Internet savvy police departments cracking jokes and cracking cases on social media

EAST MOLINE, Illinois -- Local police departments have been using social media to connect with their communities, share important information, and sometimes just to crack a joke. Sharp wit and internet savvy has gained them thousands of loyal followers from around the Quad Cities and even from overseas.

Blue Grass Chief of Police Garrett Jahns on Friday sent a special delivery to East Moline Police Department -- a dozen heart-shaped donuts. High stakes in a friendly Facebook poll to determine the best local police department account in which East Moline PD edged out Blue Grass 54 percent to 46 percent.

"Congratulations East Moline Police, DONUT let your guard down," Jahns wrote in a Facebook post. "Everybody wins! Blue Grass PD + East Moline PD = BFFs," he posted.

A 2016 post on the Blue Grass PD Facebook account

It was just one example of the humorous posts police departments share their lighter side, and their humanity. But officers say social media can also be used in their investigative toolbox. Jahns said the Blue Grass PD Facebook page has helped his department identify numerous criminals they were looking for.

"And it has helped us come to a very fast closing on a lot of cases where we might not have been able to identify that person if it weren't for the help of our citizens," he said.

It's also an effective platform for making important announcements to the public about severe weather and road conditions, said East Moline Police Captain Darren Gault, who accepted the donuts from Blue Grass PD.

"Almost everyone has that at their fingertips," Gault said. "And we feel it’s a good way to get our message out and get the word out," he said.

But one of the most important effects of social media is that it helps the public feel the heart behind the badge.

"We're trying to get everybody to understand that we're human, and that this is a job that we do," said Gault.  "Blue Grass, Moline Police Department, Iowa City, a lot of these departments have great social media pages and we learn from each other," he said.

"We are people too," Jahns said. "We have feelings -- we feel said, we feel happy, and we like to express those emotions through the writings on our Facebook posts."

Developer files lawsuit for payment in Scott Community College’s urban campus construction

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- The developer behind Scott Community College's urban campus filed a lawsuit against the college.

Construction along West 3rd Street started in 2017 and was completed in fall of 2018. 

According to the lawsuit, the developing company, Saratoga Capital, LLC. spent about three years working on the project, from concept to reality.

Look back: Development plans underway for Kahl and Capitol Theater in Davenport

The lawsuit was filed against Eastern Iowa Community College District and New College, LLC. in early February 2019 in district court because the developer claimed full payment had not been made.

The lawsuit accuses the college of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and promissory estoppel.

Click here to read the full lawsuit. 

WQAD News 8 reached out to the lawyer representing the college but received no response. 

Gene Simmons from KISS personally responds to CrimeStoppers’ and WQAD’s request to ‘Kiss Crime Goodbye’

MOLINE-- Rock star Gene Simmons from the band KISS has acknowledged WQAD and CrimeStoppers of the Quad Cities after we posted a video asking him to be our guest spinner for the Wheel of Misfortune.

Every week WQAD and CrimeStoppers of the Quad Cities spin the Wheel of Misfortune to choose who our "loser of the week" will be. On the wheel are faces of the QC's 8 most wanted criminals. If a viewer calls in a tip about the loser of the week that leads to an arrest, that person gets $500. Every week, a guest spinner comes in and chooses the criminal. Typically it's a member of the community, but when KISS is in town, we are asking Gene Simmons to come spin it.

With the help of the Moline Police Department, we released a video on February 14, 2018 with officers dressed as the band KISS. KISS will be performing at the Taxslayer Center in Moline on March 10, 2019. Gene Simmons has since seen the video, and he took to Twitter to retweet the video, and he writes "Wow."

We don't know yet if that "Wow" is an acceptance of the invitation, or just a reaction.

That's why we need your help sharing the video on Facebook and retweeting it on Twitter.

Twitter link

Facebook link

8 Weeks of Winter Fun: Hitting the slopes can be a fun way to stay active

Winter can be a tough time to stay active in the Midwest.  That's why WQAD News 8 is partnering with ORA Orthopedics to help people find ways to get out and move with "8 Weeks of Winter Fun."

The hills at Ski Snowstar in Andalusia, Illinois stay busy during the winter months despite the cold temperatures.

Skiing and snowboarding is a way for people of all ages to stay active during this time.

Health experts say moving is great for your overall cardiovascular health and to keep your weight under control.

And as fun as hitting the slopes can be, doctors recommend being mindful of what your capabilities are.

Click here for more ideas on how to stay active this winter

Leak in vacant home goes un-repaired for weeks, creates mess for neighbors

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Neighbors in Rock Island say what started as leak under a garage has turned their entire alley into a slippery slope.

For people living off the alley between 31st Street and 32nd Street in Rock Island, the walk home can be kind of hazardous.

A small crack in the foundation of a vacant home on the corner of 7th Avenue and 32nd Street has water pouring through it. Neighbor, Jacque Allison, said it has been non-stop for nearly two weeks. Now, all the water has turned into inches of ice.

"This is a hazard for the people that live next door -- they're elderly," Jacque said. "And again we just have to address this and get this taken care of."

Jacque said she has been calling Rock Island Public Works for weeks since she first noticed the leak. Still, Public Works said it was not brought to their attention until Monday. But for Jacque, today was the last straw.

"Today I was taking my grandchildren to school and as I was coming up the driveway," Jacque said. "Someone was trying to come down, so I had to stop, thus it caused me to slide into the rocks and I tore the whole bottom of my car off."

It is a slippery slope Jacque said she should not have to deal with every day. Now, her and other neighbors are wondering who to go to for help.

"With this house being abandoned, is this an issue for the city? Is this an issue for the homeowner?" Jacque asked.

Rock Island Public Works tells News 8 that since the leak is on Private Property, it is the homeowner's responsibility to hire crews to shut off the water.

"Somewhere we have to meet in the middle and try to get this rectified," Jacque said.

When Jacque called Public Works this morning after her car accident, she told the city she was contacting News 8. Since then, several crews were sent to the site to assess the leak. This evening, excavators were on the scene to clear the inches worth of ice.

Old Galena jail now No. 1 ranked bed and breakfast in the country

GALENA, Illinois – A Galena Bed and Breakfast is now the number one B&B in the country, but before it got that title it was once a jail.

It’s the place tourists escape to, but it once was the place people wanted to escape from.

“I have a lot of guests that are like,” well we’ve never been to jail”, says Innkeeper Matthew Carroll. “But I guess if this is what jail is like then we can go to jail.”

“It’s kind of an interesting juxtaposition,” says Carroll.

The Jail Hill Inn was once lined with cells and cold cement floors.  Now, it’s a top destination that Carroll is proud of.

“People didn’t want to be here they wanted to run away from and now being the number one place in the country I think people form all over are going to stay here for sure,” Carroll comments.

This year the website TripAdvisor named the Jail Hill Inn the number one bed and breakfast in the country for 2019.  It’s a crowning achievement for Carroll who started renovating the jail in 2015.

“This has that brick curved ceiling, which is that security feature back in the 1800’s because the sheriff or caretaker of the building would live in this space right there and then above use were the jail cells,” Carroll points out.

Carroll’s kept it authentic, like the original cement floor.

“They’d pour cement over the bricks below us and that was part of the security feature for the inmates,” Carroll says.

To the inscriptions on the wall from previous inmates.

But, this wasn’t your typical jail – not all inmates wanted to escape.

“It was a happy jail,” says Carroll. “It was more of a laid back drunken disorderly, bar fights, or domestic issues but you didn’t have a lot of trauma or drama.”

Today, the Jail Hill Inn is getting rave reviews from those who choose to be there.  And receiving national attention for a hometown lock-up.

“Its culminated into this number one destination,” Carroll comments.

The Jail Hill Inn has six different rooms for guests to stay and is open year-round.

What that proposed Illinois “mileage tax” means

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois-  A Chicago Representative has put forth the “mileage tax” bill you may have heard of on social media, but what does it actually aim to do?

Thursday, February 14, the Democratic Chicago lawmaker Rep. Marcus C. Evans, Jr. introduced the bill HB2864  for consideration to be made law.

Rep.Marcus C. Evans, Jr.

Rep. Evans Jr. says the voluntary program would allow Illinois residents to pay a tax on each mile they drive instead of paying the current flat 19-cent tax on each gallon of gas.

According to the language in the law:

“(the proposed law) Provides that the registered owner of a motor vehicle that is approved to participate in the program shall, in lieu of the taxes imposed under the Motor Fuel Tax Law, pay a per-mile road usage charge for metered use by the subject vehicle of the highways in this State. Provides that the per-mile road usage charge is $0.021 per mile. Effective immediately.”

Instead of paying 19-cents in tax on each gallon of gas purchased, Illinoisans would instead pay $0.021 per mile they actually drive.

The new bill would “amend” the Motor Fuel Tax Law. According to the legislature, vehicles would need to be equipped with a device or “method for collecting and reporting the metered use by the motor vehicle on one of the 18 highways in the State.”

HB2864 will now be reviewed by the rules committee for approval. Illinois is one of the few states that implement a motor-fuel tax.

The Rules Committee is comprised of three Democrats and two Republicans

Photos: Proposal for Davenport’s riverfront design unveiled to the public

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DAVENPORT, Iowa — An extended vision for Davenport’s riverfront was released to the public on Friday, February 15.

The City of Davenport worked with the Downtown Davenport Partnership and the Figge Art Museum to present the design, aimed at bringing public art concepts to the riverfront.

Kyle Carter, the executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, said this proposal was the “next logical extension of RiverVision,” which develops design strategies for the shared riverfront in the Quad Cities.

“It’s a very bold vision but a very practical one and a very doable one,” said Carter, “so we’re thrilled to let this out into the public and see where it goes from there.”

Numerous organizations got to see the plans for the first time at the meeting.  That included groups like the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Design Review Board and the Q2030 Riverfront Work Group.

Carter said getting this plan from concept to reality could take years.  He said the next phase would be getting committees together to consider funding and look at how to take on a public-private partnership.

Woman arrested for DUI tells deputy, ‘My KKK friends will burn your family’

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A Florida woman who was arrested for driving under the influence can be heard on body camera video threatening a sheriff’s deputy with violence, telling him, “My KKK friends will burn your family.”

“You f***** with the wrong white people,” 53-year-old Julie Edwards can be heard telling Deputy Brandon King. “KKK’s got your a**, boy.”

Edwards was arrested for driving under the influence and now faces charges for that along with resisting an officer without violence, making a threat against a law enforcement officer and refusing to submit for testing.

The arrest report says she also told the deputy, “n****rs should’ve never been let out of slavery.”

“Deputy King is of African-American descent and knows the history behind the KKK and the pain and torture they have caused and still cause to African-Americans today,” the arrest report says.

Deputy King smelled alcohol on Edward’s breath, noticed her slurring her speech and says she was uneasy on her feet, according to the arrest report. She refused to provide a breath sample or perform field sobriety tests.

While Deputy King was filling out paper work in his cruiser, Edwards began her verbal assault. She can be heard throughout the video threatening him.

She tells him the Ku Klux Klan will burn crosses on his property and says she hopes he doesn’t have any children.

“Kudos to Deputy King for his calm response to all the racist garbage this KKK Enthusiast could throw at him,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “All law enforcement officers learn to deal with people at their worst, but this level of ignorance is something else. Great job Deputy King and thank you to everyone condemning the hate in this video!”

Edwards was arrested on February 8 and taken to the Volusia County Jail, but records show she is no longer in custody. She is scheduled to appear in court on March 6.

Democrats propose high-capacity gun magazine ban

(CNN) — After a year without any significant gun legislation passed by Congress since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida, Democrats introduced a bill banning high-capacity gun magazines Tuesday, as the one-year anniversary of the massacre nears.

The Democratic legislation, cosponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, would ban any magazine that exceeds 10 rounds of ammunition. The legislation, which has been dubbed the “Keep Americans Safe Act,” currently has no Republican cosponsors, one of many obstacles that would stand in the way of it advancing.

During a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, the Democratic legislators described the bill as one step in a process of passing individual gun control measures instead of a big comprehensive package.

“Guns become doubly and triply deadly in these massacres because of these high-capacity magazines,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. “And so if we take one simple step in approving this prohibition, we can literally save lives. There is no more simple, straightforward way to save lives from gun violence than to ban these high-capacity magazines.”

On an issue that has consistently failed to advance in Congress and that many Democrats from more moderate or conservative districts don’t want to vote on, the proposal marks a significant development. It comes as Democrats control the House and it follows years of deadly shootings, many of which included guns with high-capacity magazines. Most of the recent legislative proposals related to gun control have focused narrowly on ways to improve background checks for gun purchases, and those have also struggled to advance.

Democrats are hoping that the reaction to mass shootings — especially those reactions from high school students — can translate to pressure on members.

“The reality of a Democratic majority, sending legislation, I believe this week they’re starting on background checks. That creates an impetus and a challenge for the Republican leader in the Senate,” Menendez said at the news conference.

“This issue was a significant issue in the elections and sent a very clear message,” he added.

Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting, which killed 17 people.

Before announcing the legislation, Deutch, who represents the district that is home to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community, pointed to a number of mass shootings, including Las Vegas and Sandy Hook, where “high-capacity magazines make those shooters dramatically more dangerous. You’ve got to take action to address it.”

“The fact is that these high-capacity magazines allow someone to fire off more than 10 rounds in a row,” Deutch added. “You don’t need that if you’re a hunter, you don’t need that for any purpose. You don’t need that for sporting purposes.”

Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, said:

“This legislation would effectively ban the most commonly owned firearms for self-defense. It is an arbitrary limit pulled out of thin air with no evidence that the limits would improve public safety. In fact the after report from the deadliest school shooting in American history states that magazine limits would have had no impact. This is just more nonsense from anti-gun zealots who are looking to score political points by proposing legislation that would make criminals out of law-abiding citizens exercising their constitutional right to self-defense while doing nothing to deter criminals from committing crimes.”

Menendez has collected around two dozen sponsors in the Senate, including a number of 2020 candidates like Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. The bill’s supporters say the proposal has 65 members supporting it in the House.

The legislation has little hope in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell controls the floor proceedings, but Menendez said he will look for an “appropriate time” to insist upon a vote on the floor and potentially hold up other legislation.

“I think it’ll be a moment of clarity for the American people to know who stands for reasonable gun safety measures and who’s opposed to them,” he said.

In the proposal, violating the law, which does not apply to police officers or campus law enforcement officers, would carry a fine or imprisonment.

In January, House Democrats introduced a bill requiring background checks on private transactions for gun sales. They introduced a similar bill in November 2017, attracting some Republican cosponsors, but it didn’t receive a vote while Democrats were in the minority.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on gun violence last Wednesday for the first time in eight years. The Gun Violence Prevention Task Force chairman, Rep. Mike Thompson of California, called the hearing a “new day,” noting that Democrats had “implored the previous majority to hold hearings and we were denied,” in a statement posted on Twitter.

Democratic Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada — who is also a sponsor of the bill and represents Las Vegas, the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history — told CNN, “Firearms with high-capacity magazines have no place in our classrooms, concert venues or communities. Enough is enough. Families in Las Vegas know all too well the deadly consequences of inaction.”

Other gun control groups like Everytown for Gun Control, the Brady Center and Giffords also support the bill.

David Chipman, a senior policy adviser for Giffords and a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for 25 years, told CNN over the phone that this legislation won’t prevent all gun deaths but “might prevent some of the mass shootings from becoming as grave as they’ve become.”

Chipman recalled during his years at ATF that he would carry a handgun with 15 rounds of ammunition. He said it’s important to weigh all the responsibilities of what he views as common-sense gun legislation.

“That right should not be so unlimited that people can buy a hundred-round magazine or drum magazines like in Aurora,” referring to the Colorado cinema shooting in 2012 where 12 people were killed and dozens injured by a single gunman.

There have been efforts to ban high-capacity magazines before and recently. In a proposal to reinstate an expired so-called assault-style weapons ban following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California included provisions that would have also outlawed ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. That effort failed to advance in the chamber.

During his State of the Union address last week, President Donald Trump recognized last year’s hate-fueled attack on a Jewish temple in Pittsburgh but failed to mention gun violence. Survivors and family members of students killed in the Parkland shooting attended the President’s speech as guests of lawmakers, though Trump later told a Miami television station he didn’t know the Parkland victims were in attendance.

Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, in the Parkland shooting, described himself as deeply frustrated with the President’s speech in an interview with CNN.

“I’m disgusted,” he told CNN in a chaotic scene in the Statuary Hall off of the chamber floor.

Guttenberg described the President’s rhetoric about border security and a migrant caravan as a “fake crisis,” calling the real crisis the tens of thousands of American deaths a year at the hands of guns.

“He didn’t miss it (the opportunity to discuss gun violence). He made a choice. I am disgusted with him for that purposeful choice. Honestly, in my book, right now, he’s useless in this conversation,” Guttenberg told CNN.

With no Republican support of the legislation thus far, it will be an uphill battle for Democrats to get it passed, particularly in the Senate, where 60 votes are required for most legislation to advance, though Deutch is hoping to win over at least a few GOP senators.

At the Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday, Manny Oliver, who lost his son Joaquin in the Parkland shooting, demanded action from legislators as he mourns a year without his son.

“Have you realized how simple this is to approve? We’re just reducing the amount of ammunition on a gun that you can still carry with less ammunition inside. Is that so hard to understand?” he said.

“We’re not asking, we’re not begging,” Oliver said. “We demand.”


Two suspects arrested in connection to attack on ‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett

CHICAGO - Two suspects have been arrested in connection to an attack reported by "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, Chicago Police Department said Friday.

The men arrested were the same men that police previously said were being viewed as "potential suspects," according to Tom Ahern, Chicago police communications deputy director.

They have not been charged.

Earlier Friday, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said two Nigerian brothers were being treated as "potential suspects" and that detectives had "probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime."

Police did not say at that time precisely what the brothers were accused of or what the alleged crime might have been.

Smollett, one of the stars of "Empire," told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who lobbed "racial and homophobic slurs" at him.

After a brief struggle, both men ran away, and Smollett told police that one attacker had allegedly put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.

"Interrogations will resume today with the two individuals and their attorney," Guglielmi said in Friday's statement. "While we haven't found any video documenting the alleged attack, there is also no evidence to say that this is a hoax."

"The alleged victim is being cooperative at this time and continues to be treated as a victim, not a suspect," he added.

Police said Thursday they were questioning the two men after meeting them at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, but they were not considered suspects at that time. Their apartment was searched by police earlier this week.

One of the brothers has appeared on the show "Empire," according to police.

Authorities previously released surveillance images of two silhouetted figures in the area of the attack, who they said were wanted for questioning.

Smollett shared his detailed account of the alleged attack in a Thursday morning interview on "Good Morning America," in which he rejected reports that he said he told police the attackers wore Make America Great Again hats.

"I never said that," he said. "I didn't need to add anything like that. They called me a f****t, they called me a n****r. There's no which way you cut it. I don't need some MAGA hat as the cherry on some racist sundae."

Suspect in custody after deadly Aurora, IL shooting, officials say


THE SHOOTER HAS BEEN APPREHENDED! The area is still on lock down!

More information will be provided soon.

— City of Aurora, IL (@CityofAuroraIL) February 15, 2019

We have an active shooter incident at 641 Archer Av. This is an active scene. Please avoid the area

— Aurora (IL) Police (@AuroraPoliceIL) February 15, 2019

(CNN) -- [Breaking news update, published at 5:27 p.m. ET]

At least one person has been killed in a mass shooting in Aurora, Illinois, according to Chris Nelson with the Kane County State's Attorney's Office.

[Previous story, published at 4:42 p.m. ET]

The suspected shooter in Aurora, Illinois, has been apprehended and police officers and civilians are among those hurt in a shooting at a manufacturing business, officials said Friday.

Four police officers were injured as were a "number of civilians," Ward 4 Alderman Bill Donnell told CNN, citing Deputy Mayor Chuck Nelson.

Some patients from the shooting were sent to Mercy Medical Center and Rush Copley Medical Center, according to Mercy spokeswoman Olga Solares.

It was unclear how many patients there were and their conditions, she said.

A spokesman for the city, Clayton Muhammad, said the four officers' conditions were stable.

Police responded to an active shooter situation Friday afternoon at the Henry Pratt Company, authorities said.

Aerial video from the scene showed scores of police vehicles outside the company. The response included at least six ambulances and six firetrucks.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI are responding to the scene, the agencies tweeted.

Aurora has about 201,000 residents. It is 40 miles west of Chicago.

Can't see the stream? Tap here

Two I-74 bridge construction workers rescued after falling into river

BETTENDORF-- Two I-74 bridge construction workers were rescued after falling into the Mississippi River.

Officials with Iowa Department of Transportation say between February 6 and 7, 2019 two workers on barges fell into the river. In both cases, the contractor promptly implemented safety protocols, and the workers were quickly rescued by the crew on site. There were no serious injuries.

To ensure the safety of the workers, the contractor shut down most operations for the remainder of that week. Work has resumed this week.

IDOT officials released the following statement about safety protocols:

"Lunda, in coordination with the Iowa DOT, has safety protocols in place to ensure incidents are handled promptly and appropriately. A safety manager is on site daily. All construction workers on site receive extensive safety training and participate in regular “man overboard” drills. When put into practice, the safety protocols have been successful and serious injuries have been avoided."

This incident is not related to the crane incident that happened on Wednesday, February 13, 2019.

Davenport doctor facing prison time is in custody for violating terms of release

DAVENPORT, Iowa — A doctor who held a practice in Davenport has been taken into custody for violating the terms of his release.

Back in 2017, Dr. Paul M. Bolger paid a $10,000 fine for prescribing  pain medication online to unfamiliar patients and pleaded guilty in federal court to multiple counts of giving false statements to investigators and the introduction of misbranded drugs.

According to court documents, he was released on personal recognizance bond with pretrial supervision.  There were several conditions of his release that he was expected to maintain while out free.

Dr. Bolger was taken into custody in mid-February 2019 for violating his release, court documents show.

This comes after a search warrant was executed on Bolger’s businesses, his person and his vehicles, show court records. Three controlled transactions between Bolger and an undercover officer gave authorities probable cause for a search.

During each transaction, Bolger illegally distributed phentermine, which is a schedule four controlled substance, according to the court records.  Two happened in Burlington, and one was in Iowa City.

According to the filing, Bolger doesn’t have a DEA registration that would allow him to dispense controlled substances at any other location in Iowa except for his practice on Utica Ridge Road in Davenport.

On Tuesday, officers contacted Bolger at his business location in Muscatine where he was told about the warrants.

The court documents said that Bolger didn’t notify pretrial services of his contact with law enforcement. A pretrial officer agreed with the warrant and the revocation of Bolger’s pretrial release.

Previous reports indicate that Bolger faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the counts related to giving false statements and one year in prison and a fine of $100,000 for the misbranding charges.

Deere first quarter earnings less than expected

MOLINE, Illinois- Deere and Company’s net sales rose by 16% in the first quarter report it released Friday, February 15, but it was still less than expected.

“Although Deere has continued to make solid progress on a number of fronts and reported higher earnings for the quarter, our results were hurt by higher costs for raw materials and logistics as well by customer concerns over tariffs and trade policies,” said Samuel R. Allen, chairman and chief executive officer.

Deere and Company’s net income for the first quarter of this year was $498.5 million while its net income for 2018 was a net loss of $535.1 million. Regardless, Allen said the concern over tariffs weighed on the market sentiment and caused farmers to make become more cautious about buying.

“At the same time, sales of John Deere construction and forestry machinery have continued at a strong pace. We believe cost pressures should abate as the year progresses and are hopeful we will soon have more clarity around trade issues. As a result, we remain cautiously optimistic about our prospects for the year ahead.”

Our investment advisor Mark Grywacheski will dig into the numbers Monday, February 18 and explain the strengths and challenges of the company. He’ll also discuss retail sales data and explain why the numbers from November to December of 2018, fell by 1.2%.

Your Money with Mark airs between 5 and 5:30 a.m. every Monday on Good Morning Quad Cities. To live stream our newscast, click here.  

City demands recordings of commission’s closed-door meetings

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Lawyers for the city of Davenport have demanded audio recordings of several closed-door meetings of the city’s civil rights commission.

The Quad-City Times reports that letters given to the commissioners Tuesday say the commission held at least eight meetings since January 2017 in violation of Iowa’s open meetings laws.

Commission director Latrice Lacey says the commission holds closed meetings only as allowed under state law.

The letters ask the commission to turn over the information by Feb. 26 or explain the delay. Other information requested includes service contracts with outside legal counsel, which the letters suggest would be used by the commission against the city in court.

The city and the commission have been in a dispute about commission membership since three commissioners were replaced against their will late last year.

These orange alligators are raising eyebrows in South Carolina

(CNN) — Two alligators with leathery orange skin are raising eyebrows in a community in South Carolina.

CNN affiliate WJCL reported that a man discovered the reptiles at a pond in Bluffton. Maybe an overzealous Clemson Tigers fan slathered them with the team colors? Or they ate Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Or they could be albino alligators?

None of that, says David Lucas of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The color could simply be from rust in draining pipes.

“During the winter, the alligators like to dig in and find a place to hibernate,” he said. “It is possible that some end up near drainage pipes that have rusty metal pieces inside, so basically they marinate in rust all winter, and this stains them.”

Another alligator spotted in 2017

About the same time two years ago, another orange alligator emerged from a small lake in Charleston. The water temperatures start to warm up around this time of the year, which brings alligators out of hibernation.

“We don’t see orange alligators every year, which is why they get so much attention,” Lucas said.

Despite the fascination with the animals, experts warn people to keep a safe distance from the slithery reptiles — orange or not.

“Alligators are large carnivorous predators that demand respect,” says Dr. J. Whitfield Gibbons, director of outreach at Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

“Alligators are fascinating creatures and should by all means be enjoyed as part of the natural beauty of our region. But please remember that they are wild animals and should be respected as such.

That means maintaining a distance of 60 feet away from the animals, he says.

Bear spotted hanging off dump truck on North Carolina highway

BERTIE COUNTY, NC. – A bear was spotted hanging off a dump truck on a North Carolina highway Wednesday.

The truck driver had no idea the bear was in the back of his truck as he headed to a landfill in Bertie County, according to WTKR.

The bear had apparently been in the back of his truck since his last pick up in Dare County.

Deputies told the dump truck driver to keep driving toward the landfill and let the bear out when he arrived.

When the driver took the exit to the landfill, the bear had already jumped out and run into the woods.

The sheriff’s office says this is second time in six months they’ve gotten a call like this.

Deere, hit on both sides of trade war, posts weak 1Q earns

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — Deere & Co., a manufacturer that faces threats from both ends of a trade war, cited rising costs and anxious farmers as it reported a profit shortfall for the first quarter Friday.

Shares bounced back from sharp premarket declines, however, on a relatively strong outlook, and hopes that tensions with China will recede.

The U.S. and China will continue to try to hash out trade differences next week in Washington after two days of talks wrapped up Friday in Beijing. But ongoing trade tensions have damaged U.S. farmers to a degree that they are pulling back on investing in heavy equipment.

President Donald Trump last year started slapping import taxes on Chinese goods and on foreign steel and aluminum. China, which buys almost 60 percent of all soybeans the U.S. exports, retaliated by imposing tariffs on soybeans and other farm products.

Farms already hurting because of slumping commodity prices have begun failing at an advanced rate.

The number of farm bankruptcies in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and portions of Wisconsin and Michigan reached 84 in the 12 months leading up to June 2018, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis which monitors the region.

That is more than double the total from four years earlier, when rising farm bankruptcies were first noted, according to the Fed.

“Our results were hurt by higher costs for raw materials and logistics as well by customer concerns over tariffs and trade policies,” said Deere Chairman and CEO Samuel Allen. “These latter issues have weighed on market sentiment and caused farmers to become more cautious about making major purchases.”

U.S-China trade negotiations continue next week while a planned American tariff hike on $200 billion of Chinese imports looms on March 2. President Trump has said he might let the March 2 deadline slide if the talks go well.

Deere did bounce back from losses last year to a first-quarter profit of $498.5 million. But its per-share earnings of $1.54 were 26 cents short of Wall Street expectations, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue was $7.98 billion, or $6.94 billion adjusted for one-time events, which edged out analyst expectations. And the company expects equipment sales to increase by about 7 percent this year, compared with 2018.

Shares in the Moline, Illinois, company fell 1 percent.