Category Archives: Local News

FBI says man in custody is “AK-47 Bandit”, robbed Mason City credit union

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Authorities say a Montana man accused of shooting at a Kansas state trooper is a bank robber dubbed “the AK-47 bandit” by the FBI.

Stephen Woolery, special agent in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, said Tuesday that Richard Gathercole of Roundup, Montana, was arrested last week in Lexington, Nebraska.

Gathercole is suspected of committing six bank robberies and an attempted bank robbery in California, Washington, Idaho, Nebraska and here in Mason City. Court documents show that Gathercole is accused of stealing $126-thousand from the Iowa Heartland Credit Union on July 28th 2015 after informing tellers that he had a “pressure bomb”.

Mason City man pleads not guilty to murder charge

MASON CITY — A Mason City man charged in a fatal stabbing that took place late last month has pleaded not guilty.

20-year-old Braedon Bowers is accused of stabbing 23-year-old Wraymond Todd during an incident at 325 West State Street on May 30th. Bowers was arrested in Britt the next day after he was spotted in a vehicle. Todd died on June 4th at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in Mason City, where he had been taken for treatment after the assault.

DeCosters ordered to prison

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A father and son whose north-central Iowa-based egg production company caused a massive 2010 salmonella outbreak have exhausted their appeals and a federal judge has ordered them to begin serving prison sentences.

Peter DeCoster, 53, must report to the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota after July 30 and his 83-year-old father Austin “Jack” DeCoster must serve his three-month term at the Federal Correctional Institution in Berlin, New Hampshire, 30 days after Peter is released.

Second death reported from Algona house fire

ALGONA — There’s been a second death from last week’s house fire in Algona.

69-year-old Karen Lierley of Algona died last Friday at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, where she had been transferred after initially being taken to the Kossuth County Regional Medical Center.

Firefighters were called to 211 Brookridge shortly after 2:30 on the morning of June 20th. 29-year-old Jessica Southard of Des Moines was pronounced dead at the scene. 63-year-old Patrice Lierley of Des Moines has been treated and released.

Minnesota producer says Iowa’s medical marijuana law too restrictive

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA — Iowa’s new medical marijuana law takes effect Saturday and a Minnesota cannabis producer says it may face some issues as his business is not yet profitable two years into that state’s program.

Andrew Bachman is a medical doctor and CEO of Leafline Labs. He says Minnesota’s law creates a more sustainable business climate, in part because Iowa’s law limits the THC content of medical cannabis.

“Not only does Minnesota have almost twice the size of population, we also do not have limitations in what we can create as medicine here in Minnesota,” Bachman says. “So it ends up being a much broader program in that regard.”

Mountain lion shot near Galva after calves killed

GALVA — A mountain lion was shot and killed in northwest Iowa Tuesday morning.

Vince Evelsizer, with the Department of Natural Resources, says a DNR law enforcement officer took the action after the large cat was spotted on a property near Galva in Ida County.

“This cat was put up into a tree by a farmer’s dog relatively close to their farmhouse, within 50 yards from the front yard,” Evelsizer said. The mountain lion weighed 88 pounds and was likely 2 to 3 years old, according to Evelsizer. The animal is suspected of killing three calves late last week.

Today marks 22 years since Huisentruit disappeared

MASON CITY — Today marks 22 years since the disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit. The former KIMT anchor was abducted outside her apartment in the early morning hours of June 27th 1995. Police found her car, blood, other personal belongings and evidence of a struggle in the parking lot.

Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley in a written statement released this morning says Huisentruit’s disappearance remains an active investigation and his department remains committed to solving the case. He says the department knows many people across the state and nation have taken a special interest in Huisentruit’s disappearance and they are optimistic that those efforts will continue to keep the case in front of the community.

Mason City home invasion suspect turns himself in

MASON CITY — The second of three suspects accused of being involved in a home invasion has turned himself in to authorities.

Mason City police accused three men of breaking into a home in the 1000 block of East State Street at about noon on March 27th, holding down an occupant of the home and stealing a safe containing money.

19-year-old Devon Reckner of Mason City was arrested four days later and charged with first-degree robbery and possession of burglar tools. Police issued an arrest warrant for first-degree robbery for 18-year-old Austin Hasfjord of Clear Lake, with Hasfjord turning himself in at the Cerro Gordo County Jail at about 7 o’clock on Monday night.

Semi overturns, kills hogs near Ventura

VENTURA — A semi full of hogs overturned Monday night south of Ventura, killing about a third of its load.

The Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Department says they were called out shortly before 10 o’clock to the 1000 block of 210th Street after a semi left the roadway while trying to turn from Apple Avenue east onto 210th Street, causing it to overturn on its side. The semi had a fully loaded trailer containing about 150 hogs, with about 50 being killed in the accident. The semi and trailer were a total loss.

The driver, Luis Valle of Ankeny, was not injured. Valle was cited for failure to maintain control.

Grassley still uncommitted on Senate’s health care bill

WASHINGTON — Iowa’s U-S Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley are releasing noncommittal statements about the Senate’s version of the health care bill. Neither have expressed whether they’re leaning toward voting for or against the proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act.

Grassley says he’s getting many hundreds of email, calls and letters from Iowans about the legislation. “I’m still continuing to study this 144-page draft bill over the next few days and I hope we make a decision this week,” Grassley says, “but if we don’t, then I’m going to have another couple weeks to study the 144-page bill.”

U.S. ag secretary to join Branstad in Beijing to promote U.S. beef

WASHINGTON — The U.S. secretary of agriculture and U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad, the former Iowa governor, will meet in Beijing Friday for a ceremony “to formally mark the return of U.S. beef to the Chinese market.”

According to the U.S.D.A., Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue will arrive in China with a shipment of beef from the Greater Omaha Packing Company. The beef is from cattle that were raised in Nebraska. Perdue and Branstad plan to cut into a piece of prime rib at the ceremony in Beijing.

DEVELOPING STORY — “AK-47 Bandit” who robbed Mason City credit union may be in custody

MASON CITY — The “AK-47 Bandit” who robbed a Mason City credit union two years ago and committed other crimes in Nebraska and the western United States may be in custody.

In 2012 and 2014, a man the FBI called the “AK-47 Bandit” robbed several banks, as well as shot and wounded a police officer in Chino California. 39-year-old Richard Gathercole was arrested last week in Dawson County Nebraska after allegedly firing shots from an AK-47 rifle at a Kansas state trooper.

Governor says budget won’t impact state parks for July 4th

DES MOINES — This is the final week of the current state budget year and Governor Kim Reynolds says she’s keeping an eye on the bottom line, knowing there is going to be a budget shortfall brought on by lower than expected state revenues.

“We’re continuing to monitor it every day. It fluctuates daily as we monitor not only revenues, but expenditures going out,” Reynolds says. “We won’t be making a final decision until September 30th when the accrual period ends. We will have to wait up until that time until we know what strategy we will have to use.”

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources director had indicated the budget shortage might force the department to close some state Parks. Reynolds was asked Monday during here weekly meeting with reporters if those heading out for the Fourth of July would see any closed signs at state parks.

“Nope, nope, they are going to be open and we encourage families across the state to get out and enjoy the wonderful state parks that we have right here in the state of Iowa,” Reynolds says.

State Auditor: budget in good shape, more info needed on tax credits, abatement

DES MOINES — State Auditor Mary Mosiman says the governor and legislators are doing some good things with the state budget, but says there are some challenges ahead. Mosiman released her review of the budget Monday.

“Our budget is balanced, we are doing very well in adhering to sound budgeting principles — which is essential for government entities –the deviations that we have are minimal,”according to Mosiman. “We have practically eliminated using one-time revenue sources for ongoing expenditures. The multi-year accelerated financial commitments have expired. And we are doing a better job of using the best estimates available in the budget.”

Mosiman, who is a Republican, had praise for the handling of the drop in revenue when the state tax collections came in below the forecast revenue.

Program offers money toward a down payment for new homeowners

DES MOINES — A new state program offers help with the downpayment for those looking to buy a home. The #OwnItIowa program was laid out during the governor’s weekly news conference.

The Iowa Finance Authority and the Iowa Association of REALTORS® are sponsors for the program which offers $1,500 in closing cost assistance with conventional loans. Iowa Finance Authority Executive Director Dave Jamison says it also offers $5,000 dollars in assistance for eligible service members and veterans, and the chance for anyone to win $2,500 in cash.

“If you add all that up — they check all the right boxes — it’s possible that someone could get up to $9,000 in home ownership assistance. And often times that is the primary barrier to home ownership,” Jamison says. Jamison says they’ve worked to meet the needs of both low and middle income Iowans, and they might be surprised that they are eligible for assistance.

Man credited with transforming African agriculture wins World Food Prize

DES MOINES — The Iowa-based World Food Prize will be presented this year to a man who’s credited with expanding food production in Nigeria and transforming African agriculture.

World Food Prize President Kenneth Quinn revealed the prize’s 46th laureate Monday at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

Akinwumi Adesina is the current President of the African Development Bank. Earlier in his career, Adesina served as Vice President of AGRA.

Quinn said, during Adesina’s tenure with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Adesina led an effort to increase the availability of credit for farmers across the continent.

Diverse Iowa delegation is on diplomatic mission to Kosovo

DES MOINES — Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture is in Kosovo, leading an Iowa delegation that also includes representatives from business, education and sports. Secretary Bill Northey is being joined by a number of representatives from higher education, including the presidents of Des Moines Area Community College and Iowa Central Community College.

Mason City men indicted on federal meth dealing charges

CLEAR LAKE — Two Mason City men have been indicted on federal drug dealing charges.

33-year-old Matthew Query and 30-year-old Ronald Frank each have been charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver. The federal indictment alleges the pair have been conspiring with each other and other individuals since 2012 to distribute methamphetamine.

Five years for Clear Lake man accused of running over and dragging bicyclist

CLEAR LAKE — It’s five years in prison for a Clear Lake man who ran over a bicyclist last year.

Clear Lake police accused 36-year-old Nicholas Horst of being high on drugs when he hit 47-year-old Gary Beach in the 2200 block of Main Avenue last September 27th. Authorities say Beach was dragged more than 150 feet.

Horst pleaded guilty in March to the charge of serious injury by vehicle. Besides the five year sentence issued on Monday, Horst was also ordered to pay restitution. An exact amount will be set at a later date.

Ernst says Medicaid coverage is part of discussion on Senate health plan

DES MOINES — Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, says she is still reviewing the Senate health care bill that was unveiled Thursday. She was asked at an event what she would say to Iowans who are afraid they would lose their Medicaid coverage under the bill.

“I would say we’re still going through this bill, we’ll have some lengthy discussions, but I wouldn’t say we are losing it. We do need to go through the bill — but we want to make sure Iowans are protected,” Ernst says. She says Medicaid will be part of the discussion when they return to work on Monday.

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