Thursday News, January 29
Patty Judge To Discuss Corn Marketing Disruption At Le Mars Town Hall Meeting
(Le Mars) -- Former Iowa Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge has organized a town hall meeting for Iowa corn growers impacted by the disruption in the global corn market in 2013 and 2014. Judge will appear at the Le Mars Public Library this evening at 6:00 p.m. The market for U.S. corn dropped sharply after corn shipments from the United States were rejected by China because they contained Syngenta seed that had not been approved for import. Judge, who also served two terms as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, has invited an expert on this issue to talk with Iowa corn growers about possible remedies they may have. Many Iowans and others in the agriculture industry, including Cargill, have filed lawsuits against Syngenta due to the damage their product has done to the market.
KLEM Expo Fast Approaching
(Le Mars) -- Only a few days remain until the KLEM Expo scheduled for Friday, February 6 and Saturday, February 7. Both floors of the Le Mars Convention Center will be filled with exhibitors. This year's KLEM Expo will feature financial institutions, insurance companies, home furnishings, home improvement, health and wellness clubs, and so much more. Enjoy a free Catalanos pizza party on Friday evening, and for Saturday, children can create crafts with the assistance of the Le Mars Arts Center, as well as participate in the Coloring Contest. Free Blue Bunny ice cream treats will be distributed for both days. The hours of the KLEM Expo are from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. for Friday, February 6th, and from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Saturday, February 7th. Don't forget to register for a free trip to Las Vegas! That's the KLEM Expo.
Le Von Dean Sr. Sentenced To Prison For Helping Son Evade Arrest
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The father of a 23-year-old convicted in the shooting of a Sioux City police officer has pleaded guilty to helping his son evade arrest.
Levon Dean Sr. of Sioux City pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to defraud the United States by obstruction or interfering with governmental functions. The plea agreement has been sealed.
Officials say a sentencing date for 55-year-old Dean will be set once a presentence investigation is complete.
A judge sentenced his son, Jamal Dean, to 25 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to attempted murder in the shooting of police officer Kevin McCormick during a 2013 traffic stop. He was sentenced last week to life in prison on charges related to the armed robbery of two people in Sioux City.
Court Of Appeals Says Sioux City Man Can Appeal His Sentence For Child Endangerment
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Court of Appeals says a Sioux City man serving a 50-year prison sentence on a child endangerment conviction may pursue an appeal based on his claim that police violated his right to remain silent.
A three-member panel of the court says in a decision released Wednesday that a district court judge erred in dismissing Paul Hill's appeal application.
Hill claims his attorney should have moved at trial to suppress statements he made to police in which he admitted to striking the child while buckling her into a car seat on Feb. 17, 2009. She died hours later.
Hill says he had asked police several times to stop interviewing him but detectives continued.
The 25-year-old Hill is in prison at Fort Dodge. He was convicted in July 2010.
Crawford County Jury Finds Denison Man Guilty Of Murder
(Denison) -- A jury in western Iowa's Crawford County on Wednesday found a Denison man guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of two elderly people near Deloit last year. Twenty-six-year-old Michael Schenk was charged in the March 10 shooting deaths of 80-year-old Marvin Huesling and 81-year-old Alice Huisenga (HEW-sing-gay). Schenk was also convicted of second-degree arson for setting Huesling's trailer home on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime. Crawford County Attorney Roger Sailer said while he's pleased with the verdict, there's no reason to rejoice.
The verdict was delivered after four days of testimony and roughly four hours of jury deliberations. Schenk now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Another man, 19-year-old Jayden Chapman of Denison, is charged with murder and arson in the case. His trial is scheduled to begin in late April. A third Denison resident arrested in the case, 37-year-old Erika Dains, pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and accessory after the fact. She was originally charged with murder and arson, but accepted a plea deal in exchange for her testimony in the other two suspects' trials. During Schenk's trial, Dains said the trio had smoked meth and were at Huelsing's to steal scrap metal. The shootings happened after their truck got stuck in the mud, according to Dains.
Enviromental Groups Suing EPA Over Large Farm Odors
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A coalition of environmental, animal rights and citizen action groups is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency alleging failure to address air pollution from large-scale livestock farms.
Two federal lawsuits filed in the District of Columbia allege the EPA has not responded to petitions filed in 2009 and 2011 asking the agency to use its Clean Air Act authority to regulate large hog, cattle and poultry farms.
The groups include the Environmental Integrity Project, the Humane Society of the United States, and citizen groups from Wisconsin, Iowa and California. They claim ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and other manure-generated contaminants in states such as Iowa and North Carolina make people sick.
The groups want the EPA to set air quality standards for large livestock farms.
An EPA spokesman had no immediate comment.
Legislators Consider 10 Cent Per Gallon Fuel Tax For Road Repairs
(Des Moines) -- Key legislators say a 10-cent increase in the state gas tax has a good chance of passing the legislature in February and going into effect as early as March. Senator Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.
Representative Josh Byrnes (BURNS), a Republican from Osage, is chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
Byrnes says that's why negotiators at this point are favoring an increase in the already-existing per-gallon tax rather than trying to pass some new way to finance road and bridge projects in Iowa. Senator Bowman says the need is great -- an estimated 215-million dollar yearly shortfall to address critical needs in the state's transportation infrastructure.
The two committee leaders met Tuesday morning with a large group of city and county officials as well as road builders who are in Des Moines to lobby legislators to boost the amount of money available to expand and maintain the state's transportation network. Byrnes cautioned against over-confidence.
Iowa Department of Transportation director Paul Trombino (trahm-BEE-noh) also spoke at the "Transportation Day" event. He offered a point-by-point response to critics of a gas tax hike. Trombino said the state can't cut in other places or shift things around to find enough money to meet the "critical needs" of Iowa's transportation network, plus Trombino warned Iowa's manufacturers will become less competitive if the system isn't updated to reduce congestion in key areas.
And David Rose of Clinton, the chairman of the Iowa Transportation Commission, dismissed the idea of closing some of the state's little-used roads and bridges.
The state's per-gallon tax on motor fuel is deposited in the "Road Use Tax Fund" and, according to the state's constitution, that money must be spent on the state's road system. Key legislators say that's one reason raising the gas tax is emerging as a favored option, since other means of raising money are not constitutionally-protected and, in the future, might be diverted to other uses.
Grassley Tweets Comments Regarding Attorney General Hearing
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senator Chuck Grassley - at 81 years old - is steering the Senate Judiciary Committee into a brave new world.
The Iowa Republican is the first nonlawyer to chair the panel considering the confirmation of Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama's choice for attorney general. But he also may be the committee's first chairman to tweet straight from the podium.
In his debut tweet as chairman Wednesday, Grassley reported that the hearings are "moving right along," adding that, "We must finish even if we go in evening."
Grassley has long been the Senate's most prolific tweeter, boasting often about updating his own account without his staff's help.
The tweet came after Grassley grilled Lynch on immigration policy.
Branstad Receiving Get Well Wishes From Potential Presidential Candidates
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad is getting get-well calls from presidential hopefuls as he recovers from the flu.
Spokesman Jimmy Centers said Wednesday that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker have both called Branstad to wish him well. The governor is recovering from a case of flu and dehydration that sent him to a hospital earlier this week.
Branstad was taken by ambulance to Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines on Monday after he required assistance at a ribbon-cutting event. His public appearances for the week have been cancelled so he can recuperate.
Branstad's personal physician said in a statement that the hospital conducted tests and ruled out other contributing factors, including cardiac issues, for which he's been previously treated.