Year in Review - Part I: Top local news stories from January-June 2020

Iconic Waukon restaurant destroyed by February blaze... Dave’s Gus & Tony’s Pizza and Steakhouse, located at 508 West Main Street in Waukon for just shy of 40 years, was completely destroyed by a fire reported around 9:30 a.m. Monday, February 10. Heavy smoke was originally seen pouring from the top of the building, and a mother and two children awaiting the late start to the school day at home in the living area above the restaurant were rescued early on through a second story window by passers-by using a ladder. The entire complex of three business buildings was evacuated, with the adjacent Edward Jones Investments and Waukon Chiropractic buildings, along with their residential living spaces, also sustaining damage but remaining standing as of now. Waukon Fire Chief Dave Martin says the fire started in the main floor area of the restaurant grill, but he says the actual cause of the blaze remains under investigation and required the knocking down of unstable exterior walls before being further looked into. Chief Martin says the future of the remaining buildings sustaining damage will be determined by the appropriate agencies in the near future. Additional photos are available at the Photo Galleries link found on this webpage.

To read the the full article, Year in Review - Part I: Top local news stories from January-June 2020, pick up this week's print edition or subscribe to our e-edition by clicking here.

Below is a portion of that article, January through February, summarizing the top news stories that appeared in The Standard.

Veterans Memorial Hospital physicians and staff have announced that the First Baby of the Year Contest was won by Sophia Mae Hernandez, daughter of Veronica Santoyo and Mario Hernandez of Postville. Sophia was born Monday, January 6 at 6:17 p.m., weighing 8 pounds, 4 ounces and measuring 19-3/4 inches long. Dr. Dave Schwartz assisted with the delivery.

The former Shopko location at the intersection of Ninth Street SW and Eleventh Avenue SW in Waukon is one of six former Shopko locations in Iowa that Hy-Vee, Inc. has recently reached purchase agreements on to re-open under the Hy-Vee subsidiary Dollar Fresh brand later this year, according to a release issued by Hy-Vee, Inc. Monday, January 27. In the upcoming weeks, the former Waukon Shopko location will join similar locations in Cresco, Oelwein, Hampton, Dyersville and Vinton in undergoing renovations to open as Dollar Fresh stores by late summer.

Main Street Lansing recently presented a plaque to Lansing Iowa Food Trust (LIFT) in recognition of its designation as the Nicest Place in Iowa by Reader’s Digest magazine in a recent nationwide contest. Receiving a brief mention in the November 2019 issue of Reader’s Digest (page 72) along with the other 50 state winners in the contest, LIFT was honored for providing a place for those in need to acquire basic necessities without judgment.

The past year has been quite a rollercoaster for 2014 Waukon High School graduate Parker Hesse in regard to continuing to play the game that he loves, a game that has provided him with opportunities that have been dreams for many but never before realized by others who have put on a Waukon football uniform.

This past year those opportunities reached a near pinnacle of Hesse’s childhood dream of playing in the National Football League (NFL). He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tennessee Titans in May of this past year and spent this 2019 NFL season as a member of the Titans’ 10-player practice squad.

The Monday, February 3 Iowa caucuses brought with them their own respective challenges from both the Democrat and Republican perspectives, but local leaders of both political parties agree that the caucus efforts and overall results in Allamakee County are something to be proud of.
Any concerns of lacking interest by Republicans due to just a single front-running candidate were quickly alleviated by the “much larger showing than... anticipated” turn-out reported by local party leaders and “record-breaking” turn-out reported by state Republican leaders.

Despite the overshadowing results reporting challenges faced within the Democratic caucus scenario at the state level, local leaders of that party are very pleased with not only the turn-out but also with how well the Allamakee County caucus efforts played out in their functionality and purpose.

Completion of the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) road improvement project for Iowa Highways 9 and 76 through Waukon with the installation this past week of new traffic signals at the only stoplight intersection in Allamakee County has brought some final changes to traffic control at that intersection more locally known as Main Street and Allamakee Street/Spring Avenue (Rossville Road). According to Iowa DOT officials, changes in lane usage and in the controlling of traffic by additional traffic lights were made in an effort to improve the flow of traffic at the intersection.

“The traffic movements through the intersection were changed to help traffic flow,” explained Iowa DOT District 2 Field Services Coordinator Pete Hjelmstad. “Before the project, when east and west traffic had a green light, left-turning traffic waiting for a gap (to make that left turn) would hold up traffic behind them wanting to go straight. Shifting that through-traffic to the right turn lane will keep this type of delay from happening.”

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