Week in review: 6 local stories of note from past 7 days | Tri-state News

Week in review: 6 local stories of note from past 7 days | Tri-state News

Dubuque council weighs ending mask mandate in unison with county

Dubuque City Council members on Monday suggested ending the city’s face mask mandate when Dubuque County ends its own.

During a discussion on the COVID-19 pandemic, Council Member David Resnick suggested the city adopt the same end date as Dubuque County. The county face mask ordinance is currently scheduled to run until June 15 or until the county COVID-19 Incident Management Team “declares that Phase 1B is completed in Dubuque County,” whichever happens sooner.

Resnick made the proposal after Mary Rose Corrigan, public health specialist for the city, informed council members that residents might be confusing the status of the county mask mandate and the city one, though both remain in effect.

The current city ordinance does not currently have a specified end date.

The county Board of Health is expected to vote on May 19 whether to end the county’s mask mandate before June 15. That recommendation then would go to the county Board of Supervisors.

Dubuque man sentenced to 15 years in prison for fatal shooting

A Dubuque man on Monday was sentenced to 15 years in prison for a fatal shooting on Loras Boulevard.

Deonte WB Ellison, 26, was sentenced in Iowa District Court of Dubuque County to 10 years for voluntary manslaughter — a charge which a jury found him guilty of about a month ago. Ellison fatally shot Curtis R. Smothers Jr., 25, on July 2 on Loras Boulevard.

Ellison also was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon.

“Mr. Ellison shot an unarmed man in front of his daughter in broad daylight on a city sidewalk,” Judge Michael Shubatt said. “He shot him with a gun he should not have had in the first place.”

At his trial in March, the prosecution and defense agreed that Ellison shot Smothers following an argument, but the sides disputed whether Ellison did so with premeditation or in self-defense.

Volunteers, local nonprofit bring furniture to needy

Piles of mattresses, tables, dressers and microwaves could be seen Thursday morning outside the former Dubuque Econo Lodge Inn and Suites as about 100 people joined together to deliver household items to those in need.

In an effort coordinated by Dubuque nonprofit Resources Unite, volunteers took furniture from the former hotel and delivered the items to 40 houses that were in need of furniture such as beds.

Dubuque-based trucking company McCoy Group purchased the Econo Lodge building and contacted Resources Unite to see if the nonprofit could help bring the furniture to people in need, Resources Unite Director Josh Jasper said.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to serve a lot of families that have been waiting,” Jasper said.

Loras opens new space for cancer, exercise research

A Loras College clinical trial examining connections between exercise and quality of life for cancer patients soon will start serving patients in its new home.

School leaders, alumni and members of the health care community gathered Friday to celebrate the opening of a new, dedicated facility for the Cancer Research in Exercise Science Laboratory in Keane Hall.

CARES Lab Director Keith Thraen-Borowski said the new space will allow him and his students to work with additional people and look at more research outcomes.

Thraen-Borowski’s research is focused on examining whether evidenced-based exercise programming can improve the quality of life and prognosis for cancer patients. The CARES Lab seeks to build on existing research, examine how those exercise programs can be implemented at a community-based location and look at how to get patients referred into them.

Dubuque council considers forgiving loan to spur rehab

Dubuque City Council members are considering forgiving a $350,000 loan to spur the rehabilitation of a downtown housing complex.

Council members recently voted to set a public hearing for a proposed development agreement with Affordable Housing Network to redevelop the five-story building at 90 Main St.

The agreement states that Affordable Housing Network will make needed repairs and renovations to the property. In return, the city will forgive a $350,000 loan to the building’s current owner, Bishop’s Block Limited Partnership.

Alexis Steger, the city’s director of housing and community development, said the deal ultimately will benefit the city because the cost of the renovations that Affordable Housing Network will perform will likely surpass $350,000. The proposed development agreement requires that at least that much be put into improvements in the building.

The original $350,000 loan was granted in 1999 to Bishop’s Block Limited Partnership to redevelop the structure, built in 1873, to create affordable rental housing units and commercial space. Since issuing the loan, the city reports that it has not collected a single payment from the company.

Taproom opens in renovated, historic barn in Jackson County

ST. DONATUS, Iowa — A rural Dubuque couple has given an old stone barn a new role in a Jackson County community.

Kari and Don Vize have reopened a taproom within the historic Gehlen Barn for the season in St. Donatus. The couple purchased the barn and nearby Gehlen House Inn in the summer of 2019. Both were built by Peter Gehlen, an immigrant from Luxembourg who settled in this area in 1846. The house served as a community center post office, hotel and general store.

The house and barn were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and are included in the Village of St. Donatus Historic District.

“They don’t build things like this anymore,” Kari said. “It’s true European craftsmanship.”

The inn has six guest rooms and an apartment. The barn taproom will have 14 beers on tap.

“We’re not brewing yet,” Kari said. “We want to get all of the renovations done because when we brew we want to brew the right way. We need to have all of our time available to do that. So, now we’re featuring Iowa craft beers.”

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