Sunday News, May 18
Fire Destroys Iowa City Restaurant
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An overnight fire caused roughly $30,000 damage to a well-known Iowa City restaurant.
The fire that started in the basement of Hamburg Inn No. 2 was reported shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday.
Smoke billowed out of the building during the fire, but it appears that firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the basement. No injuries were reported.
The cause is still under investigation, but restaurant owner Dave Panther says he was told an overheating soft drink machine appears to have started the fire.
Panther says employees noticed the machine was warm before closing and unplugged it.
Panther says he hopes key parts of the restaurant and its memorabilia from politicians' visits in the past survived the fire.
Branstad To Sign Nearly 40 Bills
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has about 40 bills awaiting a decision, a hefty stack of policy and spending measures lawmakers sent him in a flurry as the Legislature adjourned earlier this month.
He has about two more weeks to decide whether to sign bills, which include measures regulating the use of unmanned aerial drones, allowing some people with epilepsy to take a marijuana oil derivative, and ending dog racing at Council Bluffs but letting it continue in Dubuque.
About 10 of the bills Branstad must consider are spending measures that make up large portions of the state's $6.97 billion budget.
The governor has 30 days from adjournment to consider bills sent to him at the end of the session.
Branstad has signed just over 100 bills into law.
Mapleton Man Killed By Bull
MAPLETON, Iowa (AP) - An autopsy has been ordered on a Mapleton man who has died after being attacked by a bull.
66-year-old Ronald Rude was loading a bull into a trailer Thursday afternoon at Mapleton Vet Clinic when the animal trampled him in a pen.
The veterinarian found Rude on the ground and ran into the clinic to call for help.
The Monona County Coroner is determining the exact cause of death.
Branstad Says Broadband Issue Important For Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Despite the surprising defeat of a broadband expansion bill as the Legislature neared adjournment, Governor Terry Branstad and lawmakers say the effort is important to rural Iowa and should be pursued.
The GOP-majority House defeated the bill last month, with nine Republicans joining with Democrats in opposing a measure they argued included too many tax breaks to telecommunications companies and not enough requirements for the services they would provide.
Supporters of the measure argue that without incentives, companies have little motivation to extend broadband into rural areas.
Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers says the governor is committed to broadband expansion and will try again.
Representative Guy Vander Linden, a Republican from Oskaloosa who opposed the bill, says experts need to work out specific guidelines before lawmakers take up the bill again.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A task force proposal to change the way Iowa funds its state-run universities has been greeted with skepticism by University of Iowa supporters who believe it could cut funding by millions.
The Iowa City Press Citizen reports the task force appointed by the Iowa Board of Regents a year ago to explore ways to better fund higher education is ready to submit its report to the board on June 4th.
One recommendation is to base 60 percent of funding on in-state enrollment. That could shift much as $60 million a year from Iowa to Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa, since both pull in more in-state students.
Iowans make up 89 percent of UNI students, 60 percent of Iowa State students and 54.5 percent at Iowa.
Younkers Building Demolition Begins
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Demolition of the former Younkers department store building in Des Moines is beginning to get under way.
KCCI television reports crews are removing smaller pieces of the fire-gutted building by hand in an attempt to prevent walls from crashing down into other nearby buildings.
The first phase involves removal of the upper two levels of walls on the east side of building which sustained the most damage. That will take about six weeks.
After phase one engineers must decide if the 1899 building is sound enough to salvage or if it should be taken down to the ground.
It was in the midst of a $36 million housing project renovation when it was consumed by fire early March 29th. It had been vacant since 2005.
Nursing Homes Ask For Bankruptcy Protection
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two Iowa nursing homes run by a man who once declared he was a candidate for governor have filed for bankruptcy protection.
All-American Restorative Care of Washington and All-American Care Center in Muscatine are owned by Jerry Rhoads, a Muscatine accountant.
Rhoads claims $7.2 million in debt and $889,000 in assets including two homes each worth more than $360,000 and $35,000 in equity in a Mexican beach resort timeshare.
Potential liabilities are five wrongful-death claims filed against an Arkansas facility Rhoads once operated.
Rhoads, who said last September he would run for governor, says he is not a bad person. He says the state sometimes treats nursing home owners like criminals.
The federal government fined the Washington facility after investigating a death last June.
Man Acquitted For Death Of Man Beaten
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A man charged with murder in connection with the beating death of a man last year near Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines has been found not guilty by a jury.
21-year-old Le'Prese Derrion Williams was released from jail Friday evening.
Williams was arrested as police investigated the August beating death of Richard Daughenbaugh.
Two other men - Yarvon Russell and James Shorter, both 19 - were found guilty by the jury of second-degree murder. They each face 50-year prison sentences.
Williams' half brother, Kent Anthony Tyler the Third, was convicted of second-degree murder in December and is serving a 50-year sentence.
Prosecutors say Tyler punched Daughenbaugh and knocked him to the ground and others beat him.
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