Roy Stewart III

Lee County Inmate Uses Class Time to “Take a Break” From Jail

A Lee County Jail inmate is being charged with Escape from Custody after apparently taking advantage of time scheduled for an off-site class in order to “take a break” from his sentence. Roy Morrell Stewart III was scheduled to take a class outside of the Lee County Jail relating to domestic violence mitigation, and was allowed out of the jail in order to attend the class several times a week. Lee County Sheriff Jim Sholl says that Stewart would leave the jail at the scheduled time, and then return to his cell exactly when he was supposed to. But he wasn’t going to class. Sholl says jail officials received a call from the class instructor, asking why Stewart was not attending the class. Continue Reading

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State Senators Grill DHS Director over MHI Closures

A panel of state senators has grilled a key state administrator over moves to close the state-run Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant, but Department of Human Services director Chuck Palmer may still win confirmation from senators to keep his job for another four years. Palmer told senators he had recommended that the facilities be closed, but the governor made the final decision out of a list of significant budget-cutting options Palmer drew up. “The budget has driven some of our decisions maybe more quickly than what some of us would like,” Palmer said, “but that’s the reality that I’ve faced.” Senator Rich Taylor, a Democrat from Mount Pleasant, says he’s not come across “a single person” who thinks closing the two facilities is a good idea. “I’ve always respected you. Continue Reading

Small Fire in Burlington Apartment Contained to Oven

A small fire did no damage to an apartment on 1103 University Street in Burlington. Burlington Fire Marshal Mark Crooks says that the occupants of the apartment, Ben Harris and Kara Edmunds, were attempting to broil steaks in their oven when grease from a previous meal caught fire inside the oven. Harris and Edmunds were able to extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher, containing it to inside the oven. Firefighters still checked up on the scene, just to be sure the fire was completely out. Nobody was hurt. Continue Reading

West Burlington City Council Approves Intersection Repairs

The West Burlington City Council approved repairing the intersection of Broadway and Agency during a Wednesday night meeting. Dana Construction, with a $12,800 bid, was awarded the contract with the city. West Burlington Public Works Director Randy Fry told the Council that work is expected to take only around 4 days to complete. The intersection has degraded over the past several years. Repairs will be financed with local option sales tax money. Continue Reading

Neighborhood Group’s Rezoning Petition Turned Down

An effort by residents of the North Hill Neighborhood to change the zoning on a block containing parts of North Street, Fifth Street, Iowa Street, and Sixth Street to single and double family only residences failed during a Tuesday night Planning Commission meeting. The residents brought the issue to the commission due to a single piece of property: 1111 North Fifth Street. Neighbors say that the the property–currently abandoned–has been a nuisance in the past, generating a slew of police reports and even a fatal fire. A previous owner used the property as a 12 person boarding house, a business plan that the neighborhood group doesn’t want repeated. Jesse Caston is the new owner of the building, after purchasing it and 13 other properties in a January bank foreclosure. Continue Reading

Burlington Superintendent: Budget Situation “In Limbo”

Burlington Community School District’s Superintendent says that the school’s current budgetary situation is in limbo right now, but stresses that he expects the school district to be “fine”. Superintendent Pat Coen spoke on the KBUR Talkshow on Wednesday. He says that because legislators in Des Moines haven’t appropriated funds for schools, and are throwing out numbers that vary by billions, there isn’t any telling what the budget will look like. “We have not received any word out of Des Moines as to what our allowable growth–that is, new money coming in–will be,” Coen told KBUR’s Steve Hexom and Rob Sussman. Despite budgetary uncertianty, some things simply can’t wait: like union negotiations. Continue Reading

Man Convicted of Kidnapping Fort Madison Girl in 1979 Dies in Prison

A man who was convicted in a high-profile kidnapping case in southeast Iowa 36 years ago has died in prison. Robert Ray Padgett was 79. The Iowa Department of Corrections reports he was housed in the Iowa State Penitentiary Hospice Care Unit, where he died of natural causes stemming from dementia. Padgett was 43 in 1979 when he was arrested for kidnapping an 11-year-old girl from a dance studio in Fort Madison. Police said Padgett took the girl to a motel in Coralville where she was sexually abused and held captive for two days. Continue Reading

Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks. Courtest: Great River Health Systems

Former Iowa Director of Public Health Joins Great River

The Former Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health is joining the Greater Burlington Community. Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, M.D. has joined Great River Eye Specialists, a clinic for the treatment of eye conditions. A graduate of the University of Texas school of medicine, Dr. Miller-Meeks is a glaucoma specialist who was chosen as the director of the State’s health department in 2010, under Governor Branstad. She’s also a former Army Reservist. Great River Eye Specialists is located in the Eastman Plaza at 1223 South Gear Avenue in West Burlington. Continue Reading

Electrical Fire Damages Mount Pleasant Home

A Mount Pleasant Home was seriously damaged during a Tuesday afternoon fire. Mount Pleasant fire officials say the home at 2484 Iowa Avenue sustained major damage to its second floor and roof area. 22 Firefighters from Mount Pleasant and New London Fire Departments fought the blaze for around three hours after the fire call came in around 7:05. It’s believed the fire began due to an electrical short in the attic. There were no injuries. Continue Reading