Thomas Knapp, the rural Merrill man who was convicted last month of first degree murder in the death of his stepson, was sentenced this afternoon to life in prison.
Knapp was found guilty in the shooting death of 51 year old Kevin Juzek in May, 2020, at Knapp’s home near Merrill.
Knapp was also sentenced to up to ten years for willful injury in Juzek’s death. That will be served concurrently to the life sentence.
Charges against Knapp for injuring his wife, Darlene, in the same incident, brought a sentence of five years in prison. That will be served consecutive to the life sentence.
Knapp was given the opportunity to speak before sentence was handed down. He declined to do so.
Governor Kim Reynolds has appointed Colonel Mark A. Muckey as Deputy Adjutant General for the Iowa Air National Guard. Muckey, a Sioux City native, was selected by Governor Reynolds for his outstanding military achievements and leadership capabilities demonstrated through nearly four decades of military service. Muckey most recently has served as the commander of the 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City. With this appointment, Col. Muckey will be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. Muckey replaces Brigadier General Shawn Ford who retired in early August.
GRASSLEY – FRANKEN DEBATE
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and his Democratic opponent, Mike Franken, met in debate last night. The value of incumbency was the first topic discussed. Grassley will have the most seniority in the Senate if he’s re-elected. He described it as being number one, while Franken would be number 100 if he’s elected. Franken is a retired Navy admiral who has never held elected office. He said he’d be like a young draft pick as a new senator, with vivaciousness and intellect.
RURAL IOWA GRANTS
The Iowa Economic Development Authority announced Thursday that a total of more than $450,000 in grants have been awarded through six Empower Rural Iowa Grant Programs. The grant awards will support rural initiatives spanning from child care and housing to workforce attraction and leadership development in more than 20 counties. The IGNITE Pathways program in Woodbine will leverage Rural Innovation funding towards creation of an automotive maintenance and care training program to address the lack of local options in this field. Iowa Central Community College will use Rural Scale-Up funding to bring the successful career academies model to the western part of their region through the development of a new regional center in Storm Lake. Hartley, in O’Brien County, will receive a 20-thousand dollars grant to install crossings along the trail at US Highway 18. The OkoboTree project is an effort to extend the longevity and beauty of trees in the Iowa Great Lakes through visual art preservation.
The Iowa Utilities Board has denied a request for an environmental impact study for the Summit Carbon Solutions proposed pipeline. The request came from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska — but the I-U-B order says it will consider specific environmental issues it has, and the ones raised by those involved in the Summit Carbon request for the hazardous liquid pipeline permit. The I-U-B statement says a separate environmental impact survey is not required by federal regulations for it to fulfill its statutory requirements in considering the permit.
SLOW HOLIDAY ECONOMY
Creighton Economist Ernie Goss says the problems that have slowed the Midwest economy are going to impact the holiday season as well. He says they asked supply managers who deal with holiday sales about the expected activity as part of the September economic survey. Goss says their response is weak — with about less than a half a percent growth for the holiday season coming up. Goss says there has been a lot of pre-buying as retailers and other companies have built up their inventories in anticipation of supply chain disruptions. That is going to slow things down for the rest of the year.
A 20-year program which Iowa State University launched five years ago to help Monarch butterflies is reporting significant progress, with 430-thousand acres of land already set aside. Nicole Shimp, a program specialist with I-S-U’s Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium, says they’re over 50-percent of the way to the low-end goal of establishing 790-thousand habitat acres in Iowa by 2038. Iowa and other Midwestern states provide a summer breeding ground for the butterflies and almost 40-percent of the overwintering monarchs in Mexico came through Iowa. Studies over the past two decades show the global monarch population has dropped 80 percent.
The Great Plains Zoo and the Butterfly House and Aquarium in Sioux Falls announced a merger yesterday. The move will mean transferring Butterfly House and Aquarium exhibits to a new space at the zoo. Construction plans for the new space are underway. The 25-thousand square foot area is more than double the space of the current building at Sertoma Park. Butterfly House and Aquarium Executive Director Audrey Otto-Pepper says the changes will create a unique experience for visitors.