The latest local news

Volunteers improve Black Hawk Historic site trailway to make it more accessible

WQAD News -

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois-- A small team of volunteers is making big improvements to the Black Hawk Historic Site.

Americorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is teaming with River Action Inc to help reconstruct the trails of Black Hawk Historic site.

A team of seven from the Americorps Maple 6, took out an older staircase that was no longer safe to use that used to  lead down to the trail area. The team is working to implement a natural staircase into the trail which is already finished on the the east side of the park.

Around 150,000 people visit the historic preservation site each year for recreation and education purposes.

Updates to the trail also include, widening the pathways, adding railing and benches. Volunteers with Americorps said the improvements will make the trail safer and more accessible for the public to use.

"This is such a beautiful and important historical landmark to the area and so if the trails are wider, more people will get to enjoy them," said Emily Brough, Americorps Maple 6.

The improvements will also address the erosion problems on the project site. The newly installed railings, benches and seeding structures will help prevent soil erosion below the boardwalks.

Americorps Crews will be out making changes to the Black Hawk Historic Site until June 26th.

 

Man sentenced to federal prison after tweeting threats to U.S. Senator

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A man was sentenced today to six years in federal prison after tweeting threats to U.S. Senator Joni Ernst.

Joseph Hilton Dierks, age 34, from Waterloo, Iowa, received the prison term after a November 22, 2017, jury verdict found him guilty of three counts of sending threatening communications.

Evidence showed that Dierks began sending Senator Ernst threatening tweets in from his Twitter account to her Twitter accounts in August, 2017.  Police sent officer to Dierks’ home, and Dierks promised the officer he would “tone it down.” Within 24 hours later, he was back to tweeting threats.

In sentencing Dierks, Judge Reade emphasized Dierks’ escalating criminal history, which included a prior conviction for harassing a Waterloo police officer and carrying weapons.  Dierks also filmed himself tracing a knife on the outline of an unwitting neighbor across the street and offered to cut him up.

“The safety of elected officials is something that cannot be taken lightly,” said United States Attorney Peter E. Deegan, Jr.

The Law

In 2015, a historic Supreme Court case, Elonis v. United States, attempted to establish judicial precedent for threatening someone over the Internet.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that federal law makes it a crime to transmit in interstate commerce “any communication containing any threat . . . to injure the person of another.” The opinion instructs the jury to decide whether the communication would be regarded by a “reasonable person” as a threat.

Elonis had posted to Facebook threatening messages and self-written rap lyrics that specifically mentioned his ex-wife and co-workers. Although he had mentioned that his lyrics were fictitious, those involved in his posts didn’t think so.

The Court’s closing argument showed that it didn’t matter whether the threats were serious coming from the defendant. All that matters is whether those targeted by the threats truly feel in danger.

 

Grassley wants answers about seclusion room use in Iowa

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Iowa Senator Charles Grassley said an investigation into seclusion rooms could find out how big of a problem they are.

The rooms, sometimes called isolation rooms or sensory rooms, are used in schools throughout Iowa to calm students down, including Davenport. They're sometimes used for special needs children and to prevent students from causing injury to themselves and others.

"We're trying to find out how big the problem is," Sen. Grassley said. "So we're asking for this study. And after the study is done, then we'll decide whether some action needs to be taken."

Last year, the Iowa Department of Education found the Iowa City School District used seclusion rooms inappropriately, sometimes as a punishment.

"There's some information coming that seems to be the overuse of it," Grassley said. "And we obviously know that some schools have been doing that. And they're probably doing it within the law."

The investigation would be conducted by the U.S. Inspector General and U.S. Department of Education.

Sen. Grassley, along with Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, made the call for an investigation last month.

Sen. Grassley said even if the investigation finds something wrong, it would likely be up to schools and the state to make a change.

"I'm not sure I'm going to look for a congressional response to it," Grassley said. "But I think maybe transparency will bring more accountability by local schools and states, and maybe make sure that there's more disciplined use of these solitude areas."

While both Senators from Iowa have called for this investigation, Iowa U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack has called for an end to seclusion rooms altogether.

New Captain’s Table could be open by summer of 2019

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MOLINE, Illinois -- A new, bigger and better Captain's Table could be open in time for next summer's boating season if all goes according to plan, said business owner Rober Egger, six months after a massive fire destroyed the riverfront restaurant.

"I'm feeling good," said Egger, who has been working with city officials on financing the new development. "When you have a tragedy like a fire, you know it's going to take some time. We are going to get another building and crate an even more attractive destination than before."

The city is involved because it owns the property on which the restaurant sits. City leaders recently sent out a request for proposals for design of a new building. Of four received, the city staff has recommended going forward with the plan submitted by Andrew Dasso, an East Moline-based architect.

The design calls for for a two-story building with seating for 130 to 140 on the first floor, as well as a second floor observation deck and a 150 person banquet and reception area. There would also be a large outdoor patio that could accommodate 40 patrons.

The next step for Dasso and Egger is full Moline City Council approval, which could happen at its next meeting.

"It's not just about rebuilding a building, we have to reformulate the lease and guarantee how everything will be paid for," Egger said. "It's moving as fast as can be expected. It's exciting to see it all come to life."

Egger is targeting a ground breaking for later this summer.

Here are renderings from Dasso's design:

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How do North Koreans learn about the Trump-Kim summit?

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(CNN) — It may be a day late, but North Koreans finally got news Wednesday of the historic summit between their leader, Kim Jong Un, and US President Donald Trump.

The country’s famous anchor Ri Chun Hee, known as the “pink lady” for bright outfits, told North Koreans of the news in her usual melodramatic manner.

“Thanks to the fixed decision and will of the top leaders of the two countries to put an end to the extreme hostile relations between the DPRK and the US — which lingered for the longest period on the earth in terms of acute confrontation — and to open up a new future for the sake of the interests of the peoples of the two countries and global peace and security, the first DPRK-US summit was held,” she said, using an acronym for her country.

North Korean media, tightly controlled by the state, usually refrains from reporting on Kim’s immediate diplomatic moves and typically delivers news of major events the day after they happen.

Other media detailed a blow-by-blow breakdown of the day’s events, calling the talks “epoch-making,” and lavishing praise on Trump’s “enthusiasm to resolve matters in a realistic way through dialogue and negotiations.”

The front page of the state newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, splashed photos of the two leaders, under the headline: “A meeting of the century that opened a new era in history of North Korea-US relations.”

In its first report on the summit, the official KCNA news agency on Wednesday attributed the apparent breakthrough in relations to Kim’s “proactive peace-loving measures” earlier in the year, and applauded Trump’s willingness to negotiate despite longstanding hostility between the two countries.

Related article: These sanctions will keep squeezing North Korea’s economy

Trump and Kim met on the Singaporean resort island of Sentosa on Tuesday — the first time a sitting US President has met with the leader of the reclusive state.

joint statement signed by the two leaders committed to “establish new US-DPRK relations,” reaffirming Kim’s “firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and offering security guarantees to Pyongyang.

‘Shared opinions’

The KCNA report stated that the two leaders shared their “opinions about the practical measures that are important to accomplish peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and finish the hostility between North Korea and the US.”

It was a far cry from September last year, when KCNA published a statement authored by Kim describing the US President as “mentally deranged.”

Wednesday’s report made special mention of Trump’s apparent readiness to halt US-South Korean military drills, a declaration that apparently took Seoul and Tokyo — as well as at least some corners of the Pentagon — by surprise.

It also urged that the two countries “make decisions to cease the military actions that provoke each other” — an apparent reference to Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests as well as the US and South Korean joint military drills — and that both sides create “a law or regulations … that affirm (that intention).”

The agency concluded its report by stating that Kim and Trump had “gladly accepted” invitations to visit their respective countries at a later date.

Singapore letter

In a separate dispatch KCNA also reported that Kim received a letter from Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, praising the “successful conclusion of the historic summit” between Kim and Trump.

“The joint statement signed by Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump is a dramatic advance and the first step of very important significance in the long course toward permanent peace and stability on the denuclearized Korean Peninsula,” the letter said, according to KCNA.

The letter also stated that the Singaporean Prime Minister wishes to meet Kim again “in the near future.”

In a further sign of Pyongyang’s attempts to normalize its relations with the outside world, another KCNA article reported that ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam had departed Pyongyang for Moscow to attend the opening ceremony of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Giant Mars dust storm threatens oldest working Mars rover

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA rover on Mars has been knocked out by gigantic dust storm that envelops the planet and blots out the sun.

Officials said Wednesday they’re hopeful the Opportunity rover will survive the storm, which already covers one-quarter of Mars and is expected to encircle the red planet in another few days. It could be weeks or even months, though, until the sky clears enough for sunlight to reach the Martian surface and recharge Opportunity’s batteries through its solar panels.

For now, Mars’ oldest working rover is stuck in the middle of the raging storm, in complete round-the-clock darkness.

“By no means are we out of the woods here,” said John Callas, the Opportunity project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “This storm is threatening, and we don’t know how long it will last, and we don’t know what the environment will be like once it clears.”

All flight controllers can do is wait for the storm to pass and the sky to clear, officials said, and hope Opportunity calls home.

Flight controllers tried late Tuesday night to contact Opportunity, but the rover did not respond. The storm has been growing since the end of May with unprecedented speed.

Opportunity’s batteries are likely so low that only a clock is still working, to wake the spacecraft for periodic power-level checks, according to officials.

NASA launched the twin rovers Opportunity and Spirit in 2003 to study Martian rocks and soil. Spirit hasn’t worked for several years. Opportunity, however, has kept exploring well past its expected mission lifetime.

“Keep in mind, we’re talking about a rover that’s been working at Mars, hanging in there, for 15 years and designed just for 90 days. It just doesn’t get any better than that,” said Jim Watzin, director of NASA’s Mars exploration program.

-CNN contributed to this article

Senate panel OKs farm bill, but House wants work provisions

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel approved a modest, bipartisan rewrite of federal farm and nutrition programs on Wednesday, sidestepping a fight for now but setting up a clash with House Republicans intent on beefing up work requirements for food stamps.

The legislation, approved by a bipartisan 20-1 vote, would renew farm safety-net programs such as subsidies for crop insurance, farm credit, and land conservation. It also would extend the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, widely known as food stamps, which helps feed more than 40 million people.

The panel’s approval comes as farm country is struggling with low prices and a potential trade war that could depress farm commodities prices further.

The legislation was drafted along traditionally bipartisan lines to ease its passage through the closely divided Senate, where Democrats have significant influence over most legislation.

Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., worked closely with top panel Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan to produce the legislation, which aims to reduce fraud in the food stamp program but avoids controversial efforts to impose stricter work requirements and provisions to restrict eligibility.

“We’ve put our political differences aside,” Stabenow said.

The House measure, which failed last month because of an intra-GOP battle over immigration, promises greater job training opportunities for recipients of food stamps, a top priority for House leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan. Democrats say the House measure is poorly designed and would drive 2 million people off of the program. A re-vote is likely in coming weeks.

The current food and farm bill expires at the end of September and Roberts acknowledged that enacting the legislation this year will be difficult. A short-term extension is a likely option.

“To those who say passing a farm bill in this environment is a daunting task, I say together we can get it done,” Roberts said. “We must embrace the attitude of our producers — optimism and ingenuity.”

The measure includes legislation by Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that would legalize the production of industrial hemp, which is generally barred because hemp is related to marijuana, even though it contains little of that drug’s key psychoactive ingredient, known as THC. McConnell secured a hemp pilot program in the most recent farm bill in 2014 and views the crop as a good replacement for tobacco.

McConnell hopes to bring the measure to the Senate floor before the July 4 recess.

The measure would limit subsidy payments to farmers earning less than $700,000, down from $900,000. It seeks to block states from gaming the food stamp program to win additional funding, and reauthorizes two subsidy programs that form the backbone of the farm safety net.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, was the sole “nay” vote. He objected to the measure’s hemp provision, saying it should have been handled within the Judiciary Committee that he chairs. He also wants to tighten eligibility standards for farm subsidies to target them to working farmers — closing a loophole that allows family members who do not work on farm to claim them as well.

One more comfortable day and then high heat blows in

WQAD News -

Expect a few clouds tonight, otherwise  we’ll experience one of the coolest nights in a good week as overnight lows drop into the upper 50s.

Sunshine will be more filtered for your Thursday but still a dandy of a day as temperatures will return to the lower 80s.   There’s a chance for a few showers and storms late that night as we prepare to transition into The heat and humidity for the upcoming Father’s Day weekend.

No doubt, it will be a scorcher!   After seeing highs around 90 on Friday temperatures will soar to the mid and upper 90s both Saturday and Sunday.  Throw in the humidity in place, and it will easily reach in the triple digits on the heat index.

This type of weather is tough on the body if your out in it for a long period of time.  Take those breaks, drink plenty of water, find plenty of shade and by all means, don’t forget your pets.

Chief meteorologist James Zahara

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