A barroom brawl got out of hand in Marshalltown early today. At about 1:50 AM, police were called to the El Parral bar where a large fight was underway in the parking lot. The first officers who arrived called for backup. Several people were injured, including a police officer. One of the civilians who was hurt, a 24-year-old, had six stab wounds in his midsection. One suspect was arrested, identified as 25-year-old Cesar Castillo Vargas of Marshalltown. He’s charged with several offenses, including attempted murder.
Archives for June 2003
Iowa’s drunken driving law will get tougher tomorrow. You’ll be considered legally drunk at the point-oh-eight blood alcohol level. Iowa Public Safety Commission Kevin Techau is launching a public awareness campaign aimed at men between the ages of 18 and 34. Techau’s department has mailed out a rap song to 200 Iowa radio stations — a public service mesage about drunken driving and the new law. Many bar and restaurant owners fear the law will cut down on their profits. Doni Denucci of the Iowa Hospitality Association says the worry is that people will stop ordering that glass of wine with dinner, or may not even go out for dinner at all. Legislators who argued against the tougher law said it would make social drinkers into convicts. But Bill Shakelford, vice president of the Polk County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says that’s a fallacy. He says a 170 pound man must drink four to five drinks on an empty stomach in an hour to get to point-oh-eight, and then consume at least one drink per hour after that to maintain that level of drunkenness.
Fourteen Republican legislators have voted to start searching for a law firm to file a lawsuit challenging Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s decision to use his item veto authority to remove tax cuts and regulatory reforms from an economic stimulus package. The vote came today during a Legislative Council meeting. Democrats like Senator Mike Connolly of Dubuque accused Republican of picking a partisan fight. Republicans argued it should not be a partisan fight and that Democrats should join the fray against Vilsack. House Republican Leader Chuck Gipp of Decorah says the legislature needs to “defend its turf.” Gipp says it’s about determining what powers the legislative branch and the executive branch of government have under the constitution. Governor Vilsack says he’s not focusing on the lawsuit. Vilsack says legislators are “lookin’ to make work for lawyers” while Vilsack says he is “lookin’ to make work for college graduates.” Vilsack says legislators “want to spend time in a courtroom.” Vilsack says he wants to “spend time in a boardroom, selling the state of Iowa,” During today’s Legislative Council meeting, Senator Connolly, a Democrat from Dubuque, tried but failed to get Republicans to put a cap on the amount of money that could be spent on the lawsuit. Connolly says cost is a big issue in every other area. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says limiting the amount of legal fees is ridiculous. Rants accuses Democrats of trying to set the suit up for failure by not allowing enough billable hours to be racked up to win the case. Taxpayers foot the bill, for both sides in this case.
Traffic during the coming Independence Day weekend is expected to be the heaviest in about a decade, according to a survey from Triple-A Iowa, where Dawn Duffy is spokeswoman. She says nationally, nearly 37-and-a-half million people are expected to take trips of at least 50 miles from home during the coming weekend, the highest number in nine years. Duffy says several factors are coming into play in the prediction. She says a lot of people have been focusing more on “cocooning” since the September 11th attacks, but on the holiday celebrating America’s independence, more people are traveling within the U.S. and spending time with family. Duffy says gasoline prices should remain stable for the next few months. For the past few months, gas prices have been hovering between $1.45 and $1.50 per gallon and she says that’ll likely hold for much of the summer, though that’s a little higher than a year ago. Duffy says most of us will be hitting the road, not the runway. Of the anticipated 37-and-a-half million travelers, just over 32-and-a-half million are expected to be traveling in motor vehicles, four-point-three million by plane, and one-half million by bus or train. Duffy says motor vehicle traffic is expected to be by up two-percent while air travel will likely be down by two percent.
A former Iowan is among three young men found shot to death last week in a home near Wisconsin’s capitol city. Verona Police Chief Bernard Coughlin has identified the victims as Jason C. McGuigan, Daniel R. Swanson and former Charles City resident Dustin J. Wilson. Coughlin would not say how many times the men had been shot, where or with what type of weapon. Investigators have made no arrests and have no one in custody. Coughlin says McGuigan had lived at the duplex in Verona — a Madison suburb — for more than a year. But the other two victims may have moved there as recently as two weeks ago. Wilson’s stepfather, Mike Snook of Charles City, says the 17-year-old had been calling his brothers, saying someone was out to kill him but didn’t identify that person. Snook says Wilson left his hometown of Charles City about nine months ago to live with his father in the La Crosse area. Coughlin says local authorities have asked the FBI for help because tips and interviews have led them across state lines.
A 45-year-old Ames man was killed in a two-vehicle collision near the Hamilton County town of Randall on Sunday morning. Two Jewell residents were hurt in the wreck. State troopers identify the man killed as Gary Smith, saying it appears his van tried to turn onto a highway and crossed the center line, colliding with a pickup driven by Brian Schoppe. Schoppe and a passenger, 16-year-old Justin Vestweber, were taken to an Ames hospital.
Governor Tom Vilsack today announced the president of the Iowa Farm Bureau and three bankers will be among the 11 board members who’ll dole out the new pile of state economic development grants and loans. Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Lang will serve on the “Iowa Values” board as will Holmes Foster, a retired banker who once served as the state superintendent of banking. Foster presently serves on the three-member state commission which estimates state tax revenues. Henry Royer, a retired banker from Cedar Rapids, and Nancy Dunkel, a banker from Dyersville, will also serve. Vilsack says the board members are a “rich mix” of people from various segments of Iowa’s economy, and they could be ready to review their first loan application in mid-August. Other board members are Gerald Kirke, an insurance executive from West Des Moines; Mary Chapman, a v-p at Des Moines Area Community College; Kathy Alden, C-E-O of a software company in Dougherty; Bonnie Barney, the principal of a company in Tiffin that makes synthetic D-N-A; Marcia Nichols, a union rep; and Toby Shine of Shine Brothers Steel in Milford. Vilsack hopes to fill the 11th spot on the board with someone who leads an advanced manufacturing company in southwest Iowa. The board will have about 65 million dollars to hand out in each of the next two years. It’s part of the new, half-a-billion dollar state economic development plan legislators approved in special session earlier this month
A renewable energy program is getting a financial boost from the Minnesota-based McKnight Foundation. Eight-million McKnight Foundation dollars will go to a renewable energy program in seven midwest states over the next three years. These dollars build on a three-year-old program called “Wind on the Wires,” designed to bring wind energy to market by improving and expanding the current power grid infrastructure. McKnight will work with the San Fransisco-based Energy Foundation to administer the program, which will focus primarily on wind energy in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, North and South Dakota.
She didn’t win the crown over the weekend but the Iowa contestant in a national beauty pageant isn’t coming home empty-handed. The America’s Junior Miss National Finals were held in Mobile, Alabama, on Saturday night. An 18-year-old from California took the title this year, winning some 65-thousand dollars in scholarships and prizes. An Iowan is among the other young ladies who won honors. Rebekah Hamby, an 18-year-old from Ames, won the “Overall Spirit Award,” along with a five-thousand dollar scholarship. Hamby played the euphonium as her talent. She graduated from Ballard High School and will attend the University of Iowa in the fall. All Junior Miss contestants were judged in 5 categories: fitness, scholastics, poise, talent and interview.
Many of the people who literally map out our lives are meeting today in Ames. It’s the biennial meeting of the Iowa Geographic Information Council. Andy Kula, a meteorologist and the vice president of the council, says geographic information is important to Iowans in many ways. He says local governments use the information in planning, locating utilities and mapping cities. Kula says it’s also important at the National Weather Service where he works. Kula says he’s interested in the sciences of the geographic information and being able to map temperature data, and mapping of data during storm warnings. Kula says the council was instrumental in an important project that will help their cause. He says last spring the group got together to take high-resolution aerial photography of the entire state. He says those photos are now available on the Iowa State University G-I-S website. Kula says he expects those photos to prove their worth. He says they can be used for land use studies and he can see the weather service using them for storm damage surveys. The Geographic Information Council will meet today through Wednesday.