Monday Afternoon News, February 16
Police Imposter Stopping Traffic
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say they're investigating a man who has been posing as a police officer and making traffic stops in western Iowa.
The Woodbury County Sheriff's Office says two traffic stops were conducted late Saturday night and early Sunday morning near Correctionville and Anthon, Iowa. No threats were made during the fake traffic stops.
According to a news release, the vehicles were pulled over by a seemingly new Dodge Charger with red and blue lights in the dash. The release says the man driving the Dodge identified himself as a member of law enforcement. Those who were pulled over later reported the incidents to police.
The sheriff's office says officials making traffic stops will be dressed in complete uniform and can display their credentials upon request.
Iowa Corrections Department Being Investigated For Abusive Penalties
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A state watchdog agency says Iowa Department of Corrections officials unfairly lengthened an offender's sentence by excessively punishing him for bumping a guard.
In a report called "Neither fair, nor impartial," the Office of Ombudsman says the case of Randy Linderman highlights systemic problems with inmate disciplinary hearings.
The report says Linderman's punishment of 180 days in isolation and 180 days of lost earned time was harsher than allowed under department policy. Investigators say a prison judge issued the punishment after being privately pressured by the warden for a stiff sanction, and revised her decision after-the-fact when investigators noted it violated policy.
The report says department officials gave "dubious and contradictory answers" in seeking to justify the punishment.
Corrections officials are rejecting the report's recommendations and standing by their actions.
Transition Of Farmland Depicted In Play
LYTTON, Iowa (AP) - Farmers and their families reflected on the ways the transition of farmland ownership has affected them following an Iowa play depicting such situations.
During Sunday's performance of the play titled "Map of My Kingdom" at The Friendship Center in Lytton, Angela Martin, portrayed by Elizabeth Thompson, told the audience how her grandmother's decision to sell the farm without consulting the family affected her and how similar situations affected other families.
Darsi Haddleson, of Lytton, says she related to the story because her husband's father sold their family farm in a similar manner.
Theresa Opheim, executive director of the Practical Farms of Iowa, says such transitions will likely become more common since 35 percent of farmland is owned by people over 75 years old.
Hard Rock Casino And Hotel To Expand Outdoor Facilities
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A new downtown Sioux City casino has announced plans to convert a grass-covered outdoor spot into a hard surface that will be used for outdoor events, such as concerts, as well as more parking. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in downtown Sioux City plans new landscaping, decorative street lamps, a beer garden, an expanded restaurant patio and a barrier to control concert noise also are part of the $850,000 project awaiting city approval.
Branstad Says He Is Open To Working With Illinois On Medical Marijuana
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says he's open to establishing a system that would allow residents to travel to neighboring Illinois to access some form of medical marijuana.
Illinois lawmakers passed legislation last year for a pilot program that allows companies to manufacture and distribute medical marijuana in the state. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who took office in January, recently awarded licenses to businesses.
Branstad on Monday mentioned a future dispensary in Rock Island in the Quad Cities that could help Iowa residents. Branstad's spokesman says the governor needs to discuss potential changes with Rauner.
Branstad signed a law last year that allows the use of oil derived from marijuana to treat chronic epilepsy. Critics say the legislation didn't address other legal hurdles in bringing the oil into Iowa.
North Liberty Property Owner Loses Condemnation Hearing
NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (AP) - At a condemnation hearing, North Liberty has won access to land it says it needs to run a sewer line to a new high school.
Johnson County compensation commission ruled Friday that the city must pay landowner Gary Weinman $80,000. Of that total, $70,000 is for a permanent easement for about three-quarters of an acre. Construction on the line to Liberty High School is expected to begin next month.
A lawsuit Weinman filed against the city is pending. The lawsuit says among other things that the city didn't properly analyze how the project could affect the endangered Indiana bat and ornate box turtle. City officials have said they conducted proper analyses.
Waterloo Care Center Worker Given Probation
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - A former Waterloo care center worker has been given probation for submitting fake bills for services.
31-year-old Renae Minikus was granted a deferred judgment, meaning the case will be removed from her record if she successfully completes probation. She'd pleaded guilty to fraud and forgery charges.
Officials with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Medicaid Fraud Unit say Minikus, who had worked at the Respite Connection, had submitted false records about providing two months of care for a client.
Respite Connection provides services for caregivers of people with brain injuries and disabilities.