Friday Afternoon News, December 21
Sexual Exploitation Charges Dropped With Former Wrestling Coach
(Le Mars) -- Sexual exploitation charges in Plymouth County have been dropped against a former Akron-Westfield wrestling coach. Chad Utesch was charged with one felony county and five misdemeanor counts of sexual exploitation by a school employee. Utesch was an assistant wrestling coach at Akron-Westfield and was charged with committing the offenses with a female student between February and December of 2011. In his decision to approve the defense motion to dismiss the charges, Judge Jeff Neary ruled that since Utesch's coaching certificate had expired in January of 2010, he did not meet the definition of a a school employee, and could not be charges as such.
State Gasoline Prices Continue To Drop
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new report shows the price of retail gasoline in Iowa continues to go down.
AAA says the price of regular unleaded gasoline averaged $3.12 as of Tuesday. That's down 11 cents from last week.
The state's trend matches a national trend. AAA says the national price of unleaded gasoline averaged $3.23 as of Tuesday. That's down 9 cents from last week.
Retail diesel fuel prices in Iowa also are down. The statewide average right now is $3.81, down 3 cents from last week. That's also 12 cents down from the national average of $3.93.
Ethanol Production Holding Steady
JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) - Ethanol production in Iowa has remained at a steady number for the first time in a decade.
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says the state's 41 ethanol plants produced 3.7 billion gallons in 2012, matching last year's production numbers. But it was the first time since 2002 where
production did not increase year to year.
IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw says most plants pulled back on production due to drought conditions, but another plant's production offset those reductions.
Shaw says rain and a trend-line corn yield will be needed next year to jumpstart the industry.
Interstate 35 Now Open After Snow Storm
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials have reopened a part of Interstate 35 affected by a major storm this week.
The state Department of Transportation says interstate exits between Ames and Mason City were reopened Friday morning. Southbound lanes from Albert Lea, Minn., into the Iowa border also have reopened.
Iowa DOT says travel conditions are slowly improving in the state, but considerable blowing and drifting snow will still make it hazardous. They say poor visibility can still be expected in
open, rural areas.
At least 80 crashes were reported Thursday throughout the state. Officials also say drivers on a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 80 got stuck Thursday night. A 25-car pileup on Interstate 35 in
northern Iowa killed two people and injured seven.
Iowa Congressional Delegation Trying To Save F-16's
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - U.S. Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa has introduced a bill to try to keep the F-16 aircraft at the Iowa Air National Guard's 132nd Fighter Wing in Des Moines.
That bill has the backing of each member of Iowa's federal delegation. That includes Democratic U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, whom Latham defeated in November for Iowa's 3rd Congressional
But Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley says there appears to be little chance of reversing action by a House-Senate panel this week to eliminate all 21 F-16 jets at the Des Moines Air National
Reward Increased For Missing Cousins
EVANSDALE, Iowa (AP) - A new reward fund has been established to help police arrest the killer of two eastern Iowa cousins whose bodies were found early this month.
A fund drive has raised $20,500 and is available when someone is arrested in the killings of Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook. Typically such funds are not paid out until there's a conviction.
Black Hawk County Sheriff Capt. Rick Abben says in a statement released Friday that officials believe someone has helpful information.
A separate $150,000 reward is offered through law enforcement officials and a private donor for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Elizabeth was 8 and Lyric was 10 when they went bike riding July 13 in Evansdale and didn't return.
Hunters found their bodies Dec. 5 in a wildlife area.