Former Davenport City Council colleagues describe Bill Edmond as an “honest, straightforward conservative” who took pride in speaking his mind.
The former 2nd Ward alderman died Tuesday at Select Specialty Hospital, Davenport. He was 67 years old.
“Bill served his country in the Army during Vietnam, and served this city as an alderman for a long time,” Alderman Ray Ambrose, 4th Ward, said Wednesday.
“He was very involved in getting Veterans Memorial Park set up,” Ambrose said. “His strong fiscal conservative ideas are one of the reasons why this city is in such great financial position today. It’s been an honor to serve with Bill Edmond. He worked hard for the city of Davenport and we appreciate it.”
Former Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba said that while he and Edmond were political opposites, they also were the best of friends who talked often.
“He was a very honest, straightforward, principled conservative,” Gluba said. “He was instrumental in the building of the off-leash dog park at the foot of Marquette Street at Centennial Park."
There's a stone at the dog park that Edmond had put there in dedication to the K-9 units that served in Vietnam, Gluba added. He would like to see Edmond's name placed on that stone as a memorial.
"He was a sergeant in Vietnam and was out in the rice paddies," said Edmond's wife, Pam. "He just loved dogs and wanted to honor them. They were such wonderful tools for our soldiers."
Gluba said that despite being Edmond’s political opposite, “We hit it off. I really respected the guy and we were close friends. The city is non-partisan so there was no reason to play politics when we were in office, so we didn’t. He worked hard for his constituents and he worked hard for the city of Davenport.
“I’m going to miss him,” Gluba said.
Edmond served as 2nd Ward alderman for six years. He was first elected the City Council in a special election in March 2009 to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Shawn Hamerlinck, who went to the Iowa Senate. Edmond then won the November election.
Edmond ran unopposed in 2011 and 2013, but was defeated in November 2015 by Maria Dickmann.
“He was a very competent alderman,” said Alderman Jason Gordon, at large.
“He did his homework his due diligence on the issues. He was obviously upfront and blunt on some issues and we didn’t always agree on the issues, but he became my friend. We talked about our families and things we liked and wanted to see for the city.
“One of the things I appreciated about Bill, on almost every single issue, I knew where Bill was going to be because he’d tell me and then he’d follow through,” Gordon said. “When Bill told you where he stood, you knew that’s where he stood."
Pam Edmond said her husband was fiscally responsible and he liked to be very careful with what he did with the taxpayers' money.
But he did have his projects on which he spent the allocation of beautification money in his ward, she added.
At the parks in his ward, she said, "he always contributed to the upkeep of their ball fields and use his beautification money for that. He'd make sure the grounds were sprayed and well-cared for."
"Bill was a heck of a guy," said Alderman Bill Boom, 3rd Ward. "Politically we were on opposite ends of the spectrum, but he was clear and it was easy to understand where he was coming from, and where he was coming from was the heart.
"He gave his all for the community and that's all you can ask of a person, and his loss will be felt," Boom said. "I was proud to call him my friend."
"He loved his constituents," Pam Edmond said. "If they called and wanted him to come out and look at a problem, he was there in 20 minutes.
"He was very action-oriented and very down-to-earth. That's why I loved him."
Funeral arrangements for Edmond are pending at Weerts Funeral Home, Davenport.
Lora Adams drove by the "For Lease" sign on 5th Avenue in Moline almost every day for months.
The route was technically out of her way, but she made it a "short cut" on her way home from work.
For Adams, marketing director at the Quad-Cities PBS station WQPT-TV, the empty storefront looked like the perfect space to open a community theater, which had been her back-of-the-mind dream for years.
"You ask yourself over and over, "Is this something you're actually going to do or are you just going to keep thinking about?" she said. "At some point, you have to go for it."
She went for it.
In October, Adams teamed up with David Miller, who works as a data analyst at Deere & Co., to lease the property and convert the space into what is now The Black Box Theatre.
Adams hopes the venue adds to the "charming" look of 5th Avenue.
"What I love about this block is that there is so much to do," she said. "On a date night, you can park once and go to dinner, come to a show here and get a drink."
After months of construction work, The Black Box Theatre will open its doors for the first time with a show from the Westbrook Singers at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
With just a few days before its first "soft opening" show, the 60-seat theater is still a work in progress.
There are walls to build, curtains to hang and sound and lighting equipment scattered on the not-yet-finished stage.
"It's still shaping up, but it's beginning to look like a theater," Adams said.
Adams, a Chicago native, first arrived in the Quad-Cities to perform at Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse for a role in "South Pacific" in the 1980s. She moved around, owning a community theater in Wisconsin from 1995-2000, before landing back here.
"The Quad-Cities has so many great venues, so it was never that we needed another one," she said. "Everyone has their niche; some that focus on Greek or Shakespeare or big musicals. I think we're going to be a little bit different and a little eclectic and add something."
The eclectic season ranges from the musical comedy "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" to the melodrama play "Veronica's Room" to the well-known rock jukebox Broadway musical "Rock of Ages." Adams filled some of the casts with people who showed up to auditions in December and plans to hold open auditions again in the future.
"There are so many people who are yearning to perform and create and they don't want to do it full-time," she said. "I want to give them a space to do that."
The theater's grand opening show, called "Murderers," which Adams directs and performs in, premieres Jan. 28. Tickets are priced at $15-18.
"I don't want this to be my theater; I want it to be open to everybody who yearns to perform and maybe hasn't gone for it," she said. "On every weekend, I want to make sure there is going to be entertainment here."
Q. When is the new Kwik Star going to open on Locust Street in Davenport? — Becky, Davenport
A. We contacted Kwik Star to find out. Steve Wrobel, Kwik Trip Inc. spokesman, said the the Locust Street Kwik Star will open at 5 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19. There will be an open house at 10 a.m. Jan. 25 and a ribbon-cutting at 11 a.m. also on Jan. 25.
Q. When are they going to repair the railroad crossing in the 1800 block of Rockingham Road? — William, Davenport
Q. I would like to know who is responsible for the railroad crossing west of Division Street on Rockingham Road? It needs to be fixed so people can drive over it without getting their car out of alignment. I was behind two cars going east, and the first car picked up something in his tire as he went over the crossing and had a flat tire. The city of Davenport or the railroad company needs to get the crossing fixed. It seems like no one cares about the west end. I think they think more about chickens. Maybe they should be reminded we also pay taxes. — Karen, Davenport
A. Several readers have asked about this area. We contacted Canadian Pacific and the city of Davenport regarding your questions. Andy Cummings, media relations manager for CP, responded:
"CP is responsible for maintaining the crossing itself, while the city is responsible for the pavement that approaches the crossing. While this crossing is safe, we are aware of the concerns of it being rough to drive over. We do have plans to rehabilitate this crossing, but have not yet firmed up the schedule for this work."
Nicole Gleason, public works director and assistant city administrator for Davenport, said, "The city plans to coordinate with Canadian Pacific to schedule this work for the coming construction season."
Q. What is the bright shiny object in the southwest part of the night sky around 7 p.m.? — Arnold, Eldridge
A.We contacted the Popular Astronomy Club Inc., Quad-Cities, regarding your question. Alan Sheidler, president, responded:
"Venus is the very bright object in the southwest after sunset. It is extremely bright. You are also correct that Mars is nearby, but it is much dimmer. Venus is much closer to us and is getting closer every day as it swings around the sun and gaining on the Earth. Right now, Mars is about 150 million miles from Earth, while Venus is only around 60 million miles. Venus is also larger than Mars and has a very reflective cloud deck. Even though Venus is only about 50 percent illuminated from our perspective, because it is larger, more reflective and a lot closer to us, it is many times brighter than Mars."
For more information on objects in the night sky during the month of January and the Popular Astronomy Club Inc., Quad-Cities, visit qctimes.com/askthetimes.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s proposed cuts to community college funding will contribute to likely increases in tuition or student fees at Eastern Iowa Community College campuses for the 2017-2018 school year, an official there said Wednesday.
The governor on Tuesday proposed $110 million in cuts for the current budget year, including $8.7 million for community colleges.
State revenues are coming in lower than expected this fiscal year, and although Branstad did not ask for reductions in K-12 spending, he is seeking more than $34 million in cuts from higher education, including $25.6 million from the three regents institutions.
For the Eastern Iowa district, which includes Scott Community College, the proposed cuts for this fiscal year would amount to $750,000, or about a 4.25 percent reduction in state funding, said Alan Campbell, a spokesman for the district.
He said the college would do its best to shield students from the impact, but the proposed cuts and proposed spending levels going forward could mean program cuts and would likely lead to higher student costs. “They probably will,” Campbell said.
The college district has a $43 million annual budget, but Campbell said $31 million is committed to salaries, so the cuts would have to come from the remaining $12 million. He added this doesn’t take into account other annual contracts the district has.
The Eastern Iowa district, the state’s third-largest community college system, has 7,900 students, along with 30,000 others who are involved in workforce development and adult and continuing education courses.
Campbell added that community colleges are heavily engaged in preparing the state’s workforce.
“These cuts are negatively impacting our ability to fulfill that mission,” he said.
In his Condition of the State address Tuesday, Branstad conceded the $110 million in reductions would be “difficult.” But he said “they do maintain funding for mutual priorities.”
In addition to walling off K-12 schools from this year’s cuts, he also said there are no employee furloughs being proposed and payments to local governments for property tax credits would be maintained.
The Iowa Legislature must approve any cuts, and two area lawmakers blanched at the idea of cutting community college spending.
State Sen. Jim Lykam, D-Davenport, said the cuts would impinge on the state’s ability to meet employer needs, citing workforce programs that have helped employers, such as the Rock Island Arsenal.
"I think it’s very short-sighted,” he said. "I’m very disappointed."
State Rep. Gary Mohr, R-Bettendorf, also expressed reservations because of the potential effect on employers. Mohr is a former community college executive.
"I just hope we’re looking at all options at where to find the cuts, because the community college cuts would also affect our employers,” he said.
Mohr said he’s eager to see proposals from within the Legislature on how to address the expected shortfall in revenues.
A Davenport man who pleaded guilty to helping an Iowa cancer patient grow marijuana in his home in 2013 turned himself in Wednesday to begin serving his five-year prison sentence.
Online Scott County Jail records show that Stephen Robert Bloomer, 51, was booked into the jail at 9:30 a.m. to await transport to prison.
Bloomer pleaded guilty in Scott County District Court in June 2014, the first day of jury selection in his trial, to manufacturing marijuana.
At 5:40 a.m. June 21, 2013, Scott County Sheriff’s deputies searched a home in the 27000 block of 183rd Avenue, Eldridge, as part of a narcotics investigation.
Benton Mackenzie, 49, lived at the house with his wife, Loretta, 45, and son, Cody, 25. The family lived with Benton Mackenzie’s parents, Charles and Dorothy.
Inside an RV and trailer parked next to the house, deputies discovered 60 to 70 marijuana plants, as well as electrical, ventilation and water equipment, according to testimony in the McKenzie’s trial in July 2014.
They also found marijuana in a safe under Cody Mackenzie's bed and smoking pipes and other paraphernalia were found in his bedroom and in the house, according to testimony.
The RV was registered to the mother of Bloomer, a longtime friend of Benton Mackenzie.
Benton Mackenzie admitted to deputies that the RV belonged to Bloomer but denied that Bloomer or his wife and son were involved with growing marijuana.
Benton Mackenzie was diagnosed with angiosarcoma in 2011. He said he grew marijuana in order to treat his cancer with oil derived from the plant. Iowa law does not allow medicinal necessity as a legal defense.
Benton, Loretta and Cody Mackenzie were found guilty at trial and were ultimately sentenced to probation. Benton Mackenzie died in January 2015.
Bloomer was sentenced in September 2014 to five years in prison. District Court Judge Henry Latham said at the time that Bloomer had a “substantial” criminal record that includes a 2004 conviction for growing marijuana.
"I was morally justified in what I did," Bloomer told the Quad-City Times after the 2014 hearing. "I don't regret it."
Bloomer posted a $5,000 bond after sentencing and remained free pending the outcome of his appeal.
In November, the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld his conviction, and he was ordered to turn himself in Wednesday.
The court also upheld the convictions of Loretta and Cody Mackenzie.
Want your face to be part of the Putnam Museum's permanent collection? Take part in the museum's free community-wide photo shoot from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The shoot is in honor of the Putnam Museum & Science Center's 150th anniversary. Each participant will get a free print to take home and one print will go in the museum's collection. General admission to the museum, 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport, will cost $1.50 from noon to 4 p.m. this weekend.
2. Blues benefit
Juliana Logan, a 17-year-old Quad-City based singer-songwriter and founder of Juliana & A Soul Purpose, was selected by the Central Iowa Blues Society to represent Iowa at the 2017 International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase. The band needs the support of the community to cover travel expenses. The fundraiser, sponsored by River Music Experience and the ILLOWA Women in Blues Association, is called "Support Our Sister: Memphis Send-Off" and features music from the Lizzi Neal Band, Frankie Fontagne & The Ramblers and Jualiana & A Soul Purpose. The show is slated for 6 p.m. Friday at the Redstone Room, 129 N. Main St., Davenport. Tickets, $10 in advance, are available at rivermusicexperience.org.
It's time for the fifth annual Icestravaganza. Icy festivities, including ice sculptures, kids activities, visits from an ice princess, is slated for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Freight House, 421 W. River Drive, Davenport. Stick around for an after-hours tasting event at 6 p.m. featuring samples from Artisan Grain Distillery and Mississippi River Distillery as well as Front Street Brewery.
4. Winter carnival
Bettendorf is getting in on the winter fun. The inaugural Winter Carnival kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday at various sites around Bettendorf. Along with skating on the Frozen Landing Ice Rink, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., indoor activities are planned. At the Bettendorf Public Library, 2950 Learning Campus Drive, learn how to make rock candy, draw winter scenes, make snowflake art and build bird feeders. At the Family Museum, 2900 Learning Campus Drive, check out a science demonstration with dry ice or build a milk jug igloo. At the Life Fitness Center, 2222 Middle Road, playgames such as pom-pom hockey and soccer, winter target golf, snowball launch, snowman bowling, ice skating with paper plates and indoor polar plunge.
5. Build a Figge exhibit
Here's your chance to take part of an exhibit at the Figge Art Museum. The museum is hosting a community workshop in which you can help construct corn stalk sculptures for "MAiZE," which is coming to the museum this summer. This hands-on session is slated for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Figge Art Musuem, 225 W. 2nd St., Davenport.
6. Rock concert
Rock band Local H, which formed in 1990, is known for pioneering the two-man band set-up with frontman Scott Lucas playing both guitar and bass and Ryan Harding on the drums. See Local H, with guest Mutts, a Chicago-based grunge trio, at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Rock Island Brewing Company, or RIBCO, 1815 2nd Ave., Rock Island. Tickets, $10, are available at ribco.com.
An upbeat presentation on how the political process works in America is offered to area student groups at the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, West Branch.
Teachers are invited to book school trips for March 20-24. "USA-Z" will be presented by Bright Star Touring Theatre, and it's the second time the troupe has visited West Branch for a show, according to Byrony Forbes, the site's park ranger for interpretation.
Performances will be at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily that week, and held in the site's 180-seat auditorium.
"USA-Z" is presented as a live-action game show. Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam compete, and learn about the differences between the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government, and what it means to vote.
The show is intended for students in grades 3-8. Teachers are asked to make reservations, and spots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
Forbes saw Bright Star in a performance on civil rights last year. "It was very engaging and I liked it," she said.
The troupe promises "hilarious antics," and patriotic prizes, while touching on topics to include the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and a swing vote.
While Bright Star offers several programs in its repertoire, "USA-Z" was chosen partly because of the recent presidential election and the current focus on the federal government, Forbes said.
The show is designed to encourage good citizenship and teach how students can contribute to their communities.
The event is sponsored by the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, and the Hoover Presidential Foundation.
The federal government is getting modestly better at speaking plainly. That's the conclusion of a non-profit organization that issued its annual report Tuesday on how federal agencies are communicating with the public.
The Center for Plain Language, in conjunction with Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, released results from its fifth annual survey, which grades agencies on the clarity of a sample of documents. The report originated with legislation sponsored by former Rep. Bruce Braley, an Iowa Democrat, and signed into law by President Obama in 2010.
"If you think about red tape, you probably automatically think about government forms,” said Susan Kleimann, who chairs the Center for Plain Language. “This year, the Center reviewed some of the most used government forms. Good news. Many agencies are using plain language and information design skillfully in their forms."
The center gave top grades to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor. All received grades of A+.
The Justice Department got the lowest grade, with a C. The State Department made the greatest improvements, going from a C to an A, the report said.
The Agriculture Department got an A- grade.
Loebsack, who stepped in to help announce the results after Braley left Congress, said Tuesday he's long believed in greater transparency and simplicity in the way government communicates with people. "Federal agencies have a responsibility to provide clear and precise communications, but for years we've been bogged down by bureaucratic gibberish," he said.
The center said it evaluated 26 forms submitted by 18 agencies for its 2016 report. Nine improved over the previous year, while seven declined. Two remained the same. No agency got a D or an F, the center said.
The center evaluated documents for such things as writing style, information design and presentation, understanding the audience and use of pictures and graphics.
A Bettendorf man who was shot by a police officer during a standoff at a Bettendorf store last month has waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
Joshua G. Price, 19, appeared Wednesday morning in Scott County District Court via closed-circuit TV on charges of second-degree burglary, third-degree kidnapping, assault while participating in a felony, and assault on a police officer, a serious misdemeanor.
Associate Judge Christine Dalton set his bond at $26,000 cash-only and appointed an attorney to represent him.
Price will be arraigned Feb. 2.
During a preliminary hearing, a judge hears evidence to decide whether there is enough evidence to justify a trial. The judge does not determine a defendant’s guilt or innocence in these hearings.
Price was taken into custody Tuesday following his release from University Hospitals, Iowa City, where he has been since the incident on Dec. 19.
According to a news release by Scott County Attorney Mike Walton, Price initially called 911 and reported a distressed and possibly suicidal person at Hobby Lobby, 2121 Kimberly Road, at 9:25 p.m.
Responding officers found Price in an agitated state and contacted his family, according to the release. After Price calmed down, police and his family determined he should return home.
Around 10:32 p.m., Price went into the nearby Home Depot, 920 Middle Road, through a receiving door, according to the release.
He made contact about 40 minutes later with a manager and pulled out what appeared to be a gun from his coveralls and instructed him to leave the building, according to the release.
He told the manger that he wasn’t going to hurt anyone but said he was either going to commit suicide or have the police kill him, according to the release.
Price is a former employee of the store.
At 11:41 p.m., officers made contact with the store manager and Price. Price was holding what appeared to be a handgun and was walking behind the manager, who had his hands up and was walking down an aisle toward the officers, according to the release.
After making contact with the officers, Price told the manager he could go. Police then tried to negotiate with Price and gave him repeated commands to drop his gun, but it was clear he “wanted to die,” according to the release.
One officer shot Price in the leg with a 40mm rubber projectile, which had little effect on him and he started to run toward the front of the store, according to the release.
Lt. Kent Keeshan, a 22-year veteran of the Bettendorf Police Department, gave Price several verbal commands to show his hands and get on the ground. Price then turned, faced Keeshan, and raised his gun toward him, according to the release.
Keeshan fired his gun four times at Price, who was wounded in the chin, right hand and upper right arm area, according to the release.
Investigators later learned Price was armed with an air-soft gun that was modified to look like a handgun, according to the release.
Suicide notes were found in Price's pockets and he apologized to police for "causing them to shoot him," according to the release.
On Tuesday, Walton ruled that Keeshan’s use of deadly force was justified.
MidAmerican Energy Co. has announced plans to hire nearly 75 new customer service associates for its Davenport call center this year, beginning with a job fair Thursday.
The utility company expects to hire up to 24 positions in February, May and September. MidAmerican said the number of jobs will depend on the openings that occur throughout the year.
The staffing agency Manpower will hold a job fair for the first training class of 24 from 4-7 p.m. Thursday at its Moline office, 1513 River Drive.
The positions are full-time, temp-to-hire jobs. Applicants are hired by Manpower and enter into MidAmerican Energy’s 14-week training program. Upon successful completion of the program, individuals are hired as full-time MidAmerican employees.
The new customer service positions are a result of retirements and internal advancements.
"We believe in creating careers, not just jobs," said Regan Kunzman, MidAmerican's director, call center operations. "Our ongoing training ensures that our customer service associates have the skills they need to meet our customers’ needs today as well as create talented employees who can grow with the company."
Starting pay for the position is $12 per hour with an increase to more than $15 per hour plus benefits if hired as a full-time employee.
MUSCATINE, Iowa — The Muscatine City Council will vote on a request to authorize and instruct the city attorney to file charges to remove the Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson at the in-depth city council meeting Thursday night.
The agenda item states the city attorney will be instructed to file written charges of removal pursuant to Muscatine City Code 1-7-6, "Removal of the Mayor," if the request is passed by a vote of the city council.
According to Muscatine City Code and Iowa Code, the mayor may be removed from office by action of the city council for one of several reasons: willful or habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of his or her office, willful misconduct or maladministration in office, corruption, extortion, upon conviction of a felony, for intoxication or conviction of being intoxicated or possession of any illegal substances, or upon conviction of violating the provisions of Iowa Code Chapter 68A, the Campaign Disclosure—Income Tax Checkoff Act.
The agenda does not state the reason being cited for the mayor’s removal.
The city code also states the removal can only take place after a hearing is held “before the City Council based on written charges prepared and filed by the City Attorney.”
Removal can be made by a two-thirds vote of the entire council, and would therefore need to be approved by five of the seven current council members.
The in-depth meeting of the Muscatine City Council will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 12, in the Council Chambers at Muscatine City Hall, 215 Sycamore St.
Carson Thomas of Troop 243, Milan, has earned the distinguished rank of Eagle Scout.
Thomas has earned 22 merit badges during his nine-year Boy Scouting career. He has held such leadership positions as patrol leader, quartermaster, scribe and and Order of the Arrow representative.
His accomplishment in serving his community was to design and build a secure ramp at the front entrance to Edgington Presbyterian Church in Taylor Ridge, Illinois, to be used while the church was having its elevator replaced. Thomas led a team of 30 people in building this ramp, providing access to numerous congregants and saving the church a significant amount of money.
Thomas is the son of Jeff and Deb Thomas of Taylor Ridge, and is a freshman at Black Hawk College.
Davenport police are investigating a call that disrupted traffic on Kimberly Road Tuesday afternoon.
Police were called at 4:15 p.m. to the 400 block of West Kimberly Road in reference to a possible shooting.
Several minutes later a 24-year-old male showed up at Genesis Medical Center with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound.
Officers are still investigating the incident.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to “DO WHAT’S RIGHT” and call the Davenport Police Department at 563-326-6125 or submit an anonymous tip via our mobile app entitled “CityConnect Davenport, IA.”
A good Wednesday to all. Today's weather term is "wintry mix." It's what the National Weather Service calls a combination of freezing rain, sleet and snow. We could see a wintry mix today through the weekend.
Here's the latest forecast.
Today there's a slight chance of freezing rain before 10 a.m. then a chance of rain after 11 a.m. Skies will be mostly cloudy with a high near 42 degrees. The chance of precipitation is 30 percent.
Tonight there's a 30 percent chance of rain before 8 p.m. then a chance of freezing rain and a wintry mix along the I-80 corridor between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Skies will be cloudy with a low around 20 degrees.
Current indications suggest any ice or snow accumulations will be light, but roads may still become slick at times.
Thursday will be cloudy then gradually becoming mostly sunny with a high near 26 degrees and a low around 10 degree.
North winds and much colder air will combine to produce wind-chill values to -15 degrees north of I-80 as another larger storm system may bring more rounds of a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain over the weekend and into next Monday. Check back for future updates as the NWS fine-tunes its forecast.
A flood warning is in effect until Monday evening for the Rock River near Joslin, Ill. Ice action and some rain runoff are going to push the Rock into flood stage this morning. Early today the Rock was at 11.9 feet and rising. Flood stage is 12 feet. The River should rise to 12.1 feet Thursday morning then fall below flood stage Monday evening.
2. Wildcats avenge early-season loss
Davenport North girls basketball coachRon O'Brien had the newspaper clipping of North Scottupsetting his squad earlier this season inside the locker room the past two days.
"It was one of those losses we didn't want to have and you could see how happy they were to win," senior Jinaya Houston said. "It got a fire under us."
The rematch turned out to be one-sided. Class 5A fourth-ranked North clobbered 4A sixth-ranked North Scott 65-36 to remain in a first-place Mississippi Athletic Conference tie with Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley at the midway point. Read more.
3. Obama bids farewell in last speech
President Barack Obama has bid farewell to the nation in an emotional speech that sought to comfort a country on edge over rapid economic changes, persistent security threats and the election of Donald Trump.
Forceful at times and tearful at others, Obama's valedictory speech in his hometown of Chicago was a public meditation on the many trials the U.S. faces as Obama takes his exit. For the challenges that are new, Obama offered his vision for how to surmount them, and for the persistent problems he was unable to overcome, he offered optimism that others, eventually, will. Read more.
4. Q-C Farm Show coming up this weekend
Quad-City area farmers are sure to be thinking spring as the Quad-Cities Farm Show rolls into the QCCA Expo Center beginning Sunday. More than 200 exhibitors — from equipment companies to farm supply and technology vendors — will be on hand for the three-day show in Rock Island.
In its 26th year, the farm show runs from Sunday through Tuesday, Jan. 15-Jan. 17. Read more.
5. Maple Street Grille is a 'destination place' in Orion
Grilled cheeses aren’t on Maple Street Grille’s menu, but the chef doesn’t say so when a table orders three of the sandwiches.
“How can you say no when everybody knows you by your first name?” JR Greenwood said with a laugh from inside his kitchen. For Orion, Maple Street Grille sits on somewhat historic ground. It replaced The Factory Restaurant and Lounge, which closed in April 2015. Read more.
6. 'Taste of LeClaire' hits the town Sunday
Spend Sunday in LeClaire and you can sip on whiskey, red wine hot chocolate and try a crab rangoon pizza. Yes, you read that right. The town is launching its inaugural "Taste of LeClaire."
The event features free samples and restaurant specials from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday along the Cody Road strip. The afternoon of eating coincides with the "Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard" initiative by the Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau. Read more.
Grilled cheeses aren’t on Maple Street Grille’s menu, but the chef doesn’t say so when a table orders three of the sandwiches during lunchtime.
“How can you say no when everybody knows you by your first name?” JR Greenwood said with a laugh from inside his kitchen. “I know what they’re thinking, ‘Oh, we know JR, he’ll do that for us.’”
Greenwood didn’t seem to mind. The owner of the Orion, Illinois, restaurant already had a long list of orders to fill, including burgers, chicken sandwiches and sides of chicken tortilla soup and chili.
And as he does on most weekday afternoons, Greenwood, 37, was manning the kitchen alone when a group of 10 people walked in last Wednesday.
“Usually you expect to see the same faces, but you never know who’s going to show up,” he said while he grabbed slices of cheese.
“We’re just little old Orion,” Greenwood said of the village with a population of about 1,800 people. “Because of our size, you got to do more to get people out here, get their attention and keep them coming back.”
Since opening in October 2015, that’s exactly what Greenwood has aimed to do.
‘Family is first’
Since the day Michelle Greenwood met her future husband, he dreamed of opening his own restaurant.
“It’s inspiring to see him live that out,” she said of her partner, who has worked as a chef for more than 20 years in the Quad-City area, including a stint at Jumer's Hotel & Casino. “His way of cooking is so creative. He takes everyday things and makes it his own.”
Michelle, a teacher at Rock Island High School, works at Maple Street Grille on nights, on weekends and during breaks. The couple, who have been married for nine years, also enlist their two daughters for help.
“Family is first at a place like this and a town like this,” she said.
That goes for some of JR’s most loyal taste-testers: his in-laws.
Last Wednesday, Mike and Linda Leonard made the 25-minute drive from Matherville, Illinois, their home of 47 years, for lunch.
“I think this place is a plus for the community,” said Linda Leonard, citing her son-in-law’s “famous chili." “We like to try just about anything JR comes up with.”
It was good timing.
Just an hour before their visit, JR launched his newest burger of the month, "The Food Truck Burger," which pays homage to the area’s on-the-go eateries.
Mike Leonard was one of the first customers to order the sandwich, which starts with a half-pound patty and is piled with chihuahua cheese, chipotle-braised pulled pork, red cabbage slaw, fried tortilla chips and cilantro-lime mayo.
“I’ve tried every burger of the month and I haven’t had a bad one,” he said. “If you go away hungry, you’re missing something.”
'Comfort food with a twist'
JR describes his menu as “comfort food with a twist.”
His indulgent recipes include a sloppy Joe flatbread and maple bacon fries for appetizers. Another one, tater tot nachos, was inspired by a snack Greenwood made for his two young daughters at home. On the “Kinda Like Grandma’s Kitchen” section of the menu, you’ll find honey-fried chicken, cajun pasta, baby back ribs and chicken and dumplins. And don’t forget about fried ice cream and a chocolate-chip sundae.
Then there’s the burger of the month, where JR’s creativity shines. Previous specials have been topped with chili cheese fries, beer-dipped fries, maple bourbon jam and “Dorito dust.” One burger, called “The PB&J,” included homemade strawberry jam and pork rinds.
“I like to try new things and I can try just about anything here,” Greenwood said. “You throw things against the wall and see what sticks.”
'A destination place'
For Orion, Maple Street Grille sits on somewhat historic ground. It replaced The Factory Restaurant and Lounge, which closed in April 2015.
“People had gone there for years and years,” JR said. “A lot of people saw it as a sad thing and a thing that was probably inevitable.”
But the Greenwood family, who have lived in Orion for nine years, saw it as a chance to move Orion forward.
“Out here in Orion, we’re small and blue collar,” Michelle said. “We want all the nice things that the bigger cities have, but we like the country feel. For families like ours, there wasn’t a place we could bring the whole family for a nice affordable dinner without driving 20 minutes.”
They decided to mix a big-city menu with a "country chic" look.
Renovating The Factory came with a lot of work. Greenwood and a few family members spent two months gutting the former supper club, which opened in 1969.
“The way it looks now is completely different,” Michelle said. “It’s comfortable here, but also a little bit different than what people were used to in this town.”
Her husband says Maple Street Grille adds to the growing appeal of Orion.
“Orion by itself is a great place to travel to for a day,” JR said. “Orion is a destination place and so is our restaurant."
For him, getting people in the doors starts with small-town service. He takes suggestions for burgers of the month, soups of the day, and, sometimes, adds a grilled cheese to the menu on the fly.
"I want people to feel a little bit like it's home," JR said. "And plenty of people do."
Spend Sunday in LeClaire and you can sip on whiskey, red wine hot chocolate and try a crab rangoon pizza.
Yes, you read that right.
The town is launching its inaugural "Taste of LeClaire," featuring free samples and restaurant specials from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday along the Cody Road strip.
The afternoon of eating coincides with the "Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard" initiative by the Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau.
And according to Cindy Bruhn, LeClaire tourism manager, it's a celebration of how much the food and drink landscape has grown in LeClaire.
"We've seen tons of growth over the past five years," she said. "There's more food options, more restaurants, more variety and more of everything."
One point of celebration is "Libation Lane," the block of downtown LeClaire where you can visit Mississippi River Distilling Co., Wide River Winery and Green Tree Brewery within a very short walk.
"There is nowhere else in Iowa and maybe the midwest where you can go to a winery, brewery and distillery in one block," said Ryan Burchett, co-owner of Mississippi River Distilling Co. "It is a small town, but the quality of food and drink here is world class."
Along with hourly distillery tours, Burchett and his team plan on offering samples of the Hot Iowish Cream cocktail, which is one of the distillery's most popular drinks. In February, they plan to unveil a bourbon infused with maple syrup.
"People assume that after Christmas, there's nothing going on here, but things are always happening in LeClaire. If you haven't been here in a couple of years, you'll notice some new things. Things are always evolving."
Burchett said this weekend, with bald eagle watching in full effect, has been a busy one in the past. And, now with "Taste of LeClaire," there's a chance to capitalize on the crowds.
"This is the weekend where everyone is catching their breath and tired of sitting at home on the couch and starts looking for something to do," he said. "And it's a weekend that LeClaire is really hustling and bustling."
Holly Schmidt, owner of Big Dave and Holly's Dairy Sweet, expects more visitors than normal, too. She's serving up sweet apple pork sliders.
"Something like this gets people out around the downtown and trying different things," she said.
Schmidt and her husband have owned the eatery, which specializes in "tenderloins, ice cream and more," for about 12 years.
"We all have our unique things... in one small town, you have some of the best popcorn, chocolate and pizza,' she said. "Every place is different with a different view."
Bruhn hopes that visitors from LeClaire, the metro Quad-Cities and beyond make the first "Taste of LeClaire" an event worth continuing in the future.
"We're trying to bring people out in the winter when it's a little colder and they need that push," Bruhn said. "There are a lot of specialty foods and gourmet foods you wouldn't expect from such a small place."
"Wings and Things"
Also on tap Sunday is a wildlife presentation called "Wings and Things." Check out a bald eagle photo and video presentation by wildlife photographer Burt Gearhart at 2 p.m. at the LeClaire Civic Center, 127 S. Cody Road. In the presentation, catch photos of eagles diving for fish, eating while flying and flying with icicles on their toes. You'll learn how best to view and photograph the annual winter gathering of bald eagles along the Mississippi River north and south of LeClaire.
DES MOINES — Elected by Iowans in November, state legislators convened this week at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines.
For the next three to four months, they will write new state laws, repeal old regulations and determine how to spend more than $7 billion in state tax revenue.
To earn the support needed for a seat in the Iowa Senate or Iowa House, those legislators — as candidates during the 2016 campaign — made many pledges to voters.
The legislators chosen for this story are from across the state and represent a mixture of Republicans and Democrats, senators and representatives. Some of them were involved in the state’s most competitive races during the 2016 campaign.
Republicans will have a much easier path to achieving their goals during the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions. They hold majorities in both the Senate and House, thus can pass bills with only Republican support and send the legislation on to the state’s Republican governor, Terry Branstad.
Conversely, Democrats will need at least some Republican support in both chambers just to get a bill to the governor’s desk.
All of the comments and pledges chosen for this story were made by the candidates prior to the Nov. 8 election.
Sen. Mark Lofgren, R-Muscatine
On water quality: Lofgren does not approve of a proposed sales tax increase to fund water-quality projects. He says he worries a sales tax increase would hurt the economy.
On the minimum wage: He does not think the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour should increase, saying he thinks it would hurt businesses and job creation. “I don’t want to stifle our economy,” he said.
On the school funding formula: Lofgren says the formula needs revision, but he does not approve of allowing schools to spend out of their reserves for an extended period. He says his preference is to allow districts to use unspent funds earmarked for other purposes.
On financial literacy: Lofgren thinks financial literacy should be taught in public schools, just as other basic subjects such as math and language. “Financial independence doesn’t just happen,” he said.
Rep. Ross Paustian, R-Walcott
On the school funding formula: Paustian supported legislation introduced in 2016 that would have given districts a one-year pass to spend from their reserves but required them to replenish that spending the following year. During the campaign, Paustian said he would support letting districts use funds earmarked for other purposes.
On water quality: Paustian opposes a sales tax increase, saying not enough of the raised revenue would go toward water-quality projects. (The tax also would fund conservation and recreation projects.) Paustian supports a plan proposed in 2016 that would use funds from existing state revenue streams, including its infrastructure budget and a tax on water meters.
Rep. Phyllis Thede, D-Bettendorf
On the school funding formula: Thede supports allowing districts that are permitted to spend less per pupil than other districts to draw from their reserve accounts. “This is money that was never intended to sit in the bank,” she said.
On human trafficking: Thede wants anti-trafficking efforts to target those who pay for prostitution and provide counseling services for victims.
On the minimum wage: Thede thinks the state’s minimum wage should be increased.
Sen. Craig Johnson, R-Independence
On the budget: Johnson said lawmakers should stick to the state’s 99 percent spending limit, which requires legislators to budget for less revenue than the state anticipates. “It should always be a tight budget if we’re doing our job for the taxpayers,” Johnson said.
On regulations: Johnson said Iowa’s regulatory atmosphere should be as “inviting as possible” for new businesses and the state should reduce its regulatory burden.
Rep. Walt Rogers, R-Cedar Falls
On water quality: Rogers thinks water-quality projects should be funded by the state’s infrastructure fund, similar to the proposal made last year in the Republican-led House.
On higher education funding: Rogers said he would like to increase funding for the University of Northern Iowa.
On tax policy: Rogers said he would like to lower the state’s corporate tax rate.
Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo
On mental health care: Smith said he thinks the state should reopen and fund state-operated mental health institutions in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda, which were closed in 2015.
On abortion: Smith said he is supportive of abortion rights at a time when Republicans have indicated they would like to stop all state funding to women’s health care clinics that perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood.
Rep. Skyler Wheeler, R-Orange City
On gun laws: Wheeler said he supports “stand your ground” legislation, which gives individuals broader leeway to use lethal force to protect themselves from perceived danger by, generally, removing the requirement an individual first attempt to retreat from potential harm.
On abortion: Wheeler said he supports “protecting unborn, innocent life from conception to natural death.” Legislation covered by that support would include “personhood” legislation, which gives full individual rights to fertilized eggs.
Rep. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City
On tax policy: Carlin said he thinks tax cuts are needed “to ease the financial burden on Iowans.” He proposes cutting corporate tax rates.
On abortion: Carlin also stated his support for "personhood" legislation. “Bills which bring about incremental change on the life issue have the potential to save lives,” Carlin said.
On marriage: Carlin said he would support a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Rep. Tim Kacena, D-Sioux City
On collective bargaining: Kacena would like to help Democrats thwart, at least in part, one of Republicans’ top targets for legislation this session. “It is going to be tough down there. It will be more of a defensive mode,” Kacena said. “We have to hang onto some of it.”
On education funding: Kacena said he wants legislators to “fund education in a timely manner,” alluding to the requirement that lawmakers set school funding one year in advance. House Republicans have resisted the practice since gaining power in 2011, and this year, they have stated a desire to remove that requirement from state law.
Sen. Waylon Brown, R-St. Ansgar
On water quality: Brown said he wants lawmakers to develop a long-term funding solution that puts state money in programs that “have the greatest impact on actually improving water quality.”
On school funding: Brown said he wants the state to set school funding levels that are timely and not so high that the state cannot deliver on the promise. “I will strive to get responsible funding numbers approved by the General Assembly as quickly as possible so schools can set their budgets accordingly,” Brown said.
Rep. Jane Bloomingdale, R-Northwood
On the school funding formula: Bloomingdale said she thinks the formula should be adjusted to account for districts with outsized transportation costs. “We could free up some funds for classroom resources, which would help our rural schools quite a bit,” she said.
On tax policy: Bloomingdale said she thinks the state needs a more competitive and less restrictive business tax structure.
Rep. Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City
On tax credits: While she said some state tax credits “are great,” such as those that spur economic development in municipal restoration projects, she thinks the state gives away too much tax revenue at the expense of other funding priorities, such as public education. “If we scrutinize tax credits the way we scrutinize teachers and education, it might be a different story,” Steckman said. “So I think that’s an area that we need to really take a look at.”
On medical cannabis: Steckman said she thinks the state should permit the production and dispensation of medical cannabis for treatment of certain ailments, such as epileptic seizures.