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Wednesday, April 23

County again taking bids on vacant tract

Jackson County supervisors again are trying to sell a parcel of land in Maquoketa.
The vacant 2.87-acre property is located at the southwest corner of German Street and Creslane.
The tract adjoins the O’Reilly Auto Parts property to the north.
Supervisors said the land has been appraised at $56,300 and is zoned for business use. They said they want to sell the land to put it back on the property tax rolls.
No comments were received when the supervisors held a public hearing on their plan to sell the property at the board’s April 15 meeting.
The supervisors will accept sealed bids for the parcel through 4:30 p.m. May 2.
The tract at one time was the proposed site of an assisted-living facility, which never was developed. The county received the property several years ago when it was seized for nonpayment of property taxes.
The supervisors attempted to sell the property in February of 2011, but rejected all three bids that were received when the board felt none of the bids was high enough.
The bids ranged from $6,500 to $21,000.


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Panel says no to chickens, bees or pigs in city limits

Maquoketans may continue to keep dogs and cats as pets, but the city will continue to draw the line at chickens, bees and pot bellied pigs.
 City Manager Brian Wagner recently posed the question to the council’s Public Safety Committee as to whether or not the committee was interested in expanding the types of animals that may be kept in the city.
The answer that came was was a resounding no.
Wagner said the city’s current ordinance prohibits “domesticated animals normally thought of as farm or ranch animals.” Those animals would include cows, pigs, horses, chickens, ducks, geese and other fowl, goats or sheep.
The ordinance also prohibits the keeping of animals “normally thought of as wild.”


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Saturday, April 19

Relationship forming between UI, city

Several University of Iowa officials spoke highly of Maquoketa and discussed a budding partnership between the community and the University of Iowa.
The officials spoke at a reception earlier this month at the opening of a new exhibit at the Maquoketa Art Experience.
“As far as we’re concerned, this is the beginning of a larger relationship,” Dr. Sean O’Harrow, director of the University of Iowa Museum of Art, told the approximately 30 people who attended the program on April 8.
The reception commemorated the opening of an exhibit titled “I Am: Prints by Elizabeth Catlett.”
The exhibit is on loan from the University of Iowa and will be on display at the Maquoketa Art Experience through May 30.


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Wednesday, April 16

Officer’s actions justified, prosecutor finds

Maquoketa police Sgt. Brendan Zeimet was to return to work this week after he was cleared in a shootout two weeks ago with a Wyoming man who shortly afterward committed suicide.
Jackson County Attorney Sara Davenport called a press conference Monday morning, April 14, to announce her finding that Zeimet’s actions were justified and to release additional details about the incident.
“It is the conclusion of the Jackson County Attorney’s Office, after reviewing the full investigation, that Sgt. Zeimet’s use of deadly force was justified and reasonable,” Davenport said in a statement released at the news conference.
Maquoketa Police Chief Brad Koranda said Zeimet would return to duty on the day shift on Tuesday, April 15. The officer will resume his regular shift on Wednesday night, April 16.
He has been on administrative leave with pay since he exchanged gunfire with Aaron Edward Scott, 30, of Wyoming during a traffic stop that occurred in the predawn hours of April 1 in the 200 block of West Grove Street in Maquoketa.
Scott’s body was found in his overturned pickup truck a short time later northeast of Lost Nation. An autopsy determined that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.


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Saturday, April 12

Jorgensen earns award for years of serving as volunteer


The ruse worked.
Gloria Jorgensen walked into the annual Jackson County Historical Society Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon April 10 thoroughly prepared to talk about one of her favorite subjects – Medicare.  She even mentioned to someone sitting beside her that she’s brought plenty of information with her for the talk.
She never got the chance.
Instead, Steve Tubbs grabbed the microphone to present the 16th annual Grace Tubbs Memorial Summit Award – to her.
The Maquoketa woman had been duped, at least until she saw her family coming in the opposite door.


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Three street projects set for summer

The Maquoketa City Council this week approved three street projects estimated to cost more than $55,000 to be done this summer.
Frank Ellenz, city public works director, told the council that the projects would be paid from carryover funds from the 2013-14 fiscal year street improvement budget.
The projects include:
n The southbound lane of South Main Street between Summit and Monroe streets, estimated to cost $11,736.
The project will involve milling and filling a four-foot wide passenger wheel rut with asphalt.
n East Maple Street in the area of the former railroad crossing in the Timber City Industrial Park.
The project will include reclamation, reshaping and repaving about 500 feet of the street with asphalt, fixing the concrete curbs and gutters and replacing the drive-over curb and gutter through Maquoketa Municipal Electric Utility’s entrance and the former railroad right-of-way.
The project would begin approximately 650 feet east of the intersection of East Maple and South Clark streets and extend eastward.


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Wednesday, April 9

MCHS seniors display artwork at Ohnward

Nineteen Maquoketa Community High School seniors currently display their art for a public exhibit.
Now through the beginning of May, the public can view the MCHS Senior Art Showcase at the Ohnward Fine Art Center in Maquoketa. The center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and during any event at the center.


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DAC to take over as CCI faces financial crisis

Community Care Inc. of DeWitt appears to be facing severe financial problems, leaving hundreds of staff and employees in doubt about the future of one of Clinton County’s largest providers of mental health and disability services.
DAC Inc., a similar Maquoketa-based service provider, is stepping in to fill the gap from the impending closure of Community Care, but the situation is a race against time since officials can’t say how long it will be before Community Care’s operational money runs out.
The development comes a little more than five months after the U.S. Attorney General’s Office and Iowa Medicaid ordered Community Care’s board of directors to fire seven top-level administrators and hire a third-party management firm to oversee operations due to an ongoing Medicaid fraud investigation.
No criminal charges have been filed and the investigation is pending.
At a meeting Tuesday night, April 1, at Community Care’s headquarters at 108 E. Industrial St. in DeWitt attended by more than 100 CCI staff members and clients or their guardians, DAC executive officer Todd Seifert confirmed the talk about CCI’s financial troubles that had circulated in the community for the past week.
Seated in a large conference room, concerned residents listened and questioned Seifert on what is happening with CCI.


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Saturday, April 5

Suspect in officer shooting committed suicide, autopsy shows

Bill Kietzman, special agent in charge with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, listens to a reporter’s question during a press conference called Tuesday morning, April 1, at Maquoketa City Hall to provide information on the shooting incident.
Bill Kietzman, special agent in charge with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, listens to a reporter’s question during a press conference called Tuesday morning, April 1, at Maquoketa City Hall to provide information on the shooting incident.

A Wyoming man who exchanged gunfire with a Maquoketa police officer on a Maquoketa street earlier this week died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
The body of Aaron Edward Scott, 30, was found in his truck northeast of Lost Nation shortly after he allegedly shot Maquoketa police Sgt. Brendan Zeimet in the predawn hours of Tuesday, April 1, on West Grove Street.
Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agents on Thursday, April 3, released preliminary results of an autopsy that was performed Wednesday by Dr. Dennis Klein at the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner in Ankeny.
The Iowa Department of Public Safety said in a statement that “the manner of death will be certified as a suicide.”


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Map shows route Scott followed after he drove south out of Maquoketa. He turned west onto Iowa 136 and continued through Elwood to 150th Avenue, where he turned north. His truck was found off 150th Avenue about a quarter-mile north of 136.
Map shows route Scott followed after he drove south out of Maquoketa. He turned west onto Iowa 136 and continued through Elwood to 150th Avenue, where he turned north. His truck was found off 150th Avenue about a quarter-mile north of 136.

Wednesday, April 2

Police officer shot; suspect sought

A Maquoketa police officer was shot while making a traffic stop in the predawn hours of Tuesday, April 1, police said.
The shooting was reported by an officer at 2:51 a.m. Tuesday and occurred in the 200 block of West Grove Street.
According to a press release issued by police, the suspect fled the scene and the officer received non-life-threatening injuries. The officer was taken to the Jackson County Regional Health Center in Maquoketa.

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Group seeks funds for veterans memorial

A group of Jackson County veterans who are hoping to establish a veterans memorial recently presented a sketch of their plans to the Maquoketa City Council.
The volunteers are seeking donations to help develop the memorial, which would be located near Mount Hope and Sacred Heart cemeteries on the city’s south side.
John Williams and Bill Goettler, members of the Andrew AMVETS chapter, presented the plans to the council on March 17.
The proposed site for the memorial is a lot at 112 E. Jefferson St. The location adjoins the southwest corner of Mount Hope Cemetery and is a half-block wet of the entrance to Sacred Heart Cemetery.
Williams told the council that a house that had been on the property has been torn down.
Williams and Goettler presented a sketch of the proposed memorial, which would honor all Jackson County residents who have served in military duty.
The sketch was drawn by Steve Lucke of rural Maquoketa.


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Saturday, March 29

Speech competition wraps up

Large group and individual speech students at Maquoketa Community High School wrapped up a highly competitive season. 
Those who are part of C.A.G.E. (Cardinal Acting Guild Entourage) now turn their sights on the April 5 “Maquoketa’s Got Talent,” which is still seeking junior high and high school performers from area school districts.
Large group speech started the year, with MCHS hosting the WaMaC Large Group Festival Jan. 20.
Maquoketa’s large group speech participants were Alia Avery, Brooke Bartels, Preona Capelle, Will Davison, Taylor Fishwild, Kari Flatness, John Goldyn, Olivia Kutsch, Neil Lichter, Blais Richards, Jack Rolling, Austin Sanders, Marissa Till, and Emily Weimerskirch.
Maquoketa entered seven groups in the district speech contest, which was held at Northeast Community High School in Goose Lake Jan. 28.  Five of the groups advanced to the State Speech Contest at Linn-Mar High School Feb. 8. Four of those groups received all Division I ratings from the judges.


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Six candidates file for two supervisor seats

Jackson County’s Republicans and Democrats will have choices to make when they cast their ballots in Iowa’s primary election in June.
A flurry of activity on the final day of the candidate filing period at the county level resulted in three contested primary races for Courthouse offices.
The ballot for the June 3 primary election was set with the 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, filing deadline for candidates seeking their party’s nomination to county offices. Candidates for state and federal offices had to file by March 14.
Maquoketa businessman Troy Thede filed nomination papers on Wednesday to challenge incumbent Jack Willey for the Republican nomination for the District 2 county supervisor seat. Both candidates reside in Maquoketa.
Willey, a Maquoketa beautician, is seeking re-election to a seventh term. This year will mark the first time he has faced an opponent in the primary.
Thede is a Maquoketa City Council member. He was elected in November of 2011 to a term that ends on Dec. 31, 2015.
County Auditor M. Joell Deppe, who also is the county’s elections commissioner, said on Thursday, March 27, she was uncertain whether or not Thede, if elected to the supervisors position in November, could serve in the supervisors position and hold the council seat simultaneously.


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Wednesday, March 26

Dancing with the Cards raises over $3,000

The Ohnward Fine Arts Center became the new home for the Dancing with the Cards fundraiser this year and according to event organizer Lori Steines, the feedback has been awesome. Over 500 people attended the event and that, Steines said, was a record. The audience dug deep into their pockets and donated over $3,000 dollars to help the Maquoketa Athletic Boosters Fund.
Funds raised at the event will give the booster club the needed cash to supply Maquoketa athletes the equipment they need to succeed. Athletic Boosters President Tracy Waller spoke to the crowd before the dancing began. She told the audience that in the past the booster club has purchased soccer uniforms, baseball and softball equipment and other necessities for the Maquoketa athletics program.
Maquoketa Chamber of Commerce President Tom Devine emceed the event. He introduced the judges Jennifer Burns, Kerry Schepers, Joshua Reicks and Brian Aunan. He also introduced the trophy girl Emerson Pauls, the daughter of Brent and Sheila Pauls.


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Council orders streetscape plan for Main

The Maquoketa City Council this week took another step toward a possible $3.5 million reconstruction of the central business district.
The council, at a special meeting Monday night, March 24, approved a contract for preliminary engineering for the underground utilities, street and sidewalks of the three-block area of Main Street between Quarry and Maple streets.
On a 5-2 vote, the council hired IIW Engineers & Surveyors PC of Dubuque to design the streetscape at an estimated cost of $133,000.
On an identical vote, the council also directed that the streetscape plans be incorporated into plans for a separate but related project, the reconstruction of two blocks of Quarry Street.
“It’s a project that we’ve been working on; it’s a project that the community has been working on for many, many years,” said Councilman Troy Thede.
“I think it’s time to get going on this project. I think the community is ready. I think we as a city and small communities are judged by their main streets and ours is deteriorating and we need to do something regardless.”


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Saturday, March 22

Dairy producers come together for annual banquet March 29

It’s time to shake the winter blahs, so bring family, friends, and neighbors to Maquoketa next weekend for a scrumptious meal and live entertainment.
The family-friendly event is not only for dairy producers.
Plan to attend the 26th annual Jackson/Clinton Dairy Banquet and DHIA Awards banquet, scheduled for Saturday, March 29 at Pearson Memorial Center on the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Maquoketa.  The public is invited to the roast beef and pork dinner, crowning of dairy royalty, and musical entertainment.
The family-friendly festivity includes the roast beef and pork dinner served from 6 to 8 p.m.  All ticketholders receive free dairy products as door prizes.
As part of the 26th anniversary of the Jackson/Clinton Dairy Banquet, several young people from both counties will be crowned 2014-2015 dairy royalty.
Outgoing Dairy Princess Samantha Costello and Alternate Marissa Till will crown two young women as their replacements for the upcoming year.


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Future use of land to showcase historical practices of farming

A small acreage of cropland on Maquoketa’s east side may showcase demonstrations of farming practices of the past.
The Maquoketa City Council this week agreed to rent the four-acre parcel located along East Maple Street to Skott Gent of rural Monmouth.
The city-owned property lies along the south side of Maple Street east of the Jackson County Historical Society’s Clinton Engines Museum.
Although Gent submitted the lowest of four bids offered for the parcel, council members said his proposal, if realized, could draw visitors to the city. They said the use could tie in with the museum and its recently built farm implement storage building.
The council unanimously awarded Gent a two-year lease of the ground for his bid of $67.50 per acre per year.
The council also received bids of $200 per acre per year from Martin Marshall of rural Maquoketa and $150 per acre annually from Marty Hudrlik of rural Maquoketa.
City Manager Brian Wagner pointed out that the bidding process was set up to allow bidders to add value to their bids, such as offering to mow a grassy area adjacent to the crop land that extends to the south curb of Maple Street.
For that reason, he said, the council was not necessarily required to award the lease to the highest bidder.
Hudrlik offered to do the mowing. Marshall did not make any other offer.


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Wednesday, March 19

Corder returns to town for resentencing

A Maquoketa man who murdered his stepmother and burned down their home 27 years ago talked about the killing and his life since then when he was returned to Maquoketa last week.
James Corder, who is serving a life term for the slaying and fire, was scheduled to appear in Jackson County District Court for resentencing Friday morning, March 14.
Judge Joel Barrow, however, canceled the resentencing and ordered that it be rescheduled, saying that he needed more time to review the case.
The resentencing is being done in compliance with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that said sentencing a juvenile to mandatory life without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional. Corder was 16 at the time of the murder.
Sheriff’s deputies granted reporters a brief interview with Corder, now 43, before he was transported back to the Newton Corrections Facility in Newton, where he is serving his sentence.


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‘Dancing With the Cards” set for Saturday

Dancing shoes – check.
Props and lights – check.
Routine – check.
Confidence to adequately perform the routine – questionable.
Fear – check.
Seven couples are as ready as they’ll ever be for this weekend’s dancing showdown, held for the first time this year on the Ohnward Fine Arts Center stage.
Dancing with the Cards returns to the mirrored ball spotlight at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at Ohnward.   Doors open at 5:30. The public is invited to attend.
They’re dancing for trophies.  They’re dancing to raise money for the Maquoketa Athletic Booster Club. Most importantly, these couples dance for sole possession of coveted bragging rights as Dancing With the Cards champions.


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Saturday, March 15

Board reduces pay hikes for assessor, staff

The Jackson County Conference Board this week approved a $511,242 budget for the county Assessor’s Office next year that calls for a 12-cent increase in the property tax rate.
The budget was reduced slightly when the board reduced the salary increases that were proposed last month for Assessor Deb Lane and the four deputies in her office.
 A divided board on Tuesday, March 11, approved pay increases of 1 1/2 percent for Lane and 3 percent for the deputies, who are Troy Patzner, chief deputy; Dixie Karabin, deputy and field appraiser; Sue Hare, deputy and office manager, and Janelle Bartels, deputy and office clerk.


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Past winter is coldest recorded in 35 years

The winter of 2013-14 was cold. That’s putting it mildly – much more mildly than the extreme cold that settled over Iowa.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey highlighted a summary of the 2013-14 winter season compiled by Harry Hillaker, the state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
“It has certainly seemed like a long, cold winter and the numbers from our State Climatologist’s office bear that out. Everyone is certainly looking forward to spring,” Northey said.
The meteorological season of winter runs from Dec. 1 through Feb. 28.


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Wednesday, March 12

Moore seeks re-election to Statehouse

State Rep. Brian Moore announced this week he will seek re-election to a third term to the Iowa House of Representatives.
Moore, a Bellevue Republican, represents House District 58. The district is comprised of all of Jackson County and a portion of southern Dubuque County and eastern and southern Jones County.
A lifelong Jackson County resident, Moore, 52, farms and owns and operates Elwood Trucking, a livestock transportation business.
In a news release issued Wednesday, March 5, announcing his candidacy, Moore said he has worked to cut through gridlock and partisanship to get things done on behalf of Iowans.
“Rep. Moore has reached across the aisle, putting aside differences and delivering results,” House Speaker Kraig Paulsen said in the release.
“Rep. Moore has ensured that essential government programs are funded in an efficient and effective way and that Iowans will see meaningful property tax relief.”


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Andrew woman dies in mobile home fire Friday

An Andrew woman died last week when her mobile home was destroyed by fire.
Theresa Marie Blake-Johnson, 34, was found dead in a rear bedroom of the residence, said Jackson County sheriff’s deputies. No one else was in the mobile home at the time of the fire.
Andrew volunteer firefighters were summoned at 11:50 p.m. Friday, March 7, to the fire at 13 N. Franklin St. The first fire units to arrive found the mobile home fully engulfed in flames.


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Saturday, March 8

Huckstadt makes bid for House seat

What’s he going to do after the school year ends?
That’s the question most often posed to Dr. Kim Huckstadt, superintendent of the Maquoketa Community School District, since he announced his resignation last November.
The answer?
Seek the Democratic nomination for the Iowa House of Representatives District 58 seat. 
He planned to officially announce his first run for public office during the Jackson County Democratic Convention Saturday, March 8, at 10 a.m. at the Maquoketa Public Library.
No other candidates have officially announced a bid for the Democratic primary. Republican incumbent Brian Moore of Bellevue this week announced that he is seeking re-election to a third term in the House.
The Iowa primaries are scheduled for June 3.
Huckstadt, 58, said his family and many colleagues encouraged his bid for public office.  News of his resignation as superintendent “amped up” speculation as to what he’d do next.
“In the end, you have to search your own soul for the answer,” Huckstadt said.
He said serving as an elected official for District 58 would allow him to “continue to serve the communities and the region where I have lived and worked for over three decades. 


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Supervisors OK budget, grant 3% pay hikes

The Jackson County Board of Supervisors this week approved a budget for the coming year that includes no changes in property tax rates and a 3 percent salary increase for county elected officials.
No comments were received from the public during a public hearing that preceded the board’s 3-0 vote on Tuesday, March 4.
The 2014-15 budget, which will take effect July 1, calls for $13.57 million in revenue and $13.90 million in spending.
The budget calls for the property tax rate to remain unchanged next year from the current rate of $5.31 per $1,000 taxable valuation for urban areas and $8.30 for rural properties.
Supervisors also set the salaries for the county’s eight elected officials, including themselves. The supervisors reduced by 1 percent the recommendation of 4 percent raises across the board made by the county Compensation Board in January.
The 3 percent pay increases also will take effect July 1. They are:
--Supervisors Steve Flynn, Larry “Buck” Koos and Jack Willey, $33,049, an increase of $958 from their current salary of $32,086.


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Wednesday, March 5

FBI seeks tips in area bank heists

Two area banks are offering $25,000 rewards for information that will solve three robberies of their branch offices in the past year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced.
FBI officials from Cedar Rapids held a news conference Monday, March 3, at the Jackson County Courthouse in Maquoketa to announce the reward offers and to ask for the public’s help in locating those responsible.
Mike Kitsmiller, supervisory special agent from the FBI’s Cedar Rapids office, said Ohnward Bank & Trust is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the robbery at its Baldwin branch on Jan. 31 of this year.
In addition, Citizens State Bank of Wyoming is offering a single $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for either of two robberies that occurred at its Oxford Junction branch, on Feb. 27, 2013 and on July 30, 2013.
No arrests have been made in any of the robberies.


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Board hires Hoover as new superintendent

Discussion required a bit more time than anticipated but the decision was unanimous.  The Maquoketa Community School Board selected Christopher Hoover as the new district superintendent.
After a week of intense interviewing, the board met in closed session Friday, Feb. 28, to select one of two men for the position.  The second finalist was Gary DeLacy of Danville, formerly of Camanche.
The district received about 20 total applications.
Mike Hayward, board president, said that after two hours of deliberation, the board offered Hoover a two-year contract at $132,000 per year.
Hoover will replace Huckstadt, who announced last November that he is leaving at the end of the 2013-14 school year.
“Chris seemed to show more in apparent ability as a collaborator, and we want a strong link between all our attendance centers, not that Mr. DeLacy couldn’t do that,” Hayward said.


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Saturday, March 1

Two finalists named for superintendent

Two superintendents from school districts in northeast and southeast Iowa are finalists to become Maquoketa Community School District superintendent.
After a full day interviewing five candidates Monday, Feb. 24, Maquoketa School Board members that evening narrowed the field to two finalists.
Danville Superintendent Gary DeLacy and Turkey Valley and South Winneshiek Superintendent Chris Hoover were selected from a pool of about 20 total applicants, according to Michael Hayward, president of the Maquoketa School Board.
“We had the opportunity to interview five candidates Monday (Feb. 24).  All five candidates would have been excellent choices,” Hayward said.
“The two men we have I think rose to the top,” Hayward continued. “They have a proven track record, they’re well versed in the assets of the district, they’ve showed the abilities to look for the things we’re looking for as a district.


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Board split on budget for assessor’s office

A split Jackson County Conference Board this week proposed a budget for the county assessor’s office calling for a 13-cent increase in the property tax rate.
The conference board reviewed the budget and activities of her office during the past year with county Assessor Deb Lane.
On a 2-1 vote, the board tentatively approved a budget of $517,249 for the 2014-15 fiscal year, a slight decrease from the current budget of $524,686.
The proposed property tax rate for the office is 64.9 cents per $1,000 taxable valuation an increase over the current rate of 52 cents.
The board scheduled a public hearing and final action on the proposed budget for 6 p.m. March 11 at the Hurstville Interpretive Center.
The new budget will take effect July 1.
The proposed budget includes a 4 1/2 percent across-the-board increase for Lane and the other four employees in the office.
Lane noted that the county Compensation Board earlier this year had proposed pay increases of 4 percent for the county’s eight elected officials.
She said she added one-half percent to the Compensation Board’s recommendation because last year, the assessor’s office staff received increases of 2 percent while the elected official received increases of 2 1/2 percent for the current year.


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Wednesday, February 26

City seeking offers for community center

Deciding not to invest further to return the Maquoketa Community Center up to standard for public use, the City Council is putting the longtime civic facility up for sale.
On a 6-1 vote, the council on Feb. 17 directed the staff to seek proposals to purchase the property at 506 S. Eliza St.
Rather than list the property at a set asking price as a conventional sale, the council instead is seeking proposals from prospective buyers who would be asked to list a proposed purchase price and how they would use the site.
The city’s draft “request for proposal” lists no minimum price. Proposals would be due at City Hall by 11 a.m. May 30, according to the draft.
In seeking purchase proposals, the council signaled it no longer will continue making extensive repairs and updates needed to bring the building into condition for public use and to meet handicapped-accessibility standards.


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‘Dancing With the Cards’ dancers announced

Yes, it’s back and it’s larger than ever with eight couples performing in a new venue.
Dancing With the Cards returns to the Maquoketa spotlight this year after a one-year hiatus.  Couples – some of them, at least – already began practicing their routines in an effort to win audience and judges’ votes and a coveted trophy.
They have less than one month to practice.
The Maquoketa Athletic Booster Club fundraiser will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 22 at the Ohnward Fine Arts Center in Maquoketa.  That’s a few weeks later than usual to accommodate hectic schedules and avoid the rush of the sports season.
Eight Maquoketa Community High School students – five females and three males – paired up with eight area businesspeople for this fourth annual event. (A similar event was held as a fundraiser for the outdoor pool project in 2008.)
This year’s dance card includes two father/daughter duos, a couple of contractors, a dentist, and more. Volunteering to exhibit their dance moves on the Ohnward stage this year are:
• Kary Becker and Ashley Becker,
• Tonya Flenker and Cale Muhlhausen,
• Rachelle Kober and Colin Meier,
• Jarod Manning and Kadee Dull,
• Diana Miller and Derek Kruser,
• Jason Tracy and Paytone Tracy,
• Scott Wirth and Tess Nissen, and
• Brad Young and Taylor Goodenow.


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Saturday, February 22

Fire departments respond to fire call in Bellevue

Bellevue volunteer firefighters responded to a fire call at the Bellevue Fire Station Thursday morning at approximately 6:50 a.m.
When responders arrived, a thick cloud of smoke was billowing out of the station.
Bellevue Police Chief Lynn Schwager, whose office is next door at City Hall, first spotted smoke coming from the rafters.
While some of the volunteers fought the flames, which appeared to originate from the northwest end of the building, others rushed to remove trucks, racks of protective clothing and other equipment.
A handful of Bellevue residents reported seeing smoke from several blocks away, including former Mayor Virgil Murry and Mike Hurley, who took a photo from his upstairs window just...


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Resident complains of neighbor’s trash

A Maquoketa man complained this week about a lack of city enforcement action to correct what he said is an excess of trash at a neighboring apartment building.
After hearing the complaints, city officials said later this week that they have reached an agreement to solve the problem.
Terry Creegan told the Maquoketa City Council Monday night, Feb. 17, that he has been asking city officials for three years to take action, but the problem persists.
Creegan, who resides at 211 E. Platt St., said a five-unit apartment building next door to the east “has ongoing accumulations of trash.”
He complained that the three containers that serve the complex are never completely emptied and that trash blows into his yard.
Creegan cited city ordinances and state laws that require the landlord to provide adequate containers with lids that can be secured and to have the garbage disposed of regularly by a licensed hauler.
He said at another neighboring property two television sets, bags of garbage and a dining room table have sat outdoors next to the house since Christmas.


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Wednesday, February 19

Recount of Easton Valley vote ordrered


The results of one of the questions on the special election ballot that Easton Valley School District patrons voted on earlier this month will be recounted. At a special meeting on Monday, Feb. 17, the Jackson County Board of Supervisors unanimously directed county Auditor M. Joell Deppe to set up the recount in response to a petition signed by a dozen Sabula residents. The petition seeks a recount of Public Measure A of the two-question ballot that Easton Valley voters approved at the Feb. 4 special election. The question asked district voters whether or not to authorize a physical plant and equipment levy property tax for up to $1.34 per $1,000 taxable valuation for 10 years starting July 1 of this year. Official results, given when the Board of Supervisors canvassed the election on Feb. 11, showed the measure passed by a count of 595 votes in favor of the measure and 496 votes opposed. The 99-vote margin was 54.5 percent in favor and 45.5 percent opposed. Curt Marzofka of Sabula, who will represent the petitioners on the recount board, said in an interview Monday that several Sabula voters were concerned that during the last hour of voting, some voters were asked to drop their ballots into a separate box rather than the electronic machine that scanned the ballots and deposited them in the machine.


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Satruday, February 15

Willey to seek seventh term

Longtime Jackson County Supervisor Jack Willey announced this week he will seek re-election to a  seventh term.
Willey said at the close of this week’s supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11, that he decided to seek another term in large part because he wants see through the change in the delivery of mental health services throughout the state, a process in which he has been closely involved.
Willey, a Republican, has represented supervisors District 2 since January of 1991. He is a lifelong Maquoketa resident.
In an interview on Wednesday, Feb. 12, Willey said his main reason for seeking another term is because of the change taking place in the delivery of mental health services, from county-level services to a regional plan.


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Friends of agriculture recognized for service

That described Mary Lou Johnson as she and husband, Larry, walked onto the Pearson Memorial Center stage to accept their award as 2014 Friends of Agriculture Farmer of the Year.  (Larry admitted he had an inkling about the award, but Mary Lou was left out of the loop.)
Mary Hayward’s face turned beet red when Amber Matthiesen called her name as the 2014 Friends of Agriculture Public Service Award recipient.
Mitchell-Maskrey/Bobby Mitchell received the Friends of Agriculture award in the agri-industry.
All were honored for their commitment to the agriculture industry.
The Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce and Maquoketa Rotary Club presented their annual Friends of Agriculture awards Thursday, Feb. 6 at the KMAQ Farm and Home Show.  The event was held in Pearson Memorial Center on the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Maquoketa.


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Wednesday, February 12

Gaffigan begins duties at MMEU

The new general manager of Maquoketa Municipal Electric Utility, Herbert “Tom” Gaffigan, was welcomed by board members and his interim predecessor when he began duties Monday, Feb. 10. From left are utility board Chairman Dawn Paul, board member Jan Kahler, Gaffigan and Mike Reynolds of Boscobel, Wis., who served part time as interim manager following the departure of manager Mike Nickeson in early October. Gaffigan came out of retirement to accept the utility position. He retired in 2012 after serving 11 years as chief executive officer of Harlan Municipal Utilities in Harlan. The utility board will act to officially approve Gaffigan’s hiring and contract at its next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 19.


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Saturday, February 8

Flynn to step down after current term

Jackson County Supervisor Steve Flynn announced this week that after eight years in office, he will step down when his current term expires in December.
Flynn, of rural Maquoketa, made the announcement Tuesday morning, Feb. 4, at the completion of the Board of Supervisors’ weekly meeting.
He said he decided not to seek re-election to a third term to the District 3 seat this fall because he and his wife, June, have purchased a home in the Phoenix, Ariz., area and plan to reside there four months of the year.
Flynn said it would be difficult to continue to hold the office when he would be absent for that length of time.


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Saturday, February 1

Arrests may solve other break-ins

The arrest of three Cedar Rapids area residents may help authorities solve as many as 20 burglaries in several eastern Iowa counties, Jackson County sheriff’s deputies said.
Clayton James Santee, 26, and Joshua Allen McHale, 27, who listed the same address in Cedar Rapids, and Maria Martine Noethe, 19, of Hiawatha were arrested at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, as they were driving away from The Feed & Grain Store at 133 S. Main St. in LaMotte, which they allegedly had burglarized.
Santee and McHale are charged with burglary in the third degree. Noethe is charged with conspiracy and driving while her license is suspended.
None of the three has been charged with any other break-ins, deputies said.


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Chamber sells building, plans spring move

The Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce has sold the building it has owned and occupied the past 16 1/2 years and will move into the space that also houses the Maquoketa Art Experience.
 Tom Devine, the chamber’s executive director, announced the transaction Thursday, Jan. 30.
Healing Arts Therapeutic Massage, owned by Dena Donatsch of Maquoketa, has purchased the chamber building at 117 S. Main St. for $30,000, Devine said. Healing Arts currently is located at 124 W. Platt St.
The chamber will make the move across Main Street to the Maquoketa Art Experience building at 124 S. Main St. in late March or early April, Devine said.
Devine cited repairs and maintenance that are needed for the building as the reason for the sale.
“The building has needed some updating for years and we have no funds to do so,” he said. He said bricks are falling off the front of the building.
He said the chamber will lease space in the south portion of the Maquoketa Art Experience facility from Bob Osterhaus, who owns the property. Devine declined to divulge terms of the lease.


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Wednesday, January 29

Council impressed with streetscape design

Drawings courtesy of Confluence
Drawings courtesy of Confluence


Features that include “bump-outs,” trees, benches, new streetlights and accent pavers highlight a design for the downtown Maquoketa intersection of North Main and Quarry streets. The Maquoketa City Council last week expressed overall agreement with the proposal for the redesigned intersection. The council viewed the plan in a series of drawings presented by Brian Clark of Confluence, senior principal with the Des Moines landscape architecture firm and a Maquoketa native, during a 1 1/2-hour work session Thursday evening, Jan. 23. The estimated cost of the project is $391,000.


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Aerial view shows the proposed streetscape for the intersection of North Main and Quarry streets in downtown Maquoketa. The view toward the top of the drawing is looking north.
Aerial view shows the proposed streetscape for the intersection of North Main and Quarry streets in downtown Maquoketa. The view toward the top of the drawing is looking north.

Weather brings another dose of frigid cold

The long winter of 2013-14 dealt another blow to the Upper Midwest, including eastern Iowa, last weekend, bringing gusting winds, snow and temperatures that plunged to double-digit readings below zero.
All Jackson County area schools were
closed on Monday, Jan. 27, and many activities were canceled or postponed. The Maquoketa Community School Board’s meeting scheduled for Monday night was reset for Thursday.
Monday’s cancelation of classes brought to six the number of days in which classes have been called off due to weather so far this school year in the Maquoketa district. Four of the missed days have occurred since Jan. 6.
Each missed day now is extending the school year by a day. Under the Maquoketa school calendar, classes normally would have ended for the summer on May 20. With Monday’s postponement, the school year now will continue through May 29.
High school commencement is still scheduled for May 18.


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Saturday, January 25

Richards purchases tax preparation service

By KELLY GERLACH The city boy from Seattle, Wash. and small town girl from Iowa didn’t dream they’d own an H&R Block franchise in Maquoketa one day. But now they do. David Richards purchased the franchise formerly owned and operated by Rita Schnoor. Schnoor, who worked with H&R Block for 27 years and owned the franchise for 13, will continue working with the company and assisting clients with their accounting needs. David was born and raised in Seattle. His grandfather and father were both military men, prompting him to join the U.S. Air Force after graduating high school. That’s when he met Jolyn Mitchell. Jolyn was born in Cedar Rapids and raised in Sergeant Bluff. They met when she went off to college, married, and raised a family in whatever state or foreign country where David was stationed.


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Dozens apply for superintendent position in MCSD

The application process officially closed this week for qualified individuals seeking the superintendent position in the Maquoketa Community School District.
Some 25 prospective candidates submitted applications for the position, which becomes vacant at the end of the school year with the resignation of Dr. Kim Huckstadt.
The application deadline was initially set for Wednesday, Jan. 22.  That deadline was extended by a day to account for no mail delivery on Martin Luther King Day, according to Gaylord Tryon, president of G. Tryon and Associates, the consulting firm that is assisting in the superintendent search.
The firm now begins the process of screening applicants and making reference calls.


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Wednesday, January 22

Hot beverages warm cold bodies in the winter

The aromas emanating from the Maquoketa Alternative Classroom on any given weekday tempt everyone seeking a hot, steamy beverage, especially on these frigid winter days.
Whether the customer is craving a cappuccino, a frothy latte, a flavored hot chocolate, or a simple cup of black java to go, the Macnificent Café has it all.
Students and staff at the Maquoketa Alternative Classroom (MAC) searched for a new entrepreneurial enterprise on which to set their sights last fall.  Until the retirement of director Deb Carson in 2012, MAC operated Opportunity Ceramics, molding and firing various clay figures and selling them.
“I didn’t know anything about ceramics,” admitted Kathy McCaulley, current MAC director, “but we still wanted to have that entrepreneurial piece for the kids.”
McCaulley researched the idea of opening a small coffeehouse, speaking with other school districts in the state that had opened and continue to successfully operate such a business within the school district.
“They definitely suggested we start small,” McCaulley noted.  “So then we got the school district on board with the project.”


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DAC awarded bid to haul county recyclables

Rural Jackson County residents soon will be served by a new hauler for their recyclables.
The county Board of Supervisors recently awarded a contract to DAC Inc. of Maquoketa to take over the hauling of recyclable materials from the county’s five rural drop-off locations.
The Waste Authority of Jackson County, which manages disposal of the county’s solid waste and rural recyclables, is getting out of the recyclable hauling business, which it had performed since the recycling program was started about a decade ago.
The supervisors last month awarded DAC a contract that will pay the nonprofit organization $150 per trip, or about $39,000 a year, to pick up the recyclables at the rural locations based on approximately 260 trips per year.
That amount represents an increase of about $9,100 per year above the current cost.
DAC processes the recyclables, selling them to purchasers of the recyclable materials.
DAC submitted the lowest of three bids. That bid amounts to a per capita cost of $4.78 for each rural resident, or about 40 cents per capita per month.


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Saturday, January 18

Schueller & Sons firm gets annex job

The Jackson County Board of Supervisors this week awarded a $306,547 contract to a Maquoketa building contractor to complete the renovation of the Penrose Annex.
The supervisors on Tuesday morning, Jan. 14, unanimously awarded the contract to Schueller & Sons Reconstruction.
The Schueller firm had submitted the lower of two offers when supervisors opened sealed bids on Jan. 7.
The contract involves remodeling the former ranch-style brick home at 311 W. Platt St. into offices to house the county’s mental health and case management department. Those offices currently are located in the Courthouse.


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club hOpe discusses venturing into South America

Explore a new country and help the people there or return to an old favorite?
That was the question put to the Maquoketa Community School Board and club hOpe members during the board’s regular meeting Monday, Jan. 13.
club hOpe adviser Mindy Orris addressed the board, discussing the possibility of club members returning to Kenya in 2016, spreading their service work to Ecuador in the Andes Mountains or Amazon in 2015, or both.
The decision of where to go is best left to the travelers, board members decided.
Orris, who made two club hOpe trips to Kenya, said she daily receives e-mails and calls from parents wanting to know if club hOpe will be taking another service trip, where it will be and when.
“I have so many people who want to make (the Kenya trip) a parent-child experience,” Orris explained.
The adviser said she has many students who want to go to Kenya “but the price is really out of their ballpark.”  Orris explained that traveling to Kenya costs each person between $3,000 and $3,500 in travel expenses alone. 


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Wednesday, January 15

DAR Good Citizens are recognized

Wednesday, January 8

Baldwin establishment catches on fire Thursday

Smoke billowed out into the alley behind the former Quarterdeck in Baldwin when Baldwin and Maquoketa firefighters arrived on the scene Thursday, Jan. 9.  The smoke was reported and fire departments dispatched to the structure fire at about 2:35 p.m. Thursday. The smoke and brunt of the damage appeared to come from the rear of the building facing north. The structure was still standing when firefighters began leaving the scene around 4 p.m., with the majority of the damage occurring inside the building.  Look for more information in next week’s Maquoketa Sentinel-Press.


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Saturday, January 11

Obey tips to overcome grips of polar vortex


To say it’s cold is a gross understatement. Temperatures in Jackson County reached their coldest lows in quite some time, dipping into the negative teens Sunday night into Monday morning, Jan. 6. Monday’s high temp reached about 12 degrees below zero, with frigid air and gusting winds coming south from the polar vortex making it feel more like 45 degrees below zero. Area meteorologists predicted temperatures for Tuesday, Jan. 7, would be slightly warmer, with temperatures reaching a high of perhaps 5 degrees. Temperatures were expected to rebound to about 30 degrees by week’s end. According to the National Weather Service, the average low temperature in Maquoketa during the months of December, January and February is about 12 degrees. According to the National Climactic Data Center, the coldest temperature (not including wind chill) ever recorded in Iowa was -47 degrees Fahrenheit in Elkader on Feb. 3, 1996. The forecast for Monday and Tuesday predicted highs statewide below freezing and a wind chill warning was in effect both days. With that in mind, schools across the area - including Maquoketa, Bellevue, Andrew, and Easton Valley in Jackson County - canceled classes. With all of the shared classes and programs between the county’s four school districts, a unified decision is to be expected. The four superintendents confer with each other before making a final decision about delaying or canceling school, according to Dr. Kim Huckstadt, Maquoketa Community School District superintendent.


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