Week in review: 8 notable local stories from past 7 days

3 injured in downtown fire; separate blaze damages home

Three people were injured in a fire Monday in downtown Dubuque, but the efforts of firefighters potentially prevented the situation from being significantly worse.

Firefighters rescued four people from the building at the corner of West 11th and Main streets after the fire was reported at about 12:30 p.m. The building contains residential units as well as businesses such as Outside the Lines Art Gallery and Jack’s Lounge.

A press release stated that some occupants were “trapped by smoke on the upper floors.”

“(The) fire was brought under control while rescues were made by ground ladders,” the release states.

Three of the people were ushered to safety from the third floor on the Main Street side of the building, according to Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Esser. Firefighters at the scene could be seen guiding a woman down from a smoke-filled, third-floor unit. Those three were taken by ambulance for treatment due to smoke inhalation.

On Tuesday, a Dubuque home was heavily damaged by fire, but no injuries were reported. The fire at 545 Napier St. was reported at about 1:30 p.m.

A press release states that arriving firefighters found the home and several vehicles on fire.

Dark smoke billowing from the scene initially could be seen at locations throughout the city.

Galena superintendent let license lapse, documents show

GALENA, Ill. — Galena public schools’ top administrator ran the district without a state license for months prior to his resignation, despite notices and reminders from state and regional education officials, according to documents that were obtained by the Telegraph Herald.

State law requires that all teachers and school administrators hold a valid professional educator license, with each license holder responsible for renewing their certification every five years.

According to the Illinois State Board of Education and its online database, Greg Herbst’s license expired June 30 — about four months before he resigned. Licensees have a two-month grace period to renew a license, which gave Herbst until Aug. 31 to renew his license with an endorsement to work as a superintendent.

Herbst’s license, however, remained lapsed, according to the state board of education.

Board spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said via email that Herbst could be reviewed for unprofessional conduct under Illinois school code. However, the state board had not received any misconduct complaints about Herbst. If the board determines Herbst’s actions harmed the district or its students, that could result in remediation and suspension or revocation of his license, Matthews wrote.

In a statement emailed to the TH on Tuesday, Herbst wrote that he declined an offer of assistance to renew his license, “knowing my departure from the district was imminent and necessary.”

“Professional reasons were articulated in my resignation letter,” he wrote without elaborating. “The individual toll of constant tension and feelings of isolation will remain personal.”

State report gives local schools decent grades

The vast majority of campuses in Dubuque Community Schools were rated as “acceptable” or better in a state report released Wednesday.

In Dubuque Community Schools, 16 out of 18 campuses were rated as “acceptable” or better by the state. The two campuses that fell below that threshold were Prescott and Lincoln elementary schools, which both received a “needs improvement” rating.

In the Western Dubuque Community School District, all schools achieved a rating of “commendable” or better, with two campuses earning the highest-possible designation.

Dubuque City Council adopts code of conduct

A new-look Dubuque City Council on Sunday signed off on a new code of conduct, with plans to later develop a code of ethics.

Council members met for a six-plus-hour special “governance” work session Sunday at the Grand River Center facilitated by consultant Lyle Sumek, of Sumek Associates.

“I would like to know that my colleagues are obeying the laws and rules of the state and the city in meetings and closed sessions,” at-large Council Member Ric Jones said.

The comments come as Mayor Roy Buol pursues sanctions against former Council Member Jake Rios for sharing materials from closed-door council discussions of the city manager’s job performance.

Dubuque Casinos bet on Super Bowl surge

Shortly after 5:30 p.m. today, members of the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will kick off Super Bowl LIV.

The athletes themselves won’t be the only winners and losers, however.

The American Gaming Association estimates that 26 million Americans will wager on the Super Bowl this year, a 15% increase from last year’s championship game. The AGA believes the primary reason for the considerable jump has been the swift spread of legalized sports gambling, now operational in 14 U.S. states.

Sports betting in Iowa became legal in mid-August, and both of Dubuque’s casinos have subsequently launched sportsbooks; FanDuel Sportsbook opened within Diamond Jo Casino, and Q Sportsbook operates within Q Casino and Hotel.

In the world of sports betting, Super Bowl Sunday is unparalleled.

New grocery store slated to open in Dyersville

A regional grocery chain with deep tri-state roots soon will breathe new life into the former Shopko building in Dyersville.

Hy-Vee, Inc. announced Monday that it will acquire the former Shopko location at 1201 12th Ave. SE and reopen it under the chain’s Dollar Fresh brand by late summer.

Such Hy-Vee stores offer customers in smaller communities a full selection of grocery items, a bakery section, a dollar section, ready-to-eat meals and other services.

“It is a lot like a normal Hy-Vee, but typically on a smaller scale,” said Christina Gayman, the company’s director of public relations.

Smart parking meters on deck in Dubuque

The City of Dubuque soon will launch a three-month pilot program that aims to test new, “smart parking meter” technology.

These meters will oversee parking at more than 100 downtown spaces, giving customers new options for payment and providing city employees with additional tools for enforcement.

The pilot program could pave the way for permanent use of smart metering.

“We know we need to move our parking system into the 21st century,” City Manager Mike Van Milligen said.