Week in review: Investigation into teen's death 'active, ongoing"™

UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital nurse Karen Soppe (right) changes the diaper on newborn Ayden James Wolter as Laura Knabel calms another baby Wednesday. Finley saw 79 babies born in September, the hospital's biggest monthly baby boom in 67 years.

Fifteen-year-old Marlon T. Barber Jr. was shot and killed in downtown Dubuque nearly one year ago. There have been no suspects arrested nor charges field, but Dubuque police say it's not for a lack of trying.

"It's definitely an active, ongoing investigation," Lt. Scott Baxter said. "We're working hard, despite the rumors out there."

Barber was shot in the chest and stomach just before midnight Oct. 20, 2012, at 21st and Jackson streets, apparently as he and friends were walking away from a party. He died of his injuries shortly after at Mercy Medical Center-Dubuque. Another teen, Demarcus D. Timmons, was shot in the face and buttocks, but he was treated and released from UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital two days later. Since that incident, Dubuque police have conducted more than 70 interviews, but the case remains unsolved.

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ALCOHOL A FACTOR IN CHIEF'S RESIGNATION

The Hazel Green, Wis., police chief resigned last month after he came to an investigative interview under the influence of alcohol, according to the village's attorney.

Attorney Eileen Brownlee said Brian Klein, 42, was asked as part of an employment investigation to come to the Platteville Police Department on Sept. 19 so he could be interviewed about village officials' concerns that he often was impaired by alcohol while on duty.

At the start of the interview, a detective reported smelling alcohol and asked Klein to take a Breathalyzer test, Brownlee said. Klein agreed and registered a .07 percent blood-alcohol content, just below the Wisconsin legal limit of .08.

But Brownlee said Klein's impairment was consistent with concerns residents had expressed for a couple of months.

Klein submitted his resignation to the Hazel Green Village Board on Sept. 25. It became effective Sept. 30. Klein had been on paid leave since Sept. 11.

SEPTEMBER TO REMEMBER FOR BIRTHS AT FINLEY

A baby here, a baby there. Last month, it seemed like there were babies everywhere at UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital.

Finley had 79 births in September -- the highest monthly total in 67 years.

"I came in once, and two of them were swinging, and nurses were holding others while they were charting," said Becky Richardson, Finley's Family Birthing Suites director. "We were thinking: 'Is this the best month we've ever had?'"

Almost. The hospital's previous high in births occurred in May 1946, with 90.

Finley averages 55 to 60 births per month.

Laura Knabel, a nurse in the birthing unit for 23 years, said September was busy every day.

"We're used to having a high and then low census, but there was never a lull," Knabel said.

GUIDELINES REVISED FOR SUNNYCREST PANEL

Amid criticism of a county committee's powers, the Dubuque County Board of Supervisors has revised its guidelines for the Sunnycrest Task Force.

The board voted unanimously Monday to revise its resolution that created the task force, which was to study cost-saving measures for the county's long-term care facility, Sunnycrest Manor. Under the revised resolution, the board changed wording that previously stated the task force would "provide recommendations" on Sunnycrest to the board of supervisors. Under state law, such a committee's meetings must be open to the public.

The newly approved version states the group would "provide possible cost-savings options" to the board and would serve as a "fact-gathering" committee, not one that provides recommendations.

The facility receives about $3 million per year in county funds, but the task force's ranging discussions have included talk of a four-year plan to decrease the taxpayer contribution to zero, confirmed Sunnycrest Administrator Cathy Hedley.

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN HITS VISTA WORKERS

As the shutdown of the federal government drags on with no clear end in sight, many local organizations have been forced to prepare for new complications and uncertainty.

For Malia Dunn, an AmeriCorps VISTA member stationed at Dubuque's Project Concern, the shutdown will likely mean reduced pay, or no pay at all.

Dunn's organization, the Iowa Campus Compact, has a cost-share arrangement with the federally funded Corporation for National and Community Service. Because her living stipend payment is tied directly to the latter, the funding source has been effectively shut down along with the rest of the government.

Dunn will receive 64 percent of her living stipend for the current pay cycle. Until an appropriations measure is passed and the shutdown resolved, that will be it.

Members of the VISTA program sign on for one year of service in programs designed primarily to assist those in lower-income groups. They are paid $11,136 over 12 months, working hours comparable to a full-time job.

LORAS FUND DRIVE OFF TO STRONG START

Rob Keller wanted to work for an institution where faculty were deeply invested in students. He found that institution at Loras College, he said.

During a news conference held Thursday in the Academic Resource Center announcing the kickoff of the public portion of a $75 million fundraising campaign, Keller said it has been difficult lately to provide everything he would like to students.

"In recent years, resources have become limited," said Keller, associate professor of mathematics.

Loras' average annual salary for a full-time, tenured faculty member is significantly lower than the national average. Average salary at Loras is $58,351, while the national average is $74,870. Also, the college's endowment is less than what Loras officials would like.

Through the "Inspiring Lives & Leadership" campaign, Loras officials aim to raise $45 million to build up the endowment and $30 million for program enhancements and ongoing operations.

Fundraising is off to a strong start. Loras already has raised $44 million in the "quiet phase" of the campaign.