Thursday News, February 4
Road Crews Finally Able To Clear Highways After Tuesday's Snow Storm
(Le Mars) -- Snow removal continues on northwest Iowa's roads and highways. The latest report from the Iowa Department of Transportation shows that all roads in northwest Iowa are categorized as being partially snow covered. A stretch of roadway on Highway 3 between Le Mars and Akron is now cleared, but not before the state transportation department had to bring out a snow blower to clear high drifts. People familiar with the area say anytime the region receives a heavy snowfall, the highway is blocked and travel is limited. Although the road is now open, passage is narrow.
Holz and Anderson Schedule Legislative Forums For Saturday
(Des Moines) -- State Representative Chuck Holz of Le Mars has announced that he and State Senator Bill Anderson of Pierson will host four legislative forums through out the county this coming Saturday, February 6th. Holz and Anderson will begin their day at Kingsley at the Kingsley Community Center. The forum is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. Merrill will be the second legislative forum will begin at 9:45 a.m. and will be held at the Merrill City Hall. From 11:00 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. the two state lawmakers will visit with constituents at the Wells Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars. Akron will be the final stop for the legislative forums. The meeting is slated to start at 12:15 p.m. at Akron Jo's located at 150 Reed Street.
Neunaber Trial Now Set For May 10th
(Le Mars) -- A trial date has been set for an Akron, Iowa man accused of first degree murder in the death of his mother. Judge Steven Andreasen has set trial for 45 year old Jonathon Neunaber to take place May 10th in Plymouth County District Court. Last month, Judge Andreasen ruled that Neunaber was mentally competent to stand trial. Neunaber is charged with the July 2014 beating death of his mother, 80 year old Esther Neunaber at her rural Akron home. Jonathon Neunaber has pleaded not guilty in that case. He remains in custody in the Plymouth County jail.
File photo: Jonathon Neunaber being escorted from Plymouth County Courthouse by Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo (right) and Chief Deputy Craig Bartolozzi.
Lawmakers Looking At Legalizing Fireworks For Retail Sale
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Legislation that would legalize the sale of fireworks in Iowa is once again advancing through the Iowa Legislature, though it may face some challenges from lawmakers.
The Senate State Government Committee voted 10-5 Wednesday in support of the bill, which would allow the sale and use of consumer fireworks such as firecrackers and roman candles. Current law allows the sale of novelties like sparklers.
The measure has bounced between the Republican-majority House and the Democratic-controlled Senate with little success. Groups have raised concerns about public safety.
An amendment to the bill passed Wednesday would give cities and municipalities more flexibility on whether to implement the bill if it becomes law. Sen. Jeff Danielson, a Cedar Falls Democrat, says the amendment makes the bill unenforceable. He plans to challenge it.
State Audit Shows Iowa Workforce Development Made Fraudulent Payments
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A state audit has revealed that Iowa Workforce Development paid more than $97,000 in unemployment benefits to people claiming to work for companies that didn't exist in 2013 and 2014s and paid more than $66,000 to people not eligible for unemployment payments in other states.
Those improper payments are part of more than $909,000 the state lost over a three-year period for which the state auditor reviewed records.
Iowa Auditor Mary Mosiman says her office was notified in May 2013 that irregularities in unemployment payments were discovered. She was asked by the U.S. Department of Labor to audit workforce development's books to determine the extent of lost funds.
Mosiman says the audit found 20 fictitious company accounts. It's unclear who set them up and no one has been charged.
King To Chair House Judiciary Subcommittee On Executive Overreach
(Washington) -- Iowa's 4th District Congressman Steve King has been appointed as chairman for the House Judiciary Task Force on Executive Overreach.
Trump Blasts Iowa Caucus Results
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -Donald Trump is continuing to dispute his second-place finish in Iowa's kickoff caucuses earlier this week.
Trump told a crowd of thousands in Little Rock, Arkansas on Wednesday night, "Actually, I think I came in first."
Trump is taking issue with rumors, allegedly circulated by backers of rival Ted Cruz on caucus night, that Ben Carson had decided to drop out of the race. Trump has said the results of the election should be thrown out as a result of that and other actions by Cruz.
The billionaire businessman says: "Oh that voter fraud! You know these politicians are brutal, brutal. They are a bunch of dishonest cookies, I want to tell you."
Trump is also continuing to hit Cruz on his birthplace, saying, "We don't need a president who was born in Canada."
Correctional Officer Sentenced To Prison
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A former Anamosa correctional officer has been sentenced in U.S. District Court to over four years in prison for smuggling contraband and being a drug user while possessing a firearm on duty.
U.S. Attorney Kevin W. Techau announced Wednesday that 29-year-old Garrett Barton received a 57-month prison term. He received the sentence after pleading guilty in October to accepting bribes to smuggle contraband into the Anamosa State Penitentiary and of being a drug user in possession of firearms.
Barton smuggled two cellphones and controlled substances into the prison for inmates.
Court records show that in December Barton sought to reduce his prison term, but before sentencing he withdrew the request and agreed with the prosecutor's sentencing range.
His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.