October 13, 2015

Congressman King says voters will reward, not punish GOP for speaker turmoil

Congressman Steve King. (file photo)

Congressman Steve King. (file photo)

Republican Congressman Steve King says there are a number of words to describe what happened last Thursday when the leading candidate to replace out-going House Speaker John Boehner withdrew from the race.

“There was turmoil and there was a bit of chaos and there was an amount of sadness and there were an amount of emotions that flowed back and forth and there was confusion and misunderstanding,” King says.

King is supporting Florida Congressman Daniel Webster to be the next speaker of the House.

“Hopefully he becomes the next speaker of the House in the next few days or a couple of weeks,” King says. “But in any case, (Webster) has laid down the parameters on how to restructure this House.”

On Friday, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan responded to pressure and announced he would consider running for speaker of the House.

“Paul is no doubt a capable individual and he has broad support in the conference,” King says. “Whether it’s broad enough to win the speakership in there, I think that’s a hard thing to guess after watching how Kevin McCarthy’s broad support, some of it, apparently disappeared.”

Some Republicans have suggested “the crazies” like King have damaged the Republican brand by undermining the current House leadership team, but King says he won’t respond to that. King contends the House may wind up functioning better as a result of this fight.

“If we respond to the voice of the people, we’re going to be better. We’re going to be better respected,” King says. “If this dip goes down a little bit longer and we come out of it better, we’ll be rewarded for that rather than punished.”

King is hoping a leadership vote is scheduled sooner rather than later, although the House is not meeting this week.

“By the time we come back in another week, I think we’ll be ready to take some action,” King says.

King made his comments Friday during an appearance on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal.

DNR adding assault rifles for conservation officers

DNR-signDepartment of Natural Resources offices assigned to state parks are getting more firepower to go along with their handguns. DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins says the officers are now learning to use assault rifles that will be assigned to them.

“We made a purchase of 37 AR-15s. There are actually 34 officers who are in training to be certified on these,” Baskins says. Baskins says the state parks are safe but the officers often assist other law enforcement agencies such as country sheriffs or state troopers.

“A lot of our state parks are located in more remote areas of the state and that includes some of the counties that don’t have very high populations,” according to Baskins. “So, at times, our officers do provide mutual aid.”

Baskin says the rifles will allow the officers to be prepared for any situation they might face. “One of the unfortunate realities of today is that we want to make sure that our officers have equipment that meets the standard of what they might encounter in some of their everyday duties in the parks,” Baskins says. Baskins says they are sworn peace officers who can enforce any of the laws on the books. The state park officers must pass proficiency tests before being issued a rifle.

Dean Borg of Iowa Public Radio contributed to this story.


Iowa Hot Lotto case leads to nationwide investigation into lottery fraud

Lottery CEO Terry Rich.

Lottery CEO Terry Rich.

The insider convicted of tampering with lottery equipment to try to win a $16 million Hot Lotto jackpot five years ago is now accused of helping his brother and his best friend win jackpots from other state lotteries.

“It truly was a breach of trust and all roads seem to lead to Eddie Tipton,” says Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich, who is also the current president of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

Tipton was the information security director for the Multi-State Lottery Association. A jury convicted Tipton on fraud charges in July and last month he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Jim Saunders of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says after that conviction, authorities got a tip Tipton had rigged drawings in other state lotteries.

“This is now a nationwide investigation that seeks to identify instances where individuals may have taken advantage of personal relationships to perpetrate fraud against a lottery game,” Saunders says.

Authorities are asking the public to come forward if they know of instances where someone who did not buy the winning ticket has been asked to claim a lottery prize in another state.

According to court documents, Tipton is already accused of rigging a Colorado LOTTO drawing in November of 2005. Investigators say Eddie Tipton’s brother, Tommy Tipton, asked a friend to claim a payout of more than half a million dollars from the Colorado Lottery. The former lottery security man is also accused of rigging a December, 2007 Megabucks Lotto drawing in Wisconsin that was claimed by a company owned by Eddie Tipton’s best friend. That best friend is facing charges in the 2005 case here in Iowa that sparked the investigation.

Tipton was never able to claim the Iowa Lottery’s Hot Lotto prize, as state law requires the ticket purchaser to reveal themselves to lottery officials, who have video of ticket purchases to confirm the player’s identity. Seventeen state lotteries used the computer technology Tipton helped create and control at the Multi-State Lottery Association. The Iowa Lottery’s CEO says “multiple, additional layers of security” have been added as a result of this case.

“It’s appalling to know that the person at the center of this case once worked at a vendor organization within the lottery industry,” Rich says. “This s breach of trust against lotteries, our players, our games and the billions of dollars at stake for the worthy causes that lotteries benefit.”

Tipton had been released pending the appeal of his fraud conviction. Tipton returned to Iowa from Texas today. He was booked into the Polk County Jail and then released on a $25,000 dollar bond. Tipton’s best friend, who is from Texas, has yet to go on trial on charges related to the Hot Lotto case.

Belmond Drive-in wins top pork tenderloin contest

Belmond Drive-in pork tenderloin.

Belmond Drive-in pork tenderloin.

A restaurant in northern Iowa’s Wright County serves up the state “Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin.” The Belmond Drive-in is the winner of the annual contest presented by the Iowa Pork Producer’s Association (IPPA). Joe McFarland and his wife, Jewel, took over ownership of the Belmond Drive-in one year ago.

“It’s kind of an iconic place in Belmond. It’s been here since the 1970’s and it’s been through a few owners. It’s always been a staple of the (town),” McFarland said. “We support the school community and local businesses as much as we can.” In fact, McFarland purchases his pork loin from a meat locker located just a few blocks away from his restaurant. He hand trims and cuts the loins fresh daily.

“A lot of people use the frozen tenderloins, but those things are horrible, I think,” McFarland said. “Fresh is always better. I hand cut them and make sure all of the fat is off of them. I actually have a hand crank tenderizer I run them though and then I pound them out with a meat tenderizer hammer.” The tenderloin is then dipped in an egg wash and hand breaded with a medium size breadcrumb.

It’s served plain on a large, yellow, deep dish bun with pickle slices on the side. Today the IPPA presented the McFarlands with a $500 check, a plaque and a large banner proclaiming the Belmond Drive-in as the home to Iowa’s Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin for 2015. Three C’s Diner in Corning placed second in this year’s contest and will receive $250 and a plaque. Rounding out the top five finalists was the Recovery Room in Ottumwa, the Peru Bar & Grill in Peru and The Office in Lenox.



One person dead in fire near Anita in southwest Iowa


One person died in this fire in southwest Iowa.

One person is dead after a house fire overnight in rural southwest Iowa. Fire fighters were sent to the home north of Anita in Cass County around 12:45 a.m. John Ticer, with the State Fire Marshal’s office, says the cause of the fire appears to be accidental.

“At this point, we’re looking at some wiring…malfunctions with some wiring in the wall of a second floor bedroom,” Ticer said. Anita Fire Chief Josh Peach said flames were shooting out of that second floor bedroom when his crew arrived on the scene.

“There was heavy smoke coming…and flames started showing. We got it put out semi-quick,” Peach said. The person who died in the fire has been identified as 67-year-old Linda Barber.

Her husband, 73-year-old Larry Barber, was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Firefighters work to put out this fire near Anita.

Firefighters work to put out this fire near Anita.

“We did have one person taken to a hospital with smoke inhalation issues, not serious conditions, just wanted to check him out,” Peach said.

(Story and photos by Ric Hansen, KJAN, Atlantic)


State stocks trout in urban ponds and lakes

troutA truck with a tank full of trout will start making the rounds to 17 ponds and lakes across the state Friday. Iowa Department of Natural Resources regional fisheries supervisor Mike Steuck says it’s the start of the annual program where they stock urban ponds with the trout.

“At a minimum it’ll be 1,500 fish, and it’ll be a combination of rainbow trout and brook trout. And they will all be about 10 to 12 inches or so,” Steuck says. The first two areas to get stocked are Sand Lake in Marshalltown and North Prairie Lake in Cedar Falls.

“All these waters are within 10 miles or so of an urban population. Our goal is to get people excited about fishing and so we go to these urban ponds and we stock the trout in there,” Steuck says. “They wouldn’t be able to survive in these ponds in wintertime, but when the water drops below 65 they can survive through the winter, and typically they all get caught anyways.”

He says the trout are sort of a bait to get people to seek out more fishing opportunities. “In particular trout fishing and get them more aware about the trout program — and then hopefully they’ll come up to northeast Iowa and check out our trout streams,” Steuck explains. Steuck works out of northeast Iowa and says they also stock the trout streams there through October.

“We also have 40 streams with natural reproduction of brown trout, so there’s fish in these streams all year round,” Steuck says. “So, it’s well worth the $12.50 for the trout fee to come on up and check out the leaves turning. The hardwood forests up here in the hills along our rivers and streams are gorgeous. So, it’s well worth the 12-50 to go out, even if you don’t catch any fish.”

You may’ve seen people fly fishing for trout in waders, but he says that’s not necessary and you can use regular fishing gear. He says you can catch them with a hook and bobber just like you would bluegills. Steuck says anything flashy you can put on your line will attract the trout. Steuck says the lakes and ponds appear to be ready for the stocking.”All the biologists that I’ve talked to say they are excited — they are ready to rock and roll,” according to Steuck.

You need to have a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. Children age 15 or younger can fish for trout with an adult who has a license. They are limited to one trout daily. The child can purchase a trout fee which will allow them to catch their own limit.

Here is the trout stocking schedule:
Oct. 9, Sand Lake, Marshalltown, Noon
Oct. 9, North Prairie Lake, Cedar Falls, 11 a.m.
Oct. 15, Banner Lake (South), Summerset State Park, Indianola, 10:30 a.m.
Oct. 15, Big Lake, Council Bluffs, 1 p.m.
Oct. 16, Lake Petoka, Bondurant, Noon
Oct. 17, Lake of the Hills, Davenport, 10:30 a.m.
Oct. 22, Ottumwa Park Pond, Ottumwa, 11:30 a.m.
Oct. 24, Heritage Pond, Dubuque, 10 a.m.
Oct. 24, Discovery Park, Muscatine, 10 a.m.
Oct. 24, Wilson Lake, Fort Madison, Noon
Oct. 30, Terry Trueblood Lake, Iowa City, 11 a.m.
Nov. 3, Bacon Creek, Sioux City, 2 p.m.
Nov. 4, Moorland Pond, Fort Dodge, Noon
Nov. 6, Prairie Park (Cedar Bend), Cedar Rapids, 10:30 a.m.
Nov. 7, Scharnberg Pond, Spencer, Noon
Nov. 19, Ada Hayden, Ames, Noon
Nov. 25, Blue Pit, Mason City, 11 a.m.



Former Anamosa prison guards facing charges of bribes and drug use

Corrections-logoFour former corrections officers at the Anamosa State Penitentiary are facing drug charges, while one is accused of taking bribes to smuggle cell phones for inmates. The allegations against the four men were outlined Tuesday by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa Kevin Techau.

Twenty-nine-year-old Garrett Barton of Anamosa faces the most serious charges. He’s accused of taking money to smuggle cell phones into the prison for inmate use. Barton is also accused of trading controlled substances with other corrections officers. He’s expected to plead guilty to charges that would carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

The other three men are facing either federal or state charges for being unlawful drug users in possession of firearms when they served guard tower duty. That includes 29-year-old Ethan Darrow of Anamosa, who pleaded guilty to the charges Monday and now faces up to 10 years in prison.

Twenty-eight-year-old Seth Vogel of Marion and 38-year-old Marques Maryland of Cedar Rapids agreed to plead guilty to state charges and each face up to six months in prison.