Tuesday Afternoon News,
Officials Warn Of Brush Fire Dangers
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A spike in the number of deaths and injuries blamed on brush fires has prompted officials to warn Iowans about the potential danger of such fires and the need to take precautions to avoid problems.
In a statement released Tuesday, the State Fire Marshal Division and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics noted the hospital's burn treatment center treated six people injured by brush fires between February and April. Three of those people died.
During those months last year, one person died and one was injured due to brush fires.
All four of those people who died were aged 75 or older. Not all of the burn victims were from Iowa.
Officials say there's a greater risk of injury for older people as their vision, hearing and mobility capabilities decrease.
Brownies Sent To U of I Student Contain Pot
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A University of Iowa student faces a drug charge after he allegedly received a mail package of brownies made with marijuana.
Authorities say staff at one of the school's residence halls intercepted a package in early April intended for 19-year-old Christian Hernandez. A criminal complaint says the package smelled of marijuana.
The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports the package was turned over to the Johnson County Drug Task Force. Authorities say Hernandez told them he received a previous package with marijuana brownies and distributed them to friends.
Hernandez was booked Monday night at the county jail and released Tuesday morning. He has been charged with a felony controlled substance violation with the intent to distribute.
A phone number listed for Hernandez in the UI phone directory was not in service.
Iowa Inmate Imprisoned As A Teen Awaits New Sentence
SPENCER, Iowa (AP) - One of 10 people involved in the 1997 kidnapping and slaying of a northwest Iowa teenager won't learn until later this month how much longer he must remain in an Iowa prison.
Judge David Lester has set a May 16 hearing on the resentencing of 32-year-old Ryan Wedebrand. He was 16 in June 1997 when 15-year-old Gregory Sky Erickson was kidnapped from a Spencer apartment, tortured and then fatally shot at an abandoned farmhouse in southern Minnesota.
Wedebrand's request for resentencing follows a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that it is unconstitutional to automatically sentence teenagers to life without the chance of parole.
The mother of the slain boy said Tuesday at a hearing that Wedebrand didn't deserve anything less than life in prison.
Sioux City Odors
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The city is continuing its struggle with sewage odors in Sioux City's Riverside neighborhood.
The Sioux City Journal says the injection of chemicals into a sewer line has produced mixed results and some mixed opinions from people who live near the Riverside lift station.
One of them, Dawn Mason, says "sometimes you can't even sit outside. Lately, I haven't smelled anything."
Desiree McCaslen of the city's Public Works Department says the chemicals have been effective, but she also says factors beyond the city's control can raise the stink level.
McCaslen says weather is one of the factors. Warm, windy, dry days let odors dissipate. Winter cold cools the sewage, slowing the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Calm, wet, humid days can lead to more odor.
Mason City Sculptures
MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - Mason City has launched its second year of a popular arts program that features unique sculptures around the community.
More than 20 sculptures were expected to be installed Tuesday around downtown Mason City as part of the River City Sculptures on Parade program.
Artists from states including Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota contributed sculptures to the program, which displays the pieces for a year.
The latest installations mark the program's second year. The first ran from 2013 to 2014. The Mason City Globe Gazette reports all the sculptures are available for sale or lease. Items not purchased at the end of the display period are rotated out with new pieces.
Details Released On Found Body
READLYN, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have released autopsy details about a man found dead inside a northeast Iowa home that was damaged by fire.
The Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner says 64-year-old Richard Michael Elliot died Sunday at his residence in Readlyn (REED'-lihn). The cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning due to smoke inhalation.
The autopsy report says the manner of death will be certified as an accident.
Firefighters were dispatched to a fire at the residence a little after 7 p.m. Sunday. The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time, but authorities do not suspect foul play.
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