May 27, 2015

Mason City man fined for throwing cat in river

GavelA Mason City man who was accused of throwing a cat into a river earlier this year is being fined $100 dollars. Sixty-nine-year-old William Hill was originally charged with first-offense animal torture, but prosecutors later reduced the charge to abandonment of an animal, a simple misdemeanor, as part of a plea deal with Hill.

Mason City police say Hill threw a gym bag containing his own cat into the Winnebago River on March 21st. Two people who witnessed the incident, went down to the river and found a live cat in the bag. Hill surrendered to authorities three days later. He was sentenced in Cerro Gordo County court on Tuesday.

The cat was later adopted by a St. Paul Minnesota man.

(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)



Board of Regents to consider subcommittee on campus safety and security

Crime-sceneThe board that governs the three state universities will discuss creating a campus safety and security subcommittee at its meeting next week in Ames. Board of Regents spokesperson Sheila Doyle Koppin says she’s not sure who put forward the idea for the committee, but says it is related in part to a national campaign.

“It’s in response to Obama’s ‘It’s on Use Campaign’ to bring greater awareness to the issue of sexual assault on the campuses and to help bring an end to campus sexual assault,” Koppin says. She says efforts to end sexual assault on campus isn’t something unique to the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. “It’s also among the top ten policy issues facing higher education boards across the country,” Koppin says.

Agenda information from the regents says the purpose of the proposed subcommittee is to “first monitor and review campus safety and security reports, and second to monitor and review campus safety and security issues as they arise and as necessary.” “Of course we have a very robust effort with respect to campus safety and security on our campuses, it’s the board’s number one priority,” Koppin says. “But, this would provide and additional layer of oversight to ensure our compliance with current and national guidelines.”

The board information says the subcommittee would meet at least twice a year. The three universities released their crime reports in March, and they showed an increase of sexual assaults from four to 14 at the University of Iowa, a drop from 13 to 12 at Iowa State University, and an increase from two to three at the University of Northern Iowa.

The interim director of the U-I Department of Public Safety, Dave Visin, said at the time that the increase in sexual assaults could likely be attributed to an increased awareness on campus of the resources available for sexual assault survivors through President Sally Mason’s six-point plan. Visin says U-I police did not see any trends to indicate campus is more dangerous than in the past.


Judges rules rezoning around ‘Field of Dreams’ was reasonable


“Field of Dreams” farmstead near Dyersville.

A district court judge has ruled the Dyersville City Council acted reasonably when it rezoned the area around the “Field of Dreams” as commercial rather than agricultural property. Jim Heavens was Dyersville’s mayor at the time the council made that decision.

“This has been something that’s really been weighing on all of us here,” Heavens says. “And I think what it proves or it shows — I’m not a lawyer, but I think the judge got it right — is that what we did here was make a quality decision on the Field of Dreams project from the city’s standpoint.”

A Chicago developer has plans to build a youth sports complex around the iconic baseball field featured in the 1989 movie, but a coalition that includes neighbors around the “Field of Dreams” filed a lawsuit nearly three years ago protesting the Dyersville City Council’s decision. Susan Hess is the attorney who represents the “Residential and Agricultural Advisory Committee”.

“I really felt very strongly that the city did not follow the correct process,” Hess says.

Hess says the group will “most likely appeal” today’s ruling. Hess says farmers in the area who joined the lawsuit are concerned about the increased traffic around the proposed sports complex, which would have 24 baseball and softball diamonds.

“They’re farming different properties and so they’re moving around and hauling a lot of heavy equipment,” Hess says. “Their concern, obviously, was that it would not be safe for a large facility to be put there in the middle of an area that’s largely agricultural.”

Former Mayor Heavens says the judge’s decision “vindicates” the action he and the rest of the city council took.

“We were called corrupt and all kinds of names in public, but what happened here was that they took all the documents that were related to this thing, seven days of trial, hours of city council tapes and planning and zoning tapes,” Heavens says, “essentially put that decision under a microscope and found out after all was said and done that, yes, we did everything according to the rules.”

The district court judge ruled the decision to rezone the property was “made reasonably.” The “Field of Dreams’ is about 3 miles northeast of Dyersville.

Omaha police officer, Iowa native laid to rest

An honor guard carries the casket of Omaha Police Officer Karrie Orozco.

An honor guard carries the casket of Omaha Police Officer Karrie Orozco.

Hundreds of mourners gathered in an Omaha church — with several thousand more and at an arena nearby — to pay their respects this morning for Iowa native and Omaha Police Officer Karrie Orozco.

The 29-year-old new mother was fatally shot in the line of duty last week in a shootout with a wanted man, who was also killed.

Dozens of law officers were called to attention as Officer Orozco’s flag-draped casket was brought to St. John’s Catholic Church in the midst of a steady rain.

In a tradition that dates back centuries for a fallen comrade, a riderless horse was escorted to the steps of the church, as the rows of uniformed officers saluted.

The church on the Creighton University campus holds about 700 people and it was packed for the service. Hundreds of law officers from Nebraska, Iowa and elsewhere were part of the overflow crowd that watched the funeral on the jumbotron TVs at the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha.

Officers salute their fallen comrade.

Officers salute their fallen comrade.

The Reverend William Bond, of St. Joseph’s Parish, was among the speakers. Reverend Bond said the very large crowd was assembled for a series of reasons.

“Perhaps the reason so many people are here is respect,” Bond said. “All of you who are here to show your respect for Kerrie and for all of our law enforcement officials and other first responders who place their lives in danger every day to protect and promote the common good.”

He called Orozco a servant of God who made prayer a part of her daily routines, including in her squad car. “Oh, God, hear our prayers on behalf of your servant, Kerrie, whom you have called out of this world,” Bond said, “and because she put her hope and trust in you, command that she be carried safely home to heaven and come to enjoy your eternal reward.”

Officer  Kerrie Orozco was shot to death while on duty Wednesday.

Officer Kerrie Orozco .

Reverend Bond had performed the wedding service for Officer Orozco and her husband, Hector. Bond thanked the hundreds of law officers in attendance for their service. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad also attended the service.

“I do want all of our police and law enforcement officers and first responders to know, we respect each one of you,” Bond said. “We know that all of you, every day you go to work, show yourselves willing to make that ultimate sacrifice for us.” Orozco was laid to rest in a dark blue coffin, with burial at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Council Bluffs.

Orozco is the first female police officer to die in the line of duty in Omaha history. Orozco was a Walnut, Iowa, native and a resident of Council Bluffs. She was married and had three children. Her daughter, Olivia, was born premature on February 17th and had been hospitalized since birth. The infant was due to be released from the hospital the day after the shooting, the same day Orozco was to begin her maternity leave.

Orozco was on the police force more than seven years. She coached baseball since 2009 in the North Omaha Boys and Girls Club, she volunteered with the Special Olympics, she was president of the Police Officers’ Ball to benefit the Special Olympics, she took in rescue dogs and she was a Girl Scout mentor. Omaha’s police chief called Orozco a treasured member of the department and her death is tragedy.

Photos courtesy of the Omaha Police Department.


Iowans urged to research charities following cancer donation scam

Greater Iowa Better Business Bureau president Chris Coleman and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller (L-R)

Greater Iowa Better Business Bureau president Chris Coleman and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller (L-R)

The president of the Greater Iowa Better Business Bureau is urging Iowans to do their research before contributing to a charitable organization.

Chris Coleman’s advice is in response to a federal lawsuit announced this week involving all 50 states against four phony cancer charities. The complaint states the organizations collected $187 million in donations over a five-year period and very little of the money actually went to help cancer victims.

“It gives all of us real heartache because of all of us know family members or friends who are victims of cancer or have suffered through that disease,” Coleman said.

The defendants in the lawsuit include Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and the Breast Cancer Society. Most donors, upon hearing the charity’s name, probably felt comfortable making a donation. “They borrowed a name of a good charity, I’d say they hijacked it,” Coleman said. “They steal the good reputation of many charities.”

The complaint claims a large majority of the contributions to the sham charities benefited only the defendants, their families and friends, and professional fundraising groups. “If this causes consumers to do more research to verify the legitimacy of charities before they make a contribution, that will help all good charities and we feel confident about that,” Coleman said. “We want our information to spotlight the best charities so people know where to contribute and where their gift can make the most difference.”

Charities can be checked out at the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving site.

Council Bluffs man charged with trying to ram police with forklift

Police car lightsA western Iowa man was arrested after allegedly taking a forklift and trying to ram a police car this morning.

Police in Council Bluffs say 39-year old Michael Lynn Burgess, of Council Bluffs, took the construction-type forklift from Midwest Walnut. The incident began at around 9:20 A.M.

Council Bluffs Police Officer Ron Branigan saw the forklift and followed it. Burgess saw the officer and turned the machine around in an attempt to ram the police cruiser. Both times the man tried to ram the car, the officer managed to evade him.

When the forklift was surround by police in the area of South 12th Street and 5th Avenue, Burgess surrendered without further incident. He was brought to the Pottawattamie County Jail. Burgess was charged with first-degree theft, assault on a police officer with a dangerous weapon, and leaving the scene of an accident.

(Reporting by Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic)


Ames teen arrested in attempted child abduction

Police-car-backA teenager is facing charges after police in Ames responded to a call about an attempted child abduction early this morning. Residents of a home in Ames told police they sleeping when they were awakened just before 1 a.m. to a commotion.

They found a young man had entered their home and pulled a child out of a basement window. He also struck the child in the face. A family member chased the suspect to the front yard and retrieved the child as the suspect fled on foot.

A short time later, police arrested 17-year-old Akuk Akok of Ames. He was transported to a couple of medical facilities for mental health evaluations. Police say Akok will be charged as an adult with first-degree burglary. More charges are pending. The child was treated for minor injuries.