IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Supreme Court says an attorney won’t be sanctioned for helping a wealthy farmer shield his assets from the estate of another farmer he killed. The court declined to reprimand Indianola attorney Mason Ouderkirk, ruling Friday he didn’t violate ethical rules while representing Rodney Heemstra.
Heemstra fatally shot his neighbor, Tommy Lyon, in 2003 during a dispute over farmland and then hid his body. He was convicted of first-degree murder but later granted a second trial, where he was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. After Heemstra was charged, Ouderkirk assisted his family in transferring ownership of millions of dollars of farmland into trusts.
A judge later ruled that those transactions were fraudulent and designed to shield assets from Lyon’s estate, which had been awarded millions in a wrongful-death lawsuit.
Authorities in Fremont County report one person was recently arrested on a felony theft charge associated with the theft and sale of grain. The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office says 41-year old Kelley Ryan Roof, of Tabor, was charged with 1st degree theft, a Class-C felony, following the execution of a search warrant at his residence. His cash bond was set at $40-thousand.
His arrest was the result of an investigation into a tip from a concerned citizen authorities received on March 13th. The individual told authorities about a possible theft of grain from the Fremont County area. During the investigation, it was discovered Roof allegedly took without permission, 2,230-bushels of soybeans from a Randolph area farmer. Roof is alleged to have sold the beans for more than $31-thousand.
During the search of his property, authorized seized a 2014 Polaris RZR purchased with the proceeds of the alleged theft. Roof remains in the Fremont County Jail.
Shelby County Emergency Management officials say light rain and drizzle this (Thursday) morning will give way to sunshine and strong winds this weekend. Rapid drying of the dead vegetation will occur returning, causing a higher threat for fires to spread. Therefore the Fire Danger placards in area businesses will remain in the “High” category, through Monday morning.
A fire Wednesday evening burned over 300 acres. The flames were fanned by winds in excess of 30-mph. The Shelby County EMA asks residents to please call ahead and report your burning plans to the EMA office at 712-755-2124.
Authorities in Shelby County have released more information about a large fire that took place Wednesday evening. As we have reported, crews from Kirkman, Harlan, Irwin and Defiance Fire Departments responded to the blaze near 1541 Redwood Road, at around 5:35-p.m., Wednesday. Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies and Emergency Management officials also responded.
Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Seivert says initial units reported a large grass fire spreading rapidly to the Norhtheast. Winds at time of ignition taken from the Irwin Weather Station were reported to be out of the South, Southwest, gusting at 39-MPH. Peak wind speed during the Initial Attack was recorded at 51-MPH. Irwin Fire Chief Lynn Gaskill, Incident Commander for the fire requested additional assistance for water tankers, and grass trucks from Manilla Fire Dept, Manning Fire Dept, and Kimballton Fire Departments. Additional help from local farmers with disc arrived on scene throughout the evening.
The fire traveled 1.7 miles crossing 1800th where fire departments attempted to hold the fire. As a precaution approximately14 area residents were asked to evacuate to a shelter in Harlan, IA. Shelby County Public Health and the City of Harlan opened and staffed the shelter at the request of Shelby County Emergency Management. After the fire was contained, units were called back out at approximately10:30-p.m., for a flare up.
Roads in the area were temporarily closed to assist in the firefighting effort, and Shelby County Secondary Roads personnel responded to assist with staffing road blocks. Wives of the Irwin Firefighters and others in the Irwin community set up a canteen at the Irwin Community Center to provide water and food for the firefighter who were on scene for over 4 hours.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, and mapping of acreage will be completed today (Thursday). It is estimated to be over 300 acres in size. No injuries to fire firefighters were reported and no damage to outbuildings occurred.
Despite the explosive fire growth conditions in the area over the past few days, Atlantic Fire Chief Mark McNees doesn’t see the need for a County-wide ban on opening burning. McNees told KJAN News the fire that started east of Atlantic Wednesday afternoon was accidental, and not open burning-related. It was one of several fires in western Iowa that burned quickly and intensely, Wednesday. McNees said it’s not as bad in Cass County as in other counties which have instituted bans on open burning.
He says things are “greening-up,” slowly and people are being smart. He says residents are heeding advice given earlier this week to know when you are going to burn, check the weather, call your local fire chief and the Cass County Communications Center.
McNees still cautions residents of Cass County to be careful, and try to give Mother Nature a little more time to green-up the grasses, which will reduce the danger of fires spreading, as opposed to the dry conditions we are currently experiencing. He says if there were crops standing in the fields, he would be more concerned about fires spreading. Wednesday was just an “extreme day,” according to McNees, where all of the elements necessary for the eruption of rapidly expanding fires, were present.
Women in Southwest Iowa are invited to a day of fun, learning and friendship during the annual Boots to Heels Conference on Saturday, April 12th. The conference runs from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Cass County Community Center in Atlantic. Organizers say a dynamic lineup of speakers are scheduled for the one-day conference, to focus on the interests of women living and working in rural Iowa.
Kate Olson, program coordinator with Cass County ISU Extensio, says this is an event for any woman who wants to have fun and learn about farm related topics and plenty of other topics for ladies who do not have a farm background. Currently scheduled speakers include Kris Boettger, owner of Barn Happy, a restored old barn near Cedar Falls that features all Iowa made products, as the keynote speaker to start off the conference. Boettger will encourage attendees to know themselves, find balance in their lives and serve out their strengths in a session titled “Living and Giving Your Best.”
Brandi Eckles, owner of Lou Lou’s clothing store in Atlantic, will discuss fashion trends and share tips for mixing and matching the newest trend pieces in her session “3 outfits 9 ways” during the lunch hour. Additional breakout sessions include some favorite speakers and topics from years past. Breakout topics range from fitness to food and wine pairing, and farmland leasing to arm-knitting a scarf! Favorite presenters from previous conferences include Kate Kohorst, Dawn Rice and Aubrey Stuart. A few new speakers also join the lineup to share their expertise with conference attendees.
A full list of breakout sessions and descriptions is available on the Cass County Extension website at www.extension.iastate.edu. Registration for the entire day, which includes all sessions, a continental breakfast, lunch, dessert and materials, is just $30. Registration forms with a full schedule are available at the Cass County Extension office and other local supporting businesses, or can be printed at the Cass County Extension Website www.extension.iastate.edu/cass.
A federal report finds fewer hogs are being brought to market nationwide and in Iowa, which is the country’s number-one hog producing state. Gerry Bange, chairman of the U-S-D-A’s Outlook Board, says hog slaughter rates may be down due to the spread of a virus that’s striking hog lots. “Packers are out there looking for the hogs and they’re having difficulty so that could be leading to the bid-up in prices,” Bange says. “One thing’s for sure, even with the bid-up in prices, the hogs are not coming forth and that suggests a problem there and it may, in fact, be reflecting this virus situation.”
A year ago, the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus or P-E-D-V was reported in hogs in one state. Now it’s in 26 states, including Iowa. With the hog numbers dropping, Bange says the demand and the prices are rising. “The price is $67.13 per hundred-weight for 2014, that would be an increase of nearly 5% from the $64.05 recorded last year and about 7% higher than our previous forecast,” Bange says. “Given the strong demand and the tight supply, we’re looking at a pretty strong price.”
The U-S-D-A report finds some beef producers are sending their herds to market sooner, but production numbers for beef are also dropping, down about four-percent from last year, which is driving up prices and demand. Bange says prices will continue to climb and another six-dollars was added per hundred-weight to the latest forecast.
Bange says, “That’s a very, very sharp increase for any given month and reflects the strong prices we’ve seen to date which really reflects the very good demand we’re still seeing and the very, very tight supply.”
The U-S-D-A is forecasting the average steer price at $142-plus per hundred-weight, up 13-percent from last year. Reasons for the drop in cattle production include: the drought in the West, dry conditions in the southern Plains, and the severe just-ended winter in the North.