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Iowa schools in wait and see mode as budget debate drags on


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As budget talks drag on in the state Capitol, educators are growing increasingly frustrated. School funding has been a central point of conflict throughout the legislative session, with the Democratic-led Senate seeking to provide more new dollars than the Republican-controlled House for the 2015-2016 academic year. The two sides are about $50 million apart on funding.

Paul Gausman, superintendent of the Sioux City Community School District, says his district removed about 20 instructional assistant jobs from its payroll as it waits for word about additional money. David Benson, superintendent for the Cedar Rapids Community School District, says the impasse has forced his district to keep about 30 teaching jobs on hold.

Legislative leaders say they are making progress on reaching a budget deal. They’ll resume negotiations this week.

Iowa early News Headline: Sun., May 24th 2015


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

MORAVIA, Iowa (AP) — An Oskaloosa man was killed when the boat he was operating rolled at a southern Iowa lake. The Department of Natural Resources says 50-year-old Gregory Alan Williams died Saturday morning after he and a passenger were in a boat that overturned, throwing them into the water at Rathbun Lake, west of Moravia in Appanoose County. The passenger wasn’t seriously injured. The DNR says investigators believe the 33-foot boat rolled after making a sharp turn.

LOGAN, Iowa (AP) — A former Missouri Valley fire chief accused of lying to police about two suspected arsons has been given a suspended jail sentence. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Johnnie Walker pleaded guilty to providing false information to authorities. In return, prosecutors dropped a charge of interfering with official acts. On Friday, Walker was given a 30-day suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay $120 in court costs.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A state board has approved $13.2 million worth of tax incentives for a proposed $264 million pork processing plant in Sioux City. The Sioux City Journal reports that the plant is a joint venture between Merriam, Kansas-based Seaboard Foods and St. Joseph, Missouri-based Triumph Foods and will provide at least 1,100 jobs.

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Police are crediting a teenage girl with saving her younger brother from being kidnapped from the family’s home in Ames. The Des Moines Register reports that police responded to a report of attempted child abduction at the home just before 1 a.m. Friday. Family members told police that a male suspect came into the home while the family was sleeping and pulled the child out of a basement window. Police say the suspect also hit the boy in the face. A 17-year-old boy who lives in the neighborhood into custody and to hospital for a mental health evaluation.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says millions of Iowa birds killed or destroyed in the wake of a bird flu outbreak should be disposed of or incinerated within the next week. The dead birds are piling up at poultry facilities. Vilsack told The Des Moines Register that the disposal by next week will happen barring another large outbreak. In the past week, two landfills — one in northwest Iowa, the other in southwest Iowa (near Malvern) — have agreed to take some of the estimated 25 million birds either stricken by avian influenza or killed to stop the spread of the disease.

Head of Iowa BBB urges research before charitable giving


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The president of the Greater Iowa Better Business Bureau is urging Iowans to do their research before contributing to a charitable organization. Chris Coleman’s advice is in response to a federal lawsuit involving all 50 states against four phony cancer charities. The complaint states the organizations collected $187 million in donations over a five-year period and very little of the money actually went to help cancer victims.

Coleman said “It gives all of us real heartache because of all of us know family members or friends who are victims of cancer or have suffered through that disease.”  The defendants in the lawsuit include Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and the Breast Cancer Society. Most donors, upon hearing the charity’s name, probably felt comfortable making a donation. “They borrowed a name of a good charity, I’d say they hijacked it,” Coleman said. “They steal the good reputation of many charities.”

The complaint claims a large majority of the contributions to the sham charities benefited only the defendants, their families and friends, and professional fundraising groups.”If this causes consumers to do more research to verify the legitimacy of charities before they make a contribution, that will help all good charities and we feel confident about that,” Coleman said. “We want our information to spotlight the best charities so people know where to contribute and where their gift can make the most difference.”

Charities can be checked out at the Better Business Bureau’s “Wise Giving” site: www.give.org.

(Radio Iowa)

Leahy, Grassley back bill on humanitarian patents


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy is joining with his Republican colleague Chuck Grassley of Iowa to back patent legislation designed to encourage developers of technologies for use in poor nations. This week’s bill introduction comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to consider broader patent legislation. Leahy and Grassley say the Patents for Humanity Improvement Act expands an existing program to encourage small businesses to participate.

The broader legislation also tries to crack down on patent trolls, who critics say shake down businesses by threatening them with lawsuits based on often spurious allegations of patent violations.

Ericksen trial delayed again


May 23rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The trial in the case of a Pottawattamie County man who faces 10 felony counts of Sexual Abuse in the 2nd Degree in Cass County, has been delayed again.

Roger Allen Ericksen (booking photo courtesy Cass Co. Sheriff's Dept.)

Roger Allen Ericksen (booking photo courtesy Cass Co. Sheriff’s Dept.)

The trial for 55-year old Roger Allen Ericksen, of Underwood, was to have taken place in Cass County District Court on Wed., May 27th, but Judge James Heckerman on Friday, set the date as July 7th. A pre-trial conference, which was to have been held this Tuesday, has now been postponed until June 1st. It’s the third time the pre-trial conference has been delayed, and the second postponement of the trial.

Ericksen was arrested on February 23rd in connection with acts that allegedly happened with a minor child in 2011. He has entered a written plea of Not Guilty to the charges. Ericksen remains held in the Cass County Jail on $25,000 cash bond. On May 11th, Ericksen’s lawyer, Jay Mez, filed for a Waiver of Speedy Trial and a request for a continuance.

In December 2012, Ericksen, who resided in Lewis, pled guilty in a prior case in Cass County District Court to Sexual Abuse 3rd Degree.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Reports Early Morning Citation


May 23rd, 2015 by admin

On Saturday morning at approximately 2AM, deputies of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Cited 18 year old Buck Owen Schaforth of Orient and 19 year old Jordan Joseph Villhauer of Corning at the intersection of East 3rd street and 2nd avenue in Villisca for possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle. Both subjects where released upon issuance of the citations.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Reports Arrest


May 23rd, 2015 by admin

On Saturday at approximately 3:40 AM, deputies of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office arrested Seth Michael Lewis of Farragut at the intersection of Main street and Frankfort street in Stanton. Lewis is charges with possession of drug paraphernalia and minor in possession of alcohol. Lewis was transported to the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Center, processed, and released to the custody of his parent.


Former western IA Fire Chief admits he lied about fire investigations


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Authorities say the former fire chief of Missouri Valley lied to police about his credentials and the steps he was taking to investigate suspected arsons at two local homes. The Daily NonPareil says Johnnie Walker, the former fire chief, pleaded guilty to providing false information to authorities.

Johnnie Thomas Walker (Harrison Co. Jail photo)

Johnnie Thomas Walker (Harrison Co. Jail photo)

In return, prosecutors dropped a charge of interfering with official acts. Judicial Magistrate Jack White sentenced Walker to a 30-day jail sentence, which was suspended. Walker also was ordered to pay $120 in court costs.

Missouri Valley Police Chief Ed Murray said Walker provided false information to investigators on suspected arsons at two abandoned houses. One of the houses, on the northeast corner of 10th and Granite streets, was set ablaze three times in October. The other house, at 105 W. Superior St., was set on fire on March 7th. According to Murray, during the investigation of the Granite Street fires, Walker said that he was a certified arson investigator when he is not and that state arson investigators wouldn’t investigate such a fire when they would.

On the West Superior fire, he told Murray he had taken samples from the scene to a crime lab in Ames when he had not. He also said he was out of town on the night of the fire when he later said he was at home. Walker has said he was home ill at the time. At one point, Walker was supposed to meet with local and state investigators to discuss the West Superior fire but missed the meeting. Murray called him on his cell phone. Walker told him he was traveling to Ames to deliver samples from the fire to the lab.

But Murray could hear wind blowing in the background. He became suspicious and asked one of his officers to go by Walker’s house. The officer found Walker in his front yard, talking to the chief on the phone, not on the way to Ames. State arson investigator John Ticer said that’s impossible, because there isn’t a lab in Ames to test the samples. That was the first piece of evidence that led them to suspect Walker was not telling the truth.

Asked why Walker had misled him, Murray said he didn’t know and would only be speculating. 19-year old Coty Cates, of Missouri Valley, has pleaded guilty in an agreement with prosecutors to one count of second-degree arson in connection to the Granite Street fires. He received a suspended fine of $1,000, ordered to pay restitution to the victim and placed under drug court supervision for two years. Two other arson charges against Cates in connection to the Granite Street fires were dismissed.

Investigators know of no connection between Walker and Cates. The teen is believed to have acted alone. In addition to the Superior Street blaze, state and local officials continue to investigate several other possible arson fires in the area, including a house at 2279 U.S. Highway 30 that exploded Oct. 27, 2013, and numerous hay bales set ablaze on Oct. 31, 2014.

Anyone with information on the fires is asked to call Missouri Valley police at (712) 642-2736 or Ticer at (712) 308-3977.

Iowa reports new bird flu turkey case in Pocahontas County

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa agriculture officials say an additional turkey farm in Pocahontas County has tested positive for bird flu. If confirmed, the case will be the third in that county. The case brings the Iowa total to 64 farms with bird flu. The Iowa Department of Agriculture estimates 21,000 turkeys on the farm. Iowa has just over 1 million turkeys already killed or to be euthanized as a result of the virus.

Iowa will lose more than 25 million birds, mostly chickens, as a result of the disease which first surfaced just over a month ago. The spread of the disease seems to be slowing with fewer new cases reported daily. Minnesota reported no new cases Friday, the seventh day with no new cases reported.


NE trucker injured in Pott. County crash, Friday afternoon


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A truck driver from Nebraska was injured during a rollover accident Friday morning, in Pottawattamie County. The Iowa State Patrol says a 1999 Freightliner semi driven by 45-year old Trevor Lierman, of Stanton, NE., was traveling east on Interstate 80 at around 12:20-p.m., when Lierman took exit 27 to head west on I-680.

Photo courtesy Brian Rink

Photo courtesy Brian Rink

The semi went out of control on the curve and entered the north ditch, where the trailer, loaded with cattle, rolled over. Lierman, who was wearing his seat belt, was trapped in the cab of the semi for about 30-minutes until he could be extricated by Neola Fire and Rescue personnel.

He was flown by LifeNet helicopter to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Several cattle were trapped in the wreck, while others escaped. They were rounded up by area farmers and ranchers. Officials say anywhere from 15-to 20 cows involved in the crash may have to be euthanized. I-680 was closed in both directions while the cattle were being rounded-up.

The accident remains under investigation.