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Cass County Attorney statement on Slauson sentence

News

January 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Cass County Attorney David L. Wiederstein, late Tuesday afternoon, issued a statement to the press about the sentencing earlier in the day of 30-year old Leatha Kaye Slauson to a term of 5-years probation, in association with a child cancer hoax. Wiederstein said “The Court clearly set forth the rationale for the sentence and I am not going to comment any further on the Judge’s ruling. The biggest form of punishment levied against Leatha this morning is further removing her from her status as a mother.”

“Atlantic and Cass County should not be ashamed with the overwhelming giving spirit it showed when the child was purportedly sick, and even more so the community-wide show of support to Riley since her mother’s criminal scheme was revealed. The longer that Leatha is not able to stand in the shoes of a parent, the more justice will be served.”

Grant Helps Communities Inventory Public Trees

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

This year, 10 Iowa communities, including Atlantic, will participate in a public inventory of their trees through a U.S. Forest Service grant called Sustainable Urban Forestry Training and Assistance (SUFTA). The grant will fund training to municipal staff, non-profits and interested citizens, so communities can complete a public tree inventory, prepare for emerald ash borer and create a sustainable urban forestry program.

A volunteer participates in the Iowa Tree Inventory.

A volunteer participates in the Iowa Tree Inventory.

The eight-session training, administered by the DNR forestry bureau, will include tree identification, risk assessment, forest pest identification, technology training, tree planting, pruning/maintenance and inventory data collection.

Attendance at all eight training sessions is mandatory to take part in the community tree inventories.  Interested individuals, civic groups and clubs are asked to contact the local coordinator at the respective phone number for further details. In Atlantic, the training sessions begin Feb. 24th. For more information or to participate, call John Lund at 712-243-4810.

For more information about the Sustainable Urban Forestry Training and Assistance (SUFTA) grant program, contact Laura Wagner, grant coordinator at 515-725-8456 or laura.wagner@dnr.iowa.gov.

Acres Remain for Landowners wanting to Improve Pheasant Habitat

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Time is running out for landowners in Iowa’s 46 best pheasant counties to secure funding to restore pheasant habitat in Iowa’s core pheasant range. The Iowa Pheasant Recovery – State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program is for Iowa landowners who want to restore top notch pheasant habitats to their property. It is a new USDA continuous CRP practice designed to restore native grasslands and wetlands where they will be the most beneficial for ring-necked pheasants.DNR logo

Iowa received 50,000 acres split between the 46 primary pheasant counties (37,500) and the 31 secondary pheasant counties (12,500). The 31 secondary counties enrolled all 12,500 acres before the 2014 pheasant season opened. An estimated 20,000 acres remain in the 46 primary pheasant counties.

Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says “We are getting a lot of pressure from landowners in the secondary counties to release these acres so they can make offers to enroll. Landowners in primary pheasant counties who are interested in this program shouldn’t wait to contact us because acres may be shifted to the secondary counties.”

Primary pheasant counties include (locally): Adair, Adams, Audubon, Carroll and Cass. Pheasant and other grassland birds are particularly vulnerable to harsh winters and wet springs. Restoring top quality winter and nesting/brood-rearing habitat will help pheasant populations recover and could boost annual harvest by 100,000 roosters.

CRP rental rates are at an all-time high in Iowa. Landowners should contact the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Bureau private lands staff to discuss eligibility and cost share assistance. A map of DNR staff contacts and a factsheet on the Iowa Pheasant Recovery program is available at www.iowadnr.gov/habitat

Council Bluffs plans renovation of historical building

News

January 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – A Council Bluffs historical structure that’s stood vacant for years will soon undergo renovation. City parks director Larry Foster tells the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil of plans to create an open-air pavilion at a local building formerly used as a trolley equipment repair shop. The project will be funded by both public and private grants.

Foster says the Council Bluffs Public School District initially developed the idea for the space as the district’s summer lunch program needed a shelter in order to continue. Renovation includes removing three brick panels on two sides of the structure to open the building up and installing windows and the other two sides. Foster says the pavilion will be open to the public.

Foster says he’s unsure when construction will begin.

Sioux City teacher accused of having sex with student

News

January 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – A Sioux City teacher has been arrested on charges he had sex with a 16-year-old student. Court records say 29-year-old Erick DeLeon, a Sioux City Community School District teacher and coach, was charged Monday with felony exploitation by a school employee. He was released on bail Tuesday. The Sioux City Journal reports DeLeon is accused of sending sexually related text messages and engaging in sexual acts with the one of his female students at least twice from September through December.

DeLeon is set to appear in court Jan. 30.

Iowa farm group seeks more pesticide oversight from state

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A group representing farmers is calling on the state to toughen oversight and penalties related to pesticide use. The Iowa Farmers Union said Tuesday that members have petitioned the state to change rules governing pesticide drifting through the air. They say chemicals typically used on conventional crops can drift and damage organic produce grown nearby.

Union President Jana Linderman says the group would like the state to require commercial pesticide users to notify some nearby farms 48 hours before spraying. Other changes they seek include increasing fines for operations that repeatedly break the pesticide rules.

A spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture said officials would meet with the group Thursday and will consider the request.

Thieves return to the scene of the crime

News

January 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Two people, a man and a woman, were arrested this morning in Tabor, after they returned to the scene of a crime. According to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, 44-year old Jennifer Elizabeth Younts, of Tabor, and 26-year old Zachary Clay Younts, of Council Bluffs, were taken into custody at around 4:30-a.m. (Tuesday), after the Tabor Police Chief observed two suspects park behind a business in the 700 block of Main Street in Tabor, and allegedly load stolen items into a vehicle.

The investigation began when the Tabor P-D received a report of a theft from a business in Tabor that occurred early Monday morning. Evidence at the scene led authorities to believe the suspect or suspects may return to the area.

Zachary Younts was charged with Theft in the 4th degree and Burglary in the 3rd degree. His bond was set at $6,000. Jennifer Younts was arrested for 4th degree theft and later released on $1,000 bond. The Fremont County Sheriffs’ Department assisted Tabor Police in conducting the arrests.

Slauson gets 5 years probation

News

January 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A Cass County woman convicted in November on numerous charges associated with faking her 5-year old daughter’s cancer received 5-years of probation Tuesday, instead of a minimum of two-years probation or a maximum of 21-years in prison. In November, 30-year old Leatha Kaye Slauson, of Atlantic, plead guilty to two counts of child endangerment, one of administering harmful substances, one of theft and one of unlawful possession of a prescription drug. Slauson admitted to giving her daughter Riley Cannabis Oil and Neupogen without a prescription. She also admitted she raised money for her daughter’s supposed cancer treatment, under false pretenses.

Leatha Slauson reads a statement to the court.

Leatha Slauson reads a statement to the court.

District Court Judge Kathleen Kilnoski issued the order against Slauson. Because of the nature of the offenses, counts one and two were ordered to be served consecutively, with remaining sentences to be served concurrently. She also must continue mental health treatment and not contact her five children unless requested by her therapist.

The decision came down after nearly an hour of testimony from a mental health professional, Slauson’s uncle and Leatha Slauson herself, during which she apologized for her actions, but admitted she “Still needs work,” in the area of mental health, to deal with the “voices” in her head, and the “Shadow figures” she used to see before she was placed on medication.

As part of her probation agreement, Slauson was ordered to make restitution, with a hearing to take place later to determine the means and method for which that is accomplished. There is still a little more than half of the $30,000 donated in a special bank account that can be used toward restitution. Slauson will not have to reside at a Residential Correctional Facility. The judge decided the 90-days the woman had served and progress she’s made through mental health counseling and medications was sufficient.

Leatha Slauson enters the courtroom prior to hear sentencing hearing. Judge Kathleen Kilnoski is behind her.

Leatha Slauson enters the courtroom prior to hear sentencing hearing. Judge Kathleen Kilnoski is behind her.

Slauson’s attorney Jay Mez had asked for a deferred judgement of conviction, meaning the woman would have no criminal record, but the judge disagreed. Kilnoski said “I think you need to have a criminal record that will alert the public to your behavior, so that others can be en guard, so that no other child potentially could be hurt, no other vulnerable adult could potentially be hurt by your actions.”

(Podcast) 8-a.m. News, 1/20/2015

News, Podcasts

January 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

With Ric Hanson.

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Western Iowa trial about to begin in slayings of 2 people

News

January 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DELOIT, Iowa (AP) – Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday for one of two men accused of killing two people and attempting to burn their bodies in western Iowa. Twenty-six-year-old Michael Schenk is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson. Authorities say Schenk and 19-year-old Jayden Chapman, both of Denison, shot 80-year-old Marvin Huesling and 81-year-old Alice Huisenga at a trailer home in Deloit on March 10 and then set it on fire. Investigators say the two men likely were on the property to steal scrap metal.

Chapman’s trial is scheduled to begin April 28 in another county. A judge has ruled that because of expected media coverage of Schenk’s trial, it would be difficult to find an impartial jury for Chapman’s trial in Crawford County.