Area News Stories


LOCAL NEWS

RELAY FOR LIFE OF MAHASKA COUNTY 2015 ANNOUNCED

We are excited to announce the details for Relay For Life of
Mahaska County. This event will be held March 21st, 2015 at the
Penn Central Mall in Oskaloosa, Iowa, from 2:00 p.m. to 10 p.m.
There is something for everyone to do at this year’s event!
The theme this year is “Rockin’ For A Cure”. We plan to have a
rockin’ good time in store for all of our participants and their guests!

Why should you sign up for Relay For Life?
★FREE and easy registration, with ability to sign up through social media!
★FUN for the whole family with many activities for all ages!
★FANTASTIC opportunity to meet new people and support a great cause!
★FREE T-shirt when you raise $100!
★FUNdraiser challenges between your family and friends!

How do you sign up?
1. Go to www.relayforlife.org/mahaskacountyia
2. Create an account using email or Facebook.
3. Answer a few short questions
Like us on Facebook for more information! Relay For Life of Mahaska County
If you are having trouble getting registered, have questions, or would like to be
involved more, please contact us at mahaskarelay4life@gmail.com.


SCHOOL BOARD HEARS REPORT ON UPWARD BOUND AND PROGRAM

Students enrolled in a successful student program and those considered at risk to drop out were a partial focus of Monday's Oskaloosa School Board meeting. 
Kelly Kowzan of Central College spoke to the board about the long-standing Upward Bound program. The Pella-based college has been associated with the Oskaloosa School District in providing additional educational opportunities for many years.
Two of the programs provided by Central currently include about 112 in the ETS program and 17 in the Upward Bound program. Upward Bound provides high school students with the opportunity to prepare for college and pick up college credit.
Kowzan said that the Upward Program has a school year program and a six-week summer program.
“Our grant allows us to work with six schools. Des Moines, North, East and Lincoln, along with Oskaloosa, Pella and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont are the schools we can provide the program to.”
One of the programs, Education Talent Search, has 71 students at the high school and 31 at the middle school. The Upward Bound has 17 high school students from Oskaloosa involved.
Kowzan said that the six-week summer program includes a two-week session here in Oskaloosa. Students from Pella and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont attend the session, which includes class time, community involvement and project based geared toward a study trip to a major city such as Chicago.
The remaining weeks are resident-based at Central’s campus. The day includes activities, classes and project-based study from early morning until late evening. Students may receive college credit and receive preparation for the ACT exam.

The board approved the hiring of Rebecca Williams as the food service manager for the middle school. Long-time employee Judy Mitchell will retire in mid-January. Williams will receive an annual salary of $17,500.

The board heard a report from curriculum director Dr. Mary Cooksley regarding an application for funding for dropout prevention. The application goes to the School Board Review Committee for consideration. If the application is approved by SBRC the district could tax for the funds if necessary. The application is for $621,961.
Cooksley said there are 129 students who are considered at-risk within the allowable growth parameters. She indicated there are significantly more students at-risk, but do not meet these requirements.

Superintendent Russ Reiter stated that at a meeting of Little Hawkeye Conference leaders it was determined the conference will make a formal request to Indianola to join the conference. If Indianola would agree they could be included into a number of activities soon, but athletic participation may not begin until the 2016-17 year due to current contracts.

In other business:
Heard presentation from district administrators on their professional learning community activities.
Approved second reading of board policy 507.9, which includes guidelines for wellness. Passed 5-2 with President Carl Drost and member Nik Rule voting against.
Approved second reading of board policy 600 series. Most of the changes were due to the change from number of days to the number of hours in a school year.

Next meeting will be Monday Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.


ELDON MAN CHARGED IN AUGUST MURDER

At approximately 7:16 a.m., Monday August 11th, 2014 the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call of a death at 529 W. Elm St., Eldon, Iowa which is the Main Street Bait Shop in Eldon. A male who was identified as Darrell Teeter, age 64 of 529 W. Elm St., Eldon was found deceased. 

An autopsy was performed at the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner on the body of Darrell Teeter on August 12, 2014, by Dr. Dennis Klein. The manner of death was certified as a Homicide. Mr. Teeter died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head.

At approximately 1:00p.m. Monday November 24th, 2014 Wapello County Sheriff’s Deputies and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agents took Ricky Edgar Conrad Davidson Age 24 of 804 Church St. Eldon, Iowa into custody in connection with the crime. Davidson has been charged with Murder in the 1st Degree and Burglary in the 1st Degree as a result of the investigation. Davidson is being held in the Wapello County Jail and bail has been set at $525,000.00 Cash Only by Magistrate Erhardt.

This investigation has been conducted by the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Crime Lab Team. 


OSKALOOSA POLICE INVESTIGATE HOME INVASION

On Sunday November 16, 2014 at approximately 7:41p.m., Officers were dispatched to 501 South B Street in Oskaloosa in reference to a report of a home invasion. Officers were informed that the call came into the Communication Center from an unknown male who said he lived at the residence but refused to give his name. The male caller advised that three to five black males entered his residence all dressed in black and wearing masks. The caller also indicated that the intruders were all armed with firearms and ordered his family to lay on the floor and then tied their hands using plastic zip ties.

The armed intruders had fled the scene by the time officers arrived to the property. At this time it is unknown if the intruders took anything from the residence when they fled. The occupant of the home, Patrick McCoy, age 47, is refusing to cooperate and talk with police about the incident. 

During the invasion, there were three adults and one minor child present inside the home. One adult female complained of a minor ankle injury sustained during the invasion and was treated and released at the scene. No other injuries were reported. 

This incident remains under investigation, no arrests have been made as of this time. The Police Department is asking for anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area or who may have information regarding this incident to please call 641-672-2557.


CITY COUNCIL VOTES DOWN FRANCHISE FEES

Franchise fee ordinances were a hot button at Monday’s Oskaloosa city council meeting. The issue to raise the fee across the board for electric and gas utilities with MidAmerican Energy has been on the council’s agenda for much of the past three months. At issue is fairness of the fees and the usage.

The first agenda item for the fee was a purpose statement. City staff recommended a statement, which included the options for usage Public safety, public works, streets and sidewalks and economic development. Councilor Jason Van Zetten emphasized if the fee was to go to economic development then the voters needed to know what that means. The first vote failed with Van Zetten, Aaron VerSteegh, Tom Walling and Tom Jimenez voting against.
Van Zetten proposed a statement allowing for the fee to be used for public safety, public works and streets and sidewalks. This vote went 6-1 with Joe Caliguiri voting no.

The second vote dealt with the gas franchise fee. Mark Willett, assistant manager at Clow Valve Co., spoke on behalf of the company. He said that under the current structure it is estimated the fee would bring in $290,000. His company would be on the hook for about $70,000 or 25 percent. “He said that the company initially supported the fee, but now that the actual numbers are in his company no longer is in favor of it. The reason being that it is disproportionate.

Andrew Jensen of Mahaska Community Development Group said his board has not made an official decision on the fee now, but there is a strong feeling that the fee is disportionate. Van Zetten asked him if the letter of support received previously was still valid. Jensen said he did not have a board opinion, but he hinted that the answer might not be in the affirmative.

Ultimately on the consideration of the franchise fee for both the gas and electric utility, Van Zetten proposed to deny and both ordinances were denied by 5-2 votes. Councilors made it clear that the franchise fee needed work before another vote could be entertained.

In other business, the council agreed to a fee reduction on a mowing assessment from $250 to $50 for a property owned by Randy and JoAnn Plate. Photos taken of the property did not clearly show how tall the weeds were prior to mowing. Following discussion councilors agreed to the reduction.

Councilors approved a two-year extension for mowing of public properties with Four Seasons Yard Care in the amount of $1,260 per mow. Councilor Walling inquired as to why this was not bid. City manager Michael Schrock explained that the original bid received by the company was significantly less than the other bids. The council approved the resolution on a 6-1 vote.

Prior to the meeting councilors held a study session on options for the Third Avenue East street project. Options presented were widening the street to allow for parking on one side, bike lanes and travel lanes. No particular option is suggested, but city staff is looking for direction. Since it was a study session no decisions were made. The presentation was for information purposes only.


STATE NEWS

MARSHALLTOWN DEATH INVESTIGATION

Officials: Man's death in Marshalltown is homicide

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (AP) — Authorities have ruled the death of a man found inside a house in Marshalltown as a homicide.

The state medical examiner's office says an autopsy was performed Sunday on 32-year-old Adam Paul Garrett, of Tama. The manner of death was certified as a homicide, though additional details were not released.

Garret was found dead Saturday night inside a house. The death remains under investigation.


ATV ACCIDENT-HUNTER

DNR releases name of hunter killed in ATV crash

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials have released the name of a man killed in an all-terrain vehicle crash in southeast Iowa.

The state Department of Natural Resources says 83-year-old Allen D. Sindt, of Davenport, was deer hunting Monday afternoon in Stephens State Forest, northwest of Unionville in Appanoose County, when the all-terrain vehicle he was driving rolled over on top of him.

Officials say Sindt was trying to maneuver over a downed log at the time. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The DNR says Sindt had a valid permit to operate the ATV in the state forest.


EARLY DIPLOMA-CANCER

Iowa teen with brain cancer receives diploma

LAMOMI, Iowa (AP) — A southern Iowa teenager has died of brain cancer a day after receiving her high school diploma early in a special ceremony.

The Des Moines Register reports 18-year-old Bethany Gruich died Monday at her Lamoni home surrounded by family. She had been fighting brain cancer for more than two years.

Lamoni High School held a graduation ceremony for Gruich on Sunday, and about 300 people watched as her older sister accepted the diploma on her behalf. Gruich stayed home because she wasn't feeling well.

Gruich had laser surgery in May to remove her regrown tumors. Her family hoped she could graduate in the spring and see her sister get married next summer. But in early November, doctors found new tumors during a routine MRI.


DAVENPORT SCHOOLS-EARLY RETIREMENT

Davenport School Board OKs early retirement plan

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — The Davenport School Board has approved early retirement incentives for teachers in hopes of saving money by replacing higher-paid teachers with less experienced, lower-paid teachers.

The Quad-City Times reports the school board voted Monday to offer the deal to nearly 270 eligible teachers. The move could save the district $1.5 million in its 2015-16 budget.

Staff eligible for the offer must be at least 55 years old by June 30, have been with the district for a minimum of 25 years and work at least six hours a day. They have until February to notify the district if they accept.


SOUTH SIOUX CITY SHOOTING

Closing arguments set in South Sioux City shooting

DAKOTA CITY, Neb. (AP) — Attorneys are preparing for closing arguments in the trial of an Iowa man accused of fatally shooting a Nebraska woman.

The Sioux City Journal reports both the prosecution and defense are expected to present closing arguments Tuesday in the trial of 23-year-old Raymond Gonzales Jr.

Gonzales, of Sioux City, is charged with first-degree murder in the December 2013 death of 28-year-old Bonnie Baker in South Sioux City. He also faces a firearms charge.

Jury deliberations are expected to begin later Tuesday.


IOWA-ADMINISTRATOR REASSIGNED

Iowa reassigns associate AD, citing partner's case

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa is reassigning senior associate athletic director Jane Meyer, saying she cannot remain in the department while her partner prepares to sue for gender bias.

Meyer is the longtime partner of former Iowa field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum, who is planning a lawsuit contending that female coaches have faced discrimination.

Meyer is the Senior Woman's Administrator, a role in which she is charged with ensuring women's programs are treated fairly.

Athletic director Gary Barta says in a memo that leaving Meyer in her position "has presented many challenges" as the department defends against Griesbaum's claims. He says an assistant attorney general advised that Meyer be reassigned.

University spokesman Joe Brennan said Meyer's new assignment is in the works, and the move will not affect her $173,000 salary.


SKELETAL REMAINS-TRIAL

Judge declares mistrial in roommate slaying case

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a Georgia man charged with first-degree murder in the death of a roommate whose skeletal remains were found in an Iowa basement in 2012.

The Fort Dodge Messenger reports Judge Gary McMinimee ordered the mistrial Tuesday in the case of 55-year-old John Green, of Blairsville, Georgia.

Green is accused of killing 58-year-old Mark Koster, who was reported missing in 2010. His remains were found buried in the basement of Koster's Sac City home.

McMinimee made his decision after Sac City Police Chief John Thomsen testified investigators interviewing suspects "minimize the crime" because "bad people" don't want to admit their roles.

Defense attorney Charles Kenville argued that mischaracterized Green.

McMinimee agreed, declaring a mistrial. A new trial will be scheduled.


IOWA DRIVER'S LICENSE-APP

DOT: Iowans will use app to show driver's license

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Transportation officials say Iowa residents will soon use a smartphone app to show their state driver's license.

The state Department of Transportation says an app under development will allow users to show the digital license to law enforcement officers during traffic stops and at security checkpoints at Iowa airports. The Des Moines Register reports (http://dmreg.co/1z3jODu ) Iowa residents will still be able to use a regular driver's license.

DOT Director Paul Trombino told Gov. Terry Branstad during a state agency budget hearing Monday that the free app will be available sometime in 2015. He also said the app will be highly secure and people will be able to protect their identity.


ART DISPLAY REMOVED

Blacks at U Iowa call for change after KKK display

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Black students and employees say the outrage over an art display depicting a Ku Klux Klan costume should be a catalyst to make the University of Iowa more welcoming to minorities.

Many blacks say they were traumatized by the 7-foot-tall KKK robe displayed without permission Friday by a visiting art professor, and upset with the university's response.

About 20 students, faculty and staff discussed the incident Tuesday during a meeting of the UI African American Council, an advocacy group for employees.

Council President Michael Hill, an associate professor of English and African American studies, says the incident is tied to "broader issues" for blacks on campus. He says he's concerned the university isn't putting enough efforts into recruiting black students and faculty members.


APARTMENT FIRE-SPIRIT LAKE

Authorities say body found after Spirit Lake fire

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a body has been found following a large fire at a Spirit Lake apartment complex.

The Spirit Lake Community Fire Department says fire crews recovered the body in the debris after the Sunday afternoon fire at Hill Avenue Apartments. Additional information was not released.

Officials say a kitchen fire at the apartment complex led to the large blaze, which destroyed the structure.

The Sioux City Journal reports two residents were treated for smoke inhalation. The American Red Cross is also helping affected residents.


GOPHER PAWS

Floyd County may end gopher pay payments

CHARLES CITY, Iowa (AP) — Gophers in northern Iowa's Floyd County could soon have a little less to worry about.

The county is considering ending its longtime practice of paying 50 cents per pair of gopher paws.

County Auditor Gloria Carr began investigating the law after someone brought in a load of paws, which had to be counted on the office counter.

The Charles City Press reports Carr sent a questionnaire to Iowa's 99 counties. Of the 63 responding, she found gopher bounties were paid in eight counties, including Floyd.

Many Iowa counties once paid such bounties in an effort to control gophers, whose holes could cause problems for farmers and endanger horses.

Carr says other counties ended the payments decades ago.

The Board of Supervisors will consider the issue later this month.


INMATE DEATH-JOB ASSIGNMENT

Iowa inmate's family files lawsuit against company

SULLY, Iowa (AP) — The family of an Iowa inmate who died while working at a job assignment has filed a lawsuit.

The family of 26-year-old Willie Mercer says Sully Truck Wash in Sully failed to follow federal safety requirements. They say those actions resulted in Mercer's death.

Mercer and two employees were found unconscious inside a tank trailer in January. Mercer was pronounced dead and the others were hospitalized.

The Newton Daily News reports several federal violations were issued against the truck wash business after the incident. The company later paid $5,000 in fines.

The lawsuit seeks damages for pain and suffering, past medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of value to Mercer's estate and loss of support to his children. A message left for a company spokesman was not immediately returned Tuesday.


FORGOTTEN STUDENT-BURLINGTON

Iowa middle school principal put on paid leave

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — A Burlington middle school principal has been put on paid leave after forgetting about a sixth-grade student in after-school detention.

Principal Brian Gravel of Aldo Leopold Middle School told The Hawk Eye that he'd been put on indefinite leave last week and declined to comment further.

Leslie Brown's 11-year-old daughter was given a one-hour detention as punishment for arguing in a hallway with another student. Brown says her daughter was told by Gravel that he would come get her when she could leave.

The student spent more than two hours in detention, which ended only after she left the room to find a custodian in a hallway.

Brown said Gravel called her later at home to apologize.