enough to snap. The weather service estimates that isolated power outages can happen when a quarter-inch of ice builds up on power lines. But that is assuming only light winds of 10 miles per hour or less. With the increased danger of outages, the city of Dubuque has put out some preparedness tips. In the event of a power outage:

– Stay away from downed lines.

– Report the outage to the local utility company. In Dubuque, that’s Alliant Energy.

– Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed.

– Add layers of heavy clothing to stay warm.

– Use flashlights, rather than candles, as lights.

– Never use the oven for heat.


City Crews Prepare for Ice Storm with "100% Different" Approach Than Snow

The leader of Dubuque’s Public Works department says they approach ice events completely differently from snowstorms. Freezing rain is expected to move into the Tri-States again late this afternoon or this evening. Public Works Director John Klostermann says city crews take a “100 percent” different approach to ice events. If the storm begins as freezing rain, it will simply wash away any de-ice solution crews could put down. So they try to time the application of that material to when the precipitation starts freezing to the pavement. Klostermann says pavement temperatures play a significant role in how crews attack a storm. During the time between storm systems, Klostermann says crews stay busing bringing in additional salt and performing checks on equipment. The National Weather Service predicts Dubuque will receive as much as a quarter inch of ice from late this afternoon through midday tomorrow.


Overnight Closures to Impact Eastbound US Highway 20

Courtesy: Iowa Department of Transportation

Overnight road closures are planned to begin next week on US Highway 20 near Dubuque’s western city limits. That’s because of continued work on the Southwest Arterial project. The next phase of the project requires crews from the Iowa Department of Transportation to set bridge girders over Highway 20 where it meets what will become the Southwest Arterial, according to Hugh Holak of the DOT. The closures will force eastbound traffic to be detoured onto North Cascade Road. From there, vehicles will be sent north on Cedar Cross Road to where it meets Highway 20 – also known as Dodge Street within the city. The detour will be in effect from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM each night for nearly two weeks. Those who live near the closure will still be able to access their homes during the work. The closure will only affect eastbound traffic. The work begins on Monday.


Police: Abandoned Pit Bulls Had Injuries from Possible Dog Fighting

Injuries found in two dogs abandoned at a Dubuque apartment appear to have been caused by dog fighting. That’s according to Dubuque Police, who have arrested a woman who was supposed to be caring for the animals. In late January, police were called to an apartment near the intersection of 29th and White Streets. The property’s manager had called after finding two pit bulls in the kitchen. Police say both dogs had scratches and scarring consistent with dog fighting. One of the dogs did not have any food or water. Police contacted the owners of the dogs, who told them 21-year-old Alexia Ball was supposed to be caring for them. Ball and a man had been living in the apartment, but moved out days before police were called. Ball was arrested Sunday evening and has been charged one count each of Animal Neglect and Abandonment of Dogs.


Property Taxes Down, City Fees Up in Dubuque Budget Proposal

Van Milligen

With the Dubuque City Council about to begin its annual budgeting process, City Manager Mike Van Milligen outlined his recommendations at last night’s council meeting. Under the city manager’s proposal, property taxes would trend downward for commercial and industrial buildings, while staying flat for residential areas. That drop in property tax collections will be offset by an overall increase in utility fees. They will amount to about 49 additional dollars that citizens will pay the city for things like water and garbage collection. A couple of council members expressed concerns about Van Milligen’s recommendations. 3rd Ward Representative Kate Larson hopes to see city staffing levels increase as services are expanded. 2nd Ward Councilman Luis Del Toro was alarmed by debt levels he described as “budget creep.” The council will begin its series of budget hearings on Thursday. The process is expected to wrap up on March 7, when the council hosts a public hearing on its overall budget.


Reflections in the Park Sets Another Record

Courtesy: Hillcrest Family Services

Dubuque’s annual holiday lights display had another record-breaking year in 2018. Hillcrest Family Services’ Reflections in the Park a new record by raising more than $150,000. That’s an increase of more than $10,000 from the previous year. It’s the second consecutive year that Hillcrest topped its previous record for money raised. About 13,000 vehicles took the trip through Murphy Park to see the lights between Thanksgiving and New Year’s night. Those vehicles contained about 52,000 people, according to Hillcrest.


Fennimore Man Accused in Hit-and-Run Crash

A Grant County man was arrested following a hit-and-run over the weekend. The local sheriff’s office says 30-year-old Kyle Meckley of Fennimore has been charged with Hit-and-Run on an Attended Vehicle, a misdemeanor. Meckley is accused of colliding with a vehicle driven by a 17-year-old female on US Highway 18 a few minutes before 10:00 Sunday morning. After smashing into the girl’s car, Meckley left the area. The girl was not injured, but her vehicle was totaled. A description of Meckley’s vehicle was distributed to nearby agencies, and Iowa County deputies caught up with him in Dodgeville. That’s where he was taken into custody.


Vacant Farley Building Damaged by Fire

A fire late Monday night caused several thousand dollars in damage to a vacant Dubuque County building. A few minutes after 9:00 PM, Farley firefighters were called to a building in the 100 block of 1st Avenue East. A vacant brick building had caught fire. Damage to the building is estimated about at $25,000. Firefighters believe the fire was started by a waste oil furnace inside the building. No one was injured.


Standoff Suspect Sentenced to 6+ Years in Federal Prison

The suspect who triggered lockdowns at multiple Dubuque schools last year will be going to federal prison for almost seven years. 26-year-old Robert Dettbarn, formerly of Dyersville, received an 80-month prison sentence this week in US District Court in Cedar Rapids. He pled guilty last September to a single count of Possessing a Firearm as a Felon. According to prosecutors, Dettbarn was a passenger in a car that was pulled over last May. During the traffic stop, he got out of the vehicle, pointed a handgun at an officer, and walked away. A two-hour standoff ensued before Dettbarn was taken into custody. The incident happened just blocks from two Dubuque schools, which were both placed on lockdown.


City Administrator: Cascade Ice Jam Appears to Be Breaking Up

KCRG’s CityCam in Cascade shows jammed up ice on the North Fork Maquoketa River.

A massive ice jam that had threatened to send floodwaters into the town of Cascade appears to be breaking apart. The jam formed on the North Fork Maquoketa River Cascade over the weekend. The jam ran about a mile and a half from near US Highway 151’s intersection with Iowa Highway 136 down to Cascade’s southern city limits. By this morning, the entire width of the river in downtown Cascade appeared to be jammed up. But Cascade City Administrator Deanna McCusker says that as local officials were looking for the exact location of the jam, it became to come loose. McCusker says there were places where the river came out of its banks, but any damage appears to be minimal. There do not appear to be any other jams along the North Fork Maquoketa between Cascade and Dyersville.


Red Cross Announces 2019 "Everyday Heroes"

The founder of a nonprofit organization and four Good Samaritans are among the local heroes who will be honored by the American Red Cross. The organization has announced its 2019 recipients of the “Everyday Heroes of Northeast Iowa” honor. Among this year’s honorees are:

– Jim Deckert, who helped rescue the victim of a nearly fatal assault last spring. Deckert pulled the suspect off of the woman, who had been strangled and stabbed in the parking lot of a Dubuque convenience store.

– Jeremy Hillers and Philip Moser of Colesburg. The two men used quick thinking to rescue Hillers’ son after the tractor he was driving rolled over, pinning him.

– Angie Hohmann, who founded the Live Like Jack nonprofit after her young son died unexpectedly in November of 2014. The group provides support for children who have had siblings pass away. It also distributes “blessing bags” each Thanksgiving.

– Jaida Kramer, a University of Dubuque student who performed CPR and tended to a high school student that had been hit by a car.

The five honorees will be saluted at a breakfast next month.


Sainci Named to State STEM Board

Sainci (Courtesy: Dubuque Schools)

A member of the Dubuque School Board has been named to a state board that will look into increased science and math education programs. Governor Kim Reynolds recently appointed Anderson Sainci to the Northeast Regional STEM Advisory Board. STEM is an acronym standing for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Sainci will be on the board through the end of June 2021. He’s currently serving his first term on the school board, after being elected in September of 2017. Away from the board, Sainci works as the city of Dubuque’s Resource Management Coordinator.


McKean Proposes Expanding Deposit Law to Coffee, Water Containers

McKean

Iowans would be able to get money back for recycling plastic coffee and water containers under a bill proposed by a Tri-State area lawmaker. State Representative Andy McKean of Anamosa has proposed expanding the state’s bottle deposit law to include containers for coffee, tea, and water. The current law only applies to soda and beer containers. McKean’s bill would also boost the handling fee that redemption centers are paid to handle the recycled containers. Those businesses currently charge beverage distributors one cent per container. The bill would double that to two cents each. McKean represents House District 56, which includes all of Jackson County and the southwestern corner of Dubuque County.


Portion of West 3rd Street Closed for Water Main Repairs

Water main repairs are forcing a road closure near one of Dubuque’s hospitals today. West 3rd Street will be closed in both directions between Grandview Avenue and College Street. That’s the portion of West 3rd that sits along the southern edge of the Finley Hospital campus. The closure will begin at 9:00 this morning, and is expected to last until 5:00 this evening. Traffic will be detoured around the closure using West 5th and Delhi Streets.


Iowa Lawmakers to Review Three Sports Betting Bills

Iowa lawmakers are set to begin sorting out what sports betting legalization might look like this week. Committee hearings are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday to discuss three proposals that have already been submitted. All gambling bills begin in the State Government Committee. Democrat Pam Jochum of Dubuque is a member of the Senate committee, while Republican Andy McKean sits on the House panel. One of the bills would allow Iowa’s commercial casinos to run betting operations, with the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission providing oversight. Under the proposal, bets could be taken both at casinos and through online apps that must be registered through one of the casinos. Another proposal would favor the major sports leagues, with each organization getting a fee for bets placed on their games. A third bill would put the Iowa Lottery in charge and allow sports bets to be placed anywhere lottery games are sold, including convenience stores and bars.


Annual Legislative Cracker Barrel Series Begins Saturday

The annual series of town hall meetings with Dubuque area legislators begins Saturday. Every year, a handful of local groups host what are known as “Cracker Barrel” events. They give Dubuque citizens a chance to question local state lawmakers. The Cracker Barrels are held on the first Saturday of each month during the legislative session. The first of 2019’s Cracker Barrels is set for tomorrow morning. The event will begin at 9:30 in the Harbor Room at the Diamond Jo Casino. This month’s Cracker Barrel is being hosted by the Dubuque chapter of the League of Women Voters. Legislators invited to attend include State Representatives Chuck Isenhart and Lindsay James of Dubuque, Shannon Lundgren of Peosta, and Andy McKean of Anamosa, as well as State Senators Pam Jochum of Dubuque and Carrie Koelker of Dyersville.


Mount Carroll Sets Possible State Record with -38 Temperature

A town in the Illinois portion of our listening area may have set a new state record for cold on Thursday. According to the National Weather Service office in the Quad Cities, Mount Carroll recorded a low temperature Thursday morning of -38. If confirmed, that would break the record for the coldest temperature in Illinois state history. For now, the temperature is considered “unofficial.” It will have to be reviewed by the state Climate Extremes Committee. That’s a process that can take up to two weeks. The current record for lowest temperature in Illinois is -36. The town of Congerville, which sits between Peoria and Bloomington, dropped that low in early January of 1999. If Mount Carroll takes over the record, it would be the second Tri-State area community to hold its state’s record low temperature. Elkader owns the Iowa mark, with a -47 reading from early February of 1996.


Dyersville Man Accused of Selling Marijuana Oil Facing New Charge

A Dyersville man accused of selling drugs is facing an additional charge after lab tests confirmed the powder found on a scale he reportedly used was cocaine. 40-year-old Kory Manternach was arrested in late October and charged with a felony count of Drug Possession with Intent to Deliver. According to police, an employee at the Hardee’s in Dyersville saw Manternach throw nearly a dozen bags of cannabis oil and a digital scale into the trash in the restaurant’s bathroom. The scale had a white powder on it that field tested for cocaine. The scale was sent to the state crime lab for additional testing. Earlier this month, it confirmed that the powder found on the scale was cocaine. Manternach has now been charged with Possession of Cocaine, in addition to his previous charge. He made an initial appearance on the new charge this week. He’s scheduled to go on trial on the delivery charge in a little less than three weeks.


Improvements to Julien Dubuque Bridge Would Force Springtime Detour

Traffic on the Julien Dubuque Bridge would be detoured for more than a month this spring under plans proposed by the Iowa Department of Transportation. The DOT is currently seeking public input on proposed improvements to the bridge, which would include upgrades and repairs to the bridge’s lighting. Under a plan announced by the DOT, the work would require eastbound traffic on the bridge to be detoured for at least four weeks in April or May. The detour could be in place for up to six weeks. Work would be done during daytime hours, specifically between 7:00 AM and 3:00 PM. The detour would send eastbound traffic into Wisconsin using US Highways 61/151. Vehicles would exit onto Wisconsin Highway 11, then turn south onto Wisconsin Highway 35. That road would bring cars into Illinois, where the highway becomes Illinois Route 35.


Wednesday Was Dubuque's Coldest Day Ever

The official numbers are in, and Wednesday was the coldest day ever recorded in Dubuque. The high temperature only reached -16 degrees, which broke the all-time record for the coldest high temperature in the city’s history. The previous record was -15 degrees, set in January of 1994. In addition to that all-time record, new daily records for coldest low and high temperatures were also set. The Dubuque Regional Airport also recorded a wind chill of -55 degrees, which was only 3 degrees off of the all-time record for that reading. This morning’s cold just missed out on matching the all-time record for lowest low temperature. The record of -32 degrees was set in 1887. The forecast had originally called for Dubuque to get that cold. But the low temperature fell a single degree shy of the record, and -31 degrees. That did shatter the previous daily record of -24 degrees, set in 1996.


More SW Wisconsin Power Outages

People in southwestern Wisconsin once again woke up without power this morning. About 1,800 Alliant Energy customers were without power at one time in areas along the Grant-Lafayette county line. Close to 800 people in the Monfort area were without service for more than five hours before power was restored at about 9:00 this morning. Another 1,100 customers in the Rewey and Belmont areas were without power for about two hours. There’s no word from Alliant on the cause of the outages. Power outages also impacted more than 3,000 Alliant customers in Grant and Lafayette counties yesterday morning.


Elderly Hazel Green Man Treated for Hypothermia

Despite the dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills in the Tri-States this week, there have been few reports of injuries. But one elderly southwest Wisconsin man was taken to the hospital on Tuesday after being out in the cold for about an hour. According to the Grant County Emergency Management office, the 76-year-old from Hazel Green was taken to a local hospital to be treated for hypothermia. Authorities report the man was conscious and alert on his way to the hospital. The man was found at about 4:15 Tuesday afternoon outside a home in rural Hazel Green. He was already suffering some of the symptoms of hypothermia at that time.


Dubuque Sets Daily Record Low, with Another Potentially Historic Night Ahead

Courtesy: National Weather Service

It was a historically cold morning in Dubuque, with another dangerously cold night ahead. The low temperature this morning dropped all the way down to -28 degrees, setting a new daily record. The previous mark was -25, set in 1951. It is expected to be even colder overnight tonight, with an anticipated low temperature of -32 degrees. That would equal the all-time record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in Dubuque. The current record was set in January of 1887…a little more than 132 years ago. Wind chills overnight reached 55 degrees below zero, falling just three degrees shy of matching the all-time record, which was set in 1982. The conditions overnight forced county officials to pull snowplows off of the roads and advise against travel. High winds were causing blowing snow on many county roads. Due to the temperature, typical road treatments would not be effective. In some cases, they would have done more harm than good. Plows returned to area roads at about 7:30 this morning, though travel is still strongly discouraged.


Power Outages Reported in Southwestern Wisconsin

UPDATE: Power has now been fully restored in Boscobel.

Previous story:

It’s an especially cold morning in several areas of southwestern Wisconsin. Alliant Energy reports power outages are impacting more than 500 customers. The larger of the outages is in the Boscobel area, where about 350 people are without power. Meanwhile, in the Mineral Point area, another 160 customers are in the dark. As many as 2,900 residents in that area had been impacted by the outage, but many have had their service restored. An Alliant spokesperson tells us the outages are the result of a failure in the transmission line that serves the area. It’s not yet known when power might be fully restored. The Grant County Sheriff’s Department has posted to Facebook that while the outage is in place, residents should avoid opening doors, keep refrigerators closed, and add layers of clothing as needed.


Travel Not Advised Due to Dangerously Cold Temperatures, Wind Chills

We’re going to say this as plainly as possible: it is simply too dangerous to leave your home unless you absolutely have to. Travel is not advised in Dubuque County at this hour due to the extreme cold. County and state plows were pulled off of the roads late last night, and likely won’t be going back out until mid-morning today. Winds overnight created blowing snow in many areas. At these temperatures, typical road treatments are not effective, and in some cases will do more harm than good.
If you need a place to warm up for a while, a couple of Dubuque locations are serving as warming centers for the next few days. They include the Dubuque Rescue Mission, the Carnegie-Stout Public Library, and the Multicultural Family Center.


Postal Service Suspends Delivery in Frozen States

Among the services that will not be available today is mail delivery. The United States Postal Service is suspending delivery operations today. Due to the extremely cold weather, delivery operations will be suspended for Iowa, Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and western Illinois. This includes mail pickup from businesses or collection boxes. It also includes residential or commercial package pickup services. Local post office operations will continue, but could be limited.


Dubuque Garbage Collections Delayed by Weather

The bitterly cold weather is forcing a change to Dubuque’s garbage and recycling collection schedule. Due to the dangerous temperatures, there will be no trash, recycling, food scrap, or yard debris pickups today or tomorrow. Those who would normally have their pickups done today will instead have collections on Saturday. For those on the Thursday schedule, crews will start running those routes on Friday. Any Thursday collections not made on Friday will be done on Saturday.


Dangerously Cold Weather Settling in to Tri-States

One of the coldest stretches in recent memory is about to settle into the Tri-State area. The air temperature here in Dubuque has now fallen below zero, and is not expected to reach a positive reading again until Friday morning. Air temperatures both tonight and tomorrow will fall to around -30. Add to that a stiff northwesterly breeze and wind chill readings will drop down to about -55, according to KCRG Chief Meteorologist Joe Winters. A Wind Chill Warning will go into effect this afternoon, and will stick around into Thursday afternoon. At the temperatures expected, exposed skin can begin experiencing frostbite in just five minutes. There is some relief on the way. High temperatures are expected to reach into the 30s above zero on Saturday through next Monday.


Dubuque Rescue Mission to Serve as Warming Center

A Dubuque homeless shelter has been busy collecting items to help get its residents through this cold spell, but managers say more is needed. The Dubuque Rescue Mission on Monday received several donations of things like comforters, hats, gloves, and hand warmers. They’ll distribute the items to local homeless people, and the Mission will also be open as a warming center over the next several days, according to Executive Director Rick Mihm. The Rescue Mission is located at the intersection of 4th and Main streets in downtown Dubuque. Almost Home, an overflow shelter located in the 1200 block of White Street, will also be open as a warming center this week.


ATV/UTV Committee Files Report, But Makes No Recommendation

A committee formed to look into allowing off-road vehicles on Dubuque County’s roads filed a report this week, but did not make a recommendation. The 610-page report was submitted to the Dubuque County Board of Supervisors at its meeting Monday night. The committee had held public listening sessions on the topic, in addition to meeting with local businesses and law enforcement leaders. The committee was made up of some who are in favor of allowing ATVs and UTVs to be used on county roads, and an equal number of those opposed to their use. Over the course of their meetings, committee members could not come to a consensus and made no recommendation to the board. The supervisors took no action on the report. They’re expected to review it after budget meetings are completed in March.


One Killed in Saturday House Fire Near Dickeyville

For the second time in less than a week, a house fire has claimed a life in the Tri-State area. A few minutes after 9:00 Saturday morning, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a house fire west of Dickeyville. Once the fire was put out, a body was found inside the home. Investigators believe the fire was started by a wood stove inside the house. The name of the victim is being withheld until an autopsy is completed and their family is contacted. Last Wednesday, 89-year-old Melvin Narveson died in a separate house fire in Lafayette County. That fire has been ruled as accidental by authorities, though the exact cause hasn’t been made public.


Dubuque Catches Another 5+ Inches of Snow

Another round of snowfall has only added to the existing snowpack in Dubuque and the surrounding area. The official snowfall report from the Dubuque Regional Airport is 5.5 inches through 6:00 this morning. Closer to six inches of accumulation fell here at our studios. That’s on top of the 2.5 or so inches that fell on Saturday. Dubuque has now received nearly 22 inches of snow for the month of January. That’s almost three times the normal amount of snow this month. Our next chance of snow comes Thursday night. Between now and then, very cold temperatures will tighten their grip on the Tri-States.


Driver Injured in Plow Crash Identified

We’ve learned the name of the man who was critically injured after crashing into a snowplow on Saturday. 21-year-old Nicholas Schulke of Olin was hospitalized following the crash, which happened east of Dyersville at about 3:40 Saturday afternoon. According to the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office, Schulke rear-ended a snowplow from the Iowa Department of Transportation as it was clearing snow on the shoulder of US Highway 20. Schulke had been eastbound on Highway 20 and lost control of his vehicle on the snow-covered roadway. He was initially taken to Mercy Hospital in Dubuque before being transferred to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. He was listed in critical condition at last report. It’s not clear if the snowplow driver was injured.


Dubuque Not Included in 2019 RAGBRAI Route

An annual bicycle ride across Iowa won’t be coming through the Tri-States this summer. The Des Moines Register announced the route for the annual RAGBRAI bicycle ride on Saturday night. A southern route was chosen, meaning that Dubuque’s streak of not being a RAGBRAI stop will reach a full decade. The last time the ride came to the Key City was in 2010. Local tourism officials told us last week that Dubuque did submit a bid to host RAGBRAI this year, marking the first time the city has done so in at least seven years.


Finkenauer Named to Second Committee

Finkenauer

The Congresswoman from Dubuque has received her second committee assignment. Democrat Abby Finkenauer has been appointed to the House Small Business Committee. That committee proposes and evaluates legislation that affects small businesses, and also oversees the Small Business Administration. The committee’s focus is on addressing the high cost of insurance, making affordable loans available, and offering disaster assistance. Earlier this month Finkenauer was appointed to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.


Ohio Senator Brown to Visit Dubuque

Brown

Dubuque will see its first visit from a potential candidate for President in the 2020 election this weekend. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has announced a trip to the Key City. He’ll hold a “meet and greet” at Inspire Café in the Historic Millwork District late Saturday morning. The event is scheduled to begin at 11:00. Brown has been one of Ohio’s US Senators since 2007. Prior to that, he spent fourteen years representing the state in the US House. He was reportedly among the finalists to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 election, eventually losing out to Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. Brown is one of the two dozen Democrats believed to be considering a run for the White House.


Weather Record

Dubuque officially tied its all-time record low Saturday morning. A temperature of -20 was set at the Dubuque Regional Airport. That ties the record of -20 set in 1904. Also yesterday, 2.4 inches of snow was reported at the airport. In addition, a Winter Storm Warning will go into effect at 6 pm tonight and last until 6 pm Monday. Snowfall of 5-8 inches is expected in the immediate Tri-State area, a little less to the south, with the possibility of freezing rain as part of the storm to the south.


Weather Related Accident

A weather related accident with serious injuries happened Saturday afternoon along Highway 20 near Dyersville. The Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department reports that an Iowa DOT snowplow was clearing snow along the shoulder of the roadway shortly after 3:30 near Sandstone lane, when it was struck from behind by a motorist traveling eastbound that lost control on the snow-covered roadway. The driver of the vehicle was taken to Mercy Hospital in Dubuque, then transferred to the University of Iowa Hospitals with what is reported to be life threatening injuries. Names of those involved have not been released at this time. The accident remains under investigation.


Dubuque Tourism Officials Make Push to Host RAGBRAI

Courtesy: Des Moines Register

Dubuque tourism leaders will have their attention in Des Moines this weekend, as they wait to find out if the Key City will be included in an annual bicycle ride across Iowa. The route for the annual Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, will be announced on Saturday evening. The last time Dubuque hosted RAGBRAI was in 2010, and local officials are ready for that drought to be over. Travel Dubuque Director of Sports and Events Tyler Daugherty says Dubuque has put in a bid to host RAGBRAI for the first time in several years. Daugherty rates Dubuque’s odds of landing RAGBRAI as 50/50…either it will or it won’t. But he believes having gone nine years since the ride’s last visit does work in Dubuque’s favor. One factor that could have a significant bearing on the success of Dubuque’s bid is the level of interest from nearby communities that could host the ride the days before it comes into Dubuque. The nine-year stretch since Dubuque last hosted RAGBRAI is not the city’s longest time without the ride. Prior to ending in Dubuque in 2010, RAGBRAI had last come to town 17 years earlier, in 1993. Dubuque has also been RAGBRAI’s ending city in 1974 and 1983.


Field of Dreams Movie Site Announces 30th Anniversary Event

The Field of Dreams Movie Site has announced plans for the upcoming 30th anniversary of the release of the film. On Saturday, June 15, the movie site will play host to a series of events. The day will begin with a “skills competition” where visitors will be able to utilize their baseball ability and knowledge of the movie to try to win a baseball-themed prize package. The winner will received tickets to a game at each of the five minor-league baseball teams around Iowa, plus hotel stays after each game. In the evening, a plaque will be dedicated to the memory of former movie site general manager Denise Stillman. She died in November. Following the dedication, a softball game between Ghost Players and “Iowa Legends” will be played on the field. The Iowa team will be made up of former college and pro athletes from the state, including Tim Dwight, Adam Haluska, and Nick Collison. The event will be capped off by a showing of the ‘Field of Dreams’ movie on a big screen set up on the field.


Dubuque Woman Wins Free Trip to Super Bowl

Representatives of Hy-Vee and Frito-Lay flank Janelle Foley of Dubuque, the winner of a trip to Super Bowl LIII (Courtesy: KCRG).

Don’t bother inviting Dubuquer Janelle Foley to your Super Bowl party…she won’t be able to make it. Foley won an all-expenses-paid trip to this year’s NFL championship game in Atlanta, thanks to Hy-Vee and Frito-Lay. Out of all the customers who bought Frito-Lay chips using their Hy-Vee Fuel Saver card, Foley was picked as the winner of the trip. She receives two tickets to the game, as well as airfare, hotel, and money for meals. Foley has a son who’s a fan of the New England Patriots, who will be playing in the game. But she says she won’t be cheering for either team…for the most part. In addition to the game, Foley is also looking forward to the halftime show, which features Maroon 5 as the headline performer.


Wind Chill Protection Tips: Layer Up, Keep Skin Covered

There are several ways to protect against the dangerously cold wind chills impacting the Tri-States today and through tomorrow morning. Wind chills here in Dubuque have already fallen to as low as -25 this morning. Those readings are expected to stay in the teens below zero through mid-morning today and again overnight tonight. At that level, frostbite can set in very quickly. KCRG meteorologist Justin Gehrts says the best way to protect yourself from the wind chill is to simply stay inside. But if you do have to be out, he says to dress in layers and make sure as much skin is covered as possible. When it comes to warming up a vehicle, Gehrts says simply letting the engine idle for 10 or 20 minutes isn’t very effective. There is an additional shot of very cold weather in the Tri-States’ extended forecast. Highs may drop below zero and stay there for much of the middle of next week.


Dubuque Snow Cleanup Continues, Can Be Lengthy Process

Courtesy: City of Dubuque

While it’s now been a couple of days since the last snowflake fell in Dubuque, city crews are still working to clear snow from the streets. Public Works administrators say snow removal is a multi-step process that begins with treating the streets before the snowfall begins. During and immediately after the snow, they’ll have plows out to keep streets as clear as possible. In some cases, they’ll push the snow into large mounds, and then come back to clear it out in later days. That’s the part of the process happening now. Public Works Director John Klostermann says it all takes time. One thing that can complicate the snow removal process is on-street parking. That’s why the city’s odd/even snow route parking policy is in effect through the day today.