Monday Afternoon News, February 2
Plymouth County Democrats Elect New Officers
(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Democrats recently elected new officers for a two-year term. Serving as the chairman for the county Democrats will be Matthew Vonnahme of Hinton, Mark Sturgeon of Le Mars will be the vice chair, as well as the publicity director and interim treasurer. Kay Luckett will be the secretary for the county democratic party, and Dennis Wolf of Le Mars will be the treasurer.
Branstad Seeks Tougher Laws For Domestic Abuse
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is hoping to reduce domestic abuse in Iowa through proposed legislation that would toughen penalties and oversight.
Branstad said Monday he supports a bill that would increase prison time for people repeatedly convicted of domestic abuse assault. It would also increase oversight of domestic abuse offenders by permitting the use of electronic monitoring in some cases.
The bill has been drafted and will now be reviewed by lawmakers in the Legislature. Branstad said he hopes the bill will "end domestic violence in our state."
Sheila Lynch said that tougher laws would have helped protect her daughter, TereseAnn Lynch, who was killed by her estranged husband in 2009. Randall Moore was convicted of murder, kidnapping and sexual abuse and was sentenced to three life sentences.
Drake University Surpasses $200 Million Fundraising Goal
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Drake University says it has surpassed a $200 million fundraising goal nearly six months ahead of its planned target date. The Des Moines-based privately held university says it has commitments from more than 22,000 donors. Contributions include more than 60 gifts of $1 million or more.
The university says $46 million will support scholarship programs and $36 million will enhance teaching and learning through endowed faculty positions and faculty development funds. More than $45 million will support new construction and renovation projects on campus. More than $110 million in gifts have been designated to the University's endowment fund.
The drive was launched in October 2010 and had a goal of reaching $200 million by June 30.
Drake has more than 3,300 undergraduate and 1,700 graduate students.
Council Bluffs Fire Department To Restore Historic Bell
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - The Council Bluffs Fire Department is working to restore a bell that once rang throughout the city for more than 100 years.
Fire Chief Justin James says the fire station bell, forged in 1876, once tolled for fire calls and firefighter funerals at several Council Bluffs stations. The bell had been relocated to a city storage facility for three years during station construction, and the department now wants it back in action.
James tells the Council Bluffs Nonpareil (http://bit.ly/1zN4yOQ ) plans include erecting a tower outside the department's new headquarters station. He says the tower would feature pictures and plaques depicting the history of the department.
The department estimates the project will cost between $80,000 and $120,000. James says donations and grants will likely fund its construction.
Centerville Fire Fighter Dies
CENTERVILLE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have released the name of a firefighter who died at home after battling a blaze at a 300,000-square-foot building in south-central Iowa.
A city of Centerville news release identified him as Assistant Fire Chief Mike "Coop" Cooper. Cooper had been released from the fire scene at Cowan Enterprises in Centerville on Friday night and had gone home, where he died on Saturday.
Cooper started with the Centerville Fire Department on July 12, 1977.
The owner of the building says everything inside it was destroyed, including campers, pickups, boats and trailers.
Trial Set For Coach Who Is Accused Of Having Sex With 14 Year Old
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A nonjury trial is scheduled to begin Thursday for a western Iowa youth softball coach accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old friend of his daughter.
48-year-old John Osborn, of Council Bluffs, has pleaded not guilty to four counts of sex abuse on a minor.
Council Bluffs police say the girl and Osborn began to exchange text messages in June and had phone conversations about sex. Court documents say the girl reported that she and Osborn engaged in sexual acts in July when the girl stayed at Osborn's house for a sleepover with his daughter.
Police say Osborn has denied willingly touching the teen and told investigators that he had refused her advances.
State To Pay Familly After Tree Falls On Campground
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa judge has approved a $390,000 state payment to a couple and their child who were seriously injured when a large tree fell on their tent at a state park.
The payment will settle a lawsuit alleging the Iowa Department of Natural Resources was negligent in failing to remove the diseased, 98-foot cottonwood tree at Lake Manawa State Park in Council Bluffs.
Heavy winds caused the tree to fall on a tent where 23-year-old Alecia Nichols, 25-year-old Timothy Hiers, Jr., and 3-year-old Timothy Hiers III were sleeping in May 2012.
Nichols suffered a skull fracture and brain hemorrhage, a crushed pelvis and several fractured vertebrae. She lost hearing in one ear and has undergone multiple surgeries. Her boyfriend and child suffered lacerated spleens and other injuries.