March 29, 2015

State Representative from Hull dies after battle with cancer

Representative Dwayne Alons.

Representative Dwayne Alons.

State Representative Dwayne Alons, a Republican from Hull, died Saturday. Alons was 68 years old and had announced in early October that he had been diagnosed with cancer of the left kidney.

Iowa Republican Party co-chairman Cody Hoefert of Rock Rapids talked about the death of Alons. “Representative Alons was a tireless advocate for family policy, family values and conservative values, throughout his time as a public servant in Iowa. Beginning with his time serving in the military, as well as his time –17 years — serving in the Iowa House,” Hoefert says.

Alons was first elected in 1998. He was a farmer and retired Iowa Air National Guard Brigadier General. “He will be greatly missed, him and his wife Clarice’s time and service to the state of Iowa is a tribute to their sacrifice for our state and our country,” Hoefert says.

According to the Iowa House Republicans web page, Alons attended the elementary school system in Boyden. He graduated from Boyden-Hull High School in 1964. Following high school, he graduated from Northwestern College in Orange City and received his Master’s degree from the University of Arkansas.

In 1967, Alons married Clarice and together they have four children, Kevin, Kyle, Kristin, and Karena. They have 13 grandchildren. Alons won re-election to his ninth term in the Iowa House in the November General Election. He ran unopposed.

Funeral arrangements are pending with the Oolman Funeral Home in Hull.

(Reporting by Scott Van Aartsen, KIWA, Sheldon)

Atlantic woman pleads guilty in fake cancer fund-raising scheme

Leatha Slauson

Leatha Slauson

A western Iowa woman who lied about her daughter having cancer and solicited donations for her treatment has pleaded guilty to 5 charges in the case. Thirty-year-old Leatha Slauson of Atlantic had originally faced a total of 20 counts, but a plea deal was reached last week and details of that agreement were revealed today at a court hearing.

Fourth District Court Judge Mark Eveloff asked Slauson about her actions, including how she raised money for her five-year-old daughter, Riley. Slauson admitted she falsely claimed Riley had terminal cancer in order to collect donations. She also admitted to giving her daughter cannabis oil and other drugs without a prescription.

Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner revealed Slauson spent roughly $13,000 of the money she collected from various fund raisers, but another $13,000 remains in a bank account. “We’re hopeful that through sentencing, regardless of the outcome as far as probation or prison, at least on the theft side, we’re able to work out some means in which she’s ordered to pay victim restitution,” Feistner said. “Who that may go to is a little unique, I think, at this point. But, we do have some of the money, which is in a bank account and frozen.”

Slauson faces up to 21 years in prison when she is sentenced on December 22nd in Cass County District Court. Her attorney, Jay Mez, said his top priority was eliminating the charge of first-degree theft.

“One of the counts was a 25 year sentence, with a mandatory 17 years,” Mez said. “That we did not plea to.” Under the plea agreement, Slauson plead guilty to second-degree theft, two counts of child endangerment causing bodily injury, one count of administering harmful substances, and unlawful possession of a prescription drug.

Slauson is being released from custody to live with her mother in Hampton, Iowa. She is ordered not to have contact with her children or her husband, whom police said wasn’t involved in the scheme. Leatha Slauson must also complete a mental health evaluation prior to her sentencing.

(Reporting by Ric Hansen, KJAN, Atlantic)


Atlantic woman who lied about daughter’s cancer agrees to plea deal

Leatha Slauson

Leatha Slauson

The  western Iowa woman accused of lying about her 5-year-old daughter having cancer in order to solicit thousands of dollars in donations has reached a plea agreement to avoid a trial.

Thirty-year-old Leatha Slauson of Atlantic was scheduled to go to trial next Tuesday in Mills County on 20 charges, ranging from felony child endangerment to first-degree theft.

But, Cass County Attorney Daniel Feistner confirmed Thursday that a plea deal has been reached to settle the case. Details of the agreement will be released Monday at a court hearing.

Authorities said, in addition to lying about the cancer, Slauson inserted a feeding tube into the 5-year-old girl and gave her drugs and cannabis oil.


Iowa cancer patient meets up with Garth Brooks again

Last Friday night, it was Garth Brooks surprising Iowa native Teresa Shaw at his concert in Minneapolis, but on Tuesday, the roles reversed as the breast cancer patient from Osage surprised the country music legend on the national TV program “Entertainment Tonight.”

Shaw held up a sign at the concert that read: “Chemo This Morning, Garth Tonight, Enjoying ‘The Dance. She was helped by security to the front of the stage and once Brooks saw Shaw and her sign, as he was singing his song “The Dance” and came to the edge of the stage, giving her a hug, a kiss and his guitar.

The video of the exchange went viral and “Entertainment Tonight” decided to bring Shaw and Brooks together. Brooks says they were in the second of two shows that night and he was thinking about how tiring doing four shows in 24 hours was, but then he saw Shaw’s sign and thought about why he was complaining as it put everything into perspective. Brooks and Shaw sat down and talked about the concert experience.

Brooks said, “I pray for your health…my fear would be that you ever think I did it for any other reason other than…it was a nice moment.” Shaw said, “You’re just an amazing guy…the music helps me, the music has always helped me through situations and I love your music.”

Shaw was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in June. She will have a double mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery after the first of the year.

(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)


Trial of Cass County mother who lied about daughter’s cancer moved

The trial of a Cass County woman, accused of falsely claiming her daughter had cancer, will be moved out of Cass County. District Court Judge Mark Eveloff has ruled extensive media coverage of the case of 30-year-old Leatha Slauson would make it difficult to give the Atlantic woman a fair and impartial trial in Cass County.

“The court is going to grant the defendant’s motion for a change of venue,” Eveloff announced today. Slauson’s trial is now set to begin on November 18 in Mills County District Court.

Authorities said Slauson lied about her five-year-old daughter having cancer in order to solicit thousands of dollars in donations. Slauson’s Attorney, Jay Mez, requested his client’s trial be moved — arguing there would be a limited jury pool resulting from the extensive media coverage. “Probably the largest issue is the allegations are that the community was the victim in this case,” Mez said. Mez has stated he intends to use a defense of “Diminished Responsibility” when Slauson’s case goes before a jury.

Mez said Slauson is competent to stand trial, but unable to tell right from wrong. Authorities said, in addition to lying about the cancer, Slauson inserted a feeding tube into the 5-year-old girl and gave her drugs and cannabis oils. Slauson has pleaded not guilty to 20 counts, including assault, child endangerment and theft by deception.

(Reporting by Ric Hansen, KJAN, Atlantic)


Northwest Iowa legislator diagnosed with renal cancer

Representative Dwayne Alons.

Representative Dwayne Alons.

A long-time northwest Iowa lawmaker has been diagnosed with renal cancer in his left kidney.

Republican Dwayne Alons of Hull is a retired Iowa Air National Guard Brigadier General. He has served in the Iowa House for the past 16 years. Alons is seeking reelection this November. He released a statement, saying he will undergo treatments this fall for his cancer and plans to continue serving in the legislature. He does not have an opponent in this fall’s election.

Alons, who is nearly 68 years old, released a written statement thanking family, friends and neighbors for their prayers. Alons say’s he’s relying on Jesus — who he calls “the great Physician” — and the “unity in prayer” as a “powerful force against this attack on my body.”

State Senator Joe Seng is also undergoing cancer treatment. Seng, a Democrat from Davenport, announced in early September that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Seng is seeking reelection and, like Alons, Seng does not face an opponent on the November ballot.

Relay runners raise money to fight Cancer

Ten men from south-central Iowa are planning a relay run across the state to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s Coaches versus Cancer program. Organizer Brian Hatch of Knoxville says this Thursday morning, one 5-man team will start in Council Bluffs and another five-man team will start running in Muscatine. Combined, they’ll cover 275 miles on Highway 92 in 24 hours.

“Each runner will run a leg — five miles, 10 miles, whatever they decide they can run — they’ll run up to that checkpoint. As soon as that runner is there, another runner will hit the road. So, they’ll just relay on top of each other the entire way back to Knoxville,” Hatch says. The relay run is scheduled to finish Friday night at the football stadium where Knoxville will be playing Chariton. Hatch, who’s planning to run a 30 mile long leg, is hoping residents in the many towns along Highway 92 will show their support.

“I know there are efforts to try and get people in every town to cheer us on, even if it’s just a high five on the way by,” Hatch says. “The more people we can make aware of this, the better.” This relay is part of a bigger Coaches versus Cancer event held each winter at a Knoxville High School.

At the event earlier this year, Hatch says the community raised around $60,000. “It is the number one Coaches versus Cancer fundraising event in the nation,” Hatch says. Officials with the American Cancer Society confirm that Knoxville hosted the biggest high school Coaches versus Cancer event in the country. Next year’s Coaches versus Cancer event will be held on January 24 during a Knoxville versus Chariton basketball game.

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