Home News Friday Afternoon News, February 23rd

Friday Afternoon News, February 23rd


Fire Destroys Rural Merrill Home

(Merrill) — Fire has totally destroyed a rural Merrill home located on the 25000 block of county road C-44, about three miles west of Merrill. Merrill Fire Chief Jacob Conley says when firefighters arrived after 3:00 a.m. Friday morning, the home is totally engulfed with flames.

The family member home at the time of the fire was barely able to escape the fire. Fortunately, there were no injuries. Conley says its still too early to tell as to what started the blaze. Firefighters were still at the scene extinguishing smolders as of 8:00 a.m. Conley says he called for mutual aid to help with the early morning fire.

Firefighters battled the cold temperatures, snow and winds in addition to fighting the fire. Conley says it has been a long night.

The Merrill Fire Chief says without knowing what were all the contents of the home, it is difficult to judge the amount of dollar damage. The home was a total loss.



Governor Reynolds Campaign Manager Leaves

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The campaign manager for Gov. Kim Reynolds has left her staff months before the contested Republican primary election.
Reynolds confirmed Thursday that Phil Valenziano, one of the state’s top GOP organizers, has moved on and that she would name his replacement in coming
Reynolds had kept Valenziano despite an incident last summer, when he was arrested for public intoxication after being seen urinating outside a West Des Moines bar.
Reynolds thanked Valenziano for helping build grassroots support for her campaign and predicted he would “continue to be a force in Republican politics.”
Valenziano says “now is the appropriate time for me to pursue other opportunities” after working for Reynolds and former Gov. Terry Branstad in different capacities for 8 years.
Former Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett is challenging Reynolds in the June primary.



Creston Man’s Death Ruled As Homicide

CRESTON, Iowa (AP) – The death of a 45-year-old man in southern Iowa has been ruled a homicide.
The Iowa Department of Public Safety said in a news release Friday that an autopsy on the body of Paul Scheel is finished, but the cause of death is not being released for now.
Creston police officers sent Feb. 14 to a Creston residence for a welfare check found Scheel’s body. No arrests have been reported.



March Trial Date Scheduled For Jasper County Killing

NEWTON, Iowa (AP) – A March trial has been scheduled for a man accused of killing an acquaintance in central Iowa’s Jasper County.
Court records say the new starting date is March 7 for 52-year-old Randy Linderman, of Charles City. He’s pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the slaying of 61-year-old Jose Ramirez Berber. A family member found Berber’s body inside his rural Newton home on March 6 last year.
Linderman’s first trial date was Oct. 18.
The Newton Daily News reports that DNA evidence taken from Berber’s body and clothing matched that of Linderman. Investigators say Linderman acknowledged
that he’d been to Berber’s home several times.



Appeals Court Rules Wind Turbines Built In Wrong Zoning Area

FAIRBANK, Iowa (AP) – The state appeals court has ruled that a company built three wind turbines in violation of a county zoning ordinance in northeast Iowa.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that Mason Wind and Optimum Renewables now faces a court ruling to remove the three 445-foot (136-meter) wind towers east of Fairbank.
The company had challenged a 2016 Fayette County District Court ruling to the appeals court, which upheld the ruling Wednesday.
The district court’s ruling shows that officials misinterpreted the
county’s zoning ordinance when approving the wind turbine project. County officials said a special permit approved by a county board wasn’t needed because the turbines were “electrical transmission and regulating” facilities. But the
district court ruled that the turbines were electrical generating devices that did require approval from the board.