Bills to Stop MHI Closures Still Alive in Legislature

A bill that would stall efforts to close the Mental Health Institutes in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda is still alive and well in the Iowa legislature. Mt. Pleasant Democratic State Senator Rich Taylor spoke to KBUR this week to provide an update on the situation. Senate File 402 remains in the House right now, after being passed in the Senate, and is expected to be discussed in subcommittee soon. “This bill will force the Department of Human Services to continue accepting patients through June 30th of this year and develop a plan for community services before they close down any MHI’s in the state,” Taylor told KBUR. Continue Reading

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BPD Chief: Crime Down in Burlington

Burlington’s Police Chief says that despite contrary public sentiment, the crime rate in Burlington is actually going down, continuing a trend that has lasted for several years. Police Chief Doug Beaird gave his annual report to the Burlington City Council during a Monday night work session. He reported that overall offenses fell to 5,707 last year, down from 5,875 the year before. “I’d love to be able to change perceptions, but I can’t. You have to look at offenses, and they’re down by about 160,” said Beaird. Continue Reading

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Public Records Reveal Ft. Madison Prison Was Not Expected to Open Until Fall 2015

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A public record shows that Iowa’s new prison for male offenders wasn’t expected to be fully operational until fall 2015 even before workers discovered the latest delay-causing problem. An extension signed by the Department of Corrections with a contractor in June 2014 said that occupancy of the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison would be “completed in the fall of 2015.” The next month, testing found that smoke evacuation systems in the inmate housing units were flawed. Workers are trying to bring the buildings up to the fire code. Corrections’ deputy director Brad Hier said the fall 2015 date was a conservative ballpark estimate and no longer has relevance. Continue Reading

Derrick Swanson. Courtesy: Des Moines County Jail

Stolen Vehicle Found Stuck in the Mud; One Arrested

A stolen vehicle was quickly recovered after being stolen from a Burlington home last night. When Des Moines County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle stuck in the mud just south of 240th Street, they discovered a vehicle driven by 35 year old Derrick Swanson–a vehicle that had been reported stolen earlier in the evening. The vehicle was recovered, along with two firearms that were inside the vehicle when it was stolen. Swanson was arrested in connection with the stolen vehicle and also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon. Continue Reading

DNA Testing Underway to Determine Victim of Fatal Accident

A driver is dead after driving their car through a field and striking a tree after running off road just south of Dallas City, Illinois last week. Illinois State Police say that the drivers identity is unknown, pending DNA testing results. They warn the process may take up to two weeks. At around 2:05 am on March 22nd, a 2003 Honda SUV driven by a unknown individual was approaching a T Intersection at Illinois Route 94 and Route 9, when they blew a stop sign and flew off road, into a field before striking a tree. The driver sustained “Severe Traumatic Injuries”. Continue Reading

Finalists Chosen For Business Plan Competition

The Greater Burlington Partnership has announced the finalists for the 8th annual Des Moines County Business Plan Competition. Seven business plans were submitted to the competition. Four made the final cut: Ann March’s “Bark & Play Doggie Daycare”; Heather Lange’s “Heather Lange Designs”; Lorraine Guerra’s and Tammy Adams’ “Majestic Venue”; and Jeff and Monty Wagenbach’s “JWinsulations”. The finalists will be judged on the concept of the plan, the economic impact of the business, their ability to adapt, and a feasibility of their plan and presentation of their plan, both oral and written. The winners get a cut of a $10,000 prize pool. Continue Reading

Iowa Fertilizer President: Plant on Track to Finish by End of 2015

The head of the Iowa Fertilizer company says that they’re on track to finish their plant in Wever by the end of this year. Shawn Rana appeared on the KBUR Talk Show last week, telling hosts Steve Hexom and Rob Sussman the plant is currently about 85% and has surpassed job creation expectations so far. “We promised the state 165 full time positions. We’re at 185 already,” Rana told KBUR. “We’re looking to fill a few more, but we’re hitting our peak.” And that’s just for after the plant is built. Right now, 2,900 workers are constructing the plant in Weaver, working around the clock on the state-of-the art production facility that will produce Nitrogen enriched fertilizer–the first one built in the United States in 25 years. Continue Reading

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City Officials: West Burlington Fire Chief Dies Unexpectedly

West Burlington’s Fire Chief has died. City officials say that Fire Chief Mike Heim passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at his home in West Burlington from what appears to be natural causes. Heim had been with the department since November 2010, he was the first full-time chief of the department. Funeral arrangements are still pending. City Administrator Dan Gifford and Deputy Fire Chief Mike Steward will temporarily take over Heim’s duties. Continue Reading

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Burlington Police Investigating Early Morning Home Invasion

Burlington Police are investigating a violent early morning home invasion in which a man was assaulted. Police officials say that at around 12:24 am, one of the residents at a home at 116 North Marshall called police reporting that two men kicked down his door. The men assaulted him and then stole his cell phone. They’re described as black males in their mid to late teens. If you have any information, contact Burlington Police at 319-753-8366 or Crimestoppers 75-DO-TEL (753-6835). Continue Reading