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Omaha man now faces MV homicide charge in death of C.Bluffs woman

News

February 4th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A 19-year-old from Nebraska has been charged with motor vehicle homicide in connection with an Omaha crash that killed a Council Bluffs woman. Prosecutors say Eswin Mejia, of Omaha, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving early Sunday. Police say his pickup truck slammed into the back of 21-year-old Sarah Root‘s car. Root was taken to a hospital with critical injuries and later died.

After her death, prosecutors upgraded the charge against Mejia to motor vehicle homicide. Mejia was treated at the Nebraska Medical Center for a leg injury and then booked into the Douglas County Jail.

 

Iowa News Headlines: Thu., Feb. 4th 2016

News

February 4th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Legislation that would legalize the sale of fireworks in Iowa is once again advancing through the Iowa Legislature, though it may face some challenges from lawmakers. The Senate State Government Committee voted 10-5 Wednesday in support of the bill, which would allow the sale and use of consumer fireworks such as firecrackers and roman candles. Current law allows the sale of novelties like sparklers.

CORALVILLE, Iowa (AP) — An inmate serving a 50 year sentence for second-degree murder has died in a Coralville prison. The Iowa Department of Corrections announced Wednesday that 42-year-old Matthew John Irving died of natural causes.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A former Anamosa correctional officer has been sentenced in U.S. District Court to over four years in prison for smuggling contraband and being a drug user while possessing a firearm on duty. U.S. Attorney Kevin W. Techau announced Wednesday that 29-year-old Garrett Barton received a 57-month prison term. He received the sentence after pleading guilty in October to accepting bribes to smuggle contraband into the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) —Donald Trump is continuing to dispute his second-place finish in Iowa’s kickoff caucuses earlier this week. Trump told a crowd of thousands in Little Rock, Arkansas Wednesday night, “Actually, I think I came in first.” Trump is taking issue with false rumors, allegedly circulated by backers of rival Ted Cruz on caucus night, that Ben Carson had decided to drop out of the race.

State senator demanding apology from Stanford over ‘corn show’ at Rose Bowl halftime

News, Sports

February 3rd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

A state senator says Iowa shouldn’t stand for what Stanford’s band did at halftime during the Rose Bowl last month. The Stanford band put on what it called a “Farmers Only…corn show” — complete with cow tipping — to mock its Rose Bowl opponents: the University of Iowa. Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa, married into a family of Hawkeye fans and he was not amused.

“This was very disrespectful not only to the fans of the University of Iowa, but also to Iowans in general,” Chelgren says. “I was disappointed and I would like to see Stanford have the courage to stand up and say: ‘This was wrong,’ and to make a public apology.” Chelgren’s sponsoring legislation that calls on the University of Iowa and the other two universities that get state tax-dollar support to cut ties with any Stanford researchers until that apology is made.

“There are areas of the country that apparently don’t share our Iowa values and I think we need to stand up for those virtues and values,” Chelgren says, “and this is one way to do that.” Chelgren’s daughter — who went to the University of Iowa — was at the game. “We’ve always taught our family to cheer as loud as you can for your team, but not really boo the other team, because they’re someone’s kids,” Chelgren says. “This just showed such a lack of respect for any kind of sportsmanship that I thought a statement had to be made.”

State Senator Bob Dvorsky, a Democrat from Coralville, represents the University of Iowa. He was watching the Rose Bowl and saw the halftime show on T-V — until E-S-P-N cut away from the performance before it concluded. “I think what they did was offensive, but I don’t think you can blame the institution of Stanford for that,” Dvorsky says. That’s because the Stanford band is not a university-sanctioned group.

“It’s not like the Hawkeye Marching Band,” Dvorsky says. “…It’s just some loosely-organized student organization.” Stanford officials had prohibited the band from traveling to The Cardinal’s road games this past season because of bad behavior, but the band was at the Rose Bowl for Stanford’s 45-to-16 victory over the Hawkeyes. Chelgren’s bill isn’t likely to pass the state senate, but Dvorsky isn’t suggesting Chelgren withdraw it.

“It sends a message,” Dvorsky says. “We didn’t like that.” Chelgren, who grew up in California, is running for congress this year — hoping to defeat Dave Loebsack, the lone Democrat in Iowa’s congressional delegation who also happens to live in Iowa City.

(Radio Iowa)

Audit: State agency paid $97,000 to fictitious companies

News

February 3rd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state audit has revealed that Iowa Workforce Development paid more than $97,000 in unemployment benefits to people claiming to work for companies that didn’t exist in 2013 and 2014s and paid more than $66,000 to people not eligible for unemployment payments in other states. Those improper payments are part of more than $909,000 the state lost over a three-year period for which the state auditor reviewed records.

Iowa Auditor Mary Mosiman says her office was notified in May 2013 that irregularities in unemployment payments were discovered. She was asked by the U.S. Department of Labor to audit workforce development’s books to determine the extent of lost funds. Mosiman says the audit found 20 fictitious company accounts. It’s unclear who set them up and no one has been charged.

Bill to legalize fireworks in Iowa advances with challenges

News

February 3rd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Legislation that would legalize the sale of fireworks in Iowa is once again advancing through the Iowa Legislature, though it may face some challenges from lawmakers. The Senate State Government Committee voted 10-5 Wednesday in support of the bill, which would allow the sale and use of consumer fireworks such as firecrackers and roman candles. Current law allows the sale of novelties like sparklers.

The measure has bounced between the Republican-majority House and the Democratic-controlled Senate with little success. Groups have raised concerns about public safety. An amendment to the bill passed Wednesday would give cities and municipalities more flexibility on whether to implement the bill if it becomes law. Sen. Jeff Danielson, a Cedar Falls Democrat, says the amendment makes the bill unenforceable. He plans to challenge it.

Mother of Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer dies

News, Sports

February 3rd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — The mother of Rutgers women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer has died. Rutgers announced the death of Thelma Stoner on Wednesday. The school gave no other details. Stringer missed a game on Jan. 16 against Nebraska to be with her mother in Atlanta during her illness.

The 67-year-old Stringer thanked her “friends, fans and members of the Rutgers Athletics community who have reached out with sympathy and support during these past difficult weeks.” Assistant coach Timothy Eatman will take over head coaching duties when the Scarlet Knights travel to Minnesota and Penn State this week.

Stringer has entered her 21st season at Rutgers. She’s the first basketball coach — male or female — to take three different schools to the NCAA Final Four (Cheyney, Iowa, Rutgers).

Villisca woman arrested for Probation Violation

News

February 3rd, 2016 by Chris Parks

A Villisca woman was arrested Wednesday by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.  22-year-old Amanda Lee Smith was arrested at 4:10pm Wednesday on 2 valid Montgomery County bench warrants for Probaton Violation.  Smith was taken to the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Center and held on $20,000 bond.

Red Oak teen arrested on railroad property

News

February 3rd, 2016 by Chris Parks

The Red Oak Police Department reports the arrest of 17-year-old Deric Lee Redd of Red Oak for Trespass and Minor in Possession of Tobacco.  Redd was arrested Wendesday at 2:40pm on BNSF railroad property.  Redd was later released into the custody of a parent.

Owl Prowl in Cass County

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 3rd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Conservation Board is holding Owl Prowl. The Owl Prowl will be held at the Pellett Memorial Woods outside of Atlantic, IA on February 13th 2016 at 7:30 PM. The CCCB invites you to come out for a great night hike, and all of the surprises nature may have in store.  Drive the short drive and hike off that dinner! You’ll hike and try to call in various species of Owls that may be in the park that night! All ages welcome! The event is FREE. Dress for the weather. All ages are welcome! Cass Co Conservation bd

MidAmerican Energy Completes Two Major Wind Projects

News

February 3rd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa – (Feb. 3, 2016) – With the completion of the Highland wind farm in O’Brien County and the Adams wind farm in Adams County, officials with MidAmerican Energy Company say they’ve wrapped up work on two major projects adding more than 1,200 megawatts of wind generation capacity for customers.

The Highland wind farm, which was placed in service on December 3, 2015, is the fifth and final piece of MidAmerican Energy’s Wind VIII project – the company’s largest wind project to date, and one of the largest economic development projects in Iowa history. On January 30, MidAmerican Energy completed its 153.4 megawatt, Wind IX project when the Adams wind farm was placed in service. The 67 new turbines represent a $280 million investment. The project marked the first time a concrete tower was used. Normally, the towers are constructed from steel.

Together, Wind VIII and Wind IX bring MidAmerican Energy’s total wind generation capacity to nearly 3,500 megawatts, an amount that represents about 42 percent of the company’s installed generation capacity.  Mike Gehringer, vice president, renewable energy, said the completion of the two projects marks a significant milestone for MidAmerican Energy, which owns and operates more wind turbines than any utility in the nation. Gehringer said “Today, wind makes up the largest share of our generation portfolio, and we project that by 2017, we will generate an amount equal to 57 percent of our total retail load with clean, non-carbon energy from our wind projects in Iowa.”

Officials say construction of MidAmerican Energy’s wind projects has spurred economic development in the state, creating thousands of construction jobs and almost 200 permanent jobs in rural Iowa. Over the next 30 years, the company’s wind projects will generate more than $1.5 billion in lease payments to landowners and property tax payments to schools, cities and counties.