The latest local news

Moline bank robbery suspect remains at large; area school lockdowns lifted

WQAD News -

MOLINE, Illinois -- A bank robbery near Avenue of the Cities in Moline prompted lockdowns at three area schools.

Moline High School, Roosevelt Elementary School and Coolidge School were all placed on "passive" lockdowns after a robbery was reported at American Bank and Trust on 41st Street, according to Detective Ryan Brownell, Moline High School's liaison officer.  There was a report that a gun was used in the incident, which took place around 9:45 a.m. Friday, January 18.

The lockdowns at all three schools were lifted around 11 a.m.  Detective Brownell explained that a "passive" lockdown means the outside doors are locked but classes resume as usual with restricted movement within the school.

Police said the bank robbery suspect remained at large.  The suspect was described as a white male, standing between 5-feet, 10-inches tall and six-feet tall.  He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black sunglasses.

The FBI, Moline Police Department and East Moline Police Department were trying to figure out where the suspect fled.

There were no reported injuries.

Kim Reynolds takes oath as first woman to be elected as Iowa governor

WQAD News -

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will take the oath of office as the state's 43rd governor and the first woman to be elected to the job.

The formal swearing in ceremony is set for Friday morning after which Reynolds will host an open house at Terrace Hill, the governor's official residence, and a similar event at the Iowa State Capitol.

Friday evening, two inaugural balls are planned in Des Moines.

Reynolds takes office after having served as governor since May 2017, rising from lieutenant governor when Terry Branstad became U.S. ambassador to China.

A Republican, Reynolds comes into office with her party controlling the legislative agenda and at a time when Iowans also elected 45 women to serve in the Legislature, the most ever. Women also replaced men in two of Iowa's congressional district in November.

Lieutenant Gov. Adam Gregg also will take the oath of office Friday.

Chicago officer, Jason Van Dyke, who shot teen to be sentenced

WQAD News -

CHICAGO (AP) — A judge rejected allegations that the shocking video of Laquan McDonald’s death proved that Chicago police officers tried to stage a cover-up in the fatal shooting of the black teen. Now another judge must decide how long the officer who pulled the trigger spends behind bars.

Jason Van Dyke was convicted in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. He will likely go to prison for at least several years, if not decades, when he’s sentenced Friday.

Related: Chicago officer convicted in Laquan McDonald murder is transferred to Rock Island County Jail

But critics of the police department and protesters who cheered Van Dyke’s conviction are clearly worried after a judge on Thursday acquitted three officers accused of trying to conceal what happened to protect Van Dyke, who was the first Chicago officer found guilty in an on-duty shooting in a half century and probably the first ever in the shooting of an African-American.

“We will be down here tomorrow by the hundreds, and we will cry out for justice for Laquan,” activist Eric Russell said after the hearing in which Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson acquitted former officer Joseph Walsh, former detective David March and officer Thomas Gaffney on charges of obstruction of justice, official misconduct and conspiracy.

Friday’s hearing will be emotional. Van Dyke’s wife and young daughters, who pleaded for leniency in letters submitted to the judge, will make statements. Court officials do not know if McDonald’s mother, who has remained silent ever since her son’s Oct. 20, 2014, death, will speak.

The courtroom will be packed with activists worried that Judge Vincent Gaughan will impose a light sentence.

Thursday’s verdict “means that if you are a police officer you can lie, cheat and steal,” said a shaken Rev. Marvin Hunter, McDonald’s great uncle.

Stephenson accepted the argument that jurors in the Van Dyke case rejected: that the video that sparked protests and a federal investigation of the police force was just one perspective of the events that unfolded on the South Side.

The judge said the video showed only one viewpoint of the confrontation between Van Dyke and the teen armed with a small knife. She found no indication the officers tried to hide evidence or made little effort to talk to witnesses.

“The evidence shows just the opposite,” she said. She singled out how they preserved the graphic video at the heart of the case.

Prosecutor Ron Safer tried to put a positive spin on the verdict.

“This case was a case where the code of silence was on trial,” he said, referring to the long tradition that officers do not report wrongdoing by their colleagues. “The next officer is going to think twice about filing a false police report. Do they want to go through this?”

Special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes said she hoped the verdict would not make officers reluctant to come forward when they see misconduct. Her key witness, Officer Dora Fontaine, described how she had become a pariah in the department and was called a “rat” by fellow officers.

In her ruling , the judge rejected prosecution arguments that the video demonstrated officers were lying when they described McDonald as moving even after he was shot.

“An officer could have reasonably believed an attack was imminent,” she said. “It was borne out in the video that McDonald continued to move after he fell to the ground” and refused to relinquish a knife.

The video appeared to show the teen collapsing in a heap after the first few shots and moving in large part because bullets kept striking his body for 10 more seconds.

The judge said it’s not unusual for two witnesses to describe events in starkly different ways. “It does not necessarily mean that one is lying,” she said.

The judge also noted several times that the “vantage point” of various officers who witnessed the shooting were “completely different.” That could explain why their accounts did not sync with what millions of people saw in the video.

Both Van Dyke’s trial and that of the three other officers hinged on the video, which showed Van Dyke opening fire within seconds of getting out of his police SUV and continuing to shoot the 17-year-old while he was lying on the street. Police were responding to a report of a male who was breaking into trucks and stealing radios on the city’s South Side.

Prosecutors alleged that Gaffney, March and Walsh, who was Van Dyke’s partner, submitted false reports to try to prevent or shape any criminal investigation of the shooting. Among other things, they said the officers falsely claimed that Van Dyke shot McDonald after McDonald aggressively swung the knife at police and that he kept shooting the teen because McDonald was trying to get up still armed with the knife.

McDonald had used the knife to puncture a tire on Gaffney’s police vehicle, but the video shows that he did not swing it at the officers before Van Dyke shot him and that he appeared to be incapacitated after falling to the ground.

Attorneys for the three men used the same strategy that the defense used at Van Dyke’s trial by placing all the blame on McDonald.

It was McDonald’s refusal to drop the knife and other threatening actions that “caused these officers to see what they saw,” March’s attorney, James McKay, told the court. “This is a case about law and order (and) about Laquan McDonald not following any laws that night.”

The lawyers ridiculed the decision to charge the three officers, saying they merely wrote what they observed or, in March’s case, what the other officers told him they saw. And they said there was no evidence that the officers conspired to get their stories straight.

“The state wants you to criminalize police reports,” McKay bellowed at one point.

City Hall released the video to the public in November 2015 — 13 months after the shooting — and acted only because a judge ordered it to do so. The charges against Van Dyke were not announced until the day of the video’s release.

The case cost the police superintendent his job and was widely seen as the reason the county’s top prosecutor was voted out of office a few months later. It was also thought to be a major factor in Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s decision not to seek a third term.

The accusations triggered a federal investigation, resulting in a blistering report that found Chicago officers routinely used excessive force and violated the rights of residents, particularly minorities. The city implemented a new policy that requires video of fatal police shootings to be released within 60 days, accelerated a program to equip all officers with body cameras and adopted other reforms to change the way police shootings are investigated.

Iowa mayor, husband arrested in marijuana growing case

WQAD News -

JAMAICA, Iowa (AP) — A central Iowa mayor and her husband have been arrested after sheriff’s deputies say they found a marijuana growing operation in the couple’s basement.

The Des Moines Register reports that 50-year-old Jamaica Mayor LaDonna Kennedy and her husband, 58-year-old Randy Kennedy, were arrested Wednesday night and charged with manufacture with intent to deliver marijuana, possession of a controlled substance and two counts of failure to affix a drug stamp.

Guthrie County Sheriff’s officials say deputies went on a tip to the mayor’s house looking for an attempted murder suspect. The suspect wasn’t found, but deputies called for a search warrant after they smelled an “overwhelming odor of raw marijuana” coming from the home. Investigators say 18 marijuana plants, several bags of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found.

The Kennedys were released Thursday on their own recognizance. A person who answered the phone at their home said they weren’t available and declined to comment on the charges.

68,000 pounds of chicken nuggets recalled after consumers find wood inside

WQAD News -

Perdue Foods is recalling 68,244 pounds of gluten-free chicken nuggets sold nationwide over fears of wood contamination, federal health officials say.

The ready-to-eat chicken nuggets were produced on Oct. 25, 2018, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The nuggets are gluten-free and have an expiration date of Oct. 25, 2019, and UPC Bar Code “72745-80656” on the label. They were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

“The problem was discovered when the firm received three consumer complaints that wood was found in the product,” the Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a statement.

There have been no confirmed reports of illness due to consumption of the products, and anyone concerned about its effects should see a doctor, it said.

Federal health officials say some products may be in consumers’ freezers, and warned people to throw them away or return them to the seller.

Perdue described it as an isolated incident, saying only a “minimal amount” of packages may contain pieces of wood. It said it’s recalling nuggets produced during the same product run out of an abundance of caution.

‘Dancing with GMQC’: 6-year-old jams out to Maroon 5

WQAD News -

Every Friday on Good Morning Quad Cities, we want to see what gets you dancing.  It's part of our segment "Dancing with GMQC" sponsored by Fred Astaire Dance Studios.

The segment is all about you showing us what makes you want to dance.

The video is from Bev Petersen, but it was taken by Kelli Petersen of her son Caysen Petersen, age 6, from Mediapolis, lip syncing to "Girls Like You" by Maroon 5. Watch him spin, jive and even flop along to the beat!

You can submit YOUR dancing videos to the WQAD Facebook page or email them to "news@wqad.com" with "Attn: GMQC" in the subject line and you could appear on Good Morning Quad Cities.

Hundreds of flights canceled as winter storms move across the US

WQAD News -

(CNN) -- A series of storms moving across the country will bring significant snow and ice to the north and heavy rains to the south Friday and into the weekend.

Roughly 100 million people are under some form of a winter storm watch, warning or advisory across the United States.

The storm is already affecting travel with nearly 450 flights canceled as of Friday morning, according to FlightAware.com. Airlines are issuing waivers for travelers traveling in the Midwest and Northeast.

Major metro areas on the East Coast likely will face light snow Friday ahead of and during the morning commute. The storm should move so quickly that accumulations are expected to remain low in New York and Boston.

The second storm is associated with the same upper-level energy as the West Coast storm that has dumped inches of rain in cities such as Los Angeles and caused blizzard conditions in the Sierra Nevada.

Snow is likely in places like Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago

The second storm exits the Rockies and will begin to drop snow late Friday across Kansas.

In Missouri, Kansas City and St. Louis -- which received the brunt of last week's storm -- will see less accumulation with this system. However, winds could gust up to 35 mph, causing blowing and drifting snow through Saturday night.

Lake effect snow will help enhance the amounts that Milwaukee and Chicago could see through the weekend. Both could see over half a foot of snow if the conditions remain right.

Indiana and Ohio could see rain to the south, inches of snow to the north and ice and snow across the central portions of the states.

Stay up to date with WQAD Storm Track 8

A flash freeze is likely behind the storm

Behind this second storm, a deep chill will grip much of the eastern half of the United States.

It may warm up enough to see rain across the Midwest and Northeast on Sunday but will quickly dip below freezing. That could happen so fast it would instantly freeze any remaining moisture on the ground or surrounding objects.

Highs on Sunday in the Kansas City area -- where the Chiefs will host the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game -- will be in the 20s.

The extreme cold follows the storm and moves into the rest of the Eastern United States on Monday.

The National Weather Service in Boston said it's expecting "a roller coaster of temperatures through this portion of the forecast" and "a prolonged period of well below normal temperatures early next week."

Keep the hand warmers handy, because temperatures won't just be below average Sunday and Monday.

"For the most part, this winter the jet stream has traveled horizontally across the US. Sure, there have been some ups and downs, but nothing like what is to come," CNN's Myers said.

"By next week the jet stream will flow from Fairbanks (Alaska) to Texas. So, for example, the following Saturday Anchorage will be 32 and Chicago will be 13."

This arctic air will spill out across the country later next week as far south as Florida, leaving most of the continental United States with below-average temperatures.

Challenges ahead with heavy snow and increasing wind

WQAD News -

Get ready for a major winter storm! Winter Storm Warnings go into effect at 3:00pm today, lasting through noon Saturday.

Clouds will thicken up today with highs around 30. Some light snow is possible by noon in the U.S. 20 corridor from Waterloo to Galena and Stockton. Snow will overspread the rest of the area by sundown tonight with moderate to heavy snow during the overnight.

Snowfall will taper off during the morning hours on Saturday with totals ranging from 4-8 inches. There is an opportunity of seeing more than 8 inches in places where there's an early onset to the snow (north of the Quad Cities).

This winter storm will be different than last weekend's because this one comes with winds that could gust to 35 mph Saturday. This will cause blowing and drifting to occur, making travel even that much more hazardous.

As driving conditions improve Saturday afternoon, temperatures will plummet. We are set for the coldest temperatures so far this Winter with temps down to zero Sunday morning with chills down to -12.

More shoveling snow is possible Tuesday and Friday in what continues to be the most active weather pattern of Winter.

Cinch World’s Toughest Rodeo returns to Taxslayer Center

WQAD News -

MOLINE, Illinois – Cinch’s World’s Toughest Rodeo will be back in Moline on January 18 and January 19.

Tickets were listed starting at $9.95 on Friday morning.

According to a press release, shows will include 3 fan favorite events, Bareback Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding, and the most extreme sport, Bull Riding.

Here is more of what officials say the rodeo will offer in 2019:

“The world’s smallest cowboy, WHIPLASH the Cowboy Monkey and his trusty steed Boogie! Standing at just 2 ft tall and weighing in at only 8 pounds this little monkey buckaroo, dressed to the nines in of course his best cowboy attire, will “WOW” the crowd as he and Boogie herd and catch the elusive Barbados sheep!

Joining Whiplash, the beautiful and talented Trick and Roman Rider, Dusti Dickerson will perform!

We guarantee Dusti, with her daring tricks at high speeds, will keep all the fans on the edge of their seats!

As always, and back by popular demand, our voice behind the mic for over 20 years, Roger Mooney, will provide the play by play rodeo action!”

No injuries after disturbance in Silvis

WQAD News -

SILVIS, Illinois-- Police say no one was injured during a disturbance in Silvis.

There was a heavy police presence at an apartment complex on 16th Street in Silvis at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, January 17. At least seven squad cars were on the scene.

Police were going in and out of several apartment buildings and talking with people standing on the sidewalk.

Silvis Police, Hampton-Rapids City Police and Rock Island County Sheriff all responded. Police say the incident was isolated and there's no immediate danger to the public.

Clinton’s new officer already making a difference for city’s animals

WQAD News -

CLINTON, Iowa-- After several high-profile cases of animal abuse, the Clinton Police Department has hired a new officer dedicated to protecting the city's dogs and cats.

Animal Protection Officer Jayci Mulholland has all the same authority as any other officer, but she's the first one to respond to reports of animal abuse or neglect.

"I've always wanted to be in law enforcement and the aspect of the animal control intrigued me," she says.

Mulholland says she hasn't had any major cases of animal abuse.

"So far it's been pretty good," she says. "I haven't had anything drastic."

What she has had a lot of are stray dogs and cats. She estimates she's brought more than 20 into the Clinton Humane Society since she started in September.

"There's been a few of them," she says. "I get attached but I also love seeing them go home because they're great dogs and they shouldn't be here. They should be in a family and be loved."

The Clinton Humane Society says having an animal protection officer has lightened their load. People can now call police if they suspect an animal is being mistreated, freeing up staff at the shelter to take care of their animals and find them homes.

Operations Manager Jennifer Gerdes says there's only so much her staff can do to remove animals from abusive or neglectful situations. They can't go onto people's properties or seize animals. But Mulholland can. She can also write-up search warrants and conduct investigations.

"I think she's getting to the problems before they become huge problems..." Captain Joe Raaymakers says.

Call the Clinton Police's non-emergency line at 563-243-1458. The Clinton Humane Society has dozens of cats and half a dozen dogs up for adoption.

SUV vs semi crash sends one to the hospital with “life threatening injuries”

WQAD News -

GLENVIEW, Illinois- A woman was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries after she rear-ended a parked semi.

Police say January 17, around 2:58 p.m. a 30-year-old Orland Park woman crashed her gray Toyota SUV into the rear of a semi that had pulled to the side of the road on Interstate 294 SB Willow Road near Glenview, Illinois.

According to police, the semi was parked in the striped gore area and had emergency hazard lights activated at the time.

The woman was life-flighted by helicopter to Lutheran General Hospital.

The driver of the semi was not injured in the crash.

Galesburg PD needs your help finding this “endangered” man

WQAD News -

GALESBURG, Illinois- In a post on Facebook, Galesburg Police Department is putting out a call for help. They need assistance finding a man they describe as endangered and mentally disabled.

Joseph V Harper, 22,  was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt, gray sweatpants, blue shoes, and a red and white winter jacket.

Joseph was last seen around 6 a.m. on wednesday, January 16. He was at his home in the 800 block of E North Street in Galesburg.

“Joseph travels by foot and does not he a vehicle or a bicycle. He does sometimes take the city bus. Joseph frequents both Family Videos in town. He does not have a cell phone.”

According to police Joseph’s parents have reported him missing, but at this time they don’t suspect foul play.

If anyone sees Joseph Harper, or has any information about his whereabouts they are asked to please call 911 or (309) 343-9151 to get him back to his family safely.

Maquoketa chapter reflects record participation in the Iowa FFA Association

WQAD News -

MAQUOKETA, Iowa — Student participation in the Iowa FFA Association is at an all time high and Maquoketa High School reflects that with membership more than tripling in the last year.

"With world population projections of over $9 billion by 2050, demand for food, fiber, and energy will continue to grow and thus, so will opportunities in agriculture. There is high demand for students to enter the work force that have a combination of technical knowledge learned through STEM-based Ag Education and leadership development learned through FFA involvement," said Scott Johnson, Executive Director of the Iowa FFA Association.

For the 2017-2018 school year the Iowa FFA Association reported record membership: 15,749 students. As of December 27, 2018 there were 14,452 members.

"It is common to add 1,200 - 1,500 members during the spring semester. Thus we are on pace to tie or surpass last year's record membership," said Johnson.

During the 2017-2018 school year, Maquoketa High School had 60 students in FFA. Currently, there are 203 students in FFA, according to data from the Iowa FFA Association.

Maquoketa High School is the oldest active FFA chapter in Iowa, chartered in 1928.  Agriculture Education teacher, Matt Lansing says there are two main reasons for the increase in membership.

"We went affiliation dues, which covers everyone," said Lansing, who is in his 2nd year at Maquoketa High School.

Lansing says the number one thing he heard last year was that students could not afford the $25 membership fee. Now the FFA Chapter covers a lump sum, $3,000 affiliation due.

"That’s one. Number two. We also have kind of encompassed Industrial Tech because it’s so hard to find industrial tech teachers," said Lansing.

Lansing says Maquoketa High School was calling for the position since October, 2017. In May, 2018 the call switched to a second Agriculture Education teacher to fill the teaching job that still allowed students hands on learning opportunities.

After no more than five minutes of students taking their seats in his classroom, Lansing ensures all his students have safety glasses and instructs them to head to the shop, where his 'small engines' agriculture class will work for the remainder of the period.

In the shop, students grab their tools and crank away on engines comparable to the size you might see on a push lawn-mower. Not necessarily what one might picture when they think of an agriculture class.

"Very much so I would disagree a little bit," said Lansing, "If I'm on the farm or an ag industry, like if I work at the local co-op, I have to be able to use my hands and be mechanically inclined to repair things," said Lansing.

He says the class teaches students confidence and problem solving. Students might not be able to mess up on an engine at home, but in Lansing's 'small engine' class, it's all part of the learning process.

"It's more interactive, hands-on learning and a lot less paperwork," said Brendon Koch, a junior who says he has always taken Ag classes throughout high school and plans to go into diesel mechanics when he graduates.

"Northeast Iowa Community College is where I want to go - they have a really good John Deere program," said Koch.

Even with 203 students in FFA, Lansing says he wants to see more students join the program. His goal is to have half the school involved.

"When I grew up they said run away from agriculture, go do anything else. Now it’s completely the opposite. Get involved in it. There are great paying jobs there are great opportunities there are great career paths. So that’s where my passion comes from I guess," said Lansing.

His classroom is a renovated bus barn. The shop where the students work is the old welding shop.

With the addition of a second Ag teacher, and plans to expand the courses offered within the Ag department, the Maquoketa FFA Chapter wants to raise money to build a brand new Ag learning center.

The Maquoketa FFA chapter is working to raise money for a new Ag building adjacent to Maquoketa High School. Its alumni chapter president says 75% of funding is complete. Construction will not start until the project is fully funded.

Its alumni chapter is working to raise money for the new building.

"There’s a lot of people in the community, not just parents that see the benefit to the Ag education program and want to help these kids succeed," said Skott Gent, President of the Maquoketa FFA Alumni Chapter.

He says he expects the new building to cost roughly $1 million - $1.2 million. Of that about $750,000 has been committed by the school and community donors. Construction will not start until the project is fully funded.

"We know that a lot of these kids aren’t destined for a 4-year college career and so if we can have them career ready coming out of high school it’s just going to make them all the more successful," said Gent. "We very much appreciate the community’s support in this project, the school is doing everything they can to support it financially."

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