The latest local news

Historic Door Knobs go missing from old Rock Island County Courthouse

WQAD News -

ROCK ISLAND— Just days before it’s set to close for good, there’s a mystery inside the old Rock Island County Courthouse that needs solving.

According to employees, for the past month and a half, the historic bronze door knobs with “RIC” engraved in them are disappearing throughout the building.

Rock Island County officials tell News 8 this is not something maintenance is doing. They say there was a memo sent out to county employees urging them to not take the knobs, but they are still going missing.

If you walk inside, you’ll barely be able to spot even one “RIC” bronze knob. Some knobs have been replaced with spares, while other doors simply have holes in them.

Employees say they don’t believe it’s a malicious act. But some aren’t happy. They suspect people from within the courthouse are pilfering them and saving them as keepsakes.

The decision to demolish the courthouse was a protested one. The building will close after work hours on Friday, December 7, 2018.

There is still no exact date set for demolition.

Aidan Munoz-Ripley makes the right moves

WQAD News -

Sterling Junior Aidan Munoz-Ripley is a lineman on the football team.  He is also the top player on the chess team.  He started playing chess when he was in fourth grade, his grandfather introduced him to the game.  Aidan is a student of both games, but if had to pick one or the other chess would be the game he prefers to play.

Michigan becomes first Midwest state to legalize recreational weed

WQAD News -

DETROIT, Michigan- Michigan is now the first state in the Midwest to allow marijuana use outside of a medical need.

In the November 6, election voters overwhelmingly decided they wanted recreational use by adults who are at least 21.

The new law comes 10 years after voters approved marijuana medically to treat the effects of certain illnesses.

According to the Associated Press, "staff at the Lansing City Pulse, a weekly alternative newspaper, marked the day by handing out free joints across the street from the Capitol."

Michigan is now among the 10 states and the District of Columbia with legalized recreational marijuana.

Dispensary's retail shops are still far on the horizon as state regulators need to get involved.

According to the new law, residents age 21 and older can possess or transport up to 2.5 ounces (70.8 grams) of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants out of public view.

It can only be used in your home or other private property, however, landlords and employers can still prohibit it.

People who want marijuana now will need to grow it on their own or go through illegal channels.

Michigan is just now licensing and opening medical-marijuana dispensaries.

Some elected officials in several communities have voted to ban businesses selling weed. The law allows for a local veto, but local governments can revisit and change the anti-weed policies later.

Local police departments warn about holiday “porch pirates”

WQAD News -

ROCK FALLS, Illinois -- Rock Falls Police Department and other local authorities have warned that thefts of packages from doorsteps and front porches rise every year with the holidays.

Sometimes called "porch pirates," the package thieves are seizing on a crime of opportunity, according to Rock Falls Detective Sergeant David Pilgrim.

"There's an item sitting unattended on a doorstep, and nobody is around," said Pilgrim. "They don't know what's in it, but they know that it's probably something of some kind of value whether they can use it or not."

Registered nurse Paula Devers on Monday shared the video of a man stealing two packages from her front step just outside Rock Falls on her Facebook page. The brazen theft struck a chord with her friends and even total strangers: her post was shared more than a thousand times and gathered more than 27,000 views in a matter of days.

Her husband, Mike Devers, had installed the security camera at their home years ago. He said he hadn't really ever checked the video recordings before Monday, when he and Paula realized that the packages that were supposed to arrive that day weren't there.

"So I started looking, and sure enough I found this guy, taking our packages off our porch," said Mike.

The Devers did not recognize the man, nor what they thought to be the 2005-2010 model blue Chevrolet Cobalt. While the video quality was not detailed enough to make out the man's face or license plate, the Devers caught him on camera twice.

The man first pulled up at around 1 o'clock to scope out the home and the delivery on the doorstep. He came back at around 2 o'clock, when he casually picked up the packages, put them in his car, and drove away.

"Another 15-20 minutes and I would have been pulling in the driveway," said Mike. "I probably would have called 911 right then."

Thankfully, the Devers say, they have time to replace the gifts before Christmas. They're confident that someone will recognize the thief and turn him in. And as for the porch pirate's loot?

"It was a couple pairs of women's sneakers and a couple toys for our granddaughter," Paula Dever said with a smile

Two more Save-A-Lot stores close in Milan and Rock Island with no warning

WQAD News -

MILAN, Illinois – Two Save-A-Lot stores closed abruptly in Milan and Rock Island leaving many customers wondering what happened and forcing them to shop elsewhere.

Shoppers were met with shock and surprise when they went to the Milan and Rock Island Save-A-Lot’s.  A sign posted on the door stated, “We have permanently closed due to no longer being able to operate at an effective level.  It has been a privilege to be a part of a great community.”

“I’m with the Milan Christian Food Pantry and we have an agreement with Save-A-Lot to do diapers and baby food for people, so I was over here to talk to them about that and I’m very surprised they aren’t open,” says Al Nordstrom.

Outside, the stores appear open with carts lined up and delivery trucks arriving to make their normal runs.  Inside, registers looked powered up and shelves still stocked.

Some people saw this coming.

“I was here Monday and there weren’t any eggs, there wasn’t any milk and a lot of vacant spots on the shelves,” says Leslie Kight of Milan.

While others were blindsided.

“She came here yesterday,” says Quashon Walls of Rock Island.  “This is crazy!”

The low prices will be missed as well as the neighborhood feel the store brought all locations.

“I’m making tamales and I came here to get my meat and stuff because it’s a lot cheaper than any place,” says Lisa Lange. “It’s going to hurt Milan a bit because there’s not too many small-town places people can go anymore.”

Employees were notified of the closing through a text message around 9:30PM the night before.  The text said they would receive their final paycheck in the mail.

Four Save-A-Lot locations have now closed locally including two Davenport locations in 2018.

Australian researchers develop 10-minute cancer test

WQAD News -

Researchers in Australia have developed a 10-minute test that can detect the presence of cancer cells anywhere in the human body, according to a newly published study.

The test was developed after researchers from the University of Queensland found that cancer forms a unique DNA structure when placed in water.

The test works by identifying the presence of that structure, a discovery that could help detect cancer in humans far earlier than current methods, according to the paper published in journal Nature Communications.

“Discovering that cancerous DNA molecules formed entirely different 3D nanostructures from normal circulating DNA was a breakthrough that has enabled an entirely new approach to detect cancer non-invasively in any tissue type including blood,” Professor Matt Trau said in a statement.

“This led to the creation of inexpensive and portable detection devices that could eventually be used as a diagnostic tool, possibly with a mobile phone,” he added.

Co-researcher Abu Sina said the findings represented a “significant discovery” that could be a “game changer” for cancer detection.

“Cancer is a complicated disease, [and currently] every type has a different testing and screening system. In most cases, there is no general test to test their status.

“Now, people only go [to get checked out] if they have symptoms. We want [cancer screening] to be part of a regular checkup.”

Scientists worldwide have been working on ways to identify cancer earlier, as early detection is known to increase the success rate of therapeutic treatment and surgery.

This year, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the United States announced they’d developed a blood test, called CancerSEEK, that screens for eight common cancer types. That test identifies the presence of cancer proteins and gene mutations in blood samples. Much more research needs to be done before that test can be widely used, the US researchers added.

How it works

The 10-minute test developed in Australia is yet to be used on humans, and large clinical trials are needed before it can be used on prospective patients. But the signs are positive.

Tests on more than 200 tissue and blood samples detected cancerous cells with 90% accuracy, the researchers said.

It’s been used only to detect breast, prostate, bowel and lymphoma cancers, but they’re confident the results can be replicated with other types of the disease.

“Researchers have long been looking for a commonality among cancers to develop a diagnostic tool that could apply across all types,” wrote Trau and his research partners, Sina and Laura Carrascosa, in an article for academic news site The Conversation.

Cancer alters the DNA of healthy cells, particularly in the distribution of molecules known as methyl groups, and the test detects this altered patterning when placed in a solution such as water.

“Using … a high-resolution microscope, we saw that cancerous DNA fragments folded into three-dimensional structures in water. These were different to what we saw with normal tissue DNA in the water,” the article explains.

The test uses gold particles, which bind with cancer-affected DNA and “can affect molecular behavior in a way that causes visible color changes,” it added.

Carrascosa says that if proved, their method for detecting cancer could be a boon to providing detection and diagnosis in rural or underdeveloped areas. The technology for reading electrochemical signals is readily available, she says, and paired with a smartphone could be adapted to screen DNA affected by cancer.

“The advantage of this method, it is so simple — it’s almost equipment-free. You can do it with very low resources.

“There’s another possibility that it can be used to monitor for relapses. We haven’t tested that yet, but it is a potential.”

The next step for the team is to stage clinical studies into how early cancer can be detected,and whether the test can be used to gauge the effectiveness of treatment.

They’re also looking into the possibility of using different bodily fluids to detect different cancer types from early to the later stages of the disease.

Tyler Perry pays off every layaway tab at two Walmart stores

WQAD News -

ATLANTA, Ga. – Actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry announced Thursday that he has paid off all of the layaway tabs for the lucky shoppers at two Walmart stores in Georgia.

According to TMZ, Perry stopped by the Atlanta-area big box stores Thursday morning and wrote big checks to cover the cost of all the outstanding balances. Sources told the gossip site that Perry paid $178,000 at one store in Atlanta and $256,000 at a store in Douglasville.

Perry said he had planned to remain anonymous, but “due to some circumstances” news of the generous act leaked, and he decided to post a video on Twitter revealing which stores’ layaway tabs he paid.

“I know it’s hard times, a lot of people are struggling,” Perry said. “I’m just really, really grateful to be able to be in a position to do this, so God bless you, go get your stuff. Merry Christmas!”

I was trying to do this anonymously but oh well!!!

— Tyler Perry (@tylerperry) December 6, 2018

In order to pick up their items, customers will have to pay one cent, Perry said.

TMZ noted this can be added to a list of charitable acts by Perry in 2018.

In recent weeks, anonymous good Samaritans have paid off all layaway items in four Walmart stores in different parts of the country — a total of more than $130,000.

It happened at stores in Vermont, New York, Colorado and Pennsylvania.

Man uses super long CVS receipt to repair broken blind

WQAD News -

LAKEWOOD, Ohio – An Ohio man replaced a broken blind with a long receipt from CVS and the internet loves it.

Twitter user AndrewNolan2 has gone viral after tweeting a picture of his hilarious idea to use the receipt as a replacement for a broken blind in his home. The receipt was the same length as the rest of his blinds.

One of my blinds broke in my bedroom so I just went to CVS

— andrew (@andrewnolan2) December 5, 2018

“One of my blinds broke in my bedroom so I just went to CVS,” he said in the tweet that now has over 160,000 likes in just two days.

The pharmacy chain is known for its super long receipts that can sometimes be several feet long.

Dubuque chef to make his debut on Top Chef

WQAD News -

DUBUQUE, Iowa- Premiering December 6, a local chef will be competing in season 16 of Bravo’s “Top Chef.” it begins at 8 p.m.

The Chef in question is Kevin Scharpf, 32, Chef and owner of Brazen Open Kitchen & Bar at 955 Washington St., Suite 101 in Dubuque.

According to the Des Moine Register, Scharpf will compete against 14 other chefs for the title of ‘Top Chef.’ This season will be in Kentucky, with a trip to China for a final showdown in Macau.

The show description says the winning chef will take home $125,000, get a feature in Food & Wine magazine, plus an appearance at the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado, as well as a $50,000 prize package from Williams Sonoma and finally a headlining slot on the Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage at BottleRock in Napa Valley.

The Register says Scharpf was born in Dubuque and raised in Galena, Illinois. According to them Scharpf started watching Emeril Lagasse on TV and fell in love with the art of cooking. He enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis at age 16.


Kevin Scharpf then went on to train in New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis. It was in 2015 that Scharpf opened Brazen Open Kitchen & Bar.

The 14 other chefs Scharpf will be competing against are:

  • Eric Adjepong — Washington, D.C.
  • Sara Bradley — Kentucky
  • Kelsey Barnard Clark — Dothan, Alabama
  • Edmund “Eddie” Konrad — Philadelphia
  • Pablo Lamon — Miami Beach, Florida
  • Natalie Maronski — Philadelphia
  • Michelle Minori — San Francisco
  • Nini Nguyen — Brooklyn, New York
  • Brandon Rosen — San Mateo, California
  • Caitlin Steininger — Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Justin Sutherland — St. Paul, Minnesota
  • David Viana — Asbury Park, New Jersey
  • Adrienne Wright — Boston
  • Brian Young — Boston

Convicted murderer’s sentencing delayed after he appears to be unconscious in court

WQAD News -

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A convicted murderer will not be sentenced for a few more days after he appeared to have passed out in court.

Joseph Merlino's case was continued to Monday after he came into the courtroom in a wheelchair and appeared to be unresponsive.

When Merlino was brought into the courtroom his eyes were closed, his mouth was open and he could be seen shaking uncontrollably. He also appeared to be foaming at the mouth, according to WTKR.

Wednesday was supposed to be Merlino's formal sentencing, but after seeing Merlino's condition and speaking to his doctor and a jail deputy the judge ultimately decided to continue the proceeding to a later date. This is the second time Merlino's sentencing has been rescheduled.

According to a jail deputy, Merlino began showing symptoms of an illness around 8 a.m., an hour and a half before his sentencing was scheduled to begin.

The Commonwealth Attorney asked a doctor if Merlino was malingering, or exaggerating or feigning an illness in order to escape an event. The doctor told the court Merlino has no physical condition that could have brought on these symptoms, but says they could be from stress.

Merlino spoke to WTKR from jail last week. During the interview, Merlino appeared in good health and spirits, saying he plans to appeal his murder conviction.

Kathy Hieatt of the Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office said that Merlino has not been on meal monitoring or a hunger strike.

Before his trial began, Merlino refused to eat for 79 days. That hunger strike ended on July 4th. Hieatt said Merlino had no emergent medical issues before Wednesday.

Merlino has been in jail since February 2017. His estranged wife, Ellie Tran, died after being attacked on Valentine's Day outside of her Virginia Beach home. Tran died of cyanide poisoning. It was determined that she was injected with the lethal substance.

Merlino was convicted of first degree murder in June 2018, and the jury recommended a life sentence.

Merlino's attorneys asked to continue his sentencing Wednesday because of his condition and not being able to respond. The judge has rescheduled the sentencing for Monday morning. If Merlino is still not well, the judge says he will hear arguments about whether or not they can still go froward with the sentencing.

Report: Half of US adults have immediate family member who has been in jail or prison

WQAD News -

(CNN) — Half of US adults have an immediate family member who has been in jail or prison, a report released Thursday said.

The group released the report outlining the results of a wide-ranging survey taken earlier this year, which showed further that one in seven people have an immediate family member who has spent a full year or longer in prison and one in 34 have an immediate family member who has spent 10 years or longer in prison. The report defined immediate family as a parent, child, sibling, current romantic partner or someone else with whom respondent had a child.

The group that released the report is supportive of criminal justice reform efforts around the country and counts billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates among its founders.

Zoë Towns, the group’s senior criminal justice reform director, told CNN after the release of the report that she hoped it would be a “wake up call” as some politicians have begun to rethink policies that led the US to becoming the world’s biggest jailer.

“We’ve gotten to the point that half of our families are being undermined,” Towns said.

Race and income affected results considerably. Black adults were most likely to say they have had an immediate family member to have ever spent a day in jail — at 63% of black respondents compared to 48% of Latino and 42% of white respondents. The same trend held for longer prison times, with 31% of black respondents saying someone had spent more than a year incarcerated compared to 17% of Latinos and 10% of whites.

Likewise when divided by income, the lower an income bracket, the more likely a respondent was to say an immediate family member had been in jail or prison. About half of respondents with household incomes below $50,000 said an immediate family member had been jailed, while about a third of respondents above $75,000 a year said a family member had been jailed.

However, income seemed to be less of a factor when intertwined with race for black respondents.

“This difference is smaller for black people, who experience family incarceration at higher rates than white people regardless of their socioeconomic status,” the report said.


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