A dig in Tama County to find evidence related to a homicide investigation has ended. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Tama County officials started excavating an old well on a farm earlier this month after receiving credible information that human remains may have been disposed of at the site. The contents of the well have been examined and no evidence of human remains was found. One bone was recovered and will be sent to the D-C-I lab for analysis, though it is believed the bone is from an animal. No details about the homicide case involved are available as the source of the information leading to the dig did not know the identification of the body that was supposedly disposed of at the site.
Archives for September 2004
A liberal research group is criticizing state officials for the way they handled the recent recession. An “Iowa Fiscal Partnership” study — a joint effort by the Child and Family Policy Center and the Iowa Policy Project — evaluated how the 50 states handled finances over the past few years, and found Iowa cut spending and taxes more than others. Charles Bruner, executive director of the Child and Family Policy Center, says only Michigan and South Carolina cut budgets more than Iowa did between 2001 and 2004. Bruner says Iowa was “clearly out of the mainstream in how states responded to the fiscal crisis.” Bruner says during that three year period, most states raised taxes, by an average of four-point-three percent. Bruner says many states raised their cigarettes taxes, but sales taxes, income taxes and corporate income taxes were hiked in other states, too. By comparison, Iowa taxes were cut by just over two percent. Bruner says Iowa should have done the opposite so spending to help needy families during the recession.Bruner says it’s not that you want to either cut services or raise taxes, but he says it’s better to raise taxes during a recession. Bruner says polls last spring showed Iowans would have supported an increase in the cigarette tax. But statehouse republicans say they did the right thing by tightening the belt and not raising taxes.
Federal agents rounded up a dozen men in central Iowa this morning who were in the country illegally. Estela Biesemeyer, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says a state D-O-T crew came upon a pickup truck that had run out of gas on Interstate 80 in Jasper County between the Newton and Grinnell exits. The individuals didn’t speak English so agents were dispatched. Biesemeyer says they were part of a human smuggling ring that was transporting the men from Arizona to Chicago and points in North Carolina and New Jersey. She says there was no problem taking the men into custody. There were 12 men, all in the country illegally. Most of them are believed to be from Mexico, at least one was from El Salvador. All 12 are now in federal custody. Biesemeyer says “human smuggling is a serious crime so we’ll continue our investigation and see where it leads us.”
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz says there are a couple of issues for the Hawkeye offense as they prepare for Saturday’s game against Michigan State. First is turnovers, The Hawks had five against the Wolverines. The second is avoiding big losses, quarterback Drew Tate has been sacked on numerous occasions and running back Jermelle Lewis has been tackled for some big losses. He says when you’re struggling a bit there’s a tendency for guys to want to make a big play. Ferentz says sometimes you have to take a loss and not back track and make it worse. He says Lewis may be pressing a little bit, and not just taking what’s there. Ferentz says sophomore quarterback Drew Tate continues to improve and will make fewer mistakes as he gets more experience. Ferentz says they’re going to ride with the mistakes he makes and he says it probably won’t get any tougher in the next two weeks. Ferentz says he admires the way Tate has handled things and says he expects Tate to continue to get better and grow as they move on. Ferentz says Tate probably won’t make the same mistakes again as he moves on. One bright spot has been the play of tight end Tony Jackson who was impressive against Michigan. Ferentz says Jackson made some fantastic plays and that’s a positive and says one of the solutions to the offensive problems is to spread the ball around.
Iowa State coach Dan McCarney will continue using two quarterbacks when the Cyclones open the Big-12 race at Oklahoma State. In the first three games Bret Meyer has started and Austin Flynn has also played and McCarney says both deserve to play. He says it epitomizes what the team is all about, “Who cares, don’t give a dam about credit, let’s find a way to win, lets move the ball, let’s score points.” He says they want to be one of the most improved teams in the country by the end of the season, and he says the two quarterbacks are leading the charge. The Cyclones are 2-1 and a year ago finished winless in conference play. McCarney says he has a gut feeling about the team as he says they come to practice every day wanting to do some things that last year’s team couldn’t do. Oklahoma State is 3-0 and McCarney says the Cowboys deserve their number 24 ranking. He says they’re a fast, physical football team that has dominated all three opponents thus far.
The Northern Iowa football team will face a huge challenge this Saturday. The Panthers will open up Gateway Conference play at Division One-Double-A top-ranked Southern Illinois. Last year the Panthers staged a dramatic come-from-behind 43-40 victory at home over SIU to earn a share of the Gateway Conference title. At the time Southern Illinois was undefeated and ranked second nationally and Panther coach Mark Farley says he thinks they’ll be more emotionally tied to the game than his team because of what happened. The Panthers are still looking to get their rushing attack going. Farley feels it’s vital for UNI to run the ball well this Saturday. He says Southern has average nearly 45 points a game and 500 yards of offense, and he says if you can keep them off the field by running the football, that’s critical. UNI is 1-2.
Voters in Guthrie County said “no” to an additional sales tax on Tuesday. The School Infrastructure Local Option tax would have funded school improvements. The tax failed yesterday with around 53-percent of voters choosing “no,” 557 to 495. Panorama Superintendent John Millhollin says even some school board members in his district were cool toward the plan. “The board felt that we had done quite a bit in bond issues and had improved our buildings, that we didn’t need to ask our tax payers to pay more money.” The measure would have made sales taxes in the county seven-percent. Last fall, voters approved a different one-percent tax to help fund city governments. Millhollin says voters will likely have another opportunity to vote on the question. Millhollin says “I think there is a waiting period, but I would expect it to run again, probably very soon. Now that we know a little more about it, maybe we can come up with a better plan so we can get support in our community also.” This vote also means Guthrie County will not be able to draw from a reserve of funds generated around the state to help pay for education. According to the Department of Revenue, all but 11 counties have approved a SILO tax measure.
Some Iowa voters are getting warnings about bad ballots — warnings that are incorrect. Union County Auditor Sandy Hysell says her office has heard from people saying they got recorded phone messages that told them their absentee ballot was no good, and they should rip it up and ask for a new one. In Plymouth County officials have discovered about half the absentee ballots sent out last week omitted the race for the fifth congressional district. But Hysell says Union County ballots do not have a mistake on them, and voters should not discard them. Ignore the message, she says. Hysell’s talked to the major political parties and while they know about Plymouth County’s ballot mistake, they also realize it’s only one county, not all 99, and are trying to get the erroneous messages stopped. Hysell says anyone who’s filled out an absentee ballot should get it in without delay to make sure it’s counted in time this election season. After you’ve put the ballot into the affidavit envelope, drop it into a mailbox — she points out the return envelope’s pre-stamped with the correct return postage. There are also other ways to file that absentee ballot once you’ve filled it out. You can bring that ballot to the auditor’s office in person, and couriers also will come around and you can have them pick up your ballot. Hysell says the couriers that pick up the ballots will provide proper identification when requested. If anyone gets a recorded phone message to throw out their absentee ballot, or other instructions they don’t understand, Hysell says you should call the local auditor’s office, tell them about it, and let them clarify what to do and how to cast your vote. Voters in Lee, Louisa and Henry counties were sent supplemental ballots after a judge’s name was left off the original ballot.
A Red Oak woman faces a variety of charges after drugs were found in a southwest Iowa daycare center. Red Oak police say 40-year-old Loni Jo Keats was arrested Tuesday on 13 counts of child endangerment, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Authorities met with officials from the Iowa Department of Human Services at the Loni-land Day Care in Red Oak after complaints illegal drugs were being used in the presence of children. Officers allegedly found marijuana and several items of drug paraphernalia in the immediate area of the children. Keats is held on more than 86-thousand dollars bond.
Members of a team from the Iowa Department of Public Health talked with reporters Tuesday ion a conference from Florida where they’re helping with hurricane relief. Cory Bonnett works for the Johnson County Ambulance Service in Iowa, and he describe sitting through the latest hurricane. He says it would be really really calm for awhile and then within seconds the wind would be blowing up to 70 miles an hour along with heavy rain. Ellen McCardle-Woods says there aren’t many areas left undamaged, and it all runs together. She says it’s hard to determine what was new damage and what was old damage from the first wave of storms to the most recent. Jeff Safely works at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines and has been helping people at a special needs center near St. Cloud, Florida. Safely says the people are hit as hard psychologically as they’ve been hit by the wind and rain. He says most of the people are very frustrated as this is the third time that had to come to a shelter. He says many had their homes destroyed in the first hurricane and they’ve been moving from shelter to shelter and trying to work through the system to get a new house. Safely was asked if the damage in Florida is comparable to anything he’s seen in Iowa. He says the way the towns look is like they got hit by a tornado. He says Pensacola that got hit by Hurricane Ivan looked like a 170-mile wide tornado. Safely says the Iowa teams of professionals have been warmly welcomed. He says some of the workers have been working for 36 hours straight without replacements, and he says then they walk through the door, they get a standing ovation. He says it’s a huge boost to their morale that people in Iowa are willing to come and help and that the people of Iowa care. McCardle-Woods has been to other disasters, including the Oklahoma City bombing. She says the bombing was a one-time thing, and this is different. She says it’s Mother Nature and the people are having a time finding anyone to be angry with. She says they just keep getting bombarded again, and again and they feel there’s no relief. McCardle-Woods says it’s also different because everyone is impacted. She says the whole state has been devastated, so there isn’t even local help to come into areas and help. She says the local officials have had their own homes destroyed and have their own worries as they try to help. McCardle-Woods says coming in from out-of-state they can help take some of the pressure off the local officials. And she says one of the most important things is to just sit and listen. More than two dozen Iowans are in Florida helping with the relief efforts.