Wastewater spill reported near creek in Keokuk
KEOKUK, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is warning Keokuk residents about a wastewater spill into a local creek.
City officials say about 20 gallons per minute were flowing into Soap Creek, which feeds into the Mississippi River. The discharge was discovered near Carbide Lane at 3 p.m. Saturday, and was still going Monday afternoon.
The DNR recommends keeping children and pets away from Soap Creek near Carbide Lane and all areas downstream for 1-2 days after the line is fixed. City crews have located a plug in the line that caused the spill, but were still working to remove it.
The city has taken water samples for testing and will notify DNR when the line is repaired.
IOWA JUVENILE HOME
Senate OKs plan to reopen Iowa Juvenile Home
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has renewed its effort to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home, with a budget amendment designed to re-establish and improve programming at the Toledo facility.
Lawmakers voted 26-22 Monday to approve the budget bill. It now returns to the House, where a similar amendment was rejected last week.
The proposal attempts to reopen and revamp services at the home, which was closed Jan. 15 by Gov. Terry Branstad following allegations that delinquent girls were being mistreated.
Sen. Jack Hatch, a Democrat who's running for governor, says the plan accounts for the concerns that led to the facility's closure.
Jimmy Centers, a Branstad spokesman, says the governor won't make a decision until it's sent to his desk in its final form.
Judge: Iowa teen competent for murder trial
LOGAN, Iowa (AP) - A judge has declared an Iowa teen competent to stand trial for the murder of his 5-year-old foster brother.
District Court Judge Judge Kathleen Kilnoski said an evaluation of 18-year-old Cody Metzker-Madsen showed that he understands the charges against him and can actively participate in his defense.
The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reports (http://bit.ly/1fhCJ24 ) that Metzker-Madsen is charged with first-degree murder for the death of Dominic Elkins. Authorities say Dominic was killed while the boys were playing outdoors on Aug. 31 at their home near Logan, in western Iowa. Dominic died as a result of blunt-force head injuries and drowning.
Metzker-Madsen has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Psychology experts who examined the teen say he has developmental problems. Metzker-Madsen's mother used methamphetamine during her pregnancy with him.
Burglar steals jewelry in Waterloo store burglary
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Waterloo police are investigating the theft of jewelry worth thousands of dollars from a Kmart store.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports (http://bit.ly/1rgq2tK ) the jewelry was stolen during a break-in around 11 p.m. Thursday, while the store was closed.
Police say someone entered the store through a back door. The burglar broke a display case in the jewelry area and took 17 rings and wedding bands, two diamond pendants and a pair of diamond earrings.
An alarm alerted police, who arrived and noticed the back door ajar, but officers couldn't find the burglar.
Police say the theft was recorded on a surveillance camera.
CENTRAL IOWA REGION-BRAND
Central Iowa branded as "Cultivation Corridor"
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State and local economic development officials in central Iowa have come up with a brand name and logo for the region in an effort to create an identity similar to that of Silicon Valley in California.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Gov. Terry Branstad were among the dignitaries at the unveiling of the "Cultivation Corridor" branding of an area within a 60-mile radius of Des Moines.
The idea is to focus attention on the marketing of agribusiness, biotechnology and renewable fuel products.
Iowa State University President Stephen Leath helped lead the 3-year process of identifying concepts and coming up with the idea.
He says the primary goals are to attract and retain top quality workers in agriculture biosciences, expand job creation, and create a ripple effect in the economy statewide.
WATER LOAN SAVINGS
Interest rate cuts to save money for 16 Iowa towns
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State officials say 16 Iowa towns that received loans for water quality projects will end up saving money because of interest rate cuts.
The Iowa Finance Authority and the Department of Natural Resources says those towns will see a combined savings of $1.5 million over the life of their loans. They have been paying 3 percent interest on the loans, but rates are being lowered 1.75 percent.
The State Revolving Fund is one of main sources for projects to improve Iowa's drinking water, and to enhance wastewater and pollution control.
The towns that will see savings are Ainsworth, Alleman, Audubon, Bancroft, Carroll, Fort Dodge, Fort Madison, Grandview, Kalona, Lisbon, Lovilia, Neola, Pocahontas, Rockwell City, Sioux City and Tiffin.
Lucey tops in Iowa's 'Beautiful Bulldog' event
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lucey, an 18-month old pooch from Waukee, Iowa, has beaten out 49 drooling competitors to take this year's "Beautiful Bulldog" pageant.
Monday's tongue-in-cheek event is designed to kick off the weeklong Drake Relays, an internationally-renowned track and field event in Des Moines.
Lucey's owner, Tiffany Torstenson of nearby Waukee, Iowa, is a surgeon at the Mercy Katzmann Breast Center. Torstenson said she often takes Lucey to work. She says Lucey's demeanor around doctors and patients helped convinced her human family that she'd make a perfect therapy dog.
Lucey was certainly a hit with the crowd at Drake's Knapp Center, besting a pair of boys named Lord Nelson and Zuul to capture top honors.
FORT MADISON SEWER RATES
Fort Madison plans big increase in sewer rates
FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) - Sewer rates are going to soar in Fort Madison as the southeast Iowa city makes required changes to its sewer system.
The Daily Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/1i7oxhH ) the City Council last week approved a 27 percent rate increase, effective June 1.
Council member Mark Lair was quick to note that the increase was needed to pay for improvements required by the Department of Natural Resources.
Fort Madison must separate its sewer lines, so stormwater and sewage aren't handled by single lines. The city also must renovate the sewage treatment plant.
Besides the immediate increase, the city will make additional rate increases in 2015 and 2016, followed by a 2 percent annual increase unless officials change their plans.
State auditor investigating secret settlements
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Auditor Mary Mosiman says she is conducting an audit of confidential secret settlements that have enveloped Gov. Terry Branstad's administration in controversy for more than a month.
Mosiman says in a letter to Democratic Sen. Jack Hatch she began to review the settlement agreements shortly after she learned of them. She says her office is working to identify anything improper or inappropriate. She says she'll issue a public report when the investigation is concluded.
Hatch, who's running against Branstad for governor, sent Mosiman a letter April 8 asking for an audit.
He also wants the Legislature to approve funds for a broader independent audit from a firm outside the government to ensure politics is removed from the process.
Mosiman, a Republican, was appointed by Branstad last year.
Man dies after off-roading accident in Des Moines
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a man has died after an off-roading accident in southeast Des Moines.
Police say the man and some friends were riding in a wooded area south of the Des Moines River when the vehicle he was in got stuck in a pool of water on Sunday evening.
Fire Department spokesman Brian O'Keefe says the man later identified as 21-year-old Matthew Wade Blackford, of Des Moines, went underwater while trying to free the vehicle but didn't come back up.
Blackford's friends pulled him out of the water, called 911 just before 8 p.m. and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. He was pronounced dead later at Mercy Medical Center.
Waterloo seeks guidelines for roadside memorials
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Waterloo officials are considering limiting roadside memorials erected at the site of deadly car crashes.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports a majority of the City Council called last week for an ordinance that would set rules for the memorials, such as the allowable size and time they could remain.
Council member David Jones argued "at some point you have to draw the line somewhere."
However, some council members say the rules would be difficult to enforce. And Mayor Buck Clark says drawing up an ordinance would "open up a can of worms."
Waterloo and most other cities already make it illegal to erect signs or displays in public right of ways, but officials usually allow memorials to crash victims.
Council member Steve Schmitt says guidelines would ensure consistent enforcement.
DES MOINES TRAIN-FATALITY
Des Moines police identify teen killed by train
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines police have identified a teenager who died while trying to climb aboard a slow-moving freight train.
Police announced Monday that 18-year-old Phillip Tyshawn Simmons died in the early morning accident.
Officers were called to a crossing on the city's east side at 1:18 a.m. and determined that a teen had been waiting with friends at a rail crossing. The teen tried to climb onto the train, possibly to cross to the other side.
Police say he fell during this attempt. He was caught beneath the train and dragged along the tracks.
The train operator was notified and stopped the cars while police investigated. Several rail crossings were blocked by the train through the early morning hours.
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