October 24, 2014

Former Clinton man given prison time for bank robbery

A former Clinton man has been sentenced to prison for robbing a bank last year. Police said 22-year-old Shane Hoiland entered the Lyon’s branch of the Clinton National Bank on February 25, 2013 and handed a teller a note demanding money. He left with cash that the teller placed in a paper bag.

Hoiland was arrested and charged earlier this year after he was identified as the suspect from bank surveillance video. This week, a federal judge sentenced Hoiland to four years in prison.

He was also ordered to pay restitution to the Clinton National Bank for the money taken in the robbery.

Knoxville man arrested after shooting

Ricky Hyatt

Ricky Hyatt

One man is in jail and another is hospitalized following a shooting in south-central Iowa last night. Knoxville Police were called to a home shortly after 7:30 p.m. and learned there had been a possible shooting in the area.

A hospital informed police a short time later that a 28-year-old man had arrived with a gunshot wound. The victim, who’s name and condition have not been released, was transferred to a hospital in Des Moines.

The investigation led police to arrest 59-year-old Ricky Hyatt of Knoxville. He’s being held in the Marion County Jail on a charge of willful injury.


Students escape serious injury in Fort Madison bus accident

School-BusA school bus, carrying dozens of children, collided with an SUV this morning in southeast Iowa. Nicole Baker, transportation director for the Fort Madison Community School District, says the bus was carrying 39 students.

None of them were seriously injured. “One of the students later complained of a sore arm. They paid attention to her during the day at school and the parents will get back to me if something develops out of that,” Baker said. “The bus driver, about an hour after the accident, started to not feel well. She had a headache and her shoulder hurt, so she went to the hospital to get it checked out.”

The driver of the SUV was cited for not having car insurance and could face more charges. “It appeared the automobile driver ran the stop sign and the school bus was unable to stop or avoid the accident,” Baker said. The crash happened shortly after 8 a.m. The bus was carrying K-through-6th grade students who were bound for Holy Trinity Elementary School.

Baker said the students boarded another bus and continued to school. This week is National School Bus Safety Week, so students in the Fort Madison district having been taking part in bus evacuation drills.


Milford, Cambridge firefighters honored for bravery

Four firefighters from the small northwest Iowa town of Milford were honored at the statehouse Tuesday for their bravery in a dramatic fire rescue over three years ago. Milford Fire Captain Russ Bell says the fire on September 30, 2011 destroyed the local Rodeway Inn hotel.

Bell and three of his fellow firefighters went inside the hotel after learning three people were trapped in a second story room. “Casey Carpenter and I located the room, made entrance, found the three individuals, and were able to get them out safely,” Bell said. In addition to Bell, firefighters Casey Carpenter, Doug Heller, and Josh Lieb were presented Tuesday with the 2014 Sullivan Brothers Award of Valor during a ceremony in the Governor’s Office.

The three people rescued from the room were not seriously injured, but Bell said they would have been killed if not for his and the other firefighters’ actions. “When we opened up the door to their room, the backside wall was ablaze, so they didn’t have long,” Bell said. “They had done the right thing of entrapping themselves in the bathroom and tucking towels under (the door) to keep the smoke out as much as they could. But, the roof and back wall were going and they probably had five or ten minutes tops if we hadn’t been able to locate them.”

Bell, a Sioux City native who’s been a firefighter in Milford since 2006, did not learn the names of the three adults he helped rescue and hasn’t heard from them since. Bell said the incident had a “big impact” on his life and it’s something he’ll never forget.

“It became a realization, you know, why I do what I do…to realize that I’ve changed somebody’s life forever, even if I never see them or talk to them again, I know within myself that I’ve changed their lives forever and nobody can take that from me,” Bell said.

Investigators with the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office were not able to determine a cause for that hotel fire. The owners of the Rodeway Inn rebuilt and reopened the hotel about a year-and-a-half later.

Bill Hook

Bill Hook

Bill Hook, Chief of the Cambridge Fire and Rescue Department, was also honored at Tuesday’s ceremony.

This summer, Hook rescued two young girls from Ballard Creek, which was filled with rushing flood waters following heavy rains. The Sullivan Brothers Award of Valor is named for five brothers from Waterloo who were killed in World War II.

Bill Hook photo courtesy of the City of Cambridge



State unemployment rate up to 4.6% in September

Workforce-DevelopmentThe Iowa Workforce Development agency is reporting the state’s unemployment rate rose to 4.6 percent in September from 4.5 percent in August. IWD spokesperson Kerry Koonce isn’t surprised. “You’re seeing transition between summer and fall employment, so we’ll frequently see a little bit of bump this time of year,” Koonce says.

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent in September compared to 6.1 percent in August. The number of unemployed Iowans increased to 77,900 in September from 76,500 in August. There are roughly 3,000 more unemployed Iowans compared to a year ago.

Koonce says there was also an increase in the total number of working Iowans. “It jumped from 1,626,400 (in August) up to 1,629,700 (in September),” Koonce says. “That’s 33,000 higher than it was this time last year, so that’s still very strong improvement for the economy.”

Iowa’s construction sector added 1,600 jobs in September, following an “unexpected” loss of 1,200 jobs in August. Construction has added jobs in five of the last six months. Education and health services also added 1,300 jobs last month. “We did see some losses in trade and transportation (-1,000 jobs), with most of that in the transportation area,” Koonce says. “We also saw losses in leisure and hospitality (-1,600), which does tend to trend down this time of year.”

Employment in Iowa’s construction, health care, and finance sectors are at or near record levels, according to Koonce. Manufacturing trimmed 100 jobs last month, marking the fourth straight month that sector has cut employment in Iowa. “We saw large growth (in manufacturing) last year, so that’s just kind of leveling off,” Koonce says. Compared to one year ago, there are around 400 fewer jobs in Iowa’s manufacturing sector.

Escapee from Sioux City caught

Cletus Armell

Cletus Armell

A fugitive from northwest Iowa is back in custody. Cletus Armell was listed as an escapee from a Sioux City work release facility back on July 14.

The Iowa Department of Corrections reports the 42-year-old Armell was found in Dakota County, Nebraska over the weekend and is now booked in the Woodbury County Jail. Records show Armell previously escaped from a residential work release center in Sioux City in 2012.

He was captured a short time later. His original prison sentence in 2004 was for armed robbery.


Understudy to Norman Borlaug will accept the World Food Prize

Norman Borlaug with Sanjaya Rajaram working in a field in Mexico.

Norman Borlaug with Sanjaya Rajaram working in a field in Mexico.

The 2014 World Food Prize will be awarded tonight to plant scientist Sanjaya Rajaram with a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol. The 71-year-old Rajaram is a protégé of World Food Prize founder, Norman Borlaug.

“I describe Dr.Borlaug as not only a great scientist and agricultural leader, but also he was an exemplary plant breeder for us because…he was not only the director of the program, he was on the front line doing (work) himself,” Rajaram said. As a post-doctoral student, Rajaram worked with Borlaug in Mexico as he created disease-resistant strains of wheat which improved food security worldwide.

Rajaram remembers Borlaug as a “hard taskmaster” who worked long hours. “One thing I learned from him was that he was a highly determined person. He was not easy to give up. I mean, we would not always succeed and he’d keep insisting,” Rajaram said.

Borlaug, who died in 2010 at the age of 95, called Rajaram “the greatest present-day wheat scientist in the world.” Rajaram succeeded Borlaug as director of the wheat breeding program at CIMMYT. He’s credited with breeding 480 wheat varieties used in more than 50 countries.

Rajaram, who grew up in India, made his comments on the Iowa Public Radio program “River to River.” The World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony will be broadcast live on Iowa Public Television at 7 p.m. and will be preceded by a documentary about Borlaug at 6:30 p.m.

Photo courtesy of the World Food Prize.