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Strong hint AFSCME will sue governor over closure of MHIs

News

June 30th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The head of the union that represents the largest share of state employees was in southwest Iowa, Monday, meeting with workers who’re being laid off from the state-run Mental Health Institute in Clarinda. AFSCME Council 61 President Danny Homan said his message to the 53 employees serving their last two days is simple.

“I’m very sorry the governor has decided to take this action. I believe not only has he violated the collective bargaining agreement by his actions of laying everyone off effective at the end of the day June 30, but I also believe he is violation of a state law,” Homan says. “And we will take the appropriate action and attempt to fix this situation.”

That’s the strongest hint yet that Homan’s union will be part of a lawsuit challenging the governor’s call to shut-down Clarinda’s Mental Health Institute, as well as the one in Mount Pleasant. Homan says this situation is different than the one his union faced in Toledo with the shutdown of the Iowa Juvenile Home. AFSCME filed a lawsuit in that case that went all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court, but the court did not rule in the union’s favor and order that the home be reopened.

“I believe what the Supreme Court said is the issue was moot because there was no funding appropriated for the Toledo Juvenile Home,” Homan said. “That’s not the case here. Funding has been approved by the Iowa Legislature for both the Clarinda and the Mount Pleasant MHI’s. I believe that is, I hope that is a significant enough difference to where the outcome will be different if in fact this gets in front of the Supreme Court again.”

Homan says despite the disruption to the affected workers and the economic hit to Clarinda, the real losers in this case are the patients.”The real losers in this process are the citizens of the state of Iowa,” Homan says, “the citizens of southwestern Iowa who no longer have a facility to take someone who is having a chronic episode of a mental health issue.” Homan says Iowa lags behind other states in mental health care options and the absence of replacement community based services will only worsen the situation. Clarinda’s M-H-I has offered care to elderly patients with a mental illness who are too frail or violent to be cared for in a private facility, like a nursing home. Mount Pleasant’s M-H-I has had a residential treatment program for patients with the dual diagnosis of a mental illness AND a substance abuse problem.

(Radio Iowa)

Officials in China arrest former U of I student in death investigation

News

June 30th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in China have arrested a former University of Iowa student in connection with the death of a student from Iowa State University, whose body was found in the trunk of a car in Sept., 2014. In early June, at the invitation of the local and Federal law enforcement authorities the Criminal Investigation Bureau of China sent a team of investigators to Iowa City to work in conjunction with authorities in Iowa.  Evidence and information pertinent to the investigation were submitted to the Criminal Investigation Bureau of China.  On June 19th, the People’s Prosecutor of Wenzhou, China arrested Li Xiangnan for the crime of intentional homicide.

According to the Criminal Investigation Bureau of China, Li reported that on September 7th, 2014 Li strangled Tong Shao and fled the United States to China.    The Criminal Investigation Bureau of China further reported that according to Chinese law based on Criminal Law of the PRC, “the 7th item sets the rule that the Chinese apply the law to its citizens even if he or she commits a crime abroad.  The 232nd  item of the Criminal Law of the PRC reads the intentional killer will be punished up to the death sentence, life imprisonment or imprisonment over ten years.  The Criminal Law of the PRC further reads that if circumstances are relatively minor, the offender shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment spanning from three to ten years.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau of China released a statement indicating that that in recent years, thanks to the increasingly strengthened cooperation between the Chinese police and the international police, several case of violent nature have been brought to justice.  Further, the Criminal Investigation Bureau of China stated that there will be continued cooperation with Law Enforcement Officials in not only the United States, but other foreign countries of their citizens committing crimes abroad.

Li Xiangnan was a Chinese international student at the University of Iowa and a known associate of Ms. Shao with a reported intimate relationship.

Double-fatal crash on I-29 Monday afternoon

News

June 30th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Two people died in a crash on Interstate 29 Monday afternoon, in Monona County. The Iowa State Patrol reports the accident happened on I-29 northbound, about 3.5-miles north of the Onawa exit, at around 2:05-p.m. Officials say a 2005 Ford Focus driven by 49-year old Leon Lavern Weifenbach, of Onawa, was traveling south in the left lane of travel, when for reasons unknown, the car veered left and entered the median before entering the northbound lane of travel, where it collided with a 2002 GMC Sonoma. The driver of the pickup was identified as 52-year old Joseph A. Metz, of South Sioux City, Nebraska.

After the impact, the pickup rolled over into the east ditch, where the car also came to rest. Both drivers were killed. The patrol says they were wearing their seat belts.

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., June 30 2015

News

June 30th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A jury has ruled that the former dean of the University of Iowa law school didn’t commit political discrimination when she passed over a conservative lawyer for teaching jobs. The federal jury in Davenport rejected Teresa Manning’s claims that Dean Carolyn Jones rejected her because of Manning’s political beliefs and associations. The verdict is a victory for the university in a long-running case that has been closely watched in higher education. It came after a six-day trial, which was the second in the case after an unusual mistrial in 2012.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad has extended a state of disaster emergency through July 31 in response to the bird flu outbreak in the state. The declaration was the second extension of the original disaster proclamation. It otherwise would have expired Wednesday. The virus has infected more than 31.5 million birds in Iowa, mostly egg-laying chickens, making the state the hardest hit in the nation.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The board that governs Iowa’s public universities has let go a 29-year employee who had been its spokeswoman for years. Communications director Sheila Doyle Koppin’s job has been eliminated. Her last day was Friday. The change comes after the board acknowledged last week it will also soon be cutting ties with Tom Evans, its longtime general counsel.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Authorities have reopened a major street near downtown Des Moines that was affected by flooding from the nearby Raccoon River. A portion of Fleur Drive along Gray’s Lake Park reopened Monday afternoon. The current level of the Raccoon River along the street continues to recede. The current level of the nearby Des Moines River is also receding.

Bluffs man charged with 2nd degree theft after stolen vehicle gets hung up on a rock

News

June 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A Pottawattamie County man faces Theft and other charges after the vehicle he was driving hit and became hung-up on a large rock. The Mills County Sheriff’s Office says 30-year old Michael Hollinger, of Council Blufffs, was arrested at around 8:40-a.m. Sunday, after the 2011 Hyundai he was driving went off a drive way at a residence on 221st Street, went onto the grass and hit a large rock. The car became high-centered on the rock and came to rest in a road ditch, still on the rock.

Hollinger was arrested by Glenwood Police on charges of OWI/2nd offense and Driving Under Suspension. He was later charged with Theft in the 2nd Degree, as the owner of the car had reported the vehicle as stolen. His bond was initially set at $12,300. No injuries were reported.

Mills County arrest report (6/29)

News

June 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Mills County Sheriff’s Office today (Monday) issued a report on recent arrests. Authorities say 40-year old Ryan Daniel McMullen, of Silver City, was arrested this (Monday) morning at the Mills County Sheriff’s Office, on a warrant for Conspiracy, and Theft in the 1st Degree. His bond was set at $15,000.

Sunday night, Mills County deputies arrested 28-year old Robert Edward Reafling, and 28-year old Sarah Kay Reafling, both of Henderson, on charges of Domestic Abuse Assault. The couple was being held without bond in the Mills County Jail.

Saturday evening, 25-year old Tyler Eldon Buckner, of Hastings, was arrested on warrants for Theft in the 1st Degree, and Conspiracy. He was being held in the Mills County Jail on $15,000 bond.

And, last Friday evening, 48-year old Orrie Lee Gordon, of Malvern, was arrested on charges that include OWI/1st offense, and Driving Under Suspension. His bond was set at $1,300.

Teens escape serious injuries during Saturday accident in Audubon County

News

June 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

No serious injuries were reported following a single-vehicle rollover accident Saturday night in Audubon County. The Sheriff’s Office reports a 1996 Oldsmobole Cutlass driven by 16-year old Sydney Jo Obermeier, of Audubon, was traveling south on Jay Avenue at around 11:30-p.m., when she lost control of the car near 180th Street, about a mile northeast of Audubon.

The car entered the east ditch and rolled at least once before coming to rest. Obermeier and her passenger, 16-year old Claire Elizabeth Olsen, of Audubon, both refused medical treatment at the scene. Obermeirer was charged with Failure to Maintain Control.

Harlan teen injured in Audubon County accident

News

June 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A teenager from Shelby County was injured during an accident Friday afternoon, in Audubon County. The Sheriff’s Office reports 17-year old Olivia Elaine Robinson, of Harlan, was transported from the scene at Highways 71 and 44 in Hamlin, to the Audubon County Hospital by Audubon Fire and Rescue. Two other people involved in the crash refused medical treatment at the scene.

The accident happened when Robinson, who was traveling west on Highway 44, stopped at the intersection. As she pulled away from the stop sign after waiting for traffic to pass and a semi-truck from the west to leave the stop sign, she continued through the intersection. Her 2010 Chevy Malibu was hit on the right rear side by a southbound 2008 Pontiac Grand Prix, driven by 30-year old Megan Marie Bonney, of Dedham.

The impact caused Robinson’s vehicle to be thrown into the path of an eastbound 2008 Saturn Aura driven by 56-year old Dianna Gail Morrow, of Audubon. The Malibu hit the Saturn on the left front corner. Robinson’s car hit the Saturn on the left rear side, flipped, and came to rest on the driver’s side. Damage from the crash amounted to $45,000. The accident remains under investigation, with charges currently pending.

Atlantic man arrested on theft & other charges in Audubon County

News

June 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A man from Cass County was arrested this (Monday) morning on drug and other charges, following a traffic stop in Exira. The Audubon County Sheriff’s Office says 26-year old Justin Lee Cooley, of Atlantic, was taken into custody at around 1-a.m. on charges that include Theft, OWI/1st offense, Interference with Official Acts, Possession of Marijuana/3rd offense, 4 counts of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Failure to have a valid license.

Cooley was being held in the Audubon County Jail, pending a court appearance. The incident remains under investigation. Audubon County deputies were assisted during their investigation by officers with the Audubon Police Department.

Arrests made in Adams County homicide

News

June 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

(Updates to show possible motive for the murder)

Two men from Kansas have been arrested in connection with an Adams County homicide. The Iowa Department of Public Safety reports on Friday June 26th, Agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation traveled to Hiawatha, Kansas, to interview witnesses and persons of interest in the Allen Pafford homicide investigation.

James Bost

James Bost

Jon Rubendall

Jon Rubendall

Iowa DCI Agents, along with the assistance of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Hiawatha Kansas Police Department, arrested 41-year old Jon Rubendall, and 38-year old James Bost, both currently residing in Hiawatha, Kansas. Both men face a charge of 1st degree murder in connection with the death of 44-year old Allen Pafford.  Pafford’s body was found by his mother on June 20th.

A cash bond of $1,000,000.00 has been set for each defendant.

An affidavit says authorities found Pafford tied up in a workshop near his mother’s home in Nodaway, with a bedsheet wrapped around his head and neck and a bullet wound in the back of his head. According to the document, Bost told authorities that Pafford owed Rubendall $3,000 for drugs.

The investigation is on-going.