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Wednesday, Jan. 28

Legislators discuss hot topics

By KELLY GERLACH
More funding for roads, bridges and schools, as well as debate about the school start date, appear to be the hot-button issues facing Iowa legislators as week three of the 2015 policy-making session gets under way.
Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa, and Rep. Brian Moore, R-Bellevue, pointed to those issues as the most important of the new legislative season. They, along with county Supervisor Larry “Buck” Koos, spent an hour discussing those topics and answering questions from the dozen people who attended the Jackson County Farm Bureau legislative forum Saturday morning at Maquoketa City Hall.
Fuel tax
Increased funding to repair Iowa’s roads and bridges led Saturday’s discussion. Legislators must address the state’s $215 million deficit for roads and bridges, said Bowman, who called it “one of biggest issues facing the legislature this session.”

 

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Citizens ‘think big’ at parks meeting

By KELLY GERLACH and DAVID NAMANNY
Residents covered display boards with yellow sticky notes. They wrote all over a table using permanent markers.
The Grant Wood Mississippi River Region Committee encouraged it and asked for more. All of those notes represented ideas for the Parks to People pilot project.
 “No idea’s crazy,” said Daryl Parker, executive director of Jackson County Conservation.
“We want people to think big,” added David Heiar, director of the Jackson County Economic Alliance.
Connecting communities through bike trails, hosting high school athletic competitions in state and county parks and holding...

 

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Wednesday, Jan. 21

Teachers take early retirement

By KELLY GERLACH
Some 411 years of educational experience leaves the Maquoketa Community School District June 30.
The school board approved early retirement applications for 14 district employees during its Monday evening meeting.
The retirements could save the district more than $292,800.
Retiring at the end of the school year are:
- Dianne Henry, high school executive secretary, 41 years, $13,586.40
- Cindy Hepker, kindergarten teacher, 38 years, $22,047.39
- Linda Lippens, teacher associate, 32 years, $7,463.14
- Laurnet Spalding, career and technology teacher, 39 years, $27,763.38
- Judy Koon, teacher associate, 27 years, $7,463.14
- Nancy Batey, middle school administrative assistant, 28 years, $11,354.24
- Rick Williams, custodian, 23 years, $15,392
- Luanne Huckstadt, high school math teacher, 32 years, $25,517.82
- Joan Bollman, Cardinal principal, 29 years, $38,570.56
- Cathy Durkop, first grade teacher, 42 years, $25,517.82
- Bonnie Bruck, Cardinal teacher, 16 years, $27,763.38
- Barbara McKeon, district business coordinator, 18 years, $33,817.77
- Kathy Klocke, Cardinal nurse, 15 years, $12,466.30
- Jackie Crowley, high school teacher and nurse, 31 years, $24,088.82


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County pushing for rural clean-up

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
The Jackson County Board of Supervisors want a farm lot near Maquoketa Caves State Park cleaned up, but it’s unclear if the owner is violating any ordinances.
The supervisors last month asked county Zoning Administrator Ben Kober to continue efforts to enforce a possible zoning violation at the Gary DeLarm farm, 9282 Caves Road, about five miles northwest of Maquoketa.
The farm, which is easily visible from Caves Road, has  what appears to be unused equipment strewn about.
Kober told the supervisors that DeLarm may be violating a variance agreement that was granted by the county Zoning Board of Adjustment 16 years ago.
Kober said he sent DeLarm a “courtesy letter” last month notifying him of the possible violation and giving him a week, which expired earlier this month, to respond.


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Man given probation in stabbing case

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
A Maquoketa man who severely cut another man who was to be his partner in a business venture four years ago received a suspended prison sentence last week and was placed on probation for two years.
Todd Allen Clark, 40, of 311 N. Main St., was sentenced Friday in Jackson County District Court in Maquoketa.
In a plea agreement, Clark pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of willful injury resulting in bodily injury.
He was accused of assaulting Richard Allen, 45, of Maquoketa, by cutting his neck with a knife, which authorities said was a life-threatening injury, in January of 2011.
Judge Mark Lawson sentenced Clark to a five-year prison term, which he suspended, and placed him on probation for two years.
Clark was fined $750 and was ordered to pay court costs, a 35 percent surcharge and court-appointed attorney fees of up to $1,000. He also was ordered to pay restitution of $1,339.72 to the Iowa Crime Victim Compensation Program.
The court issued a  protective order prohibiting Clark from having contact with Allen for five years, and he is not allowed to possess firearms.


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Saturday, Jan. 17

There’s a book for that

Rosheim’s 50 years of writing spans wide range


By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
There’s no pigeon-holing David Rosheim.
In a career of writing, the Maquoketa author, book collector and book dealer has covered a wide range of styles and subjects.
From poetry to biography to social commentary to history to fiction, the multi-faceted Rosheim has a book covering that genre.
Rosheim last year completed a half-century of published writing.
Rosheim, 70, got his start while a student at Luther College in Decorah in the mid-1960s.
As literary editor of the Luther student newspaper Rosheim began writing poems.
He also was co-editor of and a contributor to the “Oneota Review,” a journal of book reviews and professional resources for the teaching of reading.
He published his first work in 1964, a small booklet of poetry he had composed as a student, titled simply “Poems.” The printing was done by the Decorah newspaper and he sold a few copies for 50 cents apiece.


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Wednesday, Jan. 14

Tree Board branches into ash borer treatment plan

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
As the emerald ash borer continues its invasion of the Midwest, destroying ash trees in its wake, a Maquoketa city board last week began the gloomy task of assessing a forest of data about the city’s trees and options for dealing with the threat.
The city’s Tree Board on Jan. 6 began poring over data that were collected in a fall survey of city-owned trees. The board took no action and will meet again Jan. 27.

 

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Cattlemen celebrate accomplishments during annual banquet

By KELLY GERLACH
About 500 Jackson County area residents dined on ribeyes, watched the crowning of beef royalty, cackled at a couple of comedians and anted up to raise money for the local cattle industry
The Jackson County Cattlemen served about 500 meals, comparable to last year, during its annual beef banquet Saturday evening inside Pearson Memorial Center in Maquoketa. The Cattlemen grilled ribeye steaks, with the remainder of the meal catered by Springbrook Country Dining.
Longtime Jackson County cattle producer Wayne Meyer was inducted posthumously into the Jackson County Cattlemen’s Hall of Fame. He grew up on a farm east of Miles raising Hampshire hogs and Hereford cattle, which he exhibited as a member of the Miles Baby Beef 4-H Club.
After marrying Dora Burken in 1963, the couple farmed 260 acres of land north of Preston. They milked and raised hogs but the lure of cattle called, so they began raising stock cows.


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Saturday, Jan. 10

                                     CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

Kaden Caes, 6, makes the solitary sojourn up Maquoketa’s popular West Summit Street sledding hill Tuesday after Mother Nature dumped five inches of powdery white snow on the area.


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Conservation’s helping hands get national award

By KELLY GERLACH
A toddler shuffles to the pond in front of the Hurstville Interpretive Center, giggling as he spots tadpoles in the murky water.
A teen saunters toward the musical instruments outside, glances around to ensure no one is looking, and clangs the metal pipes.
Adults strive for stability while walking across a log balance beam through wildflowers at the center.
“We see a lot more people actively exploring outside, not just looking around and walking up the ramp into the center,” said naturalist Jessica Wagner. “You see more wonder and excitement and a lot of it is thanks to the Friends.”
That outdoor fun was part of the Hurstville Outdoor Makeover – a $100,000-plus improvement project at the Hurstville Interpretive Center. Friends of Jackson County Conservation made this and numerous other projects happen, earning national recognition for its efforts.
Friends of Jackson County Conservation received the Excellence in Interpretive Support award from the National Association for Interpretation. The award recognizes an...


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Wednesday, Jan. 7

Bellevue family offers insight into cattle industry

By DAVID NAMANNY
When it comes to cattle production, Charlie and Jenni Peters of rural Andrew know the business inside and out.
The family operation, Peters Beef Genetics, is quite well known in the area. The local ag business consists of a purebred and commercial cow-calf herd, a bred heifer program, feedlot cattle and custom embryo program.
As well as the large cattle production business, the Peters family also has a crop and grain operation consisting of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and pasture.  The majority of the crop operation is used to provide feed for the cattle operation. 
According to patriarch Charlie Peters, his family has been raising cattle and farming for six generations around Andrew in Jackson County.
“We grew up with Simmental, Limousin and Angus cross cows and my parents, Floyd and Lavonne, began using artificial insemination in 1969 when the first Continental cattle were being imported from Europe,” explained Peters. “We also had a feedlot operation and as kids we exhibited cattle in 4-H and were involved in livestock judging.”



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Saturday, January 3

Security measures would lock doors, add cameras

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
The Jackson County Courthouse and other county facilities will see additional security measures taken in the new year if the Board of Supervisors approves recommendations of a study committee.
Security measures that include having only one public entrance, increased numbers of upgraded “panic buttons” and security cameras, and a metal detector are among recommendations an advisory committee has given to the supervisors.
Three committee members, Lyn Medinger, county emergency management coordinator; Kim Hess, clerk of court; and Steve Schroeder, chief sheriff’s deputy, presented the recommendations to the supervisors on Dec. 23.
The board took the recommendations under advisement and said it would act on them after further study.
The recommendations are the product of a committee that was formed in May to advise the supervisors on security measures that could be taken to protect Courthouse employees, patrons and others who may be in or near the Courthouse from a variety of dangers ranging from severe weather to an armed intruder.


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Struggling freshmen teach district to think outside the box

By KELLY GERLACH
Student success often requires thinking outside the box. Maquoketa Community High School is preparing to do just that next fall.
Principal Mark Vervaecke outlined preliminary plans for a proposed Freshmen Academy at the high school. Engaging struggling freshmen early in the high school experience will help them succeed, he said.
The voluntary program would require hiring one teacher dedicated to a core group of 12 to 15 freshmen, motivating them to attend classes, forge a school connection, complete classes and achieve academic success.
“The whole point is just getting these kids off to a better start,” Vervaecke explained.
Need for the “school within a school,” as Vervaecke called it, stems from the increasing number of freshmen who have been held back the last three years.
“There were an average of 27 students not meeting the requirements to be sophomores,” the principal said.
If the district implements the Freshmen Academy, it must first hire an at-risk teacher. That comes with a minimum $31,000 salary.
“(These students) need someone who can be a relationship builder, get these kids interested in going to school,” Vervaecke explained.


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Saturday, December 27

Retain fire site for retail use, council says

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
The Maquoketa City Council has gone on record approving the continued use of the vacant downtown fire site for community events, but reaffirming it wants to keep the space available for future retail development and not convert it into a permanent park.
The council discussed its stance on the city-owned South Main Street property at a Dec. 15 meeting.
The council appointed Mayor Don Schwenker and council member Amy Moore as the city’s representatives on the downtown revitalization committee of the Vision 2020 committee, which is working on proposals to improve the downtown area, including the fire site.
Moore said a question that was raised at a recent meeting of the Vision 2020 group...


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Books on Wheels delivers world of adventures to area shut-ins

By KELLY GERLACH
Evelyn Kmiecik’s nestles into her favorite crochet-covered chair, a cup of steaming tea steeping on the end table next to the book she always has ready. The Maquoketa woman
relishes sitting down to a new adventure with a mug of hot tea at hand.
She cracks open her book of the moment – typically a romance, often by Barbara Taylor Bradford – and immerses herself in the story.
Sitting down with a good book seems mundane, but for a shut-in such as Kmiecik, the pleasure would not exist without Maquoketa Public Library’s free Books on Wheels program.
Through the program, volunteers deliver books to Maquoketa residents who can’t leave their home or visit the library on a regular basis, according to coordinator Evie Redling.


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Saturday, December 20

Frantzen’s paintings join favorites at Figge Museum

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
“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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By KELLY GERLACH
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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!

BY KELLY GERLACH
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DAVID NAMANNY
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

By KELLY GERLACH
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By KELLY GERLACH
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
By NANCY MAYFIELD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By KELLY GERLACH
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By KELLY GERLACH
 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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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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By RICK SHEEHAN
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By KELLY GERLACH
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

By KELLY GERLACH
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

END OF AN ERA

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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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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