Captains Table Fire 003

Ice covered the remains of the Captain’s Table Restaurant at 4801 River Drive, Moline after a fire gutted the structure Monday, Jan. 15.

Kevin E. Schmidt, Quad-City Times

State to audit Davenport schools

The Davenport School District’s special education program and its funding are getting a rare state review.

At least a half-dozen staffers from the Iowa Department of Education are expected to be in Davenport from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 for an audit of school records.

Of the four audits performed on school districts in Iowa over the past three years, only one other looked at special education.

The state's concerns involve Davenport’s high percentage of students with disabilities who are placed in restrictive settings, Individual Education Plans, or IEPs, disciplinary action that is taken and a large increase in special education expenses last year.

In anticipation of the state inspection, school officials last week spent hours getting the school board up to speed on special education programs for the more than 2,500 students who meet the criteria.

'My heart weeps'

A 15-year-old was killed over $150 worth of marijuana, and a young mother was sentenced last week to four decades in prison for her role in the death.

Jescie J. Armstrong, of Rock Island, sustained a fatal gunshot to the head during a drug deal in Rock Island in April 2016.

Chelsea Raker, 23, of Columbus, Ohio, pleaded guilty in October to armed robbery in the case and was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years. A co-defendant is expected to plead guilty to felony murder in exchange for a 20-year sentence.

“Jescie’s life was taken by a senseless crime by a person who calls herself a mother,” the victim’s grandmother, Debbie Armstrong, said at the sentencing. “How could a mother kill someone else’s child?”

As part of the plea with Raker, prosecutors dropped two counts of first degree murder, and one count of aiding a fugitive to flee.

She declined to make a statement in court, but Judge Norma Kauzlarich read aloud a letter written by Raker, stating, “My heart weeps for everyone involved, especially for the family of young Mr. Armstrong. I cannot imagine the pain Jescie’s mother had endured. For this, I am deeply sorry.”

Devastating fires

A longtime restaurant and a Bettendorf home were casualties of fire last week.

The Captain's Table on the Moline riverfront is a total loss after a blaze broke out Monday night.

The restaurant at 4801 River Drive closed for renovations Jan. 1 and was to open again by the end of the month. Fire investigators were waiting late last week for the heavy ice that resulted from fighting the fire to lessen before entering the remains of the structure.

The fire department responded about 10:44 p.m. and found the restaurant “overwhelmed” by the blaze, which was reported by several passersby.

No one was inside the building at the time and no civilians or firefighters were injured.

On Wednesday, fire swept through a home at 1520 Lincoln Road, Bettendorf, shortly before 8 a.m.

The fire started in the garage and left a 94-year-old widower homeless. He reportedly is living with neighbors.

How many combines?

A Minnesota farmer last week made a visit to the Quad-Cities to pick up his 500th John Deere combine.

Chad Olsen owns Olsen Custom Farms, which is a massive harvesting operation. The locally made combines allow his crews to bring in 600,000 to 700,000 acres of crops each year for customers stretching from Texas to Canada.

Despite his 25 years in business, Olsen made his first appearance on the manufacturing line at John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline.

It was the first time he accepted the invitation to start his new combine and run performance checks as part of the plant's Gold Key Tour.

"Usually I let the employees do it," Olsen said. "I can walk out of my shop anytime and start a combine."

But the visit clearly was a special one for Olsen, who brought with him 28 family members and Olsen Farms employees.

His 500th machine was part of an order of 13 combines and eight pieces of front-end equipment that Harvester is building for him. By year's end, Olsen said, he will buy 34 new combines from John Deere.

New chief for Moline

Out of nearly 50 applicants from 16 states and several countries, Moline found its new chief within its own ranks.

Captain John Hitchcock is expected to be confirmed as chief this week by the city council.

He is to begin his department leadership following his oath of office, which is to take place after his confirmation. Hitchcock's annual salary is expected to be $129,604.

He has been the interim police chief since July 2017, after the retirement of Public Safety Director Kim Hankins.

Hitchcock began his career in Moline as a patrol officer in January 1992. Over his 26-year career, he climbed the ranks, achieving captain in May 2016.

He earned degrees in sociology and political science from Augustana College and completed the FBI National Academy. Hitchcock’s additional training is varied, ranging from public information officer to homicide investigations to tactical team operation.

Girl struck near middle school

Parents arriving Friday morning to deliver their children to John Deere Middle School in Moline encountered a worrisome scene.

Police closed the roadway in the area of 12th Street and 21st Avenue after a girl was struck by a vehicle. The unidentified student was pinned under the vehicle, and bystanders lifted the vehicle, freeing her, police said.

She sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the 7:45 a.m. mishap and was transported to Trinity Rock Island and later to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

The crash remains under investigation, and police are asking anyone with information about the accident or events leading up to it to call 309-797-0401.

Teen wins Best Deer Photo

Mason Herrington, 13, of Eldridge, took top honors Thursday in the Best Deer Photo Contest.

Sponsored by R&R Sports and the Quad-City Times, the contest drew photos from 40 hunters from Iowa and Illinois, which produced about 1,000 online votes.

Mason, a student at North Scott Junior High School in Eldridge, shot a 13-point buck with his .20 gauge shotgun in Jackson County on Sept. 23.

He wins a $500 gift certificate from R&R Sports, Bettendorf.

And if you don't want to miss the big stories coming up this week, call 563-383-2210 or visit qctimes.com/services to start your subscription. And stay on top of the news 24 hours a day at qctimes.com.

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