Home News Friday News, July 16th

Friday News, July 16th


Senator Ernst Visits With Local Law Enforcement 

(Le Mars) — Republican U-S Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa made a visit to Le Mars Friday morning as part of her 99-county tour. Ernst met with Le Mars Police Chief, Kevin Vande Vegt; Plymouth County Sheriff, Jeff TeBrink; Chief Deputy Rick Singer, Plymouth County Supervisor, Mike Van Otterloo; Le Mars Mayor, Dick Kirchoff; and State House Representative Dr. Tom Jeneary. Ernst inquired about the conditions facing local law enforcement agencies following last year’s George Floyd incident at Minneapolis which sparked several nationwide protests and riots against law enforcement agencies.

US Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa (R) is seen visiting with members of the local law enforcement as she made a stop in Le Mars on Friday morning.  Pictured from far right and going counter clock-wise is Plymouth County Chief Deputy, Rick Singer; Le Mars Police Chief, Kevin Vande Vegte; and Plymouth County Sheriff, Jeff TeBrink.  Standing in the background are former Plymouth County Sheriff and now County Supervisor, Mike Van Otterloo; and Le Mars Police Sergeant Dan Plueger.  Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff is listening to the conversation at the doorway.

Ernst asked if the crime wave seen in larger metropolitan cities is beginning to infiltrate into smaller Iowa communities?

One area of discussion that involved everyone was the situation involving mental health patients, and what can be done. Sheriff Jeff TeBrink and Chief Kevin Vande Vegte both expressed an interest in seeing additional hospital beds dedicated for mental health patients. Too many times, law enforcement officials are called to deal with a mental health patient, and many times the only option is to place the individual inside a jail facility. During her time with the news media, Ernst commented on the situation in Afghanistan, and the recent announcement by President Joe Biden to completely remove all American troops out of Afghanistan by late August. Ernst, a past military combat veteran and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee stated she thinks it will be a mistake to leave the troubled region.

The Iowa Senator explains why it is still important that the United States have a constant presence in Afghanistan.




Defense Attorneys Claim Tibbetts’ Murder Could Be Linked to Missing Montezuma Boy

(Montezuma, IA) — A judge says he’ll rule by tomorrow (Friday) whether attorneys for the man convicted of killing Mollie Tibbetts can access state investigation records in two other cases. Lawyers for Cristhian Bahena Rivera say they have witnesses who claim two other men were responsible for
Tibbetts’ 2018 murder. Attorney Jennifer Frese suggested there may be a link with the case of a missing 11-year-old boy from Montezuma. Frese said, “three people have vanished out of thin air in this small rural county: Mollie Tibbetts, Xavior Harrelson, and the woman that reported being abducted in May of 2018 and being sex trafficked.” Prosecutor Scott Brown says Bahena’s attorneys are on a fishing expedition with no evidence to support
the confusing story they told Thursday in court. Brown said he
offered to stop the trial in May after learning two people had claimed to have heard another man confess he was the one who killed Tibbetts, but Bahena’s attorneys declined. The judge plans to hold a hearing on July 27th to consider defense motions for a new trial.




Victims in Deadly Muscatine County Plane Crash Were Missouri Couple

(Muscatine, MO) — The victims in a deadly plane crash in southeast Iowa’s Muscatine County are identified as a couple from southwest Missouri. Sixty-eight-year-old Daniel and 69-year-old Sharon Slack of El Dorado Springs were flying Wednesday afternoon when their plane went down in a rural field near Highway 38. The Slack’s bodies were later found in the wreckage. The F-A-A’s preliminary report shows the planed crashed under unknown circumstances at 2:38 p-m Wednesday. The Muscatine County Sheriff’s Office says Quad City Air Traffic Control reported it lost contact with a private plane that was
traveling from Missouri to Michigan. F-A-A investigators are expected at the scene Thursday.




Republicans Who May Run For President Attend Iowa Gathering Of Conservatives

(Des Moines, IA) — Several Republicans with high national profiles will speak today (Friday) at the Family Leader’s annual summit. Some of those speakers could wind up running for president. Taking the podium will be former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats says Pence, Pompeo and Noem were invited because they have spent less time communicating with Iowa evangelical voters. The Family Leader conservative Christian group plays an important role in Republican presidential politics.




Adventureland Raft In Fatal Accident Had Been Pulled From Service Earlier

(Des Moines, IA) — The Adventureland Raft involved in a fatal accident two weeks ago had reportedly been pulled from service earlier the same day. The Des Moines Register reports it was one of several rafts that had been pulled because the bladders that kept them afloat had deflated. An accident involving that raft cost 11-year-old Michael Jaramillo his life. Records show the raft was repaired and put back into service about an hour and 45
minutes before the fatal accident. An attorney for the amusement park, Guy Cook, says Adventureland wants to get to the bottom of what happened, but the problems that took the raft out of service wouldn’t explain why it capsized.
Cook says it almost 40 years of launching tens of thousands of the boat, not one had ever capsized before.




Number Of Iowa Abortions Jumps 14% In 2020

(Des Moines, IA) — Data from the Iowa Department of Public Health shows the number of abortions in the state increased by almost 14 percent last year. Iowa had experienced years of steady declines in abortions before 2019. That year they were up by 25 percent. The numbers were shared with legislative staff members Thursday by the state health department. The
reversal in abortion numbers came after Iowa withdrew from a federally-funded family planning program in 2017. It also comes as the Legislature has passed a series of laws aimed at limiting abortions in the state.




DNR Finds Black Water Entering SW Iowa Creek

(Chillicothe, IA) — The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has found black water entering a creek in Wapello County. Staff members traced the contamination to a trucking operation in Chillicothe. The company’s owner told the D-N-R he was land-applying wastewater from the city of Osceola’s treatment plant. The company was told to stop the operation. Water samples
from the creek will be analyzed, but state investigators said they didn’t see any dead fish in the creek. People are being advised to keep children, pets, and livestock away from the creek for 24-to-48 hours after the discharge stops.




State Casino Revenue Hits Highest Mark Ever For Fiscal Year

(Des Moines, IA) — Iowa’s state-licensed casinos saw a post-pandemic surge and set a record for the fiscal year that ended in June. Racing and Gaming Administrator Brian Ohorilko says gross revenue was more than one-and-a-half billion dollars. Ohorilko says the adjusted gross receipts this last fiscal year were our highest to date. He says with many entertainment venues still not open — people visited one of the 19 casinos in record numbers. The gross revenue is 412 million dollars more than the previous fiscal year, and attendance was up by more than 860-thousand compared to the year before when
there were pandemic shutdowns. The news comes on the heels of the the Iowa Lottery setting a revenue record through May with the June numbers still remaining to be tallied for their fiscal year.




Ex-Mental Health Counselor Pleads Guilty to Sex With Cedar Rapids Student

(Cedar Rapids, IA) — A former mental health counselor in the Cedar Rapids Community School District is pleading guilty to enticement of a minor.
Forty-six-year Miranda Breeden of Monticello admitted she engaged in a sexual relationship with a 14-year old boy she was counseling at a Cedar Rapids school. Investigators located multiple Facebook messages between Breeden and the 14-year old, wherein Breeden arranged to meet the child for sex.
Investigators determined also that Breeden went to a store in Cedar Rapids and purchased a gun for the 14-year old. She faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison once a sentencing date has been set.




National Weather Service Confirms 26 Tornadoes in Iowa Wednesday

(Des Moines, IA) — The National Weather Service says Wednesday’s tornado outbreak was the third-largest in Iowa history. Des Moines Meteorologist Brook Hagenhoff initially said their were 12 tornadoes in central and western Iowa, and that number didn’t includes areas covered by the N-W-S offices in Davenport and La Crosse. Hagenhoff says the new combined tally is a preliminary total of 26 tornadoes statewide. She says the northeast had two tornadoes and then another 12 occurred across southeast Iowa. The total number may actually rise further in the days ahead as the agency coordinates with emergency managers across Iowa and studies high-resolution satellite photos. Hagenhoff says the strongest twister was an EF-3 in Lake City that had wind speeds between 136 and 145 miles an hour. Despite the widespread outbreak of severe storms, no serious injuries were reported.




Iowa Unemployment Rate Ticks Up a Tenth to 4% in June

(Des Moines, IA) — The state’s unemployment rate increased by a tenth of a point to four percent in June. Iowa employers added 39-hundred jobs last month. The private sector gained 13-hundred jobs due to hiring in leisure and hospitality and trade and transportation while government added 26-hundred positions. The total number of Iowans working went up by 38-hundred and 24-hundred unemployed people are searching for jobs. Iowa Workforce Development director Beth Townsend said, “despite an increase in the unemployment rate, the overall trends are positive including the regular increase in the number of Iowans working and looking for work.” Townsend says there are more than 70-thousand job openings in the state.




Linn County Deputy Halverson Receiving $10K ‘Injured First Responder’ Grant

(Cedar Rapids, IA ) – – The Linn County Sheriff’s deputy shot by an armed robber at a Casey’s General Store in Coggon is getting a ten-thousand-dollar grant. The Running 4 Heroes organization is awarding its July “Injured First Responder” grant to Deputy William Halverson. He was shot several times by a Chicago man June 21st and released from the hospital last week. Zechariah Cartledge with “Running 4 Heroes” will present the grant to Deputy Halverson later this month. The two met when Deputy Halverson acted as an escort for Cartledge when he came to eastern Iowa on June 11th for a “Running 4 Heroes” event. He was running in honor of the two Anamosa prison workers killed in March.




Iowans Can Enter Lottery To Purchase Field Of Dream Game Tickets

(Dyersville, IA) — Iowans will have a chance to become eligible for tickets to next month’s Major League Baseball game at the Field of Dreams movie site through a lottery. Anyone with an Iowa zip code can register for the lottery starting today (Friday) at M-L-B-dot-com. The lottery runs through next Friday and winners will be announced on August 2nd. Winners will be eligible to purchase up to two tickets to the game. The August 12th game features the White Sox against the Yankees.