Dubuque man turns himself in for drunk driving

Steven Thomas

A Dubuque Police report shows an officer saw a car go through a red light around 1 a.m. Tuesday, tried to pull the driver over, but the car sped away.

The officer eventually backed off when the driver, going double the posted speed limit, entered a residential area. The arrest report shows the driver later called dispatch admitting he was driving drunk, hit another car, and “lost the cops.” Officers then arrested 33-year-old Steven Thomas near his home.

He’s charged with second-offense OWI and felony eluding. He was also cited for nine traffic violations.


Driver dies going the wrong way on I-35 near Cumming

DOT camera view near the Cumming exit as the accident clean up finishes.

A deadly crash in south-central Iowa this morning involved a driver going the wrong direction on Interstate 35.

Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Nate Ludwig says the crash between a car and semi happened in Warren County around 3:30 a.m. “The vehicle was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of I-35 near the Cumming exit,” Ludwig said. The driver of the car was killed. The semi driver was not injured.

“We don’t know why the driver was heading the wrong way on the interstate or where they got on the interstate at…it’s still under investigation,” Ludwig said. The crash forced the closure of I-35 southbound for several hours.

“I think they cleared the interstate at about 8 a.m. and opened it back up,” Ludwig said. The crash happened near the town of Cumming, which is located about nine miles south of the Des Moines metro area.


Floodwaters in Jackson County force truck driver to swim to safety

Jackson County flooding.

A truck driver swam to safety after his vehicle was submerged in floodwaters this morning in Eastern Iowa.

It happened near Preston where heavy rains and ice jams on the Maquoketa river resulted in a flood-covered highway. The driver of a truck, owned by Ryder and leased by a postal carrier firm, tried to drive through the floodwaters but became stuck. The driver got out and was not injured.

A photo of the truck, partially-buried in the floodwaters, was posted to Facebook by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department with a reminder: “Please do not drive around the barricades.”


Fires in Sioux City, Knoxville, Cedar Rapids leave three people dead

Three people died in three separate fires across the state this weekend.

Sioux City Police are investigating the death of a person whose body was found inside a burning car Sunday evening. The victim’s name has not been released.

A fire destroyed a house in Knoxville early Sunday. Seventy-year-old Charlene Selmyhr was outside the home when crews arrived, but she became unresponsive in a police car and died later at a hospital.

And in Cedar Rapids, 57-year-old Thomas Jones died Saturday when a fire broke out in his unit at the Shamrock Apartments. The causes of all three fires remain under investigation.


ADM wins tax credits for update of its wet mill in Clinton

One of the largest employers in Clinton is launching a $196 million renovation project. Andy Sokolovich, with the Clinton Regional Development Corporation, says the Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) grain processing plant will be updating its wet mill.

“The wet mill really is the artery that leads into the entire plant. It’s a very crucial component to their process,” Sokolovich said. “They’re looking to invest the money to create a new wet mill and ensure that they can do business in Clinton for a long time.”

Last Friday, Sokolovich traveled to Des Moines, where the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board awarded the ADM project over $8 million in tax credits. The Chicago-based ADM acquired the wet mill facility in Clinton in 1982.

“ADM’s plant in Clinton is one of the most versatile,” Sokolovich said. “We’re happy to have them on board. Their existing management at the plant, their leadership – both corporate and local – has been very accommodating to our needs as a development corporation and as a community.”

The wet mill facility in Clinton was built in the early 1900s. ADM officials had considered closing the plant about 18 years ago because of its age and needed improvements. The plant currently employs around 750 people.


Mason City, Clinton, Norwalk win state funding for economic development projects

Mason City Mayor Bill Schickel.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board, after a long delay, has granted a project in Mason City over $9 million in state assistance.

Mason City Mayor Bill Schickel says supporters of the effort to renovate the city’s downtown have been waiting three years for the action taken today in Des Moines.

“It’s time to celebrate,” Schickel said. “This is just a wonderful day for Mason City. All of our project partners are here and they’ve been doing a great job of working together to get to this day. There are a lot of steps to be taken yet, but today is a terrific day.” Around 10 people from Mason City traveled to Des Moines to attend today’s IEDA Board meeting.

The $38 million project in downtown Mason City includes a 100-room Marriott brand hotel, a conference center in The Music Man Square, a performing arts pavilion, and a sports/entertainment/retail complex. Schickel says construction on all of the projects in downtown Mason City will begin later this year and should be completed by the end of 2019.

The state assistance was put on hold for several months by the IEDA Board over concerns with a commitment from the bank that’s financing the project and changes in the project developer. Another part of the project will involve a museum dedicated to Merideth Willson, the composer and playwrite who was born in Mason City. Schickel is excited about the potential impact the projects will have on Mason City’s economy.

“This is significant for being able to attract workers to Mason City, like many communities, we have a worker shortage,” Schickel said.

In addition to the money for Mason City, the IEDA Board awarded direct financial assistance and tax benefits to companies planning expansion projects in Clinton and Norwalk. Archer-Daniels-Midland Company is working on a $196 million renovation to its corn wet milling and dry milling facilities in Clinton. Minnesota-based Michael Foods is building a manufacturing and distribution plant in Norwalk that’s expected to employ 168 people.


Prime Minister of Kosovo visits Iowa

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Hradinaj

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo made a stop in Iowa just ahead of that country’s 10th anniversary of declaring independence from Serbia. “We are in our week of independence. (February 17) is the 10th anniversary and I’m happy, at the beginning of this week, I’m starting it here with you.” Prime Minister Ramush Hradinaj delivered those remarks Monday morning in downtown Des Moines.

Iowa and Kosovo have shared a sister state relationship since 2013. In January 2016, for the first time in Iowa’s history, an official foreign diplomatic office was opened in the state. The Consulate of the Republic of Kosovo is located in Des Moines.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister praised the partnership at an event hosted by Iowa Sister States and the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “This is something extraordinary. This is noble,” Hradinaj said. “I don’t know what in life can be…as noble as this.”

Iowa’s relationship with Kosovo dates back more than a decade when Iowa National Guard soldiers were deployed there as NATO peacekeepers. The leader of the Iowa National Guard, Adjutant General Timothy Orr, says the partnership with Kosovo now extends far beyond the military.

“We’ve had students who’ve gone over and spent the summer working at the American University in Pristina, getting experience of the Balkan region and understanding Kosovo. We currently have several high school students (from Kosovo) who are here for a year in a foreign exchange,” Orr said. “So, it’s everything from education to business to military exchanges.”

Orr will travel to Kosovo later this week to take part in the country’s independence day celebration. A larger delegation of Iowans plans to visit Kosovo in May.