Iowa News

Officials release names of 2 found dead in Osceola
OSCEOLA, Iowa (AP) — Officials have identified two people who were found dead in a vehicle in Osceola. The Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner said Tuesday the bodies found are those of 22-year-old Erick Reyna and 27-year-old Noe Flores Rascon. Autopsy results confirm their deaths as homicides. Police on Monday announced the arrests of four people in connection to the killings of Reyna and Rascon. Authorities charged 38-year-old Richard Ryan Lamb Carson with two counts of first-degree murder. They also charged 47-year-old Lynn Ranean Sutton, 43-year-old Tracy Kay Johnson and 42-year-old Christopher Martin Elben with one count of accessory after the fact. All those arrested are from Osceola.

Iowa patrol says captain's speeding ticket wasn't reduced
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa State Patrol says it didn't reduce the speed on a citation given to a high-ranking officer. Capt. Ken Clary was cited for driving 92 in a 70-mph zone this month, following an investigation into a November off-duty incident in which he was pulled over and quickly let go by a trooper. Video doesn't show the speed clocked on radar and no police report was filed. A patrol spokesman had said he didn't know whether Clary's speed was reduced on the citation, which can be done at an officer's discretion. That's significant because the penalty for driving 25 over the limit is a license suspension. Responding to earlier inquiries, Patrol Maj. Todd Misel said Tuesday the radar clocked Clary at 92 and the $208 ticket he signed wasn't reduced.

Iowa Democrats say wage theft bill would curtail fraud
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Democrats in the Senate say a bill aimed at curtailing wage theft in Iowa would require businesses to be more direct with workers about employment terms. Sen. Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, is co-sponsor of a bill that would require employers to share a written record of employment terms with an employee at the start of a job. The measure would also define penalty terms and expand protection for whistleblowers. Dotzler and Democratic Sen. Tony Bisignano, of Des Moines, spoke at a press conference Tuesday. Sen. Rick Bertrand, a Republican from Sioux City, says the measure would overregulate many honest businesses. He says he plans to introduce a bill this session that would give Iowa Workforce Development more funds to investigate wage theft cases.

Iowa added 16,400 nonfarm jobs, reduced unemployment in 2014
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa has seen an increase in nonfarm jobs and a decrease in its unemployment rate in the past year. Data released Tuesday shows Iowa gained 16,400 nonfarm jobs in 2014. The state's jobless rate dropped to 4.1 percent in December, down from 4.3 percent in November and 4.2 percent in December 2013. According to a news release, Iowa nonfarm employment increased to 1.56 million jobs, gaining 2,100 jobs from November to December alone. Education and health services, government and construction saw the largest growth in the past year. U.S. Department of Labor statistics show Iowa is among 46 states and the District of Columbia to lower unemployment rates in 2014. Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development interim director, says the state's economy "ended on a high note."

Plan reveals details of early retirement program at U. Iowa
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Some University of Iowa employees may be eligible for additional benefits in exchange for retiring early. A plan released Tuesday says employees who are 57 and have 10 years experience will be eligible to apply for an early retirement program starting Feb. 6. Those who are accepted would receive payments of unused vacation and sick leave, and five years of health and dental benefits. The university would make contributions to employees' retirement plans for five years, also covering the employees' share for the first three. University Health Care employees would not be eligible for the program, which the Iowa Board of Regents is expected to consider approving next week. UI President Sally Mason has said the program is designed to save money and soften the impact of restructuring on employees.

Groups try to help unaccompanied minors stay in Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — After traveling 3,500-miles by foot, bus and car from El Salvador to reach Iowa last year, 16-year-old Jonathon Lopez would like to stay. He's among about 250 unaccompanied children from Central America who are now seeking to remain with relatives in Iowa. Winning the legal fight to remain in the U.S. is difficult, but the children have much better odds if they have representation. A fundraiser Wednesday in Des Moines aims to raise money to provide those in Iowa with attorneys. Jonathon has applied for asylum based on persecution by gangs, and his attorney Ann Naffier says his case won't be easy to win. Jimmy Centers, spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad, says the governor is "deeply empathetic" for the children, but that current policy gives them false hope.

Waterloo might seek $2 million for pedestrian bridge upgrade
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Waterloo officials say they might seek $2 million in gaming money to help upgrade a downtown pedestrian bridge. The Black Hawk County Gaming Association discussed the possibility of the project at a meeting Monday. City leaders had presented the idea to association president Tim Hurley in December. Engineers estimate refurbishing the bridge would cost about $1.5 million. They say requirements to protect the river from contamination could add to that estimate. Hurley says the discussion was an "early warning" that the city might apply for funding. Officials have not yet submitted an official request to the association. The association has the gaming license to the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo and distributes 5.75 percent of gross receipts to area projects and nonprofits.

Once ubiquitous, parking garages fall to the wrecking ball
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — When they were built, parking garages were supposed to help save downtowns from being eclipsed by suburban developments. But decades after cities tore down buildings and replaced them with parking structures, communities across the country are demolishing the garages. In their place, they're putting up buildings again, confident that lively offices, hotels and housing will draw more people. Tom Murphy is an urban-revitalization expert and former mayor of Pittsburgh. He says interest in downtowns is growing and more cities are looking to replace parking garages to add vitality to these districts. Or as Southern Illinois University architecture professor Shannon Sanders McDonald says of old garages, "They are coming down." Among cities planning to replace old parking ramps are Des Moines, Iowa; Madison, Wisconsin; and Asheville, North Carolina.

10-year-old Iowa boy accused of stabbing 9-year-old brother
STORM LAKE, Iowa (AP) — A Storm Lake mother and her 10-year-old son have been charged following the stabbing of the boy's 9-year-old brother. Authorities say they responded to a call Monday that a mother was looking for a ride to the hospital because her son had been stabbed. They say her 10-year-old son had been arguing with his younger brother when he threw a knife at the 9-year-old, stabbing him in the back. Police say the 10-year-old was charged Monday with aggravated assault with a weapon. He was later released to a family member. The mother was arrested on a child endangerment charge and is being held on $2,000 bond. The Associated Press doesn't usually name juveniles charged with crimes. The Sioux City Journal reports the 9-year-old was treated and released to family members.

Spokesman: Iowa governor released from Des Moines hospital
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has been released from a Des Moines hospital after receiving treatment for flu and dehydration. Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers said the governor was in good condition when he was released Tuesday morning and is resting at Terrace Hill, the governor's official residence. Branstad's public appearances for the week have been cancelled so that he can recuperate. Branstad was taken by ambulance to Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines on Monday after he required assistance at a ribbon-cutting event. Branstad's personal physician released a statement saying the governor had a mild case of flu and dehydration. The hospital conducted tests and ruled out other contributing factors, including cardiac issues for which he's been previously treated.

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