Volunteers replace wood walkways at Maquoketa Caves State Park

Mike Bock measured and cut boards in a unique, makeshift workshop last week. He set up his saw near the mouth of Dancehall Cave at Maquoketa Caves State Park. He and dozens of other volunteers ripped up and replaced some of the boardwalks along the trails
Mike Bock measured and cut boards in a unique, makeshift workshop last week. He set up his saw near the mouth of Dancehall Cave at Maquoketa Caves State Park. He and dozens of other volunteers ripped up and replaced some of the boardwalks along the trails

By KELLY GERLACH

News Editor

kgerlach@mspress.net

The aged, worn, nail-ridden piece of lumber in Leona Golladay’s hand could probably tell a lot of stories. 

Wood cannot talk, but Golladay can, and she had many stories to tell of childhood exploits at Maquoketa Caves State Park.

“I grew up around here, near Baldwin,” Golladay said last Tuesday, standing on a stair leading toward the popular Dancehall Cave as volunteers took apart the wood landing a few stairs away. 

“There were three generations of us trying to push over the Balanced 

 

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Record turnout for 2017 Jackson County Fair despite soggy start

(L-R) Sara Smithson, Lacey Homan and Cambrie Lane do their best to carry a hog from a mud pit and place it in a bucket. The fair royalty got dirty during the hug-a-hog contest at the Jackson County Fair.
(L-R) Sara Smithson, Lacey Homan and Cambrie Lane do their best to carry a hog from a mud pit and place it in a bucket. The fair royalty got dirty during the hug-a-hog contest at the Jackson County Fair.

By KELLY GERLACH

News Editor

kgerlach@mspress.net

Adapting to change is good. It means flexibility.

So said exhausted Jackson County Fair Manager Lanny Simpson Monday morning, after getting three to five hours of sleep per night last week.

“A lot of things happen by accident, but a lot of the time those accidents worked,” Simpson said, referencing Wednesday’s rainstorm and other unplanned changes.

Despite it all, a record number of people walked through the 2017 Jackson County Fair gates to experience fair life and to create new memories.

Paid attendance was 35,839 for the fair, which began during a rainstorm Wednesday and ended with a standing-room-only crowd at the Night of Destruction Sunday evening. That’s up almost 3,800 people from last year, despite dropping by 1,200 people on opening day. In neighboring Dubuque County, attendance numbers decreased by about 8 percent.

Rain postponed the parade by a day. The last time the parade was cancelled was about 1921, fair board member/historian Duane Hansen told Simpson. It was last postponed around 1961.

The 40-mph storm did not deter fairgoers. They found dry shelter until the rain ceased, then about 2,200 people 

 

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Casel family honored as 2017 Jackson County Fair Family

Tucker Veach reaches in to stroke Copper’s side while Cameron Casel holds the horse. They got their love of horses from Bill Casel, who passed it on to his wife, kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. MSP photo by Brooke Taylor
Tucker Veach reaches in to stroke Copper’s side while Cameron Casel holds the horse. They got their love of horses from Bill Casel, who passed it on to his wife, kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. MSP photo by Brooke Taylor

By KELLY GERLACH

News Editor

kgerlach@mspress.net

A secret, private, sort-of smile tilts Norma Casel’s lips as she watches her grandson, Cameron Casel, lead horse Copper into position for a group photo.

It’s a look of pride, pure and simple. He’s another generation carrying on a family legacy.

But the smile is tinged with sorrow. Norma’s husband of 59 years, Bill, isn’t there to see it. He taught his wife, children, and grandchildren the love of horses and the skills of horsemanship; however, he died on the day of the 2014 4-H/FFA Horse Show at the Jackson County Fair.

Still, Norma smiles as she sees her son, Rick, show his son how to hold Copper’s reins. And while watching son Tom hold grandson Tucker Veach as he rubs Copper’s nose.

With decades of involvement, the Bill and Norma Casel family was selected as the 2017 Jackson County Fair Family. They were honored Sunday during pre-fair festivities and will ride in Wednesday evening’s parade.

“I said, ‘No, uh-uh,’” Norma said when asked how she had learned her family would receive the title. It’s the same humble sentiment she and her husband echoed when they were named fair grand marshals in 2013.

Bill and Norma organized the fair’s Open Class Horse Show for 23 years. Tom is still rabbit superintendent for the fair, and Rick has been heavily involved with goats.

But the two sons (the Casels also have daughter Cindy Casel in Dubuque and son Mike Casel in Ankeny) are carrying on a family tradition of which they’re proud.

“Our parents were great..."

 

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Hidden graves to be restored at Poor Farm

Jackson County’s indigent population had a roof over their heads and work to  do while the county Poor Farm was open on 250th Avenue northwest of Andrew. MSP photo by Kelly Gerlach
Jackson County’s indigent population had a roof over their heads and work to do while the county Poor Farm was open on 250th Avenue northwest of Andrew. MSP photo by Kelly Gerlach

By KELLY GERLACH

News Editor

kgerlach@mspress.net

Ten grave markers – 11, if you count a 3-inch circle of concrete with the number 28 etched into it. Those and one generic monument dated 1886 are the only visible signs of a burial place.

County officials, local historians, and records show more than 200 burials should be at the Jackson County Poor Farm Cemetery, found off an abandoned county road a few miles northwest of Andrew.

The cemetery will be restored this year thanks to the efforts of the county’s Historic Preservation Commission and the blessing of the Board of Supervisors.

“It belongs to the county and should be maintained,” Commissioner Larry Ambrosy told supervisors July 5.

With the supervisors’ permission and money from the Poor Farm, the commission will cut down wild sumac bushes and trees, probe for buried grave markers, restore markers, and work on signage for the cemetery.

The commission needs the public’s help to...

 

 

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Squiers Manor for sale in historic district

Kathy and Virl Banowetz relax inside the welcoming parlor at Squiers Manor Bed & Breakfast, which they’ve operated since 1991. They are looking for a buyer who ‘will love it just as much as we do. We put our heart and soul in this place,” Kathy said.
Kathy and Virl Banowetz relax inside the welcoming parlor at Squiers Manor Bed & Breakfast, which they’ve operated since 1991. They are looking for a buyer who ‘will love it just as much as we do. We put our heart and soul in this place,” Kathy said.

By KELLY GERLACH

 

News Editor

 

kgerlach@mspress.net

 

Kathy Banowetz cannot count the number of times she has walked up and down the original wooden staircase at Squiers Manor. There were clean sheets to grab, candlelight desserts to serve, and guests to escort to their rooms or on a tour of the mansion’s eight suites.

 

Her husband, Virl, doesn’t recall all the meals served, the late-night check-ins, and building repairs.

 

But they remember their guests – many repeat guests who have become old friends – and their touching stories after 26 years of managing Squiers Manor Bed & Breakfast in Maquoketa.

 

That is why it will be so difficult to say goodbye.

 

The Banowetzes have listed Squiers Manor for sale with The Engel Agency. The asking price is $479,000, according to listing agent Abby Schueller.

 

The manor employs one full-time and five part-time workers.  

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Parents, friends and teachers send off graduates

Trevor Bickford (center) snaps a “selfie” on his cell phone as  instructed by Maquoketa Schools Superindendent Chris Hoover. He, along with school board president David Sybesma, gave speeches during the 2017 commencement ceremony Sunday.
Trevor Bickford (center) snaps a “selfie” on his cell phone as instructed by Maquoketa Schools Superindendent Chris Hoover. He, along with school board president David Sybesma, gave speeches during the 2017 commencement ceremony Sunday.

By NICK JOOS

Sports Editor

mspsports@mspress.net

 

They turned toward the crowd, diplomas in hand. Streamers exploded, pushing colored confetti into the air around them. 

The Maquoketa graduating class of 2017 was done. Their futures lay ahead, but for a while Sunday, it was time to celebrate the present. 

“We never thought this day would come,” said Courtney Becker during her commencement speech in front of teachers, family and 138 classmates in the Maquoketa High School gym. “Then we wished for it to come faster. We crossed days off our calendars, counted hours, minutes and seconds, and now it’s finally here.”

Becker’s speech “Look Back and Look Ahead” summarized the class’ journey, from their freshmen experiences to what the future may bring. 

Maquoketa High School Principal Mark Vervaecke began the day’s ceremony noting the class’ accomplishments, including a large sum of scholarship money.

“I think it’s appropriate to recognize this class that, if they earn all the scholarship money they are eligible to receive through renewals, they will top the $1 million mark,” he said. 

Superintendent Chris Hoover addressed the graduates as well with similar sentiment toward their accomplishments, and encouraged them to accept change throughout their lives.

 

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More than 75 marchers protest Saturday morning curbing EPA power

Marchers carried their pro-Earth signs north and south Saturday on Maquoketa’s Main Street to spread awareness of climate change and state and federal policies that negatively affect it. MSP photo by Kelly Gerlach
Marchers carried their pro-Earth signs north and south Saturday on Maquoketa’s Main Street to spread awareness of climate change and state and federal policies that negatively affect it. MSP photo by Kelly Gerlach

By KELLY GERLACH

News Editor

kgerlach@mspress.net

Mother Nature played a joke on People’s Climate Change marchers. 

Global warming is real, protesters insisted. But the late-April day proved colder than usual – not warmer – as about 75 people lined up to listen to speakers, sing, march and speak out against what they perceive as President Donald Trump’s cavalier attitude toward the environment.

The downtown Maquoketa rally was one of 375 across the United States Saturday morning, raising awareness about climate change on the president’s 100th day in office.

Jessica Kean, a member of the non-partisan activist group Indivisible Jackson County, rallied marchers.

“There’s a stigma out there that people in small towns aren’t as active. … “We’re not loud but are passionate,” Kean said. “I’ve talked to other moms like me who are scared to death that a Flint, Michigan, [water issue] could happen right here in Jackson County.”

When her 4-year-old daughter, Josie, asked what the rally was about, Kean told her how climate change made dinosaurs go extinct.

Josie replied, “Maybe if there’d been people alive at the same time as the dinosaurs, they would have saved them.”

The audience

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Man found guilty of assault, robbery

Desmond Reeves
Desmond Reeves

By KELLY GERLACH

News Editor

kgerlach@mspress.net

In about 45 seconds Thursday afternoon, a tumult of emotions crossed the faces of the family members of Desmond Deandre Reeves. 

The man himself appeared stoic as Judge Thomas Reidel read the jury’s verdicts:

Guilty of first-degree robbery

Guilty of the lesser charge of assault with intent to commit injury

Reeves remained impassive until sheriff’s deputies said it was time to go. Shackled at the wrists and ankles, he tried to hug his mother, sisters, cousins and others. Tears ran down his face as his family silently sobbed.

Reeves, who spent his 21st birthday in jail last week, will remain there without bond until his sentencing May 5. He faces a minimum of 17½ years in prison on the robbery charge in addition to the assault charge. 

He had been charged with attempted murder and first-degree robbery in the Jan. 9 shooting of Brian Filloon, 31, Maquoketa.

Filloon was treated for non-life-threatening gunshot wounds at Jackson County Regional Health Center before he was airlifted to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City, police said. He had bullet wounds to one leg, the side of his chest, and a hip, he told the jury Monday.

Jury deliberates

In Thursday morning’s closing argument, Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown

 

 

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Donkeyball!

Brandon Michel laughs as he attempts to get his donkey to run up and down the court in the Easton Valley gym in Miles. MSP photo by Deven King
Brandon Michel laughs as he attempts to get his donkey to run up and down the court in the Easton Valley gym in Miles. MSP photo by Deven King

By DEVEN KING

Staff Writer

dking@mspress.net

Students, teachers, FFA alumni, and community members saddled up to support Easton Valley FFA. 

Donkeys ran, bucked, and stood stubbornly still as various riders attempted to make their way up and down the court to shoot baskets. 

The entertainment was part of a donkey basketball game held Monday in Easton Valley Elementary School, Miles. The donkeys came from Donkeyland Basketball in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The traveling donkeys go to Wisconsin, Minnesota, UP of Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Western Indiana, through the Dakotas and Wyoming and south into Texas, Louisiana and more.

The donkeys are also trained for baseball and races.   

Lucas Miller, a senior at Easton Valley, played in the donkey basketball game for the first time. 

“When they kick at you, you can sure feel it,” he said. “But they just kick back, they don’t wind up like a horse would.”  

Miller rode multiple donkeys during the two games the students played in. The games were played in two 16-minute elimination games with a 15-minute intermission. An 8-minute championship round determined the champion. 

The students won, soundly defeating the adults.

During intermission, children were allowed to take free donkey rides with permission of their guardian. The donkeys are trained to act calmly during this time and during any other down time in the games. 

Craig Thines of rural Preston was asked to kiss one of the donkeys by way of apology for accidently hitting her in the face with the ball while passing it. In front of the crowd, he got down and one knee and in fact kissed the donkey.  

Nathan Kilburg rode various donkeys, and willingly rode Hemorrhoid, the donkey that was saved for the final game in order to provide more challenge to his riders due to his character.  

The packed Miles gymnasium was filled with endless laughs and cheers throughout the donkey basketball game.

Proceeds from the event will support the FFA chapter and help pay expenses for State Convention, which will be held in Ames on April 9-11. Jennifer Westphal, Easton Valley ag instructor and FFA advisor, will take 16 members to the convention.  

There are 45 members in the FFA chapter, a 26 percent increase from 2016. 

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