Judge Rules Thomas Knapp To Face Both Charges During Same Trial
(Le Mars) — District Judge Duane Hoffmeyer has ruled that accused murderer, 83-year old Thomas Knapp of Merrill will stand trial for two charges at the same time. During a hearing held Thursday, Hoffmeyer says Knapp will stand trial for the murder of his step son, and for domestic assault charges on his
wife. Knapp is charged with first-degree murder and willful injury for the May 11th shooting death of Kevin Juzek at their rural Merrill home.
According to court records, Knapp is accused of shooting Juzek in the abdomen and chest with a 20-gauge shotgun. In a separate case, Knapp is charged with willful injury causing bodily injury, domestic abuse assault while using or displaying a dangerous weapon and two counts of first-offense domestic abuse
for striking his wife in the head with a stick and breaking bones in her hand during the same disturbance in which Juzek was killed. Knapp pleaded not guilty to all charges and is scheduled to stand trial on May 11th, the anniversary date of the shooting incident. The trial could be delayed depending on Hoffmeyer’s decision on a defense request to determine Knapp’s
competency to stand trial. That decision to determine if Knapp is competent to stand trial will be made later this month.
Rain And Snow Are Expected For The Weekend As Late Winter Storm Approaches Iowa
(Des Moines) — Tulips and daffodils are already pushing out of the ground and some Iowa cities set record highs in the 70s this week, but evidently winter isn’t done with us yet. Parts of Colorado are getting walloped with a late winter storm this weekend that’s threatening to drop up to four feet of snow, and meteorologist Alex Krull at the National Weather Service in metro Des Moines says Iowa could see the remnants of that system.
The calendar says spring is due to arrive a week from today, but late season snowstorms are always a possibility in Iowa.
The forecast high temperatures for many Iowa cities this weekend are a good 20 to 30 degrees cooler than just a few days ago, so the possible snowfall could catch a few people off guard, especially those optimists who already drained the gas from their snow blowers.
He predicts high temps should be back up around their seasonal highs in the 40s and 50s by midweek.
Grants Made Available For Childcare Start-ups And Existing Facilities
(Des Moines) — More than five dozen Iowa child care facilities are splitting 13 million dollars in grants — and state officials estimate four-thousand more child care slots will open up as a result. The Grundy Community Preschool and Child Care Center in Grundy Center is getting a 97-thousand-500 dollar grant.
That’s Melody Hoy of Eldora. She leads the non-profit that’s worked on the project to restore a former elementary school into a “kids campus” in Grundy Center.
Since then, the only licensed child care program in Grundy Center has operated in the building, along with Y-M-C-A before-and-after-school programs. Hoy’s group is raising money to renovate the entire building, so current tenants will remain and a community day care will be able to move in.
An anonymous donor kicked off the project with a half million dollar donation and Hoy’s group has been fundraising during the pandemic, which she says has been a challenge. The grant for the Grund Center project and the 63 other grants awarded this week come from last year’s state allotment of pandemic relief money. One million went to community projects to START child care facilities. The other 12 million went to new or existing child care centers and can be used to buy equipment and supplies OR for hiring and training staff.
Iowa State University Planning For In-Person Fall Classes
(Ames, IA) — Officials at Iowa State University plan to return to all in-person classes this fall. I-S-U president Wendy Wintersteen sent an e-mail to faculty, staff and students today (Friday) outlining a new normal for the campus community. She says it includes pre-pandemic levels for classes, labs, studios, residences, dining, student activities and events.
Wintersteen’s new normal will be based on wide availability of the COVID vaccine and appropriate health protocols. A committee has been tasked with helping lead the effort for the 2021-2022 school year.
Forest City School Employee Accused Driving Van Drunk With Students Onboard
(Forest City, IA) — A employee of the Forest City School District is accused is of driving a van drunk this morning (Friday) with students onboard. Forty-four-year-old Rebecca Spencer was arrested for speeding in the school van and a state trooper detected the smell of alcohol. Spencer reportedly admitted to drinking last night and a had a blood-alcohol level of
point-2-4-4. She was transporting three children to school at the time and is facing child endangerment charges. The Forest City Community School District said it is fully cooperating with the investigation and the conducted alleged is not tolerated.
Iowa Supreme Court Dismisses Mills County Golf Cart Accident Lawsuit
(Des Moines, IA) — The Iowa Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit involving a golf cart accident in Mills County. Terry Jones was seriously injured after being thrown from a bridge when the golf cart his son Jeff was driving at the Glenwood Golf Course lost control and became wedged into the bridge. Terry reached a settlement for 817-thousand-500 dollars and an ongoing annuity with Jeff’s insurance company that also stipulated Jeff was
no longer liable for any more damages. Terry then sued Glenwood alleging the bridge was unsafe. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Glenwood could not be bound to a settlement agreement it was not part of and that agreement released them
of any liability in the case.
Sioux City Man Apprehended in Alabama Pleads Not Guilty in Fatal Shooting
(Sioux City, IA) — The suspect in a deadly shooting last November in Sioux City is pleading not guilty. Thirty-six-year-old Roderick Banks is charged with the first-degree murder of Solomon Blackbird. Police say Banks fled to Alabama after the shooting and was arrested in that state last month.
Blackbird was with his girlfriend and child when Banks approached them and shot Blackbird in the chest. He died in a Sioux City hospital.
Investigators believe in the incident was drug-related. Banks is scheduled to stand trial May 11th.