Home News Friday News, April 16th

Friday News, April 16th


Local Law Enforcement Officers To Attend Iowa State Patrol Trooper’s Funeral

(Des Moines) — Funeral services for Iowa State Patrol trooper Sergeant Jim Smith are scheduled for today, at the Independence High School. Smith was killed during the line of duty when he was shot to death last Friday evening while pursuing a fugitive near Grundy Center. Governor Reynolds addressed the incident during her weekly news conference held Wednesday.

Several law enforcement personnel from across the state, and the nation, will travel to eastern Iowa to attend the Iowa State Patrol trooper’s funeral. Rick Singer, the Chief Deputy of the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office will be a part of the honor guard. Representative from Sioux, Cherokee, Woodbury and Plymouth County Sheriff’s Offices are all planning to attend the funeral, and Le Mars Police Chief Kevin Vande Vegte says he is hoping to send a representative from the Le Mars Police Department. Governor Reynolds has requested that all flags be flown at half-staff today from sunrise to sunset in honor of Iowa State Patrol trooper Jim Smith.




Iowa Department Of Public Health Teams Up With ISU Extension And Outreach And University of Iowa To Offer Seminars About COVID Vaccinations

(Des Moines) — Iowa Director of Health and Human Services, Kelly Garcia, informed the news media during Governor Kim Reynolds weekly news conference on Wednesday that the state agency is teaming up with the University of Iowa and Iowa State University Extension to help provide information regarding COVID vaccinations. Garcia says to help provide Iowans with the information they need to make decisions about their health, The Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and University of Iowa are partnering to host a series of live, virtual information sessions on COVID-19 vaccinations. Garcia says the state now needs to move in the direction to advise and inform those people who are still undecided as to whether or not to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot.

The on-line vaccine sessions are scheduled for April 17th at 10:00 a.m., April 19th at 6:00 p.m., and a hispanic speaking session is scheduled for April 24th at 10:00 a.m. Director Garcia tells of the format for the online sessions.

Garcia says there isn’t any registration or fees associated with the online sessions, and people can participate by logging on to www.iowacovidinfo.org. Garcia says the vaccines remain the most powerful tool to turn the page on the pandemic.




Gehlen Catholic Ball Scheduled For Saturday

(Le Mars) — Saturday evening, beginning at 7:00 p.m. will be the Gehlen Catholic Ball, however, with concerns with COVID, this year’s event will be held virtually on-line. Amy Jungers serves as the Development Director for Gehlen Catholic and says the evening will actually begin with a barbecue meal from the Iowa B-B-Q.

Serving of the meal will be between 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. People with tickets are given a half-hour window to pick up their meals, and to help space out the serving of the meals. Jungers says meal tickets are priced at $125 which is good for two meals. The online portion of the Gehlen Ball will name the Peter Gehlen Spirit Award recipient. Jungers says this year there will be two people named to make up from last year when the Gehlen Ball was cancelled due to the COVID virus.

As with every Gehlen Ball there is a fund raising auction, which according to Jungers has already begun.

The Gehlen Catholic Development Director says this year’s auction features many unique and interesting items to be sold.

This year’s Ball marks the 34th time for the Gehlen Catholic Fund Raising Ball.




Flags To Fly At Half-Staff For Fallen Iowa State Trooper

(Des Moines, IA) — Governor Kim Reynolds has ordered all flags in the state to fly at half-staff today (Friday) to honor fallen Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith. He is to be buried in Independence today (Friday). Under Reynolds’ order, flags at the State Capitol and within the Capitol complex, as well as flags on all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout Iowa will be lowered from sunrise to sunset. The governor is encouraging individuals, businesses, schools, local governments, and municipalities to follow suit. The 51-year-old Smith, a 27-year law enforcement veteran, was fatally wounded during a standoff in Grundy Center last week.




Six Out-Of-State Security Experts To Review Conditions At Anamosa State Penitentiary

(Anamosa, IA) — The Iowa Department of Corrections says six out-of-state security experts will visit the Anamosa State Penitentiary and investigate the murders of two prison workers. The external investigation team includes six members from Minnesota and South Dakota. They will review the conditions at the prison where corrections officer Robert McFarland and nurse Lorena Schulte were beaten to death. They will examine security policies and procedures, then make recommendations on how the prison can improve safety and security. McFarland and Schulte were killed during an unsuccessful escape attempt three weeks ago.




$11.5 Million in Relief Funds For Mental Health in Schools, Community College Training

(Des Moines, IA) — Governor Kim Reynolds says the state will use 11-and-a-half-million dollars in federal relief funds to support mental health services in schools and expand community college programs. Reynolds said, “while the true cost of this pandemic is yet unknown, we’re already aware of the devastating mental health effects on our young people.” Nearly three-million dollars in grants will go to community colleges for the GAP Tuition Assistance Program. It is aimed at helping more Iowans whose jobs were impacted by the pandemic to enroll in short-term training for jobs in high-demand fields like advanced manufacturing, commercial truck driving, information technology, health care and welding.




Iowa Not Likely to Pass Hands-Free Driving Law This Year

(Des Moines, IA) — Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley says it is unlikely the 2021 legislature will vote to make it illegal to drive while handling a smartphone. Grassley says some of the questions House Republicans raised haven’t been answered about the enforcement of a hands-free law. Twenty-six states have laws that ban drivers from using a cell phone behind the wheel. It is illegal to text while driving in Iowa, but they cannot be ticketed for talking on a handheld phone. Former Governor Terry Branstad urged legislators to pass a law in 2015, but it failed that year and in every session since. Public safety officials in Minnesota say their hands-free driving law reduces fatalities and injuries caused by distracted driving.




Senate Democratic Leaders Proposes Changes For Future Recounts

(Des Moines, IA) — Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls says now that Rita Hart has conceded Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District race to Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, disparities exposed by the recount in that race can be addressed. Wahls says it’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together to make some bipartisan changes to how recount elections are handled in Iowa. Hart dropped her request for a U-S House review of the race she lost by just six out of 400-thousand votes. Wahls says one priority should be letting counties have more than three members on a recount board. Hart’s campaign claimed at least 22 legally cast ballots were not counted. Wahls is recommending that future recount boards be allowed to review all ballots cast, not just the ballots that were included in the initial count. He also said legislators should get rid of the early December deadline for a panel of judges to complete any requested review of a recount.




Man Charged in Killing of Mollie Tibbets Make Pretrial Appearance

(Montezuma, IA) — The man accused in the 2018 killing of Mollie Tibbetts from Brooklyn appeared in Poweshiek County court Thursday for a pretrial conference. Cristhian Rivera’s case has been delayed several times during the pandemic. Plans for his upcoming murder trial were outlined today. It is scheduled to begin May 17th in Scott County with two days of jury selection followed by opening statements. Rivera is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 20-year-old Tibbetts. She disappeared while jogging in July of 2018 and Rivera led investigators to her body in August. The trial was moved to Davenport due to pretrial publicity.




Closing Arguments Set For Today In Triple-Murder Case

(Des Moines, IA) — The man accused of killing a mother and her two children took the stand Thursday to say it was a case of self-defense. Closing arguments are scheduled for today (Friday) in the triple-murder case against Marvin Esquivel Lopez. He took the stand Thursday to say he had just returned from a hard day of work in July 2019 when he found a gun pointed at his face. He told the court 29-year-old Rosie Flores-Rodriguez was holding the gun and was angry, saying she was going to kill him. Esquivel-Lopez says he took the gun away from her and shot her. His wife had already told the court a different story.




Davenport Home Daycare Operator Charged In Death Of 5-Month-Old Girl

(Davenport, IA) — A 56-year-old Davenport home daycare operation has been charged with the death of a five-month-old girl who was in her care. Angela Marxen was charged Thursday with first-degree murder, child endangerment resulting in death, and a misdemeanor. Le Claire police were called to a home for an “infant in distress” on February 5th. The girl was unresponsive with labored breathing. She was airlifted to an Iowa City hospital where she died four days later. Maxen was the only daycare provider present. An autopsy revealed the victim had suffered head injuries.