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Iowa man convicted of hacking 3 to death with machete


March 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

PERRY, Iowa (AP) – A 25-year-old man has been convicted of hacking to death his girlfriend, her teenage daughter and the landlord of their home in central Iowa.

A Dallas County jury took just two hours Tuesday to find Carlos Hernandez-Ventura guilty of three counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors say he used a machete on Oct. 29 to fatally attack 34-year-old Lourdes Flor De Leake, 14-year-old Melany Barraza and 78-year-old Juan Jimenez Tejada at the home in Perry.

Hernandez-Ventura testified that Leake’s estranged husband ordered him to kill the three because the man feared they knew about his drug dealing. Hernandez-Ventura said Daniel Leake told him that he would kill Hernandez-Ventura and his family if he didn’t kill the three.

Investigators testified that they found no evidence Daniel Leake was dealing drugs.

Michigan woman arrested on assault & drug charges in Adams County


March 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

A woman from Michigan was arrested for Domestic Abuse Assault, Assault and Possession of Controlled Substance/Marijuana, following a 9-1-1 call this (Wednesday) morning, in Adams County. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office reports dispatchers received an incomplete 9-1-1 call from a distraught female indicating she’d been assaulted. The caller said she and the other party were heading north on Highway 148. Their location appeared on dispatch screens as being south of Corning.

Deputies located the vehicle in the Casey’s General Store parking lot at around 1:05-a.m. and discovered the verbal argument had turned physical. Upon further investigation, 54-year old Debra Lynn Califf-Griswold, of Muskegon, Michigan, was placed under arrest.

Califf-Griswold was being held in the Adams County Jail without bond, pending an appearance before a magistrate.

Senate votes to legalize sale, ignition of most fireworks in Iowa


March 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Iowans may soon be able to buy their bottle rockets, Roman candles and smoke balls at fireworks stands within the state’s borders. The Iowa Senate has voted 34-to 14 in favor of making it legal for Iowans to buy and ignite consumer fireworks in celebration of a few major holidays. “The bill before us will modernize our state law to not only permit the display of fireworks, but puts the framework in place to properly educate and regulate fireworks in the state of Iowa.”

That’s Senator Jake Chapman of Adel. Under current state law, sparklers, snakes and caps are legal to sell and set off, but you must have a permit to light any other kind of fireworks. “Our current law allow possession, but restricts the display of fireworks,” Chapman says. “In fact, you can fill your basement with fireworks. We just don’t allow you to display them. Now how does that make any sense?”

Critics complain “tent cities” will spring up around the state to sell fireworks during the 4th of July holiday period when sales would be permitted in “temporary structures.” Senator David Johnson, an independent from Ocheyedan, says local governments will have no way to stop the kind of “shanty towns” that sell fireworks just across the border in Missouri. “It’s like nobody in this chamber has ever gone across a state line where fireworks are legal,” Johnson said. “…Let’s let the locals control the size of the signs with their flashing lights and all kinds of other gizmos trying to draw you in to blow your hand off,” Johnson said.

Others like Senator Tony Bisignano of Des Moines say there will be more injuries from fireworks if this bill becomes law. “Every normal, intelligent group of doctors and medical experts and hospitals and so forth are against it,” Bisignano said.

A handful of senators sponsored nearly 40 amendments to try to alter the bill. Bill backers defeated all of them, including an amendment that would have allowed only American-made fireworks to be sold in the state. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, unsuccessfully argued it was a way to “offset” the negatives associated with fireworks. “Maybe we’ll create some jobs in the process to go along with the injuries and the fires,” McCoy said. “,,,I know you’ve all got a red hat in your truck, so get your red hat out and let’s make America great.”

McCoy, of course, was referring to Donald Trump’s campaign hats that featured his “Make America Great Again” slogan. Nearly all of the fireworks sold in the U.S. today are made in China. The state legislature made it illegal to sell or set off most fireworks in Iowa back in 1936. The move came after two significant fires. In 1931, downtown Spencer was destroyed after a sparkler ignited a table full of other fireworks and the blaze spread. Five years later, fireworks were blamed for a major fire in Remsen. Chapman says polls show a majority of modern day Iowans want to see fireworks legalized in Iowa.

“The bill will allow Iowans to celebrate the 4th of July in the same manner Americans all across our nation are permitted to celebrate,” Chapman said. “It’s time we joined the other 42 states and the District of Columbia in allowing Iowans to join in the celebration.”

The bill sets up licensing for retailers that plan to sell fireworks. The licensing fees will be used to finance fireworks safety programs. It also gives cities and counties the authority to pass local ordinances banning people from igniting fireworks. If the bill becomes law, it would be legal to buy and set off fireworks in a six week period around the 4th of July and from December 10th through January 3rd. Fireworks could only be sold from permanent structures during that winter time period. The current fine for those charged with illegally celebrating with a pop of fireworks is 250 dollars.

(Radio Iowa)

Branstad celebrates making homeschooling legal in Iowa 26 years ago


March 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Tuesday was “Homeschool Iowa Capitol Day” and long-time Governor Terry Branstad used the occasion to reminisce about his history with the movement. “I had honor of signing the bill that made homeschooling without a teaching certificate legal in Iowa,” Branstad said.That happened back in 1991. “I didn’t want to see conscientious families face the prospect of having to break the law,” Branstad said.

Branstad told a crowd of about 300 parents and children that Iowa now is known for its supportive environment for home schools. Branstad signed another law in 2013 that got rid of the paperwork that parents who homeschool their children had to turn in to their local public school district.

Critics say that was too lax and some have called for random government inspections of homes where parents are teaching their own children. Branstad said parents who don’t want to send their child to a public school may benefit from a bill that cleared the Senate yesterday that would let more students to enroll in online schools.

(Radio Iowa)

Legislature approves bill drafted in response to abuse at Glenwood facility


March 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa legislature has unanimously passed a bill that expands the definition of dependent adult abuse. Senator Mark Costello, a Republican from Imogene, says it’s partly in response to the verbal abuse of mentally disabled residents at the state-run facility in Glenwood.

“Caretakers were swearing at the residents and had inappropriate sexual conversation with the residents,” Costello says. “…They were abusing them by repeatedly saying these things that were inappropriate.”

In this instance, Costello says the facility is being fined by federal officials for the workers’ VERBAL abuse, but current state law does not allow those workers to be charged with the crime of dependent adult abuse. The other aim of the bill is to protect residents of nursing homes and other facilities from abuse that occurs on “social media.”

“There have been instances recently where a caretaker has taken photos of a resident that’s not sexual in nature, but it’s humiliating, degrading and shameful and the caretaker than texts or Snapchats or posts the photo on Facebook or something,” Costello says.

The bill passed the Iowa Senate Tuesday unanimously. It cleared the Iowa House a week ago on a 93 to zero vote. Governor Branstad is expected to sign the bill into law and it will take effect on the day Branstad approves it.

(Radio Iowa)

Senate votes to lift cap on enrollment in online academies


March 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Senate has voted to expand on-line learning options for Iowa students. If the bill wins House approval, too, there would be no longer be a limit on the number of Iowa students who may take classes online rather than attend a traditional school in their neighborhood. The measure addresses other education issues as well. Senator Amy Sinclair, a Republican from Allerton, says the bill has two main purposes.

“To expand opportunities for all students in the state of Iowa and, two, to reduce the regulatory burden for all local school districts,” Sinclair said.

There are currently two Iowa school districts which offer online academies — CAM in western Iowa and Clayton Ridge in eastern Iowa. Students use the state’s “open enrollment” process to sign up. The bill would let other Iowa school districts develop an exclusive online curriculum for their students. Senator Herman Quirmback, a Democrat from Ames, says that means struggling online students might get help from local teachers or even some tech support from the district.

“They won’t have to open enroll 100 or 200 miles away to some district that never sees them in person,” Quirmbach says.

The legislation also would require an in-depth review of Area Education Agencies that support local districts. In addition, it would let schools indicate on a high school diploma if a graduate is fluent in more than one language.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017


March 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press at 2:30 a.m. CDT

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — A disbarred Iowa attorney sought for years by the FBI before finally being arrested has pleaded guilty to 11 federal counts of mail fraud. U.S. Attorney Kevin VanderSchel said 52-year-old Dennis Bjorklund, of Coralville, entered the pleas Tuesday. Bjorklund faces up to 20 years on each count when he’s sentenced later this year.

LEHIGH, Iowa (AP) — Officials are looking for the killer of two bald eagles in central Iowa’s Webster County. The Des Moines Register reports that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is investigating. Conservation officer Bill Spece says the first bald eagle was an immature bird found two weeks ago in the Boone Forks Wildlife Area. The second was a mature bird found Saturday, about 10 miles away, near the sewage lagoons in Lehigh.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Senate has begun debate on a bill that would allow the sale of fireworks in the state beyond novelties like sparklers. The Republican-controlled chamber began debate Tuesday afternoon. The bill is expected to pass and head to the House, where it also has support. The legislation would legalize the retail sale and use of consumer fireworks such as firecrackers and roman candles, which are currently prohibited in Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Des Moines authorities have released the name of a man whose body was found in a burned-out residential garage. The Des Moines Fire Department identified the man as 52-year-old Charles Flanders, who lived in the attached residence that also was damaged in Wednesday’s blaze. The department says the fire cause remains under investigation. Preliminary autopsy results have not been released.

Missouri woman injured in Red Oak accident is arrested on warrant


March 21st, 2017 by Ric Hanson

An accident this (Tuesday) morning, in Red Oak, resulted in a woman being injured, and then taken into custody on a warrant. Red Oak Police say officers were dispatched to the intersection of N. Broadway and W. Oak Streets at around 9:50-a.m. for an accident involving a van and a car. The driver of the car, 24-year old Maiah Lyn Caron, of Kansas City, Missouri, was injured and transported to the Montgomery County Memorial Hospital, for treatment. Upon further investigation, it was discovered Caron had an active warrant out of Clarinda. Once she was released from the hospital, Caron was taken into custody and held for Clarinda Police on the warrant for Failure to Appear on an OWI charge. Her bond was set at $1,000.

The accident happened while the 2000 Ford Windstar van, driven by 59-year old James Coffman, of Red Oak, was waiting at a stop light. Caron, who was driving a 2012 Chevy Malibu, didn’t notice the light was red, and rear-ended the van. Coffman was not injured in the crash. Damage amounted to about $9,000.

Museum of Danish America Receives Highest National Recognition


March 21st, 2017 by Ric Hanson

ELK HORN, Iowa – In a live Facebook video Wednesday, staff with the Museum of Danish America announced that the organization has achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public.

Alliance Accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement. Executive Director Rasmus Thøgersen said “Accreditation is a tribute to all who have helped the museum get this far – one step at a time, little by little. We are deeply grateful to all the past and present board members, the staff, the interns, the volunteers, and our great local community for all the support we have gotten throughout the years.”

Museum of Danish America

Of the nation’s 35,000 museums, less than 3 percent are accredited. In western Iowa only four Sioux City museums share the honor. The Museum of Danish America was organized in 1983 as the Danish Immigrant Museum. In 1994 it opened its half-timbered facility on the west edge of Elk Horn and has grown its collection to more than 35,000 artifacts relating to Danish-American experience. Its exhibits regularly tour the nation, and its Genealogy Center conducts professional research and translations for patrons near and far.

The Museum of Danish America is offering free admission during the month of April, since part of its exhibits are undergoing their first major renovation in a decade. Many other features, including two temporary exhibits and the Design Store, will be open each day as usual.

14th Annual Prairie Chicken Festival April 8th in Ringgold County

Ag/Outdoor, News

March 21st, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa DNR say the Grand River Grasslands Bird Conservation Area will be at center stage on April 8th for the 14th Annual Prairie Chicken Festival, originating from the viewing platform on 300th Avenue, southwest of Kellerton.

Viewers should plan to arrive early as the best viewing occurs at dawn. The event will proceed until the birds diminish their courtship dancing and booming, which is around 9:30 a.m. Prairie chickens were reintroduced to the area and each spring their courtship dances occur where their booming calls resonate across southern Iowa hills and valleys.

Spotting scopes, binoculars, cameras and phones will be trained on capturing the images and sounds of the unique mating ritual that is part dance, part combat, and part haunting symphony. Iowa’s prairie chickens are only found in Ringgold County.