Yarmouth Café Fire Was Arson, Sheriff’s Officials Say

The Des Moines County Sheriffs Department is bringing their investigation of the Yarmouth Café fire to a close–they’ve determined it was intentionally set. Mediapolis News reports that video evidence reportedly found at the scene has revealed key evidence in the blaze that gutted the inside of the Café on March 24. “I can’t comment on the video evidence, but we have determined the fire was intentionally set,” said Des Moines County Sheriff Mike Johnstone. This comes as Yarmouth Café owner Delight Lebert was found dead in a garage at her home. According to the Louisa County Sherriff’s Department, the department received a call Friday at 12:54 p.m. from a John Kuisle who requested medical attention for Lebert. Continue Reading

Maurice Green. Courtesy: Knox County Jail

Bond Set at $2 Million for Alleged Jefferson Street Shooter

Maurice Green appeared on video feed before the judge in the Des Moines County Courthouse on Tuesday, his first hearing since being charged for the Wednesday murder of 28 year old Matthew Banks. It was the first thing on the agenda for the 45 year old Green since waiving extradition from Galesburg, Illinois. He fled there shortly after Banks was shot three times at a home on Jefferson Street in Burlington and was captured several hours after the murder. Green’s bond was set at $2 million. Police say that Green allegedly shot Banks when he lost $1,600 during a dice gambling game. Continue Reading

Iowa DOT to Spend $700m on Roads This Year

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Department of Transportation says it plans to spend a record $700 million on construction on state and interstate highway projects this year. The Des Moines Register reports the department spent $656 million on road projects in 2014. A 10-cent-per-gallon tax gasoline tax increase, which took effect March 1, will provide about $200 million annually to cities and counties across the state. There are statewide plans to fill potholes, repair aging bridges and install new concrete and asphalt pavement. Officials say that up to 500 work zones will be set up statewide from now until the end of the road construction season in November. Continue Reading

Monmouth Jr. High Teacher Solicited 15 Year Old Boy For Sex, Police Say

A Monmouth-Roseville Junior High School teacher was arrested this month on charges of Indecent Solicitation of a Child–a class two felony. Sister Station WGIL in Galesburg reports the Warren County Sheriff’s Department arrested 39-year-old Jennifer R. Rexroat of Monmouth on a warrant on April 12th, at the Ayerco Convience Store in Monmouth. Rexroat allegedly solicited a male, 15-year-old junior high school student for engagement in oral sex. Authorities are continuing to investigate into the situation. If convicted, Rexroat could face a sentence of three to seven years in prison, with a fine of up to $25,000. Continue Reading

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Man Shot Sunday Was Attending Party For Victim of Wednesday Murder

One thing leads to another. The man shot at a home at 553 S. 10th Street in Burlington was attending a party in memory of 28 year old Matthew Banks, who was shot and killed just days beforehand, police say. The victim has been identified by police as 35 year old Roderick Johnson, of Burlington. Johnson was shot once in the stomach, and was taken to Great River Medical Center before being airlifted to Iowa City for treatment of serious, but not life threatening injuries. Police found Johnson after responding to a report of shots fired and people running from the home at around 1:25 am–almost the same time that Banks was shot last Wednesday. Continue Reading

Many Workers Return to Fertilizer Plant After Layoffs

Workers are expected to return today to the Iowa Fertilizer plant after a two day work stoppage caused by one of the projects major contractors pulling out of the project, causing hundreds of layoffs. AECOM-URS, a multinational contracting company, pulled out of the $1.9 billion project due to an undisclosed dispute between AECOM-URS and OCI Iowa Fertilizer on Friday. Around 2,400 employees were laid off Friday. Iowa Fertilizer Spokesman Alex Shaner says that AECOM-URS will be switched out with another contractor who will rehire many of the laid off employees. AECOM-URS declined to comment. Continue Reading

Superintendents Offer New Ideas to Solve Des Moines Education Gridlock

Gridlock on school spending was the topic of choice at an Eggs and Issues Breakfast sponsored by the Greater Burlington Partnership on Saturday. Democratic Senator Tom Courtney, Democratic Representative Dennis Cohoon, and Republican Representative Tom Sands joined community members and civic leaders for the breakfast. School spending in the Iowa Legislature has been at a deadlock. At issue: allowable growth, or, how much more money schools will be getting this year than last year. Republicans are sticking tight to 1.25% allowable growth, but Democrats would like to push the envelope, prefering a number around 4%. Continue Reading

Matthew James Munz. Courtesy: Lee County Jail

Police Chase Suspect Assaults Officers While Trying to Leave Hospital

A car chase through two states ended in Fort Madison and even continued on into the next day when the suspect assaulted arresting officers at Fort Madison Community Hospital. Fort Madison Police first learned about 34 year old Matthew James Munz when Nauvoo, Illinois Police Officers informed officers that they were in pursuit of Munz, and that he was about to cross over the BNSF bridge into Fort Madison. Fort Madison Police set up a road block, equipped with tire-puncturing stop sticks, but were ineffective in stopping Munz. Munz eventually stopped his car on highway 61 near exit 27 and was taken into custody after a brief struggle. Fort Madison Police Chief Bruce Niggemeyer says that Munz was under the influence of narcotics and alcohol. Continue Reading

Privatization of Medicaid Moving Forward

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad’s plan to privatize the state’s Medicaid program is moving forward, though critics are raising questions about how the shift will impact patients. Earlier this year, the state began an effort to shift Medicaid administration to two or more managed care organizations, to which Iowa will pay a fixed amount per enrollee to provide health coverage. State officials predict cost savings and say patients will still have access to quality health care. But Democratic Senate President Pam Jochum, of Dubuque, said this week that she is not convinced, raising concerns about the quality of care for patients. Amy Lorentzen McCoy, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services, said the new system would save the state money by avoiding duplication of services and by offering better preventative care. Continue Reading