By KELLY GERLACH
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.
By NICK JOOS
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.
By KELLY GERLACH
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.”
By KELLY GERLACH
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.
In Thursday morning’s closing argument, Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown
By DEVEN KING
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.
By KELLY GERLACH
Memories flooded back as Wayne Nolting of rural Preston stared at a photograph in a book.
The photo was a familiar scene he’d lived many times: his father and brother sitting around the dining room table at the neighboring Grant farm, eating an afternoon lunch of sandwiches, soup and cake after a day of hard labor threshing in the fields.
Nolting knew every face in the photo – his father, brother, close neighbors.
“We were there a lot,” Nolting said, remembering the many summers when neighbors shared resources and labor to harvest crops.
“You look like you needed some more meat on your bones,” said his wife Arlene, nudging her shoulder against his.
But almost 70 years after the photo was taken, Nolting, the only person in the photo who is still alive, did not remember seeing the stranger who took that photo in the Grant dining room.
The photographer was Arthur Melville “Pete” Wettach. And he might not have been a total stranger. He worked for what was then the Farm Security Administration, helping tenant farmers to buy land of their own.
Wettach was also a self-taught photographer, and his photographs capture a glimpse of rural Iowa life in the Great Depression and afterward.
Thirty of his photographs, including that of the Noltings and Grants, are on display at Maquoketa Art Experience through May 15. Two receptions are
By KELLY GERLACH
Fierce looks of concentration reflected from 42 silver poms clutched in the hands of 21 girls.
Then one girl’s hand twitched, waving her pom as she discreetly worked out a nervous kink in her hand.
All eyes were on the girls.
Then smiles spread across their faces as the music started and they – and their poms – danced for the first time.
The group is the first Maquoketa Middle School Dance Team, and the performance was the girls’ first in front of a sizable crowd – at halftime of a Maquoketa Cardinals boys varsity basketball game last week.
The new team formed from interest and need, according to coaches Ashley Wing and Mandi Lemke of Tempo Dance Studio in Maquoketa.
“We started because when you get to high school, you start fresh” with no experience to get on the dance team, Wing said. “With those who dance, they have a number of years of experience on them. It’s not like other sports where you’ve played since you were little.”