Category Archives: Local News

Storms cause damage in north-central Iowa

MASON CITY — Numerous areas of north-central Iowa suffered storm damage yesterday afternoon due to high winds from severe thunderstorms. Multiple trees were downed across Cerro Gordo, Worth, Winnebago, Hancock, Mitchell and Floyd counties. There were overturned semis on Interstate 35 near Hanlontown. There was widespread tree damage reported in Osage after 70 to 80 mile per hour winds hit at 5 o’clock. No injuries were reported with the severe storms last night. You can find a full list of the storm-related reports by clicking here

Veal double-homicide case goes to jury today

FORT DODGE — Closing statements are scheduled for this morning in the double-homicide trial of Peter Veal.

The Lake Mills man is accused of shooting Melinda Kavars and stabbing Caleb Christensen 25 times in a home in the 1600 block of North Hampshire Avenue in Mason City on November 17th. The defense rested their portion of the case shortly before noon on Tuesday, with the jury being sent home for the rest of the day so the judge and attorneys for both sides could work on jury instructions.

Closing arguments along with instructions to the jury will start at 9 o’clock this morning at the Webster County Courthouse in Fort Dodge, where the trial was moved due to pre-trial publicity.

Jury sides with ex-Iowa Senate GOP staffer in wrongful termination lawsuit

DES MOINES — A jury has awarded $2.2 million to a woman who says she was fired from her job working for Republicans in the Iowa Senate because she complained about being harassed.

Kirsten Anderson was the communications director for the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus Staff. Her superiors said Anderson was fired for inferior work. She filed a wrongful termination lawsuit. A jury has agreed with the argument that Anderson was fired for complaining about the lewd and sexist behavior she experienced during her five years on the job.

Democratic leader: ‘horrific…unacceptable’ behavior revealed in lawsuit

DES MOINES — The leader of Democrats in the Iowa Senate says he’s shocked by the accounts of sexual harassment that Republican staff in the Iowa Senate say they’ve experienced and witnessed.

A jury has awarded Kirsten Anderson, a former aide to Senate Republicans, $2.2. million for the discrimination and retaliation Anderson says she endured. Anderson argued she was fired in 2013 for complaining about the work environment. Senate Democratic Leader Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids says the trial demonstrated that not everyone in the Iowa Senate complied with anti-harassment policies.

“The initial news reports from day one and day two of the trial is horrific and that behavior is unacceptable,” Hogg says.

Groups petition Iowa to improve animal farm permit process

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A citizen activist group and an environmental organization have filed a petition asking the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to improve the state’s livestock farm permit process.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch say the permit system established 15 years ago fails to give local officials enough control over where large hog, cattle and chicken farms locate.

New law details firings of Iowa public workers for 1st time

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Newly released records show that public employees in Iowa have been fired in recent months for misconduct such as theft, fraud and student mistreatment.

Documents detailing the firings and demotions of public employees have become available under a little-noticed but dramatic change to the Iowa Open Records Act signed by then-Gov. Terry Branstad in February.

Mason City council to set special election for open council seat

MASON CITY — The City Council in Mason City tonight will vote on whether or not to set a special election in September to fill an opening on the council.

Third Ward councilman Brett Schoneman resigned last month because he was moving out of the community. The council is being asked to approve September 19th as the date for a special election to fill the position. The winner of the seat would fill the remaining two-plus years of the unexpired term.

One week to RAGBRAI in Clear Lake (AUDIO)

CLEAR LAKE — RAGBRAI’s stop in Clear Lake is a week away, and local organizers are finalizing things for the event.

Clear Lake RAGBRAI chair Diane Thompson says they are needing volunteers for a variety of things. “We tend to get this toward the end. This is what other host towns are finding as well that finally someone realized we’re having RAGBRAI next Tuesday, and they decide they want to help,” she says. “Or they talk to someone else to do something and they’ll help with that as long as they know someone else is doing it. We’re encouraged. I’m not the least bit concerned. We have our list fairly padded that instead of having two people at that corner, we’ll have one, and we’ll be able to do that. We’re just looking to put on a good show.”

Grassley backs Senate taking up House health care bill

WASHINGTON — Two more Republican U.S. senators announced last night they won’t support the party’s effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the plan isn’t doomed.

Senate leaders intend to bring up the version of a new health care bill that passed in the U.S. House months ago. Grassley, a Republican, was asked if he’d support taking up the House bill.

“The answer is yes, but I don’t know that that’ll be the final vote,” Grassley says. “Right now, all I can repeat for you and the only thing I would want the public to know about is I would vote to proceed to that.”

Reynolds: ‘stop gap’ fix and ‘long-term solution’ needed for Medicaid (AUDIO)

DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds today said she’s submitting policy proposals to Iowa’s congressional delegation as her fellow Republicans in the U.S. Senate consider changes in the nation’s individual insurance markets as well as the future of Medicaid.

“You cannot continue to see the cost of Medicaid go up. It is just taking over state budgets,” Reynolds said. “We have to figure out a way, reasonably and responsibly, to make that happen and still provide the most vulnerable the services that they need. We are expected to do that and we should do that.”

Probation for Mason City woman accused of stealing drugs from nursing homes

OSAGE — A Mason City woman accused of stealing painkillers from patients in Osage and St. Ansgar while working as nurse has been given probation.

33-year-old Keri Martinez was accused of stealing drugs from patients while she was working at the Good Samaritan Center in St. Ansgar and the Osage Rehabilitation and Health Care Center.

Centerville body armor maker featured in White House event

WASHINGTON —- Body armor plates manufactured in Centerville, Iowa, were exhibited in Monday’s “Made in America” event at the White House. RMA Armament CEO Blake Waldrop is featured in a video on the company’s website.

“I started this business to help better protect the end user, my fellow Marines, my fellow police officers,” Waldrop says in the video. “I lost a friend in Iraq January 1, 2005. The same plates that were issued then (to soldiers) are issued now. We got in this business to make a better product, to make a superior product.”

Testimony begins as judge hears challenge of Iowa’s abortion law

DES MOINES — A district court judge has begun hearing the challenge of a new state requirement that women seeking an abortion undergo an ultrasound and then wait 72 hours before the procedure is performed.

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit and got an injunction shortly after the law took effect in May. Jason Burkheiser Reynolds, the manager of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Des Moines, said that when the waiting period was briefly in force, women who had scheduled abortions on that Friday learned they had to wait and schedule another appointment.

‘Life-long Democrat’ Fred Hubbell formally enters race for governor

DES MOINES — A sixth Democrat has officially entered the race for governor. Fred Hubbell, a retired businessman from Des Moines, has been attending candidate forums, but Hubbell released a video message Monday afternoon to formally kick off his campaign.

“I’ve never been a politician. I’ve never run for political office,” Hubbell said in the video. “The only interests that are special to me are the people of Iowa.”

Hubbell’s family has deep roots in Des Moines that date back to the mid-1800s. His great-great-grandfather was a prominent developer of the capital city, founding an insurance company and investing in railroads as well as real estate.

Officials warn potent, dangerous drugs like ‘pink’ now in Iowa

SIOUX CITY — Four of the state’s health and crime-fighting agencies are issuing a public warning about fake but very dangerous pain killers that have popped up in Iowa. Dr. Edward Bottei of the Poison Control Center in Sioux City says they’re made to look like legitimate pills.

“These counterfeit tablets that have been made are containing powerful illicit synthetic opioids like fentanyl and fentanyl derivatives that have been known to cause deaths when taken inadvertently or taken in overdose,” he says.

Mason City murder suspect waives right to speedy trial, wants delay in trial start date

MASON CITY — A Mason City man accused of the stabbing death of another man earlier this year has waived his right to a speedy trial, meaning his trial likely won’t start next month.

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. Todd died on June 4th while being treated at Mercy-North Iowa in Mason City.

Plea change hearing delayed in Central Springs booster club theft

MANLY — The plea change hearing for a Nora Springs woman accused of stealing over $9000 from the Central Springs High School Athletic Booster Club has been postponed.

37-year-old Autumn Dillavou was charged in January with third-degree theft after she allegedly stole $9334 from the club from May through December 2016. A criminal complaint states that other club members had discovered the money missing from the club’s bank account over a period of six to seven months.

Dates set for Iowa Syngenta trials

DES MOINES — Trial dates are now set for next year in Iowa and six other states in class action lawsuits targeting agri-business giant Syngenta.

Numerous suits are filed over the release of Viptera corn without Chinese import approval. Iowa State University ag law specialist Kristine Tidgren says the next big trial is next month.

“We have a Minnesota class action for farmers from Minnesota but we also have consolidated up there about 60,000 individual claims from farmers who had individual representation,” Tidgren says. “That’s going to be the next big verdict, I think, that we hear.”

Iowans reflect on visit to Kosovo

FORT DODGE — A delegation of about 20 Iowans has returned from what they describe as a good will mission to the European nation of Kosovo.

Iowa Central Community College president Dan Kinney says he envisions a host of opportunities after the visit. Kinney says, “I really learned a lot about the country, what’s happening over there and how we can continue to build the sister city-state relationship between the state of Iowa and the country of Kosovo.”

Surge in seniors filling out federal financial aid forms

DES MOINES — There’s been a more than eight percent increase in the number of Iowa high school seniors who’ve completed the forms to determine if they qualify for federal financial aid. Elizabeth Keest Sedrel of the Iowa College Aid Commission is monitoring the data about the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” — commonly called the FAFSA.

“What we’re seeing both in Iowa and around the country is a definite uptick in the number of high school seniors who are filling out the FAFSA,” she says. “And this is really, really good news because, for one thing, we know that students who file that FAFSA are more likely to go to college and we are working really hard on pushing college attainment rates up in Iowa.”

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