Monday Afternoon News, March 2
Neunaber Trial To Be Delayed
(Le Mars) -- The trial for Jonathon Neunaber of Akron was supposed to have started on March 31st. However, the attorney for Neunaber has asked Judge Andreasen for an extension claiming he needs additional time to compile information and evidence. The request came this past Friday during a pre-trial update. Neunaber is charged with first degree murder for the death of his mother Ester Neunaber. Both Ester's and husband Donald Neunaber bodies were found dead at their rural Akron farmstead last July. The court has not yet scheduled a new trial date.
Le Mars Man Arrested At Youth Basketball Tournament
(Storm Lake) -- Emotions were running hot at a weekend youth basketball tournament held at Storm Lake, as opposing coaches and fans werre seen shouting profanities at one another, squared off, and needed to be separated. Police was called to maintain order. The police was advised that coaches from Sioux City and Le Mars were creating the trouble. Storm Lake Police intervened, seized video of the incident and arrested three men, two from Sioux City and one from Le Mars. Each of the three, 39 year old Trant Gosch and 33 year old Richard Semple of Sioux City and 62 year old Steven Stratmeir of Le Mars were charge with disorderly conduct and were taken to the Buena Vista County jail. No injuries were reported, and police remained at the gym for the duration of the youth tournament.
School Districts Concerned About Education Funding
(Le Mars) -- School districts across the state are worried deep budget cuts and the elimination of programs and reduction in teachers may have to occur if the state legislature doesn't approve additional funding. The state legislature is in conference committee between the House of Representatives and the State Senate over public school funding. Republican state representative Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, has been selected to the conference committee. Saturday, during legislative forums held in Hinton and Le Mars, Soderberg was challenged, first by Hinton School Superintendent Peter Stuerman during the Hinton legislative forum, and second by members of the Le Mars Community Board of Education and School superintendent Dr. Todd Wendt at the Le Mars School legislative forum. Stuerman informed Soderberg that Hinton will need to reduce its staff and raise the tax levy if the legislature only appropriates $50 million to fund education. Wendt and the Le Mars School Board had a similar message. Soderberg explained that he would like to offer more money to the schools, but he says there simply isn't any more money. The House approved funding schools at a 1.25 percent increase. Le Mars Community School Board President Scott Kommes accused Soderberg and the entire state legislature that they didn't care about education in the state. Soderberg responded, by saying if that were true, why then, does education have the largest share of tax dollars appropriated at 55 percent? The State Senate has approved a measure that would fund schools at an increase of four percent, or $200 million, but Soderberg informed the group that when he asked State Senator Robert Dvorsky of Coralville, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee how does the Senate intend to pay for the increase, he says Dvorsky simply shrugged his shoulders and said "I don't know."
Soybean Association Endorses Fuel Tax Increase
(Phoenix) -- "Farmers have got to be able to transport their products to market" claims Iowa Soybean Association president Tom Oswald of Cleghhorn, "and that is the reason why the Iowa Soybean Association endorsed the ten cent per gallon fuel tax increase." Oswald says the Iowa Soybean Association was instrumental in establishing a multi-state Soy Transportation Coalition, which studies transportation issues.
The Cherokee County farmer says another area of transportation that needs to be updated is the waterway system consisting of the locks and dams. Oswald says unfortunately, Congress wants to appropriate funding for short-term projects, and he says the locks and dams would require a funding committment that would be for several years.
Legislators Want To Keep Gun Permits Confidential
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two Iowa lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that would change state law and keep confidential the identities of those who own permits to carry firearms.
The proposal is aimed at preventing the release of any information that could link a person to his or her gun permit, including names, addresses and dates of birth. Current Iowa law allows public access to such permit records.
Sen. Steve Sodders, a State Center Democrat, says it's unnecessary for people to know if others have guns in their homes. He says the public would still have access to general statistics, like the number of firearms purchased each month.
Rep. Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley, says lawmakers are still working out the legislation's details.
Senate Panel Approves Fine Arts As Part Of Iowa Core Curriculum
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate panel has approved a bill that would add fine arts to Iowa's mandated education curriculum for K-12 students, though lawmakers expressed concern about its potential costs.
An education subcommittee approved the bill Monday. It now heads to a full committee, where it would need approval by Friday to survive a procedural legislative deadline.
The bill would add music, theater, visual art and other fine arts to the Iowa Core, the state's mandated academic standards.
Sen. Herman Quirmbach, who sponsored the bill, says it would properly recognize fine arts. He questioned an analysis by the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency, which determined it could cost a school district up to $100,000 to implement the bill.
Lawmakers say they need more financial analysis to pass the bill out of committee.
Trial To Begin For 5 Year Old's Murder
WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (AP) - Jury selection has begun in the trial for a man accused of killing his former girlfriend's 5-year-old daughter.
Lawyers began questioning jurors Monday for the trial of Casey Frederiksen, who is charged with first-degree murder and sexual assault. Prosecutors say the 35-year-old was watching Evelyn Miller for her mother in July 2005 when he sexually abused the girl and then stabbed her to death.
The body of the Floyd girl was found in the Cedar River a few days after she was reported missing.
The trial is being held in Webster City in Hamilton County because a judge granted a change-of-venue request to move the trial out of Floyd County.
Ankeny Woman Arrested For Faking Pregnancy For Adoption
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have arrested an Ankeny woman accused of faking pregnancy to trick an Iowa couple into giving her money.
The Ankeny Police Department says 29-year-old Tracy Leann Bess-Thacker was charged Friday with fourth-degree theft after prospective adoptive parents from Dewitt, Iowa, claim she accepted $200 from them when she wasn't pregnant.
According to a news release, Bess had signed onto Life Long Adoptions, an agency that connects birth mothers with potential parents. Detectives say Bess wasn't pregnant during this scam, but that she used information from a prior pregnancy to con people into offering her financial support.
Police say Bess previously used a similar scam in multiple states, including Nebraska.
Bess could not be reached to comment on the charge, and online court records do not yet list an attorney.
Woman Found In Alley Is Now Identified
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have released the name of a woman whose body was found in a Des Moines alley.
Des Moines police identified the woman as 35-year-old Shannon Prothero, of Des Moines.
Her body was reported shortly before 8:45 a.m. Sunday in an alley near 14th Street and 14th Place.
Police are trying to determine how the woman died, but they are investigating her death as a homicide.
No arrests have been reported.
Ethanol Company Ordered To Pay Woman For Harrassment
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge says a northeastern Iowa ethanol company must pay an additional $1.1 million in lost wages and attorneys' fees to a former laboratory manager who was sexually harassed.
A jury in October ordered Homeland Energy Solutions to pay $1.4 million to Tina Haskenhoff to cover back pay and emotional distress.
District Judge John Bauercamper granted Haskenhoff's request Monday for $240,000 in front pay to cover three years of wages as she completes a college degree to enter a new field. He says she cannot be reinstated at the Lawler plant because those responsible for her harassment remain employed there.
Bauercamper also granted attorneys' fees and expenses in the amount of $846,000. And he ordered the company to amend its policies and procedures to prevent future workplace harassment and discrimination.
Iowa Ciity Fire Department To Lose Training Facility
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa City Fire Department has to get creative after having to vacate the training facility that it has used for the last 13 years.
The department was forced to leave its three-story facility in December due to plans for a new Riverfront Crossings Park.
Since 2002, the facility has been used as a space for centralized classrooms, storage for training props and outdoor live fire training exercises.
According to Fire Chief John Grier, the department has distributed training materials between the four stations around the city. He says that they will have to think outside the box to adjust to their new circumstances.
Firefighter John Crane wrote a letter on behalf of the Iowa City Association of Professional Firefighters asking the city to consider funding construction of another centrally-located facility.