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BPD Chief: Police Will Take ‘Zero Tolerance’ Approach Towards Fireworks

Burlington Police are going to be out in force this Fourth of July, and they’re taking a zero tolerance policy towards fireworks. Burlington Police Chief Doug Beaird says that fireworks are not legal to set off in Iowa without a specific permit. “If you are caught discharging fireworks, you are going to get a ticket with a minimum fine of $250.” Beaird told the council, “We will have a zero-tolerance approach from this day forward.” In previous years, lack of resources prevented police from enforcing fireworks restrictions to the degree they wanted to. Continue Reading

Board of Regents Fires Spokeswoman

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) β€” The board that governs Iowa’s public universities has let go a 29-year employee who had been its spokeswoman for years. The Iowa Board of Regents confirmed Monday that communications director Sheila Doyle Koppin’s job has been eliminated. Her last day was Friday. The change comes after the board acknowledged last week it will also soon be cutting ties with Tom Evans, its longtime general counsel. Earlier this year, the board created a new senior communications director position. Continue Reading

Burlington City Manager will Likely Get a Raise

Burlington City Manager Jim Ferneau will likely be getting a tidy raise following a closed session meeting in which his performance was evaluated. The raise does not come as a surprise to many. Burlington Mayor Shane McCampbell told the council that Ferneau is, as it stands, being paid far less than other city managers in cities of similar size. “It’s a travesty.” McCampbell said, “I see this happen all the time: you have a good employee, and they’re really worth their weight in gold, and we aren’t giving them what they’re worth. Continue Reading

Former Iowa Student from China Arrested in China for Iowa Murder

AMES, Iowa (AP) β€” A former University of Iowa student from China has been charged in China with killing an Iowa State student whose body was found in her car trunk in Iowa City last fall. An Iowa City police news release issued Monday night says 23-year-old Xiangnan Li was arrested on June 19 in Wenzhou, China, to face a charge of intentional homicide. Li had returned to China following the slaying of 20-year-old Tong Shao (Tawng Shh-Ow), whose body was found Sept. 26. Authorities say she’d been asphyxiated. Continue Reading

Governor Extends Bird Flu Emergency

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) β€” Gov. Terry Branstad has extended a state of disaster emergency through July 31 in response to the bird flu outbreak in the state. The declaration Monday was the second extension of the original disaster proclamation. It otherwise would have expired Wednesday. The virus has infected more than 31.5 million birds in Iowa, mostly egg-laying chickens, making the state the hardest hit in the nation. Branstad’s declaration activates disaster response programs, allows the use of state supplies and makes other efforts to speed response efforts. Continue Reading

Halverson's Encampment.

Burlington Officials Get Court Order Against Man Living in Tent Near Downtown

Burlington officials have successfully obtained a court order against a man who has been living in a tent on his property near downtown. Curtis Halverson has been camping on a vacant lot he owns since mid-April, building a large tent complex at the bottom of a hill on 8th Street. A judge yesterday in Des Moines County Court told Halverson he has a week to take the structure off of the property, or face a fine. Last month, city officials cited Halverson for violating a city ordinance that requires temporary structures to be removed within 30 days, and gave him until May 22 to take down the tent. Halverson says he’s been taking down his tent and camping by a river, and then returning to his property after about a week. Continue Reading

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City of Burlington to Reconsider Police Department Renovations, May Look for New Building

The City of Burlington may be holding off on renovations to the police department, at least, for now. That decision comes after scrutiny from citizens over the decision to spend $700,000 renovating the aging police department building. The Council was well aware that the building as it stands will likely not last more than 10 years without needing another renovation, and there was talk amongst the council of simply looking for another building to house the city’s police department. City Manager Jim Ferneau says that the city is currently not in a strong enough financial position to look into building a new facility, but says that options could be explored. “We’re not in an ideal [financial] time…but if there was a facility we could locate at the right price that’s a good deal because of timing, we could bring that up for consideration,” Ferneau said. Continue Reading

“Bacon, Beer, and BBQ” Festival is a Hit, As One May Expect

Bacon, Beer, and BBQ. Three of the best words in the English language came together on Saturday in Mount Pleasant for the Second Annual “Triple B” Festival in McMillan Park. But they didn’t just stop with those three words: they added a few more. Like “Car Show” and “Live Music” to the show, both brand new parts of the event. The event was sponsored by Main Street Mount Pleasant & the Henry County Tourism Bureau. Continue Reading

Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau: Drunk Driving Accidents Common On 4th of July Weekend

The upcoming holiday weekend is typically one of the most dangerous times of the year for traffic crashes involving alcohol. Alex Murphy, spokesman for the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, says the Fourth of July weekend last year was marred by multiple fatal accidents around the state. “Seven people were killed on Iowa roadways and one of those was alcohol related,” Murphy said. In 2013, six people were killed on Iowa roadways over the Independence Day weekend and three of those crashes were alcohol related. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports in 2013, the most recent year in which data is available, 512 people were killed, nationwide in motor vehicle crashes over the Fourth of July holiday. Continue Reading