After 19 years of holding its men’s basketball tournament in either Indianapolis or Chicago, the Big Ten is venturing outside of its traditional footprint and holding the tournament in Washington D.C. this week.
The move has received mixed reviews. It almost certainly will mean less crowd support from the long-time Big Ten members in the Midwest, whose fans won’t be as inclined to make the long, pricey trip to D.C. And there is some thought that it could give No. 3 seed Maryland a definite homecourt advantage.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon disputed that idea even though the Verizon Center is only nine miles from his campus.
“It’s a neutral court,’’ Turgeon said on a Big Ten coaches teleconference Monday. “It will be a neutral court.’’
And even if Terrapins fans have sold out their full allotment and are busy snapping up additional tickets, Turgeon said it won’t have an impact.
“Being at home doesn’t guarantee anything obviously,’’ he said. “But we’re looking forward to being in a city and playing in an arena that we feel comfortable in.’’
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said it definitely will be a Maryland crowd, especially if the Terps get to the finals.
“If we play in Chicago and Illinois is in the finals, it’s an orange fest,’’ Izzo said. “If it’s in Indianapolis and Purdue or Indiana is there, they have all their fans there …
“The difference is our fans can get to those places a lot easier. That’s a benefit for Maryland.’’
As always, a few teams enter the conference tournament probably needing to win a game or more to increase their hopes of landing in the NCAA tournament. That’s especially true of Iowa and Illinois, both of whom put together four-game winning streaks late in the regular season but still are only 18-13 and on the proverbial bubble.
A first-round loss could very well dash whatever hopes they have, but a victory could greatly enhance them.
Michigan and Michigan State, both of whom tied Iowa for fifth place in the final standings, are generally considered to be in the field but each certainly could use one more win just to make sure.
Seat getting warm?
There also are a few coaches who could use a victory in the tournament to ensure that they still have a job next season. Illinois’ John Groce is the coach most frequently rumored to be on the hotseat, but Ohio State’s Thad Matta, Nebraska’s Tim Miles, Indiana’s Tom Crean and Penn State’s Patrick Chambers haven’t exactly enthralled the fans of their respective schools with the way their teams have performed this season.
Groce and Matta are long-time friends and allies who exchange frequent text messages, but Groce said job security isn’t something that comes up much.
“We’re not commiserators,’’ Groce said. “That’s not who he is. That’s not who I am. He has a knack for staying in the moment. I think our players hopefully would say we do the same. We’re obviously supportive of one another, but we’re not commiserators.’’
Points on parade
It’s hard to recall the last time the Big Ten had such a wealth of quality point guards. Almost every team has a star quality player at the point and some have more than one.
And many of them are freshmen. Penn State (Tony Carr), Iowa (Jordan Bohannon), Maryland (Anthony Cowan), Illinois (Te’Jon Lucas), Michigan State (Cassius Winston) and Purdue (Carsen Edwards) all have impressive rookie guards.
Then there are savvy veterans such as Minnesota’s Nate Mason, Michigan’s Derrick Walton, Maryland’s Melo Trimble, Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh, Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig and many more. It’s a loaded position.
It’s a parity party
It’s hard to imagine a conference in which there is less of a competitive gap between the top of the standings and the bottom. Anyone seemingly can beat anyone in the Big Ten.
The No. 2 and 3 seeds in the tournament recently lost at home to the No. 7 seed. The team that won the regular season championship suffered its four losses to the No. 4, 7, 8 and 12 seeds. No. 2 seed lost five of its last seven games. The No. 9 seed won four of its last five.
“This league is unbelievable,’’ said Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell, who will be experiencing his first Big Ten tournament. “From top to bottom, it’s as competitive a league as I’ve been around. Every team is capable of a huge run down the stretch.’’
Over the past three years, Brandy VandeWall has seen plenty of artsy shops pop up in Rock Island.
It’s happened so much that VandeWall, who owns Skeleton Key Art and Antiques, has started to call the city “Antique Island.”
“More and more antique stores have opened to the point where we have 10 in one area,” she said. “Not a lot of people know that.”
To get the word out — and offer a weekend happening — VandeWall has organized a “shop hop,” called Antique Island, set for Saturday.
“We’re small businesses, and we don’t have the money behind us to do a lot of big things,” she said. “But if we band together, we can.”
Seven stores will participate in the first-ever shop hop. Vintage Rose Antiques and Jewelry is no longer participating after it was damaged by an explosion inside the property on Monday.
“We’ve definitely grown over the past year,” VandeWall said. “There’s not a lot of towns nearby with this much to choose from.”
Her store, a hybrid of an antique mall and an art gallery, offers metalworks, paintings, jewelry, crafts and antique furniture. Most items are crafted by area artists, including her husband.
“There is so much artistic talent in this area,” VandeWall said. “A lot of artists are looking for places to show off their work, so we love being able to provide that.”
The latest store to join Antique Island is More Than Antiques, which Karolyn Williams officially opened in the College Hill District on Friday.
Williams, who sews clothing and offers a mixture of vintage and new items, said More Than Antiques is her eighth antique store. She ran stores in California and two shops — Memories and More and Estate of Grace — in Rock Island.
“I always have to have a store,” she said. “It’s what I do.”
Her daughter Jennifer Horvath owns Fred and Ethel’s, a shop directly across 30th street, that’s also part of the artsy outing on Saturday.
“It’s a way to support your local small business,” she said. “You never know what you’re going to find.”
Participating stores include:
• Skeleton Key Art and Antiques, 520 18th St., Rock Island, is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. It's closed Monday and Tuesday. Visit facebook.com/SkeletonKeyArtAndAntiques.
• Jackson's Antiques, 1310 30th St., Rock Island, is open noon-5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday. It's closed Sunday-Tuesday. For more information, visit facebook.com/jacksonsantiques or call 309-314-4952.
• Fred & Ethel's, 1326 30th St., Rock Island, is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and closed Sunday-Monday. For more information, visit facebook.com/Fred-Ethels-238501676471 or call 309-786-3511.
• Dar-Jac Antiques & Jewelry, 3115 14th Ave., Rock Island, is open noon-5:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday. It's closed Sunday-Tuesday. For more information, visit facebook.com/darjacantiques or call 309-788-0251.
Q. Are there still plans to move the Rhythm City Casino barge from its current location? — Paul, Davenport
A. We contacted the Rhythm City Casino Resort to find out. Mo Hyder, general manager, responded:
"We continue to market the barge aggressively and are working on alternative plans to comply with the provisions of our agreement with the city by March 31." Quad-City Times reporter Devan Patel has been covering the story. He said the deadline was extended because river traffic is restricted until at least late in March in part because of river levels and in part because of work on locks and dams along the Mississippi River.
Q. As someone who has driven one of the Davenport to Eldridge corridors for more than 30 years by using Division/Buttermilk Road and then when they were paved, Slopertown and Hilladale. I have a couple of questions:
1. What Is the city of Davenport going to do to upgrade Division/Buttermilk and Slopertown Road to be able to handle the increased traffic caused by the opening of the Kraft Heinz plant and the new Sterilite Corp. plastics plant. Shouldn’t we be planning now for traffic issues that are only going to get worse if the airport expands like it wants to?
2. What are the street lights on Hillandale that do not work, and can’t the shrubs be trimmed down to help people have more visibility when exiting the businesses along there?
There is already a safety issue on Slopertown as some of the workers turning into the Kraft foods construction area don’t seem to know what turn signals are for, and the increase in traffic has caused many near misses. Also, whoever surfaced Slopertown did inferior work as it is extremely uneven and causes water to puddle any time it rains hard and can lead to hydroplaning. I have seen many vehicles fishtail due to this, and in winter, it seems to have more ice issues because of water sitting in ruts.
Hillandale is a beautiful street. However, it is extremely dark in the morning, and only one of the street lights seems to work. I can’t believe the city spent money on decorative lamps and then neglect to maintain them. Also, the shrubs and trees look very nice, but they block the vision of people trying to exit the new Love’s Truck Stop and other businesses. If you are not in a pickup or SUV, but in a car, your vision is blocked by some of the bushes, and it is even when it is dark from 5 a.m. on.
I think it is great that we are getting new businesses in the area, and the jobs will be very welcome, but we need to be aware of the safety issues this is going to cause, and I was wondering what, if any, steps the city has planned to address these items? — Reader
A. We contacted the city of Davenport regarding your question. Nicole Gleason, public works director/assistant city administrator, responded:
"Several area intersections are under consideration for improvements which include possible resurfacing, turning lanes and wider turning radii. It is anticipated that work on some intersections will begin this year. Consideration is also being given to providing increased sight lines at the Love's intersection. The city makes efforts to continuously review traffic patterns, specifically, when new development occurs.
"The street lights throughout the entire industrial park are owned and maintained by MidAmerican Energy. The city contacted them regarding the outages but anyone can report a burned out light at their website (www.midamericanenergy.com)."
DES MOINES — A joint meeting of Iowa House committees that deal with taxes and spending might be the starting point for a review of tax credits, their value and effectiveness.
“Given the current fiscal situation, we need to consider the scope and duration and the generosity of tax credits,” House Ways and Means Chairman Guy Vander Linden, R-Oskaloosa, said Wednesday after the Legislative Services Agency presented a 50-minute catalog of tax credits.
The agency tracks $427 million in “contingent liabilities” tax credits, another $103 million in state individual income tax credits, $74 million paid directly from the general fund and $562 million in property tax credits and exemptions.
Vander Linden wants lawmakers to look at whether the credits are doing what they were intended to do.
“In a lot of cases, it is difficult to determine,” he said. “Some previous Legislature put them in place. I hope we can go back and say it was a good idea, or maybe it’s no longer a good idea, or it’s a bad idea. We’re going to re-evaluate it.”
It won’t be easy, however, and Vander Linden isn’t sure lawmakers will be able to answer those questions about every tax credit.
Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, is ready to give it a go. In particular, the ranking Democrat on Ways and Means wants to look at “corporate giveaways and, frankly, things that are plain ineffective.”
“I think we agree that at some point in time we have to stop writing checks to companies until we see exactly what they are bringing back to Iowa,” Jacoby said.
Vander Linden and Jacoby agreed that the businesses and individuals using those tax credits are likely to want them continued.
“One of the things we’re going to find out pretty quickly, if we get serious about looking at tax credits, is who’s getting them, because they will show up,” Vander Linden said.
“People will start thinking, ‘Uh-oh, that means me. I need to get up there and talk to people and at least express the value in those credits,’” Jacoby added.
Both lawmakers indicated everything would be on the table if they start to evaluate tax credits. However, popular support for some may make them less vulnerable to change.
The state’s largest tax break is the $71 million Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit for low- and moderate-income workers intended to encourage employment.
“I doubt we would scale that one back, but it’s a big one,” Vander Linden said. He doubts Democrats would go for a reduction in that, “and I’m not sure Republicans would go along,” either.
Jacoby would like to see an evaluation of credits to large companies, such as the $57 million Research Activities Tax Credit available to taxpayers who increase research activities in Iowa. But he doesn’t want to stop there.
“Being from Coralville, I want to evaluate TIF districts,” Jacoby said. “I want to see if tax increment financing is truly working.”
Coralville has made extensive use of TIF to fuel development of Iowa River Landing.
Vander Linden said he’s hopeful lawmakers will tackle tax reform this year but acknowledged that likely will depend on what the Revenue Estimating Conference reports when it meets next week.
“We’ll go forward based on what that looks like,” he said.
URBANDALE, Iowa — Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa’s governor-in-waiting, assured a conservative group Wednesday that income tax relief is on the way but might not arrive this year.
Pressed for details by the Westside Conservative Club, Reynolds said she and Gov. Terry Branstad have been looking at various computer “runs” designed to make the state’s complex individual and corporate income taxes “simpler and flatter,” but the state’s uncertain economic situation — especially the farm sector — has slowed the timetable.
“There are a lot of different scenarios that we’re looking at. How we get the biggest bang for the buck but have it impact all Iowans in a positive way, and so we’re going to continue to run the numbers, and you will see something with that. You will,” she told the breakfast gathering. “It continues to be a priority.”
Reynolds is slated to become Iowa’s governor once Branstad is confirmed as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to China.
She said that, so far, Republicans working with state Department of Revenue tax specialists have been unable to “make the numbers work,” but the process is ongoing to assemble a comprehensive tax change package.
Creating a more competitive tax structure is critical to attracting and keeping Iowa businesses and workers needed to grow the state’s economy, Reynolds said, but the plan must be sustainable while maintaining commitments to education, Medicaid managed care and other priorities.
“Honestly, the budget has really made it tough,” said Reynolds, who conceded state agencies may be bracing for yet more reductions if revenue estimators downgrade current fiscal year projections when they meet next week.
“So, maybe we put the legislation in place, and we phase it in over a couple of years,” she told the Urbandale group. “If we don’t get it done this year, it’s going to continue to be a focus. We have to do it because that’s what is going to continue to make us competitive.”
Sen. Randy Feenstra, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said he expects income tax legislation to surface later this month that proposes a comprehensive rewrite to be phased in over multiple years.
“Our system is the most complex in the nation, and it takes time to unwind all of that,” he said. "It will be changed over a three-, four-, five-year period."
The GOP plan would shrink the income tax brackets from nine to a number yet to be determined, revamp tax credits and deductions and deliver relief in an overall amount yet to be determined.
“To make sure there are reductions, you have to take into account all of the credits and deductions, and if you start removing some of those, to make sure that people don’t see an increase in their taxes and yet see a net decrease. That’s the complexity of it, and that’s why it takes time,” he said. “The key for us is tax reduction, simplification and tax equality across the board.”
A Davenport man pleaded guilty Wednesday to assaulting his girlfriend, Melissa Lewis, who died from her injuries less than a week later.
Thomas James Lopez, 56, pleaded guilty in Scott County District Court to two counts of willful injury causing serious injury, a Class C felony, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and domestic abuse assault-strangulation with injury, a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
The first willful injury charge stems from the assault on Lewis on Aug. 31, and the second charge stems from an incident in December 2015, according to amended trial information filed Wednesday.
Lopez initially faced the more serious charge of second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of up to 50 years in prison.
According to a written plea agreement filed this week, prosecutors said a prison sentence is mandatory on the willful injury charges and they will recommend that all three sentences run consecutive, or back-to-back, for a total of up to 25 years.
The plea agreement, which was signed by Lopez, also states that he will agree to the consecutive sentences and will waive his right to appeal.
He will be sentenced May 4.
According to arrest affidavits filed by Davenport police, Lopez and Lewis, 37, lived together in the 1600 block of West 14th Street.
The couple started arguing just after midnight on Aug. 31. The fight turned physical when Lopez slapped Lewis across the face at least two times and choked her, according to the affidavit.
Lopez also pushed Lewis at least four times. The fourth time he pushed her, Lewis fell back and hit her head on a window sill, according to the affidavit.
She was taken to a local hospital by medics for serious life-threatening injuries. She died Sept. 4, according to the affidavit.
Lopez admitted to police that he assaulted Lewis and that she was in the hospital because of his actions, according to an application in support of a search warrant that was filed in December.
He also told police that when Lewis hit her head on the window sill, he knew it had done serious damage. However, he did not try to help her and let her "sleep" for hours and "went about his day" before calling 911, according to the application.
Lewis was taken to a hospital by medics and died Sept. 4 as a result of the injuries in the assault, according to court documents.
Lopez has remained in the Scott County Jail since Sept. 1. District Court Judge Thomas Reidel revoked his $1.025 million bond following his plea Wednesday.
First Midwest Bancorp, the parent company of First Midwest Bank with several Quad-City locations, has acquired Premier Asset Management.
Premier is a registered investment adviser based in Chicago with $550 million of assets under management.
Details of the transaction were not disclosed.
“Premier’s combination of expertise and service commitment sets them apart, bringing additional breadth to First Midwest," Robert Diedrich, executive vice president and director of Wealth Management of First Midwest Bank, said in a news release.
Premier President Joseph Seminetta added: "The ability to provide our clients a broader range of products as well as access to First Midwest’s robust network of services creates value for all involved."
Premier was founded in 2001 and is led by Joe and Denise Seminetta, who bring a combined 50 years of investment advisory experience. They will continue to lead Premier and their team as a separate subsidiary under First Midwest subsidiary.
Headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, First Midwest has $14 billion in assets and $9.5 billion in wealth assets under management.
Its principal subsidiary, First Midwest Bank, has more than 130 locations across metro Chicago, northwest Indiana, central and western Illinois and eastern Iowa. In the Quad-Cities, it has branches in Moline, East Moline, Davenport and Bettendorf.
MUSCATINE, Iowa — A Fairfield teenager has been arrested in connection with a shooting in Muscatine over the weekend.
Noah Hass, 16, has been charged with attempted murder, a class B felony. He is accused of shooting Aaron Allen, 21, of Letts on Sunday, according to a news release from the Muscatine Police Department.
Hass was arrested by the Fairfield Police Department around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday.
Allen was transported by AirCare to an Iowa City hospital with serious injuries from gunshot wounds. He was found outside of a vehicle in the 300 block of Broadway Street, and officers also located several shell casings in the area.
The Muscatine Detective Bureau is actively working leads in the investigation, police said.
The Muscatine Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance, and anyone with information about the incident or other criminal activity is encouraged to call the Muscatine Police Department at 563-263-9922, ext. 608, or send a private message through the department's Facebook account.
ALEDO, Ill. — A $100,000 arrest warrant has been issued for the man police have described as “Mercer County’s best meth cook.”
Charles Peacock, 23, failed to appear Tuesday in Mercer County Circuit Court for a hearing on a petition to revoke his probation. He had been released last week on a $50,000 recognizance bond.
Peacock was placed on four years’ probation last May for violating the terms of his probation in a 2015 meth manufacturing case. The Andalusia man originally was placed on three years’ probation for the Class 1 felony in February 2016, but he violated the conditions by visiting the co-defendant in the case and failing to complete a drug evaluation. Mercer County State’s Attorney Meeghan Lee has indicated she is seeking up to 12 years in prison for Peacock.
The co-defendant, Erica Sandusky, 25, of Matherville is awaiting trial and has a pretrial conference set for March 20.
A Mercer County Sheriff’s Department investigator dubbed Peacock as “Mercer County’s best meth cook” during his original sentencing hearing, describing in meticulous details how he produced the drug.
A crew of Quad-City musicians are teaming up to take part in The Local Bands for Music Education Benefit set for 2-11 p.m. Friday at the River Music Experience, 129 N. Main St., Davenport. Proceeds from this year's event will go toward elementary music education programs in Muscatine. Bands participating include Rolling Thunder The Music of AC/DC, V.J.J. Groove, Monica Bell Band, Frankie Fontagne & The Ramblers, Have Your Cake and Whiplash Abby at the Redstone Room stage as well as other acts performing on the acoustic stage at the RME, 129 Main St., Davenport. Admission is $5.
2. 'Murder in the Cathedral'
In the 1990s, the Genesius Guild put on a rare winter performance of "Murder in the Cathedral" at a Quad-City church. Twenty-five years later, the guild is doing that again. You have five chances to see T.S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral," which follows the assassination of Thomas à Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, in 1170 at the hands of four knights and at the bidding of King Henry II, at five area churches this month. All performances are free, and donations will be accepted in an effort to raise money for the Genesius Guild. The first performance is slated for 7 p.m. Friday at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 121 W 12th St., Davenport.
3. '4 Artists, 4 Visions'
In one exhibit, see four artists take on mediums such as printmaking, ceramics, drawings and fibers. The Augustana Teaching Museum of Art presents “4 Artists, 4 Visions,” an invitational exhibit organized with the Augustana Department of Art. A free opening reception is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Friday in the Centennial Hall galleries, 3703 7th Ave., Rock Island. For more information and details on the artist talk events, visit augustana.edu/arts/art-museum.
This show features four area acts playing a variety of tunes on one stage. The lineup includes Pulsing, a Cedar Falls, Iowa, musician who creates tunes using a Game Boy video game; Eroll Hem, a Quad-City based hip hop act; Baby Alchemy from Muscatine; and Sisko Diq, a electronic and acoustic act from Ames, Iowa. Music starts at 8 p.m. Friday at Rozz-Tox, 2108 3rd Ave., Rock Island. Admission is $5-10.
5. An inside look at The Beatles
"The Magical History Tour: A Beatles Exhibition" is coming to the Putnam Museum and Science Center, 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport, Saturday. See a collection of memorabilia and artifacts related to The Beatles through June 4. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and college students and $14 for children. Tickets are available at putnam.org/beatles.
6. Black Box Theatre's first musical
The Black Box Theatre, the newest theater company to hit the Quad-Cities, is hosting its first musical this weekend. See “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown," which includes songs such as “My New Philosophy,” “Happiness” and the title song “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown," at 7:30 p.m. Friday- Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. It runs through March 25. Tickets, $16, are available at theblackboxtheatre.com and at the theatre box office, 623 5th Ave., Moline.
If you're a fan of Irish fare, it might be time to learn how to cook the Irish way. Greatest Grains, the health food grocery store in Davenport, is hosting a cooking class just in time for St. Patrick's Day. You'll learn how to craft meals such as Irish soda bread, Irish stew, coffee cake and colcannon. The class is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, at Greatest Grains, 1600 N. Harrison St., Davenport. Tickets, $15. For more information, call 563-323-7521 or visit greatestgrains.com.
2. Lenten fish fry at St. Al's
The season of Lent began last Wednesday, which means St. Alphonsus Catholic Church has started its season of frying fish and pouring beers on Fridays. A fish fry is scheduled from 4-7 p.m. each Friday through April 7 at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, 2618 Boies Ave., Davenport. Cost is $10 per plate, which includes a drink and $4 for kids. For more information, visit stalphonsusdav.org or call 563-322-0987.
3. Q-C Food Hub launches cooking class
The Quad-Cities Food Hub is launching a new cooking class focused on the basics, from beginner kitchen techniques to indoor gardening. The first class of the series, called Cooking Basics, is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, at the Quad-Cities Food Hub, 421 W. River Drive, Davenport. Cost is $13 per class or $70 for the entire series. To sign up, visit qcfoodhub.com or call 563-265-2455.
4. Wine and chocolate
Celebrate a classic pairing: Wine and chocolate. A free tasting of wine and chocolate samples is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at Cool Beanz Coffeehouse, 1325 30th St., Rock Island. For more information, visit coolbeanzcoffeehouse.com or call 309-558-0909.
5. 20 years of Bent River
In honor of its 20th anniversary, Bent River Brewery, which has locations in Rock Island and Moline, is kicking off a year-long party with a three-day bash set for March 15-17 with daily specials including Irish-infused beer tappings, discounted appetizers and pints as well as giveaways at the brew pub, 1413 5th Ave., Moline. For more information, visit bentriverbrewing.com.
6. Irish beer tapping
St. Patrick's Day is less than two weeks away, which means it's time to start thinking about Irish beer. Great River Brewery, 332 E. 2nd St., Davenport, is hosting its monthly tapping party, featuring the Dry Irish Stout, set for 1 p.m. Saturday, March 18, at the brewery, which will open early that day for the St. Patrick Society Grand Parade. For more information, visit greatriverbrewery.com.
7. St. Patrick's Day fest
Kelly's Irish Pub and Eatery's website has displayed a countdown to St. Patrick's Day since, well, the day after St. Patrick's Day in 2016. The pub's St. Patrick's Day Festival returns for its 13th year with festivities, including on-special plates of corned beef and cabbage and pints of beer, set for 5-11:30 p.m. Friday, March 17, and 6 a.m. to midnight Saturday March 18, at 2222 E. 53rd St., Davenport. Don't forget about the skydiving leprechauns, green beer, Irish dancing and live music. For the full schedule, visit kellysirishpubandeatery.com/st-pats-day.
MUSCATINE, Iowa — The Muscatine City Council will decide at its Thursday night meeting whether or not to hold a hearing on the removal of Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 9, in council chambers at City Hall, 215 Sycamore St.
If the motion is approved, a hearing on the charges of removal that have been filed by Muscatine City Attorney Matthew Brick will be held at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 23, in council chambers in City Hall.
At the hearing, both sides will be given a chance to present arguments before the council makes its final decision. The hearing is required by state and city code to be held at least 10 days after the mayor is notified.
The vote to remove Broderson must pass by at least a two-thirds majority of the council, according to city code.
Lerma first team all-Valley: Leti Lerma, a Bradley senior from Muscatine and the only player in the Missouri Valley Conference to average a double-double, earned a spot Wednesday on an all-conference team which includes four players repeating as first-team choices.
The 5-foot-10 guard averages 11.6 points and leads the conference with a rebounding average of 10.6 per game, numbers which grew to 13.4 points and 11.6 rebounds against Missouri Valley competition.
Lerma, who also leads the league in offensive rebounding at 4.3 per game, is the first Bradley player selected as a first-team all-conference choice since Monica Rogers in 2009.
She is joined on the 11-player first team by four players who earned first-team recognition a year ago, Drake’s Caitlin Ingle and Lizzy Wendell, Northern Iowa’s Madison Weekly and Southern Illinois’ Rishonda Napier.
Evansville’s Sara Dickey, a first-team choice in 2014 and 2015, and Wichita State’s Rangie Bessard, an honorable mention selection last year, earned first-team honors as well as did Liza Fruendt of Missouri State, Kyle Giebelhausen of Southern Illinois, Ellie Herzberg of Northern Iowa and Becca Hittner of Drake.
Lerma was also named to the conference’s five-player all-defensive team, making her the first Bradley player since Davenport West graduate Heather Best in 1999 to be named to the all-defensive team in addition to earning first-team all-conference honors.
The Missouri Valley will announce its individual awards winners between the first two games of its conference tournament, which begins at 4 p.m. Thursday at the iWireless Center in Moline.
A good Wednesday to all. Breezy conditions and an enhanced threat for grass fires are in store for the area today with snow possible this weekend.
Here are the weather details from the National Weather Service.
Today will be sunny and breezy with a high near 55 degrees. West winds could produce gusts as high as 40 mph.
Tonight will be partly cloudy with a low around 28 degrees.
Thursday will be partly sunny with a high near 49 degrees and a low around 23 degrees.
A wind advisory will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today for some areas of the Quad-Cities region.
According to the National Weather Service sustained west winds up to 35 mph will gust up to 45 mph from mid-morning through the early afternoon with the strongest winds located along and north of a line from Independence and DeWitt Iowa, to Princeton, Ill.
These winds will make travel difficult for high-profile vehicles. Lightweight unsecured objects outside may also be easily blown around. Use extra care if traveling today.
Also, these strong winds along with dry vegetation will elevate the risk of uncontrolled grass fires today. Any grass fires that do develop will spread quickly.
Looking head: A storm system is forecasted to bring light snow to the area Friday night into Saturday. While the track of the storm is not yet fully known, there is a potential for 1 to 2 inches of snow south of a Waterloo, Iowa to Kewanee, Ill. line.
2. Selfless approach has Bettendorf primed for state tournament run
It was a tough act to follow. Nicholas Baer, Cole Clearman, Kendall Jacks and Dylan Sortillo were the nucleus of a Bettendorf boys basketball team that won back-to-back conference titles, 49 games and guided the program to consecutive top-three state finishes in 2013 and 2014.
After a couple bumpy seasons, including an 8-16 mark two years ago, Bettendorf is back in the state tournament behind 10 seniors. The Mississippi Athletic Conference champions square off against fourth-ranked Sioux City East (21-2) in a Class 4A quarterfinal at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena. Read more.
3. Hundreds still without power in Q-C
Crews have restored power to all but about 570 MidAmerican Energy customers in the Iowa Quad-Cities after Monday night's severe storms. See outage map
According to the utility's website service restoration is expected to occur by mid-morning. For those customers that have suffered damage such as service pulled away from the house or damage to the meter box, an electrician may be needed to make repairs prior to having service restored.
4. Storylines for the Big Ten basketball tournament
After 19 years of holding its men’s basketball tournament in either Indianapolis or Chicago, the Big Ten is venturing outside of its traditional footprint and holding the tournament in Washington, D.C., this week.
The move has received mixed reviews. It almost certainly will mean less crowd support from the long-time Big Ten members in the Midwest, whose fans won’t be as inclined to make the long, pricey trip to D.C. And there is some thought that it could give No. 3 seed Maryland a definite homecourt advantage. Read more.
5. 7 foodie things to do in March
Times food reporter Amanda Hancock has seven must-do things in March for the self-described foodie. Read more.
6. Q-C's newest beer festival is here
Twenty-five years ago, Scott Welch didn’t know anyone outside of his small home-brewing club who could name the difference between an IPA and a stout.
Much less, he only knew a handful of people who drank craft beer.
Now the 51-year-old Moline native is surprised, and impressed, by how far the craft beer scene has come. Read more.
Twenty-five years ago, Scott Welch didn’t know anyone outside of his small home-brewing club who could name the difference between an IPA and a stout.
Much less, he only knew a handful of people who drank craft beer.
“There were like two books on homebrewing and there weren’t any YouTube videos because the Internet was just starting,” Welch, now the brewer at Geneseo Brewing Co., said. “Everyone was into the cheap and easy-drinking beer.”
That’s why the 51-year-old Moline native is so surprised, and impressed, by how far the craft beer scene has come.
For example, Geneseo, Illinois, which has a population of about 6,500 people, is home to two breweries: Welch’s workplace, which opened in August 2015 in the city’s downtown area, and Lionstone Brewing, which opened about a month later in a strip mall on the south end of the city.
“Sometimes it seems a little weird that we’re here,” he said. “I never thought there’d even be a craft brewery in the Quad-Cities and now there’s quite a few.”
For Welch, here’s the ultimate sign that times have changed for craft beer: his brewery is one of 35 establishments participating in Brewed Live, a new festival coming to the Quad-Cities this weekend.
“There are so many different options now and people wanting to try them out … it goes on and on,” he said. “It’s a good time to like beer.”
Along with Quad-City-based participants such as Bent River Brewery Co., Great River Brewery and Front Street Brewery, fest-goers can get samples from spots such as Omission Beer of Portland, Oregon, Kona Brewing Co. of Kailua, Hawaii, Breckenridge Brewery of Littleton, Colorado, Schlafly Beer Brands of St. Louis, Missouri and Big Muddy Brewing Co. of Murphysboro, Illinois.
Ross Vehmeier, co-owner of Lena Brewing Company, 9416 Wagner Road, Lena, Illinois, said Brewed Live is a good opportunity to get the word out about his brewery, which is about 90 miles from the metro Quad-Cities.
“Brew fests have become popular because craft beer has become so popular,” Vehmeier said. “If you don’t know a lot about beer, it’s a chance to talk directly to brewers about what each style tastes like.”
Since opening in January 2015, Vehmeier and his team have attended 30-40 fests and tastings per year. He said Brewed Live, where he’s teaching a session about grains, yeasts and hops, is shaping up to be different than other beer-related events.
“This brew fest is unlike anything we’ve done before; it’s not just a free-for-all of samples,” he said. “You can get more dialogue about how beer is made. The key for us is to continue educating our customers about what craft is, why it’s different and what separates us from other breweries.”
While craft beer has become more mainstream over the years, Vehmeier said he still pushes plenty of customers to go outside their domestic beer-loving comfort zones.
“People still ask us if we have something like a Blue Moon and we say that we don’t because that’s a commercialized style,” he said. “Our beer takes a stance in whatever style it is, from wheat beers to stouts. We take style guidelines and push the threshold.”
After attending a festival like Brewed Live, Vehmeier and Welch hope beer-drinkers are more motivated to seek out their breweries.
“It’s a stepping stone to figure out what your palate is like,” Vehmeier said. “And then you can keep exploring.”
That kind of exploring has had a positive impact in Geneseo over the past two years, said city administrator Lisa Kotter.
“A lot of people see those two breweries as a destination place on top of the other things to do in our downtown area,” Kotter said. “Both are very busy on a regular basis and offer different atmospheres. It brings more people from all over, including the Quad-Cities, here.”
Now, the challenge is on brewers such as Welch to keep the craft beer craze going.
“Once you start drinking craft beer, you want to keep trying different recipes,” he said. “I look at it like, ‘Do you want to eat cheese pizza everyday?’ Probably not.”
DES MOINES — His job will be to represent the entire United States and act as an intermediary between two of the world’s most populous countries.
But some Iowa business and agriculture leaders think the state could benefit from Terry Branstad serving as U.S. ambassador to China.
Branstad, the nation’s longest-serving governor with more than two decades of service as Iowa’s chief executive, has been nominated by President Donald Trump to be the next ambassador to China. Branstad has not yet been confirmed; that is expected this spring.
Branstad will have broad responsibilities as ambassador to represent the entire country, but some say Iowa very well could benefit from having Branstad serve in that role.
“He’s been such a wonderful advocator for Iowa,” said Li Zhao, president of China Iowa Group, a West Des Moines-based business that contracts with Iowa companies seeking to enter the Chinese market or build business relationships in China. “I think he’s going to be a fantastic ambassador, and Iowa will definitely benefit from that.”
State business and agriculture leaders pointed to Branstad’s close relationships with both country’s presidents and his knowledge of international trade issues, particularly as they relate to Iowa farmers and businesses.
Branstad has had a professional friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping since 1984, when Branstad visited China. The following year, Xi, then a regional official, visited Iowa.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Branstad was an early post-primary supporter of Trump and did not waver when other Republicans questioned some of Trump’s campaign rhetoric. And Branstad’s son Eric managed the Trump campaign’s operation in Iowa.
Once confirmed as ambassador to China, Branstad will serve as a primary conduit between the Trump and Xi administrations.
Because of his relationships with both leaders and because Iowa and China are significant trading partners, Branstad could advocate for policies that benefit Iowans, leaders here say.
“We all are looking forward, in ag, to having the governor there in that position,” said Craig Hill, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau, which represents more than 159,000 Iowa farm families, according to its website. “While it does pose great challenges and will be very rigorous for the governor, we’re glad that he’s taken on that duty.”
Iowa exported $2.3 billion in goods to China in 2015, including $1.4 billion in agriculture products, according to the U.S.-China Business Council.
Hill said Branstad’s knowledge of international trade should help Iowa continue to benefit from its trade relationship with China, if not expand those benefits.
Branstad also is a frequent advocate for state policies that benefit Iowa businesses, chief among them, a 2013 package that reduced property tax rates on commercial and industry properties by nearly $400 million in fiscal years 2014 through 2016, according to the state’s nonpartisan fiscal estimating agency.
Iowa businesses that market goods to China hope Branstad can use his close relationship with the Chinese government to encourage international trade policies that benefit them.
“We were pleased that Gov. Branstad was chosen as an ambassador to China,” Ken Golden, global public relations director for Deere & Co., said in an emailed statement. “Gov. Branstad understands the importance of agriculture to Iowa and the entire farm belt of the Midwest. He also understands that global trade is important not only to John Deere as an equipment manufacturer but also to our customers, especially those in agriculture.”
Once he resigns as governor and becomes ambassador, however, Branstad no longer will be representing just one state’s goods and businesses. He will be representing an entire nation, including an administration whose stated goals very well may run afoul of China’s interests.
Trump, for example, has stated a desire to renegotiate trade deals to make them more favorable to the U.S. And China has been accused by the U.S. of multiple violations of trade agreements in recent years.
Hill acknowledged Branstad may be required to walk a fine line but also said he thinks Branstad’s experience makes him the right person for the job.
“I think it’s a two-way street as always in trade, and (Branstad) understands that,” Hill said. “It will be a very strenuous role that he’ll have going forward, certainly. But I think, knowing our governor, he’ll take a very measured, aggressive approach. It will be a positive approach, one that is respectful and considerate of all parties. But I think he’s the right person for the job.”
Branstad said he understands his role will be, on occasion, to try to encourage agreement between the Trump and Xi administrations.
“Donald Trump’s a businessman. He wrote a book called ‘The Art of the Deal,’” Branstad said. “In the end of the day, (Trump) wants to make things better for America. He wants better deals for America. But the best deal is a win-win, which would be better for America but also good for China.
“My goal is to try to be the go-between between the two strong leaders, between President Trump representing America and my old friend Xi Jinping representing China, and hopefully working out some of these difficult issues. And there’s a lot of issues.”
Li said she is confident Branstad will be able to work through all those issues and Iowans will benefit from Branstad’s service as ambassador. She traveled with Branstad’s administration during a recent trade mission to China and marveled at the work Branstad did to foster those trade relationships.
And for Li — as with so many other Iowans who think Branstad will excel in his new role — it all comes back to that deep-seated relationship with President Xi.
“The Chinese culture pays a lot of attention to relationships. We have a word called guanxi,” Li said, referring to a Chinese word that literally means relationships and in Chinese business refers to a network of relationships. “It’s literally the key in doing business, making everything happen in China.
“Gov. Branstad has the perfect guanxi with the highest-ranking officials in China. And that makes him pretty unique.”
As storms rolled through the area and tornadoes danced along the ground Monday night, Jeff Dietz knew something bad was afoot.
“It got real quiet,” said Dietz, 57, who has lived in the same farmhouse at 6535 Wisconsin Avenue in Davenport for 52 years. While he has not farmed the land since his last crop in 2001, he maintained the four silos, a large cattle shed and a large utility shed on the property.
When it got quiet, Dietz said Tuesday as he and friends picked up the debris about his place, “I knew this wasn’t going to be good.”
Dietz said he took a look out a window and saw the sheet metal siding on the cattle barn and shed being blown away.
Another peek out the window and he could tell he’d lost one silo completely while two others lost about 30 feet from their tops. Only the silo with the flat roof survived unscathed.
Tuesday was the beginning of cleanup.
Dietz pointed to the twisted metal and pile of rubble left by the silo that was destroyed, and the two that lost their tops. “I’m not going to replace those, or the sheds,” he said. “I figure I’ll break about even on everything.”
Most important, Dietz said, is that, “nobody was hurt.” The family home didn’t suffer damage although a pickup he’d been working on got beaten up a bit and a window of his SUV was blown out.
The tornado that struck Dietz’s farm started in Muscatine County, near the Mississippi River, according to National Weather Service, Davenport. It moved in a northeasterly direction for 25.3 miles through Blue Grass, northwest Davenport, and on into Eldridge.
Surveyors from the Weather Service classified the twister as an EF2, with peak winds of 120 mph, and a maximum width of 1,000 yards. In addition to the damage it caused at the Dietz farm, the winds from that tornado snapped tress and power poles and took shingles off roofs.
On Tuesday, electrical crews worked along Kimberly and Forest Grove roads in Davenport repairing downed power poles and electrical wires.
It was one of three tornadoes in the National Weather Service, Davenport, coverage area. A second tornado also struck Muscatine, while a third struck near Bernard in Dubuque County.
At 8:04 p.m. Tuesday, MidAmerican Energy was reporting 701 customers in Davenport were still without power, while 29 customers were without power in Scott County. In the Illinois Quad-Cities, there were 33 Rock Island customers without power, while there were eight in Rock Island County and four in Henry County.
Jennifer Nahra, the city’s communications director, said there also was storm damage in the 2600 to 3000 block of West 67th Street. The city’s forestry crew was busy removing downed trees from the roadways Tuesday, she said.
By the afternoon, crews had “responded and cleared all the calls that were received in conjunction with the storm,” she said.
Interstate 280 was shut down for a brief period because of downed power lines and a semi-trailer truck had blown over, Davenport Police Capt. Brent Biggs said.
No injuries were reported.
The Scott County Sheriff’s Office responded to two semi-trucks that ended up on their sides in LeClaire and near the Walcott Truck Stop. The driver of the truck in LeClaire sustained minor injuries but declined treatment at the scene, according to the sheriff’s office.