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Saturday, December 20

Frantzen’s paintings join favorites at Figge Museum

“Portrait of Maquoketa,” Rose Frantzen’s nationally celebrated multipanel portraits of Maquoketans that contains a landscape view of the city on the opposite side has been acquired by the Figge Art Museum of Davenport.
The sale of the collection was announced Monday. It will officially be part of the museum’s permanent collection beginning in early 2015.
“Portrait of Maquoketa” includes 180 12-inch-by-12-inch oil portraits of Maquoketa residents as well as a 315-square-foot landscape view of Maquoketa painted on 34 vertical panels ranging in length from four to 10 feet.

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Warning system now free

Maquoketa will be without a citywide emergency notification system for the next three months after the City Council this week decided to switch providers.
After subscribing for three years to the Code Red notification system, residents next spring will receive warnings about severe weather, water main breaks, street closures and other occurrences from another provider.
The switch will require residents to register for the new system, as they did for the Code Red system in 2011.
The new system will be provided by the state free of charge to the city, Police Chief Brad Koranda told the council on Monday.
The council approved the new plan by a 6-0 vote. Councilman Eric Pape was absent.
The switch will save the approximately $8,400-a-year fee that the city paid Emergency Communications Network Inc. of Ormond Beach, Fla., for the Code Red Service.
The Code Red system went out of service in Maquoketa as of midnight Dec. 13, the date it was up for renewal. The city had subscribed to the service since that date in 2011.
Koranda told the council earlier this month that the city could renew the contract for the Code Red system for another three years at the same rate it has been paying or it could subscribe to the system being offered at no cost by the state through a company called Wireless Emergency Notification System, or WENS.
“This is a company we looked at before we (subscribed to) Code Red, so it does basically the same thing,” Koranda told the council.
The service sends instant alerts via calls to landline phones and cellular phones, text messages and e-mails regarding severe weather, snow emergencies, water shut-offs and boil orders.

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Wednesday, December 17

Volunteer heroes say they are ‘just glad he’s OK’

By Douglas Melvold
Relaxing at home at about 4:30 on a drizzly, foggy Sunday afternoon, Matt Tranel sprang to action when his Maquoketa Volunteer Fire Department pager went off.
The message was of a Christmas tree on fire in the house at 504 W. Grove St. with a man inside in a wheelchair.
Tranel took off for the fire station. Driving down the street from his home on Shoreline Drive then pulling up to the intersection of North Fifth and West Grove streets, Tranel could see the house at 504 W. Grove.
He saw a glow through the large living room window.
Instead of heading to the fire station to put on his gear and jump onto a fire truck, a gut instinct, he said later, perhaps acquired from 12 years of firefighting experience, caused him to pull to the curb, jump out of his vehicle and run to the house.
Attired in a sweatshirt and jeans, he ran to the front door but found it locked. As a neighbor, Mark Dirks, who arrived at the same time, stayed at the front, Tranel dashed around to a side door on the east side of the house.
There, he found the screen door unlocked. He pulled it open, then pushed open the inside door, which led to an entryway.
As Tranel was working his way inside, Cory Simonson, who lives on Short Street also about two blocks away, arrived at the scene.


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Patzner named county assessor

The Jackson County Conference Board this week appointed Troy Patzner as county assessor to replace Deb Lane, who resigned effective six weeks ago.
The conference board Monday night voted 3-0 to appoint Patzner, who is first deputy in the office, to the post where has been serving an interim basis.
In doing so, the board turned down a strong recommendation from the county Examining Board to appoint another employee in the office, Dixie “Lee” Karabin, who is a deputy and field appraiser.
Patzner will serve the year that remains in Lane’s six-year term, which expires Dec. 31, 2015.


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City council approves rifle purchase

A plan that would allow Maquoketa police officers to carry their own rifles while on duty moved a step closer to enactment this week when the City Council approved a purchase arrangement and usage policy.
The council Monday night approved its Public Safety Committee’s recommendation allowing officers to spend up to $1,800 to purchase a new semiautomatic rifle through a city loan agreement.
The city would buy the weapon. The officer would reimburse the city through payroll deductions.
The council approved the plan on a 6-0 vote on the condition that it meets approval of the city attorney. Councilman Eric Pape was absent.


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Saturday, December 13

Koos honored for actions in courthouse shooting incident

A statewide organization of county officials has honored Jackson County Supervisor Larry “Buck” Koos for his actions during the Courthouse shooting incident in September.
The Iowa State Association of Counties recognized Koos during the general session of the association’s 50th anniversary celebration and fall school of instruction, held last month at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center that is part of the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.
Koos was presented with a plaque whose inscription recognized “your heroic act during the courthouse shooting on September 9, 2014.”

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Meth lab busted in town

A Clinton man and a Dubuque woman were charged last week after police found what appeared to be a methamphetamine-making operation inside a camping trailer in the backyard of a Maquoketa home.
Gary Dean Brooks Jr., 33, of Clinton was charged with manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Shelly Lynn Mellody, 32, of Dubuque was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia following the search.
According to court documents filed by Maquoketa police officers Jason Thomson and Zachary Neuhaus, police responded at 1:54 p.m. Dec. 1 to a call from two people who had smelled a chemical odor coming from a camping trailer in the backyard of the residence at 313 S. Prospect St.
Police went to the location, where they found Brooks and Mellody smoking methamphetamine inside the camper.

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Wednesday, December 10

Weather creates slippery slope

Maquoketa motorists may be wise to exercise an extra measure of caution in their travels around the city for the rest of this hazardous driving season.
Although the official start of winter is still more than a week away, city public works crews already have spent nearly half of the city’s budget for salt on streets for this winter.
As a result, starting immediately, city crews will sharply curtail the amount of salt they will spread on all but the busiest thoroughfares.


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Conference Board to resume talks

The Jackson County Conference Board will convene next week to continue the process of selecting a new county assessor.
The board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the community room of the Courthouse in Maquoketa.
Conference board members said repeatedly at the board’s last meeting on Dec. 1 that they wanted more information on how the county Examining Board recommended Lee Karabin, a deputy....


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Saturday, December 6

Living the American Dream

Zwingle native competes in first National finals

Deafening cheers erupt from the stands as the announcer calls the name of the next bareback rider. Clanking metal gates, stomping hooves and cowboy pep talks add to the audible chaos.
Tim O’Connell hears none of the commotion. He cleared his mind, focusing on the monumental eight seconds to come.
He cinches his left hand into a space little larger than a suitcase handle – binding himself to an 1,800-pound wild bronc whose sole goal is to buck off the object on its back.
The buzzer sounds, the gate bursts open and O’Connell takes the ride of his life for – hopefully – a full eight seconds.

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Petition seeks guardrail at E-17 fatality site

Some Jackson County residents this week renewed a request that the county install a guardrail along a portion of a county highway where a fatal accident occurred last spring.
The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday accepted and placed on file a petition that county Engineer Clark Schloz said contained 484 signatures of people asking that a guardrail be installed on a portion of county road E-17, or 150th Street, about three-quarters of a mile east of Andrew.
The petition was submitted by Bill Portz and asked that the county “place a guardrail coming down the hill east of Andrew on E-17.” No one representing the group attended Tuesday’s supervisors meeting.
Schloz told the supervisors that if installed, the project would entail approximately 800 feet of guardrail along the north side of the highway. He didn’t list an estimated cost for the project.

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Wednesday, December 3

Despite law, no assessor named yet

Saying they were disappointed about a lack of information they received about a recommendation for county assessor, the Jackson County Conference Board this week delayed a decision to appoint a successor to former Assessor Deb Lane.
The conference board on Monday night voted 3-0 to table the appointment of a new assessor for two weeks. In the meantime, county supervisors will contact the three members of the county Examining Board and seek to get additional details about how the examining board arrived at its recommendation to hire Dixie “Lee” Karabin as the next assessor over two other applicants. The board also will seek the full list of 240 to 250 names of people who have passed the state assessor’s exam, a requirement for serving as a county assessor.
The board scheduled its next meeting for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 15 in the community room of the Jackson County Courthouse.
The examining board on Nov. 21 unanimously recommended Karabin for the job after interviewing her and the two other applicants for the post, Troy Patzner and Jessica Tracy. Karabin, a Maquoketa resident, is a deputy and field appraiser in the assessor’s office. Patzner, of rural Bellevue, is chief deputy assessor and currently is serving as interim assessor. Tracy, a Maquoketa resident, is a Maquoketa real estate agent and a self-employed residential property appraiser.


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By Kate Howes
Three months ago, Craig Reuter was hit by a car, yet still insists he’s the luckiest guy anyone could ever meet.
If the events of the past year have proven anything, it’s that Reuter is a survivor.
And if there’s anything he’s learned, it’s that you can’t take one single day for granted.
About this time last year, the Central Community High School science teacher was playing a game of basketball when he felt a “pop” in his left knee. The next thing Reuter knew, he had to have surgery.
At the time, he was in peak physical condition and running eight miles a day. Needless to say, being sidelined by an injury was as frustrating as it was disappointing.


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Saturday, November 29

                                     One big, happy family!

Pride echoes in Chris Clark’s voice – tears even dot the corners of her eyes – when she talks about her babies.
Bob was the first to aspire to public service. He overcame a cleft palate and now lives with a Quad Cities family coping with post traumatic stress disorder.
Jill moved to Alaska, providing needed therapy for a boy with Down syndrome.
Tucker teaches responsible behaviors in a Clinton elementary school.
Bobo assists the winner of the National Miss Amazing Pageant.
Thaddeus just began working at Delwood School.

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Investors prompt interest in updated housing study

The Maquoketa City Council has agreed to consider having a study done of the city’s housing needs.
The council on Nov. 17 referred the issue to its Finance Committee after hearing that the city’s most recent housing study is obsolete and that one is needed to help determine the types of housing that are needed.
The committee also will consider an option of whether the city should seek to participate in a countywide study.
The council acted after a presentation by David Heiar, director of the Jackson County Economic Alliance.
He said the city’s most recent study was done in 2001, which he said “obviously is extremely dated at this point.”

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Holiday train chugs into Bellevue Dec. 5

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is once again rolling from Canada toward Bellevue.
The ever-popular and unique Christmas-themed engine and accompanying rail cars are scheduled for a 6:45 p.m. whistle stop on Friday, Dec. 5 on the tracks next to Horizon Hall.
The lights, music and winter cheer of the event will help to benefit the Bellevue Bread Basket to feed those in need this holiday season.
Collections will be taken on site and everyone in Jackson County is encouraged to come and witness the magic of helping others.
Live musical entertainment from one of the train’s lighted boxcars will feature Canadian country music star Kira Isabella at approximately 7 to 7:30 p.m.

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Wednesday, November 26

Canine therapy treat for students at Cardinal

Sadie is arguably the most popular girl in school.
Everywhere she goes, children call to her, “Hi, Sadie! Sadie, over here!  Sadie, play with me!”
Sadie laps up the attention, but she doesn’t talk much.  She’s the model student – even when she lies down on her cushy bed and fleece blanket next to teacher Devin Hardin’s desk.
Sadie is a bull mastiff and Hardin’s family pet. The canine is a certified therapy dog assisting students at Cardinal Elementary School in Maquoketa.
Hardin teaches students with profound disabilities.  Sadie is her first trained therapy dog, purchased from a breeder in Illinois.
“You get a dog at eight weeks old – you don’t know if it will be a therapy dog or not, but if not, you get a well-trained pet,” Hardin said.
Sadie’s gentle disposition seemed perfect for therapy training.  She may be a large dog now – weighing in at 110 pounds – but Hardin said the mastiff is nothing but a big softy.
Sadie started basic dog obedience school at four months. Hardin and Sadie trained nine months with dog trainer Jim Stenfeldt of CM Academy of Dog Training. 

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Assessor’s office moves closer to naming successor

A deputy in the Jackson County Assessor’s Office has been recommended to succeed Deb Lane as county assessor.
The Jackson County Examining Board on Friday unanimously recommended Dixie “Lee” Karabin from among three applicants for the job.
The board’s recommendation was forwarded by letter on Monday to Jack Willey, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors and chairman of the Conference Board, which will act on the board’s findings and make the final selection.
A meeting of the conference board had not been scheduled as of noon Monday. The conference board oversees the assessor’s office, including appointing the assessor and approving the annual budget.
LuAnn Goeke, executive assistant in the county Board of Supervisors office, said Monday that Willey told her he would call a meeting of the conference board for sometime during the week starting Dec. 14.

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Saturday, November 22

Foster family leaves music business after 30 years

A young boy named Jim Foster walked downtown to the Rexall drug store in Maquoketa. His fingers toyed with the 35 cents burning a hole in his front pants pocket.
After working up a thirst scanning the racks of eye-catching comic books, he plunked his coins down on the counter – enough money for a cherry Coke and to fill his mind with heroic adventures.
He continued his solitary journey to the east end of town to face his destiny – teacher Susie Davis’ piano bench. Foster’s fingers clumsily pressed the ebony and ivory keys, fumbling to play a tune.
After about six weeks of lessons, Davis called Foster’s home.  “When is Jim ever going to pay for his piano lessons?” the teacher asked Verna Foster, his mother.
No more cherry Cokes or comic books for Foster, and no more piano lessons – not for more than a decade, at least. Pianos turned out to be a huge part of his life and more than 50-year career.


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Herman’s Hermits’ bassist Karl Green performs first U.S. concert

in more than 30 years at Codfish Hollow
Back in the 1960s heyday for the British band Herman’s Hermits, bassist Karl Green rarely got to meet fans as security guards whisked him and band members past screaming crowds from airports to hotel rooms to concert venues.


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Wednesday, November 19

Rental panel reviews items

Rental properties in Maquoketa would be required to be equipped with smoke detectors, but screens over doors and windows and electric outlets in every room would not be required.
Those are among findings of a committee that is working on drafting a proposed ordinance calling for inspections of rental housing in the city.
The 10-member committee, at its second meeting, on Nov. 12, agreed on a statement establishing the purpose of the ordinance. The group also discussed one by one a list of 50 items that could be included in an inspection ordinance.
The committee agreed that the purpose of the ordinance “is to establish minimum standards to ensure safe and secure housing for tenants, landlords and the overall welfare of the citizens of Maquoketa.”


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                                         Up, Up and Away!

Jada Geerts experiences the tingle
of hot pizza and cold fruit punch during
a pizza party at Andrew Schools Friday.  
Andrew kindergarteners received this handwritten letter from Dean and Marilyn McNeill of Roscommon, Mich. The couple discovered a balloon the students launched as part of Fire Prevention Week in October. A tag on the bottom of the balloon listed the school, grade, and purpose for the balloon launch. McNeills discovered one of the balloons more than 500 miles away on the shores of Lake Superior.

Saturday, November 15

Cornelius rises to top

Values learned on Iowa farm launch
oil industry career

In 1972, a teenage farm boy ventured from Maquoketa with a high school diploma and plans to return in four years to work the family farm.
Thirty years later that man retired as the senior vice president and chief financial officer of a global gas and oil company with assets totaling $121 billion.
The contributions of that man – Sigmund “Sig” Cornelius – earned him the Floyd Andre Award from Iowa State University. The award honors alumni who make outstanding contributions in agriculture or ag business.
Cornelius never planned to be outstanding. He planned to farm.
He grew up the second of four boys on his family farm about two miles southwest of Maquoketa, the son of Floyd and Marge Cornelius.
“I was fortunate to have a very good childhood in a very safe and loving environment,” said Cornelius, 60, during a telephone interview from his new office at Freeport LNG in Houston, Texas. He and his wife in Fulshear, west of Houston.


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Wednesday, November 12

Hospital prepares for Ebola

Staff members of Jackson County Regional Health Center in Maquoketa have been participating daily in an exercise to train for the possibility of dealing with the Ebola virus.
Jean Hayes, chief nursing officer, told the hospital’s board of trustees that key staff members are participating in an Ebola response task force involving all entities of Genesis Health System.
The Maquoketa hospital is associated with Genesis Health System of Davenport through an affiliation agreement.
Hayes said the exercise involves a group of key clinical staff members, including nurses and staff from the emergency medical services, radiology, laboratory and environmental services departments.

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Lights, camera...ACTION!

Jackson County cabin morphs into movie set for period piece

 A dead man lay in a coffin outside a rural Jackson County cabin last week.
Coal dust hung in the air as his mourning family watched a photographer capture one final image of the deceased using an old, wood-framed camera.
The cabin’s owner, Dr. Ray Hamilton, remained undisturbed by the sight. He stood 20 yards away, recording the moment with his own – much more modern – camera.
The scene was one of many exterior shots filmed outside Hamilton’s cabin last week. 
University of Iowa filmmaking student Jesse Kreitzer spent a couple days at the cabin filming exterior scenes for a narrative film about the coal mining industry in the 1900s and the consuming power of greed.
The cabin’s secluded location was ideal for Kreitzer, who was raised in Vermont but came to Iowa to study filmmaking and retrace his ancestral coal mining roots in the state.
The weathered cabin belongs to Hamilton and his wife, Patty, of Maquoketa. It is nestled in a valley at Codfish Hollow Hill Prairie, the couple’s 60-acre native prairie preserve located about five miles northeast of Maquoketa.

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Saturday, November 8

McDevitt excited to join supervisors

Larry McDevitt won’t officially take office as a Jackson County supervisor until January, but he’ll waste no time getting some pre-employment experience.
McDevitt said Thursday he’s been asked to sit in on a closed session the Board of Supervisors will hold Monday morning with John Rosenthal, business agent for Teamsters Local 120, to negotiate the renewal of the contract covering 29 secondary roads workers.
McDevitt on Tuesday defeated two opponents in the first three-way race for a supervisors seat in a general election in recent memory to win the seat being vacated by Supervisor Steve Flynn.
McDevitt, a 62-year-old Democrat, is a contractor who specializes in outdoor play structures and restoration work, defeated Tom Devine, a Republican, and Republican-turned-independent Jeff Holtz in Tuesday’s general election.
McDevitt received an unofficial 3,345 votes, or 46.7 percent of the total, edging Devine by 388 votes. Devine received 2,957 votes, or 41.3 percent while Holtz received 865 votes.
Flynn announced earlier this year that he will step down from the job he has held the past two terms, as he plans to spend winters in Arizona.
The election of McDevitt will maintain the Democrats’ 2-to-1 edge on the board.

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Two months ago Bill Green received a letter from an unexpected source.
The letter was signed by an old friend – an old friend he thought was dead.
In the letter there was a phone number and a request for a call. The signature on the bottom belonged to Quitman Lockley, the man who had been Green’s squad leader back in Vietnam 46 years ago.
The last time Green had seen Lockley he was being loaded on to a helicopter, seriously wounded from a bullet that traveled through much of his torso and punctured his lung.
During the phone call, the old friends arranged a get-together at Green’s  Cascade home. Only a few days later, Lockley made the trip from ...

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Wednesday, November 5

City to inspect rental property

The Maquoketa City Council this week authorized the council’s Public Safety Committee to draft a proposed ordinance calling for inspections of rental properties in the city.
On a 6-0 vote, the council Monday night approved the committee’s request. No details of what the ordinance would contain were discussed.
The proposal grew from discussion at the first meeting last week of a newly-formed 10-member committee that is working on issues involving housing safety and rental housing. Although not unanimous, most committee members said they felt that a requirement that the approximately 920 rental properties in the city undergo inspections with minimum standards would help improve safety and living standards for many tenants and eventually would improve property values citywide.
At the Oct. 29 session, the committee also discussed enacting a requirement that all residential properties—owner-occupied as well as rental units—undergo inspections, but recommended limiting the program to rentals. Inspections could be done at regular intervals, such as every two years, as is done in DeWitt, or an inspection could be triggered every time a new tenant moves into a rental unit.

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Board seeks assessor applicants

Members of the Jackson County Examining Board said last week they hope to recommend their choice of a new county assessor by New Year’s Day.
The Examining Board met twice last week to set in motion the process of hiring a new county assessor to replace Deb Lane, whose resignation took effect Friday.
The board on Friday afternoon directed that letters be sent to more than 200 people who have passed a state exam for assessor, notifying them of the vacant position and inviting them to apply.

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Saturday, November 1

Finally! It’s up to the voters

After a campaign that began soon after the last general election two years ago, a primary election in June and countless party conventions, rallies, debates, forums, attack ads and robo-calls, it all comes down to Tuesday.
Jackson County voters will join those across Iowa and the nation to elect public officeholders ranging from U.S. senator to township clerk.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at 16 precinct locations in Jackson County.
Staff members in the Jackson County Auditor’s Office said polling places are ready to go.
Actually, voting has been continuing at a brisk pace since absentee, or early, voting began on Sept. 25.
As of late Thursday afternoon, the county had received a total of 3,818 requests for absentee ballots.
Of that number, 2,913 marked ballots had been returned. That number includes voters who cast ballots in person at the auditor’s office at the Courthouse.


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Native seeking Senate seat as independent

While voters studying the races in Tuesday’s general election may be split between supporting Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst in the race for the open U.S. Senate seat in Iowa, an energetic entrepreneur with Maquoketa roots has spent the campaign reminding voters they have another choice.
Rick Stewart, a Maquoketa native, is an independent candidate for the Senate seat.
Stewart, 63, now a Cedar Rapids resident, has spent the summer and fall riding a bicycle across Iowa, telling voters and local media outlets that he is the best choice for the Senate seat.


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Schools explore ways to fund HVAC project

Maquoketa Community School Board members are still searching for the best option to beat the heat at Maquoketa Middle School.
For years, the board has discussed the problematic climate inside the building, which retains an excessive amount of heat when temperatures outside rise above 80 degrees.
The building, especially its third floor, has for years been responsible for causing the vast majority of early dismissals related to heat.
The price tag of fixing the problem with a geothermal heating/cooling system is estimated at $3.2 million, according to FEH And Associates, a Des Moines architectural firm the district hired to study possible solutions.


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Wednesday, October 29

County counters with 2% increase

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD Jackson County secondary roads employees would receive annual pay increases of an average of 2 percent over the next three years, under the initial contract offer made this week by the county Board of Supervisors. The supervisors Chairman Jack Willey presented the county’s response to John Rosenthal, business agent from the Dubuque office of Teamsters Local 120, at the board’s Monday meeting. Rosenthal had presented the union’s initial proposal to the supervisors on Oct. 14. The agreement covers 29 secondary roads workers. The current 31-page contract will expire June 30, 2015. Both sides said in their initial proposals that they want another three-year agreement, which would cover the period from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2018. The two sides scheduled their initial negotiating session for 9:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 3.


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Osterhaus adds pharmacist, resident

A couple of unfamiliar faces have become welcome friends at Osterhaus Pharmacy as a new full-time pharmacist and resident pharmacist acquaint themselves with customers.
Farah Towfic, pharmacist, and Val Wersching, resident pharmacist, joined the staff of the Maquoketa pharmacy.
Towfic was already familiar with Osterhaus Pharmacy before she ever accepted a job there. She had already developed a relationship with Matt Osterhaus when he was her mentor at the University of Iowa, where she graduated in 2011. They’d also worked together through American Pharmacists Association (APhA) events.
When Association members elected Osterhaus president in 2012 and he took office in 2014, it meant much time away from the pharmacy.  Towfic was the perfect candidate to fill that pharmacist slot.


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Saturday, October 25


Kathy and Virl Banowetz have a seat Thursday morning on two of the hundreds of chairs lined up outside their home in preparation of a liquidation auction of the inventory they have spent years accumulating. The couple is retiring after owning and managing Banowetz Antiques in Maquoketa for 45 years. The sale started Friday and runs through this weekend, just a short distance from the intersection of U.S. 61 and Caves Road.




Devine: must work together

Tom Devine’s campaign can be summed up in three words: cooperation, collaboration and coordination.
If elected, Devine said he would work to bring all residents and organizations to work for the betterment of Jackson County.
Devine, a Republican, is one of three candidates seeking to succeed Steve Flynn as District 3 county supervisor. Flynn is stepping down after having served two four-year terms.
Making his first try for elected public office, Devine won a contested primary race, defeating Jeff Holtz of rural Maquoketa by 58 votes, 417 votes to 359.
A native Maquoketan, Devine said he is running “to continue the tradition of service of my family.”
His maternal grandfather, Ed Black, owned and operated the Preston Times newspaper for many years and served on the Preston City Council for more than 40 years.


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Holtz brings business background

Jeff Holtz says he would bring the experience and perspective of a farmer and businessman to the Jackson County Board of Supervisors.
Holtz is one of three candidates seeking the District 3 seat held by two-term Democratic incumbent Steve Flynn, who is stepping down to spend more time at a winter home in Arizona.
Holtz says he is running “because I care about the future of Jackson County. I was born and raised here and my family is from around here. We’ve got to solve our problems now; we can’t kick the can down the road.”
Holtz ran in the Republican primary in June, facing Tom Devine. The two ran a close race and Devine, Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, won by a 58-vote margin.
Holtz said at first he had no desire to run again in the general election as an independent.
“Tom won the June primary fair and square. I didn’t have any hard feelings about it,” Holtz


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McDevitt offers trade expertise

A needed skill on the Jackson County Board of Supervisors is someone with a background in construction and the building trades, Larry McDevitt believes.
McDevitt is one of three candidates for the District 3 seat on the Board of Supervisors.
He defeated Henry Kramer of Sabula in the Democratic primary in June by a margin of 379 votes to 210 votes for Kramer.
McDevitt said he decided to seek his first elective office when he and a friend were talking about county’s Penrose Annex project and various construction projects.
“Certain things were brought up and he mentioned that a lot of people (in office) don’t have a building background. He looked at me and said, ‘You’d be good at that job. You know a lot of stuff like that.’
“I hadn’t thought about it before, but I guess I do,” McDevitt admitted.


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Wednesday, October 22

Candidates face off in upcoming election

Name: Kim Huckstadt
Age: 59
Family: Wife Luanne; son Tate
Employer and occupation: Retired superintendent of Maquoketa Community School District; assistant professor in the Educational Leadership Department at the University of Northern Iowa
Elective or appointive offices held: No prior elected offices held
Other community involvements: Rotary Club International, Education Committee for the Maquoketa Area Foundation, Little Bear Park Committee, past board member of Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce, Maquoketa Area YMCA annual Fund Campaign, Rotary Scholars Banquet coordinator, Iowa Schoolmasters – Walt Whitman Club, School Administrators of Iowa, Iowa Association of School Boards Administrative Advisory Council


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Name: Brian Moore
Age: 52
Family: Wife Kim; children Brandon, Brett, Brig, Brandt, Bree, Brody, Brittany, Brooklyn; three grandsons
Occupation: self-employed as commissioned hog buyer, livestock and grain hauler, livestock and grain farmer
Organizations: Maquoketa Optimist Club, Maquoketa Community High School Alumni Association, Marquette Booster Club, Republican Central Committee, Jackson County Farm Bureau, Eagle’s Club, Pheasants Forever, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church


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Saturday, October 18

Majestic Winter Guard meeting planned

The beat of the drum and the thump of the bass typically arrive long before the marching band.  But when the color guard comes into view, it captivates people with its brilliant colors reflecting off the twirling flags, the mock rifles, the ribbons, the uniforms, and the talent of the guard members.
Area males and females age 14 to 18 have the opportunity to join an independent indoor winter guard this fall. No experience is required.
Cameron Kotovsky, Easton Valley Community High School music director, is organizing an independent winter guard based on the popularity of the color guard at Easton Valley this year.
One parent/student meeting was already held, but a second informational meeting takes place at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20, in the music room at Easton Valley Community High School in Preston.
Winter guard is the indoor counterpart of color guard.  It combines the use of flags, sabers, mock rifles, and other equipment, as well as dance and other interpretive movement.
Guards are classified as scholastic - where members come from the same high school - or independent, in which members are not necessarily associated with a particular school.


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Board sets terms on Lane’s resignation

The Jackson County Conference Board this week agreed on a settlement with county Assessor Deb Lane that would pay her for unused vacation time and may move up her resignation date to Oct. 31.
The action was taken at an hour-long meeting of the conference board held Wednesday night, Oct. 15, at the Hurstville Interpretive Center north of Maquoketa.
The conference board appoints the assessor and oversees the budget for that office.
Board members had hoped to discuss with Lane her request for reimbursement for 946 hours of compensatory time that she said she had accumulated while in office even though county officials could find no documentation for any comp time.
The board, at its previous meeting on Sept. 30, directed Chairman Jack Willey to send a letter to Lane asking that she attend the Wednesday meeting to explain her request for the comp time reimbursement.
Lane, however, sent a letter to Willey and other conference board members last weekend saying she would be unable to attend the meeting “because of a prior commitment out of town.”
She went on to say in the letter that while she had documentation for the comp time hours she requested, she understood that as an appointed county department head, her position is not eligible for comp time reimbursement.
As a result, she said she was rescinding her request for payment of any comp time.
Compensatory time is paid time off granted to an employee for working extra hours.
Becki Chapin, deputy county auditor and personnel director, had calculated that Lane’s claim, if paid, would have cost the county approximately $38,000, based on Lane’s current yearly salary of $63,071.


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Wednesday, October 15

Agent offers Courthouse security tips

Reducing the number of public entrances, installing surveillance cameras and placing coat racks outside offices are among suggestions a U.S. Secret Service agent has offered for improving security at the Jackson County Courthouse.
The county Board of Supervisors arranged for an agent from the Secret Service’s Des Moines office to conduct a walk-through of the Courthouse to look for ways that security could be enhanced in the 55-year-old building.
Accompanied by Sheriff Russ Kettmann Chief Deputy Steve Schroeder and county Emergency Management Coordinator Lyn Medinger, the agent toured the Courthouse for about 90 minutes on the morning of Oct. 6.
Supervisors reviewed the results of the walk-through at their meeting the next day. They said they were impressed by the number of suggestions offered that carry little expense.
“We got a lot of good ideas that won’t cost a lot of money,” said Kettmann.
They said the agent recommended that the number of public entrances to the Courthouse, now four, be limited to two. Supervisors discussed closing the north entrance, off West Platt Street.


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MMEU wears pink for breast cancer awareness

Wearing pink requires confidence, and the linemen and generation station employees at Maquoketa Municipal Electric Utility (MMEU) have confidence in kilowatts. 
As part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, MMEU employees are wearing pink hardhats whenever and wherever they are on the job. 
It sounded like a good idea at the time.
“We’re all happy to do it, but I think when they got the hats on, they really didn’t know about the color,” laughed Tom Gaffigan, utility manager.
The men aren’t letting the color deter them, however.
The pink hardhats are part of a nationally organized effort, according to Gaffigan. An MMEU vendor, Rural Electric Supply Company, first contacted the utility about the breast cancer awareness project.  It’s part of a larger effort initiated by 3M Company, who is contributing a portion of proceeds from the sale of hardhats to the American Cancer Society.


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Saturday, October 11

Maquoketa, Bellevue, DeWitt papers sold to Sycamore Media

The Melvold family of Maquoketa announced today that it has sold its three eastern Iowa community newspapers to Sycamore Media Corp.
The family sold the Maquoketa Sentinel-Press, the Bellevue Herald-Leader and the DeWitt Observer to a company headed by Trevis Mayfield, president and majority owner of
Sycamore Media Corp., and his wife, Nancy. The sale took effect Wednesday, Oct. 8.
Like the Sentinel-Press, the Observer also is a semiweekly newspapers, publishing on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Herald-Leader is a weekly, publishing on Thursdays.
The Maquoketa and Bellevue newspapers are owned by Maquoketa Newspapers Inc. of Maquoketa and the Observer is owned by DeWitt Observer Publishing Co. of DeWitt.
Principals in both corporations are Douglas Melvold, John Melvold, Mary McAllister, R.B. Melvold and Beth Melvold.
Doug Melvold will continue as publisher-editor and Beth Melvold will continue as production manager, at least for a transition period.
All employees at all three newspapers were retained.


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Superintendent Hoover receives statewide recognition 

Chris Hoover, superintendent of the Maquoketa Community School District, was a nominee for the 2014-15 Iowa Superintendent of the Year award sponsored by the School Administrators of Iowa.
“SAI is pleased to recognize leaders who are dedicated to advancing student achievement by providing students a quality education,” said Dan Smith, the association’s executive director.
Maquoketa is in the midst of applying for a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant to establish community education centers to keep children safe in the after-school hours and provide academic enrichment, homework centers and tutors, and a range of cultural, developmental and recreational opportunities.
Maquoketa is looking to enhance its preschool programs by adding wrap-around programming which could provide before- and after-school care and a Shared Visions classroom for the 2015-16 school year to serve at-risk children.
The district will also be extending its community partnerships for the betterment of student education.


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Wednesday, October 8

Papa’s Pumpkin Patch opens for the season

Papa’s Pumpkin Patch opened last weekend to blazing sunshine warmer-than-average temperatures. It only enhanced the experience for families strolling through the fields in search of the perfect pumpkin and some simple family fun.
Papa’s Pumpkin Patch, located at 16679 360th Ave., Bellevue, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day now through Oct. 31.  The pumpkin patch nestles amongst the bluffs about just north of Springbrook.
No admission is charged.
Rick and Dory Budde opened the pumpkin patch as a way to get kids into the country – and at a price affordable for all. 
What’s new this year? 
Buddes added large indoor bounces houses for children to climb, jump and slide.  No matter the weather, the bounces houses are protected from the elements.


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E-17 bridge at Canton closed for repairs

The bridge that carries county road E-17 over the Maquoketa River at Canton in western Jackson County will be closed for about three weeks for repairs, the Board of Supervisors was told last week.
County Engineer Clark Schloz said the project is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Oct. 8. Traffic will be detoured on paved roads east of the bridge onto county road Y-34 south to Iowa 64 at Baldwin and west of the bridge onto Iowa 136 at Wyoming.
Detours also are available using gravel roads, Schloz noted.
Jim Schroeder Construction Inc. of Bellevue is doing the work, which includes repairs to the approaches on each side of the span.
On another county road-related matter, Schloz noted that permits allowing rural residents to apply dust control materials on county roads adjoining their property expired Sept. 30.
County road crews soon will begin grading the roads and applying rock in order to prepare them for winter driving conditions.
In other business, the supervisors learned last week that no provisions had been made in the architects’ plans to connect telephone or Internet service to the offices in the Penrose Annex.
Supervisors discussed the problem at their Sept. 30 meeting with county maintenance supervisor Marty Hudrlik and information technology director Bjorn Beck.
Beck said plans call for the phone and Internet lines to be extended to the sheriff’s office, where they will join the county offices’ communications system.
Beck said 100 feet of Internet line is included in the architects’ plans, but that length isn’t enough to extend it to the sheriff’s office.
Supervisors said they specifically recalled discussing telephone and Internet hookups to the structure, which is in the final stages of a remodeling project.


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Saturday, October 4

Conference board questions Lane pay claim

The Jackson County Conference Board this week tabled action on accepting the resignation of county Assessor Deb Lane after raising questions about a claim for reimbursement of compensatory time.
The board met Tuesday night, Sept. 30, to begin the process of appointing a new county assessor following Lane’s resignation two weeks ago.
Conference Board Chairman Jack Willey told the board that Lane had sent a request to Becki Chapin, deputy auditor and county personnel director, asking for reimbursement for 946 hours of compensatory time.
Willey said that according to state law, county elected officials and appointed officials, such as the assessor, aren’t allowed compensatory, or “comp,” time.
In addition, Willey said Lane did not claim any comp time due in payroll records she filed with the county and with the state.
Compensatory time is paid time off granted to an employee for working extra hours.


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Andrew students crawl through windows and doors

Andrew school’s old gymnasium resembled something of a home obstacle course Wednesday, Oct. 1. But the K-5 students weren’t participating in skills tests; instead, they were learning to save their lives in case of fire.
Andrew volunteer firefighters spent Wednesday morning teaching fire safety techniques to the youngsters and encouraging them to practice exit drills in their homes.
The first stop was in the school gym, where kids were treated to cookies and punch while fire chief Mike Till explained fire safety basics.
To an already frightened child sitting in a house that is on fire, one of the most frightening aspects might actually be what’s meant to rescue them – a firefighter.  Firefighters can look somewhat scary in all their protective gear and may sound even scarier talking through their oxygen masks.
One firefighter donned his full uniform in front of students as Till explained the various uses of the uniform and equipment.  The children’s jaws dropped as they watched just how quickly firefighters can suit up.
“You might hear a lot of odd noises coming from the firefighters and their equipment, and it may be scary, but you just remember that he’s there to help you,” Till told the kids.


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Wednesday, October 1

Area project chosen for parks funding

A large delegation of officials from Bellevue, Maquoketa and Jackson County descended on the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines Monday morning, Sept. 29, for a big announcement on the future of parks and recreation in Jackson, Dubuque and Jones counties, which will include $1.9 million in funding just for the planning stages.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds were joined on the steps of the Capitol building by the Iowa Parks Foundation and the Green Ribbon Commission--a special commission charged with developing a long-term and sustainable strategy to revitalize Iowa’s State Parks systems--to present the group’s 100 year strategy for Iowa parks to the public.


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Prairie Creek cleanup continues with workday

Volunteer efforts continue to make the Prairie Creek Recreation Area an integral part of nature’s playground in Jackson County.  With timberland and limestone, pond, hills and valleys, and wildlife galore, the rec area flourishes.
Volunteer efforts are sought once again to complete some fall cleanup at the site, which is located just southeast of Maquoketa, accessible from 223rd Ave. and at the corner of Jacobsen Drive and Summit Street in Maquoketa.
A cleanup day is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, at the site.  Lunch will be provided for all volunteers who assist that day. Please RSVP to Jackson County Conservation by Oct. 16.
Tasks for cleanup day include removing more fencing, clearing out invasive species, and beginning to establish some woodland trails.
The first two-day volunteer cleanup event at Prairie Creek – then known as the Martin Property, named after Robert Martin, who bequeathed the 273-acres of timber, grassland and limestone bluffs to Jackson County Conservation – was held May 21 and 22.  A total of 42 volunteers assisted with the project. 
Volunteers and staff planted and watered 30 white pine seedling at Prairie Creek, then installed deer cages around each sapling to protect them from hungry roaming animals.
One bit of the Prairie Creek acreage had been used as a dumping spot and burn pit for all sorts of unwanted items. A dedicated group of volunteers removed nine large garbage bags filled with refuse from the site.


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Saturday, Sept. 27

Lane resigns as county assessor

Jackson County Assessor Deb Lane resigned this week in the wake of the shooting incident earlier this month in the Courthouse.
Jack Willey, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, announced her resignation during the board’s weekly meeting Tuesday morning, Sept. 23. Lane was not in attendance.
Although the resignation isn’t effective until Jan. 2, 2015, Lane said in her resignation letter that she would be taking vacation and compensatory time off beginning immediately and extending through the effective date. She said she would not be available to perform any duties during that time.
Willey said Lane delivered the letter to him on Friday night, Sept. 19.


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Maquoketa homecoming kicks off this weekend

Throw on the dancing shoes and some jiving music and prepare to dance the week away next week as Maquoketa Community High School prepares for Homecoming 2014.
This year’s homecoming theme is “Dancing Through the Decades: Step up for a Win.”  Whether in school or the working world, decorating a float, running in the Hillbilly Hot Foot Race, playing at the Sacred Heart carnival, or checking out the muscle cars on Main Street, everybody’s encouraged to get involved.
Homecoming is an event for the entire community, not just a string of activities one week in the school district. It’s a time to celebrate the entire community, people, and accomplishments.
Homecoming prep activities kicked off Friday, Sept. 26, with students decorating downtown windows.


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Wednesday, Sept. 24

Democrats induct two into Hall of Fame

Two Jackson County residents will be inducted into the Jackson County Democrats Hall of Fame during a fundraising event this weekend.
Jackson County Democrats host the third annual Hall of Fame Dinner Sunday, Sept. 28, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Kalmes Restaurant in St. Donatus. The public is invited to enjoy a rib-eye steak dinner beginning at 4:30 and stay for the induction and awards ceremony at 6 p.m.
The fundraiser also includes a silent auction.
Two individuals will be inducted into the Hall of Fame that evening: Roberta Rosheim of Maquoketa for her service as a volunteer and Rick Dickinson of Sabula for his service as an elected official.


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Council hears views on rental issues

The Maquoketa City Council will consider enacting an ordinance designed to improve housing and address issues involving rental housing.
More than 50 residents crowded into the Maquoketa City Council chambers Wednesday night, Sept. 17, exchange views on issues that included setting housing safety standards, lease agreements and tenant background checks.
The meeting was prompted by a petition presented to the council last month in which neighbors of a Maquoketa apartment complex complained about the building conditions and behavior of the tenants.
The petition renewed discussion of issues of rental properties, which the council had attempted to address in the fall of 2012.
Wednesday’s meeting initially was planned as a meeting of the council’s Public Safety Committee. It was changed to a work session of the full council when a member of the committee urged other council members to attend.
A dozen residents, mostly landlords, addressed the council during the 45-minute discussion.
The council took no action, as none can be taken at an informal work session. The council indicated a consensus, however, to continue studying an ordinance.


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Saturday, Sept. 20

Supervisors praise responders, workers in wake of tragedy

Jackson County supervisors this week praised the professional work of first responders and the dedication of Courthouse employees as they went back to work Tuesday, Sept. 16, following last week’s shooting incident.
Supervisors Jack Willey, Larry “Buck” Koos and Steve Flynn expressed relief that the event didn’t end with further casualties.
Former Maquoketa City Manager Francis “Gus” Glaser, 71, of Maquoketa opened fire with a .32 caliber revolver at the supervisors’ Sept. 9 meeting, then committed suicide with the gun in a struggle that followed the first shot.
Glaser had long been upset that he hadn’t received a larger property tax abatement on a house he owned in Maquoketa.
After discussing the issue for about 40 minutes with supervisors and county Assessor Deb Lane, Glaser changed the subject to elected officials’ salaries. The supervisors decided the discussion was not productive and adjourned the meeting.
Glaser then pulled the handgun from a briefcase he had brought with him. He fired a shot that broke the glass in the door leading to the supervisors office an instant after Lane had fled out the door.
Koos tackled Glaser from behind, stopping him from following Lane into the hallway. Glaser and Koos fell face down in front of the door, with Koos on top. Others in the room helped hold Glaser down. With the gun underneath Glaser, he fired a second shot that killed him.
His death was ruled a suicide following an autopsy at the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny. A three-page statement signed by Glaser and found the next day in a rented storage unit said he planned to take his own life on Sept. 9.


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Wednesday, Sept. 17

Walk raises Alzheimer’s awareness and funds

More than 200 Maquoketa area residents last weekend laced up their walking shoes, donned sunglasses and a few picked up a crazy hat and joined the first Maquoketa Adventure Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
The group gathered Saturday morning, Sept. 13, at the Maquoketa Area Family YMCA.
After a short pep rally, the group headed east on the city pedestrian trail along East Summit Street to the entrance to the Prairie Creek Recreation Area at East Summit and Jacobsen Drive.
Most of the participants took the option of walking an additional loop through the recently acquired recreation area being developed by the Jackson County Conservation Board.


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Free medication disposal offered at end of month

With fall comes cleaning.  With cleaning comes piles of unwanted stuff and no clue how to dispose of it.
The Jackson County Prevention Coalition is helping residents across the area safely and properly dispose of expired and no-longer-used prescription and over-the counter medications for free at designated sites next week.
The Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet event will be held Saturday, Sept. 27, at the following three drop-off sites in Jackson County: 
- Jackson County Senior Center, located at 100 E. Quarry St. in Maquoketa, drop-off time 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.;
- Bellevue Fire Station, located at 301 State Street in Bellevue, drop-off time from 9 a.m. to noon;
- Preston Times newspaper office, located at 4 North Stephens St. in Preston, drop-off times from 8 to 10 a.m.


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Saturday, Sept. 13

Courthouse shooter commits suicide; Koos injured

Diagram shows the positions of the 10 people who were in the Jackson County supervisors’ meeting room, the location of the briefcase from which the handgun was pulled and the direction that Francis “Gus” Glaser fired the first of two shots. County Assessor Deb Lane had run out the door an instant before the shot. Supervisor Larry “Buck” Koos tackled Glaser at about the point the red and blue lines merge. Glaser and Koos fell at the spot marked “X.”



The everyday process conducting the business of county government in the Jackson County Courthouse was shattered by gunfire this week when Maquoketa resident Francis “Gus” Glaser pulled a small handgun from a briefcase and fired two shots, one of which was intended for county Assessor Deb Lane and the other that took his own life.
Glaser, 71, a native Maquoketan and former city manager in Maquoketa and Tipton, opened fire Tuesday morning, Sept. 9, at the conclusion of the weekly meeting of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors.
After firing the first shot, which broke the glass in the door leading to the supervisors’ meeting room, but didn’t harm anyone, Glaser was tackled to the floor by Supervisor Larry “Buck” Koos. The Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that he took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot as he lay pinned on the carpet just inside the door leading to the corridor.
Jackson County Sheriff Russ Kettmann said on Thursday, Sept. 11, that investigators found in a storage unit that Glaser had rented a note he signed stating that he planned to take his own life on Sept. 9.


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