The latest local news

Boil order issued in Rapids City, Illinois

WQAD News -

RAPIDS CITY, Illinois — A boil order has been issued for some water customers in the Village of Rapids City.

Water was shut off around 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, June 12 for customers between 17th Street and 11th Street between the 500 block of 1st Avenue and north of Illinois Route 84.  According to the Village Clerk Missy Housenga, the water came back on around 8:45 a.m.

The affected area is now under a boil order until further notice.

Any water that residents plan to drink or cook with should be boiled for at least five minutes, according to Housenga.

Solar panels coming to Modern Woodmen Park to help power LED lights

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa — The Davenport ballpark where the Quad Cities River Bandits play is getting an energy-efficient upgrade.

Plans are in the works to install a “small solar farm” at Modern Woodmen Park, according to a statement from media relations director Jason Kempf.   The project would include 58 panels on the roof of the suite level on the third-base side.

Kempf said the panels would be able to power the LED outfield lights, ultimately offsetting the electric usage.  The LEDs have brought the team’s energy consumption down by 40% since they were installed in 2017. 

“Our LED field lights have reduced glare, light pollution, and electricity demands while creating an optimal environment for the Astros’ top prospects,” said River Bandits owner Dave Heller. “Climate change is a very real problem; the flood waters surrounding our beautiful ballpark illustrate that all too clearly. Our new Century Electric solar farm takes our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint even further. We are lowering energy consumption, conserving electricity, helping the environment, and leading our industry toward a greener future.”

Modern Woodmen is partnering with Century Electric and Solar in Eldridge, Iowa to complete the project.

Names released of 3 charged with animal cruelty at dairy

WQAD News -

FAIR OAKS, Ind. (AP) — Authorities released the names of three former employees of a large northwestern Indiana dairy farm who were charged with animal cruelty following the release of undercover video showing workers kicking and throwing calves.

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office said officers were searching for the three suspects in the alleged animal abuse at Fair Oaks Farms. Video released last week by the animal rights group Animal Recovery Mission shows calves being thrown, kicked in the head, hit with steel rods and burnt with branding irons by workers at the popular agritourism destination.

Police identified the three suspects Tuesday, June 11 as 31-year-old Santiago Ruvalcaba Contreros, 36-year-old Edgar Gardozo Vazquez and 38-year-old Miguel Angel Navarro Serrano. Prosecutors had charged them Monday with misdemeanor beating of a vertebrate animal, and arrest warrants were issued for the men.

It’s unclear whether the men have attorneys who could speak on their behalf.

Investigators said other “persons of interest” were being interviewed in the case. Many of the conversations in the video released by the Miami-based Animal Recovery Mission involved people speaking Spanish.

Sheriff Thomas VanVleet said Monday in a statement that “details of the investigation cannot be released at this time as this investigation is still active.”

The Associated Press left a message Tuesday with the sheriff’s office seeking additional details on its investigation into the alleged abuse at Fair Oaks Farms’ dairies about 70 miles (113 kilometers) south of Chicago. Farm officials say the farm draws about 500,000 tourists a year.

Newton County Prosecutor Jeff Drinski said Monday that Fair Oaks Farms “has cooperated completely in our attempts to identify and interview all persons involved in the videos that we have all viewed over the past week.”

The AP also left a message Tuesday with Fair Oaks Farms seeking comment.

Fair Oaks Farms founder Mike McCloskey said in a statement last week that four employees seen in the video had been fired and actions have been taken to prevent further abuse. A fifth person shown in the video was a third-party truck driver who was transporting calves, he said.

Fair Oaks Farms is the flagship farm for Fairlife, a national brand of higher protein, higher calcium and lower fat milk. Some retailers have also pulled Fairlife products from their shelves, including Chicago-area groceries Jewel-Osco and Strack & Van Til and Family Express, which operates convenience stores across Indiana.

On Friday, Fair Oaks Farms suspended its home delivery service of milk, cheese and other products for one week, in part to protect drivers it says are facing harassment over the video.

Record Mississippi River flooding could cause Gulf of Mexico’s largest “dead zone”

WQAD News -

Just off the coast of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama, a large dead zone is anticipated to grow in the next few weeks, largely due to record amounts of water flowing down the Mississippi River. A dead zone is an area of water that is void of oxygen needed to support plant and animal life.

The dead zone phenomenon happens every year but scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believe this year could be one of the largest ever, due to abnormally high levels of water being discharged from the Mississippi River system.

The Mississippi River is the second-longest river in the world and the second-largest drainage system on our continent (behind Hudson Bay). As water flows out of farm fields and cities, it enters the tributaries of the Mississippi River. Locally, this includes the Cedar, Rock, Maquoketa, Wapsipinicon, and Iowa Rivers. River flood warnings are in effect from the Quad Cities, all the way to New Orleans right now.The water in the Mississippi has high levels of nutrients and sewage (which acts as a fertilizer) that flows directly into the Gulf of Mexico. There, the fresh water (which is less dense than ocean water), sits on top of the salty water. As water temperatures warm into the upper 80s and lower 90s, algae blooms and can be significant. The northern Gulf of Mexico is interesting because it doesn't have an overwhelming amount of current.

The "Loop Current" is the body of water's strongest, which takes water out of the Caribbean, sending it from west to east through the Florida Straits.

The blooming algae that is stuck along the Gulf Coast eventually dies and the decomposition process takes most of the oxygen out of the water.

This lack of oxygen kills most sea life including plants and fish, having a direct effect on the people along the Gulf Coast that depend on fishing and shrimping for a living.

Those are the human and nature impacts. But you'd be surprised at how much humans are causing this. It's not just agriculture and urbanization, human-caused climate change has a significant effect on how often this occurs.

Extreme rain and snow are direct effects of human-caused climate change. Near-record amounts of snow fell across much of the Midwest this season, due to an imbalance in the jet stream, caused by human-caused climate change.

We are seeing significant flooding of the Mississippi River every 5 years or so these days. If you're having trouble wrapping your head around the significance, think about this: we're having a "hundred-year flood" every few years. That's not a natural occurrence.

-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen

 

 

Trump and Biden trade jabs in possible 2020 election preview

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden repeatedly laid into each other while traveling in the battleground state of Iowa, unleashing verbal attacks that at times felt more appropriate for the final weeks before Election Day than a lazy summer about 17 months before voters go to the polls.

The back-and-forth on Tuesday laid bare the rising political stakes for each man. Trump has zeroed in on Biden as a threat to his reelection chances and is testing themes to keep him at bay. Biden, meanwhile, is campaigning as a front-runner with near-universal name recognition , relishing the fight with Trump while trying to ensure he doesn’t ignore the demands of the crowded Democratic primary .

“People don’t respect him,” Trump said of Biden after touring a renewable energy facility in Council Bluffs. “Even the people that he’s running against, they’re saying: ‘Where is he? What happened?'”

With a dose of exaggeration, the Republican president added: “He makes his stance in Iowa once every two weeks and then he mentions my name 74 times in one speech. I don’t know. That reminds me of Crooked Hillary. She did the same thing.” He went on to muse that standing for nothing but opposing his policies was the reason Clinton lost.

At almost the same moment in Mount Pleasant, Biden noted that his staff told him Trump was watching footage of his criticism of the president from early in the day as Air Force One landed in Iowa.

“I guess he’s really fascinated by me,” Biden said. “I find it fascinating.” He started to say more but then stopped himself, quipping: “My mother would say: ‘Joey, focus. Don’t descend. Stay up.'”

Speaking Tuesday evening in Davenport, Biden suggested Trump was an “existential threat to America” and said voters must stop the president’s attempts to elevate his office beyond its traditional limits of power. He said Trump is “breaking down the barriers that constrain his power” and mockingly accused him of believing that he has “complete power.”

“No, you don’t, Donald Trump,” Biden cried, drawing cheers from a crowd of around 500 at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds.

Biden is campaigning again in Iowa on Wednesday, this time without Trump in the state.

For his part, Trump has insisted that Biden is the candidate he wants to face in 2020.

“I’d rather run against Biden than anybody,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn before flying to Iowa. “I think he’s the weakest mentally, and I like running against people that are weak mentally.”

Biden began the day Tuesday in Ottumwa, the heart of Wapello County, a meat-packing and agricultural manufacturing center that Trump was the first Republican to carry since Dwight D. Eisenhower. The former vice president hit Trump on the economy — an issue the president often promotes as his chief strength in a time of low unemployment.

“I hope his presence here will be a clarifying event because Iowa farmers have been crushed by his tariffs toward China,” Biden said. “It’s really easy to be tough when someone else absorbs the pain, farmers and manufacturers.”

Biden added that Trump “backed off his threat of tariffs to Mexico basically because he realized he was likely to lose” in manufacturing states such as Michigan and Ohio. He broadly branded Trump “an existential threat to this country” and said his behavior is often beneath the office of the presidency.

Trump used his visit Tuesday to display the power of incumbency, talking up his administration’s accomplishments on trade and protection of agriculture in a state where both are vital. In Council Bluffs, he toured a plant that produces and sells the corn-based fuel additive ethanol, and he signed an executive order he said would help farmers.

“I fought very hard for ethanol, but you proved me right,” Trump said, adding that he fought “for the American farmer like no president has fought before.”

But he then mocked Biden again.

“He was someplace in Iowa today and he said my name so many times that people couldn’t stand it,” the president said.

Later, addressing an evening fundraiser in West Des Moines, Trump refrained from mentioning Biden by name but took a veiled swipe at the former vice president’s recent reversal on the Hyde Amendment, a ban on using federal funds to pay for abortions. Biden now says he opposes the ban.

“They go for one thing for a lifetime, and then they flip, and they go to something totally different,” Trump said. “It depends on which race they’re running.”

Police chief gives $575 ticket to driver for throwing lit cigarette out car window

WQAD News -

VICTORIA, British Columbia – A Canadian police chief handed out a hefty ticket to a driver who tossed a lit cigarette out their window.

Victoria Police Chief Del Manak tweeted a photo of the $575 ticket, saying it was "575 reasons to not throw your lit cigarette out the car window in front of" Victoria police.

575 reasons to not throw your lit cigarette out the car window in front of @vicpdcanada. Happened in front of me on the hwy. When asked why, driver replied, "I didn't want my car to burn" as he pointed to his cup holder in console. My response, "Then don't smoke in your car." pic.twitter.com/FhAGJHYX7w

— Del Manak (@ChiefManak) June 9, 2019

Manak said when he asked the driver why they did it, the driver said, "I didn't want my car to burn."

"Then don't smoke in your car," Manak replied to the driver, according to his tweet.

This is the second time in less than a year the police chief has handed out a ticket for someone tossing a cigarette out of their car, according to the Vancouver Sun.

The amount of the ticket corresponds with British Columbia's Wildfire Act.

Report: Illinois woman dies in motorcycle crash, family says grass clippings are to blame

WQAD News -

BUREAU COUNTY, Illinois -- A Canton, Illinois woman died after crashing her motorcycle into her husband's motorcycle while they were riding in Bureau County.

Cheryl Zeglen, age 59, died at the hospital two days after the crash, according to a report by WEEK.  Her husband, Thomas Zeglen, said the crash may have been caused by grass clippings.

Thomas said they were riding together on Saturday, June 8 when he hit grass clippings and lost control.  As his bike slowed down, Cheryl crashed into him.

In the wake of her passing, Cheryl's friends and husband said they're trying to educate people on the dangers of leaving grass clippings in the road, WEEK reported.

Her husband is reported as saying he "would like something to be done better than a $50 fine on grass clippings. It kills people."  WEEK reported that he reached out to his representative in regards to imposing stricter penalties on those who leave clippings in the road.

 

A veteran died in police custody. His body was returned to his family with some organs missing

WQAD News -

NEW YORK – Two days before he died, Everett Palmer Jr. called his brother, Dwayne, to tell him he was on his way from Delaware to New York to visit him and their sick mother. But first, he said, he wanted to resolve an outstanding DUI warrant from an incident in 2016 in Pennsylvania to make sure his license was valid for the drive to see his family.

The phone call was the last time the family would hear from the 41-year-old US Army veteran and father of two.

On April 9, 2018, two days later, the family was told that Palmer had died in police custody at the York County Prison. Fourteen months later, the Palmers say they still don't know what really happened. But they are suspicious because when Palmer's body was returned to them, his throat, heart, and brain were missing.

"This entire case smacks of a cover-up," civil rights attorney Lee Merritt told CNN by phone.

Beneath the Skin: Horrific cuts cover her son's body after he's shot dead by police

The family hired Merritt to help find answers because so far, they have been unable to get them on their own, they say. Merritt says prison and county officials have not been cooperative with providing an official manner of death.

But York County Coroner Pam Gay said those organs were actually retained as part of the forensic autopsy for additional testing.

"There were never any missing organs," Gay told CNN on Saturday. "The lab that does our autopsies has the organs. Coroner's offices don't always have a morgue or a forensic pathologist. We contract those services out. We utilize a team in Allentown. That's who retains the specimens. They don't always tell us what they retain. We made that clear to the family from the beginning."

She noted that removing the throat is typical in this kind of investigation because "we have to make sure there wasn't any kind of component that caused asphyxia."

Gay also said local authorities have been cooperative.

"We were in communications with them directly and through their attorney," she said. "I understand their need and desire for answers. We are working to do that. The truth will come out. I can't comment on the active investigation."

Representatives for the prison could not be reached for comment Friday.

An initial autopsy by the York County Coroner's Office stated Palmer died after an incident "following an excited state" during which he "began hitting his head against the inside of his cell door" and was restrained. The report says Palmer became agitated as a result of "methamphetamine toxicity." A probable "sickling red cell disorder" as listed as a contributing factor.

According to his family, Palmer never had any health problems leading up to his death. They also say the autopsy report of him hitting himself is completely out of character.

The York County Coroner's Office updated its autopsy results on July 28, 2018, to include a manner of death, which it listed as "undetermined." The autopsy report says details of the autopsy may be corrected as more information becomes available.

Gay said investigations into possible drug-related deaths can take one to three years. She ruled out one cause of death, saying it wasn't suicide.

The family says Palmer did have "some history of drug use," but never meth. Prison processing reports made available to the family provided no indication that Palmer was under the influence or had any drug paraphernalia listed in his items when he arrived.

"He would have had to receive (the meth) in the jail itself. We don't believe that happened," Merritt said.

Palmer's body was returned to his family, but it was only after the family hired their own independent forensic pathologist that they discovered Palmer's body was missing three body parts.

"It's not unusual to take organs out of a body during an autopsy, especially if you believe they were subject to trauma. The highly unusual part is to misplace them," Merritt said.

For seven months, the family could not track down Palmer's brain, heart or throat. They say they were told by the York County Coroner to check with the funeral home for the body parts.

"The funeral home says they hadn't touched the body," Merritt said.

The family says they were later told by the coroner that the body parts were at an independent lab. However, the lab, Merritt says, has refused to hand over the parts, citing an ongoing investigation.

Merritt says the family believes the body parts will reveal details of how Palmer died. "But we haven't been able to get them back yet," Merritt said. "His constitutional rights are being violated."

CNN reached out to the York County District Attorney's Office for comment. Kyle King, the chief administrator, and spokesman for the district attorney, told CNN by phone, "The office of the district attorney does not comment on pending or ongoing investigations."

When asked how long an investigation into a case like this typically takes, King said, "Every investigation is unique." He did not answer when asked why, more than one year after Palmer's death, there is still no official determination about his cause of death.

Multiple calls to the Pennsylvania State Police, which is listed as the investigating police agency on the autopsy, were not returned. A voicemail message left with the York County Coroner's Office also went unanswered.

Of the five children in the Palmer family, Everett Palmer Jr. was like the glue that kept the family bond strong, his brother Dwayne said. He was a "gentle giant," tall and muscular, and served as a US Army paratrooper. An avid sports fan, especially of basketball, Palmer was often found working out in the gym or helping others achieve their goals as a personal trainer.

Palmer also enjoyed being a DJ and had a very "eclectic taste in music," preferring heavy metal, according to his brother, Dwayne. He may have looked imposing, his brother says, but he loved to smile.

"He joked around a lot. He was the life of the family," Dwayne Palmer said. "He wasn't a perfect person, but certainly not somebody that's a rabble-rouser, fighting, starting trouble or anything like that. He was a loving person."

Speaking from his home in New York, Dwayne says the family just wants to know what happened. He says the information they have been given so far is scant.

"We don't believe anything (officials) are telling us at this point," he said. "It's a tremendous loss for our family. We are devastated."

According to the autopsy report, on the morning of his death, Everett Palmer Jr. was taken to a medical clinic where he was noted to be unresponsive. He was transferred to York Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:46 a.m.

"If he was being processed for something that he did wrong in terms of the DUI -- he should be held accountable for that -- but it shouldn't be a death sentence, certainly inside of a jail," his brother added. "We know that there are good people in that prison system. We appeal to them to come forward and share what they know."

The Palmer family has put in a Freedom of Information Act request for any video recordings from the York County Prison while Palmer was in their custody.

"It's been over a year and we want some answers. He was delivered back to us without organs. We want closure," Palmer said. "If something criminal happened, and I believe something criminal did happen, we want the people that was involved in that to be held accountable."

"The major problem, in this case, is what happened to Everett Palmer Jr. in a holding cell in police custody," Merritt said Saturday on CNN.

Was a chokehold applied to Palmer? he asked. Why haven't other reports or video shot in the cell been released to the family?

"We expect for York County and for the district attorney ... to do a thorough, complete investigation, which includes the autopsy, but it also includes gathering any reports about physical contact that was required in that cell, and releasing the videos to the family," Merritt said. "We want what everybody would want in this situation, which is just justice for the family."

Small business owners feel impact of Paul McCartney concert

WQAD News -

MOLINE, Illinois - Paul McCartney brought his Freshen Up Tour to the Taxslayer Center on June 11, and local business owners say they felt the impact.

The concert drew a crowd of more then 10,000 people. Scott Mullen, Executive Director for the Taxslayer Center said it is the highest grossing concert in the arena's history.

Ticket sales grossed nearly $2 Million.  Elton John's 2017 concert grossed about $1.1 Million. The Eagles grossed about $1.1 Million in 2002, 2009 and 2013. Bob Seger grossed about $1 Million in 2017.

Jennifer Bunnell came to town from Seattle and said the Quad Cities made a lasting impression on her.

"Its amazing place to be and its an amazing place to hang out," said Bunnell.

Beth Lagomarcino owns Lagomarcino's Chocolates in Moline. She said the level of excitement in downtown Moline ahead of the concert was "amazing."

The small business owner had a Beatles sign hanging in the front window of the chocolate shop.

"We had a difficult winter, then we go into flooding, more flooding, more flooding," said Lagomarcino.

In addition to the weather, business owners say I-74 bridge detours have been a challenge for Moline businesses as well.

"Bridge construction of course has affected people coming over from Iowa, and people just wanting to avoid the Quad Cities," said Lagomarcino. "Well, this is a reason people want to come to the Quad Cities."

Down the road at Pub 1848, people stopped for drinks on the way to the concert.

"What I love is when concerts come in town and we get to meet people from out of town and it drives business here," said owner Ashley Smith.

"It's fun. I meet people all the time," said Smith. "The band members were in here the last few nights, from Paul McCartney. Even his personal chef. I wouldn't have that opportunity if we weren't in this area.

A welcomed change of pace in downtown Moline as Sir Paul encourages people to "come together."

Why the City of Rock Island is looking to ‘tighten up’ what aldermen can spend city money on

WQAD News -

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Spending policies among Rock Island city leaders may be changing, according to Mayor Mike Thoms.

And the catalyst for this change? A newspaper article.

At the Rock Island City Council meeting on Monday, June 10, former Alderman Virgil Mayberry spoke to the members in response to what was written in the news article.   The article outlined a deep-dive into expense reports and receipts from the city's seven aldermen since 2015.

In the report, Mayberry was specifically named for items he bought during his time as an alderman.  Some of those items included a bulletproof vest, cuff links, dry cleaning, and gasoline.

In his own defense, Mayberry spoke in front of city council members at their meeting on Monday, June 10.

"I felt that I needed to tell my side of the story at the council meeting," he said.

In an interview with News 8 on Tuesday Mayberry said "none of the things that I did were illegal, immoral or unethical, none of them."  He said he wore the bulletproof vest while he was representing Rock Island in cities he considered to be dangerous. He said the gasoline was bought to help him travel around in his ward.  The cuff links, he said, were custom-made gifts that he gave to two leaders in Rock Island to help them represent the city.

"I believe that in his mind he was doing the right thing," said Mayor Thoms. "(but) I disagree with him, as I think a number of other people do. But I wouldn't say that he's lying I think he's very sincere and passionate about his beliefs."

Mayor Thoms said he too planned to bring up the article at Monday's council meeting. He said he doesn't agree that all of those purchases were necessarily justified, and wanted to "talk to the council members and see if we could make some changes on policies."

"We are going to tighten this up," he said.  "We are going to have a process, a tighter process of approval."

As it stands now, each alderman gets a purchase card.  Purchases are first approved by the city council and are ultimately signed off by the city manager.  The mayor explained that the catch in this system, however, is that purchases don't get approved until items and services have already been paid for.

"When you make a purchase on your purchase card you don't see the statement until later," explained Mayor Thoms. "So now the city's money has already been spent, so how do you undo it?"

Mayor Thoms said the council planned to discuss policy changes at their Study Session on July 8 at 5:30 p.m.

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