1. I-74 meeting
The governors of Iowa and Illinois finally got together in the Quad-Cities, if only for a short time, last week. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner made a joint appearance Monday at Leach Park in Bettendorf to formally kick off construction of the new Interstate 74 bridge over the Mississippi River. The cost of the overall project is expected to be $1.2 billion, and construction of the twin spans is just a part of that. The work is expected to run into 2020 before the existing bridges come down in 2021.
2. Kone changes
The company is keeping its North American headquarters in Moline, but the two buildings in the city that include the Kone name likely will be changing hands soon. Heritage Church, which already has four locations in the Quad-City region, announced Thursday that it is buying the iconic tower just upstream from the I-74 bridge, along with the office building at its base. The church plans to move its offices to the building and add community center-type activities. Meanwhile, Ray Forsythe, Moline planning and development director, said Financial District Properties and its principal, Rodney Blackwell, also are selling most of the new Kone Centre to an out-of-state company.
3. Teacher charged
A Davenport teacher was arrested last week and accused in federal court of possessing child pornography. Michael Loren Ross, 43, made his first appearance in court Monday on charges of possession of child pornography and receipt of child pornography. He has taught in the Davenport Community School District at Buchanan and Wilson elementary schools, but he was placed on administrative leave following his arrest.
4. Homicide arrest
Meanwhile, a Davenport man was arrested last week and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Brandon Brooks, 35. Authorities were called to a quiet street on Davenport's west side on May 30 on a report of a fire near the street, and they made a gruesome find. Brooks' body was found when the fire was put out. Last week, Tremayne LaToine Thomas, 42, was arrested in connection with the death.
5. Big bang
Consumer-grade fireworks are legal again in Iowa for the first time in about 80 years. It's a fun opportunity for many, but police in the Iowa Quad-Cities say it's meant a big increase in calls for service from people complaining about fireworks being shot unsafely or outside the allowed times. Davenport firefighters also have responded to at least three fires attributed to fireworks.
6. Pitch for rehab
We learned last week that there are plans in the works to fix up the old Rock Island County Courthouse and return many of the county offices to the 1895-97 structure at the foot of the Centennial Bridge in Rock Island. Among the ideas under consideration is a three-quarter cent sales tax increase to fund the rehabilitation. County Administrator Dave Ross will pitch the plan at a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. July 18 before the Rock Island County Board.
7. Stopping violence
About 200 people turned out last Sunday for a second annual walk to bring awareness to the victims and tragedy of gun violence. It was more than double the turnout from the first walk a year ago, and it attracted family, friends and loved ones of more than two dozen gun violence victims since 1993. "We want to stop the violence," one of those family members told us.
8. Another round
It's been a long fight for the Burchett brothers at the Mississippi River Distilling Co. They've been trying to level the playing field for distilleries in the state for years, giving them the same opportunities to sell their product as small-scale wineries and breweries have in Iowa. On Saturday, a new law took effect that allows the distillery to sell liquor by the glass; previously, they could offer visitors only small amounts of liquor to sample, and they couldn't charge for it. Now, the Cody Road Cocktail House is open at the distillery in LeClaire.
9. Running around
Construction work on Davenport's Brady Street hasn't progressed as fast as expected, and it will mean a detour will continue for runners taking part in the Bix at Six, the Thursday night training runs for the Quad-City Times Bix 7. For the next two Thursdays, runners again will use Pershing Avenue instead of Brady for the Bix at Six. Race director Ed Froehlich said he's been assured Brady will be ready for the Bix 7 race on July 29. Meanwhile, he's trying to figure out where qualifying rounds for the Brady Street Sprints will be held. By the way, to register for the big race, go to qctimes.com/bix7.
10. Zoo under water
Niabi Zoo's newest attraction has now opened. The aquatic-themed exhibit called Oceans opened to the public on Friday and features 40 new species for the zoo in Coal Valley. The exhibit includes a giant Pacific octopus, a moray eel, moon jellyfish and other underwater species, and zoo officials say it will bring new learning opportunities to the Quad-Cities.