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(Update) Trailer deaths in TX, and the IA connection

News

July 25th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Mexico’s foreign ministry says that “according to preliminary information” 25 of the migrants inside a sweltering tractor-trailer in Texas were Mexican. A ministry statement issued Monday night said that based interviews by Mexican consulate personnel and contact with local authorities “we can say that of the 10 people who lost their lives … four were of Mexican nationality.” The statement also said that of the 29 people hospitalized, 21 are Mexican. The tractor-trailer was found parked outside a Walmart in San Antonio. The people were discovered inside early Sunday. The driver, James Matthew Bradley Jr., now faces a federal human smuggling charge that carries the possibility of the death penalty.

Bradley, and Pyle Transportation Inc., of Schaller, the northwest Iowa trucking company he was driving for, both claim they don’t know how or when the illegal immigrants got into the trailer. Bradley called his fiancee Sunday from a jail more than 1,000 miles from home and briefly described the gruesome events. Darnisha Rose says James Matthew Bradley Jr., who she called a generous person, claimed he had no idea how so many people came to be crammed inside his trailer in the Texas heat.

The 60-year-old Bradley, a diabetic whose criminal history includes a conviction in a felony domestic violence case, told Rose that he’d stopped his truck at a San Antonio Walmart and went inside to use the bathroom. He claimed that when he returned to his truck, he noticed the trailer rocking back and forth.
He said he’d heard nothing before that.

2 from NM arrested on drug charges in Adams County

News

July 25th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

A man and woman from New Mexico were arrested Monday afternoon on drug and other charges, in Adams County. The Sheriff’s Office reports deputies conducted a traffic stop at around 5:45-p.m. on a vehicle traveling 80 miles per hour in a 55 zone on Highway 34 at mile marker 60. The driver, 30-year old Kimberly Levi, told deputies she did not have a license. A records check indicated her license was revoked. A male passenger in the vehicle, 42-year old Shawn Lee Begay, had an expired license. Both are from the Naschitti Chapter House, New Mexico.

A k9 search of their vehicle resulted in the discovery of four plastic containers, each with a high grade of dispensary marijuana, and a resealable foil container of marijuana, along with a glass pipe. Levi and Begay were charged with Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Levi was also charged with Driving While Revoked. Their bonds were set at $1,000 each.

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., 7/25/17

News

July 25th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press at 3:40 a.m. CDT

SCHALLER, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa trucking company linked to the deadly case of immigrant smuggling in Texas has a history of safety and tax violations and financial problems. Public records show that Pyle Transportation Inc. failed to pay federal employment and trucking taxes for years, has faced lawsuits over unpaid wages owed to drivers, and has been ordered to pay penalties for violations of federal safety rules. The company says it had sold the truck found in Texas and was delivering it to the purchaser.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A former eastern Iowa police chief has been sentenced to two months in federal prison for stealing a police gun and lying to a federal agent. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports 48-year-old Jeffrey Filloon was sentenced Monday. The former Tama Police Chief had pleaded guilty to several charges in February.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa State Fair’s famous butter sculptures will celebrate “Little House on the Prairie” this year. The Des Moines Register reports Laura Ingalls Wilder will be sculpted out of butter and displayed next to the butter cow when the fair begins on Aug. 10.

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Mexico’s foreign ministry says that “according to preliminary information” 25 of the migrants inside a sweltering tractor-trailer in Texas were Mexican. A ministry statement issued Monday night said that based interviews by Mexican consulate personnel and contact with local authorities “we can say that of the 10 people who lost their lives … four were of Mexican nationality.” The statement also said that of the 29 people hospitalized, 21 are Mexican.

Iowa crop progress and condition report (7/24/17)

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

July 24th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today (Monday) commented on the Iowa Crop Progress and Condition report released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service.  The report is released weekly from April through October. Northey said “The hot and humid weather created stress for both crops and livestock last week, particularly in areas that have missed the recent rains.  South central Iowa in very dry, with over 90 percent of top soil short or very short of moisture.”

The weekly report is also available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at www.IowaAgriculture.gov or on USDA’s site at www.nass.usda.gov/ia.  The report summary follows here:

CROP REPORT: Above normal temperatures were accompanied by widely varying rainfall and some severe weather during the week ending July 23, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 5.4 days suitable for fieldwork. Activities for the week included hauling grain, applying herbicides and insecticides, cultivating, and haying.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 20 percent very short, 32 percent short, 45 percent adequate and 3 percent surplus. Over 90 percent of south central Iowa’s topsoil falls into the short to very short moisture level categories, while 99 percent of northeast Iowa’s topsoil falls into the adequate to surplus categories. Subsoil moisture levels rated 14 percent very short, 32 percent short, 52 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus.

Seventy-four percent of Iowa’s corn crop has reached the silking stage, 4 days behind last year but 2 days ahead of the 5-year average. Corn conditions deteriorated slightly to 2 percent very poor, 6 percent poor, 24 percent fair, 55 percent good, and 13 percent excellent. Nearly three-quarters of the soybean crop was blooming, with 30 percent of soybeans setting pods, 1 day ahead of average. Soybean condition also dropped slightly with 62 percent rated good to excellent. Oats coloring reached 89 percent, one week behind last year. Forty-one percent of oats for grain or seed have been harvested, 4 days behind last year. Oat condition rated 71 percent good to excellent. Crops were described as suffering from heat stress and lack of moisture across much of the state.

The second cutting of alfalfa hay reached 90 percent complete and third cutting reached 8 percent, 5 days behind average. Hay condition rated 61 percent good to excellent. Pasture condition continued to decline with just 41 percent good to excellent. High temperatures and humidity were reported to cause normal summer heat stress to livestock, with some reports of heat-related deaths. 

IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY by Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship: 

It was a hot and humid week across Iowa with exceptionally variable rainfall. Major flooding occurred over parts of northeast Iowa where torrential rains fell Friday and Friday night (21st) while parts of the moderate drought area in south central Iowa received no rain at all. For the most part the heavier rains fell in what were already the wetter portions of the state. However, portions of the moderate drought area, roughly along U.S. Highway 30 from Crawford to Tama counties, saw some significant rain on Thursday (20th) night. Weekly rain totals varied from none at Murray, Osceola, Chariton and Allerton to 10.12 inches at Ionia in Chickasaw County. Rain totals thus far in July vary from only 0.16 inches at Sioux Rapids and Cherokee to 13.88 inches at Guttenberg. The Guttenberg July total is the highest for any month at that location among 86 years of record while the Cherokee and Sioux Rapids totals would be new record lows for July if no more rain were to fall before the end of the month. Some of the rain was accompanied by severe weather with the most damaging storms occurring across 15 north central and northeast counties, roughly north of an Estherville to Dubuque line, on Tuesday afternoon and evening with widespread high winds of 50 to 70 mph and a few tornadoes. Meanwhile hot weather prevailed with the temperature reaching 95 degrees somewhere in the state each day of the reporting week. The hottest weather was concentrated across southern Iowa with temperatures for the week averaging from two to three degrees above normal across the northeast one-third of the state and five to nine degrees above normal across the southwest. Highest temperatures were 101 degree readings at Ottumwa on Thursday (20th) and Des Moines on Friday (21st). These were the highest temperatures recorded in Iowa since September 9, 2013. The combination of heat and humidity produced a heat index (how hot the air ‘feels’) of 117 degrees at Clarinda on Thursday and at Harlan on Friday. Temperatures moderated over the weekend with Sheldon recording a morning low of 52 degrees on Sunday (24th). The statewide average temperature was 5.3 degrees above normal while rain averaged 1.42 inches compared to a normal of 0.99 inches for the week.

Iowa firm tied to truck deaths has history of legal problems

News

July 24th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

SCHALLER, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa trucking company linked to the deadly case of immigrant smuggling in Texas has a history of safety and tax violations and financial problems. Records show that Pyle Transportation Inc. failed to pay federal employment and trucking taxes for years, faced lawsuits over unpaid wages owed to drivers, and has been ordered to pay penalties for violations of federal safety rules.

The IRS and others who say the company owes them money have often found no assets to garnish. The company and its driver insist they know nothing about how dozens of immigrants became packed inside the trailer of its 18-wheeler found in the searing heat outside a San Antonio Walmart over the weekend. Ten of those passengers died and more than 15 others were hospitalized with extreme dehydration.

The driver, James Matthew Bradley Jr., faces a federal human smuggling charge that carries the possibility of the death penalty.

IA among 11 states sue over EPA delay of new chemical safety rules

News

July 24th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

WASHINGTON (AP) — A coalition of 11 states has filed a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to delay new chemical plant safety rules from taking effect for at least two years. The group led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a petition for review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The states say Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt exceeded his legal authority by delaying the new Accidental Release Prevention Requirements until 2019.

The Obama-era regulations are aimed at preventing explosions, fires and poisonous gas releases at more than 12,000 chemical facilities across the country.

In addition to New York, the other states joining the lawsuit are Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Crawford County Burn Ban in effect until further notice

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 24th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The State Fire Marshal’s Office reports a burn ban request has been approved for Crawford County. The request was made by Steve Ulmer, a member of the Crawford County Board of Supervisors, on behalf of the fire departments within the County. The ban on open burning went into effect July 20th, and will remain in place until further notice. Currently, conditions are too dry to allow open burning, which would pose a danger to life and/or property.

Other counties having been approved for a ban on open burning include, Buena Vista, Plymouth and Wapello. Under state law, local officials can ask the State Fire Marshal to establish bans on open burning “during periods of extremely dry conditions.” Those caught violating the bans can be charged with a simple misdemeanor.

3 men arrested on warrants in Mills County

News

July 24th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Mills County Sheriff’s Office reports three men were arrested over the past week, on warrants. Today (Monday), 36-year old Jason Lee Rankins, of Omaha, was arrested at around 7:30-a.m. at the Mills County Courthouse, for being a Fugitive from Justice. He was being held in the Mills County Jail, without bond.

On Friday, 33-year old Justin Christopher Sneed, of Council Bluffs, was arrested on a warrant for Domestic Abuse Assault. He too, was being held in the Mills County Jail without bond.

And, on Thursday of last week, 23-year old Tyler Allen Dittus, of Carson, was arrested at the Pottawattamie County Jail on a warrant for Contempt of Court. No bond was set.

Adair County Sheriff’s report: 2 arrests

News

July 24th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Adair County Sheriff Jeff Vandewater reports two women were arrested on separate charges last week. 24-year old Samantha Martinez, of Des Moines, was taken into custody July 20th for OWI/2nd offense following a traffic stop on I-80 westbound, near Stuart. And, on July 21st, 25-year old Heather Linn Armstrong, of Stuart, was arrested on an Adair County warrant for Violation of Probation. Both women were later released by the magistrate on their own recognizance.

Suspect in bank robberies pleads not guilty to other charges

News

July 24th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

LEXINGTON, Neb. (AP) – A man suspected of bank robberies in five states has pleaded not guilty to unrelated charges in Nebraska. Station KNOP reports that Richard Gathercole entered the pleas Monday in Dawson County District Court to two counts of possessing stolen firearms and one of theft or receiving stolen property. A trial starting date of Aug. 12 was set.

Authorities believe Gathercole is the man they call “the AK-47 bandit,” who’s robbed banks in California, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska and Washington. Nebraska court documents say Gathercole was arrested June 20 at a gas station near Lexington, Nebraska. A sheriff’s deputy had spotted a pickup truck there that Kansas authorities had reported stolen by a man who’d fired at but missed a state trooper.