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Change of venue ordered for Crawford County murder trial


January 13th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A district court judge in western Iowa, Monday, ordered a change of venue in the trial of a Denison man charged with murder. The Omaha World-Herald reports the judge, who continued the trial for 19-year old Jayden Ray Chapman until April 28th, ruled the trial must be held outside of Crawford County. Its location will be determined later.

The trials for Chapman and a co-defendant, 26-year old Michael David Schenk, of Denison, had been scheduled to take place two weeks apart in Crawford County. Chapman and Schenk are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson in connection with the March 10 deaths of 80-year old Marvin Huelsing, of Maple River and 81-year old Alice Huisenga, of Arcadia. Their bodies were found on Huelsing’s property southeast of Deloit.

Schenk’s trial is set to begin Jan. 20. Chapman’s trial had previously been set for Feb. 3rd. Public defender Jennifer N. Solberg had argued in a motion filed Thursday that Chapman could not receive a fair trial after extensive news coverage of Schenk’s trial.

A third defendant in the case, Erika Marlys Dains, 37, of Denison, pleaded guilty to reduced charges of second-degree burglary and being an accessory after the fact, an aggravated misdemeanor.

According to a plea agreement, Dains will testify as a prosecution witness at the trials of Schenk and Chapman, if she is called as a witness.

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., Jan. 13 2015


January 13th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — The White House is offering more details about President Barack Obama’s visit Wednesday to Iowa. Obama will visit Cedar Falls and speak on the issue of increasing access to affordable, high-speed broadband. The White House says Obama’s speech will be streamed live at www.whitehouse.gov/live.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — MidAmerican Energy Company has completed work on three additional wind farms as part of an ongoing sustainable energy project. The Iowa-based energy company says the completion of these wind farms means four of the five farms that comprise the so-called Wind VIII project are now finished. The development project is the largest of its kind in Iowa history. The new wind farms are located in Webster County, Madison County and Wellsburg County.

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — A Waterloo teen has been arrested after allegedly stealing a rifle from a northeastern Iowa patrol car over the weekend. Authorities say the 15-year-old boy is charged with smashing the window of a patrol car parked across the street from the Waterloo police station Saturday afternoon and taking an AR-15 rifle from the vehicle. Police tracked the teen down and recovered the rifle within hours of the robbery. He has been charged with third-degree burglary, second-degree theft and trafficking in stolen weapons.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a former Fort Rucker soldier has been sentenced in the death of his 4-year-old daughter. Thirty-one-year-old Benjamin Schrad of Storm Lake, Iowa was sentenced to six years in prison in his daughter’s 2011 death. Prosecutors have said Schrad rushed his daughter to an emergency room on Aug. 1, 2011, telling doctors that the girl had collapsed while they were playing. Authorities said the girl’s injuries were consistent with being shaken, not with a fall.

MidAmerican Energy completes work on three more wind farms


January 12th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa – (Jan. 12, 2015) – MidAmerican Energy Company has completed work on four of the five wind farms that make up its 1,050-megawatt Wind VIII project – the largest economic development project in Iowa history. The three wind farms completed in 2014 – Lundgren in Webster County, Macksburg in Madison County and Wellsburg in Grundy County – account for a total of 511.4 megawatts of wind generation capacity, to go along with the 44.6 megawatts of generation capacity at the Vienna II wind farm in Marshall County, which was completed in 2013. Wind turbines

The final piece of the Wind VIII project – the 495-megawatt Highland wind farm in O’Brien County – will be finished by the end of 2015. “With more than half the turbines in our Wind VIII project up and running, we’ve reached a major milestone in the development of another sustainable energy solution for our customers,” said Adam Wright, vice president, wind generation and development for MidAmerican Energy.

“By 2016, we’ll be able to produce enough energy from wind to meet the equivalent of approximately half of the electricity needs of our retail customers.” The Wind VIII project, announced in May 2013 during a joint press conference with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, represents an investment by MidAmerican Energy of up to $1.9 billion.

With the addition of Wind VIII’s 448 turbines at the five wind farm sites, the company’s wind generation fleet will expand to 1,715 turbines, which can produce enough energy to power the equivalent of more than one million average Iowa homes. “We are extremely proud of our progress over the last decade in the development of wind energy,” Wright said. “We constructed our first wind farm in 2004, and today MidAmerican Energy is a national leader in wind generation.”

(Press Release)

Branstad: Teacher licensing program for veterans is working


January 12th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad says a teacher licensing program aimed at helping veterans and their families is working. Branstad said at a Monday news conference that the military exchange license program has helped veterans and their spouses secure technical and provisional licenses that will keep them working in the state. The program allows participants to teach in the state for several years without having to immediately take additional college coursework.

Branstad says the program ties in with his separate Home Base Iowa initiative, which went into effect last year. That law is aimed at giving veterans incentives to work in Iowa once their military service is over. The licensing program is offered through the Board of Educational Examiners. A board report says more than 20 licenses were issued in 2014.

Final 2014 crop report shows record corn and soybean harvest

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 12th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final tally of the 2014 crop year is showing farmers brought in record corn and soybean crops. The agency says in reports released Monday that farmers harvested a record 14.2 billion bushels of corn. That is 3 percent more than the 2013 crop, which had set the previous record. The average bushel-per-acre yield is 171, significantly better than the 158 bushels per acre in 2013.

The record crop came even though farmers harvested about 5 percent fewer acres than in 2013. Record yields are estimated in 21 states, including Illinois and Nebraska. Soybean production also is a record at 3.97 billion bushels, up 18 percent from 2013. Farmers harvested a record 83.1 million acres in 2014.

SW IA man sentenced nearly 5-years in prison for possession of child porn


January 12th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The U-S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa reports today (Monday), that on December 16t, 2014, 30-year old Anthony J. Simmons, of Shenandoah, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge John A. Jarvey to serve 57 months (nearly 5-years) in prison for possession of child pornography, and to serve 10 years of supervised release following imprisonment.

United States Attorney Nicholas Klinefeldt says during the Spring of 2013, investigators located sexually explicit pictures of a fifteen year-old female on Simmons’ computer. On June 5, 2014, Simmons entered a guilty plea to possession of child pornography.

The investigation was conducted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations, Cyber Crimes Unit, and the case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

Traffic stop in Cass County results in 2 arrests


January 12th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A traffic stop Saturday in Cass County resulted in the arrest of two men. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office says as a result of the stop by an Iowa Department of Natural Resources officer, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office arrested 56-year old Richard Joseph Foley, and 55-year old Kenneth Paul Foley, Jr., both of Carroll.

Kenneth Foley, Jr., was charged with OWI 2nd Offense. He was also charged by the Department of Natural Resources for Felon in Possession of a Firearm. Richard Foley was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Possession of Contraband within a Jail Facility. Both men posted $5,000 bond each, the following day.

And, on Sunday, deputies in Cass County arrested 28-year old Christopher Anthony Jason Castillo, of Atlantic,  on a charge of Driving While Barred. Castillo was taken to the Cass County Jail where he was released later that day on $2,000 bond.

Gonzaga official named next president at Drake University


January 12th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – An administrator at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, will become the next president at Drake University in Des Moines. Drake announced Monday that Earl F. Martin, Gonzaga’s executive vice president, would become the 13th president at Drake in July. Martin will succeed David Maxwell, who will retire after 16 years at the university.

At Gonzaga, Martin has provided administrative and operational oversight since 2010. He also served as academic vice president and dean of Gonzaga’s School of Law during his tenure at the university. Martin joins Drake as the school works to advance STEM initiatives and complete a $200 million fundraising campaign.

Drake University Board of Trustees chairman Larry Zimpleman says Martin is ‘well-equipped’ to lead Drake as the university wraps up past projects and confronts new challenges.

Exira teens face drug charges


January 12th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Two teens from Exira face drug charges following a traffic stop Friday night, in Exira. The Audubon County Sheriff’s Office says 17-year old Rachel Ellen Walker and 16-year old Margo Marie Christensen were charged with Possession of Marijuana after the vehicle they were in was pulled over at around 11:45-p.m., Friday.

The teens were transported to the Audubon County Sheriff’s Office and later released to the custody of their parents. Their charges were referred to Juvenile Court.

Pot seized, Central Iowa man arrested in Nebraska, patrol says


January 12th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) – More than 35 pounds of marijuana has been seized and an Iowa resident has been arrested after a traffic stop in south-central Nebraska. The Nebraska State Patrol says a trooper pulled over an eastbound car around 1 p.m. Sunday about two miles east of the Minden exit off Interstate 80. The patrol says a search dog taken to the scene indicated that drugs were in the vehicle. Troopers found the pot in duffel bags in the car trunk.

The driver and lone occupant, who is from Mason City, Iowa, was taken to Buffalo County Jail in Kearney.