Local hero coach gets chance to ‘Spin the Wheel’
One hugely consequential wheel eventually led to another for Justin Smith.
Nearly two years ago, Smith, a University of Dubuque women’s basketball coach, was riding the team bus back home after a tournament in Nashville, Tenn., when he felt a jolt. The bus had careened off a guardrail in Kentucky.
The bus’ driver had passed out, and the vehicle was barreling forward at 70 mph. So Smith grabbed the steering wheel and applied the brakes, stopping the bus and avoiding a serious crash.
The December 2017 incident kicked off a year of commendations and recognition.
“It just seemed like one thing after another,” said Smith, who was honored by the Red Cross and Hy-Vee, among other organizations.
That culminated in August 2018, when he and wife, Casey, were invited to compete on the new Fox game show, “Spin the Wheel.” The show, hosted by Dax Shepard, offers contestants a chance to win millions of dollars by, among other things, spinning a 40-foot wheel.
The show debuted June 20. Smith’s episode will air at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 18.
Prairie du Chien guardsman to deploy to Afghanistan
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. — With an improvised pole that consisted of a tree limb, parachute cord and metal pop-top, Spc. Carter Titlbach caught a bluegill outside of Fort McCoy.
The night of outdoor revelry, which included some fishing, marked the end of a recent round of training.
Titlbach, 23, is readying for his first deployment to Afghanistan.
He is among nearly 400 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry in the Wisconsin National Guard that has been assigned to support Operation Freedom Sentinel, the federal government’s current counterterrorism and support mission in the Global War on Terrorism.
“It’s kind of shocking, but also I’m very excited to go because I’ve always wanted to go overseas,” Titlbach said. “There is really not a feeling to it. It’s just kind of a ‘Wow’ factor.”
Soldiers will serve as a security detail for coalition forces operating within the region.
After rainy start, local farmers see improvement
Fourth of July has come and gone, but some corn is not yet knee-high.
Crops overall this season are lagging. Still, farmers are glad to see them growing at all after a rough start to the season.
“The crop in general is starting to look a lot better than it had about a month ago,” said Craig Recker, Dubuque County Farm Bureau president.
According to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture crop progress report, released early last week, only 1% of Iowa corn is “silking.” The five-year average is 14%.
About 7% of Iowa soybeans are blooming, compared to a 30% average. Illinois and Wisconsin numbers also lag.
In the tri-state area, county Farm Bureau representatives said commodity farmers are about two weeks behind. All are uncertain about the quality of the coming crop.
UW-P project restores grave marker of slave owned by city’s founder
PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — A Platteville professor and his students are researching the history of enslavement of African Americans in Wisconsin, which persisted for much of the 19th century despite the federal government’s prohibition of the institution within the region decades earlier.
University of Wisconsin-Platteville Professor Eugene Tesdahl and students enrolled in a Wisconsin history course found that prominent local historical figures were slaveholders, including Platteville’s founder, John Rountree, and Wisconsin’s first territorial governor, Henry Dodge.
Slavery had been outlawed since 1787 within the Northwest Territory, which stretched from Ohio to Minnesota.
“I find it particularly galling,” Tesdahl said. “It’s not like they crossed into an area where it was illegal and they didn’t know. They did this on purpose, with malice.”
About 20 UW-Platteville staff and students and local historians gathered Monday at Hillside Cemetery in Platteville to witness the repair of the headstone of one of the Rountree family’s former slaves — a woman named Rachel.
Her headstone, located in a corner of the family burial plot, was inadvertently broken several years ago. Volunteers from Mineral Point who specialize in the repair of grave markers, oversaw the work.
Census records and bills of sale indicate that Rountree enslaved three African Americans in Platteville. He obtained Rachel as a wedding gift in 1828 and later purchased another woman named Maria and her 18-month-old son, Felix, in 1830 in Galena, Ill.
After Rountree freed Rachel in 1841, she continued to work for and live with his family until her death in the early 1850s.
Group seeks to implement ward system for Dubuque school board
A group of local residents is petitioning to change the structure of the Dubuque Community School Board.
The group seeks to gather enough signatures to ask voters to change board seats from at-large to ward positions. That means at least some members of the board would be picked based on where members live.
“If we could get broader representation on the school board ... I think there would be at least an opportunity for more discussion about needs in specific schools,” said Naomi Clark, a member of the Dubuque Democratic Socialists.
However, the idea does not sit well with some school board members.
“I think breaking it into wards is not something that is healthy for Dubuque,” School Board President Tami Ryan said.
The petitioners are trying to gather 3,300 signatures by Aug. 25 so the question of whether to implement a ward system could appear on the ballot for the Nov. 5 school board elections.
So far, nearly 1,000 people have signed the petition, Clark said.
Clark said petitioners seek to change the system by which board members are elected because of equity issues they see in the school district. The seven members of the school board currently serve in at-large positions.
Savings surge: Discount and resale shops expand presence
At a time when most of the retail industry is sputtering, affordable options such as resale shops and discount stores are emphatically bucking the trend.
The tri-state era has been emblematic of the retail shift.
Last month, discount retailer Five Below opened its doors in Dubuque’s Asbury Plaza. Less than one mile away, crews are collecting merchandise and stocking shelves at the future home of Stuff, Etc., a consignment store slated to open next week in the former home of Courtside Sports Bar & Grill.
At Stuff Etc., items ranging from clothing to furniture and home decor are generally sold at one-third to half the price a shopper would find at a traditional retail outlet.
Director of Operations Sara Sundblad said these savings resonate regardless of broader economic conditions.
“Even when the economy is doing well, people are conscious of where and how they are spending their dollars,” she said.