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Wednesday, Aug. 20

Weekend fire damages new business

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
A recently opened Maquoketa business was extensively damaged by a late-night fire last weekend.
Maquoketa volunteer firefighters were called at 11:24 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, to Till’s Flooring & Carpentry at 409 E. Platt St.
Assistant Fire Chief Al Muhlhausen said firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and flames coming from the roof and the area around an overhead door facing Platt Street and heavy smoke coming out the rear of the building.
Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames. To fully put out the fire, however, they had to cut out the overhead door. The roof also had several layers of tar and asphalt roofing materials, which were covered by a metal roof.
Firefighters had to remove the metal to get to the fire underneath.

 

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Surveillance cameras may be installed at park

By KELLY GERLACH
An assortment of vandalisms and other suspicious activities have officials researching the installation of surveillance cameras at Little Bear Park.
Pat Bollman, principal of Briggs Elementary School, broached the subject with Maquoketa Community School Board members during their Aug. 11 meeting. 
No surveillance cameras are trained on the outside of Briggs at this time, Bollman said. 
“It’s in the best interests of everyone to keep the playground as it is. The district has in investment in the park,” Bollman said.
The school district and city each committed $175,000 to construct new equipment at the park, relying on community donations and grants for the remainder of the needed funds.  In addition, the community came together, volunteering their time, talent, and resources to turn into the reality the dream of a better play area for the community’s children. 
With intentions to make the park safer as well as outfit it with more modern equipment, the park is now lighted throughout the evening hours, providing greater visibility for police officers on patrol.
But since Little Bear Park officially re-opened to the public in October of 2013, the police department has responded to a number of complaints and city crews have had to repeatedly repair or replace many playground components.
Since the first of the year, Maquoketa police officers responded to a number of calls at the park.  Officers made 21 park checks and responded to six calls of suspicious activity there, according to reports provided by Chief Brad Koranda.
Officers responded to 12 disorderly conduct calls at the park, as well as calls for assistance, dogs, found and lost property, weapons, traffic, snow, animals, noise, and welfare.  They were also called to the park on seven different reports of vandalism in the last seven months.

 

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Saturday, Aug. 16

Celebrate 10 years with the Hurstville Interpretive Center

By RICK SHEEHAN

On Saturday, Aug. 23, the staff at the Hurstville Interpretive Center invites everyone join them in celebrating the 10th anniversary of their facility, which opened its doors Aug. 21 2004. 

The celebration will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. at the center located just north of Maquoketa on Highway 61. 

While there, be sure to take in the traveling museum from the University of Iowa. The mobile museum showcases artifacts from Iowa’s past. On display will be a large mammal exhibit, and early Iowa nature exhibit and an early Iowa settlement exhibit. 

There will be other activities as well, including face painting, lawn games such as croquet (a game that was popular in the village of Hurstville at the turn of the last century), and a nature hike. Volunteers will be available throughout the afternoon to assist visitors with any questions they might have. Refreshments will be served at the center during the celebration.

The Hurstville Interpretive Center came into being after the Federal Department of Transportation made public plans to complete the expansion of Highway 61 to four lanes between Davenport and Dubuque, in 1995. Due to the need for construction crews to fill in wetland to build the new roadbed, the project was required by law to create new wetlands to replace those that would be destroyed. 

 

The DOT then reached out to the local Department of Natural Resources officer, who at that time was Bob Sheets. He directed DOT officials to the current location of the Hurstville Interpretive Center. The site was chosen because of the area’s propensity to flood and be wet most of the year. 

 

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Saturday, Aug. 9

Council approves Quarry streetscape plan

Aerial view looking west shows the streetscape plan approved by the Maquoketa City Council this week for the intersection of North Main and Quarry streets. In the drawing, Quarry Street runs up and down and North Main runs left and right. The corner at the upper left is that of the post office; the corner in lower left is that of Maquoketa State Bank. The corner in lower right is that of Dan’s Barber Shop and that at upper right is the parking lot adjacent to the Sentinel-Press. Features include curb extensions, or bumpouts, accent pavers, elevated limestone planting beds and at-grade plantings.

 

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Wednesday, Aug. 6

Heggen’s art on display

By KELLY GERLACH
Whether creating his own masterpieces or helping students find techniques to showcase their own artistic talents, art in some form has always focused prominently in Don Heggen’s life. 
The public is invited to view Heggen’s watercolors now through the end of September inside the Drew Art Gallery at the Ohnward Fine Arts Center in Maquoketa. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and during all events at the center.
Meet the Long Grove artist and view his works during a special artist’s reception Saturday, Aug. 9, beginning at 5 p.m. at the center.  The reception is being held prior to the evening performance of “Annie Jr.” at 7 p.m.
The fine arts always struck a chord with Heggen, who said he comes from a family filled with artistic talent.  He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in art education and a minor in drawing and painting from Mankato State in 1968. He then earned his master of arts degree in studio arts from Western Illinois University.

 

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Community group gets first look at facilities plans

By KELLY GERLACH
Members of a community group formed to study potential facilities options in Easton Valley want to learn more about additional construction options, considering a different division in grade levels, and available funding before making any recommendation to the public or school board.
The group of community representatives for the Easton Valley Community School District met for the first time July 28. 
The meeting included Superintendent Andrew Crozier, elementary principal and curriculum director Patty Schmidt, Easton Valley teacher Beth McNeil, and Miles Mayor Mike Portz, as well as board-selected community representatives Gary Cassaday, Matt Franzen, Don Bales, James Papke, Roger Kilburg, Jamie Behn, and Shey Bauer.
This community group is tasked with discussing facilities options for the district, presenting those options to the public, and making a final recommendation to the school board.
The group listened as representatives from BLDD Architects and Estes Construction reviewed how Easton Valley reached this point in its facilities master planning process as well as what is expected of the group.

 

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Saturday, Aug. 2

Parks to People tours Jackson County

By RICK SHEEHAN
AND DAVID NAMANNY
Members of a group promoting Parks to People, a new public-private initiative, toured the Grant Wood Scenic Byway on Thursday, July 31, as part of a statewide competition for $2 million in funding to enhance the usefulness and appeal of “green assets.”
The group traveled from Stone City in Jones County to Mines of Spain in Dubuque during a long day of assessing parks and the plans for their use.
Stops on the tour in Jackson County included Maquoketa Caves State Park and Bellevue State Park, where presentations were provide by local leaders.
On hand for the tour were representatives of several state organizations, including the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation, as well as representatives and economic development officials from Jackson, Jones and Dubuque counties.

 

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Utility trustees discuss plans and priorities

By KELLY GERLACH
The world of municipal electric utilities continuously changes, which is why the Maquoketa Municipal Electric Utility Board of Trustees met Wednesday evening to discuss priorities for the future.
The five-member board met July 30 with utility manager Tom Gaffigan and MMEU employees for a strategic planning session. Two hours later, members still left with questions but had more information to consider about future issues regarding the electric utility.
Discussion topics included safety, succession, electric rates, the future of the power plant, and marketing and public image.
New board members Jan Kahler and Todd Seifert asked the most questions as they sought to learn more about utility operations and procedures. 
“What is our priority? We have to set it, then we know what needs to be done and we can do it,” Kahler emphasized throughout the meeting. 
Veteran board members Caroline Cueno Bybee, Dave Knoebel, and Dawn Paul provided background information about many topics while gaining insight from fresh perspectives.

 

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Wednesday, July 30

Sunday draws record crowd to fair

By KELLY GERLACH
Fair attendance decreased but the excitement increased at the 2014 Jackson County Fair.
Overall attendance decreased by 1,211 people from 2013, with 25,348 fairgoers at this year’s five-day, five-night event.  That’s compared to record-high attendance numbers in 2013.
The largest grandstand draw continues to be the Night of Destruction.  There’s just something about vehicles smashing each other that entices large crowds.  About 9,603 paying fairgoers turned out to witness the destruction and mayhem – about 1,392 people more than the year before.
“It’s the first time I’ve had to tell people ‘I don’t want your money. There’s no place for you to stand to watch the show and no place for you to sit and watch the show,’” said tired but cheerful Jackson County Fair Manager Lanny Simpson.
Fair security kept the grandstand aisles clear for those watching the Night of Destruction action. Volunteer Hall was packed with onlookers. Spectators filled the wooden bleachers on the west side of the track, with even more people watching from the tops of vehicles and trailers on the hillside north of the track.

 

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Parks officials seeking pilot program

The Governor’s Green Ribbon Commission and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Iowa Parks Foundation, are in the process of selecting a pilot region for an initiative to help revitalize state parks, state officials announced.
Their goal is to build an integrated parks program across Iowa.
Local representatives from Jackson, Jones and Dubuque counties have been meeting to discuss the opportunity to be a regional pilot in the Parks to People program and have submitted a letter of interest.
State parks were first created and set aside to be “places of quiet beauty” in Iowa’s landscape where people could socialize and revel in nature. The goal of Parks to People is to continue that visionary legacy by making park experiences essential to the everyday lives of Iowans today, officials said.

 

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Wednesday, July 9

Bodenhofer back in custody Saturday

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Escaped jail inmate Brandon Michael Bodenhofer was back in custody last weekend after he was captured following a high-speed chase that ended south of Maquoketa.
Bodenhofer, 32, of 5273 47th St., rural Baldwin faces multiple charges following his arrest Saturday night, July 5, after 19 1/2  days of freedom.
Calling him a “proven flight risk,” Magistrate John Kies ordered him held without bond in the Jackson County Detention Center.
Bodenhofer escaped from custody on the morning of June 16 as he was being escorted across South Niagara Street from a court appearance at the Jackson County Courthouse to the detention center.
Events leading to his capture began at 6:23 p.m. Saturday, when when Arlen Flagel of Maquoketa called the Maquoketa Law Center reporting that his car, a 1995 Oldsmobile Regency, had been stolen from 902 S. Fifth St.
Sheriff’s deputy Russ long saw Bodenhofer driving the car in a reckless manner near South Main and Monroe streets and attempted to stop him.

 

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Three follow their dreams in ‘Honky Tonk Angels’

By KELLY GERLACH
Picture a young woman. Her mother died, her beau drowned himself, and she’s stuck caring for her father in a small town. She craves freedom and a singing career.
There’s a married mother of six who’s up to her elbows in laundry, meals, and housework. She yearns for respite from the every day drudgery, for the chance to show the world – or at least Nashville, Tenn., U.S.A. – her singing talents.
Don’t forget the woman who’s most cherished lifetime achievement was winning a talent competition singing “Delta Dawn” – when she was five years old.  With two divorces and a lousy job in Los Angeles to show for her life, she pines for the time she’ll be noticed for her vocal abilities – not just the way she fills out her clothing.

 

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Wednesday, July 2

Rain saturates area fields, floods roads

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Torrential rains that fell last weekend caused brought rivers to near flood stage, flooded farm fields and other low-lying areas and resulted in several county road closures.
Additional rain fell Monday afternoon, June 30, and severe thunderstorm warnings were prevalent throughout the area.
Tornado warning sirens sounded in Maquoketa and Baldwin at 10:47 p.m. Sunday. Although rainfall was heavy, particularly in southern and western Jackson County there were no immediate reports of high winds or structural damage due to winds.
At least two residents of an apartment building in Wyoming located near Little Bear Creek were evacuated when their basement-level apartment flooded. Both residents were relocated safely.
Jackson County Engineer Clark Schloz said the lightning and thunder-filled storm brought between 3 and 3 1/2 inches of rain in the Maquoketa area Sunday night, while rainfall west of the city, including the Baldwin and Monmouth areas, ranged from 3 to 4 1/2 inches.

 

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Saturday, June 28

Regenwether honored for service

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
The Jackson County Board of Supervisors this week honored a longtime member of the county Veterans Affairs Commission.
Don Regenwether, who has served on the three-member commission for 19 years, is calling it quits when his current term ends on Monday, June 30.
The supervisors recognized his service during a ceremony at the board’s Tuesday, June 24, meeting.
Terry Creegan, director of the county Veterans’ Affairs office, said Regenwether’s long service has provided stability in an office that has seen many changes in recent years.
“Five to six years in this capacity is pretty normal,” Creegan observed. “Nineteen years is significant.”
Larry Bramer, who served as director under Regenwether for 15 years, also noted that the office has changed over the years. He noted that the office was open just one day a week and there were few duties.
“That’s drastically changed,” Bramer said.
Regenwether said he felt “pretty humble getting all this credit. I feel honored and privileged to be with Veterans’ Affairs for 19 years and to serve my comrade veterans. I walk away from the job with a lot of satisfaction. I want to thank the board for putting up with me.”
He called his departure “the changing of the guard.”
Supervisors Chairman Jack Willey said Regenwether “has been a real attribute to the county and to the veterans’ organizations.”

 

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Wednesday, June 25

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds made an overnight stop in Maquoketa last week and toured the HUSCO International plant.
The one hour, 15-minute stopover on Thursday morning, June 19, was arranged by David Heiar, Jackson County Economic Alliance director, who said the governor’s office had contacted him to inquire about visiting a local industry.
Branstad, Reynolds and area officials met privately with HUSCO officials for a half-hour before touring the plant and greeting employees.
HUSCO officials included Austin Ramirez, president and chief executive officer of the company; Gary Strand, vice president for human resources, and Josh Smith, Maquoketa plant manager.
HUSCO International makes hydraulic and electro-hydraulic controls used in automotive and off-road applications. The company is based in Waukesha, Wis.
Joining Branstad and Reynolds were state Sen. Tod Bowman of Maquoketa, state Rep. Brian Moore of rural Bellevue, Jackson County Supervisor Larry “Buck” Koos, Maquoketa Mayor Don Schwenker, Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tom Devine and Heiar.
As he was leaving, Branstad said he was impressed by the plant.
“This is a great company. It’s a family-owned company and they are really growing internationally.
“I think they really want to grow and expand here in Maquoketa and we certainly want to do all that we can to facilitate that,” the governor said.
“I think we’re really fortunate to have this kind of a company. We’ve to the family directly and very much involved in it and I think it’s a great fit for Iowa and for Maquoketa.”
Branstad said he emphasized during the meeting the state’s education initiatives, including the CORE curriculum and emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math education.
“We’re in the process of implementing that and it’s going to phased in,” the governor said. “We were talking to them about that.”
Afterward, Ramirez said he also appreciated the visit.
“He’s just very, very tuned in to the business needs in Iowa and that’s great,” Ramirez said of Branstad.
“It’s growing and it makes it more attractive for HUSCO to expand here and to know that we’ve got people in the political sphere that support what we’re doing and take the time to do things like this and not only talk about the general business needs, but meet the employees and offer encouragement.”
Branstand, who had toured flood damage in northwest Iowa the previous day, stayed overnight Wednesday night, June 18, at the Decker House. He said he appreciated the hospitality of co-owner Mike Quilty, who told him of the hotel’s history and prepared a large breakfast.
Branstad recalled having visited the Decker House in the past and noted improvements that have been made.
Reynolds said she and the governor will return to hold one of their “town hall” forums there.

 

 

Optimists hold Respect for Law dinner

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Maquoketa police Sgt. Brendan Zeimet, two other officers and a dispatcher were honored recently for their actions when an armed man shot Zeimet during a traffic stop.
And a former reserve officer was recognized for his service.
The awards were presented at the annual Respect for Law dinner hosted by the Maquoketa Optimist Club last month at the Eagles Club.
Approximately 80 Optimist members, law enforcement officers, spouses and other guests attended.
Koranda presented Zeimet with a Valor pin for bravery, a Purple Heart pin for being wounded in the line of duty and a commendation letter for his personnel file.
Officers Patrick Fier and Jason Thomson also were presented with Valor pins and commendation letters.
Dispatcher Mike DeMoss also received a commendation letter for his file.
Koranda said Zeimet “showed great courage to survive a gun battle.
“I am very proud of these guys,” Koranda said. “They did a great job. It shows how dedicated our people are.”
Fier, Thomson and DeMoss also were on duty on the night of the incident.
The incident occurred in the predawn hours of April 1 when Zeimet stopped to check on a pickup truck that was stopped in the 200 block of West Grove Street with the driver inside.
When Zeimet got out of his squad car and approached the truck, the driver, Aaron Edward Scott, 30, of Wyoming also got out of the truck and was holding an assault rifle, which he fired at the officer. During an exchange of gunfire both Zeimet and Scott received non life-threatening wounds.

 

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Saturday, June 21

Zwingle cowboy is Rookie of the Year

By DAVID NAMANNY
Tim O’Connell, of Zwingle, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Bareback Bronc Riding Rookie of the Year for 2013, will be one among dozens of professional rodeo stars at this year’s Jackson County Pro Rodeo slated this weekend at the Bellevue Horsemen’s Club.
O’Connell, a native son of Jackson County and a hometown favorite, is only 22, but has a bright future in the rodeo arena. He was ranked 5th in the nation just a couple months ago, but sustained a shoulder injury since, and has been moved down to 7th place in the nation.
“I took a few days off to heal up, but I will definitely be ready for the Bellevue Rodeo – it’s like playing on your home court,” said O’Connell, who was interviewed on the phone last week from Missouri College in Marshall, Mississippi, where he attends college classes and is a member of the college rodeo team. “The Bellevue Horsemen’s Club is only 10 miles from where I grew up.”

 

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Sheriff takes blame for escape; applies new rules

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
As Maquoketa and Jackson County law enforcement officers continued to search this week for escaped suspect Brandon Michael Bodenhofer, Sheriff Russ Kettmann said changes are being implemented immediately in the way prisoners are escorted to and from jail.
Bodenhofer, 32, of 5273 47th St., Baldwin, escaped from deputy Steve Schroeder at about 9:50 a.m. Monday, June 16, as he was being led across South Niagara Street from the Jackson County Courthouse to the Jackson County Detention Center.
He suddenly bolted and ran. Deputies, Maquoketa police officers and Iowa State Patrol troopers chased him in the downtown area, including the 100 block of West Platt Street, but lost him as he ran east on Platt. He was last reported in the 100 to 200 block of North Otto Street.
Bodenhofer was wearing no shackles or handcuffs and had on his own clothing.
Starting immediately, Kettmann said Thursday, June 19, that policy has been changed. Every detention center inmate will wear restraints on his or her wrists or ankles when he or she is escorted to and from the Courthouse for court appearances.
He said the practice will apply to all inmates regardless of the inmate’s record or the seriousness of the charge.
“I don’t care who it is, they’re going to either be cuffed or belly-chained,” Kettmann said.
“We’ve got plenty of handcuffs and shackles and all the equipment here and it’s going to get used,” the sheriff vowed.
Kettmann blamed himself for Bodenhofer’s escape.

 

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Wednesday, June 18

Prisoner escapes on way to detention center

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Jackson County law enforcement officers were searching this week for a rural Baldwin man who escaped from custody after making a court appearance.
Brandon Michael Bodenhofer, 32, of 5273 47th St., Baldwin, took off running as he was being escorted from the Jackson County Courthouse to the detention center Monday morning, June 16.
Jackson County sheriff’s deputies and Maquoketa police searched for Bodenhofer in the downtown area for the remainder of the morning. Officers were seen on the rooftops of buildings in the 100 block of West Platt Street.

 

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Adventure Race rolls into Taste of Maquoketa event

By KELLY GERLACH
This weekend is another busy one in Maquoketa, with the 15th annual Timber City Adventure Race leading directly into the first Taste of Maquoketa in the downtown.
Relay for Life Jackson County ending a bit earlier this year (2 a.m.) Saturday, June 21, opens up ample time for people to prepare for the Timber City Adventure Race, which this year is also one week earlier than usual.
The 2014 race maintains a clear focus on canoeing, biking and running.  Race registration is ongoing.  Participants can register right up until the 7:30 a.m. race time June 21 – that’s when the canoes leave Canton for the first leg of the race.
The canoe route encompasses eight scenic miles of the Maquoketa River before racers dock on dry land at the Royertown Bridge access. Racers continue on a 14-mile bike ride over the rolling hills, sharp inclines and declines, and long flats of rural Jackson County.

 

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City council approves initial streetscape design project

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Maquoketa’s proposed Main Street improvement program took another step forward this week when the City Council approved a preliminary concept for the three-block project.
In a series of votes, the council on Monday night, June 16, made preliminary decisions about the new look that would be given to Main Street between Quarry and Maple streets.
Council members retained proposed curb extensions, or “bump-outs,” at the intersections of Quarry and Pleasant streets, but eliminated bump-outs for midblock crosswalks on two of the blocks.
The council reviewed the plans with engineers for IIW Engineers & Surveyors of Dubuque, which is designing the project.
The IIW firm also designing reconstruction of a two-block portion of Quarry Street, between North Second and North Olive streets.
The primary focus has been on the Main-Quarry street intersection, which will be built first. The council has said it wants to carry the theme of that design through the remainder of the project on Main Street.
On a split 4-3 vote, the council gave preliminary approval to the design of the Quarry-Main intersection.
Council members Troy Thede, Amy Moore, Josh Collister and Eric Pape voted in favor of the design. Councilmen Jerry Bowen, Ed Turney and Cory Simonson opposed it.

 

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Saturday, June 14

Glass dome finds new home in Illinois museum

By RYAN COSTELLO
Of the many forms of glass art, among the most coveted is stained glass. Many elaborate pieces of stained glass artwork can be found around the world in churches, community centers, social clubs and homes.
Virl and Kathy Banowetz of Maquoketa have had a rare piece of stained glass art as a prize among the inventory in their antiques warehouse since the 1970s.
The piece recently was sold and moved to a new home in Evanston, Ill.
The piece is a large dome depicting the Milky Way. It was first installed into the Dubuque Elks Lodge in 1912. The glass dome was created by the John J. Kinsella Co. of Chicago.

 

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Wednesday, June 11

Boys playing with lighter ignite barn fire

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Two youngsters playing with a cigarette lighter ignited a fire last week that destroyed a barn and damaged three other farm buildings north of Maquoketa, authorities said.
LaMotte volunteer firefighters were called at 4:44 p.m. Friday, June 6, to a farm owned by Michael Duhme at 17368 254th St. about 14 miles north of Maquoketa.
LaMotte firefighter Nick Ludwig, who was the on-scene commander, said the barn was fully engulfed in fire and three other nearby buildings were ablaze when the first fire units arrived.
“We could see the smoke from LaMotte (about seven miles away) and we could see flames above the hills at Zwingle,” four miles from the scene, Ludwig said.
He said the 60-foot by 70-foot barn already was damaged beyond saving and firefighters concentrated their efforts on saving the other structures.

 

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Council gets first look at Main streetscape

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
The Maquoketa City Council took its first look last week at a plan for a downtown streetscape project.
John Wandsnider of IIW Engineers & Surveyors of Dubuque presented the plan during an hour-long visual presentation at the council’s June 2 meeting.
Wandsnider, assisted by engineer Andy Goedken and architect Andrew Busch, described a plan to upgrade Main Street between Maple and Quarry streets.
The council took no official action on the project, but told the design team to continue drawing up plans.
Wandsnider said they plan to return to the council’s Monday, June 16, meeting with more detailed plans based on direction given by the council last week.
No cost estimates were given.
 Wandsnider displayed more detailed plans of the intersection of North Main and Quarry streets, where a two-block reconstruction of Quarry between North Second and North Olive streets is planned for next year.

 

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Saturday, June 7

Parties pick candidates in primaries

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Jackson County Democrats and Republicans followed statewide trends in Iowa’s primary election this week as the two parties picked their candidates for the offices that will be at stake this fall.
Jackson Countians backed two Dubuque candidates for Congress who will square off in the Nov. 4 general election.
Unofficial precinct-by-precinct results are given in charts on pages 8 and 9 of this issue.
State Rep. Pat Murphy carried Jackson County Democrats as he defeated four rivals to win the party’s nomination for the First District U.S. House of Representatives seat.
Bruce Braley, the Democratic incumbent, is vacating the House seat to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by longtime Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

 

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Wednesday, June 4

Devine on Republican ballot

The party affiliation of Tom Devine, Republican candidate for District 3 Jackson County supervisor, was listed incorrectly in candidate profiles in the Wednesday, May 28, Sentinel-Press.
Devine and Jeff Holtz were vying for the GOP nomination for the seat.

City offered $26,215 for community center

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
The Maquoketa community Center, once a bustling center for school classes, church services, meetings and social events, may live out its remaining years quietly as a storage facility.
Maquoketa physician Roger Waller submitted the only proposal the City of Maquoketa received for the facility by the Friday, May 30, deadline the city had set for offers to purchase the facility.
Waller offered to purchase the property at 506 S. Eliza St. for $26,215. He said he would convert the facility to become the city’s first indoor climate-controlled self-storage center.
The city’s terms are to sell the property as is. Council members appeared to be interested in the proposal and directed the staff to work out a proposed development agreement with Waller. A public hearing would have to be held before a sale could take place.
The vote to take the next steps toward a sale was 4-0, with council members Amy Moore, Jerry Bowen, Eric Pape and Ed Turney voting in favor. Councilman Troy Thede abstained from voting and Cory Simonson and Josh Collister were absent.

 

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Saturday, May 31

Voters head to polls in Tuesday primary

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Jackson County’s Republicans and Democrats will join those from across Iowa next week to nominate their party’s candidates for this fall’s general election.
Polls for the statewide primary will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 3, at 16 precinct locations in Jackson County (see accompanying facts at a glance).
Deppe noted one change in polling locations. Voters in the largest precinct in number of voters, which is Bellevue Township, including the city of Bellevue, will cast ballots for the first time in the lower level of the Bellevue Community Center, 1700 State St.
The polling location was switched from the city council meeting room at Bellevue City Hall, which has been the polling location for many years.
Jackson County Auditor and Elections Commissioner M. Joell Deppe said the change was made because the community center has easier access for handicapped people and more room for the poll workers and voting booths.
All other polling locations remain the same as in the past.

 

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Wednesday, May 28

Supervisor candidates express their opinions

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Jackson County voters will go to the polls next week to vote in the statewide primary election.
Election Day is Tuesday, June 3.
The races for two Jackson County supervisor seats at stake feature three contested races—two on the Republican ballot and one on the Democratic ballot.
Maquoketa businessman and City Council member Troy Thede is challenging longtime incumbent Jack Willey for the Republican nomination for the District 2 supervisor seat.
The District 3 seat is open with incumbent Democrat Steve Flynn stepping down after having served one term.
On the Democratic ballot, Larry McDevitt of rural Maquoketa and Henry Kramer of Sabula are vying for the nomination.
One the GOP ballot, Tom Devine and Jeff Holtz, both of rural Maquoketa, are seeking their party’s nod.
The Sentinel-Press sent questionnaires to all six candidates, asking them to provide biographical information and asking them to respond to seven questions concerning county issues.
No response was received from Kramer.

 

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Saturday, May 17

Chamber shows off new facilities at open house

With a flourish, Bob Osterhaus cuts the ribbon officially opening the Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce’s new offices in the building it now shares with the Maquoketa Art Experience at 124 S. Main St. The chamber moved into the newly remodeled facilities and held an open house May 6. The chamber sold its previous location, also a downtown storefront at 117 S. Main St., for $30,000 to Dena Donatsch, owner of Healing Arts Therapeutic Massage. The chamber is leasing its new space from Bob Osterhaus.

 

Supervisors reject property bids

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
The Jackson County Board of Supervisors this week rejected both bids it received for a vacant parcel of land just under three acres in Maquoketa, saying the offers weren’t high enough.
The supervisors discussed the issue for about 20 minutes in a work session Tuesday morning, May 13, before voting 3-0 to turn down the bids and retain ownership of the land.
During the discussion supervisors acknowledged that the county likely will be mandated to upgrade its jail facilities in the near future and said the parcel may be considered as a potential site for a new jail when that issue arises.
The 2.87-acre property is located at the southwest corner of German Street and Creslane.
The supervisors had received two bids for the parcel. The higher bid was for $26,899.14, which was submitted by a bidder identified as U.S. Holding. The bid did not include a person’s name or address.
County Auditor M. Joell Deppe said she was unable to get additional information from the party that submitted the bid.
She said she reached a person at the telephone number supplied with the bid. That person said he would call back but never did and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

 

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Wednesday, May 14

Initiative offers job-skills readiness certificate

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Helping job seekers find a job that’s right for them and helping employers find the employee with the skills they are seeking always is a challenge.
The Skilled Iowa Initiative is working to close that gap. The goal of the program, which is part of Iowa Works, is to help employers find qualified workers and to help workers to upgrade their skills.
To reach that end, workers can take three tests to earn the National Career Readiness Certificate, a credential that demonstrates achievement and a certain skill level.
A testing event will be held in Maquoketa from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. May 22 at the Maquoketa Center of Clinton Community College.
Doug Rempfer, business service representative with the Davenport office of Iowa Works, explained the program in a recent interview.
To earn a National Career Readiness Certificate, a worker takes three tests, termed work keys tests, that have been designed by the testing firm ACT. The tests measure an employee’s skill levels in:
--Applied mathematics, applying mathematical reasoning to work-related problems.
--Reading for information, comprehending work-related reading materials that range from bulleting and memos to policy manuals and regulations.
--Locating information, using information from such materials as diagrams, floor plans, graphs and charts.
“Test questions are based on situations in the everyday work world,” Rempfer said.
Those who take the tests receive National Career Readiness Certificates with either bronze, silver, gold or platinum classifications.
Rempfer noted that there is no charge to take the test if the person taking the test is an Iowan or a veteran.
More than 70 Jackson County employers and nearly 800 employers in Clinton, Jackson, Muscatine and Scott counties plan to use the National Career Readiness Certificate as they seek new employees, Rempfer said.
The program “was designed to assist employers that are struggling finding qualified people and assisting job-seekers who can showcase their skills,” Rempfer said. “Trying to bring the two together is always a tough deal.
“There’s a skills gap shortage right now.”
He said nearly half  of the jobs that are listed with Iowa Works require more than a high school diploma but less than a college degree.
“Only about 20 to 30 percent of the people have that, so there’s that gap of what happens to those people that don’t have that and employers that are listing openings,” he said.
He said an applicant may not have the specific skills needed by the employer, but if the worker is willing to train, he or she can show the skills he or she has by completing the tests and earning a National Career Readiness Certificate.
Rempfer said he is hoping that Jackson County can qualify to become a Skilled Iowa County, a designation reached by only six or seven counties in the state. Jones County recently received the designation.
Certain requirements have to be met, including participation in the career readiness program.
“The schools are getting on board,” Rempfer said. Maquoketa Community High School recently tested its vocational welding students. Easton Valley High School is considering testing next fall.
For Jackson County to qualify, “we need to test about 230 p0eople who are employed to meet the current labor force requirement,” Rempfer said.
He said both schools and adult applicants like the fact the test is free. In the past a $14 fee was charged for each of the three tests.
“That’s what the schools like,” he said. “If it’s something they don’t’ have to pay for and the students can get some credentials, it’s neat. Some students may need to get a job right away after graduation. They may not be going on to college and they may not have a lot of work experience. This may help them land something.
“If we can get more employers on board, the more employers that support it, the more applicants see the value in taking it,” Rempfer added. “Employers will still look at other things, but it helps.”

 

 

Rotary Club honors top 20 MCHS seniors

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Twenty Maquoketa Community High School seniors and their parents were honored by the Maquoketa Rotary Club last week for the students’ academic achievements and extracurricular activities.
The graduating seniors in the top academic ranks of their class were recognized at the club’s 59th annual scholarship dinner, held Wednesday, May 7, in the fellowship hall of the First United Methodist Church in Maquoketa.
Scott Warren, Rotary Club president, welcomed the students, parents and fellow Rotary members.
Dr. Kim Huckstadt, school district superintendent who also is a Rotarian and annually is chairman of the event, gave the invocation.
Each student and his or her parents were hosted by a Rotary member who introduced them.
Rotarians John Gilroy and Florian Steffen reviewed each student’s scholastic achievements and extracurricular activities from a questionnaire the students were asked to complete beforehand.

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Cain dies in farming accident

A longtime northern Clinton County farmer died last week in a farming accident.
Donald Cain, 75, of rural Delmar died in the accident Thursday night, May 8.
Clinton County Sheriff’s Lt. Tom Paarman said deputies were called at 10:17 p.m. Thursday to a farm field located in the 2000 block of 170th Street for a report of a man who was unconscious and pinned in a corn planter.
The location was about 10 miles southwest of Maquoketa and about eight miles southeast of Lost Nation.

 

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Saturday, May 10

Quilt block materials available next week

By KELLY GERLACH
Warm thoughts inspire creativity, so it’s also the perfect time for area quilters and crafters to pick up packets of material for the 17th annual Jackson County Fair Quilt Block Contest.
Packets will be available beginning Monday, May 12 for the 17th annual Quilt Block Contest for the 2014 Jackson County Fair. Pick up packets from the switchboard operator at Maquoketa State Bank now through May 30.
The contest committee packaged five matching fabrics with contest instructions. Area crafters are tasked with transforming the fabric into 12 1/2-inch squares.  The completed square must be ready to set into a quilt before it is returned for judging.
A limited number of packets are available on a first come, first served basis.  All people wanting to show off their unique quilting skills for the project are invited to do so. 

 

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County urged to take over ambulance service

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Fearing possible changes in ambulance service to Jackson County, two area emergency management officials asked the county Board of Supervisors this week to consider taking over the service.
Lyn Medinger, Jackson County emergency management coordinator, and Ryan Conley, a paramedic from the Delmar area, discussed concerns about the future of ambulance and emergency medical services in the county with the supervisors for 45 minutes at the board’s Tuesday, May 6, meeting.
Supervisors said they were interested in discussing the issues further and asked Medinger and Conley to get additional information and schedule a work session to discuss their proposal in depth.
Meanwhile, Curt Coleman, executive director of the Jackson County Regional Health Center, said Thursday, May 8, said many of the statements made by Medinger and Conley aren’t true.
Coleman said statements that emergency medical services in Jackson County will be absorbed by Illini Ambulance Service of Silvis, Ill., are false.

 

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Wednesday, May 7

Hospice changes plans, to sell site

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
Citing changes in the health care industry related to medical reimbursement, Hospice of Jackson County has abandoned plans to construct a hospice house in Maquoketa.
The organization has listed for sale the seven-acre property that it purchased from Jackson County years ago as the site for a proposed seven-bed hospice house.
Instead, said Vicki Alden, acting hospice director, the hospice plans to use the proceeds from the sale of the property, which is the former Bicentennial Park on West Grove Street, to purchase an existing building for its offices.
The hospice currently is renting space in the former Medical Associates clinic at 611 W. Quarry St.
Alden said reimbursement rates by Medicare, Medicaid and Title 19 have affected the facility’s finances. She explained that the federal programs reimburse the hospice a fixed per diem amount regardless of where the patient is staying—in a hospice house, a nursing home, at home or elsewhere.
She said the reimbursement is adequate when the patient is being cared for elsewhere, but she noted that the reimbursement wouldn’t cover the additional overhead cost of the hospice operating its own facility.
Brian Aunan, who is president of the hospice’s board of directors, also noted that the federal programs are narrowing the definition of people that the hospice could admit for care.
“They’re now being more stringent. About one-third to one-fourth of the people we used to enroll no longer medically qualify by virtue of new rules or not a specific enough medical diagnosis.

 

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Wednesday, April 30

Hospital to transfer home health to Genesis

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
The Jackson County Regional Health Center in Maquoketa will turn over the operation of its home health services to Genesis Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice on Aug. 1.
The Genesis organization, one of the largest home health organizations in Iowa, is part of Genesis Health System of Davenport, with which the Maquoketa hospital is affiliated.
Genesis VNA and Hospice also will assume operation of Jackson County public health services on Aug. 1.
On a 4-0 vote at its monthly meeting on April 22, the hospital’s Board of Trustees authorized the transition process to begin. Board members Kevin Burns, Gloria Jorgensen, Eilene Busch and Bob Specht voted in favor of the process.
Board members Dwain Trenkamp and Leighton Hepker attended the start of the meeting but left before the vote was taken. Board member Mike Nickeson was absent.
Curt Coleman, executive director of the Jackson County Regional Health Center, explained the transition in a presentation to the board.
He called the transfer “a real positive opportunity for our patients, for the hospital, for the community, for our employees and for all of us.”

 

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Foundation hosts 24-hour, online Great Give Day

Little in life provides such a great level of fulfillment as giving.  The public has the chance to experience that satisfaction by donating to area nonprofits next week.
The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD) is hosting Great Give Day, Northeast Iowa’s first online giving day, on Tuesday, May 6.
The 24-hour online fundraising day is an opportunity to celebrate and support local nonprofits while helping them attract new donors and build online fundraising capabilities for long-term success.
The event is open to nonprofits with endowment funds at the CFGD. Some 53 nonprofits are participating, including these in Jackson County:
n Maquoketa Art Experience Ltd.: The Maquoketa Art Experience strives to bring fine arts, artists, and hands-on art opportunities to the Maquoketa and the entire county through various exhibits and workshops for all ages.
n Friends of Jackson County Conservation: The mission of this Friends group is to support and enhance programs and parks managed by Jackson County Conservation. The group volunteers for various programs and projects and raises funds for exhibits, conservation-related projects, educational materials for programs and more.

 

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Saturday, April 26

Burnett, Thiel sell local dealership

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
A Maquoketa auto dealership that has been owned and operated by the same partners for nearly four decades has changed hands.
Ron Burnett and Bob Thiel have sold Burnett- Thiel Ford Inc. to brothers Doug and Matt Warthan of Dubuque.
The siblings will operate the business under the name Warthan Brothers Maquoketa Ford.
The sale was completed on April 7. Public announcement of the sale was made on Tuesday, April 22, after final details were completed.
Matt Warthan will serve as president and dealer principal of the business. Doug will serve as partner and chairman.

 

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Banowetzes to close store after 44 years

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
A longtime Maquoketa business that has drawn customers from every state and abroad will close its doors later this year.
Virl and Kathy Banowetz announced this week plans to close Banowetz Antique Mall and retire from the business.
They will continue to operate their other Maquoketa business, Squiers Manor Bed and Breakfast.
“We’ve always been a family business and it’s time to move on,” Kathy said.
“While we’re healthy enough, we’re ready to sit back and enjoy life a little bit with family and friends and enjoy each other,” she added in an interview Wednesday, April 23.

 

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Wednesday, April 23

County again taking bids on vacant tract

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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

By DOUGLAS MELVOLD
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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