Home News KLEM News, Tuesday, September 13

KLEM News, Tuesday, September 13

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KNAPP TRIAL -VERDICT REACHED

A Plymouth County Jury has found 84 year old Thomas Knapp guilty of first degree murder.

The jury took around an hour to reach their verdict in the case of Knapp, who was charged with murder in the shooting death of 51 year old Kevin Juzek, and four other counts involving an assault on Knapp’s wife, Darlene.

Closing arguments took place earlier today.  Prosecutor Darin Raymond’s summation included a replay of the 9-1-1 calls made by Darlene Knapp, who is the mother of the victim.  Raymond also replayed parts of the jail interview done with the defendant.  Raymond said Knapp always hated Juzek, and the evidence he presented buttressed his case that Knapp must be convicted of first degree murder.

Defense attorney Wendy Samuelson’s argument was that Knapps’ actions were in a fit of anger and passion, and warranted not a murder conviction, but voluntary manslaughter.

In addition to the murder conviction, the jury found Knapp guilty of two counts of willful injury, and two counts of domestic abuse.

Knapp will be sentenced next month.  He faces a term of life in prison.

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The trial of Thomas Knapp is in recess, after prosecutor Darin Raymond concluded his closing arguments to the jury this morning.
When the trial resumed this morning, the session began with instructions to the jury from judge James Daane. Then Plymouth County Attorney Raymond began his closing arguments. He summarized the evidence he presented in the case, including the 9-1-1 calls from Knapp’s rural Merrill home, and his jail interview.

After the recess, Knapp’s attorney, Wendy Samuelson, will present her final arguments. Knapp is on trial on a first degree murder charge in the shooting death of Kevin Juzek. He’s also charged with willful injury involving Knapp’s wife, Darlene.

 

PLYMOUTH COUNTY SUPERVISORS

The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors today passed a motion in favor of a petition to the Iowa Utilities Board. The petition, from the Iowa Association of Counties, seeks greater access to information from counties affected by the carbon capture pipelines proposed in the state. Summit Carbon Solutions wants to run a pipeline from Nebraska into Plymouth County, near Merrill, and extend north to Sioux County, on a route west of Le Mars. The Board supports more transparency about the pipeline. The Board supports the pipeline, but does not support any effort to allow eminent domain to cross property to build the line.

SCHOOL BOARD

The Le Mars Community School Board heard annual reports from their school principals and the Superintendent.
Reports form the building principals included data on standardized test score results. Students in the district, from elementary to high school, are scoring above the statewide averages in Math, reading, and science. The Le Mars Schools have set their own goals in those subjects, and in some cases, those goals have been exceeded. Mostly, work continues to bring students up to the goals set in these subjects.
Superintendent Dr. Steven Webner presented his annual report to the board. This document is a summary of activities in the past year, and statistics on the school district itself. Dr Webner highlighted the expansion of the Special Education Program, which has seen steady increases in student numbers over the past nine years. He also pointed out that transportation costs are up 129-thousand dollars over the previous year, due to increases in salary and benefits for drivers, and the cost of fuel. The School lunch fund had its highest ever closing balance, due to federal covid funding. That money has been used for the purchase of new kitchen equipment. This year, the state of Iowa will not provide funding for school lunches, so that balance will diminish.

 

ROCK VALLEY VOTE

Voters in the Rock Valley Community School District are going to the polls today to consider passage of a 25 million dollars bond issue. If approved, the funds will go to construction of a new Rock Valley High School, The 84-thousand square foot expansion will include 24 new classrooms, a new gymnasium, and additional parking. The District has seen an enrollment growth of 50% in the past ten years, to 898 students last year. The Bond issue, if passed, would increase property taxes by 200 dollars per year per 100-thousand dollars valuation. Voting in Rock Valley is open until 8 pm..

 

LOAN FORGIVENESS

Monday, Governor Kim Reynolds, along with 21 other Governors, sent a letter to President Biden vehemently opposing his plan to forgive federal student loans for millions of Americans. Currently, an estimated 16-17% of Americans have federal student loan debt that would be forgiven under the Biden Administration’s plan, shifting the burden of cost to each American taxpayer to the tune of more than $2,000 or $16 billion in total.
The Governors request the President immediately withdraw his student loan plan. You can read the full letter here.

NAVIGATION SEASON

Prolonged drought across the region has pushed the U-S Army Corps of Engineers to lower Missouri River levels from Nebraska City to Kansas City by a full foot. The lower levels will affect boat traffic and could impact municipal water supplies and other utilities that rely on the river. Missouri River Basin Water Management Director John Remus says conditions have been getting worse since the drought first began to emerge in July of 2020. The lower water levels will have an impact on barge traffic this fall, as navigation season will now end on November 28th — three days early. Remus says even prolonged, heavy rains likely wouldn’t make up the difference in low soil moisture levels, as they’ve been so low for so long.

 

NEW K-9 OFFICER

There’s a new K-9 officer in the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department.  Deputy Kyl Petersen is now on patrol with K-9 Zeke, a Belgian Malinois.

Deputy Petersen says he and Zeke have been training together for about a year and a half.

He trains with Zeke by themselves, but also with other K-9 officers

The Belgian Malinois is perfect for law enforcement.

Training Zeke is a team effort.

Deputy Petersen says Zeke has basic certification, passing his patrol trials.

Zeke replaces the Plymouth County Sheriffs Department’s previous canine, which served for nine years with Sgt Jake Wingert.

Sheriff Jeff Te Brink wants to add another K-9 to the force.

 

BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT

Iowa Workforce Development’s new Business Engagement Division is up and running. I-W-D director, Beth Townsend, says they’re hoping it will make it easier for employers to access state resources. Townsend says the workforce system can be a little complex, and it’s scattered over several different areas. The Business Engagement Division is designed to be a “one-stop shop” for Iowa’s employers to help meet their workforce needs, and Townsend says they hope this is a more strategic and more concentrated effort as they head out across the state to meet with business owners. There’s also a new customer service number for employers to call — 1-833-469-2967.

 

REYNOLDS OPPOSES LOAN FORGIVENESS

Monday, Governor Kim Reynolds, along with 21 other Governors, sent a letter to President Biden vehemently opposing his plan to forgive federal student loans for millions of Americans.

Currently, an estimated 16-17% of Americans have federal student loan debt that would be forgiven under the Biden Administration’s plan, shifting the burden of cost to each American taxpayer to the tune of more than $2,000 or $16 billion in total.

The Governors request the President immediately withdraw his student loan plan.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATES

The two candidates for Iowa Attorney General disagree on abortion. Republican Brenna Bird criticized incumbent Tom Miller for not defending the state in two abortion cases. The Democrat Miller says he did the ethical thing by having private attorneys defend abortion restrictions. Miller says he twice got to the situation where he thought he couldn’t zealously represent the state. He says that is only two times out of 40 years he has been in the office. Miller says he’s opposed to “extreme” abortion policies. The two made their comments on the PBS program “Iowa Press”.

 

PANDEMIC FOOD ASSISTANCE

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services says a distribution plan I snow in place for federal Pandemic food assistance benefits for eligible Iowa children under the age of six. The emergency food assistance benefits are available to eligible Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP households with children who were impacted by pandemic-related school changes and closures in their area. Go to the I-H-H-S website to find out more.